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Paradigms Lost – Part 6: Politics/Economy: Resurrecting Moribund Self-Governing Systems

Written by: Barry Borgerson, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Abstract: We have tragically hit a systemic negative tipping point in the history of modern self-governing systems. Digital technologies now provide widespread communication channels, including cable television and easy-access Internet-based social media, that have unleashed an avalanche of voter manipulations. Journalist and political commentators repeatedly point out these escalating political dysfunctions and analyze them, and many NGOs focus their attention on trying to recover the viability of self-governing systems. However, the fundamental problem resides in a quirk of human nature that makes voters chronically vulnerable to the construction of political beliefs based on disinformation and Big Lies. No amount of rational argument or incremental progress can reverse the demise of democratic systems. We need transformational changes in the mental mechanism involved in succumbing to relentless manipulations that are causing increasing numbers of voters to unknowingly surrender their freedom to make informed choices. The checks and balances built into self-governing systems no longer provide sufficient safeguards to keep them viable. Our relentlessly increasing political dysfunction will inevitably impact the economy and therefore prospects for widespread growing prosperity through repeated business successes. Self-governing systems, including in the West, are in the process of self-surrendering our long-term competitive advantage to authoritarian systems, including China. To resurrect the effectiveness of moribund self-governing systems, we must overcome the pandemic of digital-era populist nihilism. To accomplish that, we need a new form of guardrails that mentally inoculates vulnerable voters.


In case you are reading this Part 6 of the auto-context (Paradigms Lost) article without having read the previous Parts, I summarize some crucial concepts. This series of articles for Brainz Magazine builds upon on the assumption that we all operate in two modes – a thinking mode (our thinking-self) and an automatic mode (our auto-self). Parts 1-3 of this article introduced our realities-determining auto-contexts, showed how they are generalizations of Thomas Kuhn’s paradigms, and identified the accumulation of anomalies as the mechanism to determine the validity or invalidity of the internal realities created by auto-contexts. These Parts also described the Abilities Mismatch, which identifies that our thinking-self prowess now creates disruptions that overwhelm our previous capability to manage their auto-self ramifications. This mind-level mismatch creates the underlying reason why we have fundamentally hit the end of the more than two centuries of growing prosperity and well-being in the West that resulted from the Science/Enlightenment Revolution. Two automatic mental mechanisms block auto-context (cultures, worldviews, mindsets, paradigms, values, attitudes) reconstructions in the form of the certainty illusion (and delusion) and the Comfort Imperative. We identified that a necessary path to future successes is to Believe but Verify when dealing with our internal certainties. Part 4 presented an overview of how to transform “in here” certainties (buried in auto-contexts) when they don’t correspond with facts “out there” or align with our success needs. Part 5 moved from understanding general concepts and improvement processes to solving specific problems in crucial domains – starting with understanding and managing the mental mechanisms that control organizational cultures.

We now continue our journey into solving specific, pressing problems by focusing on the necessity to manage the auto-context impacts on political, governing, and economic systems.

An Alarming Amount of Manipulations

You Should Be Alarmed: “We’re facing the most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War. I’m not saying this to alarm you; I’m saying this because you should be alarmed.” President Biden at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia on July 13 2021.

Certainty Delusions Kill Democracies: Digital-technology-enhanced manipulations through cable TV but even more so through inexpensive and easy-to-use social-media channels including Facebook, Twitter, blogs, podcasts, and YouTube have led increasing numbers of people to descend into chronic pretending. This widespread auto-context-based pretending has constructed certainty delusions into so many citizens of countries in the West and elsewhere and spectacularly in the US, that the grand experiment in self-governance that started with the US is now on a death march.

Abridgment of Freedom: “There are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.” – James Madison, speech to the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 16, 1788.

We Require New Types of Guardrails: The heroes we know as the “Founding Fathers” of the US were also children of the European Enlightenment. As a result, they built guardrails into our Constitution in the forms of checks and balances based on what they understood about the foibles of human nature. As we struggle through our digital era with the necessity to overcome the Abilities Mismatch, it has become manifestly clear that the existing guardrails bequeathed us by our founders are no longer adequate. As we strive to resurrect the viability of self-governing systems, that must include creating new types of guardrails, and that will require a new generation of Founding Parents to rise up and construct those for us based on our new more profound understanding of human nature that now includes the many ramifications of auto-contexts. If we fail to take decisive actions now to understand and manage auto-contexts, the January 6, 2021 insurrection could turn into America’s version of the Munich Putsch – a failed coup followed later by a successful one. The new guardrails we need must include arming voters and future voters with the ability to resist the nefarious construction of certainty delusions that destroy confidence in, and therefore undermine the viability of, self-governing systems.

