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Mentat

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  1. I'm not sure I agree. We're not really speaking about any specific democratic nation, but most of them are social-democracies which accept private property and enterprise but at the same time intervene in the economy, redistribute wealth to greater or lesser degree, provide some kind of social network and while they don't own all the national means of production, do own a really big chunk of the nations' infrastructure (plus a whole lot of other stuff, participate in mixed economy companies, etc.). That was part of my previous point. Democracies tend to cover the middle ground institutionally. Different political parties might pull it in different directions, but democratic institutions (if working properly) also tend to have a 'moderating effect' on said parties.
  2. Yes, but all states codify some specific ideological/political/economical traits into their core (usually by inclusion in a Constitutional text which requires a super-majority to modify). These characteristics are not immutable, but they do tend to be stable. It's kind of like the difference between a concrete building and a tent, neither of them will last forever, but you expect the concrete building will be there next year and the tent wont. The U.S.S.R. was a communist state (for a certain definition of communist, I guess, but let's accept this for the sake of argument), there was a single party, which was the communist party and the hammer and sickle featured in the national flag and state emblem. It didn't last forever, but as long as it did, it was representing communism as its defining trait. Democratic states (while obviously not lacking a founding ideology) also define themselves by the fact that most other ideologies (those that are not abhorrent to its core) can be espoused, publicly advocated and, if popular with the voters, politically represented in its parliament or government... but that none of them define it, and whatever the policies or ideology of the governing party are, come four years, they could be entirely different ones (because there might be a different government). Thus a democratic state can't be communist in the same way it can't be left-wing (even if a left-wing party might currently be in power, passing left-wing laws and implementing left-wing policies). Its core requires a level of "neutrality" or "mutability" that would preclude it, even if its population tends to lean heavily to the right or to the left (it certainly can be argued that most Western states' "neutrality" is suspect and that it's far from the blank slate I'm depicting... but I think my point stands regardless).
  3. Perhaps. Different social-democracies have different approaches to healthcare. The private sector would sure like a bite out of that cake, and it's not impossible specific policies nudge it towards a more hybrid private/public model, or healthcare becomes part of the discussion in a future trade treaty with the U.S. or something. Or maybe not. My broader point is that specific policies (regarding, for instance, healthcare) are much more susceptible to change and evolution than the whole political make-up of a country. I think Obamacare is a good example (though the NHS might not be, I'm not British, so I may be out of my depth here).
  4. Yes, but. I'm as bad as predicting the future as the next guy, but if we accept this ideological axis (borrowed shamelessly from a post by DMC on a different thread) as true, we can see that some economic/political positions are in the extremes (like fascism, anarchy or state socialism), while others (liberal/conservative) are closer to the center. I'd posit that a democratic society will be prone to drift towards central positions. Extreme economic/political positions, on the other hand, could conceivably arise from a democratic vote, but would likely not be sustained by one on the long run. For this to happen they would require an authoritarian state. Specific matters of policy (such as your healthcare example, or things like gay marriage) would be far more susceptible to change with the times as the social mores does. I have no answer to that, though it seems intuitive to me (and mostly supported by recent history). I'd be fascinated to read you argue the opposite, if you believe so and feel thus inclined. Yes, but in this case said communist economy is an accident. A temporary policy which is susceptible to change come the next general election. It's not a definitory quality of the state (unless it becomes the new mean which most citizens consider political normalcy and introduced into a constitutional text, but see above). If there were both a communist and a capitalist party to choose from in China, they might choose their membership differently, though. The Chinese Communist Party might also not have been in power for as long as it has. Agreed. 'The future will most certainly be different from the present' is not enough of an argument if you're pointing to a very specific one, though.
  5. Democratic super-majorities for positions in the far end of the political spectrum seem very unlikely (and though thought-experiments are fun, if they stretch plausibility too far I might question their usefulness). Even if for some reason a super-majority such as you describe appears (say, as a reaction to very out-of-the-ordinary or extreme events), I would expect political opinion to revert to the mean sooner rather than later. So, even in your thought experiment, my question still stands. In a purely democratic society in which this third of the population currently in the minority can criticize the government, point out its inefficiencies, compare itself to other countries, try and change people's minds and stand for election every four years under a banner of change, can your democratic truly communist state survive without slowly meandering towards a hybrid social-democracy?
  6. Isn't it? Can a truly communist state survive without an authoritarian government (with all that it implies, including restrictions to freedom of speech, press, publishing, etc.) to make sure it doesn't slowly meander towards a hybrid social-democracy? Honest question.
