Don’t complain about the culture war, Mr Fry – you started it

Nov 8, 2018 by

by Robert James, The Conservative Woman:

Weeping and gnashing of teeth in celebrityland: this week Stephen Fry asserted that classical liberalism is dead. You can read The Guardian’s report here.

‘A grand canyon has opened up in our world,’ Fry said at an arts festival in Australia. In his view the two opposing sides are the new Right, promoting a bizarre mix of Christianity and libertarianism, and the ‘illiberal liberals’, obsessed with identity politics and complaining about things like cultural appropriation. ‘These tiny factions war above, while the rest of us watch, aghast, from the chasm below.’ He mournfully said that classical liberals used to control the flow of ideas and now they no longer do. ‘We (presumably people who share his opinions) are irrelevant and outdated bystanders.’

Doubtless his comments will be welcomed by swathes of people in the West reeling from Brexit and Trump. For those of us who knew something was in the wind long before 2016, Fry’s comments sound like yet another angry Left-liberal who did not see it coming.

To an uninstructed reader, Fry’s comments may seem fair enough: just a public commentator voicing opinion. However, when his past activities are considered, it all starts to look quite different.

He was, let us recall, a leading light in the ‘alternative comedy’ revolution of the 1980s. This had Mao-like strictures and used sexual and identity politics and a loathing for Margaret Thatcher as a battering ram into the mainstream. In the time-honoured fashion of revolutions, its practitioners became far more powerful, entrenched and smug than the despised variety performers they deposed. Theirs became the only politics permissible in the arts and entertainment world: divergence from the Left liberal worldview meant that you would need to seek some other employment or at least keep quiet. We live in that world now, a world of hair-trigger political correctness, humourlessness and an ever-escalating legal war on free speech. Quite amazing, isn’t it, to think that a successful comedy industry has been built up that is not actually funny? It’s like the car industry prospering after abolishing wheels.

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