the brilliantly leaping gazelle

Phillip Schofield meets Gordon Brown

This post isn’t about Phillip Scofield. Well, it kind of is, and it isn’t, but what it definitely isn’t about is the scandal that has engulfed him, causing him to lose his jobs, his reputation and well everything. Because I know as much about all of that circus as I do about the weather on Mars.

Gordon Brown, remember him? The dour faced misrerabilist who was inexplicably our Prime Minister a while back? Scottish chap, permanently looking like he’d just been given some bad news, and when he tried to smile it was as he’d read how to do it in a book but had never quite got the hang of it? Coming back now?Couldn’t answer in an interview what his favourite biscuit was? Now you do!

The reason I mention him is that he immediately came to mind when I read that Scofield had said in, an interview on the BBC with Amol Rajan,

I fully appreciate there is a massive age gap, but that happens in life. I think there is an enormous amount of homophobia that it happens to be male, but if it was male-female then it wouldn’t be such a scandal,”

See what he did there? Possibly, just possibly, it was a combination of him lying about the fact that the affair had even happened, the bosses at ITV being worried by all the negative press that this created and their urgent need to be seen to take immediate action, that they were more of the causative factors here. But Phillip thought, instead of seeing a downfall largely created by himself and the consequences that ensued from them, saw homophobia. A nicely self-serving swerve, where he sought to reframe the narrative and muddy the waters in which he’s drowning by giving the media yet another angle to discuss. Exactly how homophobic is is the British media? Classic swerve, hinting at the shadowy motives that only he imagines can explain his accusers actions.

Anyway, Gordon Brown. On the election campaign trail in 2011. Meets Gillian Duffy. Now you remember. When he is safely back his the car, forgets he is still miked up and calls her a bigot. So that became the story, not her concerns about unchecked immigration from Eastern Europe, not the fact that the previous Labour government had been politically naive enough to imagine that it wouldn’t be a problem. Instead, call her a bigot and when that leaks, make the story all about that and not her concerns that lead to the story in the first place. And the media will be so thankful as well, it being a lot easier to pontificate about how a politician should behave, is someone a bigot or not, rather than to seriously discuss the problems of unchecked immigration.

Granted, it might have been an accidental swerve, but it served the same purpose. And although history is no doubt littered with other swerves, I always think this one the best, because not only did it immediately dominate the campaign for days and act as distraction from more weightier issues, it was the media themselves that leaked the story and made more of it than it deserved.

Nowadays, it seems that live in an increasingly reframing of the narrative – swervey – times. Been accused of something and are as guilty as fuck? Why not swerve the whole thing, make out that your the real victim, that the whole thing is fuelled by an ‘ism, a ‘phobia, a toxic this, a misogynistic that or something, anything, that’ll give the Twatterati something else to froth over instead? Indeed, we live in times when we almost expect a swerve to happen. I mean, can you recall the last time when someone embroiled in a very public scandal didn’t try and swerve out of it, but instead said ‘Yeah, fair do’s, I’m bang to rights and I’ve only myself to blame.’

Swerving doesn’t work all of time, but throw enough mud, and who knows? Maybe even Gordon the Gopher will believe it?

‘The Guardian’ meets Bernie Madoff.

I know, yet another post having a swipe at ‘The Guardian’, and I wish I was sorry, but not only am I not, I’m also aware that it won’t be the last. Don’t blame me. If they persist in printing contradictory tosh that perpetuates the breathtakingly self-serving notion that their readers – or proprietors/owners/tune-callers/ – can keep on having children and be concerned about the climate emergency, what else can I do? Ignore it, pretend it never happened, or possibly follow their example, because it isn’t hypocritical if ‘The Guardian’ doesn’t say it is?

Anyway, the lead story on on Monday screamed;

More than 90 English primary schools to close or face closure for lack of pupils

Guardian analysis lays bare effect of dwindling pupil numbers and associated funding amid rising housing and childcare cost

Wait, was that 90 schools? Is that a lot? How would I find out? I mean I could always do a search on google, I suppose, to find out exactly how many primary schools there are in the UK, but that would take me all of 0.17 seconds. Here goes.

