High-Modernist Global Ideology


How does a High-Modernist Global Ideology lead to disaster? 

Edited: 24/05/2024

Science and Technology Policy (STP) is a set of processes and decisions that aim to influence the use of science, technology and innovation (STI) for improving society. We define a High-Modernist Global Ideology as global sociotechnical authoritarian solutions and processes based on the perceived certainty that science and technology will solve the sociotechnical problems and create a better society. However, has STP and a High-Modernist Global Ideology contributed to destroying democracy by the institutional arrangement that gives authority only to those at the top of the social hierarchy (Mumford, 1964).

From the Industrial Revolution to a Global Socio-economic Transition

The Industrial Revolution began in England at the end of the 18th Century, leading to the diffusion of knowledge, complimentary assets, specialisation of skills and creating great wealth for many nations  (Pérez, 2010). The propagation of knowledge, complimentary assets and wealth however, became unevenly distributed around the world (Pérez, 2010) and the current techno-economic paradigm, it has been argued, has had negative consequences on the environment, society, and the economy. Firms are locked into business models stifling new growth with no financial incentive to build to better standards, incumbents need encouragement to change to a sustainable business model and to promote new markets allowing market forces to dictate the outcome or be displaced. Lock-in mechanisms can stabilise a socio-economic system (investments, behaviour patterns, vested interests, infrastructure, subsidies and regulations) (Geels, 2010).

Carson (1962) highlighted how mistakes can be made while attempting to make (perceived) improvements. With contemporary issues in science, the old adage that “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” is an apt statement; well-intentioned actions (such as a polarised ideological agenda) and policies can have unintended negative consequences if they do not consider the broader context of the whole system (Bohm, 1992; Carson, 1962; Howes, 2014; Pellow, 2014; Watts, 1951).

Silent Spring

Carson (1962) was credited with launching the modern environmental movement and raising awareness about the dangers of pesticides and other chemical pollutants. Carson argued that the extensive use of pesticides, caused serious environmental harm and risks to human health (Carson, 1962). Carson criticises the practices of the chemical industry and government regulators, arguing that they were prioritising industry profits over environmental and public health concerns. The book “Silent Spring” (Carson, 1962) had a meaningful impact on public opinion and led to the banning of several harmful pesticides, including Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), an organo-chloride crystalline chemical compound originally developed as an insecticide: it became infamous for its environmental impacts even though it was very effective. Ironically, after the DDT ban in 1972 by the WHO there was a high cost to human lives until new solutions became available (Moore & Albert, 2010) and it has been argued that her book contained many errors and many of the bold claims never happened (Gershon, 2019; Gilmore, 2017; Meiners, Desrochers, & Morriss, 2012; “The Power of a Book,” n.d.). “Silent Spring” was therefore criticised for ignoring the positive benefits of chemicals  (Morriss, Meiners, & Desroches, 2012; Springer, 2017; Twidle, 2013), however, it helped the modern environmental studies and science policy research.

A sustainable paradigm & partnerships between industry and government

Sustainability has been defined as “the particular system qualities of human well-being, social equity and environmental integrity” (Leach, Scoones, & Stirling, 2007). It is associated with the conservation and permanency with regards to protecting the planet, how we perceive it should be, usually on the premise of Mankind verses Nature (Gregory, 2018; Russell, 1928; Sang, 2009; Watts, 1951) although Bohm (1980) emphasised that we cannot control nature. With regards to “sustainable development” it is defined as the ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (Keeble, 1988).

Due to the perceived concerns about climate change, resource depletion, and increases in social inequality the transition to a sustainable techno-economic regime is important for policymakers around the world (Drechsler, Kattel, & Reinert, 2009; Eyre & Killip, 2019). Achieving a sustainable future could be improved by careful consideration of a range of social, economic, and environmental factors. Sustainability is thus a political process associated with a variety of contested decisions that can be uncertain and ambiguous (Demeritt et al., 2011). Policies are developed in line with sustainability. Policies are methods that can be framed with a defined governing process, and adopted, implemented and enforced by a public body to solve an apparent problem on the political agenda (Knill & Tosun, 2012).

