The blind faith in victims

One strand in the current hysterical ideology which grips Britain is the belief that the victim is always right. If someone says they are a victim then, they are. This flies in the face of ideas which have taken centuries to evolve and which have their roots in the traditions of our Anglo-Saxon forebears as concerns juries, witnesses, due process etc.

This is a standard example from the Guardian. It appears in an article which focuses on alleged anti-semitism in the Labour party – and the Labour party in Liverpool.

She [someone interview on the street] has also been a vocal critic of Hatton, pointing to his proposal that rape victims should be named in court if their alleged attackers were found not guilty as a sign of deep-seated misogyny. She sees his attempted return as symbolic of a larger and more disturbing trend.

Whether or not the idea is worth considering and indeed whether or not it is misogynist (and it does sound misogynist) is not the point here. Simply notice the construction that says that even if the attacker is acquitted the complainant is still a victim.

Also (in the same context) – a documentary about alleged anti-semitism in the Labour party produced by Al-Jazeera – shows the same kind of thinking. In this example a young man, a member of a pro-Israel group within the Labour party, explains that the basis for determining whether what someone said was anti-semitic or not was that he felt uncomfortable.

These are small examples but part of the overall ideology at work. For clarity; to highlight that there has been a shift to prioritise subjective reactions of ‘victims’ and a  move away from centuries old traditions of seeking objective corroboration is not to argue in favour of misogyny, anti-semitism or anything else. It is to note though that we are observing a major cultural change; one which prioritises individual psychology over community consensus as the appropriate determiner of what is right and wrong / what needs to be punished. This perhaps reflects a collapse in confidence in the systems of objective evaluation – the courts for example. The basis for this rather strange idea that one who cries ‘abuse’ is always right appears to be (and this is being generous to this ideology) that the objective systems are weighted in favour of the abusers (anti-semites, misogynists, child abusers) and so to counter them needs a radical position. Making the alleged victim always right is truly a radical position; it simply short-circuits all those objective systems which seek to weigh up claim and counterclaim and come to a balanced decision.

It may be the case that the courts have been weighted in favour of ‘white males’ (the current ‘trope’ of the ‘progressives’ we could say). But it seems to be throwing out the baby with the bath water to simply abandon the concept of trying to reach an objective conclusion in favour of saying that the victim is right because they say they are a victim.

This championing of victim status reflects an intensification of a process of individualising- basically encouraging people towards narcissism, to think more of themselves than of community – which has been going on for some time. Power drives this process as it works to create individualistic consumers – necessary in ever increasing numbers for a purely materialistic society to function. It is ironic that what use to be the ‘left’ has aligned itself with power in this way – as a way of gaining victories for various apparently marginalised groups.

In ‘debate’, in as much as debate is permitted these days, proponents of this ideology which prioritises the individual over community, will deploy arguments designed to make it seem that their opponents are in favour of child abuse, rape, and various other kinds of oppression. Some of their opponents may be. But in this debate we rarely hear the third voice; the one that says that some things are not acceptable but simply because they are alleged does not mean that they have happened. This position can, and should, admit that there may be imperfections in the current objective systems (“unconscious bias” if you like) but that the principle of objectivity should nonetheless not be abandoned. But possibly it is not realistic to reform the existing institutions. (Could Luther reform the Catholic Church of his day?). In this case we can wait and see perhaps if new institutions will be created which will, nonetheless, reinstate the idea of objectivity, the idea that society exists and can and should arbitrate between alleged victim and alleged abuser.


Author: justinwyllie

EFL Teacher and Photographer