New Civilization News: The Gaian-Ego Hypothesis    
 The Gaian-Ego Hypothesis
18 Jun 2007 @ 15:59, by John Ringland

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Preview of a new e-book soon to be released.

It's a system theoretic analysis of the ego and its role in the cult of authoritarianism, which leads to tyranny. The analysis isn't an intellectual exploration, instead it seeks to encourage a deep understanding of the nature of events in our lives and in the world and to spark up a discourse amongst progressive communities that can lead to practical and effective strategies to resolve the growing crisis in civilisation and to navigate the transition to a new and more sustainable civilisation.

The Gaian-Ego Hypothesis
Systems Analysis of Organisation,
Ego, Control and Authoritarianism

"There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root."
(Henry David Thoreau)

"The essence of tyranny is the denial of complexity" [FR]. "Truth, in its complexity, cannot be advanced if the discourse of intellectuals conforms to a self-reproducing closed loop of hidden assumptions." [FR] The purpose of this analysis is to step out of the loop of subtle dogma and to expand the scope of potential discourse so that we may better comprehend the complexity by discerning its underlying pattern, thereby we may see through our errors and not merely repeat them. This overall analysis is humbly offered to help fuel a communal discussion that can bringing together the knowledge and expertise of progressive minds into a coherent and effective discourse that can peacefully resolve the crisis in civilisation.

The Situation

Most human expressions, activities and inventions first arise as thoughts and are shared via communication, therefore civilisation can be described as the outward manifestation of a communal understanding or a resonance of minds or a memeplex [FR]. The breakdown of communal understanding lies at the heart of the breakdown of this civilisation. The work of rebuilding communal understanding must ultimately be the foundation of any effective attempt to resolve the crisis. The cause of the breakdown is complex but ultimately stems from the corruption of public discourse by manipulative agendas and the remedy is for humanity to reclaim that discourse and clarify the confusions thus creating a space for rebuilding a communal understanding. "Speech is civilization itself.... it is silence which isolates." [FR] From this, greater awareness will arise and collectively we will know how to act to resolve the crisis and put civilisation on a firm and realistic foundation.

Whilst ever the dominant discourse is corrupt the voice of reason is just noise in the background that cannot meaningfully penetrate the discourse and bring sanity into the overall situation. There is already a vast body of knowledge that provides detailed evidence and deep analysis of the many problems but these have been accumulating for decades, even centuries, and have had minimal overall impact. Whilst these analyses are vital in the long term, at present they are largely impotent because the dominant discourse cannot entertain the simple logic and has no desire to act on it even when it can. Furthermore analysing and exposing issues one at a time is a reactionary strategy that creates an information overload that people cannot properly digest because there is no coherent paradigm within which to make sense of it all. What is required is a subtler strategy that can eventually penetrate then wall of denial.

There are rapidly growing numbers of open minds and we have the potential to form a diverse and integrated community that can create a parallel discourse that weakens the corrupt discourse and shifts the balance of power. But we need a way to manage the information overload and integrate it into a coherent and compelling communal understanding that forms the seed of a more humane and more sustainable civilisation.

A New Paradigm

“The reception of a new paradigm often necessitates a redefinition of the corresponding science. Some old problems may be relegated to another science or declared entirely "unscientific". Others that were previously non-existent or trivial may, with a new paradigm, become the very archetypes of significant scientific achievement.” (Thomas Kuhn) [FR]

Communal understanding should not rely on a fundamentalist authoritarian dogma such as politicised religion, materialist Scientism or manipulative politics; these are fragile and destructive. It must be flexible, diverse, personal, universal and comprehensive enough to bring together all of the experiences in our lives and the events in the world and to integrate them into a meaningful understanding. This would make it personally verifiable and compelling, thus protecting it from delusion and causing it to spread widely. It should help us interpret our experiences and available information and thereby inform us of what is really happening and what can be done about it. In this analysis I propose a central idea (below) that could give rise to a fresh communal understanding that preserves our diversity and yet creates a universal space of communal understanding.

For many people it will be new but its actually a very ancient paradigm and has independently had a major resurgence throughout the 20th century arising from modern system sciences but it is still largely unknown to many people. There is a considerable philosophical, theoretical and mathematical background to the paradigm and the only new thing that I am proposing is a combination of certain ideas giving a new emphasis, and that we take the resulting paradigm seriously in a socio-political context and use it as a tool in progressive strategies. Keeping this unified/systemic perspective in mind will assist in developing competing discourses to the corrupt discourse, it will also assist in analysis of issues and strategic planning, and in coordinating these into an effective overall discourse of unified reason.

