A large group of people entered forcefully into the House of Congress. Five people are dead. The left accuses the insurrectionists of being domestic terrorists, a threat to democracy, trying to stop the electoral process and destroy the institutions and the political system that made America the most successful and admired country in the world. At the same time, some on the right see them as patriots who have to rebel against what they see as a dangerous development: the Democratic party taking America into socialism and destroying the American political system by stealing the election.
The common denominator: each is trying to save America from the other.
I suggest that the fight between the parties is the smoke. The fire is the decline, the aging of the American system.
Everything we see and know is a system. It has a life cycle.(1) It is born, grows, ages and dies (even rocks have a life cycle except nonorganic systems do not have consciousness.)
As a system ages, it disintegrates, it falls apart. Look at an older person, at an old car. Old furniture. Whatever is old is falling apart, disintegrating. America fits the same pattern. It is on the aging part of the life cycle curve. It is disintegrating.
All systems by definition are composed of subsystems which have different life spans or change at different speeds. That causes disintegration.
Take America: our technology has changed faster than our legal system which is lagging behind in adapting to the technological changes, and social changes are way behind and so is the human values system and the political system. The result is disintegration manifested by social, economic, medical, environmental problems. Our standard of living has gone up, because of the advances in technology, but our quality of life has gone down manifested by a high rate of mental diseases like depression and anxiety attacks.
The disintegration started in the ninety fifties when America was at its Prime. First it was manifested in the assassination of President Kennedy, then the turmoil over Vietnam where a student was killed by the national guards, followed by lack of a clear-cut decision who won the election, Bush or Gore, by the environment in the Congress getting more tense than ever as the opposing parties do not cross the aisle and cooperate in legislation as they used to in the past. Other signs of disintegration are the “gates” which reduced significantly the trust people had in the leadership of the country and the continuous attacks one party had against the other with accusations of corruption. The disintegration culminated on January 6th with an armed mob trying to stop the electoral process by force.
Whenever there is change, and especially when the change is very rapid and accelerating, centrifugal forces are in action, the center disappears, and the mass goes to the extremes. And that is what is happening: we are getting in politics extreme right and extreme left which are growing in numbers, and the center is disappearing not only in politics but in the economic sphere too: the disparity between the have and have nots is growing; The middle class is shrinking.
President Trump was not the cause of the disintegration. He was an accelerator. Putting the intruders in jail, even Trump himself, is not even a band aid to the problem called disintegration. It is going to get worse because the source of the problem that needs to be addressed is DISINTEGRATION. The debate over who is the danger to America is analogous to clearing the smoke, not extinguishing the fire. Mutual accusations will only accentuate the disintegration.
What should be done?
If the problem is disintegration, the solution should be integration, as President Biden eloquently said in his inaugural speech. And the challenge is, as he said , how to do it.
Integration is a function of mutual trust and respect. It is “MT&R” that made America great and the leader of the free world; Accepting people of any ethnic group, any nationality, and any religion as equals. A culture of live and let live, of mutual tolerance. A culture of fair play, equal opportunity to all.
President Trump has undermined mutual trust and respect and planted the seeds for his supporters to disrespect diversity and mistrust not only the Democratic party but also other nations, international agreements, and anyone who disagrees with him; Immigrants are rapists, Hillary should be locked up because she is corrupt, and so is Biden, and the election was stolen. The endless, some unfunded claims, undermined mutual trust and respect in this nation.
President Biden is inheriting a disintegrating society riddled with mutual mistrust and disrespect. To reintegrate the nation, he needs to bring back mutual trust and respect.
In order to increase respect, we have to recognize what respect means. Immanuel Kant wrote “Respect is when we recognize the sovereignty of the other party to think differently.” The Democratic party now in power needs to stop attacking the Republican party, acknowledge what they're saying, and use whatever ways it can to remove their fears.
My interpretation of the Republicans behavior is that they live in fear that America is going down the drain if the Democrats lead it. And when people are in fear they get angry. And the more fear, the more intense the anger.
How should the new administration remove these fears?
