Tag Archives: revolution

Non-Binary Democracy

What is democracy for? The ancient Greeks invented it. They knew a thing or two, didn’t they? They also had a lot of wars. Why do male gorillas beat their chests or elephants make fake charges? Was it the same reason the war-torn Greeks voted to see how many were on each side of an argument before starting a fight? Us ‘higher’ animals, with our ‘higher cost of living’ want to avoid fights that we are likely to lose. It is a survival tactic in case ‘our side’ aren’t the best bullies. I think the Greeks rather cleverly invented Democracy as a proxy for war.

Democracy isn’t the least bad option, as Churchill suggested. The worst option is being killed, or perhaps horribly tortured. Democracies have traditionally tended to regard those as Bad Things.

You’ll notice that this first version of democracy makes a couple of simplifying assumptions:

  1. There are 2 options to be voted on. Politicians know that us ordinary folk are far too stupid to understand anything non-trivial; or at least they hope we are. That’s why we are only offered ‘in’ or ‘out’, not ‘shake it all about’ or ‘in a bit’. That leads to awkward conversations like “How much?” and “How far in?” which don’t have binary answers. We would never be able to cope with THAT MUCH democracy.
  2. There are 2 ‘sides’: Us and Them. The trick is to out-vote Them once, so they see that they were Wrong, are embarrassed and go away. There is no place for other ‘sides’ that think you are asking the wrong question or who don’t trust any of the candidates on the ballot paper.

Both of these assumptions have been scientifically tested by the Scottish Independence and EU referenda/dums (It’s all Greek/Roman to me.) They are both Wrong. Our representative democracy doesn’t represent most people, in large areas of the UK.

The people who dislike the government could win a fight with those who would agree to defend our leaders. State torture and leaders without support are worrying signs about the state of our democracy.

First past the post voting systems clearly don’t work when you have more than 2 political parties or when you pretend that some of the options don’t exist. We appear to be faced with a couple of options (there may be others.):

  1. We can reform our democracy, so that we don’t elect a party that most people don’t want, or
  2. Inequality and power in the hands of a tiny minority will lead to increasing levels of anger until some minor event triggers a revolution, as Marx predicted. Not necessarily a violent, orchestrated uprising of thugs, like in Russia but a grass-roots refusal by ordinary people to co-operate with people too lazy to hide their lies any more.

Most people seem fairly convinced that Communism is bound to fail, so they are likely to try another option; perhaps a charismatic leader. Who doesn’t love a strong leader with a straight tie and shiny shoes? Trump or Putin might be on the transfer list by then. Great. May I remind you, fairly urgently, of Option 1.

My army is bigger than yours

I’m still processing what I learned last night, by volunteering to give a talk on Intertwingularity at Web Staffordshire, so instead of writing about that, I thought I’d share this version of an observation I originally made elsewhere. I try not to ignore things that might be true, just because they are inconvenient. That was the reason for the talk too.

Hating someone for what they look like is illogical, but disliking someone for what they choose to think is very common.

It may be evolutionary. A genuine threat to our cultural values may be as real as a threat to our DNA, if Richard Dawkins’ meme theory is taken to “it’s logical conclusion” (as I intend to, if I ever finish my ‘book’.) Democracy is humans’ way of deciding which side would be likely to win the battle, as other potentially violent animals do, such as drunk men in pubs. Democracy and violence are expensive to societal cohesion. It’s hard to trust people when you know they think you “ain’t worf it” or they hit your Dad and he goes to prison.

Despite that, the current process of undermining of democracy across Western society, to the advantage of the rich and well-connected, seems likely to bring about some kind of revolution. This is analysis, not a suggestion (or I stole it from Wikipedia’s entry on Marxism.) I’d vote for voting reform; except I can’t (yet.)

I wonder if racism is just stupid people confusing race and culture, like some sort of inherited prejudice. Creedism is clearly the way forward. At least we have that belief in common with the Jihadists.

Who Pays For a Counter-Culture?

Do you remember the Summer of Love? No, nor me; of course I wouldn’t, because I was there. I wasn’t spaced out on LSD, or making free love with hippy chicks. I was being Seven. I was wearing a flower-power tie with a bottle-green, knobbly leather-buttoned, home-knit cardigan, if dim memories of photographic records are to be believed and I don’t see why anyone would make up such a cruel lie.

What happened to the counter-culture revolution?

