Political reckoning

Estimating current political activity is an eye-opener. The undertaking confronts humanity’s elemental – or more precisely visceral – features. At the outset I am reminded of the adage, “There are two things you never want to see being made – sausage and law“. The same might be said of our own beginnings in life. Nature is a rude, sometimes disturbingly violent, passionate and marvellous mystery. Like it or not nature insinuates activity of every description. Like it or not nature motivates the politician.

There is a tendency to say of those in high offices that “They should know better!” This I am discovering is a bent dedicated to the salvation and perpetuation of social schemes, a deceit calculated to preserve stability. It is a perverse commitment because we can all readily admit that none of us is above or beneath almost any activity. We only need recall the horrors of clerical orders or the lasciviousness of politicians perpetrated by those from the top down. Why therefore we should confound the analysis by presuming they should know better is distraction at best.

An argument springing from this distasteful observation might be that there is no genuine merit to these social bodies, that they are nothing but disguise for base ambition – ultimately mercenary. Before dismissing that conclusion it is wise to recall that even a squirrel or a sparrow creates a highly manageable nest in which to live or raise its young. That is to say, nature compels its constituents to establish the most remarkable constructs. I see no reason humanity should not be given equal credit to do the same if left unattended. The capitulation to others to manufacture the fabric of society should be approached cautiously.

A case in point is the current evolution of religion – at least in the Western world. While many are not about to dismiss the value of religious sects in affording solace or spearheading charity, this does not devolve into compliance with spiritual doctrine. We’re realizing that religion is universally similar though different in detail – neither of which renditions succeed to convince us of the unimaginable truth of the universe and what lies beyond our planet. This pantheism does not however diminish the structure which over centuries has been cultivated – what some like Thomas Paine might say is for less than altruistic purposes. Identifying these poisonous characteristics – like paying for absolution to name but one – is but part of the examination.

It is all too easy to find fault with the machinations of society – whether religious, political or legal. Each of them is fraught with selfish design extending far beyond the elevation of humanity. Books have been written about the egotism and swinishness which characterizes both the motivators and the adherents. What however is less frequently touted is the studied comparison of behaviour. I am not here talking of morality or turpitude; rather of performance and relevance.

For a number of reasons I prefer to distance myself in the summation of politicians from their particular character. I know this may sound compliant to a fault with bad social behaviour but I have to ask, “What in the end is the relevance?” By contrast if I were to adjudge the authenticity of my spiritual belief based upon the character of the man in the pulpit it might constitute more than an uphill philosophic battle. It does however serve as a reminder that the genetics of one man over another may ultimately result in very little difference of conduct. Nor does it help to strengthen one’s position by marshalling it with the social powers to which one has already submitted. Forgive me, but there exists the possibility you’re wrong.

Call it covering your bases, but I believe if we rise above the niceties of our putative social conventions (which – to hammer home my point – are not always so very nice at all) we are left having instead only to deal with the quality of performance and relevance – that is, “What did you do and does it matter?” I acknowledge I may have trapped myself in a circuitous argument by importing the generic term “relevance” which unquestionably smacks of more than a personal opinion. On the other hand there is currently evidence that moral behaviour has taken a backseat to the preference for judicial monopoly. This political dynamic is not easy to argue against. Though it betrays the self-interest of both parties who in the end get what each wanted (though not necessarily the same thing) it clouds the analysis by foregoing the more profound question of what is best. Here again the determination is not easily arrived at. But it doesn’t defeat the more delicate question of what one does and how appropriate it is. It would at least assist in the debate to remove glitter and fluff instead of being cemented in indominatable thinking.

The more manageable elements of the political vernacular – assuming for the sake of argument that we’ve dismissed the obfuscation of behaviour and morality – are what I consider the substantive benefits of the mind; that is, the capacity to think and reason. I hasten to distance this dissection from what is a distinction without a difference – namely, the import of literary or rhetorical skill. Too often those of us – and regrettably I include myself among them – who have their nose well in the air when it comes to matters of grammatical expression are mistakenly inclined to diminish the overwhelming value of what is being postulated. I mention this not as a disguise for failing acuity; rather to avoid confusing what is being said with how it is being said. Similarly however care must be taken not to confuse vulgarity with some underlying persuasion. This is more than a casual warning. As a devout believer in the imperative of social obligation, it is my first prescription not to talk down to others. It is a gross miscalculation to imagine that others haven’t high ambition because of some pre-existing circumstance. The sometimes stunning precision of thought among even those of the least formal education is not to be overlooked. Likewise those of seeming constitution can prove to be entirely lacking. Where the boundaries become messy is when one line crosses the other without merit. It is at this juncture that one might justifiably remark, “He should have known better!” not because he behaved unsociably but because he hadn’t the brains to act properly.