Book 8-smashwords edition

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--In Search of Utopia--


POLITICS--The Science of the Possible


Lemuel Gulliver XVI as told to Jacqueline Slow

© 2010 ISBN 978-0-9823076-0-1

Dear friends—Obviously I wrote this series to be read from Book 1 to the end, but silly me! Readers often begin with what sounds interesting to them. This may leave them unaware of the characters, my friends and I. So let me introduce us. We were boyhood friends, as wild and as close as geese heading south for the winter. But our university educations split us philosophically like a drop of quicksilver hitting the floor. But like those balls of mercury, when brought together, they again become one. As have we.

Ray became a Catholic priest and moved far to the right of where our teenage liberalism had bound us. Ray calls himself a neo-conservative. We think he is a reactionary.

Lee slid to the left of our adolescent leanings, and somewhere along the line became an atheist. Lee is a lawyer.

Concannon, Con for short, retired from his very successful business. I guess his business experience moved him a bit to the right, to conservatism—a conservative just to the right of the middle.

Then there’s me. I think I’m pretty much a middle of the roader—except for my passion to save our planet by reducing our population before global warming, massive poverty and far-reaching famines decimate our humanity. Hope this introduction makes our discussions make a bit more sense.

After enjoying a traditional Indian meal, or more precisely, an Indian gourmet meal, we walked around the university campus, hit some balls on the driving range, and swam a few laps in their outdoor 25 meter pool, we felt relaxed and ready to tackle our meeting tomorrow with Dr. Singh from the University of Bangalore. We watched the setting Indian sun imagining Sūrya, the god of the heavens, driving his seven rainbow hued steeds westward until his golden hair disappeared below the horizon. We can only imagine the speed of his chariot racing under the earth so that he will be poised to continue his eternal duty on the morrow, as he brings the dawn to the eastern sky.

So off to slumberland for us boys from LA while we anticipated tomorrow’s exciting day and the expectation of more jewels from another renowned academic. We have already looked deeply at the psychological needs and drives that motivate us and the power of the various values that pervade our thinking. But now we are going to look at how these motivations are used to control us and our human brothers and sisters. We are going to study the art and science of politics.

After a night of restful anticipation we met for breakfast in the faculty dining room--Father Ray our reactionary old buddy, lawyer Lee, our liberal skeptic, and the good old conservative Con. It is bewildering how four such close friends from high school could have travelled such different intellectual paths as we meandered towards maturity.

As we waited in line for our vegetarian morning meal I saw Mr. Ghosh escorting a tall Sikh our way. His flawlessly wrapped flaming red turban and dark well trimmed beard accented his typical Sikh handsomeness. I don’t think I have ever seen a group of men who almost universally fit the ‘tall, dark and handsome’ ideal of Western women and who typify the calm and quiet masculinity that most men envy. The Sikhs are indeed a very special group of people.

I stepped out of line and extended my hand.

—“Thank you for inviting us here, Dr. Singh. I am really interested in your ideas on how to get things done.”

—“Thank you Commander Gulliver. I’m delighted that you could all come. I have been following your travels. I know you have met with Wanda Wang in Kino and Charlie Chan in Singaling-- he goes by Chuck now doesn’t he? It’s good that you now have some background in ethics and in psychological motivations because practical politics is based on the effective use of the psychological drives and the values that people believe in—or at least say they believe in.


I define politics as ‘the science of the possible.’ It relates to the acquisition of power in any situation--from individual to international. If you use the most effective political techniques, you have a good possibility to get what you want--in an individual or a social situation. It is often said that effective politics is getting your way while others think they are getting theirs! Commander, I understand that the reason we are meeting is that you want to know the most effective ways that you can use to motivate people to understand the problems of overpopulation and the need to have all children born to parents who will love and nurture them and give them the best chance to be happy and successful as well as socially useful men and women. Is that right?”

--”You are right on, doctor.”

