There is a Maoist teaching that to defeat another person in human affairs one should “Dry the Grass; Wait for a Wind; and Light a Fire.” I learned this from a political miscreant in the Republican Party who learned it when he attended Maoist schools in Communist China. He uses it to make trouble for libertarians, populists, nationalists and tea party advocates who are viewed as opponents of the establishment Republican power structure and anyone else whom he perceives as a threat to his little personal perch of political power.
“Drying the Grass” involves gradually destroying your opponent’s reputation through whispering campaigns, rumors and other specific dishonest maneuvers designed to discredit him quietly in numerous unprincipled ways.
“Waiting for a Wind” involves waiting for some significant incident that can be blamed on your opponent – regardless of whether or not he deserves blame. This works especially well against the productive risk-takers of greatest value to an institution because occasional failures usually occur.
“Lighting a Fire” involves amplifying this incident into a furor that brings your opponent down and benefits you. The previously “dried grass” burns easily; and the “wind” spreads and intensifies the “fire.”
The “grass drying” operation is the key. And, while Americans do not have this saying, these mechanisms are firmly in place among us. I first experienced this in the events that destroyed the Linus Pauling Institute, which I had co-founded. There was a wind and fire, but unprincipled self-interested grass-drying preceded and facilitated these phenomena.
One of the benefits my wife, Laurelee, and I experienced in moving to Oregon and founding this modest research institute with the help of colleagues and friends was that we no longer had to deal with the American equivalents of these troublemakers.
When my father ran the Union Carbide International engineering office in Houston, Texas, he managed to keep these people at bay. His technique was to be so outstanding as an engineer that the grass around him just could not be dried. He knew, however, his limits. Twice he turned down vice-presidency positions in Union Carbide. He knew that the corporate office in New York had too many grass-drying experts (as is, I am told, typical of large corporate offices.)
While in India, on the trip during which my father was killed, he wrote to my mother that a third such offer had been made and he thought this time he would have to accept. He made that trip to India to clean up a problem that had been caused by front-office politics in New York, which resulted in the appointment of an incompetent individual with friends in the New York office at the India job site.
Everyone is put at risk by the grass driers. The most productive, hardworking leaders are the most vulnerable because they are focused on the substance of the work and not “watching their backs.” And, the people whom they lead are also in danger. The “grass drier” is often a poor worker and poor leader, who, if he succeeds, is likely to weaken or destroy the institution upon which everyone depends.
Most of us experience and contend with this human foible in relatively small venues. In national politics, of course, this can metastasize into public tumors of remarkable proportions. Americans are now experiencing spectacular examples.
Not a day goes by that the cacophony of howling grass driers in the media does not pummel our president and everyone who made his presidency possible. There is nothing quiet about this. They are turning the American political landscape into a parched wilderness so barren that it may not even be able to support a fire. Perhaps the Chinese have a different saying that better applies to this.
The president, however, has an advantage.
In the technique destructive of human relations and institutions that I mention above, everything is done as quietly as possible. The target has difficulty fighting back because people are reticent to ask him directly about the lies and rumors, and when cleverly done, each lie has a false but slight colorable justification in case it is exposed. The target’s reputation is gradually ruined in the subconscious of his fellow workers almost without their realizing the source of their opinions and without an opportunity for the target to reply.
In our current national case, there is no quiet.
“The Power of the Presidential Tweet,” The Wall Street Journal, Oct. 23, 2017, by Scott Adams, describes one of President Trump’s defenses. He writes, “Trump’s online missives make his supporters laugh and even his opponents think past the sale.” Taking the claims against him to the American people in his sometimes imprecise, shoot-from-the-hip style is not only effective, it is very similar to the way ordinary Americans speak among themselves.
Imagine a leftist “fact checker” listening in on ordinary Americans drinking beer and watching a televised football game (well, now, perhaps baseball, since the NFL has replaced its patriotic plus with a political minus). The president talks with ordinary Americans the way they talk with each other.
Moreover, the media have completely fallen for a classic good-guy, bad-guy routine. They breathlessly reported today that the president said something good about Mitch McConnell, indicating, they hope, a split between Steve Bannon and President Trump. McConnell will be better behaved as he nervously eyes Bannon, the president gains in the bargain, and the media help by publicizing the whole thing.
Our president is no savior, but he is a good start in the right direction, and this show is becoming more and more entertaining. “What Trump has Accomplished in Just 8 Months” in WND’s Whistleblower magazine, October 2017, is a most amazing 154-item list. An updated list in WND now has 159 accomplishments. While the press brags that Trump is yet to score a big win due to the 10 percent-approval-rated Congress, he is using the time and the cover of big stories to do a lot that is adding up to an improved nation.
Like many people who have seen the effects of grass drying, I react instinctively against it. It triggers an immune response. Still, this evil is very widespread and can harm the most experienced.
Please don’t let it do so.