Where else on mainstream media other than on Bari Weiss’ Common Sense would one find a post like this. I may be jumping the gun including Weiss’ Substack creation in the deeply problematic category that is MSM, but if it is not there already, helping clean that particular swamp, it soon will be. What is coming through to us on Common Sense and on her Honestly podcast is going to play a big part in helping the world to return to sanity and , well, common sense.
I was in a somewhat dark mood this morning when I opened my email. At the top of a too-packed inbox was the link to this beautiful – but not untinged with some sadness – personal post from a young mother, Bethany Mandel. Its intriguing headline drove me straight into it, ‘I Never Wanted Kids. Number Six Is Due In a Few Months’. If it were a novel we would be reading it as an allegory about hope, resilience and redemption – and the grace of God. But is is not a novel, it is about real flesh and blood humanity and the truth that the meaning of life is there, in life, for all to see.
The conclusing paragraphs (following) of Bethany’s post put her story in a universal context. Read the entire post to feel the wisdom and the joy which pulses through every line.
Our friends and family have stopped asking us if we’re done. To be fair, we said we were after numbers four and five. Our kids are already petitioning for a lucky number seven. Around the country and around the world, people are having fewer children, if they’re having any at all. The result of this population catastrophe is a hot topic among sociologists and experts.
The anti-natalists run a wicked good PR game. Even among mothers, the “wine mom” content is what rules social media: with kids portrayed as tiny dictators and mothers feeling the need to booze or hide in bathrooms in order to make it on a day-to-day, hour-to-hour basis. There are any number of arguments to be made against procreation, like that babies accelerate us to an environmental doomsday by using up our finite resources now and filling our landfills with diapers that take centuries to break down. But those arguing for protecting the Earth by not making babies are just existing on Earth, not living in it.
I’m not trying to single handedly repopulate the Earth over here. Having kids, especially lots of them, is now counter-cultural; it’s so far outside the norm that I’m used to random strangers commenting every time we’re all out in public. But it’s the most fulfilling expression of hope and belief in the future. I like to think that, by making not just one or two babies, but by bringing into the world a whole brood, we are doing our part to inject more vitality into it.
Read this entire life affirming Common Sense post here.
‘The society that offered my sisters protection, threw my daughters to the wolves’
A certain construction company, which shall remain nameless, in a certain country, also remaining unidentified, used a chemical compound in its building materials. This compound was thought to enhance the quality of those materials bringing a new level of quality to the buildings in which they were used.
In time, in a very short time the structure of the buildings using these materials began to crumble and decay irreparably.
These things happen. The detailed history of this case is not important. This is a metaphor for one dimension of mankind’s folly. When these things happen there are always consequences and if we are lucky, as the consequences unfold, we can trace our steps back, through cause and effect, to the fundamental flaws which brought the house down around our heads.
On a more universal scale, however, and in mankind’s faltering journey on this earth, these things also happen. But in many cases, for a variety of reasons, we stubbornly refuse, or are unable to discern the root causes of the catastrophes we heap upon our heads.
Western civilisation has been advancing for centuries towards just such a catastrophe.
Recent human history records the painful rise and fall of two such flawed responses to man’s innate hunger for a better way of being in this world. Both were horrifically brutal, cruel and murderous. One was the marxist-inspired utopia of a communist world – now fatally wounded but still a clear and present danger to us all. The other was the Nietzschean-inspired will to power ideology which spawned the monster which was National Socialism, also now down but sadly not out.
We call these things ideologies because they posit a theoretical construct of what human nature is and then build a house in which they think they can happily live. The construct, however, is false at the core and therefore the house bears within itself the seeds of its ultimate collapse, even if, for a time it seems to offer a prospect of heaven on earth.
About five centuries ago theories about our nature and the nature of our lives in this world were developed and gained credence among us. These arose in part out of our struggles to come to terms with our fatal propensity to corrupt religion, turn it upside down and proceed to murder each other over our differences of belief. In fact we built a new theory which is today the foundation of the ideology of liberalism and liberal democracy. We called it ‘enlightenment’, and to a degree and for a time, it was.
