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January 28, 2008

Election-Year Attitudes

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Committed non-voter Colin Ward reminds us of a great old anarchist slogan: "If voting changed anything they'd make it illegal." OK, it's a little flip. But you do know what it means.

Buy a copy of Colin Ward's wonderful intro, "Anarchy in Action," here. Architecture buffs might enjoy a few anarchism-influenced books about buildings and cities and towns: Colin Ward's "Talking to Architects," John Turner's "Housing by People," and Paul and Percival Goodman's "Communitas." Here's a John Judis introduction to Paul Goodman.



UPDATE: Conservative or radical? Prairie Mary sorts out which word better applies to her. Funny how "conservative" radical can seem, and how "radical" conservative can turn out to be, isn't it? (And then there's my man Michael "I'm a conservative in politics because I'm a radical in everything else" Oakeshott ...) It's great to see that Mary's biography of her sculptor-husband Robert Scriver is now available for pre-order. I expect the book to be a corker -- anyone who has visited Mary's blog or who has read her comments on this blog knows what a smart, powerful, and expressive writer she is.

posted by Michael at January 28, 2008


I can remember when I really gave a damn who held a particular elective office, but I can't remember any more why I cared.

I don't like Hillary, but I don't care whether she's elected president. We'll survive. Same with Obama, McCain... all of them.

When I see people involved in passionate political debates, I wonder why they are wasting their time. Of course, every once in a while I can get myself wound up for a screaming match over some "issue." When I do, it's more just for the fun of it, and out of pure cussedness. I hate to lose an argument like anybody else.

I can't even get it up to be an anarchist. Seems like a pretty angry stance to me.

I'm for my own self-interest, now... and really, who gives a damn about that except me? I belong to the one group, as Steve Sailer says, that isn't supposed to organized pride parades... white, hetero men.

I can get pissed off over this every once in a while. But it takes some effort. When some asshole leftist wants to bash me with the white guilt club, I'll wangle with him/her. Mostly, I do it for fun. I love to call them out just as bitterly as they do me. When they hit me with the "You're a racist" mallet, I am inclined to respond: "Well, you're an ugly bitch."

Politics really brings out the asshole in all of us, doesn't it?

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on January 28, 2008 7:23 AM

It's fun to provoke sometimes, isn't it? Still, my main attitude towards the conventional politics game is "You gotta be kidding." Who would waste enormous amounts of emotional energy on it? But I have zero insight into political people, and seem to overlap with them temperamentally not at all.

Anarchism can be pretty interesting. Some anarchists are nuts, or (like you say) very angry. Some are genuinely easygoing, open, humane, and their anarchism comes out of that -- Colin Ward, the guy in the posting, seems to be of that sort. Let people do their own thing. Let what arises arise. It's less of a political p-o-v and more of a stance towards politics, the basic idea being that 99% of what passes as politics is unnecessary and even cruel, so why not get rid of it. Suits me!

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on January 28, 2008 10:07 AM

I used to vote in every election, but now I just scan the sample ballot to see if I have to vote against some effort to impose a new municipal or state tax, otherwise I don't care. I just threw out the sample ballot for the California primary. Four propositions on the ballot alone are devoted to Indian casinos fighting with Las Vegas-based casinos competing for the same cash. Ludicrous.

Posted by: Peter L. Winkler on January 28, 2008 4:41 PM

Thanks for the flattery, Michael. At the moment I'm inclined to lower expectations! The printer delivered the books to the U of Calgary Press on Jan 2. It took two weeks for them to repack the American copies to send across the border to Michigan State University, which will take three more weeks. Then it takes up to two weeks for MSU to unpack and sort them into the accumulated orders. When I order a POD books from, the whole thing takes ten days, tops, and they come from Britain.

As for politics, at the village level things become much harder to ignore. A recent attempt at a new zoning ordinance turned out to be packed with pay-backs and economic advantages for people who already have plenty and don't live in town anyway. (The real estate people are ranchers.) When the reservation claim for the water to which they are entitled by law is actually fulfilled, it will mean 30% less irrigation water for the local grain farmers. Combined with lack of snowpack, this will put them out of business. For many years they have sneered that if the Indians can't make a living while occupying their reservation, they should simply go somewhere else. Now that advice is coming back to roost on their new 2-ton pickups.

Prairie Mary

Posted by: Mary Scriver on January 28, 2008 9:17 PM

I must say...after getting swept away by Barack's golden tones, you guys are just a big drag. It was the biggest diff I noticed in Bush's state of the union speech, or Hillary's almost bizarre speech last week in Nashville---they just sound so tinny, earth-bound, dreary. I've changed my mind---"public speaking" is not just "fluff" in politics---it is a fundamental necessary skill, not just to "get elected" but to govern---one that changes minds.

Posted by: annette on January 29, 2008 9:39 AM

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