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‘We Have a Crisis of the Soul and of Identity’—Esther Krakue: How Postmodernist Ideology Has Blinded

Updated: Feb 7

Today, I sit down with Esther Krakue, a Ghanaian-born writer and broadcaster based in the UK, to discuss the cultural ills she sees gripping the developed Western world, from postmodernist ideology to bureaucratic COVID dogma and the breakdown of the family.

“We have a crisis of the soul and of identity … Many Western countries don’t know what they are, what they stand for. They can’t even answer basic questions about what it means to be a man or woman or an upstanding citizen anymore. And so we’re just teetering along and just kind of rolling down the hill of ultimate destruction,” Krakue says.


Interview trailer:

Watch the full interview:



Jan Jekielek:

Esther Krakue, it’s such a pleasure to have you on American Thought Leaders.

Esther Krakue:

Thank you so much for having me.

Mr. Jekielek:

I’m really looking forward to chatting. I was thinking of having a lighter American Thought Leaders episode for a moment, and I’ve really been enjoying all of your commentary. You grew up in a couple of very different cultures from American and Canadian, my native country, and from Polish, which is also part of my culture. What I really want to get is an external view on what’s happening in North America, and the West in general. And of course, you’re Ghanaian. Tell me about your arrival on the scene as a political and cultural commentator in the UK.

Ms. Krakue:

Okay. I originally moved to the UK when I was 14. It was primarily just for an education, and my parents made that very clear. I was studying in the UK, but then every Christmas and summer holiday I spent back home in Ghana. I was effectively spending three months to a year back home. I was strictly here for an education. And then, I finished school and I went to university. I did that, then started working.

At university I studied politics in French, so I was always quite engaged politically. I did debate and I did MUN [Model United Nations] and all the usual stuff that students do. When I graduated from university, I was working a normal job that I really did not like, as with most people when they leave university. I got involved with a student grassroots organization called Turning Point UK, which is actually the UK version of Turning Point US, which is the much bigger franchise.

Obviously, Turning Point UK is much more focused on British issues and spreading conservative values among the youth here, because clearly that’s not a very fashionable thing to do. I had my own show and I used to interview MPs and prominent figures within mainstream politics here in the UK. From there I took on a few more broadcasting gigs. I started writing a bit more. That’s how I found my voice and how most people know of me, through my activism and my work with Turning Point UK.

Mr. Jekielek:

The part that I find most interesting, I’ve been watching some of your interviews both that you’ve done and where you’ve been interviewed, is that UK culture is quite different from U.S. culture, and Ghanaian culture is quite different from UK culture. That gives you this outside view even in the conservative sphere that you’re talking about. So, what’s going on in the West?

Ms. Krakue:

An identity crisis. I had this conversation with my friends that I met because I actually realized that even as a conservative, I was a bit of a minority. I was a minority within a minority if that makes sense.

So, a bit about my background, I grew up in a standard two-parent home. My parents are Christian, Ghanaian, very traditional, very orthodox in their thinking and their values. For me, what was the norm and what I thought was normal conservative values, actually in the West it very much depends on where the Overton window is.

I would have conversations with people about the benefits of a two-parent home and social conservatism, and they would agree so far as it was within the context of the normality where they are. I noticed in the West, for instance, if you say something like, “You probably want a mother and father at home living together with their kids,” the first thing I hear is, “But what if the father is like this? But what if the mother is like this?” It’s all sorts of excuses that they make as if these outliers negate the rule, as if that’s not what we should be aiming for, because there is a mother that’s like this or a father that’s like that. I find it very weird.

One of my observations about conservatism in the West is that it’s very flexible. There’s not a point that it’s aiming towards. It really has just become a countercultural movement. It has become the backstop to stop progressive overreach, as opposed to actually aiming towards something.

Another thing I’ve noticed about conservatism in the West is there’s not really much of an emphasis or value on the wisdom of the past. In my language, in Akan, which is what we speak in Ghana, we have this concept called Sankofa, which literally translates as go back and get it. So, go to the past and get it.

The whole concept behind that is looking to the past and seeing what people did right and got right back then and carrying that on, carrying on that tradition, because there’s no need to fix it if it’s not broken. And I feel like that’s not really a concept useful to western progressives, but certainly not to western conservatives either. We’re always trying to find a new and different way to shake up things which have actually always been the bedrock of Western societies.

I mostly talk about it in terms of the family, education, and social cohesion. I feel more of a synergy and understanding with people that come from other parts of the world like this Indian subcontinent or African countries or even Latin American countries. There’s a greater synergy in our understanding of conservatism than in the West, which seems to kind of move with the wind. It effectively serves as a backstop to progressive overreach, which is fascinating and almost counterproductive.

Mr. Jekielek:

What’s really interesting is there is this assumption of progress, and that progress is just good, period.

Ms. Krakue:


Mr. Jekielek:

Even when saying this, it seems like that’s true. Is it true?

Ms. Krakue:

It depends on your definition of progress. How people orient themselves really differs. For them, progress means no barriers and no sense of shame. There’s so many examples I can draw on. I’ll give you an example; The Body Positivity Movement, which is probably the most mind numbingly annoying development of our time.

They see it as progress that people are free to be who they are, which is fine, and free to have their bodies with no consequences. All bodies are valid and beautiful. Anything that counters that, anything that tries to impose standards or a sense of reality or just normality is effectively body shaming.

For instance, there’s this activism around having really overweight, objectively unattractive models on the cover of magazines, because they’re valid and because they’re just as beautiful as women that actually decided to eat healthily and go to the gym and work out and retain a healthy, objectively attractive body. And to some people, that’s a form of progress, because you’ve eliminated all forms of shame and barriers to someone’s identity and behavior. But that’s not really progress.

For people in other parts of the world, it’s having things work as they should and work properly. Not subverting the norms just for the sake of it just because people feel bad or because you want to eliminate all sorts of negative emotions. I think that’s completely counterproductive. Negative emotions and feelings have their place in a society.

Mr. Jekielek:

I can’t help but think about whether this particular movement, I haven’t thought much about it before, but is there some sort of reaction here to the supermodel standard where people actually don’t eat a lot and there’s a lot of anorexia and this kind of thing? I’ve known people who have been in, maybe not super modeling, but modeling. And these were the things that were expected of them. And then, this vision of beauty was the correct vision of beauty.

Ms. Krakue:

It’s gone from one extreme to the other. That brings up a very valid point. But again, it depends on which part of the world you’re talking about. It’s the whole very stick thin ideal of a beauty model for instance. To an extent, that’s almost a western phenomenon. And that’s not to say that women of healthy weight and healthy physiques are not desirable.

But for instance, growing up as a kid, I was always mocked because I didn’t fit the ideal beauty standards by Ghanaian standards or by African standards. I wasn’t curvy, I was shaped like a tooth. I was just skinny and long. Even when puberty hit, you couldn’t tell. For our standard of beauty for instance, you didn’t really see thin models in Ghanaian adverts or anything like that. They were always curvy, they were always of a healthy weight. And you can see this sort of in other parts of the world that are not the West. In parts of the Middle East, a curvy physique, a healthy physique is more desirable.

I understand your point, but I think that’s probably more exclusive to the West depending on the beauty standards in the West at the time. The wider conversation is the pendulum has swung so far from one extreme to the other. It’s because of the influence of, I suppose, postmodernist thinking and this idea of how liberating it is to remove all barriers and all forms of self-control.

And again, that’s a very alien concept. In other parts of the world, that’s not really our definition of progress. Our definition of progress is seeing how things should work and aiming towards that and aiming towards that properly, not trying to reinvent this whole different form of thinking, and this thinking that’s a form of progress. It’s completely backwards.

Mr. Jekielek:

You’re making me think of the harm reduction approach to helping people who are addicted to heavy drugs like heroin or fentanyl. The approach we have, San Francisco is one of the notable cities, the idea is simply the one thing you can’t do is impose your will and take those drugs away from that person, because that would be imposing on their individual freedom. But what you can do is you can help them take the drug as much as they want, which ultimately ends up killing them.

There’s been people like Michael Shellenberger who have looked into this extensively. The people that he’s interviewed have actually made it off the street, which is very rare because most people actually die eventually and kill themselves through the drugs. They’re alive because someone intervened, because someone imposed themselves on their freedom to be addicted. This is another example of this idea you’re talking about.

