21 February 2007

Surviving in a mediocracy (part 1)

This blog is an outgrowth of a book on contemporary culture entitled Mediocracy. Some have assumed the title signifies the standard right-wing complaint that “things ain’t what they used to be”. It’s more complicated than that. There’s a constellation of cultural phenomena which are linked, though the nature of the link isn’t obvious. Dumbing down is part of it, but also gobbledygook, as well as: obsession with appearance; aggressiveness as a behavioural norm; the idea that reality is socially constructed; the dismantling of civil liberties.

I speculated that there was a single connecting theme, associated particularly with ideologies such as Blairism but by no means confined to the Left. A kind of anti-individualism masquerading as egalitarian, and justifying itself by reference to notions of “democratisation” and “fairness”, though in fact no less elitist than rival philosophies. With a tendency to redefine cultural concepts, à la 1984, to suit ideological objectives. For want of a better word, I called the connecting theme “mediocracy”.

The full article can be read here.