Social Engineering tools and wisdom

Balayogi Venkataraman

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Economics and politics –the holons in social engineering. In the past century three major areas have influenced and impacted to a great extent in the field of social engineering.

They have been history, economics and politics along with all their theories, ideologies, ideas, and tall claims and counter claims; credible achievements as well as criticisms of all sorts.

These three have used both physical resources involving a huge spectrum of benefits and boon from science and technology and psychological associations and affinities of religions, cultures traditions and many regional identities to fulfill their objectives of social engineering.

But what is the stated objective of all these social engineering methods? In short create, influence and impact the symphony of life through rhythm of the body, the melody of the mind, and the harmony of the soul all vibrating with the joy of tasting aesthetically through our senses and sensibilities and not necessarily to satisfy any social theory or ism or ideology.

“The beauty and mystery of this world only emerges through affection, attention, interest and compassion . . . open your eyes wide and actually see this world by attending to its colors, details and irony.” Orhan Pamuk.

Mantra is simple we must look at everything and everyone without any preconceived notion or bias. We must be aware that everything has multiple dimensions of which we may not be always aware of. Besides, every dimension may have multiple inherent dynamics as well as dynamics emanating from specific circumstances. Always remember that we all mostly do what a] we can do, b] what we want to do and/or c] what we are destined to do.

We must realize our inherent qualities /attributes both strengths and weaknesses and try our best to consciously acquire attitudes which prioritize humaneness and sociability over the rest. Whatever we do we must make sure whether it enhances or gives pleasure to our body, mind and spirit/soul. With all these in the background along with our acquired knowledge/experience for whatever they are worth and humility as the fine print we develop our perspective to understand life, then serendipity will shower us with blessing to perceive better.

Reality is neither any axiomatic certainty nor is it a frozen faith to be scrupulously followed by blinkered believes operating within fixed fences or identity cages but it is mostly contextually shaped by relationships and how we relate to others and things and environment etc . No human being can be know all or omniscient personality to dictate anything to the rest but we all need to respect certain time cherished and time tested values for the good of everyone.

All said and done reality is neither any axiomatic certainty nor is it a frozen faith to be scrupulously followed by blinkered believes operating within fixed fences or identity cages but it is mostly contextually shaped by relationships and how we relate to others and things and environment etc . No human being can be know all or omniscient personality to dictate anything to the rest but we all need to respect certain time cherished and time tested values for the good of everyone.

Can we discern or develop or design some special leadership qualities and suggest and expect some specific wisdom as an outcome of these social engineering methods?

Before we go deep into our expectations and designs we shall try to understand at a very basic level and in very general terms what these three- history, economics and politics- stand for and how they operate whether in isolation or as an integral and interwoven whole unit.

History to be used as a reference manual for all good, best, bad and ugly activities, behaviors, events, issues , ideas that have impacted humanity;

Economics to be used as a blue print to remove the material inadequacies and inequalities and refine the living experience buy providing equal opportunities and more comforts for the maximum number;  

Politics to be used as a enabling platform to execute the blue print as well as ensure that people do not feel alienated from all other non economics related life experiences with which they have sentimental and sensitive attachment like regional and religious affinity based cultural and traditional practices which may give them psychological comforts and a sense of belonging historically to a group and live in a purely psychological comfort zone.

All these three are inextricably interwoven but must be respected only for what they are and are meant for and not beyond or over emphasis of one over the other. Whenever that happens then the delicate balance is lost as each one of these three may derive their strength, significance, sustenance as well as mileage from the other.

Maria Mitchell says, “The world of learning is so broad, and the human soul is so limited in power! We reach forth and strain every nerve, but we seize only a bit of the curtain that hides the infinite from us.”

Most importantly all these must factor in and allow two important aspects of evolutionary treads namely, constantly evolving aspirations and trends of life and the emerging new technologies which facilitate many activities to render life more comfortable.

But when either or all of the three i.e. history, economics and politics are distorted, dented or dubiously misused, then, the social fabric is disturbed and it sets on the course of some destructive mode.

Usually vested interest groups either abuse political power, destroy economic progress without making scientific approaches to economic problems and sometimes some groups also generate histrionic reactions to historical blunders and all these three are not at all good for peace, prosperity and harmony.

