29 February 2004 | Draft-5
Spontaneous Initiation of Armageddon
a heartfelt response to systemic negligence
- / -
Systemic role of interlinked pathways
Armageddon, Acharit Hayami, Yawmid Din, Ragnarok and Götterdammerung
"Forces of good" vs "Forces of evil"
Neglect of systemic imbalance
Winds of Change: Time of the "South Wind"
Systemic response to systemic imbalance from negligence
Shift from conventional constraints under the "South Wind"
Precursors of the "South Wind"
Leadership in chaos
"Thrival" of the "Left-behind"
It might be usefully said that the world has benefited from over
50 years of development according to enlightened values promoted by the United
Nations and other organizations. This has been enhanced by rapidly evolving
insights into complex systems -- both from a theoretical perspective and in
terms of their implications for the governance and management of complex systems
of institutions. Despite such development, and in the light of such insights,
it might however be said that the situation for the planet, its ecosystems and
its peoples continue to deteriorate -- ever more rapidly.
According to Mark Townsend and Paul Harris (Now
the Pentagon tells Bush: climate change will destroy us, Observer,
22 February 2004) in "A secret report, suppressed by US defence chiefs
and obtained by The Observer...Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine
and widespread rioting will erupt across the world. The document predicts that
abrupt climate change could bring the planet to the edge of anarchy as countries
develop a nuclear threat to defend and secure dwindling food, water and energy
supplies. The threat to global stability vastly eclipses that of terrorism,
say the few experts privy to its contents. 'Disruption and conflict will be
endemic features of life,' concludes the Pentagon analysis. 'Once again, warfare
would define human life.' ". These events, including rising seas and glacial
European weather, are predicted within the next 20 years.
The report was commissioned by Pentagon defence adviser Andrew
Marshall and has subsequently been downplayed by the Pentagon [more,
The Global Business Network (GBN) has subsequently
stated that "Contrary to some recent media coverage, the report was not
secret, suppressed, or predictive". It was apparently prepared by GBN for
the Department of Defense under the title An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario
and Its Implications for United States National Security, and has since
available. It is a characteristic of contemporary governance and its news
management that it is unclear whether this report is in any sense well-researched,
and whether it was deliberately leaked as a strategy in order to justify ever
more repressive legislative measures, military expenditure and invasive surveillance
to "safeguard civilization" (as explored elsewhere Promoting
a Singular Global Threat -- Terrorism: Strategy of choice for world governance,
2002). Who could credibly prove the contrary?
Much will continue to be written and envisaged in terms of a hopeful
response to this situation. But it can be readily argued that the western social
project, as articulated nationally and through the United Nations, is essentially
bankrupt (delivery of food, health care, education and essential services; civil
rights and justice; long-term commitments as with pensions; ability to constrain
human activity to safeguard the environment, etc). The track record however
is such that it becomes clear that any significant improvements will only be
tokenistic or for the few. However well they are promoted as exemplary and as
indicative of appropriate practice, it might be usefully said that although
there are insights into what remedial action might be taken, such action will
tend to be undertaken under exceptional circumstances only -- and possibly only
to mislead the hopeful and to disguise more effectively the absence and the
failure of long-term, system-wide remedial response..
Much will continue to be written about who is to blame for the
inadequacies of this response by a remarkable worldwide civilization and about
how that civilization "lost the plot" and failed to get its act together.
The following is an exploration of the systemic consequences -- namely how the
social system (notably) is already adapting creatively on its own terms to what
might be labelled as systemic negligence and a broken social contract.
The following argument recognizes the importance of exploring
systemic failure and its consequences. This follows from an earlier paper that
highlighted the action of those who exploit this condition (The
"Dark Riders" of Social Change: a challenge for any Fellowship of the Ring,
2002). It is not based on the increasing social orthodoxy of positive thinking
that Karen Armstrong
on the dark side of life, Guardian, 21 February 2004), as author
(2001), sees as a route to spiritual and political disaster. Recognizing the
Buddha's isolation from the realities of life in his childhood palace, as an
extreme example of denial by his father, she argues that:
It is increasingly unacceptable to voice legitimate distress. If you lose
your job, become chronically ill, or fall prey to loneliness or depression,
you are likely to be told -- often abrasively -- to look on the bright side.
With unseemly haste, people rush to put an optimistic gloss on a disaster
or to suggest a solution that is patently unworkable. We seem to be cultivating
an intolerance of pain -- even our own....In our global world we can no longer
afford to edit out the uncomfortable spectacle of human misery....The pain
that we ignored in some parts has hardened to murderous rage..
The argument here is that within psycho-social systems as a whole -- which
are the preoccupation of future global governance -- certain functions are inadequately
expressed to a degree that is forcing their spontaneous and dangerous emergence
under certain circumstances. The three interwoven metaphors through which the
consequences of this imbalance are explored are:
These apparently unrelated metaphors develop a common theme given focus by
the "secret" Pentagon report on climate change and the extreme worldwide
crises it foresees in the near future. As a crisis of crises, it could well
trigger "Armageddon" as many hope. But such "climate change"
may also be explored metaphorically in terms of the "winds of change"
arising from any change in the "climate of opinion". The environmental
stress associated with crises, and the destruction of connecting patterns, can
be understood both in terms of the "heart" and "lifeblood"
of civilization and of the impact on the individual human "heart".
The heart plays a central role in both internalizing such stress and in sustaining
(through "heartlessness") the psycho-social fragmentation basic to
a less than "wholehearted" response to the crises of the world. "Armageddon",
as the "heart failure" of civilization, may therefore be spontaneously
evoked by the condition of the human "heart" and its vulnerability
to "heart attack" under stress.
Systemic role of interlinked pathways
Systems theory has provided many insights of practical significance into the
operation of complex systems, whether in the natural or social environments.
There is now a well developed understanding of the necessarily complex interdependencies
of the elements of such systems -- especially well illustrated in the case of
biological, production and electronic information systems.
Practical applications have however been bought at a very high price -- namely
a narrow focus on the isolation of (closed) sub-systems that can be readily
documented and understood in this way, to the exclusion of any understanding
of more comprehensive systems with a broader range of complementary functions
vital to sustainability. Typically (and wherever possible) social and environmental
factors are excluded from the design of technical systems, and psychological
factors are excluded from any understanding of psycho-social systems. In practice
applications are designed and "cut" to fit relatively simplistic models
reflecting understanding of isolated systems -- usually of the most tangible
nature. The resulting challenge is most evident in the often disastrously delayed
appreciation of the necessity for additional feedback control loops, notably
those relating to environmental processes.
Whilst systems theory has provided remarkably detailed insights into the articulation
of some systems, even at their most comprehensive (as with the set of metabolic
pathways), the quality of insight available into the most comprehensive systems
tends to be either low or constrained by intellectual models lacking grounded
relationship to the richness of the real world. This has proven especially problematic
in relationship to issues of governance.
Valuable pointers to understandings of such richness are notably to be found
in traditional symbol systems with a top-down perspective. These include Celtic
knots, the enneagram, the I
and other mnemonic holding patterns that have to be decoded in special ways
to be rendered meaningful. Some of these were designed to be used in relation
to governance. Sacred geometry (as described, for example, by Keith Critchlow.
Islamic Patterns: An Analytical and Cosmological Approach, 1999), even
basket work and carpet designs, may also be considered in this light.
The core argument in what follows -- expressed through symbols, such as the
mandalas explored by depth psychologists (Jung, Hillman, etc) -- is that the
range of functions commonly recognized in systems of governance is essentially
only a subset of those represented in a mandala highlighting the necessary balance
between the requisie variety of functions. Depth psychologists explore this
phenomenon in terms of repressed functions in individuals -- without extending
their understanding to groups and other systems (except in terms of the "collective
unconscious"). In their terms, the imbalance in integrated psychic function
may be expressed through "conflicted" mandalas. Implicit in these
is an unexpressed "shadow" or "dark" side whose forced expression
is characteristic of problematic psychological behaviour.
Armageddon, Acharit Hayami, Yawmid Din, Ragnarok and Götterdammerung
Much is currently made of Armageddon
and the associated Apocalypse
the final battle between the forces of good and evil -- especially by the Christian
fundamentalists that have proven to be so influential in supporting the presidency
of George Bush and the policies he advocates [more].
It reportedly underlies American unconditional support for Israel [more].
Bush's degree of concern with Armageddon has been explored by Michael Ortiz
Hll (Mine Eyes Have
Seen the Glory: Bush's Armageddon Obsession, Revisited, CounterPunch
January 4, 2003 ). Tony Blair has also declared, in his most detailed justification
of the attack on Iraq (see Guardian, 5 March 2004), that: "From
September 11th on, I could see the threat plainly. Here were terrorists prepared
to bring about Armageddon." [more]
Armageddon is part of the biblical End
Times scenario (Revelations 19), also highly significant to such
fundamentalists. Hill quotes S.R. Shearer of Antipas
Ministries (responsible for the EndTimes
Network) as calling this delusion, "Messianic leadership"-- that is to say
usurping the role usually ascribed to the Messiah:
Most of the leaders of the Promise
Keepers embrace a doctrine of 'end time' (eschatology), known as 'dominionism.'
pictures the seizure of earthly (temporal) power by the 'people of God' as
the only means through which the world can be rescued.... It is the eschatology
that Bush has imbibed; an eschatology through which he has gradually (and
easily) come to see himself as an agent of God who has been called by him
to 'restore the earth to God's control', a 'chosen vessel', so to speak, to
bring in the Restoration of All Things.
Many religions foresee an end
of the world in some form or another. It is known to Islam in the Arabic
language as Yawmid Din (or day of reckoning), and is described in great
detail in the Qur'an. In Judaism it is known as the Acharit Hayami
(end of days), when tumultuous events will take place in the world, overturning
the old world order and creating a new order where God is recognized by every
single individual. Creation myths may also include a corresponding period described
as the "war of the gods" as in the Sanskrit account of the War of
the Gods and Asuras, which features in the Mahabarata [more].
In Greek mythology this takes the form of the war amongst the gods of Olympus
and against the Titans [more].
