Punditry

Prolier than Thou

In the old days when Kings gave places to their courtiers, your way to advancement could be through your actual capabilities but also through your pleasingness.  You would make yourself a favourite – often through wit, as a companion to the hunt, or, for James I, your good looks.  Courtier equalled flatterer.

We live in a democratic system and the public has to be wooed.  Some of that wooing may be through inspirational oratory, or by projecting gravitas and responsibility.  However a little flattery can go some way as well. The King is all wisdom, Demos is all knowledge.

Anyway, read James Bloodworth’s excellent article on this pandering to ignorance:-

Brexit was a “victory against big business … against big politics”, the UKIP leader Nigel Farage told reporters on the Friday morning of the Brexit result. Similarly, in a recent article on Trump, the Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan blamed the demagogue’s rise on “snobbish elites” who “disdain the people”. Meanwhile, Spiked’s deputy editor Tom Slater has written of “the elite’s fear of the Brexit blob”. “Scratch the surface,” Slater warned, “and the same fear of the braying, blokey Brexiteers lurks.”

There is a mountain of stuff like this: a new generation of pundits and populist politicians are donning figurative cloth caps every time they sit down at a keyboard or stand behind a lectern. The trend is in fact best epitomised in print by the content churned out by Spiked, who were early pioneers of the prolier-than-thou style….

Crucially, rather than being suspicious of working-class ignorance – which after all is not a judgment on the working class itself but on the material conditions which produce such ignorance – the prolier-than-thou populist trips over himself to express sympathy and solidarity with the white working class, based on the notion that the latter supposedly reject the values of a la-di-da metropolitan liberal elite. The newly discovered working man is of rhetorical value, but only so long as he sits at home swilling lager and sticking two fingers up at “political correctness”.

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