what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

modern satire


I made a recent comment about how powerful an educational tool satire can be. The comment arose from my reading of Democratic Audit’s recent spoof - The Unwritten Constitution – which purported to be a draft constitution for the UK prepared by a civil servant (complete with some memos). On the basis that the document should be a formalisation of present practices, the draft mercilessly exposes the iniquitous system that is the British political system. You can find it at -
http://www.democraticaudit.eu/download/Unspoken_constitution.pdf

But the best satirical piece on the British system remains, for me, Anthony Jay’s priceless “Democracy, Bernard? It must be stopped!” which is some "tongue in cheek" advice from the retiring Sir Humphrey (of the famous BBC TV series "Yes Minister") to the guy we knew in the series as innocent young Bernard who, some decades later, inherits his position. Written some ten years ago, it exposes in some 6 pages all the mechanisms which ensure that politicians never challenge systems of privilege. You can access it from my website only!
http://www.freewebs.com/publicadminreform/key%20papers/Democracy%20_Yes%20Minister_.pdf

And today I came across another short spoof which I can add to my library – an apparent leak of a first draft EU Directive on standards for literature. This is so well written (and so plausible) it took us some time to conclude that it was in fact a satire! Perhaps, however, it was real – and the leak killed the idea?? See for yourself at http://www.eurozine.com/pdf/2005-10-03-spiro-en.pdf

The other good modern satire I know is Susan George’s The Lugano Report – which seems to be a confidential paper prepared for some multinational businesses on the major global threats and how they might cope with them. http://books.google.com/books?q=lugano+report&btnG=Search+Books&uid=9404005052714784916 By the way, this link allows you to access the entire stock of my googlelibrary (650 books!)

I’ve spent some time in the last couple of days downloading articles from Wiley journals which are on a special free access. There are almost 2,000 journals in their stable – and many show the problems of over-specialisation. As I said in my other blog a month or so back, the British Public Administration journal seems to have fallen into the hands of post-modernists and is rapidly becoming the home of gibberish. Its US colleague - Public Administration Review – offers much better writing (although recent issues also seem to show some deterioration).
Government and Opposition remains one of the best examples of clear writing.
Governance is also interesting.

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