By Nicanor Perlas
and Christoph Strawe
There are two great long-term tendencies for the development
of human beings and the world. The first is the growing global interconnection
of humans and their societies. This is the process of “globalization” broadly
understood. Economics primarily drives this process but it affects all aspects
of life. The second is the growing emancipation of the individual from racial,
tribal, ethnic, linguistic, gender, national and other forms of group
conditioning and constraints. This is the process of individualization or
individuation, also broadly understood.
The presence of both these trends simultaneously is unique in
history. They characterize our time. They affect every detail of life. While
these two trends have a tendency to conflict with each other, understood more
deeply, they can be harmonious, a living polarity that is characteristic of all
living beings. The two trends conflict only when individualism is practiced as
egotism and not as individual social responsibility. We can see this in the
struggle between “community” and “individualism”, between “rights” and “duties”,
between the individualistic West and the group-oriented East, again broadly
Understood more profoundly as a polarity, these two trends can
be harmonized to create a better world. It can unleash the free, creative powers
of the “individual” and place it in the service of the “community”, of the
world. The diversity inherent in the individuation process can be encouraged to
come together in ways that vitalize social life, leading it away from chaos.
However, just at this important juncture in history, a
perversion of these two powerful tendencies and a malign integration of them are
rapidly emerging in the world. This integration promises, not to bless the
world, but to curse it with all kinds of sufferings.
At the pole of globalization, is the emergence of the first
and most powerful global empire the world has ever known, the U.S. Empire. At
the pole of individuation—the pole of increasing
capabilities of human individualities—is the
accelerating process of technological “singularity” and the emergence of the
human cyborg. This is the Empire Matrix, the dangerous and distorted integration
of globalization and “individuation” in a form that will not liberate, but will
enslave the human spirit and societies.
THE GLOBALIZATION OF EMPIRE
In the area of globalization, three trends have surfaced that
have deeply affected the development of the world since the fall of the Berlin
Wall, the end of the Iron Curtain and the collapse of the old world order based
on the Cold War. These are neo-liberal economic globalization, the “clash of
civilizations” and the U.S. unilateralism.
In the mid-1990s, the world saw the creation of the most
powerful global economic institution of all times, the creation of the World
Trade Organization (WTO). A former Director General of the WTO, described the
WTO Agreement as the constitution of the world. And he was not exaggerating.
With the birth of the WTO also came the birth of the most
relentless and aggressive effort to tear down economic barriers among and within
Whether countries were prepared or not, the WTO unleashed
radical agreements to tear down trade, investment, and capital barriers. It is
now embarked on the desire to commodify education and health services, among
others, in its insatiable rush to drag even cultural activities into the realm
of economics and profits.
In the wake of the WTO, the economic and social fate of many
nations crumbled. “Ruthless growth” expanded with the collapse of basic rural
agro-industries and the increase in poverty. “Jobless” growth ballooned as the
torrential flow of goods and services, coupled with migration of industries and
automation, threw more people out of work. “Voiceless” growth also “prospered”
as more and more nations experienced marginalization at the biannual meeting of
ministers of the WTO. “Rootless growth” loomed larger as the cultural impacts of
economic advertising and embedded foreign values in goods, services, and
infrastructure, started to erode the traditions of countries. And “futureless
growth” accelerated as the global economic machine continued to consume the
bounty of and destroy nature.
Global debates on elite or corporate globalization, as this
destructive form of globalization became to be known, alerted the global
conscience to resist the corporate and elite takeover of the world economy, and
thru this, the different nations of the world. But this was only part of a
larger and more complex picture.
Clash of Civilizations
In 1993 Samuel P. Huntington
gave expression to the U.S. establishment’s political ethics.
In his book, “Clash of Civilizations”, he envisions a world of perpetual future
war of “the West against the rest”. In this world of conflict, “western
Christian civilization” is founded on the maxim: “’Unless we hate what we are
not, we cannot love what we are’ [. . .] We know who we are only when we know
who we are not and often only when we know whom we are against.”
Among the many contributions
and variations an Huntington’s theme, is a book by Robert D. Kaplan, a prominent
thinker who writes in a number of prestigious magazines and journals, including
the Atlantic Monthly and Foreign Affairs. Kaplan, in his book
Warrior Politics: Why Leadership Demands a Pagan Ethos, argues that the U.S.
should play the role of an imperial Power. Only then would there be some form of
world order in the chaos brought about, among others, by violently conflicting
world views. He recommends that the U.S. should carry “Churchill’s baton” and
should apply a pagan (Greco-Roman) morality, more oriented toward “outcomes”
than the Judeo-Christian ethic.
U.S. policy makers seemed to quietly understand the need for a
“pagan” ethic. They have basically snubbed many global agreements aimed at
making the world a better place. The U.S., among over two dozen examples, is not
a member of the Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gases, the Convention on
Biological Diversity aimed at conserving the world’s biodiversity, and the
Treaty on the establishment of the International Criminal Court, a global
deterrent to crimes against humanity.
And, if they see an egotistic advantage for them in a global
treaty, then they plot either of two options. They join a treaty if they think
they can use this treaty to their full advantage. This is evident in the case of
the WTO Agreement, which proponents defended, in the U.S. Senate, as really an
agreement among the Quad—the U.S., E.U., Canada, and Japan.
Or they participate in a treaty to reduce the potential damage
the treaty can have for them. This was the case with the recently concluded
Convention Framework for Tobacco Control inaugurated under the auspices of the
World Health Organization. The U.S. tried to torpedo the whole Convention but
did not succeed in watering down the provisions of the Convention due to the
strong tactical alliance between ministers and leaders of global civil society.
This trend of “cowboy” rugged egotism in world affairs that
threatens to destabilize the nation-state system, has earned the U.S. the
distinct label “U.S. Unilateralism”. This approach has also been a “wonderful”
preparation for the mutation of U.S. unilateralism to its worst possible but
logical conclusion—that of the world’s first global Empire.
Mutation of U.S. Unilateralism to U.S. Empire
Recently, the U.S. Empire has emerged and is starting to
integrate these three broad societal tendencies into a new and dangerous kind of
globalization, that of Empire. We can call this new kind of globalization,
“imperial globalization”. The U.S. Empire would harness these economic,
political and cultural developments to create a new world order based on
domination and control. The unprovoked war on Iraq and, in this context, the
erosion of the role of the UN, is a vivid illustration that we have crossed the
threshold into a very different world.
The rationalization for a
U.S. Empire is captured in the words of British journalist Sebastian Mallaby. In
an interview in the Jan. 12, 2002 “Arts and Ideas” section of the New York
Times, Mallaby’s says: “A new imperial moment has arrived .... The chaos out
there in the world is too threatening to ignore, and the existing tools for
dealing with the chaos have been tried and found wanting.” He then encourages
the establishment of a global imperial order by the United States.
