a book by Riane Eisler
(our site's book review)
Like Philip Slater and Gloria Steinem, she has realized that the age of authoritarianism has come and gone and it is now obsolete; the negative power of force and threat sorely needs replacement by the positive power of compassion and knowledge. Like the Tofflers, she has realized that we need for knowledge to be the main power source in the 21st century, not force or wealth. She sees the Enlightenment as stalled and needing to get going again. And like Erich Fromm, she sees the struggle as between the regressive forces eager to give up much for the pseudosecurity of authorities that will watch over them and take care of them, and the progressive forces that strive for autonomy and humanistic goals. Toffler talks about forces trying to take us back to the Dark Ages as opposed to forces trying to open the door for the Third Wave information revolution.
The pseudosecurity of authorities that will 'take care of us'; are we sheep?
More than anything, Eisler sees democracy, equality, sexual equity and freedom up against the forces of the regressive dominator trance, a trance that has been exerting its influence for 1000 years. Like Slater, she sees the main formula of the authoritarians as win-lose—the authorities win and the subjected ones lose. Slater says that our steep-gradient nurturance patterns intrinsically produce win-lose people, and we need to shift towards flat-gradient nurturance. She agrees, and envisions a better way than the current steep-gradient nurturance of the isolated family: “As children will be truly valued, there will be fewer, so that myths about families will be not only about biological mothers and fathers but about a whole host of loving caretakers.”
A witch burning—a victim of authoritarians' win-lose obsession
Of all the books in our world that propose solutions to the ills of the world, Slater considers this to be the very best. It outlines the alternative to authoritarianism and top-down bureaucracies in which win-lose is the accepted formula in relationships, in sex, in male-female issues, in relationships in businesses and in parenting. She calls everything win-lose a “dominator” form of relationship and everything win-win a “partnership” form of relationship.
Overpopulation causes many of Earth's other problems—it's a major contributor to war and environmental destruction
She rightly takes religions to task for seeming to care only about life before birth and after death, rather than caring about live humans, since they preach against contraception and AIDS prevention information dissemination and terminating pregnancies even when the birth will only lead to tragic lives for mother and/or child. She knows that religious interference doesn’t really reduce abortions—it just keeps the quality of the operation and aftercare lower: “In short, both to reduce abortions and to effectively deal with overpopulation, what is urgently needed are policies that support not only reproductive freedom of choice for women but freedom for women from the traditional constraints that have served to maintain male control.”
Religious radicals are loud, pushy, and willing to annoy people unril they cave in, whereas the reproductive freedom of choice supporters are none of those
More than 1 out of 3 women in the U.S. have an abortion by the time they are 45 years old, and yet abortions are getting harder to get in many states because religious radicals keep using political allies to adjust state and local standards, laws, and regulations until clinics are forced to shut down. The problem is that the radicals are loud, pushy, and willing to annoy people unril they cave in, whereas the reproductive freedom of choice supporters are none of those.
Abortion clinic bomber—the insanity of murder to stop what these crazies wrongly view as murder
There's a paradigm shift away from a win-lose system driven by punishment, fear, domination, ignorance and pain and towards a win-win system driven by knowledge and compassion
Eisler outlines the current revolution of consciousness, in which there is a slow paradigm shift away from a win-lose system driven by punishment, fear, domination, ignorance and pain and towards a win-win system driven by knowledge and compassion. She fully supports the shift to the new, ecological-holistic paradigm and the shift away from the old, mechanistic-reductionistic paradigm. She supports parent education. She supports the Gaia hypothesis with the Earth as a meta-organism: the biosphere. She supports the Toffler-backed idea that fear engendered by the difficulties of coping with a rapidly changing world has precipitated a regressive trend by fundamentalists to turn back the clock and return to either the Dark Ages or the 1950’s—depending upon which fundamentalists one is referring to.
“. . . what we are beginning to wake up to today, as if from a long drugged sleep, is that we have for millennia structured our social institutions and our systems of values precisely in ways that serve to block, distort and pervert our enormous human yearning for loving connections. We see this all too hideously in the carnage in our world, unrelenting and unremitting now for almost five thousand years.” We see it on screens that express the media’s obsession with negative power and virtual ignoring of positive power. Only authoritarian parenting models based on power, obedience, and rewards and punishments show up in TV shows and movies.
