VIII. Earth Earns: An Open Participatory Earthropocene to Ecosmocene CoCreativity
4. A Complementary Genocracy: me + We = US
Shiva, Vandana. Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace. London: Zed Books, 2016. This is a new edition of a 2005 volume by the inveterate physicist, ecologist, activist, editor, and author. A new Preface over 22 pages provide an update survey with especial notice of Pope Francis’ Laudato Si, and a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth. Vandana Shiva offers an alternative, empathic, feminine vision whereof the welfare and enhancement of people, communities and nature is of paramount value, rather than market forces and profit motives.
Sperling, John, et al. The Great Divide: Retro vs. Metro America. Sausalito, CA, PoliPoint Press, 2004. Not an endorsement but one sociological study of how the United States seems to be sharply divided into red Retro and blue Metro states of Republican or Democratic values. A biased view which would push the polarization even further, the authors see Retro as white male, orthodox religion, conservative, intolerant while Metro is inclusive, progressive, not afraid of science, and so on.
Szpiro, George. Numbers Rule: The Vexing Mathematics of Democracy from Plato to the Present. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010. An Israeli science journalist argues that the democratic ideal of palliative governance by, of, and for the people remains elusive because all manner of elective polities statistically will tend to thwart it. However might we then realize that our social abidance needs to respectfully become naturally organic, a reciprocity of free individual and supportive group? (See Simon Levin 2010 in A Viable Gaia)
Terrell, John. Evolution and the American Myth of the Individual. New York Times. December 1, 2014. The Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, anthropologist and author contributes a rare clear, strong statement of the obvious archetypal personality complements of the two party political persuasions, ever locked in win-lose gridlock. This is so patently evident, yet political scientists cannot imagine its organic, complementary me + We = US resolve because no such greater reality is allowed. See also Terrell’s new book A Talent for Friendship: Rediscovery of a Remarkable Trait (Oxford, 2014).
At least part of the schism between Republicans and Democrats is based in differing conceptions of the role of the individual. In a broad sense, Democrats are more likely to embrace the communal nature of individual lives and to strive for policies that emphasize that understanding. Republicans often trace their ideas about freedom and liberty back to Enlightenment thinkers of the 17th and 18th centuries, who argued that the individual is the true measure of human value, and each of us is naturally entitled to act in our own best interests free of interference by others. Philosophers from Aristotle to Hegel have emphasized that human beings are essentially social creatures, that the idea of an isolated individual is a misleading abstraction. So it is not just ironic but instructive that modern evolutionary research, anthropology, cognitive psychology and neuroscience have come down on the side of the philosophers who have argued that the basic unit of human social life is not and never has been the selfish, self-serving individual. Evolution has made us a powerfully social species, so much so that the essential precondition of human survival is and always has been the individual plus his or her relationships with others.
Van Vugt, Mark and Jennifer Smith. A Dual Model of Leadership and Hierarchy: Evolutionary Synthesis. Trends in Cognitive Sciences. Online October, 2019. A Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam neuropsychologist and a Mills College, Oakland, CA behavioral ecologist weigh in on polarized governing styles by way of a deep and wide census of their presence throughout animal groupings from cetaceans to primates. A set of working terms are dominance and prestige, whence the prior mode is narcissist, aggressive, coercive, intimidates, rules by fear, while the latter is agreeable, values affiliations, empathic, guides by empowerment. By turns, these are male and female roles, whence an obvious resolution of political gridlock ought to be a mutual complementary equity. See also Jon Maher’s paper Dominance and Prestige herein for an earlier reference.
From the popularity of authoritarian political leaders to the under-representation of women in boardrooms, leadership is an important theme in current human social affairs. Leadership is also a prominent research topic in the biological, social, and cognitive sciences. However, these active literatures have evolved somewhat independently and there is a need for synthesis. A comparative-evolutionary approach can integrate divergent perspectives by a distinction between two leadership styles, prestige and dominance, that have contrasting expressions, functions, histories, and neural developmental pathways. The distinction may help to resolve various scientific puzzles, such as: (i) opposing views on the different functions and expressions of leadership; (ii) the appeal of dominance-style leaders; and (iii) sex biases in leadership emergence in modern society. (Abstract)
Vanhanen, Tatu. Democratization: A Comparative Analysis of 170 Countries. London: Routledge, 2003. A continuum is found from autocracies where power is concentrated among a few to egalitarian societies which broadly share their government and market economies. The main quantifying measure seems to be the degree of resource or capital distribution amongst the populace.