Ms. Krakue:

It’s quite a paradox. The paradox I’ve noticed that the West is in the grips of this concentration on rights. You have the rights to not have something taken away from you or to have any controls imposing you. But we never talk about the counter to that, which is responsibility. I’ve noticed especially from a lot of Left-leaning politicians, they always talk about it’s your human rights to have access to good housing, it’s your human right to have access to this and that, but there’s never any conversations about what your responsibilities are.

Because if you have the right, for instance, to not have any controls imposed on you, then you should be ultimately very responsible for yourself. And by not behaving in a responsible manner, by being a heroin addict as an example that I will use, you’re actually negatively imposing on the healthcare system in your country. That actually has a lot of external effects, which is unfair to the wider public.

That’s really the kind of the paradigm I’m seeing, more rights but no responsibilities. That’s because it’s part of a wider cultural problem or a societal problem really, where people just don’t understand their place. If you ask someone what does it mean to be a good upstanding citizen, what does it mean to be a man, for instance, which is why you’ve had the Rise of the Manosphere and certain public figures like Jordan Peterson for instance, what does it mean to be a woman, all of these things, the direction that the West in particular is moving to is it doesn’t mean anything, or it means what you want it to mean. And we’re trying to make it sort of this fluid thing. The French have this phrase, dans le fluide, just this floating whatever, because people don’t want to impose their views on things.

But at the end of the day, you have to have a vision. You have to have a vision towards something, because that’s what everyone should be aiming towards. Most non-Western countries understand this very well and are far more rooted in reality. Meanwhile, in the West, it’s just about deconstructing things for the sake of it, and then to hell with all the social consequences that come as a result of that.

Mr. Jekielek:

Is this a consequence of success? Because I’ve tended to call it wokeism, this critical social justice, this collection of ideologies that function in the way that you just described. Is that a consequence of just being successful and then somehow losing that vision along the way and then exporting this to places like the UK? I’m actually quite curious how far it’s been exported to Ghana and other countries.

Ms. Krakue:

I do think there’s definitely that element of success. I’ll give you an example. A lot of the kids that I went to school with in Ghana, they ended up going to finishing secondary school in Ghana and then going to university in the U.S. What you notice is when they go back home to Ghana to work, you notice that among the urban elites that are highly educated either in Ghana or abroad, they have a very atomized view of life and the cultural norms have shifted. It’s very much “Me and what I want to do,” and it’s not very family-centered or it’s not really about a matter of survival. It’s about a matter of kind of individual personal satisfaction, almost hedonism if you’d like.

But if the further inland you go, the further you go into the more rural areas, you notice that people tend to get married younger and stay together because there’s this need to actually survive together as a couple or to exist within a framework that has always worked, because you don’t have plenty, and you don’t really have the choice. Your ultimate aim at that point in time is to try and survive and to make enough money to make ends meet, because you don’t have the luxury of a foreign education that affords you a high paying job.

That’s what I’ve noticed, the urban/rural divide in Ghana, but it’s certainly in the UK as well. I obviously noticed it on a larger scale in the UK, because whenever the U.S. sneezes, the UK catches a cold as we say. The trends in the U.S. and in the West in general tend to proliferate rather quickly amongst other western countries.

So yes, prosperity is an aspect of it. People have just become wealthier. The kind of things that preoccupy their minds are not the same as when they’re trying to keep body and soul together. But I also think it’s a wider conversation about the decline of religion, the breakup of the family. There’s a God-shaped hole in society as we say. There’s so many things. We have a crisis of the soul and of identity.

That’s why you notice figures like Andrew Tate have become such prolific figures because the question, “What does it mean to be…” is just this big gap. There’s a big we don’t know. And we’re not allowed to answer that question because there’s always pushback.

What is a man? If you say what it means to be a man is to be honorable, to protect, to provide, to be masculine, to be stoic, to have a stiff upper lip, and to lead, you get so much pushback from these women that exactly want those kinds of men, but feel like they shouldn’t.

And if you say, “What does it mean to be a woman?” It’s to be a wife and a mother and to aspire, to nurture and care, which women naturally fall into as a role better than men in general. But we can’t say these things because you’ll have the feminist pushing back saying, “But I don’t want to do this, that, and the other.” So, it really is an identity crisis at the heart of it. What we’ve been talking about are symptoms, rather than the actual core of the issue.

