Continuing the theme of governance in a mature society, my thoughts have changed little since the writing of my book Acedia; thus, I am mainly quoting from this source (pp. 204-205), with additional minor commentary as update.
The best example of governance I have encountered is that of Gaian democracies (Madron, 2008). Madron notes that “we have to transform our societies so that they are capable of learning how to co-evolve for many thousands of years as complex, adaptive, viable parts of the total Gaian system.” He emphasizes that citizens must understand, be committed to, and share, a set of purposes and moral and ecological principles. These purposes and principles must be developed through intensive participative processes—they cannot be handed down from above. This requires dialogue-rich groups, focused on action shaped by reflection, and such that local groups have the power and authority to create change directly. People are rewarded with active immediate feedback based on success, and leaders are committed to their own learning. [emphasis added]
To this, I would add the skills associated with holacracy as described by Robertson (2006) in “Holacracy: A Complete System for Agile Organizational Governance and Steering.” Holacracy is a modern development in organizational development concepts. It is based upon intense participative processes and local group authority. In a holarchical business, representation of interests is distributed downwards and upwards by double linkages at all levels, downwards by those responsible for the broad interests of a company and upwards by those responsible for specific aspects of the functioning of the company. Although designed for coordination with businesses, I suggest it to be ideal for the kinds of inter-group coordination that will be necessary at all levels of governance in a mature society; I know of no better process to encourage participatory leadership.
Is this type of mature culture possible? I do not know. Is it necessary? I maintain the answer is Yes—we have to come to terms with a zero-growth sustainable culture, one that honors all species on the planet. Need it have the characteristics I am suggesting? No, but likely something like this would be necessary. We need to live in peace with our world; we need to live in peace with each other, especially our differences. [And we need to live sustainably and resiliently.]
It will be difficult to achieve. I remind the reader of the difficulties identified by the project participants, such as “I’ve worked on these issues for 20 years, and am amazed at how hard I have had to work.” Our current civilization is in a state where all of the forces that oppose acedia are disparaged, and thus, conversion to a more mature state will require much time and effort. Consistent with the proposals put forth by Gilding (2011), I believe that we are capable of such conversion, once we decide to do so. However, whether we will do so in time to save our species in not yet clear.
Coming next: Why I like the Victory City concept.