Saturday, May 25, 2002

26 hits... not bad for my first day with a meter on a new site that doesn't feature pornography.

Don't worry, I have no intention of dwelling on the number of hits I get, but political discussion tends to be marginalized in our society, and too many people I know either don't seek out political discussion or actively avoid political discussion. I think part of the reason why relatively extreme conservatives and libertarians are so successful is because they actually pay attention to what's going on; even if they're only furthering an agenda, they're actually going out there and lobbying and campaigning and talking and, yes, voting. (There's an old axiom about how Republicans winning if there's a low turnout, and Democrats winning if there's a high turnout. This is partially due to demographics, but I think there's more to it than that).

This is partially due to the relative prosperity that we've enjoyed, but it's more because of the demonization of government and politics in our society. I remember being flabbergasted when I learned that the Greeks thought that politics was integral to a healthy society... what a huge change from what we live with now, where even the slimiest businessman is accorded greater virtue than even the most upright politician. One of my best high school teachers was also a city alderman, and the man was intelligent, squeaky-clean ethically, a great teacher, and a decent person. I've read Machiavelli and understand that sometimes personal ethics needs to be discarded in the interests of the people, but that doesn't need to be the rule and, in fact, isn't as prevalent as some people seem to think.

So why do people think that? It partially gets back to those with an agenda against government and in favour of "the free market" (which usually means lining their own pockets). As I've mentioned earlier, they've captured the terms of the debate, which means that instead of discussing the proper role of government the only discussion is how quickly to get rid of it, that politics is considered a parasitic business because it doesn't make money and can't be privatized, and that political discussion is somehow "dirty". There are other factors in why people shy away from politics (attack ads like that DemocRATS thing and the media's focus on governmental problems as opposed to market problems, academia's disconnection from "politics on the ground") but if you stop and think about who it benefits, the answer becomes pretty clear.

Politics is not a dirty business. It shouldn't be marginalized, and it is vitally important. As Robert A. Heinlein said "Politics is the only game for adults. The only one. All the rest are for children".

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