Brian C. Rideout’s Punk Dictionary of Politics

I used to be very interested in politics; I spent ages studying political systems, reading manifestos and philosophical treatises. I had passionate debates and long meandering conversations. The more I studied, however, the more tenuous it all seemed.

Political systems are fictions, they are imaginary things that only have power so long as either a large majority of people, or a minority of heavily armed ones, believe in it. Just as yellow lines painted on a road don’t actually stop oncoming cars, a government doesn’t stop chaos and disorder. People choose not to drive over the yellow line, and they choose to obey the government.

But while they yellow lines may be ugly, they are ultimately benign. Political systems, however, can do people a lot of damage. And the more you look at them, the faultier, sillier, and more irrational they seem. I don’t believe we will ever create a system that works and is based on an inscrutable understanding of reality. People who understand reality have no time for politics.

Herein I hold up a mirror to some of our big ideas, systems, and machines that are at the heart of the government, and show you how silly, laughable, and downright bizarre they can be. And I do so with a light heart, because life is too short to take politics seriously.

Anarchy: The myth that, when free of all rules, after people hit each other enough they’ll get tired of it and make something functional.

Banks: See Corporation.

Capitalism: The myth that in a relatively free market, merchants will be respectful or afraid of consumer opinion, rather than trying to manipulate and control it.

Communism: The myth that equality of wealth and opportunity will somehow lead to equality among the people.

Conservativism: 1. The myth that things were better in a past, despite the fact that the past they describe never existed.

2. The myth that things almost work as they are now, and that any change will make it worse.

Corporation: 1. A machine made up of ideas, bank accounts, tools, and employment contracts used by wealthy people to produce political clout.

2. A fictional person given superior citizenship in a country, despite being unanswerable morally, and unable to reproduce, die, or feel emotion.

Corporatism: The myth that a machine made up of ideas is more ethical than gas-powered ones like chainsaws, and thus needs no laws to control it.

Defecit: A theoretical measure of how much the current generation has borrowed from banks against the blood, sweat, and tears of future ones.

Democratism: The myth that if we let everyone decide, they will somehow care what is good for everyone.

Fascism: The myth that one person with a strong mind, when given enough power, will keep the public good at heart.

Human Rights: 1. The Myth that a person has certain innate magical privileges that cannot be taken away from them by force or deception.

2. A carefully engineered list of things a government tells a person they can do used to distract them from the things that the government doesn’t let them do.

Ideologies: Myths that serve as shortcuts to critical thought. Perpetuated by the Myth that someone else’s ideas are an acceptable way to view the world, and that a person can thus understand the world by reading and obeying someone else’s manifesto.

Liberalism (Philosophical): The belief that somehow human beings can exist outside of society, and choose to put up with other human beings in a society because it benefits them, usually followed by the assertion that the only legitimate society is one that recognizes that society is an agreement between individuals.

Liberalism (Political): 1. The myth that somehow, people on a whole are capable of being happy if left to their own devices.

2. The myth that if people are offered the opportunity to look at the issues rationally, they will choose a sensible, inclusive option.

Libertarianism: The myth that we can safely ignore anything but our own happiness, and thus a government can be effectively relegated to maintaining roads and schools.

Marxism: The myth that most of human misery is rooted in one group stepping on another group, and thus most misery can be stopped by somehow making it impossible for people to exist on different levels.

Money: 1. A symbol that inaccurately quantifies the quality of human potential.

2. A device used to keep the middle classes working hourly jobs: used by neither the upper nor lower classes.

Progress: The myth that we can somehow become happier and better if we just keep making new machines, corporations, ad economic models.

Realpolitik: The myth that pragmatism, efficiency, and profits trump idealism, dignity, citizen welfare, or sovereignty in a well-run government.
Republicanism: The myth that if we make leaders who are answerable to the public they’ll do the right thing.

Socialism: The myth that a government can provide food, shelter and medicine to its populace and still respect that populace.

Theocratism: The myth that religious leaders have a clue what God wants and can put it into law.

United Nations: A construct created by several powerful nations to ensure that other nations follow rules that they would never follow themselves.


~ by Brian Rideout on 27/05/2010.

2 Responses to “Brian C. Rideout’s Punk Dictionary of Politics”

  1. Anarchy is not a myth.. we all lived like that for thousands of years before property forced us to change. People were happy in small communities, living in caves. Then one day.. “I own this cave, pay me to live in it” and it all collapsed. The proof that anarchy works is that we are here today. Soon capitalism will collapse and we will have to think of something ‘new’, Anarchists have had centuries to perfect the plan and its ready for a swift deployment.


    • Believe me, I know that no government is good government. I have no use for modern judiciary systems or barely-functional electoral systems.

      I jab at anarchy as much as anything because it is only fair.

      That being said comparing ancient Tribalism to moden Anarchy is akin to comparing Ancient European fertility cults to Wicca. There is a connection, sure, Anarchy is a spiritual descendant from tribalism but you’d hear nothing like “Anarchy Burger” sung by Celtic warrirors. African obeah-men probably have no use for Steal This Book. Its a modern movement.

      If there is a plan I haven’t seen it. The last anarchist forum I was on I go shouted down on because I felt living without regard to law and government was not enough: Asking them for a little unity and positive action was apparently as too much.

      That being said, I agree with you on the most important front: the time is right and the mutants are ready to move in and make something new. Preferably something wierd and like nothing we have ever seen before. The old systems are too fucked to survive.

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