Politicians -- A People Problem?

An old management saying was that the root of almost every problem was people … too few people, too many people, the wrong people.

For anyone with the stomach for long text, here is a European making the case that the problem with Western politicians is they are the ‘wrong people’.

The Evils Of Professionalism - by Aurelien (substack.com)

A small extract:
Modern western political parties … are, and accept themselves to be, elitist. They know what people need and what they should want, they mix all the time with journalists, pundits, intellectuals, and influential private sector figures who share their views, and they deal every day with politicians from other countries and officials of international organisations whose opinions are very similar to theirs. They regard the people themselves with contempt, and see election campaigns as about selling a product to the unwashed masses and destroying the image of their opponents, not actually seeking to persuade. They are obviously right, after all, it’s the fault of the people if they don’t realise it.

The implicit issue is how to get rid of our Western crop of arrogant incompetents – because the only way they will give up their power is when it is dragged from their cold dead fingers.

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Having trouble getting answers from the language models? Having trouble getting the search engines to return relevant hits? Having trouble finding a library with books? Having trouble finding good schools?

As George Bush Senior sang to us so long ago “don’t worry be happy!”

Tabula rasa forever!

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Start engaging in politics? Create more competition? Win? :slight_smile:

Maybe the first step is describing the situation, and here we can be inspired by The Ship of Fools, by Sebastian Brandt

If popularity be taken as the measure of success in literary effort, Sebastian Brandt’s “Ship of Fools” must be considered one of the most successful books recorded in the whole history of literature. Published in edition after edition (the first dated 1494), at a time, but shortly after the invention of printing, when books were expensive, and their circulation limited; translated into the leading languages of Europe at a time when translations of new works were only the result of the most signal merits, its success was then quite unparalleled. It may be said, in modern phrase, to have been the rage of the reading world at the end of the fifteenth and throughout the sixteenth centuries. It was translated into Latin by one Professor (Locher, 1497), and imitated in the same language and under the same title, by another (Badius Ascensius, 1507); it appeared in Dutch and Low German, and was twice translated into English, and three times into French; imitations competed with the original in French and German, as well as Latin, and greatest and most unprecedented distinction of all, it was preached, but, we should opine, only certain parts of it, from the pulpit by the best preachers of the time as a new gospel. The Germans proudly award it the epithet, “epoch-making,” and its long-continued popularity affords good, if not quite sufficient, ground for the extravagant eulogies they lavish upon it. Trithemius calls it “Divina Satira,” and doubts whether anything could have been written more suited to the spirit of the age; Locher compares Brandt with Dante, and Hutten styles him the new law-giver of German poetry.

Here’s a translation the first two from old to new English:

Of Evil Counsellors, Judges, and Men of Law

He who holds office and high authority
To rule a kingdom as judge or counselor
Who, seeing justice, plain right, and equity
Falsely blinds them with favor or rigor
Condemning wretches guiltless, and showing favor
To transgressors for reward. Such a man is as wise
As one who would cook a live sow in a pan.

Many now labor with great diligence
To become lawyers, advising the common people
Seeking honor and reverence for themselves alone
But they labor only for their own private gain
The client’s purse finds them well prepared
Yet they know neither law, good counsel, nor justice
But speak randomly, as if casting dice.

Such in the Senate are often consulted
By statesmen of this and other regions
Their manners unstable and frail
Knowing nothing of civil or canon law
But wandering in darkness, without clarity
O noble Rome, you did not gain your honors
Nor your empire by such counselors.

When noble Rome governed the world
Their counselors were old men, just and prudent
Equally discerning in all things
Which made their empire so excellent
But nowadays, he who has the most gold prevails
So that angels work wonders in Westminster Hall.

There, cursed coin makes the wrong seem right
The case of him who lives in poverty
Has no defense, protection, strength, or might
Such is the old custom of this profession
That often cloaks justice and equity
No one can understand the matter
Without the angel weighing heavily in his hand.

Thus, for the hunger of silver and gold
Justice and right are in captivity
And as we see, not given freely, but sold
To estates, nor simple commonalty
And though many lawyers are righteous
Many others disdain to see the right
And they are such as blind Justice’s sight.

One and another are alleged at the bar
Especially those skilled in glossing the law
The clients stand afar
Knowing little of how the matter goes
And many others completely transpose the laws
Following the example of lawyers gone before
Until the poor clients are devoured to the bone.

It is not enough to conform your mind
To another’s feigned opinion
You should speak truth, as justice binds you
And the law also gives you the commission
To know it and keep it without transgression
Lest those whom you have judged wrongfully
Cry for vengeance to the high Judge.

Perhaps you think that God takes no heed
Of man’s deeds, nor works of offense
Yes, certainly, He knows your thoughts and deeds
Nothing is secret or hidden from His presence
Therefore, if you will guide yourself by prudence
Before giving judgment on any matter, small or great
Take wise men’s advice and good counsel before.

Look in what balance, what weight, and what measure
You serve others, for you shall be served
With the same after this life, I assure you
If you judge rightly by law and equity
You shall have the presence of God’s high majesty
But if you judge amiss, then shall Eacus
(As poets say) judge your reward.

