As a card-carrying member of a democratic society I, like you, have been conditioned to regard politics as the art of negotiation, when in truth it is the art of persuasion, the end result of which is a transaction.
By Michael Caporale
Let’s take, for example, an everyday common transaction, a sale on eBay. In order to make the sale, persuasion is necessary. The seller makes statements regarding the item or product, which may or may not be entirely true, but which are nevertheless weighted in favor of the seller. To bring the buyer to the brink of decision is the politic of the sale, but finality can only be accomplished through negotiation. An offer is made, negotiated and agreed to, and the transaction is completed. That is the difference between politics and negotiations. Politics are not negotiations, far from it.
Politics is kissing babies, knowing how to eat pizza in Brooklyn or a Philly-cheese steak sandwich in Philadelphia. It’s saying the right thing to the right people and the opposite of that to another set of the right people elsewhere. It is being everybody’s candidate and yet, nobody’s candidate. Politicians are chameleons changing color to match their environment. What they know and what they secretly profess are two different matters, as can be witnessed in the recent Supreme Court decisions regarding Roe v. Wade. Of the six judges in the majority opinion, three gained office through conscious deception, embracing legal precedent as the determining factor in rendering future judgements, knowing it was contrary to their political goals and even possibly their religious beliefs, save for one true Catholic, for we can never know with certainty that the profession of religious beliefs held by hypocrites is not just another act of politics, like eating folded pizza in Brooklyn. Once the sale is made, there will be no negotiation. Politics is a standalone. It forms those who will become the negotiators, but does not determine their actions. After all, politics is marketing just as surely as propaganda is marketing. The danger is when politics crosses over into propaganda as when news organizations take it upon themselves to market a particular brand of partisan interests without informed discretion, The repetition of partisan lies without vetting the source, without objective investigation, is as much an act of propaganda as the source message itself. No longer is that reporting on politics but engaging in propaganda.
Centuries ago, before the written word, before the Bible, the Torah, or the Quran, there were but a few humans scattered around the globe, separated by distance and land mass. As distances became shorter and land mass (mountains, rivers, oceans) was overcome, these disparate peoples began living in ever closer proximity to one another, each in a defined culture. As small as their numbers were, and as bountiful as earth’s resources were, they soon realized that they were competing with one another, as individuals, for the same resources, those critical to their survival. What began as a personal competition soon broadened into a societal problem. It became necessary for each culture to define a set of just rules to live by, rules to govern their society by, rules that would become the basis for law. In the Western world, we can easily trace the evolution of our legal system back to the old Testament of the Bible and specifically to the Ten Commandments given by God to Moses. These ten guiding “rules” are the foundation of both Jewish and Christian morality and have served as the time-tested principles for societal management in Western cultures.
When the competition for resources expanded to finally become inter-tribal there were no common rules, no shared values to resolve conflict. Each culture had its own God, often many Gods. Superstition prevailed over reason. When war erupted, the same rules that governed individuals within a society no longer applied to warring cultures of different beliefs. Who could say with certainty that an unseen God was more than an idea put forth to prevent and manage chaos within a culture? Why should a culture, like that of the Romans or the Greeks, the Philistines and the many other Pagan societies, societies with many Gods, agree to a hypothetical system of reward and punishment devised to manage a monotheistic culture, with an afterlife beyond confirmation. Confirmation being impossible, those beliefs were by their very nature, rightly only suspicions, eventually transforming into superstitions, and why not? These firmly held beliefs were all unverifiable. After all, who had been to heaven or hell and back? What common determinant could be used to manage undesirable behavior between cultures? There was none. The answer was violence. War. Might made right. The big fish eat the little fish and so on and so on.
The central warring issue would always be the right to a particular territory, initially used as hunting grounds, eventually becoming agricultural land and ultimately sought for its geological resources—copper, gold, oil, uranium, cobalt, diamonds, chromium, quartz, nickel and so on.
