Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Political failure modes and Invaders from Mars

Political failure modes and the beige dictatorship:
For a while I've had the unwelcome feeling that we're living under occupation by Martian invaders. (Not just here in the UK, but everyone, everywhere on the planet.) Something has gone wrong with our political processes, on a global scale. But what? It's obviously subtle — we haven't been on the receiving end of a bunch of jack-booted fascists or their communist equivalents organizing putsches. But we've somehow slid into a developed-world global-scale quasi-police state, with drone strikes and extraordinary rendition and unquestioned but insane austerity policies being rammed down our throats, government services being outsourced, peaceful protesters being pepper-sprayed, tased, or even killed, police spying on political dissidents becoming normal, and so on. What's happening?

Here's a hypothesis: Representative democracy is what's happening. Unfortunately, democracy is broken. There's a hidden failure mode, we've landed in it, and we probably won't be able to vote ourselves out of it.

Invaders from Mars
"Voting doesn't change anything — the politicians always win." 'Twas not always so, but I'm hearing variations on that theme a lot these days, and not just in the UK.

Why do we feel so politically powerless? Why is the world so obviously going to hell in a handbasket? Why can't anyone fix it?

Here's my (admittedly whimsical) working hypothesis ...

Basically, Stross's hypothesis is that the world is run by amoral, sociopathic, amnesiac corporations with no loyalty to anything but their own immediate self-interest. Read the rest.

(via Fabius Maximus)


  1. "Voting doesn't change anything — the politicians always win." This is heard here in the states a lot and its a self fulfilling idea and as more liberal leaning folk stop voting the right tea party types get bigger influence because the over paid politicians only care about reelection to their easy work, over paid positions. And it doesn't help when the Democratic president acts more like a good republican. The results look like a Martian conspiracy but it is just right thinking people giving up.

    1. To L.L above. Are you medicated? Only a progressive koolaid dinker of the 1st order can claim victimhood in the face of overwhelming victory.
      What exactly have the tea party types won? A reprieve from being frog marched to "the camps" while your ilk gleefully throws rotten vegetables from the sidelines?
      A few examples:
      Progressive president soundly thumps conservative rino ch
      Said president announces continued wild deficit spending.
      Said president announces executive order gun control.
      Said president and SCOTUS reconfirm commitment to AA.
      Said president announces amnesty for ilegal aliens.
      RINO "opposition" tripping over selves to endorse above.
      Academics consider constitution too old fashioned http://www.google.ca/url?q=http://hubpages.com/forum/topic/92541&sa=U&ei=BrUeUcfmGMn9iwK6vIC4Cw&ved=0CDEQFjAA&usg=AFQjCNHRIUn7nZcCfRWTSS6-jCOzggchHA

      In short the tea party has accomplished nothing and liberal progressive ideals are advancing on all fronts. Where exactly L.L. have you lost ground?

    2. Ben. Dial it back a notch. Perhaps several notches. This is a blog, my blog, not a discussion board. If you want to have a conversation with L. Long, do it on your own time and in your own space, not on mine.

    3. Fair enough Larry. I apologise for hijacking the soap box. The martian quote does seem to have been picked up by a number of different bloggers. I confess no knowledge of the man until reading him here there etc.

      Interesting how just about anything can devolve into a pointless flame war isn't it?


    4. No worries, Ben.

      Now... If you want to phrase it a little differently, you might say something that goes a little like this...

      I'm not so sure that the "liberal" (progressive) faction is really doing that badly; the tea party, for all their bluster, still seems quite marginal. For example, Obama, a progressive president, thumped a much more conservative Romney. Furthermore, Obama has engaged in a lot of deficit spending, which progressives favor more than traditional conservatives. Additionally, Obama has proposed extensive gun control, and amnesty for illegal aliens, both progressive priorities.

      (I don't know what you mean by AA in your original comment, so I didn't include it in my rephrasing.)

      Now, instead of being shit-disturbing, this is just a list of some claims, but made gently enough that if they were in some sense mistaken or biased, one could gracefully admit the value of a more sophisticated analysis.

      There is a time, as I'm sure all my long-time readers will know, when it's time to just call a fucking moron a fucking moron. One does, however, want to make sure that resorting to insulting, abusive language really is the best or only way to handle a dispute.

      And, generally, since this is my blog, I really want to reserve that decision for myself. Don't worry: if I think some commenter is a fucking moron, I'll call them a fucking moron.


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