The complementarity between the creation and end times myths is reminiscent
of that between the hypotheses of cosmologists about the "Big Bang"
and the "Big Crunch" [more].
In Norse mythology there is a corresponding condition labelled
metaphorically as Ragnarok
("doom of the gods", "doom of the powers" or "destruction of the powers") and
also called Götterdammerung, signifying the end of the cosmos. Conflicts
and feuds will break out, even between families, and all morality will disappear.
This is the beginning of the end. The earth will shudder with earthquakes, and
every bond and fetter will burst, freeing the terrible wolf Fenrir. The sea
will rise up. Like Armageddon, Ragnarok is the ultimate battle between good
and evil from which a new order will come. It will however be waged between
the "gods" (the Aesir, led by Odin) and the "evils" (the
fire giants, the Jotuns and various monsters, led by Loki).
Not only will the gods, giants, and monsters perish in this apocalyptic conflagration,
but almost everything in the universe will be torn asunder. After all of the
devastation, however, the land will return, and the world will be repopulated,
and a new set of gods will be worshipped. Some may however view this as a process
of regeneration rather than total destruction.
Modern fantasy occasionally describes the condition of relative
peace that currently prevails as having been achieved by "sealing off"
access to an earlier chaotic condition -- in which "evil" magical
powers are active -- by what amounts to "magical gates". The images
of sacred patterns (Celtic
knots, for example) might then be understood as the design of the seal on
such a gate. But of greater significance, these designs may also be understood
as system diagrams -- with the interweaving loops of the patterns to be understood
as encoding understanding of the "bonds" that are the necessary dynamic
interdependencies required to ensure that the gate remains "locked".
Such diagrams might also be seen as maps of the interrelationships between the
warring factions. A curious feature of Ragnarok, for example, is that the gods
already understand the symmetries of who will be killed and by whom, who will
survive, and what will happen to those in the other world [more].
"Forces of good" vs "Forces
Taken together, these perspectives highlight a degree of ambiguity:
- Time: In the timeless world of the "gods" and eternity,
to what extent are processes presented as "creation" and "destruction"
to be considered to be occurring all the time rather than at the extreme "ends"
of the cosmos?
- Amongst vs Against: To what extent is it foreseen as a war amongst
the gods, rather than a war of the gods against the "forces of
- When the "gods" are seen as uniquely associated with the "good",
any war amongst them resonates with the unprecedented and chaotic degree
of fragmentation, even amongst those acting for "good" in their
various ways. Is it not their dynamics of fragmentation and polarization
that then implicitly holds "evil" (in the absence of any other
vehicle for "evil forces")?
- When the "gods" act together in a war of the "forces
of good" against the "forces of evil", to what extent is
the nature of the "gods" that transcend this polarization then
- Pairing of good and evil: How are the "forces of good"
related to the "forces of evil", given the understanding concerning
Ragnarok that each "god" knew the enemy giant with whom it had to
do battle -- with which it was paired?
- Is this simply a matter of polarization, in which one pole is overwhelmed
by the other? This would imply that the "forces of good" entering
the battle are in some way transformed by the process of the battle. In
some sense they then need the "forces of evil" for that transformative
process to occur.
- Are the "forces of evil" to be understood, in depth psychology
terms, as the unintegrated "shadow" of the "forces of good"?
The battle is then more a battle of integration, echoing some of the challenges
of creation myths?
- Are the elements of the "forces of evil" then the "fallen
brothers" (or "sisters") of the corresponding "forces
of good" -- perhaps to be understood as that aspect that has become
overidentified with the mundane to the exclusion of the divine?
- Given the systemic negligence that is a theme of this argument, are
the "forces of good" to be considered as free of any responsibility
in that regard, or in any way tainted by such neglect to a degree that
effectively defines them as part of the "forces of evil"? At
what point is deliberately withholding assistance to those in need to
be considered as "evil"? And if it is done out of ignorance?
- Discernment: In the confusion of such end times scenarios, how are
the "forces of good" to be identified and distinguished unambiguously
from the "forces of evil", especially given the marked tendency
of the "forces of evil" to masquerade most cunningly as the "forces
of good" -- and the recognition that the "forces of good",
in seeking the triumph of the "good", may need to adopt (Machiavellian)
strategies which may at least seem to be "evil" to many? In that
respect, it is important to recall that everything which the Inquisition did,
as self-acclaimed representatives of the "forces of good" -- and
but a few centuries ago -- was for the "good" of the souls of those
perceived to be associated in some way with "evil".
- How are accusations by one group, defining itself as a core constituent
of the "forces of good", to be handled when it labels another
group as a constituent of the "forces of evil" -- especially
when the second group frames the situation in reverse? Many religious
groups are concerned that others are "infidels" and treated
accordingly -- whilst at the same time extolling both their own spirit
of tolerance and the need to act firmly in response to such anathema?
- What weight is to be accorded to the various indications of the need
for caution, such as Let him who is without sin cast the first stone
(John 8: 7), or the recognition in psychotherapy that people
tend to see problematic qualities in others -- which (because of blindspots)
are especially characteristic of themselves -- a phenomenon known as projection?
Is there any question that those claiming others are "evil"
may well themselves, in some measure, be part of the "forces of evil"
if only because of their negligence in response to other parts of the
system in need?
- How does bigotry, namely the obstinate and unreasoning attachment to
one's own belief and opinions (with narrow-minded intolerance of beliefs
opposed to them) hinder the process of distinguishing unambiguously the
"forces of good" from the "forces of evil"? How does
history evaluate the judgement of those qualifying their own actions as
"good" and those other of others as "evil"? What role
does sanctimoniousness and righteousness play in this context ?
- Capacity of judgement: Is it more appropriate to assume that those
aspiring to (or claiming to be part of) the "forces of good" are
necessarily fully integrated personalities -- free of "sin" or of
any personality disorders affecting their judgement -- rather than assuming
that they are an, only too human, complex of "good" and "evil"
- Would the greater the tendency of a person to identify with the "good"
not lead to a more complete repression of any recognition within themselves
of such "evil" tendencies -- and their projection onto others?
- To what extent is the war to be considered, to a high degree, as within
every individual as the final battle between their higher principles and
their venal tendencies?
- Differentiation of forces: How is it that it is the monotheistic
religions, such as Christianity, which fail to describe how the "forces
of good" are differentiated, given the use of the plural, when otherwise
the term "force of good" (in the singular) would have been more
appropriate? Whereas in the case of Ragnarok, the "gods" participating
as the "force for good" are identified?
- If, in military terms, the "forces" have a number of components,
how are they to be identified and distinguished -- or are they to be understood
as uniform in nature, and not characterized by any diversity?
- Under what conditions is it appropriate to transform the harmony within
requisite diversity become transformed into uniformity? What kind of unity
supersedes the need for diversity? How is this unity to be distinguished
from that exemplified by Nazi
- Given the characteristic (friendly) rivalries between the various components
of any (military) campaign, what are the dynamics between the different
components of the "forces of good" if their separate identities
as groups are preserved? How are such dynamics then to be compared with
those between different religions (if only of Christian persuasion) perceiving
themselves to be part of the "forces of good"?
Neglect of systemic imbalance
The above prophetic and mythological perspectives provide another
way of looking at the systemic imbalance of the current global society. Those
focused on Armageddon already see current disasters as its precursors. The imbalance
might then be understood as effectively destroying some of the feedback loops
that are essential to the construction of the "seal on the magical gate"
-- the seal that ensures that it remains locked.
The "war of the gods" may then be understood as already
emergent within contemporary civilization. The seal may be otherwise understood
as the necessary underlying interdependence of the various societal projects
in which humanity has invested to sustain these loops. The features of the seal
include the seemingly independent projects such as: civil rights and justice,
delivery of health and other essential services, etc -- the bankruptcy of which
is effectively the dissolution of the elements of the seal.
The primary feature of the "war of the gods" is effectively
the disorder of the feedback loops. They shift from functioning "in sync",
or in rhythm with each other, to a dangerous condition of clashing with each
other. It is not however necessary to give any metaphysical connotation to the
- Disciplines: their degree of abstraction is quite adequately
represented by the academic and other disciplines whose elaboration has been
a major achievement of this civilization. Their leading lights are occasionally
described as "gods" in secular society. The consequences of the
fragmentation of their systems of knowledge may increasingly be understood
as a "war" within knowledge society that is undermining the operation
and coherence of society. This fragmentatio is echoed in the mindsets of "specialists"
- Belief systems: the same might be said more broadly of the
intangible subtleties of all belief systems -- of which bloody religious conflict
has now become most indicative. Again the echoes in individual thinking manifest
most blatantly as intolerance.
- Institutions: at a more obvious level, the major institutions
of governance (such as the UN Specialized Agencies or their regional or national
analogues) may also be understood as the "temples" in which particular
feedback loops are recognized -- if not "worshipped" in some way
(as in the World Bank). They are the contemporary equivalent (often to the
point of sharing classical architectural features) of the temples, honouring
different gods, that figured so much more prominently in ancient cities. The
well-recognized fragmentation, jealousies and rivalry amongst these institutional
perspectives, and the manner in which their initiatives (deliberately) undermine
each other through bureaucratic warfare, may be seen as offering a foretaste
- Values: more subtly, given the "common values" advanced
as the guiding principle of any collective strategy, it is perhaps such values
which should be understood as the "gods" of civilization. Any "war
amongst the gods" is then characteristic of the relationship between
competing values as the "warring principles" so characteristic of
the many strategic dilemmas that bedevil global governance (see Configuring
Strategic Dilemmas in Intersectoral Dialogue, 1992) -- whereas any
"war of the gods" against the "forces of evil"
is then that between transcendental values (as the "forces of good")
and their vehicles of expression or reflection in the mundane word (as the
"forces of evil"). Within the individual this is echoed in the classic
struggle with ones conscience and its "principles" -- whether reconciling
conflict amongst them or in the struggle against one's venal
tendencies and practices.
