try to always see causality here.
DAVID L: To me there are two aspects here, one logical, the other psychological. Logically we’re asking was this a necessary step in evolution? Could we have gotten to where we are without it? And the tendency is to say, no, we couldn’t have; it was just one of those awful necessary things we had to go through. But to me it’s much more vivid ifI look at it as a psychologist. The older I get, the more I’m horrified by the following picture of our development over a lifetime. We’re born as organisms into this world. We go through all this stress and strain of growing up. If we’re a member of a fairly affluent Western family, for example, we escape from our primary family when we’re in our early twenties. Now in the best of cases, we spend the next twenty years, at least into our forties, in armchairs in the offices of psychologists and other counselors, trying to shed all the awful stuff that was loaded on us during our first twenty years. Then in our forties or fifties Jung’s individuation and “maturity” takes over, and we begin to get just a little bit of freedom from all the distortions of our past, all the problems. We don’t have to blame our parents any longer. We can begin to be maybe really creative, to think about other people. We begin to get the feeling for how to do this in our sixties, in our seventies, and so we reach this great stage where we can contribute something to the advancement of humanity–and we die! There’s been this whole life expended on trying to reach the healthy beginning point! And this is the story of humanity! Now what Riane’s work has opened up is the vision of the alternative, both in personal human terms, and in historical terms. In personal human terms, just simply imagine what life could be like if you were born into a partnership-type society–that is, an advanced version of what we now know existed earlier, where you didn’t have all the distortions, the imbalance, the degradation and the stunting of the dominator system to work through. Once you left the bosom of the family in your early twenties, why you just went automatically to work for the good things of the earth. You had anywhere from twenty to sixty years to enjoy life and add to the thrust of positive conscious evolution-rather than waste another lifetime adding nothing but the feeling of meaningless futility behind. When we went to Crete we saw the remnants of the magnificent peak of that early culture, Minoan Crete. You look at these glorious ruins, and you realize that here was this very advanced state. They really knew what life was about, and what to do with it–the beauty, the ritual, the art, the trade, the economy, the greater sharing, rather than the hoarding of wealth. Then there’s this great drop off, with the dominator takeover, and we’re only now beginning to get back to the same place we were thousands of years ago. So I think the idea that the prehistoric shift from partnership to dominator systems was a necessary step in evolution is crazy.
DJB: Lynn Margulis and James Lovelock have together synthesized a theory which they have termed the Gaia hypothesis, to explain how the delicate chemical ratios in our planet’s oceans and atmosphere are maintained such that life is possible. They claim that the planet earth operates much like a single living system-one huge organism. Does this theory, in your opinion, support the notion that our planet could, in a sense, be slowly transforming human existence into a global partnership community for its own survival and growth?
RIANE: They called it the Gaia hypothesis because Gaia was the ancient Greek Creatrix, she was the Mother Goddess. So I look at their Gaia hypothesis as a scientific update of the belief system of these earlier more partnership-oriented cultures who, as I said, did see the earth as alive.
RMN: Do you think that wars can be viewed as an intellectually organized attempt to externalize territorial/emotional conflict, and what do you think that men can learn from women about emotional navigation and expression?
RIANE: In the dominator system what happens is that we become a schizophrenic species. The women–the female half of humanity–in the androcratic, male-dominant version of this system are not supposed to have any say in social policy. This system negates the essentials. Caring, compassion, nonviolence, the things that make it possible for us to survive, and thrive, are relegated to women who have no say in decision-making, And male identity is equated with conquest. So we start with this premise. But even if it were true-and the evidence isn’t all in–that men are more predisposed to learn violent behaviors because of hormonal or whatever factors, because they don’t give birth or some other factor, this would be all the more reason that we need to very rapidly leave behind a society which constantly and systematically teaches men these behaviors. We hand the little boy a toy sword or a toy missile, and say go get them. We hand the little girl a doll and say be nice. But then we tell the girl, you have nothing to say in social policy. And we wonder why do we have a system where we don’t honor caring, compassion, and nonviolence! It’s a crazy system. I think that yes, at this point, because we have for so long been in a dominator system, men have a great deal to learn from women. There’s no question about it. But this is difficult, and it’s not only difficult for men to learn from women, but it’s difficult for women to learn from women, because of the whole idea that authority figures should be male. We’ve all been conditioned to think of God as a man. We have been conditioned to think of the person, the entity, that you learn from as masculine. But this is not an issue of women against men, or men against women. We’re dealing with a system, a dominator system, in which even the few women who make it to the top, like a Margaret Thatcher, have to keep proving every inch of the way when they’re at the top of the male dominator system, that they’re not too soft or “feminine.” So, what’s necessary is a mass entry of women into the public sphere. (Look at Norway for example, where they have a parliament that’s about forty or more percent women and public policy reflects more of the “feminine” values.) And it’s also a question of the redefinition of what it means to be a man. The good news is that many men are now questioning the old models of masculinity, asking what does it really mean to be masculine or feminine? And they’re beginning to recognize that this whole conquest thing is not masculine. It’s just plain brutal.
DAVID L: I see another aspect, from my current explorations into moral sensitivity. Without going into the reason for it, a fundamental contrast between the two models is that in that earlier state, toward which we may be moving if we’re lucky now, moral sensitivity was the norm. In other words, spirituality was not a matter of an hour on Sunday. Spirituality was a twenty-four hour-a-day business, seven days a week, round the year, round the lifetime, and moral insensitivity was abnormal. Now if you look at what has prevailed during the period of the rise of the world’s so-called great religions-Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Mohammedism–you see that under the dominator system, for a span of five thousand years we’ve endured a situation in which moral insensitivity is the norm. In other words, the average person is viewed as immoral, amoral, and the truly morally sensitive person is seen as abnormal, as the exception or as a freak. The people in leadership will say, Oh, I would love to abide by the golden rule and so on, but the world isn’t set up that way. If I were to go act, they’d kill me. So, consequently, I am the president of the United States, but Z must of course lie. Let’s say I am Harry Truman, but I must drop the atom bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki–that’s just the way the rotten world is. This relates to the fundamental question of why we have wars. In that earlier partnership-oriented system the question of war was almost unthinkable. In other words, it would be viewed as such a fundamental violation of the nature of one’s relation to the universe that one would explore all kinds of alternatives short of war. There’s no check, no limits, we’ll go to war. We’ll have this wonderful war because there just aren’t the moral constraints.
RIANE: Just think of the term “nobleman.” A very short time ago, the “nobleman” was the warrior. Talk about an immoral norm. We’ve been gradually rejecting that. But organized killing or being a warrior was once the only “honorable” career for an upper-class male. Back to the consciousness for the twenty-first century, if there’s to be a twenty-first century, the whole issue now is leaving behind the dominator overlay. The partnership consciousness has always remained, but it’s remained in the underground, if you will, either buried in mystical traditions, in religious rhetoric, or in the so-called women’s world. It’s been there because otherwise society couldn’t have gone on. But now it’s a question of breaking through, bringing it into social governance.
RMN: If males tend to demonstrate violence externally, do you think it’s true that females are often more internally violent, and what do you feel that women can learn from men’s tendency to intellectualize and thus objectify emotional states?
RIANE: People say that men aren’t emotional, and that only women are emotional. But if you think about that, it’s not true. Men are socialized so that they’re allowed one type of emotion: anger, contempt, rage. They’re actually encouraged to