We must move quickly from an objects-oriented economy to a people-oriented economy. Martin Luther King, A time to break the silence, 1967.
We are currently trapped in a vicious circle. If we do nothing, our societies could implode by the year 2020 :
The mental models currently used by our society’s leaders are still based on industrial-era assumptions and thinking, while our current and future challenges need post-industrial logic and models. Most people do not want to change anything because they are afraid of the emergent and the unknown. However, it is clearly time to think differently :
The workings of open government
Today citizens live locked in a closed universe, because the dynamics of the digital information age are binary. The logic of the industrial era was: one OR the other : one group on the right and one left, the richest person on one side and the poorest on the other, etc.
This form of dualistic thinking has caused divisions that still drive today’s society towards conflict and exclusions : social assistance, the sick, immigrants, the poor, Native Americans, etc.
You are with us or against us. George W. Bush in 2001.
Solutions to the crisis will come from both/and logic : ternary logic is the basis for the effective functioning of a knowledge-based society :
Binary logic is polarizing; Ternary logic is soothing.
A question of eras
Human history is not predictable because our society is open. It is not subject to strict determinism.
This is the silent story of the evolution of human society and its current dynamics, told by a student (2 minutes) :
Over the past three hundred years, our society has evolved into the industrial era, after being rooted in the agrarian era; today, it is transitioning to a fundamentally different era based on information.
This transition is being enabled through three revolutions, technological, economic and societal. Humans are trying to better control their individual environments :
To evolve into an industrial society, our ancestors had to invent new developmental tools using a new force (capital) to manage planetary resources that were at that time believed to be limitless :
Because most of our useful benchmarks began disappearing around the year 2000, the emergence of the knowledge society requires new ways of managing an unprecedented complexity.
These conditions (digital information supported and circulated on the Internet) are not going away, so new ways to manage a growing complexity are necessary in order to benefit the seven billion people who are now discovering the existence of cyberspace.
We need a comprehensive historical, economic and technological approach which also takes account of a synthesis of ongoing futures studies worldwide :
The year 2030 seems to be the ultimate date by which the planet will succumb to the accumulated impacts of the various crises we are living with, whether from a lack of coal, or oil, or water or more generally always-increasing and pervasive pollution of our environment.
However, 2020 may be a more realistic deadline if no effective actions are taken. This new, more pessimistic forecast has recently emerged because the forces of resistance to change are stronger and more numerous than previously thought (chapter 6, no. 6).
We must learn to live together as brothers or we will perish together as idiots. Martin Luther King.
Pablo Picasso, Guernica, 1937.
As shown in the following diagram, our world is changing because the environment has completely transformed from analog to digital and networked in just fifty years :
Industrial society, characterized by economic division and inequality, is now being transformed into a knowledge-based society which eventually will be characterized by more numerous cultural divides.
Our western societies will become more multipolar and multi-civilisational. (see the arguments developed by Samuel Huntington in « The Clash of Civilizations »).
Today people are beginning to seek ways to replace the existing dominant models, which have become less and less effective :