“The Center for Planetary Culture is a new organization that uses the familiar structure of a think tank to explore cutting-edge ideas and practices. As part of our work, we consult, experiment, innovate, propose, propound and pontificate. We also incubate new media and technology projects. Our admittedly ambitious mission is to help humanity evolve to a new level of consciousness – to transition from competition and aggression to cooperation and symbiosis as our basic paradigm, shifting to a social model based on regenerative principles of design.” *
Co-founder Daniel Pinchbeck explains the motivation in creating CPC:
“As executive director of CPC, I must admit that, until quite recently, I found think tanks to be a nebulous notion. The ones I knew seemed slightly intimidating and malignant – Project for a New American Century, which helped develop plans for the Iraq War; the RAND Corporation, with its connections to the NSA; the neoliberal Brookings Institute; the Council on Foreign Relations, with its Kissinger-esque and Strangelove-ian undertones; and so on. Many of the bigger think tanks seem like gears in the inexorable machinery of the military industrial complex – the New World Order of imperialist domination and corporate control, which continues to rampage across our world.
Yet, when my wife Jana Astanov and I were given the opportunity to start a think tank,we jumped at the chance. We realized that think tanks play a unique role in our culture:By taking an eagle’s eye view, they can apply long-range, strategic planning to crucialsocial issues, and cause ripples over time. While there are a number of progressive and radical think tanks, I couldn’t find any that reflected my particular viewpoint. In my past work, integrated social theory and political philosophy with explorations into the nature of consciousness and the knowledge systems of indigenous cultures.
We will never address the underlying problems we face not just as individuals, but as a species – without a profound change in our collective beliefs, values, and worldview. In my books, I proposed that our modern, or postmodern, civilization is undergoing a passage through the Underworld, as part of a collective initiation. The excessive development of one-sided rational and scientific thought led to a tremendous surge in human capability, on the one hand, but a near-total loss of our connection to nature and the Cosmos, on the other. Today, we experience constant vertigo – disorienting, dissociative – caused by the acceleration of technical and technological “progress,” which produces more information in every field of human endeavor, accompanied by the traumatic loss of any sense of meaning, soul, or sacredness to our shared Earth.
Loss of soul is the defining characteristic of postmodern civilization, now in its late – orterminal – stage. We all suffer from it, to one degree or another. All around the world,people seek to fill the inner void with degraded substitutes for true communion. We aretold that more progress, more economic development, new material goods, bettertechnological gadgets will somehow compensate for what we have forfeited. This is thelie promulgated by our current system. It is the vision of philanthro-capitalists, as well as technological utopians, disseminated through TED conferences and the mass media. We sense the inherent falseness of it – but any alternative seems impossible to envision or adopt.
We now know that our civilization is rapidly degrading the biosphere’s capacity to support life. The situation is so extreme that we approach the possibility of our own near term extinction. This is not an exaggeration. According to conservative estimates by scientists, we are on track for at least a 4 – 6 degree Celsius temperature rise by 2100. The oceans are 30% more acidic than they were 40 years ago, because they absorb a great deal of the excess carbon we emit, potentially causing the disintegration of all of the world’s coral reefs. If temperatures rise as predicted, more than 50% of species currently living will go extinct. The glaciers that bring fresh water to billions of people will disappear, as agriculture becomes impossible across vast regions.
Personally, I never expected to be obsessed with environmental issues or climate change. When I was in my twenties, I wanted to be an avant-garde writer in the tradition of Kafka, Thomas Bernhard, and George Perec. I still hope to write long experimental novels some day. However, right now we are putting our energy into developing a research project – a white paper and Wiki – on a strategic plan for transition to a regenerative civilization, where we have rebalanced our relationship to nature while ameliorating social and economic injustice. We are inspired by Buckminster Fuller, who wrote, back in the 1960s, that humanity had to choose between “utopia or oblivion.” Today it is even more evident that we will either design a world that works for everyone, or humanity will not survive.” (http://www.danielpinchbeck.net/center-for-planetary-cultures-first-newsletter/)
This is from an interview with the CPC’s Creative Director:
* What’s the central mission of the think tank?
“Our goal is to help provide a new vision as well as a strategic plan for how human civilization can evolve to become ecologically regenerative and socially just. We believe that climate change, ocean acidification, species extinction and other threats facing us as a species can be an initiatory opportunity to shift to a cooperative rather than a competitive paradigm. People like to think of Daniel as a poster child for psychedelics – at parties it’s often all people want to talk to him about, even within the NYC elite. Maybe it’s the topic of choice because it’s easier than the real conversation about how to change society. But he is an American philosopher, and his new book is also about ways to transform our current civilisation to create a new vision for humanity.”
* Which it could be argued is a very utopian vision…
“It is, although many other thinkers share it as well, such as Barbara Marx Hubbard and Duane Elgin. Some might consider it utopian. I would say that what Daniel does is to create an imaginary framework to show the potential for us all to lift ourselves to a higher level of consciousness and really share the world. So through the think tank, we will create papers and Wikis that ask, and seek to answer, the question: ‘What can we do to bring planetary culture into fruition, and see our world transformed?’”