This is not going to be easy because the mistrust is deep. No proof that election fraud or creeping socialism are unfounded will be accepted. No explanation will suffice. No proof is acceptable. The only one who can remove this paranoia is the one who started it: President Trump. Making him the “enemy” is going to make him more hostile than ever and he will pour more oil on the fire, making President Biden's life even more difficult than it is. The only way to get Trump to calm down is to give him some of the limelight he cherishes and seeks. Make him a partner or he will continue being the enemy. I realize this recommendation will not be popular. The democrats want accountability, punishment, impeachment even jail if they can get it. You cannot jail all the followers. And they will get even more energized having their leader jailed or rejected. The more Trump is pushed out, the more his followers will push to get in power and exercise it.
We need to clear the air but not through accusations, punishments, and rejections. It will only take the Republicans deeper into "a bunker" and in four years they will come to the elections more energized than ever.
Is that all?
Even if the new administration succeeds in calming Trump down, if it can be done, which I seriously doubt it, it will not be enough to integrate the nation.
To improve trust and respect we need to amend the first amendment.
If a man attacks somebody physically, he can be charged. If somebody spreads lies about somebody else, he can be taken to court for defamation. But if the president of the United States attacks the whole system with unfounded accusations of rigged elections, that's considered freedom of speech. Seventy million people believe the president. He is an authority figure, and a father figure to some. Fathers should not lie, or his kids will grow up with scars on their personalities.
The first amendment was written when the country was young. The environment was simple. Today, with social media, lies are much easier to spread, and lies should not be protected by the freedom of speech, which should be reserved for diversity of opinions and interpretation of supported data rather than imaginary data concocted into a lie to make a point and destroy the opposition. That is defamation.
Truth is very difficult to explain. It's very complicated. Lies are very easy to create. They're a function of how productive or fertile your imagination is. Conspiracy theories and lies—fly to longer distances than the truth. Lies spread very fast, they are simple constructs. Truth moves slowly, they are not easy to grasp. If we are going to stop the decline of respect and trust for each other, and reduce the hostility we feel toward each others, we have to eliminate the lies. How?
Journalism should become a licensed profession, just like law or medicine. A lawyer who abuses his profession and is found guilty violating the ethical standards of his profession loses his license to practice. A doctor who is accused, and found guilty of malpractice, loses his license to practice medicine. Both of these professions are self-regulated because the people working in them want to protect the reputation of their professions. Bad journalism is going to destroy the reputation of good journalism. We need to have a self-regulating profession, and when journalists can prove that somebody has lied, or disseminated incendiary information based on lies, he should lose his license to practice journalism. The same should hold for the media.
How about increasing trust?
We trust those who share our interests. We have faith that they have our interests at heart and not only their own interests. That's why when you trust somebody, you allow yourself to turn your back to them. They protect your back because if you're hurt, they're going to hurt too. In order to increase trust, the political parties instead of accusing what is wrong with the other party, should present their political platform and let the people decide what is best for America. And we should find ways to emphasize that at the end of the day all parties have a common interest: what is good for America. Let us have civilized debates , not accusations what is wrong with the other party.
We need to reengineer our democratic system. The solution is neither a paralyzing socialism nor vulgar capitalism. We need a third system(2). We need to reengineer the democratic process that was designed two hundred years ago articulating a process designed in the French revolution based on philosophy and practice of a small town in Greece two thousand years ago. The realities are not the same. Just think what social media, motivated by profit orientation, that performs the best when it spreads lies, is doing to the “democratic “ process.
We need to develop forums for civilized debate and decision making from the bottom up. We need more grass root democracy. Democratize how corporations are governed. You cannot have people working for major corporations, disempowered all their waking time in managing their working environment, and still feeling empowered to impact the country through their representative and only every four years and just for one day.
1 See Ichak Adizes: Managing Corporate Lifecycles: Adizes Institute Publications
2 See Ichak Adizes and E. Mann Borghese( ( Editors ): Self Management, New Dimensions to Democracy(www.adizesbooks.com)