  7. Wouldn't this: https://www.britbox.com/home allow you to watch a BBC series from the US? It has a 7 day free trial too, so it might not cost you any money if you want it solely for one specific series.
  8. I don't think Spaniards are more stupid or foolish than anyone else... but I do stand by my original assertion, they (we) as a society tend more towards the chaotic spectrum than the lawful one. The reason that our lockdown has been one of the harshest in Europe is because the government thought (and I'd agree), that people (a large enough amount of them, anyway) would disregard any recommendation or regulation that wasn't very strictly enforced. Barcelona and (specially) Madrid may be the Spanish coronavirus hotspots (it could hardly be otherwise, the virus thrives where people concentrate and cosmopolitan places got a head start on infection ratings before any countermeasures were implemented), but Barcelona is also an amazing city, and one of the cultural and business hotspots of Europe. I love the theater, and so often find myself wishing I could enjoy the Barcelona cultural scene without facing a two hour drive and an astronomical number of tolls. Take the good with the bad! I'm no health expert, so I don't know if we should ideally keep stores and bars closed for longer, but I think the government has been de-escalating lockdown as slowly as it was politically, economically and socially viable to. Countries like Italy and Greece have already started to open up. Anyway, best wishes and stay safe.
  9. I'd also appreciate a link. Spain has been trying to balance an economy heavily dependent on the tourism industry and coronavirus concerns. Not opening up to foreign tourism during the summer would have been absolutely devastating for an already hard hit sector. That said, if the regional authorities are concerned for the rate of infections in Barcelona, they're well within their right to request central government to hold back in advancing it to the next stage of lockdown (or even, I think, have it fall back to a former stage). Tourists will not flock to a place with health restrictions blocking their access to bars, restaurants and clubs. Even if Spain completely opens up and lifts all restriction, I'm sure lots of potential tourists will be weary of traveling this summer. I live in Reus, and my feeling here is that people have acute lockdown fatigue (I certainly do). The Spanish lockdown has been one of the harshest in Europe, and people are really tired and wishing for it to be over. The Spanish government has also lost much of the initial support for declaring the state of emergency. It was anyone's guess if the latest extension would pass right up until the last second. Even if it really wanted to (which it likely doesn't as these measures have become increasingly unpopular) it's unlikely it could enforce lockdown much longer. Spaniards do tend to be chaotic in nature, and often find restrictions and regulations stifling (I work in local government and see it all the time) and ignore them any time they think they can get away with it. Law enforcement has been working lots of over time and are now stretched thin (and also grumpy and unwilling to nag people about social distancing or mask wearing). Albeit all this, numbers in Spain have been improving steadily. I'm confident things will get better over the summer. The risk of contagion while outdoors has been established to be pretty low anyway. Just take sensible precautions and don't panic!
  10. My understanding is that it is indeed a subsidy. There's an article on BBC News about it, but it's rather lacking in actual figures or precise information (mainly because it's simply not available, the Spanish government has not been forthcoming). I think I'd personally favor replacing the current safety net with a universal basic income, though I do understand people who might be getting less opposing it. As I said, the amount of social workers and bureaucrats in the public sector which would become redundant (and thus the potential, if eventual, savings) would be very large. In general I would agree that most left-wing parties (certainly Podemos) operate within the frame of a capitalist social-democracy, whether that is neoliberalism or not is a different question.
  11. From what I understand the current PSOE + Podemos Spanish government is going to implement what they call an "Ingreso Mínimo Vital" (minimum vital income). Though it hasn't been passed yet (indeed, Podemos tried to pass it urgently, but the two governing partners run into some disagreements and it didn't happen), from what I know about it it isn't really a basic universal income but simply a subsidy for people without means to weather the incoming economic crisis (not that that's a bad thing). I do think a basic universal income would be economically feasible (even easy...) if you eliminate all subsidies, like unemployment, retirement, etc. (and potentially save the government millions of euros in civil servants who work allocating all manner of subsidies, though this probably wouldn't materialise immediately). In Spain, though, this would require a broad political consensus for the reworking of several very basic laws, so it's not likely to happen in the near future.
