The New Puritans by Andrew Doyle

The essence of the book is to define how Critical Social Justice (applied post-modernism) operates as an ideology he calls the new puritans. 

The book is subtitled “How the Religion of Social Justice Captured the the Western World.” The essence of the book is to define how Critical Social Justice (applied post-modernism) operates as an ideology he calls the new puritans.  This is his second more philosophical treatise on the movement.  This time he is looking more deeply into how it is seeking to remodel society in accordance with its own ideological values.

Andrew Doyle has written on social justice before. He kicks off his new book with an anecdote – an acquaintance who accuses of being a “a fucking Nazi c**t”.The evidence of fascism was Doyle’s vote to leave the EU and his views on progressivism.  The misuse of fascism is one thing, it’s also about how mud sticks.  The deliberate use of labels to ruin people’s reputations and careers, and stifle debate.

He sets out how it is a faith to be believed that does not need empirical evidence to support it; it is sacred; and people must support it, if not they are against it.  It uses devices such as language is “either a tool of oppression or a means to resist it” to justify hostility to debate (“airing of toxic ideas”), and victimhood as a form of attack leading to cancel culture which ultimately destroys lives.  He cites the example that where there is inequality of outcome, for instance, in a firm where ethnic minority employees are under-represented in top jobs, then this is taken as proof of systemic racism.  Doyle refers to this as “racism of the gaps” – the lack of evidence is part of the problem.

Institutions are becoming more and more susceptible to releasing ‘guidance’ and other more sinister regulations that embed  its own language at the cost of female equality there is much ground that could have been covered clearly here – the NHS, government departments, education – the public sector is a breeding ground.

Andrew Doyle highlights how the issue in higher education goes onto to permeate in corporate institutions. higher education students he highlights how students are being taught that reality is constructed through language and language is a tool for oppression, a generation of arts and social science graduates “have taken this ideology into adult life and the institutions they now occupy.”

Woke as a term seems to be going out of fashion with everyone.  Andrew Doyle rarely uses it beyond a chapter on its history.  He goes further back in history to explain critical social justice to the Salem witch trials – that sent 19 innocent women to the gallows – as a case study in communal hysteria.  People were executed on “spectral evidence” alone. The fantasies of a few were propagated by an elite few – judges and ministers. Andrew Doyle’s argument is how, with momentum, reality becomes lost along the way – groupthink and indoctrination. 

The book is divided up using religious language such as ‘blasphemy’ to reference the well known issues of being cancelled and being attacked as phobic for standing by free speech, and the “non-crime hate incidents” recorded by the Police.  But these should be simply dismissed as it tends to be the middle class that pursues this agenda through the application of power– the arts, academic institutions, the civil service, the police, and the corporate sector.

It is not a straightforward book to easily comprehend what the “new puritans” are. Dense and rambling at times it loses its message, focusing on his own argument rather than what is actually happening .  Whilst there is much that Andrew Doyle takes from his personal life there is not much he seeks to investigate or analyse that he brings into the book.  Through his weekly show on GBNews he is clearly in touch with news stories.

What Andrew Doyle does not touch upon is how this is how a progressive social justice movement without any of the traditional hooks we look for – a political party, a group of any sort – it has grown organically through education, the public and third sector and new corporate entities.  Interestingly, the divisive indoctrination that is used is just as much part of the Boris Johnson and Donald Trump playbook – be the victim but do so by attacking and bullying – a divisive and fearful world has been created. Young people without faith in their lives are susceptibe to capture.

As a product of the eighties I am pleased to see Doyle make the case for the much maligned PC culture that he argues “achieved some genuinely progressive outcomes in terms of social consciousness without having recourse to the kind of censorial police intervention or the mob-driven retributive ‘cancel culture’ that we see today.”  There is no parallel to the ideology of tday.

Doyle presents one side of the culture war, along with Douglas Murray et al. It is a dissembling of the social justice movement that reinforces confirmation bias without a real plan. Whilst he attempts to end the book with an optimistic tone – that reason can be used to debate unreason, unfortunately it operates at a darker level than that.

Andrew Doyle’s approach is one of a polemic, using philosophical argument rather than research with examples.  In this sense it relies heavily on describing what the ideology is doing – this is reliant on subjectivity that you agree or disagree with. Andrew Doyle does not feel the need to break this down with examples, instead to focus on what it meant – the growth of “phobias” detected.  This leaves a weak spot for undermining the argument as just polemic.

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