Friday, September 15, 2006

Go read Dave Neiwert's blog

(Blogger has gone all screwy this morning. The hyperlinks to individual posts don't work and I can't even get to my own homepage. But the publishing part still works! Go figure...)

Mrs. Robinson just became a co-blogger with David Niewert at Orcinus. In my case she is preaching to the choir, but I want to run out and evangelize her message every chance I get. Her understanding and analysis of authoritarian thinking and it's toxic results are truly spot on.

Her writing style is relaxed and easy to read. Unfortunately for many readers it will be like trying to acquire a taste for seal blubber, toasted insects or something equally disgusting because the content will be very upsetting for a reader from the target mind-set. Her mission is very much like trying to get alcoholics to stop being in denial, but she keeps hammering away all the same.

Me? I'm a social futurist. My area of interest is authoritarian movements -- fundamentalisms initially, but the field is broadening in time. That's what brought me to Dave's blog in the first place. It's also why I stuck around and became part of the ongoing dialogue. And, since Dave has given me my own key to his whaling shack, it's something you're going to hear me hold forth on now and again. That's why I'm taking this opportunity to explain, in a little depth, what I do and where I'm coming from.
The real danger that keeps me up at night is this: If we allow the numbers of the lost and sidelined to grow, that necessary process of cultural adaptation may get derailed. Overall attitudes towards change and progress can sour and harden into anger, bitterness, and resentment of progress. It's not hard to imagine a mass backlash that violently rejects modernism, and creates large cultural movements that operate out of a deep fear of change. Unfortunately, these are also the two most essential characteristics that authoritarian religious and political leaders feed on -- which means it's not an overstatement to say that our capacity to assure that there even will be a future could be overwhelmed by the demands of vast fundamentalist and
totalitarian movements unless we get very smart, very quickly, about keeping large masses of people out of those belief systems.

Unfortunately -- as we have so painfully learned from the way America's authoritarian leadership botched Iraq -- the inflexibility, irrationality, defensiveness, either/or dogmatism, and epic capacity for denial inherent in authoritarian systems often preclude them from even recognizing actual threats, let alone moving ahead to create clear and effective plans to deal with them. Any system that allows a few amoral opportunists do most of the thinking for the entire group is not only inherently brittle and unstable; it's also profoundly ill-equipped to respond effectively to the kinds of challenges we are going to be facing in the century ahead.

It's obvious that authoritarian leaders and followers, reflexively acting out of their fear of change, will not be the ones to solve our huge and looming problems. Even worse: they've already put us on notice that they're going to do whatever it takes to keep us from even acknowledging those problems, and doggedly work to obstruct our best efforts to do anything about them. There is too much at stake here to waste time on these people. We no longer have the time or the bandwidth to deal with their nonsense.

Great essay, ya'll. Go read it and spread the word.

1 comment:

Dunyazade said...

I entirely - agree :)