Tales From The Safe Space, Part 10 – Competitive Grievance Culture

Germaine Greer - Cardiff University

In Britain, the Identity Politics revolution is starting to devour its children. But the same climate of open “competitive grievance” warfare is less pronounced in the United States

One aspect of the Identity Politics / Safe Space culture which genuinely seems to differ between the United States and Britain (following close behind) is the different dynamic which exists between all of the various arrayed grievance groups.

In America, Identity Politics practitioners tend to practice solidarity and stick together – you will often read stories of the various campus cultural centres, women’s centre and LGBT centre (for all must have their own safe space) collaborating together when producing their tedious lists of demands for campus reform.

But in Britain, Identity Politics seems to be a bit more competitive, and you are more likely to see the various victim groups (or generations) acrimoniously competing with one another for the limelight and striving to portray themselves as the most oppressed and victimised (thereby, conversely, granting themselves the most power and authority in the New Order).

In his latest review of Stepford Student activity for the Spectator, Mick Hume outlines the self-cannibalising nature of the Identity Politics movement in Britain:

Barely a week goes by without similar student-eat-student lunacy. Campuses are becoming ‘intersectional’ war zones, where identity zealots compete to see who can appear the most offended and victimised and so silence the rest.

In British universities, a rising ride of intolerance sweeps away anything that might make students feel uncomfortable. A leading anti-fascist campaigner has been ‘no-platformed’ by the NUS black students’ group, who branded him ‘Islamophobic’. The NUS lesbian, gay, bi- and transsexual officer refused to share a platform with Peter Tatchell, doyen of LGBT lobbyists, because he had opposed bans on Terfs (‘trans-exclusionary radical feminists’). After standing up for free speech, it seems, the likes of Tatchell must be denied the right to speak on -campus.

[..] The campus censorship crusade is not craziness so much as a logical extension of the ‘no platform’ policy so beloved of the left. This dates back to the ‘no platform for racists and fascists’ policy adopted by the National Union of Students in 1974. Today it seems more like ‘no platform for racists, fascists, Islamists, Islamophobes, homophobes, Nietzsche, rugger-buggers, pin-ups, rude pop songs, sombreros, sexist comedians, transphobic feminists, Cecil Rhodes or anything at all that might make anybody feel uncomfortable’.

[..] The irony is that many throwing up hands in horror at today’s promiscuous ‘no platform’ antics have themselves tried to ban speech of which they disapproved. It will come as little surprise to those with a sense of history that among the latest ‘victims’ of ‘no platform’ are those who demanded campus censorship in the past, up to and including St Peter of Tatchell. Those who live by the ban can perish by it, too.

As this blog wearily pointed out when Peter Tatchell (of all people) found himself ostracised by a group of virtue-signalling young activists who had the temerity to accuse him of prejudice while themselves standing on the shoulders of Tatchell’s own achievements for their cause:

That’s the rotten core of today’s student identity politics movement. A constant, bitchy, backbiting game of snakes and ladders, with one insufferable petty tyrant rising to the top of the Moral Virtue Pyramid only to be brought down by their jealous rivals, either for no reason at all, or for having unknowingly violated one of the many red lines that they themselves helped to draw across our political discourse.

This phenomenon of competitive grievance within the Identity Politics movement does not currently seem to be as common in the United States, at least to the same degree. The same Hierarchy of Privilege exists in the minds of American devotees of Identity Politics – that much is the inevitable consequence of intersectionality. But at present it does not seem to be leading to the same degree of internal warfare as we now see in Britain, which is odd when one considers that America is traditionally more individualistic and Britain slightly more collectivist. Surely, by this logic, America should be leading the way with a ruthless rat-race between the different groups for the coveted title of “most oppressed”.

One of the things which gives me the most encouragement – besides the sight of feisty, no-nonsense university leaders like Dr. Everett Piper and Chris Patten showing some backbone and standing up to increasingly ludicrous student demands – is the way in which our competitive grievance culture, so pronounced in the Identity Politics debate here in Britain, is now threatening to bring the whole edifice crashing down in an enormous word cloud of overwrought self-pity.

It is curious that the United States – typically in the vanguard of this movement – does not yet seem to be witnessing the same furious self-cannibalisation of Identity Politics preachers as we are currently witnessing on this side of the Atlantic. Perhaps this can be Britain’s contribution to the cure.


