My presentaton to the Senate of Cornivus University of Hungary on the occasion of receiving my fourteenth honorary doctorate. January 2010

We are rapidly approaching a crossroads that will determine whether or not our civilization has a future. Depending on what we do, we could face either total apocalypse or a new Age of Aquarius. We could experience an exciting new culture, our behavior dominated by mutual trust and respect, or a complete destruction of civilization.

Allow me to elaborate.

The repercussions of change

We know that change is constant. The process of change has been going on since the beginning of time and will continue forever. Among other factors, the world is changing physically, technologically, socially, and economically.

Change is not only here to stay, it is also accelerating. More scientists are alive today than accumulatively throughout the history of mankind.

While change, on one hand, brings advances in standards of living and even in our life span, it also causes stress and disintegration, which are manifested in what we call “problems.” And problems, when not resolved in a timely manner, grow to become crises.

How change creates problems

To explain how change causes disintegration, let me begin with a premise:

Everything is part of some kind of a system, and every system is a sub-system of some larger system.

Systems and sub-systems, which interrelate, do not necessarily change at the same rate; some change faster than others.

Take human beings, for example. Everyone is composed of many sub-systems, among them the physiological, the intellectual, the emotional, and the spiritual. They do not necessarily develop in synchronicity. And when sub-systems do not change in synchronicity, gaps occur that destroy the unity, or integrity, of the system.

For instance, a person might be 40 years old chronologically, but still be a teenager emotionally; physically, s/he might feel 60 years old, and yet spiritually not even be born. We would say that this person does not “have it together.”

On a corporate level, sub-systems also change at different rates. For instance, in a young, growing company, marketing and sales change rapidly, while the accounting system changes very slowly. The outcome, again, is disintegration, manifested in the problem of lack of information: Management increasingly does not know what is happening.

On a macro level, we also experience disintegrating forces of change. Right now, we are in the midst of a “third wave” of transformation.1 The “first wave” was the transition from a nomadic to an agricultural, or agrarian, society; the “second wave” was the Industrial Revolution, which caused urbanization that was accompanied by urban blight, congestion, and the dehumanization of labor, among other manifestations.

Now, we are experiencing a “third wave,” also known as the “post-industrial,” the “information,” or the “knowledge” economy – accompanied by a new set of problems: Those who are unable to adapt to the changes become unemployed, economically disadvantaged, or left behind in some other way. I suggest that crime, for instance, is a manifestation of economic, political, social, or psychological disintegration caused by change. The same applies to homelessness. And I believe one could find a significant correlation between the rate of divorce and the rate of change in a given geographic location.

Change is constant. Change causes disintegration, manifested in what we call “problems” – which, if not treated in a timely manner, will eventually evolve into a “crisis.”

If you analyze any problem you might have — with your car, your marriage, your career — you will find that something has fallen apart, and it has fallen apart because of change.

On being interconnected

But that is not the whole story.

Change is not only a centrifugal, disintegrating force, but also a centripetal force. While we are disintegrating on one hand, we are also becoming more interdependent than ever before: the Internet, air travel, television, world banking interdependencies, etc., are turning the world into a “global village.”

We can see those centripetal forces in the social sciences: Since the 1980s, teaching and research have become increasingly interdisciplinary.2 Degrees are offered in the relatively new fields of neuroscience, biochemistry, and geobiology. It is no longer possible to make economic policy while ignoring political and social repercussions. And this overlap of fields, disciplines, and bodies of knowledge is even reflected in the phenomenon of unisex fashion.

This centripetal force means that a problem in one part of the world, caused by local disintegration, can rapidly migrate beyond the boundaries of a country, unaffected by mere political or even physical boundaries, to become systemic in nature and even global in span. At that point, it is far more intense, more complicated, and less likely to be solved without global cooperation, which is difficult to mobilize. The swine flu and the credit crisis of 2008-2009 are two examples of crises that began locally and quickly became global and systemic, impacting multiple systems – the economy, the culture – and creating political repercussions.

