Slavoj Zizek says it’s easier for us to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism. Yet according to some, the end of capitalism is nigh. Just as capitalist industry once replaced feudalism, so we now see the initial eclipse of neoliberal markets as the rise of the digital revolution changes the rules of the game.
A system’s increasing restrictiveness is a sure sign of its deterioration. With feudalism it was Charles I’s dissolution of Parliament, but now there is a new Red Scare. When oligarchs last felt threatened - by the emergence of communism - the US began an official purge of left-wing sympathisers which culminated in the establishment of the FBI. Now, with the ruling class again uneasy, their Parliamentary handmaidens begin a host of draconian measures: the Trade Union Bill which will restrict rights to strike, restrictions on the behaviour of supposed ‘militant left-wing councils’, Theresa May’s revived surveillance powers, and let’s not forget, the complete demonization of Jeremy Corbyn, whose views (free education, peace and equality) would have once seemed normal. Beware the new Red Scare.
It’s fashionable to rail against political correctness these days. People without a grain of social awareness will line up to denounce “PC culture” in catch-all generalisations that expose how badly they want to appear educated, intelligent, and relevant. Words that have been used for decades to dehumanise vulnerable minorities are supposedly fine, and those who have to live with verbal and structural abuse every day should just stop being such big babies. Sticks and stones, right? Of course PC-opposers wouldn't know: they're invariably shielded by a social privilege that means all hateful terms reserved for their groups have no power and so are meaningless. Call a white person a “cracker”, and they will laugh.
It’s easy, of course, to laugh when you're the fascistic presidential hopeful Donald Trump, and all criticism of your comments calling Mexican immigrants “thieves” and “rapists” can be brushed off as ‘political correctness gone mad’. Sound familiar? “A tidal wave of immigrants”, says ‘free-speech’ Farage. The right-wing knows a way to weasel in a justification of hate when it sees it.
When I was brought up - which really wasn’t that long ago - table manners weren’t really a big deal. Unless you didn’t have them. Eating with your mouth open was almost as bad at committing murder at my family dinner table, and don’t even think about talking with your mouth open. So why, when we’re all much older, much more civilised (when we haven’t been on the trebs) and more aware of the world and what’s acceptable, have we suddenly let go of our basic table manners and decency?
Far too often when I’m with someone I am met with the delightful view of their current meal tumbling around inside their mouth. Whether it’s a meat-free quinoa salad or a mighty meaty from Dominos in the SU, I really don’t want to be seeing it whilst being digested or, even worse, have it sprayed all over me while you try to speak. Keep your mouth closed, enjoy your food, and tell me all about your sick night at Tiger Tiger/WHQ after you’ve finished your food, yeah?