Dodgy algorithms and fascism

by Alan Russell 9 months ago in satire

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Dodgy algorithms and fascism

I have been on Facebook for six years. In that time, I have not stated that I am a supporter of the Conservative Party. The nearest I have got to expressing such support is when I have openly declared that I have agreed with what a Conservative Member of Parliament has said independent of the party line.

This makes me wonder if the algorithms sifting through my social media data are working efficiently.

Nine days after the General Election here in the UK, which returned a Conservative Government with a majority of 80, I had the above advertisement pop up on my Facebook timeline from the Conservative party. It was asking for a contribution and support to fulfill the manifesto promise to “Get BREXIT done”.

With that overall majority I don’t think they need any financial help from me.

The temptation was just too great to resist. Well, it was a very wet and cold Saturday morning when I saw this advertisement and there was no point in going to see the horses until the weather improved. I just had to throw a stone into the pond and see what ripples it caused.

One hour and two mugs of coffee later when the rain had almost stopped there were two notification on Facebook. Someone had liked my comment and someone had commented on it. Perhaps the ripples were starting?

Oh dear. It appears that I have hit a nerve. Poured oil on troubled waters. Added salt to an open and festering wound. Describing the European Union (EU) as "fascist" does seem a bit strong. I resisted the further temptation to respond immediately and risk entering a cycle of increasingly vitriolic cyber babble. After all, the cafetiere was empty, the weather was improving, so it was a good time to go and see the horses.

While I was feeding the horses I kept thinking about the best way to respond to this first comment. I decided the best way was to draft a letter to them. Make it personal and argue my points with politeness and logic which is never possible when comments start ricocheting on Facebook.


Dear Respondent

Thank you for your reaction to my comment about the recent Conservative Party advertisement on Facebook. I appreciate the time, effort and thought put into every one of the nineteen words used.

The dictionary I use provides the definition of fascism as "......a system of government characterized by dictatorship, nationalism, racism and militarism". With my very limited knowledge and experience of the EU that has been gleaned from mainstream media these are not traits that I recognize in that organization.

Members of the European Parliament are chosen by elections held in the twenty eight member countries, soon to be twenty seven. Those elections are regarded as fully democratic. So how is it possible for the EU to be regarded as a "dictatorship"?

As for "nationalism", that cannot be applied to the EU. Nationalism refers to the self promotion of a country and as the EU is not a state or country but an alliance of countries it cannot by its very nature be nationalistic.

The EU is far from being "racist" as it has, especially with Germany, had opened its borders for the welcoming of non-European people seeking refuge from conflict zones in the Middle East.

And finally, as for "militarism" the EU has not been able to form a military force comprising of service people and resources from its own membership. NATO is the only military alliance that members of the EU belong too but it is not solely a European body.

Another and more detailed definition of fascism went further into the darkest corners of what such a regime entails. One of the adjectives used was "centralized". Yes, the EU is centralized around Brussels and Strasbourg but that is not what this definition refers to. It refers to the separation of powers in the form of the legislative, the executive and judicial branches of government. If all of their powers are concentrated with one person or one office then yes, that would be highly undemocratic and centralized. In the EU these powers are separate so that each part can act as a counterbalance to the others.

The same extended definition uses the phrase "severe economic and social regimentation". All of the EU member countries have different economic growth rates. How can that happen if the economy is meant to be regimented throughout the EU? A state pension here in the UK is £169 per week. In Ireland it is £214 per week and in The Netherlands £241 per week. How can that happen if all the members of the EU are supposed to be socially regimented?

The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) has developed a "Democracy Index". This measures the level of democracy achieved in 167 countries and the data quoted is from 2018. The factors used to calculate this index for each country are based on how the government functions, electoral processes, political participation, political culture and civil liberties. It scores countries from '0' to '10'. A '10' means a perfect democracy which Plato, Socrates and Cicero would admire. A '0' means that even with the Hadron Collider working at full capacity and focused on finding particles of democracy in a country, it would not. No country scores a perfect '10' and no country scores '0'. Even North Korea, at the bottom of the table, has a result of 1.08.

Please find below a chart showing the Democracy Index values for all of the twenty eight members of the EU.

Democracy Index 2018 (from EIU accessed Dec 19)

Within the EU Sweden is quite clearly in first place with a score of 9.39 and Romania is with a score of 6.38. Just for interest I have added in North Korea languishing with its very derisory 1.08 and the USA, regarded as a fountain and beacon of western democracy, with a score of 7.96. The average across the whole of the EU is 7.89 compared to the UK's score of 8.53. Again the variances in these index numbers does not suggest any degree of fascism imposed on the member countries.

I have had a British passport and citizenship of this country, where the Magna Carta was signed over 800 years ago laying the foundations for what we recognize as western democracy, for over 50 years. I would like to think I am truly British.

Once again, thank you for your response which has been such a great help in motivating me to research the extent of democracy within the EU and the wider world. It has been extremely interesting. And finally, congratulations on being the first to rise to the bait I deliberately cast as a comment. I am just surprised it took someone so long to bite.

Yours sincerely

Alan Russell


One subsequent comment was to the effect that I had a 'sad life'. Perhaps I have but it is not a sadness that drives me to post responses such as I did. It is a sadness that can best be attributed to the following quote from President Kennedy:

"Too often we.....enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought."

Alan Russell
Alan Russell
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Alan Russell

I am a very lucky person. I live in a beautiful area,the New Forest,have a happy home that I share with my wife and two felines. More,much more than this I travel many highways,to interesting places and meeting interesting people.Carp diem.

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