A number of people have sent me the apocalyptic Kingsnorth/Monbiot correspondence below and, now that you have sent it, I have read it.
It brought to mind one of my mentors, psychologist Arnold Mindell, who works with group fields, especially fields of oppression like racism. (He’s a former nuclear physicist who became a Jungian psychologist, which tells you a lot about how he thinks.) Group fields are made up, he says, of “timespirits” (derived from the German word Zeitgeist, the spirit of the time), archetypal voices and energies carrying different parts of the field. I find this a useful frame of reference in situations like this. (see http://www.co-intelligence.org/P-processworldwork.html and http://www.co-intelligence.org/S-multipleviewptdrama.html for more on this)
Kingsnorth and Monbiot are channeling two timespirits in a collective field that we might label “industrial civilization in crisis”. There are MANY other timespirits in that field. Some conversational methods serve to allow timespirits to talk together in ways that lower their energy, increase their coherence, and transform their collective power, what the field as a whole “means” and does to those in it. Mindell’s “worldwork” is explicitly designed to do that, with mixed success. The sorts of processes John and I are offering are quiet versions of that, serving that purpose among many others.
Both of these voices (manifested by Kingsnorth and Monbiot) are on the “edge of collapse” side of the field, where I, too, am, for the most part. I think that’s where the material evidence points. However, the material evidence (or at least our interpretation of it) has pointed in erroneous directions enough times that I allow at least a certain space for the possibility of something(s) remarkably unexpected showing up to make fools of all us prophets. We’re working with incomprehensibly complex living systems (from individuals to nations to economic systems to technological development — as well as natural systems) which, in a sense, have a mind of their own and are quite capable of stepping out of any boxes we may put them in. We don’t actually get to predict or control with any certainty. We just get to participate — hopefully mindfully and responsibly and flexibly, evolving as we go.
So one thing that does not change — at least for me — is the sense that motion towards systems that have more resilience, collective intelligence, and capacity for conscious evolution is positive no matter what. Such progress will hold us in good stead no matter how large or small a collapse may befall us, and what its nature may be. It gives us something better to work with both during and after we are this section of “rapids of change”. And I think it represents an evolutionary milestone whether or not humanity survives another several hundred years. It is not quite a no-lose option, but it is the closest thing I’ve found.
So I work on it. And my work with you — and Transition Towns and the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation and Evolutionary Life and many others. — is part of that.
From: Matt McRae
Date: Wed, 19 Aug 2009 14:52:55 -0700
Subject: Is there any point in fighting to stave off industrial apocalypse?
| Paul Kingsnorth and George Monbiot Have you seen this?