THE BLOG
11/20/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Democracy Unbound: The Freeing of Democratic Process from the Tyranny of False Absolutes and False Certainties

Democracy is not a commodity of fixed value; democracy, rather, is a process and as such something we must work each and every day to secure. To uphold and improve democracy's process is, therefore, to uphold and improve democracy itself. The more functional the process, the more authentic the democracy.

For some thirty years, in the form of research and writing, which culminated in the publication of two scholarly books in the area of the psychology of the unconscious; in the form of my clinical work as a psychoanalytical therapist; and in the form of my consultancy as an executive mentor within the North American business sector, I have engaged the problem of our current cultural crisis of meaning. Now although during those years the political implications of the conclusions I had reached were not lost on me, I did not feel compelled to dedicate a treatise to their explication. 9/11 and the subsequent actions of democratic nations, however, changed all of this; for in the politics and militarism of the post-9/11 period, the ultimate futility of the false premise of the old paradigm that placed power in the form of false absolutes and false certainties above process and dynamic meaning was forced upon democratic culture with a vengeance. With the completion of The Syndetic Paradigm (2007), accordingly, the presentation of the political implications of my conclusions became my deepest concern. By way of the candidacy of Barack Obama I was afforded the opportunity to proceed. The resultant book is titled Democracy and Self-Organization: The Change of Which Barack Obama Speaks (2008).

The human need for certainty and the human need for meaning are not unrelated. It is unfortunately the case, however, that certainty, unlike genuine meaning, can be cheaply acquired. I technically refer to such experiences of certainty as false certainties. For example, if, in assessing whether or not one's intimacy needs were being met in one's marriage, one were simply to place the ideal of being married over and above the quality of one's actual marital experience; if one were to derive comfort simply from the concretized ideal of marriage, rather than the quality of the actual process of the marital experience, one would not be operating within process-based meaning, but rather, under the influence of a false certainty and the power derived thereby. The way of meaning is about the energizing of the personality by way of the dynamic process that life is; the way of power, by contrast, is about the energizing of the personality by way of the false sense of ego control that attends false absolutes and false certainties. Now something I should add to this is that as much as people today continue in near-addictive fashion to substitute false absolutes and false certainties for dynamic encounters with life in process, their deepest beings are no longer tricked as they were in years past, hence our current crisis of meaning.

Democracy is a process by which we collectively self-organize. Such a process, however, cannot transform what it cannot touch. If we obstruct and even arrest the process that our democracy must be; if we clog it up not only with the extraneous, but with the concretized false, which of course is the objective of smear tactics; if we corrupt it with manipulative power statements rather than submitting to it the real issues with which we are faced; if by way of our identification with a highly idealized sense of collective goodness we conceal from it our moral trespasses, how will our democracy possibly become the genuine instrument of our cultural transformation and development? How can democracy possibly serve us if we fail to bring the will and consciousness of a people directly to bear on the real problems with which we are faced?

The strength and altogether unique contribution of Barack Obama's candidacy, the fundamental change of which Barack Obama speaks, has to do with the freeing of the inclusive and dynamic process that democracy must be from the tyranny of false absolutes, which present in the forms of individual and collective ideals, secular and religious ideologies and the imposition of labels on others to the extent they would be regarded as anything less than a human being, first and foremost.

Democracy and Self-Organization: The Change of Which Barack Obama Speaks is far more than a book about a politician who is running for President of the United States. Rather, it is about an outstanding presidential candidate in the person of Barack Obama, who, by way of an individual destiny that has intersected with a collective one, has come to find himself in the position of being the political point man, as it were, of that toward which we are all being led by way of self-organizing nature, regardless of party, regardless of nation.