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12th November 2006 | Draft

A Singable Earth Charter, EU Constitution or Global Ethic?


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Also published in abridged form in Statistics, Visualizations and Patterns (Vol 5 of the Yearbook of International Organizations, K G Saur Verlag, 6th edition, 2006/2007, as section 10.4.2) under the title: Why any Earth Charter or EU Constitution should be Singable.
Guidelines for consideration
Policy implications: a "Concert of Democracies"?
Cognitive engagement with complexity
Individual identity within global frameworks
"Singing the Earth"
Sustaining collective memory of articulations of collective intent
Distinctions relevant to technical considerations
Organizational implementation

Guidelines for consideration

The following considerations could be borne in mind when reflecting on the potential role of song in ensuring that a Constitution should have credibility and value beyond that typically associated with legal documents:

  1. Needs to be short -- but able to embody a complex pattern of information (in the light of advances in auditory display and sonification)
  2. Needs to be memorable -- especially in the sense of its function of "re-membering" a divided society
  3. Needs to offer reminders of significant relationships between matters that may otherwise be treated as dangerously unrelated -- vital feedback loops from a systemic control perspective
  4. Needs to be attractive in the context of a complex social system -- especially according to the new understanding of "strange attractors" in the complexity sciences
  5. Needs to strike a balance between the dysfunctional symbolic extremes of:
    • the Ode to Joy, adopted as the anthem of Europe -- appealing primarily to the older generation, if only because of its classical quality, exemplifying the democratic challenge that admiration does not necessarily enable participation
    • the overwhelming popular winner of the Eurovision Song Contest in 2007 (Hard Rock Hallelujah) -- a heavy metal band in monstrous demonic guise, appealing significantly to the younger generation [video]
    • the 300-pages of the legal text of the proposed European Constitution [more] -- unreadable, and therefore incomprehensible, to most EU citizens (and perhaps deliberately so)
  6. Capable of being refreshed periodically, if not annually, in the light of new insights, challenges and opportunities -- and if only in recognition of the limitations of any previous version
  7. Inviting participation, if not entraining it -- as a contrast to the apathy-reinforcement characteristic of modern political discourse
  8. Inherently imaginative -- reframing the past, offering new significance to the present, and pointing to new ways of thinking about the future
  9. Challenging to cognition -- an element of puzzle and mystery to be "solved", as with many computer and other games in which there is a gestalt to be recognized (possibly even at several levels)
  10. Imminently practical in its elaboration -- as with the procedures for open competition for major architectural or other design projects
  11. Susceptible to animated accompaniment -- with possibilities of exemplification through multi-media techniques and gaming simulations
  12. Embodying systemic understandings valuable to governance at all levels -- and consonant with experience at those levels
  13. Challenging to the conventional mindsets of lawyers, managers, politicians, academics, designers, commmunicators and system builders -- responsible in their various ways for the current democratic deficit and the failure to address the issues of society effectively
  14. Implying the future possibility of techniques whereby principles of governance could be elaborated from aesthetic patterns -- as a complement to the dominant tendency to use costly marketing techniques, including promotional music, to render legal texts acceptable
  15. Offering a new vehicle for the articulation and transportation of value-charged insights -- especially a vehicle capable of holding the values of the future
  16. Encompassing meanings and values held to be significant by a greater proportion of the population -- bridging the cultivated divisions between political parties
  17. Offering means of embodying the paradoxes of contemporary society -- and suggesting perspectives from which they may be transcended
  18. Responding to the collective schizophrenia which fails to bridge between aesthetics and governance -- between "opera" and "work" -- as complemetary disciplines, exemplified by the role performed by epics in some cultures (eg the Mahabarata in India, the Dragon Dance in China)
  19. Suggesting harmonious patterns of complex relationships, so effectively explored in the discipline of musical harmony -- and practiced by singers worldwide
  20. Embodying an aesthetic feel for what "Europe" means -- and what it means to be a "European" in a European cultural context, or a citizen of the world
  21. Giving credibility to challenging responses to challenging complexes of social problems (as exemplified by: the 12 songs of The Globalization Saga: Balance or Destruction, 2004, as a CD accompaniment to a book by Professor Franz Josef Radermacher, FAW - Institute for Applied Knowledge Processing, Ulm, in association with the Global Marshall Plan Initiative; the 13 songs in the CD accompanying the book of Alan AtKisson, Believing Cassandra: an optimist looks at a pessimist's world, 1999 -- the AtKisson Group is currently engaged in a strategic review process for the international Earth Charter Initiative)
Das über das Medium Musik, auch komplizierte Sachverhalte einfach transportiert werden können und Songs als Brückenschlag zur Seele funktionieren und damit sensibilisieren die Augen für notwendige Entwicklungen zu öffnen, das hat sich bei den bisherigen Präsentationen der Musicalsongs bewiesen, sowohl in Bildungskontexten als auch in internationalen Konferenzen. Franz Josef Radermacher, member of Club of Rome

