What Kinda Government?

This week, the world’s second-largest democracy, America, had an election.  Without even looking at the results, I can tell you — categorically — that half the country is now pissed off.  But that’s the nature of democracy: somebody’s gotta lose, and losers are generally vocal about it.  In fact (and it’s a little known fact) the word “democracy’ comes from two words: “demos” (a corruption of “demons”) and “cracy” (a corruption of “crazy.”)  These were the pejorative terms opponents shouted at each other in the Athenian Agora where democracy was born.  However, despite the sophisticated name calling, Greek democracy was very primitive.  For example, not everybody got to vote — or even speak — including slaves, women, Pericles’ mistress Aspasia, convicted felons, tax evaders and anybody named Xerxes.  Nor was democracy universally accepted.  The great philosopher Socrates wasn’t a fan and advocated that only men who wore socks should vote.  When the youth of Athens began wearing socks and sandals, he was put to death.  Some years later, Alexander the Great came along and put Athenian democracy to death — where it lay dormant for about 2000 years.  The democracy we know is a weird evolution of English barons, Boston lawyers, Virginia farm boys, French revolutionaries and John Stuart Mill.  It serves us well, but it’s by no means the only form of government available.  Here are a few other systems of note.

Monarchy – Named for the Monarch butterfly, this is government by glamour with plenty of crowns and gowns to go around.  Monarchy is characterized by over-the-top weddings, footmen, tiaras and glass slippers.  And even though one out of two princes are charming, monarchy has some serious enemies — such as spinning wheels, poison apples and wicked stepmothers.  However, when done properly, Monarchy can result in happily ever after. 

Authoritarianism – Sometimes called “tyranny,” “despotism” or “one-man rule” — whatever it’s called, though, it invariably works the same.   There’s always a short man who didn’t get laid in high school.  He somehow seizes power and spends the next few years acting like a paranoid dick to everybody.  (Hence the name – dictator.)  Dictators are characterized by funny hats, funny haircuts and no sense of humour.  And they don’t like to be called Winnie the Pooh.

Theocracy – No idea what this is, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t some silly-ass notion that religious leaders should run the government!  I mean really!  Nobody’s that stupid!

Tribalism – See Facebook.

Fascism – You get to march a lot, but you have to do as you’re told.

Patriarchy – This is where women do all the work and men sit around talking politics.

Matriarchy – Oddly enough, this is also where women do all the work and men sit around talking politics.

Parliamentarianism – This is a combination of two French words, “parle” which means “to talk” and “merde” which means – uh – google it.  The theory behind government by parliament is if enough elected officials talk enough shit long enough, eventually the problem will simply go away.  The best example of parliamentarianism is Canada where they’ve been talking about poverty, homelessness and unemployment for 50 years.

Anarchy – This looks great on paper but normally ends up with a big, ugly biker drinking beer out of the skull of the college sophomore who thought it was a cool idea.  It’s basically Mad Max meets academia. 

Communism – Sometimes called Soviet Democracy, there’s only one party, and it isn’t very much fun.

Socialism – Favoured by actors, rock stars and other rich people, the single premise of socialism is somebody else (normally called “they”) isn’t paying their fair share.  Socialists are political tourists who drink champagne, ride around in limousines, attend the occasional rally and then retreat to the leafy green suburbs to contemplate their awareness.

Polygamy – Oops!  Wrong blog!

Ochlocracy – This is a fancy word for Mob Rule.  It was made popular during the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror, and if you still think you’d like a taste of it, open a Twitter account.

Oligarchy – Not to be confused with Russian gangsters, this is where several groups of powerful people get together, hijack the government and do whatever the hell they like because they’re so badass/ruthless, ordinary people are too scared to …. Hey!  Wait a minute!

Meritocracy – A Cloud-cuckoo-land form of government popular with children and Bernie Sanders.

Magocracy – A society ruled by magicians.  It’s hard to explain, but essentially it’s Harry, Hermione and Ron Weasley running the show.

Plutocracy – This is rule by rich people who – I suppose — take their instructions from Pluto.  This form of government has probably fallen into disfavour since a gang of treacherous scientists defrocked the tiny planet.

And finally, two forms of government that are very popular these days:

Kakistocracy – This is where the voting public continually elect the stupidest people possible and then wonder why nothing ever gets done.

Kleptocracy – This is where people vote for the candidate who certainly seems sincere — only to be taken in by these con artists who, once elected, turn out to be nothing more than common thieves.

Stupid vs Politically Correct

stupid1Our society has finally fallen into the abyss.  It is now more acceptable to be stupid (dumb-to-the-bone stupid) than it is to be politically incorrect — and I can prove it.

Recently, my country had a national election.  It was quite the dog-and-pony show.  Every party employed a small army of people whose only job was to comb through the Internet.  They were searching for any racist, sexist, homophobic, generally inappropriate words or actions that members of the opposition may have ever made (at any time in their Internet history.)  The hope was they’d find something that would discredit the opposition with their own words.  No surprise!  They found quite a lot.  (It’s amazing to me that most people still don’t understand the Internet is permanent.)  Anyway, once the politically incorrect morsel was found and the offending candidate was “outed” for being offensive, it was always the same drill.  The candidate would apologise — claiming youth, poor judgement, a bad hair day, whatever — and withdraw from politics before the Internet lynch mob could sink their teeth into them.  This happened several times during the election — except for one candidate.

