Whole systems change: a new paper by Riane Eisler

Want to learn more about why a Caring Economy is an essential part of systemic economic change?

Check out Riane Eisler’s new essay “Whole Systems Change: A Framework & First Steps for Social/Economic Transformation” in Next System: Possibilities and Proposals, a Next System Project series.

Today’s nuclear and biological weapons give us destructive powers once attributed only to a vengeful God. Fossil fuels combined with our species’ exponential population growth are decimating our natural life-support systems. A seismic technological shift, as radical as that from foraging to farming and from agriculture to manufacturing, is hurling us into the postindustrial, knowledge-service age. Jobs are disappearing, and many more soon will be lost to robotics and artificial intelligence. The chasm between haves and have-nots is again widening both within and between nations. Religious fanaticism is resurging, promising heavenly rewards for terrorizing, maiming, and killing.

Whole systems change requires a fundamental cultural transformation

And that is only the short list of our environmental, economic, and social problems. Yet the vast majority of people, including most national leaders, academics, and mass media, remain in a kind of trance, insulated by old ways of thinking.

Fortunately, a growing number of people recognize that we stand at a turning point in our human adventure on Earth. They are reexamining not only what was and is, but also what can, and must, be done.  They understand that solving our unprecedented problems calls for more than just tinkering at the edges of failing systems—that we need whole systems change, and that this, in turn, requires a fundamental cultural transformation.

This article outlines key elements of such a cultural transformation. I sketch the methodology that leads to a new conceptual framework for understanding social systems, its key findings, and their implications for whole systems change. I then outline long-term actions focusing on four cornerstones, including fundamental economic changes, as foundations for a more peaceful, equitable, and sustainable future.

To show how to go from proposal to action, I further include references to successful pilot programs testing such actions by the Center for Partnership Studies, a nonprofit research and education organization formed for this purpose.