The Idea of a New Dark Age
There is of course a lot of discussion about whether we had an actual Dark Age when the Roman Empire withdrew from these shores in the 5th century. Currently, it’s considered a bit of bad form to suggest that we went from a period of culture, art, science and engineering under the Romans to some sort of Monty Pythonesque early medieval idiocy of superstition and mud.
While the concept of a Dark Age might not be popular, nobody has really contradicted the Enlightenment- a period marked by it’s more rational and scientific approach to the world that started in the 17th Century. It was seen as an age of reason against an age of religion/superstition.
I have had a nagging doubt for a little while now that we’ve been gently edging towards the exit of an extended period of science and rational development. A lot of my “evidence” has been vague- for example the NRA’s narrative that the way to stop nutjobs shooting everybody is to have more guns not less guns, doesn’t strike me as particularly rational- but I think a lot of what has happened during our referendum has really supported my idea that we’re entering a new Dark Age.
The evidence for a new Dark Age
I’ve seen the Leave campaign described as Warm Ale & Spitfires- focusing on an imaginary nostalgic image of our country that never really existed and certainly can’t exist in today’s world.
It was a campaign that won though, so perhaps it’s focus on rhetoric and “facts” that didn’t bear even the lightest scrutiny are an indication that we’re exiting a rational age. Let’s look at the evidence shall we?
Gove’s declaration on live TV that “people in this country have had enough of experts” was such an odd declaration that even the staunchly Tory Telegraph described it as a “sinister strain of anti-intellectualism“. He was right though, various independent fact checks of both campaigns have shown that the Leave campaign had next to no truth behind (m)any of their assertions, while the Remain campaign was mostly truthful. This appeared to not matter though, and since there haven’t been riots in the street when Farage reneged on the “We send £350m a week to the EU, lets fund our NHS instead” pledge before 7am on the morning after the referendum, I assume that many that voted Leave never actually believed it in the first place.
The mind truly boggles. How is it possible to be so ill-informed that you not only think that leaving the EU will somehow reduce refugees from Syria, but also to be so certain of your view, you’re willing to express it on national television?
And of course he’s not the only one. We’ve got people saying their sick of immigrants taking their jobs when they’ve not actually tried to even get a job:
And you also have frankly absurd pencil conspiracy which saw Brexiters worried about an MI5 plot to rub out their votes if they didn’t place their cross in pen.
I wrote extensively last week about what I called Vox Horibilis– the tendency of people to say terrible things based on a general acceptance of relativism, or the belief that there is no absolute truth so all opinions are equally valid. I’ve seen various think pieces this week about how we are in a post fact society now and what the implications of that are. The problem is really that we no longer seem to value learning. The very people who don’t value knowledge or learning are those that will suffer the most from their ill informed voting preferences. These individuals want to feel as though their opinion matters, as though they are the equals of those who studied the facts in detail, compared both campaigns and weighed the evidence. And in a funny way their opinion, however flawed and based on misconceptions, misunderstanding or ignorance, has proven to be more important- they won the referendum.
How long will it be before we have another “It wasn’t supposed to be like this” sobbing statement on Question Time, only for us to realise we can’t change this in 5 years time, this time we’re stuck with it.
At work someone who voted out said the result was the EU’s fault for not telling us who ran the EU. It took less than 5 seconds to Google “EU commissioners”, so I’m sorry, you voted out, you must take responsibility for what happens next.
Don’t blame the EU, don’t blame the lies told by the Leave Campaign . A decision of this magnitude required respect from everyone that voted and if individuals were too lazy or ignorant to properly research the situation, that is nobodies fault but theirs and they must not only live with the outcome, they must take responsibility for bringing it about.
Of course they won’t take responsibility as the age of reason is over, someone else will be to blame and that apportionment won’t even make sense.
Welcome to the new Dark Age.