Tag Archives: hypocrisy

The belief that dare not speak its name?

Michele-de-Napoli

 

It’s an old story, a very old story. Who rules? The Greek city states were torn by strife between the Aristocracy (a term which comes from the Greek, aristokratía. Aristos means “excellent,” and kratos translates as “power”) the rule of the Excellent, and Democracy, which again is from Greek, demokratia, or “rule by the demos or common people”.

 

And then I read this blog http://quillette.com/2016/07/08/remain-vs-leave-elite-technocracy-vs-liberal-democracy/ where he discusses Elite Technocracy versus Liberal Democracy.

 

Both sides have good antecedents. The democrats can look back to Cleisthenes, Pericles, Locke and the English Whigs. Their stance is the citizen is central and the state must govern with the consent of the citizen. Without consent there is tyranny and the right of rebellion.

The aristocrats, or in more modern terms the technocratic elite follow Plato, Thomas Hobbes and Georg Hegel. These stress the authority and wisdom of those in government as the only ones who really understand what is going on and are the only ones equipped to make the decisions about the future.

 

In Greece the conflict between the two ideologies led to strife within the state between the competing groups. As always it is more complicated than a simple ‘class’ war because the leaders of the demos were often men drawn from the same wealthy class which provided the aristocracy. Personal feuds and factions complicated and intensified the battle.

Obviously personal feuds and factions are unlikely to have a part in our modern politics, doubtless the dispute between Boris Johnson and Michael Gove was over the deepest philosophical conjectures. Similarly within the Labour Party, the current bickering between Jeremy and virtually everybody else has nothing to do with the fact that his MPs see little chance of re-election with him at the helm and again is a nuanced dispute over high political principles.

 

The last couple of weeks have thrown the fault lines into high relief.  We have those for whom the will of the demos, the common people is sovereign. (Even when they disagree with it.)  We have others who believe that some people are just too stupid, or too ill-educated to be allowed to decide matters of any importance. I’ve seen suggestions that persons over a certain age should not be allowed to vote, or that there be IQ tests before people are allowed to vote. (Or in extreme cases restricting the franchise to nice people like us who live within the M25)

 

The Greeks had many faults, but one they don’t seem to have suffered from was political correctness. They were perfectly happy to give something the label it deserved. I think we would start seeing things far more clearly if we were to do that. Let the believers in the rule of a technocratic elite proudly stand for their principles, let them boast of them, let them flaunt them in the market place of public opinion. “The man from Whitehall knows best, trust us to look after you.”

 

Or we could try democracy. The problem with democracy is that it’s difficult. It demands a lot of hard work from both the leaders and the led. Leaders really have to make a constant effort to keep in touch with people, not merely to know what hoi polloi are thinking and saying, but also to educate them and explain. Leadership is a two way process, where both sides listen and are changed.

And for the led, democracy cannot work alongside the cult of celebrity and a culture which emphases me, me, me. It also works best when you have a population that have been educated, not abandoned in sink estates and sink schools.

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There again, what do I know, you might as well ask the dog

 

As one reviewer commented “This is a selection of anecdotes about life as a farmer in Cumbria. The writer grew up on his farm, and generations of his family before him farmed the land. You develop a real feeling for the land you are hefted to and this comes across in these stories. We hear of the cattle, the sheep, his succession of working dogs, the weather and the neighbours, in an amusing and chatty style as the snippets of Jim Webster’s countryman’s wisdom fall gently. I love this collection.”

“The louder he talked of his honour, the faster we counted our spoons.”

Funny old world, I remember my mother using that phrase, and now, perhaps thirty years later I discover it was written by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Perhaps it’s an appropriate expression to be brought to mind when I’ve just read that China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Algeria, and Cuba have won seats on the UN Human Rights Council?
But there again, political hypocrisy has been the soundtrack of my life. After all I can remember America defending democracy by the simple expedient of propping up military dictatorships throughout much of the world.
It’s hardly a new phenomenon. I remember reading of an exchange in the House of Lords. One honourable Lord was reduced to spluttering fury. Her Majesty’s government had just recognised as head of state an African tyrant who had seized power by killing his predecessor. In the words of the irate gentleman “Never has a British Government sunk so low.”
At this point an older and potentially wiser member of the chamber had risen to his feet and raised a point of accuracy. He remembered a case when the British Government had recognised a dictator who had not merely killed his predecessor but had eaten him as well.

Are we entitled to intervene to impose our opinions upon others? Was the Second World War justified, or should we have sat back and let Fascism evolve and burn itself out? Was the creed that perpetrated the Holocaust a legitimate target?
But what about modern campaigns which might crush tyrants or regimes of which we disapprove; but that might well also secure energy supplies? Are they justified? Are we justified in going to war with an organisation that regards a fair proportion of the human race as non-persons who are fit only to be chattels of the rest? In the UK we’ve decided to join in the war against Islamic extremism, but we never interfered in the American civil war.

