Friday, 19 December 2014

The apotheosis of the idiocracy?

Is it just possible that we live in an age that is seeing the apotheosis of the idiocracy?

The last few weeks seem to have provided ample evidence of such a state of being.

First (for the sake of this post) there was the sheer obscenity of ‘Black Friday’.

People falling over themselves, fighting, screaming and altogether behaving like total cretins in order to get goods that they probably have no need for, which in many cases were being marketed as ‘cheap’ when the price before this sale madness had been hiked to enable that.

And don’t pretend that it was just the lumpen poor either, simply because TV cameras went to the shops where some of them would be congregated. The likes of John Lewis was advertising ‘Black Friday’ nonsense too.

But setting even that aside, let’s remember that this is not (yet) the US and we do not (yet) celebrate Thanksgiving.

So why the hell have this obscene nonsense?

Not that that is likely to stop anyone, as we increasingly see an Americanised Halloween merchandised and sold to the credulous as a major event, while an increasing number of schools have ‘proms’.

What was wrong with signing each other’s school blouses/shirts and, if you were so inclined, chucking some flour and a few eggs around?

Now, we have a situation where stupid parents are encouraged to behave ever more stupidly; encouraged to try to ensure that their brat has the most expensive outfit and arrives in the most stretched limo of any of their peers.

I absolutely shudder at the thought of being forced to go through all that. Thank god I grew up in saner times. Now, there’s even a rise in proms for ‘graduation’ from nursery school, as well as from primary school.

Only a generation and a half ago, most people would have seen through the keeping-up-with-the-Joneses cult for precisely that – and laughed at those who played that game.

Now, we’ve turned it something that’s so important that it’s central to the economic calculations (I use the word loosely) of the Chancellor, who is basing his predictions on households going ever deeper into debt.

Moving on, this Christmas – even before we had reached Advent – decorations were going up (and not just in the big stores), while stalls had set up selling Christmas trees. Who is stupid enough to buy one so early? It’ll be dried up before Christmas itself!

Indeed, why the creep of the start of Christmas ever earlier and earlier?

I know that, historically speaking, the long Christmas shopping season started in WWI when families in the US were sending presents and cards to their loved ones in the trenches.

But it has lengthened further for entirely commercial reasons in more recent years, and now Christmas seems to start as soon as the Halloween sales opportunity is done for another year.

Of course, it’ll only be a week or so before we see the first adverts for Easter eggs.

Like Christmas tree sales, decorations were going up at hotels and businesses, as well as in homes, before the start of December this time around.

Generally speaking, most people only decorated their homes a fortnight before Christmas Day itself, and the time to take them down is 5 January, the 12th Day of Christmas.

And what’s with the ‘buy a sweater for one day a year’ thing – never mind that being followed by: ‘pay £2 to wear it to work and that will go to charity’?

Instead of spending £15 on a sweater (probably made of crap acrylic, in a sweatshop somewhere), and then £2 on your charity giving, put a tenner in the collection box.

Still, if you live to shop, then it just gives you another excuse to … well, shop.

Not that this is just about Christmas and commercialism in general.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not against having fun, but when I see adults scooting past me on over-sized scooters of the sort that were designed with small children in mind, wearing wooly hats with animal ears on them, I wonder if we are also in an age of increasing infantilisation.

And then there’s the total logic deficit that we are increasingly witnessing in other walks of life.

Take the case of Russell Brand. Now I’m far from being a fan (and I think his opinions on voting are misguided at best and downright dangerous at worst), but in the present instance, with his involvement in the campaign to try to stop the tenants of the New Era estate in Hackney being evicted by a US business that will then hike the rents through the roof, he is most definitely on the side of the angels.

But what does he get accused of? Hypocrisy.

Now admittedly, this was from the Sun, with the Mail in hot pursuit, but the story seems to be that he rents – and not cheaply – and that his ultimate landlord is not the most ethical.

Now if Brand was calling on everyone to check the ethics of every individual or company that they do business with, while not doing the same himself, that would be hypocrisy.

But this really seems to come down to a view I’ve heard espoused from right-wing cretins more than once: that, if you are doing okay yourself, it is hypocritical to care about anyone who is not doing as well as you are.

Further, I’ve seen it suggested that, if you are in the above situation and you dare to think that people should be paid a living wage, for instance, then you should somehow use your wage to achieve that.

And then there’s the guff about how ‘socialists’ should not earn £X, because they should only ever be on low incomes.

‘Socialists’ has become a word used by the terminally (if only) imbecilic to damn anything they simply don’t like. Few have any concept of the actual economic philosophy behind it.

It’s reminiscent of the woman filmed calling Obama a ‘communist’ during the last US presidential election. When asked what she thought a communist was, she had to admit that she hadn’t a clue.

Of course it also means that we’ve moved so far to the right in UK politics that when someone says that people should be paid a living wage, it’s considered not as ‘fairness’, but as something to be slagged off, either bizarrely as ‘envy’ or as ‘socialism’!

To the dolts out there: if people cannot afford to live, how do you think that will impact on recruitment, retention, sickness rates and productivity?

And why do you think that the tax take has gone down even as the number of people in work has risen? That’s right: because we’re in the middle of a drive by business to a low-wage economy, with hundreds of thousands (about 1.4 million, to be accurate) on zero-hours contracts, many more in insecure jobs and yet more forced into ‘self-employment’ that gets them off the books, but can see them earning well below what is needed to live.

Mind, all this sees us looking at a media that is increasingly dumbed down, even in the supposed quality press, with increasing amounts of bias too and far less good-quality reportage.

What’s so depressing is the sheer number of people who appear to believe at face value anything they read in print.

You can bet that the same papers that are railing against Brand are not railing against the new owners of the New Era estate wanting to throw the residents onto the street.

And if this all sounds like a rant, that’s because it is. But honestly, look around you and at the things I’ve mentioned above and tell me that it doesn’t make you want to do a combination of ~head > desk~ and ~face palm~.

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