Endless bluffing reveals a shallowness in our political and media discourse
‘Bullshit,” the philosopher Harry Frankfurt observed in a seminal essay on the subject, “is unavoidable whenever circumstances require someone to talk without knowing what he is talking about.” He wrote that in 2005, but he might have been watching recent episodes of This Week, BBC’s late-night politics show, presided over by Andrew Neil. Over the past two weeks, it’s thrown up two car-crash interviews that serve as textbook illustrations of Frankfurt’s thesis.
First, we had the rightwing writer James Delingpole waxing lyrical about a no-deal Brexit. If ever there were a case of someone talking without knowing what he was talking about, this was it. The simplest of questions reduced Delingpole, who clearly is as familiar with economics as Theresa May is with dancing, to incoherently mumbling: “I don’t know the answer.” Michel Barnier could probably have made a better fist of arguing for Brexit.
Rarely has politics seemed so bereft of intellectual weight’