The Democracy in Crisis Film Series

Overview

The first film is complete and is shown above.

We can't do it alone. We need your help in implementing the research ideas presented here.

Our world has entered the crisis stage for solving its most important problem, climate change. Democracy is in crisis. With the election of authoritarians like Donald Trump and his subsequent actions to NOT solve the climate change problem, it's easy to conclude that there is no longer any rational hope the problem can be solved and that civilization is doomed, due to environmental collapse.

We at Thwink.org would like to offer an alternate conclusion, as embodied in these films. The thwinkers at Thwink.org strongly feel that rational, evidence based analysis of the problem, using the right tools, will lead to solutions that have never been tried before in a focused, sustained, large-scale manner. As Film 1 explains, this begins with asking The Right Question.

 

Outline of the Planned Film Series

A total of about 14 films are planned, averaging 30 to 50 minutes each. Currently only the first film is done. Producing the series will take a long time.

 

Film 1. The Right Question

There’s not just one problem to solve, but a list of unsolved problems like poverty, war, and climate change. Going deeper, we find that the hate-based authoritarianism problem is the real problem to solve because it prevents solution of all the other unsolved problems.

How can we best solve that problem? The same way scientists do, by asking the right question, at the deepest and most universal level possible. The right question is “WHY is modern activism able to solve some problems and not others?” This question is where the next film begins.

The Right Question

 

The Right Tools - Films 2 to 4

Film 2. The First Tool - Root Cause Analysis

WHY is modern activism able to solve some problems and not others? Because activists are not using the right tools. Consequently solutions to the unsolved problems don't work, because if you're using the wrong tools you will never find the root causes of difficult problems.

Traditional activism takes the same approach it's used for centuries. Solutions are not analytically designed to resolve root causes. Instead, they are intuitively designed to solve apparent causes. On easy problems the problem is simple enough that the apparent causes are the same as the root causes.

For example, the slavery problem was solved by promoting the value that “all people have the right to be free” until enough citizens in each country felt that way. The root cause was low belief in this cultural value. Change resistance was low and the problem was relatively simple. Although the problem took centuries to solve by promoting the new value over and over, no root cause analysis was required.

In stark contrast, on difficult problems the problem is so complex that the root causes are not obvious. They cannot be found without formal root cause analysis. Since activists skip this step, the assumption that the apparent causes are the root causes is wrong. The apparent causes are intermediate causes, as explained in the diagram below.

Causal Chain Diagram

Popular solutions to difficult problems like climate change are failing because they were not designed to resolve specific root causes. We know this to be so because of the Law of Root Causes: All problems arise from their root causes. If a problem was solved then the solution(s) resolved the root causes. If a problem was not solved, then the solution did not resolve the root causes.

If you want proof, take a look at any of the solutions offered to difficult large-scale social problems like war, discrimination, poverty, and environmental sustainability. How many of these solutions are accompanied by a detailed root cause analysis showing exactly how the proposed solution will resolve the root causes? As far as we can tell, the answer is none, because modern activism does not employ root cause analysis. Instead, it employs a process called Classic Activism, which assumes that the apparent causes are the root causes.

Modern activism has fallen into the Intuitive Process Trap. The first film explained how activism follows these three steps:

The Traditional Process

1. Identify the problem.

2. What is the solution? (The wrong question)

3. Promote the solution by speaking truth to power.

These steps work on easy problems, where the root causes are obvious. But the process fails disastrously on difficult problems, because step two asks the wrong question. It's like a doctor skipping the diagnosis step. Step 2 should not be "What is the solution?" but "What are the root causes?", just as a doctor would ask "Why is the patient sick?" Here's what the process should be:

The Revised Process

1. Identify the problem.

2. What are the root causes? (The right question)

3. What are the solutions that will resolve the root causes?

4. Promote the solutions by demonstrating how they will effectively resolve the root causes.

Three Main ToolsThe unsolved problems are so incredibly complex they cannot be correctly analyzed without these three key tools:

1. Root Cause Analysis

2. Process Driven Problem Solving

3. Model Driven Analysis

Films 2, 3, and 4 present the tools, which together provide the foundation that modern activism needs to efficiently and reliably solve its biggest problems.

Activists have made tremendous progress on the solved problems, like slavery and women's suffrage. But until they begin using these three tools, they will be unable to penetrate to the fundamental layer of difficult problems, where the root cause lie.

The rest of Film 2 describes what root cause anslysis is and how it works.

