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Politics

Basic Tribal Culture

October 5th, 2010 // 4:00 am @

THERE ARE AT LEAST THREE MAJOR CULTURAL TRADITIONS of the world’s history, which can be described as Warriors, Farmers and Competitors.

 

Warriors

Warrior cultures believe in enemies, battles, winners and losers, us versus them, strength, courage, victory, personal skill, honor, resiliency, and a bias toward action—among other things.

They tend to see the world in terms of “our tribe” above all else. Many in history called themselves “the people,” or “the chosen.”

The tribes which became the nations of Norway (Norse), England (Anglos), France (Franks), etc. were from this tradition; other examples are found around the world.

Farmers

Farmer traditions valued security, hard work, frugality, sexual morality, responsibility, loyalty to community, savings and assets, land ownership, integrity, education, honesty, steadiness, family loyalty, neighborliness, and prosperity defined by abundance of food.

They built communities, simultaneously promoted individual freedom and conformity to community norms, and considered themselves successful when they produced bountiful harvests and saw their children married well (to spouses who embodied the values of the community).

Competitors

Competitor traditions saw the world as (usually) friendly competition between children at play, youth at courting and adults at work. Even the elderly competed to brag about the best lives, worst pain, most accomplished son, most neglectful daughter, most talented grandchildren, and whatever else came up.

For example: “I have two sons who are doctors and a daughter who is a lawyer,” versus “My grandson is a star quarterback who just won a state championship and his sister just got a scholarship from a national competition she won in Washington, D.C.”

People in such societies like competitive entertainment to escape from the pressures of their competitive schools and jobs.

A lot more could be said about these three major traditions, but the key point here is how they relate to tribes and freedom.

Warrior societies are tribal by nature, and they grow by conquering and colonizing other societies. They see life as a big battle, and raise their children and spend their days in battle mode.

They believe that life is about either conquering or being conquered. They see those with farmer and competitor traditions as victims.

Farmer societies are also tribal, but see the world as a big desert that needs to be turned into a garden. The more people who will adopt their values and join their quest to beautify and expand the garden, the better.

To them, the warriors and competitors are savages and wild outsiders who should be avoided and kept away from their society.

Pitfalls of National Culture

Competitor cultures are National (as opposed to tribal): interested in education for career, working moderate hours in order to enjoy daily entertainments, uninvolved with neighbors unless there is some other relationship to pull them together, and selfish with their free time.

They see the world as a big race, and individuals want to be the winners instead of the losers. In fact, they generally look down on “losers” and avoid them lest losing somehow “rub off” on them.

They see warrior and farmer cultures as quaint and backward, at best, and often with a more critical eye. Clearly, those cultures aren’t winning the race.

Competitor cultures divide their competitions into those that matter and those that don’t. They join tribes for the ones with little at stake, but stay individually focused on the ones that matter most.

Career and money are the competitions that matter more than any others in these cultures. Even family relationships have to take a back seat to most career considerations.

In other words, competitor cultures appear tribal by habit, but are nationalistic when they feel something is really important.

National cultures therefore desperately need the lessons taught by traditional tribal cultures.

But there are also pitfalls and negatives typical to tribal cultures, and we want to learn what they are and avoid them.

The American founders took on a deliberate process of statecraft, weighing the merits and failings of forms, models and ideals from societies throughout history.

I would assert that such a considered approach to our future as a nation and society is called for today. The goal is to adopt the best from national, tribal, warrior, farmer, competitive and other cultures, and at the same time reject their flaws and weaknesses.

With this in mind, let’s discuss what the tribal ideal really is.

With the assumption of local governance under the direction of concerned and involved citizens who were invested in one another’s success and security—basically a tribal council at the community level—the American founders established constitutional forms to create a cooperative and interactive union of states.

We have lost too much of the tribal foundation that was the animating spirit of American culture—the underlying weave of the fabric of freedom—and it is hard to overstate the case for recapturing it.

The Tribal Worldview

Just as there are religious worldviews, secular worldviews, materialistic worldviews, etc., there is an overarching tribal worldview.

Just like there are many views and differences within, say, the religious worldview, there are many different tribal perspectives.

And just as there is an overarching religious worldview (there is a higher power, and I should live in harmony with it/Him), there is also a profound and powerful tribal worldview.

One of the best ways to begin to understand any worldview is to ask, “What is the world, and what is the purpose of life and the universe?”

This is a complex question, of course, but it can be answered in simple terms and the early answers are often the most important. By understanding tribal culture at this basic level, we understand a great deal about ourselves.

The Universe

As I have studied tribal cultures from around the world and throughout history with these questions in mind (What is the world? What is the purpose of life and the universe?), I have categorized recurring themes, forces and societal roles; the labels used here are my own.

In generic tribal thought, the universe is made up of certain vital entities. For example, first come the Obeyers; these do their part in the universe unfailingly. They include suns, moons, planets, rocks, canyons, rivers, mountains, valleys, etc.

Many ancient religious temples and writings are full of these Obeyers. Obeyers set an example to all others, and they are the basic building blocks of everything. Many ancient stories center around references to and morals learned from valleys, rivers, mountains, etc.

Next are the Growers: the trees, grasses, plants, fruits, and so on. They build the universe by growing. Their growth feeds the others, bringing the power of the sun into assimilable form.

Many ancient religions and philosophies are built around the Growers and grower symbols.

The Movers include animals, fish and birds. They move around the world, spreading minerals and seeds from the Obeyers and Growers as they travel.

Many tribes consider some of the Movers, especially birds, to be messengers, teaching us as we interact with them in the world. They also provide food to others, and feed the Growers when they die.

The Movers are a key part of the universe, as are the Growers and Obeyers.

The Fishers are an interesting group. They change the environment by building dams to fish like beavers, or storing nuts like squirrels. Bees and others fit this category. They somehow raise and harvest food, not just wander and search for it.

In some traditions they are called farmers, and in others spiders (which weave webs to capture food). By their fishing, storing, farming, weaving, etc., they benefit the environment and all of life.

People are expected to learn from all of these parts of the universe, and to follow their good examples. Each type of entity is judged by how well it promotes and benefits life, which Obeyers, Growers, Movers and Fishers all do.

Next come the Lovers. Lovers benefit life to the extent that they love. When they don’t love, they hurt life and all the other entities.

The Lovers include all humans and also the spirits (or God, gods, and/or ancestors, depending on the tribe). Humans exist to love.

The Shadow Side

In addition to the good parts of the universe that benefit life, there are those that attack life. These include the Thieves, Murderers, Manipulators and Destroyers.

Thieves take one’s implements of life because they think it will benefit their life. They are mistaken, and cause pain for all by wrongly attacking life.

Murderers take life in order to promote their own life, and in so doing increase total pain. Murderers are seen as worse than Thieves.

