Party Politics

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During the war, those who understood something of what constitutes working for Principle expected eagerly and rightly that, with the coming peace, there would be a very thorough overturning of the old systems of party politics in every country. This overturning has, of course, begun. Its manifestations, however, are so various and so different from what any one had foreseen that many people are as yet hardly aware of what is really taking place. The more cynical observe that the spoils of war seem to have stimulated the professional politicians to a grosser materialism than ever before. Even the most humanly optimistic find little to encourage them in such phenomena as American party conventions or European elections. It does indeed require more than mere human optimism, more than any attempt to look on some supposedly better side of material conditions, to comprehend truly important development. Exact knowledge of divine Principle, rather than any mortal theory about policies, must be the basis for discerning progress.

To the casual observer, it is evident that the great events of yesterday overshadowed rather than developed personalities. Hardly a notable person, no matter how great his work appeared in the thick of the war activity, has escaped without being at one time or another the center of a storm of adverse criticism. Cooperation and coalition for war purposes seem to have come to an end. Instead, even the two or three main political parties in nearly every country have more or less disintegrated into many smaller groups which are continually recombining and realigning themselves. Indeed, each man of prominence is almost a party to himself, with little in common with any of his adversaries. A faction clings for the moment to one shade of opinion, and the next moment reacts from it. In other words, the personal element in all human affairs, including especially political campaigns, is undergoing some sort of a vital readjustment. More of what this is remains to be seen.

Five hundred years ago, Machiavelli declared, “There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things; because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new.” Now Machiavelli’s whole treatise on government was based on a system of personal domination. Viewing the ways of princes from that standpoint, he naturally had to be pessimistic. Only as such a theory as his, which included the dogma that “it is necessary for a prince wishing to hold his own to know how to do wrong, and to make use of it or not according to necessity,” is replaced by the understanding and practice of genuine Principle, can the politics of the present be purified. Every sense of personal manipulation and control is medieval and has to give way to the guidance of infinite intelligence.

“The one, infinite, divine Principle requires and maintains one infinitely right action. Each one who demonstrates this for himself is aiding in the permanent purification of politics.”

The mesmerism of the crowd, whether it be in a party convention or a preelection mass meeting, comes about simply through the belief that there are many units of animated matter which have congregated in order to increase their animation and expand its supposed influence. Since, however, Mind is the only real power, and the true, divine Mind never does inhabit or animate any such a fraud as matter, the worst that the so-called mesmerism of the crowd can do is really nothing whatever. All the while, Principle remains Principle and governs its actual manifestation in perfect order. Every one who sincerely wishes to see the truth demonstrated practically in all experience must accept this spiritual fact and rejoice in the overcoming of merely personal policies by the infinity of Principle.

In a political campaign, as in anything else, what is necessary is the turning away from human emotionalism to the consideration of Truth alone. The so-called magnetism of much personal oratory, for instance, like any other appeal to the physical senses, is never adequate. Inciting bitterness and hatred is not intelligent. Democracy must be actual government of all by Principle, through the consecrated dependence of all on the one spiritually governing power. What must always count is the revelation of true good, straight from the one Mind, and subject to no mortal influences.

The great issue of any campaign is not what human policy shall prevail but how much of spiritual intelligence is to be demonstrated. To the student of Christian Science it must be clear that the replacement of all forms of materialism with reliance on Spirit is the only way of progress. As Mrs. Eddy says on page 492 of Science and Health: “These two contradictory theories—that matter is something, or that all is Mind—will dispute the ground, until one is acknowledged to be the victor. Discussing his campaign, General Grant said: ‘I propose to fight it out on this line, if it takes all summer.’ Science says: All is Mind and Mind’s idea. You must fight it out on this line. Matter can afford you no aid.”

Now for any human sense of things there must be the true idea. There must be, for instance, true economy of administration, the true way of preserving peace, true regulation of business, and so on. By earnestly reasoning for one’s self as to what the divine Mind knows in every connection, each one can discern and have the full advantage of the right idea. There is the true, divine concept of policy and even of partisanship. One needs simply to be partisan to the policy of following demonstrable Principle in all circumstances. This is the one right side to choose. Whoever in any government has really expressed Principle in any degree is deserving, to that extent, of our gratitude, though not of any abject adulation; and whatever has veritably been of Principle in any activity endures forever, while its suppositional opposite lapses into its native nothingness.

Something of the need for the true partisanship, which is a standing for the right, Mrs. Eddy indicates on page 266 of “Miscellaneous Writings,” “To be two-sided, when these sides are moral opposites, is neither politic nor scientific; and to abridge a single human right or privilege is an error.” On the preceding page of the same article she writes, moreover: “Diverse opinions in Science are stultifying. All must have one Principle and the same rule; and all who follow the Principle and rule have but one opinion of it. The fact is that the one, infinite, divine Principle requires and maintains one infinitely right action. Each one who demonstrates this for himself is aiding in the permanent purification of politics.

(Originally published in the September, 1920 Christian Science Journal)

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