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The Big Answer

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Search for Alternatives: Public Policy and the Study of the Future

a book by Franklin Tugwell

(our site's book review)

This collection—including a small piece of the Tofflers’ world-waking Future Shock, attempts to connect public policy and the study of the future. In 1994, the Tofflers put out Creating a New Civilization to shake awake the political parties and get a desperately needed Third Wave/futurist context into political thinking, since mindsets of the powers that be were still stuck in the Second Wave and still following the old, mechanistic-reductionistic paradigm. This can be seen as evidence that Tugwell’s 1973 Search for Alternatives fell on deaf ears, blind eyes, and paralyzed political processes.

It describes the Club of Rome, an international group of leaders in business and government who’ve tried to call attention to the human predicament inherent in the cultural lag in which the social, environmental and international problems overwhelm us before we accurately assess their seriousness. Futurists judge humans as free and able to make choices that help determine and assure his future on this planet. But man is free only if he can create a world in which the potentialities of mankind can be realized. Without this type of evolution, mankind is lost. Anyone can see that if mankind continues to develop more and more powerful weapons of mass destruction and these continue to be dispersed more widely every year, and many groups get more hateful towards others year after year, and the Have-nots continue to feel that they’re somehow simply victims of the Haves rather than people suffering from basket-case social, political and birth control policies, then the world is living on borrowed time.

If WMDs continue to disperse, the world is living on borrowed time
If WMDs continue to disperse, the world is living on borrowed time

The authors call for social inventions, a renewed reliance on Third Wave knowledge to do what makes sense rather than continuing to do what we’re used to out of inertia, better research, better ecological-holistic paradigm thinking, less zero-sum thinking and more win-win thinking, and more systems thinking. (The authors call for people to commit themselves to more ingenious and fundamental solutions. The MC movement in the context of the Third Wave is the fundamental solution they were hoping for. Will people have the lifewish and insight to participate in it before the world self-destructs?)

the world in our hands
The world is in our hands

The systems engineering concepts in the book are sound, but the societal engineering concepts are poppycock. We really do need for our political systems to be re-engineered for Third Wave viability, and our institutions (schools, bureaucracies, local and national governments) similarly revamped. But we do not need (in fact, we desperately need to avoid) social engineers to interfere at the level of neighborhood, family or individual.

We desperately need to avoid social engineers interfering at the level of neighborhood, family or individual
We desperately need to avoid social engineers interfering at the level of neighborhood, family or individual

We need individuals to receive the Third Wave information they need to empower personal and family decisions in the lifestyle enhancement direction, and then for those that choose said enhancement to be examples to emulate for the remainder of the population. (If you will, it’s a kind of heroic individualism which results in the best parenting, relationships, communication, community building and world unifying imaginable—and isn’t that what the ultimate goal of heroism [of most any form] is supposed to be—the good of the many served by the brave acts of a few? See Why Register for an MC?.)

Heroic cowboy
Heroic cowboy

Registering for MC search and match
Registering for MC search and match