Principles essential to widespread response to world crises. Prepared for the planning meeting of the Planetary Initiative for the World We Choose (Stony Point, January 1981)
1. People and groups (small or large) tend to disagree on basic issues when faced with complex problems and opportunities. Such disagreement often takes the form of unrestrained mutual hostility or perceived mutual irrelevance.
2. Preoccupation with achieving or imposing consensus absorbs considerable energy, alienates or represses many willing to contribute to a solution, and necessitates oversimplifications which are ultimately dangerous. Such consensus when achieved is usually of a token nature and can seldom be satisfAr:torilv operationalized
3. Social development is both the consequence and catalyst of individual human development which, although essentially undefinable, is characterized by increased ability to seek out and respond harmoniously to both diversity and challenging adversity.
4. Complex problems may be understood and approached in different and seemingly contradictory ways - and the variety of such approaches tends to be essential to adequate containment and transmutation of the problem complex.
5. When coalitions can be formed on the basis of some degree of consensus this will and should be done. However, where there is resistance to such coalitions, or considerable resources are wasted on competition between coalitions, a 'New Organizational Order' is vital to further success.
6. Conventional organizations, whether hierarchies or networks, achieve limited success by relying on performance at focal centres within domains over which consensus is maintained. The focalising task at any such centre becomes virtually impossible, however, when the full range of harmonies and dissonances in the real world has to be encompassed. A 'virtual centre' is called for.
7. A 'New Organizational Order' may be brought into being by recognizing the fundamental distinction between local centres (focalizing local or specialized consensus) and the 'unoccupied common centre' whose position is determined by the pattern of all local specialized centres constellated around it. It is the very pattern of harmonies and dissonances between the local centres which can then engender the space of which the unoccupied centre is the focal reference point. This only occurs if the mutual rejection of those most strongly opposed is contained, by allowing them appropriate separation, and is thus itself used to maintain the form of the pattern.
8. The common centre can only exist and 'function' by remaining free from the pattern by which it is defined. In a 'New Organizational Order' communications cannot pass through such a centre or be mediated by it. They must travel along pathways through the pattern around the circumference (as is true on this planet). This permits many coalitions with profound differences of opinion to exist simultaneously (for example even as to whether it is 'day' or 'night' on the planet). However, it is their very complementarily within the unbounded overall pattern which maintains the stability of that pattern and contains its dynamism.
9. Such dialectical freedom (the freedom to dialogue) can only be adequate operationally as an organizational response to the present challenges if the dialectical pattern is rendered explicit. The greater the diversity encompassed or tolerated within the pattern, the more explicit the structure of that pattern must necessarily be. Encompassing social reality in this way thus depends upon a higher order of consensus which does not itself depend upon universal consensus of a lower order at the verbal/conceptual level. However the unoccupiable central position can necessarily only be defined and understood to a very limited extent from any local centre within the pattern.
10. The 'New Organizational Order' can only succeed by being open to the harmonious and conflictual redistribution of information and energy around the pattern as a whole. For the pattern to maintain its coherence and integrity, care must be taken to ensure the emergence of a complement to every portion of the pattern; such counter-patterns counteract and absorb each other's excesses and energize each other's evolution.
11. The 'New Organizational Order' cannot ultimately depend upon a single pattern to redistribute energies in response to present circumstances. Different patterns need to emerge according to the diversity to be interrelated and in response to the continuing pressures of human and social development. Familiarity with the range of patterning possibilities, and how their emergence may be facilitated, is an important factor in making this alternative viable.
12. The 'New Organizational Order,, will prove most significant when the transition between patterns can itself be made in harmony with a pattern of a yet higher order.