Thursday, 23 January 2020
Shut up and start talking!
Depressing. That’s the state of national debate when, if you come out for either side you are instantly derided as offended, triggered, woke or worse. Every riposte has a counter, every argument a clever rebuff; it almost feels like each side has a committee convened to take apart every stance and find a way to remove its sting. Express amusement at the latest gender-bender nonsense and you are either a fascist pig, or else you are, somehow, a weeping snowflake. What? I was having a laugh with like-minded people, you berk. Burst out of your bubble, comes the reply.
Somebody has always coined a handy and usually derisory epithet to describe you, regardless of what you really are. And what are you, anyway? When ‘lefty-liberal snowflake’ and ‘neo-liberal Nazi’ coexist what does that say about plain old liberals? How do genuine liberals feel about this? (And more to the point, I have yet to read a consistent description of what a libertarian is, as opposed to what he thinks he is.) When Laurence Fox did what he did last week the Twittersphere erupted with lefties losing their shit and righties poking fun at them for it. But here we are, days later and now it’s the lefties saying the right are losing their shit and they are being precious snowflakes for doing so. It is the political debate equivalent of “You smell!” “No, YOU smell!”
And none of it gets us any closer to working out how we continue to function as a society. From my angle, those who see offence in every off-colour utterance every departure from the sacred script of diversity and equality are the unhinged ones, but what about seeing it from their side? By attacking every perceived ‘woke’ fragility we distance ourselves from ever understanding where others are coming from. Likewise by their opposing everything which is not in their own script as fascism, they let the actual fascists (all eleven of them) off the hook.
Seeing racism as inherent in white skin, speaking of the fallacious white privilege that few of us will ever feel, waging war on the fictitious far-right, the left are making a mockery of free speech by insisting that we must never speak of these things. But the 1% ‘rule’ is utterly ridiculous. If one of your great-great-great grandfathers was a doughty ‘Blackamoor’ you may now identify as black… even though you are 31/32 white. Oh, come on, this means you are literally erasing white ethnicity before our eyes.
This is monumentally stupid and reduces every argument to ad hominem fallacies; the message must be corrupt because the messenger is a moron. And he is a moron not because of any demonstrable lack of intelligence, but simply because his message is off the reservation. When you can’t believe news, from almost any source you have to fall back on what you know. But when you won’t believe any news except what reinforces what you believe, what you know is worthless.
At some point the country really has to begin the process of rebuilding the national dialogue and to do that, both sides have to – and here’s that awful word – compromise; we can’t afford to do otherwise. So, in that spirit, I’ll start. Without capitalism we would be horribly poorer, but under capitalism there are winners and losers; we have to look after the losers. Socialism has no real mechanism to improve prosperity for the losers, but is enormously successful at caring about doing so. The old centrist parties seemed to understand this and I suspect that Johnson’s administration does, too.
I’m not asking the left to get behind Boris Johnson. Neither am I asking the right to completely trust him with all the policies they want implemented. But while you are at each other’s throats and while Her Majesty’s Opposition is incapable of voicing a single coherent syllable of effective opposition, how about a bit of a truce between the rest of us until we can see where this new government is actually leading us, as opposed to where we have already imagined it might? I’m not holding my breath.