Hating Nazis is Counterproductive

Pity and disgust are less harmful, and understandable. But unless they’re actually doing something, in which case they should be opposed, it’s better to ignore Nazis. Since tweeting isn’t really doing something, there’s little point engaging them on twitter.

Nazism is a child’s tantrum, craving attention and acknowledgement, while demanding of the world that which a moment’s rational consideration would realise was impossible.

Nazism is bred of desperation. A lashing out against fear and feelings of isolation and impotence. It’s a symptom of a condition in society, and can only really be fought by fixing the underlying problem.

It may never be entirely eliminated, as some people are simply incapable of learning differently once an idea has been rammed into their minds. So they’ll grasp it closely, even when its popularity wanes, and try their best to spread the infection where they found suitable hosts. But a few stray cells of the disease will have little direct impact on the social body.

The polarisation in society sees people increasingly split into those defined by what they hate, and those defined by what they love.

And while it’s easy be angered by those consumed by hate, don’t fall into hating them. It only creates a cycle that let’s them feel justified in their choice.

Don’t define yourself by hating Nazis. Find something you can love, and focus your passions there.

A Meandering Rant About the State of Britain

I’m so embarrassed. My country (and nation, Wales also voting in favour of stupidity) has decided we should be more isolated from the world. As though that were possible.

I remain convinced it’s an asinine, backwards, decision. But the petitions and calls for a rerun are nonsense. The public has spoken. Sure, now they know much of what they were told were lies – and some seem genuinely surprised by this – but it doesn’t matter. The damage is done. To our economy, our political establishment, and to the EU.

Having had a few days to absorb it all, I’m convinced the main problem is that we didn’t have a proper debate. We simply don’t have the infrastructure to do so in so large a population.

The Labour party is imploding in the wake of the result, as many MP’s who never liked Corbyn (who was elected by support of the actual members rather than MPs) use the opportunity to try to oust him. There have been accusations of him doing little in the referendum, despite him having travelled probably more than many of his detractors to try convincing voters.

The main problem he has is that he’s too reasonable. And that isn’t newsworthy. So while he talks to small groups, the louder, less rational, voices get all the media attention, spreading their hate-filled rhetoric for mass consumption by those who can stomach it. Because, as I’ve ranted about before, the media is a business, which profits by the amount of attention it draws. So of course their going to report on the ‘entertaining’ idiots.

As a result, we got a vitriolic, hate-fuelled campaign that focussed on immigration, a convenient target for so many of the troubles the country is suffering, and one sure to incite passions.

While overpopulation is a problem, and our infrastructure can’t really support our current numbers, this is a short-sighted view, looking for a quick fix, regardless of whether it’ll work. And immigration isn’t what we were voting on.

Not that the Leave campaign necessarily said this would stop immigration (or lead to mass deportations as some idiots seem to believe will happen). They also never said the money saved would go to the NHS (which is now more likely to be chopped up and privatised). But they did manage to imply these, and to paint the EU as the source of all our troubles. And the media were only too happy to spread this.

Also at play was the general sense on impotence on the part of the public, unable to do anything about the forces that are throwing the world into uncertainty and effecting our lives. Trust in politicians is justifiably low, so when we get a chance to change things of course it’s going to appeal to many who can’t be bothered thinking what the change will mean exactly. It’s something we can do.

It looks like many in the Leave campaign didn’t really expect to win anyway, few expressing any clue as to what to do going forward, and most looking stunned that they actually succeeded.

So we’re stuck with racist abuse on the rise on the streets, the economy in the toilet, our neighbours hardly well-disposed towards us, and Farage gloating in the EU about having given them a good thrashing.

Welcome to the new Britain. (Except that you’re not welcome)

Anyone know any good places to emigrate?

EU Referendum

[This is a trimmed version of a diatribe that got even more long-winded. I dropped the detailed discussion because it was fractured and ill-informed. Which isn’t to say that this won’t be.]

 

Here in the UK we’re currently debating whether or not to leave the EU (I won’t use the term Brexit). I say we, but most of the debate comes from politicians, with much of the public bemused as to the facts. Bemused because as soon as one side presents a fact, the other side dismiss it as optimistic, or simply a fabrication.

