Our current forms of national and global governance are not doing a very good job at facing the global crises caused by civilisation reaching the borders of the planetary boundaries. We need better forms of national and global governance, since from a systems perspective that is the defining metasystem that affects the way we guide human activity wether it be economic or social on a local or global scale.
Using the philosophical model Spiral Dynamics Integral it is possible to map stages of cultural existence with prior forms of governance in order to get a better understanding of where we are heading if we’re going to adapt our governance systems to an ever more complex planetary social and technological world.
In order to get this you need to look at the essence of what the color-coded stages are trying to catch at the center of each stage and overcome the very common and strong postmodern (green) impulse to draw attention to the many exceptions and blurry lines at the periphery of the stages.
It’s just a map, but it’s useful.
Purple: Regional kinship based kingdoms with local “ting” where free men met at specific sites to decide in matters of civil proceedings ranging from punishing criminals to electing kings. Parliament consists of free men.
Red: Warrior kings conquering adjacent kingdoms creating a nation consisting of different regional kinships. Parliament consists of warrior chiefs.
Blue: Faith-based nation where the national identity gradually is overtaking the regional kinship identities creating the modern idea of countries. In Sweden the parliament consisted of four chambers representing the four main classes: nobility, priesthood, farmers and trades people.
Modern: Industrial-capitalist nation where in Sweden the industrialists made an agreement with the trade unions in order to secure peace and allow economic growth by sharing the revenue between labourers and capital owners through the modern well-fare state. Parliament consists primarily of a struggle between left (labourers) and right (capitalists) supported by statisical and census bureaus for objective facts about national materialistic gains.
Postmodern: High-speed mediated fluctuating opinion-driven politics where politicians mainly respond to mediated stories arising from either journalistic scrutiny and more recently from short-lived sworms of opiniated citizens using social media as a bridge between mass media and political parties. The power of parliament shifts towards the media-savvy, wether they are actual politicians, public relations experts or gifted citizens with a knack for digitally enhanced networked communication.
This is where we are now. However, a rapidly increasing part of populations in any country with a predominantly postmodern state of governance has grown weary, sceptical, desillusioned and generally fed-up with the attention hijacking, but obviously not effective way of governance in a time where more and more political issues have become global in nature.
Climate, the global economical system, planetary ecological systems and their causal effects for agriculture, diffusion of innovation, logistics, migration and wars to name a few are not solved by national parliaments, hashtags or sound bites from politicians. Earlier global governances structures such as the UN does neither, overrun by national agendas from a few nations with national agendas extending far beyond their national borders such as China, Russia and the US.
Thus, the increasing buildup of social pressure for a metamodern stage of governance. How it might look we can at this point in history merely speculate about. In popular imagination dystopic fears about global tyranny powered by AI and robotics compete with idealistic utopias where people re-utite with mother earth in local eco-villages all watched over by machines of loving grace
But a more plausible direction of change can be inferred from initiatives such as the One Project and MindValley that are putting a lot of work into figuring out how the next stage of governance could come about, look like and work.
Modes of governance, just like new waves of individual and cultural expression, always stands on the shoulders of the previous ones. Maybe the best and most sustainable solution for a metamodern mode of governance would be a system integrating the best outputs of each of the previous ones.
The strong local communities from purple, the power and drive from red, the willingness to sacrifice personal gain for the greater good from blue, the ambition, science and ingenious forms of financing large endevourd from orange and the humanistic and ecologically ethics from green.
Instead, from what I can make out of it we seem to hang in mid air in a multi-crisis where parts of the population are stuck in absolute poverty and misery at beige. Most notably this is the case in the US which paradoxically is the wealthiest nation on the planet. We’ve also seen several global outbreaks of purple tribalism mixed with red gun violence and crime in failed states. As in the case with ISIS, Boko Haram and the Taliban, also fuelled and motivated by blue religious authoritarianism.
And if there is one cultural and political that have come to dominate the educated and developed populations and institutions lately it is the negative consequences of the overextraction of natural resources and the burning of fossil fuels since the orange scientific and industrial revolutions.
As if that wasn’t enough, the green postmodern digital media landscape has in the view of many concerned believers in liberal democracy eroded the fundaments of free and fair elections, the ability for citizens to form their opinions based on well-grounded facts and even for populations to have a somewhat coherent view of the state of the greater political reality in which we all live.
Fake news, polarizing, divisive algorithms and information warfare are thought to have already created a post-truth society where people struggle in a meaning crisis in the middle of all the rest.
Will we collectively manage to make a momentous leap upward and forward into a new paradigm of existence and pull ourselves together at a higher yellow metamodern level of organisation? A new holistic systems-oriented paradigm that promises to have us orchestrating and integrating the progress made on each of the previous levels of existence.
I strongly believe we will. When enough people get fed up with the current status quo.
Our postmodern hypermediated societies makes us direct our attention to the odd, the strange and the scary, but if you look at the bigger picture there overall cultural trend seems to be more innovation, breakthroughs and people adapting to change by growing their mindsets.