Manipulators are an interesting category, often considered to be much worse than thieves and murderers. Manipulators set up systems that steal or kill, but in a way that the thieves and murderers aren’t directly blamed and in fact get away with it more often.

Such systems include anything that skews the natural way things should be, such as class and caste systems, manipulative and deceptive laws and governments, tricky lending and business deals, etc.

In this worldview, the only thing worse than Manipulators are Destroyers. Destroyers are those whose very nature has changed, who no longer are fallen Lovers, but are truly motivated only by hate and pride.

Note that while Movers, Fishers and Humans can be Thieves and Murderers, only humans can become Manipulators or Destroyers.

Since the very purpose of humans in the universe is to bring as much love as possible into the world, it is a colossal tragedy if a Lover becomes a Manipulator or a Destroyer.

By the way, in many traditions only Manipulators become Destroyers.

Now, with all this said, imagine how people in this culture feel about those who set up abusive, forced, corrupt and controlling governments, economies and laws: They are the worst of the worst.

Even those who support, condone or allow such manipulative governments, laws and economies are doing the work of the Destroyers and attacking life and all that is good.

This is one reason that tribal societies so adamantly mistrust most national cultures and people: It seems to many of them that the very basis of national culture is manipulations and exploitative systems.

It is also why it would be so valuable for them to learn the constitutional principles of freedom and how to apply them. But our purpose here is not to admonish the tribal cultures, but to learn from them.

Major Weaknesses of Tribalism

At this point, we should note that while traditional tribal culture does have much to teach us from its idyllic simplicity, it is far from perfect. Studying its pitfalls and common flaws is also instructive.

When tribes are run by small councils of all adult members, these weaknesses can be mitigated.

But when tribes don’t follow the leadership of councils of all adults, they turn against themselves; whatever other form of government they adopt, it becomes corrupt.

When this happens, various problems arise. The problems that follow are the normal for tribes that are not led by councils of all adults.

Economic Control

Tribal culture generally gives a great deal of economic power to tribal leaders.

Interestingly, most tribes distribute political power well between the executive (who gets power only in the face of external challenges and only for the duration of the challenge), the judicial (often a shaman and in many cultures left to families⎯both of which are usually independent of the executive and legislative), and run by the legislative (sometimes councils of elders, sometimes the combined adults of the tribe, sometimes both).

Of course, there are tribes that fail to follow these models, but the freest tribes use these basic systems.

Still, even with political freedoms, few historical tribes have economic freedoms.

The trust of the chief, the head elder (male or female) or the shaman is often absolute.

And, indeed, such leaders often adopt a sort of royal mentality where they believe that what is good for the leader’s finances is good for the whole tribe. In this form, nobody sees undue control of everyone’s finances and ownership as a negative.

But often, it creates the loss of political freedom—including parental choices, like who should marry whom—and a strict caste system with no economic or social mobility.

Many tribes face long-term poverty for most members of the tribe. Such poverty never persists in a truly free-enterprise model, which includes both freedom and opportunity.

Often tribal leaders see this as a threat to their power and, by extension, the tribe’s security and viability.

Emerging tribes with a charismatic leader who seeks control over individuals’ and families’ finances are cultish, and history is littered with the tragedies that such arrangements can lead to.

If a tribe wants to sell things, that’s great. But trying to pool resources or give up control of personal property should of course be met with serious suspicion.

This discussion also exposes a national-culture flaw: the idea that in learning from other cultures we should not judge their systems, traditions and behaviors.

Perhaps this is true when the goal is to maintain purity and academic objectivity in anthropological studies, but it certainly not true when our purpose is to learn and apply the best of tribal (and national) cultures to the tribally-nationalistic-globally-connected societies of the future.

If some calamity changes the world drastically, the same lessons will need to be applied in the new local societies that will be forged.

We need to measure the parts of each culture by how well they promote and support an environment of freedom, prosperity and happiness for all.

Interpersonal Politics

In a small group, political power is often swayed by personalities, likes and dislikes, trysts and history, baggage and personal weaknesses. Nothing can keep this from happening, and in a free system and voluntary tribes it doesn’t matter much.

In a local or official tribal system where the government has actual power over life, death, imprisonment, finances, etc., systems should always be established that keep this from happening.

By “systems” I mean written constitutions with separation of powers, checks and balances well-structured.

Class Power

Most tribes are aristocracies. This is a problem, because the class system is usually established by those in power and dominated by certain families.

In a local structure, or any model where the tribe or community is non-voluntary and/or actually has government power, the solution to this is to establish a legislature of all adults in the tribe.

As the tribe grows in size and geographical scope, local councils representing perhaps no more than 150 households continue to govern themselves, and may send representatives to a regional council to manage affairs of mutual interest to the coalition of local councils.

Conformity

Tribes often flounder economically and fail to grow because the people become too socially conformist. When tribes demand sameness on many levels and in nearly every aspect of life, they shut down creativity, leadership, wisdom and progress.

This is natural to any group, and in national cultures it is often called “groupthink.”

It is important for any group to continue learning, thinking, risking and trying.

Of course, certain violent and anti-social behaviors from rape to murder and so on cannot be tolerated. But stopping criminal behavior is far different from scripting people’s lives and socially enforced hyper-conformity.

This also translates to a socially-enforced closed-mindedness with respect to new ideas and a lack of tolerance for diversity, which lead to a stagnation of creativity and a tendency toward thought-policing.

Lack of Diversity

These conspire to cause narrowness of thinking, along with many of the other problems listed above. On the one hand, the whole point of tribe is joining together based on commonalities.

But the thing which makes tribes flourish is truly caring about each other, connecting, bonding. And connections based on both commonality (such as the shared value of freedom of choice) and diversity (such as the shared value of freedom of conscience) weave a much stronger fabric than one based on sameness.

Conclusion

The New Tribes of the 21st Century would do well, of course, to avoid these pitfalls. As stated, nearly all of these go away when a tribal society is governed by small councils of all adults in the tribe. If the tribe is too large for everyone to have a voice, smaller sub-councils are needed.

Historical tribes do have their weaknesses, but these also have much to teach us. Our generation of citizens needs to understand the good and the bad from the great tribes, nations and societies of history.

***********************************

Oliver DeMille is the founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

He is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

 

Category : Community &Culture &Economics &Politics &Tribes

Beyond Liberal & Conservative: Independents, Postmodernism, & How to Really Understand the Issues

October 1st, 2010 // 4:00 am @

If you want to understand and profit from the political, economic and cultural forces at play in today’s world, you must understand two things:

  1. The evolution of pre-modernism, modernism and post-modernism.
  2. How independents view and are shaping the world.

Armed with this understanding you’ll be able to see through the superficial and misleading “liberal versus conservative” debate portrayed by the media. Furthermore, you’ll be able to harness our current societal transformations to your advantage.

The most fundamental question in the Great Debate of how society should be organized is “Who (or what) will save us?”

