As I was feeling the need for some serious escapism, I've been reading David Weber's Honor Harrington series, a space opera written in the early 90's. While it's always interesting reading a dated sci-fi series, and gives you a shot at seeing how visions of the future change with time (and technology), I've been especially enjoying the politics of this series.
Essentially, the series covers a clash between two human empires, and the development of police actions into proxy wars and then, open, all-out war. The author is a Brit, almost certainly, and borrows heavily from the British days of sail. The main character is a female Lord Nelson, and the warfare and tactics parallel those used in sail-era naval warfare.
What's especially interesting to me is the role played by 'dolist' (those on the dole) citizens in one of the empires. People unable to participate in the political process, disenfranchised and bought off by a basic living stipend, a welfare state that ensures survival. One empire is hemorrhaging from within by the dolist revolution (France under Napoleon?), which shapes the empire's politics, but carries a short shelf-life, as popular support requires raiding already-dry coffers to ensure welfare payments are made on time, and thus one empire has a time limit on their ability to wage war.
Makes me think of the EU, and how the efficient, employed Germans must feel about, well, pretty much the rest of the EU, and how I feel, certainly, about the Occupy movement. Greeks and Occupiers suffer serious (and legitimate) disenfranchisement, and respond with short-term strategies to attempt to maintain the status quo: free ponies and a blowjob in every pot, or something.
At any rate, while it's certainly not my usual fare, I'm enjoying the hell out of being able to tune out the fact that I've been marooned for the weekend or possibly longer on a strange barge, and me without a change in clothes.