Policy implications: a "Concert of Democracies"?

Only song can reframe the formally recognized "global intelligence failure" and "lack of imagination" associated with the uncritical support of the handling of the Iraq situation -- by the most intelligent, the most powerful and the most wealthy -- acting through the Coalition of the Willing. Such lack of intelligence would be further compounded by efforts envisaged to force acceptance of a European Constitution.

Is it meaningful to live in a Europe whose Constitution is unsingable?
Is there not a similiar challenge for any Earth Charter?
And for any future Global Ethic?

As an an alternative to the divisive foreign policy of the Bush regime, inspired by the neocon Project for the New American Century, a new bipartisan report by the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs (Princeton University), titled Forging a World of Liberty Under Law, US National Security in the 21st Century (2006), notably proposes an appropriate charter for the establishment of a "concert of democracies". This follows from one of the first speeches during World War I of President Woodrow Wilson who called for "a concert of free countries." The new concert is conceived in the following terms:

While pushing for reform of the United Nations and other major global institutions, the United States should work with its friends and allies to develop a global 'Concert of Democracies' - a new institution designed to strengthen security cooperation among the world's liberal democracies. This Concert would institutionalize and ratify the 'democratic peace.' If the United Nations cannot be reformed, the Concert would provide an alternative forum for liberal democracies to authorize collective action, including the use of force, by a supermajority vote. Its membership would be selective, but self-selected.

The use of the "concert" metaphor in the report would seem to constitute a shift beyond the policy sustaining the Coalition of the Willing -- but one that, in musical terms, could be challenged as a possibly outdated mode in which the "music" is necessarily "directed" by the "conductor" to ensure that all sing "in concert" from the same "hymn sheet":

Leading Americans across the political spectrum understood that we are far better off if American power is exercised within an international framework of cooperation, where others have a voice - although not a veto - and nations endeavor to work in concert towards common ends...This aspect of the Concert would constitute a major effort to integrate non-Western democratic powers into a global democratic order. At the same time, the Concert would be more substantial and exclusive than the already existing 'community of democracies,' which is a broad but shallow organization that seeks to strengthen democracy within states..

As a reviewer of what is also termed the "Slaughter Report", Chibli Mallat describes the Concert of Democracies initiative in the following terms: is the result of three years of intensive bipartisan debate involving over 400 prominent people from academia, the policy-making community, and the media in the United States, including former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former National Security Advisor Anthony Lake, Newsweek International editor Fareed Zakaria and former Secretary of State George Shultz. The Slaughter report operates as a post-modern multi-layered problem solver, addressing such problems as terrorism, China, AIDS and other pandemics, global warming, energy and infrastructures. It is ambitious, and seeks the defining status of the famous "X article" by George Kennan on the strategy of "containment" published in Foreign Affairs magazine in 1947. [more]

To what extent could the Concert of Democracies be said to be merely a form of institutionalization of the strategic mindset underlying the Coalition of the Willing? Is the effective focus on "concerted effort" or "concertation" without calling upon the musical connotations? As such it emphasizes concentration, typically of a temporary character for a particular task -- as with any periodic plenary assembly. It is perhaps appropriate to note that the related term concerto is applied chiefly to compositions in which unequal instrumental or vocal forces are brought into opposition.

