Transport for London’s anti-staring campaign is deeply sinister

Marc Glendening

February 28, 2022

Travelling on the London underground is increasingly like going through a portal to a fascistic parallel universe in which we are harangued by messaging of a 1984-style, highly aggressive nature. Posters depicting brightly coloured outstretched hands declare ‘we stand together against hate’. Hate is predictably undefined.

You may have noticed that Transport for London (TfL) has launched a new poster campaign displaying a pair of manic-looking eyes incorporated into the letters ‘a’ and ‘g’ of the word ‘Staring’. This is part of its drive to eradicate ‘intrusive staring’ of a ‘sexual nature’, which we are told ‘is not tolerated’. This is truly swivel-eyed, as well as deeply sinister, stuff.

Given that these posters contain no specific details as to what exactly constitutes the type of looking we are now ordered to desist from engaging in (which, the implication is, huge numbers of commuters carry out routinely) the purpose, as with the anti-hate propaganda, is primarily to create an atmosphere of psychological intimidation.

We are being encouraged to believe we are being monitored constantly, that retribution will follow if we resist the command we have given by our moral betters in the form of TfL and Mayor Khan. The intention is also to establish, like a tom cat spraying an area, the supremacy of Culture-Control Left (CCL) politics. This is all of a piece with the traffic lights in central London carrying feminist and transgenderist (the inherent contradiction between the two is not addressed) symbols. And this eases traffic flow how, precisely?…

However, this bizarre campaign is indicative of the contemporary left’s authoritarian desire to establish state regulation over all aspects of our cultural existence. This is in keeping with the CCL’s post-rational understanding of power: this is no longer seen as a concept linked to empirically observable material processes and actions but, rather, as an all-pervasive, ineffable force that suppresses those sections of society the CCL has designated as ‘oppressed’. This is postmodernist madness in its politically applied guise.

Reality can be whatever you, or, rather the left, want it to be. Thus, anything – even how people look at each other, talk to and about each other – can be defined as a form of aggression, a quest to establish dominance. This gives the CCL and their ‘fellow travellers’ in the police, the CPS and other branches of the state, licence to apply the coercive powers they possess in an entirely asymmetrical way. Anything can be said to and about the supposedly ‘privileged’, (they can continue to be stared at, presumably) but not as regards the CCL’s favoured social categories.

In this way, a dangerous, tribally-based politics, reminiscent of fascism, is beginning to re-emerge. Political and legal rights are no longer being applied on the basis of a respect for the individual as the primary unit of social analysis and recipient of citizenship rights. Britain’s broadly liberal, pluralist heritage is now under serious challenge.

At this stage, the TfL anti-staring campaign is designed to be psychologically intrusive, it doesn’t have the balls to spell out the precise criteria for determining what constitutes sexually intrusive staring (ten seconds in duration?, half a minute?, fifteen minutes?) its connection to existing British law, or how such accusations could ever be substantiated. Our money is being wasted on what amounts to a totalitarian psy-war exercise, but that is in itself very significant.


Written by Marc Glendening

Marc Glendening is Head of Cultural Affairs at the Institute of Economic Affairs

One comment

  1. I saw one of these posters on a tube train (I was probably staring at it??) The most worrying aspect was the last sentence; ” Aware of someone who is doing this and want to remain anonymous? Call the sexual harassment line on 0800 7830137. ”

    So by ESP I am now ‘aware’ that you are staring. I can call the ‘sexual harassment line’ and denounce you anonymously. Vlad. P. Rob. M. or Sad. H. would have made hay with this law…….

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