Thursday, 17 December 2009

The method of choosing leaders

I really enjoyed Frank Herbert's 'Dune' novels when I was going through my fantasy/sci-fi teenage period. I didn't appreciate it at the time - being transfixed by the imaginative and trippy ecology - but it turns out that they are replete with political wisdom, or at least thought-provoking political insights. They may deserve a re-read. Here's one quotation from 'Children of Dune' (flagged by TED):
Good government never depends upon laws, but upon the personal qualities of those who govern. The machinery of government is always subordinate to the will of those who administer that machinery. The most important element of government, therefore, is the method of choosing leaders.

As we've made the 'method of choosing leaders' more democratic, have the 'personal qualities of those who govern' improved?

6 comments:

worm said...

Its like you are my brothers doppelganger - he is a cambridge educated bloke who loved fantasy novels like Dune and LOTR, he played quite good rugby and he liked Killing Joke. Did you by any chance enjoy reading 2000ad comics? and The Cure?

I loved the old covers of the Dune books- not so keen on all the po-faced discussions of 'spice' though. And the film... :(

Gaw said...

Ah, that would be where your bruv's and my paths diverge. I was a Marvel comics boy and tended more towards ska and soul than indie (KJ were an exception).

I loved all that 'spice' stuff. I thought it was a very ingenious fusing of science and mysticism. But the film was pretty rubbish.

Sean said...

I liked the movie "stick it in pete and twist it real neat" at least thats how i remember it, you know Sting and the flying fatman scene, injecting the spice?

as for the question posed, the machine needs to compensate for the human, and the human needs to compensate for the machine, so its a bit of both really.

Gaw said...

That was the only good scene from the film and it was a very memorable one as I immediately knew what you were referring to despite not having seen it for many years.

Don't split the difference! I think the quote is very interesting as it helps explain why non-legally binding conventions have until recently been so powerful in the British constitution. Good political behaviour has more to do with culture and personal and social ideas of what is right and proper than the formal constraints imposed by law.

Sean said...

No Garth the problem is our inherent conservatism which you speak off has been shagged up the back side by the EU.

"No parliament shall bind the hands of its successor" or in other words nothing is done that can be undone,(the point of voting?) this is now dust, the failsafe mechanicism is now no more, in engineering we call it redundancy.

The new system is one of technocracy, the letter of the law as those who support it deem fit.

All we have now is an empty vessel called a vote. I dont know why they dont come clean and call democracy what it really has become, A petition to our rulers.

ghostofelberry said...

Dune is a classic - both the weird film and the excellent book. Lynch´s film was originally 6 hours long, i hear, then the studio randomly hacked it down to 2 hours and threw away the outtakes - quite similar to what an academic publisher did to a good book i spent weeks editing in 2007.

How about the line about how the Atreides secure their men´s loyalty - they win it by being loyal to their men. Innovative - can you imagine trying that on with Blair or Brown. You´d just get a blank stare and then a fixed grin and they´d maybe note it down as something to use in a speech.

Your word verification is Obanin today - appropriate, a cross between Obama and Taliban?