Compromise as a means for resolving value conflict

propagandistSpecificity values conflicts in professional ethics is determined by the specificity of the professions themselves. In some they can be resolved quite simply, within the framework of established procedures, regulated by professional codes, others have indeed cause dramatic consequences, up to the split in society.

Among those with good reason can be attributed to value conflicts in the sphere of professional politics. Since the days of Plato and Aristotle we know that the policy is a special area of human relations, which, because of the need of having special qualities and abilities, better to assume not all of them.

A politician is not a private person, so to solve the challenges of the society objectives it needs to use the power with great caution, but without the constraints that apply to the daily lives of ordinary citizens. Thanks to Blessed Augustine, we know that without the moral restraints of the Lord a ruler is only the head of the gang, and his moral perversity of the thought of Aquinas is the most common cause of tyranny, the harmfulness of which is that a tyrant is destroying not only his soul but also the souls of his subjects.

However, that only the power of government is the very salvation of society, and that for this purpose is allowed almost any means, from the time of Machiavelli seems to be also seem sensible. Moral and even intellectual qualities of the politician are here in the first place: on the contrary, their presence as imperatives can testify about his “incompetence”. On Paradise, used to say Martin Luther, there are no princes.

Not because they are evil, but because being at the head of the secular power, they have to systematically violate the laws of the gospel, even against their conscience. Since the spread of representative government and democracy politics becomes a profession, access to the highest level which was more or less open to any wanting much.

The policy came down from heaven to earth, and began to accept the manifestation of human traits, right down to the weaknesses, not the strangeness which sometimes even made the image of individual politicians more attractive and alive. In the postmodern era, with the erosion of traditional political institutions and the emergence of new political spaces, themes and styles, the situation has further changed. But value conflicts in this profession have not diminished – on the contrary, if to speak not about the typical “defects” inherent in her, like corruption or abuse of power that applies, which are rather to the criminal law, they only increased, both in quantitative and qualitative terms. So, what’s wrong with politics and politicians?

Public opinion is likely to expose their many sins, where in the first positions there are the accusations of amorality, especially the tendency to lie. For a start it is necessary to separate these two registers when politicians deliberately lie in order to gain personal benefit or preference for their parties and sponsors, and when they do it too consciously, but under pressure from a situation where we have to choose between big and small lies, or between a lie and the truth, capable of inflicting even greater harm.

After all, unlike many other professions policy does not permit the invasion of private in a “job”, and the very space of the “private” is very conditional. It is clear that to establish a clear separation between motives and seriousness of the consequences of lying politicians is impossible, despite the fact that self-deception inherent in them, no less, if not more so, than normal individuals – a world government, with all its attributes, ceremonies, share of hoax is very specific.

However, as seen, you can try to assume that in politics, there is the boundary between “black” and “white” lies, which will allow you to discuss its second variety not only in the genre of denunciation. Policy is one of the versatile tools of conflict resolution. As well as its material embodiment, the state is one of the most effective institutions for maintaining social peace and order. The specificity of the political method of resolving conflicts in society is that any decision on this issue will have an effective force if it is satisfied that at least the majority of society.

But given the fragmentation of the society this requires a great deal of art, as well as qualities similar to those conferred on outstanding masters of art of the ordinary: special techniques, innovative style, the sensation of time, ability to represent the creation of a complete and overall, etc. In the work of the historian and philosopher F. Ankersmit “Political representation” a special paragraph entitled “Compromise and political creativity” is devoted to ways of gaining at least minimal social value of unity, without which society would lose the very ability to exist.

In modern politics, in his opinion, there are two ways of such harmonization: compromise and consensus. A compromise (and here he comes into an emergency debate with John Rawls, convinced that the political consensus is the best way to resolve the conflict [2, p. 134]) stimulates political activity, the consensus kills it. “Compromise – clarifies his position of F. Ankersmit – requires that we recognize the reality of our opponents, despite their commitment to the other, is unacceptable to our political principles and our common desire to fulfill their part of the agreement, however it may be unpleasant for us.

Thus, the compromise gives us virtues of tolerance, respect for others and moral autonomy, trust in partners, their commitments and skills to successfully exist in a pluralistic society” [1, p. 254].

Moreover, “unlike a compromise, the consensus in the thought of Rawls does not allow for the exchange of political principles, which I will give you your principle P1 (even if strongly argue against it) provided that you are willing to give me my principle P2 as I prefer political reality, including both principle and political reality in which they exist” [1, p. 249].

