Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Fourth Turning and coping with Authoritarianism

The Fourth Turning lists increasing Authoritarianism as one of America's looming crisis.

It is easy to accept that crisis will be met with a tightening of grip.  Humans regress in times of stress.  Our earliest memories of "problem solving" are when our parents told us what to do.  It is not possible to regress any more than the Parent-Child model.

One key point to consider is that autonomy is not universally valued by other cultures.  There is no divine directive or physical law that protects the employee or citizen.  Autonomy may result in more growth and activity in the long run.  Authoritarianism may give the appearance of better performance in the short term.

It is healthy to think of autonomy as the aberration and authoritarianism as a half-step toward the ultimate default.  Those who love autonomy (aka, liberty) must intend to fight for it, especially if we are resistance fighters in occupied territory.


There is not much research about coping with authoritarian governments.  There is a fair amount of literature about coping with micromanaging bosses.  Excellent essay HERE at Softpanorama. The following list is paraphrased from the referenced essay.

Free yourself from remorse.  Micromanagers have none.  They will exploit your weaknesses.  Remorse is a luxury when your survival is at stake.

Study the enemy.  Be skeptical.  There will be patterns to the bullying and aggression.  Know when to avoid.  Know when and where to hunt.

Take nothing personally.  Disengage.  You can no longer afford personal investment in your job.  The micromanager will use that investment to manipulate and destroy you.

You need to make hard choices to survive.  You will not have many choices.  You will probably not have any good alternatives.  It is imperative that you vigorously exercise what choices you DO have.

Accept that much of the crap that happens is not in your control.  The boss, or the system, is broken.

Focus on your needs.  Kids do well in survival situations because they are in touch with their needs.  They sleep when they are tired.  They eat when they are hungry.  They get out of the wind when they are cold.  Teenagers do very poorly in survival situations because they are trapped, paralyzed even, by their concepts of should.

Minimize your work hours.  Treat each hour at work as an hour in a toxic waste dump  Minimize your contact with the machine.  Become invisible.  Become a ghost.

Do not expect "help" from the authoritarian.  That is as naive as expecting that nice man in Nigeria to put money into your account after you tell him your account number and bank routing number.

Abandon Neoliberalism and embrace traditional "religion".  Traditional spirituality helps individuals cope with and move beyond our powerlessness.  God sends drought, wildfire, earthquakes, floods, pestilence and lets man wage war and commit atrocities.  God gives us religion as a source of community, solace and wisdom.

Get a pet or a house plant or start a garden.  Create a universe of cooperative symbiosis.

Join a group of adults where Adult-Adult interactions are the norm.

Join a gym or start a physical fitness routine.  Become the captain of your own body, the pilot of your destiny.

Data is an instrument of torture.  Micromanagers demand vast amounts of research and data and use it to roll subordinates into submission.  Swords cut both ways.  How many minutes does it take to perform a google search and print out the first fifty hits?  BAM!  A two thousand page report.

Micromanagers starve the spirit because they have no end-point.  Consider the Environmental Protection Agency.  Can you imagine a day when the top 7 managers will get in a room and say, "Darn, I guess our work here is done.  I cannot think of another thing to regulate."

****Eaton Rapids Joe's thoughts follow****

One large survey found that only one-person-in-forty is motivated to accomplish results through other people.  Perhaps more accurately, only one-in-forty admits it.

Bullies will pop up like mushrooms once The System gives them immunity.  Still, not every person who comes up your drive will be a thug.  Many of them will be folks just trying to survive.  Give them enough so they can make a show of going through the motions.

Bullies thrive when there is no cost to their behaviors.  Get creative.  Let them steal your hat...but make sure it is infested with head lice before they leave the property.

Much of the activity demanded by micromanagers will be Brownian motion.  Passive aggression is your friend.

Start your own business, no matter how small or humble.  In fact, small and humble has several advantages.  Small and humble will avoid scrutiny in the present time but can be the seed-crystal for future growth should the need arise.

In the long run, Authoritarianism is self-extinguishing.  Micromanaging emasculates the organization.  If the organization was severely stressed before it is emasculated then it is doomed when it is staffed by timid zombies.

The organization will careen from crisis to Authoritarianism to inability to sustain the overhead required to govern at a macro level.  It us supremely ironic that the end-state for the US nation may be a patchwork quilt of warlords like Afghanistan.  We met the future and mistook it for the past.

Scoffers will point at North Korea, Myanmar and other states as durable icons of Authoritarianism.  A closer look at those States will show that they are subsidized by external forces:  Nuclear blackmail, the drug trade or Soviet-Sino patronage.


  1. FYI, inside .gov micromanagers are becoming more the rule than the exception... sigh

    1. I was expecting you to chime in with some gardening advice regarding the necessity of fertilizing "The Tree of Liberty.... -Thomas Jefferson

    2. I know we're on the same page. No need to restate the obvious. Just sayin...

    3. I know we're on the same page. No need to restate the obvious. Just sayin...

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