Our political world is reeling. The rise of ISIS in the Middle East. The triumph of Donald Trump in the United States. Intractable disputes across the world from the Israel-Palestine conflict to the war between Turkey and the Kurds. To larger looming dangers.
We have an instinct to resort to the same old answers and habits to address these matters, whether it is exertion of power, paranoia towards outsiders, or technological panaceas. But we are likely looking in the wrong direction. Our track record of failures in politics is testament to this. We desperately need to recognize and learn from them.
Dire problems in the world remain unresolved, and are growing, because we are not directing our attention to the main place from which they arise: the ignorance and mismanagement of basic human needs in society, especially those related to our emotional states.
If we look at the rise of militant groups, the election of demagogues or unresolved conflicts, we will see specific needs in the populace - such as the need for security, meaning, as well as volition - have gone unmet. Those, and other, unmet needs become the underlying and often unconscious motives driving all manner of behaviours that can damage societies. We need to take our understanding of politics to this level of cause and effect if we want to steer towards a better future.
To be sure, economic management and power structures remain a factor that will always require attention. But this missing piece, the underlying motivations of the political actor, leader or citizen, needs to be widely recognized and addressed head on. It is the proverbial "root cause" of most problems afflicting the world today.
This initiative is about learning from past mistakes and shedding light on the above factors in a practical and constructive way so we can include them in our political understanding and policy development, and thereby gain better control over our politics. We will draw on recent scientific research and work in the social sciences to elucidate our effort and impel a long-term educational process of improving conflict prevention and resolution, as well as policy development and implementation.
If we can develop politics that address our basic needs constructively, then it is far less likely that another ISIS will arise, or that more demagogues will come to power. We will have taken a step towards bringing greater sanity into our politics.