Political Systems

The past century has been the testing-ground for political systems that aimed at given complexer societies a unified control. Most of the ideals of these systems were inherited from the nineteenth century but were never put into practice. It has cost unendurable suffering of millions of people to come to the conclusion that all failed, with the possible exception of democracy.

The main problem is of course the human psyche. Torn between egoistic drives and intellectual infatuations, only in exceptional cases man’s ideals are realized, often at self-expense. More often than not the individual succumbs to selfish interests. His struggle between self and the good of society is reflected in the policies of nations. More than ever, behind smug appearances, nations strive at furtherance of their own self-interest at the expense of the welfare of other nations.

Part of the chaotic structure of civilisation is influenced by man’s herd instincts. Modern society relies on specialisms. As most people have no idea of specialists’ considerations they leave decisions to their judgement. Prof. Cyril Northcote Parkinson observed that committees spend most time discussing expenditure of small sums of money, than large ones. Reason is that most people have a firm grasp of smaller issues but not the complicated and important ones. Generally major decisions are left to specialists, as few people understand the issues in question.

In this manner specialists’ recommendations on legislature, education, economics, finances, explorations, or warfare are being followed without anyone having an idea of the consequences. In small groups of insiders a culture may grow that is far removed from reality. Yet, their views may have far-reaching influence. In history such groups of politicians, philosophers, theologians, experts, or specialists have often been the nucleus of ideas that had far-reaching effect, sometimes extremist and detrimental, because its consequences could not be grasped by outsiders.

We have to take into account that a major catastrophe may result in the breakdown of society as we know it. The resulting upset balance of power will set a series of events into motion the outcome of which we cannot foresee.


3 thoughts on “Political Systems

  1. After a brief hiatus, I’ve finally stumbled back here and have been reading to catch up on some of the recent posts – thought this was as good a place as any to reengage in the banter.

    I’m not entirely sure what you were going for here, but there are some interesting thoughts for sure. As to one of your early points, I’d have to say that you strike a very utopian tone. You are correct in your statements about the failures of many different political systems and on the self-interest of man often interfering.

    However, throughout all of that, you seem to be making the assumption that if self-interest could be removed and we could all work together in harmony, things would work smoothly. No doubt they could, but how realistic is that? Even if by some miracle we could get even a brief moment of unanimity in the world to agree on the good of the planet (not happening) it would be all too easy for one individual (perhaps one of your specialists) to twist the system for his/her own gain.

    This recalls the problem of collective action and the prisoner’s dilemma. Basically, even if it would clearly be more beneficial if people would work together, it is far too difficult to get everyone to agree and to look past the the more appealing choice that would be more personally beneficial (even if this choice ultimately causes more pain than gain). This is why, for example, it is so difficult to get cartels like OPEC to function. In theory, if they all worked in concert, it would work wonderfully. Sadly, the temptations to temporarily leave the arrangement are far too great and it too often leads to a break down of the whole system.

    Basically, we have to deal with what we have. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t always strive for further cooperation and hope to make things more efficient and beneficial to everyone. But at the same time, as long as humans are involved in human governance, there are going to be temptations and problems, no matter the level of cooperation.

    As for your second point on specialists, I agree. It seems that people will bicker incessantly about menial issues because they understand them, but are all too quick to pass off anything of complexity and importance to ‘specialists’. It’s too bad that our society can’t encourage a little more interest in the issues that actually matter. Instead, people only bitch about the decisions that are made after the fact because they don’t understand the issues to begin with, nor do they really understand how any given decision was chosen.

    Take voting as an example. If you don’t take the time to learn about the candidates or issues and choose not to vote or vote without any knowledge, you have absolutely no right to complain later if you disagree with the results.

  2. As I read the article, Dimitri, your arguments seemed to follow two tracks — a chasm between the ‘people’ and specialists, and the implications of power within a small group of specialists. I would further add that the chasm is perpetuated by ‘joe common’ typically not caring to engage in an issue to the level and point of resolution. He (or she) is too interested in immediate fix as it affects needs / wants, and lacks (or, again, doesn’t invest the necessary time) the process thinking sequence to get at longer term impact. The more technologically advanced our society becomes, the more this gap will widen, but so, too, the more severe the implications in entrusting others with decisions that have far reaching effects.

    To also fully understand the implications of your herd theory, it is important to also note the lack of common sense typically found in many brilliant intellects. These ‘specialists’, if you will, don’t always get the simpler issues / impact of complex issues. So you really have two divergent thought streams approaching systems that impact masses with one group losing interest / understanding long before a path forward is fully mapped. This coupled with the issues of self interest and power struggles with those impacting decisions, we really are looking at a battle of the fittest. How will it play forward…Balance of nature or power of man…

  3. You both are correct and there really is no true way to “fix” this. I assume the governance of the Chaos Theory will be enforced until man self destructs.

    My hope comes from observations of older and other cultures where harmonious efforts and effects where well noted and lived in that given society. I KNOW this can work, the problem is how do we get back to it…?

    Again nothing in nature is in conflict – all things in nature are created in complete harmony and never conflict. Man at one time was great at living in compliance of such. (Indians)

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data, ability to repeat discredited memes, and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Also, be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor even implied. Any irrelevancies you can mention will also be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous :)

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