Global System Change
A Whole System Approach To
Achieving Sustainability and Real Prosperity
Copyright © 2016
Imagine the Earth as if humans never existed. In nature, we would see nearly infinite levels of technical sophistication, coordination, long-term sustainability and true prosperity. Nearly all plants and animals would be fully expressing themselves and reaching their fullest potential. Resources would be distributed about equally among individuals and generations. The society of life largely would be decentralized into local, mostly self-sustaining communities.
Now imagine that we could add humanity to this environment and retain the same high level of sophistication, sustainability and widespread prosperity. This would be humanity reaching our fullest potential, individually and collectively. Individuals would fully express their innate, unique interests and talents. Harnessing the immense technical sophistication of nature, we would develop technologies, many of them inconceivable today, that produce no waste, equitably utilize the Earth’s resources, and maximize quality of life. We would truly prosper over the very long term.
These things already occur in nature. Why are they not happening broadly in human society? Why are we not reaching our fullest potential? The answer mainly is that we operate at a far lower level of consciousness and intelligence than nature. The nearly infinite sophistication, coordination and symmetry of nature indicate the presence of some coordinating mechanism, even if that mechanism is random activity (although that is extremely unlikely because random activity generally produces disorder, not order).
Comparing the sophistication, sustainability and prosperity of nature to human society shows that the implied intelligence of nature is nearly infinitely greater than human intelligence. We produce vast amounts of waste and environmental degradation. Billions of people suffer and struggle to survive, while small groups control far more resources than they need to prosper. Comparing the results of nature to those of humanity, one could make a strong case that humans are the least intelligent creatures on this planet. How did we collectively become so inequitable, destructive and unintentionally suicidal?
The main reason is self-reflective consciousness. Unlike other creatures, we gained the ability to think about ourselves, others, the past and the future. In many ways, this individual reflection on self cut us off from the implied intelligence that guides the rest of nature. Other creatures do not think about what they do. They simply do what they are guided to do by instinct, DNA and other mechanisms that we do not fully understand. In the process, they produce essentially infinite sophistication, coordination, sustainability and prosperity. We are part of nature. We can achieve the same results. But our level of consciousness blocks us from reaching our fullest potential and manifesting the implied intelligence of nature in human society.
A main problem with self-reflective consciousness is that we often do not see the big picture. In reality, we are all parts of one interconnected system. None of us can survive in outer space. Like cells in a healthy human body, the components of nature intuitively or instinctually cooperate and act based on the reality of interconnectedness. Limited competition occurs at the individual level. But the overwhelming force in healthy natural systems and nature overall is cooperation.
Religious and spiritual ideas often encourage us to act on the reality of our interconnectedness, for example, by suggesting that we treat others with kindness, love and respect. Treating others well ultimately is the same as treating oneself well because we are interconnected parts of one system. This generally produces the most successful and satisfying life because it is based on the reality of our oneness.
However, the mind focused on self and the five senses frequently create the illusion of separation. Sensing or believing that we are alone in the world often produces fear. We wonder how we will survive and believe we must compete for scarce resources. This illusion of separation is the genesis of many economic, political, religious and other ideas that guide humanity and compel us to cause extensive environmental and social problems.
The human mind frequently is not able to understand the whole Earth system and its sub-element human society. To facilitate comprehension, the mind breaks the whole system into parts (economic, political, social), a process known as reductionism. From this myopic (shortsighted) perspective, the human mind develops theories and systems that produce unintended consequences, such as environmental and social degradation, because the theories ignore major, relevant aspects of reality.
A fearful, competitive mindset has dominated much of humanity since the Agricultural Revolution. Competition produces winners and losers. Unfortunately, there often were far more losers than winners. For much of modern human history, small groups of wealthy and/or powerful people dominated the masses. Authoritarianism was and still is perpetuated by dogmatic religious, political and economic philosophies that promote ideas such as humans are innately flawed, life is difficult, and environmental and social trade-offs are necessary for achieving economic prosperity.
