8.1 The Reconstruction Needed for a Scientifically Rational Politics


As we turn from values now to actual socio-political action it has to be confessed that the elements of uncertainty in the last chapter due to having to lean on a social science which does not yet exist are still further magnified. When the essence of the present chapter is ultimately developed in some "Beyondist Guide to Social Construction," of the future, containing actual blueprints for action, it will need to rest firmly on a still larger volume, "An Encyclopedia of the Quantitative Social Sciences." Although there may thus be doubts at present as to what degree of this or that political measure is desirable, it should nevertheless be clear by now that the whole conception of what are important measures is very different indeed from current discussion. The entrenched warfare of reactionaries and radicals today is surely concerned with the wrong aspects of the wrong questions. In essence they are disputing points in the construction of a stagecoach when the social scientists would like to talk about the calculations needed regarding jets. The clamor, meanwhile, of the young for "responsibility" and "relevance" in the social sciences, though partly misguided, in failing to recognize that the greatest advances came from disinterested basic research, at least does well to serve notice to the politician and the scientist that they have now to get together and on new issues and new solutions that the scientist proposes.

Unless this is done our age faces a serious danger of general breakdown of social morale. When issues become too confused, and the political machinery for handling them is remote from what is demanded, societies typically suffer a loss of morale. This has been evident before in old and decadent cultures, burdened with inconsistencies that no one can solve. While Western culture is probably not as badly off as many, the disturbances of the last decade show that the system is baffling to the idealism and energies of youth, and increasingly burdened with parasitic growths.

In science we would not ask a vote from a large number of citizens as to whether a particular virus strain is the best for testing the oncogene theory of cancer, nor whether simple structure or confactor rotation better define the concept validity of a measure of anxiety, though both cancer and anxiety are public concerns. It is recognized that for a meaningful decision we need to be sure that (a) the judges are equally adequately informed and educated on the facts and principles needed, and (b) the consequences of the decision in terms of their lives are understood. The conditions in contemporary political decisions are very far indeed from these, and neither a successful business organization nor scientific research could safely be left to the institutional machinery by which decisions are made affecting the life of a nation. The fact that this machinery is probably better than it used to be cannot disguise from an intelligent citizen that it is so obsolete, and remote from what a genius or even an average academy member in social science could devise that it is scarcely worth taking seriously. By the present political rules, half understood issues are submitted in unnecessarily confused combinations of "package deals" to judges educationally unequipped to deal with them and subject to strong biases. Meanwhile none of the participants in the decisions are provided with a scientifically-based, clear framework of value dimensions by means of which the real disagreements of the parties concerned could at least be focused in objective, quantitative terms.

With such conditions the miracle is that three thousand million people rise in the morning, keep themselves tolerably washed, dressed and fed, work hard enough to provide a minimal education for the next generation and get themselves to bed again without worse disasters in terms of war, famine, crime, and plague than we currently experience. But the present day politician walks a tightrope, and the chance of a complete loss of balance by some surge of collective human passion and irrationality is appreciable despite even the modern "organizational revolution" (Boulding, 1953). It would be an unrealistic social scientist who would venture to predict at any time that some form of massive catastrophe, or, worse, massive stagnation and regression, is not an immediate possibility. This is no condemnation of the politician, who, considering the irrationality and defective information of those with whom he has to deal, performs marvels of intuitive and artistic skill. As Bismarck said, "Politics is the art of the possible." Chaos and anarchy are the natural state of man, and any form of order and constructive movement in the forms of society to which we have so far stumbled is a matter for gratitude. Thomson's (1964) documented study of the process of political decisions in the twelve days before World War I is a sufficient example to indite the inadequacy of traditional political machinery.

The science that might help us transcend this rule of thumb political science is, as I have argued with technical appraisal elsewhere at the moment, the most backward of the social sciences, pursued with little method than that of historical, non-quantitative observation and pursued more by tendentious "rights" and "lefts" than by scientists. Only in the last decade, in the fine mathematical enquiries of such as Alker (Alker and Russett, 1965), Rummel (1963), Deutsch (1965), Wrigley (1963), Merritt (1970) and similar pioneers, has it begun to seek empirical laws and more subtle and precise concepts than those with which purely literary trained journalists seem content to operate[1].

For the citizen who is convinced that it is time to move ahead definitely on Beyondist principles there are two questions to be answered: (1) On which of the presently-known, intuitively and historically reached systems of social government can we best proceed for the next two or three generations while social science is building a more efficient system? and (2) what is research already beginning to indicate as the direction of political evolution? As to the first, though it is a desirable condition for evolution that men should tend to be loyal to the diverse systems they have sponsored, yet it must surely be considered an open question scientifically at the present moment as to which of past and present alternative political forms is best. The earlier Greek communities, and many others since, have found government by the "best" people (aristocracy, from aristos = good) best. Dictatorships have been able to bring about rapid changes of culture (e.g., Japan in 1945-1950), hobbled by fewer checks than those which democracies maintain. Oligarchies, such as that of Venice in its high period of economic and cultural splendor, have proved effective, far-seeing and stable[2]. The word "elite" is a bad one in this generation, yet most of the benefits which distinguish our way of life from that of four hundred years ago are due to a highly selected elite of scientists, engineers and medical researchers who chose to impose upon themselves a disciplined and creative way of life totally different from that accepted in the life pattern of the majority.

However, in order not to be misled by a word, let us note that the "great contributors" we have just recognized as a true elite were neither a social elite nor an elite in political power. Whether in the long run there can be success when an elite governs in freedom from democratic controls is quite a different issue. It is, however, at least clear that an openly recruited elite, as a governing group, can give long term stability of standards, as in the government of universities and of the Catholic Church (and the twelve generations of the Grand Council of Venice). The question of how well an elite works is not raised here as a merely academic and historical issue. For with the increasing complexity of a world of advanced technology, and, especially, the growing understanding of society itself in complex scientific terms, the day is approaching when it will be imperative in some way to accommodate the will of the majority to an elite of scientific advisors in government, as discussed in more detail in Chapter 9 below.

Democracy, which, on the experience of Greek city-states, was believed by Plato to degenerate naturally into a tyranny, actually covers a multitude of sub-species, some of which may not so degenerate. Although it seems to appear wherever strong, individualistic, independent types get together, as in the Greek cities, and in the first parliament, set up by the Vikings, as Scandinavian settlers in Iceland, a thorough social psychological investigation would doubtless show the style of democracy to vary along several distinct dimensions. People who have the conviction that it is primarily an expression of Christian belief in the worth of the individual may find themselves thinking it is primarily a form of the Christian view of charity, and thus finish up by believing that Democracy is a direct social expression of Christianity. Parenthetically, with the inherent uncertainties of interpretation, it is surprising what Christianity is made to cover politically. For example, the late Dean of Canterbury became a Communist, asserting that Communism is not a Christian heresy, as most theologians might style it, but Christianity itself. It is almost certainly more correct to give political democracy an origin outside Christianity in the Greek city states and the independent spirit engendered in early North European and North American exploration and expansion. Christianity then attempted to capture it to Christian ideology, but it has retained a spirit of its own, e.g., in the Protestant ethic, private enterprise, faith in the independent individual, and local political freedom. It is obviously not an unvarying concept.

Open-minded though one must be to further developments, democracy has given appreciable pragmatic proof of its basic suitability for a progressive social system (de Tocqueville, 1947), and indeed of the kind required by Beyondism. It has proved a more favorable climate for scientific thought than most political systems, and, above all, it offers a machinery for continuous evolution. It is one of the few systems in which violent revolution, with all its costs and reverberating distortions, is unnecessary for progress.

The directions in which one suspects that an evolutionary moral value system would want to develop democracy, for the sake of more rational and efficient political procedures, less confusing and time consuming, would be (a) in clarifying the dimensions of voting values involved, and (b) in separating decisions on felt wants or goals, from decisions on means or machinery.

If we consider a fairly typical array of everyday disputed issues on which political decisions have to be made e.g., the fraction of the national income needing to be devoted to scientific research, especially in social science and moral enquiry, the desirable magnitude of wage differentials; the operation of medical, unemployment and educational allowances; the freedom of advertisement, especially in regard to socially undesirable products and socially vulnerable groups (such as the young); the taxation of religious and business corporations and monopolies; the freedom or manipulation of economic incentives to operate in choice of work and migration; the adjustment of income and other taxation to give comparative reward to different kinds of social behavior, and the relative role of government and private capital in deciding directions of production it is at once evident that the average voter is being asked to make decisions both on changes which effect his wants and on technical issues of means to ends. The democratic regard for the individual requires that due weight be given to the fact that many individuals would like, say, more medical attention. But as to the measures by which this can be brought about, and as to the rate at which increased medical attention will translate into, say, a requirement for reduced unemployment security, only expert doctors and economists can decide.

In the rest of this chapter some illustrations will be given of how the separation of values and means may work out on a few of these questions. But it should be made clear here at the outset that our purpose is not to get deeply involved in the grosser disputes of the day. There is a temptation, from interest's sake to do this; but space forbids the detailed investigation needed, and our purpose remains as in Chapter 7 to bring out Beyondist values by well-chosen illustrative cases.

