Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations Faced by Global Governance?


Anthony Judge | Laetus in Praesens - TRANSCEND Media Service

Interrelating the Array of Narratives, Plots, Agendas, Stories and Conspiracy Theories


2 May 2022 – There is a need to respond to the mish-mash of narratives, agendas, leakages, plots, stories and complicity theories to which many are exposed through the media on a daily basis. How is sense to be made of the variety of disparate perspectives, many of which deprecate and actively condemn the perspectives offered by others?

In a period readily defined in terms of warfare, even as a new Cold War, reference is made to the regrettable level of “propaganda” deployed by any opposing party. By contrast, reference is made to persuasive “narrative”, as appropriately crafted to clarify any preferred strategy. The propaganda traditionally associated with warfare can now be understood as replaced by carefully curated “narrative” in what is increasingly recognized as information warfare, if not cognitive warfare. Those who have the power to lie, are now unable to prove what they claim to be truthful.

The situation is further confused by the extent to which dramatic film portrayals are increasingly difficult to distinguish from the reality by which they may have been inspired. This has become especially clear through documentation of the degree to which the military-entertainment complex has funded many movies, video games and music videos (Stephen Stockwell and Adam Muir, The Military-Entertainment Complex: a new facet of information warfare, Fibreculture Journal, 1, 2003; David Sirota, How Your Taxpayer Dollars Subsidize Pro-War Movies and Block Anti-War Movies Connections between the Pentagon and the entertainment industry, HuffPost, 16 March 2011).

However it is only more recently that any indication of specific movies developed with that intention (Jonas E. Alexis, CIA and Pentagon behind “over 800 major movies and more than 1,000 TV tiitles.”, Veterans Today, 15 July 2017; Here Are 410 Movies Made Under the Direct Influence and Supervision of the Pentagon, ZeroHedge, 7 August 2018).

The extent of worldwide exposure to such dramatic depictions, and the psychosocial implications of cultivation of appreciation of such media violence, can indeed be deplored. Potentially more pertinent is the lack of capacity to produce alternative forms of entertainment. More intriguing, as it relates to the argument here is that possibility that the exposure to the dramatic situation depicted is a form of education through which a degree of familiarity with dramatic situations is developed.

Arguably many are developing insight — if unconsciously — into the pattern of situations depicted or expressed in narrative form. This suggests that a sense of coherence may well be latent and emergent. The question is whether conscious recognition of those patterns could be triggered by any means — raising the possibility of implications for forms of governance highly dependent on the cultivation of narratives.

This exploration is inspired by the much-cited early study identifying the array of dramatic situations and plots by Georges Polti (The Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations, 1916). This has more recently been revised, with examples from film, by Mike Figgis (The Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations, 2017).

Of relevance to this argument is the manner in which strategic commentary now makes reference to “dramatic situations” — increasingly beyond the scope of the systemic analyses favoured by think tanks and academia. Are there insights to be derived of relevance to global governance from the pattern of “dramatic situations” and the manner in which it is framed and reframed by narrative?

An early inspiration for this exploration has been an interpretation of the role of Mikhail Gorbachev in enabling the transformation of the USSR, as argued separately  (Gorbachev: Dramaturge ?! Participative Democracy vs. Participative Drama: Lessons on social transformation for international organizations from Gorbachev, 1991). Missing at the present time is an epic, operatic perspective on the dynamics of the global system — as a contrast to the devious narratives carefully cultivated from different perspectives.

In a period readily described as surreal, in which allegory is increasingly valued as a means of framing situations coherently, will the pattern of folk tales and fairy tales acquire an unsuspected function as a source of systemic insight (Surreal nature of current global governance as experienced, 2016; David W. Duffy, Governance in a Surreal World: the dark art of chairing a board in surreal and virtual times, Corporate Governance Institute, 23 September 2020).

Indicative of such a possibility is the comparison made byPradeep Kumar Gautam between insights from past millennia in the Arthshastra, understood as the art of strategic management, and the Panchatantra, an extensive collection of familiar folk tales (Kautilya’s Arthashastra and the Panchatrantra: a comparative evaluation, World Affairs: the journal of international issues, 18, 2014, 2).


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