The Brethren and Modernity
Modernity is currently in crisis. It is widely perceived to have ceased delivering on its prospectus. Increasing inequalities have obscured the fact that in global terms, humankind has continued to enjoy better standards of health and well-being than previous generations. Dissatisfaction with apparent lack of progress has resulted in the rise of nationalist populist governments and a distrust of established institutions. The process of differentiation, the essence of modernity, has continued to empower functional social systems, however, and postmodernity is certainly not yet upon us. On the contrary, such systems as business, government, science, and religion each continue to exercise power and influence, both in their own right and in association. But how do the Brethren fit into this account? They are so far differentiated from other social systems that they have little impact, despite their currently fashionable authoritarian culture. However, they do serve to point up modernity’s optimistic prospectus by adamantly proclaiming its opposite.