The Realm of the Red Queen and the Dawn of the New Enlightenment

‘Well, in our country,’ said Alice, still panting a little, ‘you’d generally get to somewhere else — if you ran very fast for a long time, as we’ve been doing.’

‘A slow sort of country!’ said the Queen. ‘Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.

If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!’

In society , civil society, business, or the state, change is accelerating.

It can feel bewildering. You might want to close your eyes for a minute, transport yourself to another place — a slow sort of country.

You could live there if you like. A proud King Canute on the shores of a Nostalgic Isle denying the inevitable progress and change taking place in the outside world.

Heaping fossil fuels into your fireplace at the end of the day to dry your feet and pretending that it isn’t real, that it isn’t happening. That the weather was always like this, that the tide isn’t a little higher than before, that if we just keep on doing what we always did everything will be alright.

In your dreams pal. You need to wake up.

The Red Queen is on the march!

Adventures in the New Worlds

In Lewis Carol’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, games are being played with how reality is experienced and expected to behave.

The author Lewis (real name Charles Dodgson) was a mathematician at Christ Church College, Oxford and at the time of writing his book the world of maths was begining to change.

From it’s basis in physical reality, firmly rooted in evident truths, principles and axioms — these previously solid foundations were being eroded by an entirely alien set of ideas.

Nonsensical concepts such as imaginary numbers were becoming common place and the real world was no longer the only game in town.

The perceived absurdities (Charles Dodgson was not a fan!) presented by this unreal mathematical world find themselves translated and retold by Lewis through the characters and situations encountered by Alice.

For the reading of this post it helps me to present the existence of two entirely different ways of viewing the world — and where both are valid.

Charles Dodgson’s world was very real to him.

But that didn’t mean that the imaginary world wasn’t very real too.

In fact the two worlds could coexist and compliment each other perfectly.

Looking backwards we can see that it is by creating new worlds that humankind has been able to take the greatest leaps forward.

Humanity is at its best when being adventurous and creative. It’s also the most fun you can have with your hat on!

The Red Queen would be amused.

Ideas can create new worlds or enshrine old ones

The Enlightenment was closely connected to the Scientific Revolution and together its ideas and thoughts questioned the previous world view and brought another world into being.

Its foundations were rooted in the scientific method (a process of experimentation and observation) and reductionism (a belief that everything can be broken into smaller parts and understood).

It is fair to say that in today’s world reductionist thinking can be seen in how we understand and approach every aspect of our society, government, economy, industry, organisation, education, research and sciences.

But within it lies a weakness. An Achilles heel which could be hidden as long as the pace of the Red Queen allowed it.

Now that the Red Queen is on the march it’s time to call this foundation into question.

It’s time for us to create a new world.

For a new era to dawn we must challenge history itself.

The Industrial Age and The Great System

Industrial, mechanistic and reductionist thinking and approaches are not inherently wrong. But ultimately they run into a barrier.

When you see and understand everything in a machine like way then efficiencies and optimisations become the only way to get more out of a system.

If you want to sell more products what do you do?

Spend more on advertising or optimise your spend.

Want more people trained in specific jobs?

Give more money to training providers.

Every answer is a tweak to an existing system (efficiency) or an exertion of additional force (power) somewhere.

Think of your organisation. Think of your sector or industry.

It’s accelerators and levers and hierarchical systems. It’s pipelines and pressures and the burning of fuel.

It’s Newtonian cause and effect. It’s force and motion.

In a world where everything looks like this type of system new technologies become immediately adopted for efficiency gains and optimisation as there is a ready market for such improvements.

In this world everything has been systematised including invention and discovery.

In this world when the Red Queen shows herself we respond mechanically.

But ultimately this logic runs out of steam — there is no more potential within the system to handle the required increase in gains or productivity.

We wait instead for the what next — the disruption.

Then everything can then repeat itself as before.

The Great System we have built with our Age of Reason minds thus keeps moving inexorably forward. But do we actually know where we are going anymore?

We’ve reached the end of the line

This cycle been the way for the past few centuries and fossil fuels, railways, roads, information technology and globalisation are all a part of the story of the Great System.

But ahead of us new threats are materialising — climate change, pollution, and resource depletion to name just a few.

These are all problems which the Great System is now; causing, perpetuating or making worse. It wasn’t designed or built to address these social or environmental externalities or concerns.

We have reached a very real barrier.

We know that we need to do thing differently — but we cannot stop the Great System.

We know that we need something new — but we are confined by the the world we have built.

We need a way to recreate our existing reality without breaking the old.

We are thus presented with a paradox and both our physical reality and our ways of thinking are limiting our response.

Simply running faster won’t keep us out of trouble.

Now that we’ve reached the end of the line we need to begin thinking differently. How we did things before are not going to work.

The Red Queen as always is present in this conundrum — “Here is the problem and you must solve it” she says “but you must find the answer for yourselves”.

The Red Queen, her Realm, and our World

You will never keep up with the Red Queen unless you understand her nature and her role. Once you do this it changes the way you think about the race.

She isn’t real you see. Not like you and me.

She may be there beside you as you run to keep up but who do you think is at the side of everyone else? You’re not that special.

But the Red Queen is. It’s her job.

The Red Queen is particle and wave. She is everywhere at once.

She is within all of the sciences and is in all of our technology.

She is at the front of all thoughts within all disciplines.

She is in the rising tide, the smoke stack and the oil spill. She’s in the dole queue, the shelter and the soup kitchen.

She is the herald of necessary change.

She evolves us and progresses us.

But try to keep up with her evermore and you can only exhaust yourself and every resource you have.

This is where we are today. We have reached the end of the line.

But how does the Red Queen do what she does so effortlessly?

Understand this and maybe we can borrow from her playbook. We can never be exactly like her, but we could learn to move and think like her and by doing so step beyond our limitations.

We could start playing her game for ourselves.

Lesson #1

The Red Queen never ‘runs’ anywhere — she ‘appears’ everywhere.

In the Realm of the Red Queen everything is connected to everything else, including herself.

Lesson #2

In the Realm of the Red Queen boundaries do and do not exist.

In her reality what is whole can be part of multiple other wholes or parts at the same time.

Lesson #3

The Red Queen is an integral part of evolution.

In the Realm of the Red Queen our world is her garden— it is a natural and developmental ecosystem.

The New Enlightenment (The Age of Realisation)

The Age of Reason brought us this far. Our next leap forward necessitates that we start to do things differently.

We need to rethink where we are and where we are going.

Our technical ability means that we can adopt the role of the Red Queen for ourselves. We can weave and intermix her realm into our own.

We can use this new networked reality to create a coexisting world on top of the old.

A place where:

  1. Everything is connected.

This provides us with a way to deconstruct our existing reality (the Great System) into an infinite number of pieces so that we can bring it together again in other more socially and environmentally beneficial ways.

At the same time we do not break the Great System.

We create an abstraction which sits above and operates within.

We can invent new forms of value which are related to the health of ecosystems and we can connect these into existing resource and financial flows — altering, complimenting, or replacing them where required.

We can change the nature of work from being a driver of efficiency to being a contributory factor in the development of human potential.

There is much here that can be done. There is much to be considered.

There is a different world that is possible if we put our minds to it.

The Age of Realisation requires the creation of a new world and along with it the dawning of a new enlightenment.

It’s going to take everything that our civilisations got to give.

But it could take us everywhere we will ever need to go.

A place where we all realise our full potential.

The Red Queen is showing us the way.