We live in the midst of one of the greatest technological revolutions in history, an era of deep-seated transformation-a macroshift in civilization, says preeminent scholar and futurist Ervin Laszlo. Its signs and manifestations are all around us, from the deadly HIV/AIDS epidemic sweeping Africa and the dangerous fire-trap sweatshops routinely killing workers in Bangladesh, to the environmental havoc created by genetic engineering, power plant pollution and mechanized agriculture. The application of new technologies has turned into a double-edged sword.
The world is growing together in some respects, but is coming apart in others. Worldwide economic globalization, another sign of the macroshift, all too often benefits the few rather than the many. Hundreds of millions live at a higher material standard of living, but thousands of millions are pressed into abject poverty. The richest 20% earn ninety times the income of the poorest 20%, consume eleven times as much energy, and eat eleven times as much meat.
There have been other macroshifts in human history, but they spanned centuries, allowing cultural values, beliefs, and change to occur gradually. Today, technology has reduced our time to adapt; the entire critical period of change is compressed into the lifetime of a generation.
Today’s macroshift, explains Laszlo, harbors great promise, as well as grave danger. He outlines two possible scenarios: “The Breakdown,” where we choose to drift without a change in our current direction toward chaos, anarchy, and destruction, or “The Breakthrough,” where we collectively transform our thinking and behavior to produce creative, sustainable solutions to dangerous global problems. And he shows what each of us can do-politically, professionally, and privately-to bring about the Breakthrough and shape a humane and sustainable global future.
While technology is what drives the unprecedented speed of this macroshift, it is our vision, values, and actions now that will ultimately determine the outcome. The choice is up to us-the power is in our hands.
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About the Author
Ervin Laszlo is a philosopher and systems scientist. Twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, he has published more than 75 books and over 400 articles and research papers. The subject of the one-hour PBS special Life of a Modern-Day Genius, Laszlo is the founder and president of the international think tank the Club of Budapest and of the prestigious Laszlo Institute of New Paradigm Research. The winner of the 2017 Luxembourg Peace Prize, he lives in Tuscany. In 2019, Ervin Laszlo was cited as one of the “100 Most Spiritually Influential Living People in the World” according to Watkins Mind Body Spirit magazine.
“Ervin Laszlo, a pioneer in complex systems philosophy and general evolution theory who has written or cowritten 36 books, believes we are in the midst of a massive worldwide transformation that will dramatically alter everything from lifestyle to economy. Such total upheaval has occurred only a few times before, he says, and in Macroshift he explains what this might mean and how we might manage its impact.
The gist, according to Laszlo, is that technology and globalization have unbalanced social structures, upended values and priorities, sparked resource exploitation, and “downgraded the livability” of our planet. The result is an unsustainable situation that could trigger political conflict, financial vulnerability, and deteriorating environmental problems during the coming decade unless “a new way of thinking” takes hold. “If we are not to join the myriad species that had once populated the Earth but became extinct,” he predicts, “we will have to create a civilization that is more adapted to the conditions in which we find ourselves.
” He then offers ideas to do so, including a shift from “competition to reconciliation and partnership” and development of “more responsible and humane community projects” around the world. The proposals are not for everyone, but if Laszlo is correct, this book offers serious food for thought that we all would be wise to ponder.”
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