I was recently reminded of a quote by Ian Fleming, the author of the James Bond books I read in my teens, even before I saw the films. It goes something like: “if it happens once it is happenstance; twice coincidence but if three times it is enemy action”. It was attributed to Auric Goldfinger (the villain in the book “Goldfinger”) after his third “chance” encounter with the hero, James Bond.
In the years that followed, I have reflected on the saying and found my own applications. People who read my blogs will know I have a thing about culture wars, which according to Wikipedia “is a cultural conflict between social groups and the struggle for dominance of their values, beliefs, and practices. It commonly refers to topics on which there is general societal disagreement and polarization in societal values is seen”. I have long realized such a phenomenon exists but it was when I got into social media that I became a lot more aware and was drawn in, often taking sides.
In the early days it often seemed to be about the “rabid, reactionary, righteous, rightie” types being in conflict with the “luvvie, liberal, looney lefties”. Often, despite disagreements, members of the respective groups “got on” but as the culture wars have become fiercer I am finding that is now becoming less the case. While I thought I was somewhere in the ideological centre, given my community activist mantra and support for the underdog, I found that more often than not I sided with the first group, which I will call Camp A, as opposed to the second group, which I will call Camp B. Since then, many issues have occupied peoples’ minds and got some worked up and wanting to back their views and oppose those who argue differently, such as over Brexit and Trump and more recently how to respond to Covid-19 and conspiracy theories, and subjects like climate change, Black Lives Matter and immigration. Then there is hovering around all this the debates regarding whether the way to go is conservatism and nationalism or socialism and globalism.
While it would be simplistic to say so, those who are pro Trump and Brexit, skeptical about climate change, disagree with the ethos of the BLM movement, feel more control is needed regarding immigration and less control when trying to shut all sorts of things down because of Covid-19, tend to gravitate toward Camp A and those who think differently – Camp B. While I would NOT claim all the good guys are in Camp A and the bad in Camp B (it is never that simple), often it is a case of mix and match. I have found myself, because of my stand on the relevant issues, usually in Camp A. Being in different camps has too often given rise to culture war skirmishes, including among real Christians, where one might hope for love and unity to prevail. I left behind happenstance and coincidence long ago and, while enemy action is a regrettable term, I can almost predict when a culture war issue arises, given a person’s past record, the position he / she will take, based on their axioms and prejudices.
On my social media feed yesterday was an article titled “Noam Chomsky: The world is at the most dangerous moment in human history”. It begins “The US professor warns that the climate crisis, the threat of nuclear war and rising authoritarianism mean the risk of human extinction has never been greater” but a lot of the article is a Trump “hit piece” identifying Trump as a major factor in making the world a dangerous place. Unsurprising, since I would place the influential “Evangelical” who posted the article in Camp B. Sadly, my comment (reproduced below) was removed, bringing to mind the “polarization” observation in the Wikipedia definition and my own view, recently set out in my “Trumpwatch (33) – the most important US election yet!?” article, which takes a contrary view – that if Trump is NOT elected the danger that Chomsky identifies will INCREASE.
The person who posted the Chomsky article prefaced it with the comment: “Wise thinkers have been warning us for years. But when governments are indifferent, complacent, corrupt or simply stupid, their warnings are ignored and truth does not reach the populace” Strangely enough, I tend to agree even though I disagree with Chomsky’s worldview and conclusions. I would add two caveats to my dissent. Using the Trump example, which is at the centre of the argument, while I have no doubt that a Trump win in November would be far better than a Biden one and conservativism is better than socialism, it is NOT that simple and, without a change in heart of the electorate to God, truth and righteousness, then irrespective of who gets in, the dangerous downward spiral is set to continue. When it comes to right or left, I suggest avoid extremism for history shows both extremes do net harm and that authoritarianism has dire consequences. When it comes to wars, what matters is being on God’s side in a war that has been ongoing ever since Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, but who will be victorious.