Monday, June 10, 2013

What is Politics?

A normal part of the process of becoming an adult in society is to question. Individuals may eventually stop questioning for two main reasons, either they believe they know all the answers, or they begin to fear the consequences of asking.

Generally these low-inquiry people turn out one of two ways: They either eventually become arrogant, dismissing the points of views they haven’t already agreed with, or they become prepossessing, believing that almost any assumptions they make are probably correct.

Typical responses of persons who have been bullied intellectually to new information are, “I need to ask someone about it,” and, “You’re only saying what might be true for you.” In other words, strong disbelief, or distrust of new information is likely to become a personality trait of a person who is mentally non-acquisitive.
Another possibility is the person who starts out as a normal acquisitive teenager can make an assumption that acquisition of information will maintain a certain form throughout his or her life. This thinking pattern is typical of cult members. One believes that one has found a particular source of truth that outweighs all others, and that following that truth, or the source of it, will cause them to become successful and possibly superior to others who do not have access to the source.

One should note carefully here, that there are almost always at least two distinct levels of cultism: The first level consists of persons who believe that the source discloses a pattern for correctness and success. The second level are those persons who believe that the source discloses patterns of ultimate superiority over others who are unaware or less indoctrinated.

In order for cultism to work well, ordinary acquisitiveness has to be turned off. Either the person who is normally acquisitive is warned that his ‘questioning’ is counter-productive, or led to understood that in order for indoctrination to proceed, questioning will not be tolerated. This can be understood as ‘protocol’, or fairness to others. Another technique which is commonly used is that only the leader is allowed to ask questions.

Cultism is a form of politics. It describes for people a way that society ought to be, or how its members ought to be, including how they should act, thus fulfilling the main role of politics.

In a totally free society, politics would be available to anyone. However, individuals and societies today cannot really be described as free, with various tendencies outlawed, in order that natural political contention can be manipulated by the powerful.

It is important to note that all politics has a dual nature: While first, and foremost, politics is, by definition, a concern, “of the people” (which is, after all, only a ‘general’ definition describing a ‘general’ sense of understanding), politics is also the exact concern about the creation, use, maintenance, manipulation and destruction of all power in society.

I fully understand that my opinion about politics is not the only one in existence. We often (un-philosophically) refer to other persons who believe that politics is one of a dozen or so different things as “Idealists”. This includes people that believe that politics is a way to protect the Constitution, people who believe that politics is a wedge driven between different parts of the population, people who believe that politics is a wedge driven between the people and their ruler, etc. etc.

My point is that politics is not a simple little pretty thing we can read with their cereal in the newspapers every day, and vote about every couple of years. It is much more fundamental and serious than that. Regardless of how excellent or depraved the men who form constitutions are, politics means only about one thing, the power to act, which can be seen as what powers exist in contracts, and secondly, what powers exist in laws.

Notice, I am exhibiting a prejudice here: I believe that for something such as a law to exist, there had to be something that naturally preceded it. In this case, an agreement, or contract, “If you leave my fence stand, I won’t tear down your fence,” and “If you don’t kill my family members, I won’t kill yours.”

The concept of Critical Mass leads to understanding how governments are formed. Inequality in relations between individuals of larger and larger successful societies led to the creation of laws, both as a way of ensuring peace, but also in demonstrating the inherent value of the government. The Bible, the Code of Hammurabi, and other documents, illustrate for us the common tendency for civilizations of a certain size to not only institute rule, but also rule by law.

Much can be said about ‘natural law’, ‘common law’, ‘ancestral law’, and the like in explaining how our laws operate and came about, but the ultimate point I want to make is that the laws are either made or acquired, by man, in a state of governance of one kind or another, and that the laws exist regardless of what that governance is called, Republic, Democracy, Monarchy, Oligarchy. All these forms of government are the same in one respect, at least: They utilize the rule of law.

Nor are the government types static, or permanently posed against each other, they morph. (Notice my careful non-use of the word, “evolve”.) Monarchies take on the institutions and ideals of Democracy, Oligarchies are monarchical or socialistic depending on the times, Republics, at the time of their formation, while always Idealist, are either Revolutionary or Nationalistic in nature.

Why do governments tend to morph into other available models? Why is there seem to be no evolution? I recognize one exception to this and that is the Monarchy to Parliamentary Democracy model. Historically, a number of monarchies did eventually turn into Democracies, however I think the reason for this was that Spinoza predicted it. When governments change without a revolution, it is often because of historical force. The War of the Roses in England, and wars of Independence are a common pattern for the establishment of Democracies replacing rule by Monarchy. Another pattern which is not entirely irrelevant is the Lingering Monarchy, such as in Great Britain.

Monarchy and Oligarchy are entirely relevant today. The word, oligarchy means, “rule by the few”, and it describes Communist or totalitarian rule perfectly. Oligarchic rule depends on the state taking on the attributes of a Cult, which involves the leader not just being responsible for making decisions, but making decisions which are inherently perfect and unassailable, and showing wisdom that may be attributed to others by association, a situation where, “close to the leader,” means at least, “smart and capable”.

The effect of Rule by Cult makes it very difficult to destroy an Oligarchy, even if a Democracy is installed to nominally take its place. Over time, due to people’s trust of the familiar, the political elements representing the Cult will gradually become the most powerful.

