Friday, 12 August 2016

Introducing The Hyperbolsters

A defining characteristic of quite a few public personalities is that they latch on to partial truths but then take to hyperbole or mental excessiveness to attain their public cachet and court some kind of recognition. You know the sort I mean; you listen to them and can recognise that some of what they say represents a grain of truth, but that the whole quintessence of their rhetoric just makes their overall persona seem somewhat counter-productive in the debate. I call them the 'hyperbolsters'. Examples of the hyperbolster personality would be people like Peter Hitchens, George Galloway, David Starkey. Richard Dawkins, most in the Green Party, a few of the ultra hard feminists and of course, our old friend Jeremy Corbyn.

Hyperbolsters identify smidgens of truth - like, for example, some immigration problems, the need for wealth redistribution, bad foreign policy, parts of the country in slight declension, and bad elements found in religion, to name just a few, but greatly exaggerate the reality of those truths or greatly exaggerate the extent to which their own personal commentary gets to the heart of the matter and accounts for the complexity of the issues.

Even someone like that EDL chap Tommy Robinson picked a crumb of truth - that this government is quite supine when it come to dealing with Islamic fundamentalism - and turned it into something headline-grabbing (albeit quite repugnant and idiotic).

I'd place Nigel Farage in the hyperbolster category, although he’s hyperbolic-lite rather than the full flavour variety. Over the years he's generated lots of support by identifying two key issues (immigration and the EU) that the other parties had always addressed poorly, and he's used them as vehicles for persistently gathering political momentum, as well as picking up support from quite a few protest voters along the way. In Farage's case, of course, all this culminated in achieving the end result (Brexit) that he set out to achieve from about 1993 onwards. 

That is how hyperbolstering grows from individuals to party-size groups, and UKIP and the Green Party are the two most mainstream cases in point. Hyperboslters multiply into parties by adhering to the political art of gauging the societal landscape, by identifying which tenets of domestic life certain sub-sections of the electorate care about but feel isn't addressed well enough by other parties, and then by creating a representative party that can promise such policies, while remaining far enough outside the mainstream to ensure they are unlikely to ever have to deliver them.

While this post is about hyperbolsters in general, not Nigel Farage, I think history will show that Farage's legacy will go down as one of those rare cases when hyperbolstering survived the fringes and embedded itself into the mainstream. As for the majority of hyperbolsters out there, if you happen to be a fan, don't pin too much hope on them.