However, in exploiting the connotations of such a potentially fruitful musical metaphor (if that is the intention), it would be most regrettable if the USA were only to develop its implications within a particular classical understanding of musical harmony -- and the social organization associated with it from past centuries (cf Jacques Attali. Noise: the political economy of music, 1977/1985). This would avoid any exploration of the other powerful potentials of musical harmony reflective of the modern complexity that the new strategy purports to address.

There are indeed other lessons to be drawn from the metaphor (cf John Kao, Jamming: the art and discipline of corporate creativity, 1997; Lukasz Michalec and David A Banks, Information Systems Development Methodologies and all that Jazz, 2004). Specifically it would be especially regrettable if "concert" became merely another reframing of the unfortunate mindset underlying the "Global Compact" of the United Nations (cf "Globalization": the UN's "Safe Haven" for the World's Marginalized -- the Global Compact with Multinational Corporations as the UN's "Final Solution", 2000). A critical description of European institutions has been made in terms of the "orchestra" metaphor by Timothy Garton Ash (The European Orchestra, Hoover Digest: Research and Opinion on Public Policy, 2001, 3).

Should the set of shared values fundamental to a Concert of Democracies be expressed as a conventional checklist -- or rather as a song that interweaves their relationships into a comprehensible whole exemplifying their complementarity as a system of checks and balances?

Cognitive engagement with complexity

There is a real challenge in comprehending and communicating the strategic challenges of sustainable development in an increasingly complex global environment, as explored by Franz Josef Radermacher (Balance or Destruction, 2004). Is there not a strong case for finding ways to hold the pattern of systemic feedback loops (so essential to sustainability) in mnemonic devices, such as song, that can be more widely understood and related to the values justifying any action?

In musical terms, might it be possible to embody such systemic sustainable development insights into a compromise between the archetypal insights of Richard Wagner's Ring Cycle and the participative mnemonics of Harold Baum's The Biochemists' Song Book (1982/2003). The latter presents information on the complexities of interweaving metabolic pathways, set to well known songs, as an enjoyable memory aid. It is to be contrasted with the excellent charts on the total pattern of metabolic pathways which illustrate the larger challenge to comprehension (see Biochemical Pathways: Metabolic Pathways; Biochemical Pathways: Cellular and Molecular Processes; Metabolic Pathways of the International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology). These are of a degree of complexity commensurate with the systems exercises in global modelling -- indicative of the constraints on sustainable development.

Metabolic pathways reflect the fundamental life sustaining processes at the micro level. It is to be expected (from a general systems perspective) that these would be isomorphic to some degree with those at a macro-systemic level, especially with respect to the pattern of systemic pathways basic to sustainable development. Also fundamental to sustainable development are the laws of thermodynamics. These have also been turned into a song (First and Second Law. Flanders and Swann Online).

If wisdom is required to respond to the challenge of sustainable development,
how might that wisdom be best embodied in music and song?

Individual identity within global frameworks

Constitutions and charters might be said to be about collective identity. The question is what they imply or ignore in relation to individual identity.

Whilst perhaps acknowledging the individual to some degree as an objective entity for which legal protection may in some way be required, charters are typically lax in honouring the individual subjectivity that motivates engagement with global charters, indifference to them -- or their rejection. Consider, for example, the complementary dimensions embodied in the experimental Universal Declaration of the Rights of Human Organization (1971).

The "war on terror" is increasing pressure for a form of documented identity of citizens to be embodied in biometric identity cards. It is appropriate to ask whether those who identify with the description of themselves by others in ID cards merit what amounts to a two-dimensional existence in legal "flatland" -- in contrast to other possibilities (cf Ron Atkin. Multidimensional Man: can man live in three dimensional space? 1981). Such extreme reductionism might be considered the antithesis of what people consider meaningful in their lives. How can any global framework be meaningful in practice under such circumstances?

Expressing a constititution of any kind in a collective song evokes the possibility that individuals might themselves be acknowledged through the song that best expresses their identity. Whereas an identity card typically requires a "signature" to become a legal document, there is then a question of whether a "signature tune" constitutes a richer expression of the identity of an individual. More important is the question of the manner in which the individual identifies with the tune and to what degree. The significance of such a possibility is evident in affinities that are celebrated in song -- "they are playing our tune". Curiously the individuals in many species of animal, notably birds, are recognizable to each other through their unique song.

