Florida will change everything


by Sunny
29th January, 2008 at 8:50 am    

Later today voters in the state of Florida get to choose who they want as US president. Republicans are more important here than Democrats because the Democratic party voided the Floridian vote as punishment for bringing their election date forward. But Democrats can still cast their vote and I suspect Hillary Clinton will do well. This is because the state has lots of Jewish and older voters – both of whom lean towards Clinton than Obama.

The Republican race is going to be very interesting. There is a good chance Mitt Romney will take it for various reasons:
1) Rudy Giuliani, who should be finished after coming third, will split McCain’s pro-Iraq vote. Both are foreign policy hawks.
2) Floridians are not big fans of McCain’s pro-immigration stance.
3) Romney has always positioned himself as stronger on the economy (he’s made millions as a venture capitalist) – cited as the top issue right now.

But despite this it is more likely, going by polls, that McCain will win. I hope not. Florida is the last big election before Super Tuesday and my feeling is that for the Republicans this will narrow it down to a two-horse race. Effectively, Mike Huckabee and Rudy Giuliani will have lost all momentum after this. Romney should, after this, become the Republican favourite. He may be Mormon but he rallies the conservative base well for them (where McCain gets a lot of independent voters) and Wall Street likes him. Plus he has become very anti-immigration, which they like.

It’s also good news for Obama because Romney isn’t that well liked among floating/independent voters. Obama is worst off going up against McCain because both have broad appeal. What say you fellow election watchers?


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  1. Dave S — on 29th January, 2008 at 10:59 am  

    What say I?

    That it’s all a big glitzy popularity sideshow and has next-to-nothing to do with actual issues or politics that affect real people’s lives.

    I mean, of course the outcome of the US election will have far reaching consequences that affect people’s lives (most of them negative), but the question to ask is:

    Whoever “wins” the election, can the people of the US and the wider world ever actually come out on top in any situation at all where politicians are involved?

    I think the answer to that is clearly “no”.

    Sure, sometimes politicians are involved in the accomplishment of good things, but isn’t that usually in spite of their involvement, rather than because of it?

    All that this cabaret of US electoral political coverage serves to do is distract most people with yet more chin-wagging irrelevant gossip, meanwhile politicians take actual control of people’s lives further and further away from them, whoever “wins”.

    We are told that “if you don’t vote, you have no voice” and so on. This is an utter load of garbage.

    I think it’s plain to see after even a rudimentary examination of the realities of this statement, that far from giving people a voice, all voting serves to do is take it away by dressing it up in a system where we lose the moment we even participate.

    The legitimacy of so-called “democracy” is based on essentially what boils down to people making a “choice” that isn’t one.

    Don’t vote, ever – it only encourages them!

  2. Zak — on 29th January, 2008 at 12:53 pm  

    I think McCain wll win, to be honest I hope he does I don’t like Romney and I’ve always had a soft spot for McCain.

  3. The Common Humanist — on 29th January, 2008 at 2:27 pm  

    If Romney wins the nomination he will be crushed in November.

    McCain vs Obama is the most interesting.

    I suspect McCain might beat Clinton, he won’t deserve to but he is the only republican I would piss on if he was on fire.

    Anyway, Go Barack!

  4. Ravi Naik — on 29th January, 2008 at 4:54 pm  

    I suspect McCain might beat Clinton, he won’t deserve to but he is the only republican I would piss on if he was on fire.

    Yes, I am afraid she hasn’t been smart. She and her husband decided to use Karl Rove’s tricks and only managed to alienate a lot of democrats who want to get past that. So, if she wins the nomination, she will have a hard time getting Obama’s supporters, who will either stay at home or vote McCain.

    Obama is by far the most decent candidate out there. To me, the fact that he voted against the War back in a time when you were branded a traitor if you went against the retard, shows a lot of guts.

  5. mk1 — on 29th January, 2008 at 5:28 pm  

    Will McCain’s age play a part in this? If elected and he serves two terms he will be touching 80 when he leaves office. Sure, Reagen was 69 when first elected but those days were different. Given the shear volume of media, foreign and domestic commitments and engagements a President has is he past it?

    I noticed Ted Kennedy recently endorsed Obama. This is interesting given it wasn’t so long ago Ted was making not so funny jokes about Barack, referring to him as Osama.

    http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=APx2YJ-_jos

    Or maybe I’m reading too much into this and it was just the drink that made him say it.

