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Wise Power™ Paradigm: Beyond Hard, Soft and Smart Power
Quantum Politics and Second Order Change
A smart person digs himself out of a hole that a wise person would never fall into. --- Unknown
Once again, much of the world is gripped by a compelling narrative portraying a simplistic, archetypal drama. It fits Johan Galtung’s DMA model – Dualism, Manicheism, Armageddon – nuclear threat included. DMA is an unconscious, archetypal script, a “deep culture syndrome.”
“It is a simple Hollywood script: Ukraine is the angel, Russia is the devil, Zelensky is the hero and all good people will wear blue and yellow ribbons.” (All Things Russian are Being Punished”. Fueling the Propaganda War)
This framing invites policies to defeat evil with weapons, crippling, biting sanctions and increasing pressure.
The antidote to DMA is HDT, Holism-Dialectics-Transcendence (HDT). It requires consciousness.
The virtually unknown and/or misunderstood fields of conflict transformation/peace studies/political psychology are exemplified by Transcend International. Transcend Media Service, other “not fitting for prime time media” alternative and censored sources, offer complex, historical, solution-oriented, relational perspectives that address cause and effect and urge negotiations for an agreement that accounts for needs of all parties to end violence.
I will contextualize these two paradigms using theoretical models beyond zero sum win/lose, right/wrong, us/them, wishing to elevate public discourse.
The Dominant Paradigm
I moved to DC after the 2003 US led invasion of Iraq to be near the world’s leading think tanks to find ways to raise consciousness about social science based, solution oriented foreign policy strategies capable of reversing cycles of violence. I have been to thousands of events and conferences in think tanks, universities, and on Capitol Hill. I co-taught a course on think tanks. I have had brilliant international relations (IR) and foreign policy (FP) students live with me over the years being entrained in power politics.
The best game in town is “smart power,” considered a leap beyond hard and soft power, combining carrots and sticks (treating people like a donkey). It is coercive and humiliating in its own way.
IR, FP, Security Studies and such programs churn out “experts,” pundits, and politicians who reinforce a paradigm and mindset that promotes policies grounded in Newtonian Politics and First Order Change, described below. We daily witness the consequences of the dominant consensus.
There is virtually no input from the field of conflict transformation and thus no context for these ideas which seem alien at first. Once described, they are self-evident. When I ask questions or present a transcendent perspective, most are curious, interested and open. We are absent where needed most in the world.
It might be helpful to frame the Wise Power™ paradigm - akin to the Transcend Method, beyond hard, soft and smart power. Here are two theories to inform the debate.
* Political Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle™ - Newtonian Politics vs. Quantum Politics
* First Order Change vs. Second Order Change - Systems Theory Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle
I am not a physicist, and will use this isomorphically as a principle of reality. This model can apply to other domains like medicine – allopathic, symptom oriented vs. regenerative, functional, naturopathic, biological repair model. We can furhter conceptualize “allopathic politics,” with side effects and iatrogenesis vs “regenerative, reparative politics,” based on underlying principles.
Light has characteristics of both particle (position) and wave (momentum), known as the “dual nature of light.” Whether light behaves as a particle or wave is determined by how the physicist sets up the experiment, thus, the “Experimenter Observer Effect.” In Thomas Young’s 1801 “double-split” experiment, he found that with one slit, light behaved like a particle, with two, photons bent and created interference patterns, behaving like a wave.
Seeing through one perspective (slit) we get something static. From two, dynamic.
We cannot simultaneously focus on both aspects. Interestingly, “the more carefully one tries to measure position, the more disruption there is to the system, resulting in changes in momentum.” I posit particle as is akin to a concrete image of the enemy, and wave to a dynamic image of the Other, not concretized as “enemy.”. Focus on aspect one disrupts the other.
Since the act of observation influences that which is observed, we must always take account our impact on what we are observing.