Such possibilities suggest a way of thinking about global constitutions as constituting a framework evocative of individual and group songs -- through which the identity of each is enhanced and through which each identifies the other. The challenge at this time, given the huge quantity of music that is accessible and in process of being created, is that individuals identify with songs produced by others -- whether or not they sing or play them themselves. Only rarely, in celebration of a life or as part of a ritual, is a song composed for an individual. Unlike painters, it is rare for individuals to consciously produce a musical self-portrait (Richard Strauss, Robert Schumann, Kurt Bestor and Keith Jarrett are some exceptions) although the process is now a feature of musical education. Consequently it might therefore be said that a sense of identity is borrowed from others ("downloaded") and played in private self-confirmation as a form of "identity pace-maker". The facilitation of this process may be seen by the future as a form of "identity theft" by the collectivity at this time -- as with global constitutions.

How might an individual be encouraged to recognize the song that they are effectively singing -- the integrative expression of their identity (cf Mary Catherine Bateson, Composing a Life, 1990, which she compares to jazz improvisation, although the focus is primarily on life stories). How can the many features of music be used to articulate and hold the dynamics of an evolving identity? Phil Rockstroh (An Outcast's Inappropriate Aria: singing at the dinner table of the Empire, Swans Commentary, 2005) makes an even stronger, politically engaged, point:

Can you accept the unsettling truth of knowing that what we inflict upon the world we will eventually inflict upon ourselves, and visa versa? And ask over and over again this question: When so many external and internal forces work to thwart, degrade, and destroy our essential selves, hence the world -- what can help to restore us?

Poets tell us that only depth-delving songs, those sounds and images that reveal hidden truths, can partially restore what had been lost...Orpheus can pass into the underworld and back...but Eurydice remains lost to shadow... We only half live in the world...the rest is mystery... Lorca called it Deep Song: An autochthonic music that allows us to live beyond glimpse larger realities...and be freed from our self-constructed prison of believing the world of subjectivity and habit is the only world possible.

Deep Song is not mood music for those in a Prozac state of mind. It is a chord progression of the cosmic blues. It wails primordial storms and collapsing stars; it sings of uncharitable seas of dark matter and of the alien oceans of our tide-tossed hearts.

One approach to understanding the "lost language" of pattern-shifting in such a process reality can be obtained from insights into the 4,000 year-old chanted hymns of the Rg Veda of the Indian tradition (as discussed elsewhere). A very powerful exploration of this work by a philosopher, Antonio de Nicolas, using the non-Boolean logic of quantum mechanics, opens up valuable approaches to integration. The unique feature of the approach is that it is grounded in tone and the shifting relationships between tone. It is through the pattern of musical tones that the significance of the Rg Veda is to be found:

Therefore, from a linguistic and cultural perspective, we have to be aware that we are dealing with a language where tonal and arithmetical relations establish the epistemological invariances... Language grounded in music is grounded thereby on context dependency; any tone can have any possible relation to other tones, and the shift from one tone to another, which alone makes melody possible, is a shift in perspective which the singer himself embodies. Any perspective (tone) must be "sacrificed" for a new one to come into being; the song is a radical activity which requires innovation while maintaining continuity, and the "world" is the creation of the singer, who shares its dimensions with the song. (Antonio de Nicolas, Meditations through the Rg Veda, 1978, p. 57)

"Singing the Earth"

It is appropriate to note that articulating through song the integrative significance of the Earth as a whole, and engaging meaningfully with it, has been undertaken throughout the history of humanity. Such songs have typically been the work of priests in ritual ceremonies. Whilst typically these have been long forgotten (or suppressed) as pagan ceremonies, it is not to be forgotten that such songs continue to be sung in neo-pagan ceremonies, of which the midsummer celebrations in Nordic countries are particularly significant.