  6. Desi Italiana — on 29th January, 2008 at 5:46 pm  

    “Florida will change everything”

    AGAIN?!?!?!?!?!?

  7. Dave S — on 29th January, 2008 at 6:33 pm  

    Hello? Anyone for a meaningless celebrity popularity contest?

    By all means talk about these people queuing up to rule the world, but it’s pretty silly to say that “Florida will change everything”.

    Believe me, out of all of them, I’m hoping that Obama will win. Not because I think that would be a particularly good thing – just because it would be less of a bad thing than if any of the others won. (From what I can tell from this side of the pond.)

    But that’s beside the point, because the best turd in a pile of turds is still a stinking turd, and we need to clean up all the shit and start over again.

    How can you vote for a new system – one that isn’t controlled by hordes of bankers, businessmen and bureaucrats? You can’t, because it’s not an option that is even offered to you. It’s not an option that will EVER be offered to you, because it’s not an option that fits in with the programme of the global elite.

    If voting changed anything, those with the power to do so would ban it in a second. Get the picture yet? Voting does not work – it’s just an exercise in us choosing our own dictators.

    Well, what if we don’t want any dictators? Do you remember being asked if you thought this was a fair system?

    Florida will change nothing. In real terms, the election will change nothing. Sure, Bush will be gone. But is Bush really the problem, or is he just a figurehead symptom of a royally screwed state of affairs?

    This theatrical stunt (the election) is all a massive distraction – a pacifier, a dangling, hollow carrot of hope.

    Change will never come from the electoral system. By design (and by deliberate manipulation), it’s job is to make sure that change does not happen.

    If you want real change in the world, you have to make it happen yourself. Frankly, it’s getting too bloody late to hang around waiting any longer, because we need it NOW!

  8. Kismet Hardy — on 29th January, 2008 at 7:18 pm  

    Won’t make a pig’s spunk of a difference who wins on either side

    American voters (you know the ones that voted Bush back in) won’t vote for a woman or a black man

    Whatever old senile cattle-prodding fart the Republicans pick will rule the world

  9. Jai — on 29th January, 2008 at 8:04 pm  

    Interesting article in today’s Times about the Kennedys’ endorsement of Obama and the events which lead up to it:

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/us_elections/article3267131.ece#cid=OTC-RSS&attr=2637446

  10. Don — on 29th January, 2008 at 8:14 pm  

    Dave S,

    ‘Don’t vote, ever – it only encourages them!’

    Rubbish, as we LibDems say, ‘Vote early, vote often.’

    Huckabee would have been fun as a candidate but it looks like McCain, who is at least more in touch with the 21st century than Catweazle.

    I have real reservations about Obama but I think he will be the next president and that is a serious and meaningful improvement on the current situation.

    Actually, Catweazle would be a serious and meaningful improvement on the current situation.

  11. Desi Italiana — on 29th January, 2008 at 8:42 pm  

    Dave:

    “But that’s beside the point, because the best turd in a pile of turds is still a stinking turd, and we need to clean up all the shit and start over again.”

    Ain’t that the truth.

    Hey, speaking of voting and shit, this will be the second presidential election where I’ll be out of the country.

  12. Dave S — on 29th January, 2008 at 9:00 pm  

    Don… quite. As I said before:

    “Don’t vote – it only encourages them.”

    I don’t want to be ruled over by anyone – liberal democratic or not.

    So of course you would encourage people to vote, because you are interested in those with ideas you agree with being “in charge” (however liberally).

    It’s for nothing more than furthering your own agenda, and changes nothing for the people who are not in such a fortunate position as to be able to hold such wooly ideas as you do.

    ALL forms of government rest on violence and coercion. What is liberal (or liberating) about that, for anyone? Not least those without a voice? (Do I need to name them?)

    Can you reform something that is structured in such a way that it can never be reformed? Would a liberal government somehow eliminate the control of the rich and powerful from our lives? From the lives of those who can so easily be permanently silenced? Hardly!

    Can you vote for an option that simply does not exist? Can you vote for freedom and love from within a system of oppression and hatred?

    No, liberalism is just the mistaken idea that individuals must give up some of their natural liberty in exchange for society’s protection of the rest of it.

    We anarchists reject that as a false dichotomy – though I’m sure it works out just great for those privileged enough to be at a point within the system where they are able to hold such views.

    We will gain our freedom not at the expense of others, but in free cooperation with them – away from the oppressive instruments of the state.

