Who puts the ‘Representation’ in ‘Representative Government’?
Evidently, there continues to be confusion over whether ‘representative government’ was intended to be the result of the social dynamic or the cause of the social dynamic.
Some representatives, and some leaders of groups of representatives, seem to feel that their job is to ‘direct’ the social dynamic in the manner that the ‘director’ of an orchestra would direct a group of beginner musicians that did not yet have a feel for how the music itself can become the orchestrator of individual and collective dynamical play. In this mode of ‘representation’ wherein the music itself, through the players becomes the primary source, the ‘director’ becomes the ‘mirroring back’ of the unfolding performance, so as to serve in a support role rather than as some kind of ‘controlling creator’ that must be followed meticulously, even if he takes the music to a place wherein the musicians are no longer inspired to play it.
This is an issue in the politics of nations. To what degree should the government of/by representatives have those representatives ‘direct’ (centrally-source) or ‘orchestrate’ (mirror back) the social dynamics of the nation?
It is clear that in the time of war, the social collective must become a ‘war machine’ and everyone accepts that this requires ‘centrally-sourced direction’, but in times of peace, this is where new symphonic works emerge from the self-organising dynamics of the collective, where a new collective persona arises that opens up new spatial possibilities for the blossom of never-before-seen creative potentialities.
For those politicians aspiring to use their ‘elected representative’ status to become leader-directors and to personally impose shape on the collective, the wartime mode is preferable, since it gives the leader the power to locally instigate and implement changes of his own preferred architecture.
Since ‘fear’ is the emotion that underlies giving control up to central direction, politicians have long recognized that the ‘threat of a great calamity’ can be used to get the people to submit to direction and thus allow the politicians to get what they want. In writings as old as Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, in the Miller’s tale, the student who is boarding with the miller warns the miller of an impending great flood and directs him to load a dory with provisions and hang it high up from the rafters and sleep in it every night so as to not be caught and drowned by rising waters in the night, … a tactic that allowed the student to enjoy the millers wife in the miller’s own bed chamber, as the miller sleeps peacefully in his ‘safe haven’.
It is an awareness that age-old ploys like this continue to be used that gives rise to conspiracy theory over acts of terrorism such as 9/11. While I am not a conspiracy theorist, I think that ‘things that just don’t add up’ should be investigated since, even in this age of apparent (but perhaps somewhat superficial) tolerance, I have met people who are ‘scary’ in regard to the intensity of their beliefs as to ‘what should be done’ ‘if only the authorities would make it happen’. This includes such practices as offering sizeable amounts of money to the ‘inferior races’ and/or ‘inferior specimens’ in the human race, to undergo sterilisation. That is, they feel that ‘evolution’ should be managed [controlled], … all sorts of evolution, … not only the human gene pool but also the structure of the social dynamic (to ensure that everything is ‘on a good track’, of course). There is no room for emergent symphonies here, unless it is going to come from the centrally controlled direction of the elected ‘representative’ leaders and their crony collectives.
This way of thinking emulates the “Führer-principle” whereby, if one has the talent for ‘making good things happen’, they should be given the power to make it happen. It is a general approach to organisation which is quite unlike the symphonic approach.
‘Representation’ is an Enlightenment society practice that thus gauges the extent to which we are (a) the result of a symphonic/emergent social dynamic, or (b) the cause of a deliberately structured social dynamic. It is the same question that pops up in a zillion places in our society.
In a pioneering community wherein the opening of spatial possibility in such terms as fertile fields, fish-filled waters, timber-filled forests and cattle-ready grasslands elicits the blossoming of creative/productive potentialities, the ‘representation’ of a ‘pioneer’ would decidedly fall into category (a), but in today’s era of monolithic centrally-directed trans-national corporations, the ‘representation’ of a ‘worker’ would be more in the category of (b), or as described in John Lennon’s ‘Working Class Hero’; “A working class hero is something to be / keep you doped with religion and sex and tv.”
Whether we are talking about storm-cells in the atmosphere, the worker in the community, or any dynamic whatsoever, there is always a conjugate habitat-inhabitant relation involved and a question as to whether we see the visibly active agent in (a) the organic/ecological model terms of being the consequence of the habitat dynamic, or (b) the machine model terms being a part(icipant) with his own local agency who helps to cause the social dynamic.
It seems to follow logically that the sort of ‘representative’ that we elect in our ‘representative government’ will reflect the manner in which we give ‘representation’ to ourselves. We typically split this into ‘two’, the ‘political right’ and the ‘political left’ but reflection shows that a four-way split better captures the dynamics involved;
1. The ‘libertarian right’ which rejects the (b) model of central direction OF THE COLLECTIVE while embracing this model on an INDIVIDUAL basis, as in “… and God said to them, … Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” (Genesis) This ‘representation’ is one in which God has proxy’ed his authority to become the centre of control over nature to each and every individual (The opposite of the ‘strands-in-the-web-of-life beliefs of the ‘musical harmony will orchestrate us’, (a) model orienting political left, otherwise know as ‘anarchists’
2. The ‘conservative right’ which supports central direction that will favour the pursuit of self-interest OF THE COLLECTIVE; i.e. the difference between 1. and 2. is the same difference as to whether, when one says ‘God Bless America’, one intends that the central authority proxy’ed from God to man should become the seat of the central nervous system of the nation as in “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands: one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” The words ‘under God’ were added recently; i.e. in 1954.
