History is now sorting out a battle between two titans of human governing: Patriarchy vs. Liberal Democracy
We cannot return to an “empty world” of low population density, where we could disperse to avoid war and easily obtain fresh essential resources. So knowing what we know about human nature ("Our Dilemma, Our Challenge, War Defined") and what we know about sexual dimorphism ("Sexual Dimorphism"), what are our options?
First, the existence of active peace systems, described in the Appendix essay "Douglas Fry's "Life Without War," suggests that with sufficient will it is within our power to assemble a critical mass of citizens and visionary leaders committed to devising a global, enforceable peace treaty and a maintainable global peace system. We can avoid destroying while simultaneously freeing financial and creative human resources for learning, building, creating, and exploring. We are already making moves in that direction, described in the Appendix essay "Global Peace System Accomplishments"). Will such visionary leadership emerge and make a global end to war an enduring reality?
Second, we can embrace gender parity governing. Iceland is making significant progress in that direction, as are the Nordic countries. (Marinósdóttir 2017) Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada, is aiming his country there as well. Women in many countries are rising up and assuming leadership positions in many human endeavors, including governing. A world where women are second-class citizens or worse is a world where male biology, essentially unconstrained by female input, is currently spinning out of sane control, is armed with savagely lethal weapons, and is conflicted about how to conserve and use natural resources.
If we continue to “do the same thing over and over again,” if too many societies continue to exclude women from leadership, up to and including parity governing that approaches 50/50 partnership, history indicates that we should expect to continue to create dominator, patriarchal, warring societies and the behaviors that characterize them. To make a radical change in how we deal with conflicts and how we apportion resources, empowering women arguably isn’t an option. It’s a necessity.
The antithesis to patriarchy, the cure for it, is not matriarchy. It’s fully mature, liberal democracy, by which is meant a governing system that respects the basics of human rights and provides 1) an equal vote to all citizens, men and women, of all races, religions, or sexual orientation, 2) a fully free press, 4) freedom of religion, 3) freedom of speech and assembly, and 4) an independent judicial system that protects those rights. Thus far historically, with the exception of a rare queen or female head of state, all authoritarian governments, certainly including dictatorships and tyrannies, are fundamentally patriarchies.
In recent history, the United States, to date the world’s oldest ongoing experiment in liberal democracy, has been the cultural leader of a transition into that “liberal democracy” kind of future. It’s not a perfect country—flawed humans will never live in or create a “perfect” country. But having freed itself from slavery, done away with child labor, given the vote to citizens of African descent and to women, and transitioned through a powerful civil rights movement, the United States continues a progressive struggle toward its founder’s vision of “a more perfect union.” At this time, in 2019, the country is led by a President having a pronounced authoritarian, patriarchal orientation that has thrown the country into turmoil. A major political struggle is underway for the country’s soul.
Globally, in this social and political context, there is a growing awareness by women which has been percolating over many decades and appears to be accelerating. It is that women need to rise up and become leaders. That women should take charge of the fates and the futures of their children rather than defer to men. This feeling caught fire in late 2017 in the United States when women who had suffered sexual abuse or assault by men spoke up publicly. A #MeTo movement swept through all sorts of media where other women who had experienced some kind of sexual assault also went public. This was followed by women and men in Hollywood, people who are global trendsetters, starting a #TimesUp movement, saying that women should not and would not continue to tolerate male sexual abuse. In short order many prominent U.S. men were fired or forced to resign from highly visible positions of power.
While many high profile politicians were characterizing the struggle for the future of the United States, and world history, as being between democracy and authoritarianism, one far-right personality with a canny understanding of human nature spoke the deeper reality. Steve Bannon was the editor of an extreme far-right and often characterized as a Nazi-leaning publication. He was at one point at the right hand of the authoritarian U.S. president. He said the following to a reporter from a well-respected news outlet about the firings of these powerful men: “These are not small guys. I think it’s going to unfold like the Tea Party, only bigger. It’s not #Me Too. It’s not just sexual harassment. It’s an anti-patriarchy movement. #Time’s Up on 10,000 years of recorded history. This is coming. This is real.” (Lewis 2018)
Bannon may or may not be right, that an anti-patriarchy movement is beginning that could sweep across the globe and change 10,000 years of history. In time we will know. Can we change that much? The documented neuroplasticity of the human nervous system makes us supremely adaptable. (Sapolsky 2017) Men everywhere can learn the benefits to be gained by educating girls and uplifting women and change their behavior and our cultures accordingly, including acceptance of and the fostering of koinoniarchy. Women everywhere can learn the folly of deferring to men and rise up to secure decision-making positions from which to help build child-friendly, safe, nurturing communities. So, what adaptations will we make to the new full world we’ve created? It’s our destiny. Our choice.
Marinósdóttir, M. 2017. "This is why Iceland ranks first for gender equality." World Economic Forum. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/11/why-iceland-ranks-first-gender-equality/ (accessed 9 February 2018). Lewis, M. 2018. "Has anyone seen the President?" Bloomberg View. https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-02-09/has-anyone-seen-the-president (accessed 10 February 2018). Sapolsky, R. 2017. Behave. The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst, New York: Penguin.