October 2007
Big babies - Dumbing down politics


Psychoanalysts believe that people can be 'infantilized' - stopped from growing up. Powerful politicians now seem to think that's a neat idea. Dog-whistles and diversions of all kinds are designed to turn us away from active political engagement towards passive consumption. In the process, democracy gets hollowed out. Politics becomes another branch of management, left to a political class and an entire industry of spin-doctors, pollsters, ad agencies, lobbyists and dirty-tricksters.

But infantilizing all the people all the time is not so easily done. This month the NI wonders why, and takes a sideways look into the empty space where grown-up political debate should be.








2 Letters

4 Dumbing down democracy
Puzzled by democracy's failed promise, Richard Swift explores the way our political culture infantilizes both the elected and the electorate.

7 Signs of infantilization
The tell-tale symptoms of a democratic ethos in distress.

8 Pushing your buttons
A visual guide to political manipulation.

10 Paternal deceits
The Indian scholar Ashis Nandy digs deep in the Western psyche to uncover the origins of our political condescension towards others.

12 Siren song - conspiracy!
The resistance to the status quo has not managed to escape the ravages of childish politics. Chip Berlet exposes the great conspiracy addiction.

15 A Guide to Grown-Up Thinking
Polyp's visualized tour of how we can grow up as citizens, and why we had better.

18 Magical thinkers
Trevor Turner has his finger on how the fantasies of evasion trip up the political class.

20 Eleven ways to leave your Mommy and Daddy
Michael Bywater gives us some pointers.


Because I am a girl...

How young women's rights are being ignored Nikki van der Gaag reveals how, in many countries around the world, girls are still discriminated against, abused and treated as second-class citizens - just because they are girls.

25 Currents
Resisting demolition of poor homes in Argentina; Britain's Camp for Climate Action inspires the world.
PLUS: Wordpower and Seriously

28 Big Bad World
Polyp on a new concept of fairness.
PLUS: NI Prize Crossword

29 Worldbeaters
Estranged brothers Christopher and Peter Hitchens, opinionated columnists, have completed ideological journeys from far Left to far Right.

30 Mixed Media
Includes the most expensive Arabic movie ever made, Ethiopian and 'Gypsy' music, plus new novels from Brazil and Iran.

32 Southern Exposure
Burqa and doves, by pioneering female Afghan photographer Farzana Wahidy.

33 View from Montevideo
Uruguayans remain a 'footballized' people, according to Eduardo Galeano.

34 Essay: Israel, Palestine and the hypocrisy of power
Noam Chomsky anatomizes the current US-Israel 'project'.

36 Country Profile: Sri Lanka





NI Japan




<This month's translation>

- Dumbing down democracy (NI p4-6)

- Signs of infantilization (NI p7)

- Paternal deceits (NI p10-11)

- A Guide to Grown-Up Thinking (NI p15-17)

- Eleven ways to leave your Mommy and Daddy (NI p20)

- Country Profile - Sri Lanka (NI p36)

- Currents
Hawks become doves (INDIGENOUS RIGHTS) (NI p26)
--- Big Bad World (NI p28)


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