Current Problems Require New Thinking
- John Bunzl
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John Bunzl, Founder, Simultaneous Policy (Simpol), London, UK
Einstein’s famous dictum, “We won’t solve present problems with the same thinking that created them” is, by now, well worn. But only relatively few people, it seems, have taken on board its true and profound significance. Einstein was suggesting that we have seemingly insurmountable problems – such as today’s global problems – only because our present way of thinking is inadequate. Were our thinking to be adequate, in other words, we’d be able to solve our problems quite easily.
Ever since the European Enlightenment, the predominant way we think is sometimes called rational thinking. This way of thinking – this worldview - superseded the previous mythic-religious worldview that characterised the Middle Ages. Rational thinking, so researchers in human consciousness have shown, is but the latest of a number of ‘levels of consciousness’ that humanity – at different times in different cultures - is passing through. These levels, broadly speaking, start with Archaic consciousness and then proceed to Magic, then Mythic, then Rational (or Modern), then Late-Rational (or Postmodern), then Vision-Logic and then on to yet further, still-higher levels.
Each new level, rather like ever-larger Russian dolls, transcends and yet includes its predecessor level. Moreover, while each new level solves the problems of the previous level, it also brings with it its own new problems. Hence Einstein’s insight that the problems we face at our current Rational level of thinking/consciousness cannot be solved with that same Rational thinking that created them. They will be solved only if and when we move to the next higher level.
I will explain how Rational thinking manifests itself in the field of politics as what I have termed “nation-centric” thinking. I will give practical examples of nation-centric thinking and show how that kind of thinking cannot possibly solve many of the global problems we face today, from climate change to global financial market instability. I will demonstrate how current party politics, current NGO strategies are all prisoners, in one way or another, of out-dated nation-centric thinking. I will show that only if our consciousness moves to the next higher level of thinking – namely to Vision-Logic thinking – can we hope to find adequate answers to today’s global problems. This move from Rational, nation-centric thinking to Vision-logic thinking is, then, a move to world-centric thinking. Again, I will explain what this means and give practical examples.
Having addressed the subject of inner consciousness, I will go on to discuss how rational, nation-centric thinking is reflected in our outer economic and political systems and institutions. Building on the more world-centric, Vision-logic view we have identified and developed, we will see more precisely why our existing systems and institutions are as they are, and why they are inadequate to solve global problems. We will also see how the present efforts of civil society and NGOs are similarly inadequate. This will reveal that, contrary to the view of many critics of globalisation, it is not really a faulty economy that represents our key problem, but rather the lack of global governance; that is, the lack of globally binding rules, regulations and taxes along with appropriate redistribution of wealth across national borders. We will conclude, in other words, that if our global economy is ever to become just and sustainable, there is no alternative but to evolve a system of binding global governance. Anything short of that, we will argue, simply cannot and will not do.
We will then briefly analyse present institutions of global governance, such as the United Nations, the IMF and the WTO and we will see how these institutions, although purportedly global, are in fact very much rooted in the inadequate nation-centric mind-set we previously identified, and that they are consequently highly unlikely to provide the kind of objective global governance needed. As a consequence, I argue that world-centric thinking and solutions will have to evolve from new strands of world-centric thinking emanating from civil society itself.
In this connection, the Simultaneous Policy (Simpol) campaign will be profiled as one such strand and I will rely on corroboration from sources such as the prominent philosopher, Ken Wilber, who concur that Simpol represents a genuinely world-centric initiative that is grounded in Vision-logic. I will also explain how Simpol may be capable of delivering a form of binding global governance and how it represents, arguably, the world’s first, genuine form of global electoral politics.