Scientists studying complexity theory often describe simultaneous appearance of similar, unconnected things in diverse places as "an emergent phenomenon," which then coalesces into a coherent system through the forces of "a strange attractor." What they describe is amazingly similar to the emergence of the Visa system for the exchange of value forty seven years ago.
The past thirty three years of my life since leaving Visa have been spent exploring the possibility that inherent in such concepts may be the solution to the epidemic of institutional failure now raging throughout the world; that they may be the key to emergence of a system of global governance more in harmony with the human spirit, the biosphere, and the exploding complexity and diversity of society.
Since the previous posting in May I have been contacted by a great many people asking how they can avoid hierarchical structures that lead to concentrations of money and power as they scale up their activities. They have come from a bewildering variety of places: Honduras, Spain, Mexico, Switzerland England, Uganda, Ireland, New Zealand, India, Asia, Russia, Canada, Australia, Sweden, USA and others. The writers and callers are involved in an equally bewildering variety of activities; forestry, healthcare, communications, payment systems, geo-engineering, mathematics, social services, refugees, commerce, government, transportation, oceanography. media, medicine, education, agriculture, technology, and construction, to name a few.
They have lost faith in the ability of present forms of organization to solve major societal problems whether it is poverty, global warming, war, terrorism, mal-distribution of wealth and power, pollution of air, fresh water and oceans, depletion of top soil, decimation of forests, destruction of species, inadequate health care, unemployment, or any of dozens of other intractable problems. They are searching for new concepts of organization and leadership that hold promise of more meaning in their lives and a more livable world in future.
In my seventy five year search for new and better forms of societal organization, I have never experienced such a welling up of awareness and desire for fundamental change. If so many people from literally every area and occupation are reaching out to an old man who lives in relative obscurity and can only communicate in English, there must be millions of others in whom the same concerns and hopes are emerging.
During the past month I have been researching and reading about various attempts to create a global government in the past century, as well as great thinkers of the past who have called for it. Among the many was Garry Davis, a young man who created quite a stir during formation of the United Nations by surrendering has national citizenship, declaring himself a citizen of the world, and disrupting a formative meeting of the United Nations to declare that nations were the problem and the United Nations could never be the solution. It would require a global government that transcended them all. His activities caught the attention of hundreds of thousand of people, including such notables as Einstein, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Camus. He spent the rest of his life in a futile effort to realize his dream, vestiges of which still exist in Washington D.C.
Another was an effort of a group of academics and like minded people lasting more than two decades in the latter part of the last century to design a global government and bring it into being. They declared themselves "The World Constitution and Parliament Association." In 1991, they published a massive document entitled "The Constitution for the Federation of the Earth," declared it in effect, and acted as though it were. It failed to gain much traction or many adherents, but continues to meet periodically as a self anointed, "Provisional Parliament of the World," to adopt resolutions and make pronouncements while waiting in vain for nation states to surrender their sovereignty and become subject to it.
More recently, a Swedish billionaire stock speculator, Laszlo Szombatfalvy, created and endowed "The Global Challenges Foundation," to "incite deeper understanding of the most pressing risks o humanity - - - and to catalyze new ways of tackling them." A year ago, they announced a competition for the best ideas for global governance capable of dealing with the most pressing problems. The $5 million dollar prize is to be divided among originators of the half dozen best ideas as judged by a panel appointed by the foundation.
In researching the criteria for submission, obstacles to be overcome in implementation, and objectives to be realized, I found them eerily similar to the principles, methods, and practices that gave birth to Visa. Apparently, Mr. Szombatfalvy and his foundation do not realize that a global governance system such as they seek was created forty seven years ago to salvage a collapsing bank card system and turn it into the worlds premier system for the exchange of value; for a global government in the financial services industry is exactly what Visa was. Billions of individuals and entities in every corner of the globe now exchange more than $10 trillion dollars of value annually. If the concepts on which it was based worked so well there, they could work as well, or even better, to turn seemingly intractable societal problems into extraordinary opportunities, including evolution of a global government.
Is the welling up that is happening an emergent phenomenon waiting for its strange attractor? If so, would the attractor be an event, a person, a concept, an effort, or something not yet imagined? I do not know, but of three things I am persuaded:
- Such governance will not be a design imposed from the top down - - - that is it will not originate from nation states, corporations, religions, universities o persons of wealth and power.
- Such a governance systems already exists in the minds, spirits and hearts of all people waiting to be educed, then take on form and substance.
- Such a government system will arise through a chaordic, evolutionary process that does not destroy existing organizations, but transcends and enfolds them enabling them to be more effective, and contribute to a more benign, equitable, sustainable society.
I believe that the right group of people with the right purpose, the right principles, the right methods and the right resources could be the strange attractor that sets is motion an evolutionary process. Within 24 months, that process could educe from the minds and hearts of the people the global governance for which they yearn, and upon which the future of the species may depend.
It is no longer possible for me to assist all those who contact me, as much as I would like to. Nor may it be possible to respond to everyone promptly If the welling up continues. But please do not hesitate to send a message, for you and your voice are part of the emergent phenomenon, if such there be.