There is increasingly no credible constraint on the destructive
conflict amongst the (sub)systems which humanity chooses to deify. The gate
to Ragnarok is swinging open unchecked. This is a systemic consequence of systemic
"Winds of Change": Time of the "South Wind"
The notion of the "winds of change" (dating from a speech in South
Africa by Harold Macmillan in 1960) has long been widely accepted in the promotion
of the development process. Indeed the probable climate change foreseen by the
Pentagon report (above) may indeed be matched by a dramatic change in the "climate"
of global governance and public opinion -- in ways already indicated by the
shift in attitudes in response to the issue of Iraq. Much has also been made
metaphorically of the geopolitical significance of certain compass directions.
These two metaphors may be usefully combined as a way of pointing simplistically
to the different kinds of change commonly recognized in society:
- North wind: This might be understood as the kind of change associated
with "northerners", notably a degree of inflexible, instrumentalism
in response to system recognition and design, primarily characterized by closed
system thinking -- highly efficient (with respect to the systems it recognizes)
- West wind: This might be understood as the kind of change associated
with "westerners", notably a degree of preoccupation with material
advantages, property and the search for individual well-being. This might
be caricatured by the original pursuit of gold and Eldorado by the Conquistadors.
The approach is essentially acquisitive and focused on the imposition of "western
values" as necessarily universal -- and to the exclusion of any others.
There is an ironic twist to the illusory belief that in going "West"
the early explorers had effectively circumnavigated the world and arrived
in the Indies to the "East".
- East wind: This might be understood as the kind of change associated
with Eastern community-oriented value systems and ways of thinking -- perhaps
basic to alternative approaches to community lifestyles. Early effects of
this are evident in the cultural implications of the Silk Route and the transfer
of knowledge to Europe via the Arab world. The effects of such an East wind
have been most recently evident in (if not caricatured by) the uptake of "eastern"
ways of thinking in places like California and within "New Age"
movements. More recently however the particular style of development so successfully
explored within major countries of the East suggests that other styles of
thinking are operative (cf Susantha Goonatilake. Toward a Global Science:
mining civilizational knowledge, 1999)
- South wind: Although recognized geopolitically, notably in relation
to the challenge of the development of "least developed countries"
(LDCs) and the desirability of "south-south" exchanges, little has
been articulated regarding the kind of change characteristic of the South
(a theme explored below). It might be well be associated with emphasis on
local development in contrast with global -- or with zero growth approaches
to voluntary simplicity (as practiced in some communities) in contrast with
obsession with growth and dependence on it. It may well have been best expressed
in the the programme inspired by E F Schumacher (Small is Beautiful:. Economics
as if People Mattered, 1973)
It would be worth examining these types of change in terms of various categorizations
of cultural and pre-logical predispositions (see Systems
of Categories Distinguishing Cultural Biases, 1993), notably in the
work of Magoroh Maruyama on 4 (or 5) mindscapes (Mindscapes,
social patterns and future development of scientific theory types. Cybernetica,
1980, 23, 1, pp. 5-25). The crude system based on four compass directions might
be usefully expanded -- just as the Myers-Briggs
Type Indicator (MBTI) expands Jung's original four psychological styles
into 16. Much might then be made of the recent dominance of the "North-West
wind" as an operating approach to change now challenged again by the "East
The "winds" may be explored in terms of understandings in various
- China: the symbolism associated with compass directions in many cultures,
notably the Chinese where it is integral to the game of Mah Jong [more,
and to the geomancy of feng shui [more].
Good feng shui results from the "winds" and the "waters" surrounding
the home and work place are harmonious. The 5 "elements" (earth,
metal, fire, wood and water) basic to Taoist insight are also recognized as
"winds". They are best understood as phases of a constantly moving
cycle -- each grows and replaces the next in much the same way as the seasons
- Greek mythology: the four directional wind gods (Anemoi)
were the North Wind (Boreas),
the West Wind (Zephryos),
he South Wind (Notos)
and the East :Wind (Euros).
An additional four were also identified: the North-East Wind (Kaikias), the
East Wind (Apeliotes), the South-West Wind (Lips), and the North-West (Skiron).
These were distinct from the violent storm
winds kept "locked away" and released only at the command of
the gods to wreak their havoc.
- Amerindians: Cherokee people see the the Four Winds as spirit beings,
the Creator's messengers, that were placed at the four corners of the world
in the beginning of time by the Creator with the task of attending to the
cycle of the four seasons of the year [more].
The suggestion here, within a context of Ragnarok, is that all such "winds"
will then blow freely, chaotically and uncontrollably. As the most repressed
wind, that of the South will then express itself -- perhaps with most force
and effect. The desirable condition in which the winds blow such as to complement
and feed into one another -- as suggested by any global map of wind directions
-- might be seen as visually isomorphic with the necessary systemic loops (as
symbolized by Celtic knots) preventing the emergence of Ragnarok. It is this
systemic integration that is in process of collapsing into violently chaotic
wind forces appropriate to the emergence of new systemic balance.
The particular association of the South with the least developed and most impoverished
has been more clearly recognized in terms of the underprivileged within western
societies. They are of course a tiny proportion of the under-resourced in other
countries, known as the South. The transformative" wind from the South
features significantly in a much-translated novel by Paul
Coelho (The Alchemist, 1988). There has long been a recognition of
the future internal security risk to western societies from their underprivileged.
Many such societies are familiar with social unrest the phenomenon of "revolution"
in which people "rise up" -- like the sea. The disruptive nature of
the "South Wind" as evoked by the systemic negligence of the cnsequences
of change associated with the other winds will not however be constrained by
conventional security procedures -- despite the ever-increasing investment of
resources, foreseen as necessary by the Pentagon, to this end.. In fact it is
precisely such security features that may be simplistically understood as forming
part of the breaking "seal" against Ragnarok. They will however be
totally inadequate against the fury of the "South Wind".
A foretaste of the global challenge has been articulated as "terrorism"
-- and the viability of any response has become evident in the "war against
terrorism" and its inherent capacity to contribute perversely to acceleration
of the breakdown of the integrity of global society. The apparent unreasonableness
of the suicide bomber may then be understood as but one expression of the emergent
fury of the previously repressed "South Wind" -- of which others may
quickly become evident (eg extensive rioting, as in Liberia in 2003, Haiti in
2004). Indeed efforts by the US-led Coalition of the Willing to hold the "South
Wind" in check through the "war against terrorism" may be seen
as being as vain as King Canute's arrogant attempt to hold back the tide. The
fact that the Coalition has been formed in part by perverse secretive agreements
to ignore extreme repressive actions by some of its members (Russia with respect
to Chechnya, China with respect to Tibet, etc) is indicative of the increasingly
shaky response to the challenge of the "South Wind".
To date the "South Wind" has essentially been held in check by a
pattern of promises (another way of viewing the "seal") repeatedly
offering new hope to the underprivileged (if only for their grandchildren) for
future alleviation of their condition -- accompanied in the short-term by the
Roman strategy of "bread and circuses". The mendacious basis for the
attack on Iraq has however highlighted the pattern of lies (labelled euphemistically
as "spin") that is now fundamental to the approach to modern governance.
The implicit social contract has been torn up -- not to be remedied by such
Orwellian creations as the USA's new "Ministry of Human Rights" (2004).
Trust has been lost, if not destroyed -- as articulated by philosopher Onora
O'Neill, in her 2002 BBC Reith Lectures, for whom "we suffer not so much
from a crisis of trust, as a culture of suspicion" [more].
Aside from "terrorism" (as extreme dissidence will always be labelled),
what form will the unchecked fury of the "South Wind" take? The question
might be better framed as what form of action might be expected from those that
have nothing to lose given the emptiness of promises made to them? What is to
be expected from those without food or water, without shelter, without health
care, without employment, without education -- and whose pensions and other
benefits, if any, have been mismanaged to the point at which they no longer
meet survival needs? Just as the attack on Iraq was labelled as a "whirlwind",
the unchecked "South Wind" may be as destructive as any hurricane,
and as indiscriminate. It is not to be expected that it will appear purposeful
-- as past examples of the action of hordes have shown. Indeed the action individuals
may take, as an expression of the "South Wind", will reflect extremely
short-term views on their aspirations to remedy their underprivileged condition
(whether via pillage, murder, rape, or other classical examples of extreme social
disorder), perhaps augmented by high tech use of computer technology and biochemical
weaponry as envisaged in many science fiction novels.
Given its repression to date, the action of the "South Wind" could
be understood as the "dark side" of the pursuit of alternatives to
the systemic negligence of the other winds of change. It is an example of spontaneous
global systems healing, of the global system healing itself -- seeking a healthy
condition of balance. Its violence might be seen as a purgative of negative
by-products that have built up through failure to process the products of the
other winds of change;
In human physical terms:
- the circulation of blood, by the action of the heart, is basic to life --
and was a major discovery for western medicine
- disorders of the heart (including arrhythmia and tachycardia) are a major
focus of modern cardiac surgery, notably in the form of replacing valves,
bypasses, and even heart transplants
- heart failure is a major cause of death, especially in industrialized societies
-- it is the leading cause of death in the USA.
A number of religions, including that of Ancient Egypt, Judaism and Islam,
relate the metaphor of the "heart" to conscience -- expressing the inner centre
of man - capable of moral judgements and self-evaluation as well as of personal
communication with God, and in need of purification [more].
Many religions have attached special importance to symbolism associated with
the heart, and even to "awakening the heart" as explored by Roger
Spirituality : The 7 Central Practices to Awaken Heart and Mind, 2000):
- Aztecs: At the heart of Aztec religion lay the belief that
the world had previously been created and demolished by the gods several times.
To the Aztecs the human heart was the symbol of life itself, and Huitzilopochtli,
the sun god needed to be fed both blood and human hearts so he would not wreak
his anger on the Aztec people once again. Aztecs believed that it was their
sacred duty to provide the gods with chalchiuhuatl, a precious form
of nectar found in human blood. Each day, night, week, month and year had
its own deity demanding blood. The sacrifices on their pyramids given to the
Greatest God(desses) usually required the living heart to be cut from the
body of a human and shown to the Sun. [more]
- Egyptian: Ancient Egyptian religion saw the metaphor of the
heart as source of mortal decisions -- central to the belief in a transcendental
- Hinduism: According to the Katha Upanishad: When all
desires that cling to the heart are surrendered, then a mortal becomes immortal,
and even in this world he is one with Brahman. In the Atharva Veda,
the human heart is compared with the lotus flower -- the flower most sacred
to Hindus [more].
