Gorbachev: Dramaturge ?!
Participative Democracy vs. Participative Drama:
Lessons on social transformation for international organizations
- / -
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
, September 1992, pp. 689-700)
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
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
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.
2. Learning from the Eastern European surprise
It is within this context that we can marvel at the real changes in Eastern Europe and
the Soviet Union, and especially at what is to be learnt from the actions of Mikhael
Gorbachev in facilitating these changes. What are the lessons for world governance, for
international programmes, and for social transformation within international
It seems quite apparent that no international organization contributed any insight,
scenarios or models to facilitate such changes. None has been mentioned in this respect.
At best it can be said that many organizations provided contexts in which interaction
between representatives of Eastern and Western bloc countries occurred. No discipline is
cited as having made a significant contribution to the change -- although some are obliged
to make that claim. International organizations and disciplines remain embarrassed, many
months after the events, by their inability to respond creatively to the changes in
Eastern Europe. In the midst of waning euphoria and rising doubts, the level of
disappointment at the inadequacy and irrelevance of Western thinking is yet to be fully
acknowledged. Western imposition of ever more stringent conditions, is a poor and
dangerous substitute for proactive responses.
3. Social transformation as participative drama
The key event in the final breakthrough in Eastern Europe was the reactionary coup
against Gorbachev and the response to it. The word most frequently used in relation to
these events is 'dramatic'. After many other explanations from which relatively
few lessons have been learnt, it is therefore worth exploring social transformation as a
dramatic process in which dramatic moments are themselves catalysts of transformation.
The question to be asked is whether the sterile vocabulary of 'participative
democracy' is appropriate to a period during which voter apathy is significantly
increasing, most notably in the Western democracies, and especially among the young.
Specifically is it 'participative democracy' which leads to sustainable social
transformation? The words and structures used do indeed reflect understanding of the need
for change. But can it not be argued that the most significant current product of
'participative democracy' is heightened levels of tokenism and 'lip
service' in all its forms -- notably in international organizations? The plethora of
unimplemented, and quickly forgotten, resolutions (over which large conferences agonize at
great expense for long periods of time) is a prime illustration. The extent to which
governmental bodies, and others, renege on solemn commitments, often by 'watering
down' their interpretation, is another.
It is therefore worth exploring the dimensions of a new world order based on
'participative drama' as the key to sustainable social transformation. This is a
step beyond what is now widely accepted as 'news management', although it was
Richard Nixon who was the first to establish an Office of Communications devoted to
managing executive imagery with a specific focus on the 'line-of-the-day' and
At the highest level, there is already continual scripting of media
'photo-opportunities', where 'scenarios' are prepared down to the
minutest detail, and much effort is made in 'casting' people for
'roles'. There is now a seamless loop of theme-orchestration, sound-biting,
leaking, polling and opinion-making, all feeding into policy formulation (1).
Because of its very nature, the degree of media management may never become clear. One
striking example is the recent revelation that General Schwartzkopf's much publicized
announcements during Operation Desert Storm concerning the destruction of Scud missiles
and their launching sites were largely fabricated. US forces did not destroy a single
mobile launcher during the Gulf War (2). But is that really relevant when he gripped
peoples imagination by putting on such a good show?
To what extent has such thinking sustained the kinds of participative drama which
triggered the changes in Eastern Europe? And what do such dramas mean for democratic
4. Beyond cause-and-effect explanations: aesthetic participation
Is it really useful to attempt to arrive at the truth of whether Gorbachev
'master-minded' the social transformations which his actions appear to have
facilitated? The attempt raises questions as to whether he was a part of some more or less
enlightened conspiracy, a victim of events, a 'puppet', unable to control what
he set in motion -- and whether he became a 'has-been' and a 'loser'
through the process. The social transformation process is however to be valued whether he
'controlled' events or was controlled by them.
Much more interesting is to shift the perspective and explore the lessons of Gorbachev
as a dramaturge, however 'conscious' he was of the changes he was setting in
motion and whatever his degree of personal interest in emerging as a 'winner'
according to the conventional criteria of the political arena. Hans Magnus Enzensburger
has, according to John Berger (3), named Gorbachev as 'a genius of withdrawal, the
great master of retreat'.
