You Never Get Everyone, not even by Force

«The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.»
Princess Leia in «Star Wars IV: A New Hope»

Looking at the political decisions during the last two years and how it changed my attitudes, I can’t help but feel pity for politicians. They can never get unanimous support. There are people whom you can only get by forcing them. But the moment you begin to force people on an issue, you lose another group, who will not comply when they are forced. This group will show reactance and do everything to resist.

And yeah, you saw it with Covid. The approach was rather well-played, first claiming there will not be mandatory vaccinations. But then — when the desired compliance rate wasn’t high enough (which changed from IIRC 60% to 75%, to 80%, to 90%), trying to implement them anyway. This approach could have almost worked, if you actually got all those from the group who do something only if they are not forced. Considering that was a decision you could not undo. Sure, all those who are vaccinated will count as unvaccinated in a few months, but the so-called vaccine is in the body. You can’t simply remove it. So they could have gotten all those from that group, and then focus on those who do it only when they are forced. Only, I guess there were a few «wait and see» people who did not get vaccinated when it was «voluntary».

And looking at the consequences of that approach — (many) people have now learned that when the state says «voluntary», you can add «at the moment» to it. In the same way you «voluntarily» hand over your wallet if someone holds you up with a gun. And that distrust will be hard to remove. (Not sure it should be removed, after all, look at the politicians. Yeah, people deserve the rulers they elect, but come on.)

Hmm, and lastly, this inability to get all is also one of the reasons why «nudging» is so dangerous. Not only because you can bypass the democratic process if you don’t publicly decide on laws and regulations, but use organizations that simply change the choice architecture of the citizens. But also because that process can go unnoticed. It’s the same as with censorship, it only works if it is not noticed. If people don’t know that they are being manipulated. Then reactance cannot intervene.

One might think that this would be a good thing. After all, you get unity. Unanimous acceptance. However, I also think that the inability to get unanimous support is a feature, not a bug. We live in an inherently changing world. No matter our feeble attempts to play God (aehm-stopping climate change-aehm), the world is constantly changing. We have to adapt, which means keeping our options open, doing things differently. And that requires seeing things differently. A world that is unanimous would be unchanging, way too static to deal with the changing environment or other conditions. It would suffocate and kill mankind in a few generations. Unless — and that’s the more likely scenario — chaos breaks through again.