Authoritarianism and the Escape from Freedom

Authoritarianism and the Escape from Freedom

Life in a community or nation is deemed as a mode of cave dwelling when those who live and work in a social system are set in their ways of thinking and refuse to change. A released of escaping prisoner (as a visionary leader) returns to the cave and describes a new, blinding and deafening reality. Members of this social system are confronted with this new reality–one that requires a new way of thinking. They must re-assess organizational norms and societal expectations. They must drop traditional modes of functioning. Individually and collectively these cave dwellers must develop a new identity and new ways of relating to one another and their community’s operations.

The cave dwellers are offered an opportunity to be liberated from the cave by the prisoner who escapes and discovers the “real” world — or at least a different world. The cave dwellers are given the opportunity to discover that the world beyond the shadows of the cave is more richly textured, more complex, unpredictable, turbulent, and filled with contradictions. Perhaps this world is even more rewarding. The prisoner has escaped TO freedom and invites her colleagues to also escape to freedom. Now once again appears the disturbing questions: do the other cave dwellers (and perhaps even the escaping prisoner) soon wish to escape FROM this new freedom? Do they long for a world (inside the cave) that seems simpler, more clearly defined and ultimately less challenging? Do they blame the escaped and returning prisoner for their new-found anxiety? Does the visionary leader suddenly become an uninvited outsider who wants to cause pain, confusion, uncertainty, and turbulence? Can the cave dwellers abide the contradictions that the returning prisoner brings to the cave? These are questions worthy of serious and sustained consideration by citizens of any country—if friendly or not so friendly fascism and pernicious authoritarian rule are to be avoided.


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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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