From this perspective it is much less relevant how consciously he controlled events. Of
far greater relevance is the aesthetics of the drama and, above all, the level and kind of
participation that it engendered and focused. It can be readily argued that it was the
final drama of the coup and counter-coup which unleashed the full force of social
transformation. Can the programme of any democratically participative international
organization focus involvement to achieve such levels of social transformation? And how
are the aesthetics of the drama to be related to the assessment of the transformation as
beneficial or not?
From an aesthetic perspective it is irrelevant what personal problems a playwright has
in mastering his material. Any personal tragedy suffered by the playwright only serves to
increase the poignancy of the drama. The playwright may both 'manipulate' his
material and be 'possessed' by it. The playwright experiences a highly personal
drama in relation to the material, through which his or her personal transformation may
occur, leading possibly to greater levels of insight and understanding. It is then
inappropriate to focus on whether the playwright 'won' or 'lost' --
'losing' may be the only route through which a really great play takes form.
There is a truth in the superstitious recognition that a playwright must 'lose'
something in 'payment to the gods' for the success of the play.
Gorbachev was a successful change agent precisely because he held to his belief in the
possibility of reforming the Communist Party, and so convinced his comrades, identifying
thus with elements of the unfolding drama. But as John Berger put it in a remarkable
article: 'He failed to imagine only one thing: that due to all the other changes
he'd brought about or stage-managed, the CPSU would overnight be declared illegal. At the
end of the third week of August, he turns to the audience, whichis a world set free, and
at the same time finds himself empty-handed' (3).
Gorbachev appeared to experience a series of major personal dramas -- people identified
with the 'betrayals' to which he was exposed, whether real or imagined. Is it
useful to seek some explanation of a long-term policy based on 'linear' thinking
by which his performance should be evaluated for consistency?
5. Human sacrifice and social transformation
From this perspective, it is valuable to review social change in the light of the drama
of 'human sacrifice'. It can be argued that nearly all legislative innovations
have only been brought about following an appropriate level of human sacrifice. This is
true whether the legislation concerns the safety of children's toys, mercury pollution, or
the independence of a country. To put it very bluntly, children have to be sacrificed
before it is accepted that safety regulations on children's toys should be formulated. (It
would not be impossible to count the number of such sacrifices associated with each piece
of social change legislation.) Leadership too may call for personal sacrifice. How can we
ever know what Gorbachev, or his colleagues, sacrificed -- whether or not they originally
intended to do so in the way in which they appeared to do so.
It is only of incidental interest to know whether the Soviet Emergency Committee of
eight were willing or conscious participants in the drama, or how conscious Gorbachev was
in placing them in positions from which they could instigate the coup. It is they who
provided a dramatic focus for the reactionary forces. They were turned into scapegoats who
could be sacrificed, thus liberating others from the thrall of the repressive mode of
thinking. The three young men who were sacrificed (or who chose to sacrifice themselves)
in the defence against army tanks were of dramatic significance in bringing about a
realignment of the military forces -- perhaps only to be matched in that period by the
lone individual who, in a much-publicized video sequence, disrupted the movement of a
column of tanks in Beijing in 1989. Indeed it is possible to argue that it was the human
sacrifice in Tianamen Square which effectively set the stage for the manner in which the
drama was able to unfold in Eastern Europe.
6. Dramatic cover-ups in international organizations
How does this perspective relate to the structures and policies of international
organizations? For a start it might be asked whether official attempts to suppress the
dramatic dimensions of factional in-fighting are precisely what makes the activities of
international organizations so boring and irrelevant to the wider world.
There are truths to be learnt from the media focus on the scandals of the United
Nations and its agencies (4), their development programmes (5), and on the naked ambition
of those who aspire to their highest offices as feudal fiefdoms -- with some even obliging
their subordinates to address them as 'Excellency'. Until such all-too-human
dramas capture peoples imaginations (as in the BBC 'Yes, Minister' series),
there is little hope of understanding what really needs to be 'restructured' in
international organizations in order to move towards a more enlightened form of world
Within the dramatic metaphor, what then is to be made of an international conference
panel session aligned on a podium in a manner that bears a remarkable structural
similarity to the widely publicized Soviet Emergency Committee press conference --
especially when the subject is the future of democratic processes? Does this alignment
comfort the political reactionary in each of us?
It is frequently assumed that conference sessions involve a high degree of spontaneity.
In fact most conference sessions are heavily pre-scripted with the roles cast long in
advance. Good conference 'organization' tends to imply a high degree of control
over the scenario as it takes form. Why not then structure the conference as an
enthralling drama -- at least to some degree? And to what extent is this already done?