 

Film 3. The Second Tool - Process Driven Problem Solving

The right process will lead to the right results. The right process is so essential to solving difficult problems that all of science depends on a single process, the Scientific Method, to guide its work. For more on the power of the right process see the glossary for Process Driven Problem Solving.

This film presents the System Improvement Process, as shown below. The process was designed from scratch for solving difficult large-scale social problems. The process centers on root cause analysis and employs feedback loop modeling to perform the analysis steps.

SIP Grid

 

 

Film 4. The Third Tool - Model Based Analysis

Social systems are composed of independent social agents connected by feedback loops. The behavior of all social systems arises from the structure of its key feedback loops. The First Law of Modeling states that "If you don't understand a system's key feedback loops, then you don't understand the system." For more see the glossary for Model Based Analysis.

This film explains how feedback loop modeling is used to perform the five steps of analysis, which form the core of the System Improvement Process.

 

Analysis Results - Films 5 to 9

Film 5. The Broken Political System Problem

We're solving the overall sustainability problem. This includes all three pillars of sustainability: environmental, economic, and social. To make analysis possible, the one big problem was decomposed into six smaller and easier to solve subproblems:

A – Change Resistance Subproblem
B – Life Form Proper Coupling Subproblem
C – Model Drift Subproblem
D – Environmental Proper Coupling Subproblem
E – Economic Unsustainability
F – Social Unsustainability

Broken Problem DiagramAs the analysis proceeded, we made a surprising discovery, one we never expected when we started. The world's biggest problem is not climate change or the deeper problem of hate-based authoritarianism. Our research discovered that these problems, along with all the other unsolved problems, are symptoms of an even deeper problem: The Broken Political System Problem. Solve that problem and the system will automatically want to solve all the unsolved problems, because that's in the best interest of the common good.

Films 6 to 9 present analysis results for subproblems A to D. Subproblems E and F are beyond the scope of our analysis, which is of little concern since they will tend to be automatically solved once the root causes of the Broken Political System Problem are resolved.

 

Film 6. The Brick Wall of Change Resistance

Change resistance is the tendency for something to resist change even when a surprisingly large amount of force is applied. Change resistance plays a critical role in solving difficult social problems, due to a striking pattern.

Change resistance brick wall

In the solved problems systemic change resistance was low. In the unsolved problems change resistance is high. That's why popular solutions like civil disobedience, lobbying, and publicity campaigns worked on the solved problems. But these solution fail on problems with high systemic change resistance, because they do not resolve the root causes. Instead, they attempt (in vain) to resolve intermediate causes.

The good news is that by applying the right three tools, the brick wall of change resistance can be knocked down fairly permanently. For more see Subproblem A.

 

Film 7. Corporatis profitis versus Homo sapiens

If you follow the trail of influence, large for-profit corporation are dominating political decision making destructively. They are the power behind efforts to NOT solve common good problems like climate change, large recessions, war, and so on. Why is this?

Consider the Principle of Social System Goals: Over time, the goal of the dominant agent in a social system becomes the goal of the system. Next consider that the dominant agent in the human system is no longer Homo sapiens. It is Corporatis profitis, the modern large for-profit corporation.

Thus the goal of Corporatis profitis, short term maximization of profits, has become the implicit goal of the human system. As long as that's the system's goal, the system will tend to NOT solve any problem that conflicts with that goal, such as climate change, because that's a long term problem. The system is behaving exactly as you would expect, given the Principle of Social System Goals. For more see Subproblem B.

 

Film 8 – Who Will Watch the Watchers?

"Who will watch the watchers?" comes from the Roman poet Juvenal, who asked a slightly different version: "Who will guard the guards themselves?" Governments need watchers to insure that those in positions of power don't fall into the perennial trap of making poorer and poorer decisions, whether due to corruption, lack of relevant skills, laziness, obsolescence, etc. This is the age old problem of creeping government ineptness. The analysis calls this "failure to correct failing solutions when they first start failing."

But what if the watchers themselves go inept? Who will watch them? And who will watch the watchers watching the watchers? It’s an endless recursion with no end and hence no answer. This implies the initial question is flawed. WHY is it flawed?

It turns out that the original question is fallacious. "Who will watch the watchers?" makes the false assumption that the only solution is watchers. But with the right tools, more solutions can be found. Finding these solutions requires first finding the root cause of why government decision makers so often go astray. For more see Subproblem C.

 

Film 9 – Managing the World’s Common Property

The environmental sustainability problem is best framed as how to avoid collapse of the world’s common property. Common property is anything that's shared in common and not treated as private property, such as the air we breathe, the freshwater cycle, and where a lot of chemical pollution goes. Impact on common property is currently unsustainable. For more see Subproblem D.

