What if there was a way to transform society and create a more caring, equitable, and connected world? Join us as we sit down with Riane Eisler, founder of the Center for Partnership Systems, to explore her pioneering work and the Power of Partnership. Riane shares her own journey, which began with her early childhood experiences as a refugee fleeing the Nazis, and delves into how the domination and partnership systems have shaped our world for millennia – affecting family, gender, and economics.
As we dive deeper, Riane sheds light on the partnership - domination social scale that provides a lens through which we can transform cultures for a world that values caring, nature and shared prosperity. She also describes the resources and tools that are available at the Center for Partnership Systems to support the shift to Partnership.
Don't miss this insightful conversation on building a kinder, more connected society through the transformative power of the Partnership ethos.
This episode edited by Cherri Jacobs Pruitt and Reel Lyfe Productions; recorded at Dog House Studios, Lafayette, CO USA
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Welcome to the introductory episode of the Power of Partnership podcast. I'm Rianne Eisler, founder of the Center for Partnership Systems. This podcast brings you voices from the partnership movement people using partnership practices to build a world that values caring nature and shared prosperity. The Power of Partnership podcast is hosted by Jerry Jacobs Pruitt, a health policy and partnership scholar. Today's episode describes my journey pioneering the partnership movement. And now to today's POP Power of Partnership podcast.Speaker 2:
Welcome, Rianne. It is such an honor to be interviewing you for this first episode of the Power of Partnership podcast. Your research, writing and speaking on cultural transformation has changed the lives of so many people worldwide And I'm thrilled to be able to share so many of their stories through this podcast. Can we begin today by you sharing with us what led you to develop the partnership movement?Speaker 1:
Well, thank you, and it's a pleasure to be with you And I am delighted to do this interview. I start with my childhood, because my passion for this work and, yes, i have a great passion for it is rooted in my early childhood experiences as a child refugee with my parents from the Nazis, and we fled my native Vienna. At night just was what we could carry. My parents were able to obtain an entry permit to Cuba, one of the two places in the world that we could go to. The other one was Shanghai, china, and there I grew up in industrial slums of Havana, experiencing it first, until my parents got back on their feet. Poverty surrounded by poverty, and all this really led me to questions that I'm sure many of you have asked. Does it have to be this way? When we humans have such an enormous capacity for caring for sensitivity, for creativity, why has there been so much insensitivity, violence, destructiveness And fast forward many years? it was these questions that eventually led to my multidisciplinary cross cultural research, trying to answer them, and the answer is a resounding yes. But we cannot see this answer unless we really step back and really think about societies in a whole systems way. Einstein said it. He said, you cannot solve problems with the same thinking that created them, with the same consciousness or lack of consciousness, really that created them. It was only when I stepped back and really looked at the patterns, forgot about the conventional social categories and looked at the patterns, the configurations that kept repeating themselves, cross culturally, trans, historically. And, yes, drawing from many disciplines, not just one, i was able to connect the dots. I was able to see two configurations. There were no names for them, so I called one the domination system. And, yes, it's what we're trying to leave behind. It's what happened in our prehistory the imposition of top down authoritarian, rigidly male, dominated, punitive, violent societies and what, how we lived, how we lived for millennia and what we're trying to really recover in many really disconnected ways. But it's all part of the movement towards what I've called a partnership configuration in which in families, in education, in religion, in politics and economics, you have a very, very different social configuration.Speaker 2:
So can you speak about how these different paradigms, this domination and partnership configuration plays out in societies today?Speaker 1:
Absolutely Well, if we look at modern history through the lens of the partnership domination social scale and it is a social scale and it is a lens and it's really, as I write in my most recent book, nurturing our humanity, which came out with Oxford University Press in 2019, there is a biocultural, biocultural partnership domination lens. If we look at societies through this new lens, we see that what we're trying to leave behind and what the people pushing us back really focus on is, top down, authoritarian, dominated, punitive, violent relations in families, all the way to tribes, to societies, to states. You see that they focus on these four cornerstones. One is family and childhood. We know from neuroscience that nothing less than how our brains, the architecture of our brains and is formed and hence how we think, how we