Blogging on Serious Issues. Or Not

The question of the week appears to be: Why Don’t People Talk Politics?

But I would rather address the question’s reverse. Let us ask why people do talk politics. I think by answering this we will find ourselves answering the other question, too.
If you are ready, pull up a chair and pour a drink. It’s a long one.

And even if you are a kitten-drowning hack who writes stories about Canadian students without even bothering to find out whether they are not American tourists, pull the chair all the way up. Make yourself comfortable. Tomorrow you can get the riding you deserve from your editor but for now, let us chit-chat.

I have a theory about political talk.

I think there are three reasons for it.  The first reason will be illustrated below:

The NSSF scandal has proven yet again that the powers that be have no regard for basic tenets of civil responsibility. It boggles the mind that, at a time when 67% of Ugandans live in abject poverty, the NRM party heads at NSSF who are entrusted with their future are recklessly flushing it down the drain through flagrant corruption! What shall we do? Who shall save us? Instead of rising up to demand change, we are wasting our time watching Big Brother…

You see?

Okay, maybe you don’t. Because you are not a fool.
Any intelligent person will notice in a matter of seconds that that paragraph is total bullshit because, first of all, that statistic is completely bogus. Secondly the NSSF is not run by the NRM party, and mostly, logic has to leap across light-years to make the rant work because people living in abject poverty do not contribute to NSSF. The little rant also has the tried-and-tested staples of handwringing bombast (Who shall save us!) and the technique of making itself seem high-brow by juxtaposing itself with something allegedly lower-minded — by claiming something (e.g. Big Brother) is beneath him, he tacitly suggests that he is above things. You see?

There are people out there who will be impressed to no end by that sort of claptrap. They revel in it. Their conversations are full of then flinging swill like this at each other in glee, so glad to be having what they think is an intellectual discussion about political issues. Yippee!

So if my lovely assistant would not mind wheeling out the panel…

I know. But I never said I dance the Photoshop.

Anyway, there you are. The first reason people talk politics, I have learnt, is because they think it makes them look smart. Avoid such people, children, I urge you. Shun them. Go and watch Big Brother instead.

And now, the next reason: Are you ready? No? You would like to hear more about my lovely assistant.

Her name is Rere. She is a singer. She once sang a song with Young Jeezy. Oh, I see you are no longer interested after hearing that.  Let us proceed then.

The second reason people talk politics is because they are geeks about it. Smart people often like to find a hobby that will stimulate and exercise their minds. They want something they can obsess over, something about which they can amass large amounts of information, something about which they can obsess as they discuss its intricate details with one another. Some people do this with sports, some with the arts, some with computers, some even with astronomical objects. Some do it with politics. Rere, the panel please…

That’s right. Geekiness. Note that this does not apply when it comes to sex. When you obsess about sex and collect trivia about sex, it isn’t being a geek. It is being an adolescent.

And now for the tippy top of my theory.

 

What is politics for? Is it, like Big Brother, just for looking at and discussing? What does it do?

Politics is how the individual relates to society, is how I’ve always seen it, and how the shaky balance between individual freedom and social order is maintained–how the tenuous compromises that create this balance shift and change.

Society wants order, the individual wants freedom. We sort out compromises and these become government and politics. In the end, the aim of politics is to map out how free I can be without threatening order, and how free others can be without disturbing my freedom. Ultimately the aim of politics is to see that, as much as possible, one is okay, free to live ones life and that no one bothers one.

Which means that if I am afraid, I will be talking about the army and the police. If I am poor, I will be talking about business and investment. If I am perplexed, I will be talking about the legalisation of Marijuana etc. But as long as I am secure, content and at peace, I will have no reason to talk about the government.

Oh my gosh. Do you realise what this means? What am I saying? That political apathy can be a sign of good government?

Whoa!

But Wait. Stay with me. Let me finish first before you start your wololo.

Apathy is, in a way, the goal of effective government. We pay attention to things when they are not working, then we discuss ways to fix them. When everything is fixed, we won’t talk about government any more than we talk about that auto-giga-processor in your Internet machine.

