June 17th, 2013 // 10:38 am @ Oliver DeMille
I frequently get asked something along the lines of, “Oliver, you talk a lot about freedom; but what, exactly, do you mean by the word ‘freedom?’ How do you define it?”
It’s a very good question. To answer it, I first want to define “liberty.” After all, the Declaration of Independence boldly affirms that among our inalienable rights are “…life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
Actually, the key word in this sentence is “inalienable,” and everyone should read the excellent article by Kyle Roberts on what this word really means.
Liberty and freedom are similar, but they are slightly distinct, and understanding them both is essential in a society that is losing its freedoms.
As for “liberty,” I define it as “the right to do whatever a person wants as long as it doesn’t violate the inalienable rights of anyone else.” Of course, in order to exercise liberty, a person needs to know what inalienable rights are—otherwise, he won’t know whether or not he is violating them.
Thus knowledge and wisdom are required to maintain one’s liberty, because a person who violates somebody else’s inalienable rights naturally forfeits his own liberty. The extent of this forfeiture is equivalent to the depth of the violation—when this is applied well, it is called justice.
License, as opposed to liberty, is defined as “the prerogative to do whatever a person wants or is able to do.” Note that this has often been used in history as an excuse to plunder, force or otherwise violate the rights of others. Thus license and tyranny are nearly always connected—the tyrant is tyrannical precisely because he takes license as he wills, and the person who pursues license eventually exerts tyranny of some kind.
Sometimes people pick one of the inalienable rights and use it to define “liberty,” such as: “Liberty is the right to do whatever a person wants as long as it doesn’t violate the property of another. Or … the life of another, etc. The problem with this type of definition is that though it is often accurate, it is also too limited. The violation of any inalienable right takes away one’s liberty.
Now that we have a definition of “liberty,” we can also define and compare the meaning of “freedom”:
Liberty: The right to do whatever a person wants as long as it doesn’t violate the inalienable rights of anyone else.
Freedom: A societal arrangement that guarantees the right of each person to do whatever he/she wants as long as it doesn’t violate the inalienable rights of anyone else.
“Liberty” comes from the Latin root liber though the French liberte, meaning “free will, freedom to do as one chooses … absence of restraint” (Online Etymology Dictionary). In contrast, the word “freedom” was rooted in the Old English freodom, which meant “state of free will; charter, emancipation, deliverance” (ibid). Thus liberty could exist with or also without government, but freedom was usually a widespread societal system that required some authority to maintain it.
In most eras of history, the goal is liberty, but it is almost never maintained without freedom. In other words, it is possible to have liberty without freedom, but in such cases it seldom lasts very long and it is usually only enjoyed by a limited few.
When freedom is present, however, liberty exists for all who don’t violate the inalienable rights of others.
What About Now?
This trip down memory lane has an important current application. A lot of people want liberty; in fact, nearly everyone desires liberty. But the only duty of liberty is to honor the inalienable rights of everyone else, and as a result liberty without freedom is fleeting.
In contrast, freedom requires many more duties, and therefore it musters much more from its people. It only succeeds when the large majority of people in a society voluntarily fulfill many duties that keep the whole civilization free.
To repeat: those who stand for freedom must honor the inalienable rights of all, and they must also take responsibility for standing up and helping ensure that society succeeds. No truly free government directs this free and voluntary behavior, but without it freedom decreases.
For example, one of the duties of those who support freedom is free enterprise—to take action that improves the society and makes it better. No government should penalize a person who does not do this (such penalties would reduce freedom), but overall freedom will decrease if a person has the potential to take great enterprises that improve the world, but doesn’t.
Thus freedom is very demanding. If people don’t voluntarily do good things, and great things, freedom declines. If they don’t exert their will and take risks to improve the world, freedom stagnates and decreases.
Freedom and Morality
Another way that people voluntarily increase freedom is by choosing morality. In societies where a lot of the people don’t choose a moral life, liberty may be maintained by some people but the freedom of all people eventually declines. When more people choose the path of virtuous living, freedom grows.
The same is true of charity and service. When more people choose it, freedom increases. There are a number of other ways people can voluntarily take actions that have a direct and positive impact on freedom. In the freest societies, a lot of the people choose to engage in many such behaviors.
When we pledge allegiance to the flag, we do so to promote “…liberty and justice for all.” This is the role of government—liberty and justice, or in other words the protection of inalienable rights and the providing of recompense if such rights are violated.
But while in free nations government is limited to this role, the people in a free society must do much more. If they all do their best, fully living up to their potential, freedom greatly increases.
In other words, the real question isn’t “What is freedom?” but rather “What is my role in freedom?”
The answer is different for each person, but the key is to not worry about how other people use their freedom. As long as they aren’t violating inalienable rights, they won’t hurt you. Your focus (and my focus, and each individual’s focus) should be, simply, “Am I living up to my full potential, my great life mission and purpose in this world?”
If your answer to this question is “yes,” you are a promoter of freedom and your efforts and projects will help increase freedom for everyone. If not, now is the time to get started…
October 28th, 2010 // 4:00 am @ Oliver DeMille
Two words that haven’t shown up together very much since the 2008 economic meltdown are “austerity” and “Canada.”
Austerity means having your economy controlled and run by international regulators, and right now the idea of austerity for the United States is growing.
Not only is the federal government in financial trouble, but so are many of the individual states. In addition to struggles in 2008, 2009 and 2010, 31 states project major budgetary shortfalls in 2011.
Prospects are getting worse in many states, rather than improving.
