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 our politics in fight-or-flight mode – and 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 right now we’re poised between two futures.
A breakdown scenario of climate chaos, extinction, scarcity, inequality, tribalism, and collapse.
Or a breakthrough scenario in which we reach a future of safety, restoration, and flourishing – for us and for the world.
Whether we make it there depends primarily on what goes on inside our minds. On collective psychology.
An inquiry into what happens when politics meets psychology.
Into how enough of us can see ourselves as part of a Larger Us rather than a them-and-us.
And into what kind of approaches offer most potential for treating the wounds that threaten to tear us apart just at the moment we most need to come together.