In his book, Why Liberalism Failed, Notre Dame professor, Patrick J Deneen, traces the origins of liberalism and identifies the fatal flaw in the view of humanity underpinning it. His conclusion is that this ideology is now reaching a point where it is, with gathering pace over the past hundred years, destroying the very fabric of our societies and with them our civilisation itself. Not without a little paradox, he argues:
Liberalism has failed – not because it fell short, but because it was true to itself. It has failed because it has succeeded. As liberalism has “become more fully itself,” as its inner logic has become more evident and its self-contradictions manifest, it has generated pathologies that are at once deformations of its claims yet realizations of liberal ideology. A political philosophy that was launched to foster greater equity, defend a pluralist tapestry of different cultures and beliefs, protect human dignity, and, of course, expand liberty, in practice generates titanic inequality, enforces uniformity and homogeneity, fosters material and spiritual degradation, and undermines freedom. Its success can be measured by its achievement of the opposite of what we have believed it would achieve. Rather than seeing the accumulating catastrophe as evidence of our failure to live up to liberalism’s ideals, we need rather to see clearly that the ruins it has produced are the signs of its very success. To call for the cures of liberalism’s ills by applying more liberal measures is tantamount to throwing gas on a raging ﬁre. It will only deepen our political, social, economic, and moral crisis.
And where was the fatal flaw which drove this well-intentioned human response to perceived evils in our world, into the deranged state in which we now find ourselves? The flaw was in the underlying reading of human nature and human freedom – the human agent was put at the centre of the universe and his liberty was turned into an absolute. In doing so, without realising the consequences, the nature of this world and our existence within it were redefined. Deneen traces the origins of this fatal compound back to sixteenth century England and the work of Francis Bacon and Thomas Hobbes.
Liberty was fundamentally reconceived, even if the word was retained. Liberty had long been believed to be the condition of self-rule that forestalled tyranny, within both the polity and the individual soul. Liberty was thus thought to involve discipline and training in self-limitation of desires, and corresponding social and political arrangements that sought to inculcate corresponding virtues that fostered the arts of self- government. Classical and Christian political thought was self-admittedly more “art” than “science”: it relied extensively on the fortunate appearance of inspiring founding ﬁgures and statesmen who could uphold political and social self-reinforcing virtuous cycles, and acknowledged the likelihood of decay and corruption as an inevitable feature of any human institution.
I suppose a key idea there is the distinction between life lived by art rather than science. Therein lies the root of ideology – a scientifically designed solution to all life’s problems, ending up as a modern Tower of Babel.
In this world, gratitude to the past and obligations to the future are replaced by a nearly universal pursuit of immediate gratiﬁcation: culture, rather than imparting the wisdom and experience of the past so as to cultivate virtues of self-restraint and civility, becomes synonymous with hedonic titillation, visceral crudeness, and distraction, all oriented toward promoting consumption, appetite, and detachment. As a result, superﬁcially self-maximizing, socially destructive behaviors begin to dominate society.
In schools, norms of modesty, comportment, and academic honesty are replaced by widespread lawlessness and cheating (along with increasing surveillance of youth), while in the fraught realm of coming-of-age, courtship norms are replaced by “hookups” and utilitarian sexual encounters. The norm of stable lifelong marriage is replaced by various arrangements that ensure the autonomy of the individuals whether married or not. Children are increasingly viewed as limitation upon individual freedom, which contributes to liberalism’s commitment to abortion on demand while overall birth rates decline across the developed world.
Deneen’s book gives a much more complete picture of the root and branch causes of the unravelling of our civilisation under this ideology than any summary I can give here. In the foregoing paragraph we have just one dimension of the disaster that is unfolding.
In the context of the particular social aberrations he alludes to in that passage, there is a very interesting debate on Bari Weiss’ podcast, Honestly There she recently entertained two writer-journalists, one American, the other British. They debated, over an hour and a half, the topics of sex, porn and feminism in our contemporary world. It revealed, in microcosm and in a stark and startling way, how our understanding of our humanity has been corrupted. It also reminds us how that segment of our civilisation, the Anglophone world, seems to be collapsing under the weight of that corruption.
Weiss introduced her speakers and the topic in these terms:
It’s hard to think of an invention that has been more transformative to women than the birth control pill. Suddenly, American women possessed a power that women never before in history had: They could control when they got pregnant. They could have sex like . . . men.
The pill—and the profound legal, political and cultural changes that the sexual revolution and feminism ushered in—liberated women. Those movements have allowed women to lead lives that literally were not possible beforehand.
