Boris Johnson’s ex spindoctor takes the knee on Britain’s cutprice version of Fox News. Can it get weirder?

Engerland — the dialectic’s point of change…

How we derailed a Tory cultural warfare offensive

Paul Mason
7 min readJul 16, 2021


When you watch a mass cultural event build, take place, reach a critical crescendo — and then re-stabilise, into a new and scratchy disequilibrium — you need a specific language to describe it.

Since most of the British press have never read Hegel their ability to grasp what just happened is reduced to a series of garbled exclamations.

So thank f**k for the dialectic. What’s happened was a classic example of what the antifascist poet John Cornford once called “the dialectic’s point of change” — the sudden shattering of a political glacier, under severe geomorphic forces.

It was tragic, it was glorious, it ended with drunken bonehead sticking a lighted flare up his backside (see above) and then the ignominious failure of a Tory stratagem.

Over the past five weeks we saw the Conservative government seize on a collective decision by the England football team to ‘take the knee’ as an opportunity to mobilise their reactionary voting base against “woke”.

As I wrote on 8 June: the subtext was a straight read-off from the thought architecture of modern fascism. The knee is to English football what Critical Race Theory is to academia: a foreign and alien ideology, imported — and read, subtextually “polluting” — our national football culture in which the ageing and unfit male football fan is the avatar of white supremacy, while the average player is a millionaire racist gambling addict.

But, due to the players’ articulacy, intransigence, exemplary personal moderation — and a rare run of success on the field — the Tory strategy backfired.

Fans, as expected, booed their own players for taking the knee. Asked whether the fans were right, both Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel refused to condemn them. It’s their choice, they said. This dog-whistle support for in-crowd racism was backed up by other gestures — such as when Tory MP Lee Anderson declared he would not watch the games if the gesture politics continued.

But as England carried on winning (as I predicted here) every goal and every result — and every pint of lager downed in celebration — would become the living…



Paul Mason

Journalist, writer and film-maker. Author of How To Stop Fascism.