Politics > Spiral of Political Maturation > Stage-5: Responsibility Starts in the Conventionalist Mode

Stage-5: Responsibility Starts in the Conventionalist Mode

The Big Shift

Conventionalist mode where the mass of ordinary people become aware of their tolerance of the deceptions of the political and financial elites.

Cycle-1 was geared to issues, and the use of values and goals to determine societal choices. The transition to Cycle-2 deals with the context of choice. It is energized by ordinary people, for the first time, exposing political and financial elites with impunity. The ruling class abuses, epitomized by the economic disaster that left them untouched, eventually becomes clear to all.

Cycle-2 is therefore geared to providing the constraints on political classes needed to allows the battle over choices to continue while reducing future abuses of power. These abuses can be classified into four types: deception, theft, oppression, unprofessionalism.

Mobilization will be a key feature in reaching this Stage and maintaining it. Its goal is the unequivocal and unambiguous expression of views about what is acceptable in political behaviour and a demand for a government that functions properly.

Since initially drafting this topic (2007), the predicted possibility of effective mobilization has been realized with the development of ultra-cheap networking technologies, especially using the mobile Internet. Proper use of technology minimizes the risks, unpleasantness and emotionality of physical mobilization (demonstrations) to express protest.

THEE Note:Closed A similar transition in organizations involved valuing information for effective management, and it is also difficult without the sophistication of computers and information technology.

Values & Institutions of the Conventionalist Mode


Integrating Force:
ClosedExpressed social consensus

Personal responsibility, manifested by actively joining in a recognizable social consensus, will become a power in society. This personal power to affirm views and confirm political choices is new. Whereas polls determined public opinion (and may continue to do so), this consensus is expressed by the public themselves.

While there can never be a unified public understanding on a complex issue, there can be an expectation that choices will be arrived at in a professional way that is less affected by political dishonesty or vested interests. Ways to enable people to generate referenda to express this consensus can be devised.

Consensus could mandate or drive improvements to the quality of government, because the likelihood of responsiveness to win electoral advantage will persist.

Socio-political Institution:
ClosedSelf-mobilization of civil society

The growth of the Internet and the availability at low cost of sophisticated technology allows everyone to become far more involved in a wide range of political choices. Interference, by government, with free communication and interaction via technology should probably be prohibited.

Internet blogging and dedicated websites enabling free discussion are proliferating now, and may well play a role. Everyone must be allowed to feel engaged and responsible insofar as they wish and are capable.

A new type of social activist will become prominent: their goal will be to communicate to the public rather than to government. They will identify perverse incentives and unprofessional abuses of power and indicate how politicians might be constrained. Crowd-sourcing might be used.

Governance Requirement:
ClosedNorms of professionalism

Those in government know that they have a responsibility to serve the public and are assigned great power to do so. In the earliest Stages, this power simply provided opportunities for criminal, corrupt and rent-seeking behaviour which is blatant and even accepted by the public.  Even if politicians desire something better, they are trapped in their subculture and change must be forced from outside.

By the time a society has reached this point in its maturation, the public expects politicians to function in a more mature and dispassionate way: as expected of doctors, lawyers, priests and even company directors. The public also sees political behaviour as their own problem, rather than externalizing and blaming.

Professionals focus on effectiveness, adhere to minimal standards, allow themselves to be checked and regulated by outsiders. They accept personal accountability and pay the price for breaches. Appropriate norms for political and governmental behaviour will therefore slowly be developed and enforced by the public in some appropriate fashion.


Personal Benefit:
ClosedBetter relations between the people and their government

Until this point, the government unequivocally dominates the people and expects to control them 'for their own good'. Now there is a shift in the balance of power. It is not so violent as the revolutionary turmoil of Cycle-1, but it may be just as far-reaching.

The expectations placed on politicians to adhere to basic norms of effectiveness, honesty, decency &c. will be shocking initially. As a different type of person starts to enter the political arena, the unrestrained contempt for the public will diminish. The public is liable to interact more intelligently with government if new methods emerge that ensure its efforts have a constructive impact.

Social Interactions:
ClosedDiscussion in diverse networks

The Internet enables virtually free information, free news reports, free radio, and free video. It also encourages self-expression and debate with an immediacy never before possible. Most importantly, the media can longer serve as the organ of the political elite to control narratives.

The ease of social networking reduces isolation. It allows for non-territorial communities of interests or of values where discussions can evolve without the costs of venues, travelling, publicity and security.

Provision of Knowledge:
ClosedMultiplicity of perspectives

Paradoxically the Internet, which facilitates consensus, also enables each person to have their say and communicate their distinctive perspective. This technological capacity to support differentiation of society is the equivalent of the capacity of the Internet to support a multiplicity of niche markets.

The globalization associated with the Internet also brings diverse perspectives generated by different cultures into the consciousness of many. Multiplicity does not detract from consensus but rather enriches it and inhibits knee-jerk totalitarian impulses. Wide-ranging discussion and debate will make any emerging consensus feel more real.

Personal-Ethical Requirements

Core Value:

People will identify strongly with a new basic equality in the political scene. This is not greatly different from the equality under the law (in Transition #1), but the orientation and awareness now is greatly different. There can be genuine equality in regard to active political responsibility and active influence on political norms.

Civic Virtue:

It seems likely that the civic virtue to be recognized might be moderation—the avoidance of extremes in social life, in thought and in actions. Rather than seeking change and wanting ever more, this virtue fosters attention to the present, acceptance of what exists, management of desires and greed, and delayed gratification.  This fits with the conventionalist ethical aspiration of continuity.

Originally posted: July 2009; Last updated: 11-Apr-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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