edited: Wednesday, November 01, 2006
By Zahala San Simone
Rated "PG13" by the Author.
Posted: Wednesday, November 01, 2006
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Finally, the GOP agenda for the past few years has been revealed. It’s ‘majority-ism’.
For those of you unfamiliar, this term has been coined to describe ‘winner takes all’. The winner of a contest (in this case, the election) gets absolute power. Further, the winning group (now termed the majority—whether it is true in actual numbers or not) has the right—actually it’s more like their duty—to suppress those who challenge them.
The losers are supposed to be given only minimal successes, if any at all.
In any case, the long term effect of majority-ism is the accumulation and institutionalization of power in the hands of a specific class of people. It is a highly flawed leadership strategy.
The point of this article is to explain why. It is critical that we all understand this, particularly as we approach the mid-term elections.
Let me give you a few examples of majority-ism from the annuls of history…
Women’s suffrage. The prevailing thought was that males had better minds for politics, and as such, were the only ones deserving of the right to vote. They had the power, but whether they were the majority of the population is questionable. In any case, the principle was the same.
U.S. Slavery and Segregation. Minorities, particularly African-Americans, were considered too primitive to do anything except serve in the lowest capacities. The racial majority had the power.
The Revolutionary War. The war began because Great Britain was heavily taxing the newly formed American colonies. Britain had the power, and was the majority in the sense that they were financing the growth of the colonies.
Want more? Ok.
Iraq, under Saddam Hussein…Chile, under Pinochet…Germany, under Hitler…Watergate, under the Nixon administration…Uganda, under Idi Amin…Argentina, under Peron…Nicaragua, under Noreiga…Haiti, under Chevalier…
And so on.
Most of these leaders started out with the support of a ‘majority’ with power. So, as you can see, majority-ism has been around for longer than any of us can remember. That’s why it’s odd that the GOP selected this strategy--it has proven time and again to have terrible outcomes. In addition, the U.S. was founded on the principle that ‘all men are created equal’.
Remember these words?
“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. And to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
It is the Pledge of Allegiance, and it’s taught to every child that enters U.S. schools.
It’s also the direct opposite of majority-ism.
You’d think that a political party that calls itself ‘Republican’ would have been able to see that.
But, I digress…
Majority-ism does not seek ‘liberty and justice’ for all. Its ultimate result is the concentration of power, whether it’s drawn by party lines or otherwise, and that’s just the opposite of a ‘republic’.
In any case, the revelation of this political strategy now explains a lot of things that we’ve seen in the past 4 or 5 years. For example, as I explained in my article entitled ‘Uh Oh…More Trouble‘, the middle class has taken a huge loss in earning and political power within the Bush Administration. This is consistent with majority-ism. You see, there is no middle class in majority-ism—it’s not needed. Your position in society is not determined by your wealth, it’s determined by your ability to deliver on your promises and to devise those promises (power). So, either you have power or you don’t. There are ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’--no middles.
It also explains why it takes so long to get resolution of issues. Since the goal is not to ‘seek liberty and justice for all’, but instead to accumulate power, deals must be made within a power context. That means, for example, when gas prices were rising, oil companies had more power than the U.S. consumers. We were told that prices were rising to where they should have been all the time. However, when they kept rising, with no seeming end in sight, consumers began to cut back on spending, which began to affect the overall economy. The widespread perception that Bush and the oilmen were profiting from the rising prices, and the fact that prices were rising in an election year, changed the balance of power. The GOP saw a real possibility of being voted out of office. And, gas prices fell.
Its biggest flaw though, is that it generates the wrong kind of activity for proper governance of a nation. You see, there’s only so much power to be gained in a country—and for that matter, in the world. We’ve seen that even the most powerful rulers can’t prevent natural disasters, death, or even political instability in the world. So, after gaining the most power possible, most majority-ism-types look for a hasty escape, because their country is hungry, poor and on the verge of civil war.
The intricacies of majority-ism are relatively simple. It’s a rules based system for acquiring power. Then, once power is achieved, you simply take it easy—and squash the occasional revolt. The rules are as follows:
1. You have to first prove yourself worthy of power—meaning that you catch the attention of someone who already has power. This is usually done by coming up with an idea or having a skill that assists that person in keeping his/her power. A good example of this is Joseph in the Old Testament of the Bible. His ability to interpret dreams was valuable to the Pharaoh of Egypt.
2. Next, your idea has to be a winner. Joseph’s interpretation of Pharaoh’s dream as seven years of feast, followed by seven years of famine was correct, allowing Pharoah to enact saving and rationing. Thus, he achieved power.
3. You have to be able to conform to the leader’s program. Let’s continue with the Joseph story. Joseph initially ran into trouble when he got to Egypt, while working for Pontifer. Pontifer’s wife became attracted to him and invited him to become one of her concubines. He refused, and was jailed for it.
4. Then, you must have the ability to punish your opposition. Recent versions of majority-ism have become ‘gentrified’, meaning that instead of murdering foes, leaders have opted to simply create unwieldy processes and channels to frustrate them, in the hope that they will either give up, or realize that they will never get anything done unless they go through the group with power. If that doesn’t work, they are discredited through a vigorous program of lies or subversion.
5. Majority-ism requires that its followers spend a lot of time with other power types, because it’s important to stay connected. Those connections could be friend or foe—it doesn’t matter. The gauge is how much power they have which impacts YOU, because the power game is never fully safe. Others with power usually want more, and your power is always a target. So, it’s important to keep abreast of what other camps are doing.