It would seem that the position of the F. Ankersmit not only reasonable, but selfevident, and the problem of lies in politics has no relation.

However, it has to do with what could be replaced by a softer name – for dishonesty or failing (or even meaninglessness) to fulfill their promises. Modern politics is representative in the sense that it is represented in almost all political forces representing the interests of virtually all segments of society.

In the absence of any durable monopoly power of one of the representative and competition of many this diversity is projected to the first part of the representative authority, then the Executive, in strong measure, depend on it. This practice is characteristic of the parliamentary form of government in the continental European countries and is the result of a long evolution of policy and the politicians who a greater extent than anywhere else, was not able to engage in politics as “only” art of government: all the existing contradictions in society (class, religious, ideological, national, linguistic, regional, gender, etc.) “weigh down” the task. Gradually came the realization that in order to avoid social conflict, especially in the most acute stages of their required orientation to compromise.

But it is a pragmatic decision gives reason to accuse politicians of lying twice: first when they make concessions, that is betraying the values that promised to defend his unsuspecting voters, and the second – when doing it on their behalf, but without their personal consent, that is, assign themselves the right to interpret what you believe their voters, somehow of themselves, and therefore – in their personal, that is inevitably selfish interests. One of the most striking examples of this situation can serve as Italy – a country where of all known types of conflict there is, perhaps, only no a religious one.

But, leaving aside all the well-known problem of Italian politics and politicians, the question is, what could be a successful alternative to the practices that prevailed in this country since the dawn of parliamentarism and called “transformismo”? That is usually translated and interpreted as “opportunism”, giving it a priori a negative connotation.

But it is also actually “transformismo” – the ability to change shape, not necessarily abandoning content. During the time of Mussolini in Italy there was a semblance of consensus imposed from above and managed “consensus”, but the experience turned out to be untenable for such a heterogeneous society.

However, F. Ankersmit speaks about the obvious shortcomings of the policy of compromise, such as that talks about it can acquire independent significance, and its achievement can make it incompatible with the existing political reality. In addition, “there is a constant danger that the metamorphosis of the original, political views, perfect for the sake of compromise, will make the electorate distrust, or even aversion to politics.

And since truth is more important than transient political compromise, its achievement is able to lead to political indifference. And political indifference inevitably means the end of any democratic policy” [1, с. 261].

What can be the ethical dimension of such practices, when mutual concessions do not entail accusations of lying? Despite the fact that the definition of clear criteria here – no legal or institutional framework for a compromise does not fit, often it is the result of backroom agreements, innuendo, attempts to submit its flexibility in the most favorable (i.e., not very fair) the light for the same voters? If in economy you are not satisfied with the price or quality of the goods, you can go to another seller. Similarly, we can proceed in other spheres of life, from the choice of a life partner to religion.

Or abandon both altogether. But only politicians are obliged to bring the auction to the end and complete the transaction, no matter how bad it may be – because a politician does not a personal choice, and is responsible for the interests of their constituents, himself being their choice. The alternative would be political suicide, that is, in addition to frustration believed in his people, recognition is a very important part of their lives is untenable, with the only consolation for the merciful judgment of history that will reward the intentions and merits. This seems to be the only answer here would be both not the most comforting as to gain its full existence he can do that only in the Realm of goals.

That offers, Ankersmit: “citizens are willing to seriously consider an alternative view of what you need to do and to test your own opinion in disputes and compromises with other people, cause greater moral respect than people who see in the compromise only a betrayal of moral truth.

The argument is enhanced if you remember < … > that the conflicts of ideological and moral standards are not limited to a situation where one person (or group of people) is opposed to another person (or group of people). Moral and ideological conflicts also arise in the mind of one and the same person; in such cases, the need of finding the best compromise between incommensurable values is not less urgent than in the case of moral conflict between individual groups or people.

In such cases, we definitely will Express greater moral respect for the man that bravely accepts the challenge extremely unpleasant internal conflict than the person who relies on ready-made answers”. The argument to which it is impossible not to join in. Remains an insoluble one very important problem which, however, belongs not so much to the field of ethics, but rather, cultural studies, psychology or sociology: people are very rarely ready to express their moral respect for someone who does not rely on ready-made answers, if only he is not a politician.


1. Ankersmit, F.R. Politicheskaja reprezentatzija. M., 2012.
2. J. Rawls. Political Liberalism. New York, 1996.

Created by Derzhivitckiy Evgeniy

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