Thoughts on King Charles I and his refusal to deal with Parliament – the problem with decision making assemblies

I must admit that I would be very upset with Parliament if I was in a similar position that King Charles I was in.  I can definately relate to his refusal to deal with Parliament that led to his ‘personal rule’.  He was trying to get money to fund some military expeditions (which all ended up failing, in part, by Parliaments refusal to do anything).  They would hold their Parliamentary debates and arguments, endlessly squabling over this and that.  Pretty soon, Parliament is in a whole other direction, forgetting what the whole thing was called for in the beginning. 

This is not new to me.  Being brought up in a so-called democracy I have also seen the endless pointless squabling that happens when you have a group of people making decisions.  It, frankly, amazes me that anything gets done at all sometimes. 

King Charles I really got little help from Parliament.  They were too busy pointing fingers, impeaching, arguing, and debating to do anything productive.  But King Charles I needed money now, not after the debates were over.  This was part of the problem, and one of the reasons why he would grow to refuse to call Parliament. 

In the end, it shows the basic problem of a decision making assemblies – Parliament, Congress, or whatever.  The fact is that when no one is in charge there’s no one to make the final decisions.  As a result, the debates go on and on endlessly.  In many assemblies no one is in charge.  Who is in charge is oftentimes procedure.  It’s what determines everything.  Its for this reason I often speak of these as ‘procedural assemblies’ who have to have a procedure to determine how everything goes and how decisions are made. 

Procedure, though, is rigid and defined.  It sounds good intellectually but tends to fail on the human level.  In my opinion, procedure is actually a crutch and actually hampers things, particularly if it is very rigid. 

Because there is no one to make the final decision its not uncommon that the debates go in all sorts of tangents and directions, leading here and there, and getting nowhere.  This happened many times in Parliamentary history.  They begin to discuss an important issue and, the next thing you know, they are voting on some insignificant thing that has nothing to do with the important issue, which they have all but forgotten about.

Assemblies are also too swayed by the oratory of some person.  A person who can speak well can easily alter the opinions of people in the assembly, whether they are right or wrong, it doesn’t matter.  Fancy talk, debate, etc. can have great impact on an assembly of people.  The opinion of a person with ‘charisma’ can have more impact than any wise decision.

In many cases, decisions in an assembly are not made by intellectual consideration, as is claimed, but by social frenzy that happens in, particularly, heated debates or heated issues.  This is not unlike the technique used by Adolf Hitler in his speeches.  The assembly is as if put into a frenzy of emotion and this is what determines the decision.  This seems to of happened many times in Parliamentary history.

Often, the phenomena of social dynamics has more to do with the decision in an assembly than the right or wrong of a decision.   By this I mean that the decision making assembly is a socially dynamic situation, with people influencing and people influenced, opinions here, opinions there.  As such, people are often ‘pressured’, for various reasons to make a decision, or are influenced by a statement by someone, etc. that they otherwise would not do.  This is because social dynamics creates a sort of an altered social state of mind.  In these states of mind people do things they otherwise would not normally do, in their normal frame of mind.  This creates a situation where the social dynamics is the factor which makes decisions, not the common sense of the individual person.

To me, there is tremendous proof that decision making assemblies are not as effective and ‘correct’ as people think.  It reveals that there is a myth about debate and arguing over issues – they don’t always work.  This is something that is not recognized in a democracy particularly, which puts all its faith in the process.  But, nonetheless, it is true.  This problem of decision making assemblies, such as Parliament, seems to be a factor that led up to King Charles I decision to no longer call Parliament, as he got fed up with it.  There is no evidence, that I’m aware of, that shows King Charles I had a ‘tyrannical’ desire to rule England.  It appears that he was just fed up with the way Parliament behaved and so never called it.  I can’t blame him for that.

Later, in King Charles’ life, some further problems of decision making assemblies would come to the surface.  It’s clear that Parliament seemed to think it was the ‘head’ of England, though there is nothing that says it had this right.  They began, on its own authority, to make decisions it was not entitled to and, in a way, tried to rule England.  It shows that an assembly of people can be just as tyrannical as any individual person.  In some sense, Parliament tried to ‘ursurp’ the King.  This attempt, in a way, led to the English Civil War.  They even went beyond that.  During King Charles trial Parliament (that is, the Commons) was the court and jury!  That’s like having Congress be the jury in a court hearing.  As King Charles pointed out in his trial, Parliament is not a judicial assembly, nor has it ever been. 

One of the advantages created by a decision making assembly is that, because no one is in charge, there’s no one to blame when something goes wrong.  This gives an element of animosity in a decision making assembly.  When someone is in charge, he can be blamed, which ‘justifies’ the crisis, and makes it relevent.  When no one is in charge its harder to give blame.  This makes it harder to ‘justify’ crisis and make it relevent.  That is to say, there is less finger pointing and anger with a decision making assembly, oftentimes.  This gives the illusion that it does not have problems.  This shows the power of blame, for when there is blame the problems are more apparent.  Even with the English Civil War, who is generally looked at as the source of the problems?  Parliament is seldomed blamed, as that was made up of a number of people.  Usually, the focus is usually at King Charles I, as he is an easy target to blame.

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Copyright by Mike Michelsen

This entry was posted in Government and politics, Historical stuff, King Charles I and the English Civil War, People and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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