Unemployment numbers are knocking on double digits (which is to say that in some places they already exceed 10 percent), and the U.S. deficit and debt promise to be major issues in the 2010 election — to say nothing of their impact on America’s future for years and perhaps decades to come.
But Canada faces a much smaller challenge.
Ironically, for decades U.S. conservatives have pointed to Canada’s health care system as the example of what not to do — often referring to it as a failed icon of “socialized medicine.”
Many liberals have idealized the nations of Western Europe, looking past Canada and preferring Britain, France and Germany as examples.
The Great Recession has changed all this — mainly because Canada avoided the worst of the global financial meltdown.
As Ken Kurson put it:
“When the worldwide system collapsed…Canada didn’t have a single bank poisoned by toxic assets and not a penny of public money was used to bail out its financial institutions.”
Of course, many businesses and individuals suffered, but it would have been much worse if Canadian banks followed more European-U.S. policies.
Israel, India and China all fared pretty well in the meltdown — as did Canada — while the U.S. and Britain were hit very hard. Canada’s traditional liberalism and conservatism helped shield it from the worse financial collapse other nations faced.
Modern liberalism and conservatism are mostly focused on winning office and promoting partisan agendas, whereas the traditional strains of both conservatism and liberalism are more interested in ideas, values and ideals.
Traditional liberals in Canada used government to put caps and controls on the nation’s financial institutions, keeping them from simultaneously posing as both lending institutions and speculators in the Japanese style that most European and U.S. banks have adopted.
And traditional conservatism kept banks and business from leveraging their resources at the high levels which brought down so many institutions in other nations.
One can argue with either the underlying Canadian liberalism or conservatism, but the results were a traditional kind of system that is too often seen in many advanced (and broke) nations as outmoded, quaint and passé.
For example, most U.S. mortgages were intended for sale while nearly all mortgages in Canada are still held by the banks where they originated.
In other words, Canadian bankers only made loans to people they intended to have as long-term customers; the happy result is that when the housing bubble burst such banks remained solvent.
Of course, all nations were hurt by the global economic downturn. Certainly, Canada, Israel, and other nations have their share of problems, but simple financial frugality and common sense are never old-fashioned.
What We Can Learn
There are at least two important lessons America should learn from this.
First, the traditional models of either liberalism or conservatism seem better for America than the modern, partisan styles of liberals and conservatives.
The commonsensical use of government combined with a free and flourishing private sector is vital to the future of freedom and prosperity. And the ideal is found in earlier American history rather than modern Canada, India or China.
Still, when China incentives free enterprise more effectively than the United States, the results are predictable. Freedom works, and when Americaignores its own legacy it loses its strength and economic resiliency.
Second, technology doesn’t trump wisdom.
We live in a world where checks can be deposited through cell phone cameras, current events are taught better on QRANK than the nightly news, and mobile phone applications like Avoidr “allow Foursquare users to select the ‘friends’ they want to avoid” (and their phones keep them abreast of where their friends are at any given moment).
Amazon sells more books on Kindle than in hardback, and online media is causing many newspapers and now book publishers to disappear.
On a macro level, nanotechnology makes surveillance, theoretically, ubiquitous — it is becoming ever-present, everywhere, always.
As Graeme Wood wrote in The Atlantic:
“If the past several years in the shadow of a war against terrorism have taught us anything, it is that, once available, surveillance technologies rarely go unused, or un-abused.”
And governments are pursuing increasingly deeper rings of secrecy even though technology makes transparency possible.
All of these are ultimately the tools of human values and decisions. Indeed, the more powerful the technology, the greater the need for wisdom, limits, checks and balances.
It matters whether we learn these lessons or not. When the global economy broke down in 2008-2009, many businesses, industries and even states were bailed out by the federal government.
But the next round of major decline could easily force Washington to follow the majority of non-industrialized nations and even European countries like Greece, Spain, Portugal, and France in turning to international lenders for bailouts.
If this comes before 2012 or even 2020, as it certainly could, we will have to borrow from those who have money to lend — meaning banks in nations such as China, Israel or Canada.
Of all the possible candidates, we will most likely go hat in hand to Canada.
The other option is simply to adopt fiscal responsibility on our own. A little common sense — both the conservative and liberal kinds — can go a long way.
Unfortunately, the opposite seems to be gaining momentum. After the end of the Cold War in 1989, the common wisdom seemed to be that capitalistic nations had overcome their communistic rivals.
But for many, the Great Recession has revised this conclusion. Now the theme seems to be that Soviet-style communism and Americanized capitalism are just the age-old battle between power and greed.
The emerging winner appears to be government-run industry, what The Economist called “Leviathan Inc.: The State Goes Back Into Business.” Indeed, these are the models followed by nations like China, Israel, Brazil, India and Canada that fared better than most in the recession.
Some leaders in Washington are taking note:
“[F]rom Berlin to Brussels, demand for industrial policy is back. Japan’s new government is responding to what it sees as the increasingly aggressive policies of foreign competitors by deepening the links between business and the state.
In America Barack Obama, the effective owner of General Motors and a chunk of Wall Street, has turned his back on the laissez-faire approach of the past: a strategic-industries initiative is under way.”
Unfortunately, the politicians are ignoring the rest of this report:
“Yet the overwhelming reason for China’s miracle is that the state released its stifling grip and opened the country to private enterprise and to the world…
India’s wildly successful software and business-process-outsourcing industries blossomed not because of help from the government, but precisely because its [government] did not understand these nascent fields well enough to choke them off…
In the rich world, meanwhile, the record shows, again and again, that industrial policy doesn’t work.”
