by John Ward
You can either opt out or speak out. Doing the former leaves the field free for Owen Jones, Dominic Grieve, Alastair Campbell, Guy Verhofstadt, Philip Hammond, Jo Swinson, John McDonnell, John Major, David Lammy, Diane Abbott, Jean-Claude Juncker, Newscorp, Bloomberg, Greta Thunberg, Jess Phillips and Jeremy Hunt to rewrite reality. Doing the latter means challenging every hypocritical, self-serving assertion they make under the protective wings of megamedia that would rather collaborate with sociopaths than investigate injustice. The Slog analyses how we got to here.
Yesterday evening, I composed a brief piece on Rupert Murdoch’s retreat into a twilight of influence, and why this has left Boris Johnson at the mercy of a media pack working without pause for those varietal unelected forces determined to put human liberty into a plastic bag, and then suck out all the air. There is a powerful irony in this, because BoJo himself is, of course, part of that very same multicultural clan.
The eventual achievement of Alt/Corporate Statist goals was always going to be easier if the human ability to tell ideological claptrap from socio-economic reality started to atrophy. Murdoch may well be in God’s waiting room, but the damage has already been done: in the UK, without him and his tabloidised Unthink, the entire neoliberal and Blairite agendas would have been far harder to sell….as they had been in France until very recently, because Roop de Doop has no influence at all there.
Newscorp brought ‘soundbite meets empty headline’ journalism to huge areas of the Anglophone world. His timing was lucky rather than due to foresight, but it was nevertheless a strategy of megalomanic genius. It was his good fortune to be the man in charge of ‘persuasion without thought for the consequences’ at the very moment when Ivory towers like Ted Levitt, Milton Friedman, Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and then Tony Blair began to spin a narrative promising everything but delivering nothing: for these “thinkers” lauded globalism, anti-social capitalism, financialisation, neoliberal and monetary economics, no-such-thing-as-society, and target-conformity mania.
All of it invited the citizen to put away old ideas about bottom-up community culture, and leave everything to the technocrats, the major retailers, the bourses and the banks. To, if you like, embrace hedonism and switch off. Everything’s alright really: it’s the same as it always was, only better. Or something.
It’s all a laugh, really. Hence the Sun headline on the sinking of the Belgrano: ‘GOTCHA!’ Private Eye lampooned it with the special offer, ‘KILL AN ARGIE, WIN A METRO’. [This was, of course, long before Ian Fizpop turned the magazine into the Blind eye it is today]
Paradoxically, the hegemony of “liberal” values was already well under way in our educational systems. Women were burning bras, everyone was equal, education by type of ability was dumped: the rise and rise of “you can’t say that sort of thing these days” had begun. By the turn of the century, social studies, history, climatology and economics examinations had decided there were right and wrong answers. “By 2020,” said one of Brown’s ministers in 2008, “every British child will go to University”.
Conformity was in, contrarian was out. And an increasingly concentrated media sector was right behind that – on every ‘settled’ issue from monetary theory via Big Bang to immigration, gender, multiculturalism and sexuality.
To call these developments “unhealthy” is a bit like telling a terminal patient that he faces a challenge.
For one reason and another, Murdoch’s wet nightmare has been achieved: the average citizen in 2019 is either too tired, too drunk, too distracted, too selfish – and above all, too frightened – to think.
Some forty years ago there was, I remember, a craze for ‘joke’ slogans as a way of summing up what various organisations might be about. My favourite was ‘The Moonies: We’ll do the thinking for you’.
Today in the West, the vast majority of people get their thinking done by intolerant schoolteachers, intolerant media, and intolerant ideologues who seem able to hog those media. As a result, every kind of lunatic assertion is at best entertained, and at worst embraced with enthusiasm. Disbelief isn’t so much suspended as banned.
But the People are still the electorate, and they still have the vote. Which was, of course, the idea: to move on from producing the ultimately malleable consumer, and turn him or her into the perfect corporate citizen.
At the moment, the British political Establishment is quite obviously hiding from the electorate. But this is nothing more than an atypical blip; in fact, one of the most obvious flaws in democracy (as the First World practises it) is the very regularity of elections: it causes those politicians in power to follow policies likely to mature in time for the next election. It encourages, if you like, the ‘quick fix’. But today’s quick fix solution often turns into tomorrow’s not-really-fixed problem.
The strong temptation that comes with elected Chambers is for those in them to attack an issue by passing criminalisation laws….as opposed to the much longer-term (but potentially more effective) approach of changing the culture that produced the problem in the first place. My observation here is that – if prevention is required – one is attacking a symptom, not a disease. It is a case of too much too late: it produces more crimes to be processed through an already overladen justice system, rather than a longer term solution that reduces the cost to the State of anti-social behaviour.