The campaign has been particularly toxic – or amusing, depending on your point of view. Most of the facts are so flimsy because the truth is that no one knows what the results of leaving will be – despite the conviction on display when they tell you what will happen.

Many of the arguments focus on currently hot topics – immigration playing a large part. They seem to overlook that this is a long term decision, and framing it in terms of immediate problems only makes it look opportunist, focussing on people’s fears to achieve unclear ends.

 

Sovereignty

One issue that could be considered long-term, and the reason the referendum was probably called (mainly because of factions in the Conservative party which have always wanted out of Europe), is sovereignty. Decisions on British law being made by unelected representatives in Brussels.

As a Welshman, I’m used to decisions for my country being taken in another nation (mainly by Saxon immigrants), so this isn’t so much of an issue. It’s not as though any of the candidates to replace politicians are noticeably different from them, so I don’t see being able to vote individuals out as that big a deal.

 

In or Out

Ultimately I’ve heard nothing to persuade me from my inclination to stay in the EU. It may not be perfect, but we’re unlikely to change it from the outside. And in an increasingly internationalised world, where corporate entities seem to be taking power from countries, I don’t see isolating ourselves as being productive.

Building barriers between neighbours only helps reinforce the idea of the other that leads to so much conflict. We need to be engaged with our neighbours, so we can try and deal with our shared problems together, rather than enduring them alone.

Duty to Vote

It’s election season here in the UK (thankfully shorter than in other countries, and unfortunately without any open season for hunting politicians [that might make the news time taken up more acceptable and entertaining]) and politicians have again managed to irritate me by spouting off nonsense.

[Rant Warning]

The particular comment in this case was by some politician whose name I don’t recall (and have no intention of learning – remembering who they are only encourages the bastards) who got incensed at people not voting, saying that if they didn’t vote they had no right to complain about what the winning government did thereafter.

I’m not sure whether he’s willfully ignoring the fact that many people probably don’t have the option of a politician who represents their viewpoint, or whether the political classes truly believe their system caters for all viewpoints.

I think my voting area has eight candidates (I’ve already voted by post). Considering how many people are in the area, how can they possibly think this is enough to cover all viewpoints. Yet if there were enough to cover all viewpoints we’d probably have a problem locating the one we wanted among the horde.

And even if by some chance there is one of them who accurately reflects my worldview, why would I ever think they’ll be able to promote that in parliament. To have any chance of effecting change it needs to be a party in power reflecting your viewpoint, so we generally vote by party rather than individual (I can’t even remember the name of the candidate I voted for).

Yet the primary concern of most parties always appears from the outside to be remaining in power, allegedly so they can effect the changes they want. How often do they manage to do things though, and how often do they fail, blaming their opponents for blocking them.

Why then should people be bothered to vote if they can’t vote for what they want? Simply for the right to complain when whoever does get into power does something we don’t like?

Where exactly is the loss of this right enshrined in law anyway? Because I’m sure a politician wouldn’t make such a claim unless it was accurate. Would he make that claim in parliament? Where they can lie regardless.

Are politicians truly so insulated from the real world that they’re unable to understand why people don’t vote? When the main view of them is in that unruly creche of parliament where their primary occupation seems to be shouting each other down. So much for any hope of reasoned mature debate when that’s considered acceptable behaviour for those governing the country.

And it only gets worse in election season, with all the vicious attacks on each other rather than giving a good idea of what they’re going to do. But since the system is opposed to them making changes anyway, how can they promise anything.

While I did vote by post, I’m not sure I could have been bothered if I had to travel somewhere to do so. Until there’s a party that’ll try to change the system to a proper direct democracy, I doubt there’ll be any politician who’ll represent my viewpoint, so I’m stuck choosing the least objectionable option, and changing nothing.

But at least I retain the right to complain about it.

Devolution

So the Scottish referendum is over, and Scotland remains part of the UK. It might have been interesting to watch it become an independent country, but it wasn’t to be.

I haven’t commented on it earlier since it seemed crass when non-Scots commented on the subject, even though the rest of the country would’ve been affected. Now that its done, and the repercussions appear to affect all parts of the country, it’s fair game.

 

Referendum

I don’t know how much detail was available to the Scottish, but from what I gathered on the news there didn’t appear to be much of an actual plan outlined for what’d happen if they gained independence. Most of the news seemed to be getting opinions from Scots on the street, to the point where it became repetitive.

