Futurologist Vladimir Nikitin told Focus about how self-determination may help Ukraine to preserve its sovereignty over future freedom, and why Ukrainian politicians and international corporations want to extend the present.
Briefly on Future
The future is a route. A short definition of the future is meaning overlaid on will. It is not about trends or technologies. The future for one's own or someone else's benefit is built by those who have the will to do so.
Urgent & Important
There are important things, but also those necessary or urgent, and they should be told apart. The urgent things are about solving life issues which may not be postponed: The war goes on, you need to feed your family, and go to the polls... You are being constantly drawn into this circle. And the important things are about the future, God, death, and love. But we are always thinking that we may deal with them later, and now it is high time for the urgent ones. It seems to me that Ukraine was artificially driven into a situation where nothing can be thought of but these urgent issues. Once you start talking about the future, you will hear something like,
Sure, it's necessary, but it is not the time for it yet, let's solve this for now.
And networks are largely working to support this approach.
World of Rapid Change
We live in a rapidly changing world, but it does not mean we need to shift around in it. There are four options: to run along with the others and pass everything on the way; to run faster, thus becoming the temporary leader of the race; to stay put and let everything pass you by, to live at your own pace, and feel comfy in the world around you; or there is the fourth option—to rise above this world, see where everything is moving to, and calmly head where you have decided to, rather than following the crowd. I prefer the fourth one.
We have a philosophical concept of “reflection” i.e. taking a pause to solve a situation and look at it from the outside. You can not stop and run at the same time. Reflection requires you to withdraw from all your concerns, stop in front of the abyss and manage to jump across it if you want to or return without jumping. The country has no reflection like this. It is always about running and fussing around.
In the spontaneous world, games are tools helping to understand how to work with the future. Games have different levels. The first level is What Is Good & What Is Bad? The second game is Friend-or-Foe. Now, Ukraine is passionately playing the latter. There are polar concepts determining a friend from a foe—whether by language, thoughts, actions, or attitudes, people prefer simpler attributes, i.e. if you can judge by language, you'll differentiate by it. And they do not realize that this distinction was introduced by German romanticists at the time of the unification of German principalities into a single country. It was a kind of a stitching technology for Germany. The next game type is What Is Right? All coaching materials currently sold are the What Is Right? game. It is the most popular one by now. And people think it is the best one, too. But there are games of a higher level, for example, What's the Point? It is less popular. And to step up higher, you should “put aside” your own self, and then you will discover the How to Create Your Own World? game. It becomes possible when a person starts creating their own games. And the highest level is playing with essences and the heavens the heaven. I think that the game will become a society controlling tool. The performance shown by the Rada is still a bad, pointless game played by wrong rules, but the talks of the What Is the Right Way game are already under way?
Fragments and the Whole
We are being persuaded that we have entered the world of knowledge, but in fact, we have departed from it. The world of knowledge is a world of text culture and complex semantic links, and we have left for the information technology world which is arranged differently. The information world has no idea of the whole, only ideas of parts or fragments. This world's fast pace is because it does not have the whole, and therefore, the meaning, as the meaning is related to the whole. You can find the meaning of your activity within the whole, be it family, culture, humanity, or God. The information world has brought us to learn the fragment. There is a fine book about the ways of teaching modern students by fragments named The Learning Explosion by Australian and American authors. The book begins with the thesis: never teach the whole. Teach fragments. Fragments are easy to change, replace, or substitute in networks. After all, the idea of competencies is the idea of fragmentation. Some time ago I was attending a conference in Istanbul, where an American professor told us how they had switched to the competent teaching method, and how many competencies they had. I asked him, “And who is responsible for the whole?” And he answered, “We will be introducing 300 more competencies,” the seminar facilitator, a very intelligent American woman, said, “He will not understand you. The point is that if a country has a holistic, sustainably organized activity, such as the current U.S., fragments can be easily inserted into the whole. But if your country is in the process of transformation and has no stable structures, these fragments start existing by themselves, beyond the meaning and the whole.”
There are two basic concepts of time. The one all of us were taught at school: time is the fourth dimension; space and time are closely connected, so you can replace one with the other and travel through time. There is another idea, the one that time is just the grammar of describing changes in space, and in this sense, it is the opposite of space. I stick to the second point of view. We have our own, personal kinds of time associated with the course of changes inside us. This kind of time may be described as a change of thought. We also have social time, which allows us to record changes within the society. At the same time, there are people within the society who feel time in a fundamentally different way. For example, I have lived down in the country for many years, and can tell how my understanding of time differs from my fellow villagers'. I am not saying that I am better or worse, just that my perception of time is different. The future is always different in one way or another. This way of difference exists simultaneously with us. It lives in some sort of enclosed capsules. Sometimes, these capsules are opened, and they may become a vision shared by many people. But capsules may remain sealed for hundreds of years. Let's take the Pythagoras' school where he claimed that numbers are the world's foundation. Now we can see that the school, having operated for 800 years, has achieved a triumph of some description today. We haver come to live in the digital world, and it became common for us all. The capsule has opened. However, for Pythagoreans, the number was sacred and meaningful, and our world's numeral meaning is severed. In general, it is unclear when and what capsule will open, and which one you will become part of.
On Communication Levels
Currently, the communication world is being simplified. For example, on a simulated scale of communications, the level of unmanned communication, i.e. big data and data transmission, is getting more and more powerful. An even higher form of communication is intercommunication. When you tell each other whether you are together or separate, of the same blood or not. This, in fact, is the sole basis for intercommunication. Women can spend hours talking about nothing, but virtually they are demonstrating to each other the unity of understanding. This line is developed today, together with the selfie world built into it.
