Collective intelligence

When thinking about power and what a world without institutionalised hierarchy might look like, we're constrained in our thinking by conditioning from birth. Institutionalised hierarchy is the only world we've experienced: from our parents, through school, university, work and civil society; everything is hierarchical. Even in leisure we institutionalise hierarchy; think of the political nature of voluntary groups or amateur dramatics. Where there are no incentives or penalties, because people are volunteers, one can only wield power by consent but nonetheless hierarchy tends to persist in voluntary activities too.

On Critical Thinking's journey we've had to explore issues where there is little discourse or evidence in the mainstream and this is particularly true of non-hierarchy. Nonetheless, over the last three years, evidence of the power of non-hierarchical, co-creation and collaboration has slowly accumulated within Critical Thinking itself.

We were first alerted to the importance of hierarchy by Murray Bookchin's Ecology of Freedom which examines the intellectual justification to dissolve hierarchy and challenges us to explore further. Bookchin's ideas inspired Abdul Ocalan to encourage non-hierarchical practice within the PKK which has been highly effective in resisting ISIS although the Kurds have been used and abused by the various national regimes under which they live.

We subsequently came across the work of Frederic Laloux whose dozen or so case studies examined in his book Reinventing Organisations demonstrate how self-organisation works in practice today to manage large, highly complex tasks. The three common denominators driving the success of these experiments in self-organisation are:

  • Self-management
  • Wholeness
  • Evolutionary purpose

Our explorations led us into evolutionary biology, palaeolithic politics and the empathic gene which further support the merits of non-hierarchical, self-managing structures to manage complex tasks and societies.

Natural Inclusion (NI) expanded our thinking into the "intuitive mind" which, combined with the use of art in our work, demonstrated the importance of space in understanding the world but more profoundly, our interconnectedness within humanity and the universe. Combined with exploration of philosophy and other "soft" subjects (as described by the established dogma in education today), NI allows us to experience intimacy which is deeper than physical touch - it is a unifying of consciousness, most vividly experienced through arts and music.

The practice of "thinking and making" creates a similar dynamic in groups which fosters creativity that is so much greater than the sum of each individual's contribution. It is a geometric rather than a simple arithmetic progression; for example with a group of six people, the creative power is 1x2x3x4x5x6 = 720 times more powerful than the individual as opposed to 1+2+3+4+5+6 = 21 times more powerful. This is why the resonance engine developed by Jazz Rasool works; explains why Margaret Mead's contention holds true: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."; and is behind Michael Ruppert's story of the 100th monkey.

This is what we've experienced within Critical Thinking; our work is the product of collaboration and co-creation among hundreds of people, bringing together the research, analysis and deliberations of thousands of people exploring the human experience today and since the birth of civilisation. Critical Thinking is not merely the output of the work of the few people who meet regularly in London but encompasses that of all the individuals and groups who've interacted with us through conversations, articles, books, papers, emails, Twitter and the website. It is a cumulative synthesis of human wisdom but it is not the definitive answer to the meaning of life, more a work in progress which is constantly expanding.

Critical Thinking is but one catalyst to bring about a shift in human consciousness; we come across more and more groups and individuals who are thinking along the same lines. It is the process, rather than our output which is most important.

Through the NI group, we've come across empirical study which demonstrates how creative and productive small groups can be. It shows that by adhering to non-hierarchy, using all that has been claimed above and demonstrated within Critical Thinking, we can shift human consciousness.

Evidence for a Collective Intelligence Factor in the Performance of Human Groups by Anita Williams Woolley et al
Psychologists have repeatedly shown that a single statistical factor—often called “general intelligence”—emerges from the correlations among people’s performance on a wide variety of cognitive tasks. But no one has systematically examined whether a similar kind of “collective intelligence” exists for groups of people. In two studies with 699 people, working in groups of two to five, we find converging evidence of a general collective intelligence factor that explains a group’s performance on a wide variety of tasks. This “c factor” is not strongly correlated with the average or maximum individual intelligence of group members but is correlated with the average social sensitivity of group members, the equality in distribution of conversational turn-taking, and the proportion of females in the group.

We are creating a process of thinking to bring about freedom and prosperity. All the evidence suggests Critical Thinking is on the right track but it is for others to adopt and adapt the process to validate it and create a new political economy of miraculous abundance. It starts in families, groups and communities and can then evolve, through regional and national practice, into a global ecology of thinking which will lead to freedom and prosperity for all.

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