THE inaugural speech of President Benigno “PNoy” Aquino III calls for social change among the Filipino people. Throughout human history, the really important politics has been that of making the seemingly impossible, or the highly improbable, possible. True politics is the art of creating new possibilities for human progress.
So, how will PNoy and his “yellow shirts” followers create social change within his six-year tenure? The traditional methods are education and persuasion, legal action (lawsuits), political action to institute new laws or change (mutual coercion mutually agreed on) and revolution.
Of course, education and persuasion are always important in bringing about change, especially in the young. But by themselves, these methods do not always work very well.
Education can prepare people for change, but it must be coupled with other methods. Similarly, using legal action to bring about change is an important technique but usually is not enough. Revolution is a drastic and often highly destructive approach that should be used only as a last resort. Political action to bring about change is a very useful approach, but again, traditional politics focuses primarily on short-range planning and action.
For PNoy to succeed in our country’s social change, his political followers must go beyond traditional political methods to sustainable earth or cybernetic political methods, which couple long-range with short-range planning and action. PNoy must be made aware of and hopefully, practice cybernetic politics.
Today’s traditional attempts to change the social system tend to be frontal and single-purpose: marches, demonstrations, sit-ins, education, persuasion, legislation and the like. These tactics are very useful for getting media attention, informing others about the need for change, building and maintaining morale, and countering undesirable trends. But they often stop soon.
When the massive inertia of the system makes change appear more superficial than substantial, many political activists decide that it’s useless to buck the system and give up. A political system, however, is a complex and cybernetic system, and the long-term effect of an action or trend is often the opposite of what could be predicted by short-term linear thinking.
Thus, it is usually more effective to couple the tactics used in traditional politics with those of cybernetic politics to bring about change. The basic tactics of cybernetic politics are: (1) if possible, never fight linear battles, where somebody wins and somebody loses (win-lose games); (2) try to find social, scientific and technological innovations that tunnel through the problem so that everyone wins (win-win games); (3) use positive synergy, either to amplify desirable trends or to counteract or delay undesirable trends; and (4) apply political pressure at the right time and place, and long enough to ensure that built-in time delays will amplify efforts until the threshold effects for response have been reached.
True success is not in immediate effects but in the second, third and higher-order effects. The administration of PNoy has so many problems to overcome, such as the implementation of environmental laws, reform in the executive branch, congressional reform, the bureaucratic bottlenecks, and achieving national and global security and cooperation.
Hopefully, the people have now elected a strong and vigorous Congress, supported by the watchdog activities of citizens, citizens’ groups and the press.
A major problem in the executive and legislative branches is undue influence on elections by the wealthy or special interest groups.
This problem plagues all governments and may never be eliminated. But a powerful and active citizens’ lobby, with the support of PNoy, can help balance the disproportionate influence of business, industry, labor and other powerful and well-financed vested interests, by providing checks and balances.
Hopefully also, PNoy will get the support of Congress to implement congressional reform. Far too often, Congress must depend on the President, the bureaucrats and the industries that it is supposed to monitor and regulate for “the facts.”
A number of observers have pointed out that most attempts at bureaucratic reform are ineffective, temporary or both.
In criticizing and evaluating PNoy, keep in mind the verse, originally in Spanish: “Advice pours down from the stadium full/But only the matador faces the bull.” Let’s stop criticizing but instead live as sustainable persons.