You see? You don’t know what that even is. It is a thing that works the internet. When it breaks down we will all know what it is. 

Now we all know that apathy can also thrive in a state with bad government, and it shouldn’t. Even if we had an efficient government, if such a thing ever comes into existence, its citizens have to watch it closely and keep it under close scrutiny. For it to work it has to have power and power can be misused, so we need to watch it closely. Lest it murder us in our sleep, metaphorically speaking.

But consider this: If you have a job, a home, kids and plans for the future as well as a government that needs scrutiny. Typically, the intelligent and responsible citizen will make a list of priorities that put the government kind-of near the bottom.  After your budget for the month, your bitch boss, your wife finally getting her driver’s licence (thank God!), your ballgame with the kids (little Festo is fearless in goal) the new beer that sucks (you will never ever cheat on your Guinness again), your favourite entertainer who turned 50 last week and that cool new reality show on TV etc, you will finally probably have time to contemplate that new district they just carved out of Bundibugyo.

And that, people, is the third reason to talk politics: You have a problem with the way things are being done to you and you need to find a way to fix it. Your kids are not learning in schools because it is overcrowded, so you start to lament the merits of UPE. Your father’s ARVs are getting expensive, so you watch the GAVI fund scandal unfold with keenness. You are 58 years old and broke so you stare at the NSSF saga with consternation.

Then you talk politics because you care and are genuinely interested.

This of course means that “I don’t see what it has to do with me”, “I am too busy” and “I find it boring” are valid political opinions, borne from a fact we don’t want to admit, but one that is nevertheless as true as Rere is hot: that we are selfish creatures whose only true motivation for doing anything is personal interest, and that patriotism and a sense of civil obligation only rises if it can lead to a personal benefit.
For example, “I am too busy” will translate to “We need to nationalise strategic industries and return to a controlled economy structure” when you get fired from that job that keeps you too busy.

And that is why we don’t blog politics. Because, as young middle class professionals, the system is working for us. The problems we have that need immediate discussion cannot be solved by government, so when we talk about life we are not talking politics. You see?

Okay. That is my piece. Now, please, tell me where I am wrong so that I can learn from your comments and improve my theories. Or, if necessary, abandon them entirely.

 

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30 Comments

  1. It is rare for me to read a post as long as this one and not get bored. I liked your theories. I think they are true. Especially the third theory.

    In other news, I wish there was a way of stopping these NSSF deductions from my salary. After all, my organisation hasn’t remitted funds to NSSF in a long time yet the deductions still continue. I would be driving by now if they stopped pretending to deduct my salary. I would have even helped my Mom finish her house and enjoy her early retirement as she waits for her pension to start coming.

    Speaking of pension, the issue would interest me because it has taken me two years trying to get my late father’s money. Honestly, I don’t know what I would do if I discovered that someone else has helped himself with it.

  2. wait! hold up!

    this is true. first of all as some song said something to this effect, allow me to paraphrase mimi nina shida sasa zako niziskize kwa nini? [me i have problems of my own why in hell should i listen to yours?] or something to that effect.

    if i have no personal interest in it, yaani what is in it for me, i shall continue to slave away at my job ensuring me and my family have something to eat tomorrow.

    someone did mention to me that as a tyrannical leader, keep your people so busy eking out a living so as not to bother hounding you for impropriety. or perhaps too tired from trying to keep afloat to have the energy left to chew your arse off, that kind of thing.

  3. “[…] bullshit because, first of all, that statistic is completely bogus.”
    Most of these feel-sorry-for-us stats are bogus.

    Spell that “geekinenss”.

    Yes, people under-estimate the amount of positive governance they have here. It’s not the best, but it is not the shit every turd wants to paint it as. The proof that we aren’t in political shit is that we don’t act like we are.

    By the way, I came here to spit on you for calling me a pretend Communist. 🙂 But I’ve forgiven you, for writing an interekcho post. (That comma weighs 1,000 on the Semantic Scales of Meaning ™.)
    We discuss Big Brother, I guess, because the government can’t rig it for us? 😮

  4. Sorry, I can’t read this post without thinking of you wearing your geek glasses, coudroy trousers, a tweed jacket and seriously typing a serious post of unserious stuff.

