2.7 Ask not what your civilization can do for you – ask what you and we can do to survive, thrive and fulfil our potential

2.7 Ask not what your civilization can do for you – ask what you and we can do to survive, thrive and fulfil our potential

You might expect the author of a book like this to tell you that your job is to save the world. No. In the first instance, you have to look after yourself and those around you to make sure that your basic needs are met. Your primary duty is to survive, thrive if you can, and pass on life. Your duty, like that of every living being, is to adapt to the situation in which you find yourself and achieve your maximum potential. That may sound selfish but it isn’t. You are only useful to others if you are alive, well and able to function. Be aware of your desires, impulses, vocation, values, dreams, purpose, needs and your environment, including the opportunities, threats, emerging situation, demand, trends and your competitive position. You need to use your judgement and instinct to find the best possible niche for you right now.

To echo President Kennedy, ask not what Western Civilization can do for you – ask what you should do in order to survive and thrive, fulfil your potential and help your family, friends, community, nation, Civilization and emerging global tribe to do the same.


How can I best become aware of my circumstances? 

What events, opportunities, threats and future are emerging? 

What is the highest potential here? 

What needs to happen? 

What choices can I make to maximise my/our chances of thriving? 

How can I help my family, my business, my work group, my hospital ward, my school, my police station to adapt, survive, thrive and flourish? 

How do I fit in to the big picture? 

What is my purpose and mission?

What are my skills, gifts and vocation?

What difference can I make?

2.6 Continuously adapt and improve to survive and thrive

2.6 Continuously adapt and improve to survive and thrive

The evolution of Western consciousness and culture has been accelerating exponentially since the Renaissance, through the Enlightenment and Industrial Revolution. Every few generations, the world is turned upside down. The current incarnation of our institutions and structures was recast during the Second World War. In the 60s and 70s we had the cultural revolution of feminism, sexual liberation, the end of Empire, anti-racism and gay rights, which reshaped our culture to a new norm. For decades, our institutions and our cultural values have appeared relatively static on the surface but underneath, the tectonic plates have been shifting. The old structures are still in place and are fighting ever harder to cling on. Most of us know that they are not really working as well as they should and are neither adapted to our present nor fit for the future. The way we do most things is going to have to change.

2.5 Know our strengths, celebrate our successes and build upon them

2.5 Know our strengths, celebrate our successes and build upon them

Western civilization has been by far the biggest driver of freedom, creativity, wealth, health, increasing living standards, opportunity, technology, knowledge, trade and human potential in human history. Our very self-criticism and doubt have driven both our search for knowledge and our quest for justice. We continuously learn from our mistakes and seek to create a better future. We have a long legacy of successful protest movements delivering ever greater freedom and rights from the original Magna Carta through to anti-slavery, anti-imperialism, anti-racism, feminism and environmentalism. Our amazing technology has brought the whole world together for the first time, enabling the emergence of global consciousness. Human beings today have more control over their destiny than they have ever had. We have an open-ended striving for freedom and learning, a thirst for knowledge and openness to new people, change and ideas.

We have taken in people from all over the world to live in our great cities and, in the main, they live in harmony. Younger generations are emerging with more holistic, integrated world-views and collaborative behaviours. We are more free to challenge power and authority than ever before. We can connect with people all over the world and have access to all the information that ever existed via the phone in our pocket. Racism is steadily declining. We are successfully managing the greatest migration in human history. We are much less prejudiced than we used to be. Individuals have the freedom to live their own values. Our religions are finding common ground. Huge numbers of people are developing a post-religious spirituality. We are free to choose our gender, sexuality and family life. We can plan our reproduction. We receive cheap energy at the flick of a switch. Life expectancy is three times what it was three centuries ago.

Many of the diseases of the past are under control. Our medical technology is advancing at an incredible rate. We are safer and less likely to die by violence than at any time in our human history. Compared to previous generations, we are protected from the abuses of arbitrary power, criminals, corrupt officials and foreign armies. We live freely under the rule of law. We are equal before the law. Discrimination is outlawed. We are doing our best to put right the legacies of past wrongs.