Briefly, the U.S. Empire operates using these “principles”
“Distinct American Internationalism” Based on Raw Power
Unilateral, Preventive War Against Rogue States
Multilateralism and Coalitions of the Willing
as Demonstration Case and Part of Network of Bases
Suppression of Military Competition and Global Police
Systemic Societal Approach of Domination
Suppression of Internal Dissent
Disinformation to Legitimize Empire
We will discuss these
principles in greater detail below where we show that these imperial principles
are a distortion of healthy social threefolding processes and substance.
CONSTRUCTING THE HUMAN
area of individuation, a similar drastic development is taking place. Three
technologies—information technology/artificial intelligence, genetic
engineering, and nanotechnology, are converging into a “technological
singularity”, beginning the radical reconstruction of humans into a new kind of
transhuman species, the very opposite of real individuation where humans develop
an increasing sense of responsibility for themselves and the world.
This will usher in the era
of human cyborgs and, some hope, super-intelligent machines that will replace
human as the next apex of natural evolution. In the latter case, scientists
expect technological developments to cascade so rapidly that super-intelligent
machines will run out of control by humans. Worst, the super-intelligent
machines will either enslave humans or make humans obsolete. “Cyborgization”, to
coin a term, deconstructs the healthy process of individuation and is really a
form of “deindividuation”.
Scientists expect this
development to take place within the next 30 to 50 years or 2030 or 2050. Some
argue that it will take place sooner than 30 years. As expected, the prospect of
replacing Homo sapiens from its top position in evolution has touched off
one of the most vigorous debates in the scientific community today.
However, a group of
intellectuals, scientists, and engineers are not deterred by the prospect of
controversy. Recently, from June 27-29, 2003, the World Transhumanist
Association hosted a “transvision” conference to explore the prospects of a
The conference explored a
range of topics. Speakers supported the notion of cloning and genetically
engineering human beings; human-animal chimera; human-machine interface; and the
creation of super-intelligent machines, among others. In the words of one of the
conference presenters, “Let us call the ‘date of super-intelligence’ the date at
which a ‘human-fathered’ robot/computer first has full human-style
“Transhumanism is the belief
that it is possible and desirable to use technology to transcend the limits of
the human body”, explains James Hughes, a professor of public policy at Trinity
College and secretary of the World Transhumanist Association. “We look forward
to living in that age.”
Among others, transhumanists want to attain immortality through advances in
technology, including the prospect of embodying consciousness in machine.
This development is tragic
especially when we realize the deeper impulses that also live in the process of
individuation. For the true
cultural message of individuation, is not scientific materialism, which came up
as a consequence of the elaboration of self-consciousness and is dominating our
culture at present. Rather, individuation also carries with it the new capacity
to scientifically access the spiritual foundations of humanity and the world.
These new faculties can then enable humanity to create new communities based on
spiritual freedom, not bloodline instincts. Falling into the trap of the human cyborg means destroying the very scientific and individuated capacities that can
help humanity create a truly more different and dignified world.
THE EMPIRE MATRIX
Globalization turning into
Empire, humans morphing into cyborgs or super-intelligent machines - this is the
Empire Matrix. This will be the end of history as we know it, for the Empire
Matrix will radically break with the past. No tradition will be spared in the
aggressive search for domination of the global commons and the nature and
essence of the human being itself.
SOCIAL THREEFOLDING AND
THE CHALLENGE TO THE EMPIRE MATRIX
The question of how to resist such tendencies has intensified
Asia, Latin America and in other parts of the world. Global civil society has
emerged as a decisive force of resistance and as a potential promoter of
In the wake of its emergence as a third global power, global
civil society is de facto threefolding societies where it is active.
Threefolding refers to the active presence and activity of the three powers -
State, Market and Civil Society, in determining the future of societies.
“Threefolding is key to understanding the new social landscape
and what goes on within it. The term integrates and sheds light on many of the
new concepts in the tri-polar world.” The world is tripolar, because “there are
now three contending institutional powers that reside in the world-global civil
society, government, and business. […] Through its emergence, civil society also
gives birth, consciously or not, to cultural life as an autonomous realm within
larger society.” We can “connect the three institutions to the three realms of
society. From social science, we learn that there are three realms in social
life or three subsystems in society-cultural, political, and economic. The
interactions of these three realms determine what kind of social life or society
we have. We live in a healthy society if the three realms mutually recognize and
support each other and develop their initiatives with awareness of their
potential impacts on the other realms. We live in an unhealthy society if one
realm dominates and tries to subjugate the others.”The
state of society is all the more healthy as the life of the cultural sphere is
based on cultural creativity and responsibility of the individual human being,
as in the political sphere human rights and real democracy are realized, and as
the economic sphere is really serving the people instead of being oriented at
the profit interests of corporate powers.
In de facto threefolding, the interaction among the three
societal powers is mostly antagonistic of each other, especially between Civil
Society versus the State and Market.
However, this is not the only interaction possible among the
three powers of society. There are also increasing numbers of individuals in the
Market and State who are questioning the Empire Matrix. These individuals can
often be characterized as “cultural creatives” active
in the realm of Polity and the Economy respectively. They share many ideas and
values with activists in Civil Society. Individuals in the State, Market, and
Civil Society can therefore form strategic alliances to advance an agreed-upon
vision of society, especially one different from the Empire Matrix. They can
therefore initiate conscious and advanced forms of social threefolding to
realize a different world order, different from the Empire Matrix.
Obviously the Empire Matrix
is the anti-picture of a healthy society. Thus, challenging Empire Matrix means
understanding more deeply the power of social threefolding in shaping a new
world. At the same time this is a challenge for threefolding itself. If social
threefolding is to be of any significance in the world process, then it has to
struggle to resist and transform the Empire Matrix. Or social threefolding
itself will join the dustbin of Homo sapiens, a good idea that was never
FRAMEWORK 1: THREEFOLDING PROCESSES: MOBILIZATION, TEMPORAL, AND SPATIAL ASPECTS
One way to draw out the
relevance and importance of social threefolding for resisting and transforming
Empire is to use the different manifestations of social threefolding processes
as a framework. We can identify three broad categories: mobilization, temporal,
spatial/geographic aspects of social threefolding.
These categories are broad
ones and are not meant to be restrictive. Social phenomenon is often a cluster
of several of these categories functioning together. We shall illustrate this
below in the case of functional and temporal aspects of social threefolding.
Mobilization Aspects of
of Civil Society (Demonstrations, etc.)
by Civil Society (Local fair trade, etc.)
Cohesive and Strategic National
Civil Society Movements (The creation of dense networks of civil society to
achieve parity status with State and Market, facilitating the pursuit of
comprehensive sustainable development.
(This is the comprehensive overhauling of a nation starting from the
realm of culture itself via civil society. The State and Market are deeply
affected by the initiatives of civil society. Civil society creates strategic
alliances with key individuals and institutions in the State and the Market.)
Cohesive and Strategic Global
Civil Society Movements (Dense networks of civil society all over the world
cooperating with each other to pursue specific goals.)
