Sympathy for the devil and complex adaptive systems
Sympathy for your enemies? Should you wish the best for a President whose policies you adamantly oppose? Some may call this Sympathy for the Devil. In that song of our youth, the devil urges us to ”have some courtesy, have some sympathy, and some taste” and be polite.
Those in power always want their suffering serfs to be polite, courteous and engage in a civil discourse. And all those in power have a little of the devil in them. Rare to nonexistent is the leader who altruistically gives his all to his people. But even the most evil has good in him and can be forgiven if he truly repents.
But that’s a Christian idea and our public discourse long ago left such Christian beliefs behind. Now we can pillory any man as totally evil and justify any action against him. Think about Hitler. Can you, in public, say he was not totally bad? In variious circles, the same is true for Obama or Rush Limbaugh. Our rules of public discourse just don’t allow us to see good in them.
But praying for Obama (or George W. Bush when he was in power if you are a yellow-dog Democrat) is really done for your own benefit. Hate will eat you up. If you can’t give up your hatred for a person, your hate will devour you from the inside out.
So you pray for Obama to give yourself peace. But don’t excuse anything he does. Pray for him to see the light, but don’t forget he has to pay for his sins, just as we all do. This trick requires some conceptual pluralism. You have to keep two seemingly opposing ideas in your mind at the same time. You can do it.
Just watch out for evil. Our non-Christian public discourse doesn’t permit a belief in spirits, but some are certainly consumed with powerful attitudes and mindsets which are totally destructive and evil. Nowadays we speak of these attitudes not as spirits but as products of a harsh childhoods–and we manage to excuse just about any behavior.
You do have to take childhood experiences into account. For example, Obama growing up with a Moslem father and stepfather and taking daily religious instruction is bound to influence everything he does–until he discovers the truth.
But don’t pray for Obama because you think you can change him. If 21st century science has taught us anything, it is that we will never crack the behavior code. We will never be able to control behavior of free men and women. Psychologists have only succeeded in controlling behavior when they take away the freedom of their subjects. Skinner and the behaviorists could make animals learn by locking them up, depriving them of food, and then giving food as a reward for learning.
Psychologists have tried to eliminate the concept of will because it can’t be controlled. In their orthodox version of the scientific method, there is no room for free will or any internal causes. Everything must be caused by something outside of it.
Physicists and chemists explicitly abandoned this view of Nature long ago. The inherent unpredictability of the particles which make up our universe is the foundation of quantum dynamics and all modern theories of Nature.
Our public discourse is still largely locked in the silly psychological view that behavior is caused solely by how you are treated. It’s called determinism. This gets translated into government as a blind faith in government programs to eventually produce the perfect citizen and the perfect state.
The Marxists, Stalinists and Communists were some of the foremost proponents of this belief. Their failures have not deterred Obama and his minions. Because they are true believers. They love government programs. Their dogma is the behaviorist and determinist dogma. All behavior can be controlled. So they will continually try program after program because, they believe, eventually we will find the programs that work.
Someday soon I hope they discover quantum theory, and then chaos theory and then, as soon as possible, complex adaptive systems.
Then they will know that each one of us is a bundle of chaotic impulses which can be focused to adapt to our environment. Complex adaptive systems theory explains all the findings of behaviorists as well as many results they can’t explain. Learning and genetics are integrated in humans to enable creative acts of will. Societies composed of millions of such creative, willful beings will never be predictable. Just as any open system of fluids and gases (such as the weather) is inherently unpredictable.
Unfortunately, those who truly believe in determinism want to be in government much more than those who don’t. They want to test out their theories and show their expertise. Those who don’t believe that government can (much less should) control behavior are only attracted to public service because they want to reduce government’s meddlesome intrusiveness.
Blind faith in determinism makes most media mavens unable to hear what such candidates are saying. The dogmatic determinist can’t understand someone who wants to dismantle programs instead of build new and better ones. A government which only protects the weak and creates a climate for growth is much less attractive than a government which makes all sorts of lofty promises of heaven on earth.
Yet such a limited role for government is the only way to revive the American ingenuity which once transformed the world. The problem is not limited to Obama and yellow dog Democrats. George W. Bush presided over a huge expansion of government.
To win this war, we need to recognize the source of the problem. It’s not Obama or any particular leader. No particular government program is the source of the problem. But debate over every program is an opportunity to lay bare the deterministic assumptions behind every program.
When we go beyond defense of the weak and creating a climate for growth, all government is wealth distribution. As government gets more intrusive, many give up and just try to get as much as they can from the government–until this whole pyramid scheme collapses as happened in the Soviet Union and is happening in Greece and most of Europe right now in 2011.
Eventually the huge debts of America will catch up with us. Maybe only such a crisis will cause Americans to abandon the behaviorist determinism which has caused our dilemma.