To resolve this dilemma territories were defined by borders, usually determined by the separation of bodies of land by bodies of water—oceans, seas, lakes or rivers. But often, the established borders were arbitrary, formed by some other convention or agreement. Once borders were established further agreements were necessary between these territories—eventually cities, states, nations– to insure peace. Initially these were treaties and eventually trade agreements. Certain areas of land were better suited for growing cotton, teas, tobacco, sugar, coffee, corn and wheat while by sheer luck, others territories were discovered to have been graced with geological windfalls limited exclusively to within its borders. Where treaties and trade agreements failed, only violence would resolve the competition for survival at the expense of one culture over another.
If we can understand this basic concept, that of competition for survival, resulting in violence, then we need realize that the competition for survival is not limited to just the temporal, the physical realities engendered in the right to a body of land, but it is also a competition for all human rights, a competition for basic human rights that every living human is entitled to, a competition for rights between the individuals in a society and its government to exercise those rights. In every case, governments across the globe control the exercise of those rights. In the United States we call the exercise of those rights freedom.
Just as land masses and bodies of water define territories, so too cultural differences founded in religious belief define freedoms, the limitation of the rights of individuals within a society. As a citizen of one country, as I travel through other countries my freedoms change, yet I am the same person, the same citizen of the United States. Freedoms granted here are not honored there, yet as humans we are all equal. Governments are to blame. In every case, the foundations of those governments are rooted in the religious beliefs of that region and where multiple cultures exist, firmly held beliefs contribute to violence as the means to cultural survival. Resolution in this manner can only be accomplished by annihilation or absorption, just look a t Native Americans as an example.
From this perspective we must look upon the ultimate resolution of all differences as reductionist, each culture defeating another until only one remains. That’s a very dark future, indeed, and certainly one that we have no time for.
Our current circumstance requires immediate action. Rather than competing for survival we must now realize that we actually depend on each other for survival. The issues that plague us are common to all cultures, all nations, all religions. We are all affected by climate change, be it floods or droughts, crop losses, extreme weather like hurricanes, tornadoes and soaring temperatures, forest fires, water shortages that affect electric dams and sources of drinking water, the warming of the oceans and the death of coral reefs, loss of glaciers and melting icecaps, the rise of the oceans and the threat to coastal shores, the extinction of certain species and the migration of others, and ultimately all this is generating an extreme competition for survival if we cannot pull together and manage it as one.
The recent Covid Pandemic is the best example of how we depend on each other and have shared consequences. What started in one nation quickly spread throughout the entire globe. Solutions were not as forthcoming. When solutions became available, they were developed privately and monetized, but eventually gave way to government backing and after some time distributed freely within our borders. Not so lucky were third world countries, or those seeking their own solutions and disregarding ours. If we are to save the world, who will pay for it? If we don’t save them. We will surely pay for it far worse, for what affects them comes back to affect us. We have to realize that we cannot go it alone. There are consequences to “America First” doctrine.
We cannot remain rooted in a competition of religious ideas to determine our mutual survival. What afterlife we believe in or by what methods we attain it, will not insure the survival of our planet. To earthly life as we know it, heavenly life is irrelevant. When all humanity dies and it was we who brought about the death of every other species, and the planet itself, then there will be no one left to ascend to heaven from the hell we will have earned and well deserved.
Now is the time to understand that we are One. What affects you affects me equally. Let’s work together on our common ground and address our mutual threats together. We must demand that our governments conform to our needs and work together, but first we must show them how. We must lead by example. We must demand solutions and provide the means. In the United States the clock is winding down and we must vote every politician out of office who does not support acting in the interest of the entire planet. There can be no special interests except for that of Mother Earth. Let’s establish full equality and real economic justice by weeding our government of those who oppose such ideals. Forget about policy. That can come later if we install leaders devoted to ideals rather than partisan solutions. If everyone is committed to ideals then solutions are inevitable. Remember we are One. We must start the process of healing the planet by regeneration, that of our so-called leaders. Yesterday’s solutions are no solution today.