Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Upgrading Authoritarianism

I've been thinking a lot lately about how to move from the dependency and passivity that monarchy fosters versus a world in which citizens take greater responsibility for themselves and for the quality of the communities where they live. It's interesting because living in the Arabian Gulf brings this question into sharper focus - an area where colonial rule or monarchy have been the way of life for many years. However, any citizen of the U.S.A. has to recognize that there is a considerable dependence on authoritarianism of a different type - the authoritarianism of dogmatic rule by politicians who presume to know what's good for "the people" when, in reality, much of their energy is focused on privileging the constituents who pay for their campaigns or who have the resources to engage in paid lobbying efforts. So, the question of authoritarianism isn't exclusive to monarchies.

Having attended the recent Brookings Institute meeting in Doha and having met a lot of very interesting people, I have pondered how to move from the passive, dependent state to a more robust and vital way of living. Whether we call that democracy or some other form of governance, I don't know. (Unfortunately, democracy has a pretty bad name these days as a result of the many blatant examples of undemocratic transformation we've witnessed.) That's why the Brookings Institute paper, Upgrading Authoritarianism, intrigues me.

I continue to work on what defines shared and mutually beneficial governance for a long time. I worked with the Kettering Foundation on "deliberative democracy." I've worked on empowerment strategies through inclusive leadership development. I've looked at community as the cohesive core of what draws people together in support of each other. I've toyed with rituals and traditions that shape connections in community. All of these have related purposes - forging shared responsibility for our destiny in communities. What are your thoughts? Do any of these help or is there something else that will help us become the kind of communities that draw the best from us all?


voyager3000 said...

Very interesting paper! Should be relevant for integral leadership development too.Want to offer an additional consideration from Alan Tonkin:

Different Values- Different Democracy

Best Regards,

Albert Klamt

voyager3000 said...

Just adding a new book with fresh perspectives on theme:

Integral Consciousness and Future of Evolution

by Steve McIntosh

And Interview with Author here:

Denny Roberts said...

I've given the "Upgrading Authoritarianism" idea considerable additional thought since I posted on the topic. If you haven't read the paper, you might want to at least go to page 32 of the text where you will find the following lines:
"What is happening, in other words, is a growing disconnect between the conceptions of authoritarianism that drive U.S. policy, and the strategies of authoritarian governance now emerging in the Arab world." "...where Arab regimes have demonstrated their ability to absorb, appropriate, and exploit processes of globalization, technological change, and economic liberalization to restructure and strengthen their grip on political power."

While much of the paper portrays the dynamics that I've observed, I was uncomfortable with the judgmental stance that, in my estimation, did not recognize the evolutionary process of democratic engagement. I believe that there are many very sincere Arab leaders who are invested in progressive practices; my sense is that the author of "Upgrading Authoritarianism" has not fully incorporated into his thinking the difficulty of change in a context that has been dominated historically by colonialism and monarchy. I deal with the repercussions of this history every day and I'm working to provide opportunities for students to explore a new way of engaging with their communities.

My "integral theory" colleagues may see what I do - "green meme" imposition of views in a context that is progressing at its own pace. I'm curious to here Albert and Steve's views...

voyager3000 said...


Absolutely agree with you! In my discusssions with Europeans and Americans I sense this judgemental stance and I am working very hard in creating innovative exploration and collaboration of these issues. Would be great to have a presentation of them at World Economic Forum on Middle East in Sharm El Sheikh. However, for the moment I will be realistic...)

I recommend an additional integral article of Alan Tonkin. Its about stratified Democracy in Iraq:

I am in the process of co-creating with other the German Node of Center for Human Emergence. We will deal with Germany and Europe in 21st Century and this beeing a case study in large scale Systems Design and Transformation.

My personal focus for Middle East will be on GCC Region, basically from Abu Dhabi and Dubai. No doubt what you said about Arab Regimes, leaders and their capablity for innovation is true.

I wish Emirates College for Media Arts and Sciences

In Dubai and Abu Dhabi

would be established already. ..:)

Will meet with Nancy Roof, Editor in Chief and founder of

this week in Berlin and speak about global integral media collaboration. And adress the topics you metioned, Dennis:

Globalization,Technological Change, Economic Liberalization and more for Arab World.

And of course with Russ Volckman from ILR. We are in a big process of transatlantic collaboration about these isssues. Involving new , creative alliances from across all sectors, continents and know how expertise. Spoke with Oliver Triebel last year. McKinsey is doing work in Bahrain and Dubai too. Its tough work.

I agree with you its about making history in the Arab World. I see the dynamic Potentials and Leadership Greatenss in the GCC Region since 2004. As Germany as Country has growing strategic partnership with UAE and REGION there is even more leverage I will use for enabling more..

