Logocracy - Chapter 9: The Principle of Competence
Competence as the basis of the whole of logocratic society
This is part 9 of my ongoing series summarizing and translating Lobaczewski’s Polish-language book Logocracy.
Chapter 9 is bound to ruffle some feathers. It identifies a key principle underlying logocracy, one which guides not only the whole system of government, but also the sociopsychological structure of society itself: competence.
A logocratic system treats the principle of competence as a natural law derived from the laws of nature and therefore extends it to all social functions on which the fate of individuals, society, and the future of nations depends.
Lobaczewski begins by making a simple observation: we require a basic level of specialized competence in practically all areas of life, from driving to practicing medicine. It goes without saying, but untrained musicians cannot join an orchestra, and HR managers cannot perform spinal surgery. When such standards are removed, people suffer. (The cumulative damage extends further than assaulted ear drums and mangled spines.) Yet there is one area—conspicuous by its importance to all aspects of life—where this principle is completely neglected, sometimes as a matter of principle: politics.
As a result, people without elementary knowledge of social sciences, economics, and technology can have a decisive influence on governments, and their incompetence can be the cause of misfortune for whole nations.
A logocratic system privileges politically competent individuals, those with the knowledge and experience suited to their roles as voters and public servants. To this end, all state and social organizations are “obliged to facilitate all sufficiently able persons to acquire and complete their education and preparation for political activity.” The prime logocratic directive: don’t waste talent, cultivate it at every level.
Lobaczewski lays out some specific solutions for the realization of this vision. Enter the new “civil rights.” In a logocracy, rights and duties are two sides of the same coin. In order to earn the right to vote, and to stand for election in lower-level, community government positions, one must demonstrate sufficient knowledge in the requisite fields, take an examination, and sign a civic pledge “to be guided by one’s own discernment of affairs, and an appeal to conscience and justice.” He suggests a concise textbook for study (up to 100 pages in length) with material covering five subject areas:
the economic geography of the country
the political history of the last century or so
elements of economics and management
psychological and social issues (including psychopathology and ponerology)
The material would be controlled by parliament and written by “an independent and politically neutral institution”—the already mentioned “logocratic association.” This association would be akin to a “third party” in the American system, but one with no specific party platform, composed instead of independent voters and centrists.
The process of attaining the civil right would be “moderately” more difficult than obtaining a driver’s license. Those with a high school or college education would be able to pass the test after about three weeks of full-time study (three months if studying on their free time). Those without such education—and working full time—may require up to a year.
As he points out, this process alone will eliminate a certain number of people from the voting pool—approximating 10-20% of the adult population—including a significant number of the least talented and those with mental pathologies or “such defects of character that predestine them to politically harmful activity,” as well as those who just have no interest in voting. As he points out, the eligible voting pool would still be larger than the number of people who actually vote in many Western countries. Restricting voting rights in such a way will probably increase voter turnouts.
At the same time, the quality of electoral decisions would be significantly improved for two reasons: enrichment of voters’ political awareness and partial elimination of the element easily susceptible to demagogic activity.
… the tendency to develop naive, emotionally charged, and extreme worldviews would be controlled to a great extent, which would stimulate political reasonableness.
Lobaczewski acknowledges that even this will not be enough to eliminate all harmful tendencies. The filter would be more effective than other modern systems, but no system will be perfect in this regard.
Rather, it should be assumed that the influence of the egotism of the broad masses of society and their tendency to prefer easier and more immediate matters to those that require deeper reflection and further perspective will be manifested, albeit to a lesser degree …
Standing for election in higher positions (members of parliament, senators, mayors, and some senior officials) would require a more intensive course of study on the same five topics (perhaps one year compared to three months). There would be no restrictions on who can take the exams, which would be recorded and televised (or today, livestreamed). To some extent these requirements will also select based on the merits of character.
As for the highest offices (head of state, president of the council of ministers, and commander-in-chief of the armed forces), there will be the additional requirements of full psychological normality (i.e. no personality disorders) and mental fitness. With exceptions for those who demonstrate retention of their faculties in old age, the system will favor younger candidates, “in the expectation that they will retain these qualities throughout their tenure.” In other words, heads of state over the age of 70 or 80 will be a rarer occurrence than they are today.
Lobaczewski envisions the council of the wise overseeing investigation and consideration of candidates’ physical and mental health, with access to candidates’ medical and psychiatric records, and a veto on candidates they deem unfit (if challenged, they would disclose their reasons publicly).
