Academy of Ideas

From SJW to gammon: weaponising political language

November 16, 2018

A recording of the debate at the Battle of Ideas 2018 festival on Saturday 13 October at the Barbican in London.

Language has always been a source of political controversy as much as a medium for discussing politics. Terms like ‘terrorist’ and ‘freedom fighter’ reveal the politics of the speaker as much as the nature of those described. But recent years have seen the proliferation of completely new terms: white Brexit voters are ‘gammons’, women critical of feminism have ‘internalised misogyny’, students are ‘snowflakes’. It can be hard to keep up. But is the way we talk about politics simply changing, or becoming impoverished? What’s the line between the natural evolution of political language, and its degeneration into trendy slurs?


Professor Frank Furedi
sociologist and social commentator; author, How Fear Works: culture of fear in the 21st century and Populism and the European Culture Wars

Sophia Gaston
director, Centre for Social and Political Risk, Henry Jackson Society; visiting research fellow, London School of Economics

Professor Dr Robert Pfaller
philosopher, University of Art and Industrial Design, Linz, Austria; author, (in German)