The Real Need
I’ll take traditional liberalism or conservatism – either one – over the current modern Democratic or Republican models.
Commonsensical uses of government spurring a free economy, or a truly free-enterprise system with a limited government effectively taking care of the basics—either would be much better than the current reality.
Canada, Greece, Israel, China, Britain, France, Portugal, Spain, Germany, many other nations, and the United States — all could use a free-enterprise upgrade.
A constitutional, free enterprising, federal democratic republic which believes in freedom and applies its principles sounds like a utopian dream.
Or, it could just be a nation run by a truly educated, wise and active citizenry.
Without citizens who are effective overseers of the government, freedom doesn’t last anywhere. Because of this, even those nations which were less hurt by the Great Recession face difficult futures.
It remains to be seen what nation (or will it be a tribe, or something else?) in the world will become the new standard of freedom.
Such leadership will naturally flow to the society whose common citizens become a new generation of great citizens—like the American founding generations.
Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.
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October 14th, 2010 // 4:00 am @ Oliver DeMille
While regulation increases and economic freedom decreases in America, other nations are going the opposite direction.
In order to remain prosperous and strong, America must revive the principles of free enterprise that made her great.
Three New Hotspots
First, at the time of the articles, both nations were economic hotspots, primarily because of the high numbers of entrepreneurs within each.
Where America has become a capitol of employeeship, in Israel and China the American Dream of “making it” through business initiative and entrepreneurial enterprise is alive and well.
India could certainly be included in this.
Second, both are zones of technological growth. Of course, this stems from entrepreneurial innovation.
Where the U.S. trains most of the world’s attorneys, Chinese, Israeli and Indian students dominate many engineering and technology enrollments in many of the world’s leading schools.
Entrepreneurship, Technology & Progress
China has low interest rates, easy credit for private and business capital, and lots of investment money flowing.
Israel, as Brooks puts it,
“…has weathered the global recession reasonably well. The government did not have to bail out its banks or set off an explosion in short-term spending. Instead, it used the crisis to solidify the economy’s long-term future by investing in research and development and infrastructure, raising some consumption taxes, promising to cut other taxes in the medium to long term.”
Friedman wrote that China has:
“…a mountain of savings…China also now has 400 million Internet users [in context, the entire population of the U.S. is just over 300 million people], and 200 million of them have broadband…Now take all this infrastructure and mix it together with 27 million students in technical colleges and universities⎯the most in the world…Equally important, more and more Chinese students educated abroad are returning home to work and start new businesses.”
Brooks wrote that:
“Tel Aviv has become one of the world’s foremost entrepreneurial hot spots. Israel has more high-tech start-ups per capita than any other nation on earth, by far. It leads the world in civilian research-and-development spending per capita. It ranks second behind the U.S. in the number of companies listed in the Nasdaq. Israel, with seven million people, attracts as much venture capital as France and Germany combined.”
Third, both China and Israel appear to be on the verge of major shifts.
The Chinese challenge ahead is to bring its political institutions up to speed with the rapid spread of economic liberties.
The Soviet Union collapsed because it tried to reform by expanding political liberty while maintaining a command economy.
Traditional Chinese communism also rejected freedom at all levels, and the attempt now is to offer economic freedom while keeping a totalitarian government.
The huge amount of savings, including “$2 trillion in foreign currency revenues” available to the Chinese government gives it a lot of power into the future.
What kind of volatility is ahead for a nation with an authoritarian and oppressive government which also has the world’s largest entrepreneurial class?
As for Israel, the challenge is that increased economic and technological success further widens the gap between Israel and its already estranged neighbors. This is a huge destabilizing factor.
As Brooks says, “Israel is an ‘astonishing success story, but also a highly mobile one.’” He suggests that if the region destabilizes, the entrepreneurial class already has connections and homes in Palo Alto, for example.
Perhaps the most telling message of these articles is the contrast with the U.S.
We’re cutting technology programs and increasing the regulatory, tax and red-tape obstacles for entrepreneurs.
Positive gains in U.S. social justice since 1964 have unfortunately and unnecessarily coincided with the dismantling of American incentives for entrepreneurial free enterprise.
Current levels of U.S. business regulations don’t allow many American entrepreneurs to compete with their international counterparts.
Trends in China, India and Israel provide more evidence for one of the most important developments in our world: The rise of a new global aristocratic class.
For example, Friedman introduced the concept of the “Electronic Herd,” a new, highly mobile elite class that manages the world’s capital from their laptops and lives in places like Mediterranean beach towns on the Spanish or French Riviera, Ashland (Oregon), Austin (Texas), the Bahamas, Buenos Aires, London and so on.
This group parties in Manhattan and Switzerland, reads the great classics of humanity and today’s latest financials, and has little connection with or allegiance to any government.
Rediscovering The American Dream
America became known around the world for two great ideals: 1) freedom, and 2) a classless society where anybody could become whatever they were willing to earn and achieve.
Together, we often called these ideals “The American Dream.”
As the U.S. regulated away our free enterprise strategic advantage — especially since 1989 — its cities become more and more like the class-based European models that many American cultural elites idealize.
Today, America’s “aristocrats” are likely to be less loyal to the United States than to their corporate connections, and Americans who consider themselves patriots are likely to be dependent on job wages and living paycheck to paycheck.
Canada and various other nations are in the same situation.
The irony here is thick.
Those who care about freedom (many of whom are Independents) may have more to learn from examples like Israel, China and India than from contemporary Washington D.C. and its increasingly Europeanized institutions, dreams and objectives.
