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The political society

There is an intensely irritating advertising campaign showing currently on British TV, its cumbersome catchphrase: “If you don’t do politics, there’s not much you do do“. It is run by the Electoral Commission and goes one step beyond explaining to people how to exercise their democratic franchise by promoting “political” interference into almost every aspect of quotidian life.

The animated advert features two men in a pub. The first’s gauche attempt to bring up some tedious manoeuvring in the European parliament is deftly dismissed by the second’s sensible rejoinder that he “doesn’t do politics”. Our statist ‘hero’ is not so easily assuaged however, as each subsequent time the second man complains about various items from pub closing time to sporting achievements, he is pointedly reminded by his friend that he “doesn’t do politics” and thus implicitly isn’t entitled to an opinion on such things. The assumption behind this campaign is that everything that matters – “not much you do do” – ought to be subject to political mediation. In reality, the only reason the pub landlord closes at that specific time is because “politics” forces him to do so. If he “didn’t do politics” so much he might close at a time of his own choosing which may suit him and his customers better.

It is telling that this latest promotion of a society based on political mediation to replace that based on voluntary interaction is not by a political party or a pressure group but by a supposedly independent body. This surely demonstrates the folly of assuming independence as to the proper role and size of government in any body funded by the government.

5 comments to The political society

  • A_t

    agreed about how annoying that ad is; the statist hero dude is irritating as all hell.

    I also agree that some of the things (football???) have near-to-nowt to do with politics, & shouldn’t…

    …but on the pub opening hours front, it’s all very well saying “it’s politics makes the pub close early”, but the only way to change this is to pay attention to politics & vote for the fellows who say they’ll stop nonsense like this (if only there were any such people!).

    Mind you, didn’t nu-lab try telling people they were going to reform the licensing hours in the run up to the last election; they indulged in an orgy of last-minute texting ‘young people’… a proposed policy which has conveniently disappeared from the political radar. Hey, perhaps it’ll conveniently return in time for the next election.

  • vote for the fellows who say they’ll stop nonsense like this

    Except that their point is not “Why are there licensing laws at all?” but rather “Why is the closing time 11PM instead of some other (arbitrary) time?”. The drift of the ad is that all the important ordinary things you do are, by right, according to “politics'” whim and that one ought to “do politics” so that one can impose one’s own arbitrary preferences on everybody else.

  • toolkien

    It all boils down to the embedded notion that civic ‘responsibility’ must function through the State instead of culture. It legitimizes a State monopoly over every interaction instead of over the exceptions (infringement of property). The saddest part is that so many people don’t know how to interact with others other than making it a State matter. To my mind there has been a decline in civility as the State has increased.

  • John Harrison

    The Electoral Commission may find that all they achieve by this advert is to remind people about how all those petty inconveniences in life are the fault of politics. One could suspect the result of this is greater disillusionment and fewer people voting.

  • Dale Amon

    Glad you picked up on it. The commercial has annoyed the hell out of me but I’ve not had time to do much posting lately.