Posts by BenWilson

Last ←Newer Page 1 2 3 4 5 Older→ First

  • MMP: This Time It's Binding,

    And I do agree with you that I'd love to see more light than heat from both sides on this one -- just as I did around the civil unions bill and the repeal of section 59.

    I guess we're doing our little bit, right now. This could become a thread that will never die.

    Oh no. Just Bill.

    Heh, I wonder if Ben would lament that it wasn't the Ben and Bill party if the thresholds were lowered to 1 seat.

    Frankly I don't see how Bill would have held the 'balance of power' any more than every other MP who could defect, withhold support etc. In such a fragile majority, everyone holds the balance of power.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8540 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: How to Look Good as a Nazi,

    And from a military perspective the German tactics in WWII were truly impressive - in that they smashed their enemies to bits in ways that had not before been dreamed of.

    John Ralston Saul suggested that Hitler was the driving force behind the use of tanks to smash through, instead of fighting wars of attrition. He argues that the military leadership of the time were against the idea, having cut their teeth in WW1. This may have been responsible for some of the view that he was a military genius. Another way of seeing it was that he liked to take a lot of risk, which as we all know sometimes pays off. In the case of Operation Barbarossa, it did not.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8540 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: How to Look Good as a Nazi,

    I'd hope so, though I'm a little dismayed at his use of expressions such as "Speer's genius" and "economic miracle". The tawdry reality behind these political myths is that they were fuelled by industrialised ideologically-sanctioned theft and murder.

    Haven't you ever heard of an evil genius?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8540 posts Report Reply

  • MMP: This Time It's Binding,

    Is there much evidence that people who didn't vote under FPP started to do so under MMP? I'd be surprised - people who are convinced by the "rational voter's paradox" will feel similarly powerless under both political systems. Actually, I'd think they'd feel disinclined to engage any kind of democratic system, even including participatory democracy.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8540 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: How to Look Good as a Nazi,

    While I doubt that's how it's intended

    So do I. I doubt Simon is making excuses for Hitler - he's more pointing out that we tend to focus far more on him and his purported amazing skills than on the much bigger picture of how Nazi Germany operated.

    I recall Tolstoy making a similar analysis of Napoleon in War and Peace . He pretty much tries to debunk the idea that Napoleon was an amazing strategist, and that the way the French armies crushed enemy after enemy all the way to Moscow was more a factor of large, and in some ways inevitable, historical forces at work. He points out that in most of the major battles, Napoleon was nowhere near where the action was happening, had little idea what was going on, gave orders that were mostly not followed, nor could be. The French victories could be analyzed in terms of many brilliant maneuvers, but mostly on account of being superior armies in the first place, with highly seasoned soldiers and low level commanders.

    So he argues that Napoleon was mostly a figurehead who rode these forces, and in my own analogy, was much like a surfer thinking they are controlling a wave.

    Which did not excuse Napoleon for anything he did - surely he was a motivational force behind most of the choices about who to aggressively betray and attack, but it's quite possible that pretty much anyone else in his place would have done much the same job. Perhaps the same goes for Hitler.

    I had the misfortune to argue with my father in law about this on the weekend - he was lamenting the barbarity of the Russians in WW2, and I suggested "these things happen when you attack a country of the size and power of Russia - I doubt Germany was ever going to win". To which he angrily said that the Germans managed to get within sight of Moscow, and if they had only managed to press on they might have won the Eastern Front. I pointed out that Napoleon actually managed to capture Moscow, and didn't win his war against Russia. Exactly as happened to the German army, so happened to the French, they were overstretched, their supply lines cut off by distance and shocking weather conditions, and when the 'unthinkable' happened, and Russia did not capitulate just because they lost their capital, the disastrous retreat was only a matter of time for the French.