The Effectiveness of Liberty
Just like during the American founding era, freedom in our day will flourish again in any place emphasizing entrepreneurship, free enterprise initiative and major deregulation of small business and class-oriented structures.
While many nations can learn from America’s current example of religious and racial freedoms and freedom of the press, the U.S. needs a healthy renaissance of economic and political freedom.
Until our leaders, institutions and laws once again lead the world in allowing and incentivizing entrepreneurial initiative, our freedoms and prosperity will decrease.
It is time for America to import its most valuable resource: A widespread belief in free enterprise.
The world needs less of a growing elite class and more nations where freedom is adopted and applied.
To learn more about the current state of geo-politics and economics, and how to revive freedom, read The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom and listen to The Four Lost American Ideals by Oliver DeMille.
Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.
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September 16th, 2010 // 4:00 am @ Oliver DeMille
A third reason for the rise of Independents is the widespread loss of blind faith in man-made institutions (like government and corporations) as the answers to society’s challenges.
These institutions have failed to perform, over and over, causing many of even the staunchest state- and market-loyalists to feel skeptical.
Fourth, the e-revolution has created a technological power of the citizenry, at least in the ability to widely voice views that diverge from the mainstream parties.
The Internet gave Independents (and many others) a voice. People who believed in common-sense pragmatism and principled choices over party loyalty have been around for a long time, but the e-revolution was needed to give them group influence.
But all of these reasons are really just after-the-fact justifications for why so many people are no longer channeled politically through one of the top parties.
They explain why people aren’t Republicans or Democrats, but they don’t explain why Independents are Independents.
Some Independents are actually from the far right and just anti-liberal, and others are leftists who are Independents because they are anti-conservative. Some are one-issue Independents, emphasizing the environment, feminism, race, the gold standard, etc.
A growing number of Independents, however, are Independents because they believe in a shared new ideal.
They have faith in both government and the market, but only to a certain extent. They are truly neither liberal nor conservative, but moderate. They want government and markets to work, and they want to limit both as needed.
Still, they are not just moderates, they are something more.
Three Versions of Management
What makes these Independents tick? They are motivated by a new focus, a set of goals surprising and even confusing to anyone who was taught that American politics is about right versus left, conservative versus liberal, family values versus progressivism, religious versus secular, hawk versus dove, and all the other clichés.
Independents are something new.
Our ancestors were motivated mostly by “Management 1.0,” Pink says, which was a focus on physical safety and protection from threats.
People became more motivated by a “carrot-and-stick” model of “extrinsic motivators.” Managers, teachers, parents and politicians created complex systems of rewards and punishments, penalties and bonuses to achieve results in this new environment.
In this model, conservatives are 1.0 because they want government to limit itself to protecting its citizens from external threats, to national security and legal justice.
Liberals support a 2.0 model where the role of government is to incentivize positive community behaviors by people and organizations, and also to enforce a complex system of punishments to deter negative behavior.
In education, 1.0 is the one-room schoolhouse focusing on delivering a quality, personalized education for each student.
In contrast, 2.0 is a conveyor-belt system that socializes all students and provides career rewards through job training, with benefits doled out based on academic performance.
The problem with 1.0 is that education is withheld from some based on race, wealth and sometimes gender or religion.
The 2.0 version remedies this, ostensibly providing democratic equality for students from all backgrounds; but the cost is that personalization and quality are lost, and a de facto new elite class is created by those who succeed in this educational matrix.
On the political plane, 1.0 promoted freedom but for an elite few, while 2.0 emphasized social justice but unnecessarily sacrificed many freedoms.
Version 3.0 combines freedom with inclusion, and this is the basis of the new Independents and their ideals.
It may seem oxymoronic to say that pragmatic Independents have ideals, but they are actually as driven as conservatives and liberals.
Independents want government, markets and society to work, and to work well. They don’t believe in utopia, but they do think that government has an important role along with business, and that many other individuals and organizations have vital roles in making society work.
They aren’t seeking perfect society, but they do think there is a common sense way in which the world can generally work a lot better than it does.
Mr. Pink’s “Management 3.0” is a widespread cultural shift toward “intrinsic motivators.” A growing number of people today (according to Pink) are making decisions based less on the fear of threats (1.0), or to avoid punishments or to obtain rewards (2.0), than on following their hearts (3.0).
This isn’t “right-brained” idealism or abstraction, but logic-based, rational and often self-centered attempts to seek one’s most likely path to happiness.
Indeed, disdain for the “secure career path” has become widely engrained in our collective mentality and is associated with being shallow, losing one’s way, and ignoring your true purpose and self.
This mindset is now our culture. For example, watch a contemporary movie or television series: The plot is either 1.0 (catch or kill the bad guys) or 3.0 (struggle to fit in to the 2.0 system but overcome it by finding one’s unique true path).
Settling for mediocrity in order to fit the system is today’s view of 2.0.
In contrast, the two main versions of 3.0 movies and series are: 1) Ayn Rand-style characters seeking personal fulfillment, and 2) Gene Rodenberry-style heroes who “find themselves” in order to greatly benefit the happiness of all.
Where the Greeks had tragedy or comedy, our generation finds itself either for personal gain or in order to improve the world.
Whichever version we choose, the key is to truly find and live our life purpose and be who we were meant to be.
And where so far this has grown and taken over our pop-culture and generational mindset, it is now poised to impact politics.
Few of the old-guard in media, academia or government realize how powerful this trend is.
Independents are the latch-key generation grown up.