The still higher level of communication is the communication on “what are we doing together?” This is professional communication, and it is arranged in a different way as compared to intercommunication. It has a different protocol. Currently, there are attempts to diversify it for us by means of telling how to bring business communication more closely in line with intercommunication to get understood and accepted. There is even still higher level of communication—the one about meanings. Why are we together? What will we do? What strategies do we have? The lower levels do not have such questions at all. But this level is not the highest one. The highest is about the good and the God. And the upper levels of communication are now being annihilated, especially by the media. However, if you enter these levels, you will be very happy. You will talk with thoughtful people about heaven and love. I've had some luck meeting such people.
Education of Tomorrow
Currently, I am participating in the creation of the new Ukrainian educational theory for the future. It is carried out at three levels— the principal level (what education should basically be), the level of scenarios for Ukraine, and the level of projects that are understandable for a broad audience.
Well, then you must distinguish three things: education, training, and teaching. In Ukraine, training is meant under education. As a matter of fact, education is the ability to create your own world and participate in the creation of the world around. For the entire education, training, and teaching sector the customer's profile is important. Only you and, in some cases, a true elite are customers of education. Neither the state nor parents and corporations are interested in you being educated. You get an education by yourself, but you need a Teacher for that. But not the one who teaches, rather one who would open the gate into the world, showing the possibility to create your own. I had a Teacher. I am not his follower and do not accept much of what he said, but he showed me the possibility to build the world despite things going on around.
Education is provided in several stages—enculturation, identification, and self-determination. For many, everything is over after the first two stages. They have found their path in the society, which may be more or less beaten, but the main thing is that the society approves it. Transition to the third stage is the time when you understand you are uncomfortable with the way society is organized and want to create your own path. This is when you need self-determination to build your own movement. Here starts the terrible attack on you from the closest people. You will be persuaded of having lost your mind, persuaded to live like other people do. Parents will say that you should go and get a profession first and only after that look for a different side of yourself. But if you resist, self-identity and self-motion will follow. It will result in your own teaching or your own world. And if you've done it, you will have the opportunity of self-denial. There are two options at this stage: either you choose self-denial and merge with nature, or meet love, for example, and start over. It is possible to pass through self-determination from scratch.
Today, we may witness a whirlwind of updating training and teaching technologies, and this obscures the need for self-education and education of the country, the world, and humanity.
I know no other tools for building the future for our country, except for those based on education, but neither one of Ukraine's strategies specifies them. We need to establish at least one high-level educational and research centre.
For example, in Germany, the Bundestag commission determines the national strategy. I have visited the University of Tubingen—one of the oldest universities—and its Chancellor started to complain about the frequency of curriculum changes there. I asked him what the basis of their decisions was. Was it the idea of an ideal university, labour market condition, jobs, and forecasts, or was it the vision of the future? He answered that there was no perfect model; it all is just a stuff of fairy-tales. The market is useless because even now it is changing every three years, but students study for 5–6 years. Therefore, they found upon the vision of the future provided by the Bundestag commission that works out development scenarios for the future of the world and Germany, and everybody was guided by it. We have had a Committee of Future Affairs established at the Verkhovna Rada twice, and both times it was closed. Our country has no centres for studying the future, including future education. We are constantly trying to adjust the present without changing its principles. This way does not lead to the future.
Levels of Freedom
Freedom or liberty is a specific feature of Ukraine. This makes us different, for example, from Russia. But liberty assumes no restrictions—and it is our problem. We can not discipline ourselves and build something common because the idea of liberty prevails. We focus on freedom to choose a social role. But a choice is always from what you are offered. And it has nothing in common with real freedom to make your own decision. Another level is freedom of thought or self-determination. The society resists your having this freedom. And the third level is freedom of will. This is freedom to accept the will of the world, nature, and the Almighty. Ukraine is still talking about freedom of elections and not even freedom of choice.
On Ukraine's Future
When insisting on the necessity to build a person's or Ukraine's identity, the reference is always made to either the past or the present. Of course, if you live in a society, it is important, but the future is always connected with self-determination. Self-determination, the creation of something different means making decisions about what will happen.
We are afraid of the future because all its scenarios are mostly negative, except for the enthusiastic scenario of singularity followed by the inevitable conclusion about transhumanism. And all the remaining scenarios are destructive, except for the scenario of humanity's creation.
Some are frightened, others are afraid of having no place in the future or losing a place they occupy now. No politician or big businessman is interested in the future. They all want to preserve the present, where they have already received a place. It is a reason that causes this kind of love for the concept of sustainable development. Indeed, it excludes the future in principle.
Currently, Ukraine is still being tormented with identity, considering it is an acme of meaning. But there is still the level of self-determination. It should be taken into account that the world is becoming extraterritorial. The link between authorities, territories, and people is broken, therefore it is unknown whether Ukraine, Russia, or the United States of America would still exist 20–40 years from now. However, Ukraine as a place and a sort of condition will survive, at least I hope so. And to do so, it must understand what place and condition it represents. It must avoid destruction, at least until it matures. After all, the only true sovereignty for a country is the sovereignty to control its future. Everything else is secondary. We may possess features of a state and enjoy true prosperity in life, however, our future will be decided by the others; so far, however, most citizens will readily trade their sovereignty and freedom of the future for stability. I see no other way to preserve the unique character of Ukraine and its future, except through building a lot of educational establishments with objective evaluation and a rigorous selection process, which will not be based on money or social preferences, but rather on desires, the power of will, and pursuance of the good. Should Ukraine have all of this, its future would be secured.