Prejudice, Power and Law


John Wright

Imagine that you have three unique cubes, like the alphabet blocks children use for play. If you toss them into the air and watch them land, numerous times, you expect to see the different sides or surfaces appear at the top with roughly the same frequency. In all, some eighteen different surfaces may appear at the top, for each block has six sides. In a "fair" game of chance, you could bet on seeing the appearance of any one block surface at the top with probability equal to that of each of the other surfaces.

Indeed, with only three blocks, the possible outcomes, singly and in groups of three, are many. But, oddly, your chances of seeing the surface you picked on the top are not one in eighteen, but one in six, for while you are tossing the blocks three at a time, the surface you have chosen is simply one of six possibilities for one of the blocks. The other two blocks do not have anything to do with the outcome. They appear to be part of the game, and they do participate in the action, but in fact, they are irrelevant. Or are they? Mathematically and logically, in the given example, they are irrelevant. But you will learn as we proceed that valid assumptions for a confined environment are irrelevant when a larger game is being played.

It is with this simple example above in mind that we will examine some non-trivial aspects of human society. Your expectation for the surface you want to see is your prejudice. Power is determined by the actual center of mass of the block in question. If the block is uniform in shape and in density, all surfaces will appear at the top with approximately equal frequency. If the block is not uniform, one, two or three surfaces will tend to dominate the overall outcome of many tosses, and that is power in action. Law is that which formally expresses the prejudice of the player who typically selects the dominating surface(s) as the most logical outcome. In this specific instance, the prejudice just happens to correspond to a natural or physical law.

To extend this analogy further, consider that many players may participate with each toss of the blocks. You may assume that they bet individually or collectively, as teams, on the eighteen different possibilities, and that in any single toss there might be three apparent individual or team winners. Actually, all the apparent winners exist in separate domains. Their respective choices define their respective domains, and thus their domain prejudice as well as their surface prejudice. All might agree that the law works for all the domains, unless, of course, the three blocks are in fact different from each other in center of mass or shape. Thus, it is possible to have two or three separate laws that define the behavior of the three separate domains, and which are mutually exclusive, or, in conflict, for in that situation there is no coherent set of conditions that simultaneously allows accurate definition of the behavior of all three domains.

Now let us consider the possibility that some of the players across the different domains are related in some way to each other. We see that while the domains may be different, the overall game outcomes may become quite predictable and of non-uniform distribution. You will see teams that either win or lose consistently, for the winners are the individuals who understand the center of mass and shape distortions, and thus collectively profit from the game and conceptually support any actual discrepancy between the different laws that define the behavior of each domain.

One might think that anyone could study the results, learn the actual operating laws, and become a winner. Remember, however, that we operate from our prejudice. There is an "innocent" blindness in prejudice in which we believe we are simply exercising our right of choice. And there is no logic in selective prejudice if one believes in a fair game of chance, for all outcomes are equally likely. So one might think that the center of mass and the shape, and thus the outcome, are impacted by the sheer number of people voting for or betting on a particular surface. That illogic is representative of less enlightened people. It is also typical to ignore the domains other than the one in which you place your bet, so you may not learn about the behaviors of the other domains or the team interactions.

Finally, we come to the general converse arguments of the overall "fair" game concept. The assumption that the three domains are functionally independent, except in time of occurrence of the toss, blithely ignores the fact that winnings cross domains. Moreover, the wagered amounts will likely be distributed, after a given toss, according to the rule of winner take all. Of course, player interest might be maintained through a "trickle down" distribution of winnings. Even moderate advantages in comparatively low stake toss domains will result in winnings migrating to high advantage, high probability domains because of the team effect.

Who considers the question about monitoring the center of mass and shape distortions? Certainly not those who believe that they are playing in a "fair" game. Certainly not the winners, for they can accurately predict outcomes to their own advantage and thus have no motive to question the fairness of the game. Consistent losers might raise the occasional question, but remember that losers periodically lose their opportunity money and thus their freedom to participate and routinely interact with other "players." They tend to retire from the individual game quickly and completely, never knowing if, in fact, someone has tampered with the blocks, or has other privileged knowledge.

If you have derived the various societal implications of the blocks analogy, I applaud you for your patience and your aptitude. Analogies of complicated, inter-related, real life events, can become quite tedious, even if they are logical and accurate. And they may be neither. Clearly, this overall discussion addresses our political system, our citizens, our laws and our practices that derive their basis from power and prejudice. We will now consider the domains of politics, business and religion. We will discover the fundamental, common and different behaviors and laws of each domain and some of the interactions between them. We will discover that a "fair" game is merely a pleasant and naive concept. We will learn that few people understand or participate actively in the real game.

Let us look first at individual domain attributes. In religion, the foundation concepts are usually attributed to the will of a God or Gods. Thus, with multiple, different civilizations throughout history, and physically and socially separated societies, the varieties of "beliefs" that have resulted are enormous, and usually inconsistent with each other in major ways that reflect the society from which the religion was formed. The domain of religion has some unique characteristics that are quite different, in total, from the domains of politics and business. Within a religion, there is invariant hierarchy. By externalizing the meaning of life and the rules, religions do not need to evolve. The leaders do not need to change, except through aging and death. Religions do not run popularity polls, for the assumption of final truth is not subject to current popularity. Their primary product is hope, purchased through humbleness and obedience, and they never have to deliver on their fundamental promise of an afterlife, whatever form may be promised.

