For close to two and a half thousand years, Iran has been a great nation. Five empires, from the Medians to the Safavids have risen and fallen, at their height stretching from Libya to Eastern Europe to India. It is telling that though Arab armies dominated a strip of land from west Africa to the Indonesian archipelago, Iran has never long been ruled, aside from by the brief Mongol occupation, keeping its own language, Farsi, and its own Shi’ite form of Islam. Iran is a fiercely independent Nation; it remained a truly independent country until the Shia safavids fell and the new powers of Britain and Russia began imperial jockeying for power. For a long period Iran ceased to be a real state, becoming a theatre in which European, and later American, proxies (political parties, militias and kings) could vie for power, trade and influence. Iran proves that there are few things more troubled than a great nation fallen. Pride is a hard thing for people to let go of.
Category Archives: Hashmark Politics
I have always disliked anniversaries, feeling that if something is good, its goodness speaks for itself regardless of any arbitrary landmark. So, the fact that the European Union is fifty does not matter much, what it has achieved in those years however, does; it has achieved far more than people often give it credit for. Indeed the EU may, in future generations, be seen as the most important positive development in Europe since the Enlightenment. If that process two hundred years ago spawned the ideas of individual liberty, constitutionalism and liberal democracy, few institutions have proliferated the implementation of them to quite so spectacularly as our Union.
The Republicans may look like a faltering party with little chance of winning the presidency, having lost their twelve-year-long grip on Congress and sporting (polls tells us) the third least popular President ever. If we were talking about a prime-ministerial system like the UK or Germany, where party leaders tend to be established figures, already in government, this would be the case. But in the USA, this is only part of the reality. In their system, a new leader (especially in this presidential election, devoid of incumbents) can credibly distance themselves from the previous administration and often help their party in the Congressional and state elections which take place simultaneously. There is reason to believe that the Republican candidate may be able to fight the Democrat in an arena free of ties to the Bush legacy, if not free of the mixed legacy itself. Whether this will be the case depends much on the difficult relationships the hopefuls forge with the outgoing president, they must remain loyal yet critical, and close yet distant in order to retain the old supporters and in order not to turn away potential new ones by neither appearing to be lackeys nor traitors, a difficult tightrope to walk. It is this task that often makes it difficult for Vice-Presidents to win elections and has meant that two-term presidents tend to be succeeded by a politician of another party. It is, however, a tightrope that can be walked, and with the candidates as they stand, there is a good chance that it will be.
I walk into an empty room and find my usual spot next to the fire. Directly opposite me is a mirror; the chair, it seems, is strategically placed. Sipping my tea I smile gleefully as I realise that I am about to have a discussion with the most interesting man I know…The transcript monologue…
The President of the United States of America is said to be the most powerful man (and man he always has been) on Earth, a leader who controls the most powerful military, the strongest economy and the country with the most cultural influence. For good or ill, he probably lays a better claim to the title than any other. George Bush is President and will be until January 2009, but he is a spent force, bogged down in a losing war on which much of his political capital has been expended and not at home with a Democratic congress; he is stuck, neither side willing to pay anything but lip service to bipartisan action, especially since Bush shunned the flawed Baker-Hamilton report to follow his preposterous ‘surge’ policy.
In modern times America’s War on Terror has become a source of much speculation and debate the world over, from cosy octogenarians sitting in mansions wearing cardigans, to young people who like Hollyoaks, everybody’s got their opinion. It has been made clear by the US government that terrorism, in all its forms all over the world, should be combated. A less known war being fought by America is their War on Drugs. The US has a problem with Cocaine, also known as Charlie, Blow, Snow, Nose candy, C, White, Percy, and Peruvian marching dust. Massive amounts enter its borders annually, and despite the best efforts of the Border Patrol, it is just too lucrative a business; for every shipment they might manage to stop, several pass in unnoticed, carrying hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of powder.
In these days of relative security, sanitised and generic opinion, we have lost the confrontation that makes politics the life blood of youth.
I’m a closet politics freak, a debate fetishist, and not just because it is a way of asserting my dominance by proving that I know more than everyone else, thus feeding my ravenous ego (though that plays a shamefully large part in it). No, I go home more concerned about the liberal democrat leadership race than about my social life or whatever is going on in school. Of this I must admit to being slightly ashamed; how many people have I ever told of my weekly rush of excitement on Saturday morning before the Economist is delivered by the postman at more or less precisely 11.36? I don’t think I am the average teenager, but without wishing to toot my own horn, I wish there were more people like me.
Politicians are always crowing on about how they want to engage with the youth of toady. They think that by setting up youth parliaments, getting some token young MPs, having some phoney consultations with youth and creating an engaged and politcally dynamic young generation they can get young people on board. However, the state will never be able to get at the innate subversiveness of youth, as it will always, rightly, shun authority. If we even notice these things, it is only as a subject of ridicule and somewhat satisfying cynicism. The real problem is that we have no conflict of ideology and mainstream deviance from the beige, politically correct “concensus”. Being an aggressively confrontational character, I lament the lack of a good fight in today’s politics; it alienates the mass of the youth and, to be frank, pisses me off. I want Enoch Powel, red eyed, foaming at the mouth and professing rivers of blood, not because I agree with him, but because the established order of banality needs a kicking. Indeed, if this spiral of monolithic boredom continues, I may either sink in the comforting, disengaged political lethargy with the rest of the young peopole in this country, or dedicate my life to trying to clone Hitler and Trotsky, just to see some real debate.
There are always those who claim that politics is in fact not dead, or even sterile, and that there are interesting developments in politics, namely those who get sweaty and stimulated by the fear (or maybe just morbid curiosity) that there may just be ten people who have been cautioned for sex offences cleared for teaching in our schools, but who are in fact not. These are boring people, Mail and Express readers who have nothing better to do than write letters of complaint, blame all their woes on asylum seekers and curse the yobbish youth of today, and I have one thing to say to them – POLITICS IS DEAD (which bodes rather poorly for my political editorship).
This is an original Hashmark Article by The Politics Editor, written in early 2006.