Nerdish Persuaders

To add to my instant review of the Channel 4 ‘Brexit’ drama below: of course its main point has to do with the way democracy can be subverted by these clever modern and technical extensions of the old ‘Hidden Persuaders’ techniques, which is why the nerd Dominic Cummings (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) is its main character; and why so much else is omitted or downplayed, like the part played by the right-wing press. It’s also why characters like Boris, Michael Gove and even Farage appear as scarcely more than comic walk-on parts, like Hamlet’s grave-diggers (an apt simile, I feel), which won’t exactly boost their egos. Cameron is treated even worse: he’s played by his own shallow self (with TV news footage). The point being made here is that power in our modern so-called democracy has now passed out of the hands of politicians, into those of billionaires and the amoral technocrats they can afford to hire to effect their will; not only in Britain, but also in the USA, as is pointed out at the end of the film. This also affects the political discourse of the day, in which expertise and ‘truth’ itself are being widely mistrusted and devalued – simply there to be manipulated for other and usually nefarious ends.

But the film was also as good as I think could be expected in a 90-minute format, on the motives and feelings of Brexit-voters in June 2016; illustrated here by means of an acted-out ‘focus group’ which managed to convey the frustrations of ‘ordinary people’ – both with their material conditions and with the political elite – very feelingly. This section backed up to the hilt my own analysis of the reasons for the vote, which had little essentially to do with ‘Europe’. Surely everyone but the most extreme (and usually public school-educated) ideological Europhobes can see that now.

About bernardporter2013

Retired academic, author, historian.
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1 Response to Nerdish Persuaders

  1. TJ says:

    David Cameron should be judged harshly by history for risking the national interest to deal with the internal dynamics of the Tory Party through an unnecessary Referendum. One can’t imagine even the much derided John Major doing such a thing even though he suffered from Brexiteers just as much. . What an act of total irresponsibility, and with that old Etonian mix of arrogance and plausible charm, in which that place specialises, he no doubt thought the campaign would be a walk-over. Even though he could not have anticipated the Brexit campaigners with such a kamikaze attitude to the economic well-being of the country with their fantasies of patriotic nostalgia, he should have because most of them were in the Tory Party or close to it.

    Liked by 1 person

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