The Chaos Point: The World at the Crossroads

Hampton Roads Publishing Co., Inc., 2006, 175 pp. Paper: $16.95.

by Ervin Laszlo. Charlottesville, VA

This is an inspirational book, a call for action, and a basis for hope. We have entered a window of opportunity that the author brilliantly illustrates using the concepts of chaos theory. Dr. Ervin Laszlo is a unique scientist who founded systems philosophy and general evolution theory. But he is also the founder and president of the Club of Budapest, an informal association of highly creative people who use their insight to enhance awareness of global problems and human opportunities.
The book starts with a Chinese proverb that warns, “If we do not change direction, we are likely to end up exactly where we are headed.” The author then summarizes the problems the world is now facing and their causes. He emphasizes that we are at a critical juncture in history. We now face a “decision-window.” We are headed on a path towards global breakdown where societies will experience accelerating terrorism, crime, wars, intolerance and an inhospitable biosphere for human life. Thus, there will either be a global breakdown of civilization or a breakthrough to a better future for our children and us.   
The author points out that we can’t use linear extrapolations of existing trends to predict the future.  Humans, human society and the planet are all non-linear systems --- like the weather. To understand how such complex non-linear systems develop, he believes that we need to use modern system theory. This involves the application of “chaos theory” to help us understand future options. Chaos theory shows us that the evolution of a complex non-linear system always involves alternating between periods of stability and instability, between order and chaos.  When you reach the chaos point the present state of the system breaks down and a split or “bifurcation” occurs. The entire system is launched irrevocably on a new trajectory.
Data indicates that human civilization and the planet are now approaching a chaos point as the world becomes ecologically, socially and economically unsustainable. Since the 1960’s the process taking us to the chaos point has been accelerating – there is no going back – the bifurcation point is coming – some predict around the end of 2012.  However, there is great opportunity at such times as now. In periods of relative stability, the system tends to dampen our change. But that is not true in the period just prior to reaching the chaos point. Although chaotic systems are linked to past actions, the future is open during the window of time just before we reach the chaos point. As the system reaches the limits of its stability, chaos theory shows that the smallest “push” or “fluctuation” can impel the system to develop into a new and different trajectory. Because of this super sensitivity in the system even a small fluctuation produce large-scale effects. This is the legendary “butterfly” effect. As the saying goes, a butterfly flaps its wings in San Francisco and a storm is produced in Beijing, China. Thus, this time in history presents a window of unprecedented freedom, for those who are consciously aware, to become midwives for a new world that is struggling to be born.
Chaos and system theory discloses that the transformation of society follows a recognizable pattern of major phases. In society, fundamental change is triggered by technological innovations that destabilize the established structures and institutions. Although technology can be powerful and sophisticated, it remains a tool.  Its utility depends on how it is used and that is determined by the wisdom we possess.
The author emphasizes that society is culturally and not genetically coded. We can mutate our culture whereas we cannot change our gene pool. Such a change of culture can be willfully launched and consciously oriented to create a new civilization. This process depends upon the evolution of our own consciousness.  A more evolved consciousness stimulates new thinking, which in turn is the key to the emergence of a new civilization. This is why the Club of Budapest “is dedicated to the proposition that only by changing ourselves can we change our world.” This evolution represents a precondition for our collective survival. It is supported by two key conclusions that come out of both physics and consciousness research: interconnectiveness permeates the universe, and thoughts/intentions have the power to affect the physical world.
As Jonas Salk stated: Our future evolution will not be decided by the survival of the strongest but by the survival of the wisest. Dr. Lazlo has written a book that is a call to action for all those who can “see” the problems that humanity will face in the near future. Now is not the time for despair, or for optimism or pessimism. It is a time for action! As Dr. Lazlo states: “We live at a time when we have unprecedented power – and hence unprecedented responsibility – to decide our destiny. --- A critical mass of people in society must take an active role. That means you and me, and others around us.”
William C. Gough, Chairman, Emeritus
Foundation for Mind-Being Research
442 Knoll Drive, Los Altos, CA 94024
To send an email to Bill Gough

Updated Jan 2, 2008.