Category Archives: Opinions

Opinion: When changing the OrgLaw, check it twice

The frankly confusing twin proposals clarked by the Secretary of State relating to the term of office of the Cosa, coupled with the unfortunate last-minute discovery of a drafting error in the OLSC’s latest hunt for OrgLaw deadwood, highlight the need for a more detailed scrutiny of OrgLaw changes by the Ziu.

Firstly, the well-intenioned privilege given to the Chancery, that allows a non-MZ direct access to the legislative Clark, should be withdrawn.

A non-member of the legislature can have the right to suggest action, by placing bills in the Hopper. They should not however be permitted to dictate the agenda for elected representatives. This is particularly true when he or she is unsure of the appropriate course of action themselves. That two mutually contradictory amendments proposed by the same person can land on the desks of MZs demonstrates that the current system is broken.

Secondly, no change to the Organic Law should appear on the Clark without the sponsorship of at least two MZs.

By obliging proposals to seek the approval of at least one other MZ before they can be Clarked, MZs will at least have to allow one other individual to scrutinise their text. This may make for improved bills in the Hopper, and better quality law overall.

Thirdly, no change to the Organic Law should be presented at referendum without having been considered twice by the Ziu. This might take the form of two “readings” on two separate Clarks, or by separate consecutive consideration by both houses of the Ziu- the latter would itself be an actualisation of our otherwise fictional bicameralism.

Even the most conscientous among our MZs can make mistakes, and extended scrutiny seems to ferret out these errors, as has been demonstrated by the abandonment of the OLSC amendments.

Either way, since amendments cannot take force until they have been approved by voters, at the next election, the Ziu has the opportunity to take more time to study in detail the consequences of each amendment. It should take it.

Opinion: When changing the OrgLaw, check it twice

The frankly confusing twin proposals clarked by the Secretary of State relating to the term of office of the Cosa, coupled with the unfortunate last-minute discovery of a drafting error in the OLSC’s latest hunt for OrgLaw deadwood, highlight the need for a more detailed scrutiny of OrgLaw changes by the Ziu.

Firstly, the well-intentioned privilege given to the Chancery, that allows a non-MZ direct access to the legislative Clark, should be withdrawn.

A non-member of the legislature can have the right to suggest action, by placing bills in the Hopper. They should not however be permitted to dictate the agenda for elected representatives. This is particularly true when he or she is unsure of the appropriate course of action themselves. That two mutually contradictory amendments proposed by the same person can land on the desks of MZs demonstrates that the current system is broken.

Secondly, no change to the Organic Law should appear on the Clark without the sponsorship of at least two MZs.

By obliging proposals to seek the approval of at least one other MZ before they can be Clarked, MZs will at least have to allow one other individual to scrutinise their text. This may make for improved bills in the Hopper, and better quality law overall.

Thirdly, no change to the Organic Law should be presented at referendum without having been considered twice by the Ziu. This might take the form of two “readings” on two separate Clarks, or by separate consecutive consideration by both houses of the Ziu- the latter would itself be an actualisation of our otherwise fictional bicameralism.

Even the most conscientous among our MZs can make mistakes, and extended scrutiny seems to ferret out these errors, as has been demonstrated by the abandonment of the OLSC amendments.

Either way, since amendments cannot take force until they have been approved by voters, at the next election, the Ziu has the opportunity to take more time to study in detail the consequences of each amendment. It should take it.

Opinion: Address to the 6th ModRad Congress

​Estimadâs és estimats cüncitaxhiêns,

Let me first thank Senator da Schir for his kind words of introduction, and for providing me the opportunity to address you today. Permit me also to congratulate you on the launch of your Sixth Party Congress, a testament to your success in building a constituency for your ideas and also to your commitment to the Talossan project.

I would like to share with you some of my thoughts on the future direction of our country. Specifically, how we can get Talossa working better between elections, without losing the fun and spectacle of party politics.

Talossa has a stable constitutional order, and all things considered a fairly developed body of law (ephemera aside, and S:reu Platschisch will be taking care of those in due course, no doubt!) Our parliamentary institutions function fairly effectively, even at our present low level of enthusiasm. There are many recognised countries that would envy our political stability and civic freedom.

It is at the level of administration, that most essential dimension of nation-building, where in my opinion we fall down. 

