Politics > Government and Politics > Political Evolution

Political Evolution

Q: Could there ever be a substantially new stage in politics?
i.e. Closed
genuine discontinuity in popular assumptions about political principles and governing institutions within society including the relation of rulers/government to the people.

A: Yes! Beyond any shadow of a doubt—and we only need one example to prove the possibility.

Divine Right of Kings

European political absolutism, as the «divine right of kings», stated that a king was chosen by God to rule and was accountable to no-one but God for his actions. 

Kings are ordinary human beings, but they used their «divine right» to live in luxury, tax the peasants, build grand palaces, and wage war. Politics in such situations involved aristocrats, priests, generals and spies who attended the court and jockeyed for power.

The absolutist doctrine suffered greatly with the growth in education and the promotion of reason during the 18thcentury—in what is now called The Age of Enlightenment. Applying reason to situations, rather than acting out of habit or deference or blind belief, reflects an increase in personal responsibility. When such responsibility is exerted at the societal level, the inevitable result is societal and political maturation.

Because few today subscribe to absolutist doctrines, societies with political institutions associated with absolutism are rare and labelled as backward or primitive.

ClosedMore Details of this Change

Psychosocial Reality is in Control

We must assume that the majority of ordinary people in the past psychologically accepted and supported, or at least tolerated, absolutism. Otherwise it could not have persisted.

By the same reasoning, when values and institutions of a particular mode have not yet emerged within a society, it is almost unthinkable that they could ever exist.

Yet, once new values and institutions do become incorporated in society, they appear to be a matter of common sense and even a necessity, to all. Past ideas are then viewed as immature, primitive, even barbarous.

This is a typical phenomenon of psychosocial reality.

Everything in use within social life is really real, everything not in it is deemed unreal. More than unreal...Closed it is deemed impossible. Ideas for significant beneficial social change are genuinely experienced as utopian or fantastical, and labelled foolish or naive. This popular feeling, often endorsed heartily by current elites, labels change as «unrealistic», drains energy from those who are more enlightened, and helps preserve the status quo.

Discontinuity

The potential for political institutions in society to become more just, more responsible and more reasonable occurs slowly through time—until suddenly there is a breakthrough and the impossible happens.

Nothing cultural can occur overnight. People commonly die with old beliefs intact, while their children live on with the new beliefs. So the sudden discontinuity is a slow process with psychosocial reality slowly altering in an irregular and uneven process which we can call «maturation».

We have to identify the forces that build up and lead to that break-through and discontinuity.


Originally posted: July 2009; Last updated: 23-Feb-2014




All posted material is part of a scientific project and should be regarded as provisional. Visitors are encouraged to think through the topics and propositions for themselves. Copyright © Warren Kinston 2009-2016.
All Rights Reserved.



comments powered by Disqus