    If you want any sort of change, you have simply GOT to believe in the good of other people. Otherwise, by all means continue voting for the state, and have them walk all over you, controlling you, laughing, for your entire life. That’s where liberalism leads – as do all forms of statist politics.

    Are you going to keep asking them nicely for your freedom forever? Or are you going to wake up and grab it by the horns, right now?

    You should consider yourself lucky that you even have that choice available to you, because most people around the world don’t.

    (I used to consider myself a liberal, by the way.)

  13. Sunny — on 29th January, 2008 at 9:14 pm  

    It’s because McCain is centrist and many in the middle don’t mind him that I want him to lose today. If he wins the Republican nomination, then Obama has less chance to take him.

  14. Vasey — on 29th January, 2008 at 9:46 pm  

    McCain has never met a principle he hasn’t been willing to sell out in the name of becoming president. I really, really want to see him crash and burn.

    I suppose the others are no better but it’s particularly galling when the ‘Straight Talk Express’ starts slobbering over scumbags like Falwell.

  15. Don — on 29th January, 2008 at 9:50 pm  

    Dave,

    I have woolly ideas? Care to be specific? I’m not denying it, but I’d be interested to know how you sussed me.

    ‘Can you vote for freedom and love from within a system of oppression and hatred?’ You can actually vote for freedom, however you define it and however much others might disagree with your definition, but I’m not sure how you would vote for love. However, I’m sure you have a very un-woolly way of doing that.

    ‘…individuals must give up some of their natural liberty in exchange for society’s protection of the rest of it.’

    Yeah, I give up my natural liberty to kill those who offend me or stand in my way in exchange for a social system which maintains a formalised and regulated system of justice enforced by professionals who are subject to overview and control by a myriad groupings of enfranchised citizens – govenmental, quasi-governmental and non-governemental – who can call them to account.

    Of course it is flawed, corrupt, weighted on the side of the privilged. It’s a rattling, steaming, oil-burning jaloppy of a system but we have spent too long getting it to work at all to ditch in favour of the wooly hope that we’ll all just get nice when The Man goes away.

    ‘for those privileged enough to be at a point within the system where they are able to hold such views.’

    What bloody views do I hold that require privilege to hold them?

    ‘You should consider yourself lucky that you even have that choice available to you, because most people around the world don’t.’

    Really? Is that the case? Thank’s for the wake-up call, Dave. I’d managed to go half a century without noticing that.

    I can’t even be bothered to be polite anymore, Dave. you’re a smug, patronising, naive twerp.

    (I used to consider myself an anarchist, by the way.)

  16. Don — on 29th January, 2008 at 9:56 pm  

    That last bit was just rhetoric. I just read Bakunin and went on the marches.

  17. Don — on 29th January, 2008 at 10:00 pm  

    See what you’ve done, Dave? You’ve annoyed me so much I made two punctuation errors.

  18. Shariq — on 29th January, 2008 at 10:08 pm  

    Honestly, I think Obama takes McCain comfortably so I don’t mind if he wins today. Having said that he has a slightly better shot against Hillary, although I still think she beats him.

    What I’m really worried about is absentee ballots giving Rudy the win tonight. I know he’s down in the polls, but I read that over a million absentee votes have already been made. Given that he was ahead in the polls for quite a long time and that a decent amount of absentee votes are military ones you have to think Giuliani will do well there.

  19. Refresh — on 30th January, 2008 at 12:13 am  

    I’ve been giving this a lot of thought. As I do every four years.

    Firstly, why don’t I get to vote for the President of the US;

    Secondly, I think the US could do with at least 4 more years of the neocons, if not 8.

    My reason is simple – they simply won’t die away. Last thing we need is 4 years of respite and them back again for another 8, 12 or whatever. Its been going on for too long.

    So if we can have another neocon in power, then perhaps they could really bring the country to its knees and perhaps then the people back to their democratic roots.

    Of course the worst would be a term or two of triangulators.

  20. Desi Italiana — on 30th January, 2008 at 12:17 am  

    “Firstly, why don’t I get to vote for the President of the US;”

    Refresh, you can have my vote, if you want.

  21. Desi Italiana — on 30th January, 2008 at 12:20 am  

    You know what? Election campaigning has been done all wrong!

    Why are candidates not required to tell us who they would pick for their cabinet? Presidents are little more than the symbolic face of stuff; it’s their cabinets and people they choose to run their administration that decide what happens, what decisions to make, etc. THIS is important.

