For today’s missive, we’ll touch on the field of politics.
Yes, I can hear the collective sharp intake of breath, but don’t worry, this is human politics we’re talking about, so unlike on our home planet of Gloabon, there’s hardly any risk in reading on.
Firstly, let me be blunt.
Humans have absolutely no idea on how to organize their affairs of state. None. It’s small wonder that human politicians are held in such low regard, as they are, without exception, vain, conceited, self-serving, and above all, ineffectual. If you want something doing on Earth, don’t even think about engaging with the political elite, because if you do, you will never achieve your goals. Human politicians go to great pains to display outward signs of strength and power, but as in the mating rituals of the famously asexual Andelian blood limpets, there’s a lot of noise, but not much action. In fact, the only things that the political class on earth are really good at organizing are delays.
In political circles, the ability to construct really good delaying tactics seems to be a highly prized skill, and those who can stonewall and stall for the longest periods of time, tend to be promoted to higher ranks of office. Most humans enjoy disagreement, but those individuals who generally disagree with everything on principle, are often drawn to the world of politics. And once in power, surrounded by the febrile atmosphere of barely repressed apathy that passes for political acuity on Earth, disagreeable people are thrown together in assembly rooms, hallowed halls, and debating chambers, and without much in the way of preamble, they get right down to the business of bashing their heads together. And yes, that’s a metaphor. You know, like being at loggerheads. Erm, locking horns? No? Never mind
As a result of the antagonistic nature of the participants, human politics has a distinctly combative flavour. The main order of the day is always to pour scorn on the opposition. No proposal, no matter how original nor how correct, is allowed to go unchallenged. Indeed, in the pursuit of a good argument, humans have an uncanny ability to turn logic on its head, arguing until the blood vessels on their pink little heads throb almost to bursting point. They will put forward all manner of spurious ideas, no matter how ridiculous, so long as they provide ammunition in the endless war of words against the perceived opposition. Those who dare to suggest compromise are generally seen as woolly-minded, and if anyone has the temerity to suggest that an opponent has made a good point, this will be seen as an act of treachery.
In the normal run of human affairs, if history is anything to go by, the differences between rival factions would generally be settled by acts of warfare, but over time, as their so-called civilizations have developed, humans have used the political arena for grand displays of displacement activity. Much like the visually stunning bouts of arm wrestling practised by female ice squid on the long winter nights of Andel, there’s a great deal of grappling in human politics, but very few participants, in recent times, at any rate, are squeezed until they change colour.
These political displacement activities can sometimes be hard to spot because they’re often camouflaged by purposeful sounding names such as committees and commissions, and these may be set up in curiously nested arrangements, one within another. For example, a commission might form a steering group, which in turn might appoint a selection committee in order to decide which interested parties are allowed to be members of the steering group. The selection committee will, of course, need to call on various experts in order to complete their task, and to save time, the consultations will take place in small groups known as panels, which will then report back to the selection committee. But who will be on these panels? Well, they’ll need another committee to decide that, and so on.
Before you know it, the displacement activity is in full flow, the rules being rewritten whilst the game is in progress. In the meantime, in order to clothe their furious activity in the borrowed robes of state, lengthy communiques are issued at intervals, but unlike the complex documents circulated in the Gloabon Government, an official report on Earth may take several years to produce.
I know. It’s outrageous, isn’t it? But believe me, a report with a mere ten thousand pages, which would be the work of a few hours on Gloabon, could take five years on Earth, and because of all the committees, etc., it will cost millions of credits. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, when the report finally sees the light of day, anything of value will have been stripped out of it for the sake of political expediency, and anything of interest will have been buried in a collection of scattered footnotes or consigned to a few deliberately veiled references in the appendices.
But I can see that all this talk of inefficiency is troubling for you. Believe me, my Gloabon friends, I have barely scratched the surface, but I will sign off with a final thought.
If you want to understand the reasoning behind human politics, remember this: no matter how chaotic and foolish the systems of government on Earth may seem, they are infinitely better than the internecine conflicts that have riven human societies for centuries. Give a human a club, and he’ll hit you on the head with it. But give him a clipboard, and he’ll start making a list of his enemies. And so, perhaps, we can see that the humans are not so different from us after all.
Until next time, take care, and MYSABFL.
You may comment below, but any foolishness may well result in you receiving a visit from a member of the Earth Liaison Unit. You have been warned. Thank you.