BOOK REVIEW: Humanity-Craft for New Epoch Leaders

Part Three: Worlds in the Mind

    1. Comprehending Reality. The three types of reality—historic reality, future possible realities, and virtual realities (including fictional situations)—exist as “worlds in the mind”, images cognized by the mind and mapped in different languages. Of all the caves in which one unavoidably lives, the most influential and insidious (but also necessary and sometimes ennobling) are ideologies, including all systematic belief systems. The three existential imperatives also constitute a kind of ideology. Also includes a list of 14 caveats about theories (past-based theories are often misleading, tacit theories are important but suffer from bondage to the past, many issues have competing theories of part-validity or less) and 9 specific warnings (big data can be helpful but also very misleading, concepts such as “unemployment” are often fuzzy and misleading, the situation is much worse with surveys and polls—and doubly true for security intelligence and analysis, the Internet makes access to information easy but separating little wheat from much chaff requires a lot of knowledge).
    2. Humans. The multiple natures of humanity and its contradictions are outlined in 9 points: individualism vs. being part of packs, sublime peaks of art and science/technology vs. simplistic thinking and barbarism, animalistic drives vs. sainthood, unequal vs. equal, etc. Humans are very problematic. Reflections follow on collectives and mass psychology, tribalism and fundamentalism, increasing autonomy of individuals, good and evil, causes for pessimism and optimism (“it is quite amazing that reputable thinkers view humanity as clearly on the way to benevolence”), future families, and sociability in an age of globalization and the Internet (likely to change radically).
    3. Alternative Futures. A chart lists 19 desired aspects of humanity in 2100 (no mass-killing fanaticism, pluralistic with many basic human values, increased carrying capacity of earth and stable population, serious economic crises avoided, much improved global political leadership) and 19 “moderately dismal” futures in 2100 (more sordid mass culture, constant clashes of civilizations, no signs of a Second Axial Age, failed controls on science/technology, some upgrading of the UN but still very inadequate, some serious natural catastrophes without real learning on taking care of the human species). Also discusses predictive vs. prescriptive futures, short vs. long-term horizons, low vs. high realization likelihood, and four outlook approaches (extrapolation, theories, tacit knowledge of experts, imagination).

Part Four: Composing Humanity-Craft

    1. Pondering. “The most important activity of an avant-garde politician is composing humanity-craft,” a transformed version of “statecraft” applied to the long-term future of the human species. This is expressed in a series of grand policies, translated into more specific policies and plans. The central process for composing humanity-craft is pondering, which involves thinking and intuiting. A list of 34 grand-policy conjectures follows: expanded and strictly enforced “responsibility to protect,” preventing all forms of mass atrocities, help to prevent states from failing managed under the Global Authority or a revamped UN organ, a global forest policy, geoengineering to ward off or compensate for planetary changes, preparation for avoiding or containing large natural disasters, radical revamping of employment/unemployment concepts (probably with some form of assured minimum income), a global refugee policy, elimination of all tax havens and anonymous bank accounts, obligatory contributions by the wealthy to public causes, global enforcement in stages of a minimum list of basic human rights, a Universal Declaration of Human Responsibilities and Duties to supplement the UDHR, universal obligatory two years of service in a “humanity corps,” systematic efforts to develop humanity-committed leadership, and much more. This is followed by 7 exercises of possible dilemmas that might be faced (e.g. a “crazy” country with nuclear bombs, a novel technology prolonging life expectancy to 120 years of good health at a cost of $500,000 per person, a cheap but habit-forming drug that produces ecstatic happiness without health damage, a new brain-imaging technology enables fully reliable findings as to whether a person is lying), and elements of a possible rise and decline of humanity. In turn, for those not yet exhausted, a list of 17 appropriate guidelines for pondering on domains undergoing metamorphosis is added, including thinking in novel dimensions, much attention given to current and expected science/technological innovations and their likely impacts, careful monitoring of value changes, constant awareness of the likelihood of unforeseen events, rejecting politics as “the art of the possible,” and application of multiple perspectives.
    2. Schemata. This includes “perspectives, schemes, frames, modalities, models, templates, structured heuristics, checklists, considerations, formalized principles, trains of thought, concept packages, procedures, and formats.” Recommended schemata include realistic visions along with nightmares to prevent balancing values with reality, prioritization (“a lot of time and energy goes to activities that lack real significance or at least political utility”), avoiding too much “now time” by adding three time horizons (the next 5 years, 10-20 years for most pondering, and up to about 100 years for select critical choices), developing a more holistic field view, dialectic pondering between opposing points of view, opportunity seeking, and constant but not paralyzing doubt.
    3. Debugging. Explores 25 serious and widespread cardinal fallacies that endanger humanity-craft: exaggerated trust in “rationality,” misuses of “common sense” and “pragmatism,” the tendency to expect linearity, selective and biased evaluation of opinions, wishful or fearful distortions, erroneous attribution to deal with causes, intolerance of ambiguity, dithering in the face of problems that get worse, dissonance reduction, misplaced preference of a golden mean (i.e. that the midpoint between two extremes is preferable), concentrating on what is easy to know, following fashions, and forgetting Murphy’s Law Expanded (“everything can and much is very likely to go wrong”—of profound importance as a counterweight to overdoses of optimism).
    4. Swerving History. The possibility of very desirable and totally dismal alternative futures necessitates switching the trajectories of history—a demanding and speculative endeavor that is inherently a fuzzy gamble. But not trying to swerve future history is also a choice, and probably one of the worst options. “Successful redirecting of future-shaping historic processes is possible, but failures come frequently and easily.” To help thinking-in-history to serve historic processes, Dror provides 47 Theses on History, e.g., understanding the past is difficult because “facts” are infinite, philosophies of history differ from each other, broad theories of historic processes such as “rise and decline” are helpful but culturally biased, large-scale natural disasters continue to be significant but very unlikely to end humanity, all deliberate efforts to bring about a “new human” by change in social institutions have failed, main drivers of the future are ongoing metamorphosis and peak creativity in science/technology, leaders are sure to become more important drivers of the future for better or worse, there is no reason to assume that “progress” is built into the processes of history, values should be expected to change radically as they did throughout history, the leap into a new epoch driven by science/technology “is likely to require and bring about radical changes in at least some major values,” rises and declines in hegemony are sure to come (with Asian civilizations becoming increasingly important and probably dominant).
    5. Bounded Fuzzy Gambling. Engaging in fuzzy gambling for the high stakes of human existence and welfare is troubling, because many important choices are much fuzzier than a lottery, where ranges of outcomes and their probabilities are partly knowable. Thus “maximal efforts to improve fuzzy humanity-craft gambles are imperative; an avant-garde politician must understand the nature of thick uncertainty and of choices as fuzzy gambles.” Discusses upgrading approaches, constant adjustment, coping with leaping environments, the importance of timing, and cloaking the true nature of fuzzy gamble choices from the public.