Temporal Threefolding and
Its Relation to Mobilization Aspects
De Facto Threefolding - Resistance,
Alternatives, National and Global Civil Society Movements. De facto threefolding
results when any of these functions (resistance, etc.) is active. The reverse is
also true. Functional activities by civil society results in de facto
Conscious Threefolding -
Alternatives, National and Global Civil Society Movements, Tri-Sectoral
Advanced Threefolding -
Alternatives, National and Global Civil Society Movements, Authentic
Threefolding Dynamics, Societal Revolution
Spatial Threefolding and
Reconceptualizing societal units
below the Nation State
Reconceptualizing Nation States
Reconceptualizing the Middle East
We need to note that
spatial/geographic aspects of social threefolding assume that civil society has
achieved a certain critical mass of cohesion and agreement on what to pursue
locally, nationally, regionally, and globally. Groups like GlobeNet3 can help
facilitate this cohesion around a specific global objective with various
supportive activities. These can include awareness building activities where
participants discuss civil society strategies versus the global U.S. Empire.
Before going into the
details of the various threefolding processes, it is essential to turn first to
the other aspect of social threefolding, its substance.
FRAMEWORK 2: THREEFOLDING
All social threefolding
processes assume the articulation, advocacy and advancement of a different
world, in this context, a world different from the Empire Matrix. Lack of
clarity in the substantive dimension of social threefolding will result in
ineffective and even hijacked threefolding processes. Before taking a detailed
look at threefolding substance, we would like to raise two words of caution.
First, we can cognitively
differentiate between social threefolding process and substance. However, in
reality, these two aspects of social threefolding are present together,
influencing and complementing each other.
Second, the examples below
do not exhaust the possible kinds of threefolding substance necessary to create
a different world. They are illustrations of the kinds of cognitive
pre-requisites to advance social threefolding and to transform the Empire
Globalization and Civil Society’s “Definition Power”
Civil society wields cultural power. One of the most potent
forms of cultural power is “definition power” (Michel Foucault), the manner of
interpreting and actual framing of concepts and paradigms.
The best example is the meaning of the term “globalization”
itself. Is its present neo-liberal form identical with the essence of
globalization as such? If we do not resist this kind of neo-liberal “definition
power” emanating from the Market, global civil society will be forced to see and
limit itself as basically an anti-globalization movement. It will narrowly
define its own reality around the definition of others.
this question, it is important to understand that the tendency towards
globalization lies at the bottom of the whole of our modern cultural epoch. The
emergence of the term in the 1980s simply meant giving a name to a process that
was already occurring. This development was consciously conceived on a political
level as a project of a “new world order”. After the period of political
colonialism the economy took over the role as the factor for global integration.
The large global comprehensive contracts, like the WTO Agreements, were intended
to position the economic order of neo-liberalism promoting globalisation even
above socio-cultural and political order. The events in Seattle and Cancún have,
temporarily, put a halt to this development.
The one who has “definition power” will inevitably have a kind
of “cultural hegemony” (Gramsci). States want to achieve this through propaganda
and censorship of ideas. Markets want to achieve this through aggressive
“branding” activities, including massive expenditures in advertising. The one,
who wants to persuade the people of the necessity of changing the social
condition must question this hegemony by confronting “definition power”.
But for civil society there is an even more important
consideration beyond the tactical one. It is the question of cognition and truth
and living in the truth, to ask: What is the true nature of the phenomena in
A better and deeper understanding of the concepts of “Empire”,
“Clash of Civilizations”, “Globalization” and “Individualization” has great
importance for the civil society movement. Civil society needs a cognition of
globalization beyond the horizon of neo-liberal understanding, which reflects
the ruling economic interests.
This understanding must include also the cultural, spiritual,
legal and political dimensions of globalization which are neglected or denied by
the neo-liberal ideology. And it must include a deeper understanding of economy
and its ecological dimensions.
Globalization asks for a holistic approach in thinking. In the
peace movement and the movement for a more just form of globalization, we
discern a kind of feeling, an arising sense, for the necessity of such a
the Clash Of Civilizations
Huntington’s thesis includes several
premises which have to be questioned. Is hegemonic superpower politics a
possible political option in our times? Is the whole western system worth
defending and sustaining?
Although Huntington criticizes Fukuyama and
his thesis of the “end of history”, he agrees with Fukuyama on one thing: There
is no necessity to ask how the occident has to change itself to be able to play
a justifiable role in today’s world. He denies that there is a question of the
need for perestroika also for the western countries. Does the West have
to fight the rest?
Huntington identifies the state of
realization of the so-called western values of individualisation, democratic
equality, human rights etc. with those values themselves. So, in Huntington’s
view, it is not necessary to realize the value of freedom by self-organisation
of the cultural sphere. For the ideologues of the “clash of civilization”, there
is no necessity of changing the economic order, the ways to handle property,
money, etc., in accordance with the value of social justice. For them, the West
also does not need to reform its political institutions to realize equal human
rights and democracy.
But why should the rest of the world be
impressed by this given state of the West? For the “rest”, individualization is
only egotism and human rights are only an instrument of hiding the real aims of
power politics. The West is not taking “global responsibility”.
And as a result the “rest” is opposing the West.
In a certain sense, Huntington’s thesis is
a self fulfilling prophecy. But if the West cannot show that individual freedom
is a principle of responsibility and community-building, the rest will be
disposed to see community orientation and individualization as a contradiction.
So Huntington’s approach makes it
impossible to develop a fruitful and peaceful relationship between the different
areas of cultures/civilizations in the world. It hinders the appreciation that
freedom, equality and solidarity, among others, are values shared by modern
humanity all over the world. It blinds many from realizing that, as every
individual human being develops his/her creative abilities according to her/his
own cultural roots, she/he simultaneously has to develop a better understanding
and deeper appreciation for the cultural roots of others.
Reframing the Understanding of Universality Within Diversity
of culture cannot be answered well in terms of nationalism, the forces of which
can no longer be the starting point, as they tend to produce incompatibilities.
As we can see clearly in the tragedy connected with the upsurge of ethnic wars
within nation states, nationalism and related forces provoke downright
cruelties, both within states with mixed populations and internationally. The
new concept of culture can only begin in every single human being Therefore
culture ultimately cannot only be national or international, multinational or
supranational, but only human in the fullest and universal sense of the word.
Healthy globalisation requires the sense
for the whole of humanity while, at the same time, valuing the unique
individuation process of each human being. The meaning of the human rights is
not the demand for the greatest happiness of the largest number of people. Human
rights, instead, is based on the concept that nobody can really be happy as long
as one single human being is sentenced by prevailing social conditions to be in
The social catastrophes of the 20th
century are connected, among others, with the widespread influence of mass
psychology. If we want to transform the social world so that it becomes a place
of dignified development for all humans, then we must create new social forms
that empower individuals while at the same time enhancing their social
responsibilities. The world will then have as many centres as there are human
beings living within it.
