How to talk, simply, about stories that we’re inside of? Fish, water, British neoliberalism etc

How to talk about the British neoliberal story, and an alternative, simply and succinctly?

Referring to David Cameron and the pig-gate allegations, he said to me: “It just makes him more of a legend, doesn’t it?”

On the day the pig-gate allegations hit newspaper front pages, I stopped to look at the headlines in a supermarket in North London. A middle aged man saw me looking at the newspapers, and referring to David Cameron, he said to me: “It just makes him more of a legend, doesn’t it?”. I was expected to agree.

I did try to reply, but couldn’t stammer out a coherent response about the weirdness of the story, or the peculiar situation that is needed to produce it.

Where to begin? There was so much that could be said, but I found it difficult to articulate a succinct answer. I couldn’t easily call upon the necessary language. I was muddling-up facts and concepts.

Later, trying to figure out why I had no useful response, (even accounting for my mental limitations etc) I went looking for reasons.  Why could I not explain, in easily understandable terms, that pig-gate is the tip of a weird iceberg, that surely Britain might want to consider an alternative story?

(I’m trying to avoid mentioning “neoliberalism”, capitalist realism etc – but failing).

Reasons why I could not answer in easily understandable terms?

Reasons why I could not answer in simple terms, may include:

  • I’m living inside a story (neoliberalism etc) that surrounds me, and permeates my views. How to explain water to a fish? Can I even be aware of the water?
  • My ‘window of discourse‘ has been decided for me, over the past 37 years.
  • The story keeps changing, adapting to the environment
  • The story is complicated, and has many facets. It’s hard to pin down.
  • I’m being lied to – so cannot be sure of what the story is (look for any mention of Jeremy Corbyn in most British newspapers).
  • Most explanations of the British story are by academics and are inaccessible to most people.
  • The majority of people have no interest in a new story. Even if the current story is harming themselves and their families.
  • I’m a pretentious idiot, still unaware of my limitations.
  • A combination of all of the above.

So, how to explain the British neoliberal story, and an alternative, simply and succinctly?

Here are a few ideas:

  • Describe the story. Create a timeline. Pin it down.
  • Answer the frequently heard arguments with evidence.
  • Explore why people do not want to hear about alternative stories.
  • Describe an alternative story.
  • Based on the above research, prepare simple explanations – perhaps in single paragraphs.

Making a start: explaining the British neoliberal story


In any case, it’s surely time to insert the mandatory George Orwell reference:

“The Party said that Oceania had never been in alliance with Eurasia. He, Winston Smith, knew that Oceania had been in alliance with Eurasia as short a time as four years ago. But where did that knowledge exist? Only in his own consciousness, which in any case must soon be annihilated.

“And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed— if all records told the same tale—then the lie passed into history and became truth.

‘Who controls the past,’ ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.’ … ‘Reality control’, they called it: in Newspeak, ‘doublethink’” –
1984, by George Orwell

See also

Part One of Making a start: Talking about the British neoliberal story, and alternatives, simply and succinctly.