The great nudge

No wonder so many nudgers see China as an ideal, a place without a nasty First Amendment that protects dissenters. Oligarchs, such as Bill Gates, also apparently endorse China’s authoritarian approach to Covid and other issues. The Chinese government’s efforts to monitor thoughts and regulate opinion, sometimes assisted by US tech firms, could prove a harbinger of things to come in Europe, Australia and North America.

In one sense the nudgers are right – unless sufficiently terrified, most people will never agree to their own immiseration, reject the idea of two main sexes, or embrace an ‘anti-racism’ that suggests all whites are intrinsically oppressors. These can only be imposed by undemocratic means forced on the public by those people occupying ‘the commanding heights’ in government, business and media.

Sadly, the notion of media cooperating with government to nudge the public – for example Sky’s collaboration with the Behavioural Insight Team, a one-time UK government body – has been gaining ground. Rather than something to avoid, some, particularly in our academic establishment, would rather the media convey orthodoxy on issues of race, Covid or climate than enjoy traditional Western press freedoms. Writing in the Atlantic, two law professors even suggested that in the ‘debate over freedom or control’, China ‘was largely correct and the US was wrong’.