Mr. Jekielek:

Now what you have is the transgender folk and their allies calling a lot of women or feminists that don’t subscribe to that ideology “terfs,”this very pejorative term, and similarly pushing back against the idea that women-only spaces have a place in society for example. I know of at least one instance in Canada, in British Columbia, where a women’s shelter was defunded because they refused to allow transwomen, i.e., biological men, into a battered women’s shelter.

Ms. Krakue:

This is another thing that makes the West absolutely ridiculous. It really compromises the West’s moral high ground on virtually any issue, right? If you have a situation where you can’t even protect women, actual biological women because you are in the grips of this identity crisis and you are so obsessed with political correctness, then what right does the West or any Western country have to say, “Stop this war here or stop doing that, or you must expand the rights of this community in this particular region”? It’s something that many non-Westerners are really struggling to come to grips with, because it’s just sheer hypocrisy on the face of it.

I don’t know if you heard about the Rotherham grooming gangs in the UK, but for the audience, it was a horrifying situation where thousands of white British girls were sexually abused and tortured and kidnapped just in a horrific situation by gangs of mainly South Asian men who were living in the UK who hadn’t properly assimilated with this country’s cultures or values who believed that white women, particularly white young women, were at the bottom of the totem pole in terms of humanity and human dignity.

They targeted these young women that came from broken homes, raped them, abused them, tortured them, and kidnapped them. It was a horrific situation. What made it even worse was the fact that this went on for well over a decade. Whenever these girls tried to report their situation to the police, because the police were so scared of disrupting the social fabric by being accused of racism, they literally turned a blind eye.

It’s one of the biggest shames of the UK, because if you speak to people, especially non-Westerners, the first thing they’ll say is, “Where are these girls’ fathers, uncles, brothers, cousins? Where are the men in these girls’ lives to defend them?” But that was the situation that these girls were left in.

We let them down. And it really does bring a question, “What right does any Western country have to criticize other countries when we can’t even protect our vulnerable, because we’re so obsessed with identity politics and gender ideology and all of this nonsense?”

I generally think it’s very sad. I don’t know how much better it’s going to get to be perfectly honest. But I do think that everything we’re seeing is literally the cause of a complete identity crisis. I don’t think it’s one thing to blame a particular group of people for instance or immigration or anything like that.

It’s really because many Western countries don’t know who they are, and what they stand for. They can’t even answer basic questions about what it means to be a man or woman or an outstanding citizen anymore. And so we’re just teetering along and rolling down the hill of ultimate destruction.

Mr. Jekielek:

Britain is on the forefront of this trend where the police are being used to physically police speech that was found in social media that is deemed to be not politically correct or not according to ideology. People are actually being picked up for this. Can you tell me more about this? Give me an example. I know bits and pieces, but I know this is something that is obviously quite significant to you given everything you’re saying to me here.

Ms. Krakue:

It’s an embarrassing situation, because at the moment the UK is in the grips of various strikes from nursing strikes to rail strikes to mill worker strikes. We’re literally on the brink of a general strike. Crime rates particularly in major cities like London have gone through the roof. Police forces are arguably underfunded, but they’re also very poorly trained. Again, it’s something that we’ve seen the decline of over the last decade or so.

You would think that if you can’t find a police officer to report a robbery to or the fact that police are really solving crimes at a very, very low rate, that they wouldn’t have the resources to arrest people for mean tweets that they put out. But from a lot of the reports that are coming out of the UK, they are people that have tweeted things.

There was a lady up north, I think it was in Newcastle, that tweeted something critical about a lady who took her son to Thailand to effectively be castrated in the name of him being a transgender woman. She was visited by the police and accused of harassment and. There’s the Online Safety Bill that’s coming in which various MPs, particularly conservative MPs, are opposing because of elements that would effectively criminalize speech online.

It’s wrapped up as this bill to try and protect children, but it’s really more far reaching than that. It’s very sad, but also unsurprising, because again, in the UK, even though Britain is the origin of British common law and a lot of the kind of jurisprudence traditions that we enjoy in many Western countries, unlike the U.S., we don’t have a First Amendment. We don’t have a right to free speech codified in the way that the U.S. does.

