Saturday 30 September 2023

The New “Emperor’s New Clothes”.

“‘BUT HE HASN’T GOT ANYTHING ON,’ a little boy said ….. ‘But he hasn’t got anything on!’ the whole town cried out at last.”

On this optimistic note, Hans Christian Andersen brings his cautionary tale of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” to an end.

Andersen’s children’s story was written nearly two centuries ago, in the 1830s. One can only imagine, how he might caution his readers in 2023.

* * * * *


The little boy spun round in alarm, to find himself staring up at an Imperial Guardsman.

“I-I-I said, the Emperor hasn’t got anything on, sir”, the boy stammered.

Around them the laughter ceased, as if the whole town had suddenly been struck dumb.

“What a wicked thing to say!” the Guardsman roared. “Anybody who isn’t a complete fool can see that he is attired in the finest suit of clothes the Empire can contrive!”

“But-but, he isn’t, sir, he isn’t wearing anything.”

“What’s going on here? said the Guardsman’s Sergeant, pushing his way through the silent and rapidly thinning crowd of townspeople. Why aren’t these people cheering their Emperor?”

“It’s this child, sir”, the Guardsman replied. “He shouted out that the Emperor hadn’t got anything on.”

“Where are his parents? Who is responsible for this child?” demanded the Sergeant.

Twisting his cap in his shaking hands, the boy’s father shuffled forward.

“What kind of parent are you to let your offspring shout out such false, harmful and subversive disinformation! How is the social cohesion of the Empire to be maintained if little boys are permitted to express themselves with such freedom?”

“I’m most dreadfully sorry,” the boy’s father stammered, “I shall see to it that the boy is severely punished.”

“I’m afraid it’s not quite as simple as that, the Sergeant replied. “Your boy’s behaviour raises some very serious questions about the home environment in which he’s being reared. You had best lead us to your place of residence immediately.”

Flanked by the two Guardsmen, and their tall pikes, father and son made their way through the narrow streets of the town to their home. Drawing her other children to her side, the boy’s mother watched the little party approach.

“What’s going on, husband?” she enquired, casting a worried glance in the direction of the armed men.

“Our son said the Emperor hadn’t anything on, when, plainly, he was dressed in the finest suit of clothes I have ever seen”, her contrite spouse replied, half-smiling at his grim escort.

“But he didn’t, Mama!”, her son expostulated. “If he had been wearing clothes, then I would have seen them. I mean, you’re wearing clothes, Papa is wearing clothes, these men, under their armour, are wearing clothes!”

“Oh my foolish boy,” his mother exclaimed, “what have I told you about contradicting other people’s claims?”

The boy hung his head and mumbled: “That people are entitled to their beliefs – no matter how ridiculous.”

“And?” His mother prompted, tapping her foot in frustration.

“And that it is unkind to undermine people’s ideas about themselves – no matter how utterly bizarre those ideas may be.”

Hearing this, the Sergeant stepped forward, glowering at the woman and her son.

“But this will not do at all, madam, not at all. You are teaching your children that people’s beliefs about themselves – and their attire – may be wrong. You are suggesting that in spite of being sincerely held it is, nevertheless, entirely possible that people can be mistaken in their beliefs. Indeed, you would appear to be saying that it is possible your boy may be perfectly correct. That the Emperor really hasn’t got anything on. That our Head-of-State is walking naked through the streets! But that is treason, madam, treason pure and simple!”

“No! No! My wife is no traitor, sir. She is merely a little simple-minded. She places an altogether unreasonable amount of faith in what she perceives through her senses. She does not understand how wishing something to be true can actually make it so. Like the Emperor’s new clothes – which are real, quite real, for the very simple reason that the Emperor believes them to be real!”

“And what Emperor’s believe to be real,” the Sergeant interjected, “must be real.”

“Yes, sir”, the boy’s father agreed.

“Yes, sir”, echoed his mother.

“Yes, sir”, said the boy – with fingers crossed.

This satire was originally published in The Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Star of Friday, 29 September 2023.


Archduke Piccolo said...

'The truth is what we say it is' is a great deal more common than one might like to think. Stick just about anyone in a position of authority - any authority - and you'll be surprised how quickly they take on that mind set.
Ion A. Dowman

Madame Blavatsky said...

That boy was the first instance of a "conspiracy theorist" to be put down on paper.

I mean, can't you all see that the Emperor is finely attired? It's undeniable. Besides, for what possible reason would the Emperor promulgate lies about himself? No, there is no gap between appearance and reality, statement and fact.

And moreover, we are all sensible people – we surely wouldn't believe the Emperor for no other reason than he's the Emperor and simply on account of his position is always correct. That would be irrational! And we all agree that we are sensible people.

What would the kid know anyway? He's no expert, and the experts all agree that the Emperor is finely attired.

John Hurley said...

Auckland is great and it only gets better. Arthur Grimes.
Anyone who disagrees is a "xenophobe". Sean Plunket, leo Molloy

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"He's no expert, and the experts all agree that the Emperor is finely attired."

So you get your medical advice from kids rather then doctors? 😇 Good luck with that.

Anonymous said...

It's a sad day when something that is clearly a satire has to be labelled as "a satire".

I came across something I thought at first was surely a satire, a piece entitled "Queering nuclear weapons: How LGBTQ+ inclusion strengthens security and re-shapes disarmament". A satire site, surely? Noooo, sadly, it seems to really be the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Yes, the publisher of the famous Doomsday Clock, warning of how close the risk of nuclear war is. Now set at 90 seconds to midnight, the closest it has ever been to midnight. That was in response to the war in Ukraine, and Putin's nuclear threats.

