The other day I was reading a certain business paper and came across an article on the Financial Technology industry, or ‘FinTech’ for short. Unfortunately it turned out not to really be about FinTech, but yet another of the tiresome feminist tracts that particular paper publishes to an almost obsessive degree.
You can guess the contents: at the same time as lauding FinTech as an immensely successful and rapidly growing business sector in which Britain leads the world, it admonished it for its lack of gender diversity at senior levels. One just has to marvel at the circular logic of it all: wasn’t the whole point of diversity that it is supposedly good for business? Instead, FinTech’s lack of diversity is clearly no barrier to its commercial success – at least at this stage of its development.
Who writes such anti-intellectual rubbish in an otherwise serious and highly respected paper? Then it struck me: the people who write it probably don’t believe a word of it, and nor do the editors who commission it. Instead, the whole purpose of such articles is to give a piccolo frisson of self-validation to the rich metropolitan liberals who comprise a chunk of its readership, and on whom the advertising revenue of the said publication will heavily depend. Media content is largely driven to support advertising revenue and thus the prism of reporting and views reflected is inevitably biased towards the wealthiest section of its audience.
Perhaps a similar effect explains British social conservatism’s complete cultural rout in recent years. The second half of the 20th century onwards were always going to be a tough one for social conservatives: rapidly rising prosperity, the invention of birth control, the sexual revolution and latterly the ascendancy of a gilded metropolitan elite were hugely powerful historical forces in favour of liberalism. That said, social liberalism’s now total cultural dominance could probably have been avoided.
Surely the progressive stripping away of tax advantages from the most conservative elements in society – the married family (mostly, it should be said, by so-called “Conservative” governments) – was a major factor in social conservatism’s eventual eclipse. As surplus income – the holy grail for advertisers as the most lucrative forms of advertising rely on creating demand for luxury items you don’t really need – moved ever more towards the young, single or childless demographics, the entire advertising culture moved with it: Oxo Mum departed stage left, Cosmo Girl held centre stage.
Even more cynically, advertisers had a vested interested in keeping us single for as long as possible, which explains the hideous misandry of the industry in the 1990s: young, single women were spending freely and advertisers were determined to keep them that way. As the demands of advertisers changed, the content of both broadcasting and newspapers inevitably moved to accommodate them. Thus the entire public culture – in the sense of the culture we consume on a daily basis via the media – became almost entirely dominated by liberal views.
Of course, this situation was self-feeding: liberalism became a runaway train. We know all the result – a train crash.