How can wisdom be developed in the Parliament and government officials
Sweden's future rests on a wise parliament
Sweden will undergo a gigantic social transformation in the coming decades due to the sustainability goals and the fourth industrial revolution. Politicians and government officials today do not have the wisdom needed to predict, understand and be able to act sufficiently wise and long-term. The political system is structured in a way that requires a high degree of wisdom of members of parliament, party leaders and government officials, in order to avoid bad political decisions, top steering, partisanship, ruling techniques, farce, fear and conformism, which in turn undermine democracy.
Wisdom development of members of the Riksdag and government officials should be achieved using the proposals 1) conditioned reduction of working time 2) outdoor communication 3) digital media 4) changed media agenda, explained in "About adult wisdom augmentation"
- Education: Is the opposite of wisdom development, where the goal of education is a definite and limited professional competence, while wisdom development aims to transform the whole person, its inner ability, insights, moral and ethical perception, also known as personality development.1
- Democracy: A basic idea of democracy is that the vast majority of people who are citizens or live in a country should have the opportunity to participate and think about how the country should be governed, for example through regular elections.2
- Virtue: In a broader sense, it means a desirable trait in general or in a certain context.3
- Ethics: Is a theoretical and critical reflection on morality.4
- Ruler technique: Refers to different social manipulations with which a group or a person strengthens his position in a hierarchy by undermining other groups or individuals in different ways.5
- Conformism: Correcting according to the norms and rules of a group, including the difficulty of asserting a deviating opinion.6
- Partisan: Informal term for the practice within a political party of persuading all members of a decision-making assembly to vote in the same way in ballots.7
- Top management: Means that an organization is completely controlled by its management.8
Selected sources consist predominantly of books, articles and reports from well-known Swedish and international institutes, universities and newspapers. NOTE! Paragraphs in the "Background" chapter have in all cases been copied directly from sources without quoting, footnote only. Text has been copied and merged into a relevant whole based on the purpose of this document.
Selected excerpts from the book "Knapptryckarkompaniet" (2011) by economist and associate professor Anne-Marie Pålsson.
The problem of, for example, arrogance of power is not eliminated because a person who acts fully in power is replaced. The fault is not with the person. It does not sit with the parties. It's in the system. Therefore, virtually no person is mentioned by name. There is an important reason for this, and it relates to my view of the system error. It is not the person who is at the center of my analysis but the function he possesses. For it is in the position that power sits, not in the person. And it's about power this consideration is about.9
My story (Anne-Marie Pålsson) connects ... to the role of the Riksdag (Parliament) in Swedish democracy. How well do we members fulfill the task that the Swedish people have given us? How confident can voters be that the Riksdag really lives up to its role as the guardian of democracy? My answer: not safe at all. The Riksdag has in decisive paragraphs capitulated from this role. It is no longer the center of political power that voters believe, but is remotely controlled from the party headquarters. We members act mostly as extras, as something beautiful to show when democracy needs a face. Much like the royal family when we want to have our proud history embodied.10
The regulation in the Riksdag are so carefully regulated that one might think that the assignment was really important. But the distance between the wording of the constitution and reality is very large. What is shown is only surface. ... The debates in the House are not debates in the true sense, but mostly an uninspired account of the party's opinion which is read out in from a completed script. And so that there will be no errors in the actual issue, the members usually get help with the writing work from a political official. And we are talking about officials appointed by the party leadership.11
If I (Anne-Marie Pålsson) experienced that the ceiling was low during the first term, when we were in opposition, it was nothing against what I would experience [during] the second. Then the bar was lowered further. The degree of freedom was zero and the space for one's own positions was non-existent. When the moderate parliamentary group really tried to assert its own opinion, it was met by the Prime Minister's harsh words: "What do you think you are? A consultative body? You can think what you want, but you are here to implement the government's policy and nothing else". And so it became. We were reduced to obedient pushbuttons and marketers by government policies. We were not expected to be anything else.12
"The party whip" is only used when the members of the group have not understood the unspoken rules of the game, those that exist and that almost everyone knows but which may not be communicated to the outside world. The rules of the game mean: bite together, question nothing, swallow the annoyance and align yourself in the line! In short: Be obedient! Then the rewards will come soon. ... When this logic is understood, no whip is needed. ... the higher you get in the hierarchy of power, the fewer they are [ideologically convinced]. Those who do not want to play by the rules are filtered out in the career process at an early stage. If nothing else, they disappear when the battle they initiated is lost.13
