The Naked Untruth

From the May issue of Standpoint

The Latin for the people – populus – has produced two words we foolishly treat as synonyms. A “populist” believes, or affects to believe for the purposes of career advantage, that wisdom resides in crowds. To populists, challenging the audience by questioning its assumptions and knowledge is an elitist assault on the sensibilities of the masses. It is a threat both to business and the comforting post-modern doctrine that all ideas are equally valid.

Read the whole thing….

7 thoughts on “The Naked Untruth

  1. “…populism always ends up as the truest version of elitism, because it assumes that the peasants do not want their little heads bothered with difficult ideas”.

    This is a neat summary of what we face at the moment in adult education. We try to be popularisers in the best sense, demystifying and making learning accessible.

    The government’s response – give ’em level two skills, which ones to determined by employers, and rescue a few ‘talented’ individuals from their class under the name of widening participation, whilst ministers sneer at holiday Spanish and learning for its own sake. One and a half million funded places have been lost.

    There is a long history of working class longing for education, of self-organisation, of rich intellectual lives. Today, the tradition that produced The Pitmen Painters is being reduced to new lessons in servility training.

  2. I enjoy your pieces on the BBC. I live in the states and you should see what BBC America selects from the broad range of British programming to broadcast. Lots of high production value crap (e.g. Mistresses), anything with Gordon Ramsay in it + ‘documentaries’ about fetishes such as ‘In Love with the Eiffel Tower’. It’s probably a bit better than it was three years ago (Benny Hill & Avengers repeats) but yea verily it’s bloody awful. Reminds me why I left.

  3. What is the People?
    And who are you that ask the question?
    One of the people.
    And yet you would be something!
    Then you would not have the People nothing. For what is the People? Millions of men and women, like you, with hearts beating in their bosoms, with thoughts stirring in their minds, with the blood circulating in their veins, with wants and appetites, and passions and anxious cares, and busy purposes and affections for others and a respect for themselves, and a desire for happiness, and a right to freedom, and a will to be free. And yet you still put up with science programmes like these.

  4. I wonder where you would put Fox USA “news” in this populist/elitist spectrum.

    Noting of course that the folks at Standpoint are quite partial to the world-view that Fox promotes.

  5. That’s some cover for Blair’s Babylon, Nick – and were you the writer for a book called Women of Iron (1985)?

  6. PC, that is a most excellent point. Many ppeloe were tempted to vote for McCain because they thought he had more gumption than to simply pander to the base and then he chose Palin as his running mate and they backed away sharpish.As another point of contrast, I always thought it a shame (although I understand the reasons why it didn’t happen) that Obama and Clinton weren’t running mates for the 2008 election the Democrats would have romped home with a record-breaking margin if they could have plastered over that breach between their supporters.

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