Pre-modernism, modernism, and post-modernism all have different answers.

Pre-Modernism & Modernism

Modernism is defined in many ways. One of the most enlightening is discovered by comparing modernism to the pre-modern and post-modern worlds.

In a nutshell, pre-modern societies believed that some supernatural being or at least super-powerful entity would save mankind. Man is flawed and weak (so the narrative went), and if we are to be saved it must come from something greater than man.

The three main branches of this view ⎯ one God, many gods, and shamanic energy powers ⎯ all agreed on the basics.

For example: man needs saving, he can’t save himself, a higher power must save us, and we should therefore live in a way that pleases or avails us of the benefits of the higher power.

That’s a simple version of pre-modernism.

Modernism began when societies changed these assumptions. The modern era adopted the following beliefs: man needs saving, he can’t save himself and it seems no godlike power is inclined to step up (for whatever reason), so man must build institutions which can save him.

In short, modernism rests on the belief that man-made institutions can and should save us.

The early modernists built on their pre-modern religious roots and turned to churches as the institutions most likely to fix the world’s problems. Those who were dissatisfied or impatient with this solution turned to governments as the answer.

If there are any problems in the world, according to this view, government should fix them. If a government won’t fix a problem or allows any suffering, it is bad and should be reformed or replaced. If a government tries but can’t fix problems, it is too weak and must be given more power.

After all, we humans like our higher powers incredibly strong and always benevolent.

Government v. Markets

A third major branch of modernism arose when governments repeatedly failed to solve the world’s problems. This school of thought believed that big business was the answer.

Huge, powerful businesses, as Keynes argued, reach a size where they care less about profit and more about taking care of their employees and society in general.

This view has business provide insurance, benefits and other perks to help the people live happily. It tends to ignore small business and even large “greedy” businesses, and instead promote more power to the biggest corporations.

In recent years we’ve witnessed the debates between all three branches of modernism, from faith-based initiatives (church as central institution) to health care reform (government as central institution) to executive bonuses (corporation as central institution).

But since the media usually couches all these and many other issues in “Conservative versus Liberal” terms, few people realize what is actually going on in these controversies.

The church-as-savior belief lost most of its influence in the last century, leaving governments and businesses to jockey for first place in this race to be the central institution helping mankind.

Many participated in this debate: Marx, Darwin, Bastiat, Nietszche, Freud, C.S. Lewis, Andrew Carnegie, Ayn Rand, Solzhenitsyn, Keynes, Kinsey, Milton Friedman, Mao, Reagan, Clinton, Bush, Obama, several Popes, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and others.

Most recently, Ralph Nader has argued that the only solution to our current problems is for the super-rich to use their influence and power to reduce corporate power in the world and let governments save us.

Government offers the most hope to mankind, this view argues, and corporations are the problem. Greedy corporations caused the economic downturn, according to this view.

In contrast, the famous Shell Oil Global Scenarios have made a case that government cannot and will not solve truly global problems like energy, environment, transportation, economic ups and downs, communication and education.

Their solution is for corporations with experience planning across borders to be given the power to make and follow a “blueprint” for global success.

Leaving it to governments would cause a mad “scramble” toward more war, poverty, depression and suffering, according to this view.

After all, the corporations say, when the economy fell it hurt most companies and nearly all governments. Only the biggest corporations remained strong ⎯ so they should govern us!

Both sides (“Government Should Fix It” and “Big Business as Savior”) see the other as a dangerous utopian scheme.

Consider, for example, the issue of health care (or energy policy, unemployment, boosting the economy, or any other national issue). Most officials and media personnel see the debates as political, between conservatives and liberals.

To a certain extent ⎯ votes in Congress ⎯ this is true. But the real debate is much deeper and broader than politics.

It is about who we are as human beings and where we’re headed as a society. While there are still some supporters of pre-modern or modern views, governments and businesses have so far failed to deliver heaven on earth or even ideal society.

The End of Conservative versus Liberal

For most people today, neither of these institutions are the answer.

When conservatives talk about faith-based initiatives or Republicans tout trickle-down economics, most people are skeptical. Likewise when liberals emphasize anti-corporate measures or Democrats roll out the latest government program.

The result of this growing skepticism characterizes the rise of the independents.

A few independents are anti-government and a few are anti-corporation, but the large majority just want government to do its job, do it well, and stop trying to do everything else.

While there is heated debate over what, exactly, is the government’s job, most independents would settle for good national security, good schools, fiscal responsibility, social equity, and a high-opportunity economy.

While the Left hopes to create a good economy through government programs and the Right through big business initiatives, most independents want both ⎯ along with less regulation on small business.

But this tectonic shift in American society is much bigger than politics. Most Americans, and indeed many around the world, have lost faith in modernism itself, in the promise that big, powerful, man-made institutions⎯be they church, government or corporation⎯can solve our problems.

Indeed, there is a growing sentiment than most big institutions tend to increase the world’s problems.

Business, church and government all have a place in society, the independents say, but none are the “higher” powers we once hoped for.

Postmodernism & Independents

Enter post-modernism. While nearly every person who writes about postmodernism defines it differently, one thing is clear: The fastest growing worldview is not modernism.

That is, postmodernists are of many stripes, but they don’t believe that government or business will save us. Period. And they are the new majority.

Independents are likely to read and champion ideas from both Milton Friedman and Ralph Nader, vote for both Barack Obama and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and quote both Ted Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.

Neither liberals nor conservatives understand them.

What is the cause of this social/cultural/political earthquake?

At least part of it is that independents no longer have a basic faith in the infallibility or fundamental goodness of government or the market. They see a role for both, and feel that both must be limited.

But the biggest shift of all may be that postmodernists and independents have a new faith: “We must save ourselves, at least as far as this world is concerned.”

On one extreme, this means becoming truly self-made, like an Ayn Rand hero, building yourself and your family at the expense of all others.

At another extreme, it includes those who still believe God will save us, but feel that we must live in a way that we deserve to be saved — or at least become worthy to live in a God-made world.

Most postmodernists adopt neither of these — believing instead that we should become our best selves and help the people around us in the process.

“Humanity needs saving, so do your part,” is the growing mantra. If you are in government, do your part and do it well. If you are in business, likewise.

Be a great parent, grandparent, doctor, coach, teacher, policeman, nurse, business owner, fireman, mayor, friend. Whatever your role, do it better.

Some postmodern thinkers, like James Redfield (author of The Celestine Prophecy), promote teams of spiritually-awakened people praying down power from the universe to improve the world.

Others, such as intellectual Ken Wilber, suggest learning the truths found in all fields of knowledge and from all cultures and philosophies⎯ and then integrating them together.

Marianne Williamson says to trust our inner greatness and also in miracles, and many recommend manifesting our personal power to build entrepreneurial wealth and use it to help others.

