Opinion by Raja Kadri
Economist, Policy Advisor and Global Affairs Analyst
Crumbling Political Ethics demands to fall back on values of virtuous counsel
The survival and nourishment of the social contract rest on fragile grounds of order and equality in the affairs of governance, economic and political. That is a universal historical truth regardless of the structure of a society.
When chaos erupts and anarchy ensues, one must ponder: what is the actual value of a virtuous counsel and how it sees and assesses the future to prepare the political class in the art of governing? Virtuous advice and counsel are the cornerstone of legitimacy and governance in a landscape filled with war, chaos, economic misery and immature global intrigue.
In an era when the majority of so-called “wisdom holders” of all social disciplines and all political faiths seek short-term, comfortable and accepted options; a virtuous counsel could be looked upon as a disturbing influence and the wisdom of foresight might be confused with pessimistic noise. That is a colossal error that must never be committed by those who are the final decision-makers of fortunes of nations, especially in an era of extreme uncertainty and turmoil.
History has shown that the existence of disorder and chaos is nothing new in human affairs. Wars and conflicts have shaped human surroundings for ages, and they will continue to do so in that manner. That is the true historical rhythm and consistent reality. Nonetheless, that is not the original sin of politics and governance. A real catastrophe occurs when too many people (within and outside the governing structure) refuse to accept that around us are always two realities at work. There is the cold-hard reality that underlies everything – socially and politically. And on the surface is a veil of deceit and compromise.
The more society compromises vital truths to enjoy the comfort of illusions, the more mind-shattering it will be when those illusions fall away. These two realities can coexist only for short periods, and they will always and eventually collide. It always happens. There is no other possible outcome. It seems that the more polarized our realities become, the more explosive and disastrous the reaction will be when the separation is removed.
Illusions are not easy entities to be destroyed. And that is a real danger to any social, economic and political order. Illusions can be a dominant force of alternative reality, particularly in an era of constant sound bites and race-to-the bottom-of-analysis mindset regarding significant issues facing the world. It is in this environment of prevailing illusions and deceptions; there emerges an exact value of virtuous counsel and the wisdom of foresight. The words spoken by Oracle can be the last line of defence between chaos and order.
Management of the crisis (potential, sudden or perpetual) and the creation of national confidence through a clear vision and roadmap to achieve that vision is the hallmark of the remarkable leadership and spectacular governing legitimacy. The presence of virtuous counsel and the wisdom of foresight allows the visionary leadership to develop a sustainable framework for the society to achieve whatever as a society it wishes to achieve, including the preparation for coming crises and how to prepare for them in advance.
A wise ruler comprehends the true value of a virtuous counsel and the wisdom of foresight. In fact, the wise counsel concerning the grave matters is the only power a leader can truly trust, especially during the chaotic social contract.
Hence, regardless of one’s ideological lens, one could not deny the fact that there is intense uncertainty, unease and discord in our contemporary world. Uncertainty about social order, economic insecurity and political instability are becoming norms, and while the world is not facing a threat of global conflict (yet), the perpetual global anxiety and strife are nonetheless real and lethal.
The fabric of a social gravity globally is out of sync and when needed the most, the serious analysis is ignored and is replaced by short-term talking points in order to misdirect the public to create powerful illusions: unemployment is going down; a revolutionary spring will replace thousands of years of tribalism with western liberal democracy; inequality is a myth; debt – both public and private is under control; binge money printing will lead to economic growth; inflation is manageable; and the economic crisis is turning the corner. Well, you get the idea. In short, it is a celebration of conventional wisdom in an era of a serious need for wisdom, thoughtfulness and foresight.
Moreover, in many parts of the world, the governments of all political stripes are scrambling for short-term solutions to help them through to the next business cycle, the next election, the next political transition. The result is a global crisis of legitimacy in the majority of the nations. Additionally, what is also essential to realize is that those who are supposed to be the voice of reason, advice and foresight, are also occupied with short-term victories and glories.
Our political and economic perspectives are formed through a dynamic and ever-changing interaction between abstract idealism, purposive strategy, emotive inclination and intuitive response. They are the provisional response to an always-incomprehensible world.
Understanding why individuals, including rulers, believe what they do and evaluating the comparative validity of their beliefs require a mode of analysis that acknowledges the entangled nature of the problems it attempts to address. That is, the actual value of virtuous counsel and the wisdom of foresight. The contemporary world is in urgent need of these virtues.
(The views expressed in the article belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion, beliefs and view point of the owners of asiannewsmakers.com)