Who needs political realism?
[Next in schedule: 15-9-2016]
1) Printing governments 2) Corbyn and Owen
3) Faits divers 4) How to win a war without having one
. We are often entertained by readers’ letters. Actually they’re readers’ e-mails, but language should preserve its relics of the past, with e.g. ocean liners ‘sailing’ instead of ‘driving off’. (Did you know that 150 years ago ‘car’ was a poetic word, describing the sort of flying chariot that fairy queens could zoom around in, on their way to turn unpleasant princes into charming and amusing frogs? Then capitalism (transport division, subsection advertising) got hold of it and see what has happened to the public landscape since.) But in this office we were dismayed to get two letters showing that the news about the talented Printapoly group and their 3D-printed governments (10-7-2016) had been misunderstood as referring to some kind of dummies (in the tailor’s sense, not speaking of individuals who put their money into hedge funds). Far from it. These are fully functioning ministerial sets, conceived by the printers primarily as potential emergency replacements in case of national disasters or insensate nuclear war, but possibly, until then, sponsored by the UN as demonstration models taking part in high tech public performances to show how government can be done . As previously mentioned each minister comes with a guaranteed IQ of at least 100. Their language capacity is international English achieved by modelling their brain structures on a meticulous nanoscale averaging of the brains of a thousand volunteers living in the Cambridge area and a thousand randomly selected passers-by in Camden Market, while the inbuilt knowledge of geography and history results from a scan of the past 300 monthly copies of the Reader’s Digest. Each minister comes with a no-corruption warranty, valid for three weeks from date of sale. The group insist that these sets will all have governance competence at least equal to that of any elected government in office throughout the world. It appears though that many potential customers have not realised what a bargain is on offer; only three sets have so far been sold, all privately, one to a businessman in the northwestern US, and both the other two to an African president who has apparently insisted on the strictest anonymity.
Having carried this project through to success, the team’s next target is to print synthetic beer. “After the governments, that should be a doddle. Ready next Friday, I’d guess,” said one elderly material scientist. “All we have to do basically is a laser microanalysis of the necessary ingredients present in the final product, quite a complex business of course if you were trying to do it the traditional way, then print the stuff up in powder form, and distribute in plastic bags, and for smartphone generation customers we’ll stick on labels telling them how to add water. Thanks to the government’s strange beliefs about psychoactive substances it’s going to be the only seriously profitable white powder that can be distributed without being illegal.”
Beating the Conundrum There have been calls from some members of the British parliamentary Labour Party for a shift to more centrist policies, with a view to gaining power. This prompts two types of outrage, one concerning ideals, the other practicality. Ideals): This amounts to shoving a custard pie into the face of democracy and then stuffing the fragments down inside democracy’s teeshirt. The idea of democracy was supposed to be that you came up with neat ideas for how to organise things better and other people came up with different neat ideas, and then you would run them all before the whole population (excluding women and slaves, if you happened to be working on the much admired original ancient Greek system) to see which the wisdom of the people selected as less likely to lead to discontent, bankruptcy, or civil insanity. That still is the idea of democracy , even if some people want to use the same name for ‘adjusting your principles and policies to whatever gives the best chance of getting your hands on the levers of power’. Of course they will say “It’s only with a view to getting into power so we can then do what we really want” (which is exactly the spiel of the more skilful dictators mounting a coup d’état as they address their fellow plotters). No further comment at this time. B): Practicalities: Love a goose! Do you think the Tories were voted in because the electorate thought they were fascist beasts? (This is not to get into the question of whether some of them actually are fascist beasts.) The electorate thinks the Tories are the political centre. There are so many of them (in Parliament where the news reports are based) that even without adding in the cryptoTories on the Labour benches they spill over and cover the centre line. Everybody else counts as ‘minority’. (Sorry Scotnats; I know it’s not fair, but anyway you haven’t got long to wait.) If Labour trumpets that it’s shifting to the centre ground, the great British electorate will just shrug and ask why they should vote for a bunch of second-rate Tories when they could vote for the real thing (or stay home and watch the election on telly). The only way out for Labour is to stick to your real principles, lose the next election, but get all those hundreds of thousands of members to actually turn up at meetings, speak up for real humane treatment of human beings (especially of people who do the actual work), get them writing to people with political influence, and point out again and again the failures and shameful inequalities and injustices that are imposed on the mass of people who are always too short of money, time and energy to fight back (a national disgrace and dishonour to the phrase ‘British values’).
