by Dr. Denise R. Ames
One of the most destructive things that’s happening in modern society is that we are losing our sense of the bonds that bind people together – which can lead to nightmares of social collapse. … Alexander McCall Smith
Why can’t we just get along? This is a question that I have been working on in my new book, Divided: Colliding Ways We See the World. In the next several posts in this blog series I am looking at the Modern Worldview. I would like to share with you some ideas that I have been exploring.
In the next several blogs, we are exploring the ideological, philosophical, scientific, religious, political, environmental and economic characteristics of the modern worldview.
Modern Political Changes, Part 2
As mentioned in the previous blog, the liberal form of government, (not to be confused with the liberal/conservative division in the U.S. today) which advanced written constitutions and representative government, was adopted as a preferred form of political structure by many nations. But not all nation states in the modern era developed a liberal, representative type of government. Some nations have held to the monarchy as a form of political rule; some have ceremonial monarchs such as in the United Kingdom, and others have active monarchs such as in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, and Kuwait.
Also part of the modern worldview, some nations turned to authoritarian types of government, most dramatically in the twentieth century. For simplicity there are three main types of authoritarian rule found in the modern era: communism, fascism, and dictatorships. The values held by authoritarian regimes are obedience to authority,
protection of the “mother land,” strong masculine images, and patriarchal attitudes. Men defend the family against outside aggression, while women remain in the home. Honor, resolve, courage, valor, obedience, and vindictiveness are commonly held values.
Emerging out of the modern worldview is communism. It is a form of authoritarian rule based on a theory of social organization in which all property is held in common by the state. The Soviet Union, the first communist nation, was formed in 1917, when a revolution led by Vladimir Lenin overthrew the Russian monarchy. The Soviet Union continued as a communist form of government until its collapse in 1991. Pockets of communist rule still exist around the world, although mostly in a hybrid form in China, Cuba, Vietnam and North Korea.
Fascism is a radical and authoritarian nationalist political ideology that enforces an extreme loyalty to the state. Germany (Nazis), Italy, and Japan were fascist governments
leading up to and during World War II. Dictatorships are often established through a military coup after which the government is ruled by an individual dictator. Dictatorships have been common throughout the twentieth century but are now outnumbered by republican forms of government.
The twentieth century witnessed the darker side of the modern worldview. Two horrific world wars, fought over national competition, colonial acquisitions, and the struggle for world supremacy, exalted armed conflict as the chosen method for resolving differences. The Soviet Union and the United States challenged each other’s ideologies in a Cold War
(1945-1991). Although the two nations never came to blows, numerous proxy wars were fought, such as in Korea, Nicaragua, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and others. Although still severe, these Cold War battles were smaller in scope and fewer people killed than World War II, perhaps reflecting the acknowledgment that our planet cannot survive the nuclear, environmental, and human devastation of another world war.
Even though the lessons of the two wars are readily apparent, some people today still cling to an authoritarian stance reminiscent of the oppressive rule imposed by many empires of the past and the totalitarian regimes of the twentieth century. Forms of authoritarian rule—dictatorships, monarchies, neo-fascist and anti-fascist movements,
and communist rule—continue to survive, while pockets of militia activity are found in parts of Europe and the United States. Although a controversial addition, some people argue that large multi-national corporations, run by corporate oligarchies, are a form of authoritarian rule, since they extend their non-democratic reach into every corner of the world.
About the Author
Dr. Denise R. Ames is a long-time educator, grade 7-university, author of seven books, and president of an educational non-profit, Center for Global Awareness, based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. CGA provides books, resources, and services with a holistic, global- focused, and perspective-taking approach for their three programs: Global Awareness for Educators, books and resources for educators and students grade 9-university; Gather, Global Awareness Through Engaged Reflection, a self-organizing study and conversation program for adults focusing on seeing different perspectives of pressing global issues; and their most recent program Turn, Transformative Understanding and Reflection Network, which encourages lifelong and transformative learning to help us arrive at a place of personal and global well-being using a seven “path” approach.