Principled politics

“Principles are to be encouraged, because they make money for lawyers,” said my law lecturer, a comment which was too cynical for me at the time. I despised those who said “it’s the principle of the thing,” or that it was not for themselves they were fighting but other people in the same position who would come after them; but I noticed it kept them using my services.

Is my politics based on principle, or self-interest? When a member of the Conservative party, I was following my upbringing. My father was passionately Tory, and I had not separated myself from my parents’ mores. And I anticipated a solidly middle-class career, so Tory policies would be in my interests. It’s also, where do your sympathies lie? How imaginative are you? I can’t say why I thought what I thought then, I can barely understand my motives now. Now, without the solidly middle-class life, I support Labour. Certain evidence indicates self-interest.

Would self-interest be a bad thing? Let us band together with people who share our interests, and do what benefits us. That seems a Tory way: if you can convince the “just-about managing” that there are benefit claimants and immigrants who would take their jobs and waste their taxes, you can get them into the Tory coalition. So I can construct an understanding. Tories want to destroy the social fabric and hand over power to the wealthy. Where the people band together to look after the interests of all, the Tories look after the interests of the rich and try to pretend Labour will give your money to others, even when that is not true.

And together we can act in the interests of all. Workers’ rights help everyone except exploitative bosses. To state an underlying Principle, there are two ways the social species can be organised: to allow individuals to accrue vast amounts of power and wealth, so that they can control others in wage slavery, or democratically, where people band together for the good of all. Hayek’s Road to Serfdom did not describe the main road to serfdom, which is corporate greed. And only strong government can prevent market failures, such as global warming and externalising costs.

I joined the Green party because a friend did, and it seemed to me I could do something useful for it. Then I left it, and joined the Labour party because only they could defeat my dreadful MP. I now want to work for the party, to get to know people, I enjoy working together. Politics within the party matters little to me. After a Labour government, public spending will be slightly higher as a percentage of GDP. After a Tory government, it will be significantly lower. These things proceed incrementally. We are not going to have such revolutionary change as we had in 1945-51. Only the centre-Left is on offer, however anyone demonises Mr Corbyn.

How can I encourage other voters? By any means which appears to speak to them, though not with the hard-Right way, to point them at an out-group and encourage them to hate it. This is our community: you can be a part of it, and improve it for everyone. This can improve your life. Principles and interests, rational argument and feelings.

Not losing; natural stance

Shinpen Suikogaden 1

 Do not think of winning; 

think, rather, of not losing

-Twelfth principle of karate

Nakasone explains this in different ways. Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu said, “Knowing only how to win and not how to lose is self-defeating”, which is a practical way. Only to consider winning “breeds excessive optimism and causes impatience”. Given the worst that can happen, will I deal with that? Follow the saying, When angered he can make even a ferocious beast crouch in fear, but when he smiles even little children run to him. We avoid arrogance, and cultivate humility, because pride comes before a fall, hubris before nemesis.

Or, the thought of winning and how wonderful that would be skews my thoughts now, and prevents me from being in the present; and makes a set-back more disconcerting than it would otherwise be.

A trick from gymnastics is to picture in my mind completing the task- a dive with triple somersault, say- correctly. Thinking of winning in that sense fits me for winning.

Or, “not losing” can simply mean “be prepared”.

 Ready stance is for beginners.

Shinpen Suikogaden 2Later, one stands in natural stance.

Learning, we learn particular stances, which can seem unrelated to fighting- why balance on the outer edges of your feet, feet parallel four feet apart, knees bent and above the feet? We learn the stances from earlier masters who have found what works, and then adapt the stances naturally as we spar. There is a continual motion between conscious competence and unconscious competence, working on understanding then profiting unconsciously from our understanding, and in combat the mind is tranquil as we respond automatically. In a golf swing, the novice’s brain is all active, and the master’s fires only in the necessary place.

Similarly, practice kata exactly, and move freely in combat.

Be constantly mindful, diligent, 

and resourceful,

in your pursuit of the way

Miyamoto Musashi, aged thirty, after winning sixty duels, considered that he had a natural talent but was not a superior martial artist. From that time I practised fervently morning and night, seeking to grasp the principles of the Way more deeply, and around the age of fifty I came to a natural realization of the Way of Martial Arts.

Indeed. As I progress in enlightenment, I realise how far I have to go.

This is the last of the drafts I have had sitting around for eight months, and since starting it I have stopped practising karate. I feel that Genwa Nakasone’s commentary does not reach the bottom of the Principles, and that meditating on single words of them- “mindful”. “Diligent.” Mmm- might be of benefit. I went back to the book after months, to try to glean more from it; and it tells me the gleaning is all the effort of life.

Spiritual growth

Karate goes beyond the dojo

Karate is a lifelong pursuit

File:Funakoshi.jpgOn 14 February 1999 I was born again, and since then growing spiritually has been important to me. At that moment, my view of the world changed, from people suffering and dying, always Wrong, to people doing our best under difficult circumstances, and God being in it with us. I can think of milestones since then.

Now I read of karate-do- the same word as tao in tao te ching- that I am at the beginning. Genwa Nakasone, in his commentary on Funakoshi’s 9th principle, says training never ends. At the first stage, there are no positive results and one holds onesself and others in low esteem. For most people, there is a final stage, taking pride in accomplishments and holding others in high esteem. Some move beyond, to a higher Tao where there is no pride or humility, but working day by day to gain victory over onesself.File:Funakoshi Makiwara.jpg

Inside and outside the dojo, one trains mind and body.

I see myself at the beginning. Karate is aerobic exercise, and I feel some heightened sensation practising it, but my strikes have little force and I do not notice the deficiencies of others. So spiritual growth, rather than one thing, is many things. I have done well on Forgiving my Parents and Getting to Know Myself. In karate practice particularly, I notice my self-consciousness, and work on that. There, I am at the beginning. It is good for me to see myself as needing to develop certain skills and ways of being, because I need to develop them.

Apply the way of karate to all things.

Therein lies its beauty.

Nakasone writes, one blow or one kick, given or taken, can mean life or death. This concept forms the soul of karate-do. If all aspects of life are approached with this spirit of seriousness, all manner of challenges and hardships can be overcome.

Kane and Wilder in The Way of Kata write that if people are not regularly being hospitalised from the dojo, then there is a flaw in the training which the sensei (“one who comes before”)  should inform the students about.