Transport news In a world first, Singapore has launched a scheme of driverless taxis which can be summoned online. At first it will only operate in a fairly small central area. This being Singapore the taxis will not only take you to your destination but will also tell you where you want to go.
Answers to readers’ queries (no.1764) ‘How will the EU’s new scheme for reducing the number of immigrants to the EU from Asia and Africa work?’ (Slobodan Petchwitt, Cologne-sur-mer) This is the easiest query we’ve had since no. 1211, and can be quickly dealt with.) It won’t.
The new organisation for feminist activist journalists is to call itself the Medea Group
Latest rumours It is not often that one hears of a dissident group in Nato. After all it is a military organisation and no general wants to be remembered as the one who was put up against a wall for suggesting that they could try negotiating a peace deal with the enemy (whoever that might be, have been, be going to be, or seem to be) or some other such bizarre lunacy. However, words can be caught faintly on the airflow from the giant air-conditioning outlets suggesting that there is indeed a dissident group in Nato, trying to push some very eccentric views. While of course they fully support the view, accepted by all who receive their opinions from reputable sources, that the world’s democracies would greatly benefit from a stiffening of the military backbone, such as is provided by a good war or a damned close whites-of-the-eyes prospect of one, they suggest that both costs and efficiency could be better handled by a radically new strategy. They argue first against stirring up military tensions with the Russians (who could almost certainly annihilate all human life on the planet if caught in a bad mood on an off-day, but who on the other hand have shown surprisingly little inclination to do much except pull back since 1990), but they argue also against Plan B (establishing China as Son of Evil Empire and elbowing the same out of the South China Sea, hereinafter to be known as the Southeast Asian Basin). Instead they advocate a modern high-tech approach with a world-class cybercampaign to be pursued in co-operation with our allies, to gain full-hearted allegiance of the whole planet by planting unclear but highly alarming stories worldwide about a deeply threatening situation in central Africa – or perhaps central South America (most even among the tiny minority who read or watch that sort of news these days will not be very sure of the difference anyway) – involving a highly dangerous rogue state run by a ruthless dictator/criminal régime with enormous wealth acquired through trafficking drugs and refugees, illegal mining of gold and diamonds, driving out inhabitants, and seizing their wealth, etc; all the usual. War games could then be staged in some suitable location with a bit of desert, a few mountains but above all massive impenetrable forests (perhaps again central Africa or South America), with suitably garbled reports emerging, adjusted to suggest that actual heavy warfare is going on and could be threatening your country (whichever it might be) within 45 minutes; except of course that technology has advanced so far so fast that it might well be possible to arrange for some loyal and reliable company in Silicon Valley to produce large quantities of footage as needed without involving any real weaponry or personnel at all unless useful for training purposes. Apparently the eccentric group is working on the premise that populations almost always believe events to be what is reported rather than what actually happens and as evidence they point to the fact that even in New York, one of the best informed cities in the world, and the one where the events took place, it needed little more than a year – with no special efforts on the part of the government – for the majority of the public to believe that Saddam was behind 9-11. The enormous financial savings that would accumulate with such a strategy could no doubt be spent in various agreeable ways, as well as on further research on weapons of the future, which could have the happy result of enhancing the alliance’s military potential so greatly that there would not even be any need to strive for further military superiority over the enemy (whoever that might then be, or be going to be, or seem to be) and might instead be a secure basis for development of interplanetary (or even interstellar?) travel so as to extend the space in which the alliance’s writ would run. What could be a more appealing prospect?