The ultimate insult used to be a “Nazi” jibe. Out it came, when only the most ludicrous hyperbole would do. But the original lazy archetype of all that is wicked is being superseded. In the 21st century, to makes one’s point with any force, one must turn to the Taliban.
Take Vince Cable. He could have said that the Bank of England is inhibiting the expansion of small businesses by imposing onerous capital requirements on lenders. But it would not have had the same punch. Instead, with his talk of “capital Taliban”, the Business Secretary turned the histrionics up to 11, guaranteed himself headlines and gave grateful commentators an endlessly recyclable bon mot. A job well done.
Nor is Mr Cable an innovator. Indeed, the Taliban are everywhere it seems, from the right wing of the Tory party, to the environmental movement, to the upper echelons of modern physics. Meanwhile, over the pond, they infest everything from the Tea Party to McDonald’s.
Never mind that the actual Taliban – with their vicious ideology and medieval methods – lend themselves to few apt comparisons. There is the more important matter of insult inflation to consider. If even the Bank of England is the Taliban, where on earth is there to go?