6. Majority-ism mandates public display. You need to spend time proving that you deserve power, can wield it, and that you’re secure in that power. That means that you both reward and retaliate publicly.
7. Finally, there’s a component of mental manipulation in majority-ism. Hope for change of the existing power structure must be controlled or destroyed. That way, your power becomes entrenched for a longer term
With that said, let’s talk about why majority-ism is an inefficient way to govern. Let’s take something that most of us can relate to—the average manager working in a company—for an example. How much productive time will he, being a power broker, have in any given business day?
My guess is about 2 hours. Here’s how I got that number:
1. He begins the day with a power meeting. This is consistent with the public display, and connecting with other power brokers. It must be done so that our manager will know what he should be doing that day. Whether it’s a confab with allies, or a tense meeting with foes, he’s got to have this information in order to ensure that no power is lost today.
Total time spent: 1.5 hours
2. Then he goes to his office, and responds to emails. He must reinforce his power over those without appropriate power who address him. They get the run around, or a flat out ‘no’. Those with the correct power pedigree get his time. He responds by offering his support (with a ‘maybe’ or a ‘yes’) then, if he’s smart, he spends some time networking with them by phone, or thinking of things that they can do for him as well.
Total time spent: 1 hour.
3. Next, he has lunch with the boss, or follows the correct protocol for lunch. Perhaps a working lunch is the call of the day. Since he’s actually produced little tangible results today, he tries to get a couple of things done. Still, he’s careful not to work too hard—he doesn’t want to show up his allies by producing too much, or standing out.
Total time spent: 2 hours.
4. Now, it’s off to meetings. A couple in the afternoon, with no intent of generating any resolutions, unless it’s already been approved by his coalition. If not, he’ll give non-answers, until he meets with the other power brokers again in the morning. He gathers information to take back to them—this increases his usefulness to those with power.
Total time spent: 2.5 hours.
5. Finally, he returns to his office to diarize his day. After all, accuracy is important. He wants to make sure that he remembers everything, just in case he needs it—for reward, retaliation or personal protection.
Total time spent: 1 hour.
So, in this simple example, our manager has spent about 2 hours (at lunchtime) of an 8 hour day producing tangible results. But, he is doing exactly what he should be in an environment that promotes the accumulation of power.
By the way, it doesn’t matter if the day is extended to 10, 12 or 16 hours, the ratio will pretty much remain the same, about 25%.
Let me give you an alternate example.
Another manager works in a company that is run as a republic. A republic can loosely be defined as a structured democracy.
1. This manager has goals and objectives that have been aligned to the corporate objectives. The mission of this company is clear, and it frowns upon majority-ism. The accumulation of power except for the advancement of the company’s goals is discouraged. This company focuses instead on productivity, and wants ideas from every employee, through the proper channels, from the lowest to the highest. So, she begins her day by reading her email. She carefully weighs the message in each, and responds in a manner consistent with her goals. Approvals and denials are based on that. She also delegates/assigns work, again according to her goals.
Total time spent: 1.5 hours.
2. Next, she meets with her manager to ensure that she is using her energy in a manner that is consistent with company goals, to find out if there are any other initiatives she should be working on, and to give updates on what has transpired since they last met.
Time spent: 1.5 hours.
3. Finally, she spends the rest of the afternoon working, after taking lunch as she sees fit—to shop, dine with friends, etc. Because she doesn’t have to worry about keeping her rung in the power ladder, she is free to use her lunch as she pleases. In afternoon meetings, she is expected to make decisions, but she has the right to reserve judgment until she gets more information. She feels comfortable in communicating goals down to her staff, to make sure that they are in sync with what the company has directed her to do.
Time spent working after lunch: 5 hours.
Although this is a highly simplified example, it still makes the same point. Our republic manager gets more done than our manager in majority-ism, because her focus is different. Power seeks to control others. Productivity seeks to generate results.
If you can see the difference, then you now understand why majority-ism is inefficient. It’s simply a matter of how much gets done, and who benefits from the work. In majority-ism, the benefit is for the ‘majority’ with power. In a republic, or at least a semblance of one, the benefit is always spread across a larger constituency, simply because of the differing focus.
I know you're saying, "But it never works out that way."
That may appear to be true . The difference is that a majority-ism actively seeks to eliminate controls that do not favor the majority, however that's defined. A republic, by its very nature, must encourage distribution of power, usually via an electoral vote, and veto authority within separate branches of government. Without these safeguards, it's simply not a republic.
The saddest result of majority-ism is that it almost always encourages some form of discrimination. Although the name appears to indicate that it means ‘majority rule’, the ‘majority’ rarely translates into population size. It could be as few as 10 people wielding absolute power over thousands.
Just so you know, the typical justification for majority-ism is that it is an ‘inevitable’ fact of globalization. Its proponents will show fancy models of the world population distribution, and say that it’s simply ‘evolutionary’ that a class of leaders and rulers will develop on planet Earth.
What they fail to mention is that human beings, when given absolute power, almost always become corrupted. There are few examples in our history of people that have walked with great power, for long periods of time, and have not abused it. When you find these rare examples, they usually have deep religious or moral convictions.
And then, somebody usually assassinates them.
So now that you know more about majority-ism--watch out for it. Don’t be fooled into thinking that it means ‘majority rule’. It’s a veiled term for dividing societies into two classes, citizens that ‘have power’ and those that ‘have no power’.
And, God may be the only one who can help you if you end up on the wrong side of that equation.
See you at the top!