But here we are, half a century later, with a culture in which porn and casual sex are abundant, but marriage and birth rates are at historic lows. And many people are asking: Did we go wrong somewhere along the way? Was the sexual revolution actually bad for women?
Her guests were Jill Filiopvic and Louise Perry. Filiopvic is an author and attorney who has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian and many other publications. You can follow her writing on her newsletter. Perry, based in London, is columnist at The New Statesman. She is the author of the new book,The Case Against the Sexual Revolution.
Weiss is one of those rare people in the media world, an open-minded observer who dares to question conventional ‘wisdom’ but who also gets people with essentially opposing assessments of our situation to talk to each other in a civilised and humane way. The debate in question was, I judge, one such encounter.
For Filopvic the scenario of the sexual revolution, with all the features enumerated by Deneen above, was by and large a win-win outcome. She would have looked for no radical changes – perhaps a few organisational tweaks here and there might be needed. That was all. For her neither pornography nor promiscuity were necessarily bad things – so long as human ‘dignity’ was respected and maintained.
For Louise Perry, as the title of her book might suggest, the whole question was much more complex and the overall result for women was a ‘net negative’. One of the most negative outcomes was what it has done to the idea and reality of motherhood in our world. There were also the ‘dire consequences of hormonal birth control for so many women’. In addition she spoke of the problems which the culture of casual sex create for women. ‘They are the victims, suffering all the consequences – physical and psychological. When you look at all that the idea that casual sex can be a benefit to women just falls apart.’
Bari Weiss reflected on the changes in her own attitudes since her 20s. Then it all seemed very liberating. Now she is much more conscious of all the unintended consequences – the promiscuity, the reality of single parenthood flowing from easy divorce, abortion, and the radical changes in cultural attitudes. She does not want to put the clock back but she recognises that we have something very serious to face up to.
‘In the end’ she says, ‘if I’m honest and I look back at where a huge amount of my time went, it went into talking friends off ledges who were not hearing back from the people they hooked up with the night before.’ Were many of the arguments we were sold actually not benefiting women but implicitly ended up redounding to the benefit of men?, she asked. Louise Perry summed up the supposed ‘freedoms’ they won as follows: Freedom for the pike is death for the minnows, she reminded us. Men and women are different, she argued, and because of that the whole idea of creating a level playing field for both sexes – or genders – was false at the core.
Prior to the publication of her book Perry has posted on Weiss’ Substack platform, Common Sense, a further elaboration of her comments on Honestly. They are more than descriptive. They are a call to parents everywhere to protect their children from not just a hostile culture but an ideologically driven social and educational establishment.
One comment on her post – from, I assume, a father – points to a savage world where the centre no longer holds. Not only is it no country for old men. It is no country for the young either:
I have two daughters, ages 28 and 27, and everything I just read (in Perry’s post) is the s–t they have dealt with. Most men, dare I say almost all men under the age of 35, are well aware of the vulnerabilities and use them against young women with fervor. The society that offered my sisters protection, threw my daughters to the wolves.
All of which brings us back to Deneen and his assertion that we are getting it all wrong, that liberalism has got it all disastrously wrong. It has done so because it has anchored the idea of liberty on the idea of the individual and that the only freedom we can enjoy is the freedom to do anything that we desire.
He argues that what he calls The “Noble Lie” of liberalism is shattering because it continues to be believed and defended by those elites who beneﬁt from it. He goes on to say that while it is increasingly seen as a lie, and not an especially noble one, by the class that liberalism has produced, discontent is growing. Two of the participants in the debate cited above might be evidence of this.
But, he says, even as liberalism remains an article of ardent faith among those who ought to be best positioned to comprehend its true nature, liberalism’s apologists regard pervasive discontent, political dysfunction, economic inequality, civic disconnection, and populist rejection as accidental problems disconnected from systemic causes. Their self-deception, he maintains, is generated by enormous reservoirs of self-interest in the maintenance of the present system. This divide will only widen, the crises will become more pronounced, the political duct tape and economic spray paint will increasingly fail to keep the house standing. The end of liberalism is in sight.
His book offers no easy solutions as to what might replace this fateful ideology. He avoided doing so, because we have had enough ideologies. The great value of the book is that it is a challenge to us all to fight in the cause of our true human nature, to stop theorising and to read humanity as it truly is, body and soul – and build the world we want to live in from there.
