Totalitarian states define truth as anything that serves them and a lie as anything that doesn’t.
Since such states are based on lies, what they define as a falsehood is usually true and vice versa. Thus actual reality is inverted by the virtual kind: an actual lie is a virtual truth to be rewarded, while an actual truth is a virtual lie to be punished.
It’s refreshing to observe how the same inversion is making inroads on our public life. These days any statement by any public figure is judged on its compliance with the ruling orthodoxy, and often solely on that. Whether or not it’s actually true is irrelevant.
Hence American scientists Richard Hernstein and Charles Murray were viciously attacked and eventually ostracised for their 1994 book The Bell Curve, in which they showed that a person’s IQ has a significant genetic input, which differs from race to race.
This was proved by a vast corpus of scrupulously gathered and analysed data, but that made no difference. The scientists were attacked as ‘racists’ not because either their data or their conclusions were disputed, but because their findings went against the dominant egalitarian ideology. Even though they were actually right, they were virtually wrong, which couldn’t go unpunished.
Totalitarian states punish ‘lies’ by prison or execution, expedients that are still largely outside the reach of modern ‘democracies’. ‘Largely’ is the operative word here, for there already exist a broad array of imprisonable thought offences, but so far legal prosecutions for what people say or think have been rare.
That, however, doesn’t mean such offences go unpunished. It’s just that the ruling orthodoxy uses different methods of punishment.
Public ridicule is one, ostracism is another, harassment is yet another, professional damage another still. For those people whose profession is politics this could effectively mean the end of their careers.
Thus Enoch Powell’s professional life was ended by his annoying familiarity with classical sources. His remarks on the social dangers of an uncontrolled immigration of cultural aliens were prophetic and since then amply vindicated, but no matter. Not only Powell’s career but even his posthumous reputation was destroyed for uttering an actual truth that was adjudged to be a virtual lie.
Nigel Farage can suffer the same fate if he isn’t careful. The other day he was attacked both verbally and physically for saying something that anyone who has ever had to meet a payroll knows: in businesses built on personal relationships with clients, women of child-bearing age, regardless of their otherwise sterling qualities, represent a risk that lowers their market value.
Farage who, unlike his critics, hasn’t spent his whole professional life in politics, said something every businessman knows to be true: “And if a woman has a client base, has a child and takes two or three years off work, she is worth far less to the employer when she comes back than when she went away because her client base will not have stuck rigidly to her.”
Having been involved in running an advertising agency, I can confirm that this is indeed the case. The series Mad Men got a few things wrong, but one thing it definitely got right is that an agency can only ever get accounts, or especially hold on to them, if its employees enjoy good personal relationships with the clients.
There’s usually one such employee, called Account Director or some such, who’s the principal link between agency and account. When such a person leaves, so may the account – and with it the agency’s lifeblood.
Women often excel in the account-handling role, largely on the strength of their administrative and personal skills. They’re also less likely than men to irritate a client by being overly abrasive and argumentative.
However, all those laudable qualities count for nothing when a woman has to take a long time off to give birth and then look after the baby. I’ve seen agencies lose important accounts for this reason alone, which obviously has to make any sensible manager think twice before hiring a young woman for such a position.
She represents a risk that has to be weighed against her value. This doesn’t mean the agency won’t hire her – but it may have an impact on her remuneration and career path. I have no personal knowledge of other businesses, but five gets you ten the situation there has to be the same whenever personal relationships with clients are vital.
Now Labour Deputy Leader Harriet Harman has no personal knowledge of any business outside of politics. Between matriculating at university and gaining a parliamentary seat she spent a few years doing something with civil liberties, which is politics by another name.
Yet she confidently declared that Mr Farage was ‘downright wrong’. “I think,” she added, “that this is an affront to women in this country and I just can’t believe that he’s said that.”
Yes, Harriet, but was it true? I bet no one asked her this question, and if anyone had she would have been perplexed. Farage’s statement is ‘downright wrong’ not factually, but because it goes against the dominant egalitarian ideology. Nothing else matters.
Meanwhile Harriet was on a roll: “There’s not a single business or public service in this country which would still have the lights on if women weren’t there at work.”
One wonders how businesses had managed to stay open until the ‘60s, before women began to enter the workforce en masse. Who said that? You?
Off with your head: you haven’t grasped the modern difference between true and false. But I hope you do realise that we’re rapidly slipping into neo-totalitarianism. You know, the disease whose reliable symptom is wicked inversion of truth.