Sunday, 15 May 2022

There are forces of madness

There are forces of madness; I have shown you that I make allowance for them. But they are only dangerous so long as privilege allies itself with hypocrisy. The task of the modern civiliser is to sweep away sham idealisms.

George Gissing - Born in Exile (1892)

Blogging is a privilege – I don’t pay for it except in time and whatever Gurgle gets out of it. It could be said that the internet has delivered this kind of privilege to billions, but if virtually everyone has something, how can the possession of it be a privilege?

In Gissing’s time, privilege included wealth, influence and a public voice where influence and a public voice were connected. In our times, we could say that a public voice and its potential for influence confer a tiny dose of that privilege on millions of us.

In this sense, the privilege of having a public voice is seeping away from the ruling classes - together with the influence perhaps. Seeping away rather than disappearing of course, but still a fundamental change for the ruling classes. Privilege has always allied itself with hypocrisy but when the privilege of a public voice became available to millions, maybe the hypocrisy became more obvious.

In which case censorship is at least partly privilege issue. Which we already knew, but it may be as well to view censorship as more than the simple suppression of unofficial and unpalatable opinions. 

Defining the narrative is a privilege - right or wrong, true or false do not necessarily come into it. For the ruling classes, to be proved wrong would be a loss of privilege and this seems to be one of the forces of madness.


dearieme said...

"privilege included wealth, influence and a public voice": I disagree. I dislike the modern abuse of the term "privilege". Privilege is about different rules applying to you than to me, in your favour.

Do we use the expression even if the different rules are based on some sort of objective and relevant criterion? I'd rather not - it seems pointless to say that a doctor has the privilege of prescribing medicines that I do not share - he has had a professional training to justify that power.

So if you, AKH, are elevated to the peerage you can pop along to the House of Lords. I can't. That's got nothing to do with our relative wealth or indeed our "public voice" - indeed, lots of otherwise inconsequential celebrities have a public voice, and so do lots of journalists - however stupid, ignorant and unwealthy they may be.

Some people would probably described as "privileged" someone who has good health, a happy marriage, and beloved children and grandchildren. That's stupid, or malicious, because it drains "privileged" of any useful, objective meaning.

James Higham said...

"Privilege is about different rules applying to you than to me, in your favour. "

Goodness me, the clarity is devastating.

Tammly said...

Over at Takimag today, the Z man puts it all very neatly. If we really don't want the new woke elites to be ruling us for the next 70 years, they have to be got rid of by any means necessary, as he says. To my mind that involves violent insurection.

A K Haart said...

dearieme and James - in Gissing's time, different rules did apply to different social classes and they were not necessarily based on some sort of objective and relevant criterion apart from social class itself. We still see it today when those otherwise inconsequential celebrities are given a public platform on the basis on no objective or relevant criterion apart from their status as a celebrity.

Tammly - it could morph into something else as the ludicrous aspects become unavoidable, which could happen via political failures which are too plain to ignore.