David Korten, in The Great Turning, discusses the competing human nature narratives of Dominator and Partnership cultures, in his words Empire and Earth Community. Dominators disdain humans as selfish, self centered, and greedy. This justifies order based on coercion. Partnership cultures respect human potential for trust, cooperation, and self-direction. Once internalized, each narrative becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Korten also talks about five stages of moral maturity.
Censorship is one struggle where such issues arise. Much as I oppose restrictions on free speech, I also support standards of politically correct speech in mass media and forums such as Atheist Nexus. Others here disagree.
Chris Volkay, for example supports free speech without "PC goon squads." In his book How and Why to Oppose the Politically Correct he says we should use any means necessary to maintain net neutrality. I personally don't identify net neutrality with throwing open the door for hate speech or conspiracy for violence. In his book Volkay says, "It shouldn't matter what is said on the net." The internet can be used to organize genocide. I don't see that as legitimate social communication. He appears to embrace no moral limits, where free speech is concerned. I think about the use of radio in Rawanda, and how the internet has been used to identify which schools Christian children were attending so they could be targeted by Muslim fundamentalists.
Volkay says "... the rightness or wrongness of anything is simply the constructs of whatever religion or political party happens to find itself in favor." As I see it such amorality represents one of Korten's lower stages of moral maturity, perhaps Imperial Consciousness.
Volkay argues that behind their veneers people generally are "imbecilic, vulgar and juvenile." I take this disdain as a Dominator culture/Empire view of human nature, which is incompatible with my own position that people deserve to be treated with respect.
There are many varieties of atheist. Each of us must judge which voices appeal to us.
I should clarify that David Korten's The Great Turning is NOT an atheist work. He uses "spiritual" to describe the highest level of moral consciousness, even though the middle level Socialized Consciousness includes constructing identity through religion and his higher Cultural Consciousness involves challenging religious belief systems. But he goes on to identify the highest moral consciousness as Spiritual Consciousness, which usually includes "some form of spiritual practice" and people are spiritually grounded.
I'd like to see an atheist reinterpretation of Korten's moral consciousness levels. Much of what he says about challenging beliefs does ring true for deconversion.
Looks like an interesting book.