Stomach and Brain in Israel’s election: A “Back-to-the-Body” Perspective

Israeli elections are fascinating—for being a mini-cauldron of ideological extremes. Much can be learned about the world, just by observing what takes places in Israel. And so it is with the current national elections in Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won the election–but that is only half the battle: much work lies ahead to forge a governing coalition. The core issue in the election was “guns vs butter”—or national security as opposed to social welfare. In this article, I look at these issues from the “Back-to-the-Body” Perspective.

Brain: A False Heart

Dance in Israel

Dance in Israel

Beware of candidates “bearing gifts” and showing empathy to the poor’s plight. They promise a “paradise for the working people,” but what they usually deliver is economic malaise. That is so, because the government is the “brain” of society; and the brain does not have the ability to create economic wealth.

This statement may seem surprising, and a retort might be, “Of course the brain can create economic wealth! We see that every day! Just look at what the dot-com boom has done in the world! That is ALL a product of the brain.”

My answer to that is, “Yes and No.” OF COURSE the brain is always there as an INSTRUMENT. But what about the  IMPULSE to create wealth? That impulse does not come from the brain. It does not even come from the heart. The impulse to create comes from the stomach, which is a metonymy for the creative power of an individual, the “soul,” of anima, as the ancient Romans would call.

Einstein's Creative Drive

Einstein’s Creative Drive

For we know that it is not incredible brains that have incredible creativity: people create for having an incredible drive to create–this marvelous impulse to THRIVE and grow and expand and live. That thriving power is what leads people to create–either a child, through love; or an artwork; or a system of government; or a dot-com success.

Thus, Steve Jobs, in a commencement address at Stanford University in 2005, did not advise the graduating student to continue to learn, learn, learn. Instead, he told them, “Stay hungry; stay foolish”–quoting the Whole Earth Catalog. Hunger would give the newly graduates the impulse to thrive; and foolishness would make sure they kept their brains at bay. That, for Steve Jobs, was the path toward creativity. Thus, we can put to rest the myth that the brain creates. We need brains to create, but the driving power that leads us to great creativity comes from the thriving hunger for life.

Power Corrupts

The government is the brain of society—and the emotions expressed by the brain are false. Thus, any promises for great happiness for the people are vain. Government is the seat of power in society—and over power stands Lord Acton’s judgment: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Corruption in Government

Corruption in Government

The first thing to know about government, then, is this: government can become corrupt; it must be watched constantly; and only a strong and pure heart (the nation’s culture) can contain the evil that government can do. With care and guidance, government can do more good than harm.

But it is hopeless to look at these matters from an ideological perspective: it will lead nowhere. We see this today in the worldwide ideological clashes between Right and Left. We can argue forever and arrive at no resolution. The only hope for common ground and fruitful communication is to “go back to the body” and find in our own physical body insights and understanding. What does the body tell us?

The Body’s Pattern

The body tells us that we have three separate, sovereign, and equal domains: the stomach, the brain, and the heart. In Biblical imagery, the stomach is called “Adam”; the brain is called “Serpent”; and the heart is called “Eve.”

A government is made up of three equal powers.

A government is made up of three equal powers.

This triad is seen also in world literature. In many instances, two men compete with each other for the same woman. In Richard Rogers Oklahoma! musical, for instance, the cowboy Curly McLain competes for the love of the farm girl Laurey Williams—and his competitor is farm hand Jud Fry. In a dream battle, the two men confront each other in mortal combat. This triad exemplifies the body’s own triad: Curly is the stomach; Jud is the brain; and Laurey is the heart.

A similar dynamic can be seen in Shakespeare’s Othello, which describes a drama whose players are the Moorish general Othello; Othello’s wife, Desdemona; and Othello’s ensign, Iago. Othello plays the role of stomach; Desdemona plays the role of heart; and Iago plays the role of brain. It is from Iago (the brain, the Serpent) that the poison flows to bring about the dramatic development. In these example, it is from the person in the position of Serpent (the brain) that the problem comes. And in the nation, the role of “brain” belongs to the government.

We Can Do It!

It is good for people, then, to place their trust in themselves rather than in government. Government is like a child: it needs to be watched, and it must obey the parents–where the parents are the people and the culture.

When properly guided and watched, the government can actually do good things. That is why in government itself we find a balance of power between Congress, the Executive branch, and the Judiciary. They are separate, equal, and sovereign in their domain—and that balance of power works to keep corruption in check.

When the government conflates these three powers together, in such a way that the Executive power controls everything—that is a prescription for run-away corruption of the highest order. Such a nation is headed toward disaster, and the result will probably be a revolution. We saw that situation in France in the 18th century, just prior to the French Revolution.

The French fought to defeat corruption.

The French fought to defeat corruption.

Pres. Abraham Lincoln was right, then: Government should be of the people, for the people, and by the people. And it is good that the people of Israel did not vote for those who promised to alleviate people’s plight, distrusting that they could deliver on their promises. Usually such politicians end up making the people’s situation worse.

Governments, like the brain, should confine themselves to what they know best: provide security, defend people’s rights against aggression, have a justice system. The business of producing wealth and taking care of the people should be left for the people themselves.  I conclude with a quote:

It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
— Pres. Abraham Lincoln, “Gettysburg Address.”

Paulo-Juarez Pereira
Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA
March 18, 2015

Photo Credits:

Photo: Dance in Israel; Author: Masa Israel Journey; Source: http://bit.ly/1O62NR8; Creative Commons License: Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic .

Photo: French Revolution; Author: Wally Gobetz; Source: http://bit.ly/1GX4b36; Creative Commons License: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic .

Photo: Einstein’s Creativity; Author: Cariffiti; Source: http://bit.ly/19AF1gP; Creative Commons License: Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0).

Photo: Corruption in Uganda; Author: futureatlas.com; Source: http://bit.ly/1FCe8F0; Creative Commons License: Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0).

Photo: Triad; Author: Judy Tepley; Source: http://bit.ly/1xfY6iG; Creative Commons License: Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0).

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