    I think stating your preliminary cabinet options should be part of the campaigns.

  22. Refresh — on 30th January, 2008 at 12:50 am  

    Desi,

    Yes please. If Blair’s on the list spoil the paper (preferably with expletives).

  23. digitalcntrl — on 30th January, 2008 at 1:00 am  

    I am skeptical of Obama’s chances. Hillary edged him out 2-1 in Florida although it does not count. I think he will be at a great disadvantage especially in the western states who have a high amount of latinos given the black-brown divide here in the US.

    http://www.newsweek.com/id/104725

  24. soru — on 30th January, 2008 at 1:57 am  

    Notice both Refresh and Sunny are going for ‘worse is better’ arguments?

    Sunny says he hopes a worse candidate than McCain wins, as that would make it easier for Obama to beat him.

    Refresh says he hopes a ‘neocon’ (I don’t think anyone standing would own up to that label) wins, so the US gets sufficiently fucked up something magical happens and everything gets suddenly better, like in the last 5 minutes of a TV show with too much plot for its running time.

    I never find any argument of that kind persuasive – you could just as easily argue to have McCain win, so the Dems pick Obama instead of Hilary, or have Gulliani do well to split the air-time between candidates so none gets established, or …

    That kind of stuff makes sense if you are writing a story, are in control of every detail of who does and thinks what, with no other job than make it seem interesting and plausible.

    It sucks as a guide to decision-making, precisely because it can be used to justify any decision, no matter how stupid.

  25. Desi Italiana — on 30th January, 2008 at 5:31 am  

    McCain won, Mitt coming in at second, and Giuliani placing third.

  26. Rumbold — on 30th January, 2008 at 9:43 am  

    John McCain for President. If not him, then Clinton or Obama.

  27. Jai — on 30th January, 2008 at 12:21 pm  

    Firstly, why don’t I get to vote for the President of the US;

    No formal political union between the UK and the US, even though, to all intents and purposes, at this moment in time the President of the US is indeed the “leader of the free world”.

  28. Dave S — on 30th January, 2008 at 12:23 pm  

    Hi Don.

    Firstly, sorry if I pissed you off excessively. I think I was projecting my “election will change everything” annoyance on to you, because I get totally sick to death of dealing with this lunatic idea that has so many people in it’s grip.

    The idea that – despite infinite historical evidence to the contrary – all we need is to do elect the “right people” into power, and somehow everything will be OK.

    I believe this is a dangerously stupid and naive idea that imprisons us all, serving only to divide us squabbling over who should be in power, without once stopping to question the presumed “need” of having anyone at all in power.

    I do not believe we need anyone in power. Rather that power should be equally distributed among everyone – horizontally with no “top” – giving everyone an equal say in all matters that affect them, protecting all minorities in the process, and maximising individual and collective freedom.

    I have woolly ideas? Care to be specific? I’m not denying it, but I’d be interested to know how you sussed me.

    Sure. It wasn’t anything more than the belief that voting changes anything.

    I mean, how many times have you voted LibDem? Has it changed anything? Would it even change anything if they did get into power?

    I’d probably vote Green if I thought it would change anything, but it wouldn’t. The systems of oppression and hierarchy (banks, companies, bureaucracies, meritocracies etc.) would remain exactly the same, because you can’t reform something that by virtue of design is unreformable.

    That is the lie that politicians (some unwittingly) sell us – that somehow by choosing them to take the wheel, they will steer us safely towards something better.

    The truth is – nobody can steer this contraption, because it steers itself in the only direction it is capable of. I guess occasionally, someone manages to apply the brakes a little bit, but it’s direction is unchangeable, and while it exists, we always lose.

    You can actually vote for freedom, however you define it and however much others might disagree with your definition, but I’m not sure how you would vote for love. However, I’m sure you have a very un-woolly way of doing that.

    You can vote for freedom can you? Does not the very act of having to ask for it illustrate perfectly how un-free we are?

    You can’t vote for love – you just have to get on and do it.

    Yeah, I give up my natural liberty to kill those who offend me or stand in my way in exchange for a social system which maintains a formalised and regulated system of justice enforced by professionals who are subject to overview and control by a myriad groupings of enfranchised citizens – govenmental, quasi-governmental and non-governemental – who can call them to account.

    In an anarchist society, nobody has the “right” to make anybody do anything against their will – including killing them. In fact, you’d have considerably less “right” to do it than you do now (on average over the whole population, taking into account the existence of police and military).

