Home/Tag: politics

Democracy’s end.

Here’s a reflection: the value proposition of democracy is that it provides for a peaceful transfer of power, once an incumbent regime loses its political legitimacy. If you have a working democracy you don’t need revolutions to get rid of incompetent leadership. As Enoch Powell said, “every politician’s career ends in failure” (unless they die unexpectedly): in a democracy they agree to step down, and life goes on.

But when you get a faction, party, or regime that no longer subscribes to the idea of democracy and refuses to back down gracefully, you get back the old problems: pressure for change builds up and when it erupts the effects can be devastating and unpleasant–especially, as we’ve had a crash-course reminder in recent years, when the tools of communication make it really easy for dangerous demagogues to draw a following.

Charles Stross on political vampires.

2019-08-22T19:11:50+10:0012th December, 2019|Tags: politics|


While we’re on the subject of graphs, American political parties on a left-right spectrum, as compared to similar parties in other countries.

Probably no huge surprises here—the GOP is fa-aa-ar further to the right than most other “mainstream” conservative parties, ditto historically the Democrats, though this has shifted since 2016—and probably some room to question the methodology. But interested to see on a graph, either way,

2019-08-08T08:47:11+10:0011th December, 2019|Tags: politics, usa|


[T]he sad fact is that much of the world has been destroyed institutionally by what America [has done] over the last fifty years or so. Think of Latin America — savaged by CIA plots and American-backed militias. Think of parts of Asia like Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos — they paid the price for not choosing capitalism with millions of lives. Think of Africa, which was taken advantage of for decades, its resources greedily gulped down.

These regions of the world were left largely trapped by the American Century. They weren’t able to progress much, because they didn’t want to be capitalist — mostly, they wanted to be social democracies, but America wouldn’t let them be anything else, either. So there they were, shoved down again and again by the bully on the block, unable to develop the way they wanted to. The simplest example is Chile, where when a social democratic government was elected, America literally overthrew it, installed Pinochet as dictator, and looked away whistling while the death squads went to work.

umair haque on who shaped the century.

Remember that Tumblr post that was going around a while ago where it turned out that, like, a startling number of Americans don’t know just how aggressively their country overthrows foreign governments and assassinates foreign leaders? Yeah. About that…

2019-07-31T12:25:12+10:004th December, 2019|Tags: politics, usa|

A short history of Glenn Greenwald.

And by “short” I mean “long”. And by “history of Glenn Greenwald” I mean “history of Greenwald’s long-standing trend of defending white supremacists“, in both the figurative and specifically legal sense.

2019-07-10T08:41:56+10:0011th November, 2019|Tags: politics|

Getting away with it.

But Trumpism took the racial resentment that was always the only successful recruiting strategy of the College Republicans and fused it with the only lesson he ever internalized in his elite education: complete irresponsibility is gloriously liberating. What unites Trump’s older base and his small core of young white devotees is the delight they take in watching him get away with it.

Trumpism’s pitch to young white men is thus a stirringly amoral sort of syllogism: we can’t give you anything material, because we stole it all and are hoarding it, but we can create a world in which you can regularly act on your worst impulses and get away with it. Some city kids are coming to town; here’s a way to racially mock them that won’t get us in trouble.


Legitimizing complete irresponsibility is also exactly why the mainstream, respectable GOP eventually embraced Trumpism. It’s a force that protects the monstrously unfair world they’ve built. They want to ensure that righteous mobs don’t dismantle the institutions that crank out Jared Kushners and Brett Kavanaughs, so they go along with the big lie, aimed at their lessers, that the people who want to destroy those elite institutions are also determined to punish “your son.” A movement that is designed to preserve the privilege of teens like Brett Kavanaugh to behave poorly and still run the country is telling less-privileged white teens that it’s actually fighting for their much more meager privilege to be racist and piggish and not face consequences.

Alex Pareene on the talking truth to teens.

Long, but pretty much the whole of this article is quotable, so… go read the whole thing.

2019-07-08T12:28:14+10:006th November, 2019|Tags: culture, politics|

Market of the free.

For many people today, it’s hard to imagine government doing much of anything right, let alone breaking up a company like Facebook. This isn’t by coincidence.

Starting in the 1970s, a small but dedicated group of economists, lawyers and policymakers sowed the seeds of our cynicism. Over the next 40 years, they financed a network of think tanks, journals, social clubs, academic centers and media outlets to teach an emerging generation that private interests should take precedence over public ones. Their gospel was simple: “Free” markets are dynamic and productive, while government is bureaucratic and ineffective. By the mid-1980s, they had largely managed to relegate energetic antitrust enforcement to the history books.

