We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

The cliche is that it’s personal ambition that propels most politicians. Unfortunately, I think it’s true, at least for the biggest of them. What really drives most of them round the twist is not failing to get their policies enacted, but their ascent up the greasy pole being blocked.

Hector Drummond

17 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Here’s a more up-to-date picture of Anna Soubry than the one the Continental Telegraph used:
    http://hectordrummond.com/2018/05/26/hector-at-the-continental-telegraph-again/

  • pete

    Politics is one of the UK’s few growth industries. Noddy assemblies in Wales, Scotland and London, new elected mayors – plus all the bureaucrats that go with them.

    Along with taxpayer funded charities, quangos, the state broadcaster, the subsidised arts and the ever expanding HE system politics is now simply a way the educated middle classes create amenable and well paid jobs for themselves.

  • Duncan S

    I’ve just started re-reading “Time enough for love” by Robert Heinlein, and this bit seems appropriate to pete’s comment:

    “Even so, the problems of a planet with more than a billion people can keep a man busy, especially if his intention is to govern as little as possible – as that means he must keep a sharp eye out and his ear tuned for signs that subordinates are doing unnecessary governing. Half my time is used in the negative work of plucking such officius officials and ordering that they never again serve in any public capacity.

    Then I usually abolish their job, and all jobs subordinate to them.

    I have never noticed any harm from such pruning save that parasites whose jobs are eliminated must find some other way to avoid starvation. (They are welcome to starve – better if they do. But they don’t.)”

  • >is now simply a way the educated middle classes create amenable and well paid jobs for themselves.

    Partly that, but there’s also a more sinister side to it: they’re creating more power for themselves.

    Duncan S, nice quote, I’m going to pinch it.

  • CaptDMO

    Politicians?
    “What really drives most of them round the twist…”
    is the addiction to…must. have. … MORE!

  • Al from Chgo

    In the states they get very angry if the wire transfers do not go through..

  • Runcie Balspune

    The general slide into authoritarianism is perpetuated by a political class who like nothing more than telling other people what to do, whether it is the moralistic nannying of many conservatives or the ideological elitism of leftists, it all adds up the same, there are few that actually think people are better off leading their own lives and spending their own money. The current crop on both sides of the house is overwhelmingly supercilious whilst pretending to be egalitarian, their policies are geared towards keeping themselves in power by voter manipulation and regulation.

  • Snorri Godhi

    I don’t think that this is primarily about ambition: sometimes, people resent being pushed down “the greasy pole” even when their rise was not due to ambition as much as to merit.

    The example that i have in mind is Romano Prodi: he was a pretty unassuming fellow, and in his first tenure as Italian PM he did a pretty good job on the economy, not so much on the Machiavellian task of keeping an Italian coalition together. After getting driven out, he really went “round the twist”, as shown in his performance both in Brussels and later back in Rome.

  • Snorri Godhi

    […] politics is now simply a way the educated middle classes create amenable and well paid jobs for themselves.

    C. Northcote Parkinson wrote a related essay, one of the essays that most informed my political outlook.

    But i object to the term “middle class” in this context: people who can create jobs for themselves* out of taxpayer money are ipso facto part of the ruling class; and being middle class implies that there is at least 1 class above you, so there can be no overlap between ruling class and middle class.

    * or more power for themselves, as Hector says.

  • bobby b

    “The cliche is that it’s personal ambition that propels most politicians.”

    It’s personal ambition that drives ME, and, I would guess, most others here. That’s not a bad thing in and of itself.

    A politician serves his personal ambition when he keeps his spot, and when he climbs the pole even higher to a spot with greater influence. He does this in a democracy by pushing and facilitating government philosophies and programs that please the most voters.

    When I vote for a candidate, I’m acting as a principal trying to hire an agent. I want my agents to be ambitious, but also honest, and “honest” means working within the agent/principal definition without self-dealing. We shouldn’t confuse “ambitious” with “dishonest.”

  • James Hargrave

    ‘Educated middle classes’ – probably not. Those with credentials who are stupid enough (1) to believe that they have had an education and (2) that such an education entitles them to graduate-style employment. They haven’t, it doesn’t.

  • Regional

    There’s only so much room at the trough.

  • It’s personal ambition that drives ME, and, I would guess, most others here. (bobby b, May 26, 2018 at 5:39 pm)

    Bobby b has a point. I’d say the idea the OP is reaching for is that there are power politicians and conviction politicians. Almost every politician must claim to be a conviction politician when soliciting votes. Only a minority are so, even after allowing for ordinary human frailty.

  • Sonny Wayze

    CaptDMO:

    ““What really drives most of them round the twist…”
    is the addiction to…must. have. … MORE!”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wIxnW_nB4Lk

  • Eric

    The general slide into authoritarianism is perpetuated by a political class who like nothing more than telling other people what to do, whether it is the moralistic nannying of many conservatives or the ideological elitism of leftists…

    I don’t think it’s a problem with the political class – it’s just human nature. My biggest disappointment as a lifelong small-government conservative was the smooth transition of supposedly like-minded friends and neighbors from “power should devolve to the lowest reasonable level” to “there ought to be a law that covers everyone” as soon as their own party seized the reins of power. All of the sudden it became important to make sure the federal government decides what gets taught in the schools, and what services the states should be required to provide. These weren’t people who could be described as “the political class” at any level, just people who saw an opportunity to impose their own values on everyone else.

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    Not so! Politicians are there to SERVE! Now you wouldn’t want your servants to be overstressed, would you? As a humanitarian, you’d like them to at least be comfortable whilst they serve you by passing laws to rule you, right? What could be fairer?

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