Solutions > diversity > conflict

Problems and crises call for decision-making to reach a solution. And solutions have their own consequences: They generate conflicts, because people have different opinions about what the solution should be. For instance, political liberals and conservatives believe in different – often opposite – solutions to problems.

In addition,  people have a diversity of self-interests. A solution that satisfies one person’s interests might adversely affect the interests of others.

Thus, the more problems there are, the more solutions are called for. The more solutions are being sought, the more conflict there will be.

Conclusion: The more change we experience, the more conflict we will have.

And the more conflict, the more stress.

There is a well-known psychological test that assigns points to various life events.3 For instance, losing your job means so many points; death in the family, more points. Even going on vacation has points. The common denominator? Change.

It is not news to anyone that the more developed the nation, the faster is the rate of change, the more stressed people are, and the more prevalent are the psychological problems that such stress causes.

Conflicts are inevitable

To avoid this stress, people – and nations – often choose not to solve a problem. For them, a conflict may seem potentially more painful than living with the problem that needs a solution.

But deciding not to solve a problem is also a decision: a decision to do nothing. And that might be the worst decision we could possible make. Unfortunately, doing nothing does not mean that change will stop and that the problem will freeze in one place or at the same level of magnitude. While we do nothing, the world will keep changing and the problem will keep intensifying. Continuous change will cause continuous disintegration; if the accompanying problems are not treated, they will eventually become a crisis – and doing nothing will no longer be an option.

*****

We need to understand that conflicts are inevitable. Conflicts arise out of the need to solve problems that are caused by change. The only way to avoid having conflicts is not to have problems. But we can stop having problems only if we stop change – and that can only happen when the system is dead. Life means change, and change means problems, and problems call for solutions, which means gathering different opinions and affecting different interests – which generates conflicts.

Conflict is the nature of change, which is the nature of life.

The sequence of the reasoning is:

Change > disintegration > problems > require solutions > diversity of opinions, judgments, and interests > conflicts

Change, problems, diversity, and conflicts are inevitable. They are life.

Are wars also inevitable?

If change cannot be stopped, and thus conflict cannot be eliminated, does that mean that wars, destruction, annihilation, Armageddon, are unavoidable?

We all know that conflict can be destructive. It destroys marriages, companies, and countries.

The bad news is that modern conflicts can have major repercussions and could potentially be fatal to mankind. In the modern world, technology has now made possible the destruction of our entire civilization. We have nuclear capabilities and the ability to destroy ourselves at a magnitude unknown to human beings before, while our values and behavior have barely progressed since the Stone Age: We still try to kill those who threaten us, even though sometimes the perceived “threat” consists of simply having different religious or political beliefs.

Consequently, in the past century human beings have slaughtered each other on a scale previously unimaginable. The ferocity of the 1990s conflict in the Balkans – where Europeans, with their supposedly enlightened culture and widespread education, nevertheless behaved like savages – is graphic evidence of the fate we may be heading toward.

Clearly, such destructive conflict has become untenable.

Are we doomed?

No, not all is lost. Conflict can be constructive, too.

Look at Switzerland, which is composed of several ethnic groups – the Germans, the French, and the Italians – that have been at each other’s throats since before the First World War. Switzerland should long ago have destroyed itself from within. But that has not happened.

And we all know of some marriages in which the partners are different in style and outlook, that somehow do not end in divorce. In fact, some of them seem to bond even closer together – not in spite of but because of their differences.

Conflict is like rushing water. It creates energy, which, if harnessed, creates electricity. If not harnessed, it becomes a destructive flood.

Remember the rule of entropy,4 which dictates that if we do not act to prevent it, diversity will naturally tilt us toward the path of destabilization and destruction.

We need to take our destiny in our hands. We need to act. And act correctly.

How to handle conflict

Marx’s attempt to eliminate conflict: Karl Marx lived and wrote during the Industrial Revolution in Europe and witnessed the conflicts that changes brought in. To avoid those conflicts and their accompanying pain, he prescribed a “dictatorship of the proletariat”; by “dictatorship,” he meant there would be only one political party. Thus, his system permitted only one opinion, one point of view. Naturally, that should have eliminated conflicts in decision-making.

