Towers of Babel are all around us

TowerBlocksSecondary schools in Scotland now teach classes in what they call ‘small talk’, but what is in fact the basic skills of humans talking to one another in the human language.

The Scots have realised that the pandemic absence of such skills makes the wee tots unemployable in any other than the most menial tasks, a level field in which they’ll have to compete with Bulgarian migrants.

Allan MacGregor, the chief executive of The Bing Group, which funded the first such course, said his firm was committed to “developing the workforce of tomorrow by helping young people hone the interpersonal skills required to impress and succeed”.

At the risk of offending Mr MacGregor, one could suggest that, if that sentence is any indication, his own verbal skills could do with some honing, but that’s not the point. Neither is the noble purpose of improving young people’s job prospects, though that’s probably part of it.

The point is that the young generation seems to be losing the gift of human speech altogether. If so, then the consequences will be far worse than Anglophone natives losing out to Bulgarian migrants in the economic rough-and-tumble.

In God’s eyes, erecting “a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven” with the subsequent disintegration of language was severe punishment: “Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.”

It would never have occurred to the Old Testament writers that a time would come when inflicting a Babel on the world would be done not by God as a way of unleashing his wrath, but by some men as a way of brutalising others.

Just riding a London bus for half an hour (mine is the 22, which runs through some of the best parts of town) and listening to schoolchildren talk will tell you all you need to know. Our education is cranking out millions of little Mowglis devoid of the gift of human speech.

The situation is far worse than many people imagine. Sure enough, one hears many complaints that youngsters don’t know basic grammar, that they can’t express themselves precisely, never mind elegantly, that they can’t write a paragraph that makes sense. All that is true, but alas it’s not the whole truth.

A large and ever-growing segment of our young generation can’t talk at all, never mind with precision or, God forbid, elegance. They communicate not in coherent sentences, but in grunts, interjections and some encoded semiotic signals. That wastes the advantage of being human, indeed brings their very humanity in doubt, for surely speech is a distinguishing characteristic of our species.

It’s fashionable to blame social networks and other electronic media for this catastrophe, and they do probably have a destructive role to play. Yet my friends and I communicate with one another mostly through electronic media, and sometimes we even share our thoughts with the ether of Facebook – this without losing the ability to converse in complete sentences, even in languages other than our own.

We’re products of a different education, or rather self-education, for fundamentally there’s no other. As children, we were motivated, largely self-motivated, to read increasingly longer books, to discuss increasingly more involved subjects, to ponder increasingly more difficult problems.

Language was essential to such activities, and they were essential to honing and expanding our language. This is elementary to the point of banality, but the ensuing question is neither elementary nor banal: Why do most of today’s youngsters lack such motivation, or self-motivation if you’d rather?

Why do our schools allow them to communicate in feral grunts, which even turns their faces feral? Why do their families let them get away with incarcerating themselves in the tower of Babel? Don’t the schools and families realise the calamitous social and cultural consequences of such animalisation?

Some probably do, but that doesn’t matter. Most schools and, more and more, families are run by the state, and the state is run by a small elite that stands to gain everything and lose nothing from this lamentable situation.

By and large, I subscribe to the cock-up theory of history, not the conspiracy one. But it’s hard not to ascribe wicked designs to the people who systematically turned the education system that was the envy of the world into its laughingstock.

People so dumbed down that they can’t grasp the simplest of concepts, nor even express themselves in anything resembling human speech, are putty in the hands of those who seek unlimited and unquestioned control. Nowadays it’s the absence of knowledge that’s power.

Language is how we perceive and express thoughts. Primitive (not to be confused with simple) language betokens a primitive mind – which is exactly the type of mind that prevents people from seeing that our politicians speak in nothing but solecisms, non sequiturs and lies.

Every governing elite fashions a system of public education that educates the public to accept the governing elite. Our politicians can only stay in their ivory tower if their flock lives in the Tower of Babel. QED.



1 thought on “Towers of Babel are all around us”

  1. Well, thank you for that. I only just imagined that I was depressed, now I am quite sure of it. I’ve said before, for those who believe in mindless evolution, what is to say it cannot go backwards?

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