God, or Allah, might still be in his heaven, but all is definitely not right with the world. Brexit! A woman prime minister takes over from the rarely flappable David Cameron in Britain; in Ireland, the leader who just hauled himself onto the beach of high office after months of negotiation to form a government is now under challenge; in the US, the prospect of President Trump cannot be discounted; and a highly-paid TV presenter, Chris Evans of Top Gear, falls on his sword because of low ratings.
What the hell is going on? As the aforementioned Trump would say, punctuating each word with a shake of his raised hand, index finger pointing up.
Well, I have a theory, and again it has been indicated by that Great Pointer, the Man with the Golden Hair, DJ Trump. Some months ago, during his unforeseen barn-storming of the Republican primary circuit, Trump declared at a rally that “I love the poorly-educated”. Rapturous cheers met this of course, even though it seems odd that people would cheer to hear themselves described as dim. But that seems to be part of the Trump shtick, and there’s a certain amount of evidence that poor education was also a predictor of voting for Leave in the British EU referendum.
This is not to insult anybody. Whether or not a person has an advanced level of education depends on a number of factors, and these are often beyond the control of the individual. Poverty, location, family history, estrangement from a system perceived as irrelevant or inadequate – all these can prevent a prolonged period in formal education. And we all know that there are multiple intelligences, and many valuable forms of being smart cannot be taught at university.
However, education does aim to train the mind, and to increase awareness of the world around us. But analytical power and sophisticated world views appear to be lacking in both Trump-mania, and much of the reasoning, if it can be called that, behind the Leave vote.
Trump’s support lies extensively with blue-collar white males. They’re sick of being pushed around by fancy pants, such as that dreadful President, and former editor of the Harvard Law Review, or the hopeful to be next President, another damned lawyer, former Senator and Secretary of State. Ye gods, these people with knowledge and experience! Doncha hate ‘em.
This hatred of “experts” was also put forward, rather surprisingly, by former Justice and Education Minister Michael Gove, the man who pushed Boris Johnson overboard without realising that such perfidy might not make him the most popular guy around. As the wonderful Faisal Islam told Gove when the MP made his claim that people were sick of experts, “this is Oxbridge Trump!”
For indeed, Gove comes solidly from that “expert class” who appear to have spent their entire lives accumulating degrees, positions of power and influence, the right to tell other people what to do.
But the proletariat is not having it.
Beyond all this, though, is the worrying trend of rejection of learning. Trump and the Leave agitators have been saying, in effect, “you don’t want to listen to people who know what they’re talking about. Follow your gut!”
It’s the triumph of emotion over reason, something that has spread like wildfire through social media, the decline of responsible news dissemination and concentration on instant outrage and performing cats. Oh, and name calling … the law that someone will eventually call their opponent “Hitler” in any online argument now seems as quaint and genteel as drapes over table legs.
For centuries, education has been viewed, pretty well universally, I would think, as the way to improve life, improve one’s chances of material and mental riches, and understand our environment so we can improve it.
But now Trump loves the poorly-educated and Gove turns up his nose at “experts”.
It’s back to the caves, everyone, and burn the books before you go.