Tuesday, December 06, 2016

What's It All About?

What's it all about, eh?  Because I'll tell you, I have no bloody idea.  I've come to the conclusion that the modern world is all too confusing for me to understand anymore.  Maybe it's and age thing.  When I was younger I thought that I had it all figured out - I was sure I knew what was going on, what I thought about it and what should be done.  But as I've grown older, I've become less sure about everything.  The more I learn, the more I realise that I don't know.  On issues over which I once had firm opinions, I now waver.  Age and experience have made it easier for me understand the opposing view.  Up to a point, that is.  I'm afraid that I don't find it easy to understand the new extreme right.  Sure, I understand why their creed has a wide populist appeal: like all extreme political philosophies, whether of left or right, it provides people with an apparently straightforward perspective, in which all the ills of society, (and most specifically, their problems), can be explained in simplistic terms.  Hence, the current far right narrative posits that if your standard of living is declining, you are having problems securing accommodation or work, then the root cause is the level of immigration.  One the basest, 'common sense', level, it seems to make logical sense: foreigners are flooding here for one reason only, to take our jobs and by extension homes, health service, schools, benefits, etc.  Of course, it ignores the fact that immigration levels aren't that high and that foreigners arriving in the UK might not just be moving for economic reasons - many are actually refugees and asylum seekers.

The problem is that this narrative has become ingrained in the public consciousness, thanks, in no small part, to the right-wing media here in the UK, that even politicians in the middle ground and left feel obligated to pay it lip service, talking tough on immigration for fear of offending the electorate.  In reality, of course, they should be arguing that, rather than being the result of some external force, the economic problems experienced by people and communities is actually the direct result of political policies implemented by the government.  A government that many of them must have voted for.  But, admitting that would require people to then have to take some responsibility for their political actions. Hence the popluarity of the extreme right view: it isn't your fault, it's all the fault of immigrants, transsexuals, single mothers (delete minorities as applicable), the last Labour government, political correctness and/or health and safety gone mad and multiculturalism generally.  But, as I said, I just can't appreciate this world view as having any validity.  Whereas I might have mellowed over the years with regard to all manner of things I used to take a hard line on, from organised religion to the legalisation of drugs, I still will have no truck with these right wing crackpots.

But we live in an age where we are constantly being urged by various touchy-feely types that, thanks to social media and the way in which the web tries to 'tailor' what we see online to fit our 'profiles, we are in danger of existing in individual bubbles, where we are never exposed to any ideas which might challenge our ingrained prejudices and beliefs.  Try following people you disagree with on social media, they say.  Try to turn off your preferences on news sites.  Experience the opposing view, they say, you'll find yourself gaining a more 'balanced' view of the world.  The problem with that is thatthere are good reasons why we seek out our 'own kind', both on and off line - it's reassuring and non-confronting.  In truth, we don't want to be constantly confronted with people and ideas which will leave us angry and disturbed.  The fact is that I've tried 'seeing the other point of view' for a while and it wasn't at all healthy.  Whilst I was researching various conspiracy theories for some stuff I was writing for The Sleaze  some time ago, I spent a fair amount of time hanging around various websites run by prominent (and not so prominent) members of the 'conspiracy community'.  I can tell you, it really did my head in.  Their world view is so confused and illogical, based upon a hugely selective reading of historical fact, it is painful for any rational person to try and comprehend.  I most certainly didn't end up feeling that I had a more 'balanced' view of the world.  On the contrary, the experience just confirmed what I already knew: they are all crackpots.  It's the same with the extreme right - I don't need to expose myself to their rantings and biased news sources, I already know that they are dangerous vcrackpots and that their creed is offensive to any decent human being.

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