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Guiding the Upcoming Changes in Society

East Coast North America Pre-World Conference—Storrs, Connecticut, USA, June 2009, Tim Jackins

Question: With the collapse of the economic system, what is your picture of the new order?

Tim: I don’t have a very precise picture, and I don’t try to. When large things become unstable, you enter into a time of chaos. In the mathematical sense, chaos is when small changes at one moment cause large changes later, and it is beyond our capability, and probably theoretically beyond capability, to predict precisely what will happen and when those things will happen. While we might feel reassured by having a blueprint of the future, I don’t think we need one. I think we need the ability to push aside our fears, think as things change, and guide the change—rather than having a fixed end object in our minds ahead of time. Change is going to happen, and the more people there are who can think and talk about what is happening, and about the ramifications, the more people there will be who get to guide the events in directions that lead to good possibilities.

I think we have a rough idea of the foundations we want to end up with. We want a society in which it is unacceptable that anybody be exploited for any reason. Period. On any basis at all. That has to underlie every structure we try to construct. Then we have to figure out how to guide the vast amount of productive capacity, and its organization, that have already been achieved, and the progress that has been made in communication and in science. How do we spread access to these accomplishments? How do we use all that has been developed, with such great intelligence and effort? How do we lose as little of that as possible? How do we reconfigure everything that has been done so as to aim it in a direction that lets everyone prosper?

It’s clear that in spite of our still being stuck in confusion about reproduction and unable to think about how many of us there should be, we have the capability of providing well for all of us. We are capable of providing well, not just materially but also educationally and in many other ways, without doing gross damage to the environment. We have that ability now. It is not being used, because it’s not profitable. However, as we undo the confusions that are part of our economic system, all the abilities will remain. What will be necessary is our figuring out relationships. How big a group can we think about in such a way that the interests of everyone in the group are as important to us as our own interests? The bigger that group gets, the clearer we will be in organizing and the better we will be able to do things.

There’s a movie, The Take, about workers taking over1 the factories in Argentina. A group of workers takes over a factory that closed down because the owner couldn’t make enough money off of it, which left the workers without jobs. It’s an interesting movie. You get to see the struggles, the discouragement, and the determination. What seems unbelievable here in the United States is that the workers get their country’s legislature to give them the factory to put back into operation. Not many of us are hopeful enough to even think about that being possible, but clearly it worked there. There were a number of other factories, too. Some of them got lost again, but people have been able to continue thinking about taking on2 these struggles. What were the relationships there? Some of the factories decided to pay everyone equally, no matter what they did; some of them didn’t; but people got the chance to figure these things out. There is all of this ability to produce and distribute. None of it has to be lost, but it has to be managed intelligently.

So, we’ll have to be good at going after3 people, and communicating well enough, listening well enough, and counseling well enough that they dare to think about and trust our picture. This is part of why leaders are important—people recognize good ideas before they have them themselves. At this point in the struggle with confusion from distress, it’s easier for people to recognize a good idea than it is for them to create their own. So people will follow leaders, especially in times of turmoil, crisis, and chaos, when they recognize that the old solutions aren’t working and cannot be relied upon, hid behind, or blindly fought against and that we actually have to do something different. These are the times when people who have worked hard to reclaim their ability to think have to dare to say their thoughts out loud. Whether you’re right or wrong is not the first issue. It’s whether you show your mind. You can make all kinds of mistakes, as long as they’re out in the open and you recognize them and correct them. People will understand that. But unless someone comes out with thoughtful attempts at good solutions, things will get desperate and old reactive and failed solutions will be attempted over and over again.

Things happen that we don’t expect. A good example is the present President of the United States. Two years ago if I had asked you, “Do you think we will have an African-heritage president in your lifetime?” you would have said no. And yet something changed very quickly, which means that a lot that we couldn’t see was changing for a long time. Often all we see is the discouragement that is put out continuously. But then something shows itself that is unstoppable and moves the world forward.

People everywhere are now having to ask themselves questions. Questions that could not be asked before are commonly being asked. People try new things in a crisis, even though they are terrified, and so great learning takes place in spite of the distress. All of the minds needed for change are out there—covered in distress but still functional, especially when things are shown clearly enough. People often think more clearly in a crisis. Will there be enough people thinking clearly before things can no longer be propped up? It’s impossible to predict. We will have as many as we have, and the more we have, the better we’ll be able to guide things.   1 In this context, taking over means assuming ownership of. 2 In this context, taking on means undertaking. 3 Going after means pursuing.


Last modified: 2019-05-02 14:41:35+00