A late year reflection on dangerous political predators on the prowl and a real menace to democracy, equity and the planet.
Note to the reader: This is an advanced draft section of a shortly forthcoming book to be published under the working title BETTER CHOICES: Bringing Sustainable Transportation to Smaller Asian Cities. For latest background on the project click to the Project Workbook – https://goo.gl/aUoSK4 . To accessdraft chapters, https://networkdispatches.wordpress.com/tag/better-choices/. You also may wish to check out the work in progress for a Planners Bookshelf which is freely available at https://goo.gl/fv3Giv.
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There is a specific kind of nasty, dangerous, entirely selfish animal on the prowl in almost every country on this gasping planet, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. And I believe it would be to our great good fortune if we are somehow able to spot this species of villainous beast by recognizing its familiar, common signs. We can then go birding.
These predators prey on innocent voters with a variety of stratagems and disguises which have much in common, even when they are working in entirely different economic, social and political environments. They are a hardy species.
Here are some of the common characteristics which seem to be part of the overall behavioral and representational pattern of these dangerous creatures.
1. Their livelihood and position in society depend entirely on their political success and connections.
2. They have never, or rarely, made a notable social or economic contribution outside of the political arena.
4. They develop deep networks, and almost always as invisible as they can make them.
5. They are entirely opportunistic.
7. They neither use nor consistently respect scientific rigor.
8. Everything is up for grabs.
9. They love money, all while understanding that it is important to hide it.
10. The love big expensive projects that give them an opportunity to rake off some of this money, either for their personal uses or to feed their political movement.
11. They are far more likely to be male than female (but there are no 100% guarantees)
3. They were not at the top of their class in a first rate university
12. They like big cars and showy life styles.
13. They dress carefully.
14. They take care of their relationship with the media.
15. They generally try to avoid open conflict (unless they are sure of winning at no cost).
16. One of their constant strategies is to confuse the public and their enemies) through obfuscation — throwing great masses of words to, effectively, drown the key issues.
18. When angered they quickly become aggressive and accusatory.
19. And personally threatening.
20. They cultivate and take care of gangs of thugs who they use for shows of force or intimidation on call.
21. They often make use of the ethnic or racial card.
22. They are in general not LGBT friendly, unless they are trying to engage their support.
23. They lie as they breathe, and then if necessary correct themselves, generally without excuse and certainly no signs of remorse.
24. They assume that you and I are too stupid, or too afraid, to see through their ploy.
25. And they may be right.
Okay. I now invite you to take this apart point by point. Add, subtract, obliterate as you think best. And let us bear in mind that we are not taking about a specific person or country here, we are looking at and for a species. A species posing a huge menace to democracy.
*For more background: About Transparency International at http://www.transparency.org
TI 2015 country rankings –
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About the editor:
9, rue Gabillot, 69003 Lyon France
Bio: Educated as an international development economist, Eric Britton is an American political scientist, teacher and sustainability activist who has worked on missions and advisory assignments on all continents. Professor of Sustainable Development, Economy and Democracy at the Institut Supérieur de Gestion (Paris), he is also MD of EcoPlan Association, an independent advisory network providing strategic counsel for government and business on policy and decision issues involving complex systems, social-technical change, civil society and sustainable development. Founding editor of World Streets: The Politics of Transport in Cities | See Britton online at https://goo.gl/9CJXTh and @ericbritton
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