The Call for a New Paradigm in Politics
Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” How can we as citizens of this Earth become the change for a new paradigm in politics and governance? Citizens of a new kind of civilization, founded by those who understand we are part of the Earth, and that the time for nationalistic ideologies, party politics, and unconstrained economic growth is over.
A new paradigm in politics and governance is essential for the required leadership for tipping point times. Our world is on the brink of five disastrous climate tipping points and heading toward 2 to 3°C , as Armstrong McKay et al explained in their recent research. Below is a video by Johan Rockström, who was part of this scientific study on climate tipping elements and their potential tipping points.
The schematics below by the 2022 IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report, illustrates further how this truly is a critical time. Unless we step up to become the change that’s needed, the narrow window of opportunity for avoiding even worse climate disasters, will close. Above 1.5°C global warming, climate resilient development gets progressively harder.
Increasingly more scientists, including myself, hold the view that we are already committed to 1.5°C global warming, even if we were to stop all emissions today.
This article is a call to all the leaders of our world who are committed to stepping up, and becoming the change that makes the difference.
The narrowing window for climate action should be a major driving force for a new paradigm in politics and governance, yet it’s not. In my article on a Transition Plan for a Thrivable Civilization, I offer a summary of my scientific research on systems change. This includes a diagnostic framework for addressing the systemic transformation barriers that result from mechanistic systems, growth models, and worldviews, and which trap the potential solutions, resources, and collaboration necessary for resolving the greatest issues of our time.
Although it’s beyond the scope of this article to discuss those barriers here, I’d like to point out that many of the mainstream political and governmental systems and leaders act from (and sustain) these systemic barriers, and thus fail to provide the necessary leadership for our sustainability crisis. In other words, the time for climate leadership is now, and this requires systemic and courageous leadership at all levels of society, and in ways we’ve never seen before.
Since the focus for this article is on a new paradigm in politics, the following call is particularly for political leaders, including those in government. Yet, recognizing how the word ‘politics’ is derived from the Greek word ‘Polis,’ which means the city-state in ancient Greek, this is also a call to all of us who recognize our own political agency. The ancient Greek philosophers didn’t differentiate between ones personal life and social life. Politics, was thus the study and activity that connects people, society, state, morality, and the making of civilizations.
This is a call to political leaders who are:
- Committed to collaborate at all levels of society and across different political parties for the issues that require us to stand together with the Earth, and the urgency of this time.
- Wiling to risk their popularity, because they understand what it means to be a future ancestor and provide stewardship for the changes ahead.
- Leading from vision by initiating pathways for resilience and thrivability that empower the necessary economic, governmental, political, and educational transformations for this time.
- Act on the mandate of the Earth and the future generations, instead of their campaign managers and voter statistics.
- Courageous to reveal and stop the manipulation of voters through persistent disinformation that seeks to divide people on purpose, for political and economic control.
Leadership is about guiding and facilitating the actions and changes for where we need to go, from a future perspective of a world that works for all.
Political leadership for tipping point times requires above all vision, courage, and empathy to lead for what is necessary, and not merely for what is popular and securing you a seat on the table.
The rise of authoritarian politicians and their populist and extreme-right parties is a clear sign that engaging leadership for tipping point times is hugely lacking. In other words, there is a huge leadership gap, and it’s up to us to close that gap.
Tipping point times increase people’s sense of uncertainty, danger, and hardships, which authoritarian and populist leaders use to provide false security through simplistic narratives and false promises that hollow our democracies from the inside-out.
Putting the climate and biodiversity crisis on the political agenda is not enough for securing the conditions for a liveable planet. A paradigm shift in politics and governance is much more than an agenda, a climate change protest, or nice slogans.
Millions of people around the world are suffering the effects of climate change, which will quickly become billions. The most vulnerable countries are hit the hardest, and especially those from the Global South, like the devastating flooding in Pakistan that was made worse as a result of global warming according to a recent scientific study by an international team of climate scientists.
The book Spin Dictators: The Changing Face of Tyranny in the 21st Century by Daniel Treisman and Sergei Guriev, reveals a new breed of authoritarian political leaders and dictators who seek to dominate and control society by manipulating and controlling the information, and redesigning authoritarian rule for a more technologically connected global world. This includes political leaders such as Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Xi Jinping, Viktor Orbán, Jair Bolsonaro, and others, who act like spin doctors in pseudo-democracies.
Politics for a New Paradigm in Civilizational Development
In The New Paradigm in Politics book, which I co-authored and co-edited with my dear friends Alexander Laszlo and series editor Ervin Laszlo, we explored the necessary transformations of contemporary political systems and practice, based on the 2021 Global Symposium, The New Paradigm in Politics by The Laszlo Institute of New Paradigm Research.