With the framing of climate change as a ‘wicked problem’ it has come to be seen as an existential threat (Massey, 2022). Similarly, the recent pandemic has been framed as a wicked or super wicked problem (Auld, Bernstein, Cashore, & Levin, 2021; Schiefloe, 2021). The concept of wicked problems that was originally developed in the literature by Rittel & Webber (1973) describes policy problems that are complex and difficult to solve. They do not fit into the conventional contemporary models of policy analysis and cannot be clearly defined (Rittel & Webber, 1973). It has been argued that if many of what are contemporarily perceived as ‘wicked problems’ are analysed -using a rigid definition – then they often do not meet the criteria (Peters, 2017).

Science and Technology Policy

Science and Technology Policy (STP) is a set of processes and decisions that aim to influence the use of science, technology and innovation (STI) for improving society. This could be for the purpose of, for example, economic growth, social welfare, environmental protection, or national security (Strings, 2022). STP is very broad, involving many governing agencies causing coordination problems, inconsistencies and confusion between regulatory and promotional policies, a comprehensive policy mix must consider path dependency and lock-in. Policy needs to balance energy security, economic development, with environmental impacts and society concerns (Kates, Parris, & Leiserowitz, 2005). STP can play a crucial role in defining the direction of innovation towards sustainable goals. Innovation is the, often uncertain, process of taking a novel idea, process or product and commercialising it with the aim of making and improving a concept, process or product for successful commercial exploitation (Coad et al., 2014). The partnerships between governments and industry could therefore lead to a more sustainable outcome. However, idealisation of schemes based on the rational design of social order based on natural laws is a ‘High-Modernist’ scheme, as defined by Scott (1998).

A ‘High-Modernist’ scheme was defined by Scott (1998) as idealisation of the rational design of social order based on natural laws. Many of Scott’s examples describe promoting technological process and function over humanitarian and holistic ecological processes where there is a lack of empathic connection between those at the grassroots and the policy decision-makers. Hence, if we fail to consider the broader aspects of democracy, rely on the map not the territory, and science advocacy, there is the risk that it too will promote a high-modernist ideology. A transition to any sustainable techno-economic regime, could therefore be representative of a High-Modernist ideology.

Polarisation in contemporary science

Several scholars have examined the implications of polarisation and division in contemporary science with regards to the pursuit of sustainability (Kahan, Jenkins-Smith, & Braman, 2010; Pumphrey, R. L., Decker, D. J., & Newman, 2017; Stoker & Curry, 2020). Kahan (et al., 2010) argued that the polarisation on climate change issues is driven by cultural and ideological values shaping public perceptions of risk and uncertainty rather than scientific ignorance. Pumphrey (R. L. et al., 2017) suggested that political polarisation hinders the development and implementation of policies and technologies aimed at promoting sustainability and stated that there is a need for greater collaboration among different stakeholders to overcome this obstacle. Stoker and Curry (2020) argue that climate change has become a highly politicised issue, with opinions divided along ideological, cultural, and economic lines.

Some scholars argue that this division between science and academia can motivate researchers to explore innovative approaches for promoting sustainability (Miller, 2019; Schlosberg, Collins, & Niemeyer, 2017). Schlosberg et al. (2017) discuss the concept of “environmental justice” and argue that it can provide a more nuanced and comprehensive framework for promoting sustainability, one that considers issues of power, representation, and social equity. Miller (2019) argues that the pursuit of sustainable development is an opportunity to rethink existing power structures and engage in transformative change at a systemic level: the sustainable Urban Delta is an example of this; it stimulates the population in cities to become food producing communities, thereby creating a healthy and sustainable living environment through inspiring and empowering residents to act (“Sustainable Urban Delta,” n.d.). Similarly, Auroville, an experimental university township developed in partnership with UNESCO in Viluppuram district was founded in 1968 by Mirra Alfassa. Auroville’s vision is to realize human unity in diversity, and to be a site of material and spiritual researches for a living embodiment of an actual human unity (Auroville, 2023; Taneja, 2018). Society can thus avoid polarisation and make effective decisions (Dryzek et al., 2019). However, Kahan (et al., 2010) state that the polarisation of science communication is a contributing factor preventing the development of effective sustainable solutions. This is not a true path (Watts, 1951).

