A philosophical approach to understanding the balance between selfishness and compassion in political systems.
In this debut political science book, Hadid argues for a theory of political behavior as a combination of self-interested and community-oriented action; it produces negative results, he says, when the human tendency toward selfishness exceeds that of compassion. The author draws on the work of several noted philosophers in developing this theory, relying primarily on Friedrich Nietzsche’s idea of the yes man as a launching point for his own analysis. The role of government, according to Hadid, is to “see to it that the energy of all citizens is not being wasted or held back and that as the individual targets happiness as an objective, culture should promote happiness to prevail throughout.” He argues for seeing human interactions through the lens of psychology rather than as a series of rational economic transactions; from this, he urges an understanding of political systems as a reflection of emotional behaviors that can be regulated by making sense of goals and motivating factors. A successful political system, he asserts, is based on maintaining the dignity of all participants, limiting inequality, overcoming prejudice, and ensuring that physical and emotional needs are met. “Social reform is best accomplished in childhood,” he notes, while arguing for an ongoing system of education that will inculcate compassionate values. Although this book deals with a complex topic in highly theoretical terms, Hadid does an excellent job of explaining the philosophical concepts involved and presenting coherent arguments. The book does not offer practical solutions, overall, but it does provide a framework for understanding the world of human governance. It also shows how such governance can be used as a force for uniting people—maximizing a collective benefit instead of limiting success to a privileged few.
A well-argued work of political theory that makes a case for a shift away from self-interest.