We respect the rights of the individual to live their life as they choose. We have freedom that is unparalleled in human history. We have the freedom to think as we please, say what we think, live where we want, travel where we choose, pursue our own livelihood, own property, establish a business and get an education. We have freedom of association and the freedom to be who we want to be. Government, business and the authorities are more transparent and accountable than ever. We have access to a dynamic free media bringing the most amazing diversity of information into our living rooms. The Internet is creating a global mind and brain. We choose our governments and hold them to account. The weak and vulnerable are protected and cared for. We redistribute wealth fairly from the rich to the poor. The vast majority of people don’t have just the basic necessities of life, but rather have significant material wealth, beyond the wildest dreams of our ancestors. We are increasingly conscious of our duty to steward nature and the earth’s resources, and are learning to do so. We remain the most powerful, attractive and popular civilization on the planet. We are the core of an emerging, highly successful, thriving global civilization.

Too good to be true? Naïve? Wishful thinking? Rose tinted glasses? Yes, all of that. So we need a healthy integration of our gratitude and appreciation for what we love them what is working with a balanced analysis of our weaknesses, threats and challenges.

2.4 Balance doubt, criticism and our drive to improve with gratitude

2.4 Balance doubt, criticism and our drive to improve with gratitude

Oh dear! That is depressing isn’t it? If you haven’t already reached for something to drown your sorrows, hold on. We are going to balance that now. Self-criticism and doubt are two of the greatest strengths of Western Civilization. Our doubt, questioning of authority, challenging ideas and assumptions, scepticism, deconstruction of concepts have been one of the core drivers of the explosion in knowledge, technology, science, freedom and human potential that we’ve seen over the last half millennium.

However, it can go too far. It can become destructive. It is easy to sit on the side lines and pick holes in things, find fault, feel superior and sit in judgement on others rather than taking the risk of being one of those who lead or create. Nothing is ever perfect. Human beings aren’t perfect. We have to do our best. It is essential that we are conscious of our weaknesses, faults and failures in order that we can strive to improve, adapt and put things right. However, in a toxic dose, self-hatred, nihilism, cynicism, conspiracy theories, paranoia, hopelessness, victim mentality, jealousy and envy form a poisonous soup which we ought not to drink. We all know what it is like when we are doing our best and someone stands over us with their arms folded pointing out everything that is wrong, what doesn’t work, what should be better and criticising our good intentions. It is debilitating and demotivating. It makes the self-righteous critic feel good about themselves. It is a popular game to play. We’ve all played it and we’ve all been on the receiving end.

When we acquire or achieve something, we quickly take it for granted, looking for the next opportunity or the next thing to complain about. It is important that we balance our criticism, doubt, desire and fears with a healthy appreciation for what we do have and what is working well. How often have we been infuriated when we have to wait in a queue, when our mobile network goes down, when someone cuts us up on the road or when the doctor doesn’t have time to answer all our questions? We can let it ruin our day. Yet how often do we stop to be sincerely grateful for our absolutely amazing complex food system that delivers cheap nutritious food to us with ease, the amazing transport system that enables us to go where ever we like at a moment’s notice and the telephones in our pockets through which we can speak immediately to billions of other people and access more knowledge instantaneously than previous generations had in their great libraries?

The elixir is a healthy dose of appreciation and gratitude. Our minds have evolved to look for faults, threats and risks. It is essential for survival. This activity happens in our logical frontal cortex, sympathetic nervous system and in our emotional limbic system. Gratitude and appreciation are centred in our hearts and our parasympathetic nervous system, but affect our whole being. When we take a moment to appreciate what we do have, what we are grateful for, what is working and what has been effective, we put ourselves in a very different state. Gratitude is good for us. It makes us more peaceful, happy, healthy, creative, pleasant to be around and in a much stronger position to make intelligent decisions. Gratitude puts us in a state of coherence with others. Gratitude builds our self-esteem and resilience and gives a sense of proportion and perspective so that we can make decisions and judgements from a place of peace and calm rather than fear, anger, sadness or greed. So let’s have a go.

