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Nick Harkaway @Harkaway
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The Curse of the Magic Splodo Button
Our politics is somewhat addicted to the Magic Splodo Button. That is to say a single thing that you can do that will make everything that annoys you be okay. Hint: there is no Magic Splodo Button.
I think - *think* - the Magic Splodo Button has its origin in the idea of Judgement Day (the religious one, not the movie). The notional moment when everything is decided and after that nothing changes. The end of history (oooh, see what I did there?)
It's possible that the religious apocalypse has its origin in the Magic Splodo Button, though, and we're just hardwired to think in terms of things being done and not having to be done again. Although that seems evolutionarily a bit dubious.
Obviously, revolutions are also a Magic Splodo Button. Revolutionists divide time into a Before which sucks and an After which will be Better, but it can be a little tricky to prove that this is what happens.

(cc @ProfDaveAndress sorry to put that expression in your brain)
In general, Magic Splodo moments are shit for a decade, then boring, and after a century things actually are better, but since many Magic Splodo Buttons are pushed when a gradualist reform isn't happening fast enough...
... it can be a bit troublesome to work out whether the gradualist path would get you to basically the same place at the same time once you're happily talking in century timescales like a benign historian-god.
Essentially, Magic Splodo rhetoric goes: "things are shit, let us blow up the shit and replace it with this amazingness, and all will be well." This is sometimes called Value Dis-synchronisation or Relative Deprivation.
(I tend to think there is an element of disindividuation in it, too: the downward pressure of a bad situation and/or oppressive state makes people identify with a mass more than they care about their own lives.)
(That explains how someone like Bouaziz can set himself on fire, for example, and what it means about a society when they do. However, this analysis is dependent on Zimbardo's ideas not being poppycock, which has recently been at issue.)
Obviously, what happens when you blow up a lot of shit is that vast amounts of shit fly everywhere and cover everything.

The video below is, in fact, a perfect demonstration of what happens in many revolutions, too.

Brexit is, quite interestingly, not a revolution, but it is a Magic Splodo Button. It's not a revolution because it is exactly what happens when you might otherwise have a revolution but your state is reflexive enough to avoid one.
(Though not reflexive enough to avoid creating conditions of Magic Splodo/Value Dis-Synchronisation etc.)

It might be better if we had a somewhat more reflexive state. Hence…
However, Brexit is definitely covering us all in vast amounts of burning shit at the moment, so let's not congratulate ourselves too much there.
Anyway, the point is that the addiction to the Magic Splodo is a problem, because what it really means is that we're politically lazy. You only get to Magic Splodo if you put off your political and social chores for another day.
The thing is that there is no plateau. There's no natural level where you can say "oh, we've democracied now, we can do other stuff because that won't change". Democracy is a daily effort. You put energy into it or it flies apart. There's no political perpetual motion.
In the same way, we're confronted with problems now which do not yield to one-shot Magic Splodos. We cannot Magic Splodo climate change, though you're going to be told we can a great deal.
For example. Anyway... This is all to say that I am a gradualist not because I think it's more comfortable but because I think it's what works. I think there are situations where revolutions are inevitable, where radical social change is inevitable.
That does not necessarily mean that they make things better, and it certainly does not mean that they deliver what is promised in Magic Splodo rhetoric to the people who need change.
So I ask you please to consider the Magic Splodos you are being offered at any given time with profound scepticism, and maybe ask for programmes of ongoing effort and engagement instead.
And that is this morning's unexpected and spontaneous sermon finished and I am embarrassed to have preached at you but a bit pleased with how it came out and that's a landing I can walk away from, so: good. Happy Monday. /ends
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