This is not a happy post. It is a warning, based on my study of governing history. It relates to the reality that across the globe we are seeing a titanic battle play out between two forms of governing: Patriarchy (in any of its many forms: e,g, kingship, dictatorship, tyranny, male-dominated oligarchy) vs. Liberal Democracy [see for example my book “War and Sex and Human Destiny” on my website: judithhand.net.]
With the election of the would be autocrat Donald Trump in 2016, the contemporary world’s oldest democratic republic now is faced with what I believe is the fateful deciding battle between the experiment of democratic government "of the people, by the people and for the people" and one form of patriarchy, viz. male oligarchy best represented by the U.S. Senate. In the USA the nature of the Supreme Court, the final arbiter of the laws of the land, is up for grabs. Ruth Bader Ginsberg, a skilled champion of liberal democracy, has died and the battle is on to fill her seat.
Currently a male Christian majority holds an edge of power on the court and in their decisions they are influenced by conservative views. These reflect our patriarchal past rather than progressive views that reflect our ongoing progress into a fully mature liberal democracy.
Many scenarios are in play. And a presidential election will decide who in the future appoints and confirms judges to the court. Imagine if you will, this profoundly worse case scenario. The autocrat Donald Trump wins the next election. The U.S. Senate remains in the hands of his party, led by Mitch McConnell. He is a classically patriarchal senator with no respect for the norms that formerly guided Senate relationships and decision-making. They were norms that supported the democratic approach to decision-making.
So imagine that President Donald Trump, newly reelected, recommends that the size of the Supreme Court be increased to, say, thirteen. There is nothing, no law or even norm, to prevent him from doing this. With the help of Senate Leader McConnell, Trump nominates three extremely conservative judges that have one-way-or-the-other made clear that their loyalty is to the President. They are given lifetime appointments to the court. A man, for example, like Attorney General William Barr. The court thus becomes a powerful tool of a President who wants to change all laws to suit his agendas and whims. If you will, America becomes firmly fixed in perpetuity as one form of patriarchy, perhaps similar to Russia’s: a male oligarchy, a kleptocracy. Patriarchy wins the heart of America.
It can happen. Once a democracy is firmly lost to any of the forms of patriarchy, history teaches that it is not likely to be regained. And the experiment in liberal democracy, with its defining values like freedom of press, freedom of expression, freedom of a assembly, freedom of religion, respect for human rights, will be given a deadly blow.
VOTE! As if the life of the vision of liberal democracy depends on it. Because it does.
In 2001, I published a novel set in the Minoan world of the Bronze Age (Voice of the Goddess). To promote the book I gave a talk entitled "If Women Ran the World, How Might Things Be Different." My point, drawn from my background in biology and anthropology, was that the Minoan's sophisticated, state-level society appears to have been remarkably lacking in violence—no violent acts are depicted on any of their numerous art artifacts or paintings. They probably ran their affairs much as the Norwegians, Icelanders, Costa Ricans, or Swiss do today: rejectors of war.
Those same artifacts indicate that this was a culture where women were respected and powerful leaders. In talks I would say, "women, in general, are biologically different from men, in general, because women have an evolved suite of behavioral inclinations that strongly foster social stability and, that includes avoiding war."
I eventually went on to write Women, Power, and the Biology of Peace, my first attempt to explain, from the perspective of an evolutionary biologist, why women have evolved stability-fostering preferences. Other books and essays followed that include explorations of this same issue: Shift: The Beginning of War, The Ending of War; War and Sex and Human Destiny; and A Future Without War.
This explanation for why women, in general, have some psychological traits that differ from men in ways relating to conflict resolution and caring for community DOES have to do with raising children, but not in the way most people think. Most people think that women are more nurturing…women are NOT by nature more nurturing than men: they can be bad mothers, and a lot of learning goes into being a good mother. Moreover, men who bond early with their offspring can be equally nurturing. It is an evolved deep-seated preference for social stability that guides many of women's social choices.
In Women, Power, and the Biology of Peace I also described:
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Dr. Judith Hand writes historical fiction, contemporary action/adventure, and screenplays. Hand earned her Ph.D. in biology from UCLA. Her studies included animal behavior and primatology. After completing a Smithsonian Post-doctoral Fellowship at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., she returned to UCLA as a research associate and lecturer. Her undergraduate major was in cultural anthropology. She worked as a technician in neurophysiology laboratories at UCLA and the Max Planck Institute, in Munich, Germany. As a student of animal communication, she has written scientific papers on the subject of social conflict resolution.
Astronomy image credit: NASA: Full Hemisphere Views of Earth at Night.