The Bhagavad Gita explains in detail, the ways and means to surrender
the heart at the lotus feet of Krishna, in exchange for filling one's heart
with peace and contentment.
- Buddhism: The Heart
Sutra is the shortest and the most popular sutra in Buddhism, and
is recited daily by many [more
- Islam: Islam is notable for its emphasis on learning the Qur'an
by heart. Those who do so are considered to be the first of those who will
be called to account, on the Day of Resurrection. The purification of the
soul is explored in relation to the condition of the heart [more].
The Qur'an has been defined as the heart of Islam (Thomas F. Cleary,
ed. Essential Koran: The Heart of Islam, 1998), as has Sufism (Khaled
Bentounes, etc Sufism, the Heart of Islam: The Heart of Islam, 2002).
Islam is itself perceived as having a heart (Seyyed Hossein Nasr, The
Heart of Islam: enduring values for humanity, 2002). Placing the hand
on the heart is a characteristic symbolic gesture.
- Judaism: In text on Israel
as Leader of the Nations, disseminated by Gal
Einai Institute of Israel, based on the teachings of Rabbi Yitzchak
Ginsburgh, on the inner dimension of the Torah in the Land of Israel
and in the Diaspora, it is stated that: "In the Kuzari, one of
the classic books of Jewish philosophy from the middle ages, Israel is described
as the heart and the nations as the limbs of the body. The metaphor of the
heart pumping life force to the body parallels that of the head directing
the emotions. Chassidut explains the difference in images as that between
the exile and redemption. While in exile the Jewish People, due to circumstance,
function more like the heart, feeling the suffering of the world and in a
deep, allegorical and mystical fashion suffer for the world. Many Jewish and
non-Jewish authors have employed the expression of Jews as the 'conscience
of the world'. In a redemptive state the Jewish People will reassume their
more natural role as the head, leading the world to a new age."
- Christianity: The heart metaphor is extensively used (for
exmple, Marcus J.Borg. The
Heart of Christianity). The "Sacred Heart" is a devotional
name used by some Roman Catholics to refer to Jesus Christ. Devotion to the
Sacred Heart, in focusing on Christ's heart, metaphorically focuses on the
emotional and moral life of Jesus and especially his love for humanity [more].
The Catholic Church obligates Christians to adore the infinite love of Jesus
Christ through the image of "His wounded Heart" [more].
This devotion dates back to the Church Fathers and Divine Revelation itself,
though popularized by the revelations to St. Margaret Mary (1673-75). While
in recent times devotion to the Sacred Heart has been downplayed as unnecessary
and outdated, or even ridiculed as superstitious and sentimental, every Pope
since Clement XIII (1765) has exhorted Catholics to adore Jesus in "His
Sacred Heart" as explained in Pope Pius XII's encyclical, On Devotion
to the Sacred Heart [Haurietis Aquas], written in 1956. To deny
devotion to the Sacred Heart is seen as a denial of the humanity of Christ.[more
In his encyclical Annum Sacrum (25 May 1899) Pope Leo XIII decreed
that the consecration of the entire human race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
should take place -- it took place on 11 June 1899. Also distinguished as
aspects of the Sacred Heart are the "Merciful Heart" and the "Suffering
A focus on personal spiritual prayer through the
Prayer of the Heart, or Jesus Prayer, has long been a tradition in the
spirituality of the Eastern Orthodox Church. In the light of this argument,
the action of the heart may be understood as, in different and intimately
personal ways, exemplifying the process of sustaining the feedback loops fundmental
to the systemic balance discussed earlier.
For the Congregationalist Charlotte Russell (A
Gift from the Heart): "In the Biblical view, the heart is an
organ, part of the body. But it carries great significance beyond this: the
heart was for them, and symbolizes for us, the very core of who we are, the
seat of the totality of all our feelings and emotions, our desires. It is
the deepest source of the inner life-what shapes our personality, our will,
our intellect, and our moral life. It is also the point of contact with God,
the place where God touches our lives, and the place from which to turn-or
refuse to turn-to God. Everything-love as well as hate, trust and fear, anger,
and forgiveness-all come from the heart. God's grace and power meets us there."
It is curious that the symbolism of the heart tends to focus on the heart as
a whole (as with the lack of differentiation of the "forces of good",
discussed above) and takes no account of its "chambers", "valves"
and dynamics -- that are so vital to its functioning and so significant in any
form of failure. It is indeed the capacity of the heart to "pump",
selectively opening and closing "valves", that is vital to ensuring
circulation of blood -- the "lifeblood". The symbolic focus on the
heart as a whole can therefore impede understanding of the need for its distinct
and differentiated elements, and of the need for a particular dynamic between
them to sustain its operation as a whole. This kind of thinking obscures analogous
insights with regard to the circulation of information in society -- as its
"lifeblood" (see Orrin Klapp, Opening and Closing: Strategies of
Information Adaptation in Society, 1978; Valerie Malhotra.Critical
Dimensions in Symbolic Interaction Theory: Mead, Duncan, Burke, Habermas and
Klapp, 1979) [more]
Metaphor has been described as the "heart of poetic knowing". The
heart has a special role in the history of self-image through the self-book
metaphor as explored by Eric Jager (Reading
the Book of the Heart from the Middle Ages to the Twenty-First Century,
2001; also The
Book of the Heart, 2000). Texts are still learnt "by heart," and the
word "record" (from the Latin cor) links the heart with both memory (its
original meaning) and written documents. The "book of the heart" was a common
and influential metaphor from antiquity until early modern times. Especially
during the Middle Ages, the "book of the heart", modeled on the manuscript codex,
attained its most vivid expressions in literature and art. Medieval saints'
legends tell of martyrs whose hearts recorded divine inscriptions; lyrics and
romances feature lovers whose hearts are inscribed with their passion; paintings
depict hearts as books; and medieval scribes even produced manuscript codices
shaped like hearts [more].
The metaphorical use of the heart is also important in modern secular society:
- Heartlessness: Much is made of the necessary balance between
the "head" and the "heart" and of the marked tendency
to neglect the latter in favour of the former in "hard headed" industrialized
societies -- and in the attitude towards those suffering or in need. Some
groups go to the other extreme of focussing on the "heart" to the
exclusion of the "head" -- even to the point of seeing the latter
condition as a pathology of well-being. As a consequence they may be caricatured
as "bleeding hearts". In these terms a basic, unresolved conflict
in society may be described in terms of an ongoing battle between the "heartless
heads" and the "headless hearts". It is perhaps the "hard
hearted", and "heartless", who through their lifestyles are
most surprised by their vulnerability to "heart attack".
- Commitment: Full commitment to another person, to a group,
or to a project, is described as being "wholehearted". This is contrasted
with "halfhearted" commitment or support which may identify a form
of tokenism. Pledges may be made "upon my heart".-- marked symbolically
by physically placing the hand on the heart, or even by sharing blood. Any
conflict of commitment may expressed in terms of a "divided heart".
Support for the underprivileged is typically "halfhearted" in practice,
however "wholehearted" the verbal expressions of support. But successful
charity fund-raising appeals are designed to "tug at the heart (-strings)"
of any potential donor.
- Courage: In response to any condition, people may be
described as "good hearted" or "stout hearted", in contrast
with the "faint hearted". They be "heatened" or "take
heart as a result of encouragement.
- Conversion: A shift in commitment, or conversion to a new
pattern of belief, may be described in terms of a "change of heart".
It is this "change of heart" which change agents seek to bring about
-- through the much sought "paradigm shift" -- in remedying unsustainable
patterns of behaviour. Conversion for Christians, for example, may be desribed
in terms "taking Jesus into one's heart". The process of falling
in love is frequently describd in terms of the "heart".
- Core: A central role may be described, in the case of a person,
as being the "heart of a group". Similarly a group may be described
as the "heart of a coalition". There is recognition of the "heartland"
of a country or region, and of the "heart of the mattter". The metaphor
is also used with respect to business, as in Stafford Beer's study of management
cybernetics (The Heart of Enterprise, 1979)
- Embodiment: Conditions external to an individual or a group
may have such an impact, through being "taken to heart", that they
are described as "heartfelt" (see My
Reflecting Mirror World: making Joburg worthwhile, 2002). For Alexander
Solzhenitsyn "good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being"
- Impact of disaster: Loss of any kind, including the failure
of a relationship (the demise of a person, a group, or a project) may be described
in terms "heartache", of "being heartsick", of a "broken
heart", or it "breaks one's heart". There is the notion of
"crying one's heart out". Many aspire to "peace of heart".
- Recent research shows that even the stress of heartache can kill.(Alok
will tear us apart. Guardian, 12 February 2004).
- In Taoism the 5 "winds" (see above) have their correspondence
in the human body. The cycles in which they engage can move creatively
or destructively and the balance is a prime focus of traditional Chinese
medicine.It is recognized that these "winds" can become trapped
and attack the "heart".
- It is possible that the focus on the heart within the Aztec culture,
and the recognition of how it was affected in time of disaster brought
about by the gods, led them to see sacrifices (such as cutting out the
living heart for the gods) as a form of "pre-emptive" palliative
in ways that have not been previously considered
- Some modern psychotherapy, particularly that associated with abuse,
is concerned with healing the "wounded heart" (see also: Chuck
Heartedness: Healing Your Heartbreak)
The heart metaphor contibues to be of importance in geopolitical discourse.
For example, Andreas Musolff (The
heart of the European matter), on the basis of a corpus of British and
German press coverage of EU politics (see pilot
version), analyses uses of the geo-political heart-metaphor in the context
of the EU-related debates in Britain and Germany. In particular, it focuses
on the argumentative and ideological functions of texts allocating heart of
europe-status to places in East Germany and to Eastern European places and countries.
Elsewhere, in discussing the "heart of Europe", Musolff concludes
that of the altogether nine body parts in texts of the EUROMETA
corpora, only the heart constitutes a significant (as well as the overall
most frequent) single source concept for Euro-metaphors; the remaining body
parts concepts appear in one-off formulations. He also disucces understanig
of "heart failure" in this context. [more].