The symposium brought together 35 world-renowned thought leaders and practitioners in the fields of systems science, futurism, consciousness research, public policy, law, social science, and philosophy about the role of politics for a new paradigm in human civilizational development. Contributors included: Nafeez Ahmed, Frederick Tsao, Garry Jacobs, Jean Houston, Violeta Bulc, Youssef Mahmoud, Charles Eisenstein, Flavia Valgiusti, Naresh Singh, Hazel Henderson, and others.
Through this article I will share some key points from The New Paradigm in Politics book and symposium.
Stepping Stones for a New Paradigm in Politics
There was a general agreement among the participants of the symposium that a new paradigm in politics begins by:
- New paradigm principles of engagement that are based on the fundamental unity of life, and which address the old paradigm engagement of dualistic win-lose competition, domination, control, and short-term interests;
- Planetary ethics based on respect for planetary boundaries, systemic thresholds, tipping points, fair allocations, and stewardship for an inclusive and thriving world and future.
- Ecological economies, evolutionary constitutions, and planetary governance that empower planetary health and wellbeing, regeneration, planetary security, resilience, thrivability, and planetary citizenship.
- Partnerships that include life and our Earth, based on the understanding that the Universe is alive, sentient, and responsive;
- Giving primacy to the sentience of consciousness in all its forms, and;
- Developing human capabilities that act in service of life on Earth, and with responsibility for the wellbeing of our planet and future generations.
The primacy of consciousness and the sentience of life came up in many of the symposium dialogues as the foundation for transforming and redesigning humanity’s governmental, economic, legal, political, and educational systems.
Many speakers addressed how the old paradigm of politics is characterized by factions, ideologies, and the fabrication of identities that separate us from each other and the natural world. Old paradigm politics has demonstrated that it is unable, and unwilling, to provide the necessary political leadership and support for a world in which all of us, including our children, can live peacefully together.
Garry Jacobs, President of the World Academy of Art and Science, emphasized the speed and urgency of “radical change” required today, and how this requires unprecedented levels of coordination and collaboration. He further added how there is a vacuum in global leadership at precisely the time when it is so urgently required. He further stressed the importance of a shared sense of identity at the global level in order to achieve the necessary cooperation and coordination, based on universal values.
Tipping Points for Societal Transformation
Systems theorist, Nafeez Ahmed, explained during his presentation at the symposium how tipping point dynamics create an unprecedented “possibility space” for the uptake of ecological values that are based on cooperation, care, compassion, collective intelligence, and wisdom. He further emphasized how we have an opportunity and possibility space to change the trajectories we are on, which gives us hope that not all is doomed.
Naresh Singh, Professor and Vice Dean of the School of Government and Public Policy at the OP Jindal Global University, emphasized the importance of taking action as bridge-builders of the new paradigm, to move those who are invested in the old system onto a new civilizational trajectory of change. Otherwise, he warned, “We will delay reaching that tipping point until there are dramatic shifts.”
As I explain in my article on Leadership for Tipping Point Times, tipping points are irreversible nonlinear structural changes that can push a system into unpredictable new trajectories. Tipping points are also defined as the point or threshold at which small changes in a system will trigger a nonlinear change process. This process is driven by structural feedback mechanisms that lead to a qualitatively different, and often irreversible, state of the system as a whole. Birth is a tipping point, as is death.
Once tipping point dynamics activate, the change that unfolds cannot be controlled or predicted through top-down interventions. There are too many political leaders who seek to exploit the chaos and uncertainty of tipping point times by seducing voters through simplistic narratives of ‘us-versus-them’, and offering false promises of greatness.
Futurist and evolutionary economist, Hazel Henderson, brought back the Golden Rule during her contribution at the symposium. She explained how many corporations have become puppets of finance, which is “disordering every local social system and every local ecosystem on the planet.” She added how, “The financial system derives its paradigm from old economic textbooks and a very limited view of human nature.” She warned that if you program financial algorithms for this limited view of human beings as selfish, greedy and obsessed with power, “you’re going to keep replicating the seven deadly sins.” She added how we have financially incentivized greed, competitiveness, acquisitiveness, envy, and to remedy this we have to “restore the Golden Rule, which came out of the grassroots all over the world for centuries.”
There was a general agreement during the symposium that outer shifts in paradigm require inner shifts in consciousness and values, which are paramount for shifting our economic, financial, political, scientific, technological, and educational systems.
