News item I caught yesterday:
Nearly a million Brits a year have cancelled their BBC TV License for the past four years, with more than 3.5 million doing so since 2013.
Figures obtained through a Freedom of Information request by the Sun reveal that, so far this year, 788,605 people cancelled. It was 817,509 in 2016, 875,169 in 2015, and a massive 945,751 in 2014…
Tory MP David Davies told the Sun: “These [cancellations] reflect that millions of people feel that the BBC no longer reflects their outlook on life.
“If the BBC don’t start representing the large slice of the populace who support Brexit and worry about immigration, then we will end up having to move towards a subscription service.”….
I’m not in the least bit surprised. I stopped renewing my TV licence about 10 years ago, but not because of Brexit (which hadn’t been invented back then) or immigration, but because I was a smoker, and the BBC had stopped reflecting my outlook on life. It had become somebody else’s TV channel, not mine.
The BBC, like many other institutions, has become Politically Correct. It has espoused a number of opinions, one of which is antismoking dogmatism, and another of which is global warming alarmism, and a third of which is europhilia. And I was wondering this morning whether this sort of process is actually a natural evolutionary process, whereby given some initial number of differing opinions (e.g. Opinion 1, Opinion 2, and Opinion 3) only one opinion – or one combination of opinions – eventually comes out on top as the one Politically Correct point of view. One opinion always gradually drowns out others, and there ends up only one Right Way Of Thinking.
But as this happens, there are always fewer and fewer people who have the Right Way Of Thinking, and more and more people who think rather differently, or very differently. And these people gradually drift away. And the base of support for the institution (in this case the BBC) gradually erodes, and ebbs away.
The same thing may well happen with institutions of every kind. A political party may gradually become dominated by an ever-diminishing number of people with one set of opinions, with the result that people with different opinions start leaving it. Perhaps something like this happened in the Soviet Union, as fewer and fewer people in the Communist party had the one exact correct (Leninist, Stalinist, Trotskyite) point of view, while everyone else gradually drifted away, leaving a party which in the end had next to nobody in it who remained a True Believer (I forget the name of the Russian dissident who declared, circa 1980, that “There are no communists in the Soviet Union.”).
It probably happens with churches as well. And the more fire-breathing and dogmatic any church becomes, with everyone outside it damned to eternity in hell, the more people start drifting away from it. This may partly explain the long term decline in church attendance: if you’re a drinker who enjoys a dram or two of whisky, you’re not likely to remain long as a member of a prohibitionist church.
The medical profession might be another example. For it now seems to be entirely dominated by people who believe that all diseases are caused by smoking (or drinking or eating fast food). They have become the voice of the medical profession. But there are probably a great many doctors who don’t share their opinion, and who have withdrawn their support, even cancelling their membership of the BMA.
It may also be true in science. One explanation or hypothesis (e.g. flat Earth or spherical Earth) becomes the accepted orthodoxy, with all dissent silenced, and heretical scientists banished.
In every case, as fewer and fewer opinions become permissible, more and more people with divergent opinions start drifting away. The ground subsides beneath narrowly dogmatic institutions. The taller the tower of Pisa rose, the more the ground beneath it subsided – and the more it leaned. Eventually it will collapse.
The same process may underlie the biblical tale of the Tower of Babel, in which people initially united, using a single language, to start building it, but ended up with everyone speaking different languages.
Another news item that caught my eye was the re-election of separatist parties in Catalonia after their leadership had been driven out of the country by the Spanish government. As someone who once spent many happy hours in dozens of little smoky bars in Barcelona, I can’t help but think that, as an exiled-to-the-outdoors-since-2011 Catalan smoker, I would have quite likely voted for for Catalan separatism, purely as a protest vote against the central Spanish government that had imposed their stinking smoking ban on me, and not because I had any real interest in Catalonia.
For here’s another thing: as people drift way from BBC/church/party/scientific orthodoxy, there’s no telling where they’ll end up next. So, in my own case, after voting religiously for the Lib Dems for 25 years or more in the UK, I stopped voting for them in 2006 when 95% of Lib Dem MPs voted for the UK smoking ban, and my vote is now likely to go almost anywhere else, including the Monster Raving Loony Party if needs be. Mine is now always a protest vote. It’s not just that the sands subside from under one increasingly dogmatic institution, but that those sands will start supporting something else.
Political Correctness – which is our current form of dogmatism -, whenever it appears, marks the terminal phase when institutions begin to disintegrate, as support for them inevitably ebbs away. What most likely follows is the emergence of new “broad churches” which include/represent lots and lots of people. These new churches initially gather wide support, but in time they in their turn gradually become more and more narrowly dogmatic, and their support begins to narrow once again.
And these days we seem to be living in the dogmatic terminal phase of a great many institutions, ranging from the media and political parties through to sciences and religions, where support for all of them is ebbing away.