Fragmented by Detail
May 22, 2021
This piece of writing is to be about idealism; about principle; about broad pictures, visions of visionaries; about interpreting the currently promulgated approach to tackling problems which are often man-made, and which are, in a true sense of the word, globally, in need of fixing.
The current approach typified:
Nearly every institution in Britain which concerns itself with - as it were - trying to make better those things which are or have gone awry – follows the contemporary orthodoxy, as commended, recommended, reported on, and discussed in, all our native media. To be plain, and without preface, this orthodoxy says that/reflects/celebrates the people concerned in tackling problems are tackling them piecemeal, locally, manifestation-place-or instance by manifestation-place or instance, of the problem.
Several of the problems themselves are affecting the planet, the people, globally, across the world, in diverse ways; and would, one would think, be calling for a general, not to say universal, approach to a solution or to its mitigation; but solutions offered are instead and in practice – always universally being approached in a dedicated ‘fuss and tinker’ fashion.
There are of course Climate Summits in Davos, and World Poverty Fora in Glasgow, where Heads of Nations sit down and listen to Heads of Nations and their representatives talking about the natures and depths of the problems, and at the end passing some measures, agreeing protocols, pledging this and that, all of which scarcely gets done, even down to monies pledged not being delivered. We’ve all seen it.
In a similar way issues of great importance are not being reported properly. Take these recent instances:
Trump’s barring from Facebook has recently been upheld by Facebook’s own kangaroo court.
Three policemen (in completely separate incidents) have been sacked and/or prosecuted for major crimes
Covid passports and Identity Cards have been discussed by government for their introduction
The compulsory micro-chipping of cats has been put forward as an idea.
And animals are to be recognised in law as being ‘sentient beings’
For none of these recent and representative items have I witnessed on TV, on radio, in the daily press, any person, reporter, commentator, pundit, expert, having raise the debate on those principles behind each item I have bulletted above. In their order these principles as I see them are:
The issue of Free Speech AND the issue of The Rule of Law
The general issue of police recruitment and selection
The issues of liberty under law and of freedom of movement
The issue of freedom from non-essential constraints
The issue of defining ‘sentient’ so that it is able to be applied to all animals
I shall discuss each instance now very briefly:
- Facebook and Trump
Each person is entitled to speak his or her mind, providing what they are saying is not breaking any laws. If something they say breaks a law then:
That comment should if possible be expunged from the public arena AND
If the comment is seriously criminal, the owner of it should be tried and answer for it under the law of the state.
There’s no difficulties here.
- Policemen Serious Crimes
Were there are two or more offenders, perhaps in the field of healthcare, who have abused people under their care, it is likely that an inquiry might be suggested or started, into the strength of safeguards in that healthcare arena. Issues such as these are not raised in reporting, commenting, on these policeman crimes.
Broadening the concern, from it being for three particular incidents, widening it into to a general survey and inquiry has not been raised in the media as an option
- Covid Passports and ID Cards
The issue of freedom (of movement/from controls) is relevant here and is not being raised in media. The consequence for a likelihood, even for just a fulfilled temptation, to use such Passports and Cards, them being applied by government gradually, and maybe clandestinely, to other areas of civic and social life, so as to monitor, delimit, behaviour further, have also not been raised
- Micro-chipping all Cats
All (higher?) animals are claimed under new law coming to be ‘sentient’. Why the homing-in on cats only for micro-chipping then? Why compulsory for every cat owner to do so? How does micro-chipping directly protect a cat from abuse? Why impose this added burden on pet owners? Nothing I’ve heard raises these points.
- Animals as Sentient beings
What in actuality does this ‘recognition’ mean? What ‘rights’ accrue now to animals? What ‘rights’ (freedom of speech?) do not, or cannot, apply to animals?
The principles are not discussed in media. In media some years ago I can remember principles being part of public discussion. Today they are being shelved and I believe avoided. I suspect the silence on principles is a policy, and so is being deliberately implemented.
I have no evidence for this, except to say that whenever a person being interviewed wanders towards raising an issue of principle in the course of such debates and reporting. He or she is often ‘closed down’ either interrupted in their flow or else the floor is switched, and swiftly given to another person or to another issue. I have seen this happen many times.
My Thoughts on Why this Sticking to Reporting Only Particularities is being Done.
Accompanying this particularisation in the media of even the most broadly-based issues is the prevalence there of offering a ‘single human instance’ of the case or matter in hand. Instances might be: A person who has suffered, perhaps their home being flooded, or else who has been ‘caught unjustly’ by a regulation not meant to deal with the issue that the person has been caught by; or else a stray dog, in the wake of its owner’s home removal, has ‘turned up’ after several years at its owner’s new home.
