DemoSapiens- the webinar for the wise citizen

DemoSapiens- the webinar for the wise citizen

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    • #38009
      ashok panikkar

      DEMO SAPIENS, THE WEBINAR, is designed to help radically understand the complex world we are living in. This forum will allow participants to discuss ideas and questions raised during the webinar. We hope you will be able to actively engage with each other AND with our democracy, politics and culture in a well-informed, thoughtful and mature manner.

      Others at MAHB may also chime in, if you are interested. Please be mindful of the fact that, having missed the webinar, the context within which the issues were first raised might not be self evident.

      The teacher/ trainer Ashok Panikkar is a communication/ conflict management consultant and critical/ creative thinking teacher who has been working on strengthening democratic culture since 2013 . To learn more about his work or the course, please write:

    • #38047
      Steven Earl Salmony

      Jane Goodall, the celebrated primatologist, is 85 and still passionately preaching environmentalism. Working with chimpanzees taught her a lot about humans: “We’re not, after all, separate from the animal kingdom,” she said. “We’re part of it.” —- NYTimes

    • #38085
      ashok panikkar

      Here are two vital questions that came up, with my thoughts below. Feel free to keep the conversation going:

      1. Why do I claim that both Progressive and Conservative are simple reactions to complexity and hence luxuries that we cannot afford?

      The premise of this course is that today’s world requires an appreciation of intersecting complexities. Most current ideologies are responses to realities and conditions that existed in the early to mid-20th century- or even the 19th century. As an example, the Marxist idea pitting Capital against Labor only partially explains today’s world of work, gig workers and automation. In trying to directly use (or adapt) Progressive or Conservative ideologies to analyse or prescribe today’s ills, we run the risk of both simplifying the problem as well as compounding the situation.

      2. Why do I say communities are breaking down today- when connectivity itself and internet ‘communities’ are growing?

      There will always be exceptions who have, despite migration or living away from family, been able to maintain strong connections with their family and homelands. However, at a societal level the situation is grim. There are many shifts that have taken place in community formation today. Among the many reasons for these changes, are increased urbanization, globalization, technology and extreme individualism. Urbanization and intentional communities can seem strong however they usually last only as long as their members don’t move away physically. Globalization can give us the ability to make friends and ‘maintain’ relationships in far away places but, like internet communities that can seem vibrant, but lacking physical and regular intimacy, these do not allow for the deep cultivation of intimacy, trust, obligations or commitment.

      All these contribute to developing a mass of individuals who find themselves living physically in new towns and neighborhoods- but with very weak ties to them. In a democracy when we are unable to feel invested in the people who live in our neighborhood, town or even country, it is no longer possible to feel any sense of duty or obligation to them. Without this our existence itself becomes transactional making it impossible to negotiate or compromise, leave alone, sacrifice for the collective good.

    • #38129
      Michael J. Oghia

      I really appreciate these two points Ashok. What really strikes me is the second, though, as it deeply reflects my life. Most of the people I know or interact with have been reduced down to a photo and strings of text, which, considering how far technology has advanced, is pretty amazing. I mean, my parents can call or message me at any time of the day, essentially for free, and I’ll respond in real time from across the world.

      At the same time, I hear your point about community being ultimately undermined by the forces of the late 20th and early 21st century. I suppose my response to that is to say: well, why don’t we reinvent or even replace democracy? Just because other forms of government didn’t work in the past doesn’t mean that liberal democracy (underpinned by capitalism) is the only path forward. Perhaps out of all the predicaments we’re currently in, a new system will form that may be better able to handle this many people.

      I think that’s a big elephant in the room: democracy simply wasn’t envisioned to govern almost 8 billion people and counting. We’ve talked about this: if everyone has a voice, and all voices are equal, how do we really listen to anyone?

    • #38169
      Szanne McNutt

      This article appeared today on If you are unfamiliar with it, it’s a news site that I have been following for 15 years and tends to publish viewpoints the mainstream media does not even touch. This article is timely and relevant to our discussion of last week re; the overlap and/or conflict between democracy and capitalism.

      Peace to all,

    • #38322
      Matt Kaplan

      A few points stood out to me in Collins’ article on Houellerecq that seemed worth sharing:

      “The rationale for our decisions at important junctions in life can be traced to the rationale behind the society in which we live. When this rationale is mistaken, so are our lives.”

      “Political discussion seems more focused on labeling and demeaning other groups than finding solutions. But perhaps this is because the solution to the present quandary lies outside the realm of politics altogether.”

      “Individually reflecting on the broader consequences of one’s actions, doing one’s best to be humble about the advantages one possesses, and having a genuine compassion for the suffering and insecurities of others may sound banal, but these points are rarely discussed – possibly because they place a responsibility on all individuals, especially the most privileged of us.”

      “The technocratic solution of collecting survey data and labeling and analyzing individuals as part of a group…only serves to keep the discussion elevated above the individual, human concerns that are, at bottom, the source of discontent.”

      Michel Houellebecq: Populism’s Prophet

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