Is there really any difference between the pinched goblin and the knuckleheaded bully?
It’s been a topsy-turvey week for everyone, including the Slog. But come credit crunch or censorship, the overall picture of Homo sapiens at the moment changes little. We seem to be as greedy, delusional, controlling or apathetic as always.
Certainly, there is no shortage of empirical evidence for that assertion. Today’s later post here about Newscorp’s barbarian behaviour in the US mail-coupon sector is really no better or worse than the continued censorious intervention of the US liberal Establishment online. The last ten days have seen The Slog’s loyalist subscriber email account disabled permanently, Slog comment threads at the Huffington Post banned, and Huffpost’s owner AOL screwing up Slog emails to subscribers. I suspect that very little of this activity, in any area, has an innocent explanation.
In the 1930s, the Nazis’ Sturm Abteilung street thugs beat the crap out of anyone who said, wrote or even implied either criticism or ridicule of their Party. They burned books disagreeing with them, too. Contemporary ‘liberal’ news sites have learned this lesson well: despite the predictive genius of George Orwell, they too immolate any comment designed to question the bad science propagated by their media.
In the 1950s, interrogators in the USSR and Mao’s China produced better results by simply depriving the human senses, or ‘correcting’ any news from outside until it conformed with socialist reality. This too used the Newspeak horrors of Orwell with unconscious irony. So too the contemporary Labour Party rewrites every bit of history that might blame it for anything. Ed Balls, for example, insists that overspending during his time in government made zero contribution to our deficit. Anyone suggesting otherwise will not get a hearing in the Guardian, even though the empirical statistics show that he is lying. Balls is, like Brown – and Osborne, and Huhne, and Cameron – the man in Room 101 asking you to disbelieve the existence of four fingers on your hand. And after shaking hands with these gargoyles, perhaps they might have a point.
Fox News in the US routinely doctors video footage, or quotes out of context to make its point. Murdoch’s New York tabloid simply lies as necessary. The Guardian prints nothing about Johann Hari, a hack now shown to be at best a fantasist and at worst a craven propagandist. But whether the bending of truth is done by physically violent suppression or the faceless moderator, the result is the same. The pinched goblins at the Huffington Post are the same disturbed folk as the knuckle-draggers who threatened and bullied MPs, employees and witnesses during the UK’s Hackgate saga. They are still doing it, and they will always do it.
I’m sick to death of hearing how the ‘smart’ thing to do is stay beyond the reach of these awful people. What’s the point of running a blog designed to show the experiences ordinary people have to put up with if one merely uses one’s influence and erudition to escape their fate? Well in a way, I sincerely hope there is one, because I think The Slog has almost reached the point now where some kind of offshore, fully-protected domain hosting is required. However, doing this still smacks to me of sanctimonious Labour MPs sending their kids to private schools: it sticks in my gullet.
In an age where both media and government have encouraged citizens in the West to escape, deny and enjoy, the encouragement is of late turning into a perceived obligation: ‘You will eat this bread and attend these circuses, or else’. Rousseau wrote of forcing people to be free, and it increasingly seems to me that the soi-disant liberal democratic West follows this idea. Harriet Harman insists that we be freed from our racism, sexism and nationalism by simply passing legal instruments saying ‘it shall be so’. Camerlot has talked a good game about repealing this fascist bollocks, but little or nothing has been done. The Tea Party talks of freeing the citizen from the State, but what they really mean is freeing themselves from taxes, and letting the poor folks go hang.
My view remains the same: I would like to massively restrict the State, mutualise much of its tentacular grip on our lives, and devolve an enormous amount of responsibility down to community level. But that community must recognise the existence of genuine unfortunates – and, if they want to be at peace with themselves, offer them genuine help. However, in order to do that, it must put travellers onto unwilling bikes and tell them, “Either muck in or ship out”. We are entering an age where legal loopholes, niceties, angels and pinheads will be at best grudgingly tolerated, and at worst ignored.
I think we are heading for a less laissez-faire age. If this is to be used by society as a means to more personal responsibility and self-discipline, then bring it on. If it is to be used as a stick with which to poke anyone disagreeing with madness, then it must be opposed. Choosing to prefer the lies of one side to those of another would merely be playing into all their hands.