This shift, combined with business-friendly tax and regulatory policy, ushered in a period of mergers and acquisitions that created megacorporations. In the past 20 years, more than 75 percent of American industries, from airlines to pharmaceuticals, have experienced increased concentration, and the average size of public companies has tripled. The results are a decline in entrepreneurship, stalled productivity growth, and higher prices and fewer choices for consumers.

Chris Hughes on megacorporations.

2019-07-08T11:56:38+10:004th November, 2019|Tags: culture, economics, politics|


[Greg] Lukianoff and [Jonathan] Haidt go out of their way to reassure us: “Neither of us has ever voted for a Republican for Congress or the presidency.” Like Mark Lilla, Pinker and Francis Fukuyama, who have all condemned identity politics in recent books, they are careful to distinguish themselves from the unwashed masses – those who also hate identity politics and supposedly brought us Donald Trump. In fact, the data shows that it was precisely the better-off people in poor places, perhaps not so unlike these famous professors in the struggling academy, who elected Trump; but never mind. I believe that these pundits, like the white suburban Dad in the horror film Get Out, would have voted for Barack Obama a third time.

Moira Weigel on liberal elites.

From a review of Lukianoff and Haidt’s execrable book and a look at the rightwards trend of white, mostly male, liberals more broadly but, even more relevantly, that last sentence is such a sick fucking burn.

Incidentally, as an Australian, it is no mystery whatsoever to me that self-proclaimed liberals always seem to end up in bed with the far right whenever they’re even remotely challenged on anything. Pretty much the only mystery is how the hell American liberals apparently managed to hide themselves for so long…

2019-03-26T08:42:27+11:0017th September, 2019|Tags: culture, politics|

uk wut u doin brah

What is being decided here is not just about Brexit. It is about the biggest constitutional question you can ask in any country: Who holds legitimate political power? Is it the people, or Parliament, or the government?

For centuries, there was a settled answer. Parliament held the power by virtue of votes from the people. The Brexit referendum provided the government with a mechanism to sidestep that arrangement and portray itself as the voice of the people independently from Parliament. The events of the next few weeks will show which of those visions is victorious. The stakes couldn’t be higher.

Ian Dunt explains Brexit in two paragraphs.

Incidentally, if you don’t know the difference between, in particular, “Parliament”1 and “the government”, and why selecting one or the other as the embodied will of the people makes so much difference in a democracy… then you can probably thank half a century of right-wing populist demagoguery and intentional attempts to undermine public understanding of and participation in the democratic process, honestly.

  1. Americans, you may substitute “Congress” for “Parliament” here. []
2019-09-16T07:53:56+10:0016th September, 2019|Tags: brexit, politics|

I know you planned it…

News Limited editors did not argue any of these points during our meeting, but by the end of the discussion it was clear that none of these facts was convincing for them. News Limited’s position regarding the NBN seemed to be one of principle. Never mind that the private sector would never build an NBN, or that the current market structure was flawed, or that government had a successful history of fixed-line infrastructure building. The view from News Limited’s side of the table was that the government just shouldn’t be building this sort of public infrastructure.

News Limited was not alone in its position. One of the most frequent comments I heard during the dozens of public speeches and presentations that I gave on the NBN was “Why are you building this? No commercial company would undertake this project. The returns are too low and the risks are too high.” That was precisely the reason the government was doing it, I would reply – because no purely commercial entity would undertake a project like the NBN.

Michael Quigley on infrastructure.

Quigley is, of course, the first and former head of NBN Co, the government-owned corporation established to deploy high-speed broadband throughout Australia. Particularly, as pointed out above, to regional and rural areas under-served by existing private sector telcos because, not to put too fine a point on it, there’s not enough profit in rolling out broadband internet across the desert.

To say that the NBN was sabotaged by right-wing and corporate interests would be putting it mildly. Again, as mentioned in the quote, News Limited (i.e. Rupert “Fox News” Murdoch’s media empire) was one of the prime saboteurs, aided by the existing commercial telcos, basically because, again, having to compete against nationalized infrastructure would cut into profits.

Tl;dr, what happened to the NBN—what was allowed to happen to the NBN—was nothing less than wholesale theft against the Australian public for the enrichment of a handful of millionaire CEOs and their boot-licking cronies.

2019-03-05T13:21:20+11:0031st August, 2019|Tags: australia, politics, tech|