Opposing viewpoints could then interplay more effectively to draw the participants into a
more profound appreciation of the dynamics -- touching the emotions as well as the
intellect.Was this not one purpose of classical Greek drama? There is merit in exploring
the 'marriage' of what conventionally occurs on a conference podium with the
dynamics of actors 'interacting' on a stage.
Is there not something rather quaint in the efforts to capture a conference on still
photographs, press communiqués and in 'minutes', at a time when reality is
being redefined and understood through video-clips and CNN-style presentations?
7. Participation in dramatized realities
Is it important to the outcome whether Gorbachev was really (a) isolated under house
arrest or (b) whether he allowed it to appear so? The limitations of Western either/or
logic may be preventing us from recognizing the two other possibilities accepted in
Buddhist and Japanese logic. These would point to situations in which (c) both
'a' and 'b' are correct and (d) neither 'a' nor
'b' are correct. These capture some of the perceptions voiced by Shevardnadze on
In a period when politicians can be destroyed by reports (whether false or not) on
their association with call girls, at what point will it become useful to stage dramas to
position a politician for electoral purposes -- whether or not some people have to be
'sacrificed' to achieve credibility? Already the status symbols of a plethora of
bodyguards and security controls may be used to good effect as a happening, even in the
absence of any commensurate threat. In the light of the assassination attempt on Ronald
Reagan (or on the current Pope), what level of organization would be required to emulate
such drama to focus public interest in support of a lackluster presidential candidate? Are
the flesh wounds needed for credibility too high a price for the candidate to pay to
achieve the highest office? And how easy it would be to diminish an opponent by
implicating one of his former supporters as the assassin. How should the distinction be
made between 'dirty tricks' and good dramatic effects?
Has it not already become convenient to stage kidnappings, attempted assassinations and
other happenings to capture media headlines and make a strong political point? Is it any
longer possible to distinguish through the media between a bomb planted by
'terrorists' and one planted by 'establishment' groups (and attributed
to terrorists) in order to position repressive policies more effectively? Is it useful to
attempt to distinguish between Boris Yeltsin as the 'political genius' in
shaking the tank driver's hand (prior to using the tank as a podium) and as the
'dramatic genius' who seized that opportunity, whether or not it was
Such possibilities will naturally be skilfully exploited by the self-seeking to great
effect. Beyond traditional image building, they offer a prime strategy for the next
presidential election in the USA --especially since 'the intrinsic drama of political
conventions has been lost forever' (6). Substantive issues in isolation only attract
factional interest. It is the dramatic interweaving of these issues as the backdrop to a
comprehensible scenario, casting the candidate in a dramatic or heroic role, which enables
individual voters to buy into the vision the candidate's party endeavours to sell. The
challenge is an aesthetic one with aesthetic risks. For the drama can fail on aesthetic
grounds and be perceived as a farce -- politicians can also be bad actors.
8. Dramatizing international organizations
The question for international organizations is whether this is a route to be followed.
Is the aesthetic condemnation of such organizations as providing 'bad drama' in
monotonous conferences compensated by the social change that they do indeed make possible
at their own pace -- even though the boring nature of the drama they provide reduces the
credibility of their initiatives?
Can we possibly expect those who seek office in intergovernmental organizations to be
capable of taking their audience through the kind of transformative process that Gorbachev
(stage-)managed --by accepting various forms of personal sacrifice? Clearly a key post in
this respect is that of Secretary-General of the United Nations. Such sacrifice seems
unlikely in a period when the candidates were selected for quite different reasons.
Perhaps more should be made of the possibility of dramatizing such environments along
classical imperial lines, recognizing the reality of baronies and dukedoms and all the
social drama with which they are associated. The United Nations might capture public
excitement far more effectively if its function as an imperial court was highlighted. How
different to the popular imagination is the EEC institutional system compared to the court
of Louis XIV -- both with their courtiers and courtesans, and with pomp and ceremony? Is
it not intriguing that a number of key international bodies now find it appropriate to
attribute prizes and honours along imperial lines?