    It seems you think it’s wise to hand control of your life over to “the professionals”. I disagree. I think the only person even remotely qualified to decide what my life will be is myself. What is my recourse within the inescapable hordes of professionals telling me (and everyone else) how to live?

    Was I ever asked if I thought this was a good idea? Did those so-called “professionals” ever mention even once that, if we wanted, we could try to live without them? No, because they are self-serving, self-justifying, and completely untouchable.

    They are the dealers, and we are the junkies. That we are “free” to choose another dealer changes nothing.

    Of course it is flawed, corrupt, weighted on the side of the privilged. It’s a rattling, steaming, oil-burning jaloppy of a system but we have spent too long getting it to work at all to ditch in favour of the wooly hope that we’ll all just get nice when The Man goes away.

    But did it ever work, Don? Or is it just a massive collection of bodges on top of something that was designed to do nothing more than keep us in our places?

    ‘for those privileged enough to be at a point within the system where they are able to hold such views.’
    What bloody views do I hold that require privilege to hold them?

    If you’re not white, male and property owning, then I’ll eat my hat. (I am also white, male and property owning, however.)

    Really? Is that the case? Thank’s for the wake-up call, Dave. I’d managed to go half a century without noticing that.

    Well, OK then, I’ve touched a nerve. I don’t expect you to have all the answers or anything like that Don, but what I want to know is:

    How will you voting for the LibDems (or anyone else for that matter) do anywhere near enough to improve matters for those people?

    I can’t even be bothered to be polite anymore, Dave. you’re a smug, patronising, naive twerp.

    Smug and patronising (at times), I’ll grant you. Naive – I think you’ll find if you question my politics, it’s pretty much on the ball. Where there are areas I can’t comprehend or suggest a way of solving, I’d like to think I’ll freely hold my hands up and admit that.

    But that THE BIG POINT about anarchy: no anarchist would ever, in a million years dream to claim to have all the answers.

    Is it naive to maintain hope for humanity – that we could very easily live without masters?

    Or is it naive to believe that humanity can ever be mastered?

    If you’d called me an idealist, then I wouldn’t have had a leg to stand on.

    (I used to consider myself an anarchist, by the way.)

    Well of course! We are all born anarchists – it’s the most natural thing in the world. You don’t need to read Bakunin or go on any marches to be an anarchist!

    Just how “atheist” and “non-racist” are our default states at birth, so is “anarchist”.

    Society just teaches us otherwise, and most of us comply because we aren’t given any other choice.

    There are lots of places in the world where authority does not exist, and love for all humanity does. Five of these places comes into existence every second, even!

  29. bananabrain — on 30th January, 2008 at 5:33 pm  

    I noticed Ted Kennedy recently endorsed Obama.

    and in the words of p.j. o’rourke, responding to ted kennedy’s famous 1988 “where was george?” speech:

    “dry, sober and home with his wife.”

    i don’t know about obama. i’d vote for david palmer from “24″ like a shot though. i saw him advertising car insurance last time i was in the US and he *still* looked more presidential than any of these non-entities. mccain (who i otherwise rather like) looks like he’s about to keel over any moment, romney has Scary Blowdried Private Equity Hair and i’m not sure they ever got the snuke out of hillary’s snizz, if you saw that episode of south park.

    the thing that does my head in is that none of their speeches that i’ve heard actually appear to say anything other than “america is great and you’re all fantastic, so we’re going to start right now to make things better”. nothing of actual substance appears to exist and everything appears to have been reduced to these hot-button fake issues like “school prayer”, “gay marriage” or your voting record before the iraq war.

    i recommend everyone read “parliament of whores”.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  30. Refresh — on 30th January, 2008 at 6:58 pm  

    Soru,

    ‘Notice both Refresh and Sunny are going for ‘worse is better’ arguments?’

    I think what you heard from me was a voice of despair.

    For me I would genuinely like to see a President who passes the bill signing up to the ICC (no, not the cricket variety), and honours the right of any country to put on trial all those complicit in unleashing the US murderous war machine from time to time, in support of their corporations.

    I would also like this president to pay the $14bn adjudication awarded to Nicaragua for its warring behaviour against that small country. Then that to be the template for reparations for its atrocities worldwide.

    I do hope that is a little bit clearer. You see its only if the above happens could we see a real change in world politics.

  31. Don — on 30th January, 2008 at 7:47 pm  

    Dave,

    I may have been a little tetchy, but you do come across as patronising.

    ‘… all we need is to do elect the “right people” into power, and somehow everything will be OK.’

    Does anyone actually think that? Most people I know think that if we elect the least worst then things will be a bit better than otherwise. If you think the person you are voting for will solve everything then you are voting for the wrong person. I think you are projecting onto the public at large a naivity and blind faith which does not actually exist. At least here in the UK.

    ‘… how many times have you voted LibDem? Has it changed anything? Would it even change anything if they did get into power?’

    Locally? Regularly. Even stood a couple of times. Because at a local level the party has good practical ideas involving earth-shattering notions such as cycle routes, small-scale sustainable energy, public facilities etc. The alternative is giving the Tories a free ride. Nationally? Only since I realised I could no longer support Labour, which was a wrench as I am fourth generation Labour supporter. LibDems were the only anti-war party I could stomach. In general I vote tactically anti-Tory.

    ‘Would it even change anything if they did get into power?’

    LibDems? Power? God forbid.

    ‘…it’s direction is unchangeable, and while it exists, we always lose.’

    We have universal adult sufferage, state pensions, a health service and free education because people campaigned and voted for those who believed in such things. We are no longer ruled by effete fops* in rotten boroughs because people voted and organised. Not perfect, not asking for perfection, but by no means the direction we were going in 250 years ago. Could anarchy have produced that? No.

    ‘You can’t vote for love – you just have to get on and do it.’

    I’m a glittering fountain of love, dude. Trust me.

    ‘In an anarchist society, nobody has the “right” to make anybody do anything against their will – including killing them.’

    Who would stop me? And on what authority? Who are you to tell me I can’t take a chain-saw to someone whose T-shirt offends me? How would you enforce that?

    Yes, I am white, male and property owning. The question was, what views do I hold that are exclusively available to the privileged? I would never deny that I was born into, if not Easy Street, then at least Comparatively Comfy Street. That doesn’t mean, as you seem to assume, that I have lived my life in blinkers.

    ‘Well, OK then, I’ve touched a nerve.’

    Damn straight you have. I do not care to be informed that ‘You should consider yourself lucky that you even have that choice available to you, because most people around the world don’t.’ by someone who has no idea whatsoever what my life experience has been. Are you raising my conciousness, Dave? It got raised a long time ago. I’ve seen tyranny in action and I’ve seen anarchy in action. Smells the same. It never gets out of your nostrils.

    Don’t get me wrong. There are those who describe themselves as anarchists for whom I have a lot of respect. Tasneem Khalil springs to mind (see sidebar). But your version is one I knew decades ago and have concluded is futile.

    ‘Where there are areas I can’t comprehend or suggest a way of solving, I’d like to think I’ll freely hold my hands up and admit that.’

    That’s going to be a real comfort when I can’t get effective asthma medication for my child because the evil research/production/distribution system has been ditched in favour of … what? Certainly nothing that will provide the infrastructure that allows 60 million people to exist on these islands. Your dream, if realised, would cost tens of millions of lives. I know that sounds harsh, but I believe it to be true and if you can convicingly show me how a genuinely anarchist society could deliver the food/medical/power/transport/communications systems upon which our fragile lives depend then I might be willing to change my mind.

    ‘Is it naive to maintain hope for humanity – that we could very easily live without masters?’

    I don’t have a master. I have a social contract and I don’t expect it, or anything else, to be perfect. But I have a voice and a vote. I am well aware that there are those who don’t.

    I would now sooner spend my energies on ensuring that they do, however slow and dull and pragmatic that process might be, rather than on exhilarating but impractical ‘solutions’.

    ‘ If you’d called me an idealist…’

    Was never going to happen.

  32. Don — on 30th January, 2008 at 7:50 pm  

    *Boris & Dave notwithstanding.

  33. Dave S — on 31st January, 2008 at 11:46 pm  

    Don,

    I may have been a little tetchy, but you do come across as patronising.

    Acknowledged. I’m far from perfect and I should work on changing that. Maybe one day I’ll succeed.

    Does anyone actually think that? Most people I know think that if we elect the least worst then things will be a bit better than otherwise. If you think the person you are voting for will solve everything then you are voting for the wrong person. I think you are projecting onto the public at large a naivity and blind faith which does not actually exist. At least here in the UK.