We Need to Stop Pretending that We Do Not Chronically Pretend

Benign Certainty Illusions: Pretending in the form of rationalizing can be a useful mechanism to manage our discomfort (and help us cope) when something happens to us over which we have no practical control. Common examples include losing a job (“it was time to move on to the next phase of my career anyway”) or being jilted by a lover (“this relationship has been failing for some time; I am ready for a change”). Fantasies of grandeur can motivate people to greater achievement. Also, pretending can give us pleasure or at least comfort, but we need to learn to manage when we pretend or fantasize so we don’t end up undermining our successes, well-being, and positive values. When we fantasize we are solving a crucial complex problem using simplistic solutions, we end up relieving our short-term situational discomfort but often at the enormous cost of long-term failure pain.

Thinking-Self Pretending vs. Auto-Context Pretending: We need to do a much better job of understanding and managing human nature across a broad spectrum of activities. For instance, we can now distinguish between thinking-self-based situational pretending and pretending that is so persistent that it migrates into an auto-context to become a certainty illusion or delusion. The distinction between these two types of pretending is that one is a transient thought process we use to defend ourselves against uncontrollable problems we encounter and the other is a belief that endures no matter how beneficial or detrimental.

Delusional Beliefs: Situational pretending can be helpful, as with rationalizing above. Also, circumstances occasionally occur where auto-context-based certainty illusions can be helpful. In the US, we have long instilled the beliefs that “all men [which we render people these days] are created equal,” we have “inalienable rights to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” we are the “land of the free,” and we have “liberty and justice for all.” Throughout much of our history, that was verifiably a certainty delusion with respect to many classes of people. That created a massive number of very visible anomalies to those values beliefs that institutions systematically constructed into people of the US. Nevertheless, as you will see in a future article, these certainty illusions served as aspirational foundations to drive progress toward those values goals. However, certainty-illusion pretending is normally unhelpful and in the digital-disruptions-and-communications world we now live in, it has become a disaster to our successes and well-being in many ways. Dictionaries define “delusion” as believing something that is demonstrably untrue. It also has been commonly thought of as a mental illness. That may be true in many cases including with hallucinations. However, certainty delusions have probably existed from early phases of the evolution of humankind, but digital technologies now make possible constructing them increasingly often and more widespread.

Misinformation, Disinformation, and Big Lies: As we move to deal effectively with many forms of technology-enhanced manipulations, we would do well to understand different forms of bad information.

  • Misinformation: Information that inadvertently does not correspond with facts in the world or that is selectively skewed

  • Disinformation: Information that deliberately and verifiably does not correspond with facts in the world

  • Big Lie: Disinformation that is so stunningly egregious that most people would not believe anybody would ever make such an audacious lie

The latter two will take center stage in our quest to understand at the mental level the devastating systemic descent of our self-governing systems and to launch the systematic ascent we now have the capability to foment that will resurrect and exceed the previous effectiveness of self-governing systems.

Explicitly Formulating the Big Lie: Here is a direct quote from a politician and government leader who raised the “Big Lie” to an art form and used it repeatedly with devastating success. “In the Big Lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature [their auto-context] than consciously or voluntarily [their thinking-self]. Thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the Big Lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. The grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it [in auto-contexts], even after it has been nailed down” [by the thinking-self exposing anomalies]. I leave it to you to find out if the above quote comes from a current guilty Big Lie promulgator or from another politician who previously wrote about and successfully used the Big-Lie process. We now understand clearly how the Big Lie works – it constructs auto-context-based certainty delusions into the minds of its victims to where they become robotically enslaved.

Absurdities the Most Monstrous: “Man, once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without rudder, is the spot of every wind. With such persons, gullibility, which they call faith, takes the helm from the hand of reason and the mind becomes a wreck.” – Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Smith, December 8, 1822. That is actually a fairly good description of what is happening now as we descend into a manipulation chasm were politicians relentlessly construct certainty delusions into voters by exploiting ubiquitous digital-communications channels.

