We live in a head-spinning, gut-wrenching time of multiplying crises. At home we face outsourced jobs, crumbling cities, underpaid teachers, unaffordable healthcare, endless wars, political corruption, a co-opted corporate media, skyrocketing inequality, and public “austerity” measures whose main purpose is to make tax-breaks for the rich more affordable. Working-class stagnation is producing widespread anxiety, mounting debt, and “despair deaths” from opioid abuse. Fear is fueling populist outrage, along with extremism, authoritarianism, and the conditions for a fascist takeover. Meanwhile, climate change poses an existential threat to humanity itself. All of these calamities spring from the same root cause: an oligarchic capitalism that puts short-term profit for owners over people and planet. While this system seems immutable, upheavals from Occupy Wall Street to the rise of right-wing populism signal a backlash to a political–economic establishment that treats people and planet as resources to be pillaged and expenses to be minimized. Its failures have also been driving the development of new possibilities in the form of more systemic approaches. Still, while systems thinking has improved approaches in fields from agriculture to medicine, so far none of these reforms have been able to channel public frustration into true transformation because none addresses the root problem: oligarchy. The science of systemic vitality we need is also being born, but so far, its findings are diffuse. This article shows how the science of energy systems can galvanize today’s economic reformation by articulating the common sense rules and rigorous measures of systemic vitality, while anchoring them in an evidence-based vision of humanity as a collaborative learning species. The result is a practical path to building systemic socioeconomic vitality by revitalizing human networks, energizing collective learning, and clarifying why oligarchic capitalism is a distortion of our original democratic free-enterprise dream, which is now careening toward collapse.
KEYWORDS: Big history, energy networks, economic development, great change, paradigm shift, regenerative economics, societal learning.
What is money? And how successful is it in solving society’s ills and meeting its needs?
Currency expert Bernard Lietaer states that the fundamental problem with our present-day monetary system is that it is not sufficiently diverse. It dams and bottlenecks our creative energies, and keeps us trapped in a world of scarcity and suffering. But we actually have the capacity to create a very different reality by enabling our energies to move more freely where they are most needed, including towards cleaning up our environment, building adequate housing and providing good quality healthcare, etc.
Prof. Lietaer will show that we need an upgrade of our monetary systems as a systemic solution to our global economic, financial and sustainability crisis. He will show that we need the circulation of different types of currencies for different types of purposes.
‘Indigenous’ (Latin = ‘self-generating’) Knowledge practices for undoing colonial society’s false science assumptions & processes in agriculture, economy & science are described in this section.
The “Law of the Sustainability of Living Systems”, developed with other experts, explains and specifies the principles of sustainability: It says that living systems are only sustainable if they achieve a balance between productivity and elasticity. Balance, therefore, between short-term benefits of long-term existence. Just like that of Yin and Yang – not an “either – or”. We violate this law criminally. We have driven most living systems out of balance, making them non-sustainable.. Mono-cultures of all kinds, for example, emphasize short-term benefits and are not even sustainable in the short term without massive additional costs, as Lietaer shows with the example of forests and today’s monetary system. The book calls on readers to ensure that this law of sustainability is recognized and complied with. Both as individuals and as leaders in business and politics, readers are challenged to balance the short-sighted overvaluation of rapid return with the preservation of resilience.
What can we trust? Why is the ‘information ecology’ so damaged, and what would it take to make it healthy?
This is a fundamental question, because without good sensemaking, we cannot even begin to act in the world. It is also a central concern in what many are calling the “meaning crisis”, because what is meaningful is connected to what is real.
Daniel Schmachtenberger is an evolutionary philosopher – his central interest is civilization design: developing new capacities for sense-making and choice-making, individually and collectively, to support conscious sustainable evolution.
Video Presentations A Neuropsychoanalytic Perspective on the Hard Problem of Consciousness Why and How Consciousness Arises At our Feb. 5 Grand Rounds, Mark Solms, PhD, of the University of Cape Town, presented on how the metaphysical experience of consciousness relates to the physical brain—and why psychiatrists should care. Consciousness Itself is Affect: Felt Uncertainty in… Read More
Humanity, like all other species of Earth before and with us, is evolving — and evolution, for humans as for all species, is neither predictably linear nor solely Darwinian. Earth’s nearly four billion years of evolutionary experience reveals reliable patterns that give us hope, inspiration and valuable guidance for getting ourselves through the unprecedented confluence of enormous crises in which we humans quite suddenly find ourselves. Here we see the evolutionary Big Picture, including the amazingly complex lives of our remotest bacterial ancestors, who had Earth to themselves for fully half of evolution, and much of whose experience we seem to be mirroring now. They engaged in hostilities, generated global crises of hunger and pollution as great as ours today, and solved them without benefit of brain! Along the way they invented electric motors, atomic piles and the first World Wide Web of DNA exchange; then, in the greatest of all evolutionary ventures, formed cooperatives that became nucleated cells. These cooperatives were the basis for the evolution of our own hundred-trillion-celled human bodies, which role model amazingly sustainable economies. Learning from newly revealed problems and solutions in biological evolution, we too are finding out how to survive and even thrive into a better future despite — perhaps because of — our greatest challenges. That would indeed be cause for celebration.
Published 2008-10-04 by John McMurtry
Science for Peace and University of Toronto Students Union Conference
Climate Catastrophe and Social Justice: Analysis and Action
October 4, Earth Sciences Building, University of Toronto
The destabilization of the world’s climate and hydrological cycles is a catastrophic effect of a more general disorder to which it is not connected — the failed global market experiment and its regulating money-value system which brings degradation and despoliation of human life and life support systems at virtually every level of life organization.
The following article was part of a Science for Peace Forum and Teach-In, about How Should Canada Respond to Terrorism and War on Sunday December 9, 2001. A speech was made there by Professor of Philosophy, John McMurtry. It looks at a wider and deeper issue of totalitarianism that is creeping in, or, as McMurtry suggests, continuing in more earnest.