Nearly every nation and industry has its prophets of manifesting success, from Miguel Ruiz and Carlos Castaneda to Anthony Robbins, Brian Tracy, Peter Senge, Ken Blanchard, Paulo Coelho, Guy Kawasaki, Seth Godin or Steve Jobs.

In retrospect, it probably shouldn’t surprise anyone that the “self-help,” “how to,” “new age,” “success,” “skeptic,” “green” and “secularist” genres would eventually impact the philosophy of modernism. All of them share a faith in self over institutions.

After all, an unproven belief in government or big business is referred to in both “success” and “skeptic” literature as “the victim mentality.”

Even atheistic secularism is now turning its back on blind faith in big government and big corporations, replacing it with a “get ahead together” ethic.

And the debate between national sovereignty and globalism is being replaced with the growing concept of glocalism ⎯ local sovereignty with widespread economic ties.

The Issue Behind the Issues

Where liberals and conservatives are talking about things like health care reform, insurance companies and needy patients, independents are talking a lot about living healthier lifestyles, improved community structures, organic foods, and fresh water.

They want reform, and they want to make healthier choices in their personal lives as well.

Of course, not all independents are postmodernists or “success literature” readers. But few independents now believe that the way to get ahead ⎯ personally or nationally ⎯ is to turn to government, corporate or other institutional answers.

To say it another way: Many independents are postmodernists and don’t even know it yet.

Perhaps surprisingly, most independents want to simultaneously:

  • Succeed economically
  • Help others
  • Heal and protect the environment
  • Keep their nation strong
  • Build friendlier relationships with other nations
  • Expand the freedoms of the marketplace
  • Take care of the needy and the sick
  • Greatly improve schools

They want government to do its part in this, and corporations too, and they believe that they personally can have a significant positive impact on their little corner of making the world much better.

The media will probably continue to describe health care and other issues in modernist “conservative versus liberal” terms. After all, media is a big institution too.

But the reality is incredibly powerful: In the 21st century, faith in big institutions is beginning to wane.

Conservatives routinely label independents as “leftists,” and liberals call them “right wing.” The truth is that most independents are centrists, postmodernists and pragmatists.

More to the point, while almost everyone else is pointing fingers or turning to government or corporations for leadership, independents are quietly and consistently increasing their personal education, holdings and influence.

How to See What is Really Happening

It remains to be seen how all this will play out, but for years to come the real issue behind the issues will be the rising power of independents, most of whom do not have much faith in big institutions.

When they side with a government program, liberals will claim they won with the support of the American people. When independents prefer a market approach, conservatives will claim victory.

In reality, however, winning policies will be those that gain the support of independents.

If you want to know the future of any issue, find out how independents view it. And if it appears that a big-institution issue is winning, find out why independents support it ⎯ they usually support a certain reform, not the institution behind the reform.

Through all the politics and media reports, if current trends continue, faith in and deep support for big institutions will slowly dwindle.

It is unclear exactly what will replace it, but that replacement will be the biggest story of the 21st Century.

***********************************

Oliver DeMille is the founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

He is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

 

Category : Economics &Featured &Government &Independents &Politics &Postmodernism

Beyond the Vote

September 30th, 2010 // 4:00 am @

Imagine what would happen if a huge chunk of citizens stopped accepting what they are told by one of the parties, stopped just aligning themselves with candidates from one of the monopoly parties, and started deeply studying, analyzing and thinking about the issues of government independently.

Imagine if they shared their thoughts openly with many others, instead of just letting the news be defined by the big media responses to the big parties.

Imagine the revolution that would occur in the voting citizenry.

This is exactly what happened in the decade the Internet went mainstream. It is valuable to know the profound history that led to this freedom revolution.

Keynesianism

Karl Marx agreed with Hegel that history is created by the dialectical conflict between upper classes and the masses; Lenin transferred the attention from class warfare to the conflict between rich and poor nations.

Most Americans and Europeans adopted this view during the Cold War. Indeed, the Cold War was the “inevitable” result of class conflict leading to conflicts between the governments of the “greedy” nations and the collectivized socialist states.

Keynes, like Lenin before him, shifted the debate by arguing that since many nations were not willing to adopt socialistic government ownership of all business, the only solution was for big businesses to give people privatized “socialism” such as health insurance, savings programs (like the current 40lk), retirement programs and other employee benefits.

Keynes further predicted that if government did things right, then small businesses would be increasingly less able to offer such benefits over time and that eventually big business would run the entire economy in partnership with highly-regulating governments.

Together, Keynes thought, big government and big business would phase out the disruptive, nonconformist and anti-social element of independent small business power and replace it with big corporations offering all the benefits envisioned by socialism.

Simultaneously, governments would keep mavericks, entrepreneurs and innovators from rocking the boat. Socialist goals, albeit through private corporate means, would be implemented into all capitalistic nations.

The result would be the end of warfare between owners and labor and the solution to most world problems.

Keynes said that once companies become so big that they are less focused on profits than appearing caring, helpful and socially responsible to the public, they will make decisions based on public relations and therefore socialistic values rather than making money.

If enough big companies could be coaxed to this point, and if increased government barriers to small-business success could effectively squelch entrepreneurial initiative, even the most capitalistic nations would provide privatized “socialist” safety nets for the whole society.

This is aristocracy, pure and simple.

In such a system, big corporations would work together with big governments to continually increase the delivery of socialistic goals such as:

  • Free education for all
  • Free health insurance for all
  • Free health care for all
  • A society of employees
  • Jobs for everyone
  • A meritocracy of experts ruling society
  • A docile and obedient populace

This system was adopted slowly but consistently so that Richard Nixon could announce by the mid-1970s that “we are all Keynesians now.”

In short, Keynesianism promotes big government with high levels of regulation along with big business promoting various private offerings of socialist goals.

This social safety net has proven popular in all the Western nations, and has offered a number of short-term and positive lifestyle benefits.

It has also proven a better solution than government-only socialist equivalents in one-party states like the USSR, Eastern European nations and modern Russia, China and Cuba.

In multi-party nations like France and Germany some parties promote big business and others big government, and still others emphasize their pet areas of focus.

In the United States the maintenance of Keynesianism requires a major party supporting the government, a major party supporting big business, and a system of swinging back and forth between the leadership of each.

When the big-government party is in power, the Government-Industrial-Complex grows, and when the big-business party is in power the Industrial-Government-Complex expands.

When Keynesianism is flourishing, both parties use power to increase entitlements, foreign involvements and government spending.

Taxpayers and small businesses suffer.

The End of History

Francis Fukayama predicted in the 1990s that with the fall of the Berlin Wall and end of the Cold War this conflict between the rich and poor nations was over; he called this “the end of history,” citing both Hegel and Marx.

In the ensuing model of the 1990s, where everybody was a “capitalist,” economies flourished.