Irrational beings

Democracies rely on norms and ‘the rule of law. This depends on rational analysis (Barnhizer & Candeub, 2019).  Many scholars have argued that the majority of people are possibly irrational and unable to discern what might be considered a logical argument, being influenced by emotion and desires they are susceptible to manipulation (Homans, Pareto, Finer, & Mirfin, 1966; Huxley, 1974; Krishnamurti, 2018; LeBon, 2009; Li, Ashkanasy, & Ahlstrom, 2014; Medearis, 2001; Nye, 1977).

“Once you have crafted lenses that change your perspective, it is a great temptation to look at everything through the same spectacles.”  (Scott, 1998)

The polarisation of science makes the information accessible to the public and can enable saliency in the development of new policy. However, when science is taken as a matter of fact, an ideological belief in the scientific and technical processes can develop where science advocacy replaces honest science (Bohm, 1980; Pielke, 2007). Scott (1998) compared the ideology to being a map, rather than the territory: it is not a complete understanding, it is fragmented (Bohm, 1980; Scott, 1998). When the message is fragmented and polarised, this can lead to conflict or disaster (Bohm, 1980, 1992; Bohm, Kelly, & Morin, 1996; Bohm & Krishnamurti, 2004; Briggs, 2016, 2021). The world is a complex dynamic system and a fixed belief taken as fact is a presumption (Bohm, 1980, 1992).

“If we supposed that theories gave true knowledge, corresponding to ‘reality as it is’, then we would have to conclude that Newtonian theory was true until around 1900, after which it suddenly became false, while relativity and quantum theory suddenly became the truth. Such an absurd conclusion does not arise, however, if we say that all theories are insights, which are neither true nor false but, rather, clear in certain domains, and unclear when extended beyond these domains” (Bohm, 1980).

Ideology & the Illusion of Choice

Governments follow an ideology that is the map not the territory, they direct certain legislative orders, “based on their limited knowledge, their inclinations, their prejudices, and their personal experiences” using propaganda to make the whole country comply (Krishnamurti, 1957). Other political decision-making strategies involve acting before a threat becomes imminent or certain, based on the supposition that inaction will lead to a greater cost than if action was taken (Pielke, 2007). This can create saliency for policy adoption by creating value disputes through information, Pielke (2007) referred to this as “pre-emptive political decisions”. An example of this was the pre-emptive political decision which justified the claim that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and posed an imminent danger to the US and its allies providing saliency for the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003  (Pielke, 2007). 

With “pre-emptive political decisions” there can be negative consequences when a government’s – or inter-governmental organisation’s – message is misleading. Without considering the broader context policy-makers risk developing policies that could have unintended negative consequences and potential lock-in to an inferior path. For example, with regards to socio-economic inequality, the push for renewable energy technologies may result in the displacement of workers and the concentration of industry in already affluent regions (Jorgenson, Shwom, & Jordaan, 2018). Without a focus on social equity and justice, initiatives can perpetuate existing inequalities, particularly for marginalised communities (Schlosberg et al., 2017).

“The masses have never thirsted after truth. They turn aside from evidence that is not to their taste, preferring to deify error, if error seduces them. Whoever can supply them with illusions is easily their master; whoever attempts to destroy their illusions is always their victim.” 
(Gustave Le Bon, 2009, a standard English translation of the work originally published in 1895 in France as La psychologie des foules).

In La Psychologie des Foules Le Bon stated that those who control the illusion are the masters of the masses (Le Bon, 1905; LeBon, 2009). There are many examples of where the media has a huge influence in the types and ways that information is perceived by the public (Feynman, 1999; Ottati, Wilson, & Lambert, 2016). Barnhizer & Candeub (2019) argued that the illusion of truth, or “fake news”, undermines the rule of law and favours the political control by a dominant oligarchic elite. The media in general agree with the government because their action is dictated by vested ideological or financial interests of the politicians (Krishnamurti, 1957).

