Translation of excerpts from Robert Heinlein’s book, Take Your Government Back - part 28, final

Who will guard the watchmen?

This Latin dictum shows that the ancient Romans understood something in political life. The Romans themselves answered this question: "No one." And that is why their supreme politicians eventually began to call themselves Caesars, and their republic eventually became a monarchy. So who should guard the guards after all? Instead of answering this question, it makes no sense to start scolding the corruption of the “political mafia” and “political machinery”, unless you want to create the same, but your own. Americans call the “political machinery” a superbly debugged political organization that professionally collect electoral votes during the campaign and roll them out all on election day, practically guaranteeing victory to their candidate. In fact, this is the club of agitators from the previous chapter. And the term "political machinery" is usually pronounced with a wry smile, as if there is something bad about the fact that a political organization is working efficiently. Corrupt political machinery is just an effective political organization seized by rogues at a time when honest citizens dozed off. Many of the machines ruling our cities are not corrupt, unless we consider the appointment of our people to the posts and the soft form of favoritism at the court of their leaders as a phenomenon of the same order as bribery, racketeering, and ties with gangsters. Many despised machines serve society much better than it deserves. But still guarding the guards is necessary.

Take a look at Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love, William Penn, and Benjamin Franklin. The water that flows from the tap is so bad that the locals prefer to buy bottled water. The river in the city is so polluted with industry that its waters erode the hulls of warships even above the waterline. The city’s underground works poorly, the construction of two large metro lines was started, but they were left unfinished because the money allocated for construction had disappeared somewhere. Do you think the budget is not filled up with taxes here? No matter how wrong! Here there is, and income tax, and all other taxes adopted in our country.

And recently a citizen was arrested here who tried to photograph the famous Liberty Bell: the local mayor’s office seems to have made a cash cow from the privilege of photographing this monument. “The King of the Vagabonds” - the informal leader of the vagabonds of our country - said that the slums of Philadelphia were the most neglected of all that he had ever seen in our country. The infamous apartment buildings of New York, built according to the old standards, and therefore very poorly ventilated, can be considered a resort compared to the buildings that make up the local slums. Surveys conducted show that 30% of all cases of tuberculosis registered here occurred among the residents of these buildings, having heard this number, I could hardly believe my own ears. Looking at these sad statistics, it becomes clear why local newspapers are quite seriously writing about houses of the barrack type, as “houses of the future”.

While in Panama they successfully got rid of the mosquitoes nesting in the jungle, and in New York they exhausted flies to such an extent that the windows can not be tightened with nets, in Philadelphia both of these parasitic insect species will soon get the right to vote, so much they have mastered the city . Shown in the shop windows all kinds of products are open not only for flies, but also for coughing, sneezing, and dirty fingers of the sellers themselves. The streets here may have been once swept, but there are no signs of this anywhere. Looking at all this, you might think that the locals must be filled with indignation and drive out the city managers from their posts. Think so? Far from it, and I am willing to bet that they are even proud of all this swine!

Many times I asked the locals who complained about this or that disorder in the city, why they would not do anything to stop this disgrace. In response, I received a surprised look and a question: “What can I do? Do not be stupid, I can not single-handedly destroy all this machinery. Therefore, I have not been going to the polls for many years. ” I saw in Philadelphia one elegant, beautiful, and tastefully dressed woman, walking around the central square of the city with her dog. When the dog stopped to do her work, her mistress stood beside her, holding the leash, looking with complacent smile at the way her dog was shitting on the pavement. This woman seemed to me a symbol of Philadelphia.

Let someone else do this.

Writer Heinrich Heuser, in his book “The German Answer” - a pamphlet on our country (which sheltered him) - described a typical American as irresponsible ignorance, lacking a full-fledged education, trained in purely technical skills, and predicted our country would collapse soon, because According to him, Americans lack social responsibility. For illustration, he recalls how he was driving a passenger in a car, and his driver, a well-educated, well-educated American, didn’t even stop when a pedestrian had been hit by another car on the road. From this, Heuser concludes that this behavior is typical for Americans.

I could say in response that the German peasants are even more socially irresponsible than the Americans, but this will not be a worthy argument, as well as the remark that there is a big difference between the behavior of a mentally callous individualist and well-organized collective atrocities planned government of nazi germany. The accusation thrown by Heuzer - in any case, a reproach to all of us, and that the angry German writer wrote, is a grain of truth. But I am ready to put ten dollars against one, that any member of any club of agitators would have behaved differently, and would have helped the downed pedestrian.

