Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Problem of Patriarchy

Governmental structure and institutional religion aren’t the problems but the symptoms. The root of our ills is patriarchy, an authoritarian hierarchy that centralizes and co-opts power. To condemn patriarchy is not to bash men since both sexes are complicit in the current structure. The antithesis of the status quo is compassionate consensus.

The media’s fascination with the pope’s election and gridlock in congress obfuscates the fact that our systems themselves are abusive. The government does not do the will of the people as reflected in topical surveys. In this sense democracy is dead, replaced by paternalistic authority that claims to know what is best. Politicians respond to the corporate overlords who fund their campaigns. Our constitution is superannuated, composed before the industrial revolution, and privileges commerce, private property and slavery. Corporate capitalism is the logical outgrowth of patriarchy, accumulating wealth and privilege in the hands of the few.

The ancient Hebrew proscription against graven images was perhaps due to knowledge that images keep us from envisioning alternative power structures. Institutional religion preserves and idolizes patriarchal power. If mainstream Christianity wants to have relevance, it must democratize, copying the Society of Friends, Quakers. The Friends reject top-down authority and discuss the inspiration of the group.

Patriarchy, like any power structure, is reactionary and wants to preserve the status quo. It tends toward rule by dictatorship and secret kabbals. Patriarchy disempowers the “unwashed masses.” The police actions of the Occupy movement show just how afraid of the people governments are. A movement by the people representing the people terrifies the authoritarian regime.

We can do better. We must reject both the internal and external power structures that seek to control. We can exchange patriarchy for genuine democracy. We’ve had three thousand years of rule by paternal authority and it’s brought us monarchy, war, unequal distribution of goods and services. It’s time to change the paradigm and choose the power of the people.