A Certainty-Delusion Pandemic: The difference between what we have known as delusional beliefs and what we now understand about certainty delusions is that we have located these dysfunctional beliefs in a specific part of the mind (not the brain) – namely in the auto-self and more specifically in auto-contexts. Dictators or wannabe dictators, con artists, and cult leaders [can you identify anyone who fits all three of these categories?], and people in other domains have long known how to construct certainty delusions. The devastating problem now is that digital technologies have made this process so easy that it is becoming ubiquitous. Technology-enabled certainty-delusion constructions have reached the pandemic level, especially in Western political systems, through relentlessly repeated destructive disinformation and devastating Big Lies. Because of this massive amount of induced pretending, it is only their proud certainty illusions that block many people from recognizing we are in the midst of a terminal descent of self-governing systems.

Surrendering Liberty: “They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759. Many people unknowingly surrender their liberties when they become so uncomfortable that they fall for simplistic solutions that temporarily relieve their discomfort. This approach has a high recidivism rate because simplistic solutions do not solve the problem causing the discomfort. Another way in which people have their freedoms stolen from them and they don’t recognize it is when some diabolical person or group deliberately and relentlessly constructs certainty delusions within them through disinformation and Big Lies. Checks and balances have enabled democracies to recover many times from simplistic solutions foisted on voters by populists during times of widespread discomfort. However, our digital era has now rendered those once adequate guardrails insufficient.

Stop Pretending Our Self-Governing Systems Are Not Collapsing: Remember, our modern representative governments are not the first ones even in the West. The Greek and Roman republics had their heydays and then they collapsed. Here are a couple of quotes worth noting. “Remember democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself” – second US president John Adams, letter to John Taylor, April 15, 1814. When someone asked Benjamin Franklin, “What kind of a government have you given us?” He replied, “A Republic, if you can keep it.” In the United States, we fortuitously kept it for two and a half centuries. Now we are watching it waste, exhaust, and murder itself. The only way we are going to resurrect our dying Western political systems is to overcome the Abilities Mismatch. That will require that we explicitly understand and directly manage the auto-self, which includes conquering the Comfort Imperative, certainty illusions, and auto-contexts in their many other manifestations. We must construct the widespread capability to Believe but Verify!

Methinks Thou Dost Protest Too Much (from Shakespeare's Hamlet):

  • The king of disinformation and Big Lies calls the segment of the press that actually focuses on stories that correspond with facts “fake news”

  • The person and the party now working relentlessly to rig elections accuses a fairly run 2020 presidential election of being rigged

  • The person dragging the GOP into perdition labels the conservative, principled, policy-driven members of the Republican Party RINOs (Republicans in name only) and drives them out of the party or at least out of office. In reality, the party has now become a cult of personality that is unrecognizable as the party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Reagan, and the Bush’s – the GOP has now become Republican in name only, and it is not currently grand.

Learning to Manage Our Pretending for a Better Future: Yes, we now understand the certainty-illusion process and that it is not only possible but fairly easy to construct dysfunctional worldviews that cause people to pretend (believe) that simplistic solutions can solve complex problems. As Phil Rosenzweig showed us in his Halo book, massive numbers of otherwise sophisticated business people fell for the simplistic-solution “best practices” books that caused them to pretend that the authors had found a magical potion for “sustainable success” through literature searches and retrospective interviews. That form of pretending created lost opportunities to solve growing and debilitating business “soft success factor” problems systematically and effectively. However, a much more devastating form of auto-context-based pretending now exists in terms of such infamous Big Lies as Stop the Steal and QAnon. These are very visible demonstrations about how easy it is with today’s digital-technology-enabled communications channels to construct certainty delusions in massive numbers of people. As a result, learning to recognize and then methodically manage our pretending will be one of the key mechanisms to resurrect the greatness aspects of the West and put us on a path to greater systematically and directly managed prosperity and well-being.

