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5 min read

This is a story about liberal arrogance...

Black Sheep

Ah, caps lock, my old friend. Also, exclamation marks: you can never use too many. Do you think if there was more caps lock typing and sentences ended with multiple exclamation marks, we could wake the sheeple from their coma? The sheeple are clearly sleepwalking [or is it shleepwalking?] towards disaster.

While this is self-deprecating humour, it's also mockery of the same old liberal lines that are trotted out instead of any kind of nuanced counter-argument.

During Brexit, I noticed that people on both sides would say "I can see you're far too intellectually inferior to be able to have a debate, therefore this argument is over and I won". I lament the loss of anybody who can actually be bothered to have a proper debate, without being so childish.

Your white-trash, redneck, poorly educated person is now incredibly bored with the tried and trusted liberal short-cuts that supposedly immediately discredit an opponent in a debate. "Bigot" is a particularly charged word, and guarantees instant disengagement by the disenfranchised members of the public, being browbeaten by a group of elites who consider themselves morally superior.

I'm as guilty of it as anybody.

But, I've also noticed a kind of pathetic infighting amongst the intelligentsia.

Firstly, one must overcome the snobbery of the grammar Nazis. For your argument to even be considered it must be deemed to have attained certain standards. The most innocent spelling mistake will become the focus of commentary, rather than the points raised by the original author, no matter how eloquently the central argument is presented.

Having established oneself as 'a cut above the rest' there is one kind of ad hominem attack that succeeds where all others might fail. All one has to do to win the argument is write "WAKE UP SHEEPLE!!!" in mockery of your opponent's attempt to make a reasoned argument and reach a sensible conclusion. Essentially, you're accusing somebody of being a nutjob; a raving madman. Case closed. End of debate.

Our asylums are stuffed full of 'visionary' people, and those seized by absolute conviction that the end of the world is nigh. However, do we not also laud that tiny handful of individuals who successfully predict recessions, stock market crashes, credit crunches, housing crises and other cataclysmic man-made events?

Why is it that a stock market trader or hedge fund manager, who might make a good living from short selling - betting against the market - is considered a highly intelligent person - cloaked in the mystery of mathematical models - while others who also forecast negative events, are dismissed as lunatics?

Humans always err on the positive side. There is a psychological test where participants bet money and win precisely as much as they lose. In this randomised gambling experiment, most test subjects will report that they think they're making a profit, even though they're breaking even. Even when the experiment is adjusted so that the participants are losing money, most will still think that the course of events is in their favour.

It's undeniable that we do see a herd mentality amongst groups of humans. The accusation of sheep-like behaviour is entirely valid and well supported by evidence. Stock market crashes are created by market sentiment not by external events. When investors collectively lose confidence, there's a rush for the door. The sheep line up for slaughter, even though by selling their stock, they're going to lose money.

Bank runs are another great example. The FCA underwrites deposits - your savings are safe - but we still saw long lines of people queuing up to withdraw cash from Northern Rock, during the credit crunch. That's a bank run, and it's driven by sheeplike behaviour. The panic is not rational. It's animalistic behaviour, not calculated and logical.

The well-educated middle classes have turned on one another, in this zero-growth second Great Depression. Research grants are at stake. Well paid middle-management jobs are at stake. The baby boomers are trying to collect excessively generous pensions. For God's sake don't even breathe, for the whole house of cards may come tumbling down at any moment. We are so highly leveraged - indebted - that one hiccup and we're all screwed. 

We should remember that the working-class are more numerous than the middle-class. While the working-class wail inarticulately about their poverty and lack of opportunities, the middle-class lock themselves into an echo-chamber of Facebragging and snobbery. Whenever somebody is critical of the status quo, we quickly shut them down by typing "WAKE UP SHEEPLE!!!" to bully them into submission.

Personally, having safely circumnavigated the City of London - and profited - during the dot com crash, 9/11, the commodity price boom (and bust), the credit crunch and Bitcoin's ups & downs, I feel rather like Cassandra.

Dismiss and ignore me at your peril.