These New Puritans | Stephen Daisley
AAndrew Doyle is a dangerous man, and this is a dangerous book. Don’t take my word for it: the guy’s own pals think he’s one to watch. Like the homie he’s telling us about who called him a “fucking nazi”. True, vodka martinis had been taken and proof of the friend’s fascist inclination was Doyle’s vote to leave the EU and his satires of progressivism, but you can never be too careful.
So it was with some trepidation that I opened my copy of The New Puritans during a recent hospital stay. I had lost patience with a John Grisham caught in the store, who was largely concerned about the racist and stupid character of everyone south of the Mason-Dixon line. When did the courageous master of the populist pulp of the South turn into a sneering liberal fanatic? A move to the right was in order, so it was Doyle’s book.
Throughout the Nazi polemics, The New Puritans is something of a disappointment. It’s a better read than Mein Kampf and less esoteric than The myth of the 20th centurywalk inthere, but it’s quite light on old blood and soil. Turns out Doyle isn’t a Nazi at all, just a standard John-Stuart-Mill liberal. The New Puritans, far from being a tract on Aryan racial purity, is a warning against the authoritarian tendencies of identity politics. Boy, are there will be red faces at the next Britain First reading group.
A broadcaster and stand-up comedian, Doyle is also a recovering academic with a doctorate in “Renaissance discourse on gender and sexuality.”, which takes some recovery. It did, however, give him intimate insight into a political insurgency that, in just a few short years, has gripped the heights of government, law, medicine, education, journalism, the arts and business. private enterprise.
The architects of this movement are “the new puritans” and their religion is critical social justice, Doyle’s term for what is more commonly known as wokeism. They are “a prohibitionist and precisionist tendency that seeks to reshape society according to their own ideological fervor”. Their bigotry, philistinism, and the malevolent exercise of power over others remind Doyle of the Salem witch trials and the vicious little girls whose “lived experience” sent 19 innocent women to the gallows.
Where Abigail Williams and her pointing acolytes saw witches, their ideological descendants see racists and transphobes. They do therefore by applying a doctrine called intersectionality, which asserts that interlocking systems of oppression are the basis of Western societies. They harness the power of social stigma to punish transgressors and skeptics. It’s a culture of undo – “a punitive and performative mass denunciation in order to destroy lives and enforce conformity” – and today it rages on Twitter rather than a colonial settlement in Massachusetts.
Besides punishment, the New Puritans exercise prior restraint by banishing speech they or they disapprove of as harmful, a practice known as safetyism. Doyle notes how this regularly involves privileged taxation their preferences on lower orders. “To imagine“, he vwalk ines, “Debrett’s Guide to Etiquette Having Been Rewritten by a Person with Histrionic Personality Disorder.”
Critical social justice, in Doyle’s analysis, is applied postmodernism
Doyle traces this “conformity frenzy” to where wise thinkers go to grants and wise thinkers go to pensions: higher education. Critical social justice, in Doyle’s analysis, is “postmodernism applied”. It turns out that half of our young people are sent to closed ideological workshops to be catechized in neo-TueThe xist critical theory of the Poundland post-structuralists was not such a good idea after all. Having learned that reality is constructed through language and that language is a tool of oppression, a generation of arts and social science graduates “brought this ideology into adult life and institutions. they or they busy now”. This has led to a “civilizational threat” in which “the goal is not to criticize society as it is, but to engineer an entirely new pseudo-reality by imposing limits on language, thought, and Perception.”. Again, religious nuances are plain: “Theirs is a belief in the perfectibility of mankind.”
One example Doyle gives of applied postmodernism is Schedule B of the NHS policy, which combines religious literalism with a zeal to inculcate pagans. Since “the NHS welcomes patients according to their gender identity, and not according to their biological sex”, Appendix B states that “if a patient complains that there is a man on her ward, she should be told that is not true; the are no men present”. The Jesuits used to say, “Give me the child for the first seven years, and I’ll give you the man.” The priests of the new religion say, “Give me a health bureaucracy and a Stonewall training, and I’ll give you a woman who’s too scared to interrogate the man in the next bed.”.”
Doyle has been so maligned as a right-wing demagogue that you might expect The New Puritans to be one of those anti-snowflake polemics. However, he offers a conditional defense of ’80s PC culture, which he says “achieved truly progressive results in terms of social consciousness without resorting to the kind of censored police intervention or ‘cancel culture’ “crowd-driven retribution that we see today.”. In fact, Doyle considers the heirs of the PC-crazed tabloid columnists of the 1980s to be the white-crazed progressives of the 1980s. 2020, which seizes on highly individual incidents, dubious anecdotes and obvious myths to peddle hysteria about societal fate. Just as the fear of crime increases as the frequency of crime decreases, “the relentless focus on victimization has apparently intensified as social attitudes have progressed”.
The more I read, the more I began to recognize myself
Doyle plays a Reverse Uno on his progressive critics, saying that they are the real reactionaries. Their ideology “encourages its adherents to deny the progress our devotion to liberal values has made”. The New Puritans have “avoided the traditional socialist goals of correcting economic inequality and redistributing wealth and replaced their with an obsessive focus on race, gender and sexuality”. So-called anti-racists and gender radicals have in fact, “allowed rehabilitated racial thinking to flourish” and promoted “extremely conservative views about what it means to be male and female”. Those whose political awakening – and/or jobs – depend on resisting long-defeated fanaticisms cannot recognize how successful that resistance has been in changing society. They would lose their goal and their Powerful. “As the reactionaries of the French Revolution”, Doyle presumes, the new puritans are “troubled by the transformations they have seen in their lives and yearn for a return to the olds”.
Where I have to part with Doyle is his confidence that the brakes can still be slammed on the hell-bound handcart. “Armies of the Unpersuaded“, he assures us, “are far more abundant than the New Puritans would have them have we believe.” That’s how you know Doyle is a liberal. Only a Liberal could fathom Britain in 2022, where tweeting color jokes and statements of biological facts leads to a police raidand find reasons to hope. If that’s not enough, he believes we need more “civil discussion” and “find a way to relearn how to talk to each other.””. No no no. I want to crush my enemies then troll their without mercy on Twitter.
Which brings me to my real problem with The New Puritans: he left me the feeling, as the children say, very seen. I started by nodding at Doyle’s criticism of people whose politics I hate, sucking in all that sweet confirmation bias as he documented their lazy thinking, intolerance and lack of empathy for their opponents. But the more I read, the more I began to recognize myself. The more I had to reckon with was how lazy, intolerant, and harsh my own thinking had become. The more I felt embarrassed by mental fortifications like “my adversaries are enemies of a free society”, “their prescriptions will destroy western civilization” and all my other lazy self-justifications. When Doyle touts the need “to instill critical thinking at all levels of our educational institutions”I wonder if they or they offer evening classes.
The New Puritans is a book that refuses to flatter even its intended audienceand for this I have half felt and half admired. It’s a thoughtful and insightful introduction to a grim new orthodoxy, its terrifying but never alarmist narrative, its analytical commentary without being sadly academic. The strength of his call to arms is that it is more of a call to debate. In this debate The New Puritans is a gunfight of uncompromising reason but reason with compassion. Andrew Doyle has written a masterful broadside against revival that will baffle the anti-revival as well, offering both the radical notion that rather than being identities, we embrace our status as individuals. I told you it was a dangerous book.