The word 'dissensus' came to me while I was sitting on the 28th floor of Centrepoint a few weeks ago.
They took me to the top of the mountain
The view was of course stunning, literally sublime: London in all its unmanageable vastness, seen from both above and from its very heart. It was high, so high, and with the long table in front of you and the metropolis below, you felt like you should be crushing the economies of third world countries.
I was there for a meeting about Moodle, which is a 'Virtual Learning Environment', a fairly new - and, so it would turn out, very exciting - open source educational software application. I knew nothing about it and when were 'put into groups' by the Blairite Komissar in charge, I simply asked what were the merits of Moodle as opposed to using html. Cue black looks and frowns from the initiates. The Komissar, who has joined our group, tells me, in the nicest possible way of course, that I 'seemed to be sceptical and might like to think about my attitude.'
Aha! So being sceptical is pathological now. Rude. I geddit.
Course, quick as a flash, I replied. 'Yeh... and you 'might like to think about' being a Blairite managerialist.'
'Blairite?' He replied, clearly stunned at having his politesse challenged. At being counter-pathologized.
Later, a woman from Dublin College, also in our group, launches a not-before-time assault on Powerpoint ('death by bullet point'.... 'something used by people with no charisma...', as someone rightly said on Danny Baker's radio show this week). She pointed out that she had done a presentation a few weeks ago and people had been appalled and outraged that SHE DID NOT HAVE POWERPOINT. As she rightly argued, if you have an organized mind, there really is little need for Powerpoint.
Cue Komissar, again. 'Powerpoint? Rubbish? It's just a tool isn't it?'
I didn't say the following, but I wish I had: Well, not really Mr Progtech Microsoft, that's a rather naive view of technology donchathink ... Technology, especially MS techology, has a tendency to induce behaviours, it does not 'enable' some pre-existent human 'creativity' ... (Sure, there can be innovative uses of Powerpoint, but we all know what the Standard use of Powerpoint involves... total redundancy... banal bullet points apologetically talked through.. sentences tailing off... 'well, as you can see...'.... all in the name of 'Professionalism'....)
Blairite power IS microsoft... in every sense... diffuse... emolliating... blandly inescapable....
And you only see its real face when you challenge it, step outside the smothering consensus of politeness.
The English master class are the only people for whom hypocrisy is not only acceptable, but obligatory.
'Yes, yes, you have a grievance, yes, of course things are totally unjust. But there are ways of going about things, old chap. Procedures. Aggression, confrontation, they never get anything done, do they? (And after all, they are a little vulgar, don't you think?) Now, that's not what I'm saying, I think your intensity is admirable, but other people, well. They're not quite so intelligent. They won't understand. So I would advise moderating it a bit. For your own sake. Carry on like this and things might get uh difficult for you....'
Stupidity and cowardice are always the stupidity and cowardice of the other.
Power is always the power of the big other, that which speaks through you and of whom you speak.