Greenpeace is the organization which has moved furthest in this direction and with
greatest success in seeking positive social change -- the Rainbow Warrior incident could
not have been better designed (again, whether or not this was the case). According to
Médecins sans Frontières, Oxfam stage-managed a 'famine' in Cambodia in 1986
to force the hand of donors. Through such initiatives people are drawn into participative
scenarios with which they can identify. It is through this identification and its exposure
to the dynamics of the drama that orientations are shifted. This can have dramatic
political consequences for good or ill -- however these can then be distinguished in that
9. Escaping from metaphoric traps
The problem would appear to be that international organizations tend to get trapped in
metaphors which may be adequate for their survival but are not however adequate for their
sustainable development as learning organizations -- or for their contribution to the
sustainable development of a complex planetary society. Worse still, George Lakoff argued
that 'metaphors can kill' and that metaphorical thought played a central role in
providing justifications for the Gulf War (7).
The focus needs to be taken off tinkering with the structuring and restructuring of
organizations. This is only stimulating to the few, and often for quite inappropriate
reasons. Such restructuring may be perceived as offering a tinker-toy understanding of
organizations through metaphors of structures of connected boxes (reinforced by
organization charts) or as mechanical devices. 'Radical' restructuring is then
perceived as moving the boxes and connectors into a different pattern. This is ideal for
creating the impression of change within the current fashion for tokenism. Unfortunately
such changes have little real impact on the erosion of the credibility of such bodies --
and are increasingly viewed with a cynical eye as just another consultant's dream.
There is an alienating sameness to the democratic procedures of international
organizations. These are typified by procedural manoeuvring, lobbying and electoral
manipulation, that provide a stage on which the ambitious are anxious to strut. This is a
fundamental problem with 'actors' in both the political and dramatic arenas.
Both in politics and drama, power is an illusion. As Dorothy Rowe states: 'Power
is an illusion because it is no more than a meaning which the powerful have created and
which the powerless accept as reality....Seeing power as a game means knowing that power
is a construction, a fiction, for the rules which make up any game are fictions: but there
are many people who take game-playing as seriously as those who regard their political
creed or their religious beliefs as the Absolute Truth....The illusion of power is
maintained by unawareness and silence.' (8) There is increasing recognition that
the dominant institutions, whether governmental or intergovernmental organizations only
continue to function due to the conspiracy of silence. Like the Emperor in the classic
tale, they have in fact 'no clothes'. From this perspective, is the
international community to be compared to a fashion conscious nudist colony?
Dorothy Rowe argues that the aim of political rhetoric is to influence the audience so
as 'to prevent us from finding alternative ways of constructing our reality, and
the language it uses is intended to obscure not to clarify. It relies on metaphors which
are presented as accurate descriptions and give to its believers an illusion of power
which they can express in the rhetorical language which they have learned. The metaphors
used by the State in rhetoric may have been used initially as no more than vivid pictures,
understandable by and appealing to their audience, but when these metaphors harden into
dogma they become the means by which reality is perceived and responded to, and they
become part of the network of causes....So often what appears to be political revolution
or an individual conversionis in effect no change, the titles given to the authority and
the followers may have changed, but the relationships and the metaphors to describe these
relationships have not changed.' (8)
As Rowe states: 'The problem for all practitioners in the media is how much in
their rhetoric they will present the structure of meaning which the State, the Church, and
the international financial institutions want to be presented as absolute reality, and how
much they will present alternative structures of meaning.' (8)
10. In search of guiding metaphors
It is not however a question of escaping from all use of metaphor. Metaphors remain a
major unexplored device for redefining alternative realities and facilitating
participative identification with them (9, 10, 11, 12, 13). Other metaphors, notably the
dramatic one, need to be given greater attention as a means of ensuring new and more
meaningful forms of involvement in collective initiatives.
It is a question of shifting from a reliance on fixed (and progressively alienating)
organizational structures to participative scenarios, and from bad drama to drama of the
highest kind. For it is precisely the dramatic form which can more adequately capture and
recontextualize the factional conflicts which reflect the levels of complexity with which
society has to deal. The assumption that consensus procedures can be found to encompass
this complexity is both naive and totally vulnerable to tokenism. Consensus procedures
tend to give rise to the most boring forms of drama.
This suggests that the key to the future lies in the imaginative way in which
essentially incommensurable policies (and the factions promoting them) are interwoven. The
point is made by the unpreparedness of the international community in response to the
desperate need of the ex-socialist countries for some way of blending command and market
economies. As emerged so clearly at the Beijing WFSF Conference, no 'models' are
available precisely because the challenge to the imagination transcends the world of model
building by which futures studies has been so heavily influenced. This suggests that
exciting opportunities for international organizations exist beyond the policy
incompatibilities within which they become entrapped.
