A Leadership Crisis and Collapse of the Human Civilization

A Leadership Crisis and Collapse of the Human Civilization

A Leadership Crisis and Collapse of the Human Civilization

The timeline for governments to act now has shrunk dramatically.

There are all key symptoms of a global, regional and local leadership crisis leading to a collapse of human civilization and emergence of a new human-machine society.

In this unprecedented reality, we are witnessing the beginnings of a dramatic restructuring of the social and economic order, and the emergence of a new era that we view as the I-World.

By the end of 2021, the Fourth Industrial Revolution will have brought us transformative technologies such as Robotics, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning, Cognitive Technology, Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR), Cloud Computing, Advanced Materials, Biotechnology and Genomics.

Last year, will forever be remembered as a critical historical point between human and machine civilizations for its extraordinary degree of global uncertainty, where leaders faced uncharted territories: repeated pandemic outbreaks, growing geopolitical tensions, social injustices and complex economic consequences, with millions of deaths, unprecedented profiteering, poor productivity, and mass technological unemployment. [While offshoring manufacturing jobs to low-cost economies can save up to 65% on labor costs, replacing human workers with robots can save up to 90% of these costs.] Only 15% of the world's one billion full-time workers are engaged at work. World productivity has been in general decline for far too long. If this trend isn't reversed immediately, it means the end of civilization.

Societal collapse or civilizational collapse

Societal collapse is defined as the fall of a complex human society characterized by the loss of cultural identity and of socioeconomic complexity, the downfall of government, and the rise of violence.

Possible causes of a societal collapse include natural catastrophe, war, pestilence, famine, and depopulation. A collapsed society may revert to a more primitive state, be absorbed into a stronger society, or completely disappear.

Virtually all civilizations have suffered this fate regardless of size or complexity. But some revived and transformed, such as China and India, while others never recovered, as the USSR or gradually fading away, as in the case of the British Empire since 1918.

Anthropologists, historians, and sociologists have proposed a variety of explanations for the collapse of civilizations involving causative factors such as environmental change, depletion of resources, unsustainable complexity, decay of social cohesion, rising inequality, secular decline of cognitive abilities, loss of creativity, and misfortune.

Below is a tragic story of collapsing India written by Sahana Chattopadhyay in Age of Emergence.

A Crisis of Leadership: Crisis of Conscience and Consciousness

I had intended to start this article differently, but couldn’t without acknowledging what is happening in India today. India is in the grip of another wave of Covid 19; and as someone aptly pointed out — it is not a wave; it is a wall. It's a tsunami that is hitting the country every day; the daily numbers are continuing to increase. Hospitals have run out of beds, ventilators, oxygen, and medicines. Crematoriums have run out of spaces and wood for the funeral pyres. Makeshift pyres are being built in parks, footpaths, and parking lots. The forest department is getting requests for the felling of trees for kindling. Delhi, the capital of India, is ravaged. A black-market in life-saving drugs is thriving, fleecing people even in this calamity. As always, the poorest are the hardest hit. It is apocalyptic, unbelievable, and immensely tragic. All the more heartbreaking because the suffering was avoidable. For a country with a rickety health infrastructure at the best of times and 1.4 billion citizens, this is a humongous challenge of unspeakable and unimaginable proportions. And there seems to be no end in sight.

The government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who loves spectacles, has failed spectacularly. Bolstered by a spineless and sold-out media, surrounded by sycophantic bureaucrats, and led by blind hubris, gloating arrogance, and callous incompetence, the Modi government has turned a pandemic into a nationwide tragedy. No amount of data fudging and information massaging can hide the truth. India is in shock. The government is either missing in action or trying to spin a narrative to save its image. In a bizarre, Orwellian incident almost straight out of 1984, 300 top government officials attended a virtual session on boosting image and perception in the midst of a raging pandemic. The Ministry of Truth is truly here.

Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. ~George Orwell, 1984

Having announced a brutal lockdown last year as a show of brute power, this tool is now out of bounds as the economy will crash. It has already rendered millions jobless. The already overburdened public healthcare wheezing from years of under-investment, has collapsed. Private healthcare has failed to provide succor, proving that essential services like education and healthcare cannot, indeed must not, be turned into a free market commodity. Neo-liberalization and defunding have crashed the country’s healthcare system today.