  • On paper we have Civil Service, but it remains a dead letter. 
  • Our financial affairs are responsibly managed by the Burgermeister, S:reu Perþonest, but he is alone in that task, as far as I know, and has had health issues. 
  • S:reu Furxheir continues to earn his soubriquet of “Resident Miracle Worker” despite his oft-repeated warnings about a lack of assistance in his vital role(s). 
  • Language initiatives have also stalled, both due to a lack of supply but also unfortunately to a lack of public demand. 
  • Our courts maintain a shuffling, fitful existence. 
  • And I need not remind you of our most recent case of Vanishing Minister, that of S:reu Itravilatx. 

Moralising about duty and promising to do the same, only with more intensity, is clearly not an answer. Neither is the problematising of politics, as if there is some great reservoir of labour waiting for a non-partisan government. This is our national conundrum: that a gathering of process-oriented people such as ourselves can’t seem to organise their way out of a paper bag between elections. 

My suggestion would be to approach the issue as an economic problem. 

Campaign clichés aside, most Talosans who show up are interested in the politics of it. So much so that until recently a considerable number of people were prepared to pay US$40 each year for the privilege of participating in our elections.

This tax on democracy is thankfully now defunct. We don’t really need the money, as the pile of unused dollars in our Treasury attests, and asking for hard cash online clearly discriminated against our younger  and more financially marginal citizens. 

However knowing the economic value that quite a few of our citizens put on the political process is an opportunity. We can use this understanding to further our country’s prestige and to reach our national goals beyond the political dimension.

My proposal is this: let us replace the flat US dollar party registration fee with a levy proportionate to Cosa seats won, payable in an electronic version of our own national currency.

Each citzen would receive a minimum amount as a right, so that they can elect themselves to the Cosa if they wish. Beyond this, the necessary fees could be collected from one’s fellow citizens, either as donations or as the result of commerce. It could also be earned by working in the unglamorous fields of administration, the law or linguistics.

How would this help solve our national conundrum? 

  • A functioning “pocket” economy would be a matter of considerable national prestige. It would make Talossa a leader  among “nation-like communities”, and would be an additional talking point when trying to attract new immigrants.
  • It would provide governments with an opportunity to prioritise among nation-building projects. It would allow them to offer a concrete incentive to people who cooperate in helping them achieve their aims, even if those people are not necessarily in sympathy with that government’s ideology – since they could turn their “pay” into the basis of a political challenge later.
  • The old fee was a tax that discriminated against those without cash to spare, or those that didn’t have credit cards or possibly even a bank account. Using our own money, the “wealth” of a participant is based on how much time and effort they are prepared to devote to serving the country, not on their particular life circumstances outside of Talossa. It is not only more just but might actually encourage greater commitment (if nothing else due to a diabolical combination of the money illusion  and the sunk cost fallacy!) 

To take an example, if you had the competency to lead a foundation class in el ghleþ, (or even successfully complete one as a student) you could get more of the means to fulfil your ambition to get elected, regardless of the political colour of the government that paid you. Of course even if the reason you started it is political, you might even find that you enjoy the “work” you engaged in.

And even if you don’t personally care for politics, you can help your friends or show support to an admired public figure via your donations, helping to cement personal bonds and contributing to a healthy public life. Eventually, it might be possible to spend the money earned on goods or services offered by private enterprise.  

There is an extensive literature on what is known as “complementary currency”.The common thread is that these upstart means of payment are all conceived in mainly social and ethical rather than commercial terms. They are used to encourage local, community based mobilisation of resources that are otherwise marginal to the mainstream economy. They are often designed for use by people who are poorly served by the financial system, whether due to a specific economic crisis or long-term social exclusion.

The application in a Talossan context is obvious. We are a small, multicultural country with a widely scattered population, who primarily interact asynchronously. Anything that allows us to build better and deep community links can only be to the good.

The devil is in the detail of course, though I am convinced that there are enough people motivated politically to make such a scheme viable. It may also be there are alternative incentives we can offer either instead of or alongside a complementary currency, such as a more extensive honours system, to encourage socially useful activity. After all, as Napoleon Bonaparte is supposed to have said, “it is by baubles men are led”, and for a tinpot constitutional monarchy we are rather parsimonius on the self-esteem building front.

Whatever the case, I hope in this 50th Cosa campaign, and in the Clarks to follow, you and your counterparts in our other political parties will take inspiration from the spirit, if not necessarily the detail, of these remarks. Please don’t just suggest “cookbooks” or a TalossaFest as the answer to our problems!

