When you think of councils several things jump to mind; ego, town hall brawls, ineptitude and “When’s hard rubbish?” The answer to that question is: never when you need it. You may as well come to terms with the fact your fifty-year-old Westinghouse is going to be in your share house living room for a while. Use the time to remove the magnets and throw-out that readers digest calendar from 2007.
It’s easy to be cynical about local government. It’s also fun and warranted. But if science fiction is anything to go by and it must be given mobile phones, personal computers and racial equality were all nicked from Star Trek, councils are the government of the future.
You’re technologically advanced society has put their differences aside and formed a global government. Firstly, congratulations that must have been tough. Yay for diplomacy. Next is the question of how to govern the planet?
One option is to put the same highly developed minds that achieved intergalactic travel together to design a fair, just and incorruptible system of government. The other is to grab a few elderly citizens, knit some robes and have them to do a bunch of important stuff by committee. Alien civilisations always seem to nail technology, but not governance.
Kryptonians in The Man of Steel (2013) fly laser-firing aircraft and according to Superman II (1980) they have hula-hoops that spin on themselves to imprison dissidents. It’s nice to know circus arts are a constant throughout the universe, but is play equipment really the best method of prisoner containment? A skipping rope would have been more effective.
But despite the space ships and force field hula-hoops, the Kryptonian Council isn’t so advanced when it comes to separation of powers. The Council writes laws and prosecutes them, seemingly over group Skype chat, which aside from being inherently corrupt, must keep them bloody busy. It’s no wonder Krypton overlooked their planet slowly self-destructing; the Council was probably too swamped in traffic infringements and fence disputes to notice.
The Time Lords of Doctor Who aren’t much better. Their scientific achievements include time travel and… well, if you’ve mastered time travel you’ve pretty much won science. It’s not that super hula-hoops aren’t impressive; actually, that’s exactly what they’re not.
Yet a council of cardinals rules the Time Lord’s home planet Gallifrey. It’s a system so oligarchic it would make Vladimir Putin wince. You don’t see many bike paths on Gallifrey, probably because the planet’s money is funnelled into sewing spectacular robes for the Time Lord High Council. Think the Pope’s Sunday best, meets a Snuggy, meets low production values, meets what the future looked like in the seventies. To complete the look, a crescent neck ornament fans out from behind their heads, which must completely block peripheral vision and be an OH&S issue. I’d suggest the Russian Government follow suit and wear gold shoulder-head discs, but it would limit Putin’s ability to hunt bears, tigers and tiger bears.
Then, of course, there is the Guardian Council of the Constitution of Iran; a wondrous, mythical place… oh, wait. Iran is real. Scratch that.
Speaking of religion, the Grand Council of Voltar in L. Ron Hubbard’s ten volume sci-fi novel series Mission Earth, are council in name, but not in nature. The plot of Mission to Earth involves, believe it or not, a mission to Earth to stop the human race destroying the planet before Voltar’s planned invasion in one hundred years. If the Grand Council of Voltar were a true government body, they would have declared Earth heritage listed so humanity couldn’t self-destruct without a severe fine. And they call themselves a council…
Supreme Grand High Councils are the future, so get used to it and be careful next time you’re complaining about planning permission or the cleanliness of a municipal pool. As soon as our scientists achieve time travel or space hoops, your local council could break into the storeroom, steal a bunch of mayoral robes and become the High Council of Earth. Then you risk banishment to the phantom zone, tiger bear execution or being forced to read the novels of L. Ron Hubbard as punishment for your seditious comments.
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