[Ansteorra] Just rambling on about "politics"

Marc Carlson marccarlson20 at hotmail.com
Thu May 1 11:11:00 PDT 2003

The major problem with "politics" is that we use one word to describe a
large variety of different behaviors.  I tend to think of Politics as the
art of getting the mission accomplished, whatever the mission happens to be.
  The art comes in with things like resource allocation, planning, personnel
management, and so forth.  My interpretation of "the mission" for the SCA
may be a little different from some (e.g.  to have a good time, and to make
sure that as many people in my group have a good time as well - oh, and to
teach when the opportunity arises, and increase my personal levels of
authenticity - although for me that's part of having a good time).  Other
people appear to have different interpretations of what "the mission" is,
and that's fine.

Unfortunately the way the political spectrum shakes out in the SCA appears
to range from people trying to get "what's best" for themselves (whatever
"what's best" happens to be - fame, money, recognition, power, awards, sex,
the best piece of haunch, etc), to the other end with people trying to get
"what's best" for the Group (however that group happens to be defined).

Of course the problem is that not everyone is going to define those things,
like the group, or the mission, the same.  What Lord so and so thinks is
best for the group, and what Baron this and that think may not be the same.

This brings us to the tools used to accomplish these goals, and this is
where we have the "dishonorable" and "underhanded" stuff that everyone
abhors (or at least will assert they do :) ).  There are numerous tools for
furthering a political goal, but at the end of the day, a tool is just a
tool.  It's how it's used that is good or bad.  For example, this message is
a political tool - its purpose is to interject a little more rationality
into a bubbling pool (although some people might see it's purpose being to
stir up said pool - I assure you that it's not -my- intent).  I say a little
more, since there are already rational people in this discussion, I'm just
trying to help.  My mission then is to do what little I can to help see if
"the group" (i.e. this list) can't have a better time NOT arguing for a

It's been suggested that Machiavelli's "The Prince" is a bad example of
politics - I disagree.   Machiavelli was a harsh political realist, this is
true, and many of the tools he suggests in that work are utterly
inappropriate for the SCA (as are many in his "The Republic", even though
that is the part of his political writings that is most frequently ignored)
but this does not make him a bad example.  What he brings, just in his
style, is an objectivity and realism at looking at situations and people.

What we should be wary of is how we can hurt people with these tools.  My
belief is that if you have to lie, cheat, be flagrantly manipulative, or
hurt people to achieve your goal, you may not have examined all the other
alternatives.  If you have someone who has a different vision, you might
really want to decide whether the costs of getting YOUR way is going to be
too high.

Zubeyda has said that she's not seen any "politics" in Northkeep, and I
suspect that she means the bad, hurtful kind.  I should hope she hasn't,
since currently the face of Northkeep is of people generally pulling
together for the good of the group.  But Zubeyda's still fairly new.  Many
people have worked very hard for many years on creating that sort of
group-centered cooperativeness.  Some of these people have left over the
years, some for political reasons (the hurtful kind), some for reasons that
have nothing to do with the SCA, but many are still here, still working.
Zubeyda sees the politics in Northkeep every day - we just tend to define
the mission a little more positively than that word usually suggests.

I won't white-wash things though.  There have been over the past 20
something years -other- visions for what "Northkeep" should be all about,
and some of the political things between those conflicting visions have been
pretty nasty.  Everyone has them.  We'll likely have them again in the
future - but if so, they won't be anyone else's business, any more than
Elfsea's current issues are mine.  Digging into other people's poltical
messes doesn't make it any easier for the people who are working on the
situation to get it resolved.


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