1. Oppositional logic
Encyclopedia of World Problems
1. Answer production
The many initiatives in response to the global problematique are in most cases stimulated by a need to determine guidelines for action. The question to which an answer is sought at all levels is some variant of "what can be usefully done?" The answers to this question have taken a range of wellknown forms which include the following:
This section provides commentaries on strategic appropriateness related to the Global Strategies and Solutions area of the Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential
- 10.1 Questionable answers
- 10.2 Accumulation of significance
- 10.3 Integrating opposition
- 10.4 Beyond method
- 10.5 Constraints on a meta-answer
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The following note describes the pattern of collective research used at the Ecumenical Institute (Chicago) leading up to and including its 1972 Research Assembly. Perhaps without precedent, it involved the direct participation of 750 people in a collective learning-research process covering the social dynamics of the economic, political and cultural arenas and their interrelationships.
1. Strategic challenge
How might a new strategic quest be understood and how might an individual or group engage in it? How will the future perceive the opportunities that the present is not currently exploring or able to see?
How can people find a way to get some worthy excitement back into life reframing the dreary challenges of daily life and the many social and other problems which many so tragically face? What would make the hearts of young people sing?
How could one person, or a group, radically reframe their relationship to their environment?
1. Challenge of required learning
In the many pleas for a paradigm shift and for new thinking, what fails to emerge is how different this new attitude needs to be in order to be adequate to increasingly turbulent times. As a consequence, the best efforts to formulate new strategies tend to be constrained by a pattern of outdated assumptions and working methods -- often inherent in the authority and history of those called upon to undertake such exercises.
Strategic thinking, as articulated for military or political purposes in the West, has long been closely associated with the skills of the game of chess. It has however been argued that the Vietnam war was lost by the USA because of reliance on such thinking when faced with opponents deriving their strategic insights from the game of go (see Scott Boorman, A Protracted Game: a wei-ch'i interpretation of maoist revolutionary strategy, 1969). Go is a board game which has been played in China for some 3,000 years and in Japan for over a 1,000 years.
The case for an alternative strategic approach, based on a new mind-set, has been skilfully argued by Willis Harman in his Re-thinking the Central Institutions of Modern Society: Science and Business. This focuses on the need for the new paradigm that so many have been seeking for so long.
The international community has invested heavily in "positive", constructive strategies as a response to the crises of the planet. This has not prevented the continuing investment in strategies that are "negative" and destructive by contrast (see Note 3.2). These negative strategies continue to be appreciated as remarkably successful, whereas it is questionable to what degree the positive strategies constitute more than a holding function.