A time machine, even calibrated to a decade or two would illustrate the point strikingly. To step out into the city I now live in even as little as 20 ears ago the city would reveal a very different place – an overwhelmingly white, Scottish city, inhabited by various social tribes (in particular working class Protestant and Catholic) but largely homogeneous in appearance and language,
It is a very different place now – walking the streets is like stepping out into a post-modern Babel. The city is full of people who literally were not here 10, certainly not 20 years ago.
You would think that this influx of foreigners would be the sole topic of conversation for those indigenous natives, like me, who remain.
But weirdly, I almost never hear the topic touched on. And sometimes – as I walk down mainstreet, passing the burqa clad women, the Asians and their pushchairs, the Eastern European gypsy beggars, the African refugees lazily perambulating the streets babbling into their mobile phones – I wonder, am I the only person to notice these changes, to notice what has happened to the demographics of the city, to notice that it no longer feels like home?
I am bamboozled how little this metamorphosis seems be noted by my compatriots and quondam confrères. I do not think could not fill my living room sofa with friends or acquaintances who would be prepared to speak openly with me about such matters out of all the people I know.
I recently came across a concept which I found interesting because for a moment I thought it could, partly, explain the silence around what should really being the main topic of conversation in a sane, self-aware and self-respecting society. This concept is that of pluralistic ignorance.
Pluralistic ignorance is that imaginary state when people think one thing but keep quiet about it because they mistakenly think that everyone else holds the opposite view. I think of the Soviet Union – there must have been thousands of people who paid lip-service to the Communist nonsense while secretly despising it in their hearts. But did they really think that others thought differently from them, that others were true believers and did not, like them, read the inane propaganda in Pravda and Izvestia with anything but sceptical amusement? I suspect that many people knew that their views were shared by others and the reason they kept silent was a perfectly logical fear of the authorities. Knowing the truth, and knowing that others know the truth is little consolation in a gulag.
On reflection, I don’t think pluralistic ignorance is an adequate explanation for the silence of so many of my contemporaries in the face of their own dispossession.
Is it fear of social ostracism and loss of status, even of employment?
It is certainly true that some see the havoc that the doctrine of multiculturalism is wreaking on their countries but bite their tongues because they have to much to lose by opposing the system. As long as there is a car in the driveway, the kids to school (in a neighbourhood as non-multicultural as possible) and a mortgage to pay, why rock the boat?
There is also the narcissism of those who consider themselves educated and sophisticated and their hatred of and desire to distance themselves from the lower classes.
Neither of those cases can be classed as examples of pluralistic ignorance since in both cases there is a conscious choice being made to collaborate with the system and an awareness that there are alternative opinions.
In many ways the fear of being different that drives the concept of pluralistic ignorance would be better than what we have now – at least it hints at some kind of awareness, some kind of awakening even if it mistakenly considers itself heretical and to be kept hidden.
When I think of many of the people that I know, and their apparent indifference and blindness to the perilous state that Western Civilisation is in, I can only conclude that it is not pluralistic ignorance but something far worse: pluralistic stupidity and pluralistic decadence.
It is too late to save such people. I only hope that they do not take all of us down with them.