“The more cunning the organizer, the greater the possibility of controlling man’s mind” (Krishnamurti, 1957).

Parenti (1986) stated that entertainment and news are tools for advertisers to promote their goals and the corporate and government elites control the news and the opinions disseminated in the media, making choice apparent but, an illusion (Parenti, 1986). With the STP, corporate and government cooperation could therefore inadvertently promote dominant oligarchic elites setting the agenda.

Liberal democracies, elites and charitable foundations

Liberal democracy has been considered the start of fraud masking the continued rule by elites (Fukuyama, 2015). Elites, MNCs (Multinational Corporations) and charitable foundations appear to have control of the media through their partnerships with governments and they in turn enhance polarisation (Dryzek et al., 2019).  Although the media isn’t the only cause of ‘misguided’ information (Rosling, 2019) there is a correlation between the amount of coverage of issues in the media and the public’s level of concern and this may influence policy adoption (Kingdon, 1995; Murphy & Devine, 2018; Mutz & Soss, 1997).

Parenti (1986) states that the media self-censor and “faithfully serves the official viewpoint” but do not always do so in the ways that policy makers want. Priming and telling the public about a topic before they can rationalise it are both tools that are used by the media (Entman, 2007; Lowery, Eisenberger, Hardin, & Sinclair, 2007; Ottati et al., 2016; Parenti, 1986). Misleading the public  creates a false reality (Hood, 2011; Lightfoot & Ratzer, 2022; Parenti, 1986, 1996, 2001; Sobieraj & Berry, 2011). 

“I think we live in an unscientific age in which almost all the buffeting of communications and television words, books, and so on are unscientific. That doesn’t mean they are bad, but they are unscientific. As a result, there is a considerable amount of intellectual tyranny in the name of science” (Feynman, 1999).

Similarly, planned campaigns to frighten the public create controversy (Catt, 2023; Daily Telegraph, 2023) and this has been called the ‘demonology of spin’ (McNair, 2004). Bertrand Russel (2009) stated that such fear encourages a herd mentality where groups can end up persecuting those who do not comply “Neither a man nor a crowd nor a nation can be trusted to act humanely or to think sanely under the influence of a great fear” (Russell, 2009). This was seen in the recent pandemic by both government institutes and the general public.

“Under the influence of great fear, almost everybody becomes superstitious” (Russell, 2009).
“Fear generates impulses of cruelty, and therefore promotes such superstitious beliefs as seem to justify cruelty” (Russell, 2009).

In the UK, this has dominated both British political journalism, and academic writing on public relations (PR) since the rise of New Labour in the 1990s. McNair (2004) stated that there is a need for ethical constraints on both the PR and journalists but also concludes that an antagonistic relationship between both groups protects against the excesses of either, and makes the political process more transparent to the media audience; this however assumes that the public can discern between the spin, cause and effect, and the honest scientific facts, which may not be the case (Medearis, 2001). It also assumes that all opposing parties are not influenced by the same lobbyists (Iftinchi & Hurduzeu, 2018). The media also has an inclination to concentrate on personal traits and values rather than on the real context of an issue  – unless it can be sensationalised (Parenti, 1986).

Democracy & Global Governance

Medearis (2001) examined two different ideas of democracy that have been proposed by the economist Joseph A. Schumpeter, (1) a theory that emphasised the competitive nature of democratic elections and viewed democracy as a means of peaceful and periodic changes in leadership, and (2) a theory emphasised the role of political elites and argued that democracy is based on the idea of competition between leaders and political parties.

Parenti (1986) quoting Davis (1979) stated that the goal of the United States in the 1950 was to make the world safe for multinational corporate exploitation (Parenti, 1986). Fuller (2016) stated that the U.S.A. is the most difficult sovereignty to eliminate yet nations need to evolve into one global government.