Just as letting go of the idea that the Earth is the centre of the universe opened up the field of astronomy thereby freeing our understanding from limiting constraints and allowing it to expand into the cosmos and to better situate us within the wider context. I propose the letting go of another assumption, this time within the context of complex systems and the web of life, thereby freeing our understanding from limiting constraints and allowing it to fully expand into the subtle systemic nature of the universe and the web of life. In its essence the paradigm steps out of traditional discourses and limiting perspectives, and using system theory as a guide it re-conceptualises the situation on all levels. Those levels most relevant to humans are cells, organisms, people, ecosystems, nations, civilisation and the planet as a whole.

This results in a world-view that is complex and yet intuitively simple, and that is compelling and comprehensive; making sense of all that is happening in our lives and in the world. We can understand ourselves and civilisation in a new way that can help people comprehend the course of their lives and the events in the world. We can then create a meaningful discourse that can overcome the dominance of the corrupt discourse, which relies on confusion and deception, nurtured by a closed loop of unconscious assumptions. Furthermore, given that everything is a system and many systems are already well understood, we can draw knowledge from other mature fields and map this onto the problems at hand thereby providing immediate diagnostic and therapeutic tools of a very subtle but effective nature that may be used to heal this civilisation. There is vast future potential that arises from this paradigm but it is these immediate applications that give us a chance of surviving into that future.

From the perspective of most traditional discourses it may seem strange at first; such is the nature of a paradigm shift, but upon delving into it and, from that perspective, looking out at the world things begin to fall into place. As the idea sits in the back of your mind it influences your subconscious interpretations of things, subtly diminishing the corrupt conditioning and nurturing clarity until it becomes clear what is happening. When looking upon the situation as a whole all of the information, ranging from obvious propaganda to mainstream analyses to progressive analyses to mystic wisdom, and the words of people such as Bush, Chomsky and the Dalai Lama, these all come together reinforcing each other and merging into a clear understanding of the problem.

It gives a way of bringing it all together where nothing is left out and there are no contradictions. Everything can be comprehended from this unified perspective and the past, present and future of civilisation can be seen in a new light. These are extraordinary claims but if you look into them with an open mind and question all of your assumptions you will eventually find no fault with these claims. If you do take issue to anything here then this is the basis of fertile discussions that can lead to new insights for us all. You will eventually see that these extraordinary ideas arise naturally out of these extraordinary times and that they are perhaps just the medicine that the world needs right now.

Essentially what I propose is the development and application of macro-psychology and macro-psychoanalysis. That by our micro-interactions we are creating a super-system and what we are experiencing in the world is the psychological tensions within that super-system. If we remain focused solely on the level of humans and traditional discourses about nations, governments, military, media, corporations and so on we remain fixated on the minute details. This is like staring at the pixels on a TV screen and watching them flicker in incomprehensible patterns, but if we step back and let the bigger picture come into view they all form a very clear picture of what is happening. This bigger picture can better inform us how to handle the situation whereas staying fixated on the micro-level keeps us trapped in the same kind of thinking and acting that is creating the tension.

The Central Idea - A brief summary

Firstly, in a nutshell: That which we know as culture is from a systemic perspective a type of collective consciousness. This global mind can be healthy or unhealthy. Egoic, competitive and authoritarian attitudes within the culture nurture the growth of a collective ego which manifests as widespread systemic oppression. What we experience as a tightening knot of global systemic crises is from a systemic perspective a type of global egoic crisis. This could result in the transformation of the collective ego, which would be experienced as a global awakening or it could result in psychosis, which would be experienced as an ever tightening knot of crises and growing authoritarianism leading to the eventual breakdown of civilisation. Our interactions are the inner thoughts of this mind so we must live sanely to create a sane world. With this simple idea we can begin to see the bigger picture and to know how to respond.

Now for a little more detail. Sub-system interactions create super-systems. The ecosystem, including ourselves, is the body of the super-system. Our micro-interactions create civilisation which is the nervous system of a collective organism that some call Gaia. Our organic cultures form the subconscious mind. Our power structures and the public discourse is the conscious mind. Mass media and mass communication is the conduit of conscious thought. Within this cultural/macro-cognitive scenario an ego has arisen that is forming its own self-identity in terms of its own experiences on its own level. The same has happened in humans, who cannot see themselves as civilisations of trillions of cells but simply as 'me'.

Some living systems have the potential to form a mind. The mind is physically dispersed throughout the nervous system but is in another sense a centralised power structure that serves an integrative function. Due to commonsense realism it unthinkingly assumes that its subjective perceptions are the objective reality so it thinks 'I' when it perceives the living system and it identifies with the system. It is at this point that an ego forms within the mind or that a regime forms within a culture. Once the mind has been co-opted by the ego/regime it develops a self-image, desires, aversions, agendas and value judgements that have little or nothing to do with the underlying system, but are centred around the ego's experience of I-ness. Then without understanding the living system and its needs the ego/regime uses that system to pursue its agendas and satisfy its desires.

This systemic process is the origin of our own sense of self where the ego is a centralised power structure arising within the mind that identifies with the organism, which is a civilisation of trillions of cells all of which are individual living beings who live out their lives within the body mostly oblivious to the ego. Similarly a national ego is a nation's sense of self, which is a centralised power structure arising within the culture (public discourse, traditions, media, economy, government, churches, schools, etc) and that collective ego identifies with the nation, which is a civilisation of millions of people all of which are individual living beings who live out their lives within society mostly oblivious to the collective ego. We sense it only as a vague sense of national identity but that is only from our perspective, but from its perspective it is the reality and we are just specks within its body. This same perceptual misconception occurs between our own ego and cellular civilisation.

We know what it's like to be a person within society but that is just one level of existence. To understand things deeply we must let go of the habit of thinking only on the level of human individuals because the universe operates on all levels from particles to galaxies and beyond. We can however draw upon our human experiences and knowledge, then map this onto other levels whilst being cautious of personification because the other levels are not human, but the general systemic principles apply equally on all levels. All living systems suffer from illusion, craving, tension, fear and so in their own way and they respond to truth, contentment, relaxation, love and so on in their own way. In this way we can use our experiences as individuals within society to imagine what it is like to be a cell within an organism where the ego is a regime that uses the body/mind to pursue its agendas and we can use our experiences as an individual with a body/mind to imagine what it is like to be a regime that uses a society/culture as its body/mind.

The mind serves an integrative function that is vital for collective coordination and serves as a focal point that enacts the collective will of the population but when the ego identifies with the system and enforces its will in order to use the collective as "its body" it creates suffering, resistance and dissident messages from within that it experiences as tension, anxiety, despair, pain and disease, which it tries to block out in order to continue pursuing its agendas. Whereas if the ego did not interfere with the integrative function and "give itself life", the underlying system would have otherwise enjoyed a natural healthy state of vitality and harmony.

This 'natural' condition is the case of an open, just and responsive liberal socialist democracy whereas a domineering ego is like an authoritarian political or corporate regime that imposes its will and ignores any dissent or suppresses it through coercion or deception. A true democracy is like an intuitive, sensitive, open minded and aware person whilst an authoritarian regime is like a strongly egoic person who either disciplines or neglects their body, who tolerates and adapts to growing tension and anxiety, who uses painkillers and other allopathic methods to cover up the problem rather than holistically heal it, who is outwardly focused on chasing agendas and desires and who is 'hard-headed' and unintuitive.

Furthermore, on a larger scale our global civilisation is like the nervous system of the planet (Gaia) and within this a power structure arises that is the global ego, where the national egos are sub-personalities. For thousands of years the nervous system (civilisation) has been evolving in complexity and connectivity. Where innovations such as language, writing, mathematics, telecommunications and computing are analogous to new forms of biochemical interaction between neurons. The system has now started to reach for unity (globalisation). The ego is becoming strong (especially through the American/Western sub-personality) and it is reaching for control over what it sees as "its body" (civilisation and the planet), but it is unbalanced and driven by fear and desire. In response the subconscious (human populations) are being suppressed and becoming increasingly anxious. Thus Gaia is headed for a nervous breakdown and we are headed for a crisis of civilisation unless a critical mass of humans, organisations and nations awake from the collective trance and bring some awareness into the situation.

This crisis is an inevitable and important transition for Gaia that has been developing for thousands of years and could lead to re-structuring on a solid foundation and a more harmonious state of existence in the future. She will someday attain unity through world governance but that needs to be built upon more harmonious principles than conflict, fear and coercion. She needs to relax (social harmony) and get back to reality (overcome the authoritarian delusions and paranoia).

Ultimately it is we humans that manifest the collective system. It is our personal imbalances that merge to manifest the collective imbalance and it is the agitations within ourselves and throughout our cultures that creates the fear and desire that the collective ego experiences and feeds upon. There is a feedback loop where influence flows in both directions. Whilst we are 'unaware' the collective system influences us driving us into deeper fear and desire thus worsening the collective fear and desire and pushing the system into a dangerous spiral of delusion. By being 'aware' we are not as influenced by the collective delusion and we can open up to positive influences and also channel our human influence into the collective system.