Under Marx’s Communist system, there were to be no conflicts of interests, either. In a classless society, organized around the principle “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs,” everyone’s interests would be the same.5

In fact, Marx argued, when perfect Communism was attained, there would be no more conflict at all, and happiness would rule on earth.

So what happened?

In order to stop conflicts, you have to stop change.

When Marxism was applied, change stopped. The Soviet Union’s art and industry remained frozen in the 19th century. Innovation became virtually non-existent except in the military field and in science.

While Marx’s diagnosis of society had relevance, his prescription was a disaster.

No one in the history of mankind has succeeded in stopping change over time. Thus, conflicts cannot be stopped, either.

Picco’s theory of diversity and its enemies: It was Dr. Gianni Picco, a former UN assistant secretary-general for political affairs, who helped me realize that the prevailing conflict of the 21st century is between those that support diversity (democratic regimes) and those that oppose it (Fascism, Communism, and fanatical religious movements, of which the Muslims are currently the largest and most vocal).

Both groups continually face problems caused by change. The anti-diversity group tries to eradicate the problems that change can generate by trying to stop change altogether; while the other side favors accelerated change and struggles to find ways to support and protect diversity and make conflict constructive rather than destructive.

This confrontation between pro-diversity and anti-diversity regimes is not a new phenomenon. It can be traced, in various forms, back through the centuries. It has had numerous manifestations, from the struggle between Athens and Sparta to World War II, when the totalitarian governments of Germany, Japan, and Italy aligned themselves as an Axis against the United States, Great Britain, and the other liberal Allies. Today, the story is repeating itself, with radical Muslims replacing Fascists as enemies of democracy.

Diversity cannot be prevented

Opposing diversity is and always has been a utopian effort, doomed to failure, because the only way to stop diversity is to stop change. And change cannot be stopped, only retarded. Problems caused by change cannot be eliminated, only postponed. Eventually, those problems will have to be dealt with, and any solution will reveal significant differences of opinion and judgment and affect a variety of interests.

Even when diversity is suppressed, over time it will re-emerge – because people change. No one remains frozen in the same attitude, with the same experiences and the same beliefs, forever. Even within the Communist party there were differences of opinion.6 The same is true of today’s radical Muslims – or any other radicals who oppose diversity, for that matter. Radicals, by definition, cannot bear compromise; thus if those who insist on clubbing diversity to death ever stop battling the West, they are likely to turn on each other, finding heresy in smaller and smaller disparities.

No amount of force can eradicate diversity. In fact, the harder radical groups fight to eliminate diversity, the more acute the conflict becomes. In trying to stop diversity, we do not achieve peace. On the contrary, we only create more misery.

Learning to capitalize on diversity

If diversity is inevitable and forever, how should we deal with the conflicts that result?

Let me repeat: The answer is not to prohibit diversity or find ways to minimize it. These are utopian measures that do not and cannot work.

Instead, we must develop policies and mechanisms that convert conflict to a constructive, rather than a destructive, force.

Some countries already have such a system in place; it’s called democracy. But even when it is long-established and effective, democracies have yet to transcend the national level: While democratic states forbid murdering those who disagree with them inside their own borders, for example, they continue to applaud the notion of murdering those who differ from them. They even make heroes of those who kill the most.

Internationally, we have neither the political platform through which global differences can be resolved and solutions reached and implemented, nor the know-how to mobilize that platform. What we do have – the United Nations – is a forum where individual states represent their own individual interests. It is not a platform for governing the global interests of Mother Earth.

I suggest that we must learn – and quickly – how to convert the natural and to-be-expected conflicts that diversity brings into a constructive force. It is the only option.

But how?

Mutual trust and respect

What determines whether or not a conflict can be constructive is not whether conflict exists, but how it is handled. We have to learn how to handle conflict constructively – which is to say, to handle diversity constructively.

My forty years of clinical work with companies have shown me that conflict can be constructive rather than destructive only when there is mutual trust and respect.

Mutual trust and respect, MT&R, is the methodology for healing disintegration that is caused by change.

