Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Sociology professor Frank Furedi: "We don’t need a self-appointed clerisy deigning to make us more aware"

 "I don’t have much patience for people who deny climate change"
Barack Obama

Barack Obama and the other "awareness raisers" should read what sociology professor Frank Furedi has to say about them:

Whenever the phrase ‘they just don’t get it’ makes an appearance, it’s a signal for closing down discussion. What’s the point of arguing with climate sceptics who reject The Science? They just don’t get it! It’s pointless to debate with someone who questions awareness itself – that is, the awareness advocate’s version of reality. They just don’t get it!

The most important word in the phrase ‘they just don’t get it’ is ‘they’. This word highlights what is most significant about the practise of awareness-raising, which is the drawing of a moral contrast between them and us. Although the word ‘us’ is left unsaid, the sentence ‘they just don’t get it’ provides a signal through which those who claim to possess awareness can recognise one another. It implies a shared view of the world that is based on mutual comprehension and intelligence. It’s a highly charged phrase; it sends a message to allies which says that, unlike those incorrigible deadbeats, ‘we’ are really aware of the issues at stake.
The presumption of superiority by those blessed with the insight to ‘get it’ is intertwined with contempt for the ability of ordinary people to exercise moral independence. People cease to be regarded as responsible citizens, and instead they’re perceived as creatures in need of being saved from themselves. In the past, the idea that people needed to be saved was justified on religious or philosophical grounds. Today, however, the Elect have not been chosen by God; they express their ambitions through the language of expertise that draws on behaviour-management theories and psychobabble, rather than in Biblical language.
We don’t need a self-appointed clerisy deigning to make us more aware. What society really requires is a public sphere that takes its citizens seriously – a sphere in which there is open discussion among equal citizens, who are quite capable of achieving enlightenment and clarity without needing their hands held by awareness-raisers.

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