Friday, May 22, 2009

What does 'progress' mean?

I'm starting to think that it doesn't mean what I've been under the impression that it means. For those of you who can read Norwegian, there's an interesting article here.

To sum up: Parliamentary elections will be held in this country this fall (September 14th). I haven't mentioned it much so far, but I will definitely be posting quite a bit about it. Right now one of our biggest parties (which I am not voting for) is having its national convention. They call themselves, for some reason, Fremskrittspartiet - the Progress Party. Hence my confusion. The article is about a change in their party programme ... basically they want to change the way Norwegian libraries work, they want to get rid of all the 'extraneous' stuff and just get back to the good ol' books. Or so they say. I'm not buying it. Here's why.

They claim to want to 'strengthen the core activities' of the libraries, but to 'reduce activity related to pure entertainment' (bad translation, sorry, it's getting late). But let's be honest. We all know that that isn't what they want. Not really. What they want is to get us to pay for everything we borrow at the library. A fee for every loan. That's what they've always been aiming for up to now. But in typical Progress Party style, after realizing that most of us voters out here don't actually want that setup, they've changed the wording. But they still give themselves away.

The reasoning behind this is deeply flawed. Allegedly, the non-book bit at the libraries - 'CDs, DVDs, computer games, etc' - ought to go, because in relation to these things the libraries are competing with business interests. o_O I mean ... what? Do they seriously think people are that stupid?? You can drive a truck through the hole in that logic. Who is expected to buy this shit?

News flash, Progressives: There are stores where they sell books too. Your local library is competing with business interests on everything they lend. That is entirely beside the point. If we're going to base our library policy on that, we may as well close them all down right now. This 'problem' is a complete construct. Libraries seem to be something that the Progress Party (PP from now on, maybe) just don't understand. Which is why they apparently feel so free to attack them. Because that is what they're really doing. Don't be fooled. They'll start with the music CDs, the movies on DVD, those violent computer games that just screw your mind up anyway ... and then what? Libraries' 'core activities' my shiny metal ass. A library's core activity is to make culture in as many forms as possible accessible to as many members of our society as possible. This is why they are free.

If libraries in this country were ever forced to start charging borrowing fees, that wouldn't stop me from using my library. I would just pay the fees. Because I can do that. I can afford it. In fact, if I want to read a book, I can buy it. If I want to watch a movie, I can buy the DVD. Even at full price. ;-) I've got a computer at home with online access 24/7. I don't have an encyclopedia, but I could afford one if I wanted to buy one. If I wanted a newspaper subscription, no problem. I can afford it. What does that tell you? That even though I do use the library, it is an institution that is not really intended for me.

There are people in this country who can't just go out and buy a book whenever they feel like it. People who don't have computers at home and can't go online at the drop of a hat. People who can't afford to subscribe to any newspapers. But you know what, those people may want to read the paper anyway. Their kids may need to use the internet for school. They may feel that it's rewarding to read a book from time to time. Or that it's nice to have watched that movie that everyone's been talking about. It is one of the wonderful things about our society that those options really are available to anyone and everyone. The Progress Party claim to be for the little man, for the regular working joe ... but in this, like in so many other things, they show their true colors. I don't want to live in the society they want to create.

There are so many things that bother me about this. And it's starting to get really late, I don't have the energy to go into all of it now. But this is just so wrong on so many levels.



Paz said...

great post
'The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man'

Leisha Camden said...

Thanks. I love that quote, it's so true. But it can be misconstrued, because Progress Party people are often unreasonable too, but in the wrong direction. ;-)

rupiawan said...

thanks on the information you write. I have always faithfully follow the latest posts from you

Elin said...

You posted a question as a comment in my blog about my thoughts on this, and rest asure, it will come! I have started on a draft about FrP. But, I just need them to have things in order and in public first. ;-) It will be a part of my election blogging, as I talked about a little while ago.

For now just I'll just be chilish nd say that I think FrP is a stupid party. ;-)

Leisha Camden said...

rupiawan: thanks, I guess. o_O :-)

Elin: I'll be watching for that post from you, then. I'm sure it will be interesting. :-)