If change causes disintegration, manifested by what we call problems, then it follows that the antidote to this “illness” is integration, or healing: making whole. MT&R is the integrative tool with which to achieve that.

We need a culture of MT&R on a global level.

Allow me to elaborate.

The meaning of “respect”

I subscribe to Emanuel Kant’s definition of respect: to recognize the sovereignty of the other party to think differently. When such an attitude prevails, we are open to learning from people’s disagreements. There is not much to learn from people who agree with us, because all their agreement does is reinforce our previously held opinions. When we learn from those who disagree with us, we enrich ourselves with information we did not have. Thus we make better decisions. The result is that we learn to value their disagreement.

In Hebrew, the word “respect” has two meanings: “to honor” and “to value.” Honoring, to me, is ritualistic, while “to value” a difference of opinion is functional. I use the word “respect” in the second sense, meaning “to value” someone. That happens when we allow ourselves to learn from the differences that someone manifests in his/her opinions.

Mutual respect is a necessary component of learning and thus of enriching ourselves with information we did not have; you can’t learn from people you don’t respect. Voltaire’s famous statement, “I disapprove of what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it,” demonstrates the kind of respect that democracy is based on: respect for differences of opinion, and legal protection for those who think differently.

On a global scale, mutual respect means to respect different cultures. It means to seek what we can learn from those who are different from us. The Hindu can teach us the value of surrendering, of meditation and yoga; the Protestant culture, the value of work; the Jewish culture, the value of education; etc. Some cultures are looked down upon as being inferior, of lower value – the Gypsies, for instance. But there are valuable lessons to be learned from Gypsy culture, too: They truly live in the moment and enjoy life with an unparalleled passion.

Every culture offers something unique to the totality of humankind.

The same applies to political diversity. Conservatives have a different point of view from liberals. Much can be learned from both. Every point of view potentially carries some value.

Can we value differences? We must. Without it, we are constantly at war. With it, we continue to grow in our understanding and enrich our lives as well.

The meaning of “trust”

Trust is different from respect. Trust occurs when there is a shared belief that a commonality of interests exists, and that the future will be better for everyone, not just one group. Without that faith, people fear that some will benefit more than others, and that the sacrifices of one group will not be shared by the others – that in transactions between groups, one group will ultimately be the winner and another the loser. Without trust, lots of energy is wasted on suspicions, unproductive internal competition, etc.

Trust occurs when there are mutual interests. And since mutual interests rarely occur in the short run, there must be faith that they will occur over time. Thus the common expression “life is give and take”: We give now, trusting that the receiving will happen later on.

How can we manifest trust on a global level? We need to eradicate the remnants of a colonialist attitude, where the dominant entity benefits at the expense of the dominated entity. There must be give and take. We must start thinking at this higher level, looking at common rather than individual interests.

When we broaden our definition of what constitutes self-interest to include the interests of the globe as a whole, the problems immediately rise to the surface, numerous but also easy to see: The air pollution of China is threatening the air quality of California. The destruction of the tropical forests of Brazil is threatening air quality worldwide. In short, we are interdependent; if each country continues to act is if its individual interests supersede all the others’, these problems will never be resolved. The best we will do is move our problems around the globe from country to country like a game of musical chairs. Inevitably, they will be back, as crises, to haunt us. All of us.

If we are interdependent, we must also be collaborative. What we have now is a disaster: non-collaborative interdependence. This state of affairs is doomed to failure.

As a civilization, are we going to succeed or fail?

Predicting “success”

For decades, social scientists have been trying to determine the most important factor in economic success (defined unidimensionally as economic growth): Is it technology? a free market? the availability of natural resources? market size? high levels of investment? job creation? competition? social protections?

I have dedicated my life to studying this question, and I have found out that success, no matter how it is defined, is a function of one variable, which is a function of four variables, which in turn are caused by four other variables, etc. At the bottom of this “pyramid” of variables, there might be a million factors.7

But what is the single variable at the top of the pyramid? Culture. The biggest asset any system can have – whether it is a person, a family, a business organization, or a country – is a culture that promotes mutual trust and respect.