Governments are accepted by the people when they are loved, they are often revolted against when they are hated. However, that is not the beginning and end of the story: Real life individuals form their attitudes towards their government based on many different criteria, including core beliefs, utilitarianism, the information available to them, comfort and security. All of these constitute the “Cake” of human political consciousness, a Cake of many slices and layers.

The Cake of human political consciousness is similar to many other kinds of consciousness in that it has a “behind-us,” the past, and an “in-front-of-us,” the future, that it always contends with.
To simplify this cake and how it operates, we must now annihilate the parts of it that are unnecessary. These include specifics such as Constitutional Republic, and Dynastic Monarchy and boil everything down to two tendencies, Oligarchy and Democracy.

Political parties are considered a necessary part of Democracy, but they are never Democratic, they are merely Disruptive to the Oligarchy and limiting to the Democracy. When a political party gains ascendancy, the minority is left in a position of suffering and struggle; in at least some sense, the Democracy is ruined since it becomes a 50 or 60 percent democracy, not the 100 percent democracy that was preached and expected. The Republic attempts to circumvent this possibility by introducing the prospect that the ascendancy of a single party may merely be a disruption in a continuing democratic process.

Information plays an important part in creating the presentation of the forms and effects of governance designed to create the proper response among the governed. A common but distasteful name for this is Propaganda, a word with religious roots. Attempts have been made to replace this word with Media, but since a lot of Media makes no attempt at persuasion, the only reasonable synonym to use would be Lobbying, but since Lobbying is reserved for actions done with Politicians, there is want for a better word that would also be a politically correct choice to use in all circumstances.

Persuasive handling and manipulation of information is the key to understanding how political difficulties are handled, how fine lines are crossed, and ambiguities erased. The contradictions between oligarchy and democracy, evidenced by political satisfaction in almost every society is most often masked by persuasive handling and manipulation of information.

Cognitive dissonance is a psychological term meaning the tendency for an individual’s mind to register discomfort with conflicting information about the World. Everyone has it now and then; it is not just something that happens to people whom disagree with you. It occurs in everyday situations of compromise within a family, where one person is asked to sacrifice principles in order to maintain a consensus, for example, and it also commonly occurs in political situations where compromise has been sought among politicians. One knows that the compromise violates principles of his political party, yet one or more trusted political figures has signaled his agreement with the violation. Anyone holding his political beliefs seriously may experience cognitive dissonance until he is able to reconcile the new situation into his political belief system. In this way our political belief system is a lot like an extension of our personal belief system. We understand that politics may be very important to us, perhaps even important to our survival, therefore we are likely to place a similar level of importance and feeling into the political issues we see confronting us as we do to the issues confronting our personal relationships, for example. For some, politics may even be a fully integrated part of their world view, although for others, the importance of politics rises and falls along with the amount of noise it generates in their lives.

This is one key to how oligarchies survive, by the way. In a low-noise political environment, most people care little for politics, so Oligarchy may seem fully logical and coherent with the world view of most individuals in that society.

One could say that Democracy both creates and demands a high level of awareness and participation, which makes life more exciting and informative. People are always concerned about politics because they know they have some input and play a role in the process, even though they may have doubts about why it is such a small one.

Let’s return to the example of the Constitution of the U. S. A. This constitution hides a time-limited President (a type of Oligarch) within its structure. A U.S. president has many of the same prerogatives Monarch’s have during his time in office. He can direct almost every government agency within the framework of laws, and even enter into wars that are limited in scope and duration. Republicanism considers Oligarchy tolerable as long as it falls into a remedial framework of checks and balances, allowing the Constitutional Oligarchy of the Presidency to be removed periodically and in emergencies so that the Pluralistic nature of the society can be preserved. Of course, rule by a President is not the only possibility of Oligarchy inside of a Republic, and when a political party is dominant in Congress, you have the free ability for one tendency to make all laws, and change society in limited ways, as controlled by the Constitution.

A Plurality is really a kind of special interest. While a Plurality may be as large as a majority political party, it consists also of those organizations and groups that navigate local and global power structures, including the Media, in order to achieve their ends.

These are some of the institutional forms of Oligarchy in the U.S.A., each enshrined in the Constitution. However, there are additional non-constitutional ways Oligarchical patterns enter into the government, such as through powerful agencies of Pluralism, such as Lobbies, including Churches, and Lobbies that represent Corporations and foreign powers. By lying under the radar, and controlling Media, Lobbies can deeply influence politics without gaining notice.

Earlier in this article, I discussed how our natural ability to question may be truncated or rendered ineffective in various ways. One can see, how through a variety of social and political structures, individuals ability to pose the right questions about politics may be affected, oftentimes not. Anti-war movements, for example: The tendency for governments to plant “false flags” is often detected by the culture and results in a split society on life and death issues like war, in the case of Vietnam and the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, for example. Not this incident, but the poor manners and statements by the American President, and military actions as well, gradually led to more and more people being opposed to the War, leading to its oddly inopportune ending.

There is no particular Human tendency that causes nations to fight or avoid fighting in wars. Humans are as likely to start war, given a reason, as they are to pursue a strategy of maintaining peace: It all depends on the information. The natural enemy of disinformation is the society itself and its natural inquisitiveness.