Today a worrying post arrived from Bari Weiss’ Common Sense platform. The rot which has corrupted our political, literary, and entertainment world – not to mention the education systems on which the future of our civilisation depend – is now threatening to undermine the institutions on which are founded our efforts, although often flawed, to administer justice to each other.
It is worrying, but we shoould not be surprised. Why would they not do this, marxists as they are? Political revolution for marxists was never a piecemeal operation – revolution in one counrty, they knew, was doomed to failure. So with cultural revolution. All must fall or all will fail. For those defending freedom and justice, therefore, every battle is important and winning battles will eventually mean winning the war.
She introduces this long essay by Aaron Sibarium on the latest target of those dedicated to capturing and eviscerating the institutions which hold our civilisation together:
If you are a Common Sense reader, you are by now highly aware of the phenomenon of institutional capture. From the start, we have covered the ongoing saga of how America’s most important institutions have been transformed by an illiberal ideology—and have come to betray their own missions.
Ok, so we’ve lost a lot. A whole lot. But at least we haven’t lost the law. That’s how we comforted ourselves. The law would be the bulwark against this nonsense. The rest we could work on building anew.
But what if the country’s legal system was changing just like everything else?
Today, Aaron Sibarium, a reporter who has consistently been ahead of the pack on this beat, offers a groundbreaking piece on how the legal system in America, as one prominent liberal scholar put it, is at risk of becoming “a totalitarian nightmare.”
This is a long feature on a subject we think deserves your time. Save it, share it, or print it to read in a quiet moment:
In 2017, the super lawyer David Boies was at a corporate retreat at the Ritz-Carlton in Key Biscayne, Florida, hosted by his law firm, Boies, Schiller and Flexner. Boies was a liberal legend: He had represented Al Gore in Bush v. Gore, and, in 2013, successfully defended gay marriage in California, in Hollingsworth v. Perry, paving the way for the landmark Supreme Court ruling two years later.
On the last day of the retreat, Boies gave a talk in the hotel ballroom to 100 or so attorneys, according to a lawyer who was present at the event. Afterwards, Boies’s colleagues were invited to ask questions.
Most of the questions were yawners. Then, an associate in her late twenties stood up. She said there were lawyers at the firm who were “uncomfortable” with Boies representing disgraced movie maker Harvey Weinstein, and she wanted to know whether Boies would pay them severance so they could quit and focus on applying for jobs at other firms. Boies, who declined to comment for this article, said no.
That lawyers could be tainted by representing unpopular clients was hardly news. But in times past, lawyers worried about the public—not other lawyers. Defending communists, terrorists, and cop killers had never been a crowd pleaser, but that’s what lawyers had to do sometimes: Defend people who were hated.
When congressional Republicans attacked attorneys for representing Guantanamo detainees, for example, the entire profession rallied around them. The American Civil Liberties Union noted that John Adams took pride in representing British soldiers accused of taking part in the Boston Massacre, calling it “one of the best pieces of service I ever rendered to my country.”
But that’s not how the new associates saw Boies’s choice to represent Weinstein. They thought there were certain people you just did not represent—people so hateful and reprehensible that helping them made you complicit. The partners, the old-timers—pretty much everyone over 50—found this unbelievable. That wasn’t the law as they had known it. That wasn’t America.
“The idea that guilty people shouldn’t get lawyers attacks the legal system at its root,” Andrew Koppelman, a prominent liberal scholar of constitutional law at Northwestern University, said. “People will ask: ‘How can you represent someone who’s guilty?’ The answer is that a society where accused people don’t get a defense as a matter of course is a society you don’t want to live in. It’s a totalitarian nightmare.”
What’s this war in the heart of nature ? Why does nature vie with itself? The land contend with the sea? ls there an avenging power in nature? These are some of the existential questions posed by the mystical Private Witt in the opening scenes of The Thin Red Line, Terence Mallick’s great meditation on war and man’s descent into the barbarity of military conflict. He was trying to come to terms with man’s savage replication of inanimate nature’s ebb and flow. Looking for an answer to them is ever an urgent task. Indeed, it is a perennial task confronting generations of mankind from time immemorial. Today its urgency forces itself upon us yet again.