News and magazine, programmes and print, are peppered with these ‘single human instance’ stories; and their presence sells the publication/broadcast to listeners/readers very well.
Very often a single instance of this kind is ‘marketed’ by media as being ‘typical’ of the consequences of an event or occurrence. One swallow makes a summer. Often the single instance is ‘milked’ for all it is worth in terms of emotional impact. In the worst cases, and these are not uncommon, - perhaps a mother has lost a child, by means of some dreadful violence – there will be shown a person’s terrible grief and grieving set before millions of people watching or listening or reading; and it is not seemly, nor is it salutary or edifying.
Emotions in the people learning about and experiencing empathy or not?) with this grief are raised to high pitches by instances like these – and what does that achieve? - a blind anger, maybe hatred, a strong prejudice against some peripheral circumstance of the tragedy? - The full story is not possible to be related by media; so a selective story is of course always necessarily only to be had. Knowing the media’s penchant for ‘beefing-up’ especially its ‘human interest’ ‘public interest’ stories, this selective story is likely to tend to melodrama and caricature.
And one can corroborate this evidentially oneself simply by paying attention to the sets of stock phrases, metaphors, similes, the reporters roll out for such stories – the ‘no stones unturned’ and the ‘learn the lessons’ and the ‘the pain every parent dreads’ and so on.
The conflicting nature of news and views reporting and discussion is in fact a battleground between sober veracity and holding one’s audience’s attention.
The Babel of fictitious stories of crimes and death; and it’s attached twin the reality show in which fact and fiction cannot easily be distinguished; all these blend into and force further a need for news and views programmes and articles to ‘stoke up’ responses from their audiences. They are in competition for retaining attention with/from ‘Silent Witness’ and ‘The Killing’ etc.
So particularity is the soup of the day. Principle, even generality often, are out.
This pattern is the exact same as that one which the politicians in power in Britain today are using. Keep to particularities. When speaking more broadly waffle. Talk in terms of vagaries of reassurance and protestations of caring and competence – never say anything which broadly pledges anything actual and tangible and able to be as it were, to be ‘a bird in the hand’.
Give single emotive instances which favour the indications you are wanting to promulgate. Deflect from the question or topic by using irrelevant nonsenses which sound prima facie to poor listeners like encouraging answers. Never stand on principle, except when attacking HM Opposition etc, when principle is a handy weapon with which to beat them and to make it look like one is on higher ground than are they.
Don’t keep promises. Say many pledges of good things to come, but then just walk away and forget what you have just said, pledged. Once in Office, do not fulfil any of your policies in your election manifesto.
These are the accoutrements of this contemporary sickness of particularising of issues; and by particularising thereby dispersing, dissipating, into the ether the standing and the importance and the airing of the principles by which these particulars’ values stand or fall.
And now we are getting close to the nub of all this obfuscation; why it is done and how it is so:
The Erosion of the Sense of there being Absolute Value(s)
Before now I have railed and expounded upon, I believe I have exposed for what it is, The Charge into The Valley of Death being led from the rear by Western World academics and academies; the Neo-Marxists of the Postmodernist Agendas.
Their frenzies to obliterate belief in ultimate values and to set in their stead their paltry Shibboleth - Relativism. An idol of their own hands set up to worship on the high places; and they themselves the priests of Dagon and of Baal. It is possible perhaps to find in their agendas and behaviours, and in what has been done as a consequence of these in their names, contemporary instances equivalent to, and paralleling, the human sacrifice of an eldest son so as (supposedly) to securely found a city; or else (and with certainty) to find sexual deviations and appetites, justifications of this abuse, and a Babylon, a cesspool of personal behaviour depravities, all of which are or are close to becoming acceptable orthodox and standard.
Because ‘there is no absolute value’; because ‘man is the measure of all things’; because such a schema allows these academics untold political and social power ,as being, as it were, Shelley’s ‘unacknowledged legislators of the world’. Behind it all, ostensibly ‘the good of the people ‘the liberation and coming of age of humankind’ and ‘the unchaining of humanity from outdated and mistaken cultures and ideas’.
But behind it all in reality – since these guys by their own admissions – every one of them – proclaims there is no absolute value – and therefore they are proclaiming by corollary that their whole programme of ‘liberation’ and ‘unchaining’ and ‘bringing good to the people’ can have no basis because it rests on no principle.