feel, how we act, how we vote yes, how we vote is that that is affected by our early environments. It's not genes, but the interaction of genes with our environments, which, for humans, are cultural, social, as mediated in our very early times primarily by families. So it's not coincidental that they pay so much attention to family and they talk about a quote traditional family. But it's not traditional. Look, putin in 2018, substantially reduced the penalty for family violence. He and all of these others religious, secular, modern, ancient right left, capitalist, socialist. You know Hitler's Germany, stalin's, from a Soviet Union. They recognized what Putin did The relationship between a top-down authoritarian, rigidly male-dominated, punitive and often violent family with that kind of a state. Putin recognized it. We need to recognize it. And we also need to recognize the second cornerstone gender. You know, gender is not just a women's issue and these people recognize that. You know, they're all into these very rigid gender stereotypes. You're either a man or a woman, nothing in between, gender fluidity not permitted. And yes, we have inherited from more rigid domination times a gendered system of values, which is anything coded feminine, like caring, caregiving, nonviolence, is considered inferior to anything coded masculine, and I say coded because this has nothing to do with anything really inherent in women. And then there are caring men and they're very uncaring women And we all know this. But this is the system that we've inherited and it translates into the fourth cornerstone, which is economics. But it's really an economics where those on top, as in the family right, are the ones that rightfully are there. You know, the gap in the United States between the heads of major corporations and what workers earn is unbelievable. I mean unbelievably. It would take a worker 75 years to just earn, at best, what one of these people earn in one year. I mean it is trickle down, top down domination economics, and we need a very different economics that does not incorporate, like capitalism, socialism and GDP and GNP, this gendered system of values, that system that recognizes the economic value of caring for people, starting at birth, especially in our post-industrial knowledge service era right, and also caring for our natural life support system. And, of course, story and language. We humans live by stories And think of the fairy tales that were taught to children. I mean, they were traumatizing, weren't they? You know evil witches eating children. You know you can't trust anyone except oh, it idealized those on top princes, kings, queens. I mean, you have to really look at it through this lens to see what this is all about. So we need to have an integrated political, social and economic agenda.Speaker 2:
Do we have examples of countries? Yeah, can you speak? can you share some of those examples We have?Speaker 1:
societies for millennia, foraging societies that the anthropologists and my co-author of nurturing our humanity, the anthropologist Douglas Fry, cause the original partnership societies. They conform to that configuration In the chalice, in the blade. I talk about Chatalhuyak, for example, the largest neolithic society ever discovered. Minoan Crete was another example, an outlier really, after the shift to a domination system was beginning to really take root all over. But it was an island in the Mediterranean, no signs of destruction through warfare like in Chatalhuyak. For a thousand years Women played a major role. It was before women became really male chattels, technologies of a sexuality and of reproduction. And that's it Again, fast forwarding. If you look at northern European nations like Finland, like Sweden, like Norway, like Denmark, they're not socialists, they are more partnership-oriented societies. They are first of all in both the family and the state or tribe. They are really much, much more democratic, more egalitarian. But this relates to the second, really winterstone of these systems of partnership systems. Women in these nations are 40% to 50% of the national legislature, but they really are societies in which they call themselves often caring societies. They have universal childcare with good pay, good training. You know we have a very. This gender system of values is so peculiar. I mean, we insist that, for example, plumbers be trained you know the people to whom we entrust our pipes, right, but we don't insist that childcare workers be trained and paid. Well, i mean, this is reality soon on its head, isn't it? And we need to stand reality on its a right side up. And, of course but it isn't that only that women are trained to be caring in domination systems. It's a dynamic of these systems that, as the status of women rises, men too, because it's men who also vote for these caring policies. You know, good, very extensive pay, parental leave for both mothers and fathers, for example, caring for the environment. As the status of women rises, men no longer feel it's such a threat to their status, to their masculinity, as defined in the old domination system. So they too vote for caring policies. And, of course, if you look at these societies, yes, they do a value caring for people, starting at birth and caring for our natural life support systems. They're way ahead of us in combating climate change by you know, really, carbon