Monday, August 07, 2006

Delayed Reaction

Sometimes it takes a while for the real purpose of a complex system to emerge.

Last year, 82-year-old heckler Walter Wolfgang was ejected from the Labour Party conference [BBC News]. At the time, this appeared to be a heavy-handed and inappropriate use of anti-terror legislation to suppress dissent. Robin Wilton described it as an ugly incident, and I sarcastically suggested this might be a case of mistaken identity.

This year, Walter Wolfgang has been elected onto the Labour Party National Executive Committee [BBC News via Robin Wilton]. “For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind."

Wolfgang's election can perhaps be seen as a healthy reaction (restoration) by a large and slow-moving institition, which maintains at least some principles of grass-roots democracy and free speech notwithstanding the efforts of party leaders and minders. POSIWID suggests that we may be able to infer something about the true purpose of an institution like the Labour Party from the way such incidents unfold, and from its resistance to being pushed around.

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