Saturday, 12 November 2011

The Problem of Partisanship

In these times of stern need, we must resolve this perennial nuisance once and for all!

Partisanship: When rival oligarchic factions are so occupied with doing down each other, they hardly care how much damage they are doing to the public.

Non-Partisanship: When rival oligarchic factions are so occupied with doing down the public, they hardly care how little damage they are doing to each other.

The US seems to be well into a full-on partisan phase at the moment, whereas the EU is starting to sprout governments of 'national unity' like toadstools on a rotten tree. It will be interesting - in the historical sense that nobody wants to experience up close and personal - to see which mode manages to completely exhaust the public's patience first.

Better hope that, before this occurs, we manage to enter the other possible though unstable phase of government:

Awk Cluck Cluck Cluck Cluck Cluck!: When rival oligarchic factions are so occupied with not being all cast down together and stripped of their ill-gotten swag, they hardly care to how many of the public's easier demands they yield for the moment. Later, they may be too weakened to renege.

This may not work where the main demands involve competencies which a target oligarchy has long excused itself from cultivating, and prevented anybody else from acquiring. It is also vulnerable to the loudest public demands' coming from stupid heads, with Hilarious Consequences. But it is the moment of hope and choice, in a way that picking the liveliest scrapper or uniting behind the blandest fudger are not.

I wonder how ready we all shall be for it, at the turning of the tide? Most of all, I wonder how ready I shall.

Let me not prove a sluggard or a stupid head, come the local hour.


  1. As I see it, this is a problem in political physics... at what point in the trajectory will the nation be in that 'sweet spot' where effective correction can be made and rational control re-established?

    It's beyond my grade level.

    However, you realize that there are others waiting for the same moment, some with not-so-good intentions. After all, control-once asserted-can be directed toward good or toward other nefarious ends. They'll call themselves something nice, though, so we can trust them.

    Two problems exist: When the old system goes down, something must replace/repair it, otherwise your effort is in vain. And, you must be in the right place at the time, with enough support to carry through. You have to be there 'fustest with the mostest.'

    The ideal solution would be to gently wake the present operators and tell them where they've gone wrong. I don't think that's going to work, this time.

  2. Yes, I do so realize, and I worry about it a lot - about its opacity, not least. The political physics analogy makes me wonder if this doesn't look more like a horrible problem in turbulent fluid dynamics than a merely difficult one in rigid-body Newtonian motion, though!

    Failure modes and oligarchic defences are more things I want to explore here shortly, if I can carve out the time and thinking room to treat them sensibly.

  3. The problem itself is not unknown--Others are aware of it and are worrying, if not working on it.


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