In its mercilessly long and largely content-free thirteen years in power, New Labour passed a staggering 36,500 legal instruments….an EU invention seized upon by Tony Blair who – being a failed barrister – perceived a systemically marketable solution, but utterly failed to grasp how free it was of any profound analysis involving social anthropology. The Blair years will always stand out for me as the ultimate case against soundbite-driven underachievement. His was a régime based entirely on quantified targets as opposed to qualitative transformation.
Being “on message” was the logical outcome of the process I have described so far in this post . ‘Friedman good/Keynes bad’, ‘Diversity good/élitism bad’ and various other “settled” mantras have produced socio-economic priests looking backwards, as opposed to apolitical radicals trying to make sense of the future. The No Turning Back Thatcherite gargoyles flogging neoliberal monetarism have been joined by Corbyn Labour’s opportunistic manipulation of naivety among the narrowly educated in relation to equally discredited Marxist theory.
Now; here is a very interesting challenge to all kneejerk Groupthinkers. It runs like this:
- Everyone on the Left in 2019 claims to abhor Tony Blair and all his works as satanic. It seems like none of them ever voted for him. But for him to have been returned to office twice with comfortable majorities, a substantial majority must have voted for him – and a solid 35-40% must have voted for him all three times. Crunch the numbers: take into account birth and deaths, look at how Tory fortunes declined between 1997 and 2007, observe how Cameron couldn’t at first form a Government without the Cleggovers, and then think about how – even with swings towards Jeremy Corbyn in 2017 and Ed Miliband in 2015 – the most disastrously mismanaged borrowing and economic administrations in modern UK history from 2010 until today are still in power.
- Now take a moment or two to ponder about where all those Labour votes went. And the answer is, in two directions on the Brexit issue: to the LibDems for a hard Remain option, and to first UKIP and then TBP for the hard Brexit option. Yet every day in social media, views are expressed confidently that Labour can and will win the next General Election, and that Momentumist neocolonial Marxism is The Answer.
- Cede a similar amount of time and consider how easily a right-wing Conservative like Boris Johnson beat Jeremy Hunt – entirely on an election held among 350 Tory MPs and 60,000 activists – to gain the Party leadership….this despite the fact that it is eminently clear to objectively intelligent observers that the neoliberal/monetarist/credit model of economics he peddles is, with every passing week, taking on water and set to drown genuine entreprenurial capitalism.
- Finally, observe how all attention is now focused on the race through various tunnels to a “deal” with the EU, with almost nobody paying attention to the fact that if such a deal were to go through, the British Government would be signing a Withdrawal Agreement even worse than the one for which (albeit under extreme duress) Theresa May fell upon her sword a few short months ago.
There are two damning conclusions that could be drawn from the above. First, the average voter is not fit to take a decision on anything; and second, this is particularly true of voters educated to believe in political and economic correctness, while being exposed to mass media spin and serial political liars.
To summarise, there are three huge electorate-related flaws in the contemporary ‘First World’ model of liberal democracy:
- They are not informed fully and truthfully about what’s going on. This situation is caused by the voter’s own lack of interest due to apathy, tiredness, distraction, low IQ and cynical boredom; by media misrepresentation of what’s real; by the dramatic decline in investigative journalism; and by actions within the unelected State (to which elected officials are sympathetic) to hide the Truth.
- When told the Truth, they either don’t believe it, or can’t discern what’s wrong with it. This is primarily caused by ideologically fixed positions, a loss of civic ethics, values and morals, low priority given to both civic and history lessons during education, and a long-held suspicion of every interpretation as ‘spin’.
- They suffer from a belief that regular elections make politicians accountable. In fact, what happens is that politicians put a stress on legislative actions, and people see this is evidence of both achievement and good intentions. As often as not, it is neither.
But if you thought this was a tragically cruel set of coincidences in its own right, then you have forgotten the Miracle of the Moment: quite the most ridiculous (and near-universal) belief in the positive qualities of the craziest idea Mammon ever hatched: Artificial Intelligence or AI.
Perhaps my definition of AI is wider than most; but that doesn’t worry me, because even if several inventions came before somebody coined the term Artificial Intelligence, it still makes them forms of intelligence that aren’t human….and in several ways, are inhuman.
For example, I refuse to use SatNav. Being able to improvise, observe the sun’s position, think through connections, read maps and ask people the way is not only healthy for the individual and the community; it is about belief in human ingenuity and unwillingness to spin into a flat panic purely because one is lost. It is about the confidence to think for yourself creatively.
I am not a Luddite. I was an early adopter of both the internet and I firmly believe that using ground-level data programs in constituency elections may well prove to be a powerful weapon in winning back sovereign power for the elector. The point is, a Luddite was an artisan who smashed Spinning Jenny machines because it was the death-knell for hand-made clothing – ie, the end of regular employment for him. But the Jenny produced results as good on a mass scale in a fraction of the time one clothesmaker could manage.
