The next generation

noel emits

a wonderful wooden reason
but at the same time you're not going to get (say) a First in politics from Cambridge without being pretty fucking smart and hard-working as well.
'Pretty fucking smart'? That's plainly not the case, you just need to be smart enough and complicit enough to get through the exams and interviews.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
'Pretty fucking smart'? That's plainly not the case, you just need to be smart enough and complicit enough to get through the exams and interviews.

Is that not the case? Maybe I'm arguing from a position of ignorance about arts and social science degrees, I dunno. The people I knew in my course (theoretical physics) who got firsts were generally quite bright, I'd say. Whether that makes them ideally suited to running the country is hard to say, although that's largely irrelevant because as far as I know none of them wanted to (and, by your argument, would therefore be the sort we should have running the country - a position I have some sympathy with, I have to say).
 
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mixed_biscuits

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So you'd rather live in an environment you have little say in , that is toxic on several levels and generally geared towards making you feel crap and buy crap?

I'm reasonably confident that I can make decisions to change the circumstances of my life to my own benefit - I don't want someone else to have too much of a say in making those decisions for me.

If you buy crap because of advertising etc (I'm inferring that this is something that you're worried about) then you're a mug who doesn't deserve a benevolent corporation-smashing dictator to look out for you in the first place. The only things I buy are cheap cds and food, and I only buy the rampantly unfashionable cds I do because I have money burning a hole in my pocket and live in hope. ;)

As for feeling crap, I generally feel good, as long as I'm either playing quiz machines or talking to friends. And I don't think either are a hot topic modern malaise-wise.
 
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mixed_biscuits

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The sort of people who are interested in being politicians are generally the last people I would like to be making decisions about my life and my society. I think picking community representatives on some sort of random basis would be better, it can't be worse.

We couldn't do that, because the idea hadn't been put forward by someone randomly selected in the first place.

I agree that a lot of people interested in being politicians are fannies, tho' (just from personal experience).
 

noel emits

a wonderful wooden reason
I'm reasonably confident that I can make decisions to change the circumstances of my life to my own benefit - I don't want someone else to have too much of a say in making those decisions for me.
'Your own life'. This is the very thing, I'm talking about a shift in perspective. Our lives can only really improve on a scale when the society is ordered around a different principle - one of human benefit rather than some abstract commercial idea. There's little point in being the richest man on a planet of miserable people. not sure where you get the idea I'm suggesting that others make decisions for you - quite the opposite. There's lots that goes on in my neighbourhood that contributes to lowered quality of life for everyone but is driven by purely commercial concerns. I think it's short sighted and self defeating as well, but that's very hard to see for someone deep in that mindset.
 

noel emits

a wonderful wooden reason
If you buy crap because of advertising etc (I'm inferring that this is something that you're worried about) then you're a mug who doesn't deserve a benevolent corporation-smashing dictator to look out for you in the first place. The only things I buy are cheap cds and food, and I only buy the rampantly unfashionable cds I do because I have money burning a hole in my pocket and live in hope. ;)

As for feeling crap, I generally feel good, as long as I'm either playing quiz machines or talking to friends. And I don't think either are a hot topic modern malaise-wise.
I wasn't taking about advertising as such, just a general lack of concern for people and understanding of their needs.

It's great if you feel good and like to think you are immune to the toxic aspects of our society but I presume you don't live in a bubble. But where's the vision? This is what I'm talking about. Are we reduced to being happy to play quiz machines and buy the odd CD? Is this the extent of what we can do as the human race? Is this the extent of the concern for how the world is? OK, I know you're kidding a bit but it's kind of indicative don't you think?
 

mixed_biscuits

_________________________
'Your own life'. This is the very thing, I'm talking about a shift in perspective. Our lives can only really improve on a scale when the society is ordered around a different principle - one of human benefit rather than some abstract commercial idea.

Well yes, fine, I agree, we could all help each other more BUT I'm highly suspicious of attempts to radically re-order society in root-and-branch fashion. What impresses me more is people making concerted efforts to connect with those directly around them, with positive changes being conceptualised and carried out with reference to the concrete, rather than the abstract, like that woman on the telly recently who sorted out her council estate (new series, can't remember the name).
 

mixed_biscuits

_________________________
It's great if you feel good and like to think you are immune to the toxic aspects of our society but I presume you don't live in a bubble. But where's the vision? This is what I'm talking about. Are we reduced to being happy to play quiz machines and buy the odd CD? Is this the extent of what we can do as the human race? Is this the extent of the concern for how the world is? OK, I know you're kidding a bit but it's kind of indicative don't you think?

Yes, absolutely, but I'm hoping that the teaching I do covers the idealism angle, (as well as reminding me every day how difficult it is to change people.)
 
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noel emits

a wonderful wooden reason
We couldn't do that, because the idea hadn't been put forward by someone randomly selected in the first place.
I guess this is a flippant comment but of course it could be something proposed by existing government.

I mean, my question to politicians would be, why does NOTHING sensible ever happen? Do people really not want things to work? Is the argument that if you do something sensible you'll get voted out?

So maybe you could have a kind of bottom-up pyramid form of government - small neighbourhood councils with a lot of direct involvement, perhaps with some kind of random selection process, who then put forward representatives for larger regional councils and so on... I can develop this further but maybe the point is that we can now do a lot things practically as regards democracy that we couldn't have conceived of before so why don't we?
 

mixed_biscuits

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So maybe you could have a kind of bottom-up pyramid form of government - small neighbourhood councils with a lot of direct involvement, perhaps with some kind of random selection process, who then put forward representatives for larger regional councils and so on... I can develop this further but maybe the point is that we can now do a lot things practically as regards democracy that we couldn't have conceived of before so why don't we?

I think the first thing to do would be to research whether anything like this has been done before anywhere. It's almost inevitable that it has.

