Friday, 11 January 2008

Mediocracy - Fabian Tassano

Last weekend I posted about my discovery of Fabian Tassano's blog Inversions & Deceptions; the online spin-off from the book I received on Tuesday and review here.

Note: As far as reasonably possible I am reviewing the book in this post, rather than the ideas

Fabian Tassano - 'Mediocracy: Inversions and Deceptions in an Egalitarian Culture'

This book does not, as you might expect, consist of an extended argument against the developments described in the essays and blog posts linked to in last weekend's post. Instead, it consists of a short (and rather unsubtle) allegorical 'fable', followed by a Devil's Dictionary-like lexicon that comprises the majority of the book's content. I feel that the book would have benefited from an appendix or two containing some of Tassano's more conventional structured argument in favour of the theory that can be found on the website.

I suspect that the format makes it unlikely to change the mind of anyone not already familiar with Tassano and the concept of pseudo-egalitarianism on the political issues underlying the satire. The division of topics alphabetically rather than by how they are linked means that it can appear that 'mediocracy' is a fairly arbitrary collection of aspects of modern life to which the author objects.

Indeed there are some issues to which Tassano repeatedly returns that seem to me to be shoehorned into the theory because they are particular bugbears of his. On-screen violence, for instance, seems to be a particular Tassano hot button ('Fun' is illustrated with a quote from a review of 'Reservoir Dogs').

I find a lot more sympathy with others of his arguments, and as I wrote last weekend had independently observed some of the same Newspeak-esque ideologically motivated redefinition of certain words prior to happening upon Inversions & Deceptions. Readers of Comment is Free will instantly recognise Tassano's redefinition of 'poverty'. The redefinition of 'society' resonates with the concept of collectivism I discussed late last month.

Altogether, though, the combination of some disparate concepts and opinions and labelling them 'mediocracy' that this book attempts leads to a whole that is rather less than the sum of its parts. Chances are, like me, most relatively neutral people who read this will find that they agree with, or at least 'see where he is coming from on', some of the discrete arguments that each word in the lexicon comprises - but others will baffle.

I'd recommend this book to leftists/collectivists because it represents a great insight into the way the opponents of left-wing ideologies see the world. I'd recommend it to conservatives and libertarians because it contains a wealth of ideas and some genuinely shocking quotes. And I'd recommend it to anyone who is interested in politics and open-minded because it is full of starting points for some intriguing debates.

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