An Absurd Number of Anomalies in Politics

Runaway Disinformation: Technologies, particularly digital technologies, drive accelerating disruptive changes in the business environment, which requires increasingly rapid company-culture and business-problem-solving worldview reconstructions. These same digital technologies provide many communications benefits including democratizing information distribution. However, they have impacted our political systems in very destructive ways. Digital communications technologies have made disinformation and Big Lies so easy to promulgate that they are relentlessly destroying the viability of self-governance, which should terrify citizens of the West because our forms of government are structurally failing.

Descent into Certainty Delusions: If we train people to search for anomalies in their certainties, it will become obvious that the Stop the Steal assertions provide a naked exemplar of constructing certainty delusions in massive numbers of voters. It’s not as if we have to break a sweat to try to identify anomalies here because over 60 courts in many states and at the federal level examined the accusations of voter fraud, and judges and justices from both political parties rejected them. In Georgia, the top statewide officials were of the same party as the losing candidate and actually ran three separate counts – two by machine and one by hand count that verified the results. We will not have a successful future in the West unless we learn to Believe but Verify!

Not Alternative “Facts”: During a Meet the Press interview on January 22, 2017, U.S. counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway coined the now infamous phrase "alternative facts" when defending White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer's false statement about the attendance numbers of Donald Trump's inauguration as president. We need to grow up as citizens of the West and stop chronic dysfunctional pretending. That statement by Conway is not just a cute, benign quip. It is a visible archetype of a diabolical process not of arguing for “alternative facts” but of constructing a malignant alternative form of “truth,” which you already learned about. Big Lies are not alternative facts. They are deceptions designed to construct certainty delusions. That is not a path to the continuation of self-governance. It is another push toward an autocratic government. We have sunk into a manipulation chasm in the politics of many countries in the West and elsewhere, and that is stunningly true of the United States. This mental cancer that is currently spreading in many self-governing systems will metastasize to other forms of social-systems activities including business if we fail to take decisive actions to bring it under control. However, as you will see in Part 7, hope is on the way through creating the ability for the voting public to overcome the auto-context manipulations that increasing numbers of politicians are inflicting on them. This will empower voters to return to sober judgments on political/economic policies that affect their successes and well-being. We must take decisive steps to train our citizens to Believe but Verify!

Certainty Delusions Kill Freedoms: “If a nation expects to be ignorant – and free – in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” – Thomas Jefferson, letter to Colonel Charles Yancey, January 6, 1816. The problem we face now is not just lack of knowledge because accurate information is readily available. The problem is that malicious actors are instilling certainty delusions into masses of voters. When that happens, these voters become oblivious to valid information. They become incapable of recognizing anomalies in beliefs constructed into their auto-contexts, so they are naïvely ignorant and have therefore lost crucial parts of their freedoms and don’t even realize it.

This Party Now Relies on Manipulating and Constructing Certainty Delusions: Policy-based positions of political parties have their power because they reside in the same type of auto-context-based veneer that maintains positive values that I will identify in Part 7. Unfortunately, the current US Republican Party has reached the stage where it is ejecting those politicians who have managed to maintain the policy-based approach. The GOP is systematically degenerating into a cult that now relies on manipulating and constructing certainty delusions into voters rather than arguing for coherent conservative policies. Membership in this cult increasingly requires believing or at least espousing the Big Lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Trump. This conspiracy to propagate systematic certainty delusions into voters puts the US on a tragic path to destroy the two-and-a-half century experiment in self-governance heroically bequeath by its founders. You will see in Part 7 of this article a viable (and necessary!) way to resurrect the US’s currently dying Republic, which will apply to other nations that rely on self-governing systems.

Auto-Context Impacts on Political/Economic Stability

A Slippery Slope of Political-System Instability: The Comfort Imperative is playing a strong role in the demise of some Western political systems because many people are so uncomfortable that they are extremely vulnerable to simplistic solutions perpetrated by populists from the left and the right. As if that is not bad enough, some malicious populists deliberately stoke additional discomfort as a way of manipulating voters to fall for their simplistic solutions. Unfortunately, this is a negatively reinforcing process because as our political systems destabilize, discomfort grows. Additionally, as you are about to see, technology-enabled disinformation and Big Lies are now constructing widespread certainty delusions into huge numbers of voters to the point that pretending is become so prevalent that we have been pushed onto a slippery slope of political-system instability.

