BBC Breakfast; or, the Manufacturing of Ruthlessness

This morning BBC Breakfast ran a story on a study that has been carried out which shows that British youngsters lack the ambition and ruthlessness of their European counterparts (because, of course, Britain isn’t in Europe). After a video report shot at a posh international school down south, in which these findings were unsurprisingly ratified, a ‘discussion’ (for which read ‘mutual appreciation and united front against a common enemy’) was held with the head of OFSTED and an ex-‘businesswoman of the year’. At no point in this discussion was the glorification of ambition and ruthlessness ever put into question: the presupposition of the entire report was that ruthlessness is a positive human attribute and should be aspired to. That British youngsters apparently do not was seen as a grave disappointment. Indeed, it was the trigger for an all-out and decidedly spiteful attack on the ‘youth of today’ and their namby-pamby, mollycoddled upbringing. Schools that do not hold competitive sports days or which demonstrate in any way whatsoever that competition and ruthlessness are not virtuous ends-in-themselves were mocked and ridiculed. At one point, the businesswoman went so far as to suggest that because children are not physically hungry and because they enjoy themselves too much (both of which she associated with the ‘nanny state’), they lack the requisite ambition. The implication was that enforced starvation and a ban on state-provided services would be good for them and ‘Britain’.

There are several conclusions to be drawn from this. Firstly, the BBC is a key ideological apparatus in the manufacturing of an inhuman way of life: a moral and political disgrace. Secondly, genuine compassionate humanity can find no place in the current state of affairs: if you desire a life worthy of a fully human being, you are condemned to fighting the status quo. Thirdly, if the nineteenth century had have had TV, it would have looked like that.