Party political work is so boring. It’s a bunch of guys (mostly) who go up to a podium and spout bullshit for endless ages, and then sit down and expect everyone to agree. We can do better than that.
I complained the other day. I uttered that “everything is just shit”, and then one guy turned around and said very sarcastically: “So, what are you going to do about it?” I didn’t have an answer.
My disdain for partisan politics and politicians is so acute that I am rudderless in the face of it. Either I abdicate my democratic responsibility, which would make my mum come down here and box my ear I think, or I figure something out.
I’ve spent a couple of days figuring things out, and what I come back to is the concept of ideas. Of disruption that ideas. ‘Disruption’ is one of those words that tech geeks like to throw around when they want to take some industry and make it free for the tech geeks.
Ideas are like this. You take one old idea, and then another old idea. Then you combine the two and give it a twist. I just thought of that the other day. It fits with everything.
You cut down a tree, and roll it down a hill. Then you take a stick and beat something in the head. If you combine the stick and the tree, you get the wheel. The stick is the spoke, and the tree is the ring. You grow grain, and then you drink water. If you pour the grain you grow into the water, then you get beer. One old idea plus one old idea equals new idea with a twist.
So how can one take the stuffy and boring and extremely inefficient way that political activities are done in this country? Particularly since political activism work according to a recipe that’s mouldy and decrepit?
Party political work is designed for an age of authority megaphoning to the masses. You get one guy up on a stage, then fill a hall, and the guy on the stage has authority and the masses in the hall doesn’t. The guy on the stage is respected; the guys in the hall aren’t.
It’s a pyramid scheme that works for the lecture- or the TV generation. They can sit still and listen to something for hours, quietly receiving whatever is being transmitted.
One reason it still exists is because people are used to it, and think that this is how things should work. Another reason it still works like that is because some people would like to capture a role in it for self-interest. It leads to cush jobs with good salaries. And it leads to inelastic power.
By inelastic power I mean that the holders of it do not risk losing it easily. It takes so long, and the process of removing that power, is so stuffy and boring that few want to go through it. Few people want to sit in a stuffy hall and listen to some boring guy spew bullshit. Nobody gives the guy on stage the respect and the authority they used to.
Take one old idea, and then another old idea, and with a new twist make something of it. What if you took the concept of that lewd system grinder which already exist, and what if you took plain old activism which everyone has more or less of. What if you joined the two, to network strangers into spontaneous flash-mobs of activism?
What if you designed a system where an app told people who other people who shared their interest or ideology or cause sat next to them on the bus or the train. What if that app told you with a message that there was a rally or a meeting or a pub evening in your neighbourhood simply by virtue of your location and by running your app?
Silicon Valley is wrong. They got things on the wrong foot. They saw technology, and thought technology was what caused the disruption. It’s not true. What caused the disruption wasn’t technology – it was as always with human beings other people.
Only when you connect other people, and make that connection easy, do you get disruption. I think I figured that out, and I can’t find any holes in this which I’ve figured out. To disrupt the stuffy and boring old party political system, you have to overwhelm it with another form – made up by people who function according to the modern world. Interconnected people. People who are always on the grid. People who move, drop in, drop out, and go with the flow of data presented by their mobile computing devices – their phones and ipads and ipods.
One doesn’t need all the people. Just some of the people. Ten per cent? Twenty per cent? Five? Enough of the people to do that which always overwhelms the party political model. Back in 2013 the internet half-shut down for a single day. It overwhelmed the US Congress so badly that despite all the money of Hollywood and the old media and the phone companies.
Because there’s one thing that the old model fears; that trends go in the wrong direction. You don’t need all the people to start a trend that will send klaxon calls throughout the political system. You just need an app.
I think I’m going to make that app. It’s such a millennial thing to do, isn’t it? To make an app which:
- Is voluntary
- Is private
- Is distributed
- Is informal
- Is opt-in
- Is flat in hierarchy
- Promotes coöperation
- Discourages megaphoning
- Works around PR and ad messaging
- Promotes communication
- Promotes forming small groups
- Promotes cat pictures
What’s needed? A server, a client, and a bit of JSON or XML which is shuttled back and forth. It doesn’t actually need to be complicated. I already have the server because I can adapt what I did with python for the magazine project I worked on while in sixth form. I would just have to learn Java and make an android program which could read data which the server processed. Right?
“Everything is turning to shit. So what am I going to do about it?” Well, I can’t do it alone, but this could be a start. It’s doing something. It’s just a matter of getting it right.