David Thompson
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February 04, 2015

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Joan

"There's more to life than consumerism."

Yes George. But I've never met anyone who thought there wasn't.

MikeG81

I find it amusing that someone who talks of "tearing down the old order" in one breath laments the order that took its place.

Newsflash: You progs got exactly what you wanted. Replaced the family with the state, supplanted your culture with imports, take more and more and more of peoples property. Then, if someone takes an issue with all of this, use your fellow progs in the media and "law" to destroy that person or silence them by calling them "racist", "fascist", etc., etc.

Hey Georgie: this is your fault.

David Gillies

I've remarked before how much work it must be to be a professional Leftist. If Mongbiot really is this aggrieved all the time he must be exhausted. And that sort of perpetual, unrelieved stress is going to completely re-jig his limbic system and hypothalamus, which may explain the anhedonia.

David

Yes George. But I’ve never met anyone who thought there wasn’t.

Well, quite. Which makes his repeated use of “we” not only presumptuous but rather insulting.

But George churns out some variation of the same column every few weeks. Always operatic in tone and hugely question-begging. Unburdened by evidence, he insists that we’re all “atomised” and “grasping,” we’re “plundering the world.” And buying that foreign holiday or that new pair of shoes is “driving us towards destruction.” He rails against the existence of jet skis and the fact that some people can afford them. He denounces expensive saucepans as part of “the blackened waste of consumer frenzy,” which apparently exists everywhere, as if hyperbole made it true. And true for everyone. Or as one loyal Guardian reader puts it, it’s “the frenzy of consumption that itself consumes so much of [our] leisure time.”

But this doesn’t remotely describe my life, or that of anyone I know well – barring the occasional low-budget retail binge of my teenage nieces.

dw

Some deny society exists. Let's prove them wrong

Has anyone at the Guardian ever bothered to read all of Thatcher's 'no such thing as society' quote?

wtp

The use of "we" and also "you" when what is really meant is "I" and "me" and the very few people exactly like "me" puts my teeth on edge. There's a commercial here in the US that has been bugging me where some girly talks about *her* car in which she says "You've owned your car for four years. You named it Brad. You loved Brad and then you totaled him. You two had been through everything together..." No I didn't. I know, first world problem, but still.

David

The use of “we” and also “you” when what is really meant is “I” and “me”

And it’s so casually done, repeatedly, by Happy Larry and many of his colleagues. It’s a Guardian staple. Monbiot claims all of us as feeling exactly as he does. Or says he does. As a rhetorical conceit it’s quite audacious.

Jimmy

Has anyone at the Guardian ever bothered to read all of Thatcher's 'no such thing as society' quote?

I just read the rest of it the comments. And I suppose they too know what she actually said and ment, but to be honest about it would be inconvenient.

Dom

I have to ask -- what are the peaceful forms of protest that have been banned?

Theophrastus

For the record, Mrs Thatcher (pbuh!) said:

'...I think we have gone through a period when too many children and people have been given to understand “I have a problem, it is the Government's job to cope with it!” or “I have a problem, I will go and get a grant to cope with it!” “I am homeless, the Government must house me!” and so they are casting their problems on society and who is society? There is no such thing! There are individual men and women and[fo 29] there are families and no government can do anything except through people and people look to themselves first. It is our duty to look after ourselves and then also to help look after our neighbour and life is a reciprocal business and people have got the entitlements too much in mind without the obligations, because there is no such thing as an entitlement unless someone has first met an obligation and it is, I think, one of the tragedies in which many of the benefits we give, which were meant to reassure people that if they were sick or ill there was a safety net and there was help, that many of the benefits which were meant to help people who were unfortunate—“It is all right. We joined together and we have these insurance schemes to look after it”. That was the objective, but somehow there are some people who have been manipulating the system and so some of those help and benefits that were meant to say to people: “All right, if you cannot get a job, you shall have a basic standard of living!” but when people come and say: “But what is the point of working? I can get as much on the dole!” You say: “Look” It is not from the dole. It is your neighbour who is supplying it and if you can earn your own living then really you have a duty to do it and you will feel very much better!” '

http://www.margaretthatcher.org/document/106689

David

The misleading Thatcher quote reminded me of the first item here, by Zoe Williams, another fan of the presumptuous “we.”

Rob

Never forget that George wrote an exultant piece welcoming the global crash in 2008 and the misery it would cause.