Doctors, nurses and all other frontline workers are staking their lives to save the lives of other humans — all strangers to each other. Mosques, gurudwaras, and temples are being turned into Covid centers and oxygen providers. Numerous people are volunteering to take food, medicines, groceries and other essentials to the Covid affected, to the sufferers, and the desperate. All strangers to each other. Autorickshaw drivers like Javed Khan are turning their rickshaws into ambulances to ferry the poor. All strangers to each other. This demonstration of humanity coming from all corners of India in the face of utter leadership and government failure and abdication of responsibilities is humbling and awe inspiring.

Ordinary citizens are turning to each other for help. Twitter is inundated with desperate queries for ICU beds, for oxygen cylinders, for ventilators, for medicines, despite efforts by the government to muzzle these desperate voices because they are shredding the regime’s carefully constructed fabric of falsehoods called ‘perception management’. Communities of citizens have self-organized to ease the heart-wrenching grief and the benumbing pain, to provide all necessary aid to the extent possible. Overriding the untold misery, we are witnessing the collective rising of ordinary citizens from the ashes of this devastation and grief. What it has amply revealed is that there is an extraordinary power at work — the extraordinary power of ordinary people. Their plain human courage. And it takes the breath away.

People without any privilege, power, or wealth are giving of their time and effort to save a nation from the face of collapse. They are coming together in self-organized teams and communities across cities and towns and villages to answer and amplify desperate calls for help. They are not waving any political banners. They claim no credit. They charge no money. Their affiliation is to humanity, compassion, and dignity for all. They have risen as citizens, neighbors, communities to help strangers in need.

This is perhaps what T. S. Eliot meant when he asked:

When the Stranger says: “What is the meaning of this city?

Do you huddle close together because you love each other?”

What will you answer? “We all dwell together

To make money from each other”? or “This is a community”?

Oh my soul, be prepared for the coming of the Stranger.

Be prepared for him who knows how to ask questions.

The Stranger has arrived in the shape of a nano-virus invisible to the eye. And the people have risen as a community.

What is even more heartwarming is the dissolution of polarization and fragmentation that the government has tried so extremely hard to sow. The forces of separation and schism have been temporarily pushed to the background; the crisis is demonstrating the power of collective will and action directed towards the common good. While the pandemic is creating havoc because of the government’s shortsightedness, arrogance, ineptitude, and megalomania, it has also become a portal to our humanity.

What is profoundly evident is the lack of leadership. It’s a dual crisis of consciousness and conscience. A crisis created by arrogance and ineptitude. This seems to be the overarching crisis today — all over the world.

Authoritarian, strongman, demagogic leaders are symptoms of a civilizational narrative that is flailing and failing. Centuries of colonization, extraction, exploitation, and oppression have created huge divides between nations. This is further exacerbated through neocolonialism in the form of deregulated capitalism and a ‘free market’ designed to benefit a handful at the cost of billions. The narrative of neoliberal capitalism propounded by Hayek and Friedman and, thereafter, propagated as a force of progress and development has been carefully nurtured and circulated by powerful institutions — media, academia, think tanks, and of course, big pharma, big tech, and the fossil fuel industries. How is this linked to the pandemic, you might be wondering. Profoundly, I say.

There is the fact that the virus is a zoonotic virus that jumped species because a poor human had to resort to eating bats for lack of nutrition. The other possibility is that we, humans, have trespassed into territories we shouldn’t have. We have forgotten our limits and have invaded the wilderness thus leading to this pandemic. Whatever the case maybe, the reality today is a world ravaged by a virus. All the promises of big tech have failed, but their profits haven’t plummeted. On the contrary, amidst this virus mayhem you learn with every passing day of their surging, near-surreal profits (discussed later). Extraordinary performance in extraordinary times!

While Elon Musk dreams of space travel (for the super-rich), billions on earth are dying. India sent a photograph of Prime Minister Modi into space aboard a satellite, but we are unable to provide ICU beds to the sick and oxygen to the dying. The ludicrousness of our situation today is only matched by the enormity of human folly. Techno-fantasy (nay, techno-lunacy) have turned the powerful and privileged into inhuman zombies disconnected from the unfolding reality on a fragile and fractured planet.

Most tellingly perhaps, we are experiencing a complete collapse of leadership. The current civilizational narrative founded on imperialism and colonization followed by neoliberal capitalism has hollowed out the very foundations of humanity. Axioms like ‘survival of the fittest’ and ‘winner takes all’ have led to a world order that glorifies competition over collaboration, aggression over altruism, dominance over democracy, and ruthlessness over benevolence. The former qualities are rewarded today — in organizations, in institutions, in academia, in politics, in business. Is it any wonder that these qualities have seeped into leadership as well? The hierarchical, command-and-control organizations and institutions thrive on dominance, obedience, and subservience. Compassion, cooperation, empathy, affection, love, care, beauty, and joy are ‘useless’ feelings to be strictly avoided.

