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By TheophileEscargot (Sun Feb 19, 2023 at 05:46:51 AM EST) Reading, Politics, Me, Links (all tags)
Politics: "Populist Gridlock". Reading: "The Lives of Christopher Chant", "Body Work". Links.

Politics: Populist Gridlock
It seems to me that there's a common problem across a variety of different countries and political systems at the moment that I call "populist gridlock". That's where the existence of populist parties or factions makes it difficult even for non-populists to get basic business done.

One example was in the recent-ish struggle in the US House of Representatives for the Republican Party to get a Speaker elected. A faction in his party didn't care enough about an even minimally functioning system that they were willing to gridlock the process until their demands were met.

But in a completely different system and country, in order to keep the populist/fascist AFD party out of power, Germany has been forced into a series of unwieldly coalitions: either three-party or "grand coalitions" of usually-opposed parties. Before the rise of the AFD, governments were usually formed of coalitions of fairly ideologically-aligned parties who could carry out a coherent programme. It's harder for the more ideologically diverse current coalitions to agree on things.

In the UK there seems to be yet another instance of the problem in the Conservative Party. The current Prime Minister Rishi Sunak theoretically enjoys a large majority. But in practice he can barely enact any policy and is constantly forced to retreat by his own restive and rebellious party.

So I think there is a distinct problem posed by right-wing populism quite apart from keeping them out of power. Even when out of power, they're capable of gridlocking any significant policy changes, just by holding a sufficient plurality of the votes that the remaining political powers can't enact a coherent agenda.

What I'm Reading
Read The Lives of Christopher Chant by Diana Wynne Jones to the kid. One of the Chrestomanci series of juvenile fantasy novels, covering the childhood of the Chrestomanci we've already seen. A young boy with distant parents in a dysfunctional relationship has a series of adventures.

I don't think I ever read this one as a kid and to be honest I think I enjoyed it as much as he did: Good story, good world-building, good characters and a good... or possibly bad... cat.

What I'm Reading
Rivers of London Vol. 1: Body Work by Ben Aaronovitch, Andrew Cartmel. Spin off comic of the "Rivers of London" supernatural crime series. Decent story about a haunted car. Generally liked the art though Inspector Nightingale looked way too young for me. Will look out for the others, decent light entertainment.

Isolating with COVID. Feeling pretty down though I'm over the worst now. Might be because I'd stopped masking a few weeks ago after losing my glasses on the bus in the usual dumb juggling act. (None of the anti-steaming advice works on me and my huge nose, please don't tell me to wrap it tighter around the nose or give one twist to the ear straps or whatever). Fed up with masks, fed up with COVID, fed up with everything.

Sci/Tech. The middle ages invented eyeglasses to help vision, though Emperor Nero had sunglasses. Nerd historian Bret Deveraux thinks ChatGPT does not threaten the college essay.

History. Roman army collared vulture mascots.

Philosophy. Anarcho-Stoicism: A Primer, Are Stoics Anarchists?

Business. Why should I care?

…And then after a week, a “TA-DA!” email comes, from a new domain. “It’s the big reveal you’ve been waiting for! Gruntr is now Spliüj! That’s right, same great service, same great functionality, with a great new name to match! And a new logo that you’re simply going to love. And a whole new look that will make you simply explode with excitement! Read more in our 6000-word blog post on just how our new corporate identity came to be, and what it means to you!”
< To The Emperor! | Just a man and his will to survive >
Spinning in infinity | 8 comments (8 topical, 0 hidden)
Graphic Rivers by Vulch (4.00 / 1) #1 Sun Feb 19, 2023 at 08:22:10 AM EST
I've read a few of the graphic stories now to catch up on where characters (eg DS Guleed) first appeared, and my general impression is that almost all of them have been drawn to be too thin. Off-hand, the first physical comparison I come up with in my imagination for Nightingale from the texts is much more like the Major from Fawlty Towers.

Nightingale by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #2 Sun Feb 19, 2023 at 09:10:25 AM EST
I can't remember the physical description of him from the books, but I imagine him as something like a silver haired Peter Cushing.
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
Remembered why I reread Rivers of London last week by Vulch (4.00 / 1) #7 Fri Mar 10, 2023 at 04:24:35 PM EST
There's not much in the way of physical descriptions in the first book at least, all that's said about Nightingale is "in his 40s" and "tailored suit, cut to emphasise the width of his shoulders". Leslie gets "Small, blonde and impossibly perky" and everything about Peter himself comes from other characters talking to him.

[ Parent ]
I guess the comic is accurate then by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #8 Fri Mar 10, 2023 at 10:51:24 PM EST
My mental image would have been older than that.
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
Masks by hulver (4.00 / 1) #3 Sun Feb 19, 2023 at 09:23:04 AM EST
The only thing that worked for me was 3m surgical talk over the bridge of my nose / mask interface. Literal pain to get off though
Cheese is not a hat. - clock
Tape! by hulver (4.00 / 1) #4 Sun Feb 19, 2023 at 09:23:34 AM EST
Not talk
Cheese is not a hat. - clock
[ Parent ]
Speedy recovery and by xth again (4.00 / 1) #5 Sun Feb 19, 2023 at 12:38:10 PM EST
Yes the gridlock of which you speak is by design I believe. The thing is The Dark Powers are smart, focused, have pretty much unlimited resources, and are super pragmatic. The Russians for example network with the Farages and the Trumps, but also with the Seumas Milnes and the John Pilgers. Bannon, when he was based in Rome, mingled with the nazi northern league and the leftists 5*. They don't give a shit. The left would never do something like that, disregarding ideology for the sake of strategy. RIght wing populists are much more effective at what they do, sadly

And this is the other part of the picture - how the left has basically given up. There don't seem to be parties that care about wealth redistribution at all, it's all identity politics and stuff which is not important to those who have become dependent on food banks. I don't get why there isn't a single robust social democratic party in the west which talks about the 1% and everything that goes with.  There was Corbyn, but he was a Lexiter (still hate the fucker) and a Russian stooge (as he's proving to be with the Ukrianian invasion, but it was clear already from his position on Syria etc). I hate conspiracy theories, but I am convinced The Putinbots, Cambridge Analitycs and co have pushed the online discussion towards identity politics precisely to disarm the left. </rant>

I'm not convinced by Pigliucci by lm (4.00 / 1) #6 Mon Feb 20, 2023 at 03:27:42 PM EST
I think there's a tension if not contradiction between these two points. Maybe I'm just putting too much emphasis on the last of those two points because I think he's very much correct when he then moves on to "Short of [the ideal city], they would agree with Cicero that we need to work toward the most just state we can actually realize"

I guess my real contention is that I don't think any Stoic would think that the "ideal" is a real possibility except maybe as either a thought experiment or some Platonic ideal of a "city" that includes only sages and unites them across time and space.

Kindness is an act of rebellion.
Spinning in infinity | 8 comments (8 topical, 0 hidden)