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June 01, 2003

The Anti-PPP Party

Friedrich --

Do you understand Primarily Political People? ("PPPs," I think of them as.) I don't. I mean, I do, but only intellectually: drawn to the action, and eager to do good and, oh yeah, get famous and snag power while doing so ...

Temperamentally, though, I don't have a clue where the PPPs are coming from. I can't imagine a worse life or, generally, a worse set of people. Politics to me is, at best, an unfortunate necessity. We don't seem to be able to do without politics -- alas to that. But PPPs can't seem to stop scheming; they can't stop dreaming up ways to suck up to power, or imagining things they'd like to see government do. When I, anti-PPP person that I am, think of politics, what comes to me is ways of hogtying politicians into near-immobility, and things I'd like to see government get out of the business of doing. My general -- and highly sophisticated -- theory of government is that 95% of the time nothing really needs to be done.

Did I mention that I'm contemplating a run for office on an anti-PPP platform? Care to donate to the cause?



posted by Michael at June 1, 2003


I was challenged a roommate of mine, who was very much a PPP, to name one social problem of national or international scope that had been solved primarily with political means, outside of defensive wars, where the unintended consequences weren't worse than the problem.

He came up with nada (he was drunk, in his defense). Ending early industrial age labor abuses is the best we could come up with.

Govt. is best when it does least, and local politics are more likely to do good than ill.
I think a major problem of the outlook of most PPP is that they tend to favor uniform, centralized solutions, which will never be right everywhere. It's their Utopian tendencies and belief in the Perfectibility of Man that lead them astray.

Posted by: David Mercer on June 1, 2003 10:16 PM

Yeah, it seems exciting to them -- and they get to be in charge. Whee. Fun for them, a pain for the rest of us.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on June 1, 2003 11:20 PM

A friend of mine who grew up in Spain often remarked that the great glory of America was that it renders politics essentially irrelevant. In Europe which party is elected makes a huge difference to one's daily life; in America, Democratic and Republican governance are for all practical purposes indistinguishable. Which is all to the good; people have, or should have, better things to do.

That said, David Mercer has it exactly backwards. It's the local politicians who can really make your life miserable. If he lived in New York City under Nurse Bloomberg as I do, he might rethink his contention that "local politics are more likely to do good than ill."

Posted by: Aaron Haspel on June 1, 2003 11:51 PM

Hey Aaron---Does Bill Clinton grab you better than Bloomberg for Mayor? Everybody says that's the office he's really gunning for, while, you know, he works to get the 22nd Amendment of the Constitution repealed.

Posted by: annette on June 2, 2003 12:02 PM

In my darker moments, I wonder if democracy isn't just an excellent method to get people to "buy off" on whatever agenda elites have cooked up for them--elections as crowd control devices. I mean, when you think about it, political parties and movements are essentially conspiratorial in nature. The mechanism of government is just sort of sitting there, waiting for them to take it over like viruses invading a cell and converting its life processes to the viruses' agenda: the manufacture of more viruses.

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on June 2, 2003 02:37 PM

Aaron has a point, I over simplified. I should have said "if politics is to do any good at all, it's attempt should be local; central solutions nearly always do only harm".

Yes, I've seen local politics go bad, after a quick visit to see that Willie Brown had destroyed the SF I remembered, I had no desire to live there now.

I agree with the irrelevance of most politics in the US; I remember when the Federal govt. shut their doors for over a month during the Clinton administration (except for the military and entitlement checks), and no one really noticed.
We noticed a tad more than most in AZ, as did other's with large National Parks in their State, but that was about it.

Posted by: David Mercer on June 3, 2003 06:23 AM

Actually, when Clinton shut down the Feds, we noticed big time in our household. My husband worked at Forest Products Lab doing research on woodfiber/plastic composites and wasnt allowed into his office or lab to make sure his test materials were drying or hardening correctly. He lost weeks of work. Other folks there lost months of work.

But you are right, most folks not employed by the Feds and relying on them for a paycheck didnt notice.

Posted by: Deb on June 3, 2003 10:03 AM

I always get a big kick out of it when the news folks bemoan "gridlock." I'm a big fan of governmental gridlock myself. But apparently the news folk want action!

Yet another chapter in the sad story of the way the media classes and the political classes have come to not just overlap but bleed right into each other.

Hey ,did I ever tell the story of the way I just happened to be staying at a hotel where the Gore campaign was staying? Circulating thru the lobby and restaurant, I noticed that the Gore people weren't just kinda like the media people I work with, they were exactly the same kind of people. Evidently these people when young have a moment when they think, hmm, should I work professionally with the Dems, or should I go into the media instead?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on June 3, 2003 10:51 AM

A request for clarification from the floor for Mr. Blowhard... does "PPP" refer to politically active people (candidates, office-holders, campaign managers...), or does it also refer to people who simply take an immoderate, even excessive interest in politics? In the extreme form, we've probably all known people whose personal lives are complete messes but somehow they know just what to do in order to make the world a better place. These people live for politics: they march, they protest, they yell back at the TV, they buttonhole you at parties, they write indignant letters to the paper, whatever, but their own lives are a dog's dinner. They can't do anything about the areas in their lives where they know what's going on and should have some power to do something about, so they get worked up about great and powerful persons and world-shaking events far away that they have no control over and probably don't really even understand very well. I realize this is a democracy and ideally its responsible citizens should be well-informed about current events and get involved as necessary and to the extent possible, but that's something on the level of running for school board, where one might have a realistic chance of influencing events. I'm thinking of the political enthusiast who is so far removed from the actual centers of power that he has no chance of making the slightest bit of difference, yet is emotionally involved at the expense of his own life. And of course wants to tell ME all about it...
Well, maybe I'm just projecting my own growing middle-aginess here, and my sense of futility in accomplishing anything but keeping the bills paid. "Change the world? I'm too busy trying to make a buck here!"
Then, too, you can ignore politics, but will politics ignore you? My council of "Il faut cultiver notre jardin" has its limits. There you are, cultivating your own garden and otherwise minding your own business, when somebody with a briefcase shows up at the fence and says, "Nice little place you have here. You've done a lot of work improving it. I wonder if the property taxes you've been paying reflect its current value?" Or worse -- in those grainy black and white films you see of WWII-era refugees pushing baby carriages loaded with all their possessions, trudging along cratered roads and past bombed-out houses, every one of those sad-looking civilians was probably someone who had been quietly cultivating a garden at some home that isn't there any more, when the politics they had been ignoring caught up with them.
Anyway, I'm reminded of somebody's joke -- Groucho's? There are lots of people who know just what's wrong with the world and how to fix it, but the problem is they're all cutting hair or driving cabs.

Posted by: Dwight Decker on June 3, 2003 12:33 PM

Wow, Dwight, what an eloquent rant. Let's put that one on the op-ed page of the NYTimes.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on June 4, 2003 02:30 PM

"...people whose personal lives are complete messes but somehow they know just what to do in order to make the world a better place." Hillary and Bill!!!

Posted by: annette on June 6, 2003 11:18 AM

i'm not a ppp in my life, i'm more interested in philosophy (Wittgensteinian [j.c.edwards interpretation]), music (dark ambient, laibach, classical, electronica, trip hop, hip hop, jazz, blues, folk etc), painting, art movements and propaganda, film, my girlfriend.... etc.

but when i blog, it's politics. i'm not that interested in telling everyone what i like, i'd rather learn something about how human interests are managed and controlled..

Posted by: kez on June 29, 2003 05:50 AM

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