Richard Pierce

Richard Pierce – author, poet, painter

Life, Politics

Day 219

When some of us, even in the early days of the now 12-year Tory rule, said that the Tory cultural war was not just aimed at left-wing culture but at culture in general, especially when they started closing local libraries in 2011, we were called extremists, told that we were exaggerating, that the Tories were just aiming to balance the books of the Arts and Humanities. I even lost a really good friend who had been instrumental in enabling M and me to relay to our boss that we were in a relationship because I called the Tories fascists. And where are we now? We’re even further down the road of this cultural vandalism these Tory governments have been engaging themselves in. The path that party is now treading is not just one which aims to emphasise the superiority of white, British, right-wing culture (see Gove’s abolition of all but English texts in the English curriculum, and many other instances which space constraints prohibit me from listing) over non-white, diverse, questioning, and protesting left-wing culture (the things these right-wingers describe as “woke,” always a compliment in my eyes), but one of seeking to eradicate all culture from British life. Totally and utterly.

The Tory massacre of culture in UK is no different to the destruction of Palmyra, one of the most important ancient cultural centres in the world, by a terrorist organisation some years ago. It is an attempt to level to the ground everything that questions the status quo, the rapid move towards a fascists one-party state. Witness the declaration by Rishi Sunak (one of the least generous of  all Chancellors of the Exchequer) to phase out degree courses which don’t “improve students’ earnings potential.” This would mean an end to Arts & Humanities degrees, and spell an end to the already fading vision that going to university is all about education, and not about making money. It would strip away from universities (and schools) the ability to educate children in subjects and texts which question traditional history, which question the state of the world as it is (under any colour of government), and would make sure that schools and universities were driven only by profit motives, not by altruistic purposes, turn them even more into those machines which produce the cannon fodder for the Tory view of industry and subservience. Imagine that. And we were exaggerating in 2011? And, for balance, Truss is proposing other (but similar) measures to hobble universities. And they are both supporting the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill currently in the House of Lords which does the exact opposite of what its title says, and seeks to curb universities’ powers to stop right-wing and hate speech from being spread in their campuses throughout the country. Imagine that.

Just for those who think I’m being alarmist, and that these policies, on deeper scrutiny, might not be another extension of the Tory war on culture – good policies must be able to stand up to the slightest scrutiny, they have to make sense at the simplest level, they should not need in-depth study to prove they make sense; and none of these policies make sense except to the far-right British Fascist Party the Conservative Party has now become.

In less threatening and apocalyptic news – I managed to chisel away the concrete block by the garage door which had threatened to rip the exhaust from Madge, the Spitfire, when I first tried to put her in the garage. And what I thought would be a job for the hole afternoon turned out to be a 5-minute job (because I am such a beast of a man, of course.). And M, the ever-practical, even more beautiful when sweaty M, spent hours turning the messy drive into a work of art, discovering a paved area where we thought none was, so that our bins (all four of them) have somewhere out of the way to live. The joys of domesticity in a time of right-wing extremism!




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