He speaks for no one but himself and his fellow (also probably upper class and privately educated) misanthropes.

wtp

I had a scoutmaster as a kid who, whenever one of us said "We need to..." with the implication that someone else might possibly be doing the actual work, would say "Do you have a mouse in your pocket?" It was kind of annoying. It got less so the older I got. I throw it out in meetings on occasion. Now I annoys others. I like it when things work out for the best for me.

Heralder

The use of “we” and also “you” when what is really meant is “I” and “me”

And it’s so casually done, repeatedly, by Happy Larry and many of his colleagues. It’s a Guardian staple. Monbiot claims all of us as feeling exactly as he does. Or says he does. As a rhetorical conceit it’s quite audacious.

Delurking here.

I think the entire point of the "we" and "our" is to form a false consensus, thereby lending weight to his rather specious and narrow-minded claims.

David

Delurking here.

That’s what I like to see.

a false consensus, thereby lending weight to his rather specious and narrow-minded claims.

Bingo.

neal

If the issue is the size of the void, then sharing toilets if off the table.
Have some juice, and leave soon. I mean, he could borrow my shovel, but not the good paper.

JerryC

There's a commercial here in the US that has been bugging me where some girly talks about *her* car in which she says "You've owned your car for four years. You named it Brad. You loved Brad and then you totaled him. You two had been through everything together..."

I hate those Liberty Mutual commercials, all of them. I will never buy insurance from them, ever!

Ray

They are casting their problems on government and who is government? There is no such thing! There are individual men and women working offices furthering their own interests at the expense of everyone else.

With apologies to The Blessed Margaret

DMS

a false consensus

Give that commenter a cigar.

Iowahawk tweeted recently something like "Unless you are my wife, there's no 'our children'".

Ray

Incidentally, most rhetorical devices seem to have formal names, is this the 'presumptive we' or something? I can't find anything on google.

Ted S., Catskill Mtns., NY, USA

Jerry C:

On the other hand, Liberty Mutual also gave us this series of commercials.

David

is this the ‘presumptive we’ or something?

I don’t know if it has a formal name, but ‘presumptive’ sounds a bit too neutral. It doesn’t convey the arrogance and dishonesty of this kind of use. It’s not usually employed for want of more specific information. It’s generally employed as a self-flattering avoidance of further information. It short-circuits the argument, like a kind of question begging.

But then it crops up in an article by George Monbiot, a man who insists that “some deny society exists,” and who rails against “those who believe there is no such thing as society,” while not actually providing any evidence or quotes to that effect, or even saying who those people might be, the ones we’re supposed to hiss at.

Nikw211

The misleading Thatcher quote reminded me of the first item here …

    What’s interesting, though, is the notion that this claim, and by extension any number of others, is ambiently true. Which is to say, it’s assumed as somehow typical - accurate or not - and fits a chosen narrative. Presuming the particulars of what so-and-so might as well have said (or done) – whether or not they did – is ripe with potential. It’s therefore no great surprise that others have taken this strategy much further - to its predictable conclusion.

And that, basically, was Ferguson.

And that was, and perversely in some quarters still is, also Sabrina Erdely's now infamous Rolling Stone article.

And worse still, this is a significant part of Academia, the Clown Quarter as it's been described in these pages.

And almost worst of all is that any criticism of any of the latter is a priori interpreted as also being a lie, a falsehood, but one in support of the 'wrong' ideas.

David

And that, basically, was Ferguson.

Pretty much.

Greg

How ideologically consistent is he? Does he use milk crates for furniture?

Sam Duncan

Nope, doesn't ring any bells. He must mean himself.

“Has anyone at the Guardian ever bothered to read all of Thatcher's 'no such thing as society' quote?”

To be fair, I've always felt she rather mangled the Hayekian principle she was trying to articulate, making all the subsequent misunderstanding and misrepresentation inevitable, but that's hardly the point. But I'd lay money on nobody at the Guardian being able to quote it verbatim.

Re the presumptive “we”, I'm always reminded of the punchline to that old joke about the Lone Ranger and his sidekick Tonto: “What's all this 'we' stuff, Kemo Sabe?”

Jeff Wood

Is it time to make coffee and enjoy a musical interlude?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=79wrXi_5WSw

David

Is it time to make coffee and enjoy a musical interlude?

Well, I’m convinced. I renounce the Patriarchy and all its evils.

Watcher In The Dark

This is the future you chose. Or In Monbiot's case, we chose.

R. Sherman

Reading Monbiot's hand-wringing use of the first person plural reminded me of this bit from The Onion.

