Sunday, 24 February 2008

Why Tassano?

I planned to make the fifth 'Fabian Tassano week' post an exploration of the Mediocracy author's thoughts on the 'il-liberal elite' and associated 'ideological correctness'. However, it became apparent that to cover the ins and outs of these anywhere near satisfactorily would require a pamphlet-length tranche of articles, rather than just one post. In short, although I don't see it in quite the same way that Fabian does, I certainly believe that there is something to this argument (i.e. that these exist to some degree, and are not just an invention of the right), and that it is absolutely worth thinking critically about and discussing.

Instead, I thought it would be a good idea to cut to the chase here and explain as succinctly as possible what it is that leads me to gravitate towards Tassano as a top 12 blog and a recommended read.

Before I began this blog, I wrote another, with a somewhat different focus and writing style to this one, called SELECT Privacy. Partly, I began again with a new name because I wished to write about more than ID cards, surveillance and Government databases every post. But also, I chose the name Question That for the new blog because I wanted to take a more analytical, philosophical look at the causes - the underlying, unspoken motivations - of the problems I ranted about on SP. I have deliberately avoided posting too frequently on the aforementioned concerns because there are plenty of other blogs that do so, and I didn't want this to turn into SP Mark II. But...

...the 'surveillance society' (for want of a better phrase) and the ever-increasing intrusion into the lives of individuals by the state are central concerns to me. The likes of NO2ID are excellent at raising awareness, but I consider that to actually halt the march (in the face of the constant advances in the technologies that facilitate these things, such as data storage and image recognition) a fundamental shift in the relationship between State and individual is needed. When I encounter someone (e.g. Fabian Tassano) or some group (e.g. LPUK) who condemn these things, and express the desirability of shifting the balance of power in favour of the individual, I am very interested in what they have to say. This does not, as you'll realise if you've read the previous Fabian Tassano week posts, mean I automatically agree with all of their other arguments too!

I have highlighted Fabian Tassano in particular here on QT since I discovered his writing 6 weeks ago (Link). This is because he is not only a libertarian blogger with strong views that echo my own on state interventionism, but because he attempts to look at why this is so prevalent. If I had to recommend just one post from which this shines through it would be this one. The point of this isn't that it is utterly accurate in all respects, the point is that he is thinking along the right lines*.

*The linking in of the 'liberal media' and 'ideological correctness' does not resonate quite so much with me; that is a separate, perhaps related, issue I find very thought-provoking on either side of the political spectrum.


Fabian Tassano said...

Interesting series of posts on the Mediocracy book and blog.

One quibble. You're being a bit unfair quoting something from the introductory fable about 'Telluria' as if I'm presenting it as a theory of society. ("Because of the heritability of talent and ambition, and the possibility of passing on the financial advantages acquired through aptitude, an entire social class developed in which exceptionality became relatively likely.")

Remember it's intended as satire, even if the points I make in the dictionary part of the book are meant seriously.

"The argument that the presence in society of privileged classes is a consequence of heredity of genetic superiority in the areas of talent and ambition ... appears to be a crucial foundation of Tassano's 'Mediocracy' theory"

That strikes me as far-fetched, without evidence to back it up. I don't believe there is any claim in the book that ability is largely inherited, let alone that such a claim is central to the mediocracy thesis. On the other hand, your implicit claim that the existence of social classes, and the correlation between the position of parents and children, has nothing to do with innate ability or the heritability thereof, strikes me as shaky.

Stephenfromacton said...

Very interesting set of posts, Ian. I didn't really "get" Mediocracy myself, but it's been fascinating to see such a detailed and balanced analysis over the week.

An only semi-flippant question-"What's the difference between challenging the implicit egalitarian assumptions about heritable ability in the modern liberal education system, and being a bit of a snob?" :-)

QT said...

Fabian: I'm not really sure what to make of that response! What did you mean the Telluria fable to represent, if not an unconventional presentation of your theory of how the mediocracy came to be the dominant force in UK culture?

The latter part of your response is less clear still. Are you actually saying that you don't have an opinion either way on the relationship between class and innate ability, you are just challenging the dominant ideology (as in the quote I used towards the end of this post)?