I hate groupthink and what’s worse, there’s no escape. I’ve been there: Catholic, Marxist, teacher, musician – even writer – the effect is the same. Consciously or unconsciously you censor your mind. You can say that you don’t – like St Peter said he’d never deny Christ. And then the cock crowed.
The truth is you tailor your words and, if you’re not careful, your thoughts to a wider group view. There is a liberal/radical consensus, a tribe that can be insufferably smug, as though believing they are the repository of all that is truthful and good.
There are ‘rednecks’ gun lobbyists, euro sceptics, Tories, Neo Cons, Protestants, Catholics, Wiccan, Jedi and atheists - more tribes than you can shake a stick at and the bottom line is that each of them have probably the same measure of goodness and generosity of spirit. It’s just hard to discern and sometimes harder to acknowledge this without howls of protest from whichever tribe you happen to find yourself in.
The most insidious group think in this country is the BBC. You never get the news. You get an interpretation. It is good that I sit in the dark and alone with only a teapot for company when I put on the Today programme. The gloom is punctuated with much irritation, sometimes loud curses my wife wouldn’t tolerate. It’s the complacency, occasional self-importance, giggling undertone, snide asides and pharisaic questioning nudging the listener along the right tracks. Over the years it's become worse, a sly, benign intolerance.
The boast is objectivity, allowing every voice to be heard - only some voices are more equal than others. It is easy to ‘encourage dissident views’ if you select carefully and control the debate, then what you’re getting is the illusion of impartiality; not free ranging but battery thought.
The main stream media patronises and infantilises large swathes of the population and relentlessly pushes its sense of the truth. And yes, you may say, Fox news is worse; better the BBC than News Corporation. Well, in my opinion, what’s worse is having only one ‘tribal’ view. Having a yin but no yang.
Humans are tribal. I like to think I’m not but I am. I belong to the tribe that loathes anyone who ‘knows’ the truth. And the BBC reminds me of the Renaissance Catholic Church in that respect. It has many virtues and the vices of a monopoly. Ah, time for another cup of tea - or something stronger.