Manichaen Thinking and Current US Politics

Manichaen theology taught a dualistic view of good and evil. A key belief in Manichaeism is that the powerful, though not omnipotent good power (God) was opposed by the semi-eternal evil power (Satan).

This addresses a theoretical part of the problem of evil by denying the omnipotence of God and postulating two opposite powers. Humanity, the world and the soul are seen as the byproduct of the battle between God’s proxy, Primal Man, and Satan. The human person is seen as a battleground for these powers: the soul defines the person, but it is under the influence of both light and dark. This contention plays out over the world as well as the human body—neither the Earth nor the flesh were seen as intrinsically evil, but rather possessed portions of both light and dark. Natural phenomena (such as rain) were seen as the physical manifestation of this spiritual contention. Therefore, the Manichaean worldview explained the existence of evil with a flawed creation God took no role in forming and was the result of Satan striking out against God


From Wikipedia, full piece at:

This description seems to have echoes in the way politics has developed in the US over the last 20 years or maybe the last 60 years. One perspective I would suggest is that Manichean thinking is one response to a failure to understand. If you really don’t understand how the economic system works. If you really have a very simplistic and unrealistic view of the market economy, of the political system, of how the world works, then I guess demonization of your opponents and the Manichean perspective is of enduring appeal.

The anti-dote to such simplicities is a systemic view of the world and its interlocking economic and political systems (and for that matter ecological systems too as they are inclined to bite when we least expect it and challenge the resilience of our societies as in Japan recently)


About creativeconflictwisdom

I spent 32 years in a Fortune Five company working on conflict: organizational, labor relations and senior management. I have consulted in a dozen different business sectors and the US Military. I work with a local environmental non profit. I have written a book on the neuroscience of conflict, and its implications for conflict handling called Creative Conflict Wisdom (forthcoming).
This entry was posted in Conflict History, Philosophy of Conflict, Religious Conflict, Uncategorized, Ways to handle conflict and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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