Globalization is abolishing the old
geographical frontiers between cultural areas. Every culture now has the
possibility to be present worldwide. It is against the stream of history and the
process of individuation if we try artificially to re-establish old cultural
frontiers in situations where human beings no longer live within tribal
Tradition understands diversity as
communities - groups or states - different from each other, and claiming their
territory on the basis of these cultural differences, whether it be racial,
ethnic, linguistic, or religious. However, today, the question is how cultures
can live with each other and in each other. Diversity is not so much between
geographical areas than within the diverse substance of culture around the
The state with its top down principle, also
in the form of majority rule, cannot be the sovereign or domain of culture. That
is the painful lesson that the end of the “real socialism” and its socialist
state culture, has taught us. The geopolitical treatment of cultural questions
can only lead into catastrophes today. Cultural questions have to be separated
clearly from questions of state power.
Similarly, a profit-oriented economy has
its own purpose and dynamics. But it also tends to spill over its functional
domain into culture, destroying cultural diversity all over the world (McWorld
The neo-liberal economy thereby ends up becoming a new form of totalitarianism.
This new economic totalitarianism is no better than a state totalitarianism.
Globalization does not demand any kind of
“Empire” especially one where it will divide and politicize the world into
“civilizations”. This is an abuse of globalization which has the potential to
build new social forms around the unique insights, talents, and social
sensibility that is starting to emerge among individuals around the world.
There is no question that one civilisation
should prevail over another one. The question is to allow each cultural impulse
to develop its own possibilities. Nobody can be allowed in our time to force a
certain culture upon other people. But everybody must be allowed to live with
the cultural impulse, one wants to live with.
The true “multicultural” approach is the
recognition of the fact that every human being has the possibility to develop
cultural creativity. So we have to enable as many “cultures” as individual human
beings are contributing. And at the same time, this “multi-culture” will be a
global culture of humankind, colourful and diverse, but diverse not in the sense
of atomisation but in the sense of mutual understanding and deep appreciation of
each other’s culture.
The question of diversity is also the
question of the protection of minorities. It means, among others, encouraging
individuals to participate in groups they want to be involved with. The most
radical minority is the single human individuality. Its protection is the centre
of what we call human rights.
Reframing Elite Economic Globalization
elite forms, including corporate, globalization, of course, means dramatic
action. However, if these actions are to be based on reality, there is need for
a deeper understanding of the problems elite globalization in an era
characterized by the twin mega-trends of individual freedom accompanied
simultaneously by a growing together of all humanity, or globalization broadly
understood. Among others, this will need new social forms and processes where
solutions do not come from a few, as abstract, top-down programs, but come from
human beings in association with each other, innovating on the basis of lived
In the globalized economy human beings are connected in a
real global network of cooperation and harmonization of differentiated products
of talent and labor. The neo-liberal economic order is based on rivalry and
self-gain instead of cooperation. But economic globalization by its own nature
demands a new form of a fair and socially-oriented “associative economy”. This
economy relies on human interaction of the major groups in the economic sphere
of society: producers, traders, creditors and consumers, and not on an abstract
world market governed by a few “global players” or a centralized bureaucratic
planned economy. Such a kind of a healthy economy which allows human beings all
over the world to work for each other, demands also a new approach to the
handling of handling money, land and capital.
These are the
points where resistance to neo-liberal globalisation meets with the quest for
creating building blocks for such an open, formable society.
International Forum on Globalization (IFG), among others, has tried to stimulate
this discussion and debate at the global level. They have issued a discussion
report, A Better World is Possible,
to stimulate world wide discussions on how to create a different world including
a new kind of economics.
We must view
the IFG report, however, as a beginning, thereby necessitating a critical
inquiry into the nature and contours of “another world”, including a different
economic system. For example, the IFG recommendations on “The Commons”,
“Localization”, “Control or Dismantlement of Concerns”, the issue of abolishment
or reform of the “Trinity” Institutions, (IMF, World Bank, WTO), the regulation
of capital flow, among others, need further re-thinking and refinement.
What is most
important, however, is that the IFG Report gives us an overview of what kind of
global effort we need, what kind of social threefolding substance we must
mobilize, to creatively respond to the challenge of elite/corporate
Reframing U.S. Unilateralism
The cornerstone for addressing the problem
of U.S. unilateralism and the need for a new political governance is the reality
of human rights. Human rights are not relative to the cultural context. Cultural
diversity, the coexistence of different cultures is only possible under the
conditions that we accept other people’s freedom, which means under the
conditions of accepting the reality of human rights. These rights, of course,
are not only rights to individual and cultural freedom, but also citizens’
participatory rights and social rights. Human rights are individual, and at the
same time, global and universal.
Within the political sphere we also have to
respect the principle of subsidiarity and of grassroots democracy. This means,
therefore, that we need encourage multilateral arrangements within and among
states and not bureaucratic institutions of a world government. This also means
that true democracy includes, among others, “direct democracy”, the right to
introduce bills by initiatives and to vote on them through referendum in
addition to participation in general, free, equal, peaceful and secure
The pursuit of a global U.S. Empire is
totally opposite to the construction of a new world order on the basis
individuation, grassroots democracy, and subsidiarity. We need the rule of law,
especially of human rights on the global level, laws that reflect the collective
wisdom of the community of nations around the world and the voices of their
people. In this context, we need institutions such as a reformed United Nations,
the International Criminal Court, treaties on the protection of the environment
and sustainable development and so on.
What we do not need is the reestablishment
of law-making by the imperial elite and arbitrary decision-making by one
superpower at the global level. Instead we need global governance by means of
social threefolding processes and not by centralized structures. We have to
allow the cultural, economic and political spheres to develop in accordance with
their specific needs. This means global networking of cultural initiatives and
institutions, a strong sector of political institutions safeguarding human
rights and the environment and economic networking within the context of
ecological and social responsibility. The coordination between the three spheres
of society should be achieved through bottom up approaches including strategic
Reframing Civil Society Itself
We have seen that, in the
discussion of globalization and the Empire Matrix, it is essential not only to look at
peoples, states and markets. Equally important we need to focus also at the very
human level itself, on the potentials of development for each human individual
anywhere on the planet. The term “universal human” is not an abstract concept
but actually invites us to understand humans in their actual concrete
individuality. Then we will realize that every human is an individual being with
a vast range of inner and social potentials waiting for actualization.
understanding has tremendous implications for civil society itself, the key
societal force that can transform the Empire Matrix. With this insight, we also
begin to understand the important individuation dynamics driving the new social
wrote: “An individual helps not, but he who combines himself with many at
the proper hour.”
Such a union will not produce a ‘mass’. Rather it will create an alliance of
free spirits. The era of economic classes or groups as the agents of social
change is fast ebbing away.
society wants to remain true to itself, it must stay away from the old style
mass movement. Rather, it must see itself as a cultural movement characterized
by diversity and respect for the individual. It is in this sense that civil
society must define itself as a cultural force.
self-understanding also has implications for the capacity of civil society to
truly create a different world. Seattle marked the appearance of civil society
as a third global force for change. Initially, Civil Society defined itself by
negation, through its non-identity with State and Market. But it has the
potential to become a pro-active movement, to proceed to a positive definition,
projecting visions for a new world for which it can act constructively.