In their own terms it cannot rest on something they deny exists. This warped and tattered logic is the lack of foundation on which they try to lay their empire; and it thereby fully exposes the sham and the foolhardiness, the nonsense of their pet programmes.
On the one hand they do not want and rubbish the idea of principle; yet on the other they resort foundationally to principle when they are proclaiming the boons for the world of the world applying their agendas!!
As a consequence what we are seeing is a loss of sight and understanding across the world, especially in The West, of light which is able to endow in each and any of us a sound assessment and judgement of value. Value as a commodity is in mayhem, in wild confusion, heading towards chaos swiftly, in our Western nations. We can no longer assess value; everything and nothing has value simultaneously for us. The outcome of ‘anything goes’ is always going to be chaos.
When ultimate value sits unacknowledged, one person will hold that what he values is as good as the next man’;s valued items – and that no-one has power or right to contest his assessment of value. Principle is gone remember, and so no appeal to first things or to last things. When people become divided like this – in their apprehensions of value – society as we are seeing tends towards atomisation and to ultra-individualism.
How often have you heard the interview on the TV or radio in which a ‘young, up and coming’ artist or singer or politician or whatever; spends fifteen minutes using the word “I” twice or three times in every sentence he or she utters, backing up all the self-obsession and narcissism with words such as ‘self-identify’; ‘narrative’ ‘volition’ and ‘discourse’ and other words like ‘focus’ and ‘trajectory’ and ‘out there’ which pile a heap of Post-modern garbled garbage before our ears?
Our young people are leaving universities with baccalaureate first degrees having been, rather than educated, inculcated, with a line of irrational and unsustainable thought and ideas which wil do themselves and society at large positive harm and if not countered successfully instrumentally will cause breakdown of societies into a barbarous chaos.
The media, the newspapers, the TV and Radio all, are bought into this parlous agenda, and are all very engaged in pushing through this nefarious programme for a doomed society.
Thus principles are avoided. Argument and debate and discussion from principle is verboten, non gratia, and this aversion is justified (in their eyes) by their (mis)understanding that there are only relative values and no ultimate absolute values.
The Effects on Society of All This
It is in the interests of the persons who benefit materially the most because of the Capitalist framework of our economies; the billionaires; the moguls; the potentates of industry and commerce; that their commodities, the consumers, are ‘kept blinded’ as to value, and therefore fragmented as a dispersed body.
The Trade Unions in Britain were squashed and ruined in the 1980s by the then government and have never yet recovered at tenth of their previous strength and influence in the life of the people.
The Trade unions were often ‘out of order’ and ‘their own worst enemies’ in truth; over confident and over polarised, but that sense of solidarity and community which characterised them at the ir best, the South Wales mining valleys and the north east coalfield communities are striking examples – these and their sense of solidarity are all things utterly gone and in the past.
There is no contemporary equivalent in Britain now. We see ourselves much moreso and utterly free and individual agents than a miner did in 1975. This is how the Capitalists like it. Their advertising always appeal to this sense of our characteristics; all ads are about ‘me,me,me,’ the consumer you, personalised as it were to yourself but the same for everyone nonetheless!!
The burden of Ads is always ‘You’re special!” An abject con trick.
That’s consumerism in two words - con trick. There can be no effective opposition or change when each person is inculcated with a sense of having satellite individuality, when each person is told and believes she or he is ‘special’ and so is encouraged to believe she or he is different in quality, in short, above, better, than others.
The Capitalist billionaires and their commercial interests are global; their networks are joined-up; but why should they allow that kind of thing to the people whom they see as fodder for their business activities to continue bringing them in billions.
Yes they will call you by your first name, even by your name your close friends use with you; they will encourage you to call themselves by their first names; they will court celebrity and they will bask in the publicity; they will act notoriously and thereby raise a favoured response in many who see them as being ‘role models’ or as their aspirational objects. They will use Twitter and Instagram and be familiar and expansive. They will tell their employees to use first names; with manager and with employees among colleagues.
Yet another crude trick. Like their ads – the psychology is that a person is less easily able to say no, or to feel able to express dissent or criticism when they believe they are on good first name terms with another; especially when that other has authority over them; power to fire them; and being the source of their income.
Solidarity if it is present at all is generally bought these days – as with the Imperial Guard in Rome in ancient days. Finer feelings of ‘disinterested interest’ as Matthew Arnold termed the passion for truth and objectivity which our days and people so sadly and disastrously lack; this conception is no longer currency; not even in academic circles where it might be thought to have survived somewhat.
