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2010 – Grim but not hopeless

by
Jon Twigge & Keith E Rice

Over the past 6 months or so, I’ve found quite a meeting of minds with Jon Twigge, an ardent Spiral Dynamics Integral enthusiast and supporter of the Centre of Human Emergence – UK.  He’s graciously allowed me to cross-publish a couple of pieces he wrote for his own blog. Now, we’ve co-written this post which will appear on both blogs. It began life as Jon’s rough draft which we ‘kicked around a little’ until we both felt it said what needed to be said.

All great civilisations of the past have faltered.

At some point very soon we are going to be facing the real consequences of the banking crisis.  Government has already announced cuts and more will follow as the full implications of the costs involved come home to roost. Does this crisis mark a downward turn in the modern Western Capitalist system?  One that may we not completely recover from?

One probable, and short term, consequence is that local authorities will have their funding from central government severely cut back – one reliable source has told me (Keith) a large amount of the 60% of the funding local authorities get from central government is going to go.  We would expect that the Government will try to spread the blame around as much as possible. Letting local authorities take decisions at a local level will both help this to happen and also cause local problems.

One estimate is that it will take the best part of 10 years to get back to the present levels of service in local authorities and that next year, in a bid to make the difficult spending cuts more acceptable, local authorities are going to be holding public meetings to consult with voters on which services to cut. The process will allow them to attempt to explain that the cuts are not their fault and to minimise the risk of a public outcry by sharing the decisions as to where and what to cut.

Even with this dilution and spreading of the blame, there are real risks that there will be a public backlash.  After all, it was not the public’s fault was it, it was the bankers – surely?

Where will the cuts fall?
So where will the cuts fall?  Over the last few years things have been tightened up, optimised, streamlined and generally pushed to the limit.  So, while there may be some small areas of cost saving to be made, any serious cuts will result in real cuts to front line services.  It is likely that cuts will in fact fall across a majority of services including education, recreation, public transport and roads and many other public facing services.  It is also likely that many departments will have their resources cut but be expected to maintain the same levels of service. This will cause staff to come under increased pressure and will result in more failures due to stress and absence.  And it will mean job losses.  Some of the cuts could be quite savage if the Government is to bring total government debt under control.

What will the response of the public be?  It depends on people’s values and the extent of the problems they experience.  The extent of the problems may well seem even worse than they are if the media chooses to focus its energy on them.  In fact, an unhappy public and a media happy to reinforce their feelings can resonate strongly and create real civic unrest.  We do not have to go too far back in history to see the results of the imposition of the poll tax.

Should we have maintained tighter control on the banking system and are we doing enough now to stop it happening again?  If we allow bankers to continue getting large bonuses as the public begins to suffer more and more at the hand of large spending cuts, then the consequences could be severe.

Using Spiral Dynamics and related sociopsychological technologies, it is pretty much possible to predict the mismatch in values between the masses seeing their quality of living being sharply eroded and the evermore affluent elite whose greed led to this erosion. As most of the British banking system is buoyed up by taxpayer revenue, for the banks to then be paying huge bonuses to their riskiest operators looks quite simply like the public is being fleeced. Given that the recent ‘expenses scandal’ provided strong evidence for what many already felt – that politicians are driven by self-interest – the whole thing looks like one lot of crooks (the politicians) fleecing us (the public) on behalf of another lot of crooks (the bankers).

In Spiral Dynamics terms, this is the more complex but self-oriented ORANGE thinking system manipulating the do-the-right-thing BLUE thinking system. Technically, legally, many of those huge bonuses are valid for results the risky operators achieved 3-plus years ago; but the banks aren’t offsetting that against those very same risky operators crashing the banking system in 2008 and creating unfathomably massive losses. The less complex BLUE thinking of the Government does the ‘right thing’ by allowing the bankers to get their due bonuses. We can suspect there may be some no-consequences RED self-interest here as well, given that many leading politicians like to socialise with leading financiers. Remember Peter Mandelson (Labour) and George Osborne (Conservative) being caught on board a leading financier’s yacht…?

The bankers also plead that, if the bonuses aren’t paid, the risky operators will move to other cities and London will decline as a finance centre and that will put paid to Britain’s financial services sector on which much of Britain’s income depends.

Taking a holistic view – what Spiral Dynamics terms  2nd Tier – enables us to see just what a mess Britain is in because the kingdom’s ability to generate wealth through multiple industrial and commercial sectors has been steadily eroded over the past 30 years, making us so much more dependent on the financial services sector. (And what’s left of Britain’s manufacturing industry has been particularly badly hit in the latest recession.) The impact of those policies – started by Margaret Thatcher but more or less continued  under Tony Blair – has been to create an affluent elite in certain parts of the country while reducing many others to being dependent on benefits or else in real poverty. Considering what an old-fashioned socialist Gordon Brown is said to be, he must find it really galling that Labour’s 10 year rule has seen the ‘poverty gap’ between richest and poorest widen significantly, with millions of children now living below the official poverty line.

Are we rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic? 
What did these people do that was so bad they deserved this? The majority of them complied with BLUE’s rules for good citizenship – going to work, not committing crimes, paying their taxes, etc. When the rules are seen to be unfair or the rules actually work against the benefit of the majority, then the public’s trust in BLUE goes – just as it did in the last days of the poll tax – and RED will take over, with people taking the law into their own hands. Someone earlier this year fired a shot through the window of  one of the houses owned by Sir Fred Goodwin, the boss who presided over RBS/Nat West’s ruin only to walk away with a multi-million £ pension. “So our taxes are going to keep this idiot in luxury?!?!?”

As the cuts bite deeper and deeper, expect civil unrest and expect more attacks on politicians and bankers.