Raised by themselves, with input from peers, they are skeptical of parents’ (conservative) overtures of care after years of emotional distance.
They are unmoved by parents’ (liberal) emotional insecurity and constant promises. They don’t trust television, experts or academics.
They don’t get too connected to any current view on an issue; they know that however passionate they may feel about it right now, relationships come and go like the latest technology and the only one you can always count on is yourself.
Because of this, you must do what you love in life and make a good living doing it. This isn’t abstract; it’s hard-core realism.
Loyalty to political party makes no sense to two generations forced to realize very young the limitations of their parents, teachers and other adults.
Why would such a generation give any kind of implicit trust to government, corporations, political parties or other “adult” figures?
Independents are more swayed by Google, Amazon and Whole Foods than Hollywood, Silicon Valley or Yale.
Appeals to authority such as the Congressional Budget Office, the United Nations or Nobel Prize winners mean little to them; they’ll study the issues themselves.
Their view of the experts is that whatever the outside world thinks of them, they are most likely far too human at home.
Officials and experts with noteworthy accolades, lofty credentials and publicized achievements make Independents more skeptical than star-struck.
They grew up with distant and distracted “corporate stars” for parents, and they aren’t impressed.
If the government follows good principles, they’ll support it. If not, they’ll look elsewhere.
They understand being disappointed and having to move on and rely on themselves; in fact, this is so basic to their makeup that it is almost an unconscious religion.
If this all sounds too negative, consider the positives. The American founding had many similar generational themes.
Raised mostly by domestic help (parents were busy overcoming many out-of-the-home challenges in this generation), sent away to boarding schools or apprenticeships before puberty, the founders learned loyalty to principles over traditions, pragmatic common sense over the assurances of experts, and an idealistic yearning for improving the world over contentment with the current.
Today’s Independents are one of the most founders-like generation since the 1770s. They want the world to change, they want it to work, and they depend on themselves and peers rather than “adults” (experts, officials, etc.) to make it happen.
There are many reasons why Independents don’t resonate with the two major parties, but this is only part of the story.
Most Independents aren’t just disenfranchised liberals or conservatives; they are a new generation with entirely new goals and views on government, business and society.
This is all hidden to most, because the latch-key generation isn’t vocal like most liberals and conservatives.
Trained to keep things inside, not to confide in their parents or adults, growing numbers of Independents are nonetheless quietly and surely increasing their power and influence.
Few Independents believe that there will be any Social Security monies left for them when they retire, so they are stoically planning to take care of themselves.
Still, they think government should pay up on its promise to take care of the Boomers, so they are happy to pay their part. Indeed, this basically sums up their entire politics.
They disdain the political debate that so vocally animates liberals and conservatives, and as a result they have little voice in the traditional media because they refuse to waste time debating.
But their power is drastically increasing. The latch-key Independents raised themselves, grew up and started businesses and families, and during the next decade they will increasingly overtake politics.
Like Shakespeare’s Henry V, they partied through the teenager stage, leaving their parents appalled by generational irresponsibility and lack of ambition, then they shocked nearly everyone with their ability and power when they suddenly decided to be adults.
Now, on eve of their entrance into political power, few have any idea of the tornado ahead.
Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.
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September 9th, 2010 // 10:52 am @ Oliver DeMille
Historically, the great philosophers and thinkers divided knowledge into four major branches:
First, the sciences, or the things which can be proven empirically — based on evidence and fact.
Second, the arts, areas of knowledge that are best understood through experiencing beauty.
Third, the spiritual, which Aristotle called metaphysics and which many moderns narrowly refer to as ethics.
Fourth, the humane, meaning the realm of organizing and leading human beings, the highest level of which is statesmanship, with social leadership being a close second.
Before 9/11, biology clearly belonged to the branch of knowledge called science. But as the world watched the planes fly into the buildings that day, over and over on our screens, the field of biology moved firmly and irreversibly into the realm of statesmanship.
As early as the 1920s, economist John Maynard Keynes suggested that the 21st Century would be the Democratic Century, as democracy and capitalism would finally spread around the world.
By the early 1990s, futurists Alvin Toffler and John Naisbitt separately predicted that the 21st Century would be the Asian or the Pacific Century, due to the rising might of China and the other Asian economies.
By the end of the nineties, the Bill Gates and Steve Jobs types suggested that the true explosion of the next hundred years would be technological rather than national — that the 21st would be the Digital Century.
But as big as these trends may or may not turn out to be, one thing will almost certainly eclipse them all: The 21st Century will be the Century of Biology.
And statesmen and social leaders of the future had better prepare accordingly.
But how should we prepare? What exactly does “The Century of Biology” mean?
Simply put, the events of 9/11 and the commencement of the Fourth Turning catapulted biological thinking from the first branch (pure science in pursuit of knowledge) immediately into the fourth branch (thought processes used to organize human endeavors) .
Biology is no longer about the sterile exercise of our intellects to answer questions about living organisms. Now biology has morphed into a means by which societal vitality may be investigated and sustained.
In biology, certain well-trained experts work to maintain health and banish disease from individuals and communities. We call these people healers, physicians, veterinarians, and the like.
In the twenty-first century, certain people, well-educated in the thinking of modern biology, will seek to sustain the vitality and vanquish the ills of society. To my way of thinking, these individuals have only one best, all-encompassing name: statesmen.
There are at least eight sub-trends of the overarching shift from the Information Age to the Biology Age . Each is significant, each is currently increasing its power, and each must be understood by the statesmen and social leaders of our day.