11. World governance and imagination building
World governance in the above sense is then a question of 'imagination
building' rather than of 'institution building'. The role of international
bodies concerned with policy-making should be to focus attention on the emergence and
movement of policy-relevant metaphors that are capable of rendering comprehensible the way
forward through complex windows of opportunity. The transformation of Eastern Europe
illustrates the role of drama in focusing participative understanding of rightness and
appropriateness to create a 'transformative moment' during which real change
To sustain such development, the challenge lies in marrying new metaphors to models to
ensure the embodiment of new levels of insight in organizational form. In this sense the
United Nations could become a kind of caretaker for the metaphor 'gene-pool' on
which the international community can draw in formulating responses to new crises. In
effect this is one of the functions that it already performs -- but unfortunately it does
it badly by reinforcing the many outdated metaphors underlying the programmes of its
various specialized agencies.
This vision of world governance does not call for a radical transformation of
institutions -- which is unlikely before the next major catastrophe. Rather it calls for a
shift in the way of thinking about what is circulated through society's information
systems as the triggering force for any action -- cataly;tic and recontext. At present,
governance in the international community is haunted by a form of collective schizophrenia
-- a left-brain preoccupation with 'serious' academic models and administrative
programmes, and a right-brain preoccupation with the proclivities of public opinion avid
for 'meaningful' action (even if 'sensational'). Hence the fascination
with the drama of Operation Desert Storm which combined both in a dramatic, and
deliberately dramatized, scenario.
12. Towards higher orders of consensus: the crop rotation
A number of rich metaphors can assist in this shift in perspective. In earlier papers
the merits of ecological, traffic, and resonance hybrid metaphors have been highlighted
(9, 10, 11, 12, 13). But their power and relevance to policy-making may be best
illustrated by 'crop rotation' -- a process intimately known to peasant farmers
around the world.
The farmer knows that, to ensure sustainable development of his field, he can grow one
crop in that field for a period but must then replace it by a different crop to remedy the
degradation of the soil caused by the first. He may have to grow a third and a fourth
species before finally returning to the first again in his crop rotation cycle. It is
the cycle which guarantees sustainability, not any particular crop.
Is it not also correct that, to ensure sustainable development, policies need to be
alternated like crops to correct for each others damaging effects on society and the
environment? This is the implicit message of democracy. However, no political party or
faction would accept the need to sacrifice a cherished policy as part of such a process or
to relinquish power to allow alternative parties to perform their function in any such
cycle. But the distinct policies of appropriately opposed parties do succeed each other in
a kind of chaotic cycle as each endeavours to articulate and respond to the defects in its
predecessor's initiatives. It remains to be seen whether such chaotic cycles provide the
'sustainability' required through the crises to come.
13. Imaginative weapons of the future: binary metaphoric dramas?
For a country of chess players, the obvious, first-order strategies would not be
considered a key to success by its elites. Political success in the social systems of the
future may be better understood by speculating on other possibilities in the relationship
between Gorbachev and Yeltsin. Consider the possibility of collusion between them through
which they agreed to take on alternately the roles of 'political heavy' and
'democratic saviour' -- corresponding to the 'bad guy / good guy'
interrogation strategy through a planned sequence of phases.
Change is then effected by out-manoeuvering factions locked in out-moded forms of
thinking, whether reactionary or idealistic. The art would be to ensure that such factions
identified with actors opposed in the drama -- Gorbachev or Yeltsin in this case. It is
the phases in the dramatic relationship between the actors which transforms the system by
reframing the context. In this sense two political forces can be used in ways similar to
binary chemical weapons (in which two innocuous components are lethal when appropriately
combined). Even subtler strategies might be designed through phasing the combination of
three or more such elements over time. Would it be possible to learn from the sense of
configuration and timing of a team of confidence tricksters in order to design
transformative moments through which out-moded forms and factional thinking are by-passed
-- as some Sufi teachings imply. Maybe society could be 'tricked' into some more
In a perceptive article, Norman Myers (The Guardian International, 24 July 1992)
sees this kind of thinking as vital to prepare for the unforeseen problems of the future,
the 'unkown unkowns' which are 'waiting in the wings to leap out at
us'. His concern is with 'environmental synergisms', namely the interaction
of natural processes so that the product of their effects is greater than the sum of their
separate effects. He regrets that little is known about them. The same may be said of
'social synergisms', especially when they take the form of 'synergistic
social strategies' as envisaged above, whether for good or for ill.