The answer, surprising to any Guardian readers continually told how bad things have become after Brexit, is just over 16,000. So, far from warranting the screaming headline it was given, and yet further still from deserving of a lead story. But yes, it was an ‘exclusive’, in the sense that no other newspaper wasted their time on it and yes, it was ‘news’, albeit in the very narrowest of definitions of what we understand the word to mean, inasmuch as no-one was aware of it.

But wait, it gets worse;

The analysis showed 88 primary schools in England were more than two-thirds empty last year, leaving them in danger of closure. On average, the vacancy rate – the proportion of unfilled places – recorded by the 156 schools that have closed since 2009-10 in their last year of operation was 66%.

A further four primary schools were already proposed to close.

So only four schools, four isn’t that much, and hang on… 156 schools that have closed since 2009-10…but that means fifteen or so have closed each subsequent year since then, and that’s not much either, is it? But the message was clear, it wasn’t as celebratory, that the birth rate is declining, as it should’ve been. So much such so, in fact that, we were told that primary school admissions are predicted to fall by a percentage that may be either large or small depending upon what the original figure was. No, it was all doom and gloom, that somehow people having less babies is a bad thing, a source of concern worthy of a screaming headline. It was their top story on Monday. No mention of the fact that no schools have closed. Never mind though, a story reporting that nothing has happened although it might happen at some future date, for entirely logical reasons, isn’t much of a story, is it?

Thinking again of their readers – or proprietors/owners/tune callers ‘The Guardian’ couldn’t leave it at that, all hand-wringingly sad face, no matter how much they wanted it to be the fault of Brexit, partygate and Boris’s Johnson. They need the donations to keep coming in after all, so therefore they had this, to cheer their paymasters up. So further down the homepage was this;

Baby boomtown: does Nagi hold the secret to repopulating Japan?

Fertility rate is more than twice the national average and nearly half of households have three or more children – thanks in no small part to generous daycare and an all-in approach to raising families

It seems utterly bizarre that a family having three or more children is seen as a good thing, something to be admired. To me, it makes no sense, the notion that you can have children, yet still be deluded enough to think that recycling this, driving an electric car to there or eating the other is somehow doing your bit to help the planet. Perhaps ‘The Guardian’ is like a weird pyramid scheme, whereby the more their readers pay, the more the secrets of how to have children and be concerned about the planet are revealed to them

The article waxes lyrical about the many benefits that are used to bribe people into being even more consumptive than they already were. Cheap childcare, subsidised healthcare until the pollutants are 18, massively subsidised housing, basically all the things ‘The Guardian’ thinks this government should do but isn’t and gush about how wonderful everything is, somewhere else that isn’t here.

‘The Guardian’ meets ‘Bullsye’

I was going to write about something else else today entirely, but just before I opened WordPress, I made the cardinal sin of thinking ‘Oh, I may as well see what the Guardian is going on about today.’

Big mistake.

Because befouling my eyes was the headline,

More than half of voters now want Britain to forge closer ties with the EU, poll reveals
Dramatic reversal in public opinion seen even in those constituencies that recorded the highest votes to leave

Which if true, would indeed be a source of some great alarm inside No.10.

But it was bollocks.

‘The Guardian’ had commissioned a survey which just happened to add yet more increasingly spurious credibility to an already spurious proposition, namely that suggests most people regretted voting to leave the EU. Maybe within the circles that Guardian journalists live, possibly, and maybe equally possibly businesses, but most people, I would hope are more pragmatic and having accepted the decision, now want to move on and make the best of it.

But that doesn’t suit ‘The Guardians’ both insulting and patronising narrative, which grows ever more unhinged the further we get from the vote itself. In trying to come with reasons why people voted to leave, they assert that people were lied to and because of that they din’t know what they were voting for. In their alternative reality, every political party in the history of ever has always told the electorate the truth order to get elected. The underlying assumption underpinning all of this nonsense is that everyone who voted to remain, and most especially Guardian readers, were totally au-fait with the nuances and detail of what EU membership meant for the UK.

Again, bollocks.