Present and future Talossans are counting on you to keep the dream alive, and I personally can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Meirci

Opinion: Address to the 6th ModRad Congress

​Estimadâs és estimats cüncitaxhiêns,

Let me first thank Senator da Schir for his kind words of introduction, and for providing me the opportunity to address you today. Permit me also to congratulate you on the launch of your Sixth Party Congress, a testament to your success in building a constituency for your ideas and also to your commitment to the Talossan project.

I would like to share with you some of my thoughts on the future direction of our country. Specifically, how we can get Talossa working better between elections, without losing the fun and spectacle of party politics.

Talossa has a stable constitutional order, and all things considered a fairly developed body of law (ephemera aside, and S:reu Platschisch will be taking care of those in due course, no doubt!) Our parliamentary institutions function fairly effectively, even at our present low level of enthusiasm. There are many recognised countries that would envy our political stability and civic freedom.

It is at the level of administration, that most essential dimension of nation-building, where in my opinion we fall down. 

  • On paper we have Civil Service, but it remains a dead letter. 
  • Our financial affairs are responsibly managed by the Burgermeister, S:reu Perþonest, but he is alone in that task, as far as I know, and has had health issues. 
  • S:reu Furxheir continues to earn his soubriquet of “Resident Miracle Worker” despite his oft-repeated warnings about a lack of assistance in his vital role(s). 
  • Language initiatives have also stalled, both due to a lack of supply but also unfortunately to a lack of public demand. 
  • Our courts maintain a shuffling, fitful existence. 
  • And I need not remind you of our most recent case of Vanishing Minister, that of S:reu Itravilatx. 

Moralising about duty and promising to do the same, only with more intensity, is clearly not an answer. Neither is the problematising of politics, as if there is some great reservoir of labour waiting for a non-partisan government. This is our national conundrum: that a gathering of process-oriented people such as ourselves can’t seem to organise their way out of a paper bag between elections. 

My suggestion would be to approach the issue as an economic problem. 

Campaign clichés aside, most Talosans who show up are interested in the politics of it. So much so that until recently a considerable number of people were prepared to pay US$40 each year for the privilege of participating in our elections.

This tax on democracy is thankfully now defunct. We don’t really need the money, as the pile of unused dollars in our Treasury attests, and asking for hard cash online clearly discriminated against our younger  and more financially marginal citizens. 

However knowing the economic value that quite a few of our citizens put on the political process is an opportunity. We can use this understanding to further our country’s prestige and to reach our national goals beyond the political dimension.

My proposal is this: let us replace the flat US dollar party registration fee with a levy proportionate to Cosa seats won, payable in an electronic version of our own national currency.

Each citzen would receive a minimum amount as a right, so that they can elect themselves to the Cosa if they wish. Beyond this, the necessary fees could be collected from one’s fellow citizens, either as donations or as the result of commerce. It could also be earned by working in the unglamorous fields of administration, the law or linguistics.

How would this help solve our national conundrum? 

  • A functioning “pocket” economy would be a matter of considerable national prestige. It would make Talossa a leader  among “nation-like communities”, and would be an additional talking point when trying to attract new immigrants.
  • It would provide governments with an opportunity to prioritise among nation-building projects. It would allow them to offer a concrete incentive to people who cooperate in helping them achieve their aims, even if those people are not necessarily in sympathy with that government’s ideology – since they could turn their “pay” into the basis of a political challenge later.
  • The old fee was a tax that discriminated against those without cash to spare, or those that didn’t have credit cards or possibly even a bank account. Using our own money, the “wealth” of a participant is based on how much time and effort they are prepared to devote to serving the country, not on their particular life circumstances outside of Talossa. It is not only more just but might actually encourage greater commitment (if nothing else due to a diabolical combination of the money illusion  and the sunk cost fallacy!) 

To take an example, if you had the competency to lead a foundation class in el ghleþ, (or even successfully complete one as a student) you could get more of the means to fulfil your ambition to get elected, regardless of the political colour of the government that paid you. Of course even if the reason you started it is political, you might even find that you enjoy the “work” you engaged in.

And even if you don’t personally care for politics, you can help your friends or show support to an admired public figure via your donations, helping to cement personal bonds and contributing to a healthy public life. Eventually, it might be possible to spend the money earned on goods or services offered by private enterprise.  

