An Applied Blueprint for the Restoration of Democracy
Gunther Sonnenfeld

In a moment where a hard right Christian fundamentalist who has worked her whole life to destroy public education is taking over the Department of Education precisely because organized fundamentalists want to: 
a. dismantle public education 
b. undermine liberal civics education aimed at creating competent participating citizens 
c. undermine basic science education — 
all long arc projects aimed at dismantling the shared civic space or framework of the modern era and replace it with school boards which are likely to teach children that Jesus rode a dinosaur and the South won the Civil War, I do not see the opening for a massive shift towards a different version of an alternative “common core” which instills all the ideas and values of certain futurist friends…Unless, and I fear this is the case — the scorched earth destruction of a Trump presidency is where you find hope of a “clean slate.” But that’s kind of like thanking a hurricane for wiping the humans off an island so one can build a new resort.

Choice programs are aimed at hollowing out the concept of a center where agreements on principles and protections of each student are developed and defended. Given the animosity towards the very concept of a “center,” it seems out of touch to create a new very centralized — decentering. The values inherent in the blueprint are not apolitical or amoral — they come from a certain worldview — you can even name that worldview — but, I will leave the name to you.

In the US — we have basic disagreements about whether or not for instance women are sovereign over their own bodies. I know were all tired of “indentity politics” so let’s call it a “human body use-case scenario.” Early pregnancy and marriage of daughters is the aim of more powerful elders in religious communities the world over — whether you are in Karachi, Pakistan or in a Russian Orthodox sect in Beaverton, Oregon, or a Baptist enclave in the swamps of Louisianna.

This is possible precisely because of the tension between “states rights-local control” in a legal sense in the US and defacto local control by powerful actors within localities globally (think neighborhoods and families) and the tenuous individual rights afforded females especially have only the rights the local power bases give them. Localities therefore deny girls and women knowledge of their own reproductive systems and therefore have high accidental pregnancy and STD rates. Early pregnancy is one of the primary indicators of life-long poverty for women. In a highly localized system (i.e. the powers overly vested in the US States in this example) girls and women are relegated to the status of incubator for the religious commitments of currently active school board members — whether they be Fundamentalist Christians, Mormons in a cult compound run by one man, Orthodox Jews or Wahabist Muslims — girls are members of their religion/cult long before they are actually citizens with rights in the United States. Mandating comprehensive sex, family planning, sexuality and gender education which should be the right of every human with a body is verboten because “local control” is a value the Founders baked into the documents creating the country. As we cannot in the U.S. agree to full citizenship (life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness) to cover the right of an individual free from the religion she or he happens to be born and live closest to for ages 0–21, how do we get to a complete sweep of the old blueprint and in with the new, as outlined here? How for instance, do you get right wing fundamentalist parents to support a program of “self-mastery” — when in fact their aim is to ensure that the husband is master of his home and his wife? There is no “self” for females in that worldview and that worldview is very much in play in the U.S. Centrally, how do you enter a “co-creative space” with a blueprint in hand and convince everyone involved in religion based power systems that what you will be doing together is “co-creating.” The contradiction is embedded in the invitation.

“his is why the training we have described is so vitally important — only sound minds, healthy bodies and attuned powers of spirit and imagination can take on the challenges of a world in great transition.:”

…The mind and the body are contested territories which religious principalities battle for control at the state and county level in the US…to imagine that the worldly control by religious entitites through forcing local control over individual rights (particularly of girls and LBGTQ people) is handed over passively to a nebulous affiliation of integral futurists with “better ideas” who are in fact just another source of totalizing narrative (i.e. just as bad as state schools educating the kids that the world was not created in six days as the Lord said) is ahistorical and gravely underestimates the awareness of their own power and control by various religion management bodies.

