An ode to strength

I chase controversy. I court it like a dolled-up blonde in Wetherspoons on a Saturday night, often with as much success. But it struck me that about the most controversial thing you can possibly say about the world right now is, ‘yeah… we’re doing pretty alright, actually.’

Only 5% of us think the world is getting better, when really we’re healthier, richer, cleaner and safer than we’ve ever been. Sure, there’s bags more work to be done, and the whole thing is pretty precarious, but ask whoever you like; they’ll tell you they feel like they’re just not getting their due. They’ll tell you it’s just not fair.

Check us out, big mature advanced society. Our obsession is not with survival or conquest, but we’ve got a fucker of a bee in our bonnet when it comes to fairness. If you want to get ‘em all hot under the collar, simply imply that a group or person of your choice somehow isn’t playing by the rules of the game.

The reactionaries are right about one thing: We have become a society that idolises, worships, fetishizes the victim of unfairness. Where they’re wrong is in implying that this is exclusive to the left/progressive end of the see-saw.

We’re all bored of middle-class white feminist whinging, but why do we give the right a pass when they start acting so hard done by? Aww, the nasty Antifa man punched you on your peaceful protest, did he? Diddums.

Where, now, is the room for strength? For triumph and glory? Where are our heroes when we claim to need them?

Strength has become an empty buzzword, exploited by the very worst among us. Your Trumps, Farages, and Putins. These men have taken ancient virtues and perverted them. Look at Nigel Farage, just fucking look at him. Is that a man? Or is it an odious parody of manhood, cavorting in the death mask of chivalry.

What unites these ‘strong men’ is their commitment to antiquated values and traditional prejudices. The idea of strength, to those of us who crave progress, has become obsolete.


The issue, as I see it, is that strength is simply no longer required of us the way it used to be if we wanted to drive society forward from its fringes.

Take the hippies and the punks. If you wanted to buy into that kind of social commentary, if you wanted to be a player, there were stakes involved. You had to dress in the uniform, get out there and make your statement in meatspace. Sometimes you got a kicking for it, at the very least you put something on the line by alienating yourself from the umbilical cord of the mainstream.

It took defiance. It took balls. It took strength.

What are the stakes now? Now the weak walk the Earth as titans, carrying in their pockets the means to summon the internet’s wrath and direct it at the restaurant that kicked them out for showing up dressed as fucking furries or whatever.

If there are no stakes, there can be no transaction, no exchange of social currency, no meaningful conversation between the weak and the strong. This gives the weak no chance to become strong themselves, as they must if we are to continue developing as a culture.

We have swapped the roar of thunderous applause for jazz hands. We have sold the clash of riot shields and the cleansing sting of teargas for the magic beans of Twitter.

When next you hear the wail of the oppressed; do not give them your pity. Give them a sword. When next you hear something described as ‘problematic,’ spit in the speaker’s eye and challenge them to fight, or else die like a cur.

This is righteous. This is necessary. Because by fighting, the hippies won, the punks won. The suffragettes, the Stonewall rioters, the civil rights heroes, they put some skin in the game and they won, so that you might sit here today and cry about manspreading.

It should not take a war to remind us of this. I fear it might.

One thought on “An ode to strength

  1. Strength is almost certainly required in modern political discourse. The strength to say something outside of the fenced arena of politically correct views. The strength to say to one’s friends that they take a different view. The strength to put your name, your face, on a YouTube video and defiantly offer an alternative perspective.
    In doing any of that you open yourself up to vitriol. You open yourself up to the very worst kind of responses and labelling. What about the kid who created the Trump versus CNN meme? Trump retweets it, and CNN contact the kid and effectively threaten to expose him, and thereby his family. He didn’t have the strength – courage – to take them on. I don’t blame him.

    To publicly pin your stripes to a position is to take on, in principle, the entirety of the Anglosphere and anyone with an alternative perspective; which is often everyone. It is to invite death threats. It is to look death in the face and be defiant, as Jo Cox found out. It is to be that majority whip at the House of Representatives, shot, merely for being associated with a certain political party.

    Courage is required for public life. Strength too.


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