Welcome to the final issue of Beyond One. As many of you already know, this was a year long project to foster critical discourse and dialogue around long-term solutions to many of our culturally, politically, and economically “frozen ideologies” – norms and notions that require re-evaluation and re-calibration with a future-facing lens.
As such, we thought it was fitting that the last issue encompass Progress itself. The concept of Progress has been a meta-theme throughout this magazine, and we have dedicated our final edition to challenging our current ideals of progress, understanding how our accepted dogmas manifest in society, and offering radical new visions for our collective progress. Central to these visions is the notion of Conscious Evolution. From the beginning of human evolution until a mere 200 years ago, we were completely unconscious of how we came to be. For 100 years after his discovery, Darwin’s explanation was largely challenged and disbelieved. Only in the last 50 to 100 years have we had a true dialectical improvement on the concept of evolution. And now, we have started the process of pushing the bounds of evolution itself. With genomics, nano-technology, cloning, etc. we are not only aware of our evolutionary lineage, we are consciously directing it. However, even though we have started to direct physical evolution, we also need to consciously advance our cultural evolution.
In the Lever of Riches, the historian Joel Mokyr argues that Europe’s industrial revolution occurred because of “chains of inspiration” where one idea led to another. Even unrelated breakthroughs like the Watt’s steam engine were the output of widespread collaboration, sometimes among people who never physically met. Our next revolution will occur when we start the initial ‘chains of inspiration’ from a place of conscious evolution – where we know and direct our human efforts with a more empathetic, egalitarian, cosmopolitan worldview. As the French philosopher Pierre Thullier has said, “A society is not really a society unless it is able to invent ideal concepts and myths that mobilize individual energies and bind people’s souls together.” In the end however, our society’s ideals stem from our individual ideals and conscious evolution is therefore dependent on each one of us and not on some cosmic world order that is thrust upon us.
Any genuine discussion of progress — however sound or dubious the notion itself may be — must be framed within the larger environmental context and take into account the exponential rise in absolute existential suffering of humans and of all Earth’s sentient beings. This would oblige us to poke our heads out of the anthropocentric box that has increasingly defined us and that has correspondingly limited our response to civilization’s blowback. Urbanization, cyborgification, specialization, inequality, “globalization” and even the deepest of our psycho-spiritual and mystical traditions have served to deify us and/or alienate us from the rest of nature. And even if we were able to make the necessary punctuated jump in consciousness, all s...Read more
The cult of economic growth has built up a rigid expectation in our consciousness that as time moves forward so must we. To go backwards is a kind of crime against humanity.
GDP must increase. Recession, though an arbitrary concept, is to be feared. We must keep spending. We must do things more quickly. We must keep becoming more ‘advanced’ – more in line with a vision we have developed of the ‘future’, where everything is done for us by technology and we live without effort or labour or even a trip to the supermarket, to an ever-increasing age.
Let’s look back at the last 500 years to reflect on o ...Read more
In 1977, NASA sent the Voyager Golden Records into space. They are phonograph records that contain sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth, and are intended for any intelligent extraterrestrial life form, or future humans, who may find them. It will take forty thousand years before it makes a close approach to any other planetary system.
Here is a video clip of Beethoven's String Quartet No. 13 in B flat, Opus 130, Cavatina, that was sent to space.
This act of human progress is both simultaneously irrational (even the translated binary code versions are human ...Read more
"The ancient myths were designed to harmonize the mind and body. The mind can ramble off in strange ways and want things that the body does not want. The myths and rites were means of putting the mind in accord with the body and the way of life in accord with the way that nature dictates."
– Joseph Campbell
Ho'oponopono is an ancient Hawaiian ritual of forgiveness practiced by a shaman. For this edition of Beyond One, contemporary artist Michelle DeMello has produced a visual rendition ...Read more
Today's media ecology is a digital matrix of ‘mediatization’ in which the new everyday we create reciprocates in its very structure the ordered chaos of the world we physically inhabit. This new everyday is a space of betweenness – of plurality and ambiguity – wherein the non-universality of the practice of social action is highlighted. As we reflect upon progress in this issue, we also wondered about situating social progress within the context of technological innovation.
With every technological innovation and media revolution comes a shift in our communic ...Read more
The classic view of progress is that increased development and economic growth leads to higher standards of living and access to consumer goods. China is the dominant global example of this type of progress. China’s economy is growing at an astonishing rate. Stories have shifted away from China’s brutal working conditions, terrible air quality and repressive political leadership to an open celebration and even admiration of its aggressive growth. As the former German foreign minister Joschka Fischer has noted, more and more people are “dreaming the same dream.” Ironically as the dream becomes more universal, cracks in its benefits are becoming increasingly apparent in highly ...Read more
John Maynard Keynes was one of the greatest economists and public intellectuals of the 20th century.
The following is a fully re-published version of his famed essay, Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren written in 1930 and published in Essays in Persuasion in 1963. His insights and worldview were as prescient in 1930 as they are now in the post-economic crisis of 2011.
“Modern uncertainty is woven into the very fabric of everyday life, it is the bedfellow of energetic capitalism in action.”
Richard Sennet – The Corrosion of Character
Uncertainty has become the dominant background condition in our modern capitalist society. It is inextricably linked to our economic frameworks and ideologies. Modern capitalism is characterized by three elements: (1) the discontinuous reinvention of institutions (2) specialization of production and (3) concentration of wealth without centralization of power.
“This is the old story: whenever one sets out to discuss collapse one ends up by talking about continuity.”
- G.W. Bowersock
When it comes to many key indicators, life has improved dramatically for more people and at a quicker pace than ever before in human history. Advances in medicine and technology have eradicated diseases, extended lifetimes and provided material comforts for hundreds of millions of people. Encyclopaedia Britannica estimates that the average lifespan for the global population in the 1900’s was 30 &n ...Read more
Beyond One was a year long project that examined the upcoming 21st century from the reflection point of its first decade. The collective of writers and artists are committed to pushing our thinking beyond one generation to find long-term solutions to some of the world's biggest problems.
We are now in the process of producing a coffee table book based on these critical essays and works of art, as well as a documentary film on the concept of 'Generational Thinking'.
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