This is a follow-up on my previous piece, “From Civilization to a Circle of Equals”, where I put forward a view that human civilization, since its flowering 5000 years ago with the invention of literacy, appears to have been built around the control of the majority of people within its purview by a minority elite. This piece focuses on some of the specific mechanisms of control, some developed in ancient times but continuing today, and others that are more recent “innovations”.
I think it is critical that progressive people understand this history and these continuing mechanisms of control, so we have more of a chance to rise above these manipulations by controlling elites. It is equally critical that we avoid advocating for these manipulations ourselves, in our efforts to create a more egalitarian narrative for human society going forward into the future. Control, even by the forces of egalitarian ends, is still control, and diminishes the natural human spirit to control ones own destiny.
So here’s my list of such mechanisms, certainly not a comprehensive one, but some of the obvious bigees and a few others you might not have thought of.
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Like many others, I am caught up in the events as they continue to unfold in Egypt. Watching the video this morning of the jubilant crowds after Mubarak announced that he was stepping down brought tears to my eyes. Sharing that joy, I still understand that it is an unfinished narrative of a possible transition from patriarchy to partnership, from autocratic rule by a privileged oligarchy of civilian strongmen and military generals to a more egalitarian parliamentary system. Like any compelling story where life and death are at stake and the outcome is in doubt, I continue to be on the edge of my seat.
But stepping back and looking at the big picture over the centuries of the odyssey (three steps forward and two steps back) of human development, what I see is a trend away from the concept of privilege. That is, moving beyond the practice of granting some people more respect, higher status, and power over others based on their gender, race, sexual orientation, age, family, or position within some sort of a hierarchy. And moving instead to a circle of equals where power is not seized but granted by others and is exercised to facilitate rather than to control.
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