In these terms the heart clearly provides some useful leads in exploring the
consequences of systemic imbalance and negligence. Briefly, the "South
Wind" is evoked by a persistent pattern of "heartlessness" in
response to vital parts of the system (whether underprivileged people or endangered
species), despite token expressions of "wholehearted" support. Any
necessary "change of heart" is either too little or too late in safeguarding
the circulation of the "lifeblood" of civilization (as suggested by
Gregory Bateson's insight into the dangers to all quality of "breaking
the pattern that connects") [more
| more]. Any resulting
disaster may then indeed "break one's heart". The spontaneous systemic
response for the "heart of civilization", as for the individual heart,
may then indeed be "heart failure" or a "heart attack" (as
was arguably demonstrated by the Aztec civilization with arrival of the Conquistadors).
Armageddon might then be understood as a form civilizational "heart failure"
-- a fatal :war between the complementary parts of the "heart of civilization"
in the light of what they have come to embody. The current debate about the
civilizations" (also offered as a strategy
game) could usefully be seen in this light.
The warring components may then offer insights into the dynamics of the pattern
of fragmentation that has been inappropriately embodied by the "heart",
namely "taken to heart" -- or else ignored:
- This is dramatically evident with the Four
Horsemen of the Apocalypse (Book of Revelation, 6): War,
Famine, Pestilence, and Death [more].
Each is associated with a magical seal that is is opened as their powers are
unleashed. Their action illustrates the systemic consequence of the failure
of civilization to use its insights and resources to respond appropriately
to the corresponding challenges of Diversity, Nourishment, Well-being,
and Population control (see perspective
- As noted earlier, the rivalry between the "temples" (agencies
for food, education, employment, refugees, etc) and their priesthoods, and
the relative importance and resources variously accorded to them, undermines
any "wholehearted" systemic approach. The dynamics of such fragmentation
might be better described in terms of cardiac dysfunction as "arrhythmia"
or "fibrillation". How is requisite diversity transformed into dysfunctioal
- Concern with the level of "environmental stress" to ecosystems
and species has its counterpart in the contemporary concern with the personal
or collective stress associated notably with the pace of life. A recent surevy
inb the UK concluded that 25% of children from 4-6 claimed to be "stressed
out", rising to over 50% of those under 16 [more].
Here too the dysfunctional resonances between the engendered disharmonies
of a wider world, and the "heartfelt" response of the individual,
give rise to "disorders of the heart" and "heart attacks".
Ecosystems, like civilizations, may also have the equivalent of "heart
failure" (notably as in ecosystem
collapse). Efforts to avoid "taking in" such disharmonies by
narrow specialization and "heartlessness" merely postpone and focus
Curiously, in the case of the term "heart attack", it is ambiguous
as to whether it is the heart which is attacked, or whether the rest of the
system is attacked by the heart.
Systemic response to systemic imbalance from negligence
The negligence noted above might be presented summarily in the following terms
(see also introduction
to the Encyclopedia
of World Problems and Human Potential) :
- Broken commitments: Breakdown of trust and consequently of confidence-based
systems, despite ever more intense use of news management to justify such
- much more acute recognition of the suspect nature of promises by leadership.
- sharper recognition of the lack of commitment in the promises made by
modern leadership in striking contrast with the binding contracts through
which people are called upon to express their commitment -- and to whose
penalty clauses they are held by law.
- increasing awareness of relative impunity of leadership, even following
the most flagrant abuses
- Failure of enlightened models of leadership: The inadequacy of the
variety of exemplars of leadership might be summarized as follows:
- individual heroes: It is clear that the classical hero
no longer has anything to offer in the leadership of modern societies, despite
efforts to benefit from the hero-image in American presidential politics
[more]. See also
Orrin Klapp (Heroes, Villains, and Fools: The Changing American Character,
1962). The Right Livelihood Foundation
has explored the possibility of promoting heroic leadership of local initiatives
but with little possibility of extending this to larger collectives. There
are no Nelson Mandelas relevant to the global challenge, although children
do indeed distinguish the merits of those like Martin Luther King. Indeed
those (self)promoted as relevant are increasingly characterized as tainted.
The heroic function is however now variously recognized in the form of prize
winners (Nobel, etc), sport and media stars, and whistleblowers. The status
of suicide bombers is a case in point -- given the absence of any constructive
- heroic groups of the wise and powerful: The classical model
of the mythical Arthurian roundtable has been followed in various ways by
a variety of analogues: mythical groups (Sarmoung),
Templars, secret societies (including freemasons and esoteric groups), enlightened
NGOs (Associaion for a New Humanity), NGOs of the powerful (Club of Rome,
Trilateral Commission, etc), councils of the wise, wisdom keepers. The esoteric
groups underlying the Nazi imitative should not be forgotten.
- networks of excellence, as promoted by the European Commission
to interlink those with key technical expertise -- but which have not been
successfully extended to those of governance
- organizational boards, as the modern roundtable par excellence,
which have been significantly challenged to look responsibly beyond their
often self-interested) mandates -- or, in the case of the use of such roundtables
at meetings, to transcend meaningfully and integrate the vital differences
of the participants
- media representation of individual leadership: The desire
for real heroes has been transformed by the media into packaging of surrogate
heroes (007, Clint Eastwood, etc), whether as media stars, in storylines,
or in virtual entities (avatars). Such heroes are portrayed as playing key
roles in containing the "bad guys" and safeguarding society. .
It is unfortunate that the plots have had to be developed in ways that illustrate
the ambiguity of the hero role without indicating how it might be more fruitfully
taken up as an exemplar in response to social conditions.
- media representation of collective leadership: The desire
for real groups acting with integrity has been transformed by the media
into packaging of surrogate heroic groups, such as special force and secret
- Promotion of closed system pseudo achievements: At a time when many
challenges facing individuals and human society are associated with the complexities
of broad, open systems, it is striking to observe the extent to which widely
publicized innovative "achievements" and "breakthroughs"
are in almost all cases associated with narrow, closed systems ("neater"
problems). It might readily be assumed that such closed system challenges
(of tractable problems) are selected because of the probability of success
-- implicitly recognizing the difficulty of responding effectively to the
real challenges of society and the environment. For example:
Each of these is in many ways a distraction from the inability to handle the
challenges faced by the many.
- expertise: the solutions achieved typically call
upon a narrow range of (usually technical) expertise to the exclusion
of challenges that can only be met with a wider range of expertise (including
biological and psycho-social skills). Such solutions respond successfully
to challenges of predictable dynamics, avoiding those characterized by
unpredictable dynamics (intractable problems). The approach might be caricatured
as "fiddling while Rome burns" in response to the "winds
of change" (even if the "fiddling" is characterized by
extremes of technical genius in instrument design, composition and performance).
- profiteering: typically only those solutions are sought
and developed which contribute significantly to the profit margin needs
of a narrow range of corporations (and, through taxation, to governments)
-- pleased to be able to develop and patent saleable hi-tech products
and to prevent the development of any lower cost alternatives based on
intermediate technology.. Although technically feasible, delivery of solutions
(such as health) is then focused on the few who can sustain those profit
margins and precludes their extension to the underprivileged (as illustrated
by the delivery of pharmaceutical drugs in Africa). In Japan, for example,
a high cost robotic washing machine has been developed to bathe the elderly,
to avoid the socio-economic implications of importing nurses from countries
such as Thailand and the Philippines.
- resources: the status and resources attached to focussing
on the "very big" (galaxies and the universe, global weather
systems, or macro-economics), or "very small" (fundamental particles,
molecules) -- or the "very distant" past (first seconds of the
universe), or the "very brief" (elusive particles) -- far exceeds
that attached to systems of human dimensionality (relationships, quality
of life, food supply) that are fundamental to daily experience. The "cutting
edge" of the advancement of knowledge has been dissociated from human
- hyping achievements: the landings on the Moon or Mars,
hyped as a "major achievement" offers a range of specific technical
challenges in what might almost be defined as an ideal, highly controlled
laboratory environment attractive to the "hard sciences" and
to the high tech corporations in the "military-industrial complex".
Typically the investment in funds and expertise is totally out of proportion
to that accorded to more pressing issues on the ground for which a wider
range of expertise is required. The hyped "value to humanity"
of "exploring the final frontier" is used to obscure military
and financial agends, with the complicity of relevant disciplines.
- action substitutes: the focus on repeated monitoring
of complex (weather patterns, etc) and problematic (endangered species,
etc) conditions as a feasible technical activity (suggesting that "action
is being taken" with regard to the problem) that requires no attention
to the challenges of developing and implementing effective responses within
an open socio-political system with many conflicting priorities. The focus
is on discovering what action should be taken and not on how to undertake
that action, and the need to respect or remove the constraints on that
action. This form of research is fundamentally irresponsible especially
when used to disguise other agendas (as with "scientific whaling")..
- misframing: the metaphorical framing of the response to
some major social problem (drugs, terrorism, etc) on which action is taken
as a "war". This points to the intellectual, attitudinal, and
organizational skills (borrowed from the polarized technicalities of conventional
warfare) that are deemed appropriate to any action, notably avoiding psycho-social
systemic issues of why people are driven to consume drugs or engage in
suicidal terrorism. (see Enhancing
Sustainable Development Strategies through Avoidance of Military Metaphors,
- false claims: the justification of claims on scarce resources
for product development in terms of "vital" security or health
criteria, or "the advancement of knowledge", that preclude any
evaluation of such claims against the wider needs of greater numbers --
and typically in situations where the results of such development will
only benefit the few (for reasons of cost, claimed to be beyond the social
responsibility of those engaged in such development)
A common thread in many of the above is the narrow, asystemic selection of the
systems to which attention is accorded -- precluding any consideration to wider
systems of which they are part.