The emerging global crises from reaching the natural planetary limits might be the painful, but necessary and big enough, driver for the personal, social and societal transformation needed to occur.
Faced with a serious and tangible enough pressure on the global civilisation we’ve come to take for granted, each individuals and social groups mode of existence would out of self-preservation be triggered to the peak of ability.
Beige focus on necessities such as food, warmth and water, instead of luxuary comforts, status and entertainment.
Purple insticts to be a part of and contribute to a group for mutual benefit, instead of being infuriated by people and events in the far distance of our lives via media.
Red warrior mentality that awakens the courage and initiative to be the change we want to see, instead of blaming politicians and “the others” for everything that is wrong in our lives.
Blue willingness to sacrifice ourselves for the greater good, instead of clinging to the personal gains we have amassed if we are among the lucky ones on the planet.
Orange ability to think for one self and ingenuity in the face of obstacles, instead of believing too little of ourselves and looking nervously waiting for someone or something else to fix the problems we face.
Green compassion and care about other humans, animals and the planet out of the realisation that we are all one in the greater scheme of things, instead of cynically separating our selves and peers from the rest of the universe when we seem to get short-term benefits from it.
If you want to change the future, change education
The quote is from Nelson Mandela, in turn quoted by entrepreneur Vishen Lakhiani, who’ve built the educational platform MindValley for personal transformation. But it could just aswell have been the inspiration for booming initatives like StackOverflow for people wanting to master programming, Kaggle for data scientist or YouTube and WikiHow for just about any type of learning. Everything standing on the shoulders of Tim Berners-Lee’s invention of the world wide web in the first place.
But the true transformation doesn’t come from external facts or information in itself (sorry, Wikimedia, I still love you for what you do though). Instead it comes from inner natural growth of conciousness which leads to greater and greater ability to adapt perspectives and behavious of increasing complexity and inclusiveness if our individual circumstances allows for it to happen.
It might even be possible to foster such inner growth through positive social interactions and a healthy balanced life style including both physical, mental, emotional and existential health practices.
And the educational inspiration and availability of supporting communities for that growth to happen is abundant in our digital and globally connected times.
That, if nothing else, is the most promising thing from my perspective.
Remember that the blue national bureaucracies make us slow to react and form effective collaboration with other blue bureaucracies, which the failure of the UN is a testament to.
And remember that orange clever science and technology and competitive liberal democracy as form of governance is the root cause of crises related to overextraction of natural resources and competition, rather than collaboration, as the dominant mode of operation.
The green postmodern focus on the odd and peripheral seems more a distraction in the face of global crises, than a help.
Since the nature of the current crises are global we need to cooperate and coordinate on a global level. That is a fundamental requisite of a metamodern yellow (or perhaps even holistic turquoise) form of governance.
A better and more advanced form of governance also needs to adress all four epistemological expressions of reality, the subjective realms of individual and cultural modes of being and seeing the world aswell as the objective realms of manipulating atoms aswell as judicial, financial and technological systems.
A possibility is that open collaborative ways of making things happen on a global level such as privately funded competitions (e.g. XPRIZE) , privately funded funding platforms (e.g. gofundme) together with platforms for collective decision making such as Consul are already in the process of reshaping global governance.
The blue (as in e.g. the UN) — orange (as in e.g. multinational corporations) large-scale solutions simply doesn’t work effectively enough due to all the bureacracy. Large and complex problems such as regional instability have many interconnected root casuses. We need to learn from e.g. how software projects such as the successes withon deep learning are managed (i.e. governed) and allow many small teams work on parts of the problem and then make the solutions possible to plug into other teams solutions easily.
Could there be a “github + stackoverflow” for sustainable food production in different climate regions in the world? How could a mix of volunteers, paid professionals and elected politicians work together across their institutional boundaries to add their unique competence and perspective to improve on existing solutions?
The orchestration of such diverse teams working on specific small parts of complex problems is perhaps the key to unlocking a yellow metamodern global governance system and is just waiting to happen, and most likely already in the making through initiatives such as XPRIZE and countless others like it.
Again, what is needed is a shift of mindset from red “I want all the glory”, blue “we need to have a proper and fully controlled pyramid structure first”, orange “how will this make me more money?” and green “lets first sort out the odd and strange stuff that won’t work in the periphery of this grand scheme?” attitudes. We need people who have succesfully transcended these limiting mindsets, but at the same time are able to appreciate the valueable thinking at each preceding stage. The personal transformation into a higher, more mature and more complex state of thinking and acting than before.
Maybe all that it takes is that enough resourceful people decide to start using systems like that in an self-organizing way in order to better meet the global crises for the now more than a hundred years old systems of governance to be out-competed.
And since all of those realms ultimately stem from individual human minds operating on themselves, in social collaboration, in the understanding, control and manipulation of the physical and societal systems surrounding us the logical conclusion is to put effort into helping the leaders of tomorrow to grow into more complex and holistically well-rounded humans.
Holistic education of a new generation of leaders, thus, is the key.
Here are two good starting points for young (english-speaking) bright people who have already matured into advanced ways of thinking and feeling about their lives and the world around us: