ADVERSARIAL POLITICS

While our economic system is critical, the ability of politicians to pass legislation which influences almost every aspect of our lives, makes our political structures the most important of all in our human system. Politicians are elected to represent us so should faithfully represent the naturally balanced nature of our collective mind. To do so, they should operate within a political system which is an outer-world manifestation of our optimised inner world; offering opposing tendencies towards conservative order and liberal freedom but ultimately delivering dynamic stability, balanced coherence and an environment in which healthy competition takes place within an overarching spirit of mutual co-operation. Yet it is no co-incidence that most Western democracies are structured around just two political parties, one representing the perspective of our conservative left mind, the other advocating the views of our liberal right mind. Whether Republican and Democratic or Conservative versus Labour, parties actually operate within political structures created by the dualistic left mind, which is adversarial in nature and more competitive than co-operative. Remember, our left mind automatically sees everything as two polar opposites, while our right mind recognises polarity but seeks to integrate and synthesise. Only an out-of-control left mind could design a political system in which it is effectively pitted against our right mind, in a winner-takes-all competition. Yet, due to the powerful cultural dominance of scientific materialism, most Western democracies still employ just such a system, rather than one which facilitates valuable collaboration between our two minds.

The reason often offered in support of the UK’s adversarial, first-past-the-post system, is that it provides the greatest order while alternatives will lead to chaos. We can almost hear the confabulating cogs of the left mind turning to produce such a rationale. While, from the point of view of the winning party, it may well be more stable to have a single party (and single brain hemisphere) dominate for a five-year term of government, it does very little for the quality of cognitive output created. Nor is it beneficial for the health of the whole ecosystem, if we experience periodic cycles in which the pendulum swings from a left-minded, right-wing party to a right-minded, left-wing party. Once we grasp the degree to which our key political polarities and their concomitant parties are a direct manifestation of our two minds, we may realise that an adversarial, winner-takes-all system makes exactly as much sense as asking our heart to run our body, while our lungs take a vacation. Like our vital organs, our two minds must work together to create coherence and so should it be with our politicians, the representative organs of our political system. 

Unfortunately, we’d only need to watch Parliament in action for five minutes to see that the ‘game’ many politicians are asked to play makes collaboration very difficult because, within any adversarial system, competition is strongly incentivised over co-operation. Party lines are clearly drawn and members are often ‘whipped’ to vote in accordance with the wishes of their party. Tribalism and unquestioning loyalty to one’s in-group therefore become paramount. For the left mind, a first-past-the-post system is always optimal because it allows the largest party to dominate parliament, even with a minority of popular support. This winner-takes-all attitude is a mantra of the left mind and as a consequence all parties, irrespective of their natural inclination, are strongly incentivised to spin, lie, cheat, threaten and manipulate, in order to come out on top. Once elected, decisions which should be made for the good of the whole community are not made via the consensual interplay of opposing minds, but by the imposition of the will of one group on everyone else - exactly the preferred mechanism of the power-hungry left mind.

The right mind is also in danger of becoming disengaged, if continually forced to play against an aggressively adversarial opponent. When the rules of engagement are dictated by the competitive left mind, it becomes almost impossible to work towards collaborative win:win solutions if your counterpart is only willing to play a game of win:lose. It also becomes disadvantageous for any participant to be open, honest and to play the game fairly, if an opponent will do whatever it takes to win at any cost. Many instinctive liberals are therefore put off, by the system itself, from participating in politics and research shows that women in particular find the nature of male-dominated, adversarial discourse to be unappealing. The very kind of people who might therefore bring greater hemispheric balance to politics are often under-represented within parliaments, as are those from a working-class background who could provide counterweight to the exclusively middle or upper class upbringing of elites. Consequently, any attempts to radically alter the system, from within the system itself, tend to be resisted by those with most to gain from the preservation of the status quo. Those liberals who are courageous enough to enter the fray, soon encounter obstacles to change which drain their energy or they may simply ‘catch the culture’, sucked into playing the game as it currently stands and losing sight of the need for structural change to the system itself. In order to perform more effectively within the prevailing system, ideologically-liberal individuals (or parties) may even become tempted to dial up the influence of the left mind to enhance their ability to compete and, in doing so, lose touch with their core values.

All political parties will ultimately act in their own self-interest, so it is up to voters to create the conditions in which their self-interest is aligned with a new, more consensual, less competitive style of politics. The first-past-the-post system is sustained by Labour and the Conservatives because it almost guarantees one of them a majority, yet it is clearly in the self-interest of most citizens that the politicians they elect actively collaborate to develop and execute policies which reflect the balanced wishes of the majority of the electorate, rather than simply imposing the views of the largest minority on everyone else. Some citizens do campaign for a voting mechanism which delivers a more proportional representation of elected MP’s to votes cast for each party, but in a referendum in 2011 a proposal to replace first-past-the-post with a more proportional Alternative Vote system, was rejected by the UK electorate. Research regularly shows that we don’t always act in our own best interests. Indeed, we live in cultures in which most of our major societal structures have been created by the left mind, in which aggressive competitiveness is revered and rewarded, collaboration is perceived as disloyalty, and co-operation can be considered a sign of weakness. Perhaps most significantly, many of us have become so disenfranchised by the self-evident flaws in our political systems that we have simply given up on them and, in doing so, have gifted their dominion to elites who abuse them and therefore abuse us. Our political systems were designed for a bygone era, in which the wealthy and influential decided how society should be ordered, but in these post-modern, technology-enabled times with a highly educated and widely connected citizenry, there can be no excuse for anyone being disengaged from politics or failing to have a say in how our world is shaped. At some point we may wake up to the fact that our political and economic systems do not have to be as they are - dominated by elites working in collaboration with corporations and the mainstream media. They can change and ordinary people can change them.

By elevating our personal consciousness to become more aware of the deep flaws in our current political system, and more engaged with politicians and their policies, we can better influence them to develop the economic, social and technological structures we need to build a better future for our planet and everyone on it. Carl Jung’s words are possibly even more relevant today than when he wrote them ‘A mood of universal destruction and renewal….has set its mark on our age…..Coming generations will have to take account of this momentous transformation if humanity is not to destroy itself through the might of its own technology and science…..So much is at stake and so much depends on the psychological constitution of modern man…Does the individual know that he is the makeweight that tips the scales ?