    Tolstoy is not particularly praising the Russian leadership either. He felt that the harrying of the French on the way out of Russia was not glorious at all, and led mostly to higher Russian casualties than could have otherwise have been achieved. The French were still formidable in battle and it was the winter and lack of supplies that was killing them anyway. He felt that the Tsar's active role in this was mostly for the worse. Kind of ballsy thing for a Russian to write, actually, considering Russia was still Tsarist at the time.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8540 posts Report Reply

  • MMP: This Time It's Binding,

    Damm, I knew my refusal to join Facebook would hurt me eventually. I now feel alienated and disengaged

    Or are you just recalcitrant? I received a demand from a friend via the email account I've had since about 1991 to join Facebook "so he could keep in touch with me". Email is just too koryu now.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8540 posts Report Reply

  • MMP: This Time It's Binding,

    I tend to think using the words 'democratic', 'undemocratic', 'more/less democratic' isn't really that useful in the context of this discussion. That's a discussion about the meaning of the words, not about how good the various systems under discussion are. It's probably better to be more specific about the various merits than to just talk about the 'level of democracy'.

    I find this amusing because I remember having this discussion in the 80s with a friend about socialism, we discussed whether one system was more socialist, less socialist etc. In the end it was kind of pointless because the problem with a word like socialism is that it is used in so many different ways and we kind of settled on perhaps using the word 'democratic' to really better characterize what we really were about. But now, in NZ, I think the term has become just as much of hot potato, and for that reason, just about as worthless.

    Who cares if MMP is more or less 'democratic'? The question is whether it is better or worse. If you don't go back to that question, then you just defer it - once you've settled which is more democratic (and I doubt that would be settled since it is a semantic debate, and such things are totally characterized by polarized positions becoming more and more entrenched), then you still have to actually justify which is better.

    Can we have that debate instead? I/S I actually agree with you that lower thresholds are better. But I'd say my reasons are because lower thresholds exclude minorities less.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8540 posts Report Reply

  • MMP: This Time It's Binding,

    @I/S

    MMP has given us stable government. And lowering the threshold and letting our democracy expand to its full potential won't change that.

    I agree about lowering thresholds, btw, in case it wasn't clear. Personally I'd like to see them lowered well beyond 0.8%, but the means to that end are far too radical to expect them anytime soon.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8540 posts Report Reply

  • MMP: This Time It's Binding,

    @Graeme

    I just don't see it happening.

    Thanks for all that. I figured it was a prediction, albeit a highly educated one.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8540 posts Report Reply

  • MMP: This Time It's Binding,

    > There will always be restrictions on representation. The number of MPs in parliament always sets a minimum barrier, of about 0.8%. Anyone who gets below that won't make it under any system you set up.

    Indeed, and I explicitly acknowledge that.

    It's true so long as we retain the concept of MPs, which is not the only way things could be done. But I doubt any of the proposed options will not be representative democracy in one form or another.

    It seems to me that just tinkering with it is trying to have a bob each way and as my Nan nused to say the only place you can do that is at the races.

    Your Nan is totally wrong then. You can have a bob each way in just about anything. And I don't think tinkering with it is a bob each way anyway. It's just 'a less radical change' which could easily be more palatable to far more people.

    Serious question, Ben: What exactly do you mean by "marginalization of minorities"?

    Serious answer, I mean minorities not getting any effective say (in this case by exclusion from political power). They are 'pushed into the margins'. Their cause becomes 'marginal'.

    Now I don't have a problem with majority rule - as I see that is the very definition of democracy (but that's just the way I see it). But I do have a problem with suppression of groups from proportional power, because they are small. It's bad enough being small in the first place in terms of powerlessness, there's no need to institutionalize further removal of any power.

    You are missing the point talking about a wasted vote for electoral representatives - the wasted vote in MMP is for parties under the threshold with no electoral representative. It's not just about 'losing a ballot'. That's not a wasted vote.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8540 posts Report Reply

Last ←Newer Page 1 624 625 626 627 628 854 Older→ First