All societies commence with regimes built on primitive pluralism—because politics in that ethos directly corresponds to the existing structure of society's powerful organized groups. This power structure is understood and accepted or endured by most.
Themay be traditional (e.g. monarchy, priesthood, officialdom, military) or modern (e.g. single political party, central committees, powerful military, secret police.) The preoccupation of these political classes is always to increase State power and avoid loss of power which, it is feared, would release chaos and violence.
So they resist pressures for a transition to the (A) in the diagram. This result leads to authoritarianism even if the government claims to rule a democracy and uphold human rights. Authoritarianism is compatible with elections and with a multi-party system. However, the and the (both crucial to the ) are typically weak.—labelled
Authoritarian governments are concerned to maintain the support of the people, to manage dissent and protest, and to enable some development. In doing so, they have three options that are political in nature.
The State pushes for: ever greater collectivism, as if society could be just one group; intrusion into privacy; restrictions on movement and forming new groups; suppression of individuality; prohibition of free expression; intensive use of propaganda; and maximal government control in all areas of social life. Social disasters (e.g. famines, floods, AIDS) may get little attention.
Examples: North Korea; Burma (till recently).
The State must maintain stability and it looks to gain support by solving major social problems. However, in the absence ofinstitutions and opportunities for earning a living, consultation is minimal or absent and corruption or crime to benefit the privileged is a feature of projects.
Inquiries are biased and may be kept secret to avoid embarrassment; solutions are poorly implemented; supplies are diverted to a black-market. In addition, the lives of many may be disrupted and harmed by economic development.
The natural antagonism between a group-orientation (lower right quadrant) and any individual orientation (upper left quadrant) puts the regime at some risk.
The State seeks to generate prosperity by enabling wealth-creation. However, without providing a supportinginfrastructure, criminality and corruption lead to insecurity in ownership of property and an inability of people to trust and enforce contracts fairly.
In addition, the inevitable complexity of an emerging economic system combined with the freedom experienced by successful entrepreneurs, may pose a threat to the power of the State.
Example: Vietnam at the start of the 21st century.
This notion suggests that evolution is not necessary. Many authoritarian regimes imagine and proclaim that they will last a thousand or ten thousand years.
Examples: Hitler's Germany dispensed with elections once Hitler was elected. China currently seems to be trying to combine Methods Y & Z since Deng replaced Mao.
The Spiral describes a natural evolutionary trajectory for a society. It is oriented to the ultimate responsibility of every member of a society for choosing and managing its government.
Such a challenging responsibility takes time to develop and mature. It is naturally affected by many practical factors. However, it is primarily driven by the readiness of people to commit to an arrangement in which governments will serve communities and individuals, and politicians will not be selected according to their desire for power.
This is not utopian, because several steps along this path have already been taken. It will be possible to see how social forces will lead to additional stages of growth--and currently unthinkable improvements.
But the society needs to start at the beginning.
Originally posted: July 2009; Last updated: 11-April 2014.