I have been derided elsewhere for referencing Harry Potter, when my elder and better is paying attention to Herodotus, Thucydides, Sophocles, Shakespare, Tolstoy and Proust (yes that is a quote, honestly) but I could think of no better way of finishing this Emperor series than with a reference to the Imperious Curse. As many of you will know this is one of the three unforgivable curses. Its use places the target into a trance where they are subject to total control by its initiator. It’s good news in a way as the curse provides a complete release from any sense of responsibility or worry over one’s actions and their consequences. The final bit of briefing for the Proustian scholars amongst you is that the curse requires commitment from the caster of the curse, you have to want to control people for it to work. The second, Cruciatus Curse requires its initiator to really want people to suffer excruciating pain (the truly wonderful portrayal of Bellatrix Lestrange by Helena Bonham Carter demonstrates this well). The third, Avada Kedavra simply kills you.
So, why is this relevant to my concluding blog in this sequence? Why have I inserted the famous painting of Machiavelli? Confused? Read on …
The key is in this phrase the curse provides a complete release from any sense of responsibility or worry over one’s actions and their consequences. That about sums up the general sense of risk avoidance which is an inevitable consequence of centralisation and formalization. Its the reason people play safe, what matters is not to succeed in making a difference, but to avoid any risk of ever being seen to fail. Even after a tragedy such as 911 the Danse Macabre of bureaucracy continues unaltered and unchallenged. I elaborated that in the first three postings of this series.
In the last two posts I attempted to suggest a series of alternatives: methods, software and concept. I also acknowledged but did not elaborate that you cannot move directly to an ideal, but have to accept the realpolitik of the current situation, adapting and evolving what is to what might be. Paradoxically that may mean accepting that the only way of getting attention is to create some form of centralised function or catalytic devise. However if this going to be the case then there are some simple principles that need to be applied and actions that need to be taken or avoided. Now this advise applies to any organisation, but I am focusing here on the question of government.
Now of course this follows the basic advise of any complex system intervention: safe-fail experiments not safe-fail design.
Finally, I have used a the Lincoln quote about thinking and acting anew throughout this series. I want to finish with some advise from the master of evolutionary and realist approaches to politics: Machiavelli. Consider them the poster set for the new centralised function!
For the great majority of mankind are satisfied with appearances, as though they were realities, and are often more influenced by things that seem than by those that are
There are three classes of intellects: one which comprehends by itself; another which appreciates what others comprehend; and a third which neither comprehends by itself nor by the showing of others; the first is the most excellent, the second is good, the third is useless
For the great majority of mankind are satisfied with appearances, as though they were realities and are often more influenced by the things that seem than by those that are
It must be considered that there is nothing more difficult to carry out nor more doubtful of success nor more dangerous to handle than to initiate a new order of things; for the reformer has enemies in all those who profit by the old order, and only lukewarm defenders in all those who would profit by the new order; this lukewarmness arising partly from the incredulity of mankind who does not truly believe in anything new until they actually have experience of it
Innovation makes enemies of all those who prospered under the old regime, and only lukewarm support is forthcoming from those who would prosper under the new.
Oh, and if you haven’t worked out the relevance of Crucio yet, then think about it.
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