This section of the website provides the viewer/learner with a series of quotes which may assist in gaining an appreciation of the breadth of thinking and expression of systemic change.
Quotes have been chosen which represent these thinkers perspective on the:
1) Problems in the world today as caused by this old
mechanistic way of thinking
This parallels the format the Club of Rome has used to simplify expression of the magnitude of the world's problems in this era of complexity, and constant change i.e. the "Problematique" and the "Resolutique" .
It is hoped that this will provide further insight into the concept of systemic change.
If you would like to further explore the ideas of some of those quoted you will find some of them in the ISSS Wholeness Seminar Site and some in the Links to Systemic Thinkers.
King & Schneider for the Council of the Club of Rome
Modern society is not working and is not long-term sustainable in a number of different ways (the word systematic is intended to connote both systemic and unrelenting):
* Systematic destruction of community
* Systematic transfer of wealth upward
* Systematic marginalization of persons and cultures
* Systematic erosion and denial of the sense of the spiritual, of sacredness
* Systematic concentration of power, especially power not duly constituted
* Systematically learned incapacity and helplessness
* That therefore economic logic and economic values appropriately guide social and political decisions;
* That sustained economic growth is the path to human progress-it is necessary to maintain a good level of economic growth in order to provide jobs and in order to have the necessary resources to clean up the environment;
* That steady increase in productivity is necessary for continued gain in standard of living;
* That continued technological advance, directed to increasing productivity and to creating new products for widening markets, is essential;
* That competition is an essential characteristic of the system-international competition, in particular, strengthens productive efficiency and provides consumers with greater choice at a lower cost;
* That behavior is appropriately guided by consumer values, seeking material acquisition and pleasurable experiences in the marketplace;
* That there is no compelling reason to question present ownership prerogatives, including corporate goals of maximizing return on stockholder investment;
* That free markets, unrestrained by government, generally result in the most efficient and socially optimal allocation of resources;
* That economic globalization, achieved by removing barriers to the free flow of goods and money anywhere in the world, spurs competition, increases economic efficiency and growth, creates jobs, lowers consumer prices, and is generally beneficial to almost everyone.
King & Schneider for the Council of the Club of Rome, 1991
"Never before has humanity possessed as it does today the knowledge and the skills, the resources and the cohesion to shape a better world. This should generate resounding hope for all people. Yet there is a widespread sense of unease and fear of impending changes which, in impinging on the still undigested changes of recent decades, will add to the uncertainty. This very uncertainty, together with the broken rigidities of the past and the new hopes for the future, is an enormous opportunity for reshaping the world society. The tragedy of the human condition is that we have not yet reached a position to realize our potential. We see the world and its resources being grossly mismanaged , yet we are lulled by the complacency of our leaders and our own inertia and resistance to change. Time is running out."
Bela Banathy, 1992
"When a new stage emerges in the evolution of society--as was the case around the midpoint of the century --the continued use of the old paradigm, the old world view lens, creates increasingly more problems. e.g. societal systems, such as our educational activity systems, that still operate based on the design of the bygone era, and use the world view lens of the industrial machine age, are losing their viability. They operate in a continuous crisis mode, and eventually face termination unless they frame a new mind set, learn to use the new lens of the new era, and acquire new thinking that is based on the new world view." (Banathy, 1992: 4)
Zohar in Wheatley, 1996
The first debate is between those who argue that is possible
to maintain industrial era goals and directions and those who
see the need for something different. The proponents of the
industrial era propose that maximum economic growth will
our problems. They rely on measurement. They accept
international competitiveness as the appropriate measure. They
deny any need for fundamental change. The basic belief is
that human beings are above the natural order and can control
it through technology.
Those who propose fundamental change believe that the
paradigm which support the industrial era has now died:
Newtonian science has been perceived as a special case
suitable only for closed mechanical systems. Chaos and
complexity have taken its place. The future calls for us to
accept ecological integrity, social cohesion based on
compassion and effective decision-making. People need to work
toward a high quality of life and healthy relationships.
Measurement is replaced by empathy.
The second debate is just now being engaged between those who
accept that we need new directions. One group believes that
the way to make progress is to argue with, and fight, those
who are still engaged in industrial-era practices. This has
been the dominant form of thought and action up to the current
The first debate is between those who argue that is possible to maintain industrial era goals and directions and those who see the need for something different. The proponents of the industrial era propose that maximum economic growth will solve our problems. They rely on measurement. They accept international competitiveness as the appropriate measure. They deny any need for fundamental change. The basic belief is that human beings are above the natural order and can control it through technology.