I have a friend who represents the type described by Heuser. He is a born American, received a brilliant education, has a well-paying job, is married and has children. And he has enough free time and money in order to be interested in politics, and to be interested in it very actively! However, he does not take any personal part in politics, he is only interested in it! And occasionally goes to vote in the elections. He is anti-Semitic, racist and anti-immigrant. He believes that in public schools there should be a division of children not only on the basis of race, but also on the financial security of their parents so that their children do not communicate with the children of the “lower class”. He is engaged in business, but at the same time he does not believe in free enterprise, hoping that the government will introduce rules that protect his enterprise from the free competition of other businessmen. The government for him is “They”, and these “They” always do what does not suit him. In the end, “They” annoyed him so much that he figured out how to improve the situation. He decided that the main problem in the actions of the government is the very existence of the government, and it must be abolished. And he believes that some day a bright future will come, where such as he will create his own state system, free himself from “Them”, and will live happily.

I would like to believe that there are not so many people like my acquaintance in our country, so that they become dangerous, but I’m not sure at all. If there are many people who adhere to the theory that “They” are to blame for all their troubles, then Heinrich Heuser is right, and our country may fail. We ourselves will do with it what the countries of the Nazi Axis failed.

Politics and the threat of physical abuse

I would have sinned against the truth if I had not agreed that, by engaging in political work, a volunteer could be subjected to physical violence, even in his own district. One day, on the election day of my first campaign, I was forced to immediately take refuge in the building of the polling station before the arrival of our lawyer, fleeing from the six thugs in a car who really did not like the fact that I was counting the number of incoming voters. I will not say that I behaved heroically during this incident, rather I am inclined to avoid similar clashes. At that moment I was surprised and shocked by this incident, because the polling station was in a prosperous and respectable part of the city. I could not even imagine that the same things could be going on here, which are constantly featured in police reports from cereal districts. And of course this should not have happened to me, dear citizen!

This happens infrequently, but, nevertheless, the likelihood of such incidents must be considered. On the day that the story described above occurred, I learned that another observer was less fortunate - he was beaten and left to lie on the pavement. Fortunately, such incidents have passed me, but situations that could have ended sadly happened to me. Some of my fellow volunteers saw scars from defending my legal rights. In my city in recent years there have been at least two cases of intimidation of political activists, and one of them involved a former police officer, who is now serving a sentence.

Even if the likelihood of such cases is small, is this not a good reason for a respected citizen to stay away from politics? It all depends on how you look at it. If our fellow citizens thought that it was worth fighting for the freedom of their country on land, at sea, and in the sky, it means that we should fight for victory in the elections, taking a much lower risk than they. This is the very “fighting spirit in peacetime” that our philosophers write about.

Politicians and political scientists

Nothing prevents political scientists from understanding practical politics, and some of them understand it. However, most of them, unfortunately, are completely divorced from reality. When from their classrooms they get into the confusion of the real political world, they look like complete idiots in it. Some of them, learning from their mistakes, develop in themselves an instinct for political leaders, and, having worked hard, still become a practical scholar. But the majority - and remains in ignorance.

Here I do not mean that the Umov Foundation, which had long since passed away, is a group of Roosevelt’s political advisors, or people with higher education who entered politics. Quite the contrary - in the government, as nowhere else, we need smart people, educated, and have a tendency to science. Many of those who are engaged in the science of politics, unfortunately, can not be called neither scientists nor politicians. Because politics is the name of a generally accepted practical way for citizens to achieve their goals. Many of the "scientists" involved in political science only theoretically understand how we, the citizens of America, manage our country.

The word "science" also means a very specific concept - a set of knowledge obtained in certain ways. The essence of these methods lies in observing facts and phenomena, trying to find causal relationships between them, in inventing hypotheses, and testing these hypotheses by correlating them with the facts observed in reality. All scientific knowledge is based on the collection of facts - in the places of their manifestation, and in laboratory experiments. In such sciences as physics and chemistry, the facts on which they are built can be observed directly in the scientific laboratory. In other sciences, such as geology and the study of the stratosphere, a scientist, if he wants to discover something new and not rephrase what others have written, must personally get to where the phenomena under study are observed, because where he lives , it is impossible to reproduce them. So, isn't it obvious that for a scientific study of politics you need to spend a lot of time where the policy is happening?

I am in the hands of a letter from my friend a political scientist, who learned at one of the most famous educational institutions. He has no practical policy experience. However, he writes to me: “So, do you think that the experience of practical politics is absolutely necessary for developing the skill of political interaction? I am not against empirical methods, but I think that a scientific approach will provide much more information than experience in government. It seems to me that even after decades of participation in the political work of his party, an amateur politician with all his experience will also be unable to achieve the desired political changes as at the beginning of his political career. ” This quotation reflects such a profound delusion that I don’t even know where to start refuting it. Let's start by recognizing that a person can really be a very good political worker, without seeing the general political picture - if he is not interested in current political affairs, history, economics, sociology, and many other things. Politics is the widest of all spheres of human activity, and in this book we have touched only a small part of it. But how can anyone hope to “achieve the desired political change” without having the experience of bringing a mechanism for political change into movement? And will this person understand that the desired changes have occurred, if he does not come out of his academic environment and does not communicate with the people of the country outside of it?