The idea that the solution is to simply show everyone a shiney new blueprint which is “obviously” better and more rational — misses the point that religion as a rational means to control people using irrationality is not a mistake of the ancients that simply continues to hobble along but, a technology very precisely used to cut off all attempts at remaking the world in any way except that which maintains power distribution as it has forever. What is lacking is not “better ideas” and more “freedom to innovate” — you can move to any state in the union and short of actual human sacrifice — create any form of highly restrictive or highly free enclaves. As long as you are not visible to the state you can control girls enough that impregnating them and perpetuating the cult is not seen as a violating of anyone’s rights so long as you are acting within the individual states “age of consent” and marriage laws. You are free to experiment- now.

The “experiment” of liberal democracy is not done. These religious power bases have been fighting the full extension of humanity and citizenship to women, people of color, disabled people and LGBTQ people since the beginning of time. There is nothing about a local experimentation and control model which protects or affords standing to these groups in any context and relying on rationality and “good intentions” has never ever resulted in enjoying full humanity in the eyes of the law and the courts.

These rights have come into being and have only been protected so long as organized constituencies could force local powers and religious principalities to stand down and accept the judicial force of the federal government. In the absence or weariness of the defenders of these basic human rights — organized religious forces re-emerge, attack and force actual subservience where and when they can — historically speaking. Distributing a new “blueprint” and the promise of “re-education of body and mind” — though you may not see it this way, is *exactly* why the Fundamentalists of the world attack and destroy the concept and the financial support of public education.

“Give me the child for the first seven years and I will give you the man.” St Ignatious via Voltaire.

Teaching children their rights as humans, teaching the most fundamental form of “self-mastery,” reproductive education, consent, gender and sexuality is clearly understood as an assault on the base of control of fundamentalists of all stripes. It is often rebranded as an attack on the foundations of “the culture” — be it Christan, Jewish, Muslim, Mormon, Buddhist…and therefore framed as an attack on “religious freedom and human rights.” Every ideologue wants a new school system because they take that old Jesuit seriously.

This erases the basic humanity and rights of the children male and female — gay, bi, straight, trans — as subject to and extending from the religious community they happen to be born into. To be clear, religious leaders understand they have a power base to maintain — and do so through violence when necessary, through propaganda and educational indoctrination most days. They understand this but, you seem to leave it out of your analysis and like most futurists tend to imagine a reset from zero — -possible. I certainly support controlling education at whatever level is necessary to teach children — for instance — basic self-mastery of their reproductive and sexual selves but, that has been a 60 year battle that was just lost because of the election of a thoroughly disgusting opportunist by a population reactively dealing with “too much change.”

I do appreciate your thinking so please know that I engage because I AM a person who works collaboratively — hyperlocally. I have dirty hands. I do understand coming into a place and creating together. The “American” experiment has been about local control since the beginning…in fact we fought a big war over it. The tensions between religion, rationality, localization, governance and human rights are an have been a central concern for my entire life…so I respond because I have engaged not because I want to simply critique from a “distance.” In the US we are literally at a moment when my life time of engagement and the results and ground won by people like me is about to be erased and the clock set back 50 years by a Supreme Court which will in all likelihood “wipe away” much of that work and leave a not at all blank canvas.

So my question for you is how does this set of ideas — afford me and by extension other marginalized people — the most basic protections? If my basic rights are not defended at the Federal level — how will they be guaranteed at the local level? If your answer is to “move to a place where you are protected,” then I will assume you do not understand basic things like family, disability, community, work and poverty/wealth — or the old way of saying it — the ties that bind both to place and kin. Like many futurists and systems thinkers I find these elements radically underweighted in proposed solutions.

If you could work through this “human body use-case” as it looks through the lens of your blueprint…I would be interested to hear how you think about it. I honestly don’t care where one stands left-right-center — so long as one can speak to this primary issue. I do not believe “everyone outside my circle is stupid” and I am all for new possibilities. That said…real constraints exist on any system — bodies, human needs and natural resources. So, understand moving from the vague to the specific is important. The specific in this case is female bodies.