Monday, 8 August 2016

Their trade is prestige

EEA, WTO, customs unions, trade policy, tariff schedules. This time last year these were not facets of the national conversation. In fact, the very subject of trade was not on our horizons. As an exclusive competence of the EU, we have abandoned trade as a facet of our politics thus we have become eurocentric with no real debate of substance about how we relate to the rest of the world.

And while I cringe at the low grade trash coming out of the LSE and the Financial Times and soon the likes of the Telegraph and City AM, we are at least having a debate about it. They may use the terms of reference without a clue how it works or what it means but in many ways they are testing the vocabulary as a means to try and understand it.

Generally it is not in the nature of journalists to break out of the twenty four hour news cycle and actually do any in depth ready and so they learn by osmosis and triangulation. As much as it is a matter of time pressures, the main reason is because it's complex and these are lazy people.

And if I'm entirely honest, that is in part how I have come to understand some things. When I first started writing about the influence of the myriad of international organisations over and above the EU it was all much of an enigma to me. Only by thrashing out these issues on the blog and stumbling across scraps of information to pad out my understanding do I write about it now from a position of knowledge. It is not a well documented field and few write about it from a critical perspective.

What makes me different is that I have done the work and I don't simply paraphrase LSE goons and depend upon their prestige. In this process I have developed a singular loathing of academia.

I have never been especially fond of academics. For men of books they tend to be abysmal writers. And there is something in that. For me, writing with clarity is essential. It is essential to my own understanding and a means of ordering my thoughts. But it is also a means to communicate difficult ideas to others. By indulging in opaque prose academics are not writing to communicate or to understand. They are asserting with no audience in mind. And there's a reason for this.

Few people read academic journals. Many are of very little use except to other specialists as deeply engaged in the subject. They write to say that they have written on the subject. The closed loop culture ensures they validate each other's work no matter how poor and lacking in quality and give themselves awards, building up a catalogue of prestigious credentials. All of which are utterly meaningless. But prestige is what gives them free licence to waffle and to be taken without question by hacks in a hurry.

Through this process people who know very little can establish themselves as an authority while knowing the sum total of fuck all. And because these people are then favoured sources they win defenders among the hackosphere because their credibility is linked to the credibility of their favoured sources. This is why journalists become hostile to critics of their work and distance themselves from their critic base. Before you know it you have a well insulated groupthink that depends entirely on prestige without ever having to acknowledge the existence of critics let alone answer them. And if you are not of their circle and you have no prestige then you will forever remain invisible.

Even if you are inside that bubble there are rules and you must never ask awkward questions. To break ranks and ask inconvenient questions is to commit career suicide and ensure funding rapidly dries up. So we are actually looking at a very privileged, inbred circle jerk which is very much against free enquiry. This is why climate change science cannot be trusted. Climate sceptics have documented this social phenomenon at length but it extends into just about every area of public policy.

And s when we speak of the establishment we are talking about an unholy alliance between offices of the state, academia, their media echo chambers and polite society. To be a critic is to be rude and the faux politeness that exists is not for the sake of inviting civil discourse. It is for the purposes of denying debate. To even question the prestige of these lofty individuals is to be "anti-intellectual".

I have often found myself excluded from Twitter conversations not because of my approach, but because I have the temerity to disagree. This is why academia is so deeply unhealthy. If academia is for any purpose at all it is for the advancement of human knowledge and the questioning of established ideas. Instead it does the precise opposite. It no longer serves a function.

So when it comes to Brexit, academia has been quite vocal in its demands that we preserve EU academic cooperation programmes. The EU is the goose that lays the golden eggs that pay for research that nobody else would part with money for. This research goes toward building and maintaining political narratives that give the EU and other global bodies the mandate to trample on national sovereingty. Hence why the LSE is in full overdrive in the Brexit debate, up to and including historical revisionism.

This is why we can no longer take anything at face value. What seems superficially credible is in fact distended verbiage appropriated from all over the shop and traded as gossip with no real understanding behind it. If you have gongs and degrees understanding is not required. Prestige is all that matters.

The system no longer functions. It is corrupted beyond repair. It doesn't even fulfill a use for business. They are no longer leaders in science and technological advances. If big business wants the best research or the newest techniques they will be looking to buy up start up companies. Business is looking outside of the bubble in order to compete. Government however does not have to compete and so it is still entirely in hock to academia and will hear no other voice. There is too much risk to considering ideas lacking in prestige and without an academic sponsor. And so this is why Brexit is so necessary. Government and academia has a cancer and it is sustained by the EU and it distances the people from their government.

When we look at academia now it is not the cutting edge of thinking. It is a wholly parasitic kindergarten for the privileged. It is a festering swamp and we no longer need it. There was a time when universities had the monopoly on knowledge by having vast resources at their disposal - people, books and archives. Now we have no need of it. We have the internet. The cutting edge of ideas in politics is on the web. It is not hiding in unread journals. It's on the blogs and on Facebook. The internet is the thought engine that drives culture and the economy - so we need to start asking real questions as to whether academia can still add value and whether we can allow it to exist in its current form when it has become so corrupted. It is entirely self-serving. Why should we tolerate it any longer?

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