For the benefit of those lucky enough not to know (living outside the UK), the Daily Mail is a particularly horrific tabloid newspaper. One of its many vile repertoires is to police the bodies of celebrities (mostly, but not entirely) the female ones.
If a celebrity under the gaze of the Mail gains a couple pounds unflattering pap shots are published, under the headline of “XX has let themselves go”. Alternatively, if they lose the same amount of weight, they are ‘gaunt’ and “friends are worried.” There’s a (shifting) one or two pound band in which the Mail might not pick on them for their weight, but may instead criticise their clothes, partners, friends, tweeting habits, etc.
It’s not so much a sliding scale as a very slippery one. And it also works for environmental activists. If a climate campaigner eschews the usual habits of modern middle-class western citizens – driving a car, eating meat, flying etc. – then they are ‘weirdo zealots who are out of touch with normal people’. If they DO drive/eat meat/fly then they are ‘disgusting elitist hypocrites’.
Works every time.
The same goes, I think, for ‘localness’. As long as you are saying “we want what the global elite wants, a chemical factory right next door to our school” then you are a local. If not, well, you’re not really a local, and you’ve been hoodwinked by out-of-town trouble-makers.
Most of all, to be acceptable, you must steer clear of systemic critiques of what is going on. What was that line by Dom Hélder Pessoa Câmara? Oh, that’s right – “When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why they are poor, they call me a communist.”
So what’s interesting are the questions which arise from these observations/intuitions.
- Who makes these evaluations?
- Who amplifies them?
- To what purpose (to delegitimise dissenting voices, obvs)?
- To what effect?
- How do “we” (progressives who give or gave a shit) escape from the trap?)