12 February 2023
For a world marked by ignorance, confusion, and strife, this insight comes at the right time.
Across the world, societies are experiencing rising strife, mutual distrust, and extremist belief systems.
Political leaders, as well as so-called scholars and journalists, express bewilderment at these developments. Rather than offering insight or a viable strategy for surpassing challenges, they fall back on haphazard derivatives of stale dogmas of the 19th century or earlier.
Instead of articulating a thorough system of ideas marked by internal consistency, they employ slogans and fragmentary notions, while blaming shortcomings on those whom they identify as sectarian or ethnic enemies.
Even responsible actors fail to articulate an ideology that could encompass a coherent program for society. They identify disjointed goals and values but fail to explain how points connect or how principles interact.
As populations increasingly turn away from traditional religions, people subconsiously fill their spiritual void with political quasi-religions that tend to encourage puritanical intolerance and a sense of moral superiority.
Above, the author’s children, Takoda and Eden, in Kyiv, Ukraine
Indeed, in many cases, people seem to believe that adopting the orthodox belief system of their social milieu instantly makes them a good person, letting them off the hook from actually doing hard work that might improve society.
Where people advance at all beyond slogans and vague attitudes, simplistic paradigms dominate. A one-dimensional “left-right” line model pretends to encompass all political ideas. Now, a geometric line takes up no space at all, so why would any society want to adopt as its political foundation something lacking space?
No wonder people feel lost; they take as their base a void.
Ancient cognitive blunders, such as collective guilt and magical thinking, also prevail. X racial group, Y economic class, or Z nationality supposedly generates all oppression and obstacles. If only the designated harmful group could be eliminated, the angelic remainder of humanity could finally enjoy eternal peace and prosperity. Proponents of these errors adopt a zero-sum logic and want governments to use state violence to humble perceived domestic oppressors or saboteurs.
One might wonder at a conjuncture wherein sophisticated technology coexists with beliefs and attitudes hardly more advanced than those of the medieval world, even if these vacuous ideas are different in their specifics, and even if they are dressed up in pseudo-academic claptrap.
In the context of this stagnant cognitive morass lacking space or meaningful contact with reality, this author proposes the pentagonal paradigm. It efficiently serves as an intellectual compass to guide policy; to reflect the dynamic, interactive relationship of its constituent elements; to anticipate events; to make sense of the past; and to expose the dysfunctional and deadly paradigms that pass as viable belief systems.
Both history and current conditions illustrate the unique relationship of these five elements.
In a healthy society, one perceives how these elements support and balance each other, leading to widespread and high-quality happiness.
In unhappy and dysfunctional societies, one can trace how the removal or debasing of one element corrupted the other four points of the pentagon.
Thus, aside from serving as a compass to guide future development, the pentagon enhances scholarly insight into historical vicissitudes.
When a moral actor grasps the joint, synergistic power of these five elements, he is unlikely to perpetrate the harms caused by one-dimensional ideologies or by policies based on disjointed slogans.
The highest point of the pentagon, human dignity refers to those factors that reflect human nature and that allow citizens to feel like valued members of the polity. Sub-elements of human dignity include respect for individuality, physical safety, family life and reproduction, work, health (healthcare), education, property, spirituality, and culture.
Most ideologies minimize or repudiate some of these sub-elements and thus inevitably fail to achieve their aims. For example, state communism rejects private property and thus the fruit of labor, transforming work into slavery. This slavery of course can only be imposed through deceit and violence; it can only be maintained through brutal dictatorship. Radical libertarianism, on the other hand, pretends that the state has no role in promoting healthcare and education. This fails because populations will not defend a system that does not uphold their dignity.
Social and economic liberties are key to ensuring high-quality happiness. The full blossoming of individuality and of communities does not occur through one-man rule, state power, or bureaucracy. Those agents lack the ability to coordinate the infinitely-complex production and needs of a society of any size. Likewise, they cannot know the proclivities and potential of individuals better than those individuals themselves.
Like the other pentagonal elements, liberty is dynamically supported by the others but is also limited by them. All of the elements must develop jointly and proportionately to achieve full synergistic power.
Democracy means more than adult citizens choosing their leaders through peaceful and frequent elections. It denotes a solutions-driven political process, not personality cults, nor reflexive ethnic voting.
It seeks to improve the present and the future for all elements of society, not to stir up ethnic or nationalistic grievances from the past.
It creates an effective system of justice to repress violence, fraud, and environmental degradation, while ensuring a state monopoly on the use of violence.
It implements the rule of law and equality before the law.
Although it seeks to promote equality of opportunity, it recognizes this can never be absolute. It rejects equal outcomes for all individuals or all demographic groups; since this can only be achieved through violence, deceit, and slavery; leading to generalized poverty except for a political elite.
Although this element primarily refers to fealty to the polity, complete loyalty includes fidelity to oneself, one’s family, one’s neighborhood, and humanity in general.
Real loyalty is more than an absence of treason or deceit. It means élan in serving others while also developing oneself.
Loyalty is not obedience to a despotic government or a dictator, but protecting people while upholding all the pentagonal elements.
Innovation refers to constant experimentation, reform, and improvement in favor of the polity and all its stakeholders. Countless historical examples demonstrate that a free and empowered society can best achieve progress in all its dimensions, whereas unfree, oppressed people fail to advance. Sub-elements of innovation include the personal, cultural, and technological.
Clearly, without innovation, polities cannot compete with rivals, defend themselves, or achieve their full potential.
Sustainability denotes those factors of societal success that can be protected — but not easily created — and which are necessary prerequisites for any strong polity. These include nature, human biological vitality (physical and intellectual), fiscal soundness, and social sense of unity.
The five elements of the pentagon, combined with sustainability in time, render Pentagonism a three-dimensional pentagonal prism. For navigating a complex world, this evidence-based ideology is vastly more effective than existing one-dimensional belief systems lacking meaningful contact with reality.
In the coming months, this author will apply the pentagonal tool to current issues, historical developments, and future prospects. These articles will disseminate enlightenment; demonstrate the power of this framework for processing information; and reveal the dynamic, synergistic relationship of the pentagonal elements.