I know he meant something more subtle than it sounds, but to many ears it was a soundbite too far. The end of history, Francis Fukuyama declared in 1989, was upon us. His first outing with the idea was in an essay. This caused such a stir that it was expanded into a book entitled The End of History and the Last Man. The occasion for his prophetic utterances was the demolition of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of the Soviet Union and its satellites, bringing about the end of the Cold War.
What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of postwar history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.
— Francis Fukuyama, “The End of History?”, The National Interest, No.16 (Summer 1989)
Well, well, well? So much for wishful thinking. It was a little ironic to hear – on Bari Weiss’ Common Sense platform – Professor Fukuyama, discussing our current world crisis with historians Niall Ferguson and William Russell Meade, where the consensus was that we were now indeed entering Cold War II. Cold War I got its baptism of fire in the Korean War. Cold War II was now getting its hot war initiation with the Russian assault on the Ukraine.
Aside from the fact that historical narratives are about much more than the rise and fall of empires and ideologies, history will end when the human race has run its course on this earth. In the meantime human beings will forever need to struggle with the powers behind the forces we now see unleashed in Eastern Europe – the forces of evil, mysterious and malign, which take possession of our hearts and wreak havoc as they do. This is what we keep forgetting – at our peril. We have done it before and are now once again scrambling to try to make sense of it.
T.S. Eliot more than hinted at our folly in Four Quartets when he confessed,
I do not know much about gods; but I think that the river
Is a strong brown god—sullen, untamed and intractable,
Patient to some degree, at first recognised as a frontier;
Useful, untrustworthy, as a conveyor of commerce;
Then only a problem confronting the builder of bridges.
The problem once solved, the brown god is almost forgotten
By the dwellers in cities—ever, however, implacable.
Keeping his seasons and rages, destroyer, reminder
Of what men choose to forget. Unhonoured, unpropitiated
By worshippers of the machine, but waiting, watching and waiting.
The river has long been a metaphor for man’s troubled journey in this world, sometimes more, sometimes less, mixing good and evil. Rivers in Ukraine are not only metaphors but real players in its current struggles.
Our current incarnation of the implacable strong brown god bursting his banks is Vladimir Putin. This century has already had two other gods of different hues which have destabilised our fragile existence – the god of greed who ravaged the world economy in the first decade of the new millennium, and then the crowned monster – still of uncertain human origin – who cut short the lives of almost 6 million of us and inflicted pain an estimated 500 million more – and rising. All three of these are in different ways manifestations of mankind’s capacity for evil. From time immemorial, to inflict pain and suffering on our race, a capacity which has been in evidence since evil first entered the heart of Cain, driving him to slay his brother Abel.
In their exchanges with Bari Weiss, these three aforementioned remarked on our failure to learn anything from history. That certainly is part of the problem. We keep forgetting the ogre slouching in the shadows, waiting for the moment to come out and devour us. History, if studied and reflected upon with any wisdom, will lead us towards the overwhelming question, “why?”. Any honest grappling with that question will lead us further to consider the problem of evil, its origins and the need to mount defences against it. There is a mystery surrounding evil that material science will never fathom – and political science does not make much of a fist at it either. We do not like mysteries – except when they entertain us – because they ask us to be humble. Humility in turn nudges us to perhaps acknowledge that a God more powerful than the brown god – or gods of any other colour – may be needed to help us cope with what assails us in the greater and lesser onslaughts we suffer here in our earthly sojourn.
But we also need to go even deeper, lest we adopt a holier-than-thou posture in all this, letting ourselves off the hook on the question of complicity in those things which have brought woe on our race. We need more than humility. We also need an honest self-awareness and a capacity for contrition. The greed and carelessness of the many compounded the exorbitant greed of the relatively few who triggered the financial crash of the last decade. The mystery of the origins of the viral forces which ravaged the world economy in this decade is still unresolved – but until the CCP gets itself a higher standard of honesty and openness, the jury will remain hung on that one. It is in this context that it is worth reflecting on the recent words of Philip Johnson, columnist with the Daily Telegraph.
He reflected on the extraordinary reverence the French have for Napoleon Bonaparte, whose monument sits within an open circular crypt beneath the golden dome of Les Invalides in Paris, conveying the unambiguous message that here lies a ‘great man’ of history. He notes that we are fascinated by such people, even though they are brutal, ruthless and despotic. They seem to weave a spell over the millions prepared to follow them, sometimes to destruction. But, he asks, to what extent do individuals determine history?