When profit and wealth of any organization gets disproportionately concentrated in the hands of the few with others making barely living wages, we not only get an extortionist organization but also an inequitable society. Actions such as these have added up over time to create fractured nations that are now collapsing in the face of a pandemic from underlying inequity, injustice, fragmentation, and polarization. We also have a deep leadership vacuum because those who are only out for power, profit, and privilege cannot be leaders. ‘Driving a hard bargain’ is the sign of a broker, not a leader. So, coming back to my earlier point, we are globally facing a crisis of leadership. Barring a few exceptions like Jacinda Ardern who are demonstrating what leading can be in the face of catastrophe, most countries are compelled to confront rising authoritarianism and plutocracy. The world is facing a pandemic of authoritarianism, said the Nobel Laureate economist, Amartya Sen.

Deregulated capitalism and the façade of ‘free market’ neoliberalism have laid the groundwork for the rich to get richer and abetted the rise of demagoguery and authoritarianism by destroying the bulwarks of democracy and welfare for all. It has also created a deeper and more invisible damage. It has destroyed the underpinnings and ethos of leadership. Thus, over centuries and decades, by emphasizing certain values, we have arrived at this point where there are deep leadership lacunae across nations, organizations, communities, and societies. The very meaning of leading has been distorted.

Modi, Bolsonaro, Johnson, and Erdogan are mere symptoms of a deeper malaise — a collective civilizational dis-ease that has led us to the brink of ecological, economic, and spiritual disaster. I see them as mirrors of the brokenness beneath. A culmination of all that is obsolescent and crumbling — a global order that is primarily based on exploitation, extortion, extraction, and expropriation. In direct contrast, we can see the rising of citizens as communities embodying the lost values of compassion, collaboration, empathy, care, giving, and receiving. I believe that the pandemic is a portal — a portal to a world that is regenerative, thrivable, and resilient, a world that works for all.

Situations of crisis are becoming opportunities for the unscrupulous and the powerful to grab more power, make more profit. Between 18 March 2020 and 19 February 2021, the combined wealth of US billionaires increased by $1.3trn, a 44.6% increase in the space of just 48 weeks. Indian billionaires saw their wealth go up by Rs 12.97 trn during Covid-19. Evidently there is deep rot in the system that allows for this obscene accumulation of wealth in the hands of a few even as much of the world is dying of a pandemic. Leading has come to be associated with aggression, arrogance, competitiveness, cunning, political games, sycophancy, and ‘power above everything.’ In effect, leading and leadership have been replaced by power, profit, and privilege. CEO compensation has grown 940% since 1978. Typical worker compensation has risen only 12% during that time.

We have to reclaim and redefine our civilizational narrative and craft a leadership narrative that is regenerative. The underlying narrative that has been ruling the planet for at least five centuries has given rise to the leadership we are experiencing today across the world. Are there any examples out there? Sure. There are leaders like Jacinda Ardern, who was derided for being too soft and empathetic but who has been way more successful in uncertain and ambiguous times. Some obvious traits like empathy, compassion, and an ability to collaborate and listen are easily seen. But I believe there is more beneath the surface.

A Crisis of Leadership: Crisis of Conscience and Consciousness

Artificial intelligence  is the hardest ever challenge for the human mind.

It combines all the best sciences and technologies such as philosophy, ontology, logic, mathematics, computer science, cybernetics, physics, biology, cognitive science, robotics, engineering together.

AI has the potential to revolutionize everything, economy, industry, government, society, cities, all sides of human life.

Artificial intelligence is changing human history and the order of things we used to have for thousands of years.

AI is emerging as a radically new class of life and intelligence with cosmic implications.

Whoever first creates a real AI model will be adored like a god... or as Leibniz's Superscientist (LS) and Laplace's Demon (LD).

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  • Melvin Gayle

    This article completely ignores the bible & Christian teachings-shame on them. It also is very ignorant to ignore the AI (artificial intelligence) impact; which is already replacing HIGH TECH jobs, & will RAPIDY make
    millions of those job seekers UNEMPLOYABLE, and WILL RAPIDLY cause a COMPLETE COLLAPSE of society. Don' believe it??? Read the bible: Revelations. Wake UP. Control AI NOW!!!!!

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Azamat Abdoullaev

Tech Expert

Azamat Abdoullaev is a leading ontologist and theoretical physicist who introduced a universal world model as a standard ontology/semantics for human beings and computing machines. He holds a Ph.D. in mathematics and theoretical physics. 

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