The Guru Papers: Masks of Authoritarian Power
a book by Joel Kramer and Diana Alstad
(our site's book review)
The book is a very effective critique of all things authoritarian. Here are some of the perspectives of Kramer and Alstad: They say “We view the authoritarian ideologies and practices so deeply rooted in the ways things are thought about and done as what keeps the world stuck in old ways of doing things that no longer work. They are a major hindrance to the necessary kind of creative problem-solving now essential to deal with the crises that threaten basic survival. Creativity comes from self-trust, which authoritarian beliefs squelch.” Ideologies that breed mistrust in self and other are the basic prerequisite for easy and successful manipulation. The fact that our culture teaches our young that they are bad/unacceptable as well as the opposite of this guarantees that the average citizen in the U.S. will be a conflicted, divided, nonwhole person.
They also say “Authoritarianism lies at the root of the old paradigms worldwide. It easily remains hidden because it is often not apparent in the specific content of a given structure, institution, ethic or worldview. Authoritarianism rather exhibits itself in the process of how these human constructions maintain power. This includes the ways control over people’s minds is obtained and maintained.” Kramer's and Alstad's book finds the hidden authoritarianism in relationships, cults, 12-step groups, religion, and contemporary morality.
The authors also point out that “We view the degree to which a culture is authoritarian as a barometer of its dysfunctionality.…what is preventing people from applying the same kind of stunning brilliance and inventiveness to social spheres [as they apply to science and technology] are old social and moral frameworks that are essentially authoritarian.” History shows that when errant ideologies and historical forces converge to produce a tendency towards massive social engineering, an authoritarian who will “benevolently” administer the engineering “for the good of the people” always appears. And soon the blood flows.
Authoritarians smell power vacuums and they attain power “for the good of the people”—and soon the blood flows
This book aligns itself with the new ecological-holistic paradigm (see Fritjov Capra’s books) and tries to help us leave the mechanistic-reductionistic paradigm behind. It looks at the fact that both other-directedness, where others control you from outside, or inner-directedness, where a superego—representing parents—controls you from inside, represent authoritarian control of self by other. Only autonomy, as Riesman told us clearly over 60 years ago, represents maturing beyond dependence on others and taking full responsibility for one’s own choices and being. Being “divided” (full of inner conflict because your controlling faction is extrinsic to self, whether internal or external) and not whole/fully mature/autonomous is a great problem for the happiness of the divided one, but also an opportunity for exploitation by others.
“From our perspective, it will take people who are whole to create the structures that can keep the world afloat [see The Forest Through The Trees]. A conundrum for the times is how to become whole in social orders that create and reward divided people." (See below for the answer.) The psychological maladies people are manifesting do not lend themselves to simple therapies, they say. Obviously. It goes without saying that the real problems are not just personal, but also structural.
They say “The challenge the world faces is not only restructuring the authoritarian sociopolitical mechanisms of power and control, but also restructuring the authoritarian climate of values to foster human beings who can wholly express the full range of being human. Global survival can occur only by unleashing humanity’s potential for intelligence and creativity. Thus, not fostering whole people is now the real threat." They see that unless a social movement toward wholeness (see below) creation occurs, the situation cannot change. So then we will keep having people and structures whose vested interests and power depend upon having divided, fearful people who are not autonomous.
The authors say that unless a social movement toward wholeness creation arises, the oppressive situation cannot change
They see violence as originating in unwanted, uncared for, unloved children who are angry and prone to violence. They see a world that is full of people without hope, often driven by hatred and envy. They don't care about their own lives, let alone yours. "How can such people really care if life on this planet continues or not?”
How indeed, Kramer and Alstad?
Of course, on this website, you already know the answer that escapes Kramer and Alstad regarding where a social movement toward wholeness creation will come from. See Why Register for an MC?.
Registering for MC search and match
The authoritarian parenting so prevalent in our world, and our nation, has been proven absolutely to be a grievous error, that needs to be replaced by authoritative parenting methods. This proof came from science (some of whose results can be found on our site) as well as tens of millions of parents trying P.E.T. and other authoritative parenting methods. The results are not debatable. Since the facts are now clearly known, the radical right think tanks used a pile of denial strategies so they could keep teaching parents to use authoritarian thinking and parenting:
- Find anachronistic "child-beating advice" in the Bible
- Distort scientific findings
- Hire authoritarian pseudo-scientists to do pseudo-science and then trot out their results as truth and scientific proof of their biases
- Write large quantities of parenting books advocating the disproven, discredited, harmful, obsolete methods and find nefarious ways of getting them onto store shelves
- Go on talk shows where they argue with experts promoting authoritative parenting methods, citing both anachronistic Biblical references and the pseudo-science their "experts" did, which makes the public feel that if the experts cannot agree, we may as well just keep doing what we are doing (authoritarian methods).
The Radical Right uses denial strategies like arguing with experts who are promoting authoritative parenting methods, citing both anachronistic Biblical references and pseudo-science