HUP applies to energy and time. One cannot measure the precise energy of a system in a finite amount of time. We cannot understand energy of the war dynamics in a finite window of months, while ignoring decades ofinsults, rebuffed peace initiatives, rejections, broken promises, unrelenting threats, humiliations, betrayals, and intentional provocations, exasperation, hopelessness, and no way out, driving towards the inevitable last resort.
Humiliation and Fear
‘If you are going to humiliate someone publicly in a really crass manner, make sure that he doesn’t survive to take his inevitable revenge.” – Michael Brenner, On Humiliation
Perhaps humiliation collapses a wave into a particle, hardening hearts, concretizing something dynamic, foreclosing possibilities. One need not minimize Hitler’s evilness to recognize that the punitive, draconian humiliation of the Versailles treaty laid fertile ground for him to exploit. Or bin Laden’s actions attributed to 80 years of humiliation, likely referring to the Sikes-Pikot agreement. Foreign policy recommendation: Don’t ever humiliate anyone ever. Always work to find a graceful, face-saving way out.
Never fight evil as if it were something that arises totally outside of yourself. -- St Augustine
People are more dangerous when afraid. They may regress from higher level cognitive functioning to more primitive levels, from abstract to concrete, black-and-white thinking, perhaps from wave to particle.
The kinetic war model exemplifies Newtonian Politics. Like Newtonian physics it concerns the physical world, action/reaction, forces and motion of bodies, and mathematical simplicity (numbers of weapons, sanctions, soldiers, dead, money, oil). Good guys and bad guys are reduced to objects - not subjects.
The law of Newtonian physics that states "Every action has an equal and opposite reaction".
Like Quantum physics, Quantum Politics deals with invisible, dynamic forces, relativity, space, time, including psychological and relational dynamics.
Conscious of the Experimenter Observer Effect, we deliberately set up the experiment to produce intended results, influencing whether adversaries are static or dynamic. Actions, rhetoric and strategies can increase orreduce tensions. By focusing on positions, we sacrifice energy, dynamics and possibilities. There is a trade-off.” Different laws govern each realm.
Entanglement: “.. occurs when two or more objects are connected in such a way that they can be thought of as a single system, even if they are very far apart…. information about one object automatically tells you something about the other and vice versa.”
The US and the USSR/ Russia have co-evolved, intensely reacting to each other, identifying in opposition to each other. We are deep in each other’s psyches.
The US, emerged triumphantly from the Cold War while Russia, and Putin, experienced defeat and devastating humiliation. Still, Putin requested to join NATO for peace and was rebuffed, as were other initiatives. Ukraine is a proxy, embedded with real and symbolic meanings and emotions. (See Oliver Stone’s 2016 Ukraine on Fire, banned on platforms.)
Political Heisenberg Principle™
We cannot judge our adversary’s behavior independently from our effect on them. With asymmetrical power, the dominant, stronger party is in the better position to change the dynamics for better or worse.
Treating adversaries as inherently, unchangeably evil, using threats, rejection, and humiliation, can provoke violence. Acting out of fear, we justify their fears of us, triggering a cycle of “self-fulfilling paranoia.”
“The madness that is carrying the world closer and closer to nuclear war has at its core a psychological explanation: Each side, though fundamentally afraid, misperceives the nature of the danger it faces. Each side imagines that it faces an inherently, implacably aggressive enemy, when it actually faces an enemy as fearful as itself - an enemy driven mainly by fear, to do the things that lead to war.” Ralph K. White, Fearful Warriors.
(Caveat: There are also manipulation of fear, propaganda, humiliation, hidden agendas, power plays, vested interests profiting from war and weapons sales, and more.)
Giving security assurances, recognition, and satisfying vital human needs, including dignity and safety, reduce fear and motivations for violence. The way to be secure is to make your enemy more secure.
Systems Theory: First Order Change (1OC) and Second Order Change (2OC)
From family therapy, systems theory and organizational transformation.
