Perspectives on Law/Government/Civil Liberties & Political Activism
Subtitled ‘Transcending the False Left, Right Narrative’ this book is basically a plea for rational discussion to replace the current fashion for polemic and knee-jerk reactions to so many disagreements. It is also much more than this.
The world seems to have descended into extreme factions, if the language of exchanges on social media is any guide. There is an unhealthy tribalism, driven mostly by major media giants as a means of gaining bigger platforms and therefore higher advertising revenue. Looking around the globe, it is obvious that while many countries are ruled by extreme governments, the people of those lands are actually more inclined toward unity. And, let’s face it, the world has never been in a situation as dangerous as now due to the approaching climate emergency and species extinction, never been in more need of a united stance. A central path.
The author makes it clear his book is written from an American point of view. He approaches this aspect with a mix of pride and humility and without the arrogance so often characteristic of American writers. It is the political divide, characterised by the ascendency of a politically astute but ill-educated and narcissistic gameshow host to the position of leader of what the author calls the free world, that drives the narrative. Not an expert in USA politics, and not much interested in their system of government that is as much in denial of democracy as is my own UK, I nevertheless found a great deal of real sense and compassion in the thrust of the book.
The author urges readers to step back from what he terms the Problem Paradigm and embrace instead the Solution Paradigm. There is much to be said for this approach. In fact, unless such a change occurs, it is likely the world will descend into global disfunction leading to outright war as the many challenges facing humanity grow in complexity and importance.
We live in a time of extremes and extremists. The Left and the Right continually yell abuse and worse at each other, never allowing themselves to see their common ground, which is far greater than their differences. But extremists shout loudest and are therefore more attractive to a media in both print and digital form that remains focussed entirely on the conflict it can create by encouraging the fight. This, after all, increases the number of their active users, readers and commentators, and therefore increases the profit such organisations can make from advertising. The sacred Dollar, a representative of a tool initially invented to make transactions easier, now rules the world. We, the tool users, are now ruled by a tool we invented.
I found some lesser aspects of his appeal to common action less easy to accept; the vague mysticism, the ambiguous approach to religion and God, the references to The Order of the Quest, among others. But the bulk of the message, the kernel, was something that instantly found my agreement.
The Solution Paradigm works toward unity, discourages conflict and encourages consensus, a vital ingredient of public and political life if we are to progress or even survive in the next few decades.
Systems of government, the world of business, the whole of the global economic set-up have all failed to keep up with technological advances that have entirely altered the way in which we interact and conduct our lives. We have powerful media outlets run by individuals and companies with little or no concern for the welfare of their users and an obsessive concern to maintain and grow their power base and their profit margin. The author cites a small but powerful elite as the responsible parties for what looks alarmingly like imminent societal breakdown. And, whilst this may attract accusations of conspiracy theory, there is plenty of evidence to support such a view. When a mere one percent of the population owns 43 percent of the world’s wealth, one is forced to question a system that permits such brutal and obscene inequality, and suspect that this small elite is doing everything possible to maintain it.
The author suggests we all learn the Socratic Method, a system of debate pursued by many private educational organisations because of its ability to create debate without rancour; a thoughtful and improving method of discussion that must be preferable to the current abuse and destructive mindless argument between the two main parties.
This book is not an easy read: any serious work is bound to require work from the reader. But it contains some vital ideas and promotes a different approach to public and political life that just may turn out to be the saving of humankind, provided enough people can be encouraged to get on board.
[Any review is a personal opinion. No reviewer can represent the view of anyone else. The best we can manage is an honest reaction to any given book.]