This simply isn’t true of artificial intelligence. A personal example: to get a new passport recently, I had to use the HMP Office website. They then had to hand over the passport to couriers using Satnav. I could ‘track’ the progress of delivery online. And they would ring me using mobile phones. What on Earth could go wrong?
The HMP website’s AI camera turned down every photo I uploaded. None of the reasons stated were empirical; as in, the camera was wrong about the level of pixcellation, my mouth, my hairline, and the background I used to take the shot. The website told me first, that the the document would arrive within 3 days, and be delivered by DX services, but it was wrong. The package was still in Glasgow sorting, and the couriers were DHL – and when they got within range, their Satnav couldn’t find my house. This was a cockup down to Google Earth’s AI. The mobile cell here isn’t great, so the guy couldn’t raise me on the phone. Being another believer in the power of AI, he declared the package undeliverable, and returned to base.
The only time I felt in any way empowered during this process was when I could phone a call centre, collar some human intelligence, and get some realtime answers. Without access to real people with emotional intelligence, I’d still be waiting for the passport now.
The human race does not need artificial intelligence: on the contrary, it needs to be handed more personal responsibility to turn common sense into valuable advice that enriches the customer experience. Perhaps more pointedly, our species needs jobs more than ever….and society needs people to be gainfully employed – not trapped in idleness or on zero hours contracts working for peanuts.
AI has only been developed to provide yet more profits for large stockbrokers, multinationals and banks, and yet more sterile android voices behind which all those bureaucrats, accountants, analysts, underwriters and financial villains can hide. It isn’t just taking jobs away from the 40% to further enrich the 3%…it is inputting a far worse and much less efficient service.
In a more broadly culturo-social sense, however, AI is the latest excuse for all those people who prefer to have something or someone do the thinking for them. It is one more way to do as you’re told, and not make a fuss, and one less reason to show some initiative or compassion. It is future atrophy for the brain cells on a scale to dwarf the longterm effects of passively staring at the television.
It is the Moonies gag become a horrific reality. It is the death of liberty and personal motivation. It is the final piece in the technology jigsaw – along with surveillance, the abolition of cash, photoshopping, the automation of banking theft, the collection of multivariate data and the three-speed internet – designed to ensure that the corporate State can always lead the narrative, hide the truth, and if the worst comes to the worst, plausible deny either that truth itself, or their level of culpability in it.
The Presidency of Donald Trump, the betrayal of Sovereign Brexit, and the utter Parliamentary farce of Boris Johnson’s premiership are nothing more than symptoms of the tertiary stage our individual mental attitude disease is now in. But perhaps the Brexit saga as a whole has been the most telling in terms of incomprehensible acceptance of obviously bent “news”, and rather pathetic attempts to disguise anti-democratic ambitions designed to give the SuperState power over us all.
I have lost several longterm friends over Brexit. Not really because there was a standup row: more often, it was to do with their ability to depress me with hopelessly misinformed views about a eurozone they rarely if ever visit beyond once a year to paint the odd clichéd line of Cypress trees in Tuscany. Or they said things like “Only bad people voted for Brexit”, “We deserve to be punished for messing the Europeans around” and even “We have been so arrogant in our approach, I can understand why Brussels is angry”. I could cope with such disconnected opinions if they emerged from the mouth of a precocious seven year old. Given all the people concerned were professionals aged over fifty, I ground my teeth in silence, and eventually cut off communications.
Note there that I use the term misinformed as opposed to uninformed. For these people were all, to the last man and woman, trotting out the stream of globalist mendacity emitted by CNN, Bloomberg, France24, the BBC, the New York Times, the Financial Times and The Guardian.
Equally downer-inducing since around 2014 has been the increasing prevalence of the “worldly” person who offers up languid cynicism along the lines of, “Let them get on with it, I just lead my life and ignore them, it’s the only way. You’re only upsetting yourself….give it up and just enjoy yourself. Do what they ask, pretend you like them, and everything will be fine”. I think of this as the “No, I’m not Spartacus, but I think that’s him over there” approach to life. Many good men doing nothing, and so forth. In one especially upsetting case, I found myself under fire for doing something….and thus rocking the boat for those doing nothing. “How many times I have to tell you already, don’t make trouble”.
Americans say “A principle isn’t a principle until it costs you money”. Insert “a friend” for “money” and you have my outlook on life. Perhaps I will wind up being an isolated hermit. Which is fine, because at least I’ll have the Gilets Jaunes to talk to.
As it happens, I’m not a hermit. Equally, I am sure there is no reason for me to become one. I may be doing something that achieves nothing, but I doubt it. For example, the first Slogpost showing how Theresa May sold us out to Brussels reached over 37,000 people. The two following related posts reached 23,000 and 18,000. The most common comment on the trilogy was “I had no idea this was going on”.
I think that represents “doing something”. Something, specifically, that the MSM no longer do: investigate spin and display facts.