Most people who voted to remain could cite five, maybe six reasons why they voted the way they did, but once you took away utterly self-serving reasons for doing so – my son may want to work in Barcelona, I travel to Europe a lot, that sort of thing – basically one was left with reasons that basically boiled down to an abiding wish to be anything other than English. Well not the sort of English who didn’t see themselves as Europeans first, anyway.

Back to the survey.

One wonders if ‘The Guardian’ would have given it quite so much prominence, if they’d publish it all in fact, if it proved the very opposite to what they’d hoped? And how many people were surveyed? 10,000 we’re told. I’m sure that the methodology was this and that, that it allowed for this and weighted (whatever that means) for that, but still, 10,000 people. Considerably less than the 130,000 Conservative members who voted the last but one Tory leadership election, but then they weren’t expressing a view that ‘The Guardian’ agreed with, were they?

It makes me think of ‘Bullseye’, perhaps the most sadistic gameshow of the 1980’s. Ostensibly a darts based game-show (yes children, that was a thing), contestants would compete to win prizes. So far, so normal, yes? But ‘Bullseye’s’ evil genius lay in the fact that when the pair, who had made it through to the final would lose, would be then be shown exactly what they’d lost. “Here’s what you could have won.”, would announce host Jim Bowen, as he showed a couple from Nottingham a speedboat.

That’s what I thought of when I saw that story. Under almost any other circumstance, ‘The Guardian’ would be criticising those in positions of power for ignoring the democratic will of the people, in pursuit of their own narrow-minded beliefs. They constantly print articles that seek to blame all of Britain’s woes on Brexit and if they can’t do that, then shoehorn a Brexit blaming narrative wherever they can.

Oh, I should add that I voted to remain, but then, democracy, losers consent, Britain not being a dictatorship, tolerance of opinion….

Mister Ed meets a bandwagon.

I’ve always been highly suspicious of the Liberal Democrats and it’s a suspicion that their leader, Mr Ed, proved to be fully justified.

Not just because of the fact that when they knew they had no chance of ever constituting anything approaching an effective political force, they promised all manner of things to woo the electorate. They were like the ‘Goldilocks’ of British politics, inasmuch as they were like the Conservatives but not too much like Conservatives and they were like Labour but not too much like Labour. They were something different – which was important when your trying to impress your middle-class friends that you too were different – although what exactly that difference was, wasn’t exactly clear. Their seemingly intentional vagueness didn’t help matters for me so I never understood the point of them actually. To my way of thinking, why didn’t a voter either spoil the ballot paper or be just be honest and secretly vote Conservative anyway.

They were partly defined by what they weren’t. They had beliefs, but not what one might call a central unifying one, one that could be summed up in a sentence and was elegantly simple. The Conservatives were – and still are – for example, are pro-business, pro minimal state regulation, pro-monarchy and pro-privatisation. Labour were pro-workers rights, pro-trade unions, pro-welfare state, and pro-state intervention for the common good. Butt now? Who knows? But with the Lib Dems one never knew, possibly because they weren’t treated by the media as ever likely to be anything other than good sports for making the effort.

But whilst they had successfully managed to inveigle themselves into the electorates collective consciousness as the decent political party, all of that credibility that they’d built up over the years, was exposed expedient posturing in a quite breathtaking act of political opportunism. After the 2010 general election, where no one party was able to form a majority government, some hurried negotiations took place, which saw many Lib Dem manifesto pledges being jettisoned in ‘the national interest’ of having to form a coalition government with the Conservatives.

What might have been in the national interest certainly wasn’t in theirs .No one trusted them anymore and with good reason. The Tories used them as a political fig leaf. And gave rise to the joke, “Why did Nick Clegg cross the road?”, “Because he said he wouldn’t.” The curtain had been pulled back and revealed them be as ethically dubious they had always claimed they weren’t. But somehow even that disastrous period in coalition government didn’t dim the enthusiasm of the mung bean eating and sandal wearing faithful. Inexplicably, they stayed true.

