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Gorbachev: Dramaturge ?!

Participative Democracy vs. Participative Drama: Lessons on social transformation for international organizations from Gorbachev (Part #1)


Paper prepared for the 12th Conference (Barcelona, 1991) of the World Futures Studies Federation (WFSF). Published in B Van Steenbergen et al (Eds), Advancing Democracy and Participation: Challenges for the Future (Selections from the XII World Conference of the WFSF (Centre Catala de Prospectiva / Centre Unesco de Catalunya, 1992, pp. 165-170). Also published in abridged form as Gorbachev as Dramaturge: lessons on social transformation for international organizations (Futures, September 1992, pp. 689-700)

Abstract
Social change wrought by international programmes
Learning from the Eastern European surprise
Social transformation as participative drama
Beyond cause-and-effect explanations: aesthetic participation
Human sacrifice and social transformation
Dramatic cover-ups in international organizations
Participation in dramatized realities
Dramatizing international organizations
Escaping from metaphoric traps
In search of guiding metaphors
World governance and imagination building
Towards higher orders of consensus: the crop rotation metaphor
Imaginative weapons of the future: binary metaphoric dramas?
Beyond winning and losing
Implications
References


Abstract: Explores the dramatic dimensions of Gorbachev's actions as a source of lessons on social transformation in the future. It is argued that transformative moments in society result from the identification of people with an evolving drama. These may then lead to real change of lasting significance, beyond what is normally achieved by international organization programmes. Questions are raised about the extent to which such dramatization is already used and the opportunities for using it to a far greater extent in the future, whether for good or for ill. The link between such drama and the use of metaphor is explored in relation to world governance.


1. Social change wrought by international programmes
Learning from the Eastern European surprise
Social transformation as participative drama
Beyond cause-and-effect explanations: aesthetic participation
Human sacrifice and social transformation
Dramatic cover-ups in international organizations
Participation in dramatized realities
Dramatizing international organizations
Escaping from metaphoric traps
In search of guiding metaphors
World governance and imagination building
Towards higher orders of consensus: the crop rotation metaphor
Imaginative weapons of the future: binary metaphoric dramas?
Beyond winning and losing
Implications
References

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1. Social change wrought by international programmes

It is a sad truth that international organizations are often the last to implement within their own operations and programmes the techniques of social transformation which they advocate or which are explored by others. It is sadder still that such organizations often aspire to function as pale imitations of bodies like the United Nations, themselves faced with severe problems of sclerotic structure and the thinking that reinforces it. This is most clearly symbolized by the limited (and increasingly sterile) vocabulary used to describe the majority of international organizational structures: general assembly, conference, committee, programme, project, and the like. More obvious, perhaps, is the reflection of such thinking in the limited diversity of forms of international meetings.

It is no wonder then that there is an increasing loss of credibility of international bodies, with a corresponding lowering of expectations on the part of those sensitive to the unlearnt lessons of the past. Unfortunately, for those unaware of those lessons, expectations easily become inflated, spurred on by a healthy natural enthusiasm for new opportunities. The 1992 UNCED Earth Summit is one such example, readily exploited by factional interests under the guise of remedial initiatives for planetary ills.

y exploited by factional interests under the guise of remedial initiatives for planetary ills.


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