Vanity thought #426. Quantum leap in democracy

Taking a break from our internal politics and turning to politics in the wider world. The electoral campaign in the US is going at full speed and some people, especially Obama fans, are perplexed at how Romney does his part. Every day they bring out more and more evidence of Romney flip-flopping on all kinds of issues and for them it’s a definitive answer as to why people should not vote for him, yet Romney is still likely to get about half of a popular vote. How is that possible?

But even if we understand that – how does that help us in developing our Krishna consciousness? What’s the point? For many of us it would make no difference, but there are also many devotees who, while acting in the outside world, have a high opinion of democracy. For that reason learning about the nature of democracy is as helpful as learning about all the other traps of the material world.

Implicit faith in democracy is one of the few major things that keep us deeply bound in this world. Of course there’s always food and sex, too, but those are unavoidable physical necessities, faith in democracy, on the other hand, is a choice. We better not make it.

Some of us might argue that we believe in vedic culture, we believe in righteous kings and varnashrama dharma, but in the real world we don’t have such options, in the real world we judge justice and fairness in any particular society by how democratic it is. This attitude might not be so prevalent among devotees from the “third world” countries but if you listen to lectures by devotees from America or Britain you might occasionally get a whiff of pride in their country of origin, and with that comes faith in democracy as the main reason for success.

But back to Romney – his campaign is offensive to so many people because they see a complete lack of honesty and integrity. This is not how democracy is supposed to work, it’s supposed to produce the best candidates, the most honest, the most trustworthy and most responsible. How can you trust a man who says he is pro-abortion on one TV program in the morning and anti-abortion on another program in the evening?

Well, the reason is that democracy has evolved past the simplistic understanding of Newtonian mechanics. Force, momentum, speed – all those postulates of Newton were true for a couple of hundred of years and they still work on everyday level, but the cutting edge of modern science is completely “illogical” by Newton laws and incomprehensible by our everyday observations, it’s gone quantum and beyond. The same thing is happening in politics before our own eyes, we are watching history in the making, so to speak.

In quantum theory of politics a candidate does not have a solid ideological platform, as expected in traditional notions of democracy, in quantum politics a man can be both moderate and conservative at the same time, just like an electron is both a particle and a wave. If an electron approaches a wall with two holes in it it will pass through both of them simultaneously, as a wave, and so does a “quantum” politician.

Another feature of quantum mechanics is that there’s no such thing as certainty, on the subatomic level nothing is known for sure, we deal only with probabilities of events. Some events are more likely than others but no event can be ruled out as totally impossible, therefore we can’t rule our Romney suddenly saying most outrageous things we have never expected.

From probability and uncertainty follows another feature of quantum mechanics and politics – we can’t know at the same time both what electron/Romney’s position is now and what it will be in the future. We can “know” one or another but not both.

Quantum mechanics also offers an interesting feature called entanglement. One aspect of it is that by observing the particle/politician you affect its state, meaning that by simply asking Romney about something you change his opinion about it.

In quantum mechanics the notion of causality also works in unexpected ways because sometimes the effect and the cause are not separated in time. In quantum politics Romney is winning not because he collects most votes, but he collects votes because he is perceived as the most electable. That is also true of Obama – many people are going to vote for him not because they support him wholeheartedly but because he is going to/needs be re-elected.

While this looks bizarre and curious it makes total sense to Romney himself. His goal is to get elected, people tend to forget that it’s different from their goal of getting the best government. If he needs to practice quantum politics to reach his goal he has all the right to use it, it’s people’s own problem if it goes against their own expectations.

There’s another way to explain Romney flip-flopping – he employs a proper risk-reward strategy used in stock trading. The idea is that once you place your trade order you don’t know if the market is going to go with or against you, there’s always a risk and so you must properly calculate it. Same with rewards – the market is not going with you forever, at some point you should get off being content with what you got. A proper risk-reward strategy means that after making lots and lots of trades the rewards must outweigh the losses, even if only by a few percent.

So, when Romney does the a flip-flop he calculates how many votes he is going to lose as a result and how many people he is going to attract by articulating his new position. After doing this many many times over he hopes to attract more votes than he loses.

This will lead to people on the opposite sides of political spectrum thinking that Romney supports their views, which, of course, is logically impossible, and many of these people will be eventually disappointed, but Romney’s goal is to win elections now, dealing with the fallout a few years down the road is not his concern at all.

So, seeing how modern electioneering works might put a few dents in our belief in democracy. Without that belief our faith in prosperity of western societies might get shaken as well, and when we see that we have no safety net in this world we might get more serious about relying on Krishna.

Actually, having this “safety net” is one of our biggest obstacles to spiritual progress. If we feel that we can always suspend our service, get a job, and live happily ever after, we are seriously lacking dedication to our goal. No matter what we hear in our classes lots of people outside seem to be genuinely happy and satisfied, and they don’t need Krishna to achieve that. Having their examples, seeing the most prosperous society in the modern history right outside our window, is our “safety net”, however false this perception is, for us it often seems very real.

As I said, democracy is perceived as one of the fundamental reasons for that prosperity, disbanding that myth might help us see the illusion for what it is and fall its prey.

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