I’d imagine that a lot of them, especially women, may have reconsidered their loyalty to the party when the party showed no loyalty to them, as evidenced on Tuesday. Because Lib Dem leader Mister Ed claimed, in response to a caller on an LBC phone-in asking him ‘on behalf of 51 per cent of the population’ to explain ‘what is a woman’. Sir Ed told the caller: ‘The vast majority of people whose biological sex is a woman when they were [born], they feel they’re women… But there’s this very small number of people who don’t feel like that.’ Presenter Nick Ferrari then asked twice: ‘Can a woman have a penis?’ Eventually, the Lib Dem leader replied: ‘Well, quite clearly.’

Any politician today is aware that this question might be asked of them, and equally aware of the political storm that engulfed Labour leader Not Hardie when he failed to answer a simple question about what was a woman, and equally aware that the Conservatives can answer this question with ease. Namely, that a woman is a biological human female. Mr Ed clearly saw a political opportunity here. One that would not only massively distance the Lib Dems from both the Labour and Conservative parties but equally demonstrate that the Liberal Democrats were fully onboard with the new political virtue signally orthodoxy, one that suggests among other things that a woman can have a penis.

Which, and I can’t quite believe this is even a thing that needs to written, is a load of what women don’t have.

Extinction Rebellion meets Miriam Cates.

They were at it again, the other day, the little scamps that sub-edit ‘The Guardian’, when they chose to headline a story on its front page thusly;

“Low birthrate is UK’s top priority, Tory MP tells rightwing conference”

How could I resist, it was almost written with me in mind? So I clicked on it, only to realise it wasn’t, as I’d hoped some senior government MP, calling for the government to do more to stop the birthrate from increasing, but the very opposite. A previously obscure Tory MP, saw an opportunity to make a name for themselves in the right circles, and equally important, cause outrage in right-on circles.

Addressing the National Conservatism shindig, and seeing a career enhancement opportunity for what it was and seizing it with both hands, Miriam Cates MP said western countries faced an existential threat from falling reproduction, arguing that a lack of family-friendly tax policy in the UK played a significant role. Because, as we all know, having a family-friendly tax policy is uppermost in ones mind when one is consumed by lust. Time and time again, the Tory’s bang on about this, hoping that the Goebbels Phenomena will eventually kick in.

Anyway, the story went on “Cates claimed that the UK’s low birthrate is the most pressing policy issue of the generation and is caused in part by “cultural Marxism” stripping young people of any hope, at the start of a populist-tinged conference in London.” Did you see what they did there? By labelling something ‘populist’, The Guardian’ is effectively engaging in dog whistle journalism, letting its readers know that this isn’t something they should agree with.

But not for the reasons ‘Guardian’ readers think, because the entire business model of ‘The Guardian’ is principally to keep on attracting readers and one way to do that is to pander to their seemingly endless capacity for hypocritical self-delusions . Chief amongst these is that they can keep on having more children, keep on consuming more, but only as long as they consume more of the right things. You know, consuming things that don’t consume increasingly scarce raw materials, aren’t manufactured in in a polluting way, by people in sweat-shops or on zero hour contracts. Those one’s, which naturally, ‘The Guardian’ will tell their readers what those things are and handily, where to but them from.

But I digress. Back to Miriam, who is sensing that her move from obscure to a future star is only a few more headlines away, said that the low birthrate was “the one overarching threat to British conservatism, and to the whole of western society”. Hang on, did someone just say that, someone who expects to be taken seriously, not only as a politician but simply as an intelligent human. Is not an increasing birthrate the threat, is not an unchecked global population a threat to all societies, not just western? I know I’m cherry picking from an already highly cherry picked account of her speech, but still.

But hey, what do I know, she’s on the same page as Extinction Rebellion. They don’t believe that an increasing population is a problem either, and besides, her strategy is working. Because in yesterdays “Guardian”, we had profile of her, “Miriam Cates: the new Tory ‘darling’ and rising star of the right”

Extinction Rebellion meets a 1970’s hippy commune

Having compared Extinction Rebellion (XR) with the Peoples Front of Judea yesterday, I thought it only fair that I should poke around their website, see what they were about, read their demands, and then to cherry pick the parts I can take the piss out of. Of course, being a White heterosexual male – so therefore privileged – taking the piss is only to be expected of me. Perhaps the fact I’m brain damaged nullifies this. Who knows?