Authoritarian leaders and vested interests frequently control citizens by taking advantage of tribalistic tendencies. Through emotional manipulation, citizens are divided into debating factions, such as conservatives and liberals. As George Washington said in his Farewell Address, when the people are divided, we are conquered. Division enables vested interests to control the people and essentially steal their wealth, power and freedom.
Education facilitates authoritarianism and public deception. Modern education systems are legacies of the Industrial Age and Protestant Reformation. The primary goals are obedience training and indoctrination (i.e. teaching young people to blindly believe prevailing economic, political and other ideas). Young people generally are not taught to think for themselves, analyze the flaws of modern systems, and consider more effective alternatives.
The foundational solution to essentially all major environmental, social, economic and political problems facing humanity is to think at a higher, whole system level – to move beyond the illusion of separation into the reality of interconnectedness. As parts of nature, we have the capacity to function at much higher levels of consciousness and intelligence.
During the Age of Enlightenment, the Founders of the US displayed the higher-level thinking needed today. Enlightenment thinkers rebelled against the dogma and superstition of the Dark and Middle Ages. They did not blindly believe religious, political or any other type of dogma. Instead, they utilized the human mind’s capacity for rational, critical thinking. They observed reality, rationally considered options, and objectively selected the most effective solutions.
We need a Second Enlightenment. We must rise above dogma and vested interest deception. Instead of using forced education to compel young people to blindly believe and obey, we should teach them, and encourage all citizens, to think for themselves. As our Founders did, we must elevate rational, critical thinking.
Widespread display of the US flag shows that many citizens love their country. Let us strive to fulfill the vision of our Founders by implementing true democracy and promoting the well-being of all current and future citizens. George Washington wished us brotherly affection. Let us move beyond vested interest division and deception, and begin to act like the one united people that we already are in reality.
Major issues in human society usually are addressed in isolation. But they are all connected. To successfully resolve these issues, we must begin to link them together, discuss them as parts of one whole system and make them comprehensible for average, non-expert citizens. That is what this book strives to do.
The book applies a whole system perspective to human society, with a major emphasis on the US. It puts all major environmental, social, economic and political problems facing humanity in a whole system context. This facilitates the development of effective systemic solutions that do not have unintended consequences because they take all relevant aspects of reality into account.
To summarize contents, the book first discusses whole system thinking, principles of system change, the business case for system change and the wisdom of nature. Then, major sub-elements of the whole system are discussed (economic, political, social, environmental). Economic systemic solutions are proposed in areas including social well-being measurement, economic growth de-emphasis, money creation, debt and interest, finance and the capital markets, externalities, time value of money, labor and unions, limited liability and corporations, and taxation. Proposed political systemic solutions include those related to the US Judicial, Legislative and Executive branches of government, campaign finance, lobbying and other forms of government influence, political parties, election reform, property rights and governance.
In the social area, systemic solutions are proposed in areas including advertising and media, culturally-induced emptiness, depression and addiction, spending excessive time in the cyberworld, men and violence, empowering women, respecting the elderly and achieving life satisfaction. The book also describes the numerous deception techniques used by vested interests to mislead the public. Specific public deceptions in many areas are exposed, including those related to government, business, the military, labor, healthcare, abortion, religion, economic and political philosophies, and the US Constitution.
In the environmental area, systemic solutions are proposed for virtually every major issue. For example, problems, public deceptions and solutions are extensively discussed for climate change, chemicals, genetic engineering, nanotechnology, and nuclear power and weapons. Population growth problems and solutions are thoroughly examined. Comprehensive analysis and solutions are provided for food production and diet, crime, privacy and education. The Education section fully describes the failure of education reform in the US, public deceptions related to education, and implementing outstanding K-12 and higher education systems.
Human actions begin in the mind. To change our physical world, we must change the way we think about ourselves and society. To facilitate the consciousness evolution needed to reach our fullest potential, this book extensively discusses psychology, spirituality and religion. A new model of human psychological development is introduced. The book also thoroughly reviews problems, causes and solutions related to the widespread overuse of psychiatric drugs.