Part Five: Personal Resources

  1. Public Interest Machiavellianism. “Writing this chapter was an exciting, challenging, but not pleasant chore.” It deals with “the unavoidable necessity of avant-garde politicians to behave to some extent immorally in order to mobilize and maintain the power essential for fulfilling their missions.” The main cause of the decline of the public standing of politics is the failure of political leaders and institutions to deliver what the public wants and needs. And the overall decline in “capacities to govern” hinders coping with important issues. Dror considers 19 strategies for the praxis of public interest Machiavellianism, such as camouflaging necessary but unpopular action, being visibly different from other politicians, unique promotion to provide a competitive advantage over mainstream politicians, looking authentic and frank even when not fully so, revealing yourself as much as possible, conveying a true picture when crises strike to limit panic, downplaying commitment to humanity-craft when essential, scripting in your mind how to address the public while looking spontaneous, delicately playing on the “hero” theme, giving special attention to global forums (crucial for the future of humanity, but don’t identify with the rich and cosmopolitan), being on the side of the many in need without alienating the powerful if possible, and engaging in a lot of “give and take” to mobilize necessary money (but remain strictly within the law).
  2. Helpmates. Discusses the disparate “global avant-garde humanity elite,” partners, personal “pondering networks,” a well-run office and a reliable Chief of Staff, intelligence units (but beware “turf wars”), spouse and children (can make or break a politician), a “hermitage”(private study or retreat), informal private advisors (“grey eminences” acting behind the scenes), special advisors (spiritual advisors, security advisors, political/marketing advisors, human species advisor), professional advisory staffs (none are adequately equipped). A list of 16 principles to get the best out of your personal professional staff suggests an inner circle of 10-15 persons, all advisors with comprehensive perspectives, strict exclusion of friends, good collegial relations despite disagreements and competition, different perspectives within shared commitment to the imperatives, dismissing “Yes Sir” advisors but not tolerating impudence, rewarding good work, a senior advisor accepted by all to coordinate work, and cost consciousness (all implementation requires adequate resources).
  3. Innermost Philosophy. Considers 14 main facets including personal orientation to the future, being dominated by the mission and calling, tenacity, facing the certainty of death and preparing for exit when appropriate, consciousness of being a partner in creation and genesis (but aware of the dangers of hubris: “toxic rulers throughout history who viewed themselves as Masters of History are a red light”), humbleness and gratitude, a strong sense of belonging to an aristocracy of merit, working for a better human future as the intrinsic and only worthwhile reward, a large measure of stoic enthusiasm (expecting many failures), a stout inner citadel, much but not full trust in reason (“renovated enlightenment”), tolerance for what one does not like or understand, containing anxiety and fear, and being “somewhat hopeful about the future of humanity in order to cling to the missions.”
  4. Afterglow. However well one is doing, “exit is unavoidable.” But there are several modes of exiting, ranging from the honorable to the brutal. Discusses conflicts of interest, preparing successors (a very significant part of the job), easing the change-over, continuing missions when out of office, and full retirement (leaving the public arena).

In sum, “developing an improving type of politician…is essential for the future of humanity.” (p.314) It is hoped that the “best of the best,” both young and old, women and men, will consider seriously serving humanity as a high-quality politician, more or less in line with the model proposed here. Concludes with a five-page biblioessay of Recommended Readings and an impressive but poorly edited Bibliography of about 500 items.

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