2.3 Learn from our mistakes and overcome our weaknesses

2.3 Learn from our mistakes and overcome our weaknesses 

Sometimes we are superior and arrogant. Other times we are riddled with self-criticism, self-hatred and long for the destruction of our civilization. We feel proud of our successes and guilty for our past misdeeds. We lack a sense of direction. We have disconnected from nature including our own instinct. We are riddled with victim mentality. Many young people can’t see a positive future. Too many of our organisations are soul-destroying bureaucracies, treating people like cogs in a machine. While we focus on the next press conference and the next quarterly figures, our competitors have their eyes firmly fixed on the horizon. In our desire to protect minorities, we have lost our sense of togetherness. We have suppressed some forms of racism while promoting others. We have lost control of our borders and can’t agree how to manage immigration. We lack the self-confidence to assert basic truths, values and authority, or to make judgements without tying ourselves up in knots. We allow a narrow elite to define what we are and aren’t allowed to think. Many of us live in a spiritual vacuum. Multiculturalism has provided the perfect conditions for religious fascism to take hold.

Birth rates are so low that we are dependent on immigration to provide the generations of the future. We have devalued the feminine and vilified masculinity. We treat women as sex objects. We no longer teach boys to be men and girls to be women through tried and tested rites of passage. The innocence and magic of childhood is fast disappearing. We factory farm our old people, not as elders but as bodies to be kept alive by strangers in industrial care homes. We pretend that we can cheat death by not talking about it and putting our trust in technical medicine. Our education system bores our children stiff. Many of us don’t know our neighbours. We are alienated from the community. We’ve undermined the value of love, care, family and community – anything we can’t reduce to a number on a spreadsheet. Every time you fill your car with petrol, you are haemorrhaging the life force of our creative civilization into religious extremism, terrorism, militarism, corruption and dictatorships.

Our food is unhealthy and cruel to animals. We are wealthier than ever but more and more stressed. Medicine and nursing have neglected care, healing and compassion. Our courts lack democratic accountability. Our governments are becoming more and more controlling and intrusive. We continually vote for more rights and more benefits but choke on the associated responsibilities and taxes. The media pump out a diet of fear, negativity, materialism and bias. We waste energy on a culture war between liberals and conservatives. We treat politicians with contempt and are then upset that they are defensive and insincere. Social mobility is declining. We have a long way to go before the legacy of slavery is history. Welfare has disempowered many of those it should have enabled.

The gap between rich and poor is growing. Our welfare and health systems are financially unsustainable. Multinational corporations and the rich evade taxation. Cabals of vested interests manipulate markets to serve their own interests. We are drowning in debt, mortgaging our future. We have exported much of our industry to Asia. We are squandering the earth’s resources, especially oil and gas. We are polluting our air, land, sea and food. The climate is changing. We have made thousands of species extinct. Our food supply is precarious. We have conquered, invaded and dominated much of the world, imposing our culture with arrogance, racism and self-interest. We are responsible for the genocide of the Native Americans, Aborigines and Jews. More than a hundred million people died in the First and Second World Wars.

We created weapons of mass destruction that could destroy all life. The same weapons make us all vulnerable to nuclear, biological and chemical terrorism. Religious fascists are taking control of our schools and using our media and law to subvert democracy. We preach democracy, freedom and tolerance while imposing our culture, values and interests upon others. America is fast losing its position as the dominant global power. Many welcome that fact, heedless of the chaos and insecurity that will follow. Our brave military has been led by ideologues, narcissists and naive nobodies into counter-productive wars that have lessened our security, harmed our reputation and weakened us.

2.2 Have healthy self-esteem – challenge self-destructive, suicidal thinking

2.2 Have healthy self-esteem – challenge self-destructive, suicidal thinking

How do you respond when you meet someone who utterly hates themselves, magnifies every fault they have, dwells on every mistake they made, minimises their successes and strengths, idealises everyone else and desires that they be attacked and destroyed? Would you encourage them to continue like that? Would you agree with them and put the boot in? Or would you point out the gross distortions in their thinking, help them re-evaluate and restore healthy self-esteem before improving their lives?

When the planes slammed into the World Trade Center in 2001, our enemies were thrilled. Unfortunately so was part of us, the suicidal part that hates ourselves, thinking that we are the worst thing ever to happen to the world. Part of us so hates our civilization that it revels in every opportunity to criticise it and undermine it. The suicidal part of us thinks we should just eliminate ourselves and leave the world to the other more enlightened, less harmful civilizations…except that there aren’t any. Yes, Western Civilization has done a lot of harm and has a lot of faults but if we are going to rubbish it and replace it, we need to know what we are comparing it to and with what we intend to replace it.

