ONE OF THE surprising things that has happened to contemporary British politics is the disappearance of any understanding (or practice of) positive public presentation: PR, as we used to know it, when big hitters like the Conservatives and Labour spent millions on publicity gurus to make them look good to the public. They all seem to have forgotten the old adage that appearance is 90% of politics.
FOR THOSE PEOPLE despairing of the millennial generation and their demands for safe spaces and trigger warnings, and their blue-haired, social justice snowflakery there are glimmers of hope that things are changing for the better. Behold Generation Z (zed to us in Blighty, zee to our friends across the Atlantic).
Generation Z, born between 1995 and 2010 (roughly), are, according to various sources, including Jeff Brauer of Keystone College, socially liberal but more conservative in terms of security and economics than their predecessors. They are also the first generation who are true digital natives, in that they have no experience of a time when there was no internet. The upshot of this is that they are wired (as us oldies still say) and used to getting their information from the net rather than from the mainstream media.
Holding up Roman Britain as a time when the country was supposedly ethnically diverse and welcoming to foreigners is a way of rebuking those who want stricter controls on immigration as being both historically and morally wrong.
IT IS NOW more than twenty years since Sokal and Bricmont hoaxed the leftwing academic world with their fake paper, “Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Theory” (“transformative” is a touch of brilliance there). As scientists, both had grown sick of scientific concepts being misused by postmodernist academics to discredit the very basis of objectivity. They knew that the authors of these papers had no knowledge of understanding or the sciences but would nevertheless be accepted as creditable as long as they showed themselves to be bona fide leftists. This included references to the gods of the postwar pantheon of “fools, frauds and firebrands”, as Roger Scruton so aptly called them — Foucault, Derrida, etc.
Sokal and Bricmont thus concocted a paper out of the meaningless verbiage that typified such research at the time and submitted it to a journal called Social Text, who had it peer-reviewed and published as authentic. A furore followed the revelation that the academic world had fallen for such obvious fakery. Despite the laughter and scorn of many, there were still plenty of defenders of nonsense within academia willing to claim the hoax meant nothing at all. Eventually the waters of discord settled, the academic idiocy continued and the Sokal hoax was gratefully forgotten by its critics and left unmentioned to a new generation of left wing scribblers.
WHEN I WAS preparing a short podcast on Peter Pan for some students it occurred to me that some of what I was talking about had a direct relevance to current left of centre politics. This can be boiled down to two points: the first is the overwhelming desire to live in a fantasy world where you do not need to grow up, and the second is the amnesia that accompanies that desire.
We all know that Peter Pan himself is a Lost Boy, who refuses to grow up, preferring to live in Neverland, where he can play to his heart’s delight without having to bear the responsibilities of growing up in the real world. Listening to any leftist is like listening to a Peter Pan promising utopia: you can do what you want, everything will be free because mummy state will provide it, and the rich will pay for it. You don’t have to worry about taking responsibility for your own life or actions.
AS I’M NOT a follower of that tediously over-hyped game known as football I missed the initial outburst of horror that came when a manager of some club made some post-interview comment to some female journo which rocked the whole of western civilisation to its rapidly-decaying foundations because it was (don’t wait for it) sexist and “wholly unacceptable”…
Now it appears this insidious nannying culture of trigger warnings has already arrived — not so much at British universities (though that will be inevitable) but in the hallowed and righteous halls of the broadcast media. There used to be a thing called the watershed at nine o’clock, after which time more adult material could be shown. We didn’t need to be given explicit warnings about filth and violence.