Plato’s Myth of Atlantis, Mad Max, and the Schizophrenia of Progressive Thought - A Lesson in Natural Cycles and Story-Telling

23 Pages Posted: 20 Aug 2011

See all articles by Daniel Betti

Daniel Betti

Morehead State University - School of Public Affairs

Date Written: August, 19 2011


Western political thought is forward-thinking and progressive. It has been so at least since Christianity rose to dominance, and arguably earlier. The emergence of secular modes of thought in the Enlightenment did not commence progressive thought in the western consciousness nor fundamentally alter the already progressive nature of western political philosophy; it did reshape the way western thinkers addressed the idea of progress. With a few notable dissenters (Machiavelli, Rousseau, MacIntyre), Christian theology and secular political thought is overwhelmingly progressive and linear in its view of the world in time. I do not think that position is either bold or interesting, it is merely the baseline for a broader statement about the contemporary mindset of the west. Contemporary political thought, and even politics, is increasingly schizophrenic. Reading the rhetoric of contemporary politics (climate change, the debt crisis, unemployment and inflation), one finds the progress we are sure to achieve in time is increasingly juxtaposed with catastrophic consequences for failure to achieve the progress that is our veritable birthright. How can society stand on this sheer precipice of either bountiful success or total calamity? Why would a progressive mindset reach such a bifurcated vision of the future? How can a person maintain sanity while foreseeing such an either/or utopia/dystopia in the future? I argue that the western progressive consciousness is wrong. There is no guarantee of continuous progress, generation after generation, in this world. Believing whole-heartedly in progress, but simultaneously facing with the reality of decline, decay, and degeneration, the western mind is undone at the prospect of human catastrophe and natural cataclysm. The imminent collapse of civilization is causing schizophrenia in political discourse and consciousness. Reading Plato's myth of Atlantis and watching the Mad Max trilogy are the first steps in releasing the tension that has caused contemporary schizophrenia and disabusing ourselves of a false conception of progress.

Keywords: Plato, Mad Max, Progress

Suggested Citation

Betti, Daniel, Plato’s Myth of Atlantis, Mad Max, and the Schizophrenia of Progressive Thought - A Lesson in Natural Cycles and Story-Telling (August, 19 2011). Available at SSRN: or

Daniel Betti (Contact Author)

Morehead State University - School of Public Affairs ( email )

110 F Bert Combs Building
Morehead State University
Morehead, KY 40351
United States

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