The need for empowering the state as opposed to the individual grows with one’s declining trust in one’s neighbour and fellow individuals.
The power of the state seems to be inversely proportional to the trust we have in our fellow citizens and perhaps even in human beings themselves.
What does this say about the moral premises and moral history of the power of the state?
If only we could quantify such things…
It is only human for someone who ascribes wholly to liberalism (as they understand it) to also be convinced that the alternatives are fascism, nazism, and communism. After all, we project ourselves on the world out of necessity.
And they are not necessarily wrong in their belief about the alternatives.
But when that conviction is so prevalent and entrenched as to become a blind spot, then you have the curious phenomenon of people who think that anything different to their point of view (liberalism notwithstanding), no matter how slight, necessarily leads to the alternative extremes.
This is what happens when an idea is conflated with the person (or people) who ascribe to it or opine to — when they think they embody it and so what they say about it is true, indubitable, perfect and incapable of objection.
Ideas are always spoilt by people and ever it was thus.
Why? — Because ideas organise people and people crave power.
People often say that certain issues are too complicated for a referendum and so they should not be put to a vote. There may be a reason for the argument that some issues are not easily resolved by a binary vote.
But does the argument that some issues must not be put to a vote of any kind have merit? In other words, is there ever any argument against indirect democracy, even if direct democracy is limited in respect to certain policy areas?
What escapes the avid critics of democracy — be it direct or indirect — is an answer to the question of why has an issue become so complicated that it has lost the understanding and thereby the consent of the public?
It is convenient to make political issues too complicated for the public to understand and then argue that (direct or indirect) democracy doesn’t work, in reference to those issues.
But, whether rightly to wrongly, the public will eventually come to the conclusion that complications are used against them so long as their consent and understanding haven’t been secured. The public will begin to view complications as vehicles for suppressing their vote and thereby chipping away at their power.
Populism thrives under these conditions.
Great statesmanship stems from the ability to see the wood for the trees, where others are simply too involved in a subject-matter to do that.
To do this, the statesman (or stateswoman) has to possess degrees of empathy which would make the best among psychologists blush.
They have to not only pretend to understand their opponent’s viewpoint, but appreciate its merit without losing the gravity or value of their own viewpoint.
Their fundamental position is as follows:
- No viewpoint is right or true in itself, but their viewpoint has to win.
- They have clear reasons for their viewpoint, but meaningfully engage with and take into account their opponents’ reasons and viewpoint, too.
- They do not make a decision without firstly taking heed of the conflicting reasons.
They are experts at the balancing act, master tightrope walkers with an understanding that life itself is about trade offs and the state of equilibrium between opposing forces and directions.
It takes an extraordinary strength of character and humility to put one’s interests and opinions aside to not only have the insight into life needed for great statesmanship, but also to become a master in the art.
There are two types of wealth creators which some of us confuse. We likely do so due to being overexposed to one at the expense of the other.
However, we must find comfort in distinguishing them, because each one sets a different tone and character to the relation between a business and the people it services.
The first type identify a need or issue and bring people together to create a service, product or solution. This type have a vision of how they want the world to be, which structures their actions and decisions, often tending them towards long-term gain.
The second type also find a need or issue and bring people together to create a service etc., but this type wants to maximise it to extract the most value. They are often reactive to events and emotional in approach, which often restricts their decisions to their short-term and limited gain.
They sound similar in their efforts and actions — many of us would see them as the same — but they differ in what drives them. One is driven by a vision of things while the other is driven by the current context and the emotional state(s) underpinning it.
However, both are great wealth creators who service us, albeit in differing ways and — we may say with a slight degree of confidence — with different consequences to the moral tone of the world in which we live.
Without demonising the one or evangelising the other, the moral view of their activities paints the first type as philanthropic and second type as exploitative.
What drives us and how it does so is as important as — and in some case more so than — what we do.
The riskiest act by a person in power who verges on losing it is to attempt to hold onto it through lies.
The weakness and irresponsibility they demonstrate to those over whom they wield their power always ensures they live to regret it, because the truth rising to the top is only a matter of time.
Statistics enable us to make mountains out of molehills, i.e., to gently distort the truth without losing it outright.
This is an important capacity for politically minded folk: it vastly increases their political flexibility, for good or for ill.
For many such folk, the use of statistics has become an art form, rather than a science.
Perhaps, art’s superiority over science is evidenced most not in what one can do with scientific facts, but what one can do with scientific methods to produce fact-like results . . .