Among the alphabet soup people, (I can't keep up, is there now a "2S" in there or not?) the Trans Rights Activists insist on "no debate!" and enforce that with bullying and ostracism, fund it with a "rainbow tick" protection racket, and back their demands with violence. ("Punch a TERF in the face!") They seek to force 51% of the population to keep quiet and move over to accommodate a tiny (way less than 1%) minority of the population. A very irrational minority, demanding society as a whole, but women in particular, place accommodating the feelings of the TRAs above biological facts, rational thought, free speech, democracy, and women's rights.

And including them in the "nuclear weapons space" (painting rainbows on warheads, maybe?) is going to aid nuclear disarmament and help bring about world peace? Yeah, right!

Shane McDowall said...

Madame B.

John F. Kennedy was assassinated by Elvis A. Presley. Presley was flown out of Dallas in a UFO piloted by Amelia Earhart. After refuelling at the Bermuda Triangle, the Sasquatch took over the piloting and flew Elvis to the secret UFO base underneath Loch Ness, which was being run by Martin Bormann.

Some people would say this story is undiluted horseshit. But the truth is out there.

Just do your own research.

David George said...

Elizabeth Rata brilliantly exposes the willful "Emperor's New Clothes" delusions rampant in "our" media, judiciary and treaty industry. Very good!

"Using postmodernism’ mystifying and irrational idea that reality only exists in language means that if one can say something is the case then it is – especially if it is said in the loud and certain tone of the righteous with prayers adding the gravitas of sacred authority. If it is stated that the Treaty has Principles, then it is for the secular priests to reveal that truth.

This emperor’s new clothes strategy was supported by the righteousness of Cultural Marxism, a thriving ideology in university social science and education faculties and in government departments staffed by those with postmodern degrees. Although the nonsensical conflation of culture and materialism would have Marx turning in his grave, it gives social justice intellectuals a site on the moral high ground from where they can do well by doing good.

The third strategy, the language game, rests on this irrational intellectual bedrock. Controlling the language that can be used when talking about the Treaty ensures that thought itself is restricted in both its expression and, more seriously its very development. How can alternative ideas be developed if they cannot be spoken? Even more seriously, once language is couched in moral terms then criticism is excluded."

Guerilla Surgeon said...

" means that if one can say something is the case then it is"
No it doesn't. It just means you don't understand post-modernism, and you get your ideas about it from Jordan Peterson who hasn't a clue about it either.

Madame Blavatsky said...

Shane McDowell
Positing a completely ridiculous conspiracy theory with the implicit suggestion being that there are no conspiracies at all is just that - ridiculous. Ridiculous, but nonetheless a common tactic.

BTW, a much more plausible JFK conspiracy theory that doesn't involve Elvis is that Kennedy was assassinated by the Mossad because he wasn't pro-Israel enough and also wanted to shut down the Dimona nuclear facility, and then his alleged killer Oswald was murdered in police custody by Jack Ruby (aka Jacob Rubenstein) who was a known associate of the Jewish mafia. But by all means, do your own research.

Shane McDowall said...

Madame B.

Conspiracies do happen. But they involve small numbers of people over short periods of time, i.e. conspiracy to rob a bank.

Conspiracies do not involve entire ethnic or religious groups, i.e. the Jews, and they do not span over centuries.

Kennedy was shot by Oswald. There is no grassy knoll, no umbrella man, no second gunman. Read Gerald Posner "Case Closed".

Ruby was a nightclub owner, and his only involvement with any kind of mafia would have been paying them off for the privilege of operating.

The truth is out there. Just do your own research.

greywarbler said...

Some interesting research on coercive persuasion.  We need to think about this while we are still allowed and able to. Its heading starts off 'Manufacturing Conformity...'

And - Anonymouse above - I don't like this statement if true, it makes me think of the 1930s and the Brown Shirts strong-arming people in Germany and we know where that led.  This is bad to read; we should not get hung up on minority size, we get so susceptible to ideas that embers of emotion can flare up to serious level.
 the Trans Rights Activists insist on "no debate!" and enforce that with bullying and ostracism, fund it with a "rainbow tick" protection racket, and back their demands with violence. ("Punch a TERF in the face!") They seek to force 51% of the population to keep quiet and move over to accommodate a tiny (way less than 1%) minority of the population.

John Hurley said...

here's one on Free Speech.

"The cure for hate speech is more speech", is one approach but currently we shut people with these views down. Shutting them down means the gate-keeper owns that person and their thoughts and excludes an other participants.

Where does your anti-Israeli /Jew come from?

You're obviously triggered but do try to tap out a cogent sentence. Lol

I'm not triggered. I assumed you were on the same side as me, but blaming Jews for the demise of the West is an own goal.

I have absolutely no clue as to your motives nor intent as I have no time nor patience for cryptic messages. Nor do I need a goalkeeper.

I was just asking for honest self-reflection. Whatever I think of your views I give you credit for believing them. If you can't engage in good faith the alternative is Paul Spoonley *owning you*. Their creed is universalism (post-ethnic cosmopolitanism).

I've always wondered what it would be like if the FSU tried to engage Hitler and avoid the Holocaust. Problem #1. Non-engagement (evasiveness).
Economics lecturer on Wolf Rosenberg [privately]: "you can't pin him down"

You see - that's too cryptic for me as I'm not au fait with all the references and any elliptical point making. But thanks.