Two essential laws of politics

I tend to be naive about politics. Or should we say I am politically naive.

Sometimes it is a studied posture of someone who actually knows how things work, but pretends not to know. Sometimes I am literally that naive and that simple when it comes to politics. And then sometimes I tend to treat the political world in terms of what I want it to be, instead of in terms of what it really is. If I could just give up the naive assumptions and play the game smartly.

But then I ask myself if it is not an act of virtue to assume that things really work the way they are supposed to work? Is it not the best to force people to do what is right by constantly expressing to them that expectation?

But that said, here are two essential laws of politics that I have learned. I understand them, even if I cannot obey them. I simply do not have that sort of a poker face.

Rule #1:

One should show one’s loyalty to one’s boss no matter how much of an idiot one appears to be to those around one for doing so.

Rule #2:

It is better to be thought of as an idiot politician than to admit that one is forced to take action because of pressures from others.

3 responses to “Two essential laws of politics

  1. Craig November 7, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    I think I might have to disagree with you on this one.

    2) I think it shows a certain level of maturity to compromise ( where appropriate ) , especially when operating in a democracy . While it’s crucial to lead, you also need to acknowledge consensus – or develop it – and often political expediency , while not ideal, is required in order to practice good governance. Ideological certitude is rarely a true virtue.

    Among humans, if we seek to do more than merely command, we need to bow to pressures, lest rule become onerous.

    Acknowledging outside pressure is a sign of both honesty and transparency, as we’ll as proper public humility. It also allows the public to understand the mechanics of decision-making , which fosters civic culture.

    1) mindless and intractable loyalty in the face of reason is a major character flaw, not a virtue. If a boss or leader is erring, and seems unwilling to submit to or even perceive criticism, then the boss is a liability . You betray the public interest by arbitrary loyalty. Loyalty is not just earned, it must be continuously earned.

    One if the principal weaknesses of Korean society is the demand for face, inefficiently delivered “respect”, and arbitrary hierarchical loyalty masking institutionalized inflexibility.

    A leader must earn respect, and consistently deliver the same to the led by performing.

    Thus is why we have elections, public appointments, and public accountability.

    The very last thing we need is the glorification of some kind of mediaeval samurai or chivalrous code of loyalty.

    Inclusion necessarily diminishes centralized power and rhebsuthority that comes with it. As well as the honour accorded to leadership roles.

    This should nor bf lamented .

    • Emanuel Pastreich November 7, 2011 at 3:20 pm

      Thanks for the comment. Of course I am not trying to endorse such political assumptions. In fact, I do meet politicians and administrators who are not at all like that. But the trend is pronounced, and I believe that it is getting worse.

      • Craig November 7, 2011 at 3:54 pm

        I think you’re right about one thing: all over the world, cynicism is growing like a weed, along with rank ambition.

        It’s nice to read a blog which has no sturm und drang, less officious toadying and Hoo Rah love for Korea, but without the narcissistic criticism that many seem to level in a society where they are, fundamentally, guests.

        It’s also nice to see someone bring a philosophical approach to things that are usually the stuff of more meat and potatoes blogging.

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