The Socio-Political Complex
    An Interdisciplinary Approach to Political Life

© A. Khoshkish
Publisher: Oxford, Pergamon Press, 1979

Escher ilustration

In Hans Christian Andersen's "The Emperor's New Clothes," the "truth" is not just that the king is naked, but that his entourage is dishonest, cowardly and unsure of its own intelligence. The truth is also that the political culture of that realm promotes flattery, hypocrisy and blind loyalty, suppressing independent thought. Lacking the courage of their convictions and fearing sanctions, the people judge by what others see – or pretend to see. These social truths relate directly to the "visibility" of the emperor's nonexistent garment. It took the not-yet-conditioned child to detect and express the truth. What happened between the child's honest innocence and the "maturity" of all the king's men is our concern here.

The purpose of this work is to initiate the reader into, rather than introduce him to, the socio-political phenomena: to encourage him to ponder the whys of politics more than the hows. This inevitably leads us into the whats of other disciplines, hence our interdisciplinary approach. My choice of "sociopolitical complex" for the title, as distinct from "political system," suggests the nature of my inquiry. The dictionary clarifies the intended juxtaposition. "System" is derived from the Greek syn (together) + histanai (to place); "complex" from the Latin com (with) + plectere (intertwine). A system makes sense within a complex; otherwise it risks distortion. My approach, an attempt to examine more things in more depth simultaneously, requires a method which flows and unfurls. Throughout the book, while there is a line of progression, topics are not boxed, nor are they aligned in single file.

The interdisciplinary approach will take us to man's psychological, anthropological, social, economic and socio-psychological dimensions without omitting pertinent biological, ethological or ecological phenomena. As our study evolves, we find ourselves in the midst of history, which gives sense and direction to the political actuality. The historical review of the conversion of power into authority eventually leads us to bourgeois nationalism as the pervasive shape of contemporary politics. In the last two chapters we brush on this background the contours of political institutions, processes, behavior and systems, without any pretensions of exhaustive treatment. A brief epilogue follows. In it I reflect on some political phenomena which provide the fabric for "the emperor's new clothes."

My approach is in many ways a logical outcome and, at the same time, a release from a cycle which started by circumscribing politics as a specialization focusing, at different times, on such political phenomena as institutions, structures, processes, systems, behavior, functions, socialization and culture. In the complex approach all of these dimensions are considered essential parts of a whole, which in the final analysis makes sense only in its total and interdisciplinary context. My hope is to inspire the social sciences to assume their overall responsibility in the debate on human nature in which sociobiology is presently engaged.

This book cannot, of course, have the pretensions of a plumbing manual which shows precisely how particular things are arranged and done. The purpose here is not to digest knowledge and even less to convince the reader, but rather to make him think. In that spirit this book is addressed to a broad public. It is, I believe, a minimum of socio-political inquiry to which any student specializing in any discipline should be exposed. By the same token, it is intended for specialists -- not as a source of information about their own specialty (on which they may well criticize the lacunae of the book) but as a source of ideas about the relationship of their own specialty with others. The book should also appeal to that segment of the general public interested in social problems and politics.

The concern to provide a comprehensive interdisciplinary approach to socio­political phenomena necessitated the presentation of elemental dimensions of different disciplines which, while evident to some, may be essential for others. This has been done at the price of diluting whatever may be original in my work. Of course, the concept of originality is relative. Intrinsi­cally, I can claim none. After all, when born, one does not know a word. Every concept here exposed is threaded with the thoughts of those who have thought before. The notes do not do justice to all my sources of inspiration. Even this last word, come to think of it, is inspired by the better formu­lated words of Karl N. Llewellyn who, by way of acknowledgment in The Bramble Bush wrote: "The only persons who seem to have been left out of the list of acknowledgments . . . are Adam, Euripides, Genghis Khan, Alpha Centauri and my cats."

I do not own cats, but I have probably been inspired by other people's cats, and also by the breeze in the trees, the rain on the roof, and carbon monox­ide in the air. The only originality I might claim is a particular bent of mind and the fermentations and dynamics of what has been planted within me, which, I should add, I would not have been able to present to the reader had it not been for the constructive criticisms of Professor William Leon Weinstein of Balliol College, Oxford, the editorial skill of Sylvia Paine, the meticulous manuscript composition of Mary Harrom, and the assistance of librarians of the University of Minnesota and Moorhead State University, in particular Rodney Erickson. To them go my thanks.

A. Khoshkish
Lake Park, Minnesota December, 1978