Thursday, January 15, 2015

Globalisation and the death of Pigling Bland

The sun rose while they were crossing the moor, a dazzle of light over the tops of the hills. The sunshine crept down the slopes into the peaceful green valleys, where little white cottages nestled in gardens and orchards. 
That’s Westmorland,” said Pig-wig. She dropped Pigling’s hand and commenced to dance.
Beatrix Potter, The Tale of Pigling Bland

Under a headline beginning "No, we haven't banned books of pigs...", Jane Harley from the Oxford University Press has an article on the Guardian website that shows they pretty much have banned new books on pigs:
What we do ... is consider avoiding references to a range of topics that could be considered sensitive – in a way that does not compromise quality, or negatively impact learning. So, for example, if animals are depicted shown in a background illustration, we would think carefully about which animals to choose. In doing so we are able to ensure children remain focused purely on their learning, rather than cultural characteristics.
All of which shows that, if Beatrix Potter were writing today, she would not have much chance of placing The Tale of Pigling Bland with the OUP.

But the villain here is not Islam or Western fears of offending Muslims, it is globalisation,

If your goal is to produce a book that is inoffensive in every culture, it is not surprising if you come up with something rather anaemic.

Back in the 1970s, good Liberals wanted a greater role for the market as a counterweight to centralised power. We wanted choice and innovation.

Today, however, things are more complicated than that. What the market often gives us is homogenisation - for more on this debate see George Ritzer's The McDonaldization of Society, which I have blogged about before.

The same tension can be found in attitudes to the European Union. Do those of us who support continued British membership because we want to extend the global market or because we hope the EU will act as something of a bulwark against it?

It often seemed that Liberal Democrat MEPs took the former view when voting in Brussels and the rest of us tended to the latter when campaigning locally.

Let us end with the side words of Winston Churchill, as quoted by a Guardian commenter:
"I am fond of pigs, Dogs look up to us, Cats look down on us, Pigs treat us as equals."

No comments: