Engineers and Warriors

Ian Leslie has at last explained to me why I fall out with friends who share my political aspirations.

Robert Hanlon said “never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity”. On that basis, Leslie distinguishes “engineers” from “warriors”. 

I am an “engineer”, a “mistake theorist”, who believes that our problems are the result of ignorance or confusion. My opponents are wrong, not wicked, and if we talk to each other we may find a solution. They may even persuade me that I am wrong!

By contrast “warriors”, or “conflict theorists” believe that there are irreconcilable conflicts of interest, which can only be overcome by one side winning.

The Trump, Farage, Johnson mode is a warrior one, shared by some people on the left. It is charismatic and exciting, it motivates campaigners because it promises simple solutions and has a clear enemy.

The EU is a supremely engineering project. In the words of Johnson’s hero “jaw jaw is better than war war”. By endless tedious discussions and compromise we arrive at a consensus which takes us forward in small boring steps. It rejects accusations of treason – compromise is usually the solution, not the problem.

It is because we campaign as warriors and govern as engineers that governments fail.

Fingers crossed!

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