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Political Maturation in the West

To Dream the Impossible Dream

It must look foolish or arrogant to attempt to summarize, in a few paragraphs, complex historical events. But the aim here is to portray a very general pattern, not to describe everything or explain anything.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the industrial revolution was completed in the countries of Europe and North America, producing a sizeable middle class and a strong commercial ethic. In other countries like Russia, and much of Asia, Africa and South America, the rural population was a majority with primary industries, like agriculture and mining, predominant.

Governments of less economically developed countries were drawn to and often adopted single-party socialism or communism. While governments of more developed countries found themselves both forced and ready to adopt welfare-based (i.e. socialist) multi-party democracy.

The aim of the political classes (the State) in both cases was to win elections (i.e. hold on to power and wealth) through promising to relieve people of worry, risks and responsibilities: especially in regard to health, housing, education and old age.

Let's Make Some Predictions

Summary of the crises that are associated with the first Cycle in the Spiral of Political Development

We can apply some simple axioms here:

Axiom #1: If a trend in a human system is unsustainable it must eventually stop. Usually… Closed only after going too far—so the trend typically reverses towards the mean but overshoots.

Axiom #2: Almost any attempt by a government to solve a particular problem makes it worse—because… Closed any problem is just one element in a complex system. While the intent is clear and seems positive, unintended but foreseeable consequences worsen the situation and often occur in an indefinite future. Also human ingenuity views any government effort as a commons to be used for self-advantage, so the system is gamed.

This makes it highly likely that:

As a result, we can safely make a big scary prediction:Closed people will wake up one day, and see the consequences of their desires for dependency and the foolishness of a blind faith in politicians and government.

Opinion polls increasingly show that politicians are not trusted. Evidently wider society is not yet ready to act on its instincts and convictions. That means there is just not enough suffering.

One fear associated with economic calamity in the West is the re-emergence of fascist dictatorships. But our Spiral of Maturation suggests a far more positive view. Many Western societies seem mature enough to move to the Stage-5 Conventionalist mode. If so, they will not regress to a totalitarian fascism, which is based on a charismatic leadership promising magic solutions while displacing popular rage on to some convenient scapegoat.

Where societies are still in Primitive Pluralism, Closed military dictators can re-appear to replace authoritarian politicians. Such societies live in a dream and such an outcome might represent the fulfilment of that dream. However, Stage-1 seems now well and truly past in the West. People may not be fully enlightened, but it is likely they have enough education and enough experience of both dictatorships and freedom to resist militant authoritarianism as a solution.

Originally posted: July 2009; Last updated: 27 Mar 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.
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