Human Nature Will Strike Back When We Try to Violate It

The Inescapable Interactions among Politics, the Economy, and Repeated Career/Business Successes: Many people reading this article are primarily interested in career and business successes. However, the business community cannot escape the political turmoil that is destabilizing our governing systems. Many political battles center on economic policies, and those policies impact prospects for repeated business successes and for reliable improvements of standards of living for so many people.

It’s Not Wise to Try to Fool Mother Nature: We have reached the point that we now understand automatic human activities well enough to avoid making repeated human-nature blunders in our political/economic programs. The Abilities Mismatch has created widespread problems including in business and spectacularly in politics. These problems led to inadequate advances in standards of living for a huge number of people. As that happened, many people experienced such discomfort that they inadvertently became vulnerable to simplistic solutions that satisfy their desire for a success without producing the success they desire. These seduction traps are now compounded by widespread technology-enabled manipulations particularly in our political systems. That creates a formula for potentially wild thrashing between the hard right and the hard left in our political systems because both sides violate human nature and will fail over any extended time. That will create an opening for the simplistic solutions from the other far end of the political spectrum to gain traction. It’s not wise to try to fool Mother Nature!

Managing Greed: Finding the Political/Economic Sweet Spot

Human-Nature Danger Zones: The far-left socialism agenda systematically strangles economies because it fails to unleash the passion inherent in market economies with Venezuela being a dramatic current example. The far right of radical deregulation often leads to dramatic economic crashes with the 2008 Great Recession as a recent example. This far end of the political spectrum also leads to polluting our physical environment and usually produces discomfort-creating and therefore political/economic destabilizing stratification of economic well-being. We can look at this from a human-nature perspective by focusing on a potent human characteristic that we can usefully model as “greed.” The far left fails because it does not tap into human greed to unleash the passion to succeed. The far right fails because it unleashes unrestrained greed that inevitably leads to destabilizing abuses.

Human-Nature Sweet Spot: Although the radical ends of the political/economic spectrum create a bad environment for widespread repeated business successes and systematic improvements of standards of living for many people, a very wide sweet spot exists. That is, politically managed top-level economic systems can operate effectively along a wide spectrum from progressive to conservative and still produce long-term viable business environments because they do not violate human nature. We now have the opportunity to confine the political/economic systems of the West into the human-nature sweet spot as part of conquering the auto-self and particularly our auto-contexts.

Very High Economic Stratification Incompatible with Democracies: We do not want to rely on altruism to avoid excessive prosperity stratification because that does not produce reliable results. The passion, or greed if you like, that drives market economies is the human-nature mechanism that makes them so successful – along with distributed control. However, if they exist within a self-governing system, which is often the case and is now the case in the West, unchecked greed can lead to excessive economic hierarchies. This radical economic stratification eventually leads to too many people (read voters) becoming uncomfortable to the point that they become easy prey to populists who peddle simplistic solutions including disinformation that constructs certainty delusions. People who are driven to organize the political system to make it possible for them to acquire unlimited wealth at the expense of many others can now understand that is not in their best long-term interest. However, this is another example of the knowing-doing gap. We need more work to construct realities into the general populace and business leaders that create feelings associated with this issue.

Sweet Spot for Government Control of Economy

Wealth Gap is Not the Fatal Problem: The wealth gap is not the main problem – people expect that in a market economy. The problem comes from too many people not being well enough off to be comfortable, and they realize they are not on a path for a better future. For self-governing systems to sustain effective functioning, societies must take actions to avoid having too many people experiencing unacceptable discomfort and that includes losing realistic hope for better prosperity and well-being themselves and their progeny.

Populism as Self-Governance Self-Destruction

The Breakdown of Democracy Guardrails: Some aspects of human nature cause us to want to participate in self-governance and thereby enjoy many types of freedoms and have some control over the destiny of our country and therefore part of our own prospects. However, other parts of human nature make self-governing systems inherently unstable. Recognizing this vulnerability, the founders of self-governing systems, starting with establishing the Constitution of United States, created checks and balances to maintain their viability. Those guardrails enabled “liberal democracies” to recover from the periodic emergence of populists during times of widespread discomfort. However, some side effects of digital technologies have now created a new type of vulnerability that has rendered current guardrails increasingly insufficient to sustain the viability of Western self-governing systems. The only way we are going to maintain the effectiveness of self-governance in our digital era and to compete effectively with authoritarian regimes is to figure out how to overcome the destructive effects of the Abilities Mismatch, and 2Selfs Theory now provides the mechanism to accomplish that necessity.

From Discomfort-Escape to Certainty Delusions

Offering Simplistic Solutions to Escape Discomfort: When discomfort exceeds their tolerance thresholds, most people will automatically gravitate toward simplistic solutions that relieve their immediate angst without regard to whether these seduction traps actually solve the problem causing their discomfort. Economic depressions, recessions, and long-term prosperity stagnation always create widespread discomfort. Therefore, political populism (along with religious revivals and great “awakenings”) has periodically emerged throughout the era of self-governance – including the modern West over the last two and half centuries. When voters become vulnerable due to their discomfort, populists, who are always lurking on the fringes of the left and the right, suddenly get traction with their text, sound, and video snippets that promise pie-in-the-sky without burdening themselves with viable plans to achieve their hyperbolic promises. Populists work at the emotional level not the intellectual or policy levels. Voters need to cast a critical eye on populist politicians because they are exploiting your emotional vulnerabilities (usually some form of discomfort). You will retain better personal freedom if you view populists as manipulators and fall back on the principle of Belief but Verify when examining their seduction traps in the form of simplistic solutions.

Stoked-Grievance Populism: Populists often exploit the initial discomfort, stoke it to create greater distress, and then often create a series of enemies. They make voters feel better by telling them they are the special people and in doing so often demonize other groups including racial, ethnic, religious, and sexual-orientation minorities. As part of the “special people” agenda, populists are often nationalistic and xenophobic in a world of growing economic globalism. Populists also tell voters that they will take over the power and prosperity of the economic and political “elites” or the “establishment,” and they eliminate the free press when they can or else they undermine it by such relentless claims as “fake news.” The most tragic example of a populist in the modern West was Hitler who exploited the widespread discomfort associated with the worldwide Great Depression and Germany losing World War I. Hitler stoked anguish about this later event by focusing on the humiliation of the terms of surrender at Versailles.

Using Digital Technologies to Construct Certainty Delusions: As you already saw, what starts out as exploiting voters’ discomfort usually morphs into constructing certainty delusions. Political “branding” is just a euphemism for what we have long known as “propaganda,” which was practiced most spectacularly in the modern West by Adolf Hitler – with catastrophic effects. He and his propagandist acolytes used radio to construct widespread certainty delusions. Now, the channels available to construct certainty delusions have multiplied to the point where too many voters are helpless to resist. It is now very easy for populists, whether innocently opportunistic or deliberately manipulative, to use digital communications channels to manipulate voters.

The Rise of Illiberal Democracies: In his article, Narrowing Hearts and Minds: Diagnosing the Global Rise of Illiberal Democracy[i], Joel H. Rosenthal, president of Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs states, “There is no doubt that illiberalism is on the rise. Just as the world is becoming more connected, hearts and minds are constricting in ways that are sure to be self-defeating.” Here, Rosenthal uses the common metaphor of “hearts” (and minds) to refer to what we can now more powerfully model as auto-contexts (and the thinking-self), and in this particular case as certainty illusions and certainty delusions. He also says, “The populist playbook is now remarkably familiar: Retreat from globalism, embrace nationalism, stoke ethnic claims, and attack democratic norms and institutions.” Populists in Western Europe remain vibrant, but many have lost their luster, at least for now, after the defeat of populist Trump and his transparent aggressive attempt to remain in power after losing a free and fair election. However, many examples also exist elsewhere of democratically elected populists undermining or doing their best to undermine the institutions they were elected to serve so they can stay in power. Here are some examples, from the populist left and right: Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte, Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro, Turkey’s Recep Erdogan, and Hungary’s Viktor Orbán. If you are not familiar with the threats these populist hold for maintaining self-governance in their countries, you can easily look them up online. Rosenthal further says, “What makes this brand of autocrat particularly insidious is that these illiberal strongmen have been democratically elected. There was no single moment of fiery revolt or violent seizure of power. Instead, their authoritarian rule is ascending with the consent of the governed. In the hands of these leaders, power is being consolidated to serve a proudly illiberal vision of society and state. In this way, democracy is bending to their will.” It is worth remembering that Hitler rose to power through his Nazi party gaining slightly more than 1/3 of the seats in the Reichstag and then maneuvering to have President Hindenburg appoint him prime minister of the Weimer Republic in 1933. Shortly thereafter, Hitler consolidated power to became the infamous dictator we all remember.