At this point in our review of how economic and other social conditions have evolved to such a threateningly devastating future outlook for many if not all humans, we wish to recall that inexorable cosmic evolution is intent on integrating all humanity in one global government and, therefore, on eliminating all of planet Earth’s nations and on doing so in a hurry. The most difficult of all the world’s sovereignties to eliminate is clearly that of the U.S.A. We recall having forecast this termination of the U.S.A. at least fifteen years ago. The 150 nations are 150 clots in the economic bloodstream of our planet. The headlong rush into the atomic holocaust is in fact a far more threatening development than the natural economic demise of the U.S.A., which in fact may be viewed as simply a self-removingplanetary-economics-blood-clot event. -(Fuller, 2016)

In addition to this ‘minilateralism’ has been described (in a variety of policy areas, associated with trade, climate change, security, and development) as a type of global cooperation involving several countries working together on a specific topic or policies. ‘Minilateralism’ is a scaled down version of multilateralism and is potentially a way to dodge the challenges of global governance: it can lead to fragmentation and exclusion in international decision-making, thus undermining the principles of democracy, accountability, and transparency in global governance (Brummer, 2014).

“Authoritarian and Democratic Technics”

Mumford (1984) framed civilisation around two coexisting systems, which are named as, “Authoritarian and Democratic Technics”. “Technics” was defined as the artefacts and processes of science or of an art that can transform our environment (Mumford, 1934). “Authoritarian Technics” refer to a powerful system-centred process by authoritarian institutional or regime associated with central governance. “Democratic Technics” refer to a small personal community at the grassroots bottom-up (local agent).

‘Authoritarian and Democratic Technics’ were seen as two mutually exclusive systems that work in synergy to maintain a healthy equilibrium. Mumford argued that democracy can be destroyed by an authoritarian institutional arrangement that fails to consider the democratic grassroots. However, although the Authoritarian Technics is powerful, it is also inherently unstable, whereas Democratic Technics, although relatively weak, are resourceful and durable human-centred processes.

Authoritarian Technics are processes and procedures that serve the interests of a centralized system of power and control, while Democratic Technics are technologies that empower human creativity and freedom, using the local knowledge, tacit skills and diversity that are essential for human well-being. Examples of Authoritarian technics include national and international governance mechanisms. Examples of Democratic Technics include unions, local organisations and groups activists or protesters.

Disaster due to State-initiated social engineering schemes

Scott (1998) described the administrative ordering of nature and society as a large-scale state-initiated interventions with the intention to simplify, standardize and reform society and nature. Scott (1998) stated that a complete disaster – from a state-initiated social engineering scheme – could occur (1) if there was administrative ordering of nature and society, (2) with a High-Modernist ideology; (3) where a willing and able authoritarian state enabled the High-Modernist ideology; and (4) the civil society was suppressed and unable to resist the plans. A suppressed civil society is defined as one that is deprived of its autonomy and diversity by the state’s intervention: it is one that is subjected to the High-Modernist ideology, where the state imposes the administrative order on the complex and diverse real situation. All four elements (above) are required for a complete disaster (Scott, 1998).

“Where it goes brutally wrong is when the society subjected to such utopian experiments lacks the capacity to mount a determined resistance” (Scott, 1998).

Global governance & NGOs

Global governance organisations, such as the World Health Organisation (WHO), the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the United Nations’ (UN), are collaborating with elite organisations to develop policies on a global scale. Examples of global policies that involve the WHO, the WEF, and the UN (and other elite organisations) include: (1) the Strategic Partnership Framework between the WEF and the UN (its aims are to speed up the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (WEF, 2019); (2) the Great Reset initiative by the WEF (this proposes to reshape the global economy and society since the COVID-19 pandemic; it has been criticised as enhancing the interests of corporations and elites (Wecke, 2021).

“Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity towards those who are not regarded as members of the herd”
(Russell, 2009).