After discussing major problems and systemic solutions in developed and developing countries, the book thoroughly addresses practical means of implementing these solutions. A major emphasis is placed on uniting and empowering citizens, implementing true democracy, and collaboratively evolving systems into sustainable forms.
In today’s busy world, people often have limited time for reading, analysis and information gathering. They frequently skim material and seek key points. They usually focus on one issue at a time. But this limits effectiveness. Major issues are complex and interconnected. They cannot be effectively addressed in isolation. Thoughtful, whole system analysis is required.
Global System Change strives to save readers time by hugely condensing the information needed to resolve major problems. Tens of thousands of articles, websites, books and other sources were reviewed to write this whole system book. This information is condensed to a volume that is about the length of five normal books. Technical jargon is avoided or explained. The book can be easily understood by all levels of readers, including those with limited formal education. Global System Change is intended to provide a far clearer and more actionable view of reality than one would get from multiple higher education degrees or many years of work experience.
A book that links and describes all major aspects of society could be continuously updated. But the primary purpose of this book is not to describe specific environmental, social, economic and political conditions. These are discussed to illuminate larger systems and trends. The main purpose of this book is to describe overarching systems, the myopic thinking that created them, and the whole system thinking needed to improve them. Specific laws and conditions discussed in this book might change. But the primary focus, Global System Change, will remain relevant for decades, or longer.
Global System Change refers to a whole system approach for achieving sustainability and real prosperity. The approach includes content and process. The sector-level and overarching system changes described in this book are the content. Critical process aspects include broadening conscious awareness from the individual to the whole system perspective, accessing the wisdom of nature through greater use of the intuitive function, replacing blind faith in dogma with enlightened, rational thinking, and collaboration among business, government and broader society. This whole system approach will enable us to evolve human society into a sustainable and truly prosperous form.
There is no need for widespread poverty, hunger, suffering and environmental degradation on our abundant Earth. These problems are not inevitable. They do not result from some innate human flaw or weakness. They mainly result from myopic, low-level thinking. In our fear-filled, competitive world, power is honored. Men innately have greater physical strength, aggressiveness and other aspects of power than women. As a result, men frequently have higher status.
Large environmental and social problems reflect humanity’s abundance of power and lack of wisdom. In the same way that men innately have more power, women innately manifest greater cooperation, empathy, whole system thinking and other aspects of wisdom. Resolving the great challenges facing humanity requires balancing power with wisdom. As we elevate and honor wisdom, cooperation and whole system thinking in human society, it naturally will elevate those who innately manifest more of these characteristics (women) to a position of true equality with men.
There is immense good in humanity. As said in the movie Love Actually, love actually is all around us – in families, communities and broader society. We all want to love and be loved. Media creates distorted perceptions of reality by emphasizing bad events. But the daily kindnesses of civilized society show that humanity is overwhelmingly good. We frequently understand our local worlds, but often do not adequately see the larger, whole Earth system. To reach our fullest potential, we must begin to think and act from a whole system perspective.
Frank Dixon oversaw the sustainability analysis and rating of the world’s 2,000 largest companies for many years as the Managing Director of Research at Innovest Strategic Value Advisors, formerly the largest corporate sustainability research firm in the world. Institutional investors used Innovest research to develop high-performing socially responsible investing products. Extensive corporate sustainability experience made it clear that flawed systems compel all companies to degrade the environment and society. Frank Dixon developed the TCR® approach to provide a practical and profitable way for companies and investors to engage in system change. Following Innovest, he provided sustainability and system change consulting to companies in the US and Europe. Most recently, he wrote the Global System Change series of books. Using a whole system approach, the books identify the major economic, political and social system changes needed to achieve sustainability and real prosperity.
Frank Dixon has an MBA from the Harvard Business School.
Copyright © 2016 Frank Dixon