With a united Germany, declining Soviet power, and the dot.com and real estate booms, everybody seemed to have forgotten Keynesianism in the Roaring 90s.

Everybody, that is, except the two big parties.

Entitlements, debts and deficits grew during the Bush, Clinton, Bush and Obama Administrations.

When 9/11 struck, everyone realized that history was far from over and that major challenges were still ahead. If the end of history had come, Keynes won.

Ironically, the fact that Keynesianism uses capitalistic means to accomplish socialistic ends allowed both liberals and conservatives to claim victory.

Conservatives rejoiced that socialism had lost to markets, and liberals celebrated that the era of big, irresponsible capitalism was over.

Unfortunately, what they brought us was far from the utopian ideal envisioned by socialism’s iconic philosophers or the freedom statesmen in history.

In fact, it was not so much socialism—where the state provides for all—as aristocracy, where the masses provide for the elite.

But back to our narrative: Keynesianism requires both political parties constantly and vocally doing battle. Neither can fully win or destroy the other; and when one wins an election the other is needed to play a minority role until it can win back the majority.

Whichever party is in power, the scope of government and big business must both increase during their tenure.

Of course, the result is that the far right hates Democrats when they are in power, and then turns on Republicans when they win and grow government. The far left does the opposite, hating the Republicans when they rule and then turning on Democrats in power for not doing enough.

Mainstream members of both parties simply support their party and dislike the opposition.

The key action in all this, the thing which makes Keynesianism work, the linchpin of the whole model, is for the citizenry to do nothing but vote.

Of course, they can live their lives, work at their jobs, send their kids to school and volunteer in their community. If they do these things, plus vote, they are good citizens. No more is asked, or wanted, from them.

“Just shut up and vote,” is the subtle message from both parties.

Of course, if one is an expert in politics, if it is their job, they are expected to do more than vote. They are required to study government, the issues and impact public opinion.

The same applies to professional journalists, attorneys, professors, etc. But this only applies to professors of political science, law, public policy or a related field.

Professors of literature or chemistry, for example, like postal workers and soccer coaches, are encouraged to leave governance mostly to the experts.

This cynical view is, unfortunately, widespread. Keynesianism depends on a society of experts where nearly everyone leaves governance to the political professionals.

Citizens are subtly taught that voting is the role of citizenship, along with serving on a jury if called up, and to otherwise leave governance to the experts.

After all, their party is watching their back for them and keeping the other “evil” party from doing too much damage.

Or, if the other party becomes dangerous, their own party leadership and the media will let them know.

Responses to Being Patronized

When a few citizens realize that they are being “handled” by the professionals of their party, the first response is naturally to want to elect better party leaders.

When time shows that this doesn’t work — that in fact it is the nature of party leadership to spin the truth and patronize the party rank-and-file — the disillusioned party loyalist often looks to some extreme group within the party—such as the radical right or the fringe left.

Alas, honest citizens find that faction leaders are usually as prone as major party heads to spin the issues and handle party members.

At this point, many party members just give up.

“The other party is bad,” they rationalize, “and my own party leaders are just too political. But at least candidates from my party are better than those from the other party.”

Some sincere seekers actually ignore tradition and years of brainwashing and seek for a better situation in the other party.

At first, party switchers may find a few things they really like better about the new party—especially if they attend in-person events and get to know some of the people in the other party.

“Republicans /or/ Democrats aren’t so bad,” they realize.

The longer they stay with the new party, however, the more they see that both parties are run in virtually the same way, like a formula primetime program, with the same character-types inhabiting the various roles.

Eventually they see most of the same problems that caused them to question their original party.

The idea that both parties are a problem is like the end of history for many voters. Most have seen politics itself as a war to put the “good” party in power and kick out the “bad” party.

So when a voter realizes that both parties have serious problems, and even worse—that neither party is likely to really solve America’s problems—there is a major paradigm shift.

Some give up in utter frustration, while others get really mad at their own party. Others get even more angry at the “other” party and refocus their support for their original party.

But one reality remains in the minds of most people arriving at this understanding: Neither party has the answers, and neither party is likely to really fix our problems.

More, the system is basically designed so that the party of big government and the party of big business take turns being in charge.

When regular citizens understand the goals of Keynesianism, it is a major shock.

At this point, what is a caring, sincere and committed citizen to do? When you learn that parties are parties are parties, how do you stay involved in governance? And how do you stay positive and optimistic about the future?

The Big Decision

The answer to these questions is for citizens to begin to study and think a lot more about government and to stop ignoring freedom by leaving it to the political professionals.

Unless regular people realize that freedom is up to them, not the experts, and that they need to learn more and take more action to make a real difference, they are unlikely to become true citizens.

When a person does make these realizations, however, he or she drastically changes. He becomes excited about impacting freedom.

There are three major ways to do this, and the three are drastically different:

  1. Populism
  2. Activism
  3. Independence

This is “the big decision” for free citizens who really want to maintain and even increase freedom.

Whether your political views are generally liberal, conservative, libertarian, progressive, green, or centrist, the big decision is a powerful way to start making a real difference.

Here are more thoughts on the three paths of the big decision:

1. Populism

This means openly and vocally fighting the system, pointing out its flaws, and actively participating in influencing change.

Populism has a long history in America, from the People’s Party movement of the 1880s and 1890s which arose because many people felt that neither of the two major parties would listen to them, to the Progressives of the early 1900s, the Labor movement of the 1920s and 1930s, or the counter-Culture revolution of the 1960s and the counter-Populism of the 1970s.

More recent populism includes anti-incumbency, Tea Parties, Coffee Parties, and the Green movement, among others.

2. Activism

Activism consists of committing to one of the major political parties and really having a powerful influence on it.

While I strongly emphasize the rise of independents, it should not be understated how valuable truly independent-thinking citizens can be if they choose to maintain strong party ties.

This is not only a legitimate but a highly-needed role of promoting freedom in our society. Both major parties need more members who really study, analyze, independently think and participate in improving party communication, leadership and impact on society.

3. Independence

This means becoming your own, personal political party—a party of one citizen.

Today there are more independents in the United States than either Democrats or Republicans. Independents don’t depend on any party but independently study, analyze, think, spread their influence and then vote for candidates and issues they feel will most help the nation.

Whatever your decision—whether you choose to help improve society through populism, activism or independence—note that is it vital to do certain things.

Those who simply depend on party experts leave these things to others, and the result is a loss of freedom. These things include:

  • Making a deep study of the principles of freedom and the U.S. Constitution.
  • Studying the history of freedom in order to truly understand current and future events within their context.
  • Studying and analyzing current issues in depth and from many different perspectives.
  • Considering the views of those who disagree with you and really understanding the points of merit (and not just your points of contention) in their ideas.
  • Drawing your own independent conclusions about proposals and policies after deep study.
  • Articulating and sharing your ideas with others.
  • Using your influence to impact the direction of the nation on specific issues and in general.

