Nafeez Ahmed: Our Systems Are Failing

20 02 2017

IF you are not familiar with Chris Martenson’s immensely valuable work, then start here….


nafeezThe most fascinating thing for me is how so much of what we take for granted becomes questionable as a result of the breakdown we’re seeing. When we begin questioning the exponential growth model then we begin questioning the value system driving our material production/consumption. It’s not that it hasn’t produced amazing knowledge of our environment and our place in the universe. It’s not that there haven’t been a huge amount of amazing technological developments, like the internet which has enabled people to be interconnected in ways that they never were able to before. In a way has paved the way for us to be able to think globally in a way that centuries ago would have never happened.

It’s not that everything about this paradigm is bad. It’s just that it has very clearly outlasted its usefulness and is now fundamentally responsible for escalating the biophysical rupture that we see happening and manifesting in so many different ways. What that tells me is that we have to grow up as a species. It’s an evolutionary moment.

When we apply systems theory to this, when we apply our knowledge of complex adaptive systems and the history of evolution, it does seem to me that it is absolutely clear really that we’re at an unprecedented moment. For the first time in human history, we are standing at a point where we need to basically undergo fundamental systemic adaptation. Exactly what that looks like we’re still trying to work out. But what is very clear is what it doesn’t look like. It doesn’t look like seeing each other as separate material entities that just fend for themselves and produce and consume to an endless degree. It looks quite different.

The ideas and the values and the ethos of that different approach has been percolating in different civilizations in different ways. There’s evidence from indigenous civilizations, from tribal societies, and even from projects that are now being seeded here and now in our current context where people are trying different things. I think we are at a moment where we’re rewriting that story and making a new story of what it means to be human.

It’s particularly important because when people look at this with fresh eyes, it’s very easy to be overwhelmed by a sense of powerlessness. That’s being reflected now with the rise of Trump and everything else. There is this sense of things getting worse. And I think in many ways it is going to get worse before it gets better. All of this is symptomatic of the crisis that is at play.

A question we all need to be able to ask ourselves is To what extent can I make myself useful going forward, building and planting seeds for what comes after this moment?





5 responses

20 02 2017
Blue Peter

G’day all, I see you have been busy Mike, giving us all something to think about. Thanks.
Talking about thinking, we have peak oil, peak this and that.
What about peak thinking or peak intelligence for our western society?

We as humans (the elites that is) have been living like gods, and now we have to relearn how to live like humans. This leads me to think everything that we have come to believe will be questioned.

The economic system.
The political system.
The religious system.
Fill as you like.
A good book on the subject “LEAN LOGIC by David Fleming”

What do others say?


20 02 2017

Lean Logic among best books I ever read. Lost in it. Glad to be.

21 02 2017

A version of the final question has been plaguing me in an articulated form since May 1969. No answer. Maybe threads. Maybe a few pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. For the past several years, many thoughts have revolved around the need to increase complexity and reduce complicatedness (although I have yet to refine the distinction between complex and complicated operationally).

21 02 2017

uilyam, I believe the book Lean Logic, which Blue Peter and I referenced, provides exactly what you have been seeking.

Organised as “A Dictionary for the Future and How to Survive It”, the entries on complexity and complication (as well as systems thinking, esp. the table on p.450, and others) explore this distinction with deep insight, with direct reference to our global situation and how we might choose to respond. It’s entertaining too, I commend it to you so highly. All info at:

22 02 2017

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