Imperialism, genocides, racism, slavery and exploitation are not a Western vice. They are a human vice. All tribal, ethnocentric cultures are racist, exclude others and intermittently try to take the land, women and resources of others. All power-based, hierarchical empires use the available technology and resources to dominate and exploit as many others as they can. We are just a bit further along the developmental curve than the others, so we’ve had a unilateral advantage of technology, money and organisation. So Western Civilization did it bigger, harder, deeper and faster.

Some Europeans and Americans did participate in the slave trade which was, undeniably, utterly evil and totally unacceptable in our modern values. But if you choose to hang your head in shame for such past crimes, you need to be aware that Africans, Arabs and most other peoples participated in slavery before, during and after that period, and, in some cases, continue to do so to this day. Which civilization was the first to outlaw slavery and to use its military power and financial resources to suppress it elsewhere? Britain, followed by the rest of the West. Who, by contrast, is still using slavery? You might also ask yourself, what are you doing to stop present day slavery?

Western Civilization wins head and shoulders above the rest in the race to destroy the planet, use up all its resources and create weapons of mass destruction. There is no denying that. But the genie is out of the bottle and the others are just as keen to industrialise and arm themselves. Erasing Western Civilization isn’t going to help there.

Have you travelled and had an honest conversation with people throughout the developing world? If not, please do. You’ll find racism, nationalism, religious intolerance, homophobia, prejudice, patriarchy and every other form of bigoted view alive and well. I’m not saying it is right or attempting to justify any of it – they are ugly aspects of human nature – I’m saying that this picture of the West as a uniquely flawed civilization is naïve, at best, and actually…rather racist. If you want to make comparisons, do it fairly.

Where are people of multiple ethnic and racial backgrounds most able to live together in harmony with the least discrimination? Where are people working hardest to eradicate racism, sexism and homophobia? In which nations does the law treat people most fairly? Which countries are people queuing up to get in to? Where do the wealthy put their money to keep it safe? Where do they live longest? Where is there least crime? Where are you most likely to be able to fulfil your potential, regardless of your background and start in life? Where is a person with ideas, energy and skill most able to make their dreams come true? Where is it most likely that the government represents the people’s will and interests, however imperfectly? Where do governments change without bloodshed according to the will of the people? Where are the weak, poor and vulnerable best looked after? Where are you most free to believe and say whatever you like? Where are minorities most safe and most respected? Where are the police least corrupt? Where are companies most adaptively regulated and held to account for their actions? Where is wealth most fairly distributed? Where do minorities have rights? Where are people free to follow any religion or none?

‘Oh, you’re not being fair. You’re asking biased questions.’ True. Let’s try some others.

Where are people happiest? Where are communities most resilient? Where are the elderly best cared for? Where are people best at healing the sick? Where do people live most in harmony with nature? Where are people most respectful of the divine and sacred? Where do investors put their money to make money? Where do people most value family and relationships? Where do people treat their animals the best? Which countries are getting stronger and more powerful? Which countries have the most secure industrial base? Which communities could best survive the loss of electricity, satellite communication or a financial crash? Who is saving the most for their future? Which countries have enough young people to support the old and sick? Who is most in touch with their ancestors and traditions? Who is using the planet’s resources most fairly? Which civilizations are environmentally, financially and demographically sustainable?

Oh, we don’t score so well there. Clearly the part of us that has a pathological hatred for our own culture should be spending its time envisioning and creating a better future, rather than wasting its energy on an antagonistic, destructive victim mentality. Don’t waste time on the game of arguing whether Western Civilization is better or worse than the others. Keep an open mind. Be vigilant. Learn from the others. Leave them alone to choose their own way. Focus on making ourselves as fulfilled and successful as we can be.

OK, so what is the score? Is Western Civilization a good thing or a bad thing? Has it been a success or failure? Should we be proud of it or hold our heads in shame? Well, it depends whose perspective you take, of course. Things look very different from the perspective of Europeans, Americans, colonised peoples and indigenous peoples. But what about a perspective that encompasses the whole of humanity and seeks to realise human potential? How do things look from that view point? Wouldn’t it make sense to adopt that kind of broad, forward-looking perspective instead of our traditional ones? A good start might be to create a positive/negative balance sheet for Western Civilization.

