Religion is often depicted as “going to seed” so to speak by becoming rigid and doctrinaire, depending more on transmitted authority than independent, outside-the-box thinking characteristic of its founders. From reading a review of a couple of books on Sufiism, I note that Max Weber calls this process “routinization” where in powerful bureaucracies run the show and stagnation can set in.
We see this in the military where generals are “always fighting the last war”, i.e. those in authority then become The Authority henceforth and so the next war is entered with the means and practices of the last war (I tore out a picture from the cover on a book on WW I showing a cavalryman armed with a lance and wearing a gas mask).
As in the American Civil War masses of men charged enemy positions and in WW I those enemy soldiers were armed with machine guns and protected by barbed wire. But the military doctrine did not change.
In education we see the same thing. Diane Musumeci in her Breaking Tradition shows how bold thinkers in the late Middle Ages – Loyola, Commenius, and others laid out a curriculum for learning foreign languages (Latin and Greek then) that quickly became overturned by classroom teachers who needed what nowadays we call “structure”, i.e. rigidity calling for no independent thinking. As with religion and the military, that was for control – of students, soldiers, parishioners.
Perhaps when Mao called for a permanent revolution, that is what he was trying to avoid.