In order to create a better world, we need to understand the nature of the existing regime; we need to have some kind of vision of the world we want to create, and we need to have confidence in our ability to create such a world. In my recent article, Is human consciousness defective?, I debunk the widely believed myth that human consciousness needs to be raised before a better society can emerge.
It is not our consciousness that determines how society operates: the masters make the rules for the wise men and the fools. If we were in charge we’d want a peaceful, non-exploitive world. It is not our individual consciousness that needs to be raised, rather our collective consciousness needs to be empowered. We need to create a self-governing society, and in order to do that we need to learn how to govern ourselves.
The process of governance comes down to discussing the issues of the day, and deciding on a course of action. In today’s world those discussions go on behind closed doors, among elites at various levels of society. In a self-governing society we would be participating in those discussions ourselves, within our communities.
When people get together to discuss things, there are three factors that determine the quality and relevance of the outcomes: (1) who is part of the discussion, (2) what is being discussed, and (3) what process is being used. In this pamphlet, The Zen of global transformation (2002), I explore the central importance of group process in the pursuit of transformation, looking in particular at a process called Dynamic Facilitation.
In 2005 I published Escaping the Matrix — How we the people can change the world. The book expands on these ideas about how change might be brought about, and it explores the question of how a self-governing global society might operate – how it could deal with regional and global problems, including aggression, without resort to hierarchy.
Since publishing the book, I’ve worked with a number of activist groups, seeking ways nourish the emergence of a transformational movement. I’ve also tracked the progress of community-oriented initiatives, such as Transition Towns. In the article Building the new in the shadow of the old, I offer my latest thinking on how a transformational movement might be initiated.
A transformational movement needs to be based on creating opportunities for people to engage in collaborative projects in their communities, projects that enable communities to learn how to govern themselves: we need to manifest the change we want to create. The article proposes a particular project, an extended kind of co-op structure, as being a suitable candidate for this learning process.
In his book, The Breakdown of Nations, Leopold Kohr explores the importance of scale in human societies. With many real-world examples, and cogent reasoning, he makes the case that people would be better off, and the world would have fewer problems, if large nations were broken up into smaller sovereign entities.
Riane Eisler, in The Chalice and the Blade, tells us the story of early civilizations in Europe that were not organized on a hierarchical basis. These were complex societies, with cities, division of labor, specialization, etc., but they were egalitarian, had no fortifications, and did not engage in warfare. She describes these societies as having partnership cultures, as opposed to the dominatorcultures of hierarchical societies.
Eisler’s work is particularly important to considerations of social transformation, because she shows that complex societies can exist, and be stable, over thousands of years – without the necessity of hierarchy. And she gives us insight into the kind of culture that enables that kind of society to operate.