3. The ‘liberal left’ which supports the (b) model of pursuing the self-interest OF THE COLLECTIVE while diluting it with an acknowledgement of (a), the inclusion of the sovereign state within an interdependent web of relations. ‘Environmentalism’ springs forth from this grouping, as does the tendency to ‘socialism’.
4. The ‘anarchist left’ which supports the (a) model which conceives of man as the consequence of the world dynamic (everything is seen to be sourced from nature). This differs from the ‘liberal left’ in that there is no support here for a central control OVER THE COLLECTIVE, the ‘governance’ or source of organisation seen instead as the consequence of the socio-environmental dynamic rather than the source of it.
The ‘libertarian right’ thus resembles the ‘anarchist left’ in rejecting central control over the collective, however, the ‘representation of self’ differs in the respect noted; i.e. the libertarian right feels that God has proxy’ed His authority to man such that the individual is charged with having ‘DOMINION OVER NATURE’. Meanwhile, the ‘representation of self’ of the ‘anarchist left’ is one in which ‘NATURE HAS DOMINION OVER HIM AND OUR COLLECTIVES’ and that everyone in the world lives within a common interdependent web-of-life, though the individual is unique and particular by way of his unique and particular situational inclusion in nature.
Now, if I talk about politics, it is not an advocacy of particular politics which are ‘intellectual belief systems’, but to get down to the bottom of how we ‘represent’ our ‘selves’. In this vein, I will tread the tainted ground of politics, for a moment, to clarify the difference between the ‘liberal left’ (socialists fall in there) and the ‘anarchist left’. The split in the US between ‘anarchists’ and ‘socialists’ can be seen, for example, in Arturo Giovannitti’s preface to Emile Pouget’s ‘Sabotage’. ‘Sabotage’ as it was initially defined by the anarchists, was the idea that the worker had the right to withdraw his service and expertise and to ‘work clumsily’ (as if by banging one’s shoe/sabot) to suspend the productive capacities of the ‘machinery of production’ that was seen as being ‘paid for but not owned by the workers’ WHEN such machinery was being used as a weapon against the workers; as in a labour dispute where management brought in non-organised labour to run the machines and thus avoid the pressure applied by the workers. The following comment by Giovannitti in his preface to Pouget’s ‘Sabotage’ brings out the philosophical division between the anarchists and the socialists.
“Therefore, whilst you cannot be fined or sent to jail for advocating Sabotage, nor do you risk being excommunicated for heresy by the Catholic Church, you can and will be expelled from the Socialist Party, which claims to be the political wing of the revolutionary labor movement.
This can have but two explanations. Either that the Socialist Party in its unbridled quest for votes and thirst for power wants to become respectable in the eyes of the bourgeoisie at any price and risk, or that in utter ignorance of what it was judging and condemning it was induced to believe by a clique of unscrupulous politicians that Sabotage is the French translation of bomb throwing, assassination, incendiarism and all around hell on earth.
We take the latter view and we are confirmed in our belief by the astounding fact that a committee of five has been selected by the Socialist Party to define Sabotage for the purpose of determining what it is … after having damned it on general principles.”
With these four groupings in hand (generalisations, to be sure), differences in our ‘representation’ of ‘ourselves’ can be ‘tightened up a bit’ as follows;
We are; (we see our ‘self’ as);
a. God’s direct proxy of his authority of ‘having dominion over nature’; i.e. the unmitigated pursuit of individual self-interest, protected and sustained by a common system of defence by those holding this belief in common.
b. A member of a ‘people collective’ given God’s proxy’ed authority of ‘having dominion over nature’; i.e. the unmitigated pursuit of self-interest by a collective.
c. A member of a ‘people-collective’ inhabiting a common space together with many other ‘people-collectives’ wherein the pursuit of collective self-interest must be mitigated by moral values in order to sustain health and harmony in the shared, common space.
d. An individual amongst many individuals inhabiting a common space, as in nature wherein the dynamics of the inhabitants are understood to be the consequence of the dynamics of the habitat, rather than the cause of them.
These are profound differences in how we give ‘representation’ to our ‘self’ that cannot help but influence our behaviour and mode of social organisation.
The words and groupings are offered as ‘Wittgenstein ladders’ (once the point is made, they can be discarded as nonsense), the ‘point’ being that ‘representative government’ involves electing ‘representatives’ that are, implicitly, ‘representations’ of our ‘selves’. The further suggestion is that ‘political divisions’ derive from whether we see ourselves as ‘individuals first, members of a collective second, or vice versa’ and also, at the same time, whether we see ourselves as ‘the cause of the dynamic in which we are included or the consequence of the dynamics in which we are included’
Note that ‘wealth, money, material possessions and ‘the economy’ are not present in this discussion, since they are secondary to our ‘representation’ of ‘self’ and thus the nature of our ‘self-interest’. The ultimate source of authority is seen by some of us as coming from – God to the individual; – from God to the people (chosen or ‘God-blessed’ collectives) or; – from Nature to the people (‘favoured races’) or; – from Nature to the individual. No doubt, any individual could ‘pick out’ which one of these ‘representations of self’ best ‘represents’ himself. [As a nuance, God can be equivalenced with Nature].
If we do embrace such different ‘representations of self’, they must surely ‘weigh in there’ in the shaping of our social dynamic, though we seem to give representation to the divisions that emerge in our collective population, in terms of our differing ‘intellectual’ views of ‘the way the world out there works’ as derives from our differing theology, philosophy and other intellectual machinations.
Deeper than this, it seems, is the division that derives from our different ‘representations’ of ‘self’ and, how we, as ‘inhabitants’ relate to our ‘habitat’.
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