Populists are often criticized for not doing these things, but those who do can make a real, positive difference in populist circles.

Activists who commit to these things can greatly support party choices, and independents need to do these in order to have a meaningful impact.

The American founders wanted citizens to do these things, and predicted that the loss of such behaviors by the citizens would be the end of the republic.

If we want our freedoms to remain and even increase, we must be the kind of citizens who deserve such freedoms.

If we leave our future to the current power of Keynesianism, we will see more of the same: on-going crises, angry and ineffective politics, increased government spending and debt, increased taxes and regulations, continuing foreign conflicts and the loss of American lives, and an inability of government to solve our major problems.

The more the parties fight and the louder the conflict, the greater the power of Keynesianism. Keynesianism depends on heated arguments that drive the citizens to demand bigger government programs.

As long as the party of big business and the party of big government hold a joint monopoly on our society, voters will vote and little will change—except that debts, economic crises and problems will increase.

If this is the future we want for our country, we just need to leave politics to the politicians.

In contrast, the future of freedom depends on citizens who do a lot more than just vote and serve on jury duty. It depends on citizens who do the things which bring freedom—as populists, activists or independents, but all studying and thinking independently.

The American system was designed with the people as overseers of government. We all need to fulfill this role better.

We need a party of small business, a party of family, a party of entrepreneurial leadership, a party of the regular citizens, a party of freedom.

The American founders had a name for such a party: Citizens. Such a party naturally occurs and grows in free society when we do our true part as citizens.

***********************************

Oliver DeMille is the founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

He is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

 

Category : Aristocracy &Business &Economics &Government &History &Independents &Liberty &Politics

The 8 Facets of Freedom

September 29th, 2010 // 4:00 am @

A new tribe is needed.

Actually, its constituents have been around for a long time. But they have functioned as individuals, sometimes as families, and more rarely as small groups of people.

But as a tribe or nation, it has never gained traction or achieved critical mass.

Such a tribe believes in freedom, real freedom, for all people in an ordered society that protects liberty for everyone.

This ideal has been proposed by many, and fully achieved by no nation in history. The American founders promoted it—but even they fell short.

Perhaps an isolated tribe or two have accomplished it; but such events are recorded as scripture, myth or legend rather than meticulously documented history.

For the rest, it remains an illusive utopian dream.

Three of the biggest challenges of our time—the need for a revolution of entrepreneurship, the need for more independent-thinking citizens, and the need for more leadership in the emerging e-tribes and other new-style tribal groups of the world—all unite in their call for the growth of a new tribe dedicated to freedom.

False Two’s

One of the major reasons the tribe of freedom has seldom achieved power in the world is that human beings naturally tend to break into competing groups—but without dividing on the true lines of difference.

Madison outlined the benefits of this tendency in Federalist 10, and there are many positives of factionalism that have contributed to American freedom.

But there is also a major downside.

Tocqueville taught in Democracy in America that every nation divides itself into two major parties, each competing with the other for ascendency.

He called these the party of aristocracy and the party of democracy—one seeking to divide the people according to class, and the other attempting to spread equality.

In America these became the party of agriculture versus industry, then North versus South, later the city versus the country, and most recently Democrats versus Republicans.

But dividing the nation into red and blue states (or liberal coasts versus conservative flyover states) misses the real division among us.

Ancient divisions between aristocrats and peasants, as well as medieval conflicts between feudal lords and neighboring states, made the same mistake.

When war arose in history, re-alignment into Hawks and Doves also missed the point. So did historical conflicts over the color of roses and violent arguments between religions.

Our historical and modern divisions are not the real divisions, and this means that the battles go on for all of history without conclusion or solution.

To end the conflicts, to fix the unending battling of sides, we need to clearly understand the two sides as they really are—the real parties.

The Real Divide

Unlike elementary or high school culture, and unlike college, career and even adult culture, the real divide takes us all the way back to kindergarten.

Indeed it is one of those key lessons that we all should have learned in early childhood. In some ways (as humorously recounted by author Robert Fulghum), the lessons of kindergarten are the most important of all.

The divide of all humankind can be understood in the most basic terms: Some people spend their lives angry and afraid, while others live in the attitudes of hopeful and helpful.

These are the basis of the real world schism.

Angry and Afraid

The Scarcity Party sees a world of battling, competition, scarcity, winning or losing, and always trying to get ahead. It is the party of predators and victims.

Its members see others as either potential mates or potential enemies. They quickly notice differences between people, and they seek to get themselves and those in their group (family, race, religion, faction, nation, etc.) ahead of everyone else.

They want others to lose more, and for their own to win more.

In their anger and fear, they avoid pain, push for whatever they think will benefit them, and are willing to step on others to get what they want.

The Angry & Afraid Scarcity Party (A²) has a long and sad history of causing, escalating and reliving most of the problems in world history.

Hopeful and Helpful

In contrast, the Helpful & Helpful members of the Abundance Party (H²) spend their lives trying to help people, improve themselves, and seek better lives and a better world.

Because they are not afraid, it is fine with them if others don’t support them or do something different. They are secure.

For the Abundance Party, life is not about themselves. Yes, it is about becoming better; but even this goal is a merely a means to helping the world improve.

If they were angry, they would expect everyone else to join them in fixing the world, and even try to use the force of government to require charity.

But they are content to do their own work of improving the world and helping others, inspiring and urging them to be and do their best through exemplary leadership, rather than expend angry energy trying to force others to change.

Pretty much every nation, organization, philosophy, political viewpoint, religion, community, company and family has both A²s and also H²s.

The H² Partiers do nearly all of the good in these groups, while the A²s cause nearly all the problems.

If the H²s from all groups would work together, the mischief of the A²s would soon be mitigated.

But as it is, the H²s constantly find themselves in superficially adversarial positions from each other (due to their institutional affiliations) even though such conflict is not their purpose or their nature.

Party Folly

Ironically, if you have strong Democratic ties it is tempting to call Democrats the Hopeful & Helpful and label Republicans the Angry & Afraid; those with loyal Republican connections assign the opposite labels.

But neither type of labeling is truly accurate. There are a lot of H²s and A²s in both major political parties.

The H²s and the A²s make up all the members of the Democrats, Republicans, independents, socialists, environmentalists, right-wingers, radical leftists and every other political group.

If you know what to look for, they are pretty easy to recognize. The A²s include those who are any of the following: Bush-haters, Obama-loathers, racists, bigoted about religious or secular beliefs, promoters of violence in modern America, etc.

Republicans like to point out the Angry & Afraid people in the Democratic Party and act as if they speak for the whole party, and the Democrats do the same thing when attacking Republicans.

A Self-Defeating Hybrid

An interesting hybrid also exists, which is likewise problematic. Historically, too many Democrats have combined Afraid and Helpful, while too often Republicans have been Angry and Hopeful.

