Unprecedented global change is happening. Economic, environmental and social crises are tumbling over one another. Some people will profit, more will suffer, most are uncertain. Results are both positive and very bad: tremendous new chances for change go together with huge human suffering especially for those already poor. The victims are given very little attention.
How to prepare for imminent disaster? Buy candles and matches? Change your money into gold? Grow crops on your rooftop? Read Thoreau? Or find wisdom, think, connect and meditate; be as graceful and mindful as possible? To get an idea of what to do, you need a bigger picture. In this book we try to show links, relations, facts and well-informed visions.
We start from a Vision for the 21st Century. The guide follows with two main sections, devoted to analysis (Converging Crises) and solutions – guidelines and proposals offering direction in chaotic times. In between the main sections you find some crisis indicators; how bad is it? Where do opportunities emerge? Who are being left behind?
The guide is being written for the practical intellectual: those who feel they want to think and listen before acting. For those who want to inform their instincts. Crucially, I am convinced that acting doesn’t mean to ‘do less’ like in less travel, less eating, or turning down the heat in your house. Changing old habits can best be done by embracing new ones and by seeing the world in other ways. Our focus will be on what to do instead of on what to stop doing, in order to survive, live, prosper and thrive.
This guide builds on the arguments by (social) scientists like Tony Judt, Zygmunt Bauman, Gregory Bateson, visionaries like Jeremy Rifkin, philosophers like Slavoj Zizek, and documentary makers like Ross Ashcroft, Adam Curtis and Charles Ferguson. Foundational ideas include (complex) systems theory. We will try to close gaps between academic disciplines, and the arts, but still write for normal people. And although I am heavily indebted to the work of others, all opinions and mistakes remain my own.
Finally, the Arts. I think wise answers come from that side. Science has not been too good at predicting complex social issues. Art lies the truth, as Picasso has put it. Umberto Eco wrote The Name of the Rose because he had discovered that some things – like the workings of power – are hard to grasp scientifically. After years of studying Political Science as well as working as a theatre director, I can do nothing but agree with him.
Please find the contents table to the right, and if you think we’re missing something important, feel free to join the discussion.