The making of New Paradigm Constitutions and Law
During the symposium we also explored the role of law and constitutions, with contributions from Charles Eisenstein, Flavia Valgiusti, and Naresh Singh. As the moderator for this session together with Alexander Laszlo, we asked the panelists to consider what it means to be and become the systems for the world we want — by aligning being, doing, and action along 3 new paradigm scientific principles (Smitsman and Laszlo, 2022):
- Unity in diversity — The universe exists as a single unified entity and evolves through deepening evolutionary coherence and increasing embodied complexity, precisely tuned to make life possible. Action — Celebrating unity without uniformity, and diversity without fragmentation, honoring how we each are part of the fundamental unity and indivisible wholeness of life.
- Holism and holarchy — The informational architecture of the universe is holarchic, as nested holons (wholes) within larger holons that emerge from more fundamental nonlocal implicate orders of consciousness as a living field of life. Action — Honoring the sacred integrity and informational architecture of living systems and the natural life support systems upon which they depend.
- Evolutionary coherence — A dynamic state of harmonic resonance and spontaneous collaboration between the diverse elements and relationships of complex living systems. When systems are evolutionarily coherent, the diversity and complexity of a system collaborates for its thrivability. Action — Applying the fundamental organizing principle of evolutionary dynamics that incorporates a tendency toward the realization of deeply embodied wholeness and cosmic coherence; holotropism.
Former juvenile court judge Flavia Valgiusti, affirmed the necessity for revisioning how we view and apply law. She explained how laws can be viewed as, “the energy channels through which the laws of life flow in each culture. Every culture is wired by different channels of energy. In the new paradigm, the principle of unity in diversity is expressed in a process of evolution that is organic.” She emphasized how one of the key problems with our current legal systems is that, “we want to put international order on top of local laws without listening to or understanding local practices. People do not feel that these systems are their own, because they do not respond to the wiring of their life-flows.” She also urged that in case of trauma we need to go deeper into the roots of law to discover what is “broken,” in places of trauma. She cautioned that we often think of trauma on an individual level, by only focusing on how we can heal our own trauma. She said, “We are now challenged to heal our collective traumas, and the law is a formidable tool for that.”
To listen to the whole conversation, watch the video below:
During the last day of the symposium, I presented the SEEDS Constitution as an example of a new paradigm Constitution for new paradigm economic and governance systems. From 2020–2021, I served as the lead architect for this Constitution together with Rieki Cordon, and with input from hundreds of people from around the world. You can watch my presentation via the video below:
Becoming the New Paradigm in Politics
I’d like to invite you now to explore with me how you can become the change for a new paradigm in politics — a politics of health, collaboration, and planetary flourishing, rather than greed, competition, and political control.
As our world grows increasingly complex, many people are uncertain about their future and the state of our planet. Each of us is endowed with inherent political power, which has nothing to do with your job or position in society. Your inherent political power forms part of your autonomy, creativity, and ability to envision.
- Autonomy means being able to use your will to direct your attention, intention, behaviors, and actions.
- Creativity means being able to approach old problems in fresh ways, unbound by external forces that attempt to define you, your circumstances, or your destiny. New challenges require new solutions, and it is through your creative powers that new solutions can begin to emerge.
- Envisioning deeply and consistently becomes a field of influence and possibility, which is the first step for establishing new forms and norms in the outer world. It can be done in the privacy of your mind, but it becomes even more powerful when done together with others and within the systems and cultures that requires systemic transformation.
The inner shifts for a New Paradigm in Politics — Exercise
All significant advances in human culture have begun on the inner plane as shifts in consciousness and worldviews. The following exercise is oriented around aspects of politics that you may not have thought of as ‘politics.’
These thirteen aspects of politics are adapted from the sixteen aspects that feature in The New Paradigm in Politics. Each exercise invites you to do an experiment by envisioning and exploring how you can hold this aspect of politics in your being, and in a manner that radiates into a healthier and more vibrant next step of the great human experiment of our civilizational transformation.
Each of these thirteen aspects of politics are briefly described in the list below, followed by an instruction (in italics) for the inner experiment:
- Politics as Consciousness — Politics is how we express, develop, and evolve our consciousness, individually and collectively. Envision the consciousness of a healthy, whole, and enlightened politics.
- Politics as Sentience — Politics is how we sense, explore, and reach out to one another for what is appropriate, relevant and in service of life as a whole. Attune and develop your sentience capacities by bringing your attention to the consciousness of wisdom that exists in all of us.
- Politics as Unity — Politics serves to unite us in our diversity, by placing the well-being of life and our planet at the centre of our common priorities and decision-making. Imagine a world in which politics serves to unite us in our diversity.
- Politics as Collaboration — Politics is how we collaborate and work together for the issues, opportunities, and tasks that require concerted and coordinated actions, shared visions, and common responsibilities. Explore your collaborative capacities and actions, and how you can enhance your collaboration with others for a better future.
- Politics as Community — Politics serves to bring us together in community with the Earth and each other, to decide, dialogue, and envision together how to act on our individual and collective responsibilities, rights, and opportunities. Make the commitment to joyfully contribute to the health and wellbeing of the communities you are part of.
- Politics as Relationship — Politics is a relational process that involves feelings, dreams, aspirations, expectations, beliefs, and actions. Politics as relationship reminds us how to partner with life and each other for a thriving world and future. Invest in your relationships and explore partnering life as a future ancestor of a more evolved and caring world.
- Politics as Choice — Politics serves to enable, respect, and protect our power and right of choice. Politics as choice reminds us of our autonomy and our universal rights and responsibilities. Explore the choices that make a new paradigm in politics possible.
- Politics as Creativity — Politics serves as a possibility-increasing process that creates the conditions for us to thrive and evolve. Politics as creativity empowers, inspires, and evokes in us the evolutionary response of the worlds we seek to become. Explore your political power as creativity and become aware of how you respond to challenges and opportunities.
- Politics as Learning — Politics is a continual learning process that challenges us to develop and grow in consciousness. Reflect on what you are currently learning about yourself and others, and the areas of your consciousness that challenge you to evolve further.
- Politics as Healing — Politics is a process through which we can heal the wounds and traumas of division, conflict, and disunity. Politics as healing helps us to develop the heart spaces for learning how to trust, let go, surrender, open, renew, and evolve together. Explore the areas in yourself and your life that require healing support.
- Politics as Love — Politics serves to empower and enhance our caring capacities and empathic awareness. Politics as love is how we make it safe, empowering, and joyful to human well together. Envision politics fuelled by the power of love.
- Politics as Wisdom — Politics serves to make us wiser people by listening to each other and learning how to steward our Earth in partnership with life. Commit to growing and cultivating your inner wisdom and sharing this with the world around you.
- Politics as YOU — Vividly imagine the ways you can be the New Paradigm in Politics.
Collapse of a World that was never made to last…
Our world is faced with untold challenges. People’s lives are getting rocked by crisis after crisis. The call from our planet is loud and clear: Take the evolutionary jump or else face the possibility of untold suffering, collapse, and the road to extinction.
WE HAVE A CHOICE. We can stop our self-destruction and change the ways play the game of life on planet Earth. The window for action is narrowing down.
Future humans are those who say YES to the evolutionary call. They respond creatively to the challenges of our time with compassionate action, humor, curiosity, and an incredible commitment to learn, grow, and evolve. Future humans partner life, the Cosmos, and our Earth in the greatest collective rite of passage our species has ever known.
The state of the world and doubts about the future of our species are burdening the minds and lives of many young people. To map a path that restores trust in human possibility, and our proven capacities to overcome seemingly impossible challenges, I started to write the Future Humans Trilogy with my dear friend and co-author Jean Houston.
Below is a short audiobook sample from our second book, Return of the Avatars, which explores what a politics based on love, creativity, and consciousness would look like — narrated by Ariane Barnes. This particular section is from the first chapter when the main character, Rose (a multi-cultural woman in her mid-twenties), speaks with her grandmother (the Nordic magus Verdandi), about her frustrations with the state of the world. Together they invoke the powers of transformation to reveal what’s false, to see the world that is collapsing for what it truly is: a world that was never made to last …
I’d like to acknowledge and thank my co-author and co-editor, Alexander Laszlo, for all his contributions, which also feature in this article, as well as the series editor Ervin Laszlo, and all the symposium panelists and participants for their contributions in the co-creation of a new paradigm in politics.
If you appreciate this article, please support it by sharing it further, and through a little ‘clap of hands’ below, or even many claps :-). Thank you!
- Leadership for Tipping Point Times.
- Transition Plan for a Thrivable Civilization
- Confronting the Archetype of Domination.
- Changing how we Play the Game of Life on Planet Earth.
- What is the maximum goodness that we can create together.
- The Call for Educational Transformation.
Anneloes Smitsman & Alexander Laszlo, Eds. (2022). The New Paradigm in Politics. The New Paradigm Symposia Series — Book 1. New York: SelectBooks.
Anneloes Smitsman. (2019). Into the Heart of Systems Change. Ph.D. Dissertation. International Centre for Integrated assessment and Sustainable development (ICIS), Maastricht University, the Netherlands. ISBN: 978–94–6380–610–7. https://bit.ly/3EtGV1P
Anneloes Smitsman & Jean Houston. (2022). Return of the Avatars: The Cosmic Architect Tools of Our Future Becoming. Book 2 of the Future Humans Trilogy. Independently published via Oxygen Publishing. #1 Amazon Bestseller in the category Evolutionary Psychology.
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