….the best strategy to strengthen the social basis of democracy and to improve social prerequisites for democracy in non-democratic countries would be to carry out social reforms intended to further the distribution of power resources among various sections of the population. (189)
Victor, Jennifer, et al, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Political Networks. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018. As each field and domain in turn becomes redefined and embellished by way of previously unknown, endemic interconnections, so is our public and policy governance, or lack thereof. Some main parts are Network Theory and the Study of Politics, Political Network Methodologies, American Politics, Public Policy and Administration, International Relations, and Comparative Politics.
Wiesner, Karoline, et al. Stability of Democracies: A Complex Systems Perspective. European Journal of Physics. 40/1, 2019. Ten systems scholars from the UK, Austria, USA, Ireland, and South Africa including Didier Sornette call attention to the current erosion of free, equitable, participatory societies. In regard, they scope out how new appreciations of innate, viable self-organizations might provide a natural source of effective guidance. But a further achievement of their integral comprehension by peoples and societies needs to occur.
The idea that democracy is under threat, after being largely dormant for at least 40 years, is looming increasingly large in public discourse. Complex systems theory offers a range of powerful new tools to analyse the stability of social institutions in general, and democracy in particular. What makes a democracy stable? And which processes potentially lead to instability of a democratic system? This paper offers a complex systems perspective on this question, informed by areas of the mathematical, natural, and social sciences. We explain the meaning of the term 'stability' in different disciplines and discuss how laws, rules, and regulations, but also norms, conventions, and expectations are decisive for the stability of a social institution such as democracy. (Abstract)
Wilson, James. How Divided Are We? Commentary. February 2006, . The Ronald Reagan professor of public policy at Pepperdine University argues that contrary to other views, the United States is deeply polarized between conservative and liberal, which is a debilitating polarity with little hope of reconciliation. But does not this beg the realization that these options express in fact a natural complementarity? Would not a co-presidency of both complements, say Rudy Guiliani and Hillary Clinton, be a salutary resolve?
Ybarra, Oscar, et al. Life’s Recurring Challenges and the Fundamental Dimensions: An Integration and its Implications for Cultural Differences and Similarities. European Journal of Social Psychology. 38/7, 2008. University of Michigan, Colorado College, and Stanford University scholars propose an initial revision from the Big Five personal and behavioral traits to mutual agency and communion archetypes. Circa 2018, a decade later, this major shift and advance is gaining much acceptance by way of Susan Fiske, Andrea Abele, and others by virtue of its natural veracity.
We propose that two psychological dimensions, one relevant to relationships and group life (communion, C) and the other to skill acquisition, talent, and accomplishment (agency, A), aid people in interpreting their social worlds. Moreover, our analysis demonstrates the privileged nature of the C dimension and its relative stability compared to the A dimension across contexts and cultures. The findings indicate that there is greater similarity and consensus in how people make sense of and judge information from the C than A dimension. We discuss the findings in terms of the recurring challenges people face over time as a result of living in groups. (Abstract)
Yu, Keping. Democracy is a Good Thing. Beijing Daily News. October 23, 2006. A book length essay by a former dissident who now runs the China Center for Comparative Politics and Economics that is extolled in a New York Times item “A Chinese Official Praises a Taboo: Democracy” on July 24, 2010. A link can be found in that article to online excerpts from the original document. We cite a typical paragraph to convey its essence and efforts to move Chinese society in this direction.
Democracy is a good thing, but that does not mean that democracy can do everything and solve every problem. Democracy is a political system that guarantees that sovereignty belonged to the people, but it is only one of many systems that people have; it mainly regulates the political lives of people and it cannot replace the other systems and it cannot regulate everything in people's lives. Democracy has its internal limitations, it is not a cure-all miracle medicine and it cannot solve all of humankind's problems. But democracy guarantees basic human rights, it offers equal opportunity to people and it is a basic human value. Democracy is not only a means to solve people's livelihood issues, but it is a goal of human development; it is not only a tool to achieve other goals, but it is in accord with human nature. Even if there is the best food and housing available, the human character is incomplete without democratic rights.
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