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Sustainocracy, the evolution of democracy

This has become a long blog again. It places “the secretes of life” blog-series in  context with human society. The development of our democracies of freedom can be seen as a natural process. But freedom alone is not enough and maybe even counterproductive for sustainable progress. We become aware that the old democracy is obsolete and we need a new commitment to living life. The “next step”, the  acceptance of a new democracy (Sustainocracy) is in a pioneering phase and creating precedents. It is not an institutional process but one of intense human choice and leadership.

The elders

This week I received an email signed by Kofi Annan. He wrote in the name of “The Elders”, a group of well known old world leaders who use their name, fame and personal authority to influence on important issues of human rights around the world. He wrote to announce the transfer of group leadership to him as successor of the initiator of the Elders, Desmond Tutu. I am simply in the loop of their newsletters but could never get these personalities involved in the evolutionary steps that I am working on myself for and with humankind with Sustainocracy, the new democracy. The “Elders” remain in their role as critical influencers of policies and policy makers around the world to get the old democracy still properly off the ground. At the end of the newsletter this particular wording out of a speech of Mr. Annan on “plurality” shows their commitment:

“Just as no country is born a democracy, no one is born a good citizen. Mutual respect and tolerance have to be fostered and taught.”

This statement shows the need for “proper” education and our commitment to democratic social structures through awareness and consciousness. How else can we step up our evolutionary respect for and progressive harmony with our natural universal environment if we cannot even bring up respect our own human selves and fellow people?

Human rights of freedom and equality are of course an important issue when we consider the lack of individual freedom still of many people across the world. Our natural spiritual freedom, as I described in my series of lectures about “the secretes of life“, is conditioned by the way we organize our communities through our own historic interpretation of consciousness, harmonic relationships and the four areas of awareness (growth, competition, adaptiveness and symbiosis) of life. We have built societies around human suppression, control, aggression, greed, debt, bureaucracy, laws, rules and any other single and multiple expression of power and control.

Our “fear for the other”, that sees in every human being a potential competitor rather than a co-creative equal or partner, has led to this type of systematic distrust and manipulation. The quest of the Elders is hence a noble one, in which humankind is challenged to see itself from the beauty and strength of “being” rather than our weakness of  “fighting for having” or “fear for loosing”.

Self centered blindness

The idea of “freedom” is often conditioned to the allowance by our human surroundings and the necessary fulfillment of our living needs. We are never ever truly “free” as we always have a commitment “to living life”. We have learned that life originated from harmonic bonding resulting in a first living species in hunger for more harmonic relationships through growth. Life is related to a commitment and hence cannot be see as “free”.  This commitment represents a purpose that gives us the inner drive that keeps our living molecules together in harmony. Our inherent thrive for growth is individual as well as collective and continues when we face competition. Our own species started to develop speech when complex strategies of attack and defense were to be agreed upon. This goes beyond the standard biological hunting scenario of predators when teamwork improves the outcome of the chase. In a war against self aware equals more is needed than just teamwork. Complex planning ahead and influencing the outcome through ingenuity is then key for success. Our “fear for the other” generated all the evolutionary effects of innovations by creating tools, systems and structures to improve the competitive outcome between human beings.

Our own aggression for growth is also the cause of further elimination of freedom, making people instrumental to a system of competition. The purpose of growth through nutrition and procreation, defending one’s interests and attacking for expansion, requires strength or teamwork, discipline, sacrifice and hard work. Morality and ethics are relative to the circumstances of life, subject to the reflective discussion around the purpose of actions and structures. Also in nature “only winning is right and there is no wrong other than the lack of trying”. This has made humankind an extremely self centered species that has just been blindly focused on its own self interest,  expressed individuality through levels of control and hierarchy and collectively through militarized communities of self protection and the power of aggression.


