I often find myself wondering how on earth we’re in the state that we are. Though I’ve always been on the left, I remember being compelled to at least not argue with right wing political figures as I grew up, in the understanding that there must be some secret logic behind their points. But lately I’ve found myself pondering what this new type of political discourse is, where it’s from and why it manages to wield both a sneaking insidiousness and yet sound a klaxon of it’s own intolerance. What happened to the days of the polite bigot?
IN THE 70’s, 80’s and even 90’s in the UK, political discourse seemed to be ruled by intellectual titans- strong figures who, like or dislike, could never be called stupid, bumbling, liars. People so entrenched in their conviction that argument seemed futile even when you had rebuttals. Political discourse was something I avoided despite a slowly burgeoning interest in the area, because those at the forefront of it’s application were people more eloquent and confident in their correctness than I was capable of feeling at the time.
But oh, how times change.
Looking at parliament with a dirge like depression, you can be forgiven for missing the bright spots on modern political discourse. I, biased to the left as I am, am always enthralled to hear political treasures like Zarah Sultana or Dawn Butler speak. In fact just last night I watched Sultana speak openly about her experience of Islamophobia and her disappointment of it’s lack of handling- seeing someone I admire so being open about her difficulties was saddening. Sultana is a politician who cares about everyone equally but who also does not countenance nonsense- and that is a dual quality that politicians so sorely need and yet lack.
Butler’s insistence on calling out lies, falsehoods and ineptitude has been a boon for all who are fed up of the naturally disingenuous exchanges in parliament, and her unflinching dedication to speaking on all matters BLM has been amazing- especially when conflated against “that” interview where she had to sit next to a spluttering Isabel Oakeshott who denied the Prime Minister’s racism even as Butler repeated his racist statements to her face.
Reactionary is one of the most regular words conservatives levy at the left, and without a hint of irony. Right wing outrage is a culture now, a widely disseminated culture where a headline can bring people to paroxysms of rage but when explained without the clickbait titling. “Winston Churchill Foundation Cancels Its Namesake” was bound to piss people off – until you realise they changed pictures and the name slightly for very sound reasons and he is still very much there.
The idea of cancel culture is also propogated by people who are objectively the opposite of it.
I can write blogs and make videos all day about trans rights and equalities in the UK, but no media outlet would pick them up no matter how well sourced, written, spoken about. But gender critical MP’s like Rosie Duffield- who has just released a thread on twitter paradoxically claiming she stands for LGBT rights but refers to trans women as male bodied- can enjoy a wealth of interviews in print, on tv, and more- and Labour MP Duffield might be, but transphobia is at it’s heart not an argument FOR women’s rights, it is an argument AGAINST trans people’s liberties- and much like any other reactionary idea can be dispelled through the simple medium of… learning about the issue.
As this type of political shift continues though, our old tactics for the control, manipulation and dissemination of information to disenchant those ensnared, or to allow people to make truly informed decisions, simply do not apply.
The issue is that objective truth is a stubborn little thing. The truth is one solid fact- a lie can be absolutely anything to chip at, break, smash, crush that solidity down to pieces. The issue of dealing with serial liars is that if they don’t like what you’re saying they’ll just make up a counter point to it.
Additionally, the defenders of this new type of politics worsen the situation with every article, clip or sound bite- a political commentator the other day stated that Boris Johnson making up figures instead of knowing them off the top of his head was not lying… a well known, renowned political commentator, okaying the lies of the Prime Minister.
Ultimately in a world that allows for the dishonesty, gaslighting and sheer ineptitude of this type of politics, we are, as a society doomed to suffer under it’s rule.