Interview with Joel Wendt
Candidate for President of the United States
Joel Wendt, from the town of Greenville, New Hampshire, is running as an independent for president of the United States in 2004. We began discussing Joel's ideas for poliltical reform in the March issue [see Interview with Joel Wendt] and continued the conversation on the SCR Discussion list. Below are some of the highlights of that conversation.
Ralph: I too found it daunting trying to navigate around your website(s) and I found it difficult to determine what were your words and what were the words of others. Therefore I have yet to get a good feel for what you are like and stand for.
Joel: Everything on my websites is 99% my own thought product. I have been at the thinking for a life time (I am now 62), quite intensely since 1970, with a lot of writing that was basically discarded until in the '90's when I began to feel I had a handle on things. All the stuff on the campaign website was written in the last year specifically for the campaign, although it has been thought about for much longer.
On my research website,for example in the essay The Future, there are generally a lot of references to other writers that have influenced me and what contributions they made (Steiner, Barfield, Emerson etc.). But the essence of what I did was to think through from the foundations up my whole view as regards the social and the political, the nature of their reality, and their mutual interaction. In a certain sense, by the early '80's I had learned how to empty my mind of its past, and then began to simply observe and note and build up my whole understanding from the most raw beginnings I knew were possible, which actually begins with a lot of exact introspection in order to determine the nature of mind to experience.
Then, on the basis of knowing mind, I began to observe and think about the political and the social. The odd thing is that the closer I drew to the truth (as it were) the more I found everywhere echo's from other minds. Most of us have fairly decent intuitions of the true and the good, but few of us bother to be as systematic and complete as I have striven to be.
Think of a hobbyist - say a model train person. They study and read and consider and make stuff with the hands. Spend a lot of time, and a great deal of care.
My hobby has been the social and political worlds, and the basic tool of expression has been words. I think and observe, and then describe.
Don: Are you really suggesting that Saddam and Kim Jong are somehow amenable to reason?
Joel: Here's what I said in the interview:
"They treat two very dangerous personalities (Saddam Hussein and Kim Jung-il) as less than human and fundamentally evil. They insult them and back them into corners, and then expect them to behave like chastened children before a parent who knows everything. Ideologues have little or no psychological insight into others, and therefore can only really cause harm."
I don't know where it says in this that I consider them amenable to reason, or not.
Part of the background of my life is 18 years in the mental health business (I say this in part because Galus doesn't think I might actually know anything). When Bush and Company speak of an axis of evil they are indulging themselves in a style of rhetoric calculated to appeal to their Christian Right friends, but which has little root in reality. Always in order to deal with someone, we actually have to understand them, not just judge them or blind ourselves to their human nature and flaws by a rhetoric which is no better than school yard name calling.
These men sit atop complicated societies - atop. You don't get to such a place by being stupid and ignorant, and underestimating such folks is a very good way to get your butt chewed off. The best means I have found is to transfer one's consciousness quite intentionally "inside" the other person. Generally one doesn't need to do this in such an intimate fashion as the folks that work in the behavioral science unit of the FBI, but it is really the only means to find your way out of your own boxes and assumptions about someone else.
Kim Jung-il comes to power in a regime which had ended up with an excessive presence in their Nation of folks from the Peoples Republic of China, following the end of the Korean conflict (police action, war, whatever?). I wouldn't be surprised if the cranked up dictatorship and repression within North Korea had a lot to do with squeezing out Chinese influence. I also wouldn't be surprised if their nuclear weapons program had everything to do with China and almost nothing to do with the West.
We have to remember that these are really quite different cultures, far older than the dominant cultures of the Americas, and they have a soul gesture quite different from ours. Not everyone is raised by their culture to believe reason is the best means to obtain power, or to maintain one's own Nation against the nearby dangers. "Face" means something over there far beyond what we imagine.
North Korea's greatest danger comes from their immediate north and West and is China. I did a quick Google search on the sources of North Korea's nuclear technology, and Pakistan seems the most likely culprit. Certainly China did not want another nuclear power on their borders, but North Korea is just following in the footsteps of Russia, India and Pakistan, all of whom will have to face Chinese "interest" as China grows in economic power during this coming century. Japan and Taiwan depend on us of course, but I suspect they aren't very happy with our present juvenile performance.
All Bush did was not mind the store and so North Korea escalated the war of words against the most vulnerable and immature Government available (us). With Bush distracted by his own ideological madness, Korea stretched out its muscles to up their level of nuclear productive capacities. It is foolish (not to say vain) to think they are so stupid as to see us as their real enemy. We are just the new dumb kid, who doesn't have the sophistication to understand all the lessons in warfare and psychology and power games known by experience in that part of the world for centuries (misdirection, lies, deceit, feints within feints).
A real concern is that North Korea will sell nuclear weapons due to its needs for hard currency. But it isn't necessary to play Risk (a military board game for those who don't know it) on a geo-political scale in the style of a 6th grader (how the Bush folks think), in order to deal with that problem .
