Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Riane Eisler - Building an Integrated Progressive Agenda: The Post Election Crisis and Its Opportunities

I have read several of Riane Eisler's books, have seen her speak on multiple occasions, and respect and recognize this amazing woman as among our wise and treasured Elders. Her books have been printed in up to 25 languages and have been among international bestsellers. I highly recommend all of Riane Eisler's work. - Molly


By Riane Eisler, President, Center for Partnership Studies
The 2016 election laid bare the urgent need for an integrated progressive agenda. Our challenge is to prevent cyclical regressions that cause so much suffering and hold us back from building a more equitable and caring world. Meeting this challenge is a long-term project based on an in-depth analysis of what lies behind the 2016 election results.
Progressives will respond in the Trump era with an array of campaigns aimed at combatting loss of hard-won gains. However, existing assumptions and institutions are proving incapable of effectively dealing with massive socio-economic and technological shifts, and Trump was able to exploit people’s fears and insecurities. We have been here before, as people vote for easy answers from a dominating figure who promises to make their country great again. In the aftermath of Trump’s victory, people are understandably focused on the policy threats. But we must not be just reactive. To be proactive, we must first take a deep look at what underlies the impulse of many people to turn to “strong-man” leaders in times of economic and social upheavals.
A Deeper Look
Economic insecurities, false news, hacking, and voter suppression were important factors in the 2016 election. But the question is why these led so many voters to elect a man who incited scapegoating of immigrants and other minorities, who bragged about his sexual assaults, and debased women? Why did so many Americans vote for someone who painted women as disgusting and untrustworthy, as in his call to “lock her up”?  Was that really about the emails or was it about punishing a female candidate for aspiring to powers “rightfully” belonging to men, as indicated by Trump’s announcement of a possible cabinet post for General Petraeus who, unlike Hillary, actually breached email security? What led so many people to elect a man who claimed that he alone had the answers, condoned violence at his rallies, and presented himself as a “strong-man” savior?
To answer these questions, we need new thinking, and new thinking requires new social categories that go beyond the traditional religious vs. secular, right vs. left, capitalist vs. socialist, or Eastern vs. Western. Societies in these conventional categories all fail to take into account findings from psychology and neuroscience showing that what children experience and observe impacts how their brains develop – hence their beliefs and actions, including how they vote.
New Thinking: The Domination/Partnership Social Systems
Analysis of society through the lenses of the domination system and the partnership system reveals connections that are invisible through the lenses of the common right vs. left categories. These new categories show that how a society constructs childhood and gender relations – the relations that children first experience and observe – is integral to what people consider normal, possible, and moral in all relations, from intimate to international.
Be they secular like Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union or religious like Eastern and Western fundamentalist, regressive societies — characterized by political and economic domination, injustice and violence – advance their political agenda on the foundation of domination, injustice, and even violence in gender and parent/child relations. They recognize that the four cornerstones for either partnership or domination systems are 1) family/childhood relations, 2) gender relations, 3) economics, and 4) language/narratives about human nature and human possibilities.
For most progressives however, parent-child and gender relations are peripheral. While progressives understand the importance of economics, they do not recognize the importance of the distribution of resources within families or how undervaluing caring work undermines progressive principles. All too often they buy into the old stories about a flawed human nature where rankings of domination are “just the way things are.”
Our job is to make progressives aware that regressive politics and economics are only the top of a domination pyramid, and that unless we leave behind traditions of domination in the gender and parent-child relations that are cornerstones of the pyramid, domination, political and economics will keep rebuilding themselves on these foundations in different forms.

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