But this can
only happen copiously and effectively to the extent activists have individuated
themselves in a healthy manner. Creativity, especially innovative ideas for a
new future, is intimately connected with the extent to which individuation has
occurred in the activist. Effectiveness of a new approach is connected with its
inherent appropriateness and fruitfulness to a given situation, not whether an
idea is politically correct or aligned with a prevailing ideology.
To the extent
that an activist is unnecessarily fettered to an inappropriate group identity,
to a dead standard, to that extent will the activist continue to establish his
or her identity through negation as well as continue to remain barren when faced
with the feverish creativity of the Empire Matrix.
creativity will also be crucial in anticipating and establishing, within itself
and among its members, the future forms of communication and cooperation it
wants to realize as an alternative to the communication forms of the Empire
Matrix. Gandhi succinctly put it. “We need to be the change we want to see in
civil society should be able to point to functioning institutions in the
cultural, political and economical spheres of life as living examples of how a
transformed society could look like.
In the final
analysis, the future of dignified individuation and a healthy form of
globalization depends on whether we reject “systemic solutions functioning
regardless of the human being” and instead take up “solutions which enable and
promote human development”, including its key role in developing a new global
civilization and a new relationship to the planet. Only the latter can carry the
IMPORTANCE OF THREEFOLDING PROCESSES IN THE AGE OF EMPIRE MATRIX
We may have accurate and
fruitful ideas. But this threefolding substance will remain ineffective in the
world unless we engage and change the world through social threefolding
First Generation Mobilization Strategy: Resistance
The first area of struggle
is the self-defence of cultural life against the cannibalism of economic and
political powers against culture. This is truer now under the age of Empire. In
a sense a social space of culture for new ideas, for new visions for the world,
are defended. [De facto threefolding]
The dynamics against Empire
has always been about the consolidated power of the Empire over the State versus
elements outside the consolidated imperial State. Hegel called those elements
outside the State, “Civil Society”, where economic institutions were still
included with cultural institutions.
Now, the economy
differentiated, leaving civil society in the defense of Society. In Empire, the
State has reabsorbed the Market into its imperatives. Or they mutually build
upon each other’s dominance. So the task of self-defense of Society is left with
civil society and it starts with culture. [De facto threefolding]
The Empire is a powerful
attack on the Human Spirit. This is a deep cultural challenge. The presence of
the Empire intensifies the discourse on and the need for spirituality. Social
threefolding points to the reality and central importance of spirit and culture.
Threefolding also systematically brings about the freedom of the cultural sphere
where questions of the human spirit can be pursued systematically. [De Facto
resistance strategies, the “Dracula Principle”—the vampire dies when exposed to
the public light—has shown its power in the repudiation of onerous developments
in world affairs. This tool will remain important as the need to publicize
scandalous developments such as the commercialization of water supply or health
care, will remain. Often conventional politics quickly reacts to potent
expressions of public opinion.
Mobilization Strategies: Alternatives
Cultural spaces which are
defended then become starting points for the actual implementation of a new
vision of the world. In de facto threefolding, alternatives are built without
regard to the involvement of the other realms of society. In conscious
threefolding, alternatives are built by bringing in, where appropriate, actors
from the other realms of society. In both instances civil society builds its
vision of reality “now”, especially in the cracks of the imperial stronghold.
Alternatives born out of conscious threefolding, however, have a greater chance
Empire uses terrorism to
impose draconian national security measures. Such measures trigger the national
security state syndrome. Many other aspects of social life are on hold. Opinions
of a nation’s citizens rarely count. Threefolding, with its emphasis on freeing
the cultural spiritual life from either state and/or market totalitarianism,
creates a space for citizens to self-organize their own gatherings and
assemblies, where they develop and implement a different approach to peace than
the State. [De Facto threefolding.] When these gatherings of civil society and
their alternatives become more visible and powerful, they may make a dent in the
defense of an imperial vassal or tributary state and lead to the possibility of
conscious threefolding where new and more potent national security measure can
be explored and implemented.
Empire also deepens the
problems of elite economic globalization. Civil society advocates
alternative approaches to economics. Advanced threefolding pursues associative
economics, a new form of economics that is even more potent than neo-liberal
Third Generation Mobilization Strategies: Tri-Sectoral Approaches, Authentic
Threefolding Dynamics, Reflexive National/Global Civil Society Formations, and
Resistance protects social
space. Alternatives implement alternatives in these protected social spaces.
Third generation approaches, especially the advancement of conscious and
advanced threefolding, has the more difficult task of enabling civil society’s
new vision of the world to actually enter into contested terrain of society,
especially in the realm of the market and the state. This actually expands and
advances the foothold of civil society into contested terrain, moving the latter
from the grip of Empire.
An Overview as Prelude
Non-Zero: The Logic of Human Destiny, and similar books by other authors,
show that the pattern of evolution is moving towards greater and greater
complexity, cohesion and cooperation. He characterizes the process of evolution
as a non-zero game where all “players” benefit. In contrast, the game of Empire
is a zero-sum game. The Empire wins and everybody else loses.
The implications for social
threefolding are staggering. Extrapolating from Wright’s thesis, threefolding,
especially advanced threefolding, with its deep ethic of principled cooperation,
where appropriate, is the next evolutionary social form. In this reading, Empire
is a global force that actually tries to reverse this directionality in history.
But it is also possible the Empire will collapse under the weight of historical
momentum towards greater and more sophisticated forms of cooperation, as can
potentially be embodied in a threefolding approach. However, as with all human
endeavors, the free will of individuals and collectivities does not guarantee
that historical momentum alone will carry the day against Empire.
Threefolding is the
embodiment of novel forms of cooperation within the different spheres of
society: associative economics in the economic sphere; strategic governance in
the sphere of politics; networks of open source knowledge and free creativity in
the cultural sphere. Not only this. Social threefolding is also
meta-cooperation, the solidarity of the different societal domains (culture,
polity and economy) among themselves. This meta-cooperation produces a very
powerful form of social capital that can potentially be a very powerful antidote
against the logic of competition and domination by Empire of all spheres of
society. Threefolding presages the birth of a total new and unprecedented form
of integral society, just as the U.S. Empire has no parallel in history.
In short, if cooperation is
the driving force of the evolutionary process, then social threefolding is the
next stage of the world process! This is the importance of such books as Robert
Wright’s Non-Zero; The Logic of Human Destiny, the Global Brain,
and other similar books.
One of the
embryonic forms of the new social form of cooperation that is finding widespread
acceptance is tri-sectoral partnerships. In tri-sectoral partnerships, the three
key global powers—the State, Market, and Civil Society—enter into a tactical
critical engagement with each other to address burning social issues. Tri-sectoral
partnerships are a form of conscious social threefolding.
partnerships are trickier and more dangerous. So by their very context, tri-sectoral
partnerships are tactical in nature. The parties involved do not share the same
worldview, but are deeply embedded in the paradigm and guiding values of their
own domain and realm of practice. This is the reason why tri-sectoral
partnerships have become an arena of mistrust, conflict and co-optation at the
same time that they have the potential to move conflicting parties towards
At the 2002
World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, for example, the debate
over the value and appropriateness of tri-sectoral or so-called Type II
partnerships, threatened to split global civil society within itself as well as
divide it from both the State and Market. Some argued that sustainable
development needed a comprehensive approach that required the participation of
all key actors in society. Others argued that tri-sectoral partnerships removed
responsibility from the State for failures to advance sustainable development.
