Reframing the Imaginable Key to the Future?

GREAT RESET, 30 Nov 2020

Anthony Judge | Laetus in Praesens – TRANSCEND Media Service

Clues to the Nature of a Global Reset

Possibilities

30 Nov 2020 – Cosmologists continue to speculate about the “shape of the universe“, The hope of physicists is to discover a Theory of Everything enabling the potential of the future to be explored and exploited more fruitfully. Is it to be assumed that the social sciences have already discovered the “shape of society” — and concluded that it is unquestionably “global”, if not “M-shaped“?

The World Economic Forum is proposing a Global Reset (or a Great Reset) as a form of panacea for the crises of global civilization (Klaus Schwab, The Global Reset, 2020; World Economic Forum, The Great Reset, 2020). The complementary World Social Forum has not engendered any consensus on  a panacea — other than curtailing those motivated by the World Economic Forum.

Given the characteristically divided and divisive views on the possibility, how is the key to the future to be imagined — or reimagined? If indeed it is to be understood metaphorically as a “key”, how is the “lock” then to be understood?

People and relationships:

  • If it is a new world leader, how will resistance to such leadership be handled?
  • If it is a new facility in dialogue of a higher order, how readily will people adapt to its use?
  • If it is the uncontrollable multiplication of mutual antipathy, what creative response might be imagined?

Things and aesthetics:

  • If it is a book, how have previous books of such significance been interpreted?
  • If it is a meeting, how have previous meetings of equivalent significance engendered fruitful change?
  • If it is a song or music, what kind of response will it engender across cultures?
  • If it is an image or a symbol, what kind of response will it engender across sectors of society and across cultures?

Subtleties:

  • If it is an idea or an insight, how will it be communicated, and by whom will it be understood or misunderstood?
  • If it is a new kind of question — even a “deadly question” — what kinds of answers will it evoke?
  • If it is an acknowledgement of what has previously been denied, what will this enable?
  • If it is a “Big Lie”, how will this be promulgated and recognized?
  • If it is a universal hope, what will it enable beyond naive expectations?
  • If it is a universal despair, what will it enable?
  • If it is the recognition of a new value vital to quality of life, how well will this be acknowledged by different cultures?

Biology and environment:

  • If it is a plague or global disaster, who will survive and how will they cope?
  • If it is a human mutation, how will the new form of humanity engage with those of the present?
  • If it is the extinction of a key species, what chain reaction or domino effect might this engender?
  • If it is a dramatic increase in population sterility, how will people cope?
  • If it is the unforeseen side-effect of a vaccine, who will be held to blame and what might be the consequences?
  • If it is the emergence of high intelligence in a non-human species, how will humans adapt their institutions and regulations
  • If it is the predictable impact of an asteroid, what action might be taken — to ensure the survival of whom?

Governance:

  • If it is a strategy — like the Global Reset — who will welcome it as beneficial, and who will resist its implementation?
  • If it is the discovery of sustainable community organization of a new kind, how will its replicability be credibly demonstrated?
  • If it is a new kind of legislation, who will suffer most from its implementation?
  • If it is a revolution — a new “Protestant Reformation” — will this repeat the disastrous pattern of such revolutions in the past?
  • If it is a radically new understanding of income and employment, how will the transition from the old be enabled?
  • If it is the emergence of total anarchy, what might emerge from such chaos?
  • If it is the dominance by organized crime, how will people adapt such as to safeguard their values?

Technology:

  • If it is a bomb, will it effectively take humanity back to the Stone Age?
  • If it is an irreparable failure of the internet, how will global society coordinate itself — and entertain itself?
  • If it is the takeover of human society by artificial intelligence — a singularity — how might humans adapt?
  • If it is a new technology — a new source of energy, for example — what downsides might be expected?