- Failure of "Standard Development Model": As noted by many
critics, the development model favoured and imposed by the World Bank and
the International Monetary Fund (for example) has proven to be highly problematic
and has effectively failed to respond to the rising tide of deprivation. Whilst
such development has magnificently rewarded the consultants and politicians
involved in its implementation, the longer term consequences have been ignored
or systematically denied. Any "new and better model", presented
to remedy acknowledged defects, is only acceptable to the extent that it fails
to address more fundamental issues. The possibility of viable alternative
approaches, adapted to local conditions, has been precluded. Those seeking
to adopt them, if only experimentally, tend to be subject to (possibly severe)
pressures of one form or another. Their achievements go unpublicized and their
failures are exaggerated. As experiments, the possibility of their improvement
- Failure of delivery systems. The many ambitious programmes to deliver
food, water, health, essential services, pensions, etc to populations are
severely challenged in industrialized countries and are essentially a failure
in developing countries. This has been especially evident in the case of privatization
-- as for example in the case of railway transportation and health services
in the UK. It is increasingly evident worldwide in the highly problematic
situation with regard to pensions (and the contract with those obliged to
subscribe to them over long decades).
- Failure of interpretative ability: : It is increasingly clear that
the capacity to interpret meaningfully the avaible information (on disasters
facing social systems and the planet) are inadequate to the challenge -- as
dramatically illustrated by the problematic capacity of the intelligence services,
aided and abetted by their political masters, to interpret information relating
to weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Ironically the lessons learnt from
Iraq are the need for ever more invasive surveillance information without
any increase in interpretative ability beyond that relating to immediate security
preoccupations. There is no record of intelligence services offering insights
into solutions to the non-security challenges of society.
- Failure to act effectively: As partly illustrated by the case of
delivery systems, and the token responses to many problematic situations,
the failure of interpretative ability exacerbates the inherent challenges
of effective action. The relationship between the conclusions of such interpretation
and effective political action remains highly problematic as evident from
the inability of bodies such as the United Nations to act effectively in response
to reported problems (eg widespread starvation in Ethiopia). What effective
action will be taken in response to the suppressed Pentagon report on climate
change? More often than not, "resolutions" are at best indicative
of wishful thinking. The ineffectiveness is compounded by the tendency to
focus on remedying the problems of others, such as through effective "regime
change" dependent on new weaponry, whilst being unable to address one's
own systemic problems and dysfunctional behaviour.
- "Tinkering" approaches to institutional and strategic reform:
As typified by the decades of exploration into the reform of the United Nations,
efforts at institutional reform, if they take place, may be validly described
as "tinkering". They essentially fail to address fundamental issues,
are primarily respectful of vested interests, and fail to take account of
the significant organizational implications of new and emerging communication
technologies. The challenges to the reform of the European Commission provide
a second striking example.
- Denial of systemic nature of institutional corruption: Although corruption
of various forms is now widely recognized (after long denial) within institutions
and their leadership, the focus is on the specific individuals involved. Prime
examples include the European Statistical Office (Eurostat) and the leadership
of some western political parties (increasingly to be caricatured as "tainted
merchandise"). Such exceptionalism precludes the exploration of systemic
corruption and the creation of an atmosphere of corruption within institutions.
In the case of Eurostat, for example, no questions are raised about the distortion
of statistical data in response to the pressures of corruption.
- Tolerance of "basket case" conditions: There is an increasing
acceptance that nothing effective can be done about certain social situations,
whether groups within a country (such as indigenous peoples, or HIV cases)
or whole countries (eg Bangladesh)
- Failure of dialogue: Despite repeated calls for "dialogue"
(even at the highest level) and repeated claims that effective dialogue is
underway, it is clear that such "dialogue" is interpreted as narrowly
as possible in order to justify claims of efficacy. It is however essentially
and fundamentally tokenistic -- in order to be able to claim that dialogue
and "consultation" has taken place. It is designed to preclude effective
discourse amongst those of dissident views -- into which very little research
is undertaken. Terrorism might be usefully labelled as a direct consequence
of the failure of dialogue -- exacerbated by a failure of dialogue amongst
religions viewing each other as "satanic". Such failure contributes
directly to the perceptions of the "unreasonableness" of terrorists
and the failure to acknowledge the realities out of which they act.
- Secrecy, lying, cover-up, misrepresentation and denial: As discussed
separately, these severely inhibit any capacity for wholehearted remedial
action (see Global
Strategic Implications of the "Unsaid": from myth-making towards a "wisdom
society", 2003; Politicization
of Evidence in the Plastic Turkey Era: al-Qaida, Saddam, Assassination and
the Hijab, 2003; Complementary
Truth-handling Strategies: Mediating the relationship between the "Last class"
and the "Liar class"). Especially from the highest levels, it has
now become difficult to make credible statements about any credible threat
or viable mode of action.
Shift from conventional constraints under the "South
Wind" of change
Perhaps of most significance, the "South Wind" will not be constrained
by approaches to change that have been favoured by the other winds:
The above all point to the emergence of a far more disorderly ("organic")
approach to change. This may well be perceived as a regrettable failure to integrate
valuable insights and approaches to change developed in association with the other
"winds". The latter can however be said to have had their opportunity
-- and vast resources in support of it -- and to have failed to develop that opportunity
appropriately. It is their systemic negligence that is evoking the "incoherent"
remedial response of the "South Wind".
- Strategic coherence: The assumption that any social plan of
action should be based on a coherent framework will be set aside. This assumption
has been widely used to manipulate debate in response to problems by aspiring
to conditions of coherence that could not be achieved -- and thus avoiding
action. No attempt will be made to develop a common "map" of the
way forward -- although many map be advocated.. The "South Wind"
will in many ways be perceived as illogical in its approach to change -- perhaps
to be perceived by history as being as illogical and incoherent as the systemic
negligence effectively practiced by the other winds. The expectation that
change agents, to be effective, will necessarily "sing from the same
hymn sheet" will therefore be ignored.
- Shared values: The assumption that appropriate change will
be achieved in the light of shared universal values will be set aside. Their
acclaimed universality will be perceived as a device to manipulate discourse
in favour of those promoting such values..
- Academic legitimacy: The assumption that effective action
requires legitimization by academic research and debate will be perceived
as an irrelevant delaying tactic employed by those primarily motivated to
collect data and generate models that serve their academic careers -- rather
than respond to the problems people experience
- Authentication: Processes of widespread authentication, certification
and accreditation, including institutional "self-regulatory systems",
will be ignored. Ironically this is liable to be matched by a much heightened
emphasis on individual authenticity in a context in which mendacity and corruption
are icreasingly seen as survival options.
- Leadership: The assumption of the need for clear cut leadership
will be set aside. Disagreement about chains of command and responsibility
have focused attention on the politics of remedial action, often to the exclusion
of any focus on the action itself.
- Value of life: The value currently attached to life
in theory (in privileged locations) will be set aside in favour of the more
pragmatic one corresponding to that attached to life where remedial action
is not feasible and responsible parties are indifferent.
- Legality: Respect for law will be set aside, or only valued
locally. The early evidence of this can be seen in the attitude towards international
law of the leadership of the Coalition of the Willing -- and the their reflection
of this attitude in national legislative measures constraining human rights.
- management systems ***
- decision-making systems ***
Precursors of the "South Wind"
The action of the "South Wind" has already been effectively evoked to some degree
in the blindspots left by the other approaches to change. To date however it
has primarily been a mild force readily neglected. As noted in the introduction
above, the Pentagon report foresees many features of the "South Wind"
in the immediate years to come. Some examples illustrate how its precursors
may increasingly exert a prime role:
- Alternative globalization initiatives: These have been taken
a variety of forms from anti-globalization demonstrations to the annual World
Forum on Social Development (Porto Alegre and Mumbai) with its disparate and
uncoordinated factions. It provides a striking contrast with the World Economic
Forum which is the final bastion of the other winds. The structural violence
of the latter is to be contrasted with the latent violence associated with
many of the factions loosely associated with the Social Forum
- Dissidents: This wider and more disparate cluster reflects
the many perspectives that no longer buy into the approaches to change of
the other winds. They may overlap with alternative approaches to globalization
but they may reflect radically different belief systems that cannot be effectively
integrated into the other approaches to change. They notably include various
types of ideological and religious fundamentalism.
- "Terrorism": As noted earlier, this is perhaps the
most obvious example of the developing power of the "South Wind"
of change. The inability to seek or develop any new mode of dialogue with
such radically opposed perspectives (except with the aid of modern methods
of torture-assisted interrogation) is indicative of the emerging degree of
dissociation of the "South Wind" from other approaches to change.
The emergence of "suicide bombers", and of individuals prepared
to die for their beliefs, is a characteristic of the "South Wind"
to be strongly contrasted with the diffidence of the other approaches to change
that strongly prefer to unleash their destructive power from a distance and
avoid any personal implication. Terrorism, as it is now known, may prove to
be merely the visible part of an iceberg of more radical personal engagement
in change. This is likely to be accelerated rather than hindered by legal
efforts in the name of "national security" to associate any forms
of dissidence with a disposition to terrorism.
- Promotion of a variety of plans: Recent decades have witnessed
the enthusiastic promotion of a variety of maps, with some efforts to impose
particular plans to the exclusion of others. This is the case with respect
to intellectual models, belief systems and "best practice". The
inability to interrelate these maps, and the lack of interest in doing so,
is indicative of the emergent mindset of the "South Wind".
- "Immigration": The existing movements of people,
including "boat people", whether into industrialized countries,
or as refugees between neighbouring developing countries, is a precursor of
the movements that will characterize the "South Wind" -- as people
seek zones where they can survive and thrive.
- Disaffection of youth: This emergent characteristic will become
increasingly evident as young people come more rapidly to recognize how little
the approaches of the other winds of change are addressed to their visions
of the future. A striking example is young Katherine Gun, the UK intelligence
service whistleblower who reported in 2003 on UK-USA spying on UN Security
Council members prior to the Iraq conflict. She declared the Tony Blair had
lost all moral credibility [more].
This will undoubtedly be triggered by resentment at the levels of taxation
applied to young people to sustain the social security benefits of later generations
with which they experience little affinity. Young people will then swell the
ranks of the "dissidents" -- even though their parents may be the
strongest advocates of approaches to change other than those of the "South
Wind". Already the behaviour of some young people leads to them being
labelled at home as "terrorists" by their parents or neighbours.