Worst, others feared that tactical tri-sector partnerships would only co-opt
civil society to support questionable goals by both the State and the Market.
in situations where the advantages are clear to all, tri-sectoral partnerships
are important in advancing the consolidating resistance to the Empire Matrix not
only in Civil Society, but also in the State and Market.
Authentic Social Threefolding Dynamics
partnerships become more strategic, then authentic or advanced threefolding can
start to function. Advanced threefolding can only occur once civil society has
reframed its own self-understanding, as discussed above and also below. Then
Civil Society will appreciate, among others, that it is not the sole possessor
of societal truth.
Civil Society will realize and be thankful that there are, even if in lesser
numbers, other individualities active in the Market and the State, individuals
who are as equally committed as them to the task of creating a better world.
These creative individualities, in the domain of the State and Market, resist
the Empire Matrix with equal innovativeness and passion as activists in Civil
individualities in the State and Market, means, above all, letting go of
deep-seated biases which dictate to the activist that all people in the State
and Market are pawns of the Empire Matrix. Not only does this almost religious
belief have no bearing with reality. It predisposes Civil Society to be totally
unable to truly create a new society, a new world. For to advance a world
different from the Empire Matrix, means to mobilize all equally concerned
individuals, in all domains of society, to do their part in resisting the Empire
Matrix and creating a different world where they are.
When the strategic tri-sectoral
partnerships of advanced threefolding are set in motion, then Civil Society is
able to expand the zones of liberation in the domains of culture, polity and the
economy that were once under the control of the Empire Matrix. Then threefolding
substance, examples of which we discussed above, can enter more fully and help
in the process of reconstructing society and a new global civilization.
Advanced threefolding is
also the means to an important social innovation of our times, that is, societal
revolution, the most dangerous nemesis of the Empire Matrix.
Systemic Societal Revolution versus the Empire Matrix
Empire increases the death
process of Nation States. It turns nation states from being their own
self-organizing societal entities into vassals and tributaries of the Empire
Matrix. A nation state that is compromised can no longer protect its citizens
from the Empire Matrix. State-centered counter approaches are historically
bankrupt and will not work. Only peaceful societal revolution will do the job.
mobilizes all realms of society, not just the state, towards a new mode
of existence that can resist Empire. Social threefolding, just by its very
of and advocate of the involvement of all realms—is the most potent means to and
form of societal revolution.
All Empires are violent and
destructive systemic societal revolutions. They fuse all realms into one—into
the almighty and all powerful Society that dictates what all realms of society
will do, what all citizens in those different realms will do. Social
threefolding is equally about systemic societal revolution, only of a different
kind. Instead of unsustainable coercion and domination, it advocates
comprehensive sustainable development, achievable only with the involvement of
all spheres of society.
A brief look at the history
of the decline of Empires can also point to the power of societal revolution
advanced through threefolding.
The Lesson of History: Networks of Power Versus Empire
Michael Mann, author of
The Sources of Social Power, documents how alternative networks of social
power defeated past Empires. Mann identifies four sources of social power:
economic, political, military, and ideological. In threefolding language, this
is economic power, political power (including military) and cultural power
partnerships can actually also be understood as the coming together of networks
of social power from business, government, and civil society to create a
The dynamics between State
and Society already found earlier expression in the dynamics between Empire and
aristocracy. Empire centralizes power. Aristocracy, as compared to Empire,
diffuses power and relies on decentralized networks of power.
Today, the economic basis of society has differentiated itself from both culture
and the state, leading towards a form of de facto threefolding.
In other words, social power
that has been effective against Empire is the networking of cultural, economic,
and political power. This shows the potential of strategic threefolding
partnerships in advancing and attaining societal revolution.
We have carefully drafted
the last paragraph to emphasize a key point to hold in mind in this historical
comparison. Social threefolding is a modern-day phenomena deeply associated with
the two polar trends of globalization and individuation, trends absent in the
social conditions of past Empires. Nonetheless, the historical reference is
useful because it demonstrates that the mobilization of networks of cultural,
political and economic power can defeat empires.
Reflexive National and
Global Civil Society Movements
It is now appropriate to
bring to consciousness an assumption underlying this discussion of third
generation strategies as a potent antidote to the Empire Matrix. Third
generation strategies require a new mode of being and acting for Civil Society.
First and most obvious is
that civil society groups cannot remain splintered and in isolation from each
other. The State is consolidated. The Market is also quite organized. Civil
Society often borders at the edge of anarchy.
But societal revolution
requires that civil society organizations must reach a stage of networking and
cooperation so as to be able to mobilize and act in unison at the national and
global levels. With national civil society movements, societal revolution will
remain an empty dream while the Empire Matrix makes significant strides in
consolidating its control of the nation states of the world. As we shall see
below, civil society also has to improve its global networking to address the
geopolitical maneuverings of the Empire Matrix.
There is a second and more
subtle aspect to this demand for a new mode of being and acting in civil
society. This is the aspect of reflexivity in civil society.
Reflexivity is the capacity
not only to honestly reflect upon the results and impacts of one’s action. It
also means understanding the context of one’s action and the deeper motives
underlying one’s behavior.
The struggle against the
Empire Matrix is, among others, the struggle for the freedom of the human
spirit. To remain unreflective in this struggle, means essentially to have no
inwardly secure basis to create freedom and liberation in the world.
Reflexivity is already
required in less advanced stages of social threefolding. But in the arena of
societal revolution, the absence of authentic and honest reflexivity can only
mean the distortion or abortion of societal revolution.
One area requiring reflexive
capacities and engagement is the way civil society self-constitutes and
organizes itself. Civil
Society must resist the temptation of coordinating its forces by conventional
organizational patterns, that is, by centralism. Instead civil society needs to
pursue flexible social forms which allow diverse new forms of organization to
emerge among the thousands of individuals and institutions of civil society.
This means, among others, maintaining network relations with all independently
organized groups that pursue their own unique form of struggle against the
This, in turn,
necessitates active tolerance and understanding within Civil Society of
different tactics and strategies against the Empire Matrix. For example, some
situations call for resistance. Other situations require critical engagement
with the “enemy”. Civil Society should constitute itself in such a way that it
can understand and equally support who should do one or the other approach,
especially if objective conditions require such a diversity in approaches.
To achieve this, Civil
Society needs to encourage new forms of authentic dialogues within its
formation. Civil Society
needs real dialogue not just on social forms and approaches adapted to human
dignity. In addition, Civil Society needs to cultivate active tolerance, warmth
and attention to others by the very way in which it carries on these dialogues.
