If you want to achieve anything, and I mean anything, then learn this one thing: the master principle of strategy. When you do, you can reach your objective by the most direct route – note I did not say the easiest. So, pin back your lug-holes, and listen in! Here it is: selection and maintenance of the aim.
Those six words are seared into the grey matter of great leaders and generals, and can be found squirreled away in obscure documents on Ministries’ of Defence websites. I can still remember being taught them on my first day in the Army, and then having our instructors banging on about them so regularly that even the densest of us could not forget the core principle of our careers and future existence.
You would be right to ask, but how can you possibly pare down all things to just six words? I’ll tell you. When your actions will get you and those around you killed, potentially by the million, and your nation subjugated, possibly eliminated, that’s when you can do it. Facing these outcomes concentrates your mind and forces you to simplify and clarify – as Orwell advised on writing, no?
Lessons are learned, Sun Tzu and Clausewitz get codified, and the Prussians create a General Staff and do a real tidy up, as they do, and you get it down to six words. Yes, it might still seem a bit innocuous, not a ditty you think that you could write a hit song around (wrongly, as it turns out), but sit back for a minute and think about the words and their magic.
Now you’ve had time to think about it, let’s compare notes. When you want to go somewhere, you have an aim, but what if you get side-tracked along the way and wander off the route to check out some shiny trinket? You selected your destination well enough but allowed yourself to be distracted, possibly for a short time, maybe tempted away from your original target altogether.
If this is a habit affecting most things that you undertake, what are the prospects of you ever putting your hands on the prize? Would UKIP have achieved the greatest peaceful revolt in history, cutting the velvet chain tying us to Barroso’s empire if we had not focused on one clear aim? Over to you, Nigel: “Neil, job done.”
Unfortunately, most people have never been formally taught strategy and the master principle, nor its centrality and effectiveness when applied to any endeavour. Now that you have had this pointed out, you should always have a wee small voice calling you back onto the path leading to your Rome. Crucially, when setting off, remember to be very careful in defining your objective, thinking hard about what you, as some rather successful girls warbled, “really, really want.”
However, once the great cause for which you will give everything is identified, the grind begins. It may be constructing the greatest train-set ever built in a loft, creating a YouTube followership in the millions, or defending your village against the Janjaweed Jihadis in South Sudan; but it ain’t happening if you do not maintain your dogged commitment to the cause. Summer soldiers and fair-weather sailors get no second marshmallow.
Looping back to the start, the easy path is for others and the route you choose will require trade-offs. This is the real world we are talking about, not some lefty Utopia, spending your neighbour’s grandkids’ money. Speaking of lefties messing things up and destroying democracy, let’s talk about America.
Americans want democracy, but are they waking up to the fact that they never really had it? They had the milquetoast version settled upon by the patrician set, ensuring party dominance and the people’s acquiescence. Sadly, even the occasional vote that came with the other crumbs that fell off the top table is now of questionable value, sullied and suspect.
Maybe all the US needs is a tweaking reset that delivers the democracy originally promised. No need to buy a supposedly Great Reset peddled by the Dr Strangelove-like marionette being tweaked by the uber-rich internationalists in the data mines and the CCP. The hell with it, some might say, we need a bunch of Texits, and that’ll do it. But what if there is a less fractious alternative that has been extensively trialled at the national level, and where even the US has kicked the tyres? Even better, the meddlers and the smoke-and-mirror merchants won’t like it one little bit.
The Swiss have proved that direct democracy can work in the modern world. It is one of the richest per capita nations on the planet, yet has a dearth of natural resources: no oil for the Swiss Sheikh or the Canton Oligarchy to corruptly divvy up in favour of the few. Could it be that the direct democracy they have built has kept power in their hands, tethering government, releasing their productive energies and building a fantastic reputation as engineers and producers of tasty cheese?
They manage this by being able to call referenda at the drop of the hat. Don’t like legislation being peddled by a politician? Get 1% of the vote-eligible population to sign your petition, then there has to be a national referendum on the law. Want to introduce your own legislation, get 2% on your petition, and there is a national referendum on your idea. How cool and democratic is that!?
Did I mention that 49 US states require a referendum for constitutional amendments? You see, not too much tweaking needed, just go up a level to the federal and widen the scope. Do you think the US would see the swamp drained if direct democracy had inroads into DC? There must be few finer aims than that. Maybe it’s time for American referenda to be as popular as chocolate is back in Switzerland.
By the way, the British strategist Liddell Hart got strategy down to one word, concentration. Orwell must have approved.