To many, he is the archetypal internet troll. To others, he is a vile right-wing extremist. To me, he is a great humanitarian. Godfrey Elfwick is a classical liberal on the front lines of a civil war within the political left. The sort of war that those on the right, or within various religious groups, refuse to acknowledge they also require.
Much could be said of Elfwick, but primarily he teaches us two vital lessons.
Firstly, that the mainstream left is in a dire state. For the left, and therefore society, to move forward requires a deep moment of introspection. Elfwick provides this in spades.
In truth, nothing he says is unprecedented by those he parodies. It is mainstream thought, which is precisely the point. It is typically rephrased or exaggerated to highlight precisely the unadulterated vulgarity or internal inconsistencies of their no-longer-liberal values, but his content remains on message. He says, in as many words, the subtext of his subjects.
“Any sufficiently advanced troll is indistinguishable from a genuine kook.” – Morgan’s 2nd Law
In a demonstration of both Morgan’s 2nd Law and the current lunacy of the left, his comments are often taken at face value by those of all political persuasions. Left wing publications have quoted his tweets and authored entire pieces about him as an ally, while the right have similarly failed to note the distinction between satire and sincerity.
His mimicry of the modern left has been so convincing that it once earned him an interview on the BBC as a genuine voice, in which the host supported and ran with many of his points, never realising his entire character was a spoof.
Armed only with an acute awareness of the current sociopolitical climate, an increasingly rare sense of moral decency, and an army of like minded internet trolls who lack his eloquence and subsequently cross the line to draw even greater attention to the cause, Elfwick was able to indirectly launch a fundraiser benefiting child refugees this weekend.
A few crafted tweets to a committed virtue signaller and the regressive in question, Peter Jukes, was moved to donate £100 to the ‘Save the Children’ foundation, and post a screen shot for signalling’s sake, and then commit to establishing an IndieGoGo campaign to raise thousands more pounds*. In effect, Elfwick succeeded in converting the empty, hypocritical, moral aggrandising of the left spouted from atop a horse so high it is practically a giraffe, into real money that will directly aid those less fortunate. For this he is to be commended, yet many of his detractors are so certain, and so isolated from variant views and often reality itself, that they probably will never realise what happened.
Elfwick’s second important lesson is the need to engage at all costs, and to not lose one’s sense of humour in the process. Not to put too fine a point on it, but those unable to follow the likes of @GodfreyElfwick on Twitter, without losing all perspective, are the problem.
Conversation has become so stifled in recent times that the community no longer has the ability to advance genuine concerns, or even clear objective facts, without risking social suicide. Any deviation from accepted wisdom is immediately met with disdain and self-righteous abuse from those evidently unaware of their own actions. The conversation ends, contemptibly, long before progress is made, nuance is grasped or lessons are learned. All disagreement is denounced as ‘right wing’, as though that in itself is all that is required to be beyond redemption, often accompanied by accusatory slurs of various forms of bigotry, irrespective of the target’s actual position on the political spectrum or track record on humanitarian issues.
This environment leaves us more polarised and less informed than ever, and the latter continually reinforces the former in an endless cycle that has created the political world we now live in: a world where Donald Trump, a joke candidate of only a few months previous, could quite possibly become the president of the United States.
In an indication of just how bizarre our world has become, the only hope for unity is through division.
The civil war may appear counterproductive at first, but never forget it was a culture of appeasement, of biting our collective tongues, of going out of our way to avoid offence, of avoiding uneasy truths, that enabled our current predicament. Faced with an orthodoxy that seeks to declare itself immune to honest, rational dialogue and merely shout down their opposition with abuse, the only recourse is to speak louder, and more often, until the message is gradually received by ever more people.
Change will be slow and difficult as those who were behind the curve made an early emotional commitment and now find themselves unable to admit, perhaps even to themselves, that they are condoning or engaging in repugnant behaviour. Convincing such people will not be easy, but it must be done as the alternative is not viable. If views are forced underground they will only fester and grow more extreme, but if confronted and discussed openly and fairly in the public arena the possible misunderstandings that could lead to bigotry will be exposed and corrected, and the entire process will enable understanding and, hopefully, resolution.
This is where Elfwick proves invaluable. A spur is required before we can even approach the start line. Comedy’s role is to advance the frontier, to break taboos, and expand the conversation beyond the artificial barriers we erect for ourselves. Feathers will need to be ruffled for people to realise that a new conversation needs to take place, and no apology should be offered for doing so.
Incoherent, inconsistent, inhumane, divisive and discriminatory positions must be intellectually challenged and relentlessly mocked. Silence has never, and will never, prevent the incursion of damaging ideas. Compliance will never reform the status quo.
When religion oppresses, or even kills, as per their unambiguous religious instructions expressed in black and white, and the regressive left unite with the religious to deny the clear logical pathway that explains the horrific human rights violations; true liberals will be there to oppose it, in all forms, not only when the religion in question is Christianity – or as the regressives see it, due primarily to their warped perspective, ‘white’ religion.
When gender ideologues are being more sexist than God himself; true liberals will be there to oppose it, in all forms, not only when the perpetrators are male.
When information is being deliberately distorted to further an agenda; true liberals will be there to oppose it, even if the lies superficially purport to aid their ideals or harm their opponents.
These vices are not unidirectional, and society will not be able to move forward until the mainstream left once again realises this fact, and acts upon it.
In a better world, Elfwick wouldn’t exist, as there would be no opportunity. In this one, he is a necessity. I suggest you join the fight.
*NB: This part of Jukes’ virtue signalling is yet to materialise.