An important part of this new approach is the perception of the other person’s
contributions, both in thought and in practical action.
appreciation of diversity of social forms and approaches, however, does not mean
composing a potpourri of everything desirable. Rather it means working seriously
towards the development of new thinking and approaches that will work given the
real concrete needs in social life. Many hope that a new world might emerge from
its critique of the old world. But even more are realizing that Civil Society
needs to go beyond critique to the creative process of authentic social
when understood cognitively and epistemologically, is at core a spiritual
process. This means that Civil Society will need to find a creative way to hold
together, in creative tension, the traditional and mutual prejudices and
opposition among those who hold a more spiritual approach to change versus those
who rely purely on social means to counter the Empire Matrix. Civil Society will
need to see that social and spiritual engagements are not opposites, but
mutually reinforcing perspectives of the same reality.
THREEFOLDING AS ANTIDOTE TO THE STRUCTURAL VIOLENCE OF THE EMPIRE MATRIX
Once the various third
generation approaches are underway, threefolding begins to dismantle the
structural violence associated with the Empire Matrix.
Empire promotes and
practices structural violence. Threefolding, in its advocacy for strategic,
authentic cooperation, where appropriate, is the systemic non-violent antidote
to Empire Matrix. One can actually call social threefolding a modern-day and
upgraded potential successor of Gandhi’s active non-violent approach that
dismantled the British Empire.
Gandhi advocated non-violent
resistance. But he even placed greater importance on creating the alternative
world we all want in our daily activities. He continuously argued that we needed
to embody the change that we are fighting for in the world.
Thus, Gandhi’s approach is
equivalent to the perspective of threefolding’s two tasks for civil society:
resistance and creating alternatives. In addition, conscious threefolding
enables proponents to actually advance their alternatives, in a peaceful and
non-violent manner, into the other realms of society. And finally, when cohesive
national civil society formations arise, advanced threefolding triggers societal
revolution and starts to guide societal evolution without a violent capture of
There is another way to
understand why threefolding makes the historically effective, non-violent
approaches of Gandhi against Empire, even more strategic and comprehensive. For
example, the strategy of non-violent “parallel structures” employed in Eastern
Europe which brought down the Soviet Empire is strongly convergent with the
essence of social threefolding, with its creative mobilization of all spheres of
society. Similarly, the Committee of Correspondence was a form of non-violent
societal revolution before the armed conflict of the American Revolution broke
out. (See Jonathan Schell and his new book on, The Unconquerable World.)
In a certain sense, Gandhi
wanted to incarnate compassion and love in the social system. Social
threefolding has the capability of doing just this, especially with its dialogic
approach where catharsis in social processes is achieved through intentional
listening and profound respect for the views and perspectives of the Other.
There is a further aspect to
this. Imposition is at the heart of the Empire Matrix. All spheres are collapsed
under its dominant control. The Empire Matrix becomes the Society. In contrast,
dialogue and associational processes are at the heart of conscious and advanced
social threefolding. Integration that is achieved by Empire through forced and
dominated fusion, is achieved in threefolding through dialogue and free
association. Threefolding practice in itself thus produces an immunization
process against the culture and practices of the Empire Matrix, thereby already
loosening the hold of Empire Matrix.
When there is profound
dialogue, genuine strategic partnerships can develop, even among parties of very
different backgrounds, practices, and inclinations. Partnerships are important
in a complex world and are really another form of non-violence in practice. It
is almost universally recognized now that, to achieve comprehensive goals, it is
important to mobilize perceptions, expertise, resources, and skills not normally
found in one’s normal sphere of interest and competence. The Empire Matrix
achieves this through coercion, through a hierarchical structure of vassal and
tributary states. Threefolding achieves this through strategic partnerships.
The Empire Matrix is
weakened by the proliferation of strategic partnerships innate in conscious and
advanced threefolding. Strategic partnerships isolate those sectors in business
and government that inwardly have no inner connection to the Empire Matrix. This
is the reason why resistance cannot always be the strategic approach in all
enables civil society to link with important progressive movements in the
economic and political domain that also advance a complementary concept of
social threefolding and societal transformation. In the business world, the
societal learning movement has ideas and approaches convergent with social
threefolding. In the domain of government, tri-sectoral policy approaches also
converge with certain aspects of conscious threefolding.
In the Empire, most
businesses are fused with the State. Threefolding emphasizes and encourages the
independent logic of the Market, constrained only by the appropriate boundaries
of State and Civil Society. In effect, the framework of threefolding itself
already produces a tendency to break apart the unhealthy collusion of the State
and the Market as well as the State and institutions of Culture.
EMPIRE: A DISTORTED IMAGE
OF SOCIAL THREEFOLDING
Perhaps one of the most
powerful cases for the importance of threefolding to resist and transform Empire
is that the Empire itself, is the distorted image of social threefolding.
Examine closely the National
Security Strategy of the United States of America, also known as the Bush
Doctrine on the US as Empire. One makes a remarkable observation. All the key
elements of the Bush Doctrine are distortions of the healthy impulses that
animate social threefolding.
This can only mean two
things. First, on the basis evolutionary movement of social forms discussed
earlier, social threefolding is the next healthy stage for human civilization.
The distortion of the Bush Doctrine on Empire is that it hopes to divert the
emergence of threefolding as the next stage in human social evolution. Second,
this can only mean that threefolding is a powerful antidote to Empire, since the
very substance of Empire is a distorted derivative of social threefolding.
Let us now examine how the
Bush Doctrine on Empire is a distortion of social threefolding.
Internationalism. On the
spatial/geographic dimension of, the Bush Doctrine speaks about a “distinct
American internationalism”. As will be seen shortly, this distinct U.S. approach
to the world is a distortion of a new kind of differentiated global relationship
that social threefolding would like to establish on a global level. In brief,
social threefolding would like to see the autonomous cultural realms of the
different nation states of the world establish their own relationships on the
basis of the inherent requirements of culture.
That this is possible has
already been done in the realms of both the Polity (the United Nations, for
example) and in the realm of the Economy (the World Trade Organization). The
reference here to the WTO is NOT a support of the WTO, but to show that it is
possible to establish differentiated economic arrangements at the global basis
(for example, fair and sustainable trade).
On the other hand, the
Empire has a simple approach to rule over the potential of conscious, just and
associative global relationships that social threefolding would wish. Empire
simple imposes its “distinct American internationalism” which basically says “Do
what we want because we have the power.”
The U.S. Empire labels other countries as rogue
states. Social threefolding practices strategic appreciation of the value of the
differences in culture among countries and, within certain limits, the different
approaches to governance and economic management. Threefolding, for example,
does not support the repression of citizens of nation states.
Preventive War of Empire
on “Rogue States”. The U.S. Empire
imposes the illegal practice of “preventive war” on “rogue states”. Social
threefolding advances preventive and non-violent structural peace as discussed
above in the section comparing social threefolding with Gandhi’s strategy for
dismantling the British Empire in India.
and Coalitions of the Willing. The
U.S. Empire ignores legitimate global bodies like the United Nations and
mobilizes vassal and tributary nation states to support its imperial ambitions.
