What’s at Stake: Another View
One view of the upcoming mid-term 2010 election sees the event as the Titanic plunging blindly into a North Sea of political icebergs with the impending doom of the sinking once and for all of the American experiment. A more apt analogy is the sailing event, the America’s Cup. Two behemoths, the Democrats and Republicans, in a match race of apparent simplicity but immense and conflicting complexity. The resiliency of our economic and political system lies within a web of interlocking dependencies and is often overlooked in the descriptive analysis and trend predictions of an electoral outcome. Similar too, is the formation of the America’s Cup teams and the two party systems as competing and highly moneyed factions. The USA is not simply a single vessel hampered with an overabundance of hubris and a flawed design in a dangerous situation but is two craft hoping for the indeterminate outcomes of nearly incalculable premises. The actions of the one are continually at play in reaction to the other and the impacts of the interplay in each other’s capability, while also adjusting to the ever changing winds of event and circumstance.
Given the syndicalism of both parties, it is hardly relevant to see the coming contest on November 2, 2010 as a battle defined by either camps calls for freedom or justice. The incremental moves, as each tacks in one direction or the other and counter attempts are made to “clear air” or block the wind of the opposition, rarely approach the actual or fundamental philosophical fallacies dearly held by both. The breakthrough in 1988 of the USA’s Star’s and Stripes catamaran design came about under a combination of time restraints and rule breaking that resulted in legal challenges and outrage amongst the sailing elite.
“The contest will not be a sailboat race. It will be a design lottery in which the sailors will have little or nothing to do with the outcome. In one word, the 1988 America’s Cup challenge will be bizarre.”
In subsequent years the furor has died down as the catamaran design achieved acceptance and the design and on the water battles once again returned to mastery of the minutiae of new rules and of the sea itself. Seen as the catamaran, the Progressives have the upper hand in the overall direction of the political scene, win or lose this year. The Reagan revolution, the 1995 Newt Gingrich led House, the foreign terror obsessed Bush years, and any potential Tea Party victories have and likely never will modify the most basic and significant apparatus of the current or future state. American business interests are forced by the nature of this game to take the battle out of the marketplace and into the political realm. Social Justice Activists similarly can assert agendas that ignore economic realities of competitiveness and sustainability. Theoretical social democratic ideas and scientific wonkiness define the outlines of the debate.
Taken in this context a capable contributor of labor is faced with the devil’s dilemma of Corporatist or Progressives’ dominance of a field in which the individual is marginalized. Even in the small collectives of Unions, Churches and NGO’s the impact against the monolithic state ruled by the competing Oligarchy / Plutocracy of the multi-national corporation (MNC) and entrenched Welfare State bureaucracy can never be more than ripples on the surface. Statist theories decry the injustice of capitalism while constructing systems which devolve into equally if not more inequitable structures.
“The conservatives often talk about economic and social crises as if
they are unavoidable, a law of nature. But there is nothing inevitable
about them. It is about political choices. While we do live in a time
of global change and risk, we also live in a time of huge opportunity.
We must promote better cooperation in Europe to manage globalization
for the benefit of everyone. They say adapt to the market. We say shape our future.”
“People First: A New Direction for Europe” PES
manifesto for the citizens of Europe at the European Parliamentary elections, http://elections2009.pes.org/en/your-manifesto/manifesto
Two inherent conceits lie within this statement: 1) that adapting to the market is of the kind of controlling an external force, the wind as in our sailing analogy, while in fact the adaptations to the market are reflected in the design of our vessel and its operation in the circumstances of reality. 2) That shaping our future by political choice alone somehow avoids economic and social crises and that the unavoidable laws of nature are somehow unique to conservative thought. Regardless of a view from Left or Right the rules are set which requires state approval in either direction. Anyone trying to build a mono-hull at this point is unlikely get in to the match.
“TheHuman Brain… is wired to avoid complexity (not embrace it) and to respond quickly to ensure survival (not explore numerous options). In other words, our evolved decision heuristics have certain limitations, which have been studied extensively and documented over the last few decades, particularly by researchers in the field of behavioral economics.”
Collective intelligence models coming out of the universities are transcending the political and economic models based on thought mired in the mechanistic learning’s from the industrial revolution That brings us back to catamarans, one potential outcome of the America’s cup race is a fault by one or the other or both skippers resulting in a catastrophic collision. Mishandlings of boats can and have resulted in deaths. To move forward in the 21st century requires abandoning the simple us vs. them dichotomies of business and government, white and black, rich and poor, regulation and free markets. Solutions for our problems rest in dealing with the near overwhelming complexity as an organic whole, a self-organizing system that looks beyond changes of direction of the wind or failures of the opposition to create a mutually beneficial model. Even if a new catamaran isn’t just over the technological, evolutionary or spiritual horizon certainly the avoidance of calamity is a worthwhile goal.
This is a response to my friend Peter Fegan's blog at http://spiritofaprogressive.blogspot.com/2010/10/whats-at-stake.html