From those opinions it looks like there wasn’t much more information available to them, or it wasn’t being communicated. The Yes campaign seemed based around telling London where to go, while the No campaign focussed on everything that could go wrong. There was little in the way of detail, which it was on the Yes campaign to provide, to show they could govern a country.

Here in Wales we’ll never have a referendum like this. We don’t have the natural resources Scotland does to make it a viable option (most of ours having been seized when we were driven out of the lands now known as England). I don’t even know what Wales’ largest export is. Dr. Who?

 

Further Devolution

In the wake of the results, partly due to the last minute bribes the party leaders offered Scotland to stay, there’s talk of further devolution for more than just Scotland. The details are understandably sketchy, since it’ll still need discussion and agreement, but I have to admit I really don’t see the point. Devolving decisions on tax and spending on suchlike allows London to shift the blame for unpopular taxes they may have necessitated onto the regional bodies, so I can see what they’d get out of it, but does it really give much useful control to regions?

It doesn’t appear popular with international markets. The pound had dropped due to concerns over the referendum, began rising as soon as it was over, and faltered again as soon as regional taxation control was mentioned. Will instituting it cause further weakness to the pound?

And wouldn’t it all just mean more bureaucracy, and more needing to be spent to oversee the regions? When the economy is still in recovery it seems like a wasteful expenditure. By all means, do it in Scotland as promised, but wait to see how that works out before spreading it to the rest of the country.

 

Democratic Devolution

If it seems like I’m against devolution, it’s probably because broadly speaking I am. Not that I don’t think the public should have more of a say in things, but that devolution is being implemented within the framework of a representative democracy. Which just gives us more politicians, but not enough that any of them have a hope of knowing all the people they represent.

This is my main problem with representative democracies: once they reach a certain size it’s impossible for a representative to be sure they really know how the majority of his constituents would want them to vote (assuming they actually care).

The whole thing is reduced to a popularity contest, and we’re unlikely to get a politician with any actual skills useful for running a country.

A larger state is good in many ways – and I’m pro-EU to a certain degree – in that pooling resources allows for larger projects which in the long term allow the collective to do more, and cheaper, than could be achieved by smaller entities. At certain sizes they also develop bureaucracies that can slow the rate of efficiency, but they’re an unavoidable requirement to run such an entity, albeit one that needs monitoring.

The governance of the larger state is where I take issue, and I’d sooner we transitioned to a direct democracy, doing away with politicians. It wouldn’t necessarily be perfect (see Expressions of Freedom), and it’d require more involvement of the public, but it’d be more representative than representatives.

I doubt I’ll ever see a proper, large-scale, direct democracy. Too many interests would prefer the current system where it’s easier to influence power in a limited number of hands. And those are the hands which would need raising to see something like this implemented.

And I definitely don’t want to see a referendum for Welsh independence, but should it ever come to pass we’re definitely calling dibs on Dr. Who.

Self-Review 9: Geographicide

Geographicide smallGeographicide

The world’s greatest assassin was hired to kill a country. His clients are unhappy with the results.
A 2,000 word short story.

 

 

 

 

This basically espouses my view of the modern world wherein countries are losing political influence when compared to other entities, commercial and otherwise. It’s a theme I’ve also used in Allegiances and Glyphpunk (and which I touched on briefly in today’s post on the BestsellerBound Recommends blog).

One of the main areas of relations among nations is commercial in nature, so in an increasingly internationalised world commercial concerns can frequently supersede all others, resulting in commercial entities – especially multinational ones – becoming in some ways more powerful than governments, and certainly able to influence politicians. Add to that the increasing ease of global communications allowing people to be part of communities based on shared interests and ideas rather than their geographic location, and you have a gradual degradation of national identity. Which may not be an entirely bad thing (possibly a subject for another post), unless corporate interests force themselves into the role.

 

There was more backstory, but I didn’t want to stray too far into that. It’s basically one character telling a story of what he’s done, and extending that felt like it’d be getting away from the core story.

