Transrevolution: The Twelve Phases of Structural and Cultural Metamorphosis

This model draws on a deep study of religious and political history, Systems/Complexity Theory, depth psychology, archetypal mythology, eradigmatics, and several other disciplines. The core insight for transrevolutionaries—those who encourage the evolution of mature, resilient, and self-reflective social systems—comes down to this: If you can’t beat ‘em, transform ‘em by receiving, tending, and spreading creative new visions of community.

1. Nonmaterial forms organize complex systems. Every dynamic system is the material expression of its pattern of organization. Systems large and small are ultimately shaped not by fixed roles or plans, but by invisible, intangible patterns like archetypes, motifs, meanings, and images.

2. Recognition: systemic problems are not correctable without structural change. Ongoing problems like wars, political corruption, racism, sexism, and ecocrisis cannot be repaired because they are systemic. The first step toward deep change is seeing that the old systems incapable of adaptive self-reorganization cannot be reformed.

3. In outworn systems a new core image/myth/vision emerges from rupture and chaos. A new organizing attractor—a new myth—emerges that carries the seeds of future social structure and culture-making. Sensitive people who can stay inwardly transparent to the new myth resonate with it and find ways to “give it a modern dress” (C.G. Jung). “What affects a paradigm, that is, the vault key of a whole system of thought, affects the ontology, the methodology, the epistemology, the logic, and by consequence, the practices, the society, and the politics” (Edgar Morin).

4. Living the core emblems and principles of this new image/myth/vision plants the seeds of new culture. Spokespeople for the new myth form groups of like-minded kindred and converse to start living the core attractor/new myth of future culture now. These new transrevolutionary explorations limit themselves to a modest number of self-replicating guidelines to form the core around which new kinds of culture grow.

5. New energies and meanings multiply fractally along critical connections rather than from mere critical mass. The transrevolutionary network expands via redundant central hubs connected to sites of experimentation on the periphery. Methods for spreading the vision are coordinated across a multitude of places, events, and media.

6. Spokespeople for the new image/myth/vision gather and transform all those who resonate. This support empowers interested people and equips them with critical consciousness toward the old system while inspiring them with the new vision and its memes. What empowers people with sense of agency, voice, and liberation awakens all who hear to body, emotions, soul, nature contact, and spirit. The new vision seduces people away from ineffective, outmoded, or destructive projects by offering deeply meaningful activities and responsibilities.

7. Redundant communication nets keep the evolutionary memes moving along, especially when linking novel experiments with each other, using micro innovation to make for macro change. Information must flow across ordinary boundaries, and new connections form between elements, between subsystems, and between system and environment.

8. Networks congeal into parallel institutions—subsystems of transformation that work better than the old institutions while operating as adaptive learning organizations (Peter Senge). At the heart of a working parallel institution is a combination of vision (refinement of the emerging myth/attractor), fairness (cross-species and deeper than morality), commitment, autopoesis, and a semipermeability.

9. Under wise leadership, ever-wider and deeper new subsystems manifest, complexify, and multiply. Systems strengthen and consolidate when connected to more of themselves, creating stronger relationships while building better access to themselves and increasing their diversity. Strategic thinking moves past and across splits/compartments, repetitive interactions, vicious circles, simple causality, and bounded rationality. Leaders tend patterns, directions, interactions, qualities, feel, pace, mood, inspiration, creativity, and rhythm.

10. The new system and its evolving subsystems self-organize as a rite of passage. Defending the new system requires countering opposition with success stories, discrediting outworn ideologies and bounded logic, framing reactionary leaders as old paradigm, appealing to potential change agents, making systemic injustices highly visible to all, and seducing intelligent opponents with what the new system has to offer (e.g., belonging, meaning, purpose, visionary work, a new myth). Culture crisis can be framed as rite of passage, with tools offered for surviving it and outgrowing it. Broadcast the voices and examples of true elders and adults.

11. Remaining unstuck from any paradigms lets transrevolutionaries wield any of them as tools in service to the new system. D. Meadows: “It is in this space of mastery over paradigms that people throw off addictions, live in constant joy, bring down empires, get locked up or burned at the stake or crucified or shot, and have impacts that last for millennia.”

12. As old institutions either reorganize themselves or fall by the wayside, the new systems and subsystems expand and anchor their forms of culture by being linked to similar efforts going on elsewhere, by building and connecting community resources, by being in conscious relationship to place and Earth, and by promoting the resulting new norms.