The first four trends are:
1. Business is coming to life.
2. Technology is coming to life.
3. Information is coming to life.
4. Culture is coming to life.
Together, these four trends are causing and will cause four other macro-trends, including:
5. The end of stability in national domestic life.
6. The end of security in all aspects of life — business, economic, governmental, etc.
7. The rising philosophy of General Evolution (not to be confused with micro- or macro-evolution).
8. Biology as a branch of leadership and a central tenet of all statesmanship.
The impact on our lives can hardly be overstated.
All our central models and worldviews will change — or at least the language we use to support our views.
For example, in the 20th Century our vocabulary and ideas were infused with the teachings of physics: time, distance, size and mechanical interactions were the rule. We understood things by asking who? what? where? why? when? and how?
In contrast, in the Biology Century our central metaphors will be creativity, initiative, adaptability, and the organic interconnections of things.
Instead of seeing a world made up of atoms, we will see a universe that can only be understood by comprehending relationships — not just knowing that relationships exist, mind you, but truly understanding them.
(As a side note, some authors including Tom Peters have suggested that therefore the 21st Century will be totally dominated by women).
In short, as Daniel Pink put it, the Right Brain will lead the 21st Century .
Relationships in business will dominate the bottom line; relationships in government will determine success in security, trade, economics, and even freedom; relationships in families will create a new class system, just as family arrangements created all historical class systems.
Relationships, not atoms, are the building blocks of our universe.
Let’s consider some specific examples of this shift into the Century of Biology, starting with the future of business. Twentieth century business emphasized the mechanical approach, including planning, strategizing, predicting, engineering the company, and controlling change.
A whole mechanical-based leadership industry grew around dozens of books which outlined the seven keys to success or the three choices of leaders. All of this is now turning to biology . Just consider the following business phrases now in use in the general corporate world:
- Adaptive Organizations
- Metabolic Companies
- Evolutionary Corporations
- Permanent Volatility
- Non-Linear Systems
- Organic Leadership
- Cell Management
- Organism Organization
- People Power
- Mutation Marketing
- Going Viral
- Responsive Customized Manufacturing
The list could go on. But consider another huge trend which is not only re-seeding the way leaders and managers work, but is actually re-focusing the products and services businesses offer.
Technology is literally coming alive.
In the excellent book It’s Alive: The Coming Convergence of Information, Biology, & Business by Christopher Meyer and Stan Davis, the authors outline several major fields of bio-technology in the coming decades, including, but not limited to, nano-tech and materials science.
Nano-tech, which literally means the technology of the very, very small, has virtually exploded in the past decade — and it is growing exponentially.
To summarize this exciting new field, suffice it to say that with current optical technology and the latest generation of super microscopes, almost anything can be done smaller.
For example, researchers can now manipulate atoms, see genes in action, watch proteins as they interact and DNA strands as they fold. Scientists have “slowed” light down enough to capture a photon particle, and they can routinely manipulate the gene.
Medical researchers can “see” directly into the cell and even laser inject a medication directly into a cell without a needle. Nano-technology is being pursued by numerous national militaries and a host of private companies.
Also consider the breakthroughs of materials science. Research is currently underway to create the matter compiler, which would deconstruct a substance and then re-pattern the molecules to form a different pre-programmed substance.
What does this mean?
Or consider the concept currently under design of the Universal Mentor — a wrist watch or a pair of glasses with a world wide web link and audio capability which listens to your conversations and pipes answers, facts, quotes and sources directly into your watch or earpiece.
Experience Entertainment may be the closest to manufacturing these coming gadgets — where the interactive movie or CD connects directly to the central nervous system or visual cortex so that you are Arnold Shwarzenegger or Angelina Jolie.
And already in operation is the Social Science Simulator, which scholars are using to predict the results of a certain policy or law.
As fantastic as these ideas may be, they are still all based on mechanical technology, right? For now, yes. But significant funding and research are being put into “smart” technologies — machines which think, learn, evolve and possibly even “feel”.
Of course, the movie industry has shown the dangers of this in a barrage of movies in the last twenty years. But two facts remain: bio-tech research is in its embryonic stage, and embryos grow and develop.
The ideas and developments I highlighted in the last article may all seem impossible, or at least impractical. But listen to Dr. Rodney Brooks, MIT Professor and Director of the Artificial Intelligence Lab at MIT. He says:
Fifty years ago, just after the Second World War, there was a transformation of engineering. Before that, engineering had been a craft-based exercise, but starting around 1950 it was transformed into a physics-based discipline. Now we are seeing the beginnings of a transformation of engineering again, this time into a largely biologically-based discipline…At MIT’s Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, where I am director, I see signs of this transformation every day. We have torn out clean rooms where we used to make silicon chips and installed wet labs in their place, where we compile programs into DNA sequences that we splice into genomes in order to breed bacterial robots. Our thirty-year goal is to have such exquisite control over the genetics of living systems that instead of growing a tree, cutting it down, and building a table out of it, we will ultimately be able to grow the table. . . Similar transformations are happening throughout engineering departments, not just at MIT but all over the world.” 
Professor Brooks continues:
“Some of the early biological augmentations of ourselves may entail increasing the number of neurons in our cortex. Already these sorts of experiments are being carried out on rats. When extra layers of neurons are placed in the brain of a rat at a critical time in its development, its intelligence is enhanced relative to rats without this augmentation. As we better understand the hormonal balances that control the growth of our brain in childhood, we will perhaps be able to add sheets of neurons to our adult brains, adding a few points to our IQ and restoring our memory abilities to those we had when younger. There will likely be some errors and horror stories about augmentation gone haywire, but make no mistake — the technology, in fits and starts, will proceed.