The UN and partnerships

On a global scale, the United Nations (UN) mission statement is “the maintenance of international peace and security” and was originally established to stop the loss of lives through destruction of property from wars (UN, n.d.-a, n.d.-b). The development of policies in line with the United Nations sustainable development goals could also be perceived as instrumental in the creation of a ‘sustainable’ future. These common goals could unite the world. With the growing links and reliance between the UN and partnerships with corporations and philanthropic foundations there is a growing risk that UN agencies, funds and programmes are eroding the multilateral character of – and undermining -democratic global governance (Seitz & Martens, 2017). The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 17 clearly promotes such collaborations. “The SDG 17, Partnerships Guidebook” describes how multi-stakeholder partnerships can build relationships to deliver exceptional results with the Sustainable Development Goals (UN, 2022). Multinational corporations (MNCs) can reduce risk by engaging with government officials and politicians by lobbying and advocacy to influence policy adoption (Iftinchi & Hurduzeu, 2018). However, Iftinchi & Hurduzeu (2018) discuss the lack of transparency and public disclosure at the UN. Charities such as the Gates and the Rockefeller Foundations have considerable influence on political developments, but they are not accountable to the ‘beneficiaries’ of their activities.

Institutional and market structures can influence policy adoption and can lead to path dependencies. Where the adoption of new policies plays a crucial role in developing new systems, there may be negative consequences and a lock-in to an inferior path, if policy makers are not mindful of their choices (Fouquet, 2016; Unruh, 2000, 2002). This implies that some agents for policy change may not be ‘fit for purpose.’ We can thus define a High-Modernist Global Ideology as global sociotechnical authoritarian solutions and processes based on the perceived certainty that science and technology will solve the sociotechnical problems and create a better society (Scott, 1998).

Examples of administrative ordering of nature

Example 1: Changes in Farming Techniques to Promote the Green Agenda

According to the World Economic Forum (WEF) farming can become more sustainable and help fight climate change (WEF, 2021a). The WEF (2021) have listed many ways farming can become more sustainable to fight the perceived climate change agenda. No-till farming is a technique involving planting seeds in small holes in the soil without disturbing the rest of the soil. This reduces CO₂ emissions from soil microbes and preserves soil carbon and quality. Regenerative farming is a technique that focuses on restoring soil health by using cover crops, crop rotation, compost, and animal manures. This enhances soil fertility, biodiversity, and carbon sequestration. Organic farming is a technique that only uses natural pest control methods and biological fertilizers, without any chemicals or pesticides. This protects soil quality, water resources, and human and animal health. Technology and innovation use digital tools to monitor and optimize crop production, reduce food waste, and improve supply chain efficiency. This can save water, energy, and land resources, and increase food security. Vertical farming uses innovation to produce food crops in controlled environments reducing the need to use valuable land resources  (WEF, 2021a).

With these farming schemes, the local knowledge, tacit skills and diversity that are essential for human well-being appear to have been ignored. Many farmers are against the proposed and imposed authoritarian changes in farming techniques that are by the global green agenda. Although the dispute is multi-faceted and a complex issue associated with socio-economic issues including cost of living, cheaper foreign imports and global climate change (ideology) (BBC News, 2024; Guardian, 2024), Farmers are concerned that  these new techniques will reduce their productivity, profitability, and competitiveness (The Guadian, 2024). Due to this, protests and conflicts between farmers and authorities have started in France, Belgium, Germany, Spain, and Italy. According to the mainstream media (MSM) farmers demand more recognition, protection, and assistance from the governments and the EU to cope with the changing market and regulatory conditions (BBC News, 2024; Guardian, 2024). MSM presumes a top-down government solution is required to solve this protest. However, the perspective of Scott (1998) and Mumford (1964) it appears that farmers have not been adequately consulted, compensated, or supported by the policymakers and stakeholders and are therefore sceptical about the effectiveness and necessity of the new techniques to address the perceived environmental challenges.

The farmers dispute illustrates (1) the administrative ordering of nature and society, (2) with a High-Modernist Global Warming Ideology; (3) a willing and apparently able authoritarian state implementing schemes associated with the High-Modernist ideology; This is three out of the four steps that could lead to disaster. The fourth being a suppressed civil society unable to resist these plans (Scott, 1998).

Example 2: Ultra-low emissions zones (ULEZ)

The ULEZ Scheme is an authoritarian policy that aims to reduce air pollution due to perceived climate change (ideology) from drivers of vehicles that do not meet certain emission standards by charging a daily fee in London. The Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) covers all London boroughs and operates 24/7, every day of the year, except Christmas Day. The daily charge for non-compliant cars, motorcycles, vans and minibuses is £12.50, while lorries and buses pay £100 (“Ultra Low Emission Zone – Transport for London,” n.d.). This has caused much controversy since it’s expansion and local grassroots movements are opposing the scheme (BBC News, 2023; Guardian, 2023; Ma, Graham, & Stettler, 2021). There is however much resistance to these plans by a vigilante group called the Bladerunners (Sayce, 2023; Somerville & Bullen, 2023).