- Undisciplined enthusiasms of the young: In contrast to the
approaches to change of the other winds, the huge gatherings of the young
in response to pop singers point to a characteristic of the "South Wind"
-- as are raves. Such gatherings are to be contrasted with religious rallies
(such as those of the Promise Keepers) which have more disciplined features
characteristic of currently prevalent approaches to change.
- Use of psychedelic drugs and other stimulants: Currently growing
trends (despite the "war against drugs") will lead to much wider
and more unpredictable use of stimulants, and their increasing effect on behaviour.
Recent use of alcohol by airline pilots is an indicator of the trend as well
as the incidence of "date rape" as a consequence of placing drugs
- Genetic modification: The "South Wind" will ensure
the failure of any restrictive or regulatory measures on genetic engineering
which will then take every variety of form -- resulting in "invasions"
analogous to examples of problematic introduction of species (rabbits into
Australia, etc). This will exacerbate problems resulting from extinction of
species vital to the balance of ecological systems. The personal implications
of this perspective have been extensively explored in science fiction, notablythe
consequence of "genetic enhancements" -- whether as a result of
choice, by accident, or imposed by some group. The number of genetic deformities
-- whether amongst humans or animals -- is liable to increase dramatically.
The massive and uncritical support by some governments for the dissemination
of genetically modified organisms is typical of a form of complicity between
the chaotic approaches of the "South Wind" and the more convetional
winds of change.
- Biochemical agents: Whether in relation to biochemical terrorism
or genetic modification, the proliferation of such agents is likely to provoke
a variety of epidemics and pandemics and render face-to-face communication
between strangers highly problematic. Current concerns about BSE, a new influenza
outbreak, and "bird flu" are indicative of the problem and the future
impact of the "South Wind". Computer "viruses" and their
impact on information systems offers a valuable insight into the impact of
the "South Wind" on the conventional approaches to change and the
social structures dependent on the absence of such agents.
- Feudal warlordism: The instability of the social system, and
the opportunities offered by eroding forces of order, will see a massive reversion
to feudal structures and competing warlords exploiting their environments.
It is ironic to note how the USA, a prime supporter of the order characteristic
of the prevailing winds of change, has adopted a strategy of continuing complicity
in relation to the warlords of the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan (despite
their dubious involvement in asphyxiating prisoners in sealed containers reminiscent
of the gas chambers of Nazi concentration camps). Such complicity will be
characteristic of the transition period during which the force of the "South
Wind" comes to be widely felt (as with government links to organized
crime). It could be argued that the leaders of a number of countries, whether
industrialized or developing, whether democratic or not, are already adopting
a feudal approach, notably in their exploitation of their positions for personal
- Rising sea levels: Symbolically at least (in rising "from
below", as from the "collective unconscious"), the rising sea
levels associated with global warming are indicative of the invasive quality
of the "South Wind". The level of denial in refusal to attach credibility
to evidence for such climate change, within the scientific community and government
agencies, is typical of the other winds of change.
In contrast with the fundamentalist end times scenario, a number of constituencies
focus on various predictions of major transformation in association with the
year 2012 -- a date consistent
with the period covered by the Pentagon report. This focus has notably been
articulated by Peter Russell (A White Hole in Time, 1992). From a different
perspective it has been promoted by Jose Arguelles in fulfilment of a Mayan
prophecy, and specifically in relation to the need for calendar reform [more,
charitable and deliver justice too: Africa lacks the drama of the tsunami,
but its needs are greater
Madeleine Bunting, The Guardian, 7 January 2005
| The only word which can capture this strange moment of horror and hope
in human history is kairos, the Greek word for time, the closest
translation of which is crisis. The Greek understanding of kairos,
as opposed to the chronos of ordinary time, is time laden with meaning
and choices. It offers a dramatic opportunity for action and for change.
What the tsunami and its aftermath has done is crash through the entrenched
self-absorption of western nations.
Leadership in chaos
Aside from the isolated "fortresses" reflecting older styles of organization,
leadership under the "South Wind" is liable to be chaotic. There will
of course be a regression to feudal warlordism (as currently sustained by the
USA in Afghanistan). Curiously there have been many management studies anticipating
the leadership challenges of chaos (for example: Mark Youngblood, Life
at the Edge of Chaos: Creating the Quantum Organization, Strategy
and Leadership Magazine, Sept. 1997; Tom Heuerman and Diane Olson,.Leading
in Chaos, 1999; Kim Sbarcea, Living
leadership: the dance between chaos and stasis: A guide for complexity leaders,
2003; Robert W. Terry and Harlan Cleveland, Seven Zones for Leadership: Acting
Authentically in Stability and Chaos, 2001; Daryl Conner, Leading at
the Edge of Chaos: How to Create the Nimble Organization, 1998; Emmet C.
Murphy, Leadership on the Edge of Chaos: The 10 Critical Elements for Succeeding
in Volatile Times; Margaret Wheatley, Leadership
and the New Science, 1992).
The question is how relevant these are to the conditions foreseen by the Pentagon
report. There appears to be an assumption that a degree of order will prevail
through which chaos can be "managed" (perhaps from orbit). Given the
failure of management in response to many current mildly chaotic situations,
it is unclear how such insights are to be adapted to the much more severe conditions
of the future.
The conditions envisaged under the "South Wind" are mildly illustrated
by the leadership challenges of the World Social Forum (see Jai Sen, et al (Eds).
Forum: Challenging Empires, 2004) [more].
Any effort at conventional leadership will be questioned in the light of such
perspectives as offered by Naomi
Happened to the New Left? The Hijacking of the WSF, January 2003):
How on earth did a gathering that was supposed to be a showcase for new grassroots
movements become a celebration of men with a penchant for three-hour speeches
about smashing the oligarchy?
It may then be useful to explore the subtler "leadership" functions
offered by practitioners of "crazy wisdom" and "wise fools"
(for example: Nasruddin, Rabbi Wolf, Ivan Andrejevich Krylov, Aesop, la Fontaine,
tales, Panchatantra, Jataka tales, [more]),
notably in the light of Russell L Ackoff's The Art of Problem Solving: Accompanied
by Ackoff's Fables,1987. What was the effective "leadership" role
of the traditional troubadour in distributing memes appropriate to the challenge
of chaotic societies? Even under a high degree of disorder the non-threatening
role of a travelling bard or teller of (teaching) stories will be welcome. Carl
Jung believed that myths were not merely fanciful, but universally true and
applicable. Traditionally, the bard has, with disarming levity and brevity,
provided unexpected access to a penetrating understanding of the riddle of existence,
thus fulfilling an important social role. Insights into the behaviour of legendary
may provide the kind and degree of "leadership" that is required.
Current preoccupation with leadership training gives little attention to training
followers -- which many of the leaders will also have to be in larger institutions.
With the rise of the "South Wind", conventional understanding of leadership
and followership will be much tested. Indulging in wordplay, there is a case
for exploring both the (dyslexic) transformation of "followership"
into "flowership" and the (alchemical) transformation of "leadership"
into "goldership" (see Promoting
Sustainable Followership, 2001). As suggested by the former role of
the troubadour, and the increasingly central role of music across cultures (and
notably in the South, from which much musical inspiration derives), "leadership"
under chaos may be more viably and fruitfully undertaken in terms of insights
common to music and gardening (see, for example, Knowledge
Gardening through Music: patterns of coherence for future African management
as an alternative to Project Logic, 2000)
Thrival of the Left-behind
"Thrival" of the "Left-behind". There is a degree of similarity between the Christian understanding of "rapture"
in the "end-times"
scenarios (when the faithful are "taken up" by God to their rightful
place in Heaven) and the Islamic understanding of the direct route to Heaven
offered to those who sacrifice themselves in holy war (jihad) [more].
The concern here is however with those defined by Christians as the "left
behind" (see Post
Rapture Checklist), namely those who do not meet the criteria of being
part of the "forces of good" according to Christian understanding
-- and are consequently considered to be allied with the "forces of evil"
over which the "forces of good" will triumph at Armageddon. This reflects
the kind of understanding promoted by US foreign policy and defined by George
W Bush after September 2001 as "either you are with us, or you are against
Once the prophesied 144,000 seats in Heaven have been filled by those "taken
up" during the "end-times", the concern here is with the many
that may remain -- and not with their survival but with their "thrival".
Those with a survivalist mindset are well-prepared for the kind of chaos predicted
in the Pentagon report and would see those conditions as a justification for
their preparatory measures in safeguarding their own security and food supplies.
Whilst many may survive, it is useful to reflect on the psychology of those
who may thrive. The focus is not on those who may successfully "thrive"
by exploiting the chaotic situation to improve their personal capacity to survive
(as explored in the The
"Dark Riders" of Social Change: a challenge for any Fellowship of the Ring,
2002). The concern here is rather with those who do not meet the particular
Christian (or Islamic) criteria for the "good", but do indeed hold
to broader understandings that transcend their personal survival. Such understandings
would be of the kind that emerged from effective inter-faith dialogue (from
which fundamentalist Christians and Muslims exclude themselves), if it could
also successfully include humanist perspectives. Abandoned by God, according
to Christian understanding, what is the basis for the "thrival" of
In determining who will be "left behind", and faced with this challenge,
there is of course a problem in reconciling the fundamentalist Christian and
Islamic perspectives (for example) on access to Heaven, since each tends to
define the other as "evil" -- even "satanic". This raises
the issue of the interpretation accorded to Jesus's statement "My father's
house has many mansions", John 14:2), and, according to several
cultures: "there are many ways to the top of the mountain, but the view
from the top is the same". This has been symbolized by the wheel whose
spokes metaphorically signify the different "ways" to the common hub.
The constraints of the mountain / wheel metaphor have been put forward by Jacob
philosophy is easy in: The Indestructible Question, 1994) as
Our simile shall be geographical, we locate the center at some" point
on the surface of the earth, say at the top of a particular mountain. Instead
of spokes, we shall speak of paths or routes proceeding from a number of locations
quite distant both from each other and from the mountain, and which therefore
exhibit great differences with respect to climate, terrain, social and biological
conditions, and so forth. One path proceeds from from the tropics, another
from the polar regions, another from the desert, another from a large city.