Simone Weil, French social philosopher, mystic and activist in her work ‘Gravity and Grace’

“The world is the closed door. It is a barrier. And at the same time it is the way through.

Two prisoners whose cells adjoin communicate with each other by knocking on the wall. The wall is the thing which separates them but it is also their means of communication. … Every separation is a link.”


To a very great extent  economics is  all about unbiased observations, unprejudiced perceptions, doing away with defensive statistical justifications, cutting off camouflaging irrelevant logical fallacies, chaffing off bombastic jargons, curtailing the instinct to churn out untested or untestable theories  and instead engage in interpretations of all the observed facts  uninfluenced by any ideological affiliations taking into consideration various factors that impact and/or involved in these facts appropriate to the context and relevant to the region.

Life is an unmapped atlas which gets its maps based on our choices, beliefs, actions, reactions, thoughts, attitudes etc and it is our hands to make each one of these continents as great and as good as possible

A non specialist common observer’s point of view:-

In the present scenario of globalized socio economic structures it is wise not to take pride in exclusion or suffer isolation in any domain for whatever ideological or nationalistic reasons or belief systems or religious bigotry  and instead it is advisable, at least, to feign to be a part of global aspirations and activities.

However, at the same time it is equally true that at present international lobbies, mafias do not exercise that much of an impact especially where the political dispensation is sane and concerned about its nation’s economic and social welfare along with its ability to contribute and its utility to international economic activities through institutional policy driven developmental activities without being xenophobic for any internal political considerations and/or for  appeasing certain religious bigots.

When such a clean structured development process is in place what is vital is proper leadership in decision making authority and perfect vision with various arms of the government carrying out the vision with synergy and concomitant cooperation.

In such a situation no individual bureaucrat , much less a professional, manning any particular institution is indispensable, however great or smart or qualified or hyped or well connected  he/she may be, if he/she happens to not to fit into the scheme of things and fails to operate with synergy.

Essence of progress is in policies, performances and programs and political decision making and does not hinge on one or two professionals executing them or manning them.

All professionals in various ministries and departments must remember that they are the executing arm of the policy decisions taken by the parliament or similar authorities.

It is also preferable that top posts to important institutions are decided on various factors relevant to vision and mission of the institution and the interests of the nation and its citizens; and not on personal whims or media sponsored publicity or hype [while the former is a benign cancer the latter is a malign cancer and hence both must be avoided].

Besides like life itself, modern economics is too complex and operates with multiple dimensions and myriad dynamics involving various factors and keeps changing its patterns like those of a kaleidoscope in a monkey’s hand.

So, it is possible still that any nation could be trapped into trouble equipped with all the accumulated knowledge of past patterns of operations of economics.

That’s why whatever the theoretical and technical expertise were, no one could prevent nor avoid the great recession of boom to bust from 2007 to 2009.

Awareness and alertness to welcome or ward off things that emerge from various manipulations and scheming of international politics and economics along with intra national relationships is more important for economic stability and strength. 

Politics and political Leadership

Ideal Political Leadership in Modern Times– a peep into its simple dimensions. The hall mark of a leader with vision, principles and values is not to be bothered by media manipulations and stereotyped systems erection and instead go about his vision as Barbara Marciniak said, “Everything changes when you start to emit your own frequency rather than absorbing the frequencies around you, when you start imprinting your intent on the universe rather than receiving an imprint from existence.”

It is fine and excellent but political leadership is not about being a know all expert on everything it is more about willingness and intention to do what is of greater importance for the common good of as many people as possible, ensuring economic development, infrastructure facilities.

In short facilitating and providing opportunities for those who want to participate in the process of growth and development.

Political leadership is all about willingness to learn and know about areas of which they do not have domain knowledge and also feel the pulse and grasp the importance of managing all available and useful and usable resources human, natural, technological, international help etc and put them to optimum utilization for intended developmental agenda and most importantly not let political correctness and media generated perception to interfere in this process.

Political leaders across the world have the natural knack for administration and expedient adjustments especially in the present complicated and complex world if they are clear about their vision and mission and a good team.

