Posts Tagged ‘ #electionearings ’

#idealog: the inconvenience of dissent

look mum, i done a rant

a curious trait of our ‘liberal’ ‘democratic’ ‘culture’ has emerged from the damp smoking embers of last week’s election. apart from the blatant absence of any real understanding of/deep seated belief in our parliamentary democracy (“boo hoo hoo, why isn’t there a tory government when i and my friends all voted tory???!!!!”) the complex political wranglings initiated by the lack of a clear mandate have revealed an intriguing and seemingly un-Liberal shift away from the horizon of the individual.

in all the talk of minority government and coalition the (quite predictable) general desire – which is both reflected and ultimately generated by the mass media – has seemed to be for swift decisive and unswerving resolution. it has perhaps been no real surprise to the philosophically literate reader that when scratched away the neo-liberal paintwork of absolute choice has revealed an underlying desire for (and expectation of) diktat.

one intriguing aspect of the apparent paradox of the zealous desire to choose but equally potent disgust at divergence of opinion has been the apparent inability of the average social-networker, journalist or political analyst to grasp the key principle of coalition (which we might, if we wanted to push the envelope call ‘political community’). overwhelmingly the media rhetoric has been that of ‘strength and stability’ which given the current economic climate is of course no surprise. the surprise has been the apparent lack of an ability to perceive what politicians mean when they say – over and over again – something like “we recognise that what is necessary, above all else, is a strong and stable government”. it seems clear to me that what they are referring to is a political structure that will function to govern day-in-day-out over the next few months perhaps years – i.e. one that the individual MPs and members of the various parliamentary parties can actually live with and work within given the obvious ideological variation across and within the various parties.

what many commentators – be they professional or amateur – seem to be focussing on however is simply mathematics and naked power. numbers ruled election day being as it was a shit-storm of absurdly simplified statistics and meaningless on-the-fly extrapolation and now we seem to want them (that is the numbers themselves) to solve the problems for us. we are so used it seems to numbers dictating to us their own interpretation (or rather seeming to, while the hidden manipulators of the data remain such) that we can no longer treat numbers as what they are – tools for defining problems, demonstrating transitions and modelling interactions.

306 (cons) + 57 (dem libs dem libs dem dry libs) = stronger than 258 (lab) + 57 (lib dems) + 1 (green) + 1 (NIA) + 3 (SDLP) + 3 (PC) because 363 is a bigger number than 323 and bigger is stronger. or – put into words – gordon brown lost so he should sit down and nick clegg is the ‘kingmaker’ (a phrase i hope to never hear again) because he has the casting vote. the only problem with this reasoning is that these numbers irreducibly represent human beings with brains and eyebrows and toenails and convictions. a party whip is a negotiated tool not an absolute, assumed reality. attempting to let the numbers do the work relies on the notion that what we essentially have is three politicians who each have their gangs (who will do whatever they say). perhaps this is where the leaders debates led us with their unremitting focus on three individuals. we all forgot that very few people actually get to vote for any of those men and fewer still (0) get to choose between them at the polls.

the inescapably practical reality is however that parliamentary democracy relies on dissent not conformity, and that is why negotiating a functioning (i.e. ‘strong’) government needs be careful (and yes perhaps slow) work. we have been blinded by the logic of corporations into believing that it is unproblematic to think of companies of people as been essentially a single person. corporations think, act, sue and are sued like people – but they are not people. and they can only pretend to be on the assumption of effective hierarchy. political parties do not and should not work that way and neither should a society.

the paradox of the post-modern account of individual choice is that while endless alternatives constitute a positive, the ambiguity created by a lack of consensus in collective decision making constitutes a horror. what if we actually have to make meaningful decisions amongst ourselves? what if our choices need to represent foundational convictions and/or encompass civic duties? we are used to choice without responsibility, opinion without conviction and decision without duty. we are not used to having to know why we did what we did. we are also used to being and knowing political individuals defined by the ability to choose but divorced of substance – bodies and desires and beliefs (such are our private but never public idiosyncrasies). we can (and should) invest as much of our time as we like in personal development and self-transformation behind our closed doors, creating and dreaming about and investing in faux-dynamic narratives, but we should never look to change anything other than our own reality – that would be extremism. this is what thatcher meant by “there is no such thing as society, only people” – “shut up, mind your own choices, do as you are bid”. that is the iron hand inside the ever-proferring glove.

what i perceive in the media confusion and occasional outrage that has poured out of my computer, radio and tv in the last few days is in part the shock of political personhood. real people are complex and awkward and messy. cooperation requires nuance and negotiation. society requires polyphony. all of which it seems is an inconvenience to most. a coalition government with a small (and perhaps only ever theoretical) majority will require those involved to do actual political work. and not just once. but it will also require us as the electorate to follow the workings of parliament, to engage in the ongoing political process and to rely on more than just the ability to judge someone by their dress sense or media-awareness or how many celebrities like them.

there are such things as society, community, dissent and compromise. and one outcome of what most people seem to be hailing as a disastrous election might just be that we learn as a culture to fully embrace the work of sketching out, serving and celebrating that liminal, nuanced, mediated thing we call the common good.

