To be honest, I don’t normally give actors the time of day. Especially ones who get political. There’s a Jerry Seinfeld bit where he wonders aloud: “why do actors think they know anything?” Precisely. Anyway, I recently listened to an interview with Laurence Fox, a former British actor whose career was ended by cancel culture and who is now running for London Mayor on a message of reclaiming freedom and you know what? Maybe it’s just the Prosecco I had with my cornflakes talking (don’t judge my alcoholism I’ve been in lockdown for a year), but I liked the guy. He seems fairly well learned and not to be merely paying lip service to liberty. His positions on things like free speech, equality and racism are sound and sensible enough. There’s nothing extreme or alarming about them in the slightest. And he seems to be one of the people Guardian readers most love to hate right now, so he must be doing something right.
As Fox remarks in his interview with Spiked Magazine’s Brendan O’Neill, he has been surprised by just how much his campaign messages have resonated with the working-class Londoners he encounters every day – the very people who the political Left has abandoned and now despise because the white commoners are racist and the ethnic minority commoners don’t hate their white neighbours and colleagues as they should. Dumb commoners! Can’t do anything right!
To paraphrase Fox, a rich bloke who went to a posh private boarding school, somehow finds himself representing working-class Londoners. A measure of how fucked-up the left-wing of British politics has become. How has he performed this political miracle? Mostly by recognising that common folk are really fed up with being dismissed as racist idiots by a Woke wealthy elite who claim to be their superiors and saviours, and with being told by them what they can and can’t say.
Thirty or so years ago, the average left-wing politician would have taken very similar stances on things like racism and equality as Laurence Fox does today, but the political Left today has become so consumed by the Woke ideology of identity politics and critical race theory that it has drifted out to an extreme point. From way over there, the moderate political centre appears to be the ‘right-wing’ in the eyes of the generation of historically illiterate leftists who now occupy the left-wing of British politics. Hence why people with sensible, moderate stances, like Fox, are met with the sort of visceral moral loathing normally reserved for genuine racist thugs.
Today’s Woke Leftists wouldn’t know a genuine right-wing racist or fascist if one poked them in the eye with a swastika. This isn’t only due to their completely incoherent and self-contradictory conception of racism, but also because there is so little genuine right-wing racism in the UK. You have to look incredibly hard to find it and when you do, you realise it doesn’t pose any serious threat to the peace of our society because it consists of a small gaggle of morons. Our society has been so watchful of and intolerant to right-wing extremism for so long that it simply can’t take hold anywhere. And this is one of the things that makes our society a good one, a respectable and laudable one.
Contrary to what today’s Woke folk believe, British society doesn’t deserve to be razed to the ground and started over. It isn’t evil or beyond redemption. It’s not some ugly seventies brutalist monstrosity that should be bulldozed. It is a grand old building with an ornate neo-classical facade, which centuries of philosophical and technological human endeavour went into constructing. Our society is not an ugly monument to slavery or the worst aspects of humanity, and therefore something to be ashamed of. It’s a monument to liberalism and to what human freedom can achieve. It is something to be cherished and something we should want to take care of. Any urge to tear it down is ultimately an urge to self-destruct, an act of self-harm and hatred.
What the delusional Woke Left sees as a terrifying wasteland of racism is actually just the vast safe plains of the political middle-ground occupied by the British working-class masses of all colours and creeds. Here in this centuries-old market society, out of self-interest, everyone tolerates each other. And over time, tolerance has translated into understanding, empathy, acceptance and appreciation. And now, many of us have come to like and even love that cultural diversity.
Diversity in and of itself isn’t what makes us good people and our society a good one, however. We would still be a good people even if our society wasn’t so ethnically diverse. It’s their tolerant attitude towards diversity that makes the British people a good people. And that liberal cultural mindset comes from centuries of experience of living and working with people of all colours and creeds.
You see, the tolerant, harmonious and diverse society which the Woke Left desires to bring about by the brute force of central planning actually already exists in the UK. If only Woke folk would stop looking at our society through the collectivist lens of identitarianism for just a moment, they would see it with their own eyes. But the most disturbing thing about their blindness to the goodness of British society is that it’s willful. They refuse to see it.
The truth is the UK is one of the most diverse and tolerant societies in the world today. It’s not perfectly virtuous, no society or culture is, but if you find yourself inclined to think that British society is awful and shameful, then you should ask yourself: compared to what? There are plenty of societies and cultures in the world today that are greatly inferior to the UK when it comes to gender and race equality and tolerance. There is a very good reason why so many refugees risk their lives to reach UK shores. Because they know it’s essentially a good society where everyone is equal before the law and where most people will treat you fairly. And one where you can earn a decent living and live how you want to. That’s pretty much what all human beings anywhere want.
Societies like this don’t grow on trees, however, and they’re a relatively recent phenomenon. For many centuries until the birth of liberalism, inequality before the law, oppression and poverty were the norm for the masses. It took centuries for the western world to develop a good and just social order based on the principles of liberalism.
Societies, as we know them today, are like cathedrals. They take ages to build but can be destroyed very quickly. That’s why we can’t allow today’s left-wing extremism to take political control of our society. If it does, then the equal and opposite reaction is likely to be the resurrection of genuine right-wing extremism in the UK. Extremism begets extremism. Good society would be crushed between the violent forces of left-wing and right-wing extremism.
Laurence Fox could have publically recanted his beliefs and begged to be allowed back into show business, but to his credit, he didn’t. He lost his acting career but he kept his dignity. He also didn’t stick two fingers up to British society and emigrate somewhere, which quite frankly would have been understandable had he done so. I get the impression he’s a man of means who didn’t need to go into politics, so fair play to him for launching an audacious attempt to become the Mayor of London.
The polls suggest Londoners aren’t ready for Mayor Fox just yet and are still smitten with the idiotically authoritarian Sadiq Khan, but that doesn’t mean it was all for nothing. Just by campaigning on the message of reclaiming freedom, Fox will have done some good.
As a high-profile victim of cancel culture and nasty left-wing zealots, Laurence Fox deserves credit for using what happened to him as motivation to take to a political platform and expose the true racist, regressive and repulsive nature of the woke ideology that has consumed the left-wing of British politics.