“By the midpoint of the twenty-first century, we will have many, many new biological capabilities. Some of them seem fanciful today, just as projections about the speed, memory, and price of today’s computers would have seemed fanciful to the engineers working on the first digital computers in 1950.” 
Psychology and mathematics are also turning biological. As Marc Hauser, Professor in the Department of Psychology and Program in Neurosciences at Harvard University, wrote:
“A chicken with a piece of quail brain bows its head like a quail but crows like a chicken. A seventy-year-old man with Parkinson’s disease, confined to his wheelchair, receives a piece of brain from a pig and in no time at all is out golfing, without a hint of his porcine accessory. This is not science fiction, a la Douglas Adams. This is scientific fact. Today we can swap brain tissue not just among individuals of the same species but between species. In the next fifty years such exquisite neurobiology will have revolutionized our understanding of the brain—of how it is wired up during development and how it has evolved over time.”
And consider these thoughts from Ian Stewart, the 1995 recipient of the Royal Society’s Michael Faraday medal:
“Far more influential, and far more radical, will be the mathematics inspired by the biosciences: biomathematics. As the triumphal announcements about the human genome give way to a new realism about the results, it has become clear that merely sequencing DNA does not get us very far in understanding organisms, or even in curing diseases. There are huge gaps in our understanding of the link between genes and organisms. . . .
“Genes are part of a dynamic control process that not only makes proteins but modifies them and gets them to the right place in a developing organism at the right moment in its life history. The understanding of this process will require much more than a mere list of DNA codes, and most of what’s missing has to be mathematical. But it will be a new kind of mathematics, one that blends the dynamics of organism growth with the molecular information processing of DNA. . . . The new biomathematics will be a strange new mixture of . . . analysis, geometry, and informatics. Plus lots of biology, of course.” 
Stewart also says:
“Today, complex systems are being studied in two main areas—biology and finance. A stock market, for instance, has many agents who interact by buying and selling stocks and shares. Out of this interaction emerges the financial world. The mathematics of finance and commerce will be revolutionized by throwing away the current “linear” models and introducing ones whose mathematical structure more accurately reflects the real world.
“Even more dramatically, mathematics will invade new areas of human activity altogether—social science, the arts, even politics. However, mathematics will not be used in the same way as it is currently used in the physical sciences.” 
And National Medal of Technology recipient Ray Kurzweil writes:
“. . .‘narrow’ AI [includes] machine intelligence that equals or exceeds human intelligence for specific tasks. Every time you send an e-mail or make a cell phone call, intelligent algorithms route the information. AI programs diagnose heart disease, fly and land airplanes, guide autonomous weapons, make automated investment decisions for a trillion dollars’ worth of funds and guide industrial processes. These were all research projects a couple of decades ago.
“So what are the prospects for ‘strong’ AI . . . with the full range of human intelligence? We can meet the hardware requirements . . . . [W]e need about 10 quadrillion calculations a second to provide a functional equivalent to all the regions of the brain. IBM’s Blue Gene/L computer is already at 100 trillion. If we plug in the semiconductor industry’s projections, we can see that 10 quadrillion calculations a second will be available for $1,000 by around 2020.” 
The ramifications are mind boggling, and the science is clearly here to stay.
But how is this all shifting to the realm of statesmanship and social leadership? The answer is profound. Genetic engineering, cloning, bio-mathematics and direct genetic healing cross the boundaries between science and leadership on many levels.
Jefferson spoke for all the great freedom philosophers of history when he wrote, “all men are created equal.” Indeed, this is the most basic tenet of free government, free markets and just laws.
But what if a new generation of children aren’t created equal?
What if only the very rich, or citizens in certain leading nations, can afford the gene scripting that gives their children the brains of Aristotle, the strength and speed of a professional football player, the height of a pro basketball center, and the looks of Apollo?
What if some men and women really are created “more equal than others?”
Politicians may try to stop the use of this technology for a time, just like they met in diplomatic summits and signed treaties to stop the technologies of the machine gun, chemical weapons, mind-enhancing drugs for entertainment, or nuclear weapons.
But where the technology exists, human beings will find a way to use it. The statesmen of the 21st Century will have to do better than just passing laws or signing treaties.
Indeed, the statesmen and social leaders of our generation will face a host of challenges unimagined by Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Gandhi, Churchill, or Mother Teresa. Which is why we must be better prepared than any generation before us — in virtue, wisdom, diplomacy and courage.
We must be the best educated of any generation — ever.
Just consider the emerging concept of General Evolution, as taught by Meyer and Davis.
Whereas micro-evolution means that external pressures, adaptation and mutation lead to evolution within a species, and macro-evolution refers to one species evolving into another, the evolution debate is now infused with a whole new issue.
General Evolution argues that all things, not just biological organisms, evolve along the same lines as Darwin’s micro-evolution.
In short, agents act to create, the creations face selective pressures and either perish or overcome, they overcome by connecting with other agents and then adapting, such adaptation causes them to evolve to a whole new level, where they self-organize, replicate or reproduce, and start over.
In biology the agent is the cell, made up of smaller agents such as proteins. In society the agent is the family, in an economy it is a business, in physics it is an atom, and so on. In the Information Age the agent is software, and if it actually does evolve, then it will naturally meet the criteria of being alive.
This may seem far-fetched, but who is to say that the biology code of G,T,A,C is inherently superior to the binary code of 1 and 0? Both were created or inspired by the same God. Indeed, numerous researchers are currently combining the two.
