Ebb Tide

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.

About Frank Davis

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16 Responses to Ebb Tide

  1. Rose says:

    It’s another of part of Tony Blairs legacy, he destroyed the impartiality of the BBC more directly than he destroyed the pubs , by slicing it’s head off.

    BBC apologises as Dyke quits 2004

    “Director General Greg Dyke has quit as the BBC’s crisis deepens in the wake of Lord Hutton’s damning verdict.
    The BBC’s new Acting Chairman Lord Ryder also apologised “unreservedly” for errors during the Dr Kelly affair.”
    “Mr Dyke’s departure came 20 hours after BBC Chairman Gavyn Davies resigned ”

    “Mr Dyke told around 1,000 people outside Television Centre he was not “a political animal” but he hoped the two resignations meant “a line can be drawn under this whole episode”.

    He said his sole aim had been to defend the BBC’s independence and “act in the public interest”.

    Later, asked whether he was sacked by the BBC governors, Mr Dyke said he had offered his resignation on Wednesday night.
    “Mr Dyke said he “could not quite work out” what the governors had apologised for.

    The BBC had made certain mistakes, he said, adding: “I do not necessarily accept the findings of Lord Hutton.”

    The pair quit after parts of Andrew Gilligan’s BBC reports of claims Downing Street “sexed up” a dossier on Iraq’s illegal weapons were branded “unfounded” by Lord Hutton.”
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/3441181.stm

    September 2002: Government produces dossier about alleged Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, including claim they could be deployed within 45 minutes

    May 2003: BBC Today programme’s Andrew Gilligan broadcasts report of claims Downing Street “sexed up” dossier, with 45 mins claim included against intelligence agencies’ wishes

    10 July 2003:Dr David Kelly named as suspected source of report as government continues to deny the story
    17 July 2003: Dr Kelly found dead

    Blair ‘chaired Kelly naming meeting’ 2003

    “The Ministry of Defence’s top civil servant has told the Hutton inquiry that Tony Blair chaired a meeting which agreed the strategy which led to Dr David Kelly’s name becoming public.

    But Sir Kevin Tebbit told the reconvened inquiry into the weapons expert’s death that there had been no “devious strategy” to give Dr Kelly’s identity to the media.

    The inquiry is into the circumstances of the death of Dr Kelly, who apparently committed suicide shortly after being named as the suspected source for Andrew Gilligan’s BBC report claiming the government “sexed up” a dossier on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. ”
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/3186096.stm

    Downing St apologises for dodgy dossier
    08 June 2003

    “It’s taken them four months, but Downing Street has at last apologised for the so-called “dodgy dossier” which was used to help justify the war against Iraq.
    This programme disclosed back in February that No 10’s report on Iraq’s security apparatus was largely lifted from a student’s PhD thesis, published on the internet.”

    “The row over the “dodgy dossier” errupted when Channel Four News disclosed that large chunks of No 10’s supposedly authoritative report, “Iraq – its Infrastructure of Concealment, Deception and Intimidation” had been lifted word for word from this PhD thesis by Ibrahim al-Marashi entitled more conservatively, “Iraq’s Security and Intelligence Network: A Guide and Analysis”.

    It was published in the American journal Meria in September last year and relied on information dating back to the first Gulf War.

    The Government document was written by members of Alastair Campbell’s “coalition information centre” in Downing Street.
    It drew on “a number of sources, including intelligence material”. But it omitted to credit Mr al-Marashi.”
    http://www.channel4.com/news/articles/politics/domestic_politics/downing+st+apologises+for+dodgy+dossier/257243.html

    Alastair Campbell defends ‘every word’ of Iraq dossier
    12 January 2010
    “Questions about Mr Campbell’s role in the dossier were at the centre of a post-war row with the BBC culminating in the death of the government weapons expert Dr David Kelly and the subsequent Hutton inquiry.
    Mr Campbell said he was “never in doubt” that Iraq would be found to have weapons of mass destruction and the realisation that they did not was “very difficult”.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8453116.stm

    The BBC was never the same again.

  2. nisakiman says:

    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.

    I was watching an interesting discussion on Spiked yesterday on pretty much this subject, but more specifically “Did PC get Trump elected”.

    There was a panel of five (including Brendan O’Niell), and it was taking place in a Boston University, with questions being taken from the floor. Definitely worth a watch, despite its 1½ hour length. I noted that Simon Heffer and Emily [Hi Emily :) ] were in the audience, and Simon got to ask a question. A good question, but a little at a tangent to the central thrust of the discussion, so it didn’t really get addressed, unfortunately. However, as I say, worth a watch.

