Mind Matters — Change or Change Back

Don’t know if and when the corporate takeover will occur but thus far the Occupy Wall Street movement does not seem to be co-opted by any behemoth moneyed entity. As a psychologist, I observe this movement as organic and egalitarian. Where verticality and leadership are the attributes of a patriarchal, hierarchical system, the horizontal seems to be the geometry here. There is a sense of consensus and collaboration rather one person singled out as the charismatic leader with a band of disciples.

Perhaps this movement signals a change (and for every change in a system, there is a push to change back) from an old order of going about “business” to a new paradigm.

Author Riane Eisler has written many books on the subject of sociology and culture and the need for partnership. In The Real Wealth of Nations, she outlines the differences between partnership and domination systems. She considers that many nations are moving toward a partnership way of life. Perhaps the Occupy Wall Street movement is a burgeoning partnership model in its process of debunking an outmoded system. Whether they be families, or nations, systems don’t like change and so a push for change back is inevitable. However, the cat’s not going back in the bag.

Eisler outlines the differences between partnership and domination systems. In the domination system, there is an inequitable distribution of wealth and power. The socio-economic structure is skewed. In the partnership system, there is an equitable socio-economic structure. Mutual respect and trust in the partnership model replace the fear, mistrust (and verbal and physical abuse), and bullying of the domination model. What is stereotypically considered “feminine,” such as empathy, caregiving, relationship, connection, is given as high value as the stereotypical “male” attributes, such as focus, assertiveness, competitiveness, in the partnership system. In the domination system, the feminine principle is demeaned and minimized.

The world view of the domination and partnership system is also strikingly different. The domination culture rationalizes violence, bullying, and objectifying and demeaning those deemed as different or “other.” The partnership culture restores value to care and empathy, inclusivity and connection.

Now, I don’t know if the Occupy Wall Street movement is any more of the partnership model than the powers that be or not. But I would like to hope that it represents a start in that direction—and that it withstands any push for “change back.”