This requires naturally therefore,  that in an age of knowledge, information and hyper technology driven life it is imperative that they also use all these through data, surveys, and technological domains putting aside their halo of ego and herd of yes men and media mafia then their aura announces that they are unique leaders with great potential.

Modern day political leaders have the advantage of expert professionals in every field that they can listen to and learn from.

Political power is a stimulus and that provides a space for a leader’s response and responsibility to create growth and better situation, Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” — Viktor Frankl

Wisdom is to live in:- 1. Present context doing contextually relevant things and to 2. Practice eternal values 3. With global perspective to 4. Bequeath a livable planet, 5. A lovable society  6. With lovely infrastructures and 7. Improved living conditions.

Leadership that is needed is one that delivers political wisdom and economic prosperity



Linking  [synergizing] Everyone’s [synthesizing based on interrelatedness] Abilities/ Aspirations [inherent attributes and skills] Dharmically [value based on wholesome perception] Emotionally [compassionate attitude-feel at heart ] Rationally [reason with head] Soulfully [realization of oneness in spirit and purpose-spiritually and socially] Highlighting the [prioritizing] Importance of [contextual relevance of] Performance [karma-activities based on all the above].

Everything about life, including life itself, is not so much about chronological longevity [which in any case cannot be stretched beyond a limit] but enhancing the intrinsic values and synderesical [synderesis] qualities.

More frequently we indulge, interfere or are indifferent rather than involving with humanitarian concerns. We suffer from two extremes of unloving criticism and uncritical love. Greater than anything else is the attitude of humility, tolerance and real wisdom evolving from them.

We need to evolve many behavior patterns to make life better on planet Earth [which itself is a wrong word used for something which has more than 70 per cent water] which has unfortunately been divided by the atlas of national boundaries and spoiled by excessive dominance of human species.

However, evolution fortunately has ensured in all spheres and in all its manifestations that variety has been held in tact which human beings unfortunately have misunderstood as differences.

No one is either big or pig. All are morsels of biochemical organism infused with energy and interrelated in many ways than individual human brains can understand or have bothered to understand.

Love for any language, art, culture, tradition, religion etc need not necessarily lead to either identity veneration or vilification. It is not what language we speak, what tradition we follow, what culture we love that matter.

What ultimately matters is how we treat others? How we treat other species? How compassionate are we? How humanitarian are we?

But I feel while everyone has every right to feel euphoric about something close to their emotions, heart and mind, such attitude also must ensure to imbibe a spontaneous or subconscious or studiously developed sense of humility and tolerance towards others and what others are trying to say and wanting to say with all sense of humor and subtle sarcasm.

These alone can bring many of us out of both egocentric and ethnocentric whirlpools of self deceptions and complexes [either superior or inferior].

There could be multiple versions of wisdom in various forms imparted through myriad scriptures and religious practices.

Real Universal Wisdom

But real universal wisdom in my humble opinion may be like this whether sanctioned or sanctified by either social mores or religious morality.

Wisdom is the work shop where works of evolutionary trends and experiences of everyone in it emerge to express wisely the essence of everything to enlighten everyone;

A wisdom which prioritizes living in the present context and along with practicing certain time tested values which have relevance in present context but with global perspective to bequeath a livable planet, a lovable society with lovely infrastructures and improved living conditions;

A wisdom that evaluates everything and everyone with contextual relevance and based on the inherent attributes or merits of what or who is being evaluated without extrapolating any  presumptions, opinions, judgments, perceptions, expectations, ideologies, doctrines, identity based ideology and so on;

A wisdom which is willing to make minor adjustments, small compromises, spontaneous cooperation to create compatible and conducive atmosphere with humility devoid of any egocentric or ethnocentric pride;

A wisdom with the realization and a perspective that must be aware that life is a constant process of learning of the multiple dimensions of many things and the various dynamics of those dimensions involving the constant interaction and interrelationship with everyone and everything.

A wisdom that is willing to accommodate multiple methods or means of life with some overall tolerant attitude embedded on humanitarian concerns towards all human life and environmental or natural concern towards all other species.

A wisdom that gets its clarity of understanding through a churning process that takes into consideration several aspects from the practical to the philosophical to all the fantasies of the mind.


