We are entering a period of dramatic change that will reshape our world. The tectonic plates are shifting, the pressure has been building and the earth will move beneath our feet. The frozen ice will melt, bringing long dormant forces back to life. Solutions that have been waiting in the wings will quickly come to the fore. Everything will go in the crucible and a new world will be formed. As things unravel, unforeseen events will trigger a chain reaction which will unleash forces beyond our control. In such times, our shadow side’s long repressed tensions and impulses reawaken.
Events may take a number of turns. We may descend into conflict, financial crisis and ecological disaster. We may rise to the challenges we face wisely, raise our consciousness to match the moment. We can harness the creative energy of every human being alive to create a new civilization that enables each one of us to fulfil our potential.
We do not have the choice of keeping things as they are. Nature will not allow it. We do have a choice about how we respond to this time of upheaval. We can enter it unconsciously or passively and allow nature to take its course. That would be the perfect environment for extremists, ideologues or vested interests to manipulate group dynamics to their own ends.
Alternatively, we can keep a level head and recalibrate our inner compass and map and establish a clear vision of who we are, what we believe, what we value and where we’re going. If we imagine the ideal world we want to create and identify the necessary steps to get there, then we have got some chance of achieving it. That is the purpose of this new Magna Carta.
2015 is the eight-hundredth anniversary of the Magna Carta, which was sealed in 1215 beside the River Thames at Runnymede, just outside London. It is often cited as the first written agreement in the long journey from absolute monarchy to democracy. It was an agreement between King John and his nobles and clergy, who agreed to support him in exchange for a guarantee of their rights and freedoms. It ended the absolute power of the King who agreed to be subject to the law himself. It guaranteed freedom from arbitrary arrest and right to due process in law. It established the principle that there should be no taxation without consensus, that people were free to come and go from the kingdom, that the Church was free in England, and it established the freedom of the City of London.
Three clauses of the Magna Carta remain on the statute book of the United Kingdom and its imprint can be found in the constitutions of the United States, many Commonwealth countries, the European Union and the United Nations. Although Magna Carta has come to be honoured as our foundational constitutional document, at the time, it was only a pragmatic agreement meant to sort out the problems of the moment.
This book is offered to you as a proposal for a new Magna Carta. I hope that you will choose to participate in the process of evolving and improving future editions. The New Magna Carta is divided into sections covering the full scope of our civilization. Within each is a series of assertions, backed up with an explanatory paragraph that includes gratitude, pathologies, incisive questions and a Heaven on Earth vision.
‘Who does this guy think he is? How arrogant!’
In 2011, when I launched the Future of Western Civilization series, someone said, ‘Who does this guy think he is? How arrogant!’ Sometimes, I can indeed be arrogant, but that is not what motivated me to embark on this project. It is quite right to challenge anyone who sets themselves up as an expert on anything; some so-called ‘experts’ have less wisdom and common sense than the average person in the street. All of us contain a mini-map and inner compass of our civilization. We are all individual cells in a giant conscious organism. There isn’t really anyone in charge. Our leaders are nowhere near as powerful as we believe they are or would wish them to be. It is in continuous evolution and each of us plays a part in that. I believe that it is our individual duty to improve our civilization through our own thoughts and actions.
I offer the New Magna Carta as an inspiration, catalyst, challenge, an invitation to think about what makes our civilization great, what could be better, how you would like it to be, how to make that happen and what you personally are going to do about it right now.
I’ve spent most of my life in London although I have travelled widely. After training in medicine I specialised in psychiatry and developed an integral, holistic way of working. It didn’t take me long to realise that the bureaucracies who deliver healthcare crush the human spirit of the people working in their institutions rather than maximising their potential in the service of patients. I spent years preparing myself to be a consultant in what I call ‘Organic Leadership’ – in other words, aligning organisations with human nature.
On September 11, 2001, I watched the attacks aimed at the heart of Western Civilization. I realised that we had to do our foreign policy better. I launched myself into the world of diplomacy, security and foreign policy. I explored how we could apply the knowledge of psychiatry, psychology and group dynamics to the world of international relations. All relationships have three dimensions-power, transaction and emotional connection. We are familiar with the use of power in international relations through the military, economics and other forms of influence. Transaction has always been the heart of foreign policy, which revolves around trade, negotiation and treaties. Psychology has always been important at the individual level between kings, tribal leaders and diplomats. People have always been aware of cultural differences and tried to act accordingly. In the modern world, technology has enabled whole populations of countries to interact both individually and as a collective mass consciousness. With the risks and opportunities we face today, it is essential that we consciously and actively manage those relationships as best we can.
