Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Why Leaders Lie

Image result for greek parthenon blueprints

- This is what Stathis Kouvelakis, Professor of Political Theory at King’s College London, and member of the Central Committee of Syriza, the governing party of Greece, said about his government's recent meeting with and capitulation to the demands of the EU after Greek voters by referendum overwhelmingly instructed them not to:
At that meeting you saw an extraordinary thing happen: the head of the victorious camp accepted the conditions of the defeated camp. This, it has to be said, is something that’s unique in political history. I don’t think we’ve ever seen this before.
In the year previous you could read on Roar Magazine's website that it would be a mistake to count on any representative of any party including radical leftist. No matter who they were, they'd betray you.
- Why?
- A couple of reasons. First, imbalance of power between the leaders and led. People with power understand and admire other people with power. The led are powerless, are literally in the power of the leaders. The leaders have more in common with other leaders, even of opposing parties, than with the people they are supposed to represent. That's the first reason. Second is the problem of representing, representing not in the political sense but in the sense of making an image, playing a role, creating an impression. The more a society demands from its members that they play roles for each other, the easier it is for their representatives to pursue an agenda opposite to the interests of the people.
- Why?
- A father and teenaged daughter are having a dispute. Father and daughter both know a young man. Daughter likes him and is interested in seeing more of him. Daughter finds out father has forwarded to the young man an email from daughter that mentions him. She is displeased. If father is going to continue passing on her private words to other people she'll simply have to stop having personal conversations with him. Father replies that he was exercising a parent's normal concern and interest in his children's lives. 
- A daughter is in the power of her parents, and can't control what her parents do with her words, whereas her relation to the young man was of friendship, and free, at least potentially, of power relations. She wanted to keep the relations apart. I'm on her side. No friendship has a chance unless the other person sticks around long enough for friendship to develop. That means making a good impression, being in control of impressions. Her father's interference denied her that control. She was right to object. It would be nice if we didn't have to take such considerations into account, but teenagers know they do, know how important first impressions are. You argue, then, that the Greek government treats the Greek people as children in their power, treats the representations they gave of themselves in their referendum as of no importance, to be done with as they wished, to be made the subject of their own representations?
- That's from the side of power. The other side generates its own powerlessness: once the people set out on the path of making representations they feel compelled to allow their leaders their representations too.
- Because we all do the same, and we feel that to demand anything different would be hypocritical.
- Yes. 
- But the teenaged girl would tell you if you asked that managing representations was just at the beginning. Real friendship is something else.
- The leaders have the led in their power and disdain them for their powerlessness. The leaders aren't their friends. 
- And compromised by making representations in their private lives the people lack the confidence to call their leaders out for their public representations. Somehow control of information is as legitimate a social undertaking as being honest.
- Or legitimate just enough to confuse the issue and delay response.

Further Reading: