The Bubble

The Bubble

The Bubble is anything but exotic. Mundane and mainstream, it is like all other capital cities in small, provincial nations: stifled by bureaucratic thinking, coloured by shady politics, and insulated from much of the real world through the blindness that government patronage brings.

And yet, as bubbles often do, this northern capital continues to expand, sucking ever more into its vacuous influence. To be sure, there are some virtues, which all of the inhabitants of The Bubble never fail to extol whenever faced with the reality that they, through their residency in this backwater capital, are as much a contributor to the deficiencies of that place as any other hated aspect. In the end, however, a handful of perks, such as a plenitude of trees or an overpriced statue of some insect or another ready to lay its eggs, can not atone for the sheer tediousness of the on-goings in a country adrift and forgotten on the peripheries of, and still enjoying the last remaining benefits of stability derived from, a crumbling international system.

To anyone living in The Bubble, however, the decline of the greater international system to which the country is inextricably tied, is as distant a notion as the idea that man should inhabit the moon. And perhaps even then, the residents of The Bubble are more likely to accept the proposition of relocating to the moon before believing that their beloved way of life, in which consumption is a religion, could be led to destruction given the unquestionably wise guardianship of that far greater and neighbouring country, The Conglomerate of Milk and Honey (or just CMH for short.) In reality, of course, the CMH no longer possesses much milk and honey at all, having been forced to sign over all of its remaining assets to a major creditor, and who now through loan defaults is the de facto and principle owner of that once great land.

Never mind that, what the people of The Bubble do not know will not impact their behaviour. What is of greater importance are the ways and things that so occupy the lives of the residents in The Bubble, enabling each and every one of them to successfully continue gazing at their own distended navels never noticing what is happening outside the glorious capital.

Such is the magic of The Bubble. Once one moves inside of it, all things that have not also done so cease to be of interest. Why, isn’t the bickering of three equally dysfunctional levels of government, consistently preventing any change or development from happening within The Bubble, far more entertaining? Oh look, the mayor has been charged with corruption, but don’t worry, he’ll get off, these politicians always do! Yet another cabinet minister left secret documents lying around where Joe Public might find them – let’s ask him to host a major gala! And don’t forget the jobs, if nothing else is capable of absorbing one’s entire existence, certainly pursuit of a career will. With so much diversion, it is easy to see why everyone who finds himself trapped in The Bubble can so quickly become engrossed by it.

What is more, there are but a few types of people living in The Bubble facilitating groupthink on a level typically only enjoyed by small groups of nationalists. As a result, most people are tightly packed into categorical boxes, defined principally by careers, before ever having had a chance to realise it. There are Hacks, and Crats, and Dips, oh my! And let us not forget the Consultants, those retired Crats and Hacks who attempt to escape lifelong work-based identities, only to fail through the unending contracts tossed back by former colleagues as a reminder of their past, and now waning, importance.

Beginning with The Hacks shall we consider what sort of gas is filling this Bubble? Comprised by parliamentarians, elected or otherwise, and their slavishly devoted staff, The Hacks are among the most visible of the illustrious Bubble citizenry.  Otherwise known as Political Hacks, a very special breed self-congratulates at finding themselves among their ranks. These are the extremely insecure. So uncertain of themselves are they that many Hacks engage in perpetual popularity contests to prove that the people, fondly referred to as constituents, really do love them, or rather at least prefer them over other Hacks. And while there is a pretence to representing the beloved rabble in government, for the most part, The Hacks consider themselves a privileged lot deserving of special treatment, particularly at airport security checkpoints. Given the popular myth that winning an election, in which just half of the voting population participated, somehow renders a Hack chosen, it is generally accepted in The Bubble that The Hacks are ultimately in administrative power. In truth, however, any individual Hack is too afraid to really make a decision independently and safely defers all serious thinking to the processes of those great ideological machines – The Parties.

Those paragons of peer pressure, The Parties, seem to exist as if only to counter the law of numbers. For in most instances, the greater the number of brains comprising any given Party does not necessarily result in an increase in right answers or intelligent courses of action. And yet, The Bubble has built its so-called democracy atop a faith in these models of mob mentality; so much so that should someone take it in mind to simply represent her constituents as an independent politician she would immediately be branded an outcast, devoid of the power or influence that buying into something apparently greater than oneself affords.  Standing apart and thinking for oneself is dangerous, tantamount to insanity, and given the immense responsibility that comes with making decisions, most Hacks readily opt for the safety of sticking with the herd, pledging allegiance to a Party.

Which brings us to the most prevalent gas that expands The Bubble: The Crats. Tasked with serving civil society, The Crats have come to see their role as one of maintaining order, particularly in the face of crazy Party-based decision-making. The Crats dissipate the more toxic of The Hacks’ initiatives, usually by invoking the name of Public Interest, with which, interestingly, neither group really has a communion being cut off in The Bubble and all. In the end, The Crats tend to win, for as everyone knows, Hacks may come and go but Crats will endure a lifetime, earning handsome union-negotiated salaries, lucrative per diems and ultimately fat pensions for their public servitude. In order to maintain this imbalance of power, The Crats focus on status quo and multiply, accepting a constant trickle of fresh young newcomers into the Bubble’s bulging bureaucracy.

As in any bubble, it sometimes happens that foreign gases enter in and mingle with pre-existing airs.  One such group in The Bubble is known as The Dips. Regularly projected from one bubble to another, The Dips remain only a short while before being extracted and replaced in what appears to be a perpetual rotation. Perhaps due to their duration of residency in The Bubble, or just because they are alien to The Hacks and Crats, The Dips are widely mistrusted and regarded as suspect, making it very difficult for The Dips to fully understand The Bubble or integrate themselves into the general citizenry. It is for this very reason, however, that The Dips have the most sober and interesting perspectives on The Bubble, a viewpoint that looks more longingly outward than ignorantly inward.

There are others, too, inside The Bubble, but the air is hot and creativity easily choked. These unfortunate creatures struggle more to maintain what soul survives the crushing, rather than questioning or changing the ways of The Bubble. Whereas those that are born into The Bubble either seek the nearest exit outward only to return to visit aging Crat parents or follow the hereditary fast-track directly into the system.

And so, The Bubble continues to grow, surely and consistently, unimpeded by anything, always at risk of bursting or being popped from the outside by some anarchist malcontent. It is far more likely, however, that The Bubble will simply collapse in on itself, like an old, deflated helium balloon, from a lack of excited and innovative new gasses.

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