Endless Curiosity

January 4, 2009

The insights of novelists

Filed under: Psychology — Alec @ 8:55 am

I sometimes think that novelists have a better grasp of politics and power than do politicians themselves. Here are a few paragraphs from Infinity Beach by Jack McDevitt. Just thought you might like to know. Note that the book was published in February 2001 and so these paragraphs are not a criticism of the Bush Administration, even though it might feel that way.

“Never look for complexity in diplomatic decisions. With very few exceptions, actions always devolve – and that’s the exact term – from someone’s self interest. Not the national self-interest, by the way. We are talking here about individual careers.”

“There is an inverse correlation between the amount of power a person has and the level at which his or her mind functions. A person of ordinary intelligence who acquires power, of whatever kind, tends to develop an exaggerated view of his own capabilities. Sycophants gather. There is little of no criticism of decisions. As his ability to disrupt the lives of others advances, these tendencies become stronger. Eventually you end with Louis the Fourteenth, who thinks he’s done a good job for France, although the country he left behind was ruined.”

“Shleyel had always maintained that few actions are driven by reason. People act out of emotion, perception, prejudice. They will believe what they’ve always believed, filtering out all evidence to the contrary. Until they go too far and run into the rocks of reality.”

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1 Comment »

  1. […] I quoted in a previous post, “Never look for complexity in diplomatic political decisions. With very few exceptions, actions […]

    Pingback by Republican chutzpah « Endless Curiosity — February 1, 2009 @ 1:55 pm


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