”Now that we have ascertained what is sound, we shall move on to the central subject of our conundrum: How one can know whether a political party is organised soundly or unsoundly,” said Oldar von Harm. ”Using the definition we arrived at, we could say that a party is organised soundly, if it maximises the probability of success. If success is the achievement of one’s goals, what shall we say the goal of the party is?”
”Would you like me to go in to the specific details of this particular party, – it is the Pirate Party which I speak of – or do you mean in a general way?” asked young Glaucon.
”The general way is preferable, I think, as the question is general, not pertaining to specific political issues.”
”Then I would say that the goal of a party is to receive many votes in elections, and taking many seats in parliament, – the ultimate goal being to attain power – as well as to effect the passing of legislation which affirms the ideology of the party; I assume a democratic system of government here.”
”Which would you say is more important, attaining of power, or passing legislation? For they are not the same thing.”
”Taking seats in parliament and attaining power, I think, for a political party is not a wholly independent creature, but the arm of a greater political movement. It is this movement that has the ultimate goal of changing the ways of society, most generally through legislation, and the party is merely one particular part of the movement, having its own little goals, meant to contribute in some way, directly or indirectly, to the success of the movement itself,” answered Glaucon.
”So the party, being a constituent part of the movement, does not share the movements goals? They are not one and the same?” asked Oldar.
”Indeed not. For an arm is a part of the body, and the purpose of the body is to survive and reproduce, but the purpose of the arm is only to grasp and manipulate objects, and even if the grasping and manipulating is meant for the benefit of the body, the purpose of the arm alone is not to reproduce itself. So too are the party and the movement separated.”
”My friend, that is a reasonable and accurate way of describing the division. Your opinion on the matter, then, is that the goal of a political party, in a democratic system of government, is to attain much power of government by gaining many seats in parliament through good results in the elections – good results being the reception of many votes in the most beneficial manner of distribution. By beneficial distribution, I mean that the votes are placed such, that seats are gained in as many consituences as possible with very little margin, rather than in few constituances with a large margin.”
”My opinion is what you said.”
”Would you object to an addition?” the old man inquired.
”What addition is that?”
”That in addition to seats, the party should also gain allies, for it is better to have few seats and many allies, than to have more seats and be shunned by everyone, unless the difference in seats of the party’s own is greater than the difference in seats of its allies.”
”That is a good addition,” said Glaucon approvingly.
”Then we are in agreement. Now that we know what success entails for the party, we should investigate how to maximise the probability of that success. How should we go about doing this?”
”You tell me.”
”A metaphor is necessary, I think, for political strategy is a very abstract concept, and concepts are more easily understood when visualised or made tangible.”
”That seems like a good idea.”
”Now then, we shall not do as some, and liken the party to a company, for that undermines democracy, nor shall we consider a political party to be as any other non-profit organisation, for those do not have the need to delevope their brands and make decisions with the greatest expediency in election cycles. Neither shall we consider the party as an employer only, for that overburdens its functionaries, and to consider it merely an unstructured cluster of autonomous individuals would be irresponsible, and conducive to the despotism of anarchy. No, we shall consider instead the party-political arena to be as a siege, and the parties to be its armies,” said Oldar.
”How do you mean?” asked the lad.
”The objective is the fortress. If you are a parliamentary opposition party, the objective is the parliamentary majority and power to elect a Head of Government, in a parliamentary democracy; for an extraparliamentary party, the objective is to gain seats in parliament. The organisation of a party is as that of an army, and its activists and functionaries are as troops. If discipline is too lax, then people will act to the detriment of the party, for instance by saying the party holds opinions does not, as the man in Åstorp who claimed that the Pirate Party was set against admitting refugees into the country. If discipline is too strict however, the party’s functionaries will dessert, whether they are employed by it or not.”
”This is true.”
”Furthermore, morale must be considered. The level of discipline affects morale, but many other factors as well. The leadership of the party, like the leadership of an army, must inspire confidence in the activists and functionaries, or the troops. If the people on the field have no confidence in their leaders, morale will fall and the people will feel less motivated to fight and do work for their organisation. With competent leadership, the people in the field may feel inspired to keep up their work, even if they do not believe victory is possible. Confidence in victory, however, is not to be neglected.”
”I am not sure I quite understand what you mean by little victories,” said the youth.
”Allow me to explain,” said the old man. ”If an army is constantly at a retreat, losing every battle in the war, and never seeming to come closer to achieving its goals, the troops will despair and faulter in their conviction in their ability to succeed, and think their adversaries invincible. It is likewise with a political party: If the party is constantly shunned in the media, invisible in every relevant poll, and gain no traction in any of the elections they undertake, then the functionaries and activists will despair, and morale will fall and they will believe the elections cannot be won. If an army gains small victories however, by capturing enemy scouts, by claiming victory in every little skirmish, by inching closer to the besieged fortress even if it does not take it, and by seeing many desserters from the enemy armies, then they will take heart. They will see the little victories and smell the scent of a greater victory, and believe they can defeat their enemies. Similarly, if a political party wins many public debates, gains much attention in the media, receives many votes in lesser elections, and increase significantly their support in every parliamentary election as time goes by, then the functionaries and activists will know optimism, and believe that they can reach their goals. Putting off the plans for a great victory, in order to win many small ones first, may well be instrumental in winning the great victory at all, for if the troops will not fight, the fortess may never be stormed, and the siege might go on forever. The same applies to parties and elections; putting resources into little victories at the expense of the general election campaign may put off success for another term, but if no victories are won, then the hope of winning the parliamentary election might be lost altogether.”
”Now I understand,” said Glaucon. ”What is the next thing we shall discuss, that affects the morale?” asked young Glaucon.
”The chain of command,” replied Oldar von Harm.