The US should a) return intensely to the support of all the relevant non-proliferation treaties and other kinds of diplomacy which will put us in step with the rest of the world. We then should b) using an obvious intermediary (we want Korea to see this coming) simply buy the damn things from them - outbid anyone we are concerned about getting one of these things), while c) coming indirectly at North Korea so that they think they are selling to someone else (we might do a couple of these).
The point is mano a mano confrontation in the style of Bush's cowboy view of international relations is counter-productive, unnecessary and stupid.
As to Iraq - well the die is cast in that one, we'll have to see what happens when the dust clears.
Ralph: Joel, how do you explain the involvement of Prime Minister Blair in the Saddham crusade? On the Kim Jong front he is no less supportive of the Bush position and is even on the record as saying North Korea is next.
Joel: The Anglo-American establishment has a long history of cooperative work in trying to run the world. All manner of stuff on the Internet in this regard. Basically Blair doesn't have a choice, given who he owes for his election. With somebody like Blair and Bush your picture has to keep in mind the context in which their political life is embedded. They don't make a lot of sense isolated from that context.
It isn't really about a thought out position, as much as it is about having to go a certain way, and then the "position" is created as an after the fact justification. That's why the "positions" have so many logical holes and factual inconsistencies - they aren't based upon any search for the true and the good, but are entirely driven by the need to rationalize a preconceived ideology.
Ralph: I have a question for Joel . . . about the ruling elites and what it might take to dislodge them.
The dark recedes to its proper place in the Balance in the face of Light.
In this case we are speaking of unmasking the elites, something already going on, and increasing every day. A great part of their power is from being hidden, but every time someone becomes more aware of them, that power is diminished. In the 2004 election in the USA, there will be a lot of Light.
Ralph: Joel, presumably you don't think they will resort to force to hold onto power after they have been exposed.
Joel: Whenever you find yourself using the term "presumably", aren't you "assuming" something?
Like all such situations, to the extent it is grounded in reality, it involves an historical process. The unmasking of the elites of concentrated wealth has been going on for some time, and already they have made moves to tighten their grip. But they know that if they go too far (they are better historians than most politicians - that is they have listened to the lessons about which history speaks) that excess brings its opposite.
Their current struggle is to bring into the USA, while it still has the potential for military dominance in the world, a kind of neo-fascist State, using an increased international terrorism as the goad of fear, in order to get American citizens to accept incursions into their civil rights in the sense of increased electronic surveillance coupled with the doing away with a number of normal restraints on police activity (no need for probably cause for searches involving terrorism, arrests without recourse to an attorney, and so forth).
The problem is that large numbers of people see this coming. In fact, what has happened is that "the going too far" is in the process of happening right now.
One of the funny ways history works is that something that seems outrageous from a certain point of view, has a value in another context. In the USA we have an excess of personal arms, far greater than anywhere else in the world. This means that a true fascist State is an impossibility here, the citizenry is too well armed (there are other reasons as well, but I am trying to be brief).
Now the fact that this turns out to be a good in a certain context, doesn't change that it was an evil in its original context. Same with the War against Iraq. Evil in its own context, but may turn out to be a good in a later context.
There is an odd matter not often understood about the nature of the cell in biology that can serve as a lesson here. In the cell a reaction will occur between two kinds of molecules, such that a third molecule is formed for a certain purpose, leaving behind what initially appears as debris. Later this so-called debris is involved in other reactions with a creative result, again leaving behind even smaller debris. Then later, that debris again serves a creative purpose.
In Nature there is no waste. Only human beings have managed to take from Nature and create out of it waste. The same is true in the processes in society and history. All kinds of apparent debris later serves another purpose. We have to work real hard to produce something so evil that it later can't be turned to a good.
This understanding is why some on the list have wondered (rightly) that the War might be a good. That this is so depends upon the context in which we look at the War, it isn't good or bad in any absolute sense. As a policy of the current sitting government of the USA, the War is unconscionable, being rooted in outright deception and immediately destructive on multiple levels socially. Its full aftermath will likely produce good effects, not the least of which is a full awakening of sufficient numbers in the West so as to seriously undermine the agenda of the Brotherhoods.
As I stated in a previous message, it all depends on where you stand, and how you look at the situation from there.
Ralph: You're running for President and people want to know where you stand on this issue [the current war in Iraq]. If you are going to tell them, don't you want to be sure you are not giving them a bum steer?
Joel: Interesting choices of words in the remarks above.
Take the image "where you stand on an issue". Usually this means something on the order of "are you for or against abortion", which would be a "stand" and an "issue". So in terms of the "war", this could mean that my "stand" is "against" the war.
The problems with this are a) it is quite an inaccurate way of sharing what and how I actually think about the problem of the "war"; and, b) it abstracts being for or against the war out of the total social and political context in which this crisis exists, and by this process of abstraction actually falsifies the problem.