In addition, notice the direction of the author of the letter, in which "empirical methods" and "experience" are opposed to "scientific methods." Unfortunately, the expensive education received by my friends did not teach him the essence of the scientific method. Scientific knowledge is obtained as a result of experiments, which can be trusted as far as the reasonableness of experiments and the accuracy of observations and measurements allow. "Empirical methods" is a phrase that has many meanings, but in scientific methodology it usually means those early stages of research when the researcher has too few facts, moreover, inaccurately measured, and allowing to build only a rough generalization of them, taking it as a hypothesis . The science of politics, due to the extreme complexity of the subject of its study, is basically at this stage. Therefore, of all the scientific methods, the only ones suitable for policy research are empirical.

Unfortunately, there are other methods of studying politics, one of which is the cabinet conjectures of philosophers. This is a classic method of writing scientific works about politics, it was used by Plato, Aristotle, Spencer and Marx. These works should be treated critically - just as much as their creators used the above method. With the same success, all these thinkers could spend time discussing the scholastic question of how many angels fit on the point of the needle. And in our time, the method of speculation is still popular!

I may wish for too much, but I dream that someone will ever establish a university for government training, where one of the mandatory practical courses will be working in the field for at least one election campaign. A graduate thesis work needs to be done with such purely practical and political efforts that require considerable effort, such as working during an election term in a district party committee, nominating a candidate for an elective office, leading an electoral campaign, or supporting the adoption of a law in the state legislature. Then the diploma obtained by graduates will give them a real right to be called political scientists. That is my dream. And if there were more honest, respectable, politically experienced people among us, they could have done a lot of good in the life of our society.

Forgotten additions and trivia

Do not put campaign flyers directly in mailboxes: mail rules prohibit it.

There is a copy set, suitable for copying cards, it costs about a dollar. It includes copying ink and roller for rolling. For three or four dollars, you can buy gelatin copiers, similar to a children's slate, acting like a hectograph, and suitable for copying both postcards and business papers.

Unforeseen random coincidences can play a cruel joke on your carefully planned campaign, then you just have to put up, laugh, and forget. For example, it was in that year when I was running for election that the headline of the American Nazi party began to often appear in newspaper headlines, from which my last name differed only in one letter!

When making a report to a party committee, it is more diplomatic to write “your committee”, rather than just a “committee”.

The difference between the conditions of the caucus and its decisions is similar to the difference between the Constitution and the laws adopted on it. The constitution is an agreement on the line along which all future agreements leading to the intended purpose will be built. The same is caucus. This analogy can make it easier for newcomers to explain the essence of caucus.

The orders of local authorities that prohibit the distribution of leaflets and the distribution of campaigning, as well as laws prohibiting holding rallies on the streets and in parks, must meet with a sharp rebuff from all adherents of democracy and freedom of speech. Historically, the streets are the only place where ordinary and poor people can express their political will, and now the authorities are trying to deprive us of this right. I agree that if the stairs in your house are littered with scattered political leaflets, this is an annoying inconvenience. But even more annoying inconvenience - to be thrown into a concentration camp! So democracy is worth some inconvenience.

Candidates for elected positions in political clubs should not be nominated through nominating committees; this is a perversion of the idea of ​​democracy. Any proposals to limit the nomination of candidates shall not be accepted. It is necessary to invite the meeting to nominate candidates for the post, and announce the end of the nomination of candidates should only be when new candidates are nominated, and silence prevails at the meeting. Treat them indulgently to those who delayed the nomination and allow them to speak before the meeting, if they so desire.

Old and young

This is a ticklish topic, because young people often command elderly volunteers, and vice versa. There may be friction on this basis in your organization. The leader of the group should take care of preserving the atmosphere-friendly work in such a situation, for which he needs to have credibility with the people he leads. If you lead a group of people who are not in your age group, no matter if they are younger or older, and you treat them with respect, then you will have no problems with them. It is very tiring to be stressed polite with everyone, so from time to time, take a break from people in some deserted place, or leave the office for a short while, if possible.