Perhaps the most glaring contradiction is one, that to be fair, XR are not alone in being guilty of. But just because lots of people do something, it doesn’t make it right. So, they find nothing contradictory in stating that, “There is a value in us making changes in our own lives to reflect the changes needed, such as changing our diets, where we go on holiday and so on (however personal responsibility can be overstated and is based, to some extent, in privilege).” Except, of course, the most important change of all, the decision not to reproduce. That is never mentioned. I mean, not anywhere on their website.

As I’ve consistently argued on this blog, the extinction of the entire human race can only be a good thing for the planet, but this view in no way blinds to a self evident fact. Namely, one can do less of this, more of that and start doing the other, but to keep on producing more babies means more consumption. Or am I missing something? If someone can tell me how increasing the global population is in any way good for the planet, well great, tell me.

I don’t see it myself but XR clearly do because, “Our duty is to create a world fit for the next seven generations to live in.”And then what? Seven is a bit too specific, isn’t it? What happens after seven or is that the goal, to be like a doomsday cult, seven generations and then everyone drinks the cyanide Flavor Aid? Is Roger Hallam trying to do a Jim Jones, albeit on an altogether bigger scale. If I was a supporter of XR, I’d want to know. But then again, it wouldn’t affect them, would it, seven generations?

After that, I kind of lost interest, although the achingly painful ‘right-on’-ness didn’t help much. Imagine if a hippy commune in 1970’s West Germany, fell of university drop outs who knit their own lentils, one where everyone has access to an unlimited supply of the drugs available in 2023. Then imbue all the hippies with a sense of self-righteous certainty, a certainty that only a zealot has, a zealot moreover, who is late to the party and who makes up for this by furiously necking everything they can get their hands on. That’s what the XR website makes me think of, some good idea’s, watered down to an almost homeopathic level by their own drug fuelled echo chamber.

Younger readers, rest assured that necking refers to the consumption of alcoholic beverages and not anything to do with inappropriate behaviour one might associate with a hippy commune. Although now alcohol consumption is seen by some problematic, so again, who knows?

Extinction Rebellion meets The Peoples Front of Judea.

Watching Monty Pythons ” Life of Brian ” again last night, it occurred to me of the striking similarity between Extinction Rebellion (XR) and The Peoples Front of Judea (PFJ), specifically in terms of its demands.

According to their website, one of XR’s demands is that “every part of society must act now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025 and begin protecting and repairing nature immediately. The whole of society must move into a new precautionary paradigm, where life is sacred and all are in service to ensuring its future.” XR defend any action their activists commit by claiming that they are only doing so because UKplc isn’t acting fast enough to reach net zero and its therefore not XR’s fault.

In ‘Life of Brian’, the PFJ plan to kidnap Pontius Pilates wife and threaten to chop her up if their demands are not met. Which are, “giving Pilate two days to dismantle the entire apparatus go the Roman imperialist state and if he doesn’t agree immediately, we cut her head off.” Which will, of course, not the fault of the PFJ because ” they (the Roman imperialist state) bear full responsibility when we chop her up and that we will not respond to blackmail.”

Anyway, I’ve had a quick shift at their website and it it reads like a modern day incarnation of the PFJ, albeit with much more self righteouos justification and lofty posturing about inclusivity. Precisely therefore, two things that make me mad. And seeing as how I’ve a blog….

Debbie Magee meets Verbal Kint.

My recent blog focused on what I term the slippery slope of totalitarianism. And for the last time in a while, I’d like to beg your indulgence as I return to a theme that has no doubt been far more eloquently and cogently advanced by political scholars using lots of supporting evidence. But hey, I’ve no shame in playing the brain damage card and I’m playing it now.