The social political world is alive and dynamic. There are no static conditions in it at all, so there is no simplistic way to approach the social world's "ecology", given that everything is interdependent such that whole effects part and part effects whole.
The best I have learned to do in any given moment is look at the situation for a certain place and "think" about how it all seems to be from that place. Then I shift my view place, and "think" some more, and get thereby quite other ideas. After a while I integrate all this, but I don't really end up with "stands" on "issues", but a certain kind of capacity for "seeing"
You also say above that maybe I don't want to be: "giving them a bum steer". I have no idea what you mean here. I'd guess that maybe you think I should be telling people what the right thing to do is or what the right thing to think is, but I'm not sure that's what you mean.
My view of this kind of thing is that my obligation is to share what I think the right doing and thinking is, in a context in which it is clear that I know full well that others will have different views, and that I don't believe that what is right for me is right for everyone else. Someone having different ideas of doing and thinking about the war isn't "wrong" simply because their view is different. I might debate them in an appropriate context, if it seems to me that they are basing their views on warped or inadequate information, or seem clearly to not have thought the thing through, but those elements of debate on based upon the being a universally "right" way to do or think.
You asked from my stand on several issues, after I had written you that such an approach to "thinking" about the political and the social had severe weaknesses. I concluded by saying:
"The best I have learned to do in any given moment is look at the situation for a certain place and "think" about how it all seems to be from that place. Then I shift my view place, and "think" some more, and get thereby quite other ideas. After a while I integrate all this, but I don't really end up with "stands" on "issues", but a certain kind of capacity for "seeing""
I have also been trying to say, several times now, that the function of the Executive Branch is not the same as the function of the Legislative Branch. It is the duty of the Legislative Branch to sort through the seemingly competing ideas of what is right to do, and find the balanced way for a "law" to be. But a Society is more than its "laws" and a President is that odd combination of Head of Government (Prime Minister) and Chief of State (King or Queen).
In our time, in terms of constitutional powers, the President is more like a Head of Government, and in terms of moral authority, more like a modern Chief of State, who having no political power, never the less possesses the capacity to be a voice for righteous thought and action. In many places the tendency has been to lay aside the moral authority, so as to let the political dimensions be free of it (politics without conscience - see Barbara Gardiner's remarkable "The Constitution Question: Conscience Politics", on my research website at: http://ipwebdev.com/hermit/scotessay.html. This is one of the flaws in England, and America, that has lead to the current dominance by the elites of concentrated wealth. The politicians dominated and true statesmen disappeared.
What this means is that as a candidate I don't take sides on "issues" like abortion, or homosexuality, or free trade, but rather seek to serve as a voice for the good and the true as that might aid the People and their lawmakers (the Legislative Branch) sort through the situation in as wise a way as possible.
In fact, taking stands on issues is mostly a political act intended to curry favor with a certain element of the electorate - it is not an act of statecraft. Statecraft means placing at risk one's potential election, in order to serve the higher Ideal, which is the true source of the social health and well being of the People.
Galus: I am not asking you that question "where do you stand on abortion" . But I do wonder how you will answer when asked this kind of very personal question by a voter at a meeting.
Joel: You are completely right, this is a dilemma. I had a long talk with a journalist (Editor of the Keene Sentinel), and also with Granny D. concerning this very matter.
The best we could work out, so as to be consistent with my approach, and honestly respond to the person asking the question, is to engage in a bit of dialog. This means to not just have pat predigested answers (as most politicians do), but to engage the person asking the question.
Such a conversation might start: "Before I answer this might I ask you a couple of questions?" I would then ask what came to me, that might give some greater detail as to why "that" question is being asked by "this" person. On the basis of this, I would then answer the question, particularizing (individualizing) it, to the person, and the situation of that conversation. I might include my view about the problem in general, and also speak from personal experience as that relates (for example I have had girl friends and daughters that have had abortions, while none of my wives and I ever considered abortions with respect to all five children, none of whom were "planned").
Such kinds of questions, which can be traps, can also be opportunities to deepen the public dialog in a number of ways, and that is basically how I look at the situation. It would be stated, and still be my approach, that "in general" I do not consider it part of "the job" of a statesman to approach the solving of our social problems in such a superficial fashion. The person asking the question is certainly entitled to want something else, in which case I would advise them not to vote for me.
By the way, I've already had some encounters along these lines, and find the interchanges to be quite enlivening, and to end with good feelings on both sides.
Michael: I doubt that a minor candidate will make any impression on the USA. The system there is a 2 party system, dominated by money. . . . However I am far from the USA and the debate about the American election does not interest me too much.
Joel: So if it doesn't interest you, why did you stick your comments in? By the way, while you certainly are geographically far from the USA, do you feel that what goes on there has no effect on your life?
Also, since you are so disinterested and so far away, how do you come to the view: "I doubt that a minor candidate will make any impression on the USA."? Are you claiming any special insight into the political and social realities of the USA?
To submit questions to Joel Wendt, write to: fts@SouthernCrossReview.org