Wednesday, 24 September 2014


It seems the bees in my bonnet have been getting louder recently.  Maybe that's fallout from the independence fight up north.  I might be personally relieved that the left-leaning Scots have chosen to stick with us in the fight against Westminster's whirling incompetents and smirking sadists, endlessly working to turn one half of the UK into Dickensian London and the other half into a gaping wound, but I'm aware this means an awful lot of poor and disabled people north of the border are about to have a much harder few years than they might otherwise have had to.

Still, the people spoke, and by black Heimdall's codpiece, that's something we don't get to say all that often.  Whether or not you agree with the actual choice decided upon, who among us could object to fundamental an exercise of democratic will such as this?
[W]e need to get over the childish notion that we don’t need a responsible leadership class, that power can be wielded directly by the people. America was governed best when it was governed by a porous, self-conscious and responsible elite...
Holy flames of Saint Elmo, Books, take a damn seat, would you?  Is it even worth rebutting the idea that America used to be better run? You may as well argue unemployment figures were less discouraging before abolition, or that families tended to stick together through thick and thin back when divorce was illegal and single women had a non-zero probability of being burned as witches.

Better governed for whom, white boy?

This isn't just this article, or just Brooks; you can't spend more then twenty minutes in the electronic company of American "centrists" without someone lamenting that politics would be so much better if people could be pushed a little further away from the levers of power. But honestly, that isn't my main objection here.  You can only spend so much time observing the exercise of the people's will in elections to conclude that yes, a staggering amount of people are incapable of applying their vote sensibly that we couldn't make the system appreciably worse by crapping in labelled septic tanks and seeing which party assembled the greatest weight in shit.

(The cynical amongst us will demand to know how things are different now.)

So in truth, in my darker moments - which is almost all of them - I find myself unable to totally resist sympathising with the idea of some kind of ruling elite. The problem here isn't so much that idea as the sheer and obvious impossibility of picking a ruling elite that could possibly be up to the job from our current crop of aged straight white cis men, almost all of whom are currently locked in a battle to the death over austerity.  And it's not a battle over their own deaths, as such minor sources of evidence as "current developments" and "all of fucking history" can attest.

So let's ignore the fact that power corrupts, just to give Brooks a fighting chance. Anyone want to take bets on how hard he thinks we should be striving to make sure this ruling elite has enough women? Enough coloured people? Enough trans* people? Is there any chance Brooks is worried they'll need to find a Hispanic Buddhist lesbian? What is cunning plan to emsure that, at long last, those people who'd love to engage in politics if they weren't forced to run three jobs just to keep their kids alive get a chance to be heard?

We can't build a ruling elite until we tear down every last scrap of the system that currently functions. Until we replace every aspect of the body politic organ by organ, bone by bone, until what remains is no longer recognisable, any more than Bondai beach is recognisable as the mountains ground down to make it. And we can't do that without precisely the updraft of popular will that Brooks spends his days cowering in fear of, because they might come to his house and say "fuck" and steal the curtains his great-grandparents stole from black artisans in the first place. Even if rule by elite was remotely feasibly, we have to get more populist before we could ever get less populist. Whether we'd be better off in the valley Brooks imagines is a dodgy proposition anyway, but we absolutely have a mountain we need to climb first.

Give me a female president, Brooks.  Give me a gay Prime Minister.  Let an actual Muslim run the White House, and an actual Kenyan. Prove you've learned the fundamental lesson - after years of running from it screaming in terror - that a country is at its worst when everyone in charge looks and sounds the same.

Then, maybe we can sit down and argue whether hypothetically we could slap together a representative slice of humanity and have them figure out where we go next. Until then, about the only thing we can agree on is that you should be kept as far from a position of authority as is humanly possible.

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