The trouble with revolutions is that they break things and when things are broken, thuggery flourishes, alongside the arts, like a Beatnik on a bongo. The problem with dropping out of society, is that you still need to eat and society has the food. Jack Kerouac’s ‘On The Road’ tells the story of the gradual slide into petty theft of a band of travelling poets. Most revolutions seem to be instigated by the educated, ungrateful children of the Middle Classes. I guess they are the ones with the time. Every revolution seems to have its poets, “mad, bad and dangerous to know”.

Punk was both inspired and financed by the dole, just as theater, music and art had been funded by the state since the 60s, when hippies rejected materialism, preferring to live off their wealthy parents or the welfare state. Wars are started by the rich and manned by the great unwashed, like production lines. At least genuine counter-cultures are equal opportunity employers. No-one stands much of a chance.

Karl Marx predicted that people would rise up  when the inequality gap got so wide, civilised behaviour would get sucked into the void but the Russians got impatient and hurried things along, so we don’t know much anger would it take to give UK sufficient momentum to change. Where were the warning shots of poetry this time? Perhaps in rap, where old beatniks, hippies & punks won’t hear them, because they’re still fighting the last older generation.

Freedom from The Press

Sorry, I need to take a slight diversion here to pick up some POLITICS.

I’ve come to the conclusion that ‘The P Word’ is about finding a balance between people’s sense of fairness for all and their sense of self-interest. In the West, we also seem to expect a fair-sized dollop of what we call “freedom” with that, and perhaps a government willing to insist that other countries try it too. “It’s humus. Try it. No, it smells of garlic but it doesn’t taste of it. Bloody try it, will you? No, not that one, we only eat the organic”

I don’t know much about politics but I know what I like. OK, not true but: I know what I DON’T LIKE!
This, all of it, it’s rubbish. I hate it. Smash the SYSTEM!
“Some of it’s all right, can’t we keep those bits and vote to decide what to make better?”
Vote? Pah! No, it’s all got to go, so we can move forward to a bright new future, together, following me.
“What’s that going to be like?”
There are still a few niggling details like that to be worked out but, “SMASH THE SYSTEM!”

I paraphrase slightly but this seems to be the gist of Mr. Brand’s argument… What? Yes, Russel Brand – the rock star. I don’t know what band. Yes, the one with the trousers, and the hair and the Guy Fawkes beard. “I am Spartacus.”

The thing is, he seems to have captured the spirit of the moment. He feels our frustration. He was poor once. He knows the well deserved disrespect for our leaders who don’t seem to think we have the brains to see through all the spin; the anger at there not being enough difference between the lot of them to make it worth a walk down to the scout-hut. But ‘revolution’? Really, Russell?

I like Freedom. I like Free software and free Internet and free downloads and free speach and freedom of the press and free energy. What? No that would be silly. Stop being ridiculous, if you want people to take you seriously about politics. Freedom to protest though; that used to be a good one. As long as it was nice. A nice walk, some witty placards, a bit of a sing-song and none of that French malarkey – barricades and burning and being rude to policemen.

So when the Twitters lit up in a bonfire of energy bills, late last night and the tight-trousered-one appeared, surrounded by French mime artists, I didn’t know what to think. The Lefties were soon there to tell me, complaining there was a media black-out, claiming there were thousands of people but putting up photos of 50 of their mates. “Yes, here’s where they beat us senseless”. I exaggerate (slightly.)
“Yeah, sure”, I thought.
“You won’t see this on the BBC”, they said.
I searched the BBC for “million mask”. Up it came. “Hundreds of people” in “peaceful protest”. I went to bed. I’d had enough Revolution for one night.

Morning. The radio alarm wakes before me, tuned to BBC Radio 4. Nothing. An hour passes. Nothing. Pick up phone and search BBC for “million mask”. Same article. Wait, no! 11 arrests. fires. unrest, scuffles… What? Did the pubs shut? I widen the search… Guardian, yes then nothing. Back to Twitter “#MillionMaskMarch”. A few activists in the US. It was as if London hadn’t ever happened, according to the right-wing press and the BBC. Nothing on the Wireless or the front page of the news website.

This morning, I signed up to follow @RustyRockets on Twitter. I threw in @MillionMaskMarch for good measure and asked @BBCNickRobinson what the hell was going on at the BBC. He hasn’t told me. I don’t think he’s allowed to. That’s rather worrying in a democracy, or something that looks very like one.

By the way, it turns out my mate was there. He says there were thousands of others. When you hide the truth or lie to us now, we find out about it. You seem to have made me join the 99% who don’t trust you. No, I won’t wear a stupid mask. Politicians, you shouldn’t either and please take that gag off the BBC. They work for us, not you.