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PN Review 275
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This article is taken from PN Review 275, Volume 50 Number 3, January - February 2024.

Welcome to the Culture Wars
John Sutherland, Triggered Literature: Cancellation, Stealth Censorship and Cultural Warfare (Biteback) £18.99.
Andrew Hadfield
Only if you have had more than just your head buried in the sand for the last decade can you fail to be aware that a war is taking place in Britain: the culture war. Culture has always been contentious, of course, and it wasn’t so long ago that the word ‘alternative’ was bandied about as a marker of either counter-cultural delight or contempt to describe music, comedy, theatre and so on. Now, it would seem the stakes are much higher and one way to reach the hearts and minds of conservative voters is to declare a ‘war on woke’, a strategy that is currently likely to be more successful in the pursuit of political office than anything so mundane as economic strategy. The battle ground is the campus, as was always likely to happen after higher education expanded after 1999 – when the Labour Party declared that its aim was to have 50 percent of the population with university degrees (current figures suggest that the goal is not far away). One only has to briefly survey the front pages of The Times, the Telegraph, the Express and the Mail, to realize how much editors think that their readers crave stories that demonstrate the philistine lunacy of the ‘wokerati’. Extensive freedom of information trawls reveal that the English Department at Wrotersley College of Higher Education have replaced Jane Austen with a graphic novel about the downing of the statue of Edward Colston; and, perhaps even worse, the corresponding unit at Slyborough Polytechnic has placed a trigger warning on King ...

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