Anyway, my latest contention is the idea that whilst this sort of totalitarian malarkey might well happen somewhere else, it could never happen in a stable democracy like ours, one with secure land borders, partly on account of it being an island. One with the rule of law, a legislature elected by the people within those borders to make those laws, an independent judiciary and a police force created for the purpose of enforcing those laws and punishing those who transgress. One that has a free press, free from government interference, a broad media landscape, which encourages a plurality of views, even if those views are dissenting. And so on and etc…

But, and here’s the thing, the other day when I wrote about how one boils a frog, one puts in cold water and then gradually heats it up until too late does the frog have any idea something is wrong, well it got me thinking. Specifically about Verbal Kind from ‘The Usual Suspects’. Now I’m about to spoil the film for anyone who hasn’t yet seen it, but then if you haven’t seen it yet then my question to you is why haven’t you seen it. The film follows the interrogation of Roger “Verbal” Kint, a small-time con man, who is one of only two survivors of a massacre and fire on a ship docked at the Port of Los Angeles. Through flashback and narration, Kint tells an interrogator a convoluted story of events that led him and his criminal companions to the boat, and of a mysterious crime lord—known as Keyser Söze—who controlled them. The twist is that at the end of the film, after Verbal is free of the police station does the interrogator realise that Verbal and Keyser Soze are on and the same.

Everything Verbal has said is almost certainly a lie. The cinema audience, like the interrogator in the film, is primed through prior experience to believe him. We have been complicit in hoodwinking ourselves. Much as Verbal has done in fooling us with an entertaining lie, my contention is that whilst we are told that other regimes are or have been totalitarian, we fool ourselves into thinking we are different.

Bear in mind what I wrote about a slippery slope in a previous blog. That the best kind of slippery slop is one that doesn’t appear as a slope at all until you’re at the bottom of it.

The rule of law? Exactly who elected the current PM and his predecessor? Since 2001 we’ve had six general elections but eleven PM’s. Most of whom were never elected by the electorate but by a two tiny self-selecting vested interest groups. The legislature is made up from an increasing unrepresentative section of the population, one which make laws that they then interpret as they see fit. Of course of these laws ruthlessly enforced by police force which is often denounced by the press as being a bit too much this and not enough of that. That would be the free press that is, and always has been, owned by a few very wealthy individuals with equally few moral scruples. Speaking of which, social media, which has all the morality of a sex addict at an orgy and can always be relied upon to create a crisis and watch it go.

So are we on the slope or not? It’s just as Verbal says, “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” Sometimes it feels as if our democracy is bit like Debbie Magee, the famous assistant to the magician Paul Daniels. We look at her when we should be looking at him instead. But the sun is shining, it’s nice and pleasant here in sunny Southwold, far too nice to think about all this. Instead what I should be thinking about is ‘Where and when will I ever get a decent steak and kidney pie?”

Hello Melissa!

The slippery slope meets the first step.

Yesterdays post was my 500th one and according to my stats, I’ve got 50 followers. Now all I need is for more than 5 of them to read each post and I’ll be laughing. But in this digital world in which we live, what is often isn’t, meaning that some of those 50 followers were hoping that somehow my followers would become their followers. How or even why this works is beyond me but I recall shortly after signing up with WordPress getting a message advising me to do exactly that. That by the power of Castle Greyskull a sort of digital alchemy would take place. Perhaps if I was bothered enough to learn I’d know, but as I’m not I’ll carry on, as happy in my ignorance as most of my followers are not reading my posts. That’ll show ’em

But on!

Writing about the Pol Pot and Year Zero yesterday, my mind couldn’t help but see a connection between re-education camps and the innocently named training days we are offered at work, some of which are mandatory. Granted they’re both on different ends of a very long spectrum but to me the aim of both is to achieve much the same thing. Which is essentially telling people that the way they are thinking is wrong, but with re-education they’ll learn to think the right way, the proscribed and approved way, and that they’ll end up the better person for it. Well that to me smacks of Year Zero and the ones that take place in despotic regimes are at least honest about what they’re doing. But workplace based training days, with their paid skive of a day off, a quick mental game of ‘snog marry avoid’ as everyone introduces themselves, refreshments, a proper lunch hour and an early finish are not. They’re not double handy, even if it’s on a Friday.

