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 
2) Solutions from their  systemic perspective: 

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.  

I ) The Problem With the Old World View  

Willis Harman, 1996 
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 the natural environment 
    * 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
It is important to understand how these tendencies are the consequence of assumptions underlying late-20th-century society: 
    * That the economy is, and appropriately so, the dominant institution in modern society; 
    * 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. 
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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." 

Michail Gorbachev, 1995. The New Global Civilization 
" The world truly is at a cross roads. We face many complex problems whose solutions will take more than just physical resources and financial expenditures. .. The roots of the current crisis of civilization lie within humanity itself. Our intellectual and moral development is lagging behind the rapidly changing conditions of our existence, and we are finding it difficult to adjust psychologically to the pace of change. Only by renouncing selfishness and attempts to outsmart one another to gain an advantage at the expense of one another can we hope to ensure the survival of human kind and the further development of civilization." 

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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)  
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Elisabet Sahtouris 
"I used to think that the mechanical world view had imposed on us mechanical structures and that our societies are really built like machines. But the fact is that you can't turn living things into machinery. You can try to force them to behave like machinery but they will not be machinery. That is exactly why our economists can't predict anymore and our politics is falling apart. We don't understand them as unhealthy living systems. We're trying to fix them like machines. It's very different to cure a person and to fix a machine."  

David Bohm 
" For fragmentation is now very widespread, not only throughout society, but also in each individual; and this is leading to a kind of general confusion of the mind, which creates an endless series of problems and interferes with our clarity of perception so seriously as to prevent us from being able to solve most of them..... The notion that al these fragments are separately existent is evidently an illusion, and this illusion cannot do other than lead to endless conflict and confusion. " 

Hutchins, 1995 
"All the important problems we face are systemic problems: the survival of the planet's ecology, world peace, the elimination of hunger and disease, the education of youth, and social justice--just to name a few. Over the past several decades the systemic nature of these complex problems has gradually entered the public's consciousness. Complex problems are systemic, complex problems are counterintuitive, systemic problems are everywhere, systemic problems are messy problems." 


Zohar in Wheatley, 1996 
"Classical physics transmuted the living cosmos of Greek and medieval times, a cosmos filled with purpose and intelligence and driven by the love of God for the benefit of humans-- into a dead , clockwork machine. .. Things moved because they were fixed and determined; cold science pervaded the once teeming heavens. Human beings and their struggles, the whole of consciousness, and life itself were irrelevant to the workings of the vast universal machine," 
Robert Theobald, 1996 From Robert Theobald- p.c.  
"It seems to me that there are two debates going on at the current time and that when we confuse them that we inevitably lose ground.

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."  
  Read on for the Solutions!

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II) Solutions from a Systemic Perspective  

Willis Harman, 1996 
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.  

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Banathy, 1994: 88 
"Today we are faced with a change in the nature of change. We are faced with constantly emerging new realities and massive transformations that call for changing and transforming the whole system. .......Faced with the new realties, our systems have to transform----as society has transformed. The have to learn to co-change (co-evolve) with their constantly changing environments. Thus, it is imperative that we understand what these transformations and new realities are. We have to grasp their implicates for our systems, and apply our understanding of these implications to the transformation of our systems. We need to learn how to recreate our systems, how to redesign them so that they will have a "goodness of fit" with the emerged new realties. No small task by any means!" 

Albert Einstein 
"No problem can ever be solved consciousness that created it. We must learn to see the world anew."  

Alvin and Heidi Toffler, Creating a New Civilization 
"We are living through the birth pangs of a new civilization whose institutions are not yet in place. A fundamental skill needed by policy makers, politicians, and politically active citizens today--if they really want to know what they are doing--is the ability to distinguish between proposals designed to keep the tottering Second Wave system on life-support from those that spread and smooth our transition to the Third Wave civilization." 


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King & Schneider for the Council of the Club of Rome, 1991  
"The global revolution has no ideological basis. It is being shaped by an unprecedented mixture of geostrategic earthquakes and of social, economic, technological , cultural and ethical factors. Combinations of these factors led to unpredictable situations. In this transitional period, humanity is therefore facing a double challenge: having to grope its way towards an understanding of the new world with do m any as yet hidden facets and also, in the mists of uncertainty, to learn how to manage the new world and not be managed by it. Our aim must be essentially normative: to visualize the sort of world we would like to live in, to evaluate the resources-material ,human and moral--to make our vision realistic and sustainable and then to mobilize the human energy an political will to forge the new global society." 

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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 and Eros 
"We live today in the midst of a major cultural transformation that echoes similar events thoughout our history. Our choice to nurture this historical imperative, rather than pursuing yet another suppression may determine our future, and even whether our species has a future. We are now at a hinge in history, not an apocalypse. Our own participation in the creation of the future may be improved in quality and power by mathematically illuminated images of space -time patterns in our history that are in harmony and resonance with similar rhythms of the universe and earth.  We can chose to participate optimistically in the present metamorphosis, trying to bias the outcome toward a new social organization with a healthy future. We may reclaim the best features of the old traditions.....as well as those of the modern world." 

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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." 

Anna Lemkow, Wholeness Seminar 1996 
"Today's emergent but still sorely divided global society obviously stands in urgent need of a common ethic. a universally acceptable ideal and vision by which to live, one that might effectively foster unity beyond all differences. I believe wholeness is the very idea which fulfills these stringent requirements that it constitutes the global ethic par excellence. More than that, the notion of wholeness insistently beckons to us, so to speak, from all sides. And inasmuch as wholeness is neither a dogma nor ideology but a living, dynamic, all-pervasive principle, it can be accepted by everyone. That is to say, whereas creeds and ideologies are inherently controversial, a living principle can never be that; wholeness could not raise objections or offend anyone -- either believers or nonbelievers, scientists or mystics, philosophers or artists. Yet,...this principle-process is profoundly sound on scientific, psychological, moral, philosophical, aesthetic, and spiritual grounds." 
Theobald, 1996 Reworking Success 
"The required success criteria for the twenty-first century are social cohesion, a respect for all of nature and the maintenance of the integrity of fundamental ecological systems. We must therefore abandon our current commitments to maximum economic growth and international competitiveness. The most profound implication is that this change in success criteria will necessarily occur at the personal, group and community level rather than through top-down policy shifts. 

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