Also of contemporary significance is the importance attached to such songs within indigenous societies around the world. In particular, Australian Aborigenes continue to attach great significance to their capacity to "sing the land" -- singing the land into existence. The people and the land are understood as one -- by the very act of singing the land, the land itself lives and breathes. Such understandings have been extensively documented for UNEP in a project led by Darrell Posey (Cultural and Spiritual Values of Biodiversity, 1999).

Such insights are of course faintly echoed in modern religions in cycles of popular festivals in which the fertility of the land is celebrated: spring festivals, mid-summer festivals, early autumn (harvest festivals, Thanksgiving, etc) and winter festivals.

Such celebration points to a poorly recognized relationship between the associated mindset sustaining it and that called for at this time under the term "sustainable development" and as the need for "appropriate lifestyles". Sustainable development might be considered a simplistic secular euphemism for a lost cognitive engagement with the Earth -- and the joy of being approrpriately alive, as recognized in popular festivals worldwide. This raises the question as to the nature of the cognitive engagement of the world's earliest "sustainable developers".

Curiously the few festivals specifically initiated to celebrate sustainable development tend to be named "Earth festivals".

Sustaining collective memory of articulations of collective intent

Of particular relevance in the case of religious ritual down the ages is the recognition of the mnemonic function of music and chant -- mnemonic songs -- as a means to convey insight. Important items of information are deliberately linked to rhythm and repetition in an effort to aid memory. Sutras and prayers are meant to be chanted, thus engaging the musical/rhythmic regions of the brain in synchrony with the written and uttered word. More of the brain is activated by an exposure to a combination of data units + rhythm + melody + intonation + pitch -- especially with the addition of dance. As notably explored by suggestopedia for purposes of accelerative learning, this enables large units of structured data to be remembered as a patterned whole. At a a more familiar level it is one of the reasons that pop songs and rap are so easily remembered.

The question of the constraints on collective learning was a significant dimension omitted from an optimistic commissioned study of the supposedly unlimited possibilities of individual learning -- as reviewed elsewhere (Societal Learning and the Erosion of Collective Memory: a critique of the Club of Rome Report, 1980), notably exploring the nature of the pathology of collective memory. For western culture it is interesting to note (drawing upon its classical roots, as presented in the figure below) the traditional symbolic understanding of the relationship between law, as one expression of longer-term collective intent, and the collective memory capacity required to sustain its credibilty and viabity.

Primordial relationship of law to memory
as indicated by the relationship in Greek mythology between Zeus (as the guardian of law and morality), who fathered the nine Muses with Mnemosyne, and his son Apollo (as the giver of laws)
Enneagram configuration of the Muses

The complementary relevance of the Muses to memory, especially of collective intent, might then be articulated as follows (with possibilities in italics of relevance to the memorability of declarations of collective intent):

Of particular interest, given the written text mode preferred for modern declarations and constitutions, is the absence of prose from the above schema. Whilst the above schema may be seen as a limitation of the oral tradition (Michael E.Hobart and Zachary S. Schiffman, Orality and the Problem of Memory, 1998), it is vital to recall the extent to which functional illiteracy and preferences for non-text media determine contemporary collective behaviour and the manner in which memory is sustained. In a sense the oral culture remains of far more importance than those preferring text modes would care to admit.

Distinctions relevant to technical considerations

In arguing for singable articulations of strategic significance, it is vital to distinguish (as in the table below) the extremes to which reference may be made.

Styles of knowledge communication (rough and tentative)
. "Left hemisphere" ("analytic") "Right hemisphere" ("integrative")
(a) praxis, demonstration,
work chants, battle songs
company songs
(d) embodiment of conceptual relationships in song; archetypal engagement; sacred music; healing music, deep song
(c) systems dynamics,
(b) evocative song,
opera and
educational multi-media

A far more detailed method of distinguishing preferred modes of knowledge communication is required. The table serves usefully to distinguish the essentially unsingable (c) from the songs characteristic of (b) -- on the understanding that particular approaches may lie closer or further away from the intersection of the implied axes distinguishing the coloured quadrants.

