Will suggests it may. As he says:
"Don't knock spin: people who choose to project a positive image of some form are typically obliged to at least partially live up to it (this is the same reason why Corporate Social Responsibility should not be dismissed too lightly)."And that's the thing, isn't it? Personally, I don't believe - deep down - that people respond positively to a grouping (say, for example, a political party) telling the public that they are the good people and the other lot are mad, bad and wrong. Or even the milder version of it. I don't believe it works because something tells me it would backfire. I suspect most people I know would agree with me here.
BUT politicians do keep doing it. This is either because they don't know something that is obvious to myself and my mates, or it's because they know something that myself and my mates don't know. I'm kind of inclined to believe that the latter is true - though obviously, it's a fairly ropey rational process that leads to this conclusion. As Will says:
"Bizarrely enough, the spin politicians apply to their own lives is the direct inverse of the spin we apply to our own lives; while they play up their moral heroism and play down their aesthetic taste, we do quite the opposite."And why don't we brag about our altruism for self-interested reasons? It's a bit like that thing Mrs T said about power: If you feel the need to tell someone you have it, you haven't got it. We know the one thing that would convince everyone that we are charlatans would be if we were to trumpet our little kindnesses and sacrifices.
Going back to that first quote though, there's something else:
- Politician highlights their own virtues
- Will is happy about this because politician is obliged to go some way towards living up to this heightened expectation. Politician rewarded with short-term 'bounce'
- Politician eventually falls slightly short (whilst actually being quite a paragon by most people's standards)
- Mass response: cynicism, idealism, disillusionment, nihilism etc etc
So - on the one hand, I'd be inclined to tell Will to keep his virtues to himself. As one Yeshua Ben Joseph allegedly said:
"...when you give alms, do not have it trumpeted before you; this is what the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win men’s admiration. I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you give alms, your left hand must not know what your right is doing; your almsgiving must be secret, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you."On the other hand, having being brought up as a Catholic, one of the few other things that stuck, perhaps, is a contempt for despair. The greatest sin of all. This may be the reason that Spiked Online (among other libertarian organs) gets so far up my nose. It's the utter impatience with the very idea of a positive human agency - that no situation is so bad that it won't be made worse by someone trying to improve it. Do-gooders, and nanny-staters, and so on.
Is this idiocy the result of kindness never being able to speak its name? Never being able to underline it's own importance?
Maybe. But, in conclusion, I have no answer to Will's question really. It's a good one though, isn't it?