Unwinding the Human Predicament Part 6/6


There is a process for creating the individuals
that fill this constituency

working document, comments welcome alpert@skil.org

grandmotthers  discussion

((((((This section is under reconstruction. )))))))

In the previous section I described how two hermits could come to the conclusion that adding a mutual constraint would provide each with some benefits. The constraint was obvious and immediate. And the benefit was obvious and immediate. So the conversation between the two hermits was simple.

However, the conversations for the case of additions to the social contract that produce civilization sustainability are not simple. The constrains outlined in part 4 and the imagined future benefits are not simple.

The one-on-one conversations between two people, one an advocate for the new constraints and benefits, and the other blind to any future injury on the present path are not simple. However they may be not too complex for these conversations to succeed.

Similar complexity did not prevented abolition, suffrage, prohibition, and civil rights from being added to our social contract. Their adoption started with simple one on one conversations. It took time for a constituency to grow large enough; first to create social pressure for change, and eventually to create enough institutional coercion to implement them.

The "Change the Course" project at SKIL plans to understand and help implement these one on one conversations. By initiating and dissecting many trial conversations among many pairs of individuals we hope to determine the form and content of making the blind listener into an informed advocate.

This 10 minute video. invites you to participate in the "Change the Course" -- a project to identify the form and content of these conversations.


=======Stop here for the March 1, 2017 Luis Gutiérrez Mother Pelican edition ?==========

It is too early in the project's activities to present useful guides to the advocate in such a conversation. However, I can present some views of the conversation's challenges by imagining the conversations that might might transpire among individuals who are considering the adding of a traffic control signal at a previously uncontrolled intersection.

In the first conversations the speaker is trying to convince a listener that last Friday night's intersection car accident, the one that killed the high school prom queen, could have been prevented by a traffic signal.

Consider the factors that shape what the listener hears and how it makes him or her feel.

do not share the same view of injuries constraints and benefits. For example:
       a) More aggressive drivers feel more invasion into their personal behavior than
              less aggressive drivers feel.
       b) The benefit "not having to worry about being injured" is
              smaller for the driver who sees himself as invincible or protected by god while
              the vulnerable driver sees himself gaining great value from the new traffic control.
       c) the actual injury at the uncontrolled intersection appears of low value because of low probability
       d) better traffic flow, another benefit hat is hard to to measure and harder to give value.
       e) increased value of a home because the commute times are reduced.
       f) As not being stressed during the morning commute.

If all these factors don't complicate the one on one communication, the context of the conversation does. the need for a conversation at all. For example, city planners make the traffic signal decisions with the constituency's DE facto blessing. Each member of the constituency still votes for traffic control decisions but its through votes for the planning commission or or more indirectly their appointers. Now their votes are only distantly connected to the benefits and liabilities of the change in traffic control.

The constituency's votes are diluted even more because the planning commission people have their own agenda. They are usually developers and real estate people. Their decisions to add constraints, traffic controls are biased by their financial self interests not the publics good. Actually the process of adding or subtracting constraints to our social contract are not even within the planning commission members focus. A conversation among them is not related to the publics constraints and benefits.

The addition of a traffic control decision may have been at its beginning a decision made by the constituency, it no longer is. And this may be said for the additions of the parts of the social contract now proposed to create sustainability. However, in the beginning of adding anything to the social contract the initial conversations began with one on one contacts and progress to built the initial constituency.


Parts 1 through 6 of this paper have outlined the stages of these conversations.


In part 1

By form I mean who was speaking to whom and over what schedule.

By content, I mean, what information became part of the listener's analysis, that eventually lead to his or her being a member of the affirming constituency.

In my view the path of implementing the new elements of the social contract follow the sections


If one considers just one of the include:
       a) the constraint appears much larger
       b) falls non-uniformly as it does
              when government takes control of the number of annual births.
       b) When the benefits are almost immeasurable larger
              (civilization does not collapse killing everyone)
       c) when life improves only after a three generation transition
       d) the people voting for the new rules live today and the people benefiting live in the future.
the conversation required to acquire a yes vote for such a social contract becomes an exercise in mental and social gymnastics at the Olympic level.