Unfortunately, the internal conflict and the philosophical and operational inconsistencies of these amalgams basically cancel out the good they could do to truly promote freedom and make a difference for good.

The world needs more hopeful and helpful people, and the future of our freedom and prosperity depends on it.

The strong emotions of anger and fear too frequently block the path to progress.

However, before we can fully understand the differences between these two major Parties of the A²s and the H²s, and the application of this construct, we need to understand the eight meanings of freedom.

There are six great basic traditions of freedom, each enjoying differing levels of support from various political and social groups. These include the following:

  1. Political freedom
  2. Economic freedom
  3. Religious freedom
  4. Individual freedoms (often called privacy)
  5. Freedom of the press
  6. Academic freedom (sometimes called freedom of thought)

The seventh and eighth freedoms are actually forms of protection.

A seventh freedom, national security, consists of using power to defend these other freedoms from aggressors and attackers.

And social justice, an eighth freedom, is the process of ensuring that these other freedoms are truly available to all people—not just to a limited few from a certain class, race, or other group.

A few leftist radicals use “social justice” to mean the extreme redistribution of wealth from rich to poor in socialistic and even communistically controlling ways; just as fringe right wingers at times promote almost-fascist government powers in the name of “national security.”

However, the more reasonable and normal definition of social justice (and national security) is essential to freedom: to take constitutional freedoms to all.

True liberty requires all eight types of freedom. Anything less falls short (although any measure of freedom is certainly better than none).

Indeed, a society which increases one of these freedoms is nearly always headed in the right direction. And, in fact, each freedom tends to promote the adoption of the other seven.

For example, increased academic freedom or freedom of the press naturally encourages the spread of political and economic freedoms—and vice versa. Freedom promotes freedom, just as force encourages the increase of force.

Unfortunately, the historical reality is that the two major American political ideologies have tended to emphasize the following division:

Conservative

Liberal

Political Freedoms Individual Freedoms (Privacy)
Economic Freedoms Freedom of the Press
Religious Freedoms Academic Freedoms
National Security Social Justice

Fighting each other over which column is most important is misguided and dangerous. It has seldom brought anything but pain to our nation and its citizens.

This becomes even clearer when we consider the focus of the Scarcity Party from both the conservative and liberal camps: “Stop the extremists on the other side from taking away our freedoms in the name of their petty and radical pet projects.”

Such a view is highly inaccurate, and comes from fear, anger and a deep lack of trust.

While it is true that the Angry & Afraid types within the other Party will continue to cause negatives, it is more important to notice that the Helpful & Hopeful folks on the other side are truly trying to make the world better.

Whatever you may think about the “other” party, an important segment of both Republicans and Democrats are actually H².

Many independents and entrepreneurs are naturally inclined to the H² perspective.

As more people think about politics in a non-partisan and increasingly independent way, and as more people become entrepreneurs and develop leadership skills like greatly increased initiative and tenacity and so forth, the H² viewpoint will continue to spread.

Unfortunately, in politics, Republicans and Democrats often vehemently promote the four freedoms they value most and simultaneously discount or attack the other four.

Other parties and many independents make the same mistake. For example, some conservatives frequently denigrate the freedoms of privacy or the press in their attempts to promote religion, while some liberals too often trample economic or political freedoms in their zeal to increase social justice.

Likewise, conservatives sometimes deny social justice when political and economic freedoms are not really at stake, just like liberals at times refuse to allow religious freedom or incentivize the power of the private sector out of fear that social justice must be an exclusively government project.

Both sides engage battles for their pet types of freedom, and then don’t turn off the fight even when the other side suggests something truly positive.

All of this is the natural result of the Angry & Afraid worldview.

In reality, the Hopeful & Helpful people in both the Democratic and Republican Parties, as well as the H² independents and members of minor parties, really do care about all eight freedoms.

Some have been inclined to focus on certain freedoms above others, either by their upbringing, education or party affiliations, but those with an H² outlook are friends of all eight freedoms.

When we start to comprehend this more accurate view of the world, a new understanding of the real division emerges:

Scarcity Party

Abundance Party

political freedoms for me and mine political freedoms for all, everywhere
economic freedoms for me and mine economic freedoms for all, everywhere
religious freedoms for me and mine religious freedoms for all, everywhere
individual freedoms for me and mine individual freedoms for all, everywhere
freedom to say what I want freedoms of expression & the press
freedom to think what I want academic freedom for all, celebration of many views
national security national security for all nations
victory for me and mine social justice for all peoples

This chart is remarkably different than the one we saw earlier, and it illuminates the major difference between the fundamental values and attitudes of the two real parties—the A² and the H².

Their views of the past, current issues, and visions for the future could hardly be more divergent.

Both groups of course include pessimistic and also idealist people, and there are various different schools of thought in both.

But the most significant factor separating these two great Parties of humanity is their worldview.

The Hopeful & Helpfuls value their own ability to contribute to the world, while the Angry & Afraids see themselves as victims of a powerful “they” which is to be opposed, feared and hated.

The H2s see that all six of the basic freedoms are vital, that social justice spreads these six freedoms, and that national security protects and maintains them.

Together, all eight freedoms are essential for a healthy, free and prosperous society.

Our nation and world desperately needs a Party of Freedom.

Such a party would not be an official political party, since its goal would be to unite and build rather than to win or govern.

It would be made up of everyone who believes in all eight facets of freedom, and that we can work together to promote them, increase and spread them, and keep them protected and safe in a dangerous world.

It would be full of people who approach the world in an attitude of hope and help.

The idea of a freedom party is made realistic by the technology of the day, which allows people from all places and walks of life to connect and cooperate.

Such a party would have a higher-than-usual makeup of entrepreneurs, creeds and backgrounds.

The one thing they would share in common is a belief in the essential value of all eight meanings of freedom.

Certainly such a tribe would have its share of debates, factions, and disagreements, all of which are healthy to freedom.

The guiding value would be that any proposal, policy or plan they supported would be good for freedom overall—not just good for one type of freedom at the cost of another.

We need a freedom party in our day, an unofficial tribe of people working together on the shared vision of more freedom for all people in each nation of the world.

Of course, given the reality of our modern world, such a party does not need to be a single, organized entity with bylaws and officers.

In fact, freedom will benefit most if a host of people simply promote the eight types of freedom in the organizations and groups they already support.

For freedom to truly increase and flourish, it needs to become more of a value to all of us. We need the following:

  • An informal freedom party made up of many diverse people and tribes that share the philosophy of full freedom with all the other groups and peoples.
  • An understanding that when we promote one type of freedom at the expense of another we actually hurt us all.
  • A commitment to more openly look beyond our own limited opinions and cooperate with people of differing views who truly do care about freedom.

Without all of these, freedom will struggle and decline.

