When the shades of night are gathering

In light of the Conservatives’ recent tax increase — a decidedly anti-conservative action — I am reminded of a similar circumstance in which New Labour, despite its very non-labourlike activity, continued to be regarded by certain Leftists as such. Despite this tax increase, we will continue to regard the Tories as the anti-tax party. That is until its obviousness begins to bleed through.

I have observed a similar lag in regard to the label ‘paranoia’ and the topic of surveillance. It was once considered paranoid (that is, unjustified) to believe in mass surveillance — but today, this belief is ubiquitous (and canonized by Shoshana Zuboff’s Surveillance Capitalism). Everyone accepts they’re being spied on. But while this belief is no longer ‘unjustified’ — there is credible evidence, whistleblowers, and so on — it is still flippantly labeled ‘paranoia’.

Politicians and tech-companies benefit from this lag. This is also the premise of Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine. You cannot react until you understand, and we always seem to understand too late.

I am not sure if I believe this sort of lag is inevitable or not, but Hegel certainly did. In his Philosophy of Right, he argues that philosophers, who are supposedly at the the avant-garde of understanding, are always already behind, simply attempting to catch-up.

As he aphoristically puts it, ‘The owl of Minerva takes its flight only when the shades of night are gathering’.



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Eddie Ejjbair

‘Gradually it’s become clear to me what every great philosophy has been: a personal confession of its author and a kind of involuntary and unconscious memoir’