Because after more than a few of these, I’d wager that opinions may begin to alter, some may wholeheartedly agree that the new way of thinking, they might’ve already had issues with the old way and thus were willing converts. Whereas others may simply read the room and pay lip service and the rest will say little, keep their heads down, their mouths shut and eye on the clock. It struck me that the less steep the slippery slope is, the less anyone will know its a slippery slope to begin with and that’s what all these training days, awareness courses and assorted workshops are, the imperceptible descent downward. That and a cushy number.

Believe me, I should know, because implausibly absurd as it may seem, one of my gigs before the accident was as an ‘Equality and Diversity Training Officer’. And not at some fly-by-night outfit either, no this was with a serious business staffed by serious people who were doing serious grown-up things. But then, after I told my housemates that my bosses had thought they just add it on to whatever else I wasn’t doing, and they’d wiped the tears of laughter from their eyes, they knew I was ideally suited really as I hated everyone equally.

But seriously, it is a worrying trend, that of businesses wanting to modify and influence their staffs behaviour. Whatever their reasons, the result is the same, changing the peoples actions, their thoughts and the language they use to articulate those thought, all with the express aim of inducing a shift in thinking. Towards to the values of now with the caveat of the euphemistically titled ‘refresher’ courses tomorrow so newer ways of thinking might be taught. And repeat..

I know, we don’t live in a country that does that, but that is kind of the point. Its like boiling a frog, you don’t bung it in boiling water at the start, no what you do is bung in him some cold water, let them get comfortable, and then gradually turn the heat up.

Marvel meets Pol Pot

Yesterdays post was longer than I’d anticipated. In my mind, it was going to be in short, pithy post, but I just got carried away and couldn’t help myself. It also made me think made me think of Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge, and Year Zero, specifically the bit when I wrote of;

the almost totalitarian idea that who who you are and more importantly, how you feel about things, has greater cultural cachet and influence than those who with almost perverse obtusity, cling to the wrong

Telling people that the way they are thinking is wrong, but with re-education they’ll learn to think the right way, the proscribed and approved way, and that they’ll end up the better person for it, well that to me smacks of Year Zero. I accept that it we are thankfully nowhere even near that now, but I’d contend that we are perilously close to the edge of a slippery slope that could easily end up somewhere like that.

Upon seizing power in 1975, Pol Pot immediately renamed Cambodia as Democratic Kampuchea and Year Zero began. One less than generous interpretation of Year Zero is that it effectively meant that all culture and traditions were completely destroyed or discarded and that a new revolutionary culture would then replace it starting from scratch. Meaning therefore, that all of the history of Cambodia and its people before Year Zero was deemed irrelevant, because it would ideally be wiped out of existence, to be replaced from the ground up. The problem, of course, who was in charge of the replacing and what they thought it should be replaced with. Seem familiar? Certain beliefs being deemed outdated and irrelevant, the past being critically re-appraised, with an almost pathological need to denounce it and by extension, the society it created?

A simpler explanation, one that might be more readily understandable in 2023, was that it was a complete reboot of Cambodia

Marvellous it wasn’t

Knowledge of anything pre-Year Zero was prohibited. To ensure that there was no recorded memory of a pre-Year Zero society, books were burned and the wearing of glasses was also criminalized as it was taken to indicate that one might habitually read books. The only acceptable lifestyle was that of peasant agricultural workers. Centuries of Cambodian culture and institutions were thereby eliminated—shutting down factories, hospitals, schools, and universities—along with anyone who expressed interest in their preservation. So-called New People—members of the old governments and intellectuals in general, including lawyers, doctors, teachers, engineers, clergy, and qualified professionals in all fields—were thought to be a threat to the new regime and were therefore especially singled out and executed along with their extended families during the purges accompanying Year Zero.

Before Pol Pot and Year Zero, Cambodia had a population of just over 7 million. It is estimated that somewhere between 2 – 4 million died as a result of the policies carried out by the Khmer Rouge.

The problem with a slippery slope is that often some people fail to realise it is one, usually those so ideologically committed to pursuing what they consider to the path to a chimeric utopia that they only realise when they’re at the bottom of the slope that there was one after all.