Tom Atlee’s Co-Intelligence Journal

Civil Society, Collective Intelligence
Tom Atlee

Dear friends,

For several years I have been increasingly challenged, curious and evolving in my journey regarding equity, justice, and privilege. Recently I’ve read three articles that together offer a perspective that I experience as a watershed in this exploration.

The first one offers a remarkably co-intelligent perspective on diversity, privilege and equity that I shared last week. It and the next one (below) highlight how privilege-derived power can be used to change systems of marginalization and oppression. This requires privileged people to awaken from the presumption and unconsciousness that usually accompany privilege, so they can CHOOSE to use their power in such life-affirming ways.

The second article in this series (below) enables greater understanding by – and greater empathy for – people seriously working to process the privilege in and around them. It is grounded in what it feels like to do healthy, challenging work on privilege.

The third article (also below) articulates the dynamics, attitudes and practices which dominator cultures use to preserve their domination. It also highlights dynamics, attitudes and practices which non-dominator cultures – both existing and aspiring – use to break out of the domination paradigm into peerness, compassion and co-creative action. With the help of this essay’s analysis, we can see these different forms of relationship and power at work all around us.


I appreciate how the first essay opens us up to a richer landscape of human diversity than we usually think about. It notes that ANY kind of differences can be used to generate privilege and problematic power dynamics.

Taking off from that insight, I proposed last week that helpful understandings from all three of these articles could apply to the ways we (a) privilege our species over other life forms and (b) privilege those of us who live today over those who may or may not be able to live two hundred years from now.

It is extremely hard to notice these particular privileges and to SEE them in terms of privilege and injustice demanding at least as much attention and remediation as the increasingly stark privileges and injustices related to race, gender, ability, sexual orientation, class and other differences that impact people’s wellbeing so intensely now and historically. The injustices in (a) and (b) above profoundly impact the wellbeing and even existence of nonhuman lives and future generations.

So I repeat my invitation to justice-centered activists to compare these critically hidden privilege dynamics with the dynamics and impacts of more familiar forms of privilege and to explore the implications for how we include – or don’t include – our anthropocentric and current-living privilege in our overall sense of intersectional privilege and oppression. Inspired by these three articles, I also raise the challenge of using our species and generational privilege to catalyze a just and regenerative culture for all time.

I believe environmental and justice movements, grounded in equity and sustainability, can expand into a shared call for the dignity, defense and liberation of ALL diverse sentient beings living now and far into the future. I see this as an opening into a deep form eco-social awakening and shift.


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