Sunday, 26 August 2018

Balancing Act

Balance the books, the balance of probability, a balanced viewpoint... it’s all an act when you think of it. It is almost impossible, beyond spreadsheets and quantitative analysis to maintain true balance. In fact the more a body insists, like the BBC, that they are impartial the more likely it is that they are biased; they just don’t see it. And the more you try to introduce dissenting views the more biased you appear in their eyes.

Maybe James O’Brien on LBC thinks he allows ‘right-wing’ callers an opportunity to present their point of view, but oh, those callers. You can almost imagine J’Obbie instructing his producers: “Don’t make me speak to intelligent people on the right, just put through the frothers. And if you can wind them up before you send them my way, all the better.” He then proceeds to slaughter the knuckle-draggers live on air, as they splutter and gasp for air between Odd-Job’s well-practiced put-downs.

“Hello and welcome to Question Time” the avuncular David Dimbleby announces. “This week on our panel we have an Anti-Brexit campaigner and peer of the realm, a scientist who thinks Brexit will be a disaster, a doctor and leader of the group Doctors-Against-The-Deadly-Brexit-Mind-Killing-Disease, a comedian who has recently won the Comedians against Brexit award at the Edinburgh fringe and a token discredited former Tory MP for one term under Mrs Thatcher who has what some may call extreme views on immigration. Our first question is: Do you think Brexit will be an unmitigated disaster that will blight the United Kingdom for generations to come? That's to you, Lord Brexit-Bad.”

Even in the mundane, the least agenda-driven daily dealings you can’t avoid tipping the scales in your own favour. You work with colleagues who broadly share your views (it would be very difficult otherwise) you mix socially with an even more closely aligned group and you absorb the news as promulgated by platforms which serve up the ‘facts’ just the way you like them. Listening to an opposing point of view and trying to understand and emphasise nearly always ends up merely confirming that your bias has firm foundations in truth, while theirs is led by lies.

We are brought up to believe that justice is blind, but it is clearly not. British justice, it has been said, is the best that money can buy and the judiciary are wholly bought in to a certain entrenched bias against those who are seen as trouble-makers, agitators, those who dare to expose the corruption and lies at the heart of the establishment. Demand death to those who dishonour allah and your right to do so will be protected by the state, but rock the boat and speak out against that protection being used to perpetrate harm and expect the full weight of the law to come up with a balanced and impartial verdict that you need to be fed to the wolves.

No wonder the individual sometimes feels under siege. Personal responsibility is a scary prospect – you, making your own decisions and sometimes standing against the world. Step outside the cosy consensus and feel the wrath of the sheep (the censoriousness of the lambs), whereas collective, groupthink provides a warm, fluffy comfort blanket for your helpless thoughts. All collectives are, almost by definition, left-wing and practise the subjugation of the individual for the greater good of the group. So it is little wonder that wayward thinkers are inevitably labelled right-wing.

But the collective need of the world’s leftist hordes to believe in a right-wing threat is too great to allow acceptance of reality. And the reality is that if ‘the left’ and ‘the right’ stood on opposite sides of a balance scale, the left-hand pan would never get off the ground and the right, even if they all jumped in unison would make no impression at all. But that reality doesn’t constitute a big enough threat and going after individuals seems so unfair – and after all, fairness is what the flock tell themselves they are all about.

The balance of probability...

So, instead of demonising the few critical opponents of the herd mentality, for balance they have dreamed up ‘the rise of the far-right’. It is far easier to justify shutting down speech, actions and dissent by any means if you can tell yourself that you are resisting a violent and numerous enemy. Meanwhile, of course, your own ideology is letting in hundreds of thousands of truly violent enemies via the Trojan horse of ‘human rights’.

It may be that the sanity of the western world hangs in the balance, but the scales are tipped too far one way at the moment. If a tipping point back towards sanity is ever going to happen that migration away from groupthink and back to asserting the rights of the individual needs to begin soon. I have few realistic hopes that it will, but the future of the west may depend on it.

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