One concept we keep coming across is that of a “silent majority.” It is a concept easily ridiculed, because if they are the majority, why are they silent?
It is also a concept that proves itself again and again. The early eruptions of tea parties here, the demonstration I attended in Portugal when I was (I think) sixteen.
The problem is that “the silent majority” brings up the wrong image. This is not a crowd of people sitting at attention, stewing, unable to speak.
A more accurate name would be “the have a life majority.”
I got obsessed with politics early by being exposed to the fact that while I might want to ignore politics, politics doesn’t ignore me, and if you give people with power their head soon enough they’re intruding into your innocent pleasures: cancelling ballet classes; mandating you spend whole days painting murals; decreeing that your grade be by vote of the class… that type of nonsense. And worse.
So I follow politics like a guard dog following an intruder. But most people don’t. Even my husband has no clue what I’m exercised about at any given time. (Weirdly younger son inherited mom’s issue and he’ll roam around the house periodically going “Marshall smash” for reasons his father can’t fathom, relating to names he can’t recognize.)
I figure it’s kind of like most people are interested in the lives of celebrities and I just don’t get it. Not meaning to say the lives of celebrities affect our daily lives or are interesting, but I figure that’s what most people think of politics too: too far away, too remote, too boring.
Are these people the majority? I’d guess so. From conversations heard in public spaces, even among the supposed cogniscenti, they might be an hyper majority. Most people don’t understand anything of politics, and care even less. In fact, most people think of politics as the business of people running for office.
But, Sarah, you say, what about the left which is on all the time? Oh, most of them, except for the ringleaders, don’t really care either. It’s just that “making progressive noises” is considered akin to “saying I’m a good person.” That’s because the messages put out by our education, media, entertainment and even art in the last 100 years are so stilted as to equate “having progressive ideas” with “being a good person.”
What they’re doing is the equivalent of artists and noblemn in the middle ages making extremely Catholic noises, even though when you dig into their lives, most of them weren’t any better than current day celebrities. I mean, DO keep in mind that Henry VIII pre-reformation, often listened to six or seven masses a day. Yeah, he sure was a pious and well behaved gentleman. Except for all the mistresses and all the byblows.
The truth of it was that they didn’t REALLY believe anymore than the masses on the left really believe in progressive ideals. Oh, if pressed, they’ll parrot them, and if endangered they scream them, but this is all “look at me, look at me, I’m a beautiful and good person.” Which btw, is how leftism persists as a positional good after communist country after communist country has been exposed as a sewer of moral corruption and material poverty.
So they’re louder, but they’re just as uninterested in truth and in what is going on in fact. They just want to show they’re nice and thoughtful and belong to a certain class.
In fact, the only thing that brings out the silent majority (on either side) is real hardship. They’re not fully out and bitching yet (it will take a lot more than that) but some of the crazy in this election season is from their first blinking at sunlight.
Rue the day they become fully engaged, because neither side knows a heck of a lot about economics, or society or … well, anything. They haven’t paid attention. they know about managing their lives, not about the macro society. (Which is how most people are. Not because they’re stupid but because they don’t care.) And when they wake up the only thing they know is that they “don’t like” what is happening. So the reaction tends to be … interesting. It’s the sort of reaction that fed the guillotine.
Which is a danger to avert. Because what comes after is never better, even than the horror of the the ancien regime. And unfortunately good men as well as bad can drown in the rivers of blood.
Which is why years ago I decided to start speaking out. To put myself out there. I’m frankly the sort of person who, left to her own devices, wouldn’t interact with unknown people and would write only under pen names so no one knew. At some point it because clear to me that some measure of fame is needed to make a fortune in this field. I understand it, but I still don’t like it.
And yet, at some point I couldn’t stay silent and blend into the silent majority anymore. Because as grandma used to say “Silence is consent.” And what I was consenting to was the sort of spiral that ended in blood on the streets. Our “aristos” having taken over the media and all the means of information live in a bubble and ignore the vast, uninterested majority who is suffering from their stupid reality-divorced decisions. This only ends one way.
No, my voice alone won’t avert it, but I’m doing what I can, and I can sleep at night, and I can look at myself in the mirror.