There is an extensive literature on what is known as “complementary currency”.The common thread is that these upstart means of payment are all conceived in mainly social and ethical rather than commercial terms. They are used to encourage local, community based mobilisation of resources that are otherwise marginal to the mainstream economy. They are often designed for use by people who are poorly served by the financial system, whether due to a specific economic crisis or long-term social exclusion.

The application in a Talossan context is obvious. We are a small, multicultural country with a widely scattered population, who primarily interact asynchronously. Anything that allows us to build better and deep community links can only be to the good.

The devil is in the detail of course, though I am convinced that there are enough people motivated politically to make such a scheme viable. It may also be there are alternative incentives we can offer either instead of or alongside a complementary currency, such as a more extensive honours system, to encourage socially useful activity. After all, as Napoleon Bonaparte is supposed to have said, “it is by baubles men are led”, and for a tinpot constitutional monarchy we are rather parsimonius on the self-esteem building front.

Whatever the case, I hope in this 50th Cosa campaign, and in the Clarks to follow, you and your counterparts in our other political parties will take inspiration from the spirit, if not necessarily the detail, of these remarks. Please don’t just suggest “cookbooks” or a TalossaFest as the answer to our problems!

Present and future Talossans are counting on you to keep the dream alive, and I personally can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Meirci

Opinion: Coalition must level with the people

The three party coalition that took office after the 49th Cosa general election promised accountable and transparent government that “got things done”.It has, to an extent. 

The indefatigable Sir Alexandreu Davinescu, despite having a young baby in the house, has received over 30 identity card applications, and is steadily working through the demand. The Kingdom’s social media is back in government control, even if seems to have been rarely used. Coalition members have led the successful effort to legislate for provincial assignment and Cosa reforms, previously controversial measures that in the end passed with overwheling support in the Ziu.

However, when compared to the ambitious targets laid out in the Activity Report the results are meagre. The lack of interest displayed by most Ministers in their actual portfolios is flagrant. Important projects that would improve the Talossan experience, like Telecommuna, or just be cool, like coins, have clearly stalled. And while legal reform is worthy, it is not the stimulus the country needs, culturally, socially or politically. 

The feeble state of the FreeDems, despite the valiant efforts of Dien Tresplet, should not suggest government strength, but merely that the rot has spread. The experience in government was not kind to the FreeDems, and life seems to be taking its historic leaders away from Talossa, which can only be regretted. For the moment it leaves the Senator from Maricopa a general without an army.

It is also a fact that of the three parties in the coalition, only the TNC actually experienced an increase in support in the 49th Cosa election. The RUMP continued their steady decline in support, and lost their position as largest party. The ModRads lost a quarter of their votes compared to the 48th Cosa election. Only the TNC, winning 14% of the vote from a standing start, can truly be said to have enjoyed popular enthusiasm.

For all these reasons, I feel it is imperative that the Seneschal make a statement to the Cosa on the state of his government and what role, if any, the TNC now play in it. At the very least, the government needs to reassess its priorities and release Ministers from the burden of titular responsibility. A clearing of the air is required.

If it transpires that this incident is a sign that the TNC has collapsed, it may be time for Sir Cresti to go to the King and request a dissolution. It may not be the most convenient timing for the parties, but electoralism is a proven shot in the arm for the country, and the TNC’s voters deserve to have their say if their champion has left the field. 

Opinion: Half the elections, twice the apathy

Senator Ian Anglatzarâ’s blunt rejection of the latest piece of OrgLaw tinkering to come from the fertile mind of S:reu Furxheir is the first piece of common sense to emerge from the “12-month Cosa” discussion since its debut.

The notion that partial elections for the Senäts could somehow replace a national general election is comical on the face of it. As of now Senäts elections, when contested at all, and when in conjunction with national contests, have generally pathetic turnouts. Never mind the Senäts serves no purpose as a house of review, dominated by Ministers and party leaders as it is.

I would submit that MZs of both government and opposition who are eager to reform our democracy could instead profitably meditate on the unrepresentative, poorly understood and frankly useless institution that is the Senäts. 

It takes nothing away from Ian Anglatzarâ’s bold intervention that he could just as easily speak sensibly as an MC. Provincial representation could be guaranteed equitably in the Cosa via the electoral system. If the Senäts vanished tomorrow, aside from the wounded vanity of the Senators, who would notice?