-- “Good. Then before we start let me clarify something. We are psychological beings. A politician recognizes this and attempts to use our psychological propensities to get what he wants. For example, as you know, having power over your life is essential for your mental health, to overcome your inferiority complex, as Alfred Adler told us. Let’s assume for a moment that I am your boss and I want you to be a more effective employee, I might praise you whenever you do something right. This might make you work harder to please me and to get more compliments. Or I might use fear, which threatens your power. Fear lessens your control of your world. I might tell you that if you don’t do more work and do it to a higher standard I will have to fire you. This might also work to motivate you to perform at a higher standard. But what if I get so upset with your poor work that I yell at you, hit you, or even kill you in my rage? In these latter cases I was not thinking my way to my behavior, I was merely reacting irrationally, purely psychologically. So I was acting in an unthinking way. This is the exact opposite of a conscious well-thought-out political action.

So the same or similar actions can be done from a thinking, conscious, political motivation or they can be done as a psychological outburst which vents our frustrations. What if you have killed my sister. My first psychological reaction might well be to kill you in revenge. But what if the police catch you first. You are put on trial, found guilty of planning a murder, and put into prison. What is your society’s goal in imprisoning you? Is it merely to punish? If so solitary confinement might be best. But what if the society’s goal is to rehabilitate you? The activities of the prison might then be to educate you, to train you for a job, to help you find a strong belief in a religion. Then eventually, if it appears that you are rehabilitated, you might be released back to society.

Your reaction to your sister’s murder was purely psychological—anger. You might however rationalize it with the ‘eye for an eye’ command from your religion. Your society’s goals might have been to make people think twice about murdering because they would be jailed, or even killed. The society might have a goal to get prisoners back into the economic system where they could support the society’s economic needs rather than being an economic drain as a prisoner. Or maybe your society’s goal occurs from a pervading religious feeling your society that you are a child of God and should not be held in prison indefinitely.

Depending on the most important goals of society relative to their prisoners-- what are the best political methods to accomplish them? Do you need to be taught to read? Would reading the Bible or Koran give you a more peaceful and forgiving outlook on life? Should the prison officials test you to find the types of jobs in which you would be most successful?

So my point is that we must be clear in our plans and actions. We must know whether our action is the result of anger or some other tweak of our psyches, or is whether our action is a well thought-out plan to accomplish a goal. The resulting actions might be the same, the question is whether the action was planned to accomplish a certain objective. For example, a parent might spank a child because of anger and frustration, or he might spank the child because discussions had failed and the spanking was considered to have the best chance of effectively changing a negative behavior in the child. You, Commander, obviously cannot strike out in anger at those who oppose your goals. You must find the political techniques that will most effectively advance your causes.

But your worthy causes are but two of the many economic, social, military and environmental concerns that face the world. The world has a number of weighty dilemmas. The problem is that every group uses different scales to weigh them.”

–“And most of those scales are faulty, aren’t they Lee.”

--“It’s like the butcher putting his thumb on the scale and weighing it along with the hamburger.”

—“But there’s more than one butcher manipulating his scales. There are the business people looking for more customers, the politicians whose only concern is to be reelected, the environmentalists who want to save the world, and the conservative religious leaders who interpret some scriptures myopically. Then there are the faulty scales, some with weakened springs, some with mislabeled counterbalances. It goes back to the types and the verifiability of values and evidence that we discussed with Wanda Wang.”

--“True. And for every desire that an individual or nation has there is a best technique that can be used to make it a reality. Politics is actually an applied science. It may be part individual psychology, part social psychology, sometimes involving economics—both micro and macro--, ethics, religion or theology, history and it often involves some kind of apparatus. The apparatus may involve anything from plastic surgery or jewelry to guns and bombs—depending on objective the person or group, that is to say the ‘politician.’

And remember the politician can be an individual looking for a selfish goal or it might be the statesman trying to accomplish an important goal for the world. So as an individual it might be winning the hand of the local Prince Charming or Cinderella. As an elected representative it might be looking for ways for keeping your electorate happy, it might even be finding ways of controlling the world. Hitler, Mao, Napoleon, Alexander the Great and others have attempted to control as much of the world as they could. In fact political techniques can be used in any area of life. They are often used in our personal lives, just as they are used in business and in governing groups—from our families to our nations.

