Thursday, 21 June 2018

Emotion substitutes for evidence and logic

In the politics of postmodernist-neoliberalist-globalism emotion has taken the place of evidence and logic. The political media elite no longer even pretend to be concerned with facts. Examples of this truism can daily be seen in the debates that decorate the parliaments of the so called liberal democracies and the narratives that fill the endless content of the corporate news media.

Consider, for example, the treatment of the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" of illegal aliens. Instead of a dispassionate analysis of the policy, it is presented in purely emotive terms. Rachel Maddow, the Russophobic MSNBC anchor, was apparently unable to articulate her report for the tears. And there was nothing exceptional about this. Other television anchors have been moved to tears over the plight of suffering children. The jihadi propaganda, dubbed, the Aleppo Boy, had the same effect.

But these are merely obvious examples of this preference for emotion. Day in and day out, the political media elite push their preferred narratives by privileging emotive rhetoric. Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, specialises in emotive, moralising. She takes pictures of children into the UN Security Council and attempts to use them as proof. Yet when actual witnesses are presented, they are denounced. When actual evidence is presented, it is ignored or dismissed as propaganda.

This privileging of emotion does more than merely exclude facts and dispassionate analysis. It hides the real sources of power and influence, responsibility and accountability. Yesterday's report on the unnecessary deaths of hundreds of patients in Gosport Hospital was discussed in parliament. Everyone condemned the deaths and expressed their feelings and hoped things are now better. But the killings were not an aberration. They were the result of policies and institutionalised practices, put in place by the elite. The members of parliament, so fulsomely expressing their feelings, were wearing green hearts to show the world their solidarity with the victims of the Grenfell fire. Yet the people responsible for Grenfell fire were the same elite. The fire was a result of institutional policies and practices: policies and practices that have been developing for decades, ever since Thatcher imposed neoliberalism on the country.

In contemporary British society neoliberal imperatives are more than dominant; they are hegemonic. Neoliberalism is simply taken-for-granted, as though there were no alternative. But there are alternatives, which is why postmodernism is so essential. The postmodernist denial of objectivity and determinism, of evidence and logic; the notion that they are just narratives and that any narrative is no more valid that than any other, enables the political media elite to present whatever narrative it chooses as the narrative. But as the official narratives are all premised on the imperatives of neoliberalism, they cannot be honestly presented. Instead, they are wrapped in specious appeals of humanitarianism: "we" have to bomb Libya back to the middle ages to protect the people; "we" have to bomb Syria to uphold international law; "we" have to accept open borders and mass immigration for the sake of the children.

In these narratives, there is no room for the facts, no space for a cost benefit analysis, no opportunity for a consideration of alternative views. Postmodernism, whilst explicitly asserting that all views are equally valid, paradoxically collapses into totalitarianism, as when evidence and logic are excluded, the only way to arbitrate between differing views is power: and that power is neoliberalism. Everyone, and every institution, is required to accept the doctrines of neoliberalism, no matter how inappropriate or absurd or counterproductive. So health care becomes an industry, seeking to minimise costs and maximise profits and exacerbate inequalities. Regulations, purportedly in place to protect residents, are in fact remodelled to facilitate in the interests of corporations. Educational institutions are forced to compete to churn out ever more qualified people, who are ever less questioning or even capable of questioning. The senior ranks of police force are ever more skilled in parroting management speak and public relations spin, whilst violating the rights of the very people they are supposed to be protecting. And all this is hidden from view by a constant torrent of emoting and judging.

When emotion substitutes for evidence and logic, totalitarianism, increasing inequality and social dysfunction is the inevitable result.

No comments:

Post a comment