Quo Vadis? – Merchants of sea-change: activating the population.

Sea-Change Carmela-Brennan

   Blog No 103.

Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes;
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell:
Hark! now I hear them — Ding-dong, bell.

W. Shakespeare     The Tempest.


My previous blog set out under broad headings the complete sea-change that needs to be effected in order to secure the continuation of today’s globalised civilisation. The first of the changes listed was ‘Awareness.’ I quote:

“This is the biggest ask of all that follows, but without it, all else is impossible. There needs to be a universal change in public consciousness: a sea-change in the current consumer oriented, individualistic self-centredness. It needs to be replaced by an awareness of the peril facing all human society and a willingness and determination to cooperate in averting it. Humanity needs to debus from the present charabanc of ‘greed is good,’ neo-liberalism and ever expansive capitalist growth. It now needs to board a bus of frugalism and empathy, custom adapted to the new path being taken.” My Blog no 91, https://khakispecs.com/?p=2148  has more on this subject of Bernays’ ‘Century of the self.’

Do not look to politicians for the leadership, which would enable such a sea-change to be made in the direction of human survival, should it trend in a counter direction to the currently dominant ideology that their re-election is dependent on continuous economic growth (as is the satisfaction of the hyper-wealthy lobbyists feeding off that policy.) Those in political power find themselves in a situation in which their decisions are channeled by the necessity of pleasing their electorates sufficiently to prevent their being thrown out at the next election. Alternatively, in the case of autocrats, who don’t have to bother with democratic distractions, they need to avoid any deterioration in the status quo, which might inspire their citizens to become less compliant. The leaders of the current century are not shepherds, but disciples of public opinion polls: they follow their flocks, rather than lead them.

Changes to the embedded system, the pursuit of continuous economic growth, can only be made from the grass roots up. Without such pressure for change, those already in power are unlikely on their own accord, to risk altering the circumstances that placed them there. Put another way, the only way to achieve the significant changes advocated in the previous three blogs, is by first informing and then activating citizens to the point where their leaders have to listen to and act on their demands.

Given that the world has a population approaching eight billion, split up among two hundred or so nationalities and ethnicities, this is indeed a daunting task – but not as daunting as it might seem at first sight.

The American government agencies interested in arranging regime changes in other countries, have been funding studies into how a population’s passive, or willing acceptance of the status quo can be turned around and its political leadership obliged to change, or change course. Rensselaer University’s Social Cognitive Networks Academic Research Center (SCNARC) https://scnarc.rpi.edu/ has been one of the recipients of funding for this research. https://news.rpi.edu/luwakkey/2902

Here is the summary of that most encouraging article: “Scientists have found that when just 10 percent of the population holds an unshakable belief, their belief will always be adopted by the majority of the society. The scientists used computational and analytical methods to discover the tipping point where a minority belief becomes the majority opinion, in which it is claimed that only around ten percent of any given population need to be in agreement with a plausible and acceptable new social outlook, before a tipping point is reached and the new ideas spread throughout a population to become the new norm.”

individual action
Individual leadership

That leaves ‘just’ eight hundred million of our species, who have to be won over to the changes that need to be made. Were only half the current global subscribers to Facebook to adopt the movement for a sea-change, that sea-change would almost certainly occur. If the adoption of the new ideas included the opinion leadership cadres of the USA, Russia, China and the majority of the European population, other national policies around the world, would almost certainly fall into line, irrespective of the pressure (or lack of it) emanating from any opinion leaders within their own borders.

As things stand, in most countries, there will already be at least ten percent of the population dissatisfied with and actively agitating for socially responsible change in one or another aspect of the status quo, be it human rights, the availability of housing, saving the environment, penal reform etc.

NGOChange, on the scale required, will be brought forward, when all these potential leaders, be they currently involved in political parties, NGO’s, operating as individuals, or in less formalised groupings, can unite in agreeing on the same basic sea-change platform under which their current causes can be subsumed. For those unfamiliar with it, an idea of the diversity of the NGO sector and of its potential effectiveness as an instrument of global change, can be obtained at https://www.wango.org/ If climate destabilisation continues unabated, or if nuclear war breaks out, their favoured causes will be lost. For these likely opinion leaders, securing a sea-change in mass-behaviour, to rein in climate change and inhibit warmongering, is an essential step required to underwrite whatever goals they are striving to achieve.

The required changes in human behaviour can be categorised under two headings: those amenable to resolution through the actions of individuals taking responsibility for their own contributions to the problems now facing humanity and those, which can only be resolved by individuals, acting en masse, to influence the behaviour of governments.

The major problems of environmental damage and climate destabilisation are largely amenable to resolution through millions of individuals deciding to make adjustments in their private lives. Humans, being an intensely social animal, are greatly influenced by what their neighbours are doing and thinking. Accepting the ten percent tipping point, this is an area, in which change could be achieved in a relatively short time. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/22/science/english-village-becomes-climate-leader-by-quietly-cleaning-up-its-own-patch.html?_r=1&utm_campaign=missed_yesterday&utm_medium=email&utm_source=user_mailer

inconvenience posterThe problems of war, disease, state failures, trade, migration and constitutional change all call for action at governmental level and will require greater levels of the sea-change movement’s cohesion.

In my next blog I will look at the individual response to the threat of lethal damage being inflicted on the environment and climate on which humanity’s continued existence depends.

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