Fabulous article here from Marina Hyde, demonstrating that truth too rarely acknowledged: the intellectual left despise the ordinary public.
Advancing under the guise of attacking the sincerity of the new Tory ambition of actually consulting the public rather than distantly pontificating to them (a legitimate enquiry – but at least Mr Hunt is ‘talking the talk’, so to speak), Ms Hyde proceeds to attack the policy on the rather axiomatic grounds that the ‘crowd’, pejorative undertones intended, are neither politicians nor experts. They’re not qualified. They get things wrong. And that’s bad.
Whilst this might excite more than a little resentment, especially coming from a Guardianista, it is hardly a novel position for a vainglorious leftie to take. Indeed, Fraser Nelson has picked up on this in the past, this time with regard to Polly Toynbee, noting the misanthropic tones inherent to leftism that often rears its head as soon as democracy drifts toward engaging or empowering the populace at large. Whilst I don’t wholly agree with Fraser – it seems to me that the misanthropist impulse was always very much a habit of the intellectual left, rather than the decent folk who were merely trying to help change their own lives for the better – he clearly has a point.
And this is the thing with the left intelligentsia. Their history is littered with wrong-headed and conceited little men and women busily going round telling everybody else that they know best, and that we ought to listen only to them, as they unleash their often dangerous ideas on the public whilst themselves remaining entirely distant from the consequences of their idiocy. They don’t always get their way, of course – eugenics never quite took off, in the UK at least.
Yet the point is, having risen to the top of the social ladder, drunk on the self-congratulating doctrine of ‘meritocracy’, these people have become convinced that it is their intelligence alone that has secured for them such a privileged station in life, and as such they are ill-disposed to have the validity of their viewpoints challenged. Accordingly, there is no great desire for democracy in any inclusive sense, because the idea that an ordinary working person might know better is anathema to them – they pride intelligence over wisdom, and they monopolise it as unscrupulously as any petty tyrant would.
Of course, mixed with this excess of pride is an instinct for self-preservation, and this cannot be divorced from the haughtiness. Fully convinced of the baseness of the ordinary public (the marks of the beast here being the Sun and the Daily Mail), self-assured in their position as the enlightened elect, these people must deny the wisdom of the many for they know it all too often clashes with the interests of the few. Cue endless words spluttered out undermining the goodness and wisdom of the people, and the pernicious sowing of the seeds of disdain, seeds that slowly grow into insuperable social barriers between rulers and ruled.
It really is a shame, and one mourns the passing of the noble left that once offered so much to the political landscape, however much one might disagree with its ideologies or action. When the left capitulated to this breed of individuals, which in recent years it undoubtedly has, it finally gave up on those it originally sought to represent. It ceased to believe in the goodness of folk, the wisdom of people, in the value of ‘society’, and threw its lot in with the self-proclaimed elite, and their fetish for the state as the enforcer of their own peculiar world vision. The old left has perished – and only Ms Hyde and her like remain.