The recent comments by Jacob Rees-Mogg regarding the Grenfell Fire disaster highlight the nonsensical mythology of believing in common sense. Rees-Mogg like many use this mythology of common sense as an excuse for blaming. Indeed, the language of ‘common sense’ is one of the grand delusions of the safety industry.
Of course, Safety doesn’t really believe in common sense because of all the activities it undertakes that contradict such a belief. The idea of regulation, legislation, procedures, inductions, safety alerts and a host of other ‘telling’ activities confirm that there is no such thing as a commonly agreed process of sensemaking.
What Rees-Mogg demonstrates most of all is a complete naivety of how knowledge and learning is created and sustained (https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/nov/05/jacob-rees-mogg-claims-grenfell-victims-lacked-common-sense ). Then of course he apologises, not because he doesn’t believe in common sense but because he lacked his own defined sense of common sense to know that he had offended the victims and families of the disaster. There you go Rees-Mogg, there is no common sense.
The principle outcome of 30 years or more of the safety industry has been to make people: less critical in their thinking, more compliant, more obedient to regulation, more fearful of risk and more trusting in safety authority. Then when that authority tells you to stay put in your burning complex, you stay put. This is the way social reproduction works (https://www.plutobooks.com/blog/social-reproduction-theory-ferguson/ ). The safety industry has cultivated this archetype that says that risk doesn’t make sense (https://www.humandymensions.com/product/risk-makes-sense/) then punishes people for not thinking freely and critically in a crisis. This is the result of aspiring to dumb-down safety (https://safetyrisk.net/the-need-for-critical-thinking-in-safety/). After 30 years or more of safety we now have less critical thinking, more compliance and a safety orthodoxy that endorses ‘checklist thinking’ and then denies they have created an unthinking industry of ‘tick and flick’.
When people like Mogg, the leader of the House of Commons, invoke the mythology of ‘common sense’, ‘safety’ or ‘be careful’ we see demonstrated the fruit of an industry that has created a new level of dumb that endorses critical thinking as the enemy of risk.