The Broken Political System Problem

With side effects

The Thwink analysis eventually led to a huge unexpected insight. The global environmental sustainability problem is not the problem to solve after all. The sustainability problem is a symptom of a deeper problem, which we have labeled the Broken Political System Problem. This is the real problem to solve, as explained by the diagram.

By “broken“ we mean the world’s democratic and socialist political systems should be solving sustainability problems, because their solution would benefit the common good. But they are not. Something is terribly broken.

The SIP analysis decomposed the sustainability problem into four subproblems. By adding two more of the Three Pillars of Sustainability, the economic and social pillars, we arrive at these six subproblems:

A – Change Resistance Subproblem
B – Life Form Proper Coupling Subproblem
C – Model Drift Subproblem
D – Environmental Proper Coupling Subproblem
E – Economic Unsustainability
F – Social Unsustainability

Subproblems D, E, and F are side effects (symptoms) of the Broken Political System Problem. Until that problem is solved, no direct solutions to the sustainability problem will work. They will be rejected or greatly weakened due to high change resistance, which is subproblem A. Or they will be weakened, poorly enforced, or even withdrawn due to excessive solution Model Drift, which is subproblem C.

The Broken Political System Problem consists of subproblems A, B, and C. B is the most important one since it causes A and C. Let's examine these three subproblems:

Subprobem B - This is the Life Form Proper Coupling subproblem. The top two life forms in the biosphere, Homo sapiens and Corporatis profitis, are improperly coupled because their goals are mutually exclusive. Corporatis profitis is the modern large for-profit corporation. Its goal is to maximize short term profits, while the goal of Homo sapiens is to optimize the long term quality of life for those people living and their descendents. These goals are so mutually exclusive that only one life form will prevail and dominate. Currently this is Corporatis profitis, especially in developed nations. This unresolved root cause causes subproblems A and B because that furthers the goal of Corporatis profitis.

Subprobem A - The symptoms of this subproblem are high change resistance to solving environmental, economic, or social sustainability problems. That resistance is caused by subproblem B. This explains why direct solutions to solve the change resistance subproblem, such as marches, environmental magazines, sit ins, lobbying, education on college campuses, etc, have had little effect. These solution forces are a drop in the bucket compared to the much larger forces to NOT solve these problems. These larger forces arise from subproblem B.

Subprobem C - This is the excessive solution model drift subproblem. Subproblem C behaves In a similar manner to subproblem A. The symptoms are that solutions accepted by the political system will soon become ineffective, due to being weakened, poorly enforced, poorly managed, or even withdrawn. A common example is regulatory capture. It's as if the system was fighting to sabotage solutions to common good problems like sustainability. This it be expected, because excessive solution model drift furthers the goal of Corporatis profitis. This explains how subproblem B causes subproblem C.

The discovery of the Broken Political System Problem is a huge insight because it explains so much. Activists, scholars, NGOs, and agencies trying to solve the sustainability problem have all been shadow boxing. They have pushed and pummeled away at trying to solve subproblems D, E, and F with millions of solution efforts. Little of this has worked. Now we know why. It's because these solutions do nothing to solve the Broken Political System Problem.

There's another way to look at this. The system that’s broken is modern democracy, because it is no longer working for the common good. It’s been hijacked by special interests, notably large for-profit corporations and their owners, the rich, to serve the uncommon good. The result is all three pillars of sustainability are crumbling.

We face a potentially grim future. Until solution efforts change to solving the Broken Political System Problem, the world will continue its death-like march toward environmental, economic, and social sustainability catastrophe.

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DISMALL Problems

The outstanding feature of the Broken Political Problem is that its side effects are the problems most public interest activists are trying to solve. These side effects fit a common pattern, one so revealing that we have labeled the side effects DISMALL problems. This perspective takes us to the higher level of thinking required to solve these problems.