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July 24, 2014

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Phil Beesley

"the very structure of the media-political system"

The what? Am I reading a Laurie Penny guest contribution?

AllanW

I'm happy to see you return to this topic and reprise a section of a comment posted then;

"You might however consider key parts of the reason for this state of affairs. I'd offer two main ones; the institution of political parties (being the foremost vehicle for selection of our politicians) and the continuing abstraction of politicians and their funders from everyday life.

You might try to argue, as many politicians do, that the best of them remain embedded in the normal lives of their constituents through regular attendance at constituency surgeries and the process of addressing various issues as they affect their constituent businesses and organisations. But this ignores the fundamental reality of their continued existence, advancement and wealth; they only prosper through adherence to party lines. All young politicians know that on any issue facing them they must do what they are told by the party organisers or be deselected, defunded and defenestrated. Any cursory examination of our current system reveals this fact to be true, it's the basis of most political satire and art.

And the party is not interested in solving policy issues; it's not interested in anything other than getting it's hands on political power or retaining it's grip on political power. That goal may occasionally coincide with some worthwhile social objective but never mistake the real motivations involved; doing whatever is popular enough every five years to win a narrow plebscite. The rest of the time they can devote themselves to what's really important; their career, personal wealth and fame.

Which is why political parties are funded by the wealthy because they know that filling the feeding-trough of political parties offers the best way of continuing or establishing their business and personal advantages. It takes no time at all to establish this particular fact, we all know it to be true through the experience of our lives. The merry-go-round of state preferment contracts, networked back-scratching, specialist advisors, provision of expertise on secondment and bolt-hole retirement plans involving sinecures on boards has been endlessly revealed by the last vestiges of investigative reporting and whistle-blowing that exist.

Which acts to remove the politicians' perspective further and further away from poverty, homelessness, inequality and the least powerful in our society. You know, what most people still unreasonably think is their actual job. It's no surprise they distance themselves in this way ..... just unforgiveable.

Are there solutions to these problems? Sure; many of them. Will the politicians find them out and promote the best of them? No. Will you hear about them through the mainstream media outlets? No. You need to go back to the grassroots and find out what is forming the next great social movements on the ground. I'd invite you to Manchester to see it happening first hand if I knew you at all. "

Political parties are the first problem; solve that and much else becomes easier to find answers to. There are better ways to do our politics.

An Alien Visitor

"SEE NO EVIL"

So says an avowed socialist who ignores everything that happens outside world of economic theory!

Do you have anything to say about Gaza for example? Or is it "SEE NO EVIL"?

Jamie

Economists who talk only to other economists, and mostly only to economists from the same school of thought, are guilty of group think. Political activists who talk only to other political activists of the same ideology are guilty of group think. Repeat ad infinitum with every other group.

Greater diversity and information sharing are required in order to limit group think in every walk of life.

Another problem with politicians is that they are often put into roles for which they have no experience. I doubt that many politicians dream of being Minister for Housing. This means that they are required to instigate new initiatives when they don't know what they are doing. By the time they learn what they are doing they are moved to another post are replaced by someone else who doesn't know what they are doing.

rogerh

From what I hear MP's surgeries are attended by the pushy, the deranged and occasionally the honest supplicant. Playing Devil's Advocate - why should the poor have anything useful to say? By definition they have not succeeded and it is not obvious they will have helpful ideas. Which leaves us with Serious People who unsurprisingly are self serving and contain a good few who do not choose to see injustice. Which begs the question what would a fair distribution look like - probably not an equal one. Do we humans even want to talk to people not like us?

Blissex

In any career, but especially that of a politician or an economist, being sponsored by powerful patrons matters a great deal, it makes a big difference between fighting uphill and gliding ahead into positions of power and prestige.

So perhaps it is not so much that "the ruling class talks amongst itself" that "produces a systematic class bias", but that the ruling class sponsors and promotes selectively and sometimes coopts into its lower rungs the politicians and economists with a message aligned with their interests.

As the USA Powell memo says, for one case, as to promoting class bias in many fields, like academia or journalism.

Edis Bevan

An interesting discussion. I am finding similar issues in Roland Kuper's book 'Complexity and the Art of Public Policy' advocating bottom-up developments.

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