It is this factor that will dictate the amount of energy available for the system to integrate itself with the environment in which it operates, which is the condition for success of any system, any way it is measured.

Success = f (external integration divided by internal disintegration)

External integration is a function of how well an organization meets the demands of the environment in which it operates. It is a function of how well the system matches its changing capabilities to the changing needs of the environment it serves. For an individual, it can be measured by how much energy is spent to achieve a successful career. In the business world, it is measured by the energy spent to reach a desirable market share. For a country, it is by how much energy must be devoted to implementing a successful industrial or economic policy, to allow that country to fit well into the global economy.

Internal disintegration is measured by how much energy is wasted unproductively on internal suspicions, politics, back-biting, miscommunication, etc.

When a system is well integrated internally, it operates smoothly, accomplishing its tasks without wasting precious energy on destructive internal conflicts.

The more MT&R, the less internal disintegration there will be.

Why is this significant?

Well, we know from physics that energy is fixed at any point in time, which means any energy spent on internal disintegration is not available for external integration.

When MT&R is strong, internal disintegration is low and more energy is available for external integration. When there is low MT&R, internal disintegration is high: Much energy is wasted on internal conflicts, and since energy is fixed, little is left for external integration.

What I have discovered is that this fixed energy is allocated in a predictable order: First, it is used to handle internal disintegration. Only the surplus, if any, is dedicated to external integration.

For example, if an individual person is sick, s/he has no energy left to make changes that are necessary to adapt to a changing environment. And by “sick,” I do not necessarily mean physically sick. Let’s assume this person has no self-respect or self-trust. His/her energy will be spent wondering what people think of him/her, and doubting every decision s/he makes. S/he will be overloaded with internal conflicts that do not leave sufficient energy to deal with his/her external problems.

The same is true for a company. If there are destructive, “political” conflicts inside a company with no mutual trust and respect, lots of energy is being wasted on internal frictions – to the point that when a customer arrives, we might have to say: “Please come back tomorrow; I have spent all my time in meetings trying to protect my turf, and I am exhausted.”

And the same is true for a country. Notice which countries are economically successful; they are not necessarily those with major natural resources or technology. Rather, they are the ones that have and cultivate a culture of mutual trust and respect. Switzerland and Japan, for instance. And the United States. What characterizes the United States is its acceptance of diversity and the prohibition, by law, of discrimination by religion, race, or gender. That is why, all over the world, America is known as the country where “the sky’s the limit” – where people have an unlimited potential for success.

In contrast, what happens to a country that has enormous natural resources, but internal problems of lack of mutual trust and respect? Take South Africa or Angola, for instance. We all know the answer to that.

What makes a system successful is not what it has, but what it is. It is its culture.

The conditions for constructive conflict

Now the question is: how to build mutual trust and respect.

We cannot expect to simply have it and build on it. As a matter of fact, the more frequent and significant are the changes, the more vulnerable MT&R becomes: More problems to be solved means more potentially destructive conflicts. Repetitive stress, over time, can dissipate MT&R, unless we develop the means to nurture our diversity and tolerate our differences.

How can that be done?

I have found that there are four elements that together can transform a system’s culture into one in which there is constructive conflict based on MT&R. Those factors are:

common vision and values;

a functional structure (global governance);

the right decision-making process; and

people with the right attitude

Let’s discuss what these four elements mean on a global scale.

Common vision and values

In order for our civilization to avoid an accelerating move toward destructive conflict, we need a shared global vision of a different society from the one we live in today. In this vision, interdependencies are recognized for the benefit of all rather than for a few. The fact that we have different cultures is not seen as a threat but as of value. Rights and protections are accorded not only to people but also to animals and to the physical environment we live in – our air, water, and land. We cannot continue destroying other elements to maximize our own benefits. I repeat: We cannot be interdependent without becoming collaborative.

President Obama has made it a mantra in many of his speeches that we need a global solution for global problems, based on “mutual respect and mutual interests.” (Note that mutual interests are what causes mutual trust, so we are talking about the same thing using different words.)

But we all know that good intentions are not enough. Beyond a new global vision based on MT&R, we need a structure to deliver this new philosophy.