 

Sample Solution Elements - Films 10 to 13

Film 10 – Solutions for Raising Truth Literacy

The root cause of high systemic change resistance is low truth literacy. If that's the root cause, the high leverage point is obvious: raise truth literacy. Nine solution elements for doing that are presented. The foundational solution element is Freedom from Falsehood. For an overview of these see Solutions for Subproblem A.

Four Freedoms

 

Film 11 – Moving from Corporation 1.0 to 2.0

The symptoms of subproblem B are large for-profit corporation are dominating political decision making destructively. The root cause is mutually exclusive goals between the top two life forms in the human system, Corporatis profitis and Homo sapiens. To resolve the root cause, the goals must be aligned so that they are in agreement.

The goal of Homo sapiens is the long term optimization of quality of life for all those living and their descendants. We probably don't want to change that goal. On the other hand, the goal of Corporatis profitis is the short term maximization of profit. We probably want to change that goal, because there's no way we can solve the climate change problem and the other unsolved problems as long as that's the implicit goal of the system. One possible solution is Corporation 2.0.

Corporation 1.0 or 2.0Corporations were never designed in a comprehensive manner to serve The People. They evolved. What we have today can be called Corporation 1.0. It serves itself. What we need instead is Corporation 2.0. This life form is designed to serve people rather than itself. Its new role will be that of a trusted servant whose goal is providing the goods and services needed to optimize quality of life for people in a sustainable manner. For more see the Solution for Subproblem B.

 

Film 12 – Politician Decision Ratings

As discussed in Film 8, "Who will watch the watchers?" makes the false assumption that the only solution to avoiding creeping government ineptness is watchers. But with the right tools, more solutions can be found.

Dueling LoopsThe analysis found that the root cause of of creeping government ineptness (failure to correct failing solutions when they first start failing) is low quality of political decisions. One solution to resolving this root cause is Politician Decision Ratings. The solution changes the system by adding an explicit feedback loop which puts government leaders on a Race to the Top to see who can make the best decisions for the long term good of all. There are no watchers. They have been replaced by the self-motivating forces of the right feedback loops. For more see the Solution for Subproblem C.

 

Film 13 – Common Property Rights

The root cause of inability to manage the world's common property sustainably appears to be high transaction costs for managing common property sustainably. This means that it costs so much to set up a system for managing common property problems that it's prohibitively expensive. It costs more that activists have.

Identification of the root cause is pretty good news, because it makes the high leverage point obvious. The high leverage point for resolving the root cause is allow firms to appear to lower the transaction costs for managing common property sustainably. This can be done by introducing Common Property Rights. These are the mirror image of the system used for today's Private Property Rights, so most of the infrastructure for implementing Common Property Rights already exists. For more see the Solution for Subproblem D.

 

Our Vision - Film 14

Film 14 - Engineering a Permanent Race to the Top

Going all the way back to Plato's The Republic in 380 BC and running through H. G. Wells' A Modern Utopia in 1905 to an explosion of literature on the subject in the 20th century, activists have long sensed that a social utopia of some kind is possible. However, past attempts have never worked for long, like intentional communities, religious utopias, and the scientific socialism of Marxism. Is a social utopia possible?

That depends on how one defines "utopia." Suppose it's not defined in the normal manner, by describing what people would do in such a world. Instead, suppose it's defined structurally, as a dominant in the Dueling Loops model for several centuries straight. That's never happened for long, certainly never for more than the brief period a benevolent politician, party, or dynasty has been in control. And it's never come close to happening globally for all countries.

But suppose it did. Suppose the analysis presented here is reasonably sound and the four identified root causes are resolved. That would set the stage for a long term dominant in the world's political systems. What would it bring? We can't say exactly, except that it would probably solve all the unsolved problems listed in Film 1. It would also solve future problem we've not yet encountered while they were still very small and solvable, such as robots trying to take over or terrorists inventing a whole new form of terror. Going even further, it would also spot new opportunities for improving the common good. Most of these are inconceivable today, just as so much of what we enjoy today was inconceivable 200 years ago.

It's a tantalizing vision. And based on the analysis, the thwinkers at Thwink.org see it as realistically possible, but only if modern activism switches to the right tools. If you can help make that happen or know someone who can, please, please, please contact us. We can't implement these ideas alone.

For more see the last chapter in the Dueling Loops book, on The Tantalizing Potential of a Permanent Race to the Top.