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Monday, April 15, 2024
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HomeCulture WarIn praise of echo chambers

In praise of echo chambers

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I’M making a list of cant phrases which purport to embody hard-won wisdom but which are in fact lazy and ignorant cliches which do the Enemy’s work for him. One is ‘Given the choice between cock-up and conspiracy I’m always inclined to blame cock-up.’ Another is ‘I don’t believe in investing in things I don’t understand.’ The one I want to address today is ‘We don’t want this group to become an echo chamber.’

 Wait? What? I like echo-chambers. I think that echo-chambers are the way forward. Not only are they the place where most of us, quite naturally, feel the most comfortable (among our own kind, in a unit which becomes not unlike our family) but they are also the place where we are most likely to think creatively, imaginatively, productively.

Let me explain with reference to my broadcasting career. For years, especially in my early days as a print journalist, I yearned to be on TV (and radio) because I imagined them to be more glamorous and potentially more lucrative. That’s why I almost never turned down an invitation to go on one of those political debate programmes (usually on the BBC, because that till recently was pretty much the only option) despite the fact that I invariably felt somewhat soiled and disheartened by the experience.

Sure, I might score the occasional modest victory: some witty, damning one-liner with which I had supposedly owned the opposition and which people shared gleefully on social media. More often, though, I emerged from these screen or wireless encounters bruised, bloodied and pathetically grateful if I’d managed to scrape a bare draw. Rarely, if ever, did I manage a satisfying win.

At first I put down my disappointment to inexperience. ‘One day, you’ll get really good at this stuff and then you’ll show ’em,’ I kept telling myself. Somehow, though, this glorious moment never came to pass.

Perhaps, I began to wonder, this was God’s way of telling me that I was not a natural broadcaster? Which is quite possible, I concede. But if that’s the case, how come my podcast is so amazingly good?

No, the real problem, I realise now that I have given up mainstream broadcasting altogether, is the adversarial format in which politics – indeed most social issues – is treated like a Punch and Judy show with two antagonists battling one another.

One example would be the ‘Why is this lying b*stard lying to me?’ interview approach adopted by the likes of Jeremy Paxman. Another would be that TV programme with Andrew Neil moderating, with supposed hard-right Thatcherite Michael Portillo on one side and hard-left Diane Abbott on the other.

This formula has become such a commonplace of mainstream TV that most people don’t realise there’s an alternative. Every now and then someone suggests that I invite on to my podcast some wildly inappropriate guest with whose views I disagree violently.

‘But what would be the point?’ I sometimes reply, if I’m in polite mode. (Or: ‘Have you ever listened to the podcast?’ if I’m not). If my antagonist were practised, silver-tongued and slippery, it would just be an exercise in evasion. Otherwise it would be pure confrontation, which might be entertaining for viewers and listeners, but for participants is stressful, unpleasant and ultimately sterile.

Not only does the adversarial format generate more heat than light but it also effects something more insidious and dangerous. Yes, obviously, it pushes viewer buttons and generates newspaper headlines and excitement on social media. But its primary purpose is to stifle real debate and discussion by setting up false oppositions.

I regularly used to see the process at work whenever I appeared on the BBC’s ‘flagship’ political debate programmes Any Questions (the radio version) and Question Time (the TV version). Invariably I’d find myself on a panel purporting to come from differing parts of the political spectrum – a Greenie, a Labourite, a Conservative, and a regional politician from SNP or Plaid Cymru, say – only to discover them all singing from much the same hymn sheet while I was on my own.

‘But you’re supposed to be a Tory! Why aren’t you saying outspoken right-wing home truths like me?’ I wanted to say to my Conservative MP co-panellist, every time they let the side down with yet more squishy, face-saving pabulum, which was frequently.

What I didn’t fully appreciate then, though I do now, is that I hadn’t really been invited on for my opinions to get a fair hearing. Rather, I was there to be exposed as the token lunatic whose function was to be publicly humiliated. By making an example of me, and people like me, organisations such as the BBC – essentially the propaganda arm of the Deep State – can send a signal to their audience as to which opinions are and aren’t acceptable.

I’m not saying it’s impossible, when you’ve your wits about you and there’s a fair wind behind you, to get across one or two good points with which many viewers and listeners at home (though probably not in the left-dominated studio audience) agree. What I am saying is that you are forever on the back foot, with the odds stacked against you, because all the other panellists and the moderator are on the opposing team.

No matter what label they are wearing (Conservative, Green, SNP, whatever), they all belong to the same corrupt establishment that believes that with just a bit more power and a bit more of your money it can be trusted to make the world a better place. I suspect that most ordinary people, if they understood what was really going on, would resist this tendency. But they often don’t because the nature of the debate has been so relentlessly misrepresented by the media.

Never mind left/right politics, which I think an irrelevant distraction, part of the deception. What I’m talking about here is the relentless war on the individual, tradition, liberty, the family, national identity, religious faith and so on by a globalist, collectivist agenda. Most of us, I believe, are in the former camp. But the viewpoints you see represented in the mainstream media are largely aligned with the latter. This gives a completely skewed impression of where the ‘centre ground’ lies. Normal people with normal views are persuaded that their reasonable position is abnormal.

Essentially this is the Hegelian dialectic. It’s devastatingly effective. Take, for example, green issues. I expect that, if they were asked, the vast majority of people in this country and others would agree with my position on the environment: ‘Yes, I love nature but I also like driving a car, flying on holiday and being able to afford to heat my home.’ We can all agree, I think, that this is most definitely not the position most commonly represented in our newspapers and on mainstream TV and radio.

This is by design, not accident. For decades, certainly since at least the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, the mainstream media has been pushing the Predator Class’s chosen narrative that the planet is doomed, it’s all our fault, and no price is too great to pay, no measure too extreme to adopt, to counter this threat. The evidence to support this thesis is at best flimsy, at worst non-existent. But as Goebbels and others knew, if you make the lie big enough and repeat it often enough, eventually it will acquire the status of received wisdom.

That is why I’m such a fan of echo chambers: they are the exact opposite of what our dark overlords need and want in order to achieve their nefarious aims. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if the originator of the cliche ‘We don’t want to live in an echo chamber’ was, in fact, working for the Cabal. A bit like the terms ‘conspiracy theorist’ or ‘antivaxxer’, it is calculated to stigmatise something that is actually healthy and good.

It is the most natural thing in the world to wish to be among like-minded folk. When you have common interests and values you can talk more freely than if you continually have to second-guess your every remark lest you end up giving someone offence. Certainly, you can still have spirited debate and disagreements, but the points you are debating are more nuanced, unlike like the polar opposite, ne’er-the-twain-shall-meet kind of arguments you encounter in the MSM’s confected, dishonest and manipulative adversarial format.

Lots of people have been fooled into thinking that the BBC formula – pitting, say, an Extinction Rebellion lunatic against someone who thinks cars are more or less OK – represents something called ‘balance’. They consume this stuff and congratulate themselves on how reasonable they are in seeing both sides of the argument. That’s why, when they trot out phrases like ‘We don’t want to live in an echo chamber’, they think it’s because they are mature, well-informed, open-minded. But it’s not. It’s because they’ve been brainwashed.

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James Delingpole
James Delingpole
James Delingpole is host of the Delingpod podcast. The Delingpod: The James Delingpole Podcast (podbean.com)

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