Interests and Intentions

* Türkçe’si için …

* This paper is a summary and discussion of Albert O. Hirschman‘s book Passions and Interests

Thankfully, while passions may makes people bad, not to be bad is their interest.

Montesquieu, The Spirit of Laws

Thought is actually very simple. Imagine that because of one of your feature (skin color, faith … etc), some hooligans are furiously pursuing you with great passion. While about to get caught up in, you throw out around a wad of money, and all of them leave the thing what they do passionatly, then collect the money. While you flee, you can feel yourself lucky that these vagrants have such a material interest. But actually, this is an example that harmless interest about wealth gain suppress the harmful one.

* An example of harmful passions

Many thinker praise advantage of “interests” (especially financial and material ones) to against of “arbitrariness and fatuousness of tyranny”. According to them; considering terrible effects of the bad passions of today’s world, capitalism and instinct of ownership could be used to make people away from destructive behaviors.  In theory,  the spirit of trades is much superior than the spirit of conquest, beacuse profit coming from conquest isn’t precise enough and cause too much damage, it cost deterioration of the social peace,  loss of lifes. But the spirit of trade can make profit  as or more than conquests, with preserving the peace. Nations become more dependable to each other, and they can’t disturbe easily. But testing this theory in real life is quite complicated. Empirical links in life is too complicated, and circumstances depending on the features must be examined more closely.

So why was glory and military heroism praised in along history, while trade, banking, and other similar pursuits to earn money were taked down and damed linked with greed ?

This is because philosophers who talks about moral and political, analysed mostly fictional situations, and these were not so useful in real world. For that reason, more legitimate and credible form of government was analysied with looking to people and laws more practicly. Moral philosophy or religious feelings might not be trusted, because these are easily twisted and migth be used thruster for harmless passions.

Therefore, three different views were suggested to black harmful passions without rely on religious imperatives or morals;

The first is simply to apply the use of power and oppression. This can eliminate the harmful passions superficially. But the handicap in here, extra soft ruler, cruel tyrant or arbitrary behavior of leader might cause great suffering more than harmful passions. Also, the suppression of pressure do not solve problems,  it just ignore them and cause further deepening.

Second, instead  suppression of passions, they’re routed to the benefit of the community. The logic in here, if the passions is useful for general society (or for selected rich elite), there is no reason to suppress them, so passions’re let free as possible. In here, working process of passions is not questioned, only focused on result. But “working process of passions” may cause some harms more than profits.

The third view was to fight fire with fire. the  harmful passions may be compensate with harmless ones. The main idea of this view, an emotion can not be unbridled or eliminated exept more powerful feelings against them. For this reason, passions put against to passions to provie as a counterweight. Such as; if owner of the authority is greedy, and must be give up the fruits of his authority in the end of his tenure, then he try to take advantege from his possition. But if the tenure can be extended, same person be and act good governer in his duty to extend the duration of his authority. In short, authority ambition suppresses greed.

Laws or interests works in material works similar as laws of motion in the physical world. But is these interests are predictable as the laws of motion? These predictablity would be so useful for ruling class in the field of economic interests. For that reason, a worldview which is easy predictable and managed by interests is desired, while passionate acts are disparaged because they are random, and can be chaotic and dangerous. People who pursue their ecenomical interests, are expected to be persistent, focused and rational, or they were supposed to be. So “rulers” try to create a community who particularly  focus their financial interests, and so can be easily predicted.

This actually seems as an innocent brilliant idea which try to create more peaceful world. Becacuse people wanted to decrease destruction and pains caused by harmful passions, and they were searching alternative systems. Actually, capitalism had its triumph like this. Just similar as in many other tyrant’s  triumph, people didn’t take capitalism seriously in begining. But later it showed its real color, and it brought destruction and sorrow as much as harmful passions. Actually, anyone who has power tend to abuse that power, not matter which system (capitalism, despotism…etc). Thinkers who saw this side of human nature suggested to use power to prevent the misuse of power, for proposed suspension. Therefore, separation of powers principle has been introduced. On this basis, state force is seperated as legislative, executive and jurisdiction, and balance each other. Also non-state powers could be added this system, such as economic or public power. Eventually, balancing each other these forces eliminate the possibility of abuse of power.

Discussion; All of the ideas about directing or balancing of passions (and other management theories, of course) are ignore real human nature of individuals. These system trifle the individuals and look the community like a machine. Also some minority negative affairs are looked like a mainstream things because of their high noisy. In fact, all people are not the slave of their harmful blind passions, but when they’re (even they’re small numbered), they can be dominete huge number of comminity, and cause an artificial mainstream, so all people seems as if they tend to behave effect on harmful passions. But people who’re honest and antithesis of them, also exist with their good manner, harmless passions and wisdom, too. Unfortunately they don’t come forward offen as people with harmful passions, and they can’t clearly look as face of another side of comminity.

If we look practical life, the most ambitious, obsessed, greedy, bad- intentioned people mostly fill the management possition and commerce field. Also ambitious of these people are too high that even they mostly non-qualified and unskilled, they can catch possitions with fancy acts. But relatively virtuous, skilled, well qualified and honest people are turning to a more peaceful and honorable professions. Thus, administrative levels of government are increasingly corrupted, so bad governance affects everything badly. The problem is not actually that bad of human nature or harmful passions (because these can not be generalised), the problem is that people with harmful passions and greedy (malicious or bad intentions) tend to aspire to become in management and social possitions. So what is this to be malicious?

It can be desciribe as person who ignores the others’ interests and feelings, do not care about descructions of his act for personal satisfaction, often pursuit to short-term interests. But even the smart ones pursuit of long-term interests, their lack of empathy still cause damages to the environment. So, if person is malicious or bad intention, no matter what or how their interest is directed, the result would be still destructive. Worse than that, if these malicious people fill of majority  administrative positions, they don’t even do their duty properly to keep their positions and behave arbitrary for personal satisfaction.

Of course, improvement of  intentions is not direct subject of sociology, it is something about personal development. Therefore many sociologist (First Montesquieu) invented the principle of separation of powers to prevent potentially malicious governors and politician. But handicap in here, these malicious people might be more ambitious and intelligent than expected, and they can seizure all discrete “powers”. Perhaps there is some possibility to fight each other for more power, but if they’re really well organized, ” the separation of powers” become meaningless.

The question here might be how malicious people could be outnumber and seizure all possitions. As we know, since ancient times, one of the most direct ways of being a social force was to be outnumbered. Such as, outnumbered army is more likely to win the battle (but of course , battle can be win with good strategy regarless of soldier numbers). In ancient times, military recruitment work was done by using force or nationalistic feelings.  Today, however, this work can be done with brain-washing (using the both education and media) from childhood, or can be set to wrong or miss inform to the media. Using these and well-organisation, they can spread all the authorities and possitions. Finally, their armies contains of brainwashed zombies, supply more power every elections.

In conclusion, the problem is not what and how direct the passions or interests. Passions or interests, in total intentions must be improved. Without to solve this issue, no matter which system is used (capitalism, democracy, socialism, communism… etc), we can not live such a world which’s far away from pain and destructions. So, is it really possible that all people in comminity can be in good intentions, contact without damaging each other, well-mannered without under controls, laws or systems ? although it is not impossible in this age and near future, it may be happen in far future. Of course, this far future is not useful for us now, but it must not be forgotten that infrastructure of distant future are shaped in our past and present. In short, we should still get much more lesson from our historical experiences to consturct more peaceful and happy feature.

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