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In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Wednesday May 03 2006

The latest Election Watch podcast is up here.

This time we covered a lot of ground, and maybe rather too much.  We started out wanting to focus on France (the so-called Clearstream affair - Instapundit linked to that also which must be why it was hit number one when I googled “Clearstream"), USA (the Ohio primaries), UK (local council elections), and a report on Failed States.  Trouble is, we also included references to Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Brazil and Singapore, and some of those discussion also went on a bit.  But no matter.  We’re learning, and neither I nor Antoine show any signs of flagging.  Plus, the processing/uploading process is becoming steadily more familiar to me.

After we’d finished, I asked Antoine to consider writing something about our podcasting efforts at his Election Watch blog.  What have we learned?  What are the surprises?  That kind of thing.

I promised that I’d try to do the same, and here are a few thoughts along these lines.

From where I sit, one of the things I have learned is just how nasty democracy can be, as a way of doing things and deciding things.  Better than civil war, of course, but a satisfactory substitute for civil war because it manages to resemble it in so many ways.

Consider the savaging that the current British government has been getting at the hands of the British Press during the last week.  I am no supporter of this government, but I believe that what we are witnessing is the Powers That Be trying to finish off a government that they have ceased to have a use for.  The British journos have known what a ghastly old goat John Prescott is for at least a decade.  So why does it only come out now?  There has been plenty of incompetence on the immigration and crime fronts.  Why, now, does that suddenly matter?  The public sector trade unions have hated the government’s “reforms” of the public sector (basically bludgeoning them into submission by threatening to take away their contracts and giving them to other “private sector” operators) ever since they began.  So why, suddenly, is this a problem?  Okay, these New Labour people have left themselves vulnerable to a press gang-banging, by allowing themselves to be sold as people who know how to manipulate the press at will, which was foolish.  But why, now, have the dogs suddenly been unleashed upon them?

Presumably the people who decide these things now want Mr Cameron to take over.  But again, why?  A story I heard, from a friend who works in the financial services industry, was that about two years ago Gordon Brown had a plan to subject the City of London to some particularly tiresome regulatory control.  Something to do with insurance.  The City begged Gordon Brown not to do it.  But he insisted.  So, wearily, they settled down to try to make the new regulations work.  That’s politics, what can you do? etc..  But then, all of a sudden, and just when the City Folks were getting the hang of the new regime, Brown changed his mind and decided to scrap the new regulations.  At which point, the City emitted a collective yelp of rage and decided that they had had it up to here with these fucking people, and they put the word out.  Get rid of them.  Toast them.  Hang them with piano wire.

Well, maybe.  Whatever the reason, about last September or October, the British Press turned against the Blair regime, and began a campaign of vilification which was clearly timed to reach its first climax with these elections that are just now approaching.  Which it duly did during the last week.

Seriously, Antoine and I were talking about these same local elections last Tuesday, and the biggest worry then for the government was merely that the BNP might do rather well.  Then, on the very day that I posted our conversation, on Wednesday 26th, the shit hit the fan, and has been stuck to it and thrown about by it ever since.  Coincidence?  Nothing to do with the elections?  Come on.

Now I do not seriously suggest that we here in Britain should do away with the democratic process.  Like I say, it is better than civil war.  Much better.  But, we pay a hell of a price for it, in general nastiness.  And this, don’t forget, is in the “successful” states.

Everywhere Antoine and I look in the world, we seem to see the same pattern repeating itself.  Elections, accompanied by nastiness of every kind you can think of.  To look no further than France, what’s going on there is that two of the country’s major politicians (Chirac and de Villepin) have tried to shaft another (Sarkozy), by hitting him with forged documents which said he had been salting money away in a bank.  (Called Clearstream, hence the name of the scandal.)

The really serious point is that there are surely some parts of the world where the nastiness caused by the electoral process may be even worse than the nastiness that elections are supposed to replace.  More about that in future postings, I promise.  (I know, not like me to promise anything.  But I really do, on this particular subject.)

As a libertarian, I have tended not to bother with democratic politics.  Just too, too ghastly, don’t you know.  But talking about it every week with Antoine, the way I have been, has really rubbed my nose in what a truly frightful business it can be.

There’s lots more I could say, of a sort that has been provoked by these podcasts of ours, but that will surely suffice for now.

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