Owen Edwards (left) interviews famous megalomaniac Distáin Miestrâ A. Schivâ.
I recently interviewed Dame Miestra Schiva about wide-ranging topics, including the formation of the Free Democrat Alliance, ideas about reforming the Organic Law, the Talossan language, the New Zealand cricket team, and a detailed discussion of the recent high-profile clashes between Dame Miestra and Sir Alexandreu Davinescu. She is characteristically open and honest as well as self-critical, and, as ever, fairly entertaining. Her answers will not satisfy everybody – and if they don’t, go and have an argument with her about them. She enjoys that. And sometimes she even changes her mind!
Free Democrat Alliance
Owen Edwards: First question: was the division between the Liberal Congress and the ZRT substantive, or was it personality-driven? If the former, what has changed to permit a reunion tour?
Miestra Schiva: To be personally frank, I would say neither; it was a marketing issue.
OE: How so?
MS: Carlüs was concerned that the unambiguous Republican stance of the ZRT left little room for growth, that it boxed us into a corner of being an “ethnic minority party” for former reviensaçadéirs.
But I was committed to have a Republican option on the ballot. So anyway, Carlüs went off to see what business a “non-aligned on the monarchy” party could do. The attractiveness to active new citizens of the LibCons compared to that of the ZRT seems to show he may have been right.
OE: Does this explain the monarchy-neutral stance of the FDA?
MS: Yes. But we are all in favour of opening the question of constitutional reform. The Constitutional Convention that we want put to referendum would have an unlimited remit. The monarchy would be up for debate just like everything else.
Strangely enough, this is something that the Republican side wanted BEFORE Reunision, but the RUMP-led government insisted we submit to the existing OrgLaw. Which shows once again that Reunision was a stage in the Republican project for fundamental reform of Talossa, not its end.
The Organic Law and Constitutional Conventions
OE: Is it really cogent to dismiss (as you have done) the OrgLaw as a simple relic of Ben? Do you believe the processes by which it can be amended to be unfair in some way? If not, why the need for a convention?
MS: The OrgLaw of 1997 is certainly not a simple relic of KR1. My old friend Adiêns Glaçâ, co-founder of Penguinea, did a lot of work on it, for example. The amendment process as it stands is adequate when it comes to piecemeal reforms and replacement. But the ZRT, and I hope the Free Democrats, think that we need a national conversation on reviewing it from top to bottom. It’s 16 years old, which is donkey´s years in Talossa´s terms.
OE: A key area the ZRT would want to address in the law is the monarchy. Surely you could simply amend the OrgLaw to abolish the monarchy?
MS: If we got a 2/3 majority in both houses of the Ziu for a Republic, sure. But if we were going to do that – and I doubt we´re ready to take the plunge yet – we’d need a national conversation FIRST on what to replace it with. And the monarchy isn’t nearly the only problem with the current Constitutional order. Having the electoral system in Constitutional law means that virtually any reform in Talossa to increase transparency in our electoral process can be blocked by the minority that benefits from the current system. The ZRT and now the FreeDems stand for moving electoral law into statute law so it’s easier to amend.
OE: Statutory law, of course, isn’t up for referendum, which is surely the most democratic form of approval.
MS: It’s been argued, cogently I think, that referenda in Talossa are a rubber stamp because most voters (who are not politically active or interested citizens) just vote PËR as a default. Yes, once again, it is POSSIBLE to carry out particular, piecemeal constitutional reform by amendment, assuming you can get through the self-interested bloc of NO votes from the RUMP.
Political Engagement in Talossa
OE: Do you think that, in terms of our total population, we are a more or less politically engaged nation than – say – the UK? Because I suspect we are less engaged.
MS: There are, what, 150 Talossans? I would say about 40 of them, probably less, are “politically engaged”. So the percentages are similar to those in the US. The big difference is that – because of the old 3 Strikes law – we’ve had a history of politically apathetic citizens being herded to the ballot box on pain of losing their citizenship and voting for the “default option” – Ben´s PC back in the day, the RUMP more recently. The same problem applies for referenda.
OE: What would you propose as a systemic reform for that?
MS: I think we’ve already done it with modifying 3 Strikes to the point where you can not vote and remain a citizen, but old habits are hard to break.
Miestra Schiva and Alexandreu Davinescu
OE: So we might as well turn to the next hot potato – you and Alex Davis. I’ll state my own interest here by saying I’m not only a non-RUMP party leader and the target of some of Alex’s strongest criticisms (some justified in part), but I also think very little of his behaviour, which can be toxic to our nation. On the other hand, I think you can be an outright bitch at times. Are you two healthy for our nation? What do you think is going on? What is needed?
MS: It may surprise your readers to know this, but I have certain character flaws. One of them in aggression in the face of dishonesty. (I almost got a card in a football game recently for yelling at a fellow player who was celebrating a “goal” scored from an offside position.)
