Thursday, 30 June 2016

Fake phobias

One of the great changes over my lifetime has been the spread of politics into every corner of life. It is not so much a spread of party politics as a universal intrusion by the mores of the state. Which on the whole are a weird mix of fanatical social control and the erratic outpourings of middle class guilt trips. Are they also pulling up the ladder after a few decades of toying with meritocracy? I think they are.

The trend also seems to be related to centralisation which all mainstream political parties tend to promote whatever their supposed political philosophy. In turn centralisation seems to suppress that vital spark of serendipity which stirs the soul, expands our horizons and makes us human. Even worse than centralisation is the response to dissent where any opposition is claimed to be the spawn of some evil phobia.

In the end one has to rely of personal observations, however unsatisfactory and limited they may be. For example, as far as I recall I have never met anyone suffering from xenophobia.

Dislike of or prejudice against people from other countries: racism and xenophobia are steadily growing in Europe

So xenophobia is not a phobia at all. Which we knew anyway. 

An extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something:she suffered from a phobia about birds

In my experience people in the UK generally do not dislike and are not prejudiced against people from other countries although immigration policies and the excesses of radical Islam have strained our tolerance. If anything, people with UK roots seem to be more tolerant than the global norm. Any prejudice I see tends to be more cultural preference than prejudice. There is a difference.

The most overtly racist guy I ever met was a very personable young chap whose parents had come to the UK from India some decades ago. He had a high caste background and was obsessed with skin colour. Wheat-coloured was his ideal for some reason. There was no malice in him, he just had his cultural preferences and was not reticent about them.

The pointing finger of xenophobia appears to be directed at the western world, and its industrial and cultural successes, its comparative tolerance, its ability to make democracy work and its ability to find a place for religion without that place being politically or culturally dominant.

The main threat to all those achievements seems to be the unending drive towards total government we have endured for over a century now. That in turn seems to be tangled up with a guilt-fuelled collapse towards the global mean, a chaotic dog eat dog state where a degree of cringing security is only to be found under the wing of various thuggish elites.

The global mean is obviously not something we should aspire to here in the developed world. Expressing a cultural preference to this effect plus a perfectly natural desire to keep what we have and what we value – that is not a phobia. 


Edward Spalton said...

It is probably 30 years ago now since a very distressed lady turned up on our doorstep. " I can't go home like this" she said and I wondered what tragedy had occurred.

She worked for the local social services and had been subjected to a day's RAT (Racial Awareness Training). She was, and is, a deeply Christian lady.

The instructor had told them that only white people were racist. As her Church regularly sends people to help in Africa where there is intermittent genocidal tribal warfare. So she was well qualified to say " That's not quite right" . The instructor insisted on his point of view in spite of her bringing other examples to his notice. " No, no, that is quite different".

Eventually he said that her stubbornness only indicated how profoundly racist she was. He then invited the rest of the class to join in a sort of Maoist struggle session to persuade her of the error of her ways. It was that which had caused her distress.

Everybody in public service will have undergone some sort of training like this.,Some will have internalised it and believe it. The rest will keep quiet and keep their jobs.

Sam Vega said...

Some excellent points there. It's interesting to consider how the term "racism" is used these days. It's rare that anyone is actually labelled or certified as a "racist". It is retained as the nuclear option, something to use as a warning to others. Or maybe like the threat of hell in mediaeval times. "Stray too far in that direction, and I won't be responsible if you were to be seen as a racist. Just calling attention to that fact..." It is the totally unpardonable sin, that which summarily terminates careers and discredits everything about those guilty of it.

But how many people are like your Indian acquaintance, and actually judge according to skin colour? Very few. Yet many people are justifiably concerned about the behaviours of given groups of people, who happen to share a different skin colour. The accusation of "racism" is used to police such debates, and make those concerns inexpressible.

Last week, those concerns - among others - were expressed for once. I think we need to be taught a stronger lesson, and the pressure on us will be increased.

Sam Vega said...

Edward Spalton:

Yes, I know exactly what you mean. Before retiring last year, I worked in Further Education for 30 years (and before that in Social Services) and that type of thing was always lurking like a bad smell in the background.

There is, however, a "middle way" between internalising it and remaining totally silent. A couple of years ago I was talking to an ex- senior policeman who had left the force and was teaching Public Services courses at our college. I mentioned that we were in for some race awareness sessions in the imminent staff training day, and asked him whether he had a lot of experience of this.

"Being in the force has taught me one thing", he said. "I now know that I am thoroughly racist in many different ways, and that most of them are hidden from me because of the insidious and pervasive nature of racism in our minds, culture and institutions. But I am also committed to bringing this racism to light and eradicating it to the best of my ability, in my aim of contributing to a genuinely equal society."

I couldn't tell whether he had said this in a slightly sing-song robotic manner, or whether it was just my imagination. There also seemed to be a very slight twitch to his eye after he said it, but again I couldn't be sure...

Michael said...

I cannot understand why there has to be a special name for 'diversity'!

Why diversity? It doesn't actually define anything or anyone, it just sits there as a spoutable word for not being racist, or racialist (the correct term, I believe), and as it has four syllables, it works well in bile projection.

How much 'diversity' do we have to need? Is 'diversity' a requirement or a passion, or a necessity? What has diversity got to do with a people wanting their own identity, and their own country recognised as being such?

Demetrius said...

I think I have Phobiaphobia, is it catching? Apart from that we seem to be in a position where we cannot talk about demographics, or sustainability etc.

DiploMad said...

I wrote a piece some time ago about Islamophobia and how it's bunk. You might enjoy it:

Roger said...

Can things stay the way they were, can we keep our customs and habits and keep out those who might offend us. We certainly can - if we can afford it and if we are prepared to live behind barriers.

The first problem is 'we' - who is 'we'. The richer metropolitans benefit from immigration (for that is what we are talking about) and honestly don't care that some may get the rough end of the bargain. Then there is 'afford it', like the Ritz Hotel, nice houses in pleasant locations are available to all. But necessarily not many can enjoy them. The rest must rub along as best they can, but being sneered at by the metropolitans and getting the rough end of economic policies chaffs a lot.

Then there is sustainablity. We are probably too many in numbers and possibly not all of 'the right sort'. The options are some sort of entry requirement or some sort of selection process, hence barriers. But the Bell Curve applies within as well as without and that necessarily means that if we want a thriving economy we must bring in people. That means the population will grow unless we export those we don't find useful - including the home grown crop. Alternatively we could set up some sort of Pie Factory. Both options are in the realm of political and science fiction.

So, things will not stay as they were or are. Life will get less pleasant in the old sense, but thankfully the oldies will shuffle off and most of the young will know no better.

A K Haart said...

Edward - thanks for the anecdote, chilling isn't it? Particularly this - "her stubbornness only indicated how profoundly racist she was". Political preaching by the instructor, but to say so would only lead one into the same net.

Sam - yes you are right, the accusation of "racism" is used to police debates, and make many key public concerns inexpressible. This of course can lead to anger which in turn leads to language which is more easily labelled as racist even though the language is deliberately(?) provoked by the stilted nature of the debate.

Scrobs - 'diversity' is a weird term because we are not expected to be diverse at all. Just the opposite.

Demetrius - "we seem to be in a position where we cannot talk about demographics" we are and that's a disaster in the making.

DiploMad - that's a fine post as usual. I'll bookmark it.

Roger - "most of the young will know no better" and in my optimistic moments I often wonder it that's the key point. We adapt and what we adapt to may be to our disadvantage but in one way or another it always is. When I see unemployables walking around town on a weekday, I suspect we may have to import better just to keep the show on the road.