Occasionally, someone says something so appalling, so shocking, and so disheartening that you just stop in disbelief. On April 26, 2023, UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman said this: “I think that the people coming here illegally do possess values which are at odds with our country. We are seeing heightened levels of criminality when related to thttps://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(23)00900-5/fulltexthe people who have come on boats related to drug dealing, exploitation, prostitution.” ...Responses are here and here.
This is the era of culture wars—politicised conflicts over values, identities, and beliefs. Are British institutions systemically racist? Should the monarchy pay reparations for its historical links to slavery? Are activists terrorising the young with climate doom? Has Brexit been a success? What is the definition of a woman? ...
Antonio Gramsci (1891–1937) was arrested by Mussolini's police in 1926. Imprisoned, he used his time to fill the pages of 33 notebooks. Gramsci sought to make sense of his experience in the vanguard of Italian politics. One question in particular occupied his thoughts. Why did every effort to bring about revolutionary change in Europe fail? His great insight, one largely forgotten today, was to recognise the way in which the dominant group uses culture to exert its controlling influence. If the ruling power can persuade people to share its social, cultural, and moral values, the motivation for radical political change will wither. The culture wars suggest that it is not the economy, stupid. If populist governments can win over the public to their beliefs, progressives have little chance of electoral success. It was this cultural hegemony, according to Gramsci, that explained the resistance to progressive political change in the aftermath of World War 1. And it is the modern struggle for cultural hegemony that explains today's bitter disputes over race, sex, and gender.
Why is it so shocking to a medical journal that a politician said that illegals were bringing crime into the country? It is an obvious fact. Maybe a medical journal should stay our of pollitics, or maybe it should address social problems. But this medical journal wants to complain when someone else points out social problems.