3. Actions (“Hand”)

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Fred Polak—a Dutch sociologist and well-known futurist—believed in the enormous power of visions. After having studied the entire history of Western civilization (1961, 1973), he wrote: “The more powerful the image of the future is, the more powerfully it acts in determining the actual future” (1961, II: 341). The contemporary sociologist Lawrence Busch based his doctoral dissertation (1974) on Polak’s achievements. In an article following his dissertation, Busch focused on answering this question: “What conditions appear necessary to construct the future successfully, either as individuals, as organizations, or as a society?” (1976: 29). Here are his conclusions:
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  • 1. An image of the future must be holistic if it is to achieve widespread acceptance . . . .
  • 2. A successful image of the future must provide the promise of the resolution of the anomalies and contradictions of the existing order . . . .
  • 3.The future must be constructed in the present, not the future . . . .
  • 4. A successful image of the future must provide an escape from the existing order, but it must find that escape within the existing order . . . .
  • 5. A successful image of the future must provide an operationalizable methodology for the individual . . ..
  • 6. All successful images of the future are structured . . ..
  • 7. A meaningful image of the future must involve the mundane . . . .
  • One final point needs to be made; it cannot accurately be considered as a condition of a successful image but rather as a precondition of success. This is simply that a crisis must be widely perceived in the existing order. The crisis is the catalyst that makes the new image of the future meaningful as an alternative (Busch, 1976: 29-36).
In our view, these five sets of principles for a new social movement satisfy all seven of Busch’s criteria for a successful image of the future. Our interdisciplinary approach satisfies his call for breadth. We do focus on addressing our double crisis, including the range of our basic problems, which must be addressed now and not later. Our emphasis is on enabling present institutions in society to do a far more effective job, rather than scrapping them. The tools of language and the scientific method are our “operationalizable methodology for the individual.” These principles form a structure for society as a whole; they point to the development of evolutionary self-images, which are structures for individuals.
There are literally hundreds of social movements in contemporary societies, with a great many of them pointing toward personal development. We see Personal and World Evolution as an umbrella movement with the power to help provide individuals in those movements with the knowledge and skills they need to fulfill their goals. We can see both inside and outside of those movements, and continue to dream impossible dreams by actually fulfilling them.