We are back to Paul Valéry’s maxim: “Everything simple is false. Everything complex is unusable.” In the world of computer modeling, this is known as Bonini’s paradox: The more realistic a model is, the more it becomes as complex and difficult to understand as the real world; the simpler and more user-friendly a model becomes, the less accurately it represents the underlying system. Mass democracy and mass media on the American model work to impose on the complex reality of American public life the simplest possible model of politics, aggregating all of political reality into two variables: Us and Them.
Another way of putting this is that the unstated task of cable-news journalism on the Fox/MSNBC model — along with practically all political talk radio, 99.44 percent of social media, and a great deal of inferior writing about politics — is transmuting intellectual complexity into moral simplicity. Even that isn’t quite right: The moral simplicity offered by the “Everybody Who Disagrees with Me Is Hitler” school of analysis is a false simplicity — simplicity for the truly simple, as opposed to what Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. described as “the simplicity on the far side of complexity.”
Reality is complex. But it isn’t only the cable-news mouth-holes that are engaged in the reverse alchemy of turning the gold of genuine inquiry into the dross of political rhetoric. We — we the media, and We the People — commit the same sin.
from the National Review Can We Talk?
Prime Minister, what do you like best about coming back?
I like my press conferences best… You have asked me a lot of nasty questions which I try to answer and because I can’t answer any more, this press conference is over. Thank you.
Without further ado, he then left the podium, followed by his entourage sporting huge grins; some even giggled, as they walked away. | » WHAT DOES DR MAHATHIR LIKE BEST…
Najib Razak launching the 1Malaysia Negaraku campaign in August 2017. [Photo: Malaysian Insight]
Arms-length, slick prime minister-driven campaign with a lot of chest-thumping
Barisan Nasional’s propaganda campaign failed on social media by trying to beat social media users “into submission” the way it had with the controlled mass media, according to a branding consultant. BN had used social media aggressively but had not used it properly. Instead of being based on issues that mattered to the voters, BN created an arms-length, slick, prime minister-driven campaign with a lot of chest thumping, but Pakatan Harapan supporters “were embracing voters in the digital coffee shops with informal, instantaneous responses to issues”. — Free Malaysia Today. | » BRANDING GURU TELLS WHY BARISAN NASIONAL FAILED
Graphic: The Economist
Malaysia: still one country, two systems
Even as Malaysian politics has been turned upside-down, there has been little questioning of the premise on which UMNO had governed Malaysia since independence: that Malays deserve special privileges.
1Malaysia called for reforms in the name of national unity. It was soon discarded. No one now wants to emulate the man who dreamed it up
Race has dominated Malaysian politics since colonial times.
The “New Economic Policy” helped shape a corrupt system of patronage politics that proved predictably durable.
In many respects Pakatan Harapan marks a break with all this. Voters united across racial and religious divides to support the coalition, which also includes explicitly Muslim and indigenous parties.
But the government is not seizing its opportunity to undo racially discriminatory policies. The coalition hangs together partly because all parties have agreed on a binding principle: that the constitution and its privileges for Malays are supreme. Continue reading