What techniques are most likely to accomplish your goals? An effective politician will keep his major goal in mind. When George W. Bush went to China in November of 2005 he first called upon the Chinese government to increase civil rights and the right to practice religion freely. How many governments, or people, want to be told publicly what they should be doing. The fact that Bush’s country had a net trade deficit of $200 billion annually did not put him in a strong bargaining position, especially when it owed about a trillion dollars to his hosts. While Bush was insulting his hosts, he was asking for favors—that the Chinese would work to reduce the trade deficit by buying more American goods and that they would re-value their money upward so that their goods would not be so cheap. Of course Bush did represent the world’s only military superpower and he did control ‘The Bomb.’ But it was rather like a suitor telling his girlfriend that he doesn’t like her hair or her clothes and that she has a questionable personality—just before he asks for her hand in marriage.

As a politician you should be aware of the probable results of your actions. When the young French demonstrated against the proposed law that would have allowed more people to be employed but it also allowed an employer to release a worker without reason during the first two years of employment, was the demonstration effective? The demonstrators saw that this provision would allow employers to bring in new employees every two years, never giving the current employees the chance to gain full employment rights. This ran counter to the long standing French tradition of a high level of employee rights, in opposition to employer rights. Assuming this was a well thought out political move and not just a knee jerk reaction, what were the possible outcomes? The whole proposed law could be junked—reducing the chances of more entry level positions becoming available. The government might keep the increased number of entry level jobs and eliminate the easy firing provision—as the demonstrators wanted. But then the businesses might move to other countries which were more employer friendly. The result of the demonstrations was that the government rescinded the proposed law. But the question is still-- were more jobs created or lost by the violent actions? In 2006 the French unemployment rate was 9.9%. In Germany it was 11.7%. By 2010 the French rate was 10.2%, the German rate was 8.2. So in that four year period the French unemployment increased by 0.2%. The Germans dropped 3.5%. We wonder what the French unemployment rate might have been had the government been able to pass the law that the students had effectively protested. At any rate, France was better off than Zimbabwe with it’s 90% unemployment rate.

Had the law been passed the way the students wanted, we might have expected that some businesses would move to other countries which were more employer friendly. So if the student demonstrations were well thought out political techniques, did they get the results that they wanted?

Naturally seeking power in government is one of the oldest forms of politics, so the word ‘politician’ is generally applied to people working in government. But as you know, Aristotle applied the power principle to man and woman, to master and slave, to king and subjects. I can agree with some of his observations, but I want to concentrate on power acquisition, and to how power can be acquired in many areas and relationships. After all, Aristotle thought that men were superior to women and that slavery was the natural state of some people. We don’t agree with those ideas today.

Commander Gulliver, I know that you are concerned with how we can convince people to limit population, then as a secondary goal, how they might acquiesce to licensing parents to have children so that the children who are born will have better opportunities for education, happiness and civic worth. Is that correct?”

—“Right. I know that people want to do as they please. Our habits of living and believing are so deeply ingrained that they hold us in a prison or inertia. And their beliefs are often strongly held in the area of parenthood. Certainly some people want children and should be discouraged from having them, but others don’t want children and possibly should be persuaded to at least look into the option. We certainly see men and women in the exciting fields of business and science not wanting to deter their careers with the responsibilities of children. But reducing the total number of children born is essential to the survival of the planet. Yet having children who are loved and cared for is essential to having a more peaceful and productive society. Certainly both are desirable. So what do you suggest Dr. Singh?”

