Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Popularity. And why losing elections isn't the end of the world.

Nothing new to say here today. A few pointers off though.

Firstly, there's this (from a review of 'Against the Machine: Being Human in the Era of the Electronic Mob' by Lee Siegel):
"...popularity for popularity's sake. It used to be that to be successful you had to stand out; to be different but Siegel argues that popularity is Web culture's Holy Grail. To be popular it's necessary to be like others, to be as like as many others as possible, so success on the internet goes to those who are more like everyone else than anyone else. It seems to me that mediocrity is inherent in this approach but Siegel makes a convincing argument that this is the way the internet will go."
And, totally unconnected, there's this from Foolish Interruption:
"In every walk of life a fair proportion of people in the top jobs - let's say half as a conservative estimate - shouldn't be doing them. We've all seen them, haven't we?: the bullies, the shits, the creeps, the toadies, the timeservers the yes-men, the plotters, the pushy, the venial and - oh dear, yes - the well-connected crowding out their more scrupulous and able cohorts. It's not that talent doesn't have a part to play, but often enough it needs a hefty slice of luck - being in the right place, having the chance to display your mettle - and quite possibly some of the other attributes mentioned here.

Think too of the professional pontificators who have nothing worth saying, financial speculators who can only follow the herd, the writers who can't bleeding write, the managers who can't manage, business people whose greed is matched only by their incompetence; why should politicians be any different?

Put it this way: it's not especially outrageous to suggest that there are a lot of politicians who have the capability to climb the greasy poll, but that that capability doesn't equip them for the job they are supposed to do: assist in the government of the country in the best interests of its people – and it certainly doesn't equip them to spot and support the best people to lead said government. If anything the nature of politics is such that it exacerbates this problem."
Just one comment on that second quote: The fact that politicians sometimes pick the wrong leader is actually very good for democracy. Increasingly, we are warned, politics is becoming a profession. A science. Power-through-triangulation. Once you are in power, you can pull the levers to ensure that you stay in power.

And people like me get upset when the party that they support balls it up. But it also creates an opportunity for democratic competition. And that's good, innit? EVEN if it results in The Bullingdon Boy grinning outside No10 in a few years time.

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