On a shopping trip with my 8 year old daughter, she was worried – “What kind of animal is a faux?” she asked. She’d seen some faux fur for sale, and was quite cross about it.
Of course, faux means fake. And sophistry means “using fake, but clever arguments.”
So you might think the term “faux sophistry” to be tautological. But it isn’t. We all hear faux sophistry, the nonsense that passes for political dialogue, every day. Language is smoothed over, sanitised and polished up to its maximum positive shine. Difficulties and problems become “challenges”. People who face similar difficulties become part of “communities”, even if they’ve never met one another and probably never will. We know it’s all BS, but we have come to expect it, and we’re dead to it and think it can’t be fixed.
The interaction between politicians and journalists becomes a ludicrous game that they both seem to enjoy. It’s the journo’s job to trip the politician up and catch them out, and the politician’s job to deliver the agreed-by-the-committee soundbite, like a rugby player dodging and weaving and sprinting to land a try.
It diminishes and shames us all. Surely we can be better than this?
Here’s a spectacular example of how ludicrous it can all become:
It’s not that Ed Miliband is a bad person. It’s that he’s become part of of our broken system of politics, where every decent word is twisted by politics’ opposing forces in pursuit of the denigration of the “other side”. And where they all know this to be the ‘game’.
This is something a new party should seek to repair.
One of the most spectacular bits of sophistry we hear is the “call for a national debate” when actually the politicians have no interest in any resolution to what’s to be debated. What they really mean is that they want to kick the can of worms down the road rather than deal with it. The political road ahead is strewn with cans of worms that this generation of politicians fear to contemplate the opening of. The next generation of politicians will have to deal with them.
So let’s skip to the next generation right now, and start a new party where there can be a robust and genuine debate, and a properly democratic way of deciding on which side has won it. There’s an enormous amount of work to be done. The talent and ideas needed to get it done already exist, but the current crop of politicians are absolutely not going to achieve it, nor are they likely to empower those who might do better. They’re too politically sophisticated, you see – they’ll calmly explain to you that politics is the “art of the possible”.
Well, I think it’s possible to grow a party full of ordinary, decent people that would have more members than the current crop of parties within six months.
The internet makes it possible. And the current disease of faux sophistry makes it necessary.