2.1 Be self-confident and self-accepting but never arrogant or self-destructive

2.1 Be self-confident and self-accepting but never arrogant or self-destructive

What do we love about our civilization?

What works really well?

What is worth preserving and defending?

What can be better?

What makes you really proud of your country?

How can we feel good about the West when so much is wrong?

What makes you feel embarrassed or ashamed about Western culture?

Consider an individual person. Should we hate ourselves, deny our identity and focus continuously on our flaws? No. That would be unhealthy, a recipe for depression, self-harm and failure. It is also maladaptive to be arrogant, narcissistic or chauvinistic. It is desirable for a person to have a healthy degree of self-respect, self-love, self-acceptance and self-confidence.

So it goes for groups. We are a social animal. We are members of families, communities, countries, a civilization and all humanity. All groups, such as a team, company, regiment, professional group, hospital, city or Western Civilization have a group consciousness. It is hardwired into our tribal, territorial nature. Groups are conscious just like a beehive, rainforest or pack of wild hunting dogs. It is a healthy thing for a group to have a clear consciousness of itself and other groups. It is good for a group to have a healthy degree of self-confidence though not arrogance. It is good to have self-belief though not contempt for others. It is good for a group to be cohesive though not oppressive. A group needs to have healthy boundaries. It must be clear who is a member and who is not and there must be an effective way of regulating membership. A successful group has a clear ethos and good morale.

We should believe in our civilization but be humble about its shortcomings and failures. We should be confident in asserting our beliefs while not needing to vilify or disrespect others. We should be comfortable enough to assert what is right and wrong, true and false, desirable and undesirable.

1. Consciously use our inner map and compass

1. Consciously use our inner map and compass

Several years ago I explored the nature of authority through a series of interviews with a range of people including Royal Navy officers, infantry soldiers, teachers, doctors, nurses and even my grandparents. I asked, ‘What gives you the confidence and the right to assert your authority? Why should others follow you? Why do you submit to the authority of others?’ Despite their huge range of characters, backgrounds and contexts, everyone was singing from the same hymn sheet. I quickly became aware that I was speaking to different parts of the same group consciousness. They each carried the same inner map and navigated using their inner compass. I could sense it physically in their foreheads just behind their eyes. I realised at once that this is similar to other social animals like bees in a beehive, wildebeest in migration, a shoal of fish or flock of birds. The inner map and compass enables us to align and coordinate our behaviour. Initially I found it depressing to hear the same problems and challenges facing all the different people different situations. However, therein lies the solution: because we carry this common map, it can be upgraded like installing the latest software update. We can all quickly realign and consciously evolve our civilization. The purpose of the New Magna Carta is to make this inner map and compass explicit and to recommend the next upgrade. It asks and answers many questions including:

  • Who are we?
  • What is our shared story of who we are, where weve come from and where we are going? 
  • What is the meaning of life?
  • Who should be a member of our group and who should not?
  • How can we boost our morale and self-confidence?
  • What do we know?
  • What is sacred?
  • What do we value?
  • What is true and false?
  • What is right and wrong?
  • What is good and bad?
  • How do we get the best out of people?
  • What is the foundation of authority?
  • How do we make judgements?
  • How can we best lead and organise ourselves?
  • Who is in charge?
  • How do we deal with the dark side of human nature?
  • How do we deal with disagreement and dissent?
  • What is working well?
  • What can be improved?
  • What are our opportunities, risks and threats?
  • What is emerging?

The New Magna Carta aims to clarify our inner map and encourage us to fine tune our inner compass by applying these questions to our civilization.

Introduction to the New Magna Carta

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 CartaCotton Augustus II.106

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:


Brexit presents us with a moment of transformational evolutionary potential.