The proposal here to separate wants and values, concerning which every individual counts equally, from technical means, concerning which democracy must be prepared increasingly, in a scientifically complex age, to defer to trusted (but hired and watched) groups of specialists, could lead to very substantial technical advances in the decision processes. Psychologists could even today devise analytical voting procedures that would make politics a more exact science, and eliminate the frustration and bewilderment which now destroy morale and render agreement on even simple goals hard to attain. As to wants and values, the important advance needed is a clear analysis of the dimensions along which wants and values can vary. In individual psychology what has been called the dynamic calculus (Delhees, 1968) is making quantitative treatment possible. And in the domain of social values a series of factor analytic studies by Morris (1956), Rummel (1970), Singer (1965), Wrigley (1963), Eysenck (1954), Merritt (1970), Gouldner (Gouldner and Peterson, 1962), Digman (Digman and Tuttle, 1961), and others on social attitudes, as well as our own and others' work (Cattell and Stice, 1969; Fiedler, 1965; Borgatta and Meyer, 1956; Gibb, 1969) on group dynamics, is demonstrating that (1) improved means can be found for making clear, and separating the temperamental, emotional-irrational, from the rational cognitive bases for the present poorly organized groupings of people in partisan activities, and that (2) in the decisions which groups and their leaders have to make, much more could be done to separate the decision on wants or needs, on the one hand, from those on ways and means, on the other.

Parenthetically, one must distinguish between the dimensions of values in some ideal sense, as in the work of, say, Morris or Gorsuch, and the dimensions of actual political party action, such as emerge in the factoring of dimensions of congressional voting, etc. Ultimately we need the former, but even the latter would reveal more realistically and closely what we are really voting about than the battered, journalistic stereotypes in which voters and particulary the uncritical and the intellectual young get entrapped. Some of these terms, like Communist, Fascist, racist, capitalist, imperialist, etc., are totally misunderstood by the user and indeed, become little better than terms of abuse[3]. Nowhere in the true sciences does discussion descend to such dismally empty tropes as in political science and political argument. Such terms as "right wing," "left wing," "liberal," "conservative," "Fascist," "democrat," "authoritarian," constantly utilized as powerful emotional slogans even by "educated" students are now shapeless excreta of dead issues, from which the intentions and ultimate values of the partisan are indeterminable. The "right" and "left" polarity, while not completely meaningless, confuses a dimension "have"-vs-"have not" with one of "progressive-vs-unenterprising" and is empty of most of the important value differences that one would want to express. For, as the multivariate analyses of Gregg and Banks (1965) and many others show, it requires at least seven independent polar dimensions to encompass the political direction qualities. Similarly, the research of Alker and Russett (1965) on voting behavior in the U.S. General Assembly again shows that any simple "progressive"-vs-"conservative" conceptualization is quite unequal to describing a five or six dimensional domain of behavior. In other words, the intentions of any voter (and this would be true in values alone, before we ever come to means) require that separate scores or votes be recorded on at least seven dimensions if "information" is not to be lost. Naturally (though space forbids our illustrating them here), it would clarify the voter's expression of his wants and values if he were educated, say in high school, to recognize clearly the nature of these distinct dimensions along which he needs to record his wants. Meanwhile, in any case, he is largely forced by the party system, and encouraged to believe by the language of the journalist, that there is only one dimension of political expression right and left.

A generation ago, as evident in the writings, for example, of Shaw (1944) and Wells (1903) (and, it is to be confessed the present writer, 1933a), it seemed that democracy was to be improved principally by raising the intelligence of the voting population (an echo of the nineteenth century perception that "we must educate our masters"). The above writers, Graham Wallas (1914) and countless practical men advocated that the right to vote be given only to those of proven education, e.g., having historical knowledge adequate to the issue, an I.Q. of 90 or more, and perhaps five years of experience after reaching adult years of the problems of a citizen. The trend is now away from this Jeffersonian concept voting is to go down to seventeen years of age (educational level disregarded) and may yet go to six. Only if we view voting as a statement of wants does this even begin to make sense. (Indeed, if this is what we are seeking at the polls, it is a pity the recording cannot go to those in the womb, and the unconceived citizens of two generations hence, whose wants will be affected by the decisions.) So long as the voting on means is done by experts, this shift from a democratic assessment of means to an assessment of wants is an advance that should be pursued with all possible technical aids.