So obviously, we are the first people to fall culprit to what most of us feared, which is the overreach of the state with the use of the police. And it’s a very scary time. But again, it’s all comes down to an identity crisis. We don’t know what we are, and we don’t know what we’re about. Because if we did know what we are, we would know that free speech is one of the cornerstones of any open democratic society. Why we would have threatened that at the risk of a few mean tweets while our police force is barely functioning is completely mind boggling.

Mr. Jekielek:

We’ve been given a window into this what’s sometimes described as a public-private partnership in the U.S., where U.S. intelligence agencies were cooperating with some of the biggest tech companies in the world, notably Twitter where we have the current window because of Elon Musk’s purchase to be releasing some of these files. Now the impact here is a whole bunch of people are realizing that there is this ability to shape public perception, not just censor, but to basically shape a vision of reality for a significant portion of people through using these incredibly powerful tools of control.

I’m very curious. It certainly seems for the free speech people here in the U.S. and in Canada, this seems like a huge deal and not even clear how far reaching the impact will be here. But what about in the UK? What about if a place as far flung as Ghana, is this impactful in any way?

Ms. Krakue:

Here in the UK we found the Twitter revelations absolutely shocking, albeit unsurprising, the extent to which effectively government agencies colluded with these social media platforms to try and silence voices. It is staggering. It is absolutely staggering that just an email from an agency or some high-flying politician saying “This person needs to come off,” leads to them being suspended two weeks later, and all of us just think it’s a coincidence. It’s absolutely shocking.

The issue of free speech in places like Ghana is different, because obviously Ghana and many African countries handle this differently. I think Ghana is one of the few beacons of free speech in Africa. Our freedom of the press index is one of the highest in the world, which is why I often say you probably don’t want to go into politics in Ghana, because people don’t hold back.

But obviously in many parts of the developing world that’s not the case. In countries like China for instance, that’s certainly not the case. But in the UK, again and many parts of the EU, we haven’t taken this as seriously as we should because we don’t really see any other solutions. The EU legislation, it means that in terms of free speech content and the issue of free speech online, there’s been a universal acceptance that if various governments believe it’s for the safety of the public, then there’s not really a lot of pushback to censoring that kind of content. Meanwhile, the U.S. has a far more rigorous system as it should be, and we really should be following the Americans’ lead.

If you can shape public perception and paint Russian misinformation as the boogeyman, we don’t really have that culture that the Americans do, and you’re pushing back on that. And it really is sad. But at the end of the day, thankfully we still have the internet. So even if they don’t allow certain information to proliferate here in the UK and various EU countries, we still have access to the internet. We can still see what’s going on.

We still know that there are freedom fighters in the U.S. that will try and stay on top of things. And obviously, if the pendulum swings too far, it will obviously have to swing far back. That’s the kind of backlash that we’re seeing amongst many EU countries regarding COVID legislation and COVID policy, which again, makes me so angry. When the time comes, the pendulum will eventually swing back.

Mr. Jekielek:

I do want to touch on that as well. But before we go there, I do know that Ghana has an unusual president, that’s for sure. Also, compared to many African countries, it has a lot more free speech and a lot more freedoms in general. I don’t think most of us know very much about what’s going on in there. Maybe you can just give me a thumbnail view here.

Ms. Krakue:

Culturally, it’s certainly more outward looking than other countries. It has always had a tradition of relative political stability. It’s one of the only few countries that’s never had a civil war. Obviously, it’s a commonwealth, so it was a British colony and it was known as Gold Coast. Then, it achieved independence in 1957, and became Ghana.

One of the things to recognize about Ghana is this juxtaposition between political openness to the extent that corruption doesn’t completely overshadow everything, and corruption, which is still a very big issue in Ghana like in many other countries, with this economic turbulence.

You wouldn’t think from all the social media clips you’ve been seeing online of many people all over the world going to Ghana for Christmas, which has become a popular destination in Africa for Christmas, you wouldn’t think that the country had defaulted on its loans just a few weeks ago. Mainly because of the pandemic, but also the war in Ukraine, up to 80 per cent of African countries are at risk of defaulting on their loans.

Many countries are at risk of starving, because of the blockades of Ukrainian wheat. The price of wheat in Egypt, which is actually the largest consumer of wheat, went up by 250 per cent. To put that into context, i