We need to see the crises burning around us – accelerating climate change, extreme inequality, hyper polarised politics – for what they are: outward symptoms of our inner worlds.
Status anxiety. Loneliness. Threat perception. Grief. Shame. Lack of self-worth. The loss of our old stories without new ones to replace them.
Democracies depend on citizens who can manage their emotions, develop empathy, and share a sense of common identity and purpose.
But we’ve massively under-invested in resources to help them do so, just as we’ve entered a moment of vast economic, environmental, and social upheaval.
Leaving us wide open to manipulation by Cambridge Analytica, Russian troll farms, and the people who fund them – who’ve been able to weaponise psychology to make us see the world in them-and-us terms.
We can learn to use psychology in politics for good as well as ill.
By figuring out how to untrigger our politics.
By learning empathy for the ‘other’ rather than projecting our fears onto them.
And by rediscovering the power of deep collective stories to build common ground.
It’s an epochal task. But there’s no time to lose.
Because until we begin, the abyss at the heart of our politics will keep widening.
Emissions will keep rising. Inequality will keep growing. Refugee numbers will keep breaking records. Species will keep getting wiped off the map. Food prices will keep going up.The 1% will keep pulling away from the rest of us. Trust in politics will keep falling. The poorest will keep getting poorer. We’ll keep fighting ourselves. The trolls will keep winning.
And we’ll keep losing.
An inquiry into what kinds of collective psychological issues matter most for politics.
What we should be aiming to achieve, and what success looks like.
And what approaches offer most potential for treating the wounds that threaten to tear us apart just at the moment we most need to come together.