“War or Peace: We cannot survive with Real-Politik” is the title of Arno Gruen’s reflection on modern culture and psycho-social conditioning. The following words in the second paragraph of the article state his thesis that “real-politic” is based on an ultimately suicidal belief that the world must be run by dominating, homicidal power. https://www.arnogruen.net/war-or-peace.pdf
“We live in cultures that are characterized by competition and insecurity and that make it difficult for people to develop the self-esteem that comes from a sense of one’s inner worth, which can evolve only if people learn to accept and share their suffering, pain, and adversity. This is what enables an inner strength to emerge—informed by an attitude of equanimity in spite of insecurity and of self-confidence in spite of helplessness. Only such a development forms a person’s genuine substance. In cultures that mistake strength for invulnerability, this kind of development is hardly possible because suffering, pain, and helplessness are stigmatized as weakness.”
Our challenge, he says (even, or especially in a pandemic time, I add), is to discover that suffering, pain, and helpless are not weakness, but the human lot which allows the person’s inner strength to emerge.
In the essay, Gruen argues that cultures condition us to think that competition and dominating power are the traits which assure human survival, crushing our in-born impulses for empathy and cooperation.
“Real-Politik” is a political philosophy based on that cultural conditioning. Ultimately it abhors human compassion, love and cooperation, considering them weakness. I wonder, is that our functioning, if not consciously explicit, political philosophy? If it is, what kind of leaders are we looking for?
John K. Stoner