Co-Intelligence Transforming U.S. Politics

About the Idea, Collaboration Zones, Communities of Practice, Counter-Oppression/Counter-Dictatorship Practices, InfoOps (IO), Journalism/Free-Press/Censorship, Methods & Process, Officers Call, Open Government, Policies, Reform
Tom Atlee

Phi Beta Iota: Robert Steele, our founder, has asked that we post the following as his testimonial.

If there were one person in America I would gladly sacrifice my life for, so as to give the larger group including my direct family the benefit of his continued wisdom, Tom Atlee is that person.  He is without peer, and we are all blessed to have him in our lives and within our Commonwealth.  PLEASE contribute to his endeavor–what he does creates real wealth for all of us, and that kind of wealth is the only riposte to the decades of unethical legalized looting that we have tolerated for too long.  America the Beautiful is coming back–Tom is walking point and deserves our strongest possible support.

Dear friends,

As America's dysfunctional politics and governance swings wildly out of equilibrium, the Co-Intelligence Institute has increased its focus on the transformation of the way the U.S. does politics.

As we track the transpartisan movement, the Coffee Party, the Tea Party, the No Labels movement, the Palin pre-campaign, the strange shifting dance between the Administration and Congress, and other political currents, we sense an emerging and significant force demanding change in the power relationships between the vast majority of “we, the people” on the one hand, and corporate and government elites on the other.

It is very instructive to watch how this populist energy is being manipulated and co-opted.  Many of the politicians positioning themselves as populists — “We're not going to take it any more!” — are themselves active members of the elite class they are supposedly battling, and totally beholden to the financial powers behind the political circus.

Co-Intelligence Institute board member Heather Tischbein alerted me to an excellent 4-part BBC documentary on the origins and power of PR (public relations) in our culture, our politics, and our government (  We are living through almost invisible PR exercises of such vast scope that we lose sight of them like the fish loses sight of water.  It became clear to me that forces for positive transformation to benefit the whole need to become as sophisticated in the use of PR as the self-interested forces of cultural colonization.

The Co-Intelligence Institute's unique contribution to this rising transformational energy is to clearly articulate and disseminate a new and compelling narrative describing the possibility and necessity of bringing forth collective intelligence and wisdom.  For two decades we have explored how democratic politics and government could become more collectively intelligent and wise.  As much as we support empowerment of the citizenry, we know — and spread the word — that citizen power must be exercised in a wise way.  We have all seen too many examples of mass co-stupidity that are quite comparable to elite co-stupidity.

So my research, writing, speaking and networking increasingly focus on four questions:

1.  What innovations would have to be in place for national and state governments in the U.S. to produce policies that (a) arose from public engagement and (b) proved to be wise over the long run?

2.  What impact would such a participatory wise democracy have on the fate of issues that we are most concerned about, and on the well being and resilience of our country?

3.  What would have to happen for such innovations to have a significant impact on the 2012 election?

4.  What would need to happen for participatory wise democratic systems to become the main forms of politics and governance in the U.S. within a decade?

We are guided by a sense that the emerging political crisis will reach some kind of peak in the next several years, and that the sooner we can introduce evocative visions, resources, questions, and strategic conversations into the public dialogue about all this, the more likely the crisis will have a positive transformational impact on American political culture.

Of course there is more to our work than that.  The last year has been filled with developments and accomplishments in which we've played significant roles — from on the ground impacts like the Citizen Initiative Review in Oregon, to the birthing of a “pattern language for group process”, to co-sponsorship of the National Coalition of Dialogue and Deliberation's regional conferences in Portland and Denver, to visionary dialogues about how to upscale all forms of transformational work.  Our current work also ranges from networking toward a gathering of transformational philanthropists, to writing a book on wholeness (the fundamental principle underlying all our work), to raising awareness about the power of public and stakeholder engagement to transmute the local, state, and federal budget crises into transformational breakthroughs in governance itself.  But our central focus will remain the effort to bring together people, ideas, and resources that hold promise for catalyzing a major shift in American politics in the next few years (as alluded to in my recent blog post “Are we ready to change the Game yet?” (

I ask your support for this work.  If you find it compelling, please spread the word to your own networks, asking their support.

Thank you for all you already do for the well-being of our world and its future generations.

Blessings on the Journey…




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The Co-Intelligence Institute
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Eugene, OR 97440

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Tom Atlee, The Co-Intelligence Institute, POB 493, Eugene, OR 97440 /
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