An important point. The system works not only by crushing resistance, or by bribing those who obey, but at least as much by selecting those who accept the rules of the game, so that there is no resistance that needs to be overcome. In the United States, private contributions to politicians and their campaigns - which I would call bribes - are necessary in order to be elected. But this does not mean that politicians have necessarily changed their opinions in order to get more donations, ie that individuals have been bribed to change their policies, but also because it is those who are responsible for the right opinions who receive the donations. So the system is bribed, the institutions are filled with people who have the right opinions, and the system makes the decisions it has been paid to make, but the individuals in the system have not necessarily been bribed.14
The party leader rewards loyal behavior. And all the rewards that give the member more power and influence work. Money and other financial compensation can work but play a clearly minor role in political life. One might think that the members of the Riksdag should be able to maintain their integrity even if there is whining from the party leader and they do not receive appointments. But first, the members of the Riksdag depend on the leader to end up in an electable position; without an electoral seat, no new parliamentary seat. Normally, only those who have been judged to be sufficiently obedient can become members of the Riksdag. Secondly, many in the parliamentary group accept that obedience to the leader is rewarded, and show this obedience by participating in adult bullying when the leader suggests that this should be done. The result is very difficult for those with integrity. And it is mostly meaningless, the majority still wins if there is a vote in the party's parliamentary group. Why squander their chances, and expose themselves to bullying and ostracism, when it still does not accomplish anything? Pålsson devotes a chapter to describing such bullying.15
Who ends up in an electoral position is something that the voters only to a very small extent decide on - it is decided in practice by the party's inner core. It is by pleasing the management that a candidate can count on renewed confidence. That this pleasing then perhaps goes against what their own members think is another matter. Anyone who wants to make a career in politics is wise to listen more to the party leader than to his colleagues. ... Ignoring the members' wishes touches on the core of Swedish democracy. When the party elite puts itself above the wishes of the members, it in fact risks short-circuiting the entire democratic system. With us, voter influence is intended to take place through the political parties.16
Closed votes are never used to make decisions in the moderate parliamentary group, other than in the case of personal issues. Such an arrangement would be extremely risky, because if no one knows what the member thinks, it is risk-free to vote against the party leader. With open decision-making processes, on the other hand, no member who wants to make a career votes against the leader's proposal. Change requires political leaders to take the initiative, which they hardly do unless they believe they have something to gain from implementing the reforms. It requires pressure from voters, so strongly that party leaders realize that it hurts them not to work for change. Each generation must conquer its form of democracy, to quote a former Swedish prime minister, Olof Palme. 17 18 19 20
Wisdom training of members of parliament and government officials
There are certainly structural problems in the Riksdag that could be rectified, but above all there is a lack of wisdom among members and party leaders to voluntarily initiate these changes, think more ethically and act more morally. This situation is completely unsustainable in a situation where global challenges, serious societal problems and the fourth industrial revolution require high-quality and radical decision-making.
Members of the Riksdag and government officials need training in wisdom.
The statement may be perceived as unfair and fuzzy, and requires a deeper explanation. How the Riksdag works can on one level be attributed to laws, regulations and routines. But these do not reveal the whole truth, as confirmed in the chapter Background. In reality, the results of the Riksdag will always be a mirror image of the wisdom that members of the Riksdag and government officials possess. To regard this wisdom as something static is wrong and limiting. The human has a plastic brain that can develop. A Riksdag with a high level of general wisdom can be a powerful problem solver and future inspirer.
To become wise, that is, to possess knowledge and skills to be able to anticipate, understand and act in a way that is long-term and beneficial for everyone involved, requires long training. It is an inner journey that should start in school and continue for life. Therefore, the only solution is to initiate a long-term program for wisdom development. The faster wisdom can be augmented, the better equipped the Riksdag is to take on all kinds of challenges.
There are several tools that probably should be combined to increase efficiency. Dialogue and reflection are considered to be the most effective method, and should be the main tool. Like the proposal "Conditional reduction of working hours" by two hours per day, half of which is devoted to public education, the same should apply to members of parliament. In addition, one could use digital screens in the Riksdag to stimulate dialogue and reflection, similar to the proposal "Digital outdoor communication". It is likely that the proposal "Public wisdom development through digital media" and the proposal "Changed agenda setting and journalism in the daily press" would also lead to increased wisdom in the Riksdag.
The above suggestions will probably initially be perceived as negative, unnecessary and naïve for some people. But when the proposals are allowed to sink in, and the consequences have been analyzed more deeply, the realization comes that wisdom development is the incomparably most effective tool for achieving a successful transformation of society.