Why are some areas of culture being dumbed down while others seem increasingly pretentious and incomprehensible? Why is so much emphasis given to presentation while the underlying substance is often muddled or vacuous? Fabian Tassa argues these are symptoms of 'mediocracy', a new model of society in which content is sacrificed in favour of appearance and ideological correctness. A 'mediocracy' generates a bogus high culture in which trained technicians produce material comprehensible only to other technicians. It promotes a mass culture that is crude, stupefying and sadistic. A mediocracy pontificates about compassion, while treating aggression and humiliation as entertainment. In a mediocracy, authoritarianism is practiced by both government and corporations, but is masked by a phoney pseudo-individualism. Tassa explains how the meanings of words such as 'creativity' and 'challenge' are changed to suit an ideology that aims to subordinate the individual to egalitarian goals. He dissects numerous areas of mediocratic culture, exposing its deceptions and hidden motivations. With entries ranging from 'ability' to 'welfare', through 'academia', 'cookery', 'genius', 'meritocracy', 'philosophy' and 'stupid', Tassa's book is an irreverent guide to culture in a dishonest age.
Fabian Tassano has held a number of lectureships at Oxford, and worked as a senior economist for PricewaterhouseCoopers. He is the author of The Power of Life or Death: Medical Coercion and the Euthanasia Debate, which was shortlisted for the Skrabanek Prize.