Second only to Covid, “Culture Wars” have shaped the start of the 2020s, and arguably their impact could be more long-lasting.
Whether in the context of the recent US elections, terrorism in France, or divisions between London and the North over Covid, time and again the media has returned to the idea of nations divided by often mutually exclusive culture narratives about who we are and what we believe. These narratives have, in turn, been reinforced by social media echo chambers in which discrete ‘truths’ compete often in fact free environments for the attention of ‘our people’.
In his new book for Radix, Culture – The Enemy Of Progress?, Simon Mundy argues that our human and political cultures have become too intertwined with the concept of the nation. Too many cultural buildings, artefacts, practices and activities are draped with flags. There is a confusion between loyalty to personal culture and loyalty to a recent political structure built on power and historical fiction. The result is a poisoned social environment and the manipulation of citizens for the convenience of those with a controlling interest.
With the departure of Trump as US President we will consider whether the forces he has ridden, if not unleashed, are here to stay and Mundy will argue that to combat the misuse of culture, the tools deployed must themselves be cultural.