A Delicate Balance Of Reason: An Explanation

by Sean Bw Parker (July 2024)



Started during lockdown and completed as the clouds cleared, my new book, A Delicate Balance Of Reason: Adventures In The Culture Wars (ADBOR), is my attempt to calmly analyse what appear to be the excesses of 2010-2020s ultra-progressivism.

Those identifying as progressive have been basted in social justice ideology for all of our current century and much of the last—I know, as I used to be an (admittedly fairly loose) adherent. But ten years of living in Istanbul followed quickly by the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris made me clarify my stance on what was going on.

I try to avoid the term ‘woke’ as much as possible, due to its being overused by both sides in the media, but post-woke remains as apt a tag as any for ADBOR. In promotion for the book, some social media accounts have already attacked it, without possibly having been able to actually read it, on the basis of this post-woke label.

It’s commonly known that the term originates in a Leadbelly blues song from pre-civil rights movement days, and that it’s about ‘waking up’ to the truth of an oppressive system—but nobody owns the English language, and the term has been on a journey, due to its lightning-rod quality. From verb (‘I woke up’) to adjective (‘are you woke?’) to slur (‘that film was a bit woke’), an originally ungrammatical usage has been turned into anything that sounds overly-sensitive—and alongside that process has grown up the binary nature of the ‘culture wars’ of the early 21st century.

Since the book’s completion, the WPATH files in the US and Cass Report in the UK have been published, revealing how institutions and corporations across the west have been infiltrated by gender activists, trained in gender studies courses in academia for years, leading to puberty blockers being banned an tighter controls on when and how children can or should start to ‘transition.’

The tension caused by these developments has been played out on social media to a relationship-threatening degree not seen since Brexit, or maybe the Depp-Heard trials. This tension is great for the tech moguls in Silicon Valley of course, as the more controversial is one of JK Rowling’s X posts, with her 13 million followers, the more threats of violence, and the more ‘weight’ (advertising profit) the post gathers. On and on it goes, like the algorithmic equivalent of a Mediterranean blood feud.

The book starts with the idea of the End of the Label, and India Willoughby blocking me on X—before I knew who he even was—for mocking his protestation that some scrutiny given to the ease of transitioning kids was somehow ‘genocide.’ While I try to be as neutral as I can be about things, I’m very sensitive as to the manipulation of language for political advantage—and since uni-party politics became so tedious as some point into Tony Blair’s Reign of Terror, now identity politics is where the real blows are landed.

Critical Race Theorists have been warning for years about the coming ‘intersectionality,’ and have been now rolling it out since Obama won his second term around 2013. Intersectionality is how apparently racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, and arachnophobia all relate to each other in the spectrum of the oppressed, leading to the ‘grievance Olympics’ that so populate the pages of the right-wing—or increasingly ‘rationalist’ —press.

That press has reasserted itself in recent years, as it realised that while there may be eight billion different opinions online, people would still gravitate to a trusted logo such as The Guardian/Telegraph (if those venerable organs are their bag). At the same time peoples’ trust in politics, media, and the law is tanking as scandal after scandal unfurls, whether it be Andy Malkinson or the Postmasters, the infected blood scandal or Trump ‘lawfare.’

The deaths of MPs Jo Cox and David Amess—a few years apart at the hands of a right-wing nutter in the former case and a Jihadi nutter in the latter—are regularly cited as reasons for internet censorship, while more and more mainstream journalists jump are or cancelled over to independent media where they can actually do some reporting (sometimes the reason they got into their game in the first place).

Israel vs Gaza has of course become the fault-line to rule them all, the events since Hamas’ spectacular breaking of a ceasefire on October 7th 2023 turning that part of the world even more into the chief hotpoint for disagreement that it’s always actually been. Despite the 50-year multicultural project of the ‘elites’, we don’t seem to be any better at getting on with the evil ‘other’ than we’ve ever been. A Delicate Balance Of Reason is an attempt to rise above and look with an understanding eye—where possible—but also to call out bullshit where necessary. Which is apparently quite often.


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Sean Bw Parker is a British writer, artist and musician, born in Exeter in 1975. He gained a Masters degree in Fine Art from the University for the Creative Arts in 2003, following which he lived in Istanbul for ten years until 2014 where he gave TEDx talk ‘Stammering and Creativity,’ and also lectured at Istanbul University. He has published several books, poems, albums and paintings, won a number of Koestler Arts awards and a Perrie Lectures essay award.

He has been published by the Westminster Commission, T.S. Eliot Foundation, Time Out Istanbul, Louder Than War, and appeared at the Brighton Science Festival, the University of Bristol, BIMM and others. He has interviewed Julie Burchill, Ed Harcourt, Kristin Hersh, Ian Broudie of The Lightning Seeds and Sarah Blackwood of Dubstar, hosted shows by The Members, Mark Morriss of The Bluetones and Eat Static at his Seafish music and arts venue in 2016, and was interviewed for a Sky Arts documentary in the same year. He curated the Chi-Signs, Blakefest and Wildefest mini-festivals between 2015 and 2017, and has been involved with numerous other exhibitions and live events. A Delicate Balance of reason is available here.

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