Ali’s blog

Mostly quant stuff with occasional digressions

New Hampshire primaries

Posted by alifinmath on January 9, 2008

The results of the New Hamshire primaries have come in. *Yawn*. As if it makes any difference. Just looking at the candidates — let alone listening to them — is enough to make my heart sink (regardless of party affiliation). The candidates are harping on about “change” — but precisely what kind of change? Hope, courage, change, new directions, blah, blah, blah.

The status quo will continue regardless of which figurehead is elected (or rather, if the status quo does change, it won’t change because of which monkey gets elected). For the next ten months, American television — already the pits — will bore us with this charade and cover it as the meaningless horse race it really is (nothing of substance ever gets discussed or mooted). While we’re being told this is the most important election ever.

As one of our English politicians (Ken Livingstone) said a while back, if voting could change anything, they’d have abolished the ballot box a long time ago. It is indeed my conviction that this charade is gone through precisely to fool people into thinking they have a say in the governance of a profoundly undemocratic society. People are chumps in general.

The US electoral process is as rigged as the WWF wrestling fights one can see on television — and about as important. The impetus for real change is coming not from a bankrupt and rigged electoral process: it’s changing facts on the ground — an overstretched US military; a US grand strategy that’s gone awry; another speculative bubble that’s burst — that are dictating change (most of it ad hoc and unplanned ).

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2 Responses to “New Hampshire primaries”

  1. Chris Prouty said

    Rarely do I agree with your posts in their totality, but this time you are spot on. The political process is a farce. The truth is that those in power don’t *need* to rig the system. It’s easy to manipulate the masses by confusing them with a few trivial issues that have no impact on their lives but stir up powerful emotions. For example: gay marriage has become a hotly debated issue. Why? Whether or not gay folks can marry would have zero impact on the vast majority of America. However tax and spending reform, which would have a very direct impact on Americans’ living standard, is all but ignored! We deserve whatever we get. By the way, I’ve seen Ken Livingstone in various interviews on a few occasions and I am very fond of him.

  2. alifinmath said

    When I can, I like to give indications for further reading. In this case, it would be Ranciere’s “Hatred of Democracy,” which was published about a year ago by Verso. As I recall (my copy is in storage at the moment and hence difficult to retrieve), one of his theses is that modern Western societies are oligarchies with an inherent hostility to real democracy. As a concession to the public mood, they have institutionalised a formal process of elections which is rigged from the word go, and whose sole purpose is to deceive people into believing 1) that they the people have an impact on policy and governance, 2) that accountability exists via the electoral process, 3) that real choices are on the table, and 4) that society is not hierarchically stratified.

    In reality, those in power have thinly-veiled contempt for the voice of the people — as the response to the worldwide anti-war demonstrations prior to the invasion of Iraq made clear: Bush came on television and announced: “With all respect, I think they (the protesters) are mistaken.” And that was that. The change in US policy (if any) has come not from tens of millions of peaceful protesters — or voters — but from the resistance to occupation by tens of thousands of insurgents in Iraq. These are the realities of power. Democracy is a sham.

    With the exception of Ron Paul, all the other candidates have been equivocating and shilly-shallying about withdrawal from Iraq. As in just about every other election, the voters are presented with a choice between Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Democracy indeed.

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