David

Heh.

Nikw211

Here’s a fellow protestor expressing his grief via the classic medium of big screen TV theft.

I always knew therapists were overcomplicating things.

Nikw211

Is it time to make coffee and enjoy a musical interlude?

Actually, I can think of few things better suited to representing gender-political Feminism than a gaggle of middle class Oxbridge type women in ball gowns making loud and irritating noises, completely devoid of any meaning.

David

It’s basically atonal nagging.

Nikw211

Not entirely unrelated to the discussion:

    “We can’t understand to this day why the major media never asked Paul about his side,” [his mother] says. “Going back to our own history, the media in western Germany were built upon the model of The New York Times. It was the idea of good journalism, of good fact-checking, of not doing propaganda.”
Stuck-Record

Re "We", see also, "Everybody knows..." "Everybody thinks..." "It's obvious..." "Nobody thinks...anymore".

pst314

"We may have lost our attachments, our communities and our sense of meaning and purpose..."

Monbiot can be proud of the work the Left did to undermine all our social institutions and connections, everything that stood in the way of total rule by the Left.

"...but there will be more money and more stuff with which to replace them."

Monbiot, like Leftists everywhere, certainly finds meaning in life through state control of "money and stuff".

sackcloth and ashes

The key to understanding Monbiot is to realise that he has the same attitude towards modernity as the 'Viz' character Victorian Dad has towards sex.

wtp

Speaking of another form of "we"-ism, this from the intrepid Brian Williams recounting when the helicopter "he was in" got "shot down"...

March 2013: On the ten-year anniversary of the incident, Williams appears on "The Late Show with David Letterman." He says "two of our four helicopters were hit by ground-fire, including the one I was in, RPG and AK-47." He adds, "We figure out how to land safely and we did." The comment suggests that his helicopter were hit, and was part of the same formation.

via Ace: http://acecomments.mu.nu/?post=354789

"We figured out how to land and we did". I'm guessing that took quite a long time in that AFAICT Brian Williams knows nothing about how to fly AND land a helicopter when under fire in a hostile environment...so they would have to take the time to train him up so he could help in that "figuring out" part that he was apparently a part of. Though I'm sure he's a fast learner and stuff.

David

the intrepid Brian Williams recounting when the helicopter “he was in” got “shot down”...

The mighty Iowahawk has been having fun with that one.

Also, Ace.

dicentra

#BrianWilliamsMisremembers and #ThereIWasWithBrianWilliams are pretty good, too.

Bill "Brain Guy on MST3K" Corbett reminds us about sociopathy in high place. Of which there is an abundance.

mojo

Georgie is THE OM - "Original Moonbat"

David

My favourite Monbiot Moment™ is still his attempt to make us envy the peasants of southern Ethiopia, who, he says, are “happier than we are,” who “smile more often” than we do and whose “fields crackle with laughter” because they aren’t being “isolated” by all that wicked capitalism and all those awful material trappings, like double glazing, modern dentistry and TV remote controls.

Heralder

My favourite Monbiot Moment™ is still his attempt to make us envy the peasants of southern Ethiopia, who, he says, are “happier than we are,” who “smile more often” than we do and whose “fields crackle with laughter” because they aren’t being “isolated” by all that wicked capitalism and all those awful material trappings, like double glazing, modern dentistry and TV remote controls.

Yes, that's a beauty. Monbiot failed before he even began; his effort to establish equivalence here is asinine. To take two entirely disparate cultures, and try to measure something elusive as happiness on a uniform scale simply doesn't work.

I'm not surprised he gave it the old college try though. The left is ever enamored with poverty. It allows them to tell their friends at cocktail parties about how much they respect the poor and oppressed people they spent a fortune to go watch from a tour bus, like they were animals in a zoo.

AC1

"My favourite Monbiot Moment™" So all cultures aren't equal?

The Lurker on the Threshold

The left is ever enamored with poverty.

Strictly speaking they're enamoured with someone else's poverty.

Jonathan

“most forms of peaceful protest are now banned”

I think Georges definition of 'peaceful' must be different to most peoples:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1bHOFHyEf0

sackcloth and ashes

'My favourite Monbiot Moment™ is still his attempt to make us envy the peasants of southern Ethiopia, who, he says, are “happier than we are"'.

Yeah. I remember the film footage of them in the '80s smiling and giggling as they starved to death, all because of a certain individual called Mengistu.

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