Resurrecting Self-Governance in Our Digital Era

We Must Stop Ignoring the Automatic Aspects of Human Nature: The fundamental Abilities Mismatch problem of digital technologies overwhelming our current abilities to manage the culture changes they require is empowering many populists to construct widespread certainty delusions, which has fundamentally changed the success mechanisms for democracies including in the West. Relentlessly repeating disinformation and Big Lies through ubiquitous digital-communications channels constructs anti-democratic certainty illusions and delusions, which systematically destroys the auto-context “glue” that holds liberal democracies together.

Accordingly, our future success and well-being require that now come to grips with elusive and illusive auto-context aspects of human nature that we previously had the luxury of ignoring. To do that, we need a theory that models how these automatic activities operate and provides processes to transform them when they don’t meet our success or well-being needs. A previous article in this series explained why the excellent work scientists are doing in modeling the brain will not provide the solutions we need. We must have a generalized model that operates at the mind level. 2Selfs Theory is currently the best mechanism to provide that capability. However, we must inform many people, including business leaders and voters, about the necessity to understand automatic human activities and train them to use our new robust understanding of human nature to resurrect self-governing systems in a digital era. This will include constructing the widespread ability to Believe but Verify!

The Need for Discontinuous Improvements in Personal Responsibilities: In Part 7 of this article, we will segue from addressing the two major social systems of business and politics to focus on auto-context aspects of personal responsibilities including maintaining positive shared values. The goal there is to find ways to leverage our new understanding of a particular aspect of human nature – namely of the auto-context mental mechanism – to create ways to make discontinuous (i.e., based on auto-self transformations) improvements in personal responsibilities. Among the many benefits of addressing the mental underpinnings of personal responsibilities is to construct mental inoculations against voter certainty-dilution constructions as a necessary mechanism to resurrect the viability of self-governing systems.

Links to the previous Parts of Article 3: Paradigms Lost – And Resurrected: A Systematic Path to Transform Culture and Worldview Habits:

Part 1: Introduction: Conquering Auto-Contexts Is the Key to Restarting Widespread Prosperity and Well-Being

Part 2: Fundamentals of Auto-Contexts – Starting with Kuhn’s Paradigms

Part 3: Certainty Anomalies – We Need the Courage and the Wisdom to Notice Them

Part 4: Auto-Context Transformations: Yes, We Can Periodically Change Who We Are

Part 5: Business: Repeated Business Successes Now Require Conquering Auto-Contexts

Connect with Barry on LinkedIn and visit his website for more information!


Barry Borgerson, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine Dr. Barry Borgerson graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a Ph.D. in computer science and one of his minors in the management of human resources. Barry co-led a multi-year DARPA-funded research project at the University and then went on to a highly successful career in the computer industry, starting as a lead computer architect and progressing through successive promotions to increasingly responsible leadership positions in technical management up to executive-level general management. When he took over a business that was failing and initiated actions to change some dysfunctional behaviors and the outdated culture of that business, he encountered so much counterproductive resistance that he started a long-term study into why very smart, highly educated, and extremely experienced people frequently cannot enact externally obvious changes they need to make to succeed. That study led him to discover that the underlying cause of so many dysfunctional activities and the tenacious, normally uncontrollable, resistance to deep changes reside in enigmatic automatic human activities that business leaders normally do not notice, cannot change on their own if others point out their dysfunctions, and often deny they even exist. Barry then developed 2Selfs Theory, a comprehensive, business-friendly, generalized theory of the mind that models the sometimes cooperation but often competition between our explicit problem-solving abilities (using our “thinking self”) and our previously mysterious involuntary activities (driven by our “automatic self”) and provides systematic, reliable processes to align our elusive automatic actions with our explicit intentions and needed success priorities. Dr. Borgerson has repeatedly verified the effectiveness of the pragmatic 2Selfs Theory by applying it in many venues including through transformation coaching to reconstruct counterproductive behavior habits of business leaders and to change obsolete or dysfunctional company cultures, where the transformation processes worked immediately and repeatedly as the theory predicted.



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