Conventionally unimaginable surprise:

  • If it is the emergence of an unforeseen threat, how effectively will humanity adapt — given the experience with COVID-19?
  • If it is meaningful communication with the afterlife, what learning will that offer with regard to new possibilities?
  • If it is the arrival of extraterrestrials, how will their intentions be determined and a response organized?
  • If it is a Messiah, how will such a being be recognized and received by different religions — given that a Satanic framing is to be expected by those whose prophecies and expectations are not met?
  • If it is a doubt, what kinds of new questions will it engender — if any?
    • Could this be fruitfully informed by the insight of the poet poet John Keats in his much-cited plea for negative capability:

… it struck me what quality went to form a Man of Achievement, especially in Literature, and which Shakespeare possessed so enormously — I mean Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason — Coleridge, for instance, would let go by a fine isolated verisimilitude caught from the Penetralium of mystery, from being incapable of remaining content with half-knowledge. This pursued through volumes would perhaps take us no further than this, that with a great poet the sense of Beauty overcomes every other consideration, or rather obliterates all consideration

Meta-possibilities?

  • If it is all of the above — a crisis of crises — how will humanity encompass that complexity?
  • If it is none of the above, what might otherwise be imagined and foreseen?

Related considerations:

Checklists such as the above can be deprecated as “laundry lists” that fail to engage with the configuration of such possibilities. This might be recognized as a “key” to the future in its own right, as can be variously explored, notably in the light of critical reviews of exercises for the Club of Rome:

References:

James P. Carse. Finite and Infinite Games. Simon and Schuster, 2013

Karen A. Cerulo. Never Saw It Coming: cultural challenges to envisioning the worst. University of Chicago Press, 2006

Jared M. Diamond. Collapse: how societies choose to fail or succeed. Penguin, 2005

Barbara Ehrenreich:

  • Bright-sided: how the relentless promotion of positive thinking has undermined America. Metropolitan Books, 2009
  • Smile Or Die: how positive thinking fooled America and the world. Granta Books, 2010 [summary]

Thomas Homer-Dixon:

  • The Upside of Down: catastrophe, creativity, and the renewal of civilization. Island Press, 2006
  • Commanding Hope: the power we have to renew a world in peril. Knopf, 2020

George Lakoff and Mark Johnson. Philosophy In The Flesh: the embodied mind and its challenge to Western thought. Basic Books, 1999

Patricia A. McAnany and Norman Yoffee (Eds.). Questioning Collapse: human resilience, ecological vulnerability, and the aftermath of empire. Cambridge University Press, 2009

Donald N. Michael. Learning to Plan and Planning to Learn. Miles River Press, 1997

Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway. Merchants of Doubt: how a handful of scientists obscured the truth on issues from tobacco smoke to global warming. Bloomsbury Press, 2010

Paul Ormerod. Why Most Things Fail: evolution, extinction and economics. Wiley, 2005 [extracts].

Joshua Cooper Ramo. The Age of the Unthinkable: Why the New World Disorder Constantly Surprises Us And What We Can Do About It. Little, Brown and Company, 2009

John Ralston Saul. The Unconscious Civilization. Free Press, 1995

Jorgen Randers. 2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years. Chelsea Green, 2012

The Royal Society. People and the Planet. The Royal Society Science Policy Centre, 2012 [text]

Joseph A. Tainter. Collapse of Complex Societies. Cambridge University Press, 1990

Nassim Nicholas Taleb:

  • The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. Random House, 2010
  • Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder. Random House, 2013

Ernst von Weizsaecker and Anders Wijkman. Come On! Capitalism, Short-termism, Population and the Destruction of the Planet. Springer, 2018

_________________________________________________

Anthony Judge is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment and mainly known for his career at the Union of International Associations (UIA), where he has been Director of Communications and Research, as well as Assistant Secretary-General. He was responsible at the UIA for the development of interlinked databases and for publications based on those databases, mainly the Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential, the Yearbook of International Organizations, and the International Congress Calendar. Judge has also personally authored a collection of over 1,600 documents of relevance to governance and strategy-making. All these papers are freely available on his personal website Laetus in Praesens. Now retired from the UIA, he is continuing his research within the context of an initiative called Union of Imaginable Associations. Judge is an Australian born in Egypt, a thinker, an author, and lives in Brussels. His TMS articles may be accessed HERE. (Wikipedia)

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

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