Moulton Lava

Moultonic Musings

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Location: New England, United States

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Politics and Polity

Some years ago, I spent some time reflecting on politics, polity, policy, and politeness.

Policy is something I understand from systems theory. If you have a really good system model, you can compute something akin to an optimal policy for driving the system to a desired goal state.

What happens when you don't have a good system model?

What happens is you get a lot of politics.

Which is where polity and politeness come into play. The purpose of those practices is to avoid descending into warfare while trying to craft a policy in the absence of a reliable system model. Basically, policy in the absence of a system model is driven by political power.

And political power is driven by fear.

Whoever has the greatest fear employs the most forcefulness. Given that observation, it becomes wise to reduce fear as much as possible. Which means one has to model the dynamics of fear.

In power politics, a common fear is Fear of Powerlessness. In that situation, people often engage in the Politics of Disempowerment. That's where creative writing comes in. In the face of the Politics of Disempowerment, the disempowered turn to creative writing.

Why creative writing?

Because those in power are too busy guarding their power base to decode the meaning of creative writing.

Of course, one eventually gets a reputation for being a subversive writer. Which ain't too bad a rap, actually, since it increases the number of eyeballs tracking one's work. Whereupon one feels obliged to become sufficiently entertaining so as to not lose their audience. Do you have any idea just how hard it is to be simultaneously subversive, entertaining, and relevant?

It's enough stress to give Montana Mouse dyspepsia.

Or clenched teeth.


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