    Maybe that is the case – that few people actually think that, at least in the UK. But political parties try to give that impression of themselves, and media coverage almost everywhere goes along with it too (in line with whichever bias is present). There are very few voices that I am aware of in the mainstream that are expressing dissent at the electoral process, or even saying that it cannot solve (and maybe even causes) a lot of society’s problems.

    Locally? Regularly. Even stood a couple of times. Because at a local level the party has good practical ideas involving earth-shattering notions such as cycle routes, small-scale sustainable energy, public facilities etc. The alternative is giving the Tories a free ride.

    Granted, the LibDems do some comparatively good things in local politics, though I still find them authoritarian (because I find all politicians authoritarian, by definition of what they do).

    Nationally? Only since I realised I could no longer support Labour, which was a wrench as I am fourth generation Labour supporter. LibDems were the only anti-war party I could stomach. In general I vote tactically anti-Tory.

    So, against the war – me too. Does the way the government systematically ignored all (and even suppressed some of) the anti-war rallies not demonstrate again the futility of lobbying those who can simply ignore you? What about the way they do exactly the same with environmental issues, or civil liberties issues, or just about any issue you’d care to think of? The people really in charge (banks, corporations, bureaucrats etc.) know we basically don’t have a choice, as whichever party is “in power”, that party is no more than a puppet at best.

    LibDems? Power? God forbid.

    Hehe!

    We have universal adult sufferage

    Mostly achieved by direct action and martyrdom.

    state pensions

    Which have been robbed blind by politicians.

    , a health service

    Granted. I have mixed feelings about the NHS (especially when it comes to dentists) but it generally seems to work OK. I am largely in favour of it, though I think it could improve a lot (and would be prepared to pay for it to improve a lot, if I knew the money would be spent wisely).

    and free education

    Which does it’s very best to churn out deliberately semi-uneducated, creativity-impaired, productivist worker drones. I consider myself lucky to have gone through the state school system and come out the other side with only minor negative consequences. But really, the schools system in it’s present form is one of the most scary institutions around. There is no way my kids (first one due in August) will ever go to state school – home education all the way (unless they specifically request to be sent to school, in which case, I would not deny them that).

    because people campaigned and voted for those who believed in such things. We are no longer ruled by effete fops* in rotten boroughs because people voted and organised. Not perfect, not asking for perfection, but by no means the direction we were going in 250 years ago. Could anarchy have produced that? No.

    I think anarchy would have produced all that and a whole lot more – I really do. It’s all dependent on an entirely different economic and social paradigm – one created by ourselves, for ourselves. When we are directly in control of our lives, we are much more interested in participating in the things that make them happen.

    Instead of passing the buck via taxes to “professionals” to (allegedly) do things for us – when we have a direct say in everything ourselves, and can experience and access things first hand, rather than through layers and layers of murky bureaucracy, we are far more likely to get on and create progress. (Though what I mean by “progress” there is probably different to what is typically referred to as “progress”.)

    Equally, taking an understanding of individual liberty and putting it in a societal context – without which it has no meaning – would help us understand and support each other a lot better in all aspects of our lives. It would not happen overnight, but it would be considerably better than what we have now.

    Who would stop me? And on what authority? Who are you to tell me I can’t take a chain-saw to someone whose T-shirt offends me? How would you enforce that?

    You would stop yourself, because to do so would be pointless. Or rather, the conditions under which you would carry out such an act would never exist in the first place.

    Why would you kill (or assault) in order to gain property, when all wealth would be communally owned shared fairly based on actual need? If you needed something for whatever reason, just borrow it. We have more than enough of everything to go around – the only problem is that it is unfairly distributed at present.

    As for those who are genuinely psychotic (incapable of empathy with others) – well, in the current society, we lock them up in one form or another, and avoid having to deal with them. Sometimes we even put them to death. In an anarchist society, freed from economic inequality and the accompanying artificially imposed wage slavery, we would be able to properly support and care for such people throughout their entire lives within our communities, helping them integrate as far as possible, and ensuring that the circumstances where they might pose a threat to others never come into existence.

    No enforcement would be required. Sure, sometimes people might step out of line, but ultimately the one they really hurt would be themselves – by way of exclusion from the community that facilitates their life.

    It’s a bit more complex that all that, and I probably haven’t done a great job of explaining it, but essentially in an anarchist society, the circumstances which create most of the crime we experience today simply wouldn’t exist in the first place.

