The Uglifiers

I’ve been reading the philosopher Karl Popper’s autobiography, Unended Quest. It’s quite heavy going. He writes about essentialism and nominalism and realism and progressivism and historicism and subjectivism and Darwinism. As best I can make out, whenever Popper identified some intellectual position, he would give it a name, one that usually ended in -ism. But in a postcript added in May 1986, he writes without reference to any ism.

Anyone who is prepared to compare seriously our life in our Western liberal democracies with life in other societies will be forced to agree that we have in Europe and North America, in Australia and New Zealand the best and most equitable societies that have ever existed in the whole course of human history. Not only are there very few people who acutely suffer from lack of food or lack of housing, but there are infinitely more opportunities for the young people to choose their own future. There is a wealth of possibilities for those who wish to learn, and for those who wish to enjoy themselves in various ways. But perhaps the most important thing is that we are prepared to listen to informed criticism and are certainly happy if reasonable suggestions are made for the betterment of our society. For our society is not only open to reform, but it is anxious to reform itself.

In spite of all this, the propaganda for the myth that we live in an ugly world has succeeded.

Open your eyes and see how beautiful the world is, and how lucky we are who are alive!

Those are the last words in the book.

And it is indeed a beautiful world. It’s not just that the natural world of mountains and lakes and plants and animals is beautiful, but so also are the men and women in it, and the clothes they wear and the houses and cities in which they live, as well as their roads and cars and ships and planes. It’s all stunningly beautiful.

But we are also living in a world in which we are being told every day how vile and ugly it all is. How it is horribly polluted and toxic, and how unjust and unfair, and how greedy and exploitative, and how in need of complete reconstruction from bottom to top.

For the world’s reformers, the world is not a beautiful place, but an ugly place. In fact, the only thing they ever see is ugliness. They see ugly men and women living in ugly houses in ugly cities, and driving around in ugly, smelly cars and eating ugly, smelly food. And the more ugly they see the world as being, the more urgently they see it as in need of the most complete and comprehensive reformation, starting now. Or yesterday.

They can find ugliness in anything. They can find ugliness in people sitting drinking beer and smoking cigarettes.

If you were to direct their attention to the most beautiful woman in the world, they’d tear her apart in no time. Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Jennifer Aniston, Angelina Jolie, Kate Moss: it wouldn’t matter. Nose too pert, lips too full, they’d say. Eyes too doe-like, chin too delicate. Too fat, or too thin. Too short or too tall. Too black or too white. They’d make her look ugly in five minutes. They’d make her ashamed she’d ever been born.

I think they say much more about themselves than they say about the world. It’s not so much that the world is ugly, but that they themselves are inwardly ugly people. Ugly, at least, in the sense of seeing ugliness everywhere. Ugly in the sense of making everything look ugly, uglifying everything, painting everything black.

And yet they are, most of them, people who are living in the very liberal democracies that Popper described. They’re all very well fed. They’ve all got roofs over their heads. And clothes on their backs. And shoes on their feet. And time on their hands – which they spend vilifying everything around them. Absolutely everything. There isn’t anything that these little bastards can’t find something wrong with.

Sometimes I think that the very best thing that could happen to them would be for it all to be taken away. The food. The shelter. The clothes. The shoes. Because maybe then – just maybe – they’d at last see how good it all was, how beautiful it all used to be.

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6 Responses to The Uglifiers

  1. Reinhold says:

    Another excellent article.
    Thank you, Frank!

  2. nisakiman says:

    Very true Frank. As you point out in the last paragraph, their biggest problem is that they’ve never been without all the trappings of a first-world lifestyle, so have no concept, and hence no appreciation of what they actually have.

  3. Carl R. says:

    Here in the USA, I like to refer to this group as the “effete elite”. They think they know everything and have all the answers when, in truth, they know nothing. They simply Baaa like sheep.

    • George Speller says:

      I note that “research” has found that individually sheep are very intelligent, but take leave of their senses in groups. People too? Is intelligence inversely proportional to the number of people doing the thinkiung?

  4. George Speller says:

    These people actually work to uglify. They plaster signs everywhere, they line city street junctions with fencing and suburbs with dustbins, they deface cigarette packs with vile and mendacious pornography, they chop down “dangerous” trees and drain paddling pools. In Queensbury a couple of terraces share a lovely small triangle of grass – great for kids to kick-about on. Obviously they felt obliged to post a warning about dog muck so where did they put it? On a 7 foot steel pole right in the middle of the grass. That’s vandalism.
    They hate us.
    And we hate them.

    George – filling in my census in Runic- Speller

  5. Carl R. says:

    To all, if you are not already familiar with it, try reading “Psychology of Social Movements” by Hadley Cantril. Written in 1941, it explains in detail how such movements as Anti-Smoking become so successful. Those who cannot deal with being outside the mainstream NEED to jump on the Bandwagon whether they be Phi Beta Kappas or intellectual nerds. Or as George would say, just sheep being sheep.

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