Granted that a democratic assessment of wants, and an expert evaluation of means is broadly what social science would indicate, then we can surely count on science to develop new designs of political machinery far more capable than those we now habitually use of implementing these intentions. Even if we keep conservatively within the method of committee meetings and decisions, many innovations could be introduced which avail themselves better of individual talents and conflict resolution devices. Roberts' Rules of Order are surely only a trivial advance on the procedures when primitive men agreed to prop their clubs warily by the cave side and get together for a parley. Both, in committees and in law courts, the present rules are little more than devices for orderly talk. There are numerous devices including immediate use of computers; automatic signals of degree of understanding, approval, etc., registering on the table, for all participants; rapid retrieval of information from library storage; use of logic machines, etc. that could be suggested by group dynamics' researchers for enhancing the speed, reliability and validity of group judgments. Incidentally, the stagnation and primitiveness of legal procedure greater than that even of business executive committee traditions is an instance of the natural consequence of an unfortunately unavoidable monopoly. As the Governor of Illinois, R. B. Ogilvie, himself a lawyer, recently stated, any American business operated with the archaic procedures which we accept as normal in our courts would have gone bankrupt long ago. Every question has more than the two sides of "motion" and "amendment." Political discussion and decision-making are undoubtedly scheduled for enormous improvement if progressive, imaginative social scientists are given a free hand.

The principle of separating wants from means though there are all degrees of interaction of these (see the dynamic lattice, Cattell, 1959) could bring about improvement not only in within-group but also in international and general inter-group decisions. In the application of "counting of heads" to the voting of nations, however, we see one of those false transfers, due to verbal analogy, which constitutes besetting weaknesses of the human mind. As argued elsewhere in this book, if voting is to be a substitute for war then it must recognize weighted votes appropriate to each of the nations concerned. The justification for the democratic vote among individuals is that the outcome of any war among factions, apart from its terrible cost, is statistically likely to finish up much the same as a sheer count of the number in each faction would indicate. Except in unusual instances of "correlated error," e.g., where, say, we are counting a vote of the have-nots to expropriate an almost equal number of competents, the approximation made in voting of discounting differences of competence probably yields much the same result as an actual power struggle without the waste. But among groups giving an equal vote to countries, classes, religious denominations, etc., of quite different size and development becomes absurd. Already, in U.N.O., it begets all kinds of trouble. As Lindbergh has well asked (1970, page 169): "How can we measure the strength and influence of a nation and give it a peaceful means of representation equal to that it can demand and enforce by arms? Yet unless we can find some means of doing so, how can any representative body hope to run the world? I think that is the reason the League of Nations failed and the reason why such leagues have failed in the past and will continue to fail in the future until some means of measuring human character and strength is found. Counting heads is not satisfactory. If we carried that system to its logical conclusion, India and China would rule the world. Representation in proportion to geographical area is worse and not even to be considered seriously. What then can we fall back upon? There is no tangible measure. When agreement fails in matters of vital importance among strong nations, war is likely to result. It is the method of decision we have resorted to in the past, and I see no indication that we will be able to leave it in the future. The most we can do is to reduce the frequency of wars by intelligent agreements among groups of peoples, mutually beneficial, and backed by sufficient armed strength to make war in opposition unprofitable."

"The measuring of human character and strength" is precisely what the social psychologist is aiming to do in the work on the dimensions of cultures and populations discussed on pages 133, 135, and 137 above [section 4.4. -CA]. And though it is in crude infancy, the work will yet supply the calculus that will avoid war.

A more specific translation of these principles into institutions is deferred to Chapter 9, where we consider the practical steps for amalgamation of research and politics. The development of the nervous system of animals, however, gives us general support for the above conception of separate registering and analysis of wants and means in the single organic group. For by a "wants" count the autonomic system collects and adjusts information from the internal milieu and by a "means" evaluation the central nervous system decides the necessary adjustive steps for meeting the internal demands.

In summary of this section, present political organization though better than government as known to Ghengis Khan or Julius Caesar, is still a hopelessly archaic "game" in relation to the real tasks and purposes of a modern society. Although evolution of small advances is usually more peaceful than when large ones are demanded, and although the Beyondist changes of political formulation here envisaged are as radical as, say, the change from a four legged to an upright-posture in the hominids, a well-supported social science might yet hope to work them out constructively in a generation, by (1) the shift of broad democratic decision to wants and of technical decisions to a democracy of specialists, (2) the training of political leaders in social science, (3) the shift of ethical and other values in social reform from a dogmatic, revealed to an evolutionary, scientifically derived basis, and (4) the setting up of a "ministry of evolution" or the equivalent thereof to enable changes of revolutionary magnitude to be made by evolutionary methods. This last is inherent in scientific method, but has been lacking from human social organization, which has been a history of painful revolutions (Petrie, 1911) always more violent, and with more undesirable "side effects" than need have been. Changes of equal magnitude and suddenness have occurred in scientific "revolutions" (Kuhn, 1962; Price, 1961; Riddle, 1948) but they have been handled by a more "flexible" evolutionary procedure. The whole formulation of present day politics as a battle between a radical, allegedly progressive party and a conservative, supposedly dedicatedly reactionary party is an absurdity. Parties representing different directions of progressive action different within the limits of scientific approximation offer a more reasonable design for decisions.















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