For those who love freedom, it is time to broaden and deepen our understanding of true freedom. It is time to use our influence to spread the values and ideas of freedom.

The technology is there, and it is time to use it. Real freedom has always been a bottom-up project led by the regular people in a society.

All eight facets of freedom are essential, and it is up to the regular people to promote them all.

This is the future of freedom, and it depends on each of us.

***********************************

Oliver DeMille is the founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

He is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

 

Category : Aristocracy &Entrepreneurship &Independents &Liberty &Politics &Service &Tribes

Save the Cheerleader

September 21st, 2010 // 4:00 am @

In our current two-party system, independents need the two big parties.

There is, of course, an Independent Party, and people have differentiated members of this party from independents by using the phrase “small ‘I’ independents” to denote those who aren’t part of any party.

Few independents have any interest in joining a third party. They consider this a worse option than signing up as a Democrat or Republican.

Most independents share a frustration with both major parties, and they see partisanship itself as symptomatic of America’s problem. Independents especially dislike the political wrangling of party battles.

But let’s get one thing clear: In nearly all elections, most independents end up voting for a candidate from one of the two big parties.

There are several lessons to be learned from this.

Let’s Party!

First, independents need the parties.

Perhaps a non-party arrangement like the one envisioned by America’s founding fathers will someday offer a better system. Or maybe independents will eventually take over one of the major parties.

But in our current system, independents need the parties to be and do their best. Independents need to be able to choose between the highest caliber of candidates and policies, and the sheer numbers affect both the ability to get a message out, and the ability to attract willing candidates.

Bottom line: the parties are still providing the available options for our votes.

Second, the two-party system needs independents.

When the big parties hold a monopoly on political dialogue and innovation, centrist members of both parties congeal together a great deal and the parties often seem more alike than different.

Throw large numbers of independents into the mix, however, and the parties are forced to energetically debate their platform and the weaknesses of their opposition’s candidates, policies and so forth.

They have to articulate their message more clearly and differentiate themselves in order to garner independent votes.

Ironically, as much as independents abhor political fighting, it is by contrasting themselves with such “vulgarity” that thoughtful, idealistic and principled independents define themselves.

Not as a group, of course—but as individuals who are independent of and above the disingenuous and exploitive methods and motivations they believe typify the party loyalists.

The noisy and unproductive debate is the point to which independents are counter-point.

At the same time (and this is point number three), the strong influence of independents keeps either party from obtaining too much power for long.

Studied, serious-minded citizens who think and act independently and make their influence felt are exactly the type of citizens the American founders hoped would populate the republic.

Party loyalties too often reduce this level of independence. At their best, independents function as much-needed checks and balances on the two-party system that has become too powerful.

Party People

The independents need the parties, and the two-party system needs the independents.

But a fourth lesson might be the most important. The individual parties themselves actually need independents.

Political parties are only as strong as their collective members, and there are certain types of members that are extremely valuable to party influence.

For example, parties benefit from Traditionalist members—people who were raised with passionate loyalties to Democrats or Republicans.

Such members nearly always vote for the party and its candidates, and often they cast straight party votes without seriously considering other options. Their allegiance to the long view of Party dominance overshadows their concerns and even outright disagreements with the Party.

Politicos are a second important group of members in any party.

Politicos love politics. They watch it with as much interest and passion as dedicated sports fans follow their team. Politicos listen to party leaders, think about and memorize talking points (often unconsciously), and promote the party line. They also study lots of literature debunking the other party and pass along these arguments.

A third type found in both parties is the Intellectual. Intellectual Partyists are distinguished most by their habits of skepticism and asking questions. They consider party literature mere propaganda and instead search out and study original sources.

Intellectuals typically read opposing party sources as much or more as works from their own party.

Policy Wonks are a fourth type in any party, and they care most about specific proposals, plans and models, and enjoy studying them in detail, discovering patterns and flaws, and creating counter-proposals and solutions.

They examine, scrutinize, analyze, write and attend lots of seminars, panels and other events filled with discussion. Most of them make their living doing this in academia, media, punditry, the lecture circuit or blogosphere, or the like.

Party Leadership

A fifth type of party people, Activists, are usually familiar with the other types but they put most of their effort into influencing state or federal legislative votes, agency policies, judicial cases or executive acts.

They are found at all levels of government from local to international organizations. Some of them put most of their focus into elections.

Party Officios, a sixth type of party promoters, hold party positions (voluntary and informal as well as official) in local precincts all the way up to national committees.

Some are full-time paid professionals or experts, but the large majority of them voluntarily serve as officers, delegates, candidates, unofficial advisors and other roles in the party.

Among party Officios are those holding office. These elected and appointed officials represent their party in specific positions of public service.

Seventh and eighth types are Donors and Fundraisers. They of course play important roles in all parties, since politics is expensive and funding often significantly influences policy and elections.

There are various other types of people that help parties succeed, but the most influential type of all is the people who could simply be called “Majorities.”

The obvious power of Majorities is that they have the numbers and therefore the votes to steer the party. They elect the delegates who elect the party candidates, and their influence is deeply and widely felt in general elections.

Majorities are mostly made up of regular, non-politician, thinking citizens who have the most influence on party delegates, general donations and the general voters.

Majority types are usually not Traditionalists, Politicos, Officios, Wonks or political experts.

But they keep track of what is happening in society and think seriously about political concerns, issues and elections. They spread their influence day after day and impact thinking widely and consistently.

The media is seldom able to predict close elections because of this wildcard: Since Majorities’ type of engagement is largely internal and interpersonal, and because their influence is largely in a realm that is under-valued (or perhaps beyond the control of) those in power, it is almost impossible to know what Majorities are really thinking and to predict how they will impact outcomes.

Save the Cheerleader

So why do the parties need independents?

At first glance, it might appear that the parties would do better if independents would just split and join the big parties.

But a deeper analysis shows how significant the growth of independents has become.

Independents aren’t just the new numerical majority; they are the barometer of success.

As a type, independents aren’t Traditionalists, Politicos or Officios. Most of them are Majorities, and a lot of them are Wonks.

In short, they care little about the future of the party, and a lot about helping both people in particular, and the nation in general.

Parties need the votes of independents, but they need something more. The two big parties both need independent Majorities.

When they are receiving independent support, they know that they are probably on track. Or, when they lose independents, they know to step back reevaluate their direction.

There are certainly times when government officials need to ignore independents and everyone else and stand firm on the right path.

But most times they can pretty much tell how well they are doing by finding out what the independents are thinking.

Of course, independents aren’t always right. But they are right more often than the big parties because in general, they care more about the nation than about party power. Madison and Jefferson would applaud.

This is a great benefit to both parties. In some ways, independents have made it easy for politicians. Win the independents, win the election.

***********************************

Oliver DeMille is the founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

He is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

 

Category : Government &Independents &Politics

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