In War and Peace, Johnson reminds us, Tolstoy sought to debunk Thomas Carlyle’s theory that events are shaped by “great men” like Napoleon, seeing them instead as “involuntary instruments of history.”
The invasion of Ukraine, he argues, is being personalised as “Putin’s War” or the adventurism of “Mad Vlad”, thereby divorcing the event from its context by making it entirely a projection of one man’s derangement.
But to what extent are the Russian people willingly swallowing the justification given on state-controlled media that Russian troops are merely engaged in a humanitarian operation in eastern Ukraine to protect their ethnic brethren from fascist death squads and genocide? Johnson cites Putin saying that without helping the insurgents in the Donbas there would be “another Srebrenica”. “The fact this is preposterous is irrelevant if it is believed in Russia.”
Johnson again: “The so-called great men of history never act alone. Napoleon was followed by his Grande Armée into Russia and to miserable retreat because until then he had, by and large, been a winner, extending the boundaries of France, even egged on by “progressive” European thinkers.
Putin, puny as he may be, shares something of the trajectory of Napoleon. Like Napoleon, after the mayhem of the Terror, he pulled his country together again after the messy collapse of the Soviet experiment. Now for reasons so far unfathomable to most of us he also has set his sights on a new Empire. To help him along this path he has also become a dictator, has created a phony sense of national grievance, and manufactured an enemy in the West to generate paranoia in his people.
What now remains to be seen, even as this is written, is whether the Russian people will buy the lies he feeds them and cooperate in the evil which he is unleashing on them and a sovereign neighbour which simply wants to determine its own way in the world and find its place in the community of nations.
How this all ends is alarmingly uncertain. It may be the end of Vladimir V. Putin, it may be the extinguishing of the independent State of Ukraine – but one thing it will not be is the end of history.
There are many bewildering things about the madness which we call ‘wokism’ – an ugly neologism to begin with. Two questions about it tower above all others, one of which is giving me nightmares. The first is, where did it all come from? The second, the nightmarish one, is where will it all end?
Bari Weiss, as you probably know, is one of its victims, having jumped from the New York Times when the incursion of the trolls into the echelons of the paper made her efforts to bring a degree of balance to its opinion pages all but fruitless.
That did not mean she was going to run and hide. She went out in a blaze of defiance with a devastating inditement of the paper which she had tried to redeem. Her open resignation letter to Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger made world news. Has it made any difference? It is too early to say. That we can’t answer the question yet is part of my nightmare. So-called progressivism, in which wokism is deeply embedded, marches onward and downward into imbecility.
After her NYT exit Bari Weiss is up on he feet again and and fighting on many fronts. She is being listened to in online interviews, she is writing columns and piloting a lifeboat away from a doomed ship of fools. She and a few more such give us hope. To keep in touch with what she is doing – talking good old common sense – you can subscribe to her newsletter, Common Sense with Bari Weiss, on Substack. Since March 1, 2021, she has also worked as a regular columnist for Die Welt.
In her latest Common Sense newsletter she tackles the folly in progress at Amazon.
Amazon Studios’ new inclusion policy is vaunted by stenographers – a.k.a. mindless woke clones – in the mainstream media. Its goal is that by 2024, 50% of creative roles in its movies and shows will be filled by women or people of colour.
Okay, that’s their business and they should be free to organise it in whatever way they see fit – within the law, of coruse. But when they move into different territory we really do have a right to ask ourselves, what is this product I am getting in my living room? Is Amazon in the business of giving us genuine artistic creations or is its a social engineering organisation masquerading under an artistic banner?
Digging into its documentation Weiss finds the studio declaring that it will in future try to cast actors whose identity — “gender, gender identity, nationality, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability” — matches that of the characters they play. She wonders how Ariel from “The Little Mermaid” or the sea monster from “The Shape of Water” would be slotted.
By now, this is a familiar story, she writes: Amazon is turning the making of TV and film into the same woke numbers game played at every other elite institution. (Exhibit A: Sixty-eight percent of the students admitted to Princeton’s class of 2025 self-identify as “people of color.”)