    Yes, I am white, male and property owning. The question was, what views do I hold that are exclusively available to the privileged? I would never deny that I was born into, if not Easy Street, then at least Comparatively Comfy Street. That doesn’t mean, as you seem to assume, that I have lived my life in blinkers.

    I don’t assume that you have lived your life in blinkers. But I do think that liberal politics take a rather wishy-washy approach to dealing with the problems of society, and seeks to bodge them back together (when they never fitted in the first place), rather than do anything much that really creates serious change. It is the soft, non-radical “solution” to a difficult situation, and one which simply does not work well for vast swathes of society. It is therefore a position of privilege, because it doesn’t take into account the wider problems that exist. It does little to resolve the entrenched divisions between the haves and have-nots, and unfortunately cannot help but create and maintain an elite. (In my opinion – you are of course free to disagree with me.)

    Damn straight you have. I do not care to be informed that ‘You should consider yourself lucky that you even have that choice available to you, because most people around the world don’t.’ by someone who has no idea whatsoever what my life experience has been. Are you raising my conciousness, Dave? It got raised a long time ago. I’ve seen tyranny in action and I’ve seen anarchy in action. Smells the same. It never gets out of your nostrils.

    It sounds like you have only seen the negative, chaotic anarchy in action. But that is not what I am talking about here. I am talking about the positive, liberating sort of anarchy. To coin a (perhaps not so good) analogy – I am talking about taking the kind of positive anarchy which exists in a room full of friends (nobody in charge – no problem whatsoever), and extending that to the whole of society.

    Don’t get me wrong. There are those who describe themselves as anarchists for whom I have a lot of respect. Tasneem Khalil springs to mind (see sidebar). But your version is one I knew decades ago and have concluded is futile.

    You don’t know what I know, and you have not experienced what I have experienced. Sorry, but you just don’t, and I refuse to give up my hope just because you don’t share it.

    In any case, as Leo Tolstoy put it: “…even if the absence of Government really meant Anarchy in the negative, disorderly sense of that word – which is far from being the case – even then no anarchical disorder could be worse than the position to which Governments have already led their peoples, and to which they are leading them.”

    That’s going to be a real comfort when I can’t get effective asthma medication for my child because the evil research/production/distribution system has been ditched in favour of … what? Certainly nothing that will provide the infrastructure that allows 60 million people to exist on these islands. Your dream, if realised, would cost tens of millions of lives. I know that sounds harsh, but I believe it to be true and if you can convicingly show me how a genuinely anarchist society could deliver the food/medical/power/transport/communications systems upon which our fragile lives depend then I might be willing to change my mind.

    The trouble is Don, what has allowed this to happen so far is coming to an end anyway. We are nearing the end of the age of cheap energy. It really, really sucks, and I’m the first to admit it, because I know full well that it means a lot of people (possibly even myself) are likely to die in the transitional period.

    But in general, I think you’d find that the things which needed to be produced (food, medicine, housing and so on) for society to function would continue to be produced, and might even be produced better than they are now. This is because, after the elimination of the production of pointless goods whose only purpose is to create profits for the few, we’d actually have a lot more time and a lot more resources to put into producing the things that we really need.

    So, couple the impending end of cheap energy with the quite frankly already dire state of so-called “free market” economics (what about those people in the majority world who need asthma medication too, right now, thanks to the pollution being foisted on them by globalised mega-corporations?), things are going to be changing a lot anyway, whether we like it or not.

    We may as well make that change a liberating one for as many people as possible, rather than continue to try and prop up centuries of bad politics.

    I don’t have a master. I have a social contract and I don’t expect it, or anything else, to be perfect. But I have a voice and a vote. I am well aware that there are those who don’t.

    You have a social contract, do you? And where were you given the chance to draw up terms that you found acceptable? Where are the people who are being exploited all over the world given the chance to draw up terms that they find acceptable?

    We have a voice? Come off it!! We’re relatively free to rant about the situation, but beyond that, forget it – we have little voice, and plenty of people have a whole lot less than that.

    I would now sooner spend my energies on ensuring that they do, however slow and dull and pragmatic that process might be, rather than on exhilarating but impractical ’solutions’.

    Then cast off your ideas about ever reforming this beast, because it cannot be reformed. A friendlier, more caring capitalism is still capitalism, however you dress it up. That coupled with the myriad of other forms of inequality in existence in the world will not be reformed away by you or anyone else.

    We simply have to kick them until they break, and start again.

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