"Exhibiting You" - Story

Catalyst for Change

Inspired by Riane Eisler

By: Andre Sheldon
Submitted: 07/10/2008

Many theories and plans exist, such as the “Open Society” sponsored by George Soros, “Tikkun” developed by Rabbi Michael Lerner, and the “Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World”, sponsored by the United Nations, which propose confronting societal problems and focusing on future generations as a method to prioritize human needs and utilize monetary wealth for the common good of people around the world. These plans are not in the mainstream. To bring these plans and ones like it into the mainstream, there would have to be a “catalyst” powerful enough to attract attention to give the plan power and authority. To find this “catalyst”, it would be best to study an example of change from an old way of thinking to a new way of thinking, or change from an old world society to a new world society.

There is a study of a previous old world society to a new world society that suggests a theory of cultural transformation that could be used now. This study is the 1987 book The Chalice and the Blade - Our History, Our Future, by Riane Eisler (here on referred to as C&B). Ashley Montagu stated that Eisler’s work is “The most important book since Darwin’s Origin of Species”.

In C&B, a partnership culture (gylanic) existed between men and women in an old world society before our written history. The culture changed to a male-dominated society (adrocratic) and C&B examines how the change from a partnership society to a society of male dominance came to be, its pitfalls, and how it can change back, with suggestions for a new focus based upon working for the children of the world. C&B relates the pitfalls of a male-dominated society to the current world status and suggests that there are vital warning signs illustrating the need for a rapid change. Eisler states that a rapid change is possible.

What was the change that caused males to be dominant in society rather than equal in our pre-history? Eisler describes nomadic, marauding tribes conquering agricultural societies for need of necessities such as food, water, and staples. The bronze and copper age provided weapons enabling success in overpowering others and conversely, for protection. A societal system of male dominance was a logical outcome of survival. There was honor, glory, and the spoils of war for the strong, either offensively or defensively. Survival, honor and glory, life’s necessities, all were attainable via force. Men were the stronger sex henceforth they could attain and maintain dominance. Therefore, the conclusion is that it was men and violence that changed the world.

The objective of Eisler’s study and theory is not to cast blame on anyone, but to recognize the root of the problem and plan for change. Eisler, at the end of C&B, concludes “the problem is not men as a sex, but men and women as they must be socialized in a dominator system.” Eisler states beautifully, “rather than being designed to socialize a child to adjust to her or his place in a world of rank orderings, learning will be—as we are already beginning to see—a lifelong process for maximizing flexibility and creativity at all stages of life.”

Socialization will ultimately be the method that creates a long lasting societal change, however change does not come easily. The likelihood of a male-dominated society changing back to a partnership society is negligible. For five thousand years, male dominance has entrenched itself in almost all societies on earth. When attempts for change start to appear, they are squashed by the male machine. Eisler states, “beneath the seemingly inexplicable shifts that punctuate recorded history lies the basic resistance to our cultural evolution: a social system in which the female half of humanity is dominated and repressed.” Also, “In the past, the pendulum has always swung back from peace to war. Whenever more “feminine” values have risen for a time, threatening to transform the system, an aroused and fearful androcracy has thrust us back.

To have societal change, it is important to understand where the problem lies. In C&B, Eisler postulates there is a correlation of male dominance and war as follows: “…once the function of male violence against women is perceived, it is not hard to see how men who are taught they must dominate the half of humanity that is not as physically strong as they are will also think it their “manly” duty to conquer weaker men and nations.” Referring to feminist scholar Theodore Roszak, “Probing beneath the surface of all their national and ideological differences, Roszak showed an underlying commonality among the men who at the turn of this century—and throughout history—plunged the world into war.”

A warning sign: “throughout recorded history the androcratic system’s first line of “defense” has been the reassertion of male control. Even more precisely, we have seen that a regression toward more suppression of women is an early predictor that a generally repressive and bloody period of history is setting in. Eisler goes as far to say, “we can most clearly see how and why under an androcratic system our worsening problems are in fact insoluble.”

Eisler quoted Erwin Laszlo: We “cannot leave the selection of the next step in the evolution of human society and culture to chance. We must plan for it, consciously and purposefully.” Laszlo points out, humans “have the ability to act consciously, and collectively,” exercising foresight to “choose their own evolutionary path.” Norbert Wiener’s book on cybernetic processes states, “We have a further evolutionary advantage in that we can change our behavior quickly.” Biologist Jonas Salk: “our most urgent and pressing need is to provide that wonderful instrument, the human mind, with the wherewithal to image, and thereby create, a better world.”

Eisler refers to many futurists as saying, “We must leave behind the hard, conquest-oriented values traditionally associated with “masculinity.” For is not the need for a “spirit of truly global cooperation, shaped in free partnership,” “a balancing of individualism with love,” and the normative goal of “harmony with rather than conquest of nature,” the reassertion of a more “feminine ethos?”

Eisler summarizes:

“As this caring labor—the life-sustaining labor of nurturing, helping, and loving others—is fully integrated into the economic mainstream, we will see a fundamental economic and political transformation. Then, unified into the global family envisioned by the feminist, peace, ecology, human potential, and other gylanic movements, our species will begin to experience the full potential of its evolution.”

A woman’s movement, or as Eisler calls it, feminism, “could become the nucleus for a new, fully integrated gylanic ideology. Incorporating the humanistic elements of both our religious and our secular ideologies, this modern gylanic worldview would at long last provide the internally consistent, overarching ideology required to replace a dominator with a partnership society.”

There is a new world unfolding! Around the globe there are thousands of peace organizations and millions of grassroot organizations, NGO’s, UN initiatives, universities, etc., that have laid the groundwork for change. All of these organizations need assistance to bring their work into the mainstream for funding and media attention, but they have to fight male dominance. As conjectured earlier, what type of a catalyst is needed for societal change? If men and violence changed the world to a male-dominant society then to change the world to a partnership society the antithesis is proposed, women and non-violence. Women would be the catalyst to bring attention to non-violence.

Non-violence is the tool for a peaceful revolution. Mahatma Gandhi said, “Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man.”

Eisler says:

“What may lie ahead is the final bloodbath of this dying system’s violent efforts to maintain its hold. But the death throes of androcracy could also be the birth pangs of gylany and the opening of a door into a new future.”

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