    • Timothy Goodacre says:

      Happy Christmas Kevin ! Good Greek smoking !

    • Roobeedoo2 says:

      That was really interesting to listen to and it was cool seeing some familiar faces in the audience :D

      The very last point made at 1:28:50 about the spread of the idea that speech is violence, could be related back to passive smoking of second-hand smoke, which is labelled as harmful to anyone that breathes it in – hence bans and segregation. And Anti smokers have and do portray tobacco smoke as inflicting violence…

    • Emily says:

      Haha, yes, we were there, hello! It was a very good discussion. I was interested to see how they handled questions- they took about five questions from the audience at a time, one after another, then the panel addressed whatever they found interesting so naturally not everything could be answered.

  3. Smoking Lamp says:

    Lest anyone doubt the co-ordinated nature of the global political correct lifestyle control imperative, the flooding editorial about Japan’s smoking ban appeared in todays Chicago Times: “Editorial: Japan’s Olympics-size challenge: Ban smoking” http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/editorials/ct-edit-smokers-japan-break-20171103-story.html

    • Rose says:

      Oh I don’t, in fact the other day I was looking to see if there was any link between Marc Lalonde’s suggestion that Canada depart from the scientific method with the Health Field Concept and the WHO turning into something we no longer recognise.

      According to the section of -Unfiltered: Conflicts Over Tobacco Policy and Public Health, I was reading on google books, there was.

      The Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion
      First International Conference on Health Promotion, Ottawa, 21 November 1986

      “The first International Conference on Health Promotion, meeting in Ottawa this 21st day of November 1986, hereby presents this CHARTER for action to achieve Health for All by the year 2000 and beyond.

      This conference was primarily a response to growing expectations for a new public health movement around the world. Discussions focused on the needs in industrialized countries, but took into account similar concerns in all other regions. It built on the progress made through the Declaration on Primary Health Care at Alma-Ata, the World Health Organization’s Targets for Health for All document, and the recent debate at the World Health Assembly on intersectoral action for health.”
      http://www.who.int/healthpromotion/conferences/previous/ottawa/en/

      Marc Lalonde
      Minister of National Health and Welfare, Canada- 1974

      “The marketing of social change is a new field which applies the marketing techniques of the business world to getting people to change their behaviour, i.e. eating habits, exercise habits, smoking habits, driving habits, etc.
      It is argued by some that proficiency in social marketing would inevitably lead government into all kinds of undesirable thought control and propaganda. ”

      Chapter 9. Science Versus Health Promotion

      “The spirit of enquiry and skepticism, and particularly the Scientific Method,so essential to research, are, however, a problem in health promotion.
      The reason for this is that science is full of “ifs”, “buts”, and “maybes” while messages designed to influence the public must be loud, clear and unequivocal.”

      Click to access perspect-eng.pdf

      • Rose says:

        “Since the Lalonde Report – A new Perspective on the Health of Canadians (1974) major strides have been made in developing health promotion internationally. It broadened the understanding of factors that contribute to good health, introduced the concept of health promotion and led to a number of governmental policies focused on lifestyle-seat belt legislation, exercise, nutrition and smoking cessation.”
        http://www.who.int/healthpromotion/areas/regions/en/

  4. Dmitri says:

    You are absolutely correct about the Soviet Union, Frank. I was there, I saw it first-hand. And when in the 1990-s we have learned that there was a growing tumor in the West, called Political Correctness, we laughed our heads off and said: yes, we used to have that thing, too, it was called communist ideology. We were laughing at it for all our grown-up lives, which began around 70-s..
    And since I’m leaving with all the family to warmer shores (Asia), Merry Christmas to you and all the club. It’s a privilege corresponding with such people.

  5. RdM says:

    And another Merry Christmas and Happy New Year too, Dimitri, & to you all!

    “Peace On Earth To Men Of Good Will”

  6. RdM says:

    “If your friend must see your ebb tide, let him (her, them) also see your flood”

    My paraphrased memory of some Kahil Gilbran quote.

    Oh. It’s from On Friendship, and phrased a little differently, better translated.

    “And let your best be for your friend.

    If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also.”

    Or more completely,

    And let your best be for your friend.

    If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also.

    For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill?

    Seek him always with hours to live.

    For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness.

    https://allpoetry.com/Friendship-IXX

  7. People are drifting away from the NFL in America too, because of the politicization of it.

  8. Pingback: Peter Hitchens’ Puritanism | Frank Davis

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