Tag Archives: patriarchy

From Civilization to a Circle of Equals

LeviathanWhat follows is an outline of a book I intend to write and get published (even if self-published) in the next few years, based on a lot of the reading, thinking and writing I have done to date. The bulk of the links you find in the overview are to pieces I have previously written that I will attempt to weave in.

My working title at this point is “From Civilization to a Circle of Equals”, because I have come to see civilization, as human beings have mostly developed it so far, as an exercise in domination and control of the bulk of human beings by a vested elite. As we truly embrace the “circle of equals” in our society, we will see such a transformation as to perhaps move beyond any current concept of “civilization” as we know it.

Given that disclaimer, if you are interested in my thoughts on the grand narrative of our species, please keep reading, and please (please, please) comment with your thoughts! (It will also be posted on my site as a “page” called out in the right column!

Continue reading →

Young People – The World’s Last Chattel?

This latest round of high-profile revelations of at times systemic cover-ups of the sexual abuse of young people at Penn State and elsewhere has been topping the news lately. There seem to be ongoing issues with this within the Catholic denomination but that is no longer news. Still in much of the world young people are coerced into military service, marriage or as sex workers under the threat of violence and often death. They are essentially “chattel”, human assets that are either owned and controlled by adult family members by accident of birth, or by “legitimate” or illegitimate sale to or seizure by others.

From my reading of history, at least since the beginnings of formal hierarchical organization of society perhaps 5000 years ago, the most prominent civilizations have featured an elite group of male people wielding power and authority (what I and others call “patriarchy”). The overwhelming majority of people – whether slaves, peasants, women or children – were essentially voiceless, owned and/or controlled by this elite group of men. With the ethical innovations of the “Axial Age” (~800 to 200 BCE) the legitimacy of slavery (particularly of adult males) began to be challenged, though it was still practiced in parts of Europe and the United States well into the 19th century CE. And in many parts of the world even today women continue to be virtual slaves to their fathers or husbands.

Continue reading →

The Politics of Taking, Keeping or Bestowing Your Name

A piece on Yahoo, “Hyphenated married name fight heats up on Facebook” by Janelle Harris for CafeMom’s blog The Stir, caught my partner Sally’s attention. The piece invokes feminist principles including calling out patriarchy as the problem, but the political act that the author is marshaling her arguments for is in my world view a pretty tepid one, though in the author’s it may seem pretty radical. The other aspect of this piece that caught Sally’s attention were the 2000 plus comments at the time (now more than 3100) that in engendered, with a wide spectrum of opinions.

Continue reading →

Wrestling to Understand my Adversary

I am all about promoting what I see as our societal evolution from “patriarchy to partnership”, from an authoritarian power hierarchy of control towards a circle of true equals. To that end I occasionally clash with other progressives who are more supportive than I am of some “social engineering” like state-standardized mandatory public schooling. But more often than not it is key elements of the conservative world view that I find myself at odds with.

Unlike other progressive people I know who think that a “principled conservative” is an oxymoron, I was taught by my mom to “respect your adversary” and “pick your battles” in order to “be effective”. To that end I am always trying to engage the more conservative people I encounter respectfully, and exercising principles of nonviolent communication, try to understand their position and put myself in their shoes.

Continue reading →

Egypt and Moving Beyond Privilege

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.

Continue reading →

What is 21st Century Learning?

A recent Ed Week online article, “How Do You Define 21st Century Learning”, featured the thoughts of eleven people connected to the US education establishment as teachers, consultants or educrats. I was intrigued how each would frame this topic, relative to my own framing as a parent and more of a many educational paths (including unschooling) advocate. (FYI… to see my own thoughts on this topic click here.)

Here is the article author’s framing of the question…

The term “21st-century skills” is generally used to refer to certain core competencies such as collaboration, digital literacy, critical thinking, and problem-solving that advocates believe schools need to teach to help students thrive in today’s world. In a broader sense, however, the idea of what learning in the 21st century should look like is open to interpretation — and controversy.

Continue reading →

It’s the System!

I got feedback from Blanche, my partner Sally’s mom, that the term “patriarchy” does not really resonate with her in terms of describing that model of society and its institutions that I keep referring to in many of my blog pieces. It was interesting that Blanche focused in on that term and made the point to share her thoughts with me. I have been wrestling with the term myself versus various other descriptive words for the same concept (like “hierarchy”, “us and them”, “pecking order” or “pyramid of control”). These to contrast this organizational model with the more egalitarian “circle of equals” (a good descriptive term that I’m more happy with using), which I believe to be the model our human society is evolving into.

Continue reading →

Our Five Thousand Year Obsession with the Angry Father Figure

I find our human history a fascinating narrative, an evolutionary adventure that appears often to unfold as an exciting three steps forward followed by a frustrating two steps back. Particularly from my reading of Riane Eisler’s The Chalice and the Blade, Karen Armstrong’s A History of God and The Battle for God, Allan Johnson’s The Gender Knot, and Jacques Barzun’s From Dawn to Decadence, I have come to this admittedly provocative framing of the last five millennia of our tenure on planet Earth. “Who’s your daddy?” has been the operative organizing principle of human society, but it is past time that we move beyond this obsession with parental figures to a question more like, “Who’re your peers?”

Continue reading →

Religion is Not the Problem… Patriarchy Is

Conventional wisdom of many on the progressive side of politics and social change is that religion, particularly Christianity, is a key source of our culture’s problems if not evil in general. John Lennon’s classic song “Imagine” conjures a utopian world that would be free of this supposed source of division and strife. Many people more on the conservative side of things do not share that concern about the Christian faith and its practice, but see Islam in that same sort of negative light. My take is that neither (nor religion in general) is a source of hate, war and oppression, actually came into being to promote love and humanistic ideals, but have been manipulated as tools of a much older ideology of domination and “us and them” thinking that some would call “Patriarchy”.

Continue reading →

Power (Over) Corrupts

Power CorruptsThe pedophile priest scandal in the Catholic Church over the past 25 years is just one more example of the societal axiom that “power corrupts”. The phrase is actually a bit too simplistic, not all forms of power necessarily corrupt. I would say more specifically that power exercised from the top down (what some delineate as “power-over”) inevitably leads to some form of corruption if the people subjected to this form of leadership are not involved in the governance process and/or do not have comparable power of their own to check the actions of their leaders. This was a key factor motivating the American Revolution (e.g. “taxation without representation”), the French Revolution and many other similar insurrections… part of a larger trend in the world to move from authoritarian toward more egalitarian models of governance. This other idea of power flowing from empowered consent of the group is what is delineated as “power-with”. Continue reading →