My initial approach to the misnamed ‘War on Terror’ strategy was a rather naive one. I believed that we needed more dialogue, listening, mutual understanding, mutual respect and conflict resolution. It didn’t take me long to realise that there was much more to it than that. I noticed a glaring hole at the centre of our strategy. We, the West, were totally focused on ‘them,’ trying to calculate how to manipulate ‘them’ to do what we wanted. What was missing was the most powerful thing we can do to influence others – to change our own values, attitudes, behaviour and beliefs. We were so focused on them that we failed to notice how we, Western Civilization, had really lost sight of who we are, what we believe, what we stand for, what is important to us, what is true and false, what is right and wrong, where we are heading, how we see ourselves and what kind of future we envisage. I realised that we would be much more powerful and secure if we came from a position of self-confidence, strong identity and clarity of values and vision. From that position of inner strength, we would be in a much better place to sincerely relate to our friends, competitors and enemies.
In the Future of Western Civilization series, I interviewed 30 visionary leaders, inviting them to share their positive vision for the future, tested that vision and asked how to make it practical. In Analyze West I wrote the story of Western Civilization embodied in a character called West who underwent psychotherapy with psychiatrist Dr James Hill. Having healed some of his wounds, clarified his thinking and integrated his many parts, West rose to one final challenge. The story culminates with West announcing his intention to write the new Magna Carta. So, here it is, edition one.
The Original Magna Carta
Magna Carta means ‘Great Charter’ in Latin. It was an agreement sealed 800 years ago in 1215 between King John of England and his nobles and clergy. King John had alienated his nobles by waging unpopular wars and taxing them to the hilt. They were fed up with his autocratic rule. He lost the confidence of his allies. He had fallen out with the Pope in Rome, which was unacceptable to the clergy. They ganged up on him and forced him to sign the Magna Carta, pictured below, at Runnymede on the River Thames.
The Magna Carta guarantees the basic rights and freedoms of those nobles and clergy. It was the first time in English history that a king had been forced to publicly acknowledge that he was subject to the rule of law. It is a combination of high principles such as freedom, liberty and the rule of law, and solutions to parochial issues of the time. Three clauses are still on the statute book of the United Kingdom. Clause 1 establishes the freedom of the Church in England. Clause 13 guarantees the independence of the City of London, the world’s global financial centre. Clause 39 enshrines the rule of law, freedom from arbitrary arrest and the right to trial by a jury of equals. The rest has since been superseded. Clause 48 banned evil customs and mystical practices in the forest. Clause 49 agreed the return of hostages. Clause 50 barred certain individuals from high office and Clause 51 demanded the expulsion of foreign knights.
King John had no intention of sticking to the agreement. It was a tactical ploy to get him out of a difficult position. He reneged on it within ten weeks and there was bitter fighting until it was finally written into law in 1225. It was largely forgotten for most of the following 800 years, remembered by subsequent generations who have sought to expand and extend the rights and freedoms of the people and to hold the monarch and government to account.
The British exported the Magna Carta around the world. Its principles can be found in the United States Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, the European Convention on Human Rights and the Charter of the United Nations which consciously drew upon the spirit of Magna Carta. It remains in word or in spirit in the laws of India, Canada, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Ghana, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Singapore, Burma, Ireland, Cyprus, Barbados, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Malta, Uganda, Zambia, Tanzania, Oman, New Guinea, Nepal, Maldives, Malawi, Lesotho, Kuwait, Kenya, Guyana, Bahrain, Sudan, Namibia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Botswana, Guyana, Israel, Gibraltar, Fiji and most of the Caribbean. Its core values remain as valid today as they were 800 years ago. Needless to say, the observance of those principles is variable and far from perfect.
The Magna Carta originally applied only to a few privileged nobles and clergy. However, over time these principles have gradually been extended in ever increasing circles of freedom and liberty to the rest of the population. The evolution of democracy, the emancipation of slaves, the decolonisation of Empires and the modern movements for the liberation of women, ethnic, religious and sexual minorities have been driven by the same core principles of freedom, rights and justice.
This evolutionary process continues to this very day. You can read the full text of the Original Magna Carta at: