What is compromise?
The Nature of Compromise
The nature of compromise
amicable agreement between parties in controversy, to settle their differences
by mutual concessions. " Websters 1828 edition
You often hear about
the merits of compromise - its one of the most used words in an average evening
news. "Unions compromised with the company", "the department of transport
reached a compromise with the pressure group", "The Jordanians have settled on a
compromise with the Isrealis" etc etc
Compromise sounds ok, it usually
signifies that some conflict didnt happen or that some people seemed to agree.
Well there are two types of compromise. The above definition describes the
process, it doesnt indicate the context.
Compromise between good and
This is more of an agreement, the kind to you come to when
discussing which movie to see with you partner, the kind two businesses come to
when settling a contract. A good example is the one many of us encounter in
buying a used car. The seller wants £3000 and you want to pay £2500 so there is
your disagreement. But because you are both proceeding from the principle of
trade, that one must exchange a value for a value and that property is owned you
can, after discussion, arrive at an amicable agreement to mutual benefit. No one
is losing, in fact both win. Compromise, in this context, is only possible
between people who recognise the appropriate principle - now imagine what would
happen if you arrived and simply demanded the car for nothing in denial of his
ownership of it!
If we are familiar with principles
and rights then
we can recognise the altogether different kind of compromise as described
Compromise between good and bad.
I can think of no
better way to begin this than to quote Ayn Rand, a person who really understood
what compromise meant.
"In any compromise between food and poison, it
is only death that can win. In any compromise between good and evil, it is only
evil that can profit. In that transfusion of blood which drains the good to feed
the evil, the compromiser is the transmitting rubber tube."
thats worth reading again. If you have a plate of food infront of you and a
person wishes to swap that for deadly poison you would refuse right? Ofcourse!
You would also recognise that any compromise between the food and the poison
would lead to your death. Now lets assume a fellow said he was going to shoot
you in the head and you managed to talk him down to 'just' shooting you in the
leg. Would you cry "victory!"? ofcourse not - all you've done is reduced the
damage. Even if you talked him out of it completely you're not gaining - you
would be no better off than before.
This second example is exactly what
goes on in politics. The US democrat and republican parties are always playing
this game. The democrats might suggest a huge tax rise of 5% and the republicans
'bravely' beat it 'down' to a 1% rise and claim victory. Who are they trying to
kid? After 5 rounds of this the democrats have got what they wanted. It works
this way because both parties proceed from the same premise - that they should
be in charge of the people, that they should be directing peoples lives, so it
is no wonder that every year liberty is crushed a little more. Its the same with
many laws. Want to suppress free speech in the UK? Suggest that ISPs have to
provide allsorts of information on their clients then 'compromise' with them, so
they only have to provide some information - hardly a defence of liberty -
infact the very opposite.
When a politician talks to you about compromise
take a step back and see which of your individual rights he is 'compromising'
and realise that he intends to anull them whilst trying to sell you the delusion
of having gained some ground during your 'compromise'. You havent gained, you
can only ever lose when you accept their premises. It is only when you dont
compromise your individual rights that you may begin to win.