Maybe what you're describing is the initial evolution of government - small tribe is led by 'random' leader, ie. whoever could be arsed to put in the legwork; encounters other tribe so, sensing a possible threat, puts forward a more clued-up rep. to negotiate things etc etc. Do we really want to go through all of this again?

obv Length of thread = inversely proportional to = probability of my having gained a 1st in Politics.

I definitely like a bit of randomness, am for the idea of the House of Lords and the Queen being correctives to the excesses of our elected representatives.
 
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noel emits

a wonderful wooden reason
Yes, absolutely, but I'm hoping that the teaching I do covers the idealism angle, (as well as reminding me every day how difficult it is to change people.)
Of course you do what you can, and being happy is important.

Yes it's very hard to change things, but I think the prerequisite is to be able to conceive of radical possibilities as possible. And it can be very difficult to this when thinking about society in terms of current limitations and parameters, so in that sense we can never get beyond it and into the next space without taking the most idealistic position we can.
 
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mixed_biscuits

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Of course you do what you can, and being happy is important of course.

Yes it's very hard to change things, but I think the prerequisite is to be able to conceive of radical possibilities as possible. And it can be very difficult to this when thinking about society in terms of current limitations and parameters, so in that sense we can never get beyond it and into the next space without taking the most idealistic position we can.

I think taking a highly idealistic position can lead to disappearing up one's own arse.

I remember a philosophy professor (post-modernist, obv.) waxing lyrical about his ideal political attitude: one that moved randomly through all possible stances. Certainly gets a tick for 'thinking outside of the box,' but a big cross as regards the likelihood of convincing others that it might be a good flag to rally behind.

Your comment also reminds me of the Marxist false consciousness thing: you're the clairvoyant, everyone else is a dupe. I don't think that that attitude is helpful either.
 
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noel emits

a wonderful wooden reason
Is that not the case? Maybe I'm arguing from a position of ignorance about arts and social science degrees, I dunno. The people I knew in my course (theoretic physics) who got firsts were generally quite bright, I'd say. Whether that makes them ideally suited to running the country is hard to say, although that's largely irrelevant because as far as I know none of them wanted to (and, by your argument, would therefore be the sort we should have running the country - a position I have some sympathy with, I have to say).
I would imagine that to get a first in theoretical physics you have to be smart in a very specific way. And maybe it is relevant that none of these people are interested in running a country.

A social sciences is one thing - at a basic level to get a first I would say you need perhaps a basic degree of intelligence, interest and an ability to repeat information - but success in politics is something else which requires more than anything a certain kind of confidence in one's suitability for the job and general correctness, either that or just plain sociopathy ;)
 

noel emits

a wonderful wooden reason
I think taking a highly idealistic position can lead to disappearing up one's own arse.

I remember a philosophy professor (post-modernist, obv.) waxing lyrical about his ideal political attitude: one that moved randomly through all possible stances. Certainly gets a tick for 'thinking outside of the box,' but a big cross as regards the likelihood of convincing others that it might be a good flag to rally behind.

Your comment also reminds me of the Marxist false consciousness thing: you're the clairvoyant, everyone else is a dupe. I don't think that that attitude is helpful either.
The possiblities I'm thinking of aren't even that radical, but it might seem that way from a present perspective so I put it in those terms.

Everything is connected. The benefit of all is exactly that, and it's self reinforcing. I'm just suggesting that more than the moral argument for a socially orientated democratic government, there could actually be huge benefits in terms of material prosperity. Yes, it's speculative but that's what I think.
 

mixed_biscuits

_________________________
I would imagine that to get a first in theoretical physics you have to be smart in a very specific way. And maybe it is relevant that none of these people are interested in running a country.

I know someone who got a first in theoretical physics. He came top in the country in A-Level Geography and reads classic Russian literature in his spare time. He also spends a fair amount of his time growing his biceps.

Surely the perfect candidate for PM?
 
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noel emits

a wonderful wooden reason
Perhaps he should be forced to do it? ;) I doubt he'd want to.

You know, there's a certain sense in which being very learned and intelligent can hugely undermine the kind of blind certainty that is so useful for convincing others that you know what the fuck you are talking about. It takes a very rare talent to combine the two. Well that's the received opinion anyway, do the voting public respond better to politicians who try to honestly convey the complexities and nuances of truth than to those that take a very definite and intransigent line on everything? Look at some high profile US politicians, like say, the President. They're uncomprehending certainty and blissful ignorance is so useful to the party for this reason. Yeah, maybe he knows what's going on, I don't think so. Starting to suspect that they;ve been lying to him though.
 
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Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Well that's the received opinion anyway, do the voting public respond better to politicians who try to honestly convey the complexities and nuances of truth than to those that take a very definite and intransigent line on everything?

Hmm, better ask the American public about that! That's why GWB had the popularity rating he had for so long, before it all started to go tits-up; he's got that "Aww, shucks" thing he does that appeals to dumb hicks by convincing them that he is a dumb hick (as opposed to the heir to a multi-million dollar fortune) and consequently 'one of them' rather than one of those airy-fairy intellectual New England liberal faggots.

Geography = colouring in maps, btw.
 

mixed_biscuits

_________________________
You know, there's a certain sense in which being very learned and intelligent can hugely undermine the kind of blind certainty that is so useful for convincing others that you know what the fuck you are talking about.

Rowan Williams seems to fit your bill - always (mis)using his considerable brainpower to generate an over-intellectualised hyper-uncertainty. I think he tries too much to be all things to all men.

Alternatively, there are people like John Redwood or Gordon Brown - very intelligent but with an earnestness and seriousness that prevents them from being particularly spontaneous or juggling multiple viewpoints.

No, but you're right: none of the above seem particularly convincing.
 
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