Thursday, 13 February 2014

Myths and Legends

Folklore. We’re brought up on it. The Big Bad Wolf terrorises the Three Little Pigs, Hansel and Gretel are lured to their doom by a cannibal witch and an evil troll waits to devour the Three Billy Goats Gruff. Even religion is packaged and sold the same way but with all the fun taken out; the pro-actively wicked Satan figure forever trying to persuade the passively righteous to stray from the true way. In Star Wars Lucas even calls the ‘wrong’ path The Dark Side. It’s there throughout history, in paintings, books… movies. Deep in our psyche we are predisposed to believe a lie rather than face the truth.

To explain why good people do bad things we perpetuate the myth of raw evil. Stick a ‘D’ in front of it and concoct a world view far removed from pragmatic reality and you have your bogeyman. Dark, malevolent, unwholesome, dirty, the Devil makes unsavoury work for idle or unwary hands to do. And we lap it up. Just as everybody nowadays has a concocted diagnosis to excuse their shortcomings, it means it’s not always your fault if you do bad things. You don’t need to try quite so hard; the odds were stacked against you. But if you stay here in the light all will be well.

But, you say, they don’t seem such bad people and they do seem to be having a good time and anyway, don’t we eat pigs and goats as well? Hush they say, don’t you know the devil has all the best tunes to tempt you? Just because somebody seems to cause no harm, that is merely the devil’s disguise – a shiny clean coat of niceness to trap the naïve. Stay with us, they tell you, keep the faith and we will guide you; we will tell you who to love and who to hate.

And it’s exactly the same in politics and therefore on Twitter. Left and right are so firmly equated, respectively, with good and bad that all you need to be deemed evil is to have the label ‘right wing’ attached to your back: “Kick me, I’m Evil!” it says. And for all the misery religion has caused and the millions of deaths attributed to various forms of collectivist societies, the label still sticks. Anybody not subscribing to the basic doctrines of ‘the left’ must therefore be the exact opposite. And if you earnestly believe you are the only people capable of caring, your opposites must be… evil. It’s childishly simplistic, yet it works.

Media portrays conformist left-wingers as normal and sane and ‘just like us’ even as – in its impartial, caring compassion – it introduces those outside the thrall of socialism as different and dangerous. So while calls to increase taxes and enact more laws governing behaviour and campaigns to modify even the way people think are promulgated as rational and sane, anything straying from the path is referred to in more critical terms. Thus Ed Balls can introduce impractical schemes to further punish the industrious, yet more pragmatic and workable ideas are dismissed as the output of ‘far right’ think tanks, or ‘far right’ parties or ‘far right’ ogres who will eat your children.

So it’s okay for lefties to refer to ‘cruel Tories’ and ‘evil right wingers’ but it’s verboten for righties to mention ‘deluded lefties’ and ‘fruit loops’ without censure. They’ve even coined a phrase to apply to anybody who disagrees with their ideologically filled platitudes, so while anybody who shares their simplistic world view is clearly intelligent and kind, dissenters indulge in ‘hate-reading’ of their crazy pronouncements and any attempt to present an opposing view is called trolling.

Express the simple and harmless opinion that people should look to themselves first and foremost for their living and their wellbeing and you are at best an oddball and at the hysterical left’s worst a pariah who would bring down all society. No my friend, I am somebody you need not unduly concern yourself with. While your lot are busy in your futile attempts to change the whole world, I will be getting on with my entirely plausible endeavour to mould just the tiny bit I can directly influence to better serve my own needs without imposing on others. It’s neither evil nor even particularly selfish; I ask nothing but to be left to get on with it.

The evil troll slays the harmless People's Dragon!

So while the extreme left are just as ridiculous as the extreme right, most people are neither. And neither are most people pre-disposed to hate and vitriol, yet the left-right, good-bad thing persists despite all the evidence that it’s just bullshit. The bizarre refusal to face the simple truth that evil is an invented construct that cannot so unevenly be distributed between left and right can be neatly summed up by a tweet I saw last night:

“The Tony Benn hashtag is full of people on the right wishing him a recovery. If he was right-wing, it would be full of lefties wishing death.”

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