Monday, 25 May 2020

Rainbows and Union Jacks: The lability and shallowness of symbolism in this collapsing world

I was driving arund Newcastle and Northumberland today; and saw quite a lot of houses decorated with a combination rainbows and union jacks; and slogans in support of the National Health Service.

This is interesting as an illustration at the way symbols can be - all but instantly - re-purposed in this non-culture we inhabit. Until the-day-before-yesterday - the rainbow was a symbol of support for the agenda of sexual revolution (i.e. the global Establishment program for corruption and sexual abuse of children); while displaying the Union Jack was associated with working class skinheads specifically, and 'right wing' nationalism in general. Those who 'proudly' displayed the QWERTY rainbow would certainly not display the union jack, and would despise or hate those who did.

Yet here we are; the symbols of Left and (sort-of) Right instantly adopted with a different meaning, that apparently everybody instantly understands: solidarity behind the (if 'necessary') permanent agenda of lock-down-social-distancing.

This shows, on the one hand, that symbolism does not have the kind of objective power that it used to have; mainly because all symbolism is both weak and subjective; further, that human subjectivity is now porous to the mass of in-putting stimuli that is the mass-social media.

On the other side; it shows that the Establishment still have a use for this symbolism; not least because adopting it quickly and eagerly is a signal of obedience.

Because decorating one's home with flags and signs used to be (until very recently) regarded as an infra dig, lower class, 'blue collar' kind of thing - whereas the current rainbow-union-jackites include  the upper middle class, professionals, public sector bureaucrats... Readers of the Guardian and Independent 'newspapers'; those who regard the BBC as an impartial organisation. 

In sum; the new symbolism is of those who aspire loyally to serve the the new Global Totalitarian Dictatorship - and they don't care who knows it!


Matthew T said...

I don't know, I see encouragement here, in several ways.

First off, as I have been saying for some time now, although it breaks my heart to see how the beautiful symbol of the rainbow has been misused in recent times, that (ahem) misuse is going to turn out to have been very short-lived in the grand scheme of things. This underscores that.

Secondly, the business about upper middle class professionals getting in on flag-waving. How is this not positive? I say it is positive, in view that one of the biggest problems today is the way that "highbrow" upper-middle and "lowbrow" blue collar have been pitted against each other.

Witness the fact that during the American Civil War (I think it was the civil war?), Harvard fielded a fine complement of sturdy troops. Witness the way that the extinguishing of violence (duels, etc.) among the upper classes surely contributed to to the weakening and effeminization of society.

The point being, it's important to get the upper classes "on board" with any movement of national importance. (Winston was wrong that if revolution comes, it will come from the proles.)

And if you want to say that the upper classes have here, today, gotten behind an evil movement with their flag-waving - okay, fine. But I can't help seeing it as an amusing positive, to think of upper middle class strivers actually flying the national flag unironically. It proves there's a spark of national pride inside everyone.

Bruce Charlton said...

@MT - Motivation is the point. Most people will do, or not do, anything they are told - that is clear; so what they do is irrelevant. Positive change must come from positive motivations - we won't get good from evil intent. Until people are internally motivated to do Good, then what people are currently doing, or not doing, is irrelevant; and no good will come of it. Spiritual awakening must come First.