Eupsychian Democracy

Sam Cannon

Maslow : Democracy  ::  Einstein : Physics

As you read, think of a society that passes this test.

There was a story on NPR recently about America exporting its democracy--whether we are being genuinely altruistic or, as Martin Luther King, Jr. wondered, arrogant when we impose our form of government on others. There is little doubt that the U.S. has the power to impose its will upon other nations. He who has the biggest stick can be dominant. There are two critical assumptions, however, that we are making. First, assume that democracy is the most superior system--the very best man has to offer; and second, that democracy has only one flavor. If we examine history, there is an interesting parallel. Henry Ford would sell any color of car as long as it was black. He not only made a color choice for everyone, but also ignored the Amish, who embraced a "greener" form of transportation. So we should ask ourselves about both the car and the color. Are we offering a green Edsel when when there just might be a better and longer lasting vehicle to motor us all to true community?

Abraham Maslow mentions something in his writings(1,2) that we should think about carefully when we mentor and direct others. The finding is simple but exquisitely tricky. Maslow notes that even though it can make people uncomfortable and sometimes resentful, there simply are superior people. There are people who are more intelligent than others, more capable at mathematics, more capable at writing, etc. It follows, then that there are human beings who are better choosers than others--better choosers for diet; better choosers in terms of medical diagnosis; better choosers for using one equation over another; better choosers for which tree is better for making a sailboat; better choosers for where to punch a hole in the ground for an oil well, etc. An old experiment, for example, shows that in the cafeteria situation where there are all kinds of foods to choose from, dominant and superior chickens will choose the best food not only for themselves, but for all chickens. If weaker and less perceptive chickens eat the chosen food, they, too will become stronger. If this is true, then there must also be better choosers for which form of government is best for the human species. If these superior choosers are also dominant and self-serving, they are called "aggridants." Keep in mind the altruistic nature here.

As to the system, Maslow offers more guidance. If we follow his thinking, there are at least two crucial factors to consider. First, he said, "a good society is one in which virtue pays." If we agree, then superior government grows and rewards virtue, and percolates virtuous representatives into leadership (choosing) positions. The critical assumption is that our elected choosers are the very best our society has to offer. For Maslow, the good society is also synergic (as defined by Ruth Benedict). Synergy is the social calculus that results in a syndication of benefits. Systems are arranged in such a way that what benefits one benefits all. In a synergic system, we find "elegant selfishness." If one acts in a selfish way to get something good for himself, the act benefits everyone, just like the "selfish" (dominant) and superior chicken helps all of the chickens. Synergic government, then, fosters and grows synergy-- puts it into motion for the entire society. Our choosers are the most selfish among us, and they are selfish about having "all the people" grow stronger and endure. There is no zero sum. All are winners. Dichotomies are transcended. It is one society, not a society, for example, of rich and poor, black and white, etc. Two concepts, then, synergy and dominant and superior leaders(aggridants) are at the heart of eupsychian democracy.

If we think deeply about American democracy, we might begin to wonder about what we want to impose on the rest of our species. Are we finished with the American Dream, or is truly eupsychian government still on the horizon? In eupsychian democracy (which is, I would argue, the real American Dream), those people who have been given the onerous responsibility for choosing for all of us are our best specimens, and always operate in a synergic way. If what we have now falls short of the eupsychian ideal (i.e. if there are any at the top who can't be trusted absolutely, who line their own pockets at the expense of others, allow themselves to be bribed, are authoritarions, etc.) then there is error in the system.

If we export and instantiate a corrupted system, then we are responsible for the corruption which results, just as any dictator is responsible for his actions. Should we perhaps hear a little voice whispering "hubris" in our ear? And should we think for just a moment about what might be on the mind of terrorists, rather than just killing them? They, too, are human beings, even though they are under-developed poor choosers in terms of tactics. One might worry about the nation that uses killing as a problem-solving technique. This does not value the sick and feeble of mind. Terrorism is a mental health issue, after all. Surely there are some terrorists who would give their lives for a good cause, if they had healthy mentors.

Our assignment must be to look around the world for the the best human beings we can find. If we focus our minds on the best and the healthiest rather than the sick and feeble of mind, we can begin to work the social calculus (B-calculus) to our best advantage. Painful as it might be, we should agree with the United Nations when we accept that there can be dictatorships which are healthy. Good mentors do exist. Else, why would we have our spiritual icons? Why would we want to put another Ghandi out of business if he was moving toward a better system? Democracy involves a special form of dictatorship, after all: one in which "the people" becomes "these people."

If you don't see the central problem yet, it is this: the best choosers among us must choose the leaders. Best choosers cannot be found by watching television advertisements or the occasional speech. Trust comes only from intimacy, so the real answer is a new politics: Politics-3.

Stay tuned, and also bookmark Eupsychia.ORG for developments. And remember: voting is all about choosing better choosers.

...To be continued...

  1. Eupsychian Management(1965), p. 133, et. seq.
  2. A.H. Maslow, in New Knowledge in Human Values(1959), A.H. Maslow,ed., p.121, et. seq.