This issue of Works in Progress asks who is in charge. Actually, the question is what is in charge. For several decades a destructive worldview has dominated the US and some parts of the world. We need to replace that with the opposite worldview.
A “worldview” is the overall perspective from which someone—or a group of persons or society as a whole—sees and interprets the world. A “worldview” reflects assumptions and beliefs about what is real—and therefore about what we should do. The way you see the world will largely drive how you interact with the world. It will drive you either to reinforce or to change the status quo.
A person who believes the world is inherently cruel and unjust will likely behave cruelly and unjustly in order to cope with it. But a person with a worldview based on the assumption that people are capable of goodness will work to solve problems and make the world a better place—more peaceful, fair and sustainable.
Therefore, in addition to working specific issues, let’s confront the dominant worldview at the macro level. Our better worldview will provide context and support for our work on specific issues.
A cruel and short-sighted worldview dominates the US and controls foreign and domestic policy, our economic system and other aspects of our nation. Its assumptions and premises include these:
It’s a tough world out there.
- You’ve got to look out for #1, arm yourself and use violence to get your way.
- Success means dominating other people and other nations.
- You win by conquering and using all of the natural resources.
- Decent people want to replace that worldview, so we can create a humane and sustainable world:
- Affirm every person’s inherent worth, dignity and equality.
- Make sure everybody’s needs are met.
- Practice nonviolence.
- Respect nature and natural environments.
The dominant worldview assumes “might makes right” and legitimizes violence. It assumes scarcity and greed (instead of sharing), competition (instead of sharing), polarization and fear (instead of welcome and inclusion), militaristic foreign policy (instead of peace), punishment (instead of rehabilitation). governments and economies that serve powerful elites (instead of the broad public interest). It abuses the environment (instead of interacting sustainably with nature).
Ordinary people’s incomes peaked in 1976 or 1977. The right wing has hijacked people’s anger and fear about economic loss and turned it on other victims instead of the real culprits: abusive capitalists.
Polarization into “us” vs “them” hurts people and society. Some politicians use “divide-and-conquer” tactics to oppress certain groups. The dominant worldview includes “the arrogance of power,” a main aspect of US foreign policy and endless, unwinnable wars that promote violence ..
What is the role of government?
The dominant worldview prevents government from solving problems, so Big Business can control and abuse everything. In contrast, ordinary people want government to protect us from exploitation and pollution, and to provide broadly useful services. We need good laws, regulations, and services—and a progressive tax system so the richest people pay their fair share.
Recently—especially with Trump and Republican dominance—we’re experiencing more greed, corruption, entitlement, divide and conquer, racism, sexism, blatant lies, attacks on nature, attacks on democracy, attacks on an independent free press, and so forth..
Many Democratic leaders also are subservient to Wall Street, militaristic foreign policy, and other aspects of the dominant worldview. As a result, these Democratic leaders fail to take strong actions to expose Trump, hold him accountable, or mobilize public opposition that could protect us from his fascist policies.
Each worldview promotes a very different result in how we conduct society and interact with the rest of the world.
Most Americans think our nation is “on the wrong track” given the dominance of the destructive worldview. We must replace that worldview with one that is humane, compassionate, peaceful, fair to everyone, and environmentally sustainable. Actually, most people have better hearts and better sense. My blog offers many resources on the topics discussed in this article. Especially see items in the category “Our Current Political Crisis.”
Glen Anderson has volunteered for peace, social justice, and nonviolent grassroots organizing since the 1960s. He writes, speaks, and conducts training workshops on a wide variety of topics. His blog is www.parallaxperspectives.org