How to become informed

Of course, you regularly read any newspaper. But do you also read the newspaper of your rivals? In many ways, it may be more informative than your favorite publication. The state committee of your party, as well as the state committee of the rival party, certainly publishes some small political bulletin; both of these newspapers will be useful to you. Maybe in your party you can also get a free subscription to the Herald of Congress. It is too voluminous to read it all in its entirety, but it is useful to scroll through it, drawing attention to the results of the vote on important issues and to some speakers' reports. A person who wants to be politically aware, it is absolutely necessary to be aware of the results of voting on important issues. To my shame, I once supported the wrong candidate for the entire primaries because I was incorrectly informed about his vote on the issue of interest to me. In major daily newspapers, political journals, and in newspapers of taxpayers unions and trade unions, you can find convenient reports on the results of all major polls. You do not have to follow the opinion of the publication in order to use the summaries of the voting results published in it. Do not try to memorize them, but keep them as reference material. Also keep copies of the programs and election promises of candidates. It is generally accepted that the promises of candidates are never fulfilled, and their programs are just a decoy for the voter. But in my not very rich experience, this skeptical opinion often turns out to be wrong, rather than confirmed, and instead of indiscriminately defying all candidates, it is better to consider each specific case separately.

I and my wife once came up with an interesting way to celebrate Independence Day, which you will surely enjoy. On this day, we read out loud the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution: they were written in a lovely old-fashioned poetic syllable. In addition, it is useful to refresh their memory. And, by the way, since we remembered poetry, I strongly advise you to read the poem “The people, yes!”, Which I quoted in the epigraph. If I had a poetic talent, I would have dreamed of writing something like this: there is something equally poetic in the doorbell sounds of the houses of thousands of voters you have visited.

Benjamin Franklin brought great benefits to those involved in politics, noting that the easiest way to please a person is to ask him for a favor.

Many of those who want to start engaging in politics want to immediately start working at the “high level”. I call these well-meaning but impractical people ballet liberals, bearing in mind the incident that occurred in New York in 1942, when representatives of various arts gathered together to decide how they could help the country win the war. In the end, a large group of those present at the meeting came together in the opinion that the best way to help the country win is to require the Congress to allocate subsidies to the national ballet! I love ballet, but for victory in military operations this is a rather strange "secret weapon." If you want to participate in politics, do not think that you will penetrate it through membership in such apolitical organizations as women's clubs, congregation communities, student fraternities, professional associations, and the like. Do not think that with authority in them, you will be able to effectively influence government officials. If a person has already been elected, he is aware of the political weakness of these organizations. For example, that their members do not vote in a united front, whatever their leader says. Therefore, it will treat your requirements accordingly. If you represent a voter organization, they will listen to you.

Apolitical initiative groups, such as neighborhood communities, which are not satisfied with the work of local authorities, often visit members of the city council and other representatives of the local government. It is customary for representatives of these groups to communicate with the powers that be in aggressive tones, implying that the official is by definition a swindler, and that he is easily intimidated. Both of these assumptions are usually incorrect. By the way, taking this opportunity, I hasten to thank the bureaucrats, because they are such a convenient whipping boy - for everyone! Who would we scold if they weren't? They are doing so well with this work that a strike by bureaucrats would probably paralyze the whole country, it’s scary to even think about it.

And finally, in this chapter I will say one more thing (and would type this text in huge letters) - even if you become the chairman of a state or state party committee, try to find time to lead a group of agitators at a polling station, or bypass voters. This will allow you not to lose touch with the roots from which your entire political career has grown. Remember the Baghdad Caliph, who walked around the city disguised, in order to be able to communicate directly with his people.

Chapter 12: The American Dream

“We, the descendants, must devote ourselves to complete the unfinished work, so heroically begun by our ancestors”
Abraham Lincoln, November 19, 1863

What is all this for?

So, we went through this book to the end, dismantling all the details of the local policy, just as if we were dismantling a faulty car in order to reassemble it after repair. Some of these details may seem trivial, far removed from the political peaks of the country. This is a look at politics through the eyes of an ant. The political work described in the book would not be worth our attention if it were locked in itself. Than to stand for the sake of excitement and the joy of victory - it is better to play golf or bridge. So what is all this for?

I will not speak here on specific political issues. Even if you do not have your own opinion on them, you will have it as soon as you engage in politics. After the start of a political career, you will change your opinions on many other issues, and you yourself will later wonder how you could hold other points of view. If you enter politics with good intentions, then common sense and heart will help you to understand all its intricacies. In this case, I am ready to entrust my own future and the future of our children to the decisions and actions you take. If the citizens of America themselves will govern the country, not letting matters run their course, then I am confident in the future of our country. When voters are informed, you can not worry about the reasonableness of the results. , , , . , . , , , , .

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Good luck to you! And good luck to all of us!



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