Among human concerns, politics is a vital one – it governs the way we approach our lives in a most personal way; not only the way we relate to ourselves, but the group we most relate to. How we conceive these relations is part of the foundation upon which our realities are based. It should be a vital concern to inspect these foundations closely; for these relations just happen – and not until they are consciously considered can they be changed....
“Hence the god, when he began to put together the body of the universe, set about making it of fire and earth. But two things alone cannot be satisfactorily united without a third; for there must be some bond between them drawing them together.”
So wrote Plato in his Timaeus in the fourth century B.C. – an intuitive illustration of the way people have long perceived the dynamic forces of life.
To see how such ideas apply to party politics, read with me as the noted Swiss analyst, C.G. Jung, reflects upon this philosophical notion: “The number one claims an exceptional position, which we meet again in the natural philosophy of the Middle Ages. According to this, one is not a number at all; the first number is two. Two is the first number because, with it, separation and multiplication begin, which alone make counting possible. With the appearance of the number two, another appears alongside the one...”
As Jung goes on to explain, this results in opposition and conflict: “Also associated with the number two is the idea of right and left, and remarkably enough, of favorable and unfavorable, good and bad.” But as Plato observed, there is a “bond drawing them together.” Jung continues: “The One will not let go of the Other because, if it did, it would lose its character; and the Other pushes itself away from the One in order to exist at all. Thus there arises a tension of opposites between the One and the Other. But every tension of opposites culminates in a release, out of which comes the “third.” In the third, the tension of opposites is resolved and the lost unity is restored.”
Similarly, if we look round to see where the two-party system has landed us, an analogy begins to emerge. The close presidential elections of 1960 (49.7% to 48.6%), 1968 (43.4% to 42.7%), 1976 (50.1% to 48%), 2000 (48.38% to 47.87%), and 2004 (50.7% to 48.3%) appear to express a division which may be seen in terms of energy. Frequent attempts by the two-party system to keep a third party off the ballot in many states, the stagnation Congress represents as a result of such division, and the ineffectiveness of government in providing the individual with basic protections all conform to a general trend.
Of course, no analogy can make it to first base in the mind of a modern reader without scientific validation, and the laws of energy point in this direction. The principle of equivalence states that for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction. The law of entropy states that, in an energic system, differences in intensity are gradually reduced to an even temperature, whereby any further change is prohibited. This is how energy works and it is as applicable to social dynamics as it is to quantum physics – or even political processes, for as Jung writes, “The psyche, too, can be regarded as such a relatively closed system, in which transformations of energy lead to an equalization of differences.”
These transformations have been described by Jung in his eighth volume, and one more quote from it (the last – I promise!) pushes the analogy further: “These functions are based on the principle of the exclusion of the inappropriate, or unsuitable, which might bring about a deviation from the chosen path. The elements that “belong” are left to a process of mutual equalization, and meanwhile are protected from disturbing influences from outside. Thus after some time they reach their “probable” state, which shows its stability in, say, a “lasting” conviction or a “deeply ingrained” point of view, etc. How firmly such structures are rooted can be tested by anyone who has attempted to dissolve such a structure, for instance to uproot a prejudice or change a habit of thought.”
You can see now where the analogy is headed: for this tension of opposites to be resolved and for change to occur, a third viewpoint is required.
Webster's dictionary defines democracy as: “Government exercised either directly by the people or through elected representatives.” The popular vote was invalidated by the 2000 election, and our representatives are elected – but not unless they are first approved by the two parties. Our representatives are elected by the parties, and that is who they represent. Who is representing us? I think we will have to find an independent party for that.