I'm currently reading Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. In it, there's a line of dialogue that goes something like this: "'Intellectual' became the swear word it deserved to be" and that's a quote that immediately springs to mind when I think of the kind of world Nigel Farage, Donald Trump and the Alt Right are trying to create.
This week the World Health Organisation welcomed the decision to ban cigarette sales in the Vatican as of next year, reminding us all that, as tobacco kills 7 million people per year, this is a wise move.
Nigel Farage, a survivor of testicular cancer himself, took to twitter to say this in response:
"The World Health Organisation is just another club of 'clever people' who want to bully us and tell us what to do. Ignore"
For a long time now I've spoken on this blog about 'the rise of the idiots' (a reference to the Chris Morris/Charlie Brooker sitcom Nathan Barley) and I believe it really is coming to fruition with the rise of the alt right, because they are hell bent on making 'intellectual' a swear word; something to discredit, something to hold in utter contempt. They're creating a fairytale world where anyone who doesn't share their world view is a middle class, nanny-state loving, PC-gone-mad snowflake whose read far too many books and never done a decent day's work in their life - it's you against them in a fight for our 'freedoms'. But just what is it that has made them spin intelligence and expertise as a negative, whilst the possession of criticism and contempt for it is a positive trait to any character?
And just why do their followers accept this constant reinforcement of an idea that they are barely educated everymen facing off against 'clever' bullies? Do you have to be an idiot to be a UKIP voter? Nigel Farage seems to think so, and yet consistently calling these voters 'idiots' doesn't actually turn anyone away. In that regard, they really must be idiots then. Either that or people who just don't mind being considered as such.
The catch 22 of all this of course is that the more insulting and absurdly, wilfully ignorant comments Farage et al makes the more those of us on the left react by pointing out how stupid they are being. And the more we point this out, the more ammo the alt right have in claiming we're part of a 'clever club' who believe they have the power to tell people what to do and think.
It's a vicious circle. But please, if you have ever felt that the politics of Farage and the like personally offer something to you, take a moment to consider how it feels to be basically called an idiot by the man you're giving your vote to.