When we talk of history, obviously it cannot be divorced from individuals, institutions, issues, ideologies that have formed and framed a major part of history.

Therefore, history includes predominantly the multiple social systems that have been experimented; the political systems that have been tried and tested; the socio-religious cultural systems that have prevailed; and the multitude of economic and trade activities that have shaped the survival of human beings and in some or many case improved life in many aspects.

Hence, it is not easy to brush aside history as some unwanted report of the facts of the past because the trails of impact and influence the events have left are enormous.

At the same time, as a subject of study, it is also vulnerable to the onslaught of ideological prejudices of all hues and certain distortions of some historians. Unfortunately, for want of highly authenticated and accepted versions of events we are forced to rely on some available records. However, through collating multiple methods of advanced scientific tools like DNA proofs, Archaeological evidences, literary references etc we can arrive at some facts.

Here I would like to share some links to my articles written at different times on History followed by a list of books recommended for studying world history. Having said all that, the best way to know true history is to study the evolution of culture, traditions and language of the region or nation whose history one wants to study.

History involves not only mere reporting of prosaic information of events but the insights into what, who, how and why such events were generated and their contextual relevance and whether they also offer lessons for us now and all of these require interpretation of those events in proper perspective with relevant comparisons too.

I still cannot understand terms like prehistoric times. What is meant by that? Chronology, especially as used today was something which by itself is a comparatively recent discovery and adopted as a measuring tool of time for whatever it is worth, along with all the controversies involved in various methods of calculating time as such.

Is study of history or mythology important or relevant? Undoubtedly a big yes because at least we can learn to follow useful things and avoid great mistakes which have caused damage in various dimensions to everyone, everything and environment.

Are we as human beings doing that? Often yes, and sometimes not doing that for some reasons which are either justifiable or justified or unjustifiable.

Mostly most of the writings are subjective or at least not totally objective because of the impact of our inherently inadequate tools of perception {1}; imprint of our inextricable identity of certain ideological, cultural social, linguistic, religious, regional influences {2}; inspiration of certain popular trends or instigation of certain forces; added to these are certain hyper imaginations and exaggerations of the authors as artists and certain predominant prevailing preferred ideology.

When all or some of these factors fall in line with or suit our confirmation bias we lap it up , wrap it up and write paeans and provide more versions or perversions but when it is otherwise we tend to portray ourselves as too wise and pillory the versions.

History is after all a string of facts- of purported events, happenings and issues [and not hypothesis for us to keep churning till we come to a conclusive discovery or proof]- that are joined together like beads of a chain.

Facts are extremely vital though they may not reveal the whole truth or truths to suit our preconceived idea of social engineering.

“All of us have our own inner fears, beliefs, opinions. These inner assumptions rule and govern our lives. A suggestion has no power in and of itself. Its power arises from the fact that you accept it mentally.” Joseph Murphy, The Power of Your Subconscious Mind

However, no one can afford to wish away the facts.

Ayn Rand seems to view it when she says “We can evade reality, but we cannot evade the consequences of evading reality.” Even as facts Reality has immense value as John Adams says, “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”

Jessamyn West said, “We want the facts to fit the preconceptions. When they don’t it is easier to ignore the facts than to change the preconceptions”. They have this tendency to presume some mal intention in everything because of their perversion and they should always be told what Milton Friedman said, “One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their [ presumed-italics mine]  intentions rather than their results”

Contradictions are also there more visible because of human psyche’s penchant for generalizing variety; oversimplifying the complex; sometimes confusing the motives to be either the means or meaning of the quest; justifying all means; fear of various kinds; predominance of certain types of thinking; passing everything through a prism of some popular or prevailing liking or ideology; seeing things with jaundiced vision and prejudiced views; presuming that we need to judge everything and everyone, applying irrelevant metrics to evaluate everything rather than evaluating anything through its inherent merits and so on.

Contradictions are very often camouflaged as dichotomies and dichotomies are the indoctrinated and engraved part of many domains of life as Dudley Lynch puts forth very nicely, “The brain forever has dichotomies on its mind-The ancient Taoists did it with yin/yang. Religious types with good/evil.  Philosophers with mind/matter. Particle scientists with wave/particle.  Psychologists with nature/nurture. Law officers with good cop/bad cop. On and on and on. You just had to know that it was only a matter of time before “dualism”—or … harrumph! … co-eternal binary opposition—infested neuro discussions like kudzu” and continues “Maybe, as one thoughtful observer has suggested, even as old dualisms get knocked down, “it seems that there is something about the wiring of the brain that leads to new dualisms springing up.” Talk about Whack-a-Mole! That was certainly what the late George Kelly, the father of personal construct psychologythought. “Our psychological geometry is a geometry of dichotomies[italics mine] rather than the geometry of areas envisioned by the classical logic of concepts, or the geometry of lines envisioned by classical mathematical geometries.” (Double harrumph!) in his blog  {do not miss to read the comments about George Kelly in the link as well } []

“Across planes of consciousness, we have to live with the paradox that opposite things can be simultaneously true.” Ram Dass.

Every region, civilization has certain weaknesses and if that weakness happens to be something that is used as a bench mark or a measuring yard to evaluate everything then that weakness really pinches hard on that region or civilization.

A great work of history, though too idealistic, almost very difficult , would be to create a synthesis of various factors and contextually find a relevance from  a huge cauldron consisting of a mixture many of the following- various events, impacts of  some great individual souls, evolutionary biology, evolutionary sociology, evolutionary changes in the march of civilization, evolutionary political trends, ideas, philosophical inquiries, psychological perception, emotional reactions, discoveries and inventions that have contributed to life enormously and the selective static or stiffness or suppleness of various religious edicts – and weave a very meaningful relationship among these or decipher a pattern of occurrence or recurrence of certain events or evolution of certain factors or emanation of certain ideas or the emergence of certain individuals etc.

Jacob Bronowski says,  “Every animal leaves traces of what it was; man alone leaves traces of what he created” and not only this human beings are much more wise as William Gladstone observes, “To comprehend a man’s life, it is necessary to know not merely what he does but also what he purposely leaves undone. There is a limit to the work that can be got out of a human body or a human brain, and he is a wise man who wastes no energy on pursuits for which he is not fitted; and he is still wiser who, among the things that he can do well, chooses and resolutely follows the best.”

Though there cannot be any single great work manifesting this amount idealistic expectations, still, there have been some extraordinary souls like Guy Murchie who have made a modest but great attempt to chronicle history in this way.

“By contemplating the relationship between the objects in our lives and the forces that created them, we can arrive at the ‘thing itself’ and know its inherent identity.” ~ Dennis William Hauck [here the word inherent identity must be taken as meaning ‘attribute of’]

As Sherlock Holmes declares, “From a drop of water a logician could infer the possibility of an Atlantic or a Niagra without having seen or heard of one or the other. So, all life is a great chain, the nature of which is known whenever we are shown a link of it.”

Very few have documented history without their view or observations, if they had done so, then  no one would have bothered to read history.

Even the most extraordinary historians like Will Durant couples Will and Ariel  [in my opinion they deserve Nobel Prize for literature] have expressed their excellent and fairly unbiased observations on facts and have ensured that they have never distorted facts to suit their opinions.

List of useful and interesting World History books that I have enjoyed reading and would therefore boldly recommend

  1. The Story of Civilization (11 Volume Set) by Will Durant
  1. Ideas: A history from fire to Freud by Peter Watson
  1. Guns Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond covers the history of human societies over the past ten thousand years over all the continents – all in one book.
  1. Norman Lowe – it is a short and extremely interesting book. ‘Mastering Modern World History’ by Norman Lowe is an excellent source for learning important events of world history during 18th, 19th and 20th centuries
  1. Evolutionary Psychology: The New Science of the Mind 5th Edition-by David Buss(Author)
  2. The Times Complete History of the World-by Richard Overy
  1. A history of the World-by Andrew Marr
  1. The Measure of Civilization: How Social Development Decides the Fate of Nations (Ian Morris)
  1. A Little History of the World by E.H. Gombrich and also 
    A Short History of the World by H.G Wells

    10. For a longer read History of the World by J.M. Roberts (updated as New History of the World)




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