Even if we were to give the forces behind this relentless drive the benefit of our doubts about their good intentions, the nighmarish thing about it all is that we are being sucked into a massive brainwashing machine by continuing to subscribe to Amazon Prime Video, bingeing on products that are not programmes but programmers programming all of us. We are assured by them that, “the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion requires all of us to disrupt (the) biases, and the longstanding customs and practices in the industry, in order to achieve real, lasting change. This work is not easy to do, but don’t worry, we’re in this together.”
Latasha Gillespie (below) is Executive Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Amazon Studios and she tells us her plan.
“Amazon Studios has long prioritized telling innovative and inclusive stories from a diverse range of creative talent, delighting our global audiences. We wanted to move beyond good intentions to creating mechanisms that hold us accountable to a high bar. This Inclusion Policy and Inclusion Playbook adds important, additional depth and guidance for our internal teams and external partners to ensure we continue to advance our shared mission of amplifying the best creatives and content around the world,”
In the middle of all this is an organisation called The Think Tank for Inclusion & Equity (TTIE – pronounced “tie”), describing itself as a consortium of working TV writers spanning staff writer to showrunner. We know first-hand the challenges faced by underrepresented TV writers (Women, BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, Disabled People) because TTIE is comprised of underrepresented writers from all of these communities.
As the only intersectional social change organization that advocates within the entertainment industry for a diverse cross-section of underrepresented communities, TTIE is uniquely situated to empower underrepresented writers and transform the industry into one in which all writers and all stories can thrive.
All this sounds benign and well intentioned. However, our alternative media feeds tell us the stories of the victims of these good intentions, the silencing, the cancelling and the sacking of voices which even ask mild questions about what is going on. To adapt an adage, our hell may be being paved with these good intentions.
Weiss read through Amazon Studios’ Inclusion Playbook, designed “to help disrupt the biases that occur across the lifecycle of a series or movie, from the first inkling of a concept to viewers streaming the content on Prime Video.” The playbook directed her to a factsheet that she thought might help improve her familiarity with all things diverse and inclusive.
There is where you will get some glimpse of its brainwashing programme, all about how do deal with things like: acquired limb difference (otherwise known as “amputation”). There’s an entry on mean girls, which, she learned, was a “stereotype of girls and young women characterizing them as socially aggressive and unkind” —characterizations that, apparently, not only “enforce the bad behavior” but “fail to address the larger social issues girls and women face like insecurity, lack of confidence, and pressure to fit the ‘feminine beauty ideal.’”
Outside the Amazon box – or any other corporate bubble infected by these holier-than-thou missionaries – there are, thankfully, people telling us that the king has no clothes on.
Weiss cites Newsweek editor Batya Ungar-Sargon who offers the following insight: wokeness is, almost always, a smokescreen. By focusing the attention and energy of the rich and powerful on say, whether using the word Latinx is preferable to Hispanic, we let them off the hook for actually doing something about the fact that Latinos remain more than twice as likely to live below the poverty line as whites and Asians.
Batya put it to this way: “‘Doing the work’ means hiring diversity specialists to call their children white supremacists in a prep school class they can put it on their transcript to help their chances of getting into Harvard. It has absolutely nothing to do with asking those who could actually make a difference with regard to true inequality to sacrifice anything of themselves.”
And how did the strange marriage between wokeness and corporate America take place? The answer to that, the less frightening of my two questions, will not be found, she says, in the mainstream press, but it’s an important subject and she tells us that there are two books coming out over the next few months that take it up.
The birth of wokeism was a godsend to corporations, Mr. Ramaswamy says. It helped defang the left. “Wokeism lent a lifeline to the people who were in charge of the big banks. They thought, ‘This stuff is easy!’ ” They applauded diversity and inclusion, appointed token female and minority directors, and “mused about the racially disparate impact of climate change.” So, in Mr. Ramaswamy’s narrative, “a bunch of big banks got together with a bunch of millennials, birthed woke capitalism, and then put Occupy Wall Street up for adoption.” Now, in Mr. Ramaswamy’s tart verdict, “big business makes money by critiquing itself.”
So, ironically, Marxist inspired progressivism and wokeness have been weaponised by the very demons the Frankfurt School had hoped to undermine when they set us on this path 70 years ago.
The other book, which is being published in October, is by the Newsweek editor I quote above, Batya Ungar-Sargon. It’s called “Bad News: How Woke Media Is Undermining Democracy.” For obvious reasons, I can’t wait to read it.