Enabling Fruitful Multiplication of Global Population
TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 2 Mar 2015
Eliciting Massive Social Consensus by Unconstrained Reframing of Strategic Priorities
It is reasonably clear that strategic thinking with respect to future global governance is in a condition of stalemate. This is not for lack for proposals — agendas, manifestos, libraries and websites are overloaded with them. The issue is their multiplicity, the lack of coherence amongst them, and the modesty of their achievements in response to current challenges and those foreseen. Many proposed initiatives are in active opposition to others, for reasons esteemed to be good by their proponents. As a tragic irony, viable solutions are increasingly recognized as taking the paradoxical form of missile delivery — especially in the light of the evident predictability of their impact
Efforts to reconcile such dynamics have long proven to be less than successful. Failure to agree with an initiative is readily framed as “being part of the problem” — possibly further elaborated through demonisation of its opponents. The issue can be framed in terms of the illusory nature of the quest for consensus and the ungovernability of society as currently envisaged (The Consensus Delusion: mysterious attractor undermining global civilization as currently imagined, 201; Ungovernability of Sustainable Global Democracy? 2011).
Appeals have long been made for “new thinking”, “paradigm shifts” and “change”. These tend to lack credibility in the eyes of those who already have a clear understanding of the issues they face and their aspirations for a better future. It has not proven possible to communicate attractive alternatives sufficiently widely in a manner which responds effectively to this condition in practice. Daily exposure, via the media, to suffering of every kind is cultivating a form of psychic numbing and indifference (Indifference to the Suffering of Others, 2013). So framed, the challenge is one of Transformation of psychic numbing (2011).
Rather than “new thinking”, there is therefore a case for exploring the possibility of reframing and promoting “old thinking” with which people are comfortable and familiar. These may well better reflect their traditional family values — and their desires. Rather than continuing in the desperate attempt to change the behaviours of others in the light of this or that unfamiliar worldview or value system, the question might be reframed as how to elicit collective learning by reinforcing behaviours characteristic of worldviews with which people are familiar.
Framed otherwise, the tendency to elaborate strategies in terms of “stopping” this or that deprecated process — possibly then to be understood in terms of a “campaign” or “war” — might be usefully challenged (Review of the Range of Virtual Wars: strategic comparison with the global war against terrorism, 2005). Expressed otherwise, this reflects the strategic adage: If you cannot beat them — then join them. This is consistent with subtler philosophies of Going with the flow or Guiding the canoe, rather than pushing the river. Given the disaster-prone nature of the current strategic stalemate, and the long-demonstrated collective remedial incapacity, it could also be understood as Going for broke (Recognizing the Psychosocial Boundaries of Remedial Action, 2009).
Rather than arousing the typical resistance to new strategic proposals, this would evoke the sympathy and support of those with traditional mindsets and patterns of behaviour. The paradoxical nature of this controversial approach has been described elsewhere (Liberating Provocations: use of negative and paradoxical strategies, 2005). The approach could also be recognized as necessarily counter-intuitive — in contrast with the unrealistic policy recommendations concerned with population, as recently presented by the National Academy of Sciences of the USA and by The Royal Society of the UK.
One merit of the strategy is that it can be limited to its own promotion — in order to provoke more focused attention on the implications if implemented.
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 2 Mar 2015.
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