The principle of competence will become one of the foundations of the logocratic system … It will be applied in all areas of social life … But it should never become a totem of bureaucracy, a source of privilege for the wealthy, or a tool of struggle for the privileges of organized groups.
The Principle of Competence
For those of us living at the end of the twentieth century, it seems obvious that the performance of many functions and professions, especially those on which depends the fate of other people, should be entrusted to people with skills checked by appropriate institutions and in accordance with the requirements of the law.
Thus, while a licensed driver sits behind the wheel of his own car, professional drivers are required to have better skills, even undergo psychological testing. Whoever performs a surgical operation must not only be a doctor, but must also have received specialized training and become proficient under the guidance of an experienced surgeon. The director of a mine and the managers of its branches must not only be mining engineers, but must also have acquired the necessary experience and passed a demanding examination before specialists from the Mining Authority. When these latter requirements were trivialized by the so-called “workers’ power,” the miners began to pay for it dearly with their lives and suffering. If such requirements, examples of which could be multiplied, are liberalized or circumvented because some people enjoy privileges, then other people suffer the consequences, accompanied by great material losses.
These few examples suffice to show how deeply the principle of competence has entered into the life of modern societies. At the same time, there remains an important area of social life in which a completely anachronistic state of affairs persists, based on a naïve idealism of political doctrine which is far removed from the law of nature. This state is the lack of competence criteria in the field of political activity. As a result, people without elementary knowledge of social sciences, economics, and technology can have a decisive influence on governments, and their incompetence can be the cause of misfortune for whole nations.
Moreover, this state of affairs is sometimes regarded as the doctrinal basis of state systems and is ascribed the value of a moral criterion. Even in countries with a long history of political independence, the common sense of the majority cannot completely eliminate the ill effects of such political customs, let alone in countries that have recently become independent. The history of the twentieth century abounds with examples of the tragic consequences of this state of affairs. Former monarchies seem to have dealt with this issue better. Logocracy cannot accept such assumptions because their contradiction with the laws of nature and the experience of societies is obvious.
A logocratic system treats the principle of competence as a natural law derived from the laws of nature and therefore extends it to all social functions on which the fate of individuals, society, and the future of nations depends. Such a regime makes the requirement of the necessary scientific preparation, together with the necessary experience in activity, one of the bases of its social organization and political activity. At the same time, it follows that the state and social organizations, with the logocratic, or civic, association at the head, are obliged to facilitate all sufficiently able persons to acquire and complete their education and preparation for political activity. Detailed requirements in this area would be regulated by parliament, and by experience and social reasoning. Let us look at the proposals for detailed solutions:
Thus, any citizen who demonstrates the necessary popular-scientific preparation and takes the appropriate examination and civic pledge may become a voter. Preparation for exercising the active right to vote will have the character of the most common system of citizen education in social and political sciences. It will initiate and inspire further development of their skills in these fields.
Based on sound knowledge, concise and accessible textbooks (up to 100 pages) will be developed in the necessary areas: 1) economic geography of the country, 2) political history of the last ninety years, 3) elements of economics and management, 4) psychological and social issues, 5) constitutional law. An appropriate parliamentary committee would control the quality of the material given in these textbooks, published by the logocratic association, that is, by an independent and politically neutral institution, and by other social organizations. Supplementary lectures, broadcast on radio and television, would help citizens prepare for the exam.
The amount of time a citizen would have to spend on such preparation would be moderately greater than that required to obtain a driver’s license for a private car. Those with a college or high school education would have to spend about three weeks, and those studying on their own time would have to spend two to three months. Citizens with primary or vocational education would take longer, two to three months, and, studying after work, up to a year. Difficulties would arise only at the level of mental sluggishness (IQ below 89), which often goes hand in hand with incomplete primary education, can be the result of alcohol abuse,1 or other pathological phenomena.
The principle of competence in this field would limit the number of voters, eliminating mentally limited individuals, and a large proportion of persons with such defects of character that predestine them to politically harmful activity. In the program of the fourth area listed above, in the field of social psychology, elements of psychopathology should be included, together with a description of psychopathies and their ponerogenic role. This would give reasonable people some help in their life and public decisions, but would discourage psychopathic individuals.
