Geroge Monbiot in the Guardian (13/12/2011)


This is a blog post about George Monbiot’s article in today’s Guardian:

I found his article fascinating and revealing. I agree with him that the press barons of today are fighting a class war to defend the 1% they belong to against challengers. I think the point he is missing is this: not evberybody can or should have a onmiscient view of society. In fact, nobody has an omniopotent narrative viewpoint in society. Yes, we all speak English and breath the same oxygen, but that does not eman we inhabit the same reality or epistemology.

I think he would benefit from a nuanced way of reading the media. He interprets everything he sees in the press from the POV of a very switched on person who understands capitalist and social forces well. But it is possible when the Daily Mail are writing about asylum seekers, they are not sharing the 1%’s elevated understanding when writing the article – which would be iniquitous. It is possible they are writing from the viewpoint of the lower middle and working classes, and reflecting their reality back to them. In their strata of society there could well be a good deal of resentment of asylum seekers, which is realer on their streets that the more diaphonous, abstract misdeeds of the banking sector.

In the top strata of reality you can understand everything below well, and some of the internal logic of lower strata may seem unfair, immoral or criminal. But to understand things this way is cloistered. You have to understand the top 1%’s viewpoint from their strata, but also understand lower middle and working class viewpoints from withing their stratas as well. In those strata the 1% as seen simply as fat cats (an interesting thought terminating cliche) and it is the benefits cheats who are the real social criminals. Interestingly, if the 1% went to a working mans club to deliver a talk, they would be jeered at and have rotten tomatoes thrown at them. That is because they, despite their privileged position, are objects of ridicule when they think themselves into that strata, to the people who belong on it. Lots of people, including Bill Gates and Rupert Murdoch, have had custard pies thrown at them.

Truth, like reality, is quite subjective on different levels of abstraction. The top 1% can’t really feel guilty about the fact that people want to make sense of life from within their own experience, on council estates and dole offices. And the papers will talk to them on that level because that makes market sense.



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