—“Before getting specific I want to be quite general. I have found in my teaching and consulting that it is better to go from the general to the specific, from the forest to the tree, from the team to the player. To solve your specific problem you must define your goal, understand the people you are trying to convince, then you can look at the behavior changing techniques that people or societies might use to achieve that goal. For example, if my goal is to have Susan marry me, or even date me, what techniques might I use to make it happen? I might threaten her. ‘Marry me or I’ll kill you.’ Or maybe I could use another type of fear--‘marry me or I will burn your house down.’ Or maybe I could shower her with gifts. Maybe I could make her feel sorry for me. There are many methods available, but which will work on Susan? I need to know more about her. Is she such a loving person that she will marry me out of pity? Has she always been poor and physically needy, very low on Maslow’s scale, so a roof over her head might be her primary concern. You know about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs don’t you?”

—“Yes, Chuck Chan went into some detail on Maslow when we visited him in Singaling..”(1)

—“If you could find out where Susan is on Maslow’s scale you might be better able to determine how you could meet her needs. Remember many years ago when Supreme Court Justice Douglas, well over 60, married a very young law school student. Was her fascination with him that he was in the meta-need level and she aspired for that same level? Was his attractiveness to her based on the fact that he was in a powerful position?

So what physical or psychological spurs will elicit the action you want? And the correct spur might vary from person to person. Looking at your idea of reducing the number of children born, how might people react to that idea? One might shun parenthood because children would interfere with her academic, economic or recreational pursuits. Another might do it only if the Pope or the Archbishop of Canterbury said to. Another might prefer a bigger house to a bigger family.

Let us go back to goal setting. First, of course, you have to have a goal. What is it that you want? Do you want a state of Israel in Palestine? Do you want a certain person to marry you? Do you want to punish non-Muslim states? Do you want a specific job? Do you want a position in the legislature? This last area is the one we most commonly associate with the term ‘politics’ but it is not the only area of ‘people manipulation.’ Machiavelli wrote the most quoted treatise on politics. People who don’t understand the political processes he suggested for his ‘prince’ deride some actions as ‘Machiavellian’ as if they were evil, but Nicolo merely observed and hypothesized on how leaders can most effectively get what they want. He was a practical psychologist hundreds of years before the discipline was invented.

Ronald Reagan, when elected governor of California, blamed the previous governor for the financial mess he was forced to straighten out. He therefore enacted very heavy taxes as being necessary. The people understood that their new leader was not at fault for the financial problems he inherited and he had just been elected the state’s leader so he enjoyed the sanctity of one newly canonized. Then over the years he reduced taxes, little by little and each time to great fanfare. He become holier and holier, or I should say, more and more popular. He had done just as Machiavelli had proposed that his Prince should do.(1a)

So you must have a goal. Once you have a goal you must look at whom you must win over, then you will have a better idea of what methods to use. Determine whether the person or people are motivated by a value or a psychological drive, then you can have a better idea of the best way to attempt to convert that person, or those people, and accomplish your goal. The goal may be impossible to achieve, but most goals are achievable. The goal of a national leader may be to get free elections in another country. He might try negotiation, economic incentives, international consensus, assassination of the other country’s leaders, or even war.

A man or woman may want to date or marry someone. He or she might give in to all of the other’s wishes. He or she might change his or her appearance by losing weight, buying new clothes, or having plastic surgery. Threats might work. Promising or giving money might work.

Let’s assume they marry but then have a problem. What political techniques might they use to get the marriage back on track. They might discuss the problem to find a consensus solution. One might leave the relationship or might hit or kill the other. If the solution is well considered it would be a political technique. If it is a non-considered action, such as an angry punch in the face, it is a psychological reaction, not the use of a political technique.”

--”Dr. Singh, you know that my interest is in trying to get people to reduce our global population, but people being who they are--propelled by their drives for power but bound by their religious and social traditions, sometimes moved by their values, but often cloaked in their rationalizations that ethical protestations provide. Few people can be moved by rational arguments, so how can we get the world to save itself through self-control?”

— “I’m sure you’re more interested in looking at the techniques you might use to manipulate people. Techniques like violence, fear, appealing to their honor and other such things. I will get to these soon. Later we will look at the
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