For the last 30 years the world has been in the grip of a powerful ideology known as man-made climate change. The last few months have seen the explosive growth of another ideology - that all black people are victims of universal white racism.
Known as “critical race theory”, this holds that the Western liberal democracies are systemically racist societies whose institutions, designed to perpetuate white supremacy, cannot be reformed and must be destroyed, along with the capitalist system. Promotion of this ideology of the original sin of “whiteness” is the fundamental objective of those masterminding the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement in the US, the UK, and elsewhere.
The ideologies of man-made climate change and critical race theory have much in common. In the first place, they were started by left-wing activists or academics and intellectuals. Secondly, the remedy for the supposed problem is greater control, including control of both language and thought. Thirdly, both ideologies rely on theories that are contradicted by facts.
But the main thing they have in common is that they are driven by groupthink, one of the most powerful but dangerous forces in history, which is littered with the harm done by ideologies that have sometimes held whole nations in thrall and caused many of their citizens to abandon reason and simply join the herd. For most people, that is the most comfortable place to be, especially when celebrities are there too.
In both cases, widening circles of people are enticed or lassoed into the herd as activists spread the word with the help of sympathetic media. As more and more join the herd, dissenters are excommunicated, bullied into silence, and denied platforms from which to write or speak. If you do not buy into the bogus claim that “97%” of climate scientists are agreed about “climate change”, you are branded a “denialist”, a term designed to liken people who question a theory to those who seek to deny the historical facts of mass murders in Nazi Germany. If you question the accusation that all whites were born with the original sin of racism, you are yourself a racist.
Media endorsement and promotion is critical to the purveyance of both ideologies, as is the denial of platforms to dissenters. Large sections of the media bought into the “97%” claim quite some time ago. Now a growing number of media outlets are promoting critical race theory in their reporting of the BLM crusade. And Facebook is being bullied by corporate advertisers and even other news channels into falling in line with left-wing censorship demands.
The widening circles in both cases spread far beyond the media. They include academics across the spectrum from the humanities and social sciences to the physical sciences. Also included are scientific journals, professional associations, and opinion-leaders in numerous different walks of life, from bishops to sports captains.
The promotion of the BLM narrative is clearly working. A recent American opinion survey showed, for example, that support for removing Confederate statues has risen from 35% of voters two years ago to 51%, while the proportion of voters who have a positive view of the BLM movement has grown from 38% to about half.
Yet, as a paper by Gabriel Crouse published last week by the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) showed, there is no evidence of anti-black bias in shootings by American police. Other studies have reached a similar conclusion. Where there is bias is in the massive media coverage when blacks are killed by police, while white fatalities at the hands of the police are played down. Like the climate change ideology, the BLM narrative has little basis in fact.
Climate change has long been promoted in school curricula. More and more children are likely now to find that the BLM narrative and its accompanying racial ideology are part of their syllabus. More and more universities will join the herd. Earlier this month, for example, several hundred members of the faculty at Princeton wrote that institution’s authorities a long letter demanding, among other things, that admissions be used as a “tool of anti-racism”, that anti-racist “training” be implemented on a faculty-wide basis, and that a committee be appointed to “investigate and discipline racist behaviour, incidents, research, and publications”.
Key to the success of both ideologies is institutional buy-in and/or capture. Numerous international bodies have long since bought in to climate change, along with many governments, the Bank of England, and the European Central Bank. A Democratic victory in the forthcoming American presidential election will probably see the promotion of the BLM narrative become official policy. Business, of course, has long since bought in to climate change and is now starting to do the same with BLM.
A further feature common to both is endorsing the agendas of other crusades in return for their support of yours, so enabling alliances to be built. This has long been a climate change strategy. We now see that BLM in the UK has declared that “climate change is racist”. American BLM activists are saying the same. Some want climate “denialism” to be declared a “hate crime”.
Is is unlikely that all those now endorsing, and giving money to, the BLM movement also endorse its essentially Marxist, anti-capitalist, and anti-white agenda. Large numbers are likely to have been seduced or misled.
South Africans have no excuse not to be especially wary. Many people have been voting for the African National Congress (ANC) because they have been charmed by its stated commitments to non-racism, freedom, and democracy. It turns out, however, that what they have all along actually been voting for are the South African Communist Party and the ideology of the national democratic revolution.
* John Kane-Berman is a policy fellow at the IRR, a think-tank that promotes political and economic freedom. Readers are invited to take a stand with the IRR by clicking here or sending an SMS with your name to 32823. Each SMS costs R1. Ts and Cs apply.