No judgement, no dogma and no T-shirts with words on themby Howard Jacobson / September 18, 2014 / Leave a comment
Forget spring. If I ruled the world every day would be the first day of autumn. It’s autumn that concentrates the mind on serious things and we are dying of triviality. We are dying of hatred and brutality as well, of course, but I will be no fantasist despot. I will change only what’s within my power to change, in order that life might be a little more dignified for those fortunate enough to escape the violence.
A Minister for Scepticism will be my first appointment, and he will be in his job for no more than a month to prevent his scepticism degenerating into dogma. No dogma can be tolerated. Any thinker, writer or politician caught in the vicinity of an ideology—embracing one view because it accords with another or contributes to a worldview or schema—will be subject to house arrest and made to read the works of authors he politically abominates. It would be mandatory for anyone in the business of expressing views to demonstrate that in any single week he has moved at least once to the left of prevailing opinion, at least once to the right, and the rest of the time has had no truck with prevailing opinion at all. Beliefs, at all levels of society, are to be abjured.
Make no mistake: I will prove to be the People’s Potentate, benign to the point of indulgence when it comes to the animal appetites and affections of the populace. But just as the people cannot be trusted with a conviction, so they cannot be allowed to exercise what they see as their democratic right to pass judgement. They can exchange what gossip and photographs of themselves they choose on social media, but the minute they are caught disclosing how far into a book they are—as if anyone gives a monkey’s—or announcing how many stars they intend to award it—as though their verdict is of the slightest value—their accounts will be closed. That what passes as judgement is most of the time no more than a description of the limitations of the person passing it will be an axiom of my rule.
There will be no musicals performed that were written after 1950, and no chorus…