But when attack does not lead to winning anymore common sense demands new awareness and strategies. Adaptiveness makes one unique and inventive. So when the status quo of equality in strength arrives then the art of being different gives new opportunities. In case of non conflicting equality the art of working together gives maybe safety, harmony and stability. Diplomacy is yet another competitive instrument that demands the development of the power of reasoning and negotiation rather than the destructive brutal force. Equality is the acceptance of brotherhood instead of confrontation. From the series “secretes of life” we learn that equality appears when we become aware that “I cannot eat you or destroy you for my own growth”. That does not sound too romantic but life is about harmonics in a multiple complexity, not just romance. Equality then expresses itself in two ways:

* Respect
* Tolerance

Which is exactly what Mr. Annan wants us to learn and indeed seems the best solution for safety, harmony and peace. But is it also the best solution for sustainable progress?

When aggression makes way for diplomacy a new social structure appears. Aggressors needed soldiers and weapons, diplomats need supporters and arguments. Both need commitment to progress, one through brutal force, the other through harmonic development and negotiation.

The threat of competition through aggression gradually disappears and makes way for new ways of competing. The relationship then evolves around the status quo on “remaining equal” and the harmonics of avoiding aggression “by being attractively or repellingly different”. In modern society “differences” may be expressed through technological innovations, economic relationships, educational power, capacity of work forces, the impression of power, or anything else that gives diplomacy the power of negotiation.

Some risky inequality still remains through the speculation around shortages and aggression for fulfillment of material needs.

When aggression disappears the population is challenged to contribute in a different way than through fighting as soldiers for their system to achieve safety through violence. Now people need to become intellectual contributors to uniqueness and adaptiveness. Equality between powerful communities leads to levels of equality within the members of the populations themselves in order to free creativity for the development of new uniqueness. This may lead to new eras and means of growth of the species. Territorial confrontations transform into diplomacy, business negotiations and a powerful diversity of trade appears.


Democracy is a modern human system where freedom of speech and equality have become instruments of adaptiveness of a society in a human world of evolving realities. Democracy gives freedom to the development of awareness simply because we break loose from the ancient system confinement of aggression and control. That is why democracy is a greater common good, similar to the spiritual freedom that any living being enjoys by natural birth, and hence worth defending at any expense.  The community gains in flexibility, functional awareness and adaptiveness, which helps to adjust rapidly to harmonic and disharmonious impulses. We contribute to our evolutionary progress by becoming aware of our own individual existence, capable of voting for our representatives and hence influencing the further adaptiveness of our community. Our internet generation for example is already showing a much looser attitude of freedom and awareness than the still more disciplined older generations.

But democratic freedom brings another important issue to the surface: responsibility. It demand also totally new form of leadership that the rigidity of past systems. Democracy is a great instrument of individual freedom and collective development of expressive awareness through innovative impulses. Yet not at any expense.

The wrong democracy

Democracy did not come alone. After a turbulent history of trial and error social securities were introduced to give democracy a solid basis of safety for the public. But harmonic social stability has the counter effect of public reluctance, greed and apathy. Since the 70’s of the 20th century the individualized system of organized consumption was connected to the financial system of managing shortages for economic growth. Instead of using democracy for the individual commitment to collective sustainable progress it became an individual voting system to sustain greed. This type of democracy is causing again a huge problem of human dependencies in the interest of bureaucrats and a new class of dictators, bankers, the managers of debt.

People get addicted to consumption at the expense of their own sustainable stability and adaptiveness. They are captured by a financial imposition that gains control over the community through systems of debt. Respect and tolerance make way again for inequality, differences and hierarchies. This system of abuse misuses the human natural affection for growth through food, and competition through status, causing psychological and behavioral disorder at the expense of economies in crisis. The collective greed is seen as normal and stimulated by the financial systems that have their own objectives of growth. Still, also these financial systems find out that growth in a finite environment is limited resulting in crisis when in reality change is required.

A democracy based on self interest

A democracy based on self interest

More over, the size of the world wide population and the development of such consumption based economies around democratic self interest is causing a huge environmental problem as well.

When dealing with human complexities, the first life’s principle “growth” is behavioral synonym for greed. We feel safe when surrounded by permanent abundance yet feel horrified if we have no access to it. This is the psychological entrapment of the consumer based economy. People are willing to mortgage their entire lives to sustain a certain life style. Greed and competition are driving forces to develop consumer symbolism of status. A virtual reality has been created that takes material resources away from our natural surroundings to present them in enormous abundance to the consumption machinery as a constant teaser. In reality we both show a huge debt to ourselves and our environment. But this people cannot see due to lack of awareness. Public blindness is the instruments of people who manipulate this out of self interest of positions of power and control.

