Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Hegemony and truthiness


George Monbiot has a whimsical piece in the Guardian about the system of ruling class education, the effect it has both on the people processed through the system and the wider implications for society. It is also a useful piece of anecdotal evidence about the material basis of truthiness.

The telling part is what Monbiot describes as the typical output of public school education, colonial service, the civil service or the armed forces. You might want to add that the solidarity generated by said system (the process detaches young men from their families and attaches them to institutions) also renews the old school tie network in high finance as well, but that is a side effect, rather than an aim. 

While the transition from public school to ruling elite may not be so automatic any more what is true is the system generally turns out “young men fanatically devoted to their caste [read class] and culture”. To put it another way, young members are not taught to exercise hegemony but act as partisans for bourgeois corporate needs.

Truthiness, the willingness of lesser or greater numbers of people to believe something based on whether it feels right, is able to overcome public life when objective means of orientation, such as class, race, gender, nationality etc, are removed. The truth, or otherwise, of a statement, an idea or a collection of ideas (an ideology) is tested in practice.

We are living with a disconnected ruling class that no longer leads but simply represses and denies when it needs to. The subaltern classes however are not moving. The programme of Austerity is proving difficult to overcome in ideological struggle because it is not being challenged in practical struggle. Our society is at rest, like a stagnant pond, and the scum is floating to the top. 

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