I suppose, going back to the beginning of my Talossan involvement, that what I found most outrageous about my initial experience in Talossa (April-September 1997) was that I was promised a “freewheeling multi-party democracy”, but what I got was a King who threw his weight around, who was unashamed of his personal bigotries, and was determined that Talossan “democracy” would remain within very strict limits. I have spent 18 years, then, fighting for the Talossa I joined back then, a real free-wheeling multi-party democracy, a small community which “has fun behaving like a real nation”, with its evolution and future undetermined by any one individual, clique or political party.
To be very, very brief, after the Abdication Crisis of August 2005, when John Woolley’s dogged logic and bravery finally made Ben Madison cry “uncle” and run away, there was a brief window of about 6 months when Reunision, as we now call it, was possible on a jointly negotiated basis. Instead, the RUMP party which took over the reigns of government concentrated entirely on establishing a “legitimist” narrative where they (and only they) were the true heirs of Ben Madison. This meant treating the Republic – without whose existence they would have never been allowed into Talossa in the first place! – with nearly as much contempt as Ben did. Now, unlike Ben who couched his hatred for the Republic in entirely personalised terms (people like me and Kane Gruber were scumbags who were just trying to ruin Talossa for a laugh), the new RUMP leadership simply refused to acknowledge our existence, except as a group of people who should grow up and join the real Talossa, under John Woolley as King. We could have tolerated an “empty Throne and Regency” compromise… but we were simply blanked.
Now, to return to present time, my point is that the RUMP’s actions in 2006 kept Talossa split into two states (three, counting Ben´s clique) for 6 years solely because they refused to negotiate with the Republicans, honestly, as equals. Alexandreù (now Sir Alexandreu) Davinescù was one of the most forthright exponents of this deliberately provocative and exclusionary policy on behalf of the RUMP, as shown by his infamous BETRAYED STOLEN KEPT banner.
My issue with Sir Alex is not, despite his repeated claims, a personal one. (Shades of Ben Madison there.) It is that the RUMP spent 6 years attempting to isolate, ignore and make the Talossan Republic wither on the vine. And as any student of politics can tell you, a state’s foreign politics are mirrored in its internal politics.
Which is to say – as I´m sure you and others can attest – the RUMP´s anti-Republican policy was reflected in an intolerant internal political setting where being considered a Republican sympathiser was a stick to bash the progressive opposition with, especially after the turncoat JP Griffin’s return.
OE: Well, JP ran that very line against me…that despite me being one of a very few actual ideological monarchists in Talossa!
MS: Yes! And that is PRECISELY how Ben Madison destroyed the internal opposition 1998-2003, by accusing them of being Penguinean sympathisers. The issue is therefore not personalities, it is of a certain kind of politics where a dominant personality and/or a clique around him/her try to demonise opposition as being treason. When the RUMP loyalty parade yell “God Save the King!”, it’s not because they actually believe that the Republicans are on the verge of taking over. We wish. It’s that they win the sympathies of swing voters by adopting a pose of being beleaguered defenders of all that’s noble and good about Talossa. Anyway, Sir Alexandreu Davinescù was one of the main Republican-baiters from 2006-12, and he is now the leader of the RUMP and the foremost exponent of this kind of politics, the politics of “our party IS everything that’s good about the nation, and if we’re not in control something is wrong”.
So, to sum all that meandering up: I believe that Alexandreu behaves fundamentally dishonestly in Talossa. He says things that he does not really believe – that NO-ONE sensible could really believe – just because arguing so suits his personal agenda and that of his party. An example is his assertion that I “follow him around and bully him” (or as sensible people might see it, I don’t give him a pass on just telling outright lies and getting away with it).
Ben Madison was defeated politically because a few brave people, like John Woolley, thought Talossa was important enough to not let him get away with lies and bullying, no matter how unpleasant it got for themselves personally. I don’t seek to destroy Alexandreu personally, he’s an active and creative Talossan and thus an asset to the nation. But he uses lies, dishonesty, manipulation and backroom shenanigans to get his way. That political methodology must be expunged from Talossa for Talossa’s health. If you know a better way to politically defeat it either than just making things uncomfortable for people who use it, I crave to hear of it.
OE: Well, have I told you about Jesus returning at the end of the age to purge corruption?
MS: I’ve heard that, but I heard he’d be coming with his good buddy Mohammed.
But more seriously, Edmund Burke’s dictum about what is required for the triumph of evil seems to me to be the best thing he ever said. Sometimes, of course, I think that Davis does this deliberately – acts in a way he knows will infuriate me (taking credit for the works of others, giving political narratives which sneeringly condescend to other Talossans, accusing me of “bullying” for simply calling him on his lies and dishonesty) because it makes me angry and thus discredits me in the eyes of people who are made uncomfortable by conflict.