Quantifying the issue, the above practice would remove from political activity about 3.6% of the population (the mentally abnormal or retarded), about half of the least gifted (i.e., more than 6%), and a number of people with various mental aberrations. This makes a total of about 12%. To this must be added a certain number of people for whom the affairs of the country are of little interest and who would give up seeking the right to vote for other reasons. The upper limit of this right can be estimated in Poland at 85% of the adult population, in Scandinavian countries at about 90%, in France at 80%, depending on the known psychological characteristics of those nations. This is always more than the current voter turnouts in these countries.
At the same time, the quality of electoral decisions would be significantly improved for two reasons: enrichment of voters’ political awareness and partial elimination of the element easily susceptible to demagogic activity. It should also be assumed that in the end it would contribute to higher voter turnout.
In developing countries, the percentages of voters would initially be much lower, but would increase as a result of the development of civilization. This, however, would protect such countries from the disease that is caused by the introduction of democracy in nations not prepared for it. In Poland, it has turned out that the period of the rule of pathocracy, the action of propaganda, and the isolation of the nation from information concerning matters known in the wide world, have caused a desperate retreat of the human capacity for rational political action. In this respect we have become a developing country.
A candidate for such an active right would first take an examination before a commission. It would be necessary to allow for the possibility of crediting parts of the exam, and, initially, for exam relief for the elderly based on respect for their education and life experience.
The citizen would then make a civic pledge and sign a declaration with its oath. The text of this pledge should include the obligation, characteristic of logocracy, to be guided by one’s own discernment of affairs, and an appeal to conscience and justice. The wording of the pledge should not, however, contain commitments such as the defense of borders or political orientations. It should not arouse opposition from morally sensitive people or national minorities. The citizen would, however, have the right to add a short religious invocation. Such a pledge would nevertheless have a moral significance, positively influencing the sense of responsibility for one’s conduct, and the manner in which one exercises one’s electoral and other rights. The pledge’s motto must not be easily changed by the tendencies of ruling political parties or parliaments. Therefore, it should be inscribed in the first part of the logocratic constitution, changes to which will require a long scientific procedure. It would even be advisable for this text to be drafted in such a way that it could gain international sanction and be adopted without change by other countries adopting the logocratic system.
The examination and the pledge would give the citizen the active right to vote for all representative bodies and for president, provided that position is elected by popular vote. Such a citizen would also gain the passive right to lower elective positions in community government, such as village leaders, aldermen, and municipal councillors, and to participate in local councils of social welfare industries. This right would be commonly referred to as a “civil right,” which is to be distinguished from a citizen’s rights.
Such a beginning of the development of the political worldview of citizens, based on the scientific explanation of the basic issues of social and political life, would open the way for the further development of a more realistic and critical understanding of reality. Thus, the tendency to develop naive, emotionally charged, and extreme worldviews would be controlled to a great extent, which would stimulate political reasonableness.
The right of citizenship should also be accorded with relative ease to persons of foreign nationality. Such a grant would give them permanent residence, the right to work and be economically active, the right to vote and the above-mentioned entitlements, while in the country, and a limited right to consular protection. It would thus be something more than, for example, a “green card” in the USA. Such a solution is highly advisable especially in Poland, due to the cooperation with a large Polish community abroad. The Parliament, by way of honor, could grant such a right also to people of foreign origin, in recognition of their friendship towards our nation.
Parliamentary Members’ Rights
Despite the solutions described and the beneficial effect of the principle of competence on the electorate as a whole, it is doubtful whether the typical harmful tendencies will be sufficiently eliminated. Rather, it should be assumed that the influence of the egotism of the broad masses of society and their tendency to prefer easier and more immediate matters to those that require deeper reflection and further perspective will be manifested, albeit to a lesser degree, also in logocracy. We should also take care that the parliament works efficiently, as composed of deputies and senators properly prepared for their duties. Although the times will not return when 61 members of the Sejm of the reborn Poland were unable to obtain a basic education, in a system that is better than democracy, and as a result of increasingly complex social, economic, and technical conditions, the adequate preparation of members of parliament and senior officials becomes a necessity. It is therefore necessary to provide for the competence requirements that will ensure the country the smooth operation of a parliament capable of making prompt, moderate, and just decisions.