We shall therefore assume that, compared to the conditions on the mountain,
the state of wisdom, these other places are bad places: the desert is dry
and barren; the jungle dangerous; the arctic cold and isolated; the cities
crowded and artificial, and so forth. It is therefore the ultimate task of
religion to enable the inhabitants of these regions to find their way to the
mountain. To this end, certain sets of directions, handbooks, maps, practical
advice, and -- most important -- guides are made available to the various
Thus, the farther away from the mountain, the greater will be the difference
in the travel advice. Those starting from the desert, for example, might be
told "Thou shalt carry great quantities of water," something that
might be unnecessary and even a hindrance to those proceeding from the jungle.
And prescription to wear warm clothing would be disastrous to both these groups,
whereas it would be vital to those starting in the polar regions.
A crucial element in this interpretation of religion is already apparent
-- namely that the primal significance of religious forms (ad imperatives)
is their instrumentality, that their root function is to serve as a
means toward psychological transformation....So that, for someone who does
not wish to leave the region, these instructions could be taken as ways
to improve his life in the region. Obviously, much of what would
help us travel out of the desert could also serve to make life
in the desert easier or more efficient, thus reinforcing our
satisfaction with where we are....What is being suggested here as a possibility
is that dogmatic theology, as we generally understand it, is an instance of
transforming the instrumental into the finalistic
How God makes his final triage selection in the "end-times" therefore
remains a mystery -- as with other "Acts of God" (see Is
God a Terrorist?: Definitional game-playing by the Coalition of the Willing,
2004). Will it be those from the "jungle", those from the "polar
regions", or those from the "desert"? Are some "Chosen People"
to be considered "pre-chosen" in this selection, as explored by Johan
Galtung? The challenge for God is well illustrated by that of identifying
the "Best of Breed", "Best of Group" and "Best of Show"
in dog shows. Different
breeds are clustered into seven "groups" (Working, Terrier, Toy, Non-Sporting,
Sporting, Hound, Herding). Judges endeavour to identify dogs that best epitomize
the published standards for each breed, in the first instance -- then for each
group. The final challenge is to select the dog that is "Best of Show"
from amongst the seven totally disparate group winners. Will God be obliged
to select those who best epitomize the standards articulated by their respective
religions ("breeds"), groups of religions, or to select from across
all disparate groups of religons..
Given that the wise of other religions will (necessarily, notably from a Christian
perspective) be amongst the "left-behind", it is perhaps amongst them
that clues to the psychology of post-collapse "thrival" should be
sought. Typically, whether from a Buddhist (and notably Zen) perspective, or
that articulated in the Upanishads, the prime characteristic is a shift
in understanding of self (as the knower) and of the mundane world (as the known)
-- and of the nature of their relationship. Clues also emerge from the rapprochement
between phenomenology and neuroscience [more]
envisaged by Francisco Varela and his enactivist
colleagues (The Embodied Mind: cognitive science and human expression,
1991, and encapsulated in his study of Laying Down a Path in Walking: essays
on enactive cognition, 1997) as explored elsewhere (En-minding
the Extended Body: Enactive engagement in conceptual shapeshifting and deep
ecology, 2003; Making
(the) Present and Thriving in the Moment, 2001).
Philosopher Isabelle Stengers has urged those interested in the creation of
"artificial life" to ensure that any definition of life necessarily
implies an interpretive interaction between knower and known, an interaction
which must always call into question boundaries between what is intrinsic and
what is extrinsic to (the result of concerned interpretation of) organisms.
Stengers asserts that this questioning, this flow of interpretation that blurred
boundaries between inside and outside, should involve the "heart." She borrowed
the figure of the "heart" from artificial life scientist Stuart Kauffman, who
used it in defining his own interests in being a theoretical biologist. Stengers
takes the metaphor of the heart to be one that demands that we think of how
our concepts of "life" are emotional, based on interactions: "It seems to me
that 'heart' in its many meanings is related to some kind of an 'inside,' but
not to a self-sufficient closed inside. It is related to the way this inside
is actually, and not potentially, interacting with the outside" [more]
Citing Varela and his colleagues, Jorge N Ferrer (Participatory spirituality:
an introduction, In: Network Review, 83, 2003; author of Revisioning
Transpersonal Theory: a participatory vision of human spirituality, 2002),
and using a different geographical metaphor from Needleman, has also criticized
the "perspectivist" approach to religion that he sees as characteristic
of the non-participatry understanding of "perennial philosophy" as
advanced by "perennialists" -- and more subtly by Needleman:
It is very reassurring to thnk that all the different relgions and spiritual
traditions in the world are aimed at sharing the same basic truths -- and
that we are all heading in the same direction....I would like to suggest that
human spirituality emerges from our co-creative particpation in an always
dynamic and indeterminate spiritual power. This participatory understanding
not only makes hierarchical rankings of spiritual traditions appear misconceived,
but also re-estabishes our direct connection with the source of our being
and expands the range of valid spiritual choices that we as individuals can
For depth psychologists and others, much of the discussion of systemic imbalance
maybe understood in terms of repressed functions. For philosopher Antonio de
of Mind, 2000), the condition evoking the "South Wind" is
the currently excessive dominance of the "interpreter module" -- as
that part of the left neo-cortex attached to the left neocortex with access
only to the left neo-cortex, theories, and names -- has taken over contemporary
culture. Furthermore this culture is pronouncing on the cultures of the predominant
right neocortex by marginalizing, denigrating or suppressing them in various
Basic to the post-collapse era, the "thrival" psychology would then
involve a special kind of "streetwise" detachment from the mundane
world -- a shift in the psychological centre of gravity -- perhaps most simply
expressed by poet Henry David Thoreau: "If a man does not keep pace
with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let
him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away"
-- a theme developed by M Scott Peck (The Different Drummer: Community-making
and Peace, 1987). This would also extend to the understanding of time and
the rhythm of life as explored elsewhere (The
Isdom of the Wisdom Society: Embodying time as the heartland of humanity,
2004). According to Hindu culture this corresponds to the ideal attitude of
the sanyasin. In Western culture it bears a relationship to the ideal
attitude of a troubadour, or perhaps to the condition of being "lost in
the wilderness" on a "vision quest". It is also reflected in
new understandings of authenticity. It has been argued elsewhere (see Authentic
Grokking: Emergence of Homo conjugens, 2003) that the pressure of the
"end times" will give rise to homo conjugans to supersede homo
sapiens. It is the characteristics of homo conjugans that are most
appropriate to individual "thrival" amongst the "left-behind".
(see also Marcus Anthony. Integrated Intelligence, 2003)
But what of collective "thrival"? Most evident would be an attitude
to alternative perspectives beyond that of "tolerance". It is suggested
by the best of California-style New Age psychology and is best articulated by
the proactive methodology of appreciative
inquiry -- of approaches to "group magic" (for example, the doctoral
dissertation by Renee A. Levi, Group
Magic: An Inquiry into Experiences of Collective Resonance, 2003). The
prime characteristic would be the avoidance of the kind of marginalization and
"put down" to which alternative perspectives are currently subject
by fundamentalists of all persuasions. Collective "thrival" may also
be explored in the light of the post-Armageddon challenge of sustainability
of Sustainability: Embodying cyclic environmental processes, 2002).
The apparently unrelated metaphors (above) interweave to develop a common theme
that is given focus by the "secret" Pentagon report on climate change
and the extreme worldwide crises it foresees in the near future. Such a crisis
of crises was first envisaged by John Platt:
What finally makes all of our crises still more dangerous is that they are
now coming on top of each other. Most administrations...are not prepared to
deal with...multiple crises, a crisis of crises all at one time...Every problem
may escalate because those involved no longer have time to think straight.
(John Platt. What we must do. Science, 28 November 1969, p.1115-1121).
Such a crisis could well trigger "Armageddon" -- as many hope in
up God" lobby [more].
They might be understood to be employing what could become known as the "Aristide
maneuver" (practiced in Haiti in 2004) in which sufficient chaos is encouraged
to catalyze the intervention of God. But the Pentagon's "climate change"
may also be explored metaphorically in terms of the "winds of change"
affecting public opinion. The environmental stress associated with such crisis,
and the destruction of connecting patterns, can be understood both in terms
of the "heart" and "lifeblood" of civilization and of the
impact on the individual human "heart". This plays a central role
in both internalizing such stress and in sustaining the psycho-social fragmentation
basic to a less than "wholehearted" response to the crises of the
world. "Armageddon", as the "heart failure" of civilization,
is therefore spontaneously evoked by the condition of the human "heart"
and its vulnerability to "heart attack" under stress.
What are the prospects for "wholehearted" coherent action as explored
Policy-making Beyond the Information Barrier,1999)? Fundamentalists
of every persuasion will have ready answers to the question. The more systemically
sensitive prospects may offer some potential in isolated "Renaissance Zones"
as discussed elsewhere (Renaissance
Zones: experimenting with the intentional significance of the Damanhur community,
2003) notably given the possibility of some form of "rebirth" after
of Renaissance suggestive pattern of concerns in the light of the birth metaphor,
2003). Much may depend on the collective ability to move beyond linear agendas
like the UNs Agenda
21 (1992). Again centro-symmetric agendas inspired by certain religious
patterns (rose windows, mandalas, lotus flower, etc) may be viable in providing
coherence in isolated communities, but it is too late for their global consideration
Generation through Global Conversation, 1997)). The same applies in
the case of the potentially more relevant patterns of organization based on
insights from quantum and chaos theories, and from the study of complexity.
But it appears it will quickly prove too late for any global coherent response
in practice, as illustrated by the limited follow up to Platt's early
warning. Typically any analyses (such as those by the Club of Rome), and proposals
for collective action, will prove non-viable in the light of the tendencies
noted above. Furthermore, as the "South Wind" rises, any analysis
taking the form of this paper will be justly rejected as meaningless (see, for
example, Terry Eagleton. Why
ideas no longer matter: Modern politicians deal only in facts, not philosophical
reasoning. The Guardian, 23 March 2004).
Marcus Anthony. Integrated Intelligence. Journal of Futures Studies,
2003, November, 8, 2, pp. 39-54
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