#showertune: ‘the revolution will not be televised’ by gil scott-heron

don’t know

about you but this morning i need a reminder that the political is about more than just what i stayed up all night watching on tele.

#showertune = The Revolution Will Not Be Televised by Gil Scott-Heron

#electionearings: signage

#lexigraph: animal adjectives

one of the most persistent urges in life – it seems to me  – is the drive to compare things to other things. i’m aware that my particular tendency for this is part unconscious personality trait to do with ordering and partly the result of my training in the academy wherein being able to perceive and rhetorically establish connections between things is highly prized.

however, i think it a widespread enough tendency to offer this post to aid people in their discussions as they watch various ugly politicians stand up to have their totals announced this evening. to that end, therefore, i offer you some comparative adjectives related to animals.

we are probably all aware of terms like feline, canine, equine, bovine, simian, lupine, porcine and so on – but here a few that might have skipped your attention:

formicine: like an ant

ursine: like a bear

apiarian: like a bee

pierine: like a butterfly (float pierine, sting apiarian [sic])

galline: like a chicken

cancrine: like a crab

corvine: like a crow

pulicine: like a flea

vulpine: like a fox (uh, vulpine lady, i’m comin’ a getcha’)

ranine: like a frog

caprine: like a goat

pardine: like a leopard

cervine: like a moose/elk

murine: like a mouse

musteline: like a skunk/stoat

acipenserine: like a sturgeon (touched for the very first time)

batrachian: like a toad (mr toad? at least start with him and move on)

vespine: like a wasp

vermian: like a worm

#tirednewsflash: fail


in the East London constituency of Chingford and Woodford Green a candidate is standing who bears the (presumably especially deed-polled) name of Mr None Of The Above. unfortunately for this enterprising and zany fellow his powers of thought and reasoning are not as vibrant as his collection of novelty ties and due to his having selected the alphabetically primal surname ‘Above’ he appears at the top of the list of candidates on every voting slip. belm


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#electionearings: vote for policies

#electionearings: still unsure who to vote for? frustrated that it all seems to be about personality instead of policy? check out  Vote For Policies – a website that presents you with just the policies of the major parties without telling you who’s who until you’ve chosen whose policies you like the most in a selection of key policy areas. why not give it a go?

(n.b.: just to head off any confusion this chart does not represent our results here at RQT but the average data from the site at the time of posting – if you were confused you should know that there is a maximum of 9 policies areas to choose from so less than 11% would represent an interesting result.)

#electionearings: who will win election? vote here

feeling discombobulated by all the spin and celebrity endorsements?

well here at RQT we’re giving you the chance to decide on who you’d like to win this year’s uk general election. you must be over 18 and a uk citizen to vote – votes from people under 18 and interlopers will not be counted but may still be charged. please check with the person who pays your council tax.

the results of the vote will be announced on the 7th may – thereafter you’ll have to lie in whatever bed you’ve made. all day.


#tirednewsflash: cameron delighted at gay ancestry


David Cameron has answered criticism following his disastrous interview with Gay Times magazine last month by revealing that an exploration of his family tree – apparently undertaken for an upcoming familial celebration – has shown that several of his direct ancestors were gay. “we didn’t go looking for this”, Cameron told Newsnight’s Andi Peters, “i am surprised but delighted to have discovered that we have gays in the family.”

Paul Tall, a spokesperson for the internet company that the conservative führer enlisted to do the research, described how several ‘gay pockets’ made plotting the tree ‘fiendishly complex’. “we usually rely quite a bit on gender to help with the structure of a tree but dave turned out to have such a diverse and interesting heritage that many of the usual assumptions simply had to be thrown out. it took us weeks of work for example to discover that Henry Cameron (1747-1791) and William John Fabio d’Aintry (1777-1811) were in fact lovers and not just ‘uncommone man-freynds’ as they were described in a hertford newspaper in 1789.

what was even more challenging” Tall revealed “was arriving at the conclusion (now verified) that Francis Joshua Portmanteau Cameron (1788-1840) and Charles Ray Pele Mears Darwin Cameron (1790-1804) [Dave’s great great great grandfather and great great great great uncle respectfully] were their natural sons. and that sort of thing happened in a few places.”

“it’s thoroughly appropriate” smugged Cameron “that the next leader of modern britain should have such modern ancestry. i think it’s going to be far harder for people like that sordid magazine to try to make out that i’m against the gays now that it appears that i am in essence one myself. i wonder what Brown’s family tree looks like” he quipped to gathered journalists “straights all the way down i’ll wager. you be the judge.”


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