Social threefolding advances strategic alliances that encompasses all spheres of
society in nation states and among nation states, and not just of vassal,
tributary and corrupt States pretending to represent their whole society.
Approach. The Empire has detailed
plans to mobilize cultural, economic, and political power to achieve global
hegemony. Social threefolding advocates non-violent societal revolution where
social cohesion is gained through voluntary, conscious agreement and consent of
all spheres of society towards comprehensive sustainable development.
Network of Military
Bases. The Empire launches its
“preventive wars” like the one against Iraq to secure its Middle East node for its global network of military bases. These military
installations are essential in advancing the dreams of Empire. Social
threefolding relies on national and global networks empowered civil society to
resist and/or creative alternatives as well as advance societal revolution in
their search for a better world.
Suppression of Military
Competition. The U.S. Empire also aims
to achieve its decadent mission by ensuring that it will have no military
rivals. Its network of military bases is only one component of its overall plan
for securing military superiority around the world. Social threefolding relies
on the spiritual superiority of Truth, Compassion, and Morality to mobilize the
hearts and minds of millions around the world, not only to resist Empire, but to
create a better world. This excellence of the human Spirit, active in millions
around the world, constitutes the “unconquerable world” of human beings around
the world that will ultimately triumph against the military superiority of the
Suppression of Dissent.
Empire seeks to achieve its goals
through lies, deceit, and force. Social threefolding want to achieve a better
world through truth, persuasion, dialogue, and strategic partnerships.
The Empire makes a special effort to advance psychological and
propaganda warfare through its control of the media and other sources of
information dissemination. Social threefolding champions the spiritual freedom
of the cultural sphere of societies to make citizens immune to disinformation
and manipulation and to advance its purposes through information and education.
Even in the dimension of time, the Empire mirrors social threefolding. The time
horizon of Empire is strategic and all encompassing, leaving very little to
chance. Its systemic societal approach has built in long-term, strategic
perspectives in many of its programs. Social threefolding champions the
strategic approach even as it appreciates the short-term tactical impact of
demonstrations and certain kinds of alternatives.
GEOPOLITICAL IMPERATIVES OF EMPIRE AND SOCIAL THREEFOLDING
The U.S. Empire has
geopolitical imperatives in the different regions of the world. Zbigniew
Brzezinski, in his book, The Grand Chessboard, has clearly laid out what
this geopolitical imperative is.
The grand aim is to prevent a grand alliance between China and Russia, and their
satellites, and use Europe, the Middle East/India, and Japan, North Asia and
Southeast Asia, to contain any expansions by Chinese and/or Russian powers in
these parts of the world.
It is therefore important
for global civil society to begin thinking strategically in a geo-strategic
sense. The Empire has regional plans in motion. These regional plans
contextualize what happens at the level of the nation state. Global civil
society has to have an appropriate response, instead of just moving from one
global demonstration to another, even if the importance of such a mobilization
To achieve this level of
mobilization, civil society, alone or in partnership with strategic allies in
the state or market, has to articulate a clear vision of the task of the
different regions of the world. In a deep sense, it will need to address the
identity question of a nation state or regional grouping of nation states. To a
great extent, the Empire is the different regions of the world to find their
If Europe, for example had a
very strong vision of what it wants for itself and its role in the world, then
the covert and overt persuasions and pressures from the U.S. Empire will have
very little effect. Failing this, Europe will then be just another appendage to
the US Empire.
This united sense of direction and
purpose, unfortunately, is presently not the case. On the one hand,
and the Scandinavian countries have different aspirations and perspectives on
the U.S. Empire when compared with the
and Italy on
So what is the last
remaining force questioning the geopolitical ambitions of Empire? That force is
in Global Civil Society, in the different civil society formations of the
different countries around the world. The resistance will be coming from the
autonomous spiritual-cultural life of countries, especially the institutions of
civil society active in culture.
So, in a struggle like this,
social threefolding is relevant in two ways. First, through de facto
threefolding, as a beginning, civil society frees cultural life to enable it to
take up the question of identity. Second, using approaches crucial in conscious
and advanced threefolding, civil society, through tri-sectoral processes and
societal revolution, if necessary, can have this identity operative at the level
of the nation state and the region.
PROCESS, EMPIRE AND THREEFOLDING
A broad look at the panorama
of history will show that there has been an increasing process of healthy
individuation in humanity at the same time that humankind’s social forms are
leading to greater and greater cooperation. In many social situations, this
often results in the conflict between the individual and the community.
But this is precisely where
the strength of the threefolding approach lies. It is able to balance increasing
individuation and social cohesion, at the same time. It encourages individual
freedom and spiritual innovation in the cultural sphere while, at the same time,
encouraging a greater sense of community to prevail in the two other realms,
especially the economic.
It is this healthy synthesis
that Empire wants precisely to destroy. Its doctrine of neo-economic liberalism,
in fact, is a distortion of this healing and balanced approach of social
threefolding. Empire encourages egoism in the economic realm, where increasing
solidarity is the actual operative principle.
There is also a very
powerful social dynamic which results from this increasing process of
individuation in humanity. With spiritual individuation comes the dawning of
spiritual consciousness and freedom with a search for community at the same
time. Institutions in society that are contrary to this, especially those of
Empire Matrix, are experienced as an alien body inside the consciousness of the
individual. The individual will reject irrelevant social forms and technologies
and search for new meaning and new ways for achieving human potential and for
humanity to relate together.
In practical social terms,
this process results in the alienation of the individual from traditional,
top-down, violent, dominating, power-hunger and wealth-greedy society. They
rebel, re-frame their social experience, and create new social movements in the
process. The net result is the flourishing of activism that we see around the
world today. The institutions of modernity, especially of the Empire Matrix, are
alien to the emerging spirit of millions of individuals around the world.
Social threefolding is
intimately connected with individuation and the necessary alienation of
individuals from structures in society that are authoritarian and destructive in
nature, including totalitarian tendencies in the State and the Market and within
Civil Society itself—especially universities that generate materialism in all
its forms. This alienation produces the human substance of Civil Society,
thereby beginning the de facto threefolding process with the increasing freedom
of the cultural life from its own imperfections and the dictates of the State
and the Market, especially those of Empire Matrix.
This whole complex of
process connected with individuation and social threefolding is therefore the
enemy of Empire. Why? Empire seeks to stop this process of individuation, which
is the Achilles Heel of Empire. However, social threefolding is substantively
grounded on this process of individuation of humanity and therefore enhances it
through the conscious differentiation of the three realms of society, freeing
culture to nurture this process of individuation and all its fateful
consequences for Empire and the future of Humanity.
See, for instance, the initiative of Jürgen Habermas und Jacques Derrida,
who, on May 31 2003, issued a joint declaration, “After the War: The Rebirth
of Europe” in Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and France’s La
See W. Filc, U. Herrmannstorfer, H. Spehl, C.
Strawe, 2002. A holistic approach: Conceptual Building Blocks for a Human
and Just Globalisation, www.threefolding.net/textshtml/Globalisation.htm