If the conversation is between two individuals one being the voter for the social contract and the other a peer, one must realize that the target of the conversation has no idea that there is a problem at all. He or she has to be helped
      1) to see a problem. Not just a local and immediate problem like the intersection but a problem no one has experienced, a rapid fall of civilization that kills most of its inhabitants. The first step in recruiting votes is to make this problem real. To make its injuries real. When the injuries can have only abstract standing. The first task is to help the listener understand
              a) 8-10 billion people will die of starvation and conflict during the life time of their children.
              b) those deaths include most of their children.
              c) their kids to survive will be cannibals -- or eaten
              d) There will not be a rebirth of civilization
              e) The current community in its death throws will ruin
                     any chance of a good future for the human race on this earth.

This task and those already outlined in previous sections for example
       an alternate design of civilization exists that does not create these extreme injuries See Part 2 of 6
       forces exist that produce and maintain this design See Part 3 of 6
       a social contract exists that creates these forces See Part 4 of 6
       A global constituency can implement this social contract See Part 5 of 6)
all have to be part of this one on one conversation.





Every human is in the business of not injuring him or herself. Most humans are in the business of protecting their families or tribe or region or nation or just humanity some people from injury. More people will be injured by starvation and conflict our present course. And that image of injury has to dominate all other images.

They have to realize that they and their progeny, extend family, and friends face mortal danger. And they have to see this before the injuries begin to unfold.

They have to see that they face moral dilemmas. For example they and or their children will be forced into cannibalism. They have to imagine themselves eating the leg of another person because of hunger. Or they have to visualize some one eating their leg because of hunger.

They have to vote based on abstract view of these injuries and dilemmas.

8 billion future deaths is lot harder to internalize than the high school class president squished at the intersection last Friday after the dance.

The new proposed sacrifices (having the civil community taking control of decisions even if they are not your own will seem bigger.

So the conversation between two grand mothers, over the back fence is very special. The two have to use the same tools used between the two hermits.

Assume one grandmother has already moved into the constituency. The other has no idea of the potential injury of the present path the world is on.

She has no reason to giving up some existing freedoms to change it. She will remain unwilling to impose the new constraints on her community. Even contemplating the forfeiture of such freedoms give her the willies.

is willing to give up the freedoms to get the benefits has to be able to get the other to see it's as good an idea as putting in the traffic signal. They also have to agree that it is appropriate to force their reckless earth mates to conform to the will of the consensus as happened in abolition and suffrage.

After enough successful conversations, a consensus could adopt a new social contract that would produce a non-injury producing sustainable civilization.

This way of implementing new elements of a social contract may appear unworkable. Changes in social contracts have historically followed a path where powerful, political, religious, or financial leaders find it to their benefit to pull the levers provided by the existing culture to rewrite the rules.

However, in the case of the sustainable civilization social contract leadership is inhibited because the new contract includes elements that directly diminish the leadership's possessions and privilege. The leader's are also inhibited because their power derives from their constituency and the constituencies freedoms and possessions will be diminished. Should the leadership act out of alignment with the constituency they are threaten with removed from leadership and loss of their power.

It follows that the leadership path, maybe the easier path than over the back fence conversations becomes viable only after there is a huge supporting constituency to which the leader is obligated.

After the success of these one on one conversations, social (group) pressure can also create forces to move individuals into the constituency. However, this social pressure requires the existence of the constituency. The social pressure process faces a chicken and egg problem; it requires existence to create existence.

Thus I am proposing a third path for creating the constituency. A person who is "voting" for the new contract," contacts a second person and helps them over his or her initial reservations which allows the second person to provide their vote.

The speaker and the listener have a one on one conversation that satisfies the listener the new abridgment of personal freedoms and possessions resulting from the new social contract, are less painful than the injuries that accrue on the existing path forward.

It's similar to the conversation between to two hermits in part 5.

It is like a conversation between two people; one who wants to implement a traffic signal at a busy dangerous intersection and the other who is disinterested or hostile to installing the light. The speaker convinces the listener, that the freedoms given up by each driver at a road intersection when a stop and go signal is installed, injure him or her less than the injuries that accrue from accidents and delays at the uncontrolled intersection.

The conversion is irreversible. Similar to: the speaker convinces the listener who believes 2+2=5, that in reality 2+2=4.

When the listener can no longer hold on to his or her previous beliefs (the ones accepted by his culture) he or she becomes a member of the new constituency.

Not only is the new constituent willing to vote for the new social contract, he or she is uncomfortable with allowing his or her peers to continue with their previous misconceptions. The listener knows that as long as these misconceptions guide his or her world, everyone present, and in the future, will accrue injury.