Safe Space Notice - 2

Agree with this article? Violently disagree? Scroll down to leave a comment.

Follow Semi-Partisan Politics on TwitterFacebook and Medium.


4 thoughts on “Tales From The Safe Space, Part 10 – Competitive Grievance Culture

  1. Douglas Carter March 13, 2016 / 9:00 AM

    …’That’s the rotten core of today’s student identity politics movement. A constant, bitchy, backbiting game of snakes and ladders, with one insufferable petty tyrant rising to the top of the Moral Virtue Pyramid only to be brought down by their jealous rivals, either for no reason at all, or for having unknowingly violated one of the many red lines that they themselves helped to draw across our political discourse.’…

    …or it could just be…..


    (Warning – long ‘Game of Thrones’ type personal anecdote ahead)

    For as long as I need to remember, I have walked with the dogs for pleasure. It’s one of the simplest things. (There’s already a caveat coalescing in some minds here – I’ll bring it in later.. identified **….) I don’t need to explain it since it’s a hobby continued unremarked by millions before me and hopefully millions after.

    In the later part of the Eighties, I noted the emergence of a curious, creepy perma-smiling Labour politician regularly emplaced on ‘Question Time’. …and on practically any TV outing in which a Labour Politician needed to speak. Betoothed, using many hundreds of words in order to say nothing of substance whatsoever. Even then I thought the UK electorate were too intelligent to be taken in by such an obvious empty vessel. Simultaneously in international cultural terms a new phenomenon was born in the USA. A wry, satirical, frequently prescient, frequently philosophical popular documentary show appeared. A comment on our life and times. it was called ‘The Simpsons’.

    Whatever ‘it’ is, ‘it’ isn’t a notable phenomenon until The Simpsons have managed to work it into their tapestry. For example, the agitated lady who will appear suddenly and in alarm shout ‘Think of the CHILDREN!!!’….

    It wasn’t the fault of Blair – it started long before him, but by the time in 1994 that he’d got his feet into the leadership, that the pernicious rule of Child Worship had taken root in the UK. (The dates are important here). It became a stick with which he became only too acquainted.

    The patch of land we used to take the dogs to was derelict. Bordered by a line of Victorian defences closed off by fencing, a large shallow body of brackish water was peppered with debris. Tyres, wheels, shopping trolleys, prams, discarded whatever. But it was the most suitable dog walking area and so dog walkers shared the space in greater number than the only other users. Young vandals.

    Over the years since the early seventies, the dog walkers (believe me, forget the Council) cleared the water and within three years the water was sufficiently clean to introduce fish. The area became sufficiently secure to remove the fencing from the historic defences. Paths laid down by walkers were eventually made official and approved of by health-n-safety gurus. Some of those paths however precarious proved suitable for wheelchair users. The vandalism continued of course. A decorative wooden bridge platform erected by a charity over the water was demolished by children overnight and was eventually burned.

    But the area continued to improve. Until the fishermen began to complain about the dogs. And the joggers and cyclists began to complain about the dogs, and the parents of picnics began to complain about the dogs. (**…..’…. there’s dog mess everywhere for heaven’s sake – look – what about the CHILDREN??…’…) Until in April 2000 the inevitable sign went up. ‘No Dogs’. Ten months later, the historic Victorian gun emplacements had become so badly damaged by children they had to be demolished. The water is now poisoned by fly-tipping. The fishing club lacking the funds to clear the water. The Council declining to comment.


    We have lived, are still living in an era of harmful child worship. Our students are the natural product of that era. They have elected to remain children in the bodies of young adults. That’s not their fault – they are the product of the culture in which they aged. The quarter-century or so in which had just flown past thought it was protecting them from harm. In fact, what happened was they were protected from reality. Failure to ready the young for the real world is the most pernicious and harmful form of mass child-abuse. Maybe The Simpsons are already voicing an episode on safe-space culture, who knows, but they got it right all those years back in their unique satirical manner. Children need to be protected from themselves. To permit them to age without borders gives us these students. Human beings entirely unable to recognise the standard order of borderlines in day-to-day life.

    So, in my final years of life, my solution will be this. Go out with the dogs. Walk past the ‘No Dogs’ sign, let them off the lead, and unleash a decent cigar. The world will be a better place for it.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.