We can draw upon our experience of over 550 million years of evolutionary refinement as cellular civilisations, with a highly refined mind, heart, conscience, intuition, imagination and so on whereas human civilisation is still a very primitive and newly evolving being. We can share our human gifts between us creating growing awareness and understanding leading to less entanglement in the discourse of fear and desire and an orientation toward more coherent and harmonious behaviour. As this spreads throughout the culture we can influence the collective organism from within to ease its agitated fear and craving and to bring it back into balance and harmony.

It is we who create the collective system and animate it with our lives just as cells create and animate us, thus it is we who are the root of civilisation just as it is cells who are the root of us. These roots anchor living systems to reality and to life, else they can wander into delusion and death. It is our awareness that allows us to serve this vital function in civilisation whilst the delusions of the collective ego stem from our unawareness. Furthermore its reach for control encourages our unawareness by subtly inducing us into a collective trance that is a manipulative discourse by which it imposes its will upon our societies and cultures. In this way egos are a construct of subtle illusions and hence they are very susceptible to worsening delusion and can spiral into psychosis or fascism if we are not aware and let them become overdeveloped and unbalanced.

By disengaging from the discourse of fear and desire and returning to ourselves, our attitudes and beliefs begin to change thereby changing how we behave and interact. This gradually changes our cultural discourses and ideologies and thereby changes how we collectively behave and this changes the very nature of the collective organism that we manifest out of ourselves. Changing beliefs, throughout a population is like changing DNA throughout an organism, our beliefs interpret incoming signals and transform this into a cascade of internal responses that result in some external behaviour, just like DNA within a cell. Furthermore, by being aware and opening up to the positive aspects of the culture and challenging or simply not propagating the negatives we enhance the flow of positive ideas and filter out the negative ones thus maintaining the health of the overall system.

Rather than stay bound within the traditional discourse of “humans as the measure of all things” I propose that we take a systemic perspective and understand the nature of the collective system that is civilisation. Only by stepping out of the level of thinking that got us into this crisis can we overcome it. I propose the development and application of what might be called macro-psychoanalysis to diagnose and treat the tensions, paranoia and growing psychosis within civilisation.

I urge you to look upon the events in the world from a fresh perspective, not just from the level of a person in society but consider the dynamics on all levels, thereby gaining a deeper understanding of what is really happening within us and around us. Some imaginative effort is required at first but if you hold this idea in the back of your mind and look through it at the world, it will help you make sense of many things and to become holistically effective in living your life.

That's all for now

If you find these ideas intriguing let them sink in a little and "look through them" at both yourself and your world. Imagine yourself as a civilisation of trillions of beings and imagine human civilisation as an organism with feelings, needs and a growing ego that, just like us, thinks 'I' and 'me'. Many people find that it helps pull things together and make sense of them. I and others have found that it helps one to see things from an entirely new and much deeper perspective.

Although the political rhetoric and the rationalisations that people use for all sorts of things make sense within the very narrow discourses from which they arose, from the more holistic perspective they can be clearly seen to be highly irrational and destructive within the wider context. The narrow rationalisations protect and enforce entrenched agendas, agendas that are a natural outgrowth of the corrupt egoic discourse. But if people start seeing through it and start engaging in a discourse of holistic reason then the inner structure and dynamic of civilisation subtly shifts and the balance of power shifts from authoritarianism and closed minded dogmatism toward holistic reason and an effective movement toward lasting peace and harmony. Then our agendas are in alignment with reality and lead toward greater vitality, harmony and holistic well being.

This e-book is more of a descriptive analysis aimed at encouraging imaginative understanding amongst the progressive community, but for the nitty gritty details of information system theory and how it applies to complex systems such as ourselves there is the previous e-book - Information Systems Analysis of Mind, Knowledge, 'the World' and Holistic Science. There is also the website and many articles on this blog.

If anyone wants to get involved the best way is to re-imagine your world and get together with others to discuss what you see and how you see it. It's through shifting the discourse that civilisation can be peacefully renewed. Our problems stem from confused and corrupt discourses, and violence or other coercive strategies only add to the confusion. Furthermore, authoritarianism is one of the main symptoms of the dis-ease of civilisation so more authoritarian control cannot resolve the crisis, regardless of who wields it and how well meaning they are. When the seat of power is corrupt it corrupts all who sit in it. The only effective way is to shift the discourse because that is the thoughts flowing through the collective consciousness of civilisation and action follows thought. By changing the discourse of civilisation we can raise Gaia to a higher level of consciousness.

If anyone wants to discuss any of these ideas with me I'm more than happy to take part in any discourses of holistic reason that may arise.

Best wishes :)
John Ringland

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