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Spontaneous Initiation of Armageddon -- a heartfelt response to systemic negligence


Spontaneous Initiation of Armageddon
Systemic role of interlinked pathways
Armageddon, Acharit Hayami, Yawmid Din, Ragnarok and Götterdammerung
"Forces of good" vs "Forces of evil"
Neglect of systemic imbalance
"Winds of Change": Time of the "South Wind"
Heartfelt action
Systemic response to systemic imbalance from negligence
Shift from conventional constraints under the "South Wind" of change
Precursors of the "South Wind"
Leadership in chaos
Thrival of the Left-behind

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It might be usefully said that the world has benefited from over 50 years of development according to enlightened values promoted by the United Nations and other organizations. This has been enhanced by rapidly evolving insights into complex systems -- both from a theoretical perspective and in terms of their implications for the governance and management of complex systems of institutions. Despite such development, and in the light of such insights, it might however be said that the situation for the planet, its ecosystems and its peoples continue to deteriorate -- ever more rapidly.

According to Mark Townsend and Paul Harris (Now the Pentagon tells Bush: climate change will destroy us, Observer, 22 February 2004) in "A secret report, suppressed by US defence chiefs and obtained by The Observer...Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world. The document predicts that abrupt climate change could bring the planet to the edge of anarchy as countries develop a nuclear threat to defend and secure dwindling food, water and energy supplies. The threat to global stability vastly eclipses that of terrorism, say the few experts privy to its contents. 'Disruption and conflict will be endemic features of life,' concludes the Pentagon analysis. 'Once again, warfare would define human life.' ". These events, including rising seas and glacial European weather, are predicted within the next 20 years.

The report was commissioned by Pentagon defence adviser Andrew Marshall and has subsequently been downplayed by the Pentagon [more, more, more]. The Global Business Network (GBN) has subsequently stated that "Contrary to some recent media coverage, the report was not secret, suppressed, or predictive". It was apparently prepared by GBN for the Department of Defense under the title An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States National Security, and has since become publicly available. It is a characteristic of contemporary governance and its news management that it is unclear whether this report is in any sense well-researched, and whether it was deliberately leaked as a strategy in order to justify ever more repressive legislative measures, military expenditure and invasive surveillance to "safeguard civilization" (as explored elsewhere Promoting a Singular Global Threat -- Terrorism: Strategy of choice for world governance, 2002). Who could credibly prove the contrary?

Much will continue to be written and envisaged in terms of a hopeful response to this situation. But it can be readily argued that the western social project, as articulated nationally and through the United Nations, is essentially bankrupt (delivery of food, health care, education and essential services; civil rights and justice; long-term commitments as with pensions; ability to constrain human activity to safeguard the environment, etc). The track record however is such that it becomes clear that any significant improvements will only be tokenistic or for the few. However well they are promoted as exemplary and as indicative of appropriate practice, it might be usefully said that although there are insights into what remedial action might be taken, such action will tend to be undertaken under exceptional circumstances only -- and possibly only to mislead the hopeful and to disguise more effectively the absence and the failure of long-term, system-wide remedial response..

Much will continue to be written about who is to blame for the inadequacies of this response by a remarkable worldwide civilization and about how that civilization "lost the plot" and failed to get its act together. The following is an exploration of the systemic consequences -- namely how the social system (notably) is already adapting creatively on its own terms to what might be labelled as systemic negligence and a broken social contract.

The following argument recognizes the importance of exploring systemic failure and its consequences. This follows from an earlier paper that highlighted the action of those who exploit this condition (The "Dark Riders" of Social Change: a challenge for any Fellowship of the Ring, 2002). It is not based on the increasing social orthodoxy of positive thinking that Karen Armstrong (Look on the dark side of life, Guardian, 21 February 2004), as author of Buddha (2001), sees as a route to spiritual and political disaster. Recognizing the Buddha's isolation from the realities of life in his childhood palace, as an extreme example of denial by his father, she argues that:

It is increasingly unacceptable to voice legitimate distress. If you lose your job, become chronically ill, or fall prey to loneliness or depression, you are likely to be told -- often abrasively -- to look on the bright side. With unseemly haste, people rush to put an optimistic gloss on a disaster or to suggest a solution that is patently unworkable. We seem to be cultivating an intolerance of pain -- even our own....In our global world we can no longer afford to edit out the uncomfortable spectacle of human misery....The pain that we ignored in some parts has hardened to murderous rage..

The argument here is that within psycho-social systems as a whole -- which are the preoccupation of future global governance -- certain functions are inadequately expressed to a degree that is forcing their spontaneous and dangerous emergence under certain circumstances. The three interwoven metaphors through which the consequences of this imbalance are explored are:

These apparently unrelated metaphors develop a common theme given focus by the "secret" Pentagon report on climate change and the extreme worldwide crises it foresees in the near future. As a crisis of crises, it could well trigger "Armageddon" as many hope. But such "climate change" may also be explored metaphorically in terms of the "winds of change" arising from any change in the "climate of opinion". The environmental stress associated with crises, and the destruction of connecting patterns, can be understood both in terms of the "heart" and "lifeblood" of civilization and of the impact on the individual human "heart". The heart plays a central role in both internalizing such stress and in sustaining (through "heartlessness") the psycho-social fragmentation basic to a less than "wholehearted" response to the crises of the world. "Armageddon", as the "heart failure" of civilization, may therefore be spontaneously evoked by the condition of the human "heart" and its vulnerability to "heart attack" under stress.

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