If we are to think the unthinkable, lets start with the Other Place before increasing the opportunities for government apathy. Or offering Ministers who clearly have little interest in their portfolios even more leisure to range freely over every topic but what they have been appointed to do.

Analysis: Getting to 101

With the ballots finally certified by the Election Commission, the King and the parties can now formally begin talks on the formation of the next government.

As reported by ETT, the parties have already been engaged in discussions with each other, with the ModRads support apparently courted by both the FreeDems and the RUMP. However the King has publicly stated that he would not engage in formal talks with the party leaders until the certification of the ballots has been completed.

Under the Organic Law the King must, in the absence of a single-party majority in the Cosa, engage in talks with the “objective of finding a PM who can be sustained in subsequent Votes of Confidence by a majority of seats in the Cosâ”. As no obvious parliamentary majority emerged from the 49th Cosa election, there is no clear precedent for how the King would judge the viability of a Seneschal candidate.

One uncertainty is if competing possibilities are presented, will the King seek to actively persuade the non-aligned parties to at least tolerate one of the possible alternatives, and if so how would this be received by party leaders? Would the King accept a looser pact, perhaps even limited in time, or would he instead allow new elections, if agreement cannot be reached?

What is clear is that any new majority in the Cosa will depend on at least two parties, whether in formal coalition or linked in some sort of confidence agreement. As the King will presumably want some concrete evidence of its viability, this will probably take the form of a written pact.

The possibilities, either as full coalition or as a “Cabinet of Talents” style agreement:

FreeDem-ModRad: Reform/Centrist
Pro: Ideologically compatible; slim but clear majority with potential extra support from Reps and Progs”
Con: Serious divergence on coalition issue; residual bitterness from the collapse of last govt may be insurmountable.

RUMP-ModRad-TNC: Conservative/Centrist
Pro: Large majority; no barriers to coalition; would include the fastest growing party in the Cosa (the TNC).
Con: RUMP a minority in their own coalition; ideological (and personal) differences; vulnerable to FreeDem attack as an “alliance of losers”.

FreeDem-RUMP: Grand Coalition
Pro: Large majority; could neutralise the most virulent personal conflict in Talossan politics (Schiva-Davinescu); deep bench of ministerial talent to “get things done”; convergence on the “Cabinet of Talents” concept; as both parties are roughly equal in size, a “marriage of equals”.
Con: the most virulent personal conflict in Talossan politics (Schiva-Davinescu); severe ideological differences on the monarchy; the near tie in seats could lead to Cosa deadlock.

ModRad-TNC-Prog, with outside support: Centrist
Pro: ideologically coherent, “centrist” so could try to win external support from both ends of the spectrum; “third force” opposed to FreeDem-RUMP dyarchy.
Con: Personnel issues; far from a majority on its own, so vulnerable to collapse.

Opinion: Lance the boil

It appears this morning that the King has decided on a course of action with respect to Iusti Canun’s knighthood, by placing the decision in the hands of a “Court of Chivalry”, organised by the Royal College of Arms. It will almost certainly join all the other Talossan institutions which have stripped Canun of the awards and decorations he earned over his time in Talossa.

It is useless to dwell right now on the manner in which the decision was taken, though consideration must be given when tempers have cooled as to how this could have been handled differently. What matters in the short-term is that it is done. We must now put aside hard feelings and consider what happens next.

I am convinced by the argument that the citizenship of Iusti Carlüs Canun is beyond the reach of our law. Attempting to retroactively apply any rules we might make to this case would run into significant Organic Law problems, and would probably be vetoed, correctly in my view, by the King. This indeed is in my opinion why the exemplary and public destitution of honours was actually necessary, and why I was disappointed at the initial reaction of His Majesty.

My suggestion to resolve this immediate issue would be to organise a National Census as rapidly as possible. Any logistical issues that may arise from this, that could lead to an otherwise blameless person losing their citizenship for example, would justify the use of the royal pardon in those circumstances.

As to the future? For me, the most important principle is that we should respect the victim. This means that our courts must not under any circumstances retry cases already decided in a court with a competent jurisdiction. We must not allow people who have been found guilty of serious crimes  to have a platform in our courts to justify their actions or denigrate their victims.  We have to recognise the incapacity of our legal system to prosecute even the most minor offence, let alone emotive and sensitive cases like this.

Above all we cannot, even by implication and perhaps without fully realising the impression given by what we are saying, cast doubt on the conviction of the people involved. We must be humble in realising that our place is far on the periphery of these cases, and that our ill-informed or emotionally-driven opinions on a particular case are not merely irrelevant but unhelpful.

We as a community must have the ability to separate ourselves in a just but expeditious manner from persons who commit grave crimes. It is not because the action of one Talossan makes us all guilty. It is because we value the dignity and the physical and psychological integrity of each person that we must take exemplary steps when it comes to our attention that one of us has violated that dignity. We must all hope that the Ziu will do its work in a swift and fair way in order to lance this boil, and allow us to get back to what Talossa should be. Fun.

49th Cosa Election: “Captive” seats may make the difference in a close election

[UPDATE: The vote percentages below were slightly off in the first version of this post due to an unsaved revision.]

According to the latest figures from the Chancery, Talossa has a total population of 274 citizens, of whom 243 are “active” (i.e., those who have reached the age of majority and who have fulfilled the minimum obligation of regularly voting in national elections). While predictions are hazardous, we do know that in the 48th Cosa election there was a 58% voter turnout nationally, so a 50% turnout is probably a safe assumption.

This gives us a “probable” electorate of  121 voters. And since the vast majority of these electors are not regularly active on Wittenberg, it is anybody’s guess how they will react to the particularly unsettled political conditions the Kingdom has experienced since last July. The political parties do however have a means by which they can reduce this uncertainty: their party members.

Based solely on the publicly announced candidate lists of the FreeDems, ModRads and TNC, the publicly disclosed membership of the RUMP, as well as Senators who are known party members, the political parties can (probably) count on the votes of 33 party candidates or known supporters, or about 27% of this likely electorate. There may of course be party members or sympathisers who are not officially candidates, but participation in a party’s election campaign is likely to be a reliable indicator of ballot box loyalty.

The influence of this “captive” vote, which would translate into a total of 54 seats in the 200-seat Cosa, would of course be proportionality greater the lower the turnout. Maximising this loyal vote is also crucial in the “first past the post” race to be largest party. The FreeDems have publicly declared their ambition to overtake the RUMP, and thus be in pole position in what will no doubt be a drawn out government formation process.

We can also assume that many of these party members will have personal ties with less active or politically committed Talossans and so would help get out the party’s message beyond the confines of the Wittenberg audience.

Based on an assumed 50% turnout, ETT estimates the impact of this “core” vote as follows:

ModRads – 7 votes
The recently announced Cosa candidate list of the MRPT contained 5 names, including outgoing Senator Epic da Lhiun. Adding the party’s other serving Senators, party leader Lüc da Schir and Sevastáin Pinátsch, this gives us a probable minimum of 7 votes, or about 6% of the likely electorate. This would translate into a minimum of 12 seats.

FreeDems – 10 votes
The FreeDems have announced a 10-candidate Cosa list, including (currently unopposed) Senate candidates C. Carlüs Xheraltescù and Munditenens Tresplet. This gives us a probable minimum of 10 votes, or 8% of the likely electorate. This would translate into a minimum of 16 seats.

TNC – 3 votes
The TNC has announced a three-member candidate list. Party leader Breneir Itravilatx also claims committed but discreet support from another two voters, who do not wish to be publicly identified with the party, but this cannot be confirmed. Thus this gives us a probable minimum of 3 votes, or 2% of the likely electorate. This would translate into a minimum of 4 seats.

The RUMP – 13 votes
The RUMP does not publish an official candidate list as such, but its electoral advertising in Berich’t Talossan claims 16 members in “Our Team”. However 3 of those named (Canun, Preston and Dun) do not appear to have voted in the 48th Cosa election, so I will discount them from this estimate. This gives us a probable minimum of 13 votes, or 11% of the likely electorate. This would translate into a minimum of 22 seats.

Chief Justice Tamoràn: “Government is Service”

ETT: Chief Justice Tamoràn has honoured ETT again by penning the below, a personal opinion on the state of our political culture.

