I wrote some time ago about my wish that all tv panel shows and debates should have philosophical linespeople, shouting things like Fault — ad hominem! to call out rhetorical devices, false facts and the like in the morass of opinion and bullshit that passes for political debate in these desperate times.
I’ve modified my views. I now want a recording of Mr Sayle, shouting Kak! Bloody kak! Bloody kak! at almost everything said on the matter — by either side, from sneering riche-nobs to bouffanted philosophers. Like the buttons on Adam Hills’ desk on The Last Leg, with their variations on Bullshit, I want someone to pop up regularly, shouting Bollocks!
Irritating and frustrating though it is to hear one’s opponents twist facts and use all manner of verbal and pictorial tricks, it’s even more irksome when it comes from the people one thinks have right and truth on their side, and who shouldn’t need to resort to egregious or downright childish methods.
Of course, it’s impossible to assign collective blame in these matters. One can’t assume every Brexit supporter is behind, or even in agreement with, the trolls and their mantras of You lost; get over it or Snowflake — or even the no doubt co-ordinated use of betraying 17.4m voters. And neither is every supporter of remaining in the EU on board with some of the more heated posts against the awful regiment of nasties (even those which aren’t actually from trolles provocateurs.
But it irks to see people overreacting to the ‘nastiness’, ‘childishness’, whatever of the Tories’ pathetic portrayal of Mr Corbyn as a chicken, over his rejection of a snap (and no doubt post-leave) general election, when they don’t seem so critical of the myriad memes using a Photoshopped, slouching Mr Rees-Mogg.
And now we have an attack on that most attackable of men, Mr Cummings, for commenting that his opponents ought to speak to someone other than ‘rich remainers’. And the attack consists of pointing out his own wealth and connections, as if that disqualifies him from speaking for the poorer and working class within society.
I’m not saying that he is doing that, not that he sees such people as anything more than electoral and economic cannon fodder — and I’m aware, as his critics don’t seem to be, that his comment was not actually for the consumption of the liberal bourgeoisie, but rather for those working folk in the Brexit heartlands outside the Metrollops. Pushing the narrative that the nobs in That London don’t care about their opinions or wellbeing is the primary aim, and, I don’t doubt, all to further the agenda of bringing down the political system in its entirety (folks like Mr Farage have stated this aim quite categorically).
But there have been many cases of wealthy people who have indeed wanted to change the system in favour of the working person’s interest; from industrialist’s son Fred Engels and Prince Mick Kropotkin to many more recent examples. I recall an interview with Raceform founder Phil Bull, where his left wing politics were contrasted with his considerable fortune, to which he retorted, “Where does it say you can’t be rich and a socialist?” Indeed, as a person who believes that absolutely everyone would have greater wellbeing in a more egalitarian (OK, anarchist) society, I quite agree, not that I’ll ever have the chance to prove it from my own position of affluence — especially post-Brexit. It does rather depend what one does with one’s wealth of course; trumpeting socialism while paying one’s employees slave wages from the decks of a fleet of luxury yachts would do little for one’s credibility.
My main point here, despite all the rambling off course, is twofold. Firstly that we do ourselves no favours simply crying no fair! at everything from prorogation to cheap attacks, especially if we then take similarly childish (but funny, I can’t deny that) swipes at side-issues like dickheads slumping on the front bench. And secondly and perhaps more crucially, if we don’t start seeing things from the other point of view and recognising where the baddies’ blows are aimed, and bloody well doing something to counter them, we only assist the rise of the nasties.
As Cummings says, the liberal lot should indeed be out there engaging with people other than rich (or poor) remainers, debating (as I say so often and so fruitlessly) in a way that accepts the possibility of being mistaken — and refuses to buy into this other, democracy-denying, defeatist and just-what-they-want-you-to-think mantra that it’s no use arguing with stupid Brexiteers cos their minds are all closed. Surely it’s them we’re trying to save from disaster and possibly even totalitarian repression. We should be working out ways to open their minds (and making sure ours stay open too), and not wasting time on all this bloody kak!