Here’s how it went down.

One candidate made some very, very politically incorrect remarks about a picture of the gates of the Nazi death camp, Auschwitz.  She was called on it, and the eagerly offended social media mob began to gather.  Now, here’s the game changer.  Instead of dutifully feeling shame and slinking off into the darkness, the candidate responded by saying she didn’t mean any harm and she wasn’t actually being insensitive to 6 million murdered Jews because “Well, I didn’t know what Auschwitz was, or I didn’t up until today.”  Whoa!

I guess this could happen.  After all, Frodo, Pippin and Samwise Gamgee probably never heard of Auschwitz, but they were hobbits and grew up in Middle Earth.  For the rest of us, the Holocaust is one of the biggies.  We learned about it in school — grade school.  Plus, if you missed that week, there have been a number of books written about it that probably mentioned Auschwitz — as well as television programs and films (if you’re not into that whole literacy thing.)  Schindler’s List for God’s sake!  Besides, one would think, as a political candidate for national office, at some point in her career she might have had a political discussion.  That discussion could have featured — Oh, I don’t know — maybe — human rights, major turning points in history, recent acts of genocide, and the name “Auschwitz” could have come up.  After all, one of her friends thought Auschwitz was important enough to go there and take a picture.  Just sayin’.

But it gets worse.

After she assured the world that she was ignorant not insensitive, there was no general outcry for her to step down.  No one seemed to care that if she somehow managed to miss Auschwitz, on the learning curve, she may have missed a few other things as well.  In fact, there were a lot of folks actually defending her on social media.  Kinda like “Hey, just ’cause she’s stupid that doesn’t mean she’s a bad person.”  Or  “Making a dick joke about Auschwitz doesn’t prevent her from being a thoughtful and thorough lawmaker who will help direct the cultural and political aspirations of our country — because (as she freely admitted) she didn’t have a clue what Auschwitz was in the first place, nor any idea what its major cultural and political significance is to contemporary civilization.”  I’ll just let that last one sink in for a minute.

Because it gets worse.

On election night, the candidate who asked the question, “What’s an Auschwitz?” didn’t get elected — but she did get over 10,000 votes.

I rest my case.

Margaret Thatcher and Ugly Politics

thatcherOkay, I’ve had enough.  I really thought that I could let it go and maintain the moral high ground by not acknowledging — forget responding to — the hate.  I can’t.  I’m not that fine a human being.  So…

We live in cowardly times, mean-spirited and smug.  We celebrate cheap shots and slink away from honest debate.  We attack those who can’t defend themselves while insisting it is our moral principles which give us the open warrant for this revenge.  We applaud bullies in our streets and on our social media and then wonder why they’ve crept onto our playgrounds.  In our society, many of us are not very nice, and because of that, history will probably judge all of us as vulgar.

The infernal optimist in me thought that we couldn’t sink much lower than making fun of 86-year-old Pope Benedict XVI for wanting to retire.  Old Christians are easy targets, but the same folks, so quick with the jokes, had already loudly refused to publish satirical Moslem cartoons under the guise of sensitivity.  I thought integrity was not a flexible commodity.  I was wrong.  As of last week, the vitriol circus three-ringing itself around the death of Margaret Thatcher proves the “progressives” among us have hit intellectual rock bottom and are now starting to dig.

As a public figure, even in death, Margaret Thatcher’s policies should be (and are) open to vigorous debate.  For those who disagreed with her methods and results there are any number of well thought out arguments they could use to support their opposition.  However, I doubt if “bitch” is one of them.  Perhaps I’m missing something, but I don’t see abandoning my political position on the strength of that thesis.  At least, “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” — although about as original as most leftwing ideas — has a sophomoric air of carnival about it.  However, neither of these responses to one of the most divisive politicians in recent history is exactly a tsunami of intellectual prowess.  If this is all the left is bringing to the table, it’s no wonder they couldn’t convince the voting public that Margaret Thatcher was the personification of evil – on three separate occasions.  And this bringsthatcher1 us to the interesting question: What does one do with one’s political self-righteousness when the ballot box disagrees with them?  (After all, Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government was democratically elected three times.)  Does one snarl and cry and demonize one’s opponent, or pout and call her names?  Or perhaps one tantrums through the streets in sanctimonious anger, smashing things, burning cars and injuring police officers?   Or maybe one merely gathers enough explosives to attempt to blow one’s opponent’s head off and thus alleviate the need for any further discussion?  In Margaret Thatcher’s case, the answer is all of the above — plus one more.  Many on the left just quietly waited until the object (she was an object by then) of their hate died and now attack her viciously and personally with no fear of repercussions.  Plus it should be noted that those who profess an absolute abhorrence of hate are among the first to cast a stone.

To those who disagree with Margaret Thatcher’s policies — with measured argument and open debate — I wish you well.  To those who rant their hate from the rooftops and “celebrate” her death: you are the embodiment of all that is dull-witted and crude in our times.  I want nothing to do with you or your politics; you’ve shown the world the ugly face of both of them.