Research tells us that people show solidarity with the problems of climate change, global warming, pollution, poverty, etc yet neglect their commitment to it when facing personal choices. Self interest is of course lured to the virtual abundance that surrounds us even when we know that is destroys our habitat and eventually our own selves. 99.99% of people are followers and reluctant to be the first to make a difference, especially when this means that one has to let go of a certain lifestyle.

When we then consider a democracy based on purchase power and personal wealth and ask people for responsibility for the greater good they will strongly agree but still vote for their self interest rather than change. It is a sad paradox but very logical from an evolutionary point of view. As a species we tend to be optimistic about the future. Despite all the evidence of looming chaos and disaster people will think that it will only happen to someone else, not them, if it will happen at all. This reassuring thinking pattern of permanent opportunity and faith makes this type of materialistic democracy a disaster for change and potential cause of chaos and war.

When a democracy is based on the right to be selfish and greedy for the benefit of bankers and bureaucrats we find it to develop in an individualistic, fearful, anti-social, materialistic, selfish, discriminatory and dangerous society which is cold and impersonal in its social interaction.

This is not the right type of democracy.

The right democracy

A democracy should consist of freedom within the context of a common purpose of living life in a sustainable way. We see that also the mere concept of “democracy” needs to evolve as we find out the hard way that freedom itself is not giving the right type of progression. Our current parliamentary democracies are based on old hierarchies of self interests, grouped around political expressions. This has not accounted for the need to address “sustainable progress”. In the 19th century, when the democracies started to get a common ground in the constitutions of countries, the idea of sustainability as we know it today was not at all alive. Conflicts due to inequality between industrialized employers and people with or without work were much more important to deal with. With a global population of one billion  and the rise of industrialized processes there was still plenty of room for growth and competition.

Only in the 70’s of the 20th century we were becoming aware of the finite situation of our surroundings and consequences of our behavior. But our democratic systems around greed were so organized that common sense could not prevail to introduce drastic changes. The wrong democracies were booming and spreading around the world. Awareness grew through and slowly all kinds of crises started affecting communities. Diplomacy grew and so did the acceptance that changes were needed. But these changes were still introduced as minorities in a political system that was governed by the majority around greed. The wrong democracy will not vote itself to change.

How can a minority create progress in an environment that blocks it our of self interest? The idea of the right democracy was born on paper. It is not a political democracy but a purpose driven one. It understands the human complexity and secretes of life with its 4 awareness areas (growth, competition, adaptation and symbiosis). It understands that Sustainable Progress is not achieved through competing human being but by providing wellness to oneself and share abundance with others. The new democracy is not about choosing direction for greed but to create valuable abundance in a sustainable way. We now see the evolving need for societies to turn around and evolve based on techniques of self sufficiency, circular economies and harmonic local relationship between the people themselves and their environment. Competition is avoided through self supporting initiatives and when regional interaction is done it is for the purpose of education, exchange of values and recreation. Health, safety, food, clean water, wellness, etc is being recognized as common wealth that cannot be left to someone else. Sustainable progression that involves many people that take responsibility themselves.

The biggest problems that arise are related to the transformation between the right and wrong democracy. 55% of the world’s population lives in cities and is totally dependent on economic systems as natural self sufficiency has been expelled and subcontracted. They  are surrounded by land that is being used for massive, standardize productivity of food or other economic initiatives. The transformation to local for local values is intense and extremely complex. If it is not done properly the transformation can cause the chaos even before the “wrong” democracy collapses.

The need for Sustainocracy

A common mistake is the thought that all institutional leaders (government and business) are just focused on material challenges, personal status and selfish bonuses. Many are, but certainly not all. We encounter people in powerful positions that feel very much prisoner in their current job description. They are relieved to come across Sustainocracy as a totally new worldview based on the “right democracy”. It substitutes the old complexity  with a totally new one by mere CHOICE. Being able to choose between worldviews to allows them to value where they can score best. Key in Sustainocracy is that exactly the same powerful puzzle pieces of a democracy are being used only connected in a different way. Interesting for them is that they can use the same network of professional relationships to make a difference. Rather than managing institutional interaction for greed they develop human leadership interaction for progress.

