Archive for December, 2010

Analysis: W. I. Thompson’s “Pacific Shift”

December 23, 2010

William Irwin Thompson, Ph.D. is a cultural historian, poet, founder of the Lindisfarne Association, and former professor of humanities at MIT and York University. Over the past thirty-odd years I have read most of Dr. Thompson’s books. Although his analyses and descriptions are not entirely compatible with mine, I recommend his writings to anyone desirous of exploring forces and factors in play at this stage of human evolution. No one can deny that his opinions compose a scholarly, provocative, and creative effort to explain and predict the flow of cultural development planet-wide. 

Politics is, in my view, the nervous system of humankind through which all essential impulses involved in the global developmental process interact and flow. So, I see it as fitting that Pacific Shift opens with Dr. Thompson’s vision of politics in a future free of nation-states. Further along he sets forth his perceptions—as of the early 1980s—of a shift in consciousness, and shift of value system, from the Paris-London-New York (Atlantic) industrial culture to the West Coast-Japan-Australia (Pacific) where technology, information, and cooperation are ostensibly more valued than industrial production, consumerism, and competition. 

My view now, in 2010, is that this social philosophy shift (or pressure to shift) toward what others have referred to as “unity-in-diversity”—including innovation over conformity, and spirituality over religiosity—continues to expand its influence and effects. Good. However, as the world has experienced during the past twenty years, the vision of a global culture under “caring stewardship” is proving to be elusive. The much heralded transition has also proved more traumatic than Thompson seems to have hoped for. In fact, the challenge continues to intensify rather than diminish: ecological crises such as floods and oil spills, terrorism that has gained an added “cyber” dimension, financial crashes since 1987, religious fanaticism that is multi-pronged, and extremist political polarization—all of which continues to be exacerbated by population explosion. 

As we have argued in other posts, the challenges facing humanity at this time require more than a shift in consciousness; they require the application of new meta-tools such as those developed by PluribusOne™ Consulting, tools that have proved efficacious in facilitating enhanced perception. Also required is a stepped-up multinational space program to initiate colonization of the Moon, and then Mars. 

Pacific Shift sets forth an elaborately articulated cosmology that includes a set of four “value orientations,” or ideologies: Conservative, Liberal, Radical, and Reactionary. However, in our appraisal, the matrix is incomplete. Despite Thompson’s compelling argument for a “Basic Quaternity” underlying all Being—and, therefore, underlying those four value orientations—the Noetitek™ system reveals a much richer fabric. The perceived Quaternity is no more limiting than the metaphoric assertion of a four-cornered Earth. It is a paradigm that has outlived its usefulness, unless we want to keep repeating the errors of tribes and nations of history. 

The world cannot advance by calling on four-square conceptualizing that reflects the military model of human interaction (the old “zero-sum” game) to serve as platform for universally constructive actions to move us forward. Thompson too saw the need for what he called a “new and surprising” politics. The vision of an ideal world society must be guided by a fifth value orientation, a reconciling or neutralizing value orientation—an orientation that can only be identified by thinking outside of the traditional political box.