But again, let me reiterate that this isn’t an “Alex is the Snake in the Garden of Eden” situation. He’s the heir of a RUMP tradition dating back to the founders of that party. The current Cort case 14-06 is an attempt to drag some of that to light – the RUMP preference in dealing with problems by backroom deals and personal appeals (the King phoning ESB up to tell him to GTFO) which sapped democracy and baked a kind of cliquism and old-boys’-network culture in to the fabric of Talossa.
We also see that in the mysterious disappearance of the presiding magistrate and unashamed RUMP partisan on this issue. He claimed to be offline due to computer troubles at the same time that our sources saw him posting on the RUMP facebook group. Again, if not dishonest, it really looks like dishonesty.
And this, parenthetically, is precisely why RUMP propaganda focusses on discrediting the ZRT, formerly just one of four parties opposing them, and now one half of one of three parties opposing them. Because THE REPUBLICANS ARE COMING TO DESTROY OUR FREEDOMS AND HERALDRIES! is throwing red meat to the base, as they put it in American politics. It’s politics as gang warfare, us vs them, rather than as political projects reaching a compromise. It’s corrosive to democracy, but if you really believe that your party is the only repository of true Talossanism, then democracy is a luxury which can be easily dispensed with
OE: So here’s a question re Alex: do you think you go too far?
MS: Yes. I know that when I find myself descending into crude trolling, as, for example, I did last night [approximately the 8th April] in the Shoutbox. It’s just adrenaline, and I feel ashamed of it afterwards.
OE: Could there be some possible way for you and Alex to tone down the way you disagree (not the substance, mind)? What can you do about it? Realistically, what can Alex do about it?
MS: I think for me the issue with Alex is not that he disagrees with me, but that he disagrees in such a condescending, high-handed way which often completely ignores the substance of what I’m saying. In part, I was kind of happy when he started yelling “JUST STOP BULLYING ME” because it showed that I had actually had an impact on him
The best thing which would get me to not start yelling at Alex? That would be if other people would make the same points I want to make, in kinder, friendlier language. Then I would stand aside and let them do it. Part of my anger and frustration is due to the feeling that I’m a voice in the wilderness against a genuinely popular person who is getting away with very indecent behaviour.
Alex, on the other hand, could just “drop the character”, talk to his opponents honestly without condescending to them, try to reach real common ground. But that would be contrary to his entire Talossan track record. Most effectively, perhaps, upstanding and reasonable people like Cresti and Iústi, and the rest of the RUMP, could simply stop enabling Alex by supporting his bad behaviour out of sheer partisanship!
For me to be on good terms with Alex, I would have to feel I was talking to another adult human being, not a professional politician or an RPG character of a pompous nobleman.
Ministry of Culture
OE: So do you think MinCul has been useful this term? What’s the fruit of two terms with you in post? Is Talossan culture something governments can even usefully infliuence?
MS: Yes. The main achievement of MinCul has been producing the Talossan language Memrise application, which has taken off by storm. My language policy has always been that there’s no point having a few nerds translating entire epic novels in a linguistic ghetto while most of the country can’t even spell glheþ properly. Working closely with Cresti Sierviciul, el Ladîntsch Naziunál, helped us to prioritise this particular linguistic endeavour.
If I’m re-elected to this post in the next Government, I’ll want to continue to find ways to teach basic grammar (sentence structure), which is a bit more difficult than vocab lists, but necessary. The Talossan language is one of our prime cultural patrimonies. Any fool can start a micronation but a language makes us special.
OE: A good, coherent language especially.
MS: One which has enough of a vocabulary and an extensive enough grammar to make it useable for all purposes. (One thing which always annoys me as a scholar of Romance languages is that Talossan doesn’t have a subjunctive mood, but there’s a rumour going around that nothing’s perfect.)
OE: Now we’ve talked about tiresome personality clashes, OrgLaw reform, and cultural issues, explain Chaos Marxism and the New Zealand cricket team to your audience (in brief).
MS: Chaos Marxism is a notebook for my personal political philosophy. Just as “chaos magick” is an attempt to boil down Aleister Crowley’s “magick” into psychological techniques that work and toss out all the pseudo-Egyptian mumbo-jumbo, Chaos Marxism is an attempt to combine transpersonal psychology, non-dualist spirituality, materialist cultural studies and the Marxist insistence that working people make their own history into a method for looking at modern mass culture and psychology in a way which puts ordinary people’s agency at the centre.
The New Zealand cricket team will probably be knocked out in the semi-finals. I’ve been disappointed too many times to get emotionally involved. [Dame Miestra is a pessimist; they reached the final of the World Cup before being beaten by Australia.]
OE: Who’s more of a babe: Daniel Vettori or Ross Taylor? and Which failed Soviet ideologue of the 1920s would you recruit to Talossa?
MS: Daniel Vettori was cute as anything when he was a 17 year old who resembled a taller Harry Potter. Do poets count as “failed ideologues’? If so, the answer is Mayakovsky.
OE: Thankyou! Now get out of my bathroom.