Sustainocracy isn developping precedents now in areas such as Eindhoven, the 5th city of the Netherlands with 220.000 people. The G4 (the 4 largest cities of the country) are very dominant in the “wrong” democracy with. Eindhoven has a tradition of having to uphold itself among these dinosaurs by being especially adaptive and unique. It is hence not at all strange to find a positive vibe in this city to make things happen that are unique in the world but of a complexity that requires the co-creative commitment of many different parties.

Sustainocracy takes the consequences to define a common purpose

A democracy based on a common purpose (Sustainocracy)

Being able to deploy the very first signs of a new democracy with a sustainability purpose in a city is of course a challenge, especially when populated still by institutions that are being run with directives of growth and competition. Still we find people in executive positions that are willing to participate in something new. Sustainocracy is presented as an experiment so that it feels safe for them. For me it is a time to prove to everyone around the world that this works and provides perspectives that are worth everyone’s while with only winning scenarios and no other losers than those who do not participate.

Sustainocracy is hence implemented as a “right” democracy within a “wrong” democracy. It is introduced by a minority of people, true human beings who happen to be in charge of a city, multinationals, university departments, etc too. Their personal commitment is key and after that they try to get the backing from their professional structures. The latter can, if involved properly, become the rapid carrier of this type of social and practical innovation around the world. They participate out of self interest and see that their overall authority and competitiveness can grow if they set aside their responsibilities within the old “wrong” world. Understanding this is awareness, a first step in taking the lead in change.

It is a beginning in the evolution of our democracies. When the results become visible I am sure that many current social leaders that now see their communities fall apart, affecting their leadership, take their chances and cross the line to try out Sustainocracy themselves with their own local network of people. The new democracy exists, it is good, sound and safe, sustainable and progressive but needs to find its way into the world through the hands of people who are willing to do this.


We get back to the words of Kofi Annan about respect and tolerance and the two questions that I posed:

1. Is a democracy the basis for respect and tolerance?

No! Just the freedom of speech and choice is NOT enough. It lacks the common purpose of sustainable progress and hence evolves around self centered individualism. This eventually ends up in the “wrong democracy” that lacks respect and tolerance.

2. Is respect and tolerance the best basis for sustainable human progress?

Yes! Respect and tolerance needs to based on the development of awareness as guided by sustainable human progress. It does not eliminate growth, competition nor adaptation through just symbiosis. It introduces new rules of conduct provided by a higher purpose that makes respect and tolerance, in a setting of true democratic freedom, a true living instrument of peaceful innovation.

With Sustainocracy we can practice the right democracy by personal choice. If we don’t we need to justify to ourselves why not? If we do, we already know why.


  1. Now, in real life, what would that mean? It is not clear. In a way, it is like being in San Francisco and knowing that there is going to be an earthquake and that it is going to cause buildings to fall down. Which buildings are going to fall down, and where are they going to fall? We just don’t have any way of understanding that. What we know is that energy, food and material consumption will certainly fall, and that is likely to be occasioned by all sorts of social problems that we really didn’t model in our analysis. If the physical parameters of the planet are declining, there is virtually no chance that freedom, democracy and a lot of the immaterial things we value will be going up.

  2. Warren Coleman says:

    The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) was launched in the early 1980s, premised on the idea that American assistance on behalf of democracy efforts abroad would be good both for the U.S. and for those struggling around the world for freedom and self-government. This paper offers a brief history of the Endowment, including the events and circumstances that led to its creation, its early legislative battles, more recent legislative success, institutional growth and innovation, and its efforts to help bring democracy foundations into existence in other countries. Although the U.S. experience is undoubtedly unique, the model of a non-governmental organization that receives public funding to carry out democracy initiatives should be considered by other countries that appreciate the benefits of participating in this significant worldwide movement.

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