  5. DAMN SON!!! You just went all Bill Maher on us.

    This is the post of the year.

    It’s as if you knew way in advance that on September 1st 2008, Dennis Muhumuza would regurgitate his bullshit once again and you started researching and writing this post, because out of hateration, I REFUSE to believe that you came up with this post in a day.

    Very interesting view of things. And I can’t say this about Dennis. Fuck me if I am wrong, Dennis is not an interesting human being. But well, what do I know.

    And for his idea of bloggers in America scooping the New York times, I would like to let him know that for every Andrew Sullivan or Matt Drudge, there are 100 million casual “getting laid-getting wasted” bloggers. Myspace has over 240 million members and every account has a blog. So if he can get on there and show me one “serious” blog post. I will show him 100 million getting laid or getting wasted blog posts.

    Then next time he shows up at a BHH, I recommend someone just beat him up for disturbing the peace. Beat him up so bad he needs to go to ER or give him a effing disability. And I am not even a violent guy.

    Actually coming to think of it, Dennis is a douchebag. And I mean that in a good and respectful way.

    Sorry for mini-blogging here. Yesterday was Labor day and I went with some White Friends to indulge in some White people activities-Fishing and Jet Skiing, by the time I got back I was too tired to rant.

  6. Kale this was Mister long. I read all the way and that’s why I didn’t score the socks, Soulchild. 😦
    Tumwi, the tweed jacket has leather patches at the elbows.

    Finally, Kakaire shows face.

  7. To each his own!!!
    with all the seriousness and stuff people are engaged in, could they possibly have never heard of that?
    How could they possibly not know that while they love to stress about Bundibugyo, I love music and Toblerone, and lacy underwear, and that It is perfectly okay, and healthy for us to co-exist in cyberspace without lashing out and creating many posts for me to go comment on just to say basically the same thing.

    Somehow, I figured, while slaving away at intellectual ideas they missed that memo!!
    So now, they inspired this delightful post, I’m printing copy of “don’t disturb sign”…not just because I am refusing to be serious, I am just so seriously impressed(…kudos *Ernest,) and will seriously return to blogging about whatever the hell I want,
    just like the rest of them ,and leave the patriots to do their amazingly ‘rewarding’ (yeah, right) job of whinning about the government.

    * most of this comment is not directed at you. my bad. A biscuit has to vent sometimes. ( and you know what they will say if I take it to my blog..mbu we are not serious!! LOL)

  8. A blogger who is not interested in politics can not just morph into it. Everyone has his/her own style and we can tell the pretenders. Besides, there are intellectual blogs, including those who cheat by posting articles they have already published in print media.

  9. A blogger who is not interested in politics can not just morph into it. Everyone has his/her own style and we can tell the pretenders. Then there are those who cheat (according to me) by posting articles they have already published in print media.
    Besides, this right here is a political and very intellectual post! It’s not our fault that some chaps just don’t get satire.

  10. Woah…..this was brilliant, unfortunately all I can do is nod and agree…but Kakaire! White People activities? HAHAHAHAHAHAH!!

    White People Activites:
    Sunbathing
    Sunburning
    Feeling Guilty

  11. and about your question, The Inquisitors really had him on the ropes yesterday. But it wasn’t violent; they just wanted him to explain what ‘serious’ is. inquisitors were not satisfied.

  12. O bloggers, I just spoke to The Monitor and have been told that they are eager to recieve all your comments. Send them to people&places@monitor.co.ug Please do send them.

  13. great letter to the monitor people today. pity the imps didn’t highlight it as the letter of the day…*beef*

    oh and by the way, the post is unusually terse; classic-baz-is-pissed-off-style!! i like

  14. Can only sigh in bliss. This post was good. Loved it n I agree with yo theories. Politics is about conflict and conflict resolution so if there is no conflict in my life, then there is no politics for me.

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