Sunday, May 07, 2017

Synthesis And Checks-And-Balances

Whenever I had any kind of success, any number of people thought that that was unfair.

This is funny. This is funny because many people all over the world have told me that it is unfair that Americans have what they do because they themselves work harder, study harder and put more effort into their personal development than do the Americans. To see the same sentiment expressed by people in America about a Russian immigrant is very ironic indeed.

This brings me to a much more important subject than my own experience. And that is, Can Russia and America get along? I believe that this is possible, but it will require mature behavior on both sides. We can't have hooligans in Moscow beating up American tourists. We can't have American men marrying Russian women and treating them like dirt. In both cases we see major nuclear powers. It becomes incumbent on both Trump and Putin to tell their followers to behave responsibly.

I have loyalties both in Russia and in America. I seek the best for both countries. I have seen great qualities on the part of people both in Russia and in America. I have also seen jerks in both countries. I want the best both for Russia and for America.

The model for solving this and any number of other debates is that of synthesis within the framework of checks and balances. At the bottom level, each side checks the other's capacity for wrongdoing by affirming its legitimate prerogatives. At the top level, they synthesize with one another to achieve what neither can accomplish by itself. The first recognizes - and corrects - the real capacity that people have for wrongdoing. The second recognizes - and vitalizes - the capacity that people have for doing things that are right. This recognizes and works with both the destructive and the constructive potentials in people. All people are capable of doing right. All people are capable of doing wrong. The workable solution is to correct the destructive potentials - once again, by each side affirming its rightful prerogatives - and vitalize the capacity for constructive, productive and mutually beneficial action by working together to address common concerns and achieve mutual benefit.

Both the concept of checks-and-balances and the concept of synthesis have been used to create global superpowers. Both however are capable of wrongdoing. Checks and balances by itself leads to gridlock; synthesis by itself leads to totalitarianism. The two correct each other's destructive potentials. Checks and balances, with each side affirming its rightful prerogatives, keeps the two sides from walking all over each other. And synthesis makes it possible to achieve mutual benefit and accomplish win-win scenarios.

Now the concept of synthesis is associated with Communism. However it is not limited to Pol Pot. Steven Covey, an American business psychologist, advocates something that he calls synergy: The parties to any given deal putting their heads together to achieve what neither can by itself, that benefits both parties to the deal. This can happen in all interactions. However it is also necessary to put into place mechanisms to prevent wrongdoing. Hence the logic of combining synthesis with checks and balances.

The biggest argument against idealistic schemes is that we are living in a world of sinners. Certainly people are capable of all sorts of wrong; but they are capable of doing good as well. It is necessary to understand both and it is necessary to work with both. Checks and balances corrects capacity for wrongdoing. Synthesis makes it possible to achieve beneficial results.

The error of Communists - and that of Hobbes before that - was failing to see the destructive potentials in the state, resulting in a series of horrible governments. The libertarian error is that of seeing these potentials only in the government and not in business, families, communities, tribes and religions. In fact both people affiliated with governments and people not affiliated with governments are capable of all sorts of destructive behavior. However that is not the only thing of which people are capable. People are also capable of doing all sorts of good; and that is as much the case for people who join governments as it is for people who are not affiliated with a government.

If people are sinners then that is equally true of people who are in the government and people who are not in the government. And if people are good then that is likewise true of both. I see no reason to see the government-affiliated people as being better or worse than non-government-affiliated people; both are people, both are capable of both right and wrong.

This human reality - toward both destructive and constructive potentials - must be acknowledged in political and economic policies. The government is neither God nor Satan. Both government-affiliated people and non-government-affiliated people are capable of both rightful and wrongful behavior. The Russian mafia is not better than Gorbachev. The Church of Scientology is not better than the EPA. All people, whether part of government or not, are capable of both right and wrong.

This reality is dealt with in the methodology of synthesis within the framework of check and balance.


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