Children are the future. But what future will it be when the children of today are indoctrinated up to their eyeballs by the education system, the indoctrination only reinforced by most of the institutions in our society?
A few weeks ago, I was one of guest speakers at an annual general meeting of a unit of a centre-right political party. Over the course of my ramblings I have succeeded in depressing the captive audience of some three dozen members and activists with my message that liberal democracies are now facing the most dangerous political climate since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union. So much for our innocent dreams about “the end of history” those thirty years ago. The victory did not even last a generation.
I gave three main reasons for my negative assessment of our present situation in Australia and throughout the rest of the West. Firstly, there is the continuing rise of China, a superpower guided by an ideology hostile to all the values we cherish, from democracy to freedom of conscience. The Chinese Communist Party is arguably the canniest and the most successful political organisation of the past several decades, and China itself arguably more dangerous than the Soviet Union, because the wealth it generates gives it a lot more options. Secondly, there is the rehabilitation of socialism as an economic doctrine and system. Socialism is cool again, particularly among the younger generations, where its favourability often exceeds 50 per cent (and almost two thirds of the university-educated cohort in Australia), while capitalism, which has produced our modernity and given more people longer, healthier, richer and more exciting lives than any other economic system in history is deemed a colossal failure in throes of an existential crisis. Thirdly, and related to the previous point, there is the Woke Cultural Revolution, or the seemingly unstoppable march of cultural (as opposed to purely economic) Marxism through all our institutions, reframing every human experience in terms of power and oppression, so that “the wretched of the Earth” can overthrow the old in favour of some radical new utopia.
Never mind external ideological and geopolitical threats to our societies and the way of life – the barbarians are already inside the gates; in fact, they have been here all along, white-anting every political, economic and social institution. This is not so much a case of “decline and fall” as a civilisational suicide. We have met the barbarians and they are us.
Now you understand what I put my poor and unsuspecting audience through? In the Q&A session and chatting one-on-one with listeners afterward, I was asked several variants of the question whether I think there is any hope, and more specifically, how do we fight for our future when young people seem to be so at best ambiguous about and at worst so hostile towards their own society and the political, economic and social system.
The short answer is of course there is hope. If there was no hope, we might as well curl up in a fetal position and die. And the woke shall inherit the Earth. Instead we need to fight; fight more, fight better, and fight smarter than we did at any time since the end of the Cold War – arguably than at any time during the Cold War.
Generalities are easy, specifics not so. How do we counter and try to undo the damage inflicted on young minds from preschool to postgrad and reinforced through popular culture and other opinion-making, -shaping and -enforcing channels? How do we convince Gen Y and Gen Z, who in increasing numbers and with an increasing stridency believe our society is irredeemably unfair, unjust and broken and requires a radical overhaul, that they have been fibbed and manipulated by the agents of destructive and failed ideologies?
I’m not a marketing guru or a spin doctor – much less a talking head or a celebrity – so I will leave the debate over the right channels and the right messages, i.e. the tactics, to the experts. The overall approach, or strategy, is something that I have been giving much more thought. And while no doubt there are many possible answers, I would like to suggest one.
As the anti-establishment has become the establishment and the counter-culture is now the mainstream culture, it’s time for the right to take advantage of the same qualities that in the past used to exasperate us in younger people, namely their contrariness, rebelliousness and disdain for authority. With the left (often far-left) controlling or at least influencing the public sector, big business, education, culture, arts, community sector and the media, the Powers That Be are now almost uniformly progressive, if not radical. They are on-message, loud, proud, and intolerant of dissent or difference. The left is now “The Man”. Instead of Rage Against The Machine, it’s the Rage Of The Machine – against everyone else. If we are to salvage and un-program at least a certain proportion of the young cohort, it’s by appealing to their instincts to question, be wary of orthodoxies, stand out from the crowd, be independent, be a free thinker. In a world where the majority thinks that socialism and statism are cool, it’s those who believe in free market and individualism that are the rebels. Wokeness, Critical Race Theory, radical feminism, the “black armband” view of history – these are the new sacred cows to be slaughtered. A whole fashion parade of emperors without clothes is asking for ridicule.
This is just one possible thread of the conservative counter-revolution, perhaps only a small one. But we cannot afford to sit and wait, as we are inclined to do, until the young people “grow up”, and with responsibilities of career, relationship and family abandon childish things. This is because the young generations have never before been indoctrinated by the left to the same extent as they are today. Radicalism of youth has been a constant through history, but it has always been a minority (albeit a vocal one) pursuit. Now, significant majorities are either true believers, fellow travelers or simply too scared to rock the boat. This time we need to be proactive, or the future will be red and grim. Many of us might not live to see it, and reality will eventually hit the today’s young progressives good and hard, as it always does, but as the 20th century has shown, this is a price too high to pay for a lesson to be taught. Prevention is better than the cure. So, onward counter-culture soldiers.