I briefly considered expanding this into a novel showing how he would actually go about killing the country (and it seems some reviewers would have preferred an expanded story). But that would take a lot of research to get right, and didn’t really appeal to me enough to sustain that amount of work to a reasonable degree. And since it’s mainly an abstract idea, giving it concrete form makes it too easy to get one little thing wrong and lose focus on the point arguing about the detail.

I think the abstraction form its shortness is useful anyway, since looking at ideas benefits from some distance. Exploring them through the prism of fantasy or science fiction allows you to remove them from the details of how we know them to be in the real world, so you can examine the idea in a cleaner way. If you are using a vaguely real world setting like Geographicide, then abstraction (hopefully) allows you to have the familiarity that offers a shorthand without the danger of the details dragging the story down.

Is homogeneity conducive to peace?

Globalization is good for business, with brands gaining cross-cultural recognition, often at the expense of the culture they’re infesting.

But this works for most large businesses because a homogenized culture means fewer misunderstandings, and so a more peaceful (than it could be) society, which is more conducive to making money.

So if it promotes peace, how much culture should we be willing to sacrifice to it? Obviously we’re not fully homogenized yet, if such a thing is ultimately attainable, and there’s still a lot of conflict around (and how much culture is being destroyed by it?), but we live in an increasingly global world where a degree of commonality is inevitable.

Just consider how much interaction we would have had with people in other countries only a century ago. And how difficult it would have been to communicate, not simply due to language.

Today’s technology offers a baseline communications culture which both helps and hinders peace, advancing and spreading faster than our cultural integration with each other. Communication is good, but the smaller world such easy communication offers means different cultures are interacting far more, and faster, than they would have a century ago, making conflicts based on cultural differences more common.

In such a global community, the erosion of individual cultures seems inevitable. Even if the culture is remembered, and preserved for future generations, everyday life in an increasingly global world will inevitably abandon some cultural elements.

It probably always has, though, so the nostalgia for lost culture could be due to the speed with which technology is forcing our culture to progress meaning that culture is now being discarded within living memory rather than being forgotten over generations. This doesn’t mean we should be blasé about its loss, since a uniformity of culture runs the risk of creating a sterile society whose evolution can become stunted.

But if clinging to disappearing culture creates divisions in an increasing closer global society, at what point does it become too costly to retain?

Free Market Press

There must be a more efficient way for politicians to communicate with the electorate than through the media. Yet how many of us even know if our representative has a web presence. I’ll admit I don’t even know who my MP is (Member of Parliament; being British I’ll be using British terms here, although the general situation isn’t limited).

But if politicians want to communicate with the electorate, the only real option they have is via the mass media. And what happens if the media don’t like the message the politicians want to send? The coverage could easily be skewed against them, or, possibly worse still, they may not get covered (or not beyond the initial message).

Because, ultimately, the media get to control the delivery of the message, and to direct the general political discourse. (Obviously referring to the media as a single block is simplistic, but unless one element of the media takes a position it may not matter if politicians do.)

So how do they determine which are the important stories? By which they believe will gain them the biggest share of the audience, so the more sensational, the better. We don’t really have a free press so much as a free market press (in terms of mass media, since a lot of online media which has the potential for greater freedom is still in its infancy, and reaching the general public on a large scale is still primarily the domain of the print and broadcast media). They survive on their ratings (or on advertising revenue linked to ratings) and so go with the stories they believe the public would pay more attention to.

The political discourse is therefore directed by the media’s view of what will attract the most attention of the lowest common denominator, which they may even convince some of the public is what they should be interested in. (How long did they drag out the expenses scandal? Sure, there were offensive actions by some politicians, but by then end I’d almost started to feel sorry for some of them simply because they were obviously being victimised as a means to generate sales for the media.)

Given this climate, how much influence can the media really exert over political decision? Are we actually being governed by the media? Or, rather, by their view of what the shortest of attention spans of the lowest common denominator will focus on. So we basically live in a mediacracy.

That isn’t to say the media are a cohesive unit that won’t turn on each other. So does this mean we could use them as a kind of democracy, spending money or attention on the media which comes closest to our views (maybe more of a choice than that we get between politicians)? Not really, since who’d deal with all the boring decisions they don’t consider newsworthy.

So we’re stuck waiting for society to catch up with the evolving technologies, which could change the political landscape, removing most of these problems. And probably replacing them with new problems, or, more likely, new versions of the same old problems.