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The Big Answer


To link to this article from your blog or webpage, copy and paste the url below into your blog or homepage.

The Web of Life

a book by Fritjof Capra

(our site's book review)

Capra, like Toffler, see the world as needing to shift its worldview in order to deal with the realities at the beginning of the 21st century. Both men wish the politicians (as well as academic professors and corporate heads) would wake up to the ongoing changes. Toffler wants people to adopt a Third Wave perspective (see The Third Wave) and use knowledge—highest level power—as the power source of choice rather than lower level power in the form of coercion and wealth. Capra wants the new ecological-holistic paradigm to be adopted and the old mechanistic-reductionistic paradigm to be left behind, with its focus of coercion, quantity, exploitation, domination and competition. In a way, these two social analysts are looking at the same elephant from two different perspectives, with Capra focusing on the philosophical, ecological, spiritual, feminist, holistic trunk, and Toffler focusing on the futurist ears, which concern themselves with politics, business, markets, trade, history, power, conflict and education. The work of each man complements the work of the other.

Capra strongly advocates the new, ecological-holistic paradigm replacing the old, reductionistic-mechanistic paradigm
Capra strongly advocates the new, ecological-holistic paradigm replacing the old, reductionistic-mechanistic paradigm


Both Toffler and Capra wish the politicians (as well as the academics and corporate heads) would wake up to the ongoing changes
Both Toffler and Capra wish the politicians (as well as the academics and corporate heads) would wake up to the ongoing changes

In the 1997 book The Web of Life, Capra sees the power of knowledge to influence others as the needed substitute for the power to dominate via coercion. In Powershift, Toffler does the same thing. He doesn’t use much worldview-speak to do it—just brilliant historical and current analysis combined with an uncanny sense of where things are going. Both techniques are effective, but Toffler’s methods are less abstract, spiritual, liberal and philosophical, so his books sell better and more precisely analyze the realities, interactions and changes in historical trends and power. Capra’s books give a more comprehensive systems view, a physicist’s slant.

Capra sees current civilization as having become disconnected from the web of life—ecologically and environmentally, and it shows
Capra sees current civilization as having become disconnected from the web of life—ecologically and environmentally, and it shows

Capra sees current civilization as having become disconnected from the web of life—ecologically, it reductionistically divided everything into fragmented parts and exploited and wasted and poisoned as if it didn’t matter, throwing the system off balance in serious ways that may evolve from serious to disastrous sooner than we think. See Academy Award–winning documentarian Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth.

There was a time when humans felt their connection to creatures like this bird—but we no longer do
There was a time when humans felt their connection to creatures like this bird—but we no longer do

He says: “To regain our full humanity, we have to regain our experience of connectedness with the entire web of life. This reconnecting . . . is the very essence of the spiritual grounding of deep ecology. . . . Reconnecting with the web of life means building and nurturing sustainable communities in which we can satisfy our needs and aspirations without diminishing the chances of future generations. . . . A sustainable human community is aware of the multiple relationships among its members. Nourishing the community means nourishing those relationships. . . . Partnership is an essential characteristic of sustainable communities. The cyclical exchanges of energy and resources in an ecosystem are sustained by pervasive cooperation. . . . In human communities partnership means democracy and personal empowerment, because each member of the community plays an important role.”

We may be cooking our own future along with these birds' futures
We may be cooking our own future along with these birds' futures

Capra asserts that flexibility and diversity are needs of a successful ecological system. And he points out that a diverse ecosystem will be resilient, and the more complex the network and pattern of connections involved, the more resilient it will be. He exposes isolation (when individuals in a system are in need of resources but their isolation cuts them off from said resources) as a detriment to the system. It’s critical that, with Third Wave knowledge at hand, information and ideas flow freely through the entire network. “As our century comes to a close and we go toward a new millenium, the survival of humanity will depend upon our ecological literacy, and our ability to understand these principles of ecology and live accordingly.” There is little sign any of the giant corporations are marginalizing their profit margins and putting these principles of ecology front and center in their priorities. Apparently, only huge global disasters will wake these ass clowns up!

There is little sign that the giant corporations are marginalizing their profit margins by showing respect for the environment
There is little sign that the giant corporations are marginalizing their profit margins by showing respect for the environment

(MCs are by definition sophisticated, ecologically aware networks/communities with PSB-aided free flow of information and ideas, in which friendship and cooperation [in the needed complex pattern of connections described above] with regards to needed childcare resources create the resiliency, sustainability and enrichment so often missing in human communities. People brought up in such environments will actually develop the ecological literacy Capra is championing. If anyone can tell us how anything BUT the rapid spread of MCs [followed by the needed ecologically aware actions] could ever avert huge global disasters, we'd sure like to hear about it.)