This scheme, according to Scott(1998) is (1) an authoritarian administrative ordering of society, (2) with a High-Modernist Global Warming Ideology; (3) a willing government implementing schemes associated with the High-Modernist ideology; Again, this is three out of the four steps that could lead to disaster (Scott, 1998).

Example 3: 15-Minute Cities and Central Bank Digital Currency

“15-minute cities” are an urban planning concept that aims to create spaces where human needs are within a 15-minutes’ walk from their homes. They aim to promote health and sustainable living. The concept is being adopted in various cities around the world, however it has been criticised as (1) it risks excluding some disadvantaged communities, (2) there are difficulties providing diverse and affordable services in all neighbourhoods, and (3) the potential backlash from car users and businesses (WEF, 2021b).

Some people have concerns that link 15 minute cities to plots to control people’s movements and choices with the use of digital currency (Silva, 2023). Recently the President of the European Central Bank, Christine Lagarde stated that “Climate change” requires a redesign to the entire economy and financial system, in line with the “green” Net Zero transition – including the need to “reduce our carbon footprint in everything we do, from banknotes to how we supervise banks” (Lagarde, 2021).


These are a high-modernist ideologies associated with climate change and the development of a carbon neutral economy (Lagarde, 2021; Scott, 1998) by an authoritarian regime. Although this is yet to be fully implemented, there appears to be a willing and able European government able to implement the scheme. So far, it appears, local agents have not been involved in the process. Again, if true, this is three out of the four steps that could lead to disaster (Scott, 1998).

Example 4: Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Technology has made it possible for humans to exploit the forces of nature, and at the same time also become alienated from it (Bloom, 1991; Lakoff, 2014; Mearsheimer, 2018; Russell, 1928; Spengler, 2015). Modern innovative technology dominates our culture, the natural and organic is put aside (Spengler, 2015). Although Bohm (1980) emphasised that we cannot control nature, Spengler (2015) argued that after humans become the master of nature, humans will end up being a slave to technology and that many of the Western world’s great achievements may soon become spectacles for our descendants to marvel at, like the pyramids of Egypt or the baths of Rome. From Spengler’s perspective, the procedures and processes lend themselves to the AI future, however this may lead to issues at the grassroots, thus according to Scott (1998) this AI Authoritarian System implies a potential disaster.

Is the Road to Hell Paved with Global Intentions?

With regards to the road to hell being paved with global intentions, where the state and elite organisations develop authoritarian policies on a global scale, High-Modernist Global Ideology fails to consider the ‘representatives’ and the civil society at the grass roots (in which there is no direct financial gain). If, as Mumford stated, the Democratic Technics  (i.e. the technologies that empower human creativity and freedom, the local knowledge, tacit skills and diversity that are essential for human well-being) are ignored or stifled, then 3 out of the 4 elements (Scott, 1998) – that lead to a complete disaster – are present; the fourth element being a suppressed civil society unable to resist the plans.

Although the framing of this analysis is weighted towards exposing systemic faults in policy and processes, has global politics contributed to destroying democracy by the institutional arrangement that gives authority only to those at the top of the social hierarchy (Mumford, 1964)? With the implication of impending disaster due to the implementation of the High-Modernist Global Ideology, it is important that we consider how we can prevent a potential disaster. We need to identify policies and processes associated with the Global agenda that might lead to a disaster. We need to identify policies and processes that have been adopted and are leading to a disaster or suppressed civil society. There are a growing number of grass-roots organisations that could mount a determined resistance to a High-Modernist Global Ideology. Are these organisations justified? Or are they aiding the impending disaster? By framing the system around high-modernist ideology it can provide valuable insights that can help polity and policymakers implement impartial schemes that account for a wider aspect of the socio-economic system.


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