Interestingly, many of the strongest proponents of both sides of the 20th Century debate over macro evolution versus creationism are natural believers in General Evolution.
The atheistic skeptic already believes that man is god, so why can’t we create other beings in our own image that hopefully are like us in all the good ways but don’t inherit our flaws?
And the religious person believes that God created man, and that He also gave us the gift to create.
They will never take the place of human beings, just like cats and dogs never take the place of our children — but for people who don’t have children in the home, pets and smart machines might be excellent company.
In any case, in more practical terms, many (if not a majority) of the entrepreneurs of the 21st Century will only succeed if they infuse biology into their companies — in terms of products and especially relationships.
The mothers, fathers, entrepreneurs, social leaders, social entrepreneurs, community leaders and national and world statesmen of the 21st Century need to think biologically. They need to realize that families, schools, nations, and societies are organic, not mechanical.
For example, mothers are much more like arms than bumpers — you can’t just pull one off and replace it, without creating excruciating and lasting pain. Schools that treat teachers like factory workers instead of best friends will be full of students with glazed over eyes who can’t wait to get out of school. Why should they study if they hate the place?
Nations which pass laws mechanically, just assuming that whatever is legal will be followed by everyone regardless of their deepest beliefs, will not succeed.
People are disposed to “suffer a long chain of abuses,” but at some point the soul comes out and slaves rise against masters — not because they want to, but because deep within them they have to. It’s who they are. It’s their biology, and their spirit.
In less extreme nations, where slavery is outlawed, but the laws slowly promote immorality and become less and less just, the same pattern emerges. Eventually the people stand up, speak out, and do whatever it takes to win back their freedoms and re-institute virtue and goodness.
When positive change occurs, it does so biologically, organically, not mechanically. Like the fall of the Berlin Wall or the Civil Rights movement, few can predict it and then suddenly, in a few short years it is over and the world is changed. In retrospect, it seems inevitable.
That is what statesmanship and social leadership are about: preparing yourself to recognize unforeseen opportunity and lead change when the time is finally right.
20th Century experts may continue to suggest a mechanical strategy and a well-formed plan for the change, but a deep reading of history shows that the most important changes don’t happen that way.
Missions Worth Pursuing
The great changes of the 21st Century will happen biologically, naturally, as you submit to your Higher Power, focus your life on the mission given to you, and do what our generation was born to do.
In the 21st Century, there is nothing stopping us from feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, healing the sick, educating the ignorant, and freeing the captive. These are each biological imperatives. They are why our generation was born.
These are the missions worth pursuing. If you are giving your life to something else, please reconsider. You were born for a purpose. Find out what it is, and dedicate your whole biology to it — your body, heart, mind, and even your soul. Such grand purposes are the core of the human being. It is who we are. It is why we were born.
7 Areas of Focus for 21st Century Leaders
Specifically, the leaders of the 21st Century will lead biology in the following seven arenas. Each of us needs to become a student of all of them, and others that will naturally emerge in the decades ahead. Indeed, by 2020 I predict that to “be educated” will mean that you are literate in all seven, and a master of at least a few.
The 7 divisions of the new biology are:
- A vision of the future that is simultaneously accurate, good, and transformational.
- Adaptability and flexibility in the face of frequent change.
- Robustness and strength in overcoming all the challenges of this generation.
- The spirit of innovation, of destabilizing things that seem to be okay but are actually mediocre.
- Exploration and experimentation of good ideas and “impossible” dreams.
- Depth relationships — meaning a life focus on the most important relationships, with spouse, children, family and a few intimate others.
- Breadth relationships — including ministering to the people of the world by building friendships in every nation and people.
Where & How to Get This Education
The vision of George Wythe University is to train world-class statesmen who are true experts in these organic processes.
GWU provides an in-depth study of what constitutes our society — the basic political, governmental, legal, economic, social, cultural, business and family forms which make up a society. It is, in the broad sense, the new biology.
Whereas rocket science studies inanimate objects, GWU students study these seven biological challenges. They also master an eighth challenge, which is the highest struggle biology has ever known: how to build the ideal society.
If you were born to be one of the statesmen or stateswomen of the 21st Century, let nothing stop you from getting a true statesman’s education.
What Will You Invest In?
Whatever your focus is during the next decade, in the Century of Biology it is finally time to dedicate ourselves to solving the world’s problems.
Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, liberating the captive and teaching the ignorant are not just good ideas; they are our biological purpose in the decades ahead. They are why we are here.
We are biological beings. Biological entities don’t just exist, they live. Such beings learn, adapt, and at the highest levels, serve. They meet challenges and change the world. This is your heritage. It is the reason you are here. Live up to it.
Finally, the highest level of biology is investment. Whatever living organisms invest in tends to create their legacy and their future. Most living things invest primarily in survival. Man-made organizations tend to focus their investment on growing.
The Caucasian cultures that arose in Europe and spread throughout Western Civilization invest mainly in assets. In contrast, the Hebrews traditionally saw education as the highest investment. Many cultures around the world invest in relationships or family as the highest goal. And a number of Asian cultures emphasize investing in beauty or meaning.
You are what you invest in– you’ll put your best time, best effort and deepest desires into your primary investment in life. So choose your investment well. Because whatever you choose, it will define you, as well as your failure and your success.
For statesmen and social leaders, there is only one choice: a special type of biological relationship called Service. If your life is lost in serving the good of the world, you will find yourself.
And maybe, if I can be so bold, you will become something much, much more than a biological being.