Prospective members of parliament, senators, mayors, and some senior officials, should acquire appropriate academic preparation confirmed by examinations. The scope of these studies, called parliamentary honoraria, would be determined and modernized by appropriate resolutions of parliament taking into account the opinion of the council of wise or on its initiative. In general, the scope of these studies, preparatory to legislative work or other offices, should be such that a graduate of an academic school, who would ordinarily gain some credit from previous studies, would not need more than a year of intensive work to prepare for the examinations. Those without a college degree would have to spend more time supplementing their education with reading. However, there should be no regulations closing the way to those whose conditions did not allow them to study according to their talents.
Those who cannot afford an additional year of study, and who have not obtained a scholarship from a logocratic association or their political organization, should be able to prepare gradually over several years. Therefore, in each case, the individual examinations should be taken separately. Lectures should be organized at selected universities that have been approved by parliamentary resolution, and they should be televised or recorded on electronic media.
The scope of parliamentary study would include essentially the same five disciplines mentioned with regard to civil rights, but this time with the character of academic study. Particularly deepened should be the social sciences, with sufficient emphasis on psychology, psychopathology, and ponerology, as fields which bring understanding to the most difficult matters. Preparation for parliamentary activity and the problems of legislative work would also be necessary. Since logocracy assumes the general tenets of religious cognition, it would be advisable to add some study of these matters in the form chosen by the candidate.
With respect to passive electoral rights, the system of education and examinations will control primarily the skills of candidates. These requirements will, however, to some extent test and select people on the merits of their characters. The final decision in this area, however, will belong to the electorate. And this electorate will be more mature, demanding, and resistant to demagogic measures. The average voter will see the candidates on television, engaging his natural sense of humanity, which is alive in the vast majority. Logocratic association candidates, put forward for their personal values, will also stand for election. The result will be a logocratic parliament, far more mature and efficient than a democratic one.
The offices of the chief executive will be capable of being entrusted only to persons who are fully normal and mentally fit, and in the expectation that they will retain these qualities throughout their tenure. In spite of the fact that in logocracy there should be an endeavor to lower the age of the persons to whom these offices are entrusted, there are sometimes elderly people whose abilities and merits are generally already known. In many of them there is a problem of health and fitness for responsible offices. Despite deep respect for age and experience, one must take into account the decline in mental agility, tendency to live in the past, and egotism associated with old age. The last emperor of Ethiopia, while in his old age, destroyed the entire work of his life’s toil, caused the tragedy of civil war, and gave his country into Red slavery, finally to be smothered with a pillow.
In a logogracy, such events as the following would not be possible: the election of a psychopath as Chancellor of the German Reich, the third and fourth election of Franklin D. Roosevelt as President of the United States, or even the return to power of Józef Piłsudski when his mind was already betraying the effects of brain tissue damage. The council of the wise will remember and remind society about the fact that achieving the highest positions in the state is often an object of the dreams and cunning of individuals with certain mental deviations. History, especially of our past century, teaches us that the appearance of such individuals in the highest offices has always led to large-scale misfortunes. Therefore, in this field, biological and psychological realities must always be taken into consideration!
It will be the duty of the council of the wise, within its medical and psychological scope, to investigate and consider the health and mental state of candidates for the highest offices. The council’s veto against a candidate will be decisive, and if its decision is challenged before parliament, the council will disclose its reasons. The council of the wise will also have the right to request an early termination of their office should the incumbent lose the ability to effectively carry out their duties.
Under the provisions of the constitution, candidates for the three highest offices—head of state, president of the council of ministers, and commander-in-chief of the armed forces, in Poland the hetman—will be subject to scrutiny by the council of the wise. These three and the senate will be entitled to ask the council to make similar examinations of other persons. The examination and opinion should not be earlier than one year before taking office. The council will have access to all medical and psychological records. Its activities in this regard should be particularly tactful and subject to generally accepted principles of medical discretion. Therefore, also, the opinion of the council of the wise will first be communicated to the person concerned to enable him to make an appropriate decision. However, the public good will be regarded as more important than the inviolability of private secrets.
The principle of competence will become one of the foundations of the logocratic system in any of its possible variations. It will be inscribed in the first part of the constitution. It will be applied in all areas of social life and implemented within the framework of proper legal regulation and with the use of good knowledge and common sense. But it should never become a totem of bureaucracy, a source of privilege for the wealthy, or a tool of struggle for the privileges of organized groups. A sense of the creative sense of the principle, and an understanding of practical realities and circumstances, should always accompany its execution. Thus, this principle should become part of the civic and political consciousness that makes up a logocratic society and one of the supports of its wisdom.
Note: This work is a project of QFG/FOTCM and is planned to be published in book form soon.