Unrelenting and unremitting war due to authoritarianism
Unfortunately, she backs political salvationist, liberal, social engineering solutions done through welfare state solutions, totally ignoring all the harm these have done, the fact that the more money that has been invested in such things the worse the social disintegration becomes, and the fact that in some of the agencies run by the government, ¾ of the welfare program tax money the government takes from us taxpayers goes into the pockets of the bureaucrats in the system.
Worse yet is the way she ignores the fact that social engineering experiments of the 20th century have been the single worst man-made disasters in all of history, causing more misery, bloodshed, violence, irresponsibility, character degeneration and exploitation than all the rest of man’s ideas put together. This is the one serious flaw in her otherwise insightful book, a book which breaks new ground and sheds new light in those dark areas of social life that most people lack the courage to confront.
Registering for MC search and match
See Why Register for an MC? for a much wiser type of solution to authoritarian dominance needing replacing by autonomous, win-win individuals in MCs (microcommunities), in a way that supports the ecological-holistic paradigm, the Third Wave information civilization, and humanistic, flat-gradient nurturance all at the same time. She has her wise, courageous heart in the right place regarding the direction the societies of the world need to go—her goals are admirable and insightful. But the desperate liberal cliche of counting on social engineers, politicians, and the welfare state, while somewhat realistic in Europe, are ludicrously unrealistic in the United States. Even if every conservative in the country were to suddenly be zipped off to a parallel universe, the authoritarianism would remain, backed by the religions that most of the remaining citizens support—many of them of a fundamentalist character. They would neither stop the wars nor the paternalism breeding in their faiths. Males especially would be reluctant to give up their power for the kinder, gentler feminist power the political, ecological, and social spheres need.
We need to quit looking to social engineering superheroes and rely on local community efforts instead
The stalled Enlightenment needs anything but social engineering. One cannot hope to have liberal politicians throw money we don't have at our problems in order to create a European-styled welfare state as if this would somehow replace our culture's dependence on negative power with much-needed positive power. We've all seen how throwing money at things does little and often makes things worse. As long as corporations are the main deciding force in elections rather than the citizens, the greed, corruption, exploitation, and negative power obsession will remain.
If we throw money we don't have at our problems, nothing will change—the oligarchy will still rule
The problem is not only with the system, but with the people. As long as we are being trained in childhood via steep-gradient nurturance patterns, which intrinsically produce win-lose people, the negative power obsession will remain. As long as we keep raising kids who emulate the "love of things more than love of people" of their parents and the media and the culture at large, negative power obsession will remain. The people we produce have the wrong character and values and beliefs to usher in a more loving, win-win society that respects Gaia—the ecosphere. She is right that better parent training is needed, but religions will not tolerate their flocks learning that the suffering-guilt-punishment obsession in their holy books was a grievious error, and should be replaced by a humanistic, win-win context—ESPECIALLY in our parenting methods, since they've been preaching their win-lose context so long it is simply not possible to imagine them ever doing otherwise.
The people, then, simply are a bad fit to her brave new world of equality, peace, freedom, and love. The only REAL hope there is lies in the direction of producing autonomous, win-win individuals in MCs (microcommunities), in a way that supports the ecological-holistic paradigm, the Third Wave information civilization, and humanistic, flat-gradient nurturance all at the same time. Flat-gradient nurturing produces win-win character. Authoritative parenting produces more compassionate, wiser people able to think more clearly, and that use positive power in relationships rather than negative power. Such relationships are so fulfilling that people will be willing to trade in materialistic obsessions for the fulfillment of real, loving, win-win, compassionate, humanistic connections, peace, and wisdom and a wonderful lifestyle.
Any other attempted solutions besides MCs are predestined to fail, since without this very basic character change, trying to use our society's people to usher in her brave new world of equality, peace, freedom, and love will be trying to force a square peg into a round hole.
Forcing a square peg into a round hole