The principle of ‘offering a fair hearing’; of ‘honouring one’s enemies’ for the sake of those qualities of enemies’ nobility and/or integrity; certainly the beloved principle of ‘loving one’s enemies’ - all these are foreign to us; sometimes are scoffed at; sometimes are censured, and people are publicly disgraced and humbled who speak out such sentiments with a passion for offering fair treatment in their hearts, and regardless of self-interest.
The principles that matter in our day – they are not worthy the name of principles – they pertain to putting forward oneself; to indulging oneself; to dismissing out of hand others who are seen as being ‘in the way’ or ‘killjoys’ or as ‘unhelpful’ but who are in fact attempting to hold onto a standard or onto a prima facie generous goodwill outlook.
Thus has become acceptable acts and behaviours which are not even noted as being outrageous, merely marked in passing by small notice in the press and in the media. Government ministers behaving appallingly – awarding business contracts to friends, neighbours, relatives; other ministers outfacing the findings of public inquiries into their behaviour; and which have found them remiss and unrepentant. Lying is commonplace in public life and is hardly noted anymore. Deflections off topic changing the subject, serving abuse and discredit on a questioner of their tactics; appealing to the gallery; laughing off their sometimes serious misconduct; denying flat the obvious fact; ...the list rolls on like Banquo’s issue to ‘the crack o’ doom’.
These are all practical and effectual consequences of the erosion of value in our minds and societies. America is even further gone down this road to perdition than are we in Britain. Be sure: there will very likely be civil disruptions and indications of societal breakdown happening in parts of the USA within a few years, if not sooner.
It is not merely the fact of societies falling into the disrepair of depravities which are the painful upshots of this trajectory we have embraced and so want to push through to the bitter end. The welfare of society is welded to and inseparable from, necessitous, to the welfare of the individual, of the family, of society’ s institutions and its public and private standards of thought and demeanour. Private and public, individual and communal are not separable here. One falls; so do the others; one is prospering; so too are the others.
And beyond this, and this is the crucial fact, the welfare of our spirits, the identity of whom we are, the possibility of the admission of God and The Lord Jesus into our lives, the invitation is out there and stands eternally, is diminished, quelled, subdued, by our confusion upon and disregard of the innate necessitous presence of ultimate absolute value in the nature of things. To cite Macbeth yet again: “I have damnéd mine eternal jewel” is the taste at the bottom of the cup, the destination of this Post-modern misery for us all.
As a nation; as a civilisation (just about) we are too involved in ourselves, our plaything is society, and technology is its foster parent. Our eyes rarely if ever look even beyond our own shores; let alone in to the natural world, other than as a neurotic fuss about climate change and species and resource depletion and pollution – all being obsessed at from an anthropocentric angle. The presence of the natural world - as its own object – and the presence of humankind as part of, nested within, that natural world as another part of it: these types of contemplation are rarely found in people today.
All is utility; and items, thoughts, ideas, deeds, which are seen, imagined, to possess no utility are cast by the wayside and jettisoned by us. Not worth a light. If it does not relate to us, to our usage of it, to our contented and complacent world view of inwardness and inward-looking; upon diversions, on society, on entertainments, and distractions, chasing happiness and pleasures, chasing wealth and one-upmanship, and imagining the self as a presence, a player, if it does not effect anything like these things for us – it is discarded by us without a further thought.
Our sense of what is valuable is hidebound; is a moveable feast, and is our hottest bone of contention between us; with our espoused facile chaotic individualist personal values we trumpet our own selves and our self-loves as if those things we admire are our best boast.
The room in our consciousnesses, in our hearts, for things other than the immediate present and the immediate presence of ourselves – our presence among society – our desires – our aspirations – our affections; these things crowd us and so act to oust, and to ostracise those real and valid and true and eternal values from our thoughts, values which dismiss hollow thoughts of self-first, and of ‘my life’ or of ‘my future’; and which are values able to liberate us from ourselves, from the tyranny of our inward selfhood and self-admiration, from our fixations on self-extension, self-expression, and self-aggrandisement. From this fragmentation by detail
“Who shall rescue me from this body of death!” cries out The Apostle Paul in agony of awareness at this tyrannical selfhood pressing upon him. And you might ask curiously: Where then is ultimate value; show me absolute authority; show me absolute truth and right. Let Paul himself, confess himself, and burst out with his definitive answer:
“I thank God; through Jesus Christ our Lord!”