Sunday, 28 May 2023

A cunning reader of human hearts

And now this person, who was about to be a pupil, this stripling, who was going to begin his education, had all the desires of a matured mind, of an experienced man, but without maturity and without experience. He was already a cunning reader of human hearts; and felt conscious that his was a tongue which was born to guide human beings.

Benjamin Disraeli - Vivian Grey (1826)

It is a common observation that many a middle class viewpoint is easily described as nothing more than a simple guide borrowed from the editorial policies of big media, from a cunning reader of human hearts. Viewpoints held with a comfortable confidence paying no heed to the complexities of evidence and quite immune to sceptical analysis.

Familiarity is key, familiarity is comfortable. As if the social world is a morass of official guides where the unofficial is unwelcome, alternatives are never demanded and nothing beyond bare assertion is required to defend whatever is familiar and therefore trusted. The world is as the guides say it is.

It is hardly surprising that mainstream media foster a comprehensive guiding role as the core of their editorial policies. Click on the BBC website and guides are what we see, from how to cook pasta to interpreting football matches to fixing the climate to celebrity culture. Ours is also a world where terrible things happen but the BBC is there to act as guide and interpreter. Or so it says.

The editorial policies of big media lead to numerous parables too. Disturbing stories which emphasise how uncomfortable it must be without a guide, beyond the familiar reach of editorial interpretation. The UK pandemic guide was one such interpretation played on a huge global stage. Hide, hide and stay inside said the official guides - so many did.

The climate narrative is a guide to becoming poorer, less free and even less significant within the familiar and comforting fog of Something Is Being Done. Disaster is coming we are told, but guides are available. Cycle, recycle, consume less and most importantly of all follow the guides and pay the price...

The price? Don't look for it in the guides. 


Sam Vega said...

It's the multiple guides that make me think that there is no over-arching narrative, no conspiracy. These people will happily guide you through belt-tightening and preparing for armageddon, yet also celebrate expensive lifestyle choices and pointless consumption. Your teenager won't get a job because we're all going to economic perdition; yet here's some exciting gap-year options and the latest shite on Tik Tok.

It seems to me that the guides are not there to serve some gradually emerging master-plan. They are there because people just love telling others what to do. The real enemy isn't Soros or the Chinese or the WHO. The real enemy are all those blokes who offer you unsolicited advice on cutting your lawn and where to get cheap petrol, or why you're a mug if you insist on joining the M1 at junction 5....

A K Haart said...

Sam - I'm sure you are right. The guides just evolve because we are what we are. The result looks like a global master plan and in a sense it is because certain people group themselves around its apparent sense of direction.

Yet it could quite suddenly evolve in a different direction with no obvious impetus from the usual suspects, because they are following not leading.