The world is ruled by short-sighted men with a good head of hair. A longitudinal study of British children has shown that the best single predictor of a child rising up the system from humble beginnings to high office is being short- sighted as a child. Laser beam surgery has now made it possible to correct many common eye defects caused by irregularities in the shape of the lens of the eye, relative to the size of the eyeball. For those with severely impaired eyesight this means a welcome escape from a serious handicap. However, for children who are only mildly short-sighted, the operation could provide problems as well as benefits, for myopia is a source of success and social mobility. Some have argued that there is a correlation between myopia and innate intelligence which are simultaneously caused by two related patterns of genes. It has even been suggested that the manifest success of spectacle wearing peoples such as the Japanese and the Jews, and the relative failure of members of ethnic groups with good eyesight merely reflects this correlation. Whether the latter hypothesis is true or not will never be determined, for it is far too politically incorrect a theory to receive the research funding necessary to test it.

Rather, it is generally assumed by those who hold power in the health, education and welfare bureaucracies that the link is an environmental one. For most of human history the myopic were doomed to an early death, the inevitable fate of those unable to put an arrow accurately into a charging mammoth, or spot a herd of enraged hippos or a horde of scimitar-waving Mamelukes until too late. In the modern world, by contrast, success goes to those who concentrate all their attention on objects next to their noses — a computer screen, a microscope, a balance sheet or a legal loophole. That the world beyond is a blurred penumbra only visible through a lens of glass or plastic is a very real advantage for it cuts out the distractions of sport, seductiveness and scenery that lead the rest of us astray.

For the lower classes myopia and the wearing of spectacles assists those who are reasonably intelligent to rise in the world through entrepreneurship or education because they decisively block off such erratic and unreliable routes to mobility as football, crime, the entertainment industry or marriage to a rich spouse. Men never make passes at girls who wear glasses nor become pebble-lensed football players masquerading as stars. Since the chances of any particular lower-class individual making it to the top through male agility or female beauty are very small indeed, those who know from an early age that they are short-sighted and unsightly are saved from a dangerous delusion and are motivated to seek more reliable ways of bettering themselves. Short-sightedness breeds far-sightedness while those who dreamed of stardom end up where they began, at the bottom of the heap.

The old guard of the left still proclaim that everyone has the right to perfect eyesight, if not better, and want eye-glasses, contact lenses and laser surgery to be provided free by the state. The revisionists, however, feel that it is wrong to deprive myopic lower-class children of a defect that would enable them to rise in the world. Accordingly they argue that spectacles in good old-fashioned frames (you can have any shape you like provided it is round) should be free to all, but that the laser beam correction of myopia should be left to private medicine, which the poor cannot afford. The vanity of the rich will ensure that their children’s poor eyesight, like their crooked teeth, will be operated on, regardless of cost, but an unintended consequence of this will be that they lose an important part of their good start in life. Somewhere below them the bespectacled sons and daughters of menials will be steadily climbing up the ladder while they fall down the snake. For those radical socialists who believe in massive positive discrimination, even this is not enough. Equality demands a radical redistribution of myopia in a way that favours those disadvantaged by social class, race, ethnicity, sexual preference or stupidity; they have a right to short-sightedness that must be provided by the state for those not so favoured by nature. If laser surgery can cure myopia, it can also create it. In this way, they argue, bourgeois concepts of health can be subordinated to the higher goal of social equality, much as has long been true of education, welfare and religion. In the coming socialist utopia, visible only to those with the correct radical astigmatism, myopia, like abortion, or the removal of unsightly tattoos, will not only be a medical right but a social necessity.

Since the advent of television bald politicians have vanished from the arena. No American President has been seriously bald since Eisenhower and no elected British Prime Minister since Churchill. Today bald men of outstanding ability such as they always lose out to those who look good on television even if they are dim-wits. Appearance is everything. It is part of the cult of youth. We no longer see grand old men dominating politics as they did in the days of Adenauer, de Gasperi and Kekkonen, of Morarji Desai or Marshal Pétain. Ronald Reagan was the last but look what a fine head of reddish hair he had.

You have to have hair because baldness makes you look old and fuddy-duddy. The proof is the enormous amount of money spent on cures for baldness that do not work by those who lost their hair at a young age.

Luckless, lockless men who go bald and suffer the cavities as well as the canities of age are at a considerable disadvantage. Women often regard baldness in men as an ugly mark of ageing, as is shown by their unwillingness to respond on dating sites to men who describe themselves as bald with a fringe, though men who shave their heads do better. Those who shave their heads altogether are trying to make it look as if they have chosen this almost skinhead style, rather than having been haplessly overtaken by age and hair-loss, which constitutes a kind of minor stigma.

Bald men are often the butt of jokes.

When Mr Baldy went to the zoo the ostrich chased him. She thought her egg was trying to run away.

Are you really that bald … or is your neck blowing a bubble?

There is a new treatment for baldness. It doesn’t cure the baldness but it shrinks your head to fit the hair you’ve got.

A bald man with a peg leg gets invited to a costume party. Being shy and self-conscious about his appearance, he goes to the best costume shop in town. When he gets there, he tells the shop owner his situation and that he would rather cover his head and leg with a costume instead of exploiting his apparent problems. So, the shop owner comes back with a lifeguard costume. The man says, “No, no. That will show off my peg leg. I can’t hide it with that. Try again.” So the shop owner leaves and comes back with a monk costume. And again the man says, “No, no. I can’t wear that.

It will make people notice my head.” Obviously pissed off, the shop owner leaves and comes back with a five-pound bag of caramels, gives it to the man and says, “Here. Just take this.” Confused, the man says, “What am I supposed to do with a bag of caramels?” Smiling, the shop owner says,

“Take home this bag of caramels, melt them, pour it all over your body, stick that peg leg up your ass and tell everyone you’re a caramel apple.”

How different things are today than in the reign of King Louis XIV of France in the late seventeenth century when the monarch’s baldness caused the whole of the European elite to wear wigs. Until then men wore their own hair but the bald Louis also happened to be very powerful. He was so bald that his mistress who had very bad eyesight often addressed his bottom by mistake. But he was also the absolute ruler of the most powerful and fashionable nation in Europe. When Louis decided to wear a wig, the entire French court copied him. So did all those of high standing in France, a country with a highly centralised system of political power. But the French court set the fashion for Europe in clothes, in manners, in what was served at banquets. So other lesser kings and their courtiers also took to wearing wigs. And so the wig became universal, discarded only with the end of the ancien régime. To display one’s own hair or lack of it became a facet of democracy. An entire industry of wig-makers collapsed.

And that is why today we are ruled by myopic men with good hair.

Most recent

Newsletter signup

Like it ? Share it !

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pocket
Share on email