As an example, in a survey of different educational approaches to systems thinking, Günther Ossimitz (The Development of Systems Thinking Skills Using System Dynamics Modeling Tools, 1997) notes that the system view of ecologists is often more "qualitative" than the system dynamics view of system. He gives as an example of the latter Frederic Vester (Unsere Welt - ein vernetztes System, 1984/2002) and his game Ökolopoly (available both as a board game and as a computer game). Radermacher's songs reflect this emphasis, as do AtKisson's.

The challenge is to explore the forms of integration between (a), (b) and (c) -- namely the emergence of (d) as a cognitive "marriage" enabling a new form of creative operacy (using Edward de Bono's term). What might be understood by "intelligent songs"? (cf Christopher Chase. Playing by Nature's Paradigm: systems science and the Grateful Dead, 1997). What characterizes and distinguishes the composition of songs that enable so-called paradigm shifts? How are such distinctions to be realted to the extensive work on music cognition? [resources]

One early example is the work promoted by the Cathars through the troubadours and trouvères, highly sophisticated verse-technicians, whose music and poetry combined in the service of the courtly ideal of love:

Modern European literature originated in Occitania in the early 12th century. It was started by hundreds of Troubadours (poet-musicians), who sang the praises of new values and in a new way. Their themes were courtly love, and concepts such as "convivencia" and "paratge" for which there is no modern counterpart in modern English or French. "convivencia" meant something more than conviviality and "paratge" meant something more than honour, courtesy, chivalry or gentility (though our concepts of honour, courtesy, chivalry and gentility all owe something to the concept of "paratge". They praised high ideals, promoting a spirit of equality based on common virtue and deprecating discrimination based on blood or wealth. They were responsible for a great flowering of creativity (The Troubadours).

A more recent example might be the role of the indigenous American art form of country music, especially blackfaced minstrel singers (with widely popular songs such as Zip Coon), in the meaning and making of a culture (cf Damon W. Root, Hidden Country, Reasononline, October 2002).

How might song, and understanding of the theory of harmony, act as a vehicle for the pattern of systemic insights in the UN's Agenda 21, for example? The work of Lukasz Michalec and David A Banks (Information Systems Development Methodologies and all that Jazz, 2004) provides interesting pointers of relevance to the elaboration and permanence of constitutions relevant to sustainable development:

What really singles out jazz from other types of music is improvisation and jamming and these offer potentially useful views of IS development. Both jazz and systems development deal with problems that are unstructured, ambiguous, dynamic, socio-technical, innovative and unique. Both find and develop structures and solutions that did not exist before. Both can rely, to differing degrees, on 'improvisation', from Latin word 'improvisus', which means: not seen ahead of time... Both require a measure of creativity, insight and understanding of their respective audiences. Kao (1997) captures the process of 'jamming' in jazz, which is described as '... to take a theme, a question, a notation, a whim, an idea, pass it around, break it up, put it together, turn it over, run it backwards, fly with it as far as possible, out of sight, never retreating... but yes, here it comes homing in, changed, new, the essence, like nothing ever before.' This suggests a more creative than strictly scientific approach, and one that accepts errors as part of the process of growth and development. There is also an underlying issue of free-wheeling 'fun', a notion that may not sit too comfortably with individuals who prefer to follow a strict set of guidelines, even though evidence suggests that slavish adherence to systems development methodologies often ends with a less that successful outcome

This goes beyond such insightful, but superficial, descriptions as:

To borrow from the thoughts of W. Edwards Deming, who developed the theory of continuous improvement through a systems approach, systems thinking is like conducting a piece of music for an orchestra. While the flute solo may be pleasant, the percussion powerful, the strings in perfect harmony, it is the work of the conductor who pulls all the parts together into one beautiful song. Only then do the musicians -- and the audience members -- get the full and intended effect. (Claudia Mansfield Sutton, The Leader's Role in Reaching Universal Success for All, The School Administrator, January 2006)

As exercises in sonification (cf International Community for Auditory Display. Sonification Report: status of the field and research agenda. Prepared for the National Science Foundation, 1999), it would be an interesting challenge to determine whether and how:

Aside from new possibilities, such exercises would offer a means of access to these patterns for the blind -- who may bring greater insight to ways of making them even more comprehensible. Classