Donald Trump wants to change the narrative. He knows he’s losing on his handling of the pandemic, he’s losing on his response to the protests, and he can no longer rely on his custodianship of the economy. Instead, Trump hopes he can win re-election on the issue of “cancel culture”.
In an Independence Day speech delivered at the foot of Mount Rushmore, President Trump told supporters: “cancel culture [is] the very definition of totalitarianism”. He likened cancel culture to “far-left fascism”, arguing it is “driving people from their jobs, shaming dissenters, and demanding total submission from anyone who disagrees”.
To hear Trump tell it, cancel culture is a bigger threat than COVID-19. That would be politically convenient for him were it true, of course, seeing as over 70% of Americans disapprove of the way he has handled the coronavirus pandemic. Electorally, it makes complete sense to try and distract voters by waging a culture war.
So, has cancel culture really gone too far? More than 100 famous writers, including JK Rowling and Salman Rushdie, have signed an open letter decrying the “intolerance of opposing views”, the “vogue for public shaming and ostracism, and the tendency to dissolve complex policy issues in a blinding moral certainty” which they feel cancel culture represents.
On the other hand, some doubt whether cancel culture even exists. Online shaming and twitter trolls are certainly real, but the impact and permanence of “cancellation” varies so much as to essentially render the term meaningless. It’s true that the careers of Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein are almost certainly over (and both men are currently serving lengthy jail sentences). Likewise, R. Kelly and Kevin Spacey are unlikely to work again.
On the other hand, Taylor Swift released her sixth consecutive number-one album in 2019 despite being “cancelled” in 2016; Michael Jackson’s album sales actually increased after his cancellation; JK Rowling remains one of the richest women in the world despite fan sites distancing themselves from her over her tweets; Woody Allen and Roman Polanski are still making movies and winning awards; even Louis CK is touring again, despite admitting to openly masturbating in front of unconsenting female comedians.
Has cancel culture really gone too far? Is freedom of expression being stifled? Or is the idea of “cancel culture” as an organised movement of “left-wing fascists” just a paranoid fantasy? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!
No, I don’t think President Trump has a point. For one thing, it’s well documented that Trump himself has a long history of hounding people on Twitter and trying to force the firings or resignations of people who don’t share his views. This is just a distraction technique because his political instincts tell him he’s got a better chance of winning reelection on culture war issues than on the pandemic, the economy, or his handling of the protests.
you are crazy. Culture is dominated by the left.
What do you mean by culture? In the US, Fox News is the most-watched news channel. In the UK, right-wing papers dominate the market. It’s more complicated than you’re suggesting. I don’t think either the left or the right “dominates” culture. Instead, we’re all so intensely tribal and polarised at the moment (or, at least, the fringes are on both sides).
If “culture is dominated by the left”, then I guess that explains how fascism has been eradicated, everyone across the Western nations now has proper union protection and Poland is finally a LGBT-friendly country, and police are finally held fully accountable every day.
The eternal bloodshed in the Middle East ended years ago and we’re finally awaiting a future where climate disaster is in the past.
“Think before you speak” should be a much more popular saying.
Absolutely right what President Trump stated.
Trump’s just trying to stoke a moral panic. He wants to create another “red scare”. If you really believe there are “reds under the bed”, then you’re just dancing to his tune.
so you say and think. Not me.
How is this different from previous red scares? It’s a massive exaggeration of reality. Sure, there are left-wing idiots on twitter, I don’t deny it (there are also right-wing and centrist idiots on twitter). But Trump says cancel culture is the very definition totalitarianism. I’m sorry, how is a bunch of twitter twats trolling Taylor Swift totalitarianism?
@Karel Cute. Given that the goal is to abolish academic standards and silence science, that’s like saying “Absolutely right that the Earth is flat “
Who’s goal? The Cancel Culture Committee? The idea that left-wing ideology is poisoning academia and rewriting science isn’t exactly new, is it? It’s been around for decades (see the previous red scares). It wasn’t true then, and it’s not true now. Instead, there is exaggeration, scaremongering, and moral panic, exacerbated by social media and the internet (which makes everything seem so immediate, out of control, and intense). I think we all need to take a chill pill and calm down, to be honest.
Trump is right.
Not a Trump invention. Just an anti totalitarian mentality. Why are you presenting being agaisnt persecution of people cause they don’t agree with you as an invention of Trump? That is a fundamental principle of non-totalitatian / pluralistic systems, while it has its limits depending on how extremist the views you are attacking are, obviously – some are illegal and we live in societies with laws, not in caves. Anyway you can’t just persecute every worldview different from yours.
Cancel culture isn’t really a thing, though. It’s just a bunch of idiots on twitter trying to cyberbully celebs. Calling it “cancel culture” and saying it’s fascist totalitarianism is just an attempt to stoke fear. It’s anyway just stuff that already existed (people trying to publicly shame others) combined with social media and the internet. The only thing that’s new is that it seems so immediate and intense because of twitter. Good piece here: https://daily.jstor.org/cancel-culture-is-chaotic-good/
It’s mobbing. Mobs are nothing new in human history, but the ability of massive mobs to form across a nation or even the planet over trivial matters using social media is new, and has made it worse.
Perhaps more like “Chaotic evil”
Yeah, I think that’s true. Though it depends how you define “worse”. It’s definitely made it feel more intense, but that doesn’t mean it’s made it a bigger problem for society. It’s like violent crime can be declining, but because of social media our perception is that it’s going up.
It’s worse because it is more intense. More people self-censor as a result, placating often absurd and capricious demands that may change with the fashion, and particularly academic enquiry and debate has become stifled compared to 30 or 40 years prior. A comedy such as The Life of Brian could not have been made today according to Monty Python. That is a damning indictment.
Oh, come on. I mean, the reason The Life of Brian couldn’t be made now is because studios are only interested in comic book adaptations. But, putting that aside, the big studios and movie theatres have LESS power now than they did when Life of Brian came out. And the pandemic is going to weaken their power even more (with many films going VOD, and with so many streaming services creating their own content). I just watched The Hunt last night, a satire of ‘liberal elites’ hunting ‘deplorables’ for sport. It was an ok movie (certainly not as good as The Life of Brian), but if anyone was stifling it, it was Donald Trump who tweeted how it was designed to “inflame and cause chaos” without having actually seen it (it wasn’t actually an attack on conservatives).
No, the reason it could not be made now is that the creators would be hounded and harassed by all manner of interest groups and legions of the offended to the point that they could no longer lead normal lives. I’d also question whether big studios have less power now, as VOD platforms are still corporate entities. Power has simply shifted from Hollywood to Silicon Valley, from NBC to YouTube if you like.
As I’ve already said, Donald Trump and followers are as guilty of the present situation as anyone. There is a general push to abandon Enlightenment values from the US, the principle of freedom of speech and the right to disagree and offend, coming from the American right and left wings, which we in Europe must not emulate for the sake of our democracies and plural societies.
Celebrities don’t lead normal lives because they are celebrities. Even celebrities who stay completely politically neutral don’t lead normal lives, because there are always idiot fans who will try to attack them online. The Pythons do not lead normal lives. I’m not saying online mobs are great (they’re clearly not). But I think the notion of some kind of ideologically-coherent cancel culture motivated by “cultural marxism” is just an old-fashioned moral panic. It’s just idiots on twitter, not a fascist totalitarian threat.
Well we can agree it is neither particularly Marxist nor particularly coherent, at least. Celebrities are citizens and are in fact entitled not to be harassed or stalked. Furthermore, nowadays everyone is just one viral meme away from being a celebrity.
Hah, here we can agree, friend. :-)
does the cancelling happen or not, according to your infos? Seems it does happen, as the article isn’t even trying to question it, but we shall be open to new info. Focusing on what to call the problem instead of focusing on the problem would mean trying to bury the problem under jargon, in a sense. My opinion is that speech that shall not be said shall be forbidden/regulated by laws made by our democratically elected representative s – hence my precious previous “we live in civic societies, not in … “.
The notion that one is entitled to “cancel” anyone’s future is not only deeply disturbing, but also utterly unrealistic (unless they physically eliminate you, of course). Not so long ago it used to be called bullying, or ganging against an individual who speaks their mind. It’s the opposite of democracy. Trump is right on that one.
I agree with Trump
Sure, but his followers are just as guilty of it. Anyway here in Europe I think it is enough just not to ape what Americans are doing for once and stick to good old Enlightenment values.
The whole concept of ‘cancelling’ people is deeply totalitarian.
Is it? Totalitarianism is when a single party controls not just all organs of the state, but also all institutions within society (including the family). The Nazis called it gleichschaltung (or ‘co-ordination’). What we have is not totalitarianism and the co-ordination and control of all aspects of society by a single political party, it’s rather intense political polarisation and tribalism. This whole thing is more like the ‘red scares’ of the 20th century.
The totalitarian mindset can exist even in those who do not yet hold absolute power. Lenin didn’t become a totalitarian the day he seized power.
You cant cancel history. You can cancel symbols… but that is not very useful. Its also not a terrible misdeed… so whatever get people out of bed.
If he wins then it isn’t big deal he won. The government must afraid the people and not the opposite
If he wins then it isn’t big deal he won. The government must afraid the people and not the opposite
Yes, exactly! Spot on.
If you’re not an asshole, nobody will cancel you. it’s as simple as that.
I think we are over-thinking it. I do believe we have enough conflicts to address to invent new ones. I do understand the the core conflicts have proven un-solvable and with the vast amount of information available more and more people realize that, but I do not accept the super-position as a way to avoid those. Such approach creates an illusion of causation, while in reality diverts attention from the potential solution space. If we take a different, more philosophical angle, on the problem, we may say that our society system(as a kind) has grown to the point where it faces its own complexity, but has no metric to address it. The abstractions that shape the frame we use to define ourselves as social beings is not sufficient to address multi-layered nodes on the social network in a functional way. This is why, we as parts of the organic system the society forms, redefine function and conflict, and create new metrics that enables us to position ourselves on the moral axis enforced by the abstract frame(the definition scope for the social self). If we scope that process upwards, one can consider that mutation an attempt to generate louder noise in an increasingly noisy system(perception wise)- a way to solve the identity crisis the average member of a modern westernized society experiences due to the slow but eminent decay of the labor market as conceptual platform for value exchange and its fast replacement by a high volume/low value exchanges spawned by synthetic systems in which one is nothing but a function measured by its productivity and not impact. The latter is a bigger topic, that goes out of the scope, so to summarize…the cancel culture is just noise, not signal. The way it is exploited from populists is a completely different topic.
Hehe, I think I followed all of that, and am pretty sure I agree with you. :-D As I see it, humans really struggle to cope with uncertainty. We try to resolve uncertainty, because there could be danger hiding in the uncertainty. But we live in an incredibly complex world, where uncertainty is just going to have to be a fact of life. In addition, media (and social media) constantly hype unusual news stories, making it seem like threats and dangers are all around us (a dynamic which populists play into). Plus, the “echo chambers” built by social media algorithms again intensify everything. We all need to chill out a bit.
uncertainty and humans is a deep problem and I agree with you. Religious narratives were pretty useful solution because they actually personalize the risks and their (co)relations making them recognizable and addressable for an individual observer. Those narratives however were forced on the population as a power management tool by the systems that grew around them(the churches and their wings/fractions) which slowly eroded the original function(meta/soft-knowledge containers) and transformed into power-narratives(conquer and control). That mutation is what we see at the core of most populists and the clusters of conspiracy theorists nowadays . You may say that the individual observer is no longer on the menu, it all comes in masses, presses the big buttons(fear, sex, strength), the people become smaller, because they are rendered down to their primal instincts, while the small is sold as the new big. It is a mad cycle, but as you said one needs to keep it cool.
Is it government mandated or a decision by society? If it’s the former burn it down, if it’s the later carry it high!
Cancel culture – bunch of sheeple virtue signaling. Alignment with the “acceptable” opinion or trend without attempt at critical thinking and analysis. Often driven by emotion only.
Yes, it’s driving me crazy.
“Cancel culture” is often decried by people who wish to bury their critics in lawsuits, ergo people who wish for freedom from criticism of their bigoted viewpoints.
See: any politician or celebrity enforcing measures to silence people, whether it be through legal measures or financial blackmail.
Freedom of speech is what they say it’s about, but it’s merely a red herring.
I think it really depends on what that person does. Anyway, there is no one more into cancel culture than Donald Trump, so coming from someone more virtuous this can be interpreted as something worth debating, but coming from mr. Orange it can only be interpreted as hypocrisy.
For the first time I agree with him. A debate is not a bad thing. It is necessary in order to exchange opinions and actually learn. We cannot shut off every single person or thing that we disagree with. Not how democracy, liberty and freedom works .
careful, Trump and his allies decry cancel culture from the left while aggressively pushing to cancel and prosecute people on the left and critics of US imperialism.
This is a much more serious problem than canceling. Look up: Safronov’s Arrest Is a New Low for Freedom of Speech in Russia on themoscowtimes.com
He does. And I don’t like Trump but he is totally right!
Cancel culture is just an expression of current will to power. The line between rightfully ostracizing someone for their oppressive views and actions (views and actions that actually lead to oppression) and cancelling someone for their opinion – an opinion built on arguments, that can be changed and should be more or less discussed – this line is getting blurry. We should be careful here. Not everything should be accepted, but not everything that we don’t like must be censored. We are getting too hasty and superficial in judging the various cases. Sometimes it’s okay. When this happens in debates about sensible topics, it’s just deleterious. In going in the right direction (acceptance of diversity, end of oppression etc.) we could do a lot of damage (giving a sloppy interpretation of what diversity, identify etc. are and so on).
Cancel culture is what we call the law. We use it to keep society within the boundries of a society.
So no, hate speech isn’t part of society.
@Arnout and Riccardo
Am I mistaken in my interpretation of your post as meaning, some people who disagree with a persons point of view, on any issue at any time, can and should be rightfully censored? And that once censored their viewpoint can/should be classified as ‘criminal’ in its content?
If this is what you mean, then doesn’t that sound not only peculiar as a policy but also stultifying to any population as it reduces expression of thought to illiteracy of human expansion? In other words, you are asking for the human race to agree to accepting their own demise as a thinking entity by a controlling illiterate group.
To me, this implies you intend to brainwash mankind. And perhaps, that you are already in that sphere of no mans land yourself.
Has cancel culture really gone too far?
Cancel culture is simply censorship by another name. Censorship is often used to hide the truth of events having taken place previously or in the present, that those who support such ideals, don’t want openly revealed as they fear a rebellion against them. In this instance, has cancel culture really gone too far?
Such as, what is being kept very dark from the peoples of Europe today.
Europe, the UK and, in fact, all of the western world, except Switzerland, cannot be classified as democracies until their citizens are asked, or, given the right to demand a vote on issues that politicians make on their behalf. Example, the vision and future the Western world has already established to change us from Nation rule to Globalist rule now well under way.
As, the first of those democratic votes would be taken on mass immigration coming from outside Europe. Has the Coudenhove-Kallergi plan been openly discussed by politicians in order to gain the indigenous peoples permission to pursue the kind of future presently being put in place ?
If indeed it has been openly discussed was a democratic conclusion by the people agreed upon and if so, was this plan put to a vote?
Seemingly, it appears to be a move that, in essence, intends to wipe out an entire continent of people. One would think this should have been a priority discussion with the population at the offset. None of my family can recall this being addressed in their lifetime by any government or politician. One or two of them now in their 90’s. When I try to raise a discussion at functions or gatherings no one in the group appears to have heard of this plan. Yet it is well developed within our societies. Prizes given annually for those who have been primary instigators. How is that? One would think any Democracy would regularly have this as a major discussion throughout society. Especially in schools and universities.
wrote 6 May 2018 · Suggesting,
MASS IMMIGRATION – The Coudenhove-Kalergi plan was in progress.
Mass immigration is a phenomenon. The purpose of which are cleverly concealed by political elites, and the multicultural propaganda is employed to falsely portray it as inevitable. In this article we intend to prove, once and for all, that mass immigration is not a spontaneous phenomenon. What the elites try to present as an inevitability of modern life, is actually the product of a plan conceived around a table and prepared over decades, to completely change the face of our continent.’
The Pan-Europe Project.
Few people know that one of the main instigators of the process of European integration, was a man who also conceived the destruction of peoples of Europe. He was a sinister individual whose existence is generally unknown to the masses, but the political elites consider him the founder of the European Union. His name is Richard von Coudenhove Kalergi. His father was an Austrian diplomat named Heinrich von Coudenhove-Kalergi (with connections to Byzantine family of the Kallergis), and his mother the Japanese Mitsu Aoyama.
An annual European prize is given regularly to those who most ardently promote this plan.
And the book addressed, named, ‘Practical Idealism.’ Amazon now sell in English translation.
Back to the heading on this thread. Here is the first step to making Europe Democratic in the true sense of the word. Put this plan, to the European people for a vote, Swiss style, under their system of Direct Democracy and see how the vote for it goes. That way we can all say we took part in the direction our future is going.
And the Spectator addresses much in this article.
Will this post face the ‘cancel culture’ being discussed. I wonder.
Has cancel culture really gone too far?
If you want more information on Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi check out youtube. They have much more in depth information on his life and how he is the catalyst of EU policy as it is today…. Mind boggling! It could be compared to another Austrian authors similar plan for Europe.