Raising the Chalice
“We see a world where the most highly valued work will have the consciousness of caring.”
with Riane Eisler & David Loye
Riane Eisler has been described as a modern renaissance woman due to her far-reaching insights as a cultural historian. She is the author of The Chalice and the Blade, which the eminent anthropologist, Ashley Montague has hailed as “the most important book sinceDarwin ‘s Origin of Species. ” Her latest work, The Partnership Way–written with her husband David Loye is a handbook for applying the partnership model for which she has become renowned. Riane was born in Vienna, Austria, and at the age of six she found herself a refugee of Nazi Europe. She sailed to Cuba, on the last ship before the ill-fated St. Louis was refused sanctuary by the United States and she emigrated to North America when she was fourteen. Her early experiences with the dark side of human culture led her to pursue studies in sociology and anthropology and she went on to obtain a J.D. from the UCLA School of Law She has taught at the University of California and the Immaculate Heart College in Los Angeles, and she is a member of the General Evolution Research Group. She has pioneered legislation to protect the human rights of women and children and founded such organizations as the Los Angeles Women ‘s Center Legal Program and the Center for Partnership Studies. Riane ‘s articles have appeared in many publications and journals. She has frequently appeared on television and addressed corporations such as Dupont and Disney. She has also spoken at universities such as UCLA and Harvard and keynoted many conferences worldwide. Riane is an eloquent and dynamic speaker. Her ability to interweave a vast expanse of information allowed for a fascinating and highly revelatory discussion on the politics of anthropology, the roots of civilization, the lost aspects of religion and the cease-fire recipe to humanity ‘s “war of the sexes. “ David Loye is a social psychologist and systems theorist. He is the author of numerous books on the use of the brain and mind in prediction, political leadership and race relations. His psychohistory, The Healing of a Nation, was called “a work of uncommon humanity and vision ” by Psychology Today and received the Anisfield – Wolfe Award for the best scholarly book on race relations in 1971. His other works include The Leadership Passion, The Sphinx and the Rainbow and The Knowable Future, which has been recognized as a pioneering work of unusual stature in the field of future studies. David is a former member of the psychology faculty of Princeton University and for almost ten years he was the Director of Research for the Program on Psychosocial Adaption and the Future at the UCLA School of Medicine. He is also a founding member of the General Evolution Research Group, a multidisciplinary think tank composed of scholars from various parts of the world. A member of the Editorial Board and Book Review Editor of The Journal of General Evolution, David’s articles have appeared in numerous publications. He is also a major contributor to the first multi-volume World Encyclopedia of Peace. During recent years, David’s main research project has been the scientific study of moral sensitivity and he is completing two books on the subject. This has involved a re-evaluation of the work of many philosophers and psychologists in light of new discoveries in brain research, human prehistory, and the systems dynamics of cultural evolution. He is currently Go-Director of the Center for Partnership Studies in Pacific Grove, California. We met with David and his wife, plane on the Winter Solstice of 1988 at their beautiful home in Carmel, California. David offered us intriguing insights into the nature of morality and its relation to sexual distortion and denial. Pooling together his multi-disciplinary perspectives he spoke with passionate clarity on the subjects of cultural politics and the respective roles which the left and right sides of our brains have played in social evolution. RMN
DJB: Riane tell us, what was it that originally inspired you to write The Chalice and the Blade, a book described by Ashley Montague as “the most important book since Darwin’s Origin of Species,” and what motivated you to complete the work?
RIANE: I think that what people choose to study is related to their life experiences. I was a refugee from Nazi Europe, and at a very early age I had to ask myself some very basic questions, the questions that I tried to answer in The Chalice and The Blade. And they certainly weren’t just academic questions for me. Because of my own life experiences, I was haunted by questions such as: Do we have to hunt and persecute each other? Do we have to live in ways that stunt our ability and willingness to be helpful and caring towards other people? Does there have to be war? And do we have to have the “war of the sexes”? One of the things my work shows is that there is an integral relationship, in systems terms, between war and the war of the sexes.
RMN: Just so that everyone is familiar with your cultural transformation theory, can you define the differences between what you have termed a partnership and dominator, or gylanic and androcratic society?
RIANE: I think the best way to answer this question is to begin with how I developed cultural transformation theory. About ten years ago I embarked on an intensive study, drawing from many fields, to re-examine our past, our present, and the possibilities for our future. Most studies concerned with our global crises focus on modern times, on what’s happening now, or on what happened in the last few hundred years. My database was much larger. As you know, it included the whole of our history, including our prehistory. And it also included the whole of humanity; in other words, both its female and male halves. Perhaps fifty years from now, people will say, you mean that’s not how it was always done? Because it’s ludicrous, when you come right down to it, to just take one half of a species into account. Yet most books on history or sociology or anthropology, if there are six or seven mentions in the index about women, that’s already terrific, right? It’s a progressive book. We all know that if we just look at part of a picture, we don’t see the whole picture. What I started to see is what one can see if one uses a holistic or systems approach: recurring relationships or patterns that were not visible before. These patterns or configurations compose what I then called the dominator or androcratic and the partnership or gylanic models of society. Each has a clear configuration. But we didn’t see that configuration because we weren’t looking at a very key component in it, which is the status of women and of so-called feminine values, such as caring, nonviolence, and compassion. In other words, at the relationship between the female and male halves of humanity, and with this, between stereotypes of “masculinity” and “femininity.” A lot of lip service is given to bemoaning that we don’t have a social guidance system governed by these so-called “feminine” values that we now need for our survival. Only the talk about it is abstract. If you look at the configurations of these two models, you see something very interesting, which is that the dominator system requires that values like caring and nonviolence and compassion (stereotypically associated with women) not be governant. You see that at the core of that system is the domination of men over women, of one half of humanity by the other. And that this domination is ultimately backed up by force or the threat of force. Beginning with the ranking of one half of humanity over the other, the dominator system is also characterized by a generally hierarchic or authoritarian social structure and a high degree of institutionalized violence. Not only rape (a form of male terrorism against women), wife battering, incest, and other structural forms of violence designed to maintain men’s domination over women; but also institutionalized violence designed to impose and/or maintain the domination of man over man, tribe over tribe, and nation over nation. That’s of course what warfare is about.
RMN: Can you give us some examples of each model?
RIANE: If we look at human society using the templates of the partnership and dominator models, we begin to see that in all the seeming randomness around us there are actually patterns. Take for example, three very different societies: the Masai of Africa, Nazi Germany, and Khomeini’s Iran –a tribal society, a highly technologically developed Western society, and a Middle Eastern theocracy. Underneath all the surface differences, all three are rigidly male dominant societies. Moreover, they are all highly warlike. The Masai were the scourge of Africa –the most warlike of African societies. The violence of Hitler’s Germany and Khomeini’s Iran is well-known. But the institutionalized violence is not only in warfare, but many other areas–wife beating, genital mutilation of women among the Masai, the brutality directed against women not only in Iran but many other fundamentalist Muslim regimes. And in all three there