With the help of Spiral Dynamics co-founder Don Beck, the Centre for Human Emergence – UK  was set up last June to carry out a multi-faceted analysis of the complex mess Britain is sliding deeper and deeper into and propose solutions.  Such solutions will be radical but necessary.  Our kingdom has incredible energy, inventiveness and resilience – plus a world-conquering ‘can do’ tradition. Britain doesn’t have to die by the proverbial ‘thousand cuts’. It doesn’t have to be that way. We CAN put the ‘Great’ back in Britain. But Gordon Brown’s trillions-costing sticking plaster approach to the banking system won’t do it.  It needs a radical rethink of who we are, what we do and how we do it, together.

And it needs to be done quickly before that old Rolling Stones song about “revolution” and “fighting in the streets” is not just a bit of nostalgia!

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  1. Albert Klamt says

    Good morning Keith:):)

    “Bis bald” would mean -freely translated – see you soon. Or “Until soon”.

    You may have heard that Dorothea, some others and I will co-moderate a spiral Ning Group in German language. So lots of new opportunity to learn something about emergence and with indigenous intelligencies from German speaking cultures. To explore and to discover.

    I will – and have already- collaborate with Dorothea et al. towards a Germany Special for ILR . Maybe June or August. Ii blogged already extensively last years about it.

    Greetings, from across the English Channel:):)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_Channel

    Albert

  2. Keith E Rice says

    Now, you’ve embarrassed me, Albert. You do so well with English and I’ve not a clue what “Bis bald, auch auf Deutsch” means, other than Deutch is German for German. [Scratches head at non-sequitor!!! ]

    But I do get the idea that Germany has to rediscover itself, moving beyond the Nazi era
    and tuning into that German spirit that made your country great in the past as a springboard to a new Germany for the future.

    How interesting that the victor and the vanquished have such similar challenges 60 years after the war that wrecked both countries….!?

    At the risk of being controversial, I think Britain has been far too slow to embrace the European project. While it’s won us short-term advantages, it’s been costly in the longer-term. Eg: if we had dumped the pound and gone for the euro, the chances are we would be that much further towards getting out of recession.

    I’ll be interested to read Dorothea’s article.

    Keith

  3. Albert Klamt says

    KEITH;

    thanks:):)

    And allow me, for a moment, to indulge in even greater possibilties regarding the Germans.

    While great philosophy, idealism, dialectical thinking and romantcism is part of the (lost) culture of the country of former poets and thinkers there was science, entrepreneurialism, even militatry genius and medicine, sports and spirit of adventurous exploration also part of the German Genius. Think of Alexander von Humboldt.

    More in the summer issue of Integral Leadership Review about Germany. Its crucial for Germans to gain an understanding of last 250 years. or more. Beyond the memory reflex regarding WWII.

    it may be useful for some with the real understanding of C. G Jungs insights to read his Wotan Essay from 1936. I blogged about it here.

    http://voyager.gaia.com/blog/2009/10/wotan

    Emotion, passion, thinking and boldness are part of the best in Gemany. Unfortunately lost in the brain drain after WWII

    And it was Johan Wolfgang Goethe- the last German who expressed these words without broken zones.):)

    “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”

    France and Gemany can play a new crucial role on Continental Europe. it takes however all European cultures to co-create a new purpose and vision for Europe. In the context of the global world.

    Dorothea Zimmer -co-founder of German CHE wrote an article for January Issue of Integral leadership Review:

    Some questions about Europe.

    How can Europe become a big player in the world? For sure the cultures of UK, Gemrany and France play a crucial role in this process next decade.

    Bis bald, auch auf Deutsch:):)

    Albert

  4. Keith E Rice says

    A belated response, Albert…and thank you for your support (as ever!).

    The biggest empire in recorded history…a small island people (or group of peoples) driven by a bizarre mixture of commercial aggrandisement and greed, religious evangelism, technological innovation and industrial musclepower and the most incredible ‘can do’ attitude.

    Yet here we are now bust and clinging desperately to the coattails of our bastard American offspring, half-embarrassed by the Commonwealth we grew from the Empire and still half-hearted about being part of the new alliance with our former European enemies Germany and France.

    Its one hell of a mess! But there’s still such potential. As Don Beck has emphasised, Britain stands as the bridge of the world, linking the US, the EU and the Commonwealth. Of the big players, only Iran, Russia and China lie outside some kind of influence. We may no longer have the money or the military muscle to throw our weight around the world. But, as always, we have great ideas…as do the Germans. But then the Germans frequently produced great philosophers!

  5. Albert Klamt says

    Keith,

    yesterday I remembered that that the landmass of British Empire even toped the one of Genghis Khan. You know Bill Clinton dreamt -in an interview end of last year – about beeing Genghis Khan without beeing evil:):)

    Thats kind of Google pipe dream:):)

    Nowadays mega projrects like the Burjy Dubai are projects of megalomania. However symbolizing something.

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,667262,00.html

    The emerging infrastructures and meshworks around center for human emergence are such a REAL big thing.

    Happy 2010!

    Albert

  6. Keith E Rice says

    Thank you, Albert!

    Keith

  7. Albert Klamt says

    Keith , Jon,

    my very best new year wishes for your work in UK!

    ” Our kingdom has incredible energy, inventiveness and resilience – plus a world-conquering ‘can do’ traditiion. Britain doesn’t have to die by the proverbial ‘thousand cuts’. It doesn’t have to be that way. We CAN put the ‘Great’ back in Britain. But Gordon Brown’s trillions-costing sticking plaster approach to the banking system won’t do it. It needs a radical rethink of who we are, what we do and how we do it, together.”

    No doubt, this is so.

    Best greetings from across the channel which isnt hopwefully not longer than the Atlantic:):)

    Albert