We’re being told that Brexit is a financial and geopolitical disaster, it’s racist, it’s a reaction against globalisation, it’s unacceptably stupid in all kinds of ways. The truth is, it could indeed end up becoming those things if those in power and the media continue to think and act with a limited perspective. 1280px-Flag_of_the_United_Kingdom.svg

Actually, Brexit presents us with a moment of evolutionary potential. The whole Western world has been stuck at a particular stage of development since the 1960s, and while that has done a lot of good, it is now the greatest barrier to our human potential. We are locked in a culture war between two sets of value systems. On the one side is the elite, which in fact consists of two parts: the corporate, technocratic, materialist elite and the pseudo-liberal, multicultural egalitarian elite. On the other side are those still grounded in the traditional values of patriotism, nation, tribe, ethnicity and religion. The elite has contempt for the values of the traditionalist population. At the same time, it has opened up the borders to a huge number of people with exactly the same traditionalist values but associated with other nations, other religions, other ethnicities to whom they give privileged status. This is driven by the victim-rescuer dynamic, acting out of the unhealed historical wounds of racism, Holocaust, slavery and imperialism. Brexit, UKIP, Trump, Alternative für Deutschland and all the others are the symptom of an inevitable conflict resulting from those imbalanced value systems.

Our opportunity now is to integrate the best of all value systems and step up to a new level of integrated, visionary leadership. We British are at the evolutionary edge of human development. We are a thriving node in the emerging global civilisation. Now we can be truly global, open, multiracial and fully interconnected, embracing diversity and complexity and deeply grounded in our national patriotic identity, values and culture. We can have effectively managed immigration and actively managed integration.

We are fast evolving towards an emerging global civilisation, which Britain had a large role in creating through the Enlightenment, Industrial Revolution and British Empire. Britain of all countries should embrace globalisation fully and continue to lead. To do that, we must be an agile, adaptive, evolutionary organism. Our governments and elites must be held accountable and be transparent.

We are a conscious living system – social animals and spiritual beings at the same time. Every living system, whether it is the cells in your body or a human social group, must be coherent, integrated and manage its boundaries. If our cell membranes decided to stop including, excluding, filtering and enclosing then we’d be dead within a few seconds. Any club needs a healthy identity, a purpose, mission, clear values, rules and active management of its membership. Every nation is a club of sorts, or a family if you prefer, which needs to be clear about its criteria for membership. We should be open to those who want to come here and become one of us, bringing skills, energy and entrepreneurship, but we must also exclude those who do not accept the values of liberal democracy and a free, open society.

We British need to collaborate and cooperate very closely, not only with our friends, allies and partners, but also with our competitors and enemies around the world if we are to survive and thrive. The EU is not all good or all bad. But, on balance, it still has 20th-century ways of cooperating. That is to say, top-down, centralised, bureaucratic, technocratic, deeply undemocratic and unaccountable ways. Brexit does not mean that we should ‘pull up the drawbridge and become an isolated Little Britain,’ it means that we are leading the way to adaptive, effective, 21st-century ways of collaborating and cooperating. The new ways will be fluid, dynamic, flexible, accountable and truly global as well as British and European.

We’re told that Brexit means racism and fascism. Not at all. Britain is already multi-racial. But we must lead the way out of the dangerous fantasy of multiculturalism into a truly post-racial, coherent and complex set of dynamics that work for Britain. Our personal identities are already complex, not black and white. We can be many things simultaneously. Similarly, each country is a rich tapestry of diversity and complexity. But to survive and thrive we also need to be coherent, with a unifying identity to bring us together. That means shared values and clear boundaries that protect our open, liberal democratic society in a world where totalitarianism, corporate greed, nationalism and religious bigotry are all alive and well.

We’re told that Brexit will lead to financial disaster. Again, nonsense. It is an opportunity for Britain to become truly competitive. We should be leading the world towards a dynamic, globalised system of free and fair trade, not clinging to protectionist trading blocs dominated by vested interests.

Now is our chance to rejuvenate our country, to rejuvenate and transform the West and lead the emerging global civilisation. To do that, we need to integrate all our competing value systems. Above all, we need an exciting and inspiring vision of the future that allows us to focus on what we truly need and want.

Dr Nicholas Beecroft is a Consultant Psychiatrist, Member of the Royal College of Defence Studies and author of Analyze West: A Psychiatrist Takes Western Civilization on a Journey of Transformation and New Magna Carta: A Psychiatrist’s Prescription for Western Civilization.