Personally I would suggest that hypocrisy abroad starts with hypocrisy at home. One problem is that we expect to get what we want at the expense of others. Look at the howl that has gone up over the price of energy this winter. Look at the complaints about the price of food. But if we were honest with ourselves, the prices have gone up because they were far too cheap; we were getting a good deal at the expense of others. Apparently, countries like Saudi Arabia now need an oil price of at least $100 a barrel to cover the level of social payments, food subsidies and suchlike they pay to their own population.
You cannot expect cheap food and energy and then bewail the conditions faced by those who are struggling to make a living producing that food.
But with the ‘my beliefs first’ attitude well entrenched we manage to take things even further.
Let us take the issue of the Winter Olympics in the Russia. Do I like the Russian government’s attitude (which may or may not be widely shared by the Russian people) to homosexuality? Frankly, no.
Do I think the Winter Olympics should be held there? Well let us put this in perspective. I have no interest whatsoever in the Winter Olympics (but then I never watched anything to do with the 2012 Olympics in London either.) If the Winter Olympics were cancelled, postponed or moved to Barnsley, it would bother me not at all.
But there are athletes out there who’ve worked for years, practicing, training, giving up all sorts of things, with the 2014 games as their goal. In 2018 they’ll be too old or past their best or new talent will have come through. Their lives have been geared to these games.
If I decide I’m affronted by the Russian attitude am I entitled to demand the games be boycotted, to demand that others screw up their lives to ensure that my beliefs are given the priority I think they deserve?
Surely it cannot be anything other than gross hypocrisy on my part to sit in a house warmed (directly or indirectly) by Russian gas, expecting others to sacrifice their careers because it’s an easy way for me to air my beliefs?
Surely I’m no better than those who demand that women sacrifice their independence of thought and action because their interpretation of their religious beliefs tells them this is how the world should be?

Complicated old world isn’t it?
The more you learn the less certain you become. Leap on a passing bandwagon and you discover it’s a tumbrel taking some poor innocent to the guillotine. I’ll leave you with a comment from a web cartoon, ‘Looking for Group’ at http://www.lfgcomic.com/

Kraken 1

Kraken 2

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You can see why I just farm and write books and try to avoid philosophy! I’d only get into trouble anyway.

 

As a reviewer commented, “Benor is a cartographer and he’s come to Port Naain to produce a handbook. He makes a home with Tallis, a professional poet and his wife Shena. She’s a mud-jobber or as we might say, a beachcomber. Some of her combings include bodies. Everything has a price and families will pay for the privilege of burying their dead and, if possible, finding who caused it. Benor is a natural. He’s a nosy person and, with the aid of the wonderful Mutt, a ten year-old wise beyond his years, he sorts out the villains from the corpses. This first short story from The Port Naain Intelligencer bodes well for the rest of the series. A really great Whodunit.”

Corruption

Corruption is like slurry. It trickles down from the top, staining everyone on the way and pooling around those at the bottom who’re forced to wade through it to the contempt of those at the top.

Frankly it stinks. It’s not just the world of kickbacks and favours, the charity bosses who feel that they should be paid over 100K ‘because they’re worth it.’ It’s the world of the BBC where apparently a quarter of executives got payoffs that there probably illegal. Why that particular quarter? Are they the ones whose faces fitted, who did the right courses at the right universities, sat on the right think-tanks and floated on the edge of the correct political parties?

But we see if everywhere, the degradation of society. People who cannot be bothered to do the job they’re paid to do; people who seem to get their kicks, not through their own achievements but by stopping other people doing things. (Have you noticed, the ‘precautionary principle’ is only ever used to stop ‘them’ doing what they want to do; it is never used to stop ‘us’ doing what we want to do.)

And of course when you stir hypocrisy into the mix, then it really does stink. The BBC had great fun tearing into senior clergy about child abuse, and now, slowly and painfully, their own squalid idols are being dragged out of retirement and thrust blinking into the spotlight.
And it’s the spotlight that we need. A bright light shining into the murk; the stone turned over so the bloated things wiggle and squirm to get out of the sun. Let the light in, let the truth be seen then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.
Let’s see how much these people earn, let’s see how much of our money is being poured into their gaping maws. Let’s watch them wallow in the world of Christian Louboutin footwear bought on Civil Service credit cards.
Let’s turn the light on them.

And where does the light come from? Well I’ll give you an example. I know a lady who is a teacher. The school she’s teaching at got involved, peripherally in an ‘incident’ that made the national newspapers.
The local education authority piled in, blamed everything on the headmaster and harried and hounded him into retiring. The lady was one of the few, along with the school secretary, who stood by him. Who drove him home the day he broke down in tears in his office; who told various ‘worthies’, various members of the ‘great and the good,’ both authority staff and union reps, exactly what she thought of them. Of course she hasn’t got a career, but sometimes it’s good to remember the words;-
“Don’t be intimidated. Eventually everything is going to be out in the open, and everyone will know how things really are. So don’t hesitate to go public now. Don’t be bluffed into silence by the threats of bullies. There’s nothing they can do to your soul, your core being.”

And this is where the light comes from. It shines out of the Sikh train manager I saw comforting a lost old lady, it shines out of the policeman who sizes up the situation and defuses it, giving two lads a chance to patch things up and avoid a criminal record; it shines out of the teacher who works endlessly to try and get her charges to just behave decently.
It shines out of the paramedic at the side of the road who’s done too many hours already but isn’t quitting until this person is safe. It shines out of the taxi driver who stops the meter before he carries the old dear’s shopping in for her, and puts it on the shelves; because that he does in HIS time, not the company’s time.
It shines out of the accountant who at the end of a long day sits down with a young couple and shows them how to get their books in order so that their little business can grow, and all for no more that a clumsily muttered thank you.

You see, these people and the light that shines out of them set a standard, a benchmark. They draw the line in the sand that we can look at and wonder. We can ask ourselves whether we’ve got the guts to cross the line and get out of the slurry. They are the ones who shine like stars amidst a twisted and perverted society.
And it’s by their light that we can grow. It’s their light that helps us set our direction. But have we the courage they have, have we what it takes?
Or are we happy to wallow in the stench provided we get our share?