The right structure (global governance)

We need to see the emergence of an umbrella organization that is structured to represent the interests of the globe as a whole, instead of as an aggregation of individual countries’ interests like the UN.

Who will comprise this decision-making body? A holistic problem requires a holistic solution, and that calls for gathering together a group of powerful people representing complementary disciplines that include all of the coalesced authority, power, and influence (CAPI) necessary to implement a solution.8 That also means that institutions with the capability to undermine the decision must be included – because in my experience, the people who row the boat don’t rock the boat.

Why do we need a group that has CAPI? Because approaching decisions the way civilization has done up to now is no longer effective. We have to create an institution with decision-making powers where individual or national interests, together with representatives of non-political elements of society, can combine to mold cohesive policies that serve everyone. With all the levers of power included, the group would have the power and ability to make change.

In addition to politicians, this new global institution should include representatives of the major multinational companies; the leading artists, academics, scientists, and religious leaders; and the magnates of the global media.

We must also include the technologists and intelligentsia – those who have specific knowledge of how to do what needs to be done. These are not necessarily the people who are responsible for making or implementing decisions; in fact, I have often found that when there is disintegration, those who have the authority to say “yes” and “no” often lack the power to implement their decisions – nor do they necessarily have the knowledge to make good decisions. Conversely, those who have the information and knowledge lack the power or the authority. Worst of all, those who have the power to undermine decisions often have little or no knowledge concerning those decisions. They are merely destructive forces, without the expertise or authority to build anything.

The right decision-making processes

We still think of problem-solving as a sequence – that economic change will bring social change, which will bring political change; or that political change will bring economic change, which will bring social change. … But the environment is changing far too fast to accommodate this kind of linear development of solutions. What is needed is a systemic approach: all of the components discussed together and at the same time.

The right attitude

What do I mean by the “right” attitude? We need people who do not fear conflict and who know how to convert it into a constructive force. They must be people who command and grant trust and respect to others who are different in style and interests.

That means a major change in our system of education. At present, we teach competition rather than collaboration – in sports, but also in business and even in science.

There is a need to value, to experience, and to teach collaboration and mutual trust and respect. It should be a major component of our education system globally.

Zero tolerance for tyranny

So, our civilization is faced with this stark choice: We can move along a path toward destruction – a nuclear disaster unprecedented in the history of mankind, or a long, continuous struggle with terrorism – or we can choose to adopt a new global philosophy: a culture of mutual trust and respect that converts the inevitable conflicts, created by inevitable change, into a constructive force.

Stopping change is not a reasonable solution. Forbidding diversity is a disaster in the short run and does not work in the long run. There is only one good option: We have to commit ourselves to developing a global vision, structure, decision-making process, and attitude that can nourish diversity and ensure constructive conflict.

If diversity is imperative, does that mean we must also tolerate political parties or religious groups that reject diversity? Should not being “pro-diversity” mean tolerance of those who are against diversity?

No.

The late Harvard professor Samuel Huntington, in his famed 1993 Foreign Affairs article “The Clash of Civilizations?”9 and later in his book The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order,10 argued that since the fall of Communism, the most serious international conflicts have not been between economic classes or military powers, or even between nations, but between “cultures,” roughly grouped and allied by their shared religion, history, language, and tradition.

In order to survive, Prof. Huntington argued, the West must reaffirm, strengthen, and protect Western culture. How? It should forge strong alliances with similar liberal Western nations. In particular, it must not weaken itself in the name of diversity by integrating alien and incompatible customs into its way of life.

My position is similar: We cannot allow anti-diversity theories, regimes, or cultures to flourish in our midst and endanger our own system of values and our vision of a society based on MT&R (live and let live). We should not nurture that which will cause destructive conflict and possibly even destroy us.

I believe democratic systems are too tolerant of non-democratic forces. Among political scientists there is continual debate about whether democracies should allow non-democratic parties to exist. In an environment in which the rate of change were not so intense, I would feel differently; freedom of speech would take precedence. But when the rate of change is acute, and the ambiguity and uncertainty and pain from that acuteness is overwhelming, the danger is that simple-minded people who don’t understand the complexity of a problem will try to find a simple solution, and that is almost always an extreme solution.