  12. I read an interesting statement by an Italian MEP saying the problem here is that the EU doesn't have an electoral law of its own, and instead has to rely on each individual member state's electoral laws. Spanish electoral laws state that in order to hold public office you have to perform a ceremonial swearing of the constitution before a Spanish official (who then gives you a letter of office). The Catalan politicians who are living elsewhere in Europe on a self-imposed exile and who were elected as MEP weren't recognized in Spain because they hadn't complied with this procedure. The ECJ eventually stated that the right of political representation trumped this merely procedural provision of Spanish law, so Puigdemont and Comín can now occupy their seats in the EP. With Junqueras it's less straightforward, because the provision in Spanish law is that a convicted felon cannot hold public office (which, in isolation, seems reasonable enough the ECJ can't really object). Since the ECJ doesn't really have a purview over the fairness of specific sentences passed by member states' courts, once the conviction was firm, the EP had no alternative but to terminate Junqueras' mandate. Europe's stance regarding nationalist movements within its member states continues to range between unfriendliness and pretending they don't happen and hoping they'll just go away on their own or that the member states will deal with them somehow (which is one of the reasons why they have hardly objected when Spain has been... let us say overzealous in dealing with the issue). Hopefully the new Spanish government will make head in it's negotiations with the ERC and we can arrive to some kind of solution.
  13. I may be mistaken, but I think we're confusing Capitalism (an economic system based on private ownership of most property and enterprise where most resources are allocated through trade) which usually opposes Communism (an economic system based on public ownership of most property and enterprise where most resources are allocated through policy) and Socialism (a political system based on a high level of taxation and regulation of the economy resulting in an abundance of public services and public redistribution of wealth through policy) which usually opposes Liberalism (a political system based on a low level of taxation and regulation of the economy resulting in a scarcity of public services and private redistribution of wealth through market forces). I'm not so sure. In Spain at least this would imply previously repealing the Constitution and leaving the European Union. In most western countries this would probably imply a major upheaval of their political systems rather than simply passing a law. The concept of means of production is also much more difficult to pin down than it used to be in Marx's day. All this said, I feel that this conversation is veering steadily away from UK politics. If someone would like to open a new thread, I feel like there's quite a lot of interesting things to discuss, though.
  14. I thought the "A God walks into a bar" episode had some glaring plot-holes (some of which have been commented on by others). - Why does Dr. Manhattan fall in love? At the end of Watchmen he was shown as becoming increasingly detached from humanity and his human emotions, completely unable to make his relationship with Laurie work. After 20 years I would expect him to be surfing the cosmos, not picking up girls in bars. There's also a bit of a bogus causal loop with his ability to experience all time simultaneously, where he goes to meet Angela because he knows he will fall in love with her, but wouldn't have fallen in love with her if he hadn't decided to meet her. - How on earth did the 7th K manage to beat/disable Dr. Manhattan? It's established that he's basically immortal and that it's beyond the powers of even the smartest man on earth to harm him. That's what makes Veidt's plan to alienate him and make him leave via the cancer scare so brilliant. It's completely implausible that the 7th K red-necks (with whatever tech they cooked up) could better Veidt's ultimately fruitless efforts. Also, as has been said, Dr. Manhattan could have disintegrated all of them and their weapon with a single snap of his fingers. The only thing that makes sense is that he loses on purpose, somehow foreseeing a better outcome and doing an Endgame gambit, but to what end? I speculate that the whole plot may be an attempt by Dr. Manhattan to commit suicide by presenting himself as a threat and have Lady Trieu somehow destroy him with whatever it is she's building. - Dr. Manhattan becoming human also seems like nonsense. It seems unlikely he would want to in the first place. The way he handles his relationship with Angela and its bumps seems completely different from the way he handles Laurie or his previous girlfriend (his colleague from the physics lab) and a being that exists at all times simultaneously doesn't learn from its past mistakes. Veidt's amnesia device which attaches to his frontal lobe (which it seems unlikely he even uses, as it has been established that his consciousness is not dependant on an organic brain, regardless of him adopting a human appearance) also seems far too gimmicky. In short, the Dr. Manhattan we get seems very different to the Dr. Manhattan in Watchmen. He's somehow living the Superman 2 subplot, but the whole point of his characterization in Watchmen is that such a powerful being would find it increasingly difficult to retain any semblance of humanity or attachment to humans (unlike Superman). I think Dr. Manhattan's powers are somehow dependant on him perceiving the atomic structure of everything in order to manipulate it (kind of like Neo's powers stem from his consciousness of the Matrix), that said, at this point I wouldn't rule anything out...
  15. A reasonable concern, but you needn't fear. The c in Scexit is silent (as in Scion). The correct pronunciation is Sex-it. Also, watch Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance if you haven't.
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