Religions do, however, require money to promote themselves and their secondary, and sometimes beneficial, influence on society. This means that religious campaigns throughout history will rightly be seen as religions functioning as businesses and as political structures. Influence was and is achieved by advertising, sometimes at the point of a sword, but mostly through playing on the fears and insecurities of the population. Established influence buys time, i.e. individual religions that have at one time formed a large body of participants tend to go on in perpetuity, for the population continually renews itself, and religion is normally not seen as a direct threat to politics or business. It coexists with, and depends on, the wealth generating activities of business and the image hunger of politicians.

Religion is used, situationally, to promote selfish interests of politicians and business leaders. Thus, there will be team playing across the different domains, in which one pays respect to the other in order to appear respectful and respectable, and otherwise beneficent to the target audience, which are the common people. The payback to the religions is indirect, for if they appear to have influence on politics and business their target audience is supported in their fundamental belief in the rightness of their chosen religion.

In politics, hierarchy is clearly present, but the holders of positions within the hierarchies appear to be more dynamically chosen than what we find within religions. The beliefs, which in this environment may be called rules or laws, appear to be of two forms: 1) foundation laws and concepts, and 2) dynamic ability to add to those rules and laws, or change them, through time. We thus see that politics has the ability to evolve society within a structured framework, and this is one of the two most significant differences between politics and religion. The other is simply the privilege to assess and collect taxes, by force.

Politics is basically the same as religion in all other respects, for it depends on the humbleness and obedience of the believers, and it promises them advancement of society, but in this case, in the here and now. It seldom delivers on its promises, for its practitioners have limited, directed goals and capabilities inadequate to the larger task. Unlike religion, politics must deal with an ever changing world of countries whose military and economic influence deny stability such as that found in the world of religion. Politics must also deal with internal problems caused by businesses. These problems take the form of absurd wealth concentration, violations of human rights and environmental destruction. The tasks are indeed large, and it is within the structure of politics that we find the influence of business to corrupt the ideals.

Domain team playing between politics and business is and has always been the rule in the USA, when businesses had money to contribute, both to the politicians, for campaigns and individual wealth accumulation, and to the common people as jobs, to yield social stability. Tampering with the blocks is our way of life, and the real players do not include the common people. This can be seen, among other things, in the ability to select the candidates for political office, for our political machines and primary elections are not in the hands of the common people.

It is the nature of politicians in the USA to be vulnerable to business, for political candidates and holders of political offices are regularly subject to being denied or replaced, respectively. It is also unreasonable for any citizen to expect a politician to sacrifice future financial security for momentary fame, so it is to be expected that politicians will pay voting homage to their political machines and to their supporting businesses, which are frequently one and the same. The primary implication is that the political domain cannot perform well for the common people, for the collection of reasons given in this and the above paragraphs. The secondary implication is that, once again, major structural change to our governments is necessary to attempt to achieve checks and balances in the acquisition and use of power.

The recent court decision that declared Microsoft to be a monopoly gives the illusion that checks and balances are alive and well through our federal court system. Oh, that it were true! Let us be aware that whatever appears to happen to Microsoft in the next few years, that an earlier analogue, the breakup of AT&T, simply resulted in the later coalescing of gigantic power through unregulated acquisitions in the communications industry.

With this shift of focus, it is now appropriate to look at the domain of business. Within the domain of an individual business, there is strict hierarchy. Across the domain of all competing businesses, there is apparently permanent economic war. Collusion is nothing, more or less, than two or more businesses deciding to function as a team to enhance their opportunities for success. Sometimes we mask this practice by calling an effort a joint venture, when in fact it is two armies ganging up on smaller competitors. Unlike religion, and even politics, the domain of business is extremely dynamic. Opportunity to make money is the sole driver, and it appears to be essential for technological progress to occur and to find its way into society.

Our dependency on the profit motive as the driver for business development is intrinsic to our way of thinking. We do understand that competition is required for progress, and that we must promote business competition if we are to advance. Thus, we can easily understand why our politics and our politicians must support business development. We need the wealth generated by investment in creating real goods of high value that eclipse what our ancestors had available to them. We need our individual incomes to survive.

The world of global business has extended the overall domain of business in very complicated and ominous ways, for the cross-domain relationships between the governments (politics) and businesses, worldwide, have produced obvious and painful distortions in our individual economic lives. We thus have a much larger game, more powerful players, and a whole world of common people whose local economic destiny is determined by the whims of the largest players.

This situation is outside any system of checks and balances derived by any single government to assure the wellbeing of its citizens. Governments have been substantially reduced in power, in order for their countries to participate in capturing the wealth from the game of global economic growth. And it is easy to overlook that serious problem by perceiving one's businesses as one's economic army. In fact, the global businesses represent their own form of government, not that of the country from which they originate. They do not profess to defend the constitutions of the other countries, or the common people in any country.

Do think about power and wealth limits as proposed in the book, Destiny. Do recognize that prejudice, power and law are inextricably intertwined in a three-domain game in which you do not participate as an active player, and from which the rules of your life and your opportunities for success are determined. Do recognize that your future will be determined by your level of insistence in defining and applying checks and balances to business, as well as government.

We began these digressions on prejudice, power and law with an analogy. So shall we end them. I distinctly recall observing my infant son sitting in his "car seat" between my wife and myself, and playing with the included "steering wheel and horn." He watched what I did as I drove, and he proceeded to do similarly with great joy. My amusement was tempered with the realization that his steering wheel was connected to nothing of relevance. Need I say more?