Authoritarianism and the Escape from Freedom

Authoritarianism and the Escape from Freedom

What part of the shadow cast on our walls is being blocked? Who is doing the blocking and why are they blocking part of the shadow? Are there political agendas, economic agendas, sociological agenda—even theological agendas? As behavioral economists such as Daniel Kahneman (2011), Dan Ariely (2012) and Richard Thaler (2015) (the latest Nobel prize winner) might ask: who is sitting at the table when the agenda is set? Who is framing our perceptions and reinforcing our conveniently operating heuristics (Gross’s myths)? What about our elected officials (and others siting at the table)? Do they see the whole shadow or are they also viewing a partial image? What about the interpretation? Are the “great leaders” of our society the interpreters? Or is someone else providing the most persuasive interpretation—perhaps a set of corporate leaders? Are prevalent myths dictating the interpretation? How hard will it be to overturn long-standing and “honorable” narratives?

The world of contemporary cave dwellers might be changing or at least becoming more complicated (and filled with contradictions) Some of the world operating inside Estonia and other countries may be changing. First, there are now multiple fires burning in the cave and projecting multiple shadows on the wall. The so-called grand narrative (of Western European and American origins) which defined much of our reality during the 19th and 20th Century is now collapsing. Gross’s myths might no longer reign supreme. We now have multiple, conflicting and contradictory narratives that make it difficult for all but the most xenophobic people in the world to see only one set of shadows. At the very least, Gross’s three myths may no longer reside on stable ground.

There is a second major change. This concerns the advent of social media and reality television as well as the purchase of goods and services directly from the source. Perhaps, everything is not centralized, as Gross suggests. We might now be moving back to a time when there are no “middlemen” or interpreters. The term disintermediation is being used to describe this potentially seismic change in our societal acquisition and framing of knowledge. Are the middlemen losing control and does this mean that their bosses are also losing control? Is this part of the challenge leaders all over the world are now facing?


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About the Author

William BergquistWilliam Bergquist, Ph.D. An international coach and consultant in the fields of psychology, management and public administration, author of more than 50 books, and president of a psychology institute. Dr. Bergquist consults on and writes about personal, group, organizational and societal transitions and transformations. His published work ranges from the personal transitions of men and women in their 50s and the struggles of men and women in recovering from strokes to the experiences of freedom among the men and women of Eastern Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In recent years, Bergquist has focused on the processes of organizational coaching. He is coauthor with Agnes Mura of coachbook, co-founder of the International Journal of Coaching in Organizations and co-founder of the International Consortium for Coaching in Organizations.

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