Those who propose fundamental change believe that the paradigm which support the industrial era has now died: Newtonian science has been perceived as a special case suitable only for closed mechanical systems. Chaos and complexity have taken its place. The future calls for us to accept ecological integrity, social cohesion based on compassion and effective decision-making. People need to work toward a high quality of life and healthy relationships. Measurement is replaced by empathy.
The second debate is just now being engaged between those who accept that we need new directions. One group believes that the way to make progress is to argue with, and fight, those who are still engaged in industrial-era practices. This has been the dominant form of thought and action up to the current time."
Alvin and Heidi Toffler, Creating a New Civilization
King & Schneider
A Few Examples Of Needed Interventions-presented by Willis Harman: In a preliminary attempt to implement this approach (a new world view) , a few examples of cultural shifts, institutional changes, and interventions showing up in the scenario are:
* A shift of central focus away from economic production to human learning and development. The fundamental concepts of business and labor, of employment and welfare theory, of liberal and Marxist analysis, were all based in production-focused society. However that can not be the case in the future when one of "modern" society's main "problems" has proven to be its capacity to over-produce. The key issue, looking ahead, is not how to stimulate more demand for goods and services and information, nor how to create more jobs in the mainstream economy. It is a much more fundamental one, basically a question of meaning: What is the central purpose of highly industrialized societies when it no longer makes sense for that central purpose to be economic production-because that is no longer a challenge and because in the long run focusing on economic production does not lead to a viable global future? The answer becomes apparent from the emerging value emphases and beliefs about the nature of human beings. It is to advance human growth and development to the fullest extent, to promote human learning in the broadest possible definition.
* Implicit within this shift of focus and the emergence of a different worldview is a different prevailing value structure, with less emphasis on the value of money and more on learning and development.
* This shift implies a new role of business on the planet, replacing its present role of increasing economic production, promoting consumption, and maximizing return of capital investment.
* An awakened civil society. People need to be willing to be part of the creative evolution. In the process, they need to recognize that they don't know just where it is all trying to evolve to. (See Korten, 1995)
* Actions that foster local awareness, activities, and self-reliance; that empower (or do not disempower) individuals and small groups
* Work toward reducing fertility rates and, hence, human population.Probably the single most effective way to accomplish this is improvement of the status of women in the developing world.
* Work toward having economic activities make a better fit with natural systems. (The Swedish "Natural Step" program and John Todd's "living technologies" for food production, waste treatment, and fuel production are two good examples.) Take steps toward agrarian reform that encourage breaking up of large corporate agricultural holdings and converting them to family and cooperative farms serving local markets, using bio-intensive agricultural methods and recycling organic wastes. (See Henderson, 1996)
* Work toward reducing the amount of economic activity. (What we are really getting at is reducing the impact of human societies on natural ecosystems; this impact is comprised of three primary factors: population, technology, and economic activity. The first two factors are noted above. Economic activity here includes both monetized and non-monetized exchange.) Promoting "voluntary simplicity" and frugality is one of the chief ways.
* Work toward establishing the real ways of achieving national and global security (not reliance on military strength).
* Work toward changing societal incentive systems (taxes,
legislation, regulation, subsidies, etc.). Examples include a shift in
the tax base to discourage excessive resource use and automation, and restructured
taxes to distinguish between investment and speculation.
Banathy, 1994: 88
Alvin and Heidi Toffler, Creating
a New Civilization
Riane Eisler, 1987, The Chalice and the Blade
"There is another course which, as co-creators of our own evolution, is still ours to chose. This is the alternative of breakthrough rather than breakdown: how through new ways of structuring politics, economics, science and spirituality we can move into the new era of a partnership world."
Ralph Abraham, 1994. Chaos, Gaia
Elisabet Sahtouris, 1996
"Paradoxically, our self-imposed separation from nature by way of an "objective" mechanical worldview during the past few millennia has led to the scientific knowledge that makes it possible to understand and reintegrate ourselves into nature's self-organization. It has also brought us to a stage of technology that permits us to share our discoveries and our understanding planet-wide in no time at all, to work together as a body of humanity with hope of transcending our present crisis in a far healthier and happier future for ourselves and all the rest of Earthlife."