Some of the obstacles in creating a successful induction into the new constituency include.

removal of blindness to accrued injuries
       knowing who gets injured an when

secession of denial of the existence of these injuries

making the injuries that happen to people anywhere in earth and in the future equal to the injuries that happen immediately to locals.

recognition that present remediations don't reduce this new view of injuries

a view of a new civilization that does not produce injury

a view of a transition path from present civilization to the new civilization.

Not all of these objectives have to be completed. Just enough to make the listener's conversion and prevent relapse. For each individual the path with be different. Possibly the best argument for peer to peer conversations. There is a project to help speakers along in their efforts. It creates content and pathways. It's the part of the unwinding project that is least developed, and will demand the most diverse set of minds. See the Change the Course video invite.



The path proposed in this article for changing the course of humankind
       from: ever increasing overshoot and collapse
       to: sustainability with ever increasing wellbeing, arts and technology,
depends on creating and using existing sapience to design and implement a social contract to achieve the collective behavior that produces that civilization.

This is alternative path to what humans have used for thousands of years to advance their civilizations. The first organizational forces were genetic, which through selection created lower brain function, leading higher brain function, group approved behavior, finally which were institutionalized.

This model of progress has produced a series of civilizations that created surplus, improved living, personal and national power, advanced the arts and sciences, expanded their range, and then failed in fiery collapse.

The historical record is littered with built and collapsed civilizations of ever greater size and grandeur Until, today, human striving has achieved the power to destroy the supporting environment. We may have produced the power to create the last collapse and there will be no new civilization rising from the ashes of the old.

This is the end of the line for the human experiment. Our genes, our developed brain, our culture, our institutions are incompatible with survival within our environment and thus our survival. Human survival is no longer based on the Darwinian holy grail. The people who survive the next round of natural selections may have little environment left to support them.

There are several alternatives to this scenario. One relies on the evolution of the common level of sapience. On this path, sapience evolves to enough to dominate the sustainability ruining behaviors put in place by our genes, brains, and culture.

However this sapience-evolution, still too dependent on selection does not appear rapid enough to save us from our too little sapient selves. We actually don't know how nonlinear

Another alternative, which reflects the sapience we have election, but sapience, at least in theory, can be advanced by self reference. Its not there yet and it may be advancing too slowly, however the social contract model of change may be a viable bridge.

Sapience has played a role in the rise and fall of civilizations, however for better or worse sapience has been a minor driving force -- behind the more base genetic drives -- that determines the viability of civilizations.

What has been presented in the previous 5 sections, is a human predicament that will not be unwound by the current processes for choosing personal behaviors. That is our sapience being less influential than our base drives.

The pathway of sapience influencing personal behavior has had this flow. Experts describe a problem they can see clearly from their narrow expertize. Analysts model these problem as part of a larger view of the global system. Annalists manipulate the model to see the full impact of these problems. Then perturb the model to find behaviors that change course and avoid the original problem. They file a report with political and financial leaders who move the levers of institutional power to manipulate a collective behaviors that affect a alternative path.. The plan to implement a new social contract is change enough individual behaviors, that they collectively alter the course of civilization to repair the discovered problem.


and have them implement laws that force these behaviors.


Experts in many fields describe a collapse of civilization. Each from their narrow focus, knows a part of civilization is failing, They report from biology agriculture, energy, materials, financial, political, industrial, or religious domains. They report conditions are worsening. They report that they know of no reversing forces. Most believe that the fix will come from some other part of civilization or civilization will collapse.

Finding change that prevents civilization collapses is assigned to systems people. They connect all of civilization's processes into model which matches all these unpleasant predictions. Then, they alter the model until they find processes and behaviors that prevent collapse.

Unfortunately these alterations require changes in most peoples normal behavior.

Achieving the envisioned changes are well beyond any of the embedded change processes in current civilization. Certainly no political, religious or financial leadership can implement them. Or at least implement them without a ground swell of public support.

The changes to the social contract proposed in part three of this paper are of this stature. We need changes to the social contract but the expert-reporting leadership-implementing model cannot provide them. The changes can only be made at the level of consensus.

A powerful majority of the constituency, like the mothers similar those that created school speed zones and traffic lights at dangerous intersections the level of two people speaking unshakable common sense to one another.

----out takes ------------------------------

Of some note is that the same conversation process to build a constituency removed prohibition from the social contract.


(back to head of paper)

10/13/2014 last rev 2/24/2017

Jack Alpert (Bio)     mail to: Alpert@skil.org     (homepage) www.skil.org      position papers

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