God is above and reigns eternally
Who shall judge us at His last judgment
And give rewards to each one equally
According to such form as he has spent his life
Then shall we see them whom we as violent
Traitors, have put to wrong in word or deed
And according to our desert, even such shall be our reward.

There shall be no bail nor pleading of mainprise
Nor worldly wisdom, there shall nothing prevail
There shall be no delays until another session
But either quit, or to infernal jail
Ill judges so judged, lo, here their travail
Rightly rewarded in woe without end
Then shall no grace be granted nor space to amend.

The Envoy of Alexander Barclay, the translator:

Therefore, you young students of the Chancery
(I speak not to the old, their cure is past)
Remember that justice has long been in bondage
Restore her now to liberty at last
Endeavor to loosen or burst her bonds
Her ransom is paid and more by a thousand pounds
Yet, alas, Lady Justice lies bound.

Though your forefathers have taken her prisoner
And confined her in a dungeon unfit for her degree
Lay your hands and help her from danger
And restore her to her liberty
That poor men and orphans may see her once
But certainly, I fear lest she has lost her name
Or by long imprisonment shall forever be lame.

Of Avarice or Covetousness and Prodigality


You who are given overmuch to covetousness
Come near, a place is here for you to dwell
Come near, you wasteful people likewise
Your place shall be high in the top castle
You care for no shame, for heaven nor for hell
Gold is your god, riches gotten wrongfully
You damn your soul, and yet live in poverty.

He who is busy every day and hour
Without measure, manner, or moderation
To gather riches and great store of treasure
Taking no joy, comfort, nor consolation
He is a fool, of blind and mad opinion
For that which he gets and keeps wrongfully
His heir often wastes much more wastefully.

While he here lives in this fragile and mortal life
He labors sorely and often goes hungry to bed
Saving from himself for him that never shall
After do him good. Though he were hard-pressed
Thus, this covetous wretch is blindly led
By the fiend that here he lives wretchedly
And after his death, eternally damned.

There he wanders in dolor and darkness
Among infernal floods, tedious and horrible
Let’s see what avails then all his riches
Ungenerously gotten, his pains are terrible
Then would he amend, but it is impossible
In hell there is no order nor hope of remedy
But sorrow upon sorrow, and that everlasting.

Yet I find another vice as bad as this
Which is the vice of prodigality
He spends all in riot and amiss
Without any order, pursuing poverty
He likes not to live still in prosperity
But all and more he wastes out at large
(Beware the end) is the least point of his charge.

But of the covetous, somewhat to say again
You are a fool to sell your soul for riches
Or put your body to labor or to pain
Your mind to fear, your heart to heaviness
You fool, you flee from no manner of cruelty
So you may get money to make your heir a knight
You slay your soul where you could save it.

You have no rest, your mind is ever in fear
Of misadventure, nor ever are content
Death is forgotten, you care not a hair
To save your soul from infernal punishment
If you be damned, then are you at your end
By your riches which you have left behind
To your executors, you shall find small comfort.

Their custom is to hold fast that they have
Your poor soul shall be farthest from their thoughts
If your carcass be brought once in the grave
And they have your bags caught in hand
What do they say then? (By God, the man had nothing)
While he here lived, he was too liberal
Thus damned is your soul, your riches cause it all.

Who will deny but it is necessary
To have plenty and store of riches
To this opinion I will not say contrary
So it be ordered after holy lore
While yourself lives, depart some to the poor
With your own hand, trust not your executors
Give for God, and God shall send at all hours.

Read Tullius’ works, the worthy orator
And written shall you find in right fruitful sentence
That never wise man loved over great honor
Nor to have great riches put over great diligence
But only their mind was set on sapience
And quietly to live in just simplicity
For in greatest honor is greatest jeopardy.

He who is simple and on the ground does lie
And can be content with enough or sufficiency
Is surer by much than he who lies on high
Now up, now down, unsure as a balance
But truly he who sets his pleasure
Only on wisdom and still therefore labors
Shall have more good than all earthly treasure.

Wisdom teaches to eschew all offense
Guiding mankind the right way to virtue
But of covetousness comes all inconvenience
It causes man of word to be untrue
Forswearing and falsehood does it also ensue
Bribery and extortion, murder and mischief
Shame is his end, his living is reproach.

By covetousness Crassus was brought to his end
By it the worthy Romans lost their name
Of this one ill, a thousand ills do descend
Besides envy, pride, wretchedness, and shame
Crates the philosopher did covetousness so blame
That to have his mind free to his study
He threw his treasure all whole into the sea.

But shortly to conclude. Both bodily bondage
And ghostly also, proceed from this covetousness
The soul is damned, the body has damage
As hunger, thirst, and cold with other prejudice
Bereft of the joys of heavenly Paradise
For gold was their god and that is left behind
Their bodies buried, the soul clean out of mind.

The Envoy of Alexander Barclay, the translator:

Therefore, you covetous, you wretch, I speak to you
Amend yourself, rise out of this blindness
Be content with enough for your degree
Damn not your soul by gathering frail riches
Remember this is a vale of wretchedness
You shall find no rest nor dwelling place here
Depart you shall and leave it all behind.

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