14. Beyond winning and losing
To focus on whether Gorbachev 'lost' or Yeltsin 'won' then
completely misses the strategic point. Such a focus might be compared to media
preoccupation with the result of a particular fight intelevised professional wrestling,
where the outcome of a sequence of fights may in fact be fixed by contract between the
It is through indifference to being cast in a winning or losing role that the key
actors together achieve a larger objective. The opportunities for collusion between
apparent opponents in the political arena need to be seen in this light. The question is
whether this can be used to effect valued social transformation -- and whether it is not
already being used to inhibit such transformation, as some studies imply (14).
A major reason for exploring this metaphoric dimension is that society is highly
vulnerable to good drama, whatever the morality or principles that it implies. Is it not
reasonable that the bad drama furnished by annual General Assemblies (and notably those of
the United Nations) should run the risk of being 'upstaged' by other dramas
(such as the 'hostage drama') of little social merit? The initiative will always
tend to be with those who can furnish good drama -- as Goebbels knew so well!
Much drama, and especially comedy, is built around the dynamic relation between
information and disinformation. Jacques Attali, now President of the European
Bank for Reconstruction and Development, has argued that the criterion for truth
in the media-permeated society of the future will be primarily aesthetic, if
not 'seductive' (15). As is shown in a recent study of the USSR during
the period of critical social transformation (16), a striking fact is the fascination
of people with the uncontrolled mass media, having had hardly any contact with
free speech or the idea of open discussion. For truths to have any hope of evoking
responses to the issues of sustainable development, they will therefore need
to be seductive -- and participative drama with which people can identify is
one way of achieving this.
Orrin Klapp (17) makes the point that 'Man's second life is now in the
public drama. His dreams are taped, filmed and projected'.
The lessons of social transformation in Eastern Europe raise questions about the
appropriateness of the metaphors through which social transformation is envisaged. Maybe
politicians and change agents of the future should not only seek advice on how to dress
and act in front of the camera during photo-opportunities, but also on crafting the
'dramatic-opportunities' through which they can be repositioned. Politicians and
their public relations advisors may benefit from attending drama courses. But people have
seen a great deal of televised drama, so it is going to have to be both realistic and
1. John A Maltese. Spin Control: the White House Office of Communication and the
Management of Presidential News. Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press,
2. International Herald Tribune, 25 June 1992
3. John Berger. Russia in the Thrall of a New Icon, The Guardian, 4 September
4. Shirley Hazzard. Countenance of Truth; the United Nations and the Waldheim case.
Viking Penguin, 1991
5. Graham Hancock. Lords of Poverty. Macmillan, 1989.
6. International Herald Tribune, 7 July 1992
7. George Lakoff. Reflections on the Imminence of War in the Gulf. Berkeley, University
of California, Dec 1990 (circulated by e-mail).
8. Dorothy Rowe. Wanting Everything. Harper Collins, 1991.
9. Anthony Judge. Metaphoric Revolution; in quest of a manifesto for governance
through metaphor. In: E Masini, J Dator and S Rogers (Eds): The Futures
of Development: selections from the Tenth World Conference of the World Futures
Studies Federation. UNESCO, FOS, 1991. [text]
10. Anthony Judge. Through Metaphor to Sustainable Ecologies of Development
Policies. In: Ilze Gotelli and Th. Trzyna (Eds): The Power of Convening:
collaborative policy forums for sustainable development. Sacramento, California
Institute of Public Affairs, 1990, pp. 64-81. [text]
11. Anthony Judge. Recontextualizing Social Problems through Metaphor; transcending
the 'switch' metaphor. Transnational Associations, 43, 1991,
1, pp. 37-46. [text]
12. Anthony Judge. The Aesthetics of Governance in the Year 2491. Futures, May 1991,
pp. 426-436 (Paper for
the 11th World Conference of WFSF, Budapest, 1990). [text]
13. Union of International Associations. Encyclopedia of World Problems
and Human Potential. K G Saur Verlag, 1990, 2 vols. (Section MM:
Metaphors and Patterns, bibl.). [commentary]
14 Roger Bartra. The Imaginary Networks of Political Power. Rutgers University Press, 1992.
15 Jacques Attali. Les Trois Mondes; pour une théorie de l'après crise. Paris,
16. Steve Crawshaw. Goodbye to the USSR; the collapse of Soviet power.
London, Blommsbury, 1992
17. Orrin Edgar Klapp. Symbolic Leaders: public drama and public men. Aldine, 1964