emissions are lower, et cetera. So it's a lot that I'm trying to communicate here, but we do need to free ourselves from the categories we have inherited from more rigid domination times. It is really interesting. If you look at modern history through this lens, what you see is that every single progressive social movement has actually challenged the same thing a tradition of domination, whether it was the Enlightenment, so-called rights of man movement, challenging the so-called divinely ordained. You know, i mean, that's it. You know, god fearing and divinely ordained are the two catchwords really in domination oriented religion. So it was supposed to be divinely ordained that kings and nobles rule over their core subjects. Then, if you look at the abolitionists, the anti-colonial, the civil rights, the Black Lives Matter movement, what are they challenging? Another tradition of domination, the so-called again, divinely ordained right of a quote superior race to rule over an inferior one. If you look at the feminist movement, the contemporary global women's rights movement, they're challenging another so-called divinely ordained right of men to rule over the women and children in the quote castles you know a military metaphor of their homes all the way to the environmental movement, challenging our once hallowed and idealized conquest and domination of nature, and that, at our level of technology of population, is about to do us in. So. But we have failed to pay sufficient attention to these four cornerstones of family, of gender, of economics and of story and language, and we must. We need an integrated frame And the partnership domination social scale gives us that frame.Speaker 2:
So let's talk just a bit about your books, and of course, the title of this podcast series is the power of partnership, and today's episode featuring you is titled The Partnership Way, which are two of the books that you've written. Can you speak a little bit about how these two books came to be and how our listeners can learn from these books how to move towards the partnership end of the continuum throughout all aspects of their lives?Speaker 1:
Well, these are really workbooks that you're talking about. You know, the first two books, drawing from my research, were The Childless and the Blade. The subtitle is Our History, our Future, and that's exactly what it's about, and it really is about our history, both halves of you know there are two forms of humanity, male and female, and if you rank one over the other and if you also have these rigid gender stereotypes which you need for this ranking, what you get is what we've got, which is in-group versus out-group thinking, whether it's based in difference, becomes equated with dominating or being dominated, with superiority and inferiority, with being served or serving right. The second book that I wrote, which was called Sacred Pleasure, which is in itself a heresy because, think about it, domination systems are really based on fear of pain, aren't they? The second book, sex Myth and the Politics of the Body, is the subtitle of a book that applies the partnership, domination, social scale to both sexuality and spirituality, and it's one of my favorite books actually. But then I started to turn to what do we do both the partnership way, which I wrote with my wonderful late husband, david Lloyd. It's a workbook for both jealous and for Sacred Pleasure to, really, with a lot of experiential exercises and so forth, and I really highly recommend it. And then there is also the power of partnership, like the name of our wonderful podcast with you, but it is really well. it won the Nautilus Award as the best self-help book of that year. First of all, each chapter has going further, questions, exercises, et cetera, but it starts with how we relate to ourselves And, yes, it uses the partnership domination social scale. Do we have this noise in our heads, this voice telling us we're not good enough? So, really, the power of partnership goes on then to our intimate relations, family and other intimate relations, to our work and community relations. But it doesn't stop there, because it's all of one clause. It then goes on to our national relations, our international relations, our relationships with our Mother Earth, with nature, with our natural life support systems, and to our spiritual relations, because spirituality can be very much. You know, religion, the spirituality of our conventional religions that we've inherited.Speaker 2:
What I wanted to ask you to speak about is the Center for Partnership Systems how that was founded and what types of resources and support can our listeners find at the Center?Speaker 1:
Well, it was really founded as there was such a response. You know, i didn't know how the child is in the blade which challenges so many gillens right would be received. But first of all, i mean one response was I've always known this somehow, but you have brought forth the evidence for it. A lot of men have given that book to actually even to the women in their lives who didn't know about it And one of the responses from men. Finally, in partnership there's a system with a place for me And that has been really marvelous. So the center was founded as a response to that response And it was the childless first came out in 1986. So the center is over 35 years old now And it's pretty amazing for not for profit to last that long. And we've done many, many things And if you go to our website, centerforpartnershiporg, you look at history, you'll see how we have really had an impact. But to come to right now and to come to the resources, we offer many resources Also for families. We offer a caring and connected parenting guide. Alicia Arando wrote it based on really the newest neuroscience. It's been endorsed by top pediatricians, by Nobel Prize winning, but it's available for free in both English and in Spanish And it's short and it's to the point. We have developed a technology toolkit because technology is really values neutral. It depends on how it is programmed We see that very much and how it is used. And, yes, we also have now shortened it and condensed it and updated it, also for general use, and it's really asking us to really look at our socialization And, yes, uses the partnership nomination, social scale and the four cornerstones. We are working on a new index. As I said, i wrote a book, the Real Wealth of Nations, and the subtitle is creating a caring economics, a caring economics of partnerism that really recognizes the economic value of caring for people, starting a person, caring for our natural life support systems And there are statistics on this. But, like our social movements, we're all over the place, like the professors, social movements, you know, whereas it's really all part of the partnership movement. So we are trying to bring this together. It's about. We launched the first iteration and you can find out about it at our website in 2014, with a grant from the Kellogg Foundation. We're trying to really show not just a snapshot of what is like so-called other, as a so-called GDP, alternatives, but also show what investments, what inputs create better outputs. And there's no question, like the United States has the highest child mortality, the highest infant poverty, child poverty rate, the highest maternal poverty, you know, mortality rate of any developed quote, unquote nation And, not coincidentally, we invest the least in family support. Now is the time, because the old institutions, the old operating systems, whether they're economic or family or social, are not responding in this period of rapid technological, social, economic, climate change. And that's why I keep, you know, really pushing for read the real resolutions, read the child, listen to the blade and read, nurturing our humanity, because the evidence is so strong.Speaker 2:
In addition, the center's courses are another way to dig deeper into this information. So, specifically right now, the center is offering a special on the changing our story, changing our lives course. So through the summer the course is being offered at a 50% discount. So we hope that you also will dig deeper into the information by signing up for that course. You can sign up at the center's website, which is centerforpartnershiporg. There will also be a link in the show notes for today's episode, so we hope that you'll take advantage of that, as well as all of Rianne's other works. So, rianne, before we end our discussion, i wonder if you have any final closing words for our listeners.Speaker 1:
Well, i believe in human creativity And if we know it's not just about deconstruction, about disruption. This work is about reconstruction, and we have historically learned that people respond much better to if we know what we're trying to build. That is so very, very important, and that's what this work is all about is to not just show what we're trying to leave behind, but what are we trying to build. And we're always back to the four corners, those of family and childhood, of gender, which are marginalized, ignored economics, but a new economics, a caring economics of partnerism And the story and language, especially our stories about human nature, which are false, which are untrue, and we're finding out from neuroscience And from many, many disciplines. Really, for example, we feel good, don't we, when we care for others, whether it's for a lover or for a mother or a father, for a child, even for a pet. That's human nature. We want caring connections And we need a social, economic and political and family system that rewards this. And we can have it. We have had it And we can, and there are millions of people in the world, in bits and pieces, trying to build it. So let's do it.Speaker 2:
Nice Well. thank you so much, Rianne, for all the work that you have done and are continuing to do, and for letting us be here with you today, virtually in this episode of the podcast. Thank you so much.Speaker 1:
It's been my pleasure and onward.Speaker 2:
Thank you for listening to the Power of Partnership podcast. We're grateful to Rising Appalachia for the use of resilience as our power of partnership theme music. If you would like us to feature your partnership story or if you would like to be a proud sponsor of the Power of Partnership podcast, please contact us at center at partnershipwayorg. We hope you enjoyed this episode and will leave us a review on your favorite podcast channel. And don't forget to subscribe to be notified when new episodes are released. I'm Cherry Jacobs Pruitt. See you next time on the Power of Partnership podcast. I am resilient.Speaker 3:
I trust the movements. I negate the chaos, uplift the negative. I'll show up at the table again and again and again. I'll close my mouth and learn to listen.