Very best for your great work in Qatar! Please let me know at any time what I might could do for you and your work.


voyager3000 said...

Two additional Video Clips from World Economic Forum on Middle East 2007.

First HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid AL Maktoum about Leadership and Education in Arab World. Short Introduction from Klaus Schwab, Chairman and Founder of WEF:

Second Opening Adress from King Abdullah of Jordan:

Denny Roberts said...

Albert - Thanks for all the referral resources. It is a big help. It's interesting how my uneasiness opened the door to your providing a perspective that is so valuable to me. I've frequently found that acknowledging my own discomforts is the prelude to a break-through.

There are lots of things I'm uncomfortable with in regard to others' views of the Gulf. There is so much ignorance and dismissal - however, even as I type that, I realize I'm standing in judgment of others which is not what I want to do. I'm trying to figure out how to work with ex-pat colleagues who get so frustrated with the challenges of our work that they become cynical and toxic in their interactions with others. I ask them, "What was it that drew you here," and they tell the most amazing stories. It's just that the struggle and judgment come in the way of authentic connections.

Any advice would be helpful...

voyager3000 said...


completely share your feeelings. Thank you very much for honestly expressing them. My experience is the same. Its even challenging in European and transatlantic exchange to get qualied AND committed attention for the issues.
And inside GCC we have diversity of focus of all kind.

And all persons already engaged to one or other degree in the GCC Region have most different personal and professional intentions.

I am deeply thinking about leveraging new possibilties of informed communication and collaboration. What do you think about writing an article about your work for ILR, for Kosmos Journal and other Forums I could suggest? My first advice would be to involve, inform firsthand and connect a global constellation of colleagues, social entrepreneurs and innovators, of educators and intitiatives which can easily connect with your work and is abolutely based on serious, bold, non toxic and effective collective intelligence.

I am already in conversations with some leading pioneers in this direction. perhaps you can tell me in personal email what do you think about it. And what form of support you consider right now as the most important one.



Albert KLamt
Klixstrasse 3
10823 Berlin

Denny Roberts said...

Albert - I am responding to your last post where you ask me to comment about your idea of creating a global network that supports new ways of engaging the questions we're exploring - perhaps via writing. I don't mind responding on the blog at this point but would be happy to correspond separately as well...

It's very interesting how we have both encountered some of the same people. I know Russ through correspondence. I know Oliver from a chance meeting in Berlin 2+ years ago. I know Otto Scharmer and used the "Presence" model in a book I published last fall. I'm fascinated how people who have an emerging integral consciousness find each other and I'm most appreciative that it occurs.

I appreciate the conversation with you and the referral to resources because they help to clarify and they keep me sane. When I read Carter Phipps' interview of Steve McIntosh (btw - I don't know Steve but I'm a native of Boulder) I felt as if I was being cleansed by a sane perspective. Sometimes the judgmental and demeaning perspectives are so overwhelming that I begin to wonder about the validity of my own views. When I read McIntosh's comment, "It doesn't take integral consciousness to see that the answer to radical Islam is healthy forms of traditional Islam," the words literally lept from the page. I am a person of faith and I understand that Islam has core truths that are shared across culture and time. In the same way the Christianity has had its dark days and its radical and fringe groups, Islam suffers from the same devolution at this point in time. My Arab colleagues are so proud and want to be understood; the judgmental stance and skepticism of many around the world stands in the way of true and deep engagement.

These ideas are so new to me that I don't know that I'm ready to write. My latest book, Deeper Learning in Leadership, took about ten years to stew before I could write it. I'm not sure I can speed up this process in relation to the new areas I'm beginning to understand. I think the best strategy at this point might be for me to continue to engage with you and others; communicating more broadly will emerge in its own time. As I even write this comment, I wish that there was a way for understanding to emerge more quickly but I've jumped too early before and know that when I've done this, it didn't serve the purpose that I sought.

Your staying with me on this blog has been very helpful.

voyager3000 said...

Dennis, will update you with all relevant developments which might have impact for your work too.

JUst a few hints regarding the work of Prince of Hassan of Jordan who is right now in Berlin. Having received the Abraham Geiger Award 2008 and co-leading the Intitiation of International Consultation Process of Coalition of Global Commons yesterday:

Prince Hassan founded the Centre for European studies too:

And this is his remarkable acceptance speech from March 4 in Berlin where he received the Abraham Geiger Award:

And finally this article with the question: How Europe could be a Force for the Good in the world?

I will contact the Prince the Prince Hassan Centre in Belin later and I am deeply impressed by his global work for in depth communication and collaboration across different sectors in politics, religion, business and culture, higher education and leadership.

Very best,