Government is Service

The function of Government is to serve the people. The Government, here in Talossa consists of three parts: the Legislature (the Ziu), the Executive (in its various Ministries), and the Judiciary. As symbolic chief to all these we have the Monarch (who is sometimes stated to be the chief of just the Executive – see the current TalossaWiki – but who is, in fact, the chief of all of these – again, see the current TalossaWiki). The members of the Ziu are Representatives of their constituencies – that is, they represent and are the servants of those who elect them, the people. The head of each department of the Executive is a Minister – one who serves or ministers unto, in the long run, the people. Each judge is a Justice, in which very name all are reminded that what s/he serves is not their own individual pleasures, but above all serves Justice, which has to be exercised for the long term benefit of the people. Above these, and to whom all sections of government report, is the Monarch, the symbolic head of the people. But – and here’s a point we too often forget – the Monarch is him/herself the chosen head of the people.

In each case, it is the people who are being served.

Thus, when an individual seeks any sort of office and, especially, when an individual holds any sort of office, then that person must always remember that the office is not for them alone, nor for their individual glory, but is there to serve the people.

In Western politics – indeed, in the politics of most countries, wherever placed – we often use Conflict in our ordering of departments of the government, and in their exercise. Candidates fight an election, individuals struggle to lead departments, there is much heat in the choosing of the Monarch, the appointment of judges is (all too often) a political rather than a juridic choice (this is particularly noticeable in the USA, but not so much in the UK, nor in the EU). We also have – and this is a good thing, a mark of our collective freedom – open criticism by the people, at all times, of the way in which each office is being used: “that is not a good law, let us change it” (possibly through election); “that is not a good executive action, let us ask to have it changed” – or, rather, for the like never to happen again (possibly through election for those who choose the ministers); “that legal decision does not represent true justice” – let us fix this for the future (possibly through election of those who make or administer the law); “that monarch does not serve the people” – let us correct this error for the future (possibly through election, and possibly – our history shows this – through popular rebellion). In each case it is the people who decide.

Sometimes the working out of the people’s decisions takes a long time to happen. This is reasonable, as the deeper the change, the more carefully it has to be considered. But, in the long term, it is not the Ministers, it is not the Representatives by themselves, it is not the individual Justices outside of the considerations of Law, and it is not the Monarch in person – nor the Monarch’s individual officers of state – it is the people, you, my fellow citizens, who decide. You are the ones being ministered unto, you are the ones being represented, you are the ones choosing the implementation of the laws, you are the ones being symbolically governed. It is you that has the highest status – that’s part of what “democracy” means.

So, what do we actually do in Talossa? How do our country and our government appear to the casual passer-by, or to new, prospective, citizens? Well, my friends (and you are my friends) we look awful. We are seen to argue, to shake our (symbolic) personal fists at each other without (it seems to me) considering only the argument itself. We raise minute and irrelevant points of history before considering whether a given law to be considered or a given action performed is the correct one, the one to the service of the people. Yes, we do have to consider our history, our existing laws and our country’s traditions before taking final action – but these follow, not precede, our thinking about those individual policies and actions and judgements. In short, we visibly show hatred.

Government serves the people – and the people should have other things, more important things, to do outside of government. Our language, for example, is more important than our Laws: laws can change, and we already know them to be the choice of the people – but a language takes a long time to change, and it arises from the free choice of the people. Our cuisine is more important than our Monarch: monarchs can change (don’t we know this!), but the cuisine is the free and unfettered choice of the individuals within the country – citizens and visitors alike. Our game-playing is more important than our Ministries: ministries can be, and are, modified from time to time, but our game-playing is the arbitrary and personal choice of the players, who come together in fun: chess is more important than Home. Our interpersonal conversations are more important than our Laws: laws are modifiable, and we do – under much discussion – modify them, but our conversations are personal and free and arise out of friendship – chatting is more important than L’Annuntzia dels Legeux.

If we are to appear to be, and to actually be, a more adult and interesting country – a country which is welcoming to visitors, a country in which it is fun to be a citizen or a visitor – and a country which shows, in its cheerfully self-disciplined and tolerant cultural behaviour, that it cares about more in life than just narrow Talossanity, then we shall have to be more adult, more welcoming, more fun. Are we welcoming? Yes. Are we fun? Yes. Are we cultured? Yes. But our first appearance is that of being an exclusive country (not welcoming), a country which is governed by stress and discord (not fun), and a country that puts culture at a very poor second-best to its vituperative politics (not cultured).

Fellow citizens: play more, converse more, cook more, talk more and exchange more about language and painting and music and football and films and poetry and… insert long list here – each of you, individually can cheerfully add to this list. But argue less with personal conflict, show less personal animosity to executive activities. Show less hatred.

The function of Government is to serve the people. Be worth governing.