Totalitarianism offers clarity in black and white. It’s simple and clear, unlike the ambiguity that democracies offer. That is why totalitarianism, diversity-averse entities, and fatalistic cults have a significant advantage during periods of great change. That’s why, as the rate of change increases, so does the cacophony of religious revivals and vocal minorities, whether they are fanatical Muslims, Jews, or Christians. It is another manifestation of the rate of change.

But the more these movements gain, the more they endanger diversity.

In this volatile environment, I believe that no one should be permitted to undermine the system or the democratic vision, or to foment racial unrest. All subversive, exclusive, or excluding fanatical entities should be banned, and educational systems should be put in place that are geared toward inclusion, diversity, and tolerance.

Globally, we can’t ban or outlaw governments that are reactionary, intolerant, and anti-diverse. But we do not have to work with them, either. Solutions require constructive conflict, which requires mutual trust and respect – which cannot happen, by definition, with a group that does not share the same vision and values, a group that is planning the destruction of the other.

Instead, we need to freeze out these anti-diversity regimes and insulate ourselves against their destructive culture. Eventually, isolated from the free world and without the tools to harness conflict constructively, they will collapse by themselves, like the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia.

Globally, our goals – what is it we are looking for and what should we do about it? – will evolve and clarify over time, as each nation adapts itself to rapid and intense change and brings its perspective to the international table.

I firmly believe that the road to a solution still exists. It may not be the road we are used to traveling on, and it may not have the landmarks we’re used to seeing, but it is there, waiting to be discovered.

Time grows short, however.

Sincerely,
Dr. Ichak Kalderon Adizes


1 Alvin Toffler, in his influential books The Third Wave (Bantam, 1980) and its sequel, Powershift (Bantam, 1990), presented his “wave” theory of societies, predicting that the “third wave” would be characterized by the eclipse of manufacturing by information processing as a determinant of power and wealth; a trend away from consensus and standardization; the rise of regional and separatist movements; and an assault on the nation-state by non-national entitles such as multinational corporations, religions with global reach, and organizations such as the European Union, NAFTA, and the International Criminal Court.

2 Julie Thompson Klein, Crossing Boundaries: Knowledge, Disciplinarities, and Interdisciplinarities (University Press of Virginia, 1996).

3 The Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale (SRRS); see Holmes, T.H. and R.H. Rahe: “The social readjustments rating scales,” Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 11:213-218, 1967.

4 The theory of entropy, also known as the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, states that any closed system naturally tends to move away from a state of order (low entropy) to a state of maximum disorder (high entropy). Movement toward order requires energy, whereas a system’s spontaneous movement over time will always tend toward increasing disorder and disintegration.

5 Marx, Karl, Critique of the Gotha Programme. Marx/Engels Selected Works, Vol. 3, p. 13-30, written in 1875 (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1970). It was in this document that Marx used the phrases famously associated with him, predicting a “dictatorship of the proletariat” and summarizing his philosophy as “from each according to his ability; to each according to his needs.” See also The Communist Manifesto, written with Friedrich Engels and first published in German in 1848.

6 Service, Robert, Trotsky: A Biography (Harvard University Press, 2009). One example: Leon Trotsky, a leading architect of the 1917 Russian Revolution, was forced into exile in 1929 for opposing Stalin’s policy of achieving “socialism in one country” first – a shocking deviation from established Communist theory, which called for a simultaneous, international “permanent revolution.” Stalin had Trotsky assassinated in Mexico in 1940.

7 For more information on the elements of success, see my book Mastering Change: The Power of Mutual Trust and Respect in Personal Life, Family, Business, and Society (Santa Barbara: Adizes Institute Publications, 1993).

8 For more information on CAPI (coalesced authority, power, and influence), see Mastering Change, chapter 7.

9 Huntington, Samuel P., “The Clash of Civilizations?” Foreign Affairs, Summer 1993, pp. 22-49.

10 Huntington, Samuel P., The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996).