1OC - is focused on suppressing or eliminating symptoms, based on superficial concrete, black-and-white thinking. Hard power, soft power and smart power (carrots and sticks) are external, superficial forms of domination, treating people like donkeys.
The powerful can use coercive policies including sanctions, deterrence, maximum pressure, punishment, isolation, threats, military actions and so on which can provoke fear, anger, moral outrage, and escalatory asymmetric responses like resistance, desires for revenge and warfare of the weak, according to the law of opposites.
The Law of Opposites - It is obvious that many policies have an effect opposite of that promised, like escalating violence, hatred, recruitment, terrorism, and nuclear proliferation. Carl Jung observed that an extreme one-sided position creates and provokes its opposite. By avoiding one-sidedness, taking on the perspective of the Other, one can transcend destructive tendencies and arrive at more creative solutions.
1OC can act as a band aid, may prevent some violence, stop some bleeding, slow the proliferation of nuclear weapons . However, it does not address or correct the underlying cause. There is no endgame. It cannot produce enduring security or stability. Fragility of these measures is threatened by crises, conflict, vested interests, bad faith, misperception, lack of communication, exaggerated threats, fear and changes in leadership.
We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. Albert Einstein
2OC Second Order Change addresses the causal relationship system rather than the symptoms.
For enduring security, it is essential to understand and analyze what the underlying conflict is about, to identify all parties' wants, needs, just grievances and legitimate goals. Conflict transformation techniques can reduce tensions, address basic human needs (including identity, dignity, self-determination, and sovereignty), and help identify and bridge seemingly incompatible goals, using creativity and best practices.
It creates a new reality that includes and transcends the opposites. Higher order solutions-oriented problem-solving strategies hold far more promise, not only in eliminating nuclear weapons, but in replacing war with effective approaches capable of producing deeper, more sustainable security.
FIRST ORDER CHANGE 1OC SECOND ORDER CHANGE 2OC
Old way of thinking New way of thinking
Addresses symptoms Addresses causes
Quantitative change Qualitative change
Change in behavior Change in relationship
Change within a system Transformation of the system
Linear, partial Multidimensional, multi-level
Continuous change Discontinuous leap
Conflict resolution Conflict transformation
Compromise, unstable Create new reality, win-win, enduring, stable
No endgame Endgame
Political immaturity Political Maturity
Inside the Box Outside the Box
Hard, Soft & Smart Power Wise Power, Transcend Method
The profound, archetypal wisdom of Galtung’s Transcend Method is theoretically supported by Carl Jung’s theory of the Transcendent Function, considered the most significant factor which mediates the opposites. “It is a natural process, a manifestation of the energy that springs from the tension of opposites.”
“the confrontation of the two positions generates a tension charged with energy and creates a living, third thing ….. a movement out of the suspension between the opposites, a living birth that leads to a new level of being, a new situation.” P 90
Wise Power™: Beyond Hard, Soft and Smart Power
When I am working on a problem I never think about beauty. I only think about how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong. - Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983)
It is time to reframe the current discourse to fill a profound and consequential void in political thinking, theoretical frames, and public discourse among think tanks, congress, media, activists from right to left, and programs in international relations, security studies, political science, conflict studies, social sciences.
Wise Power ™ takes a therapeutic approach grounded in depth psychology, systems theory, conflict analysis, and other social sciences. This can open up a category to better inform policy design beyond “conventional wisdom” limited to Hard Power, Soft Power and Smart Power.
Upon this gifted age in its dark hour,
Falls from the sky a meteoric shower
Of facts ... they lie unquestioned, uncombined.
Wisdom enough to leech us of our ill
Is daily spun; but there exists no loom
To weave it into fabric. Edna St. Vincent Millay
Let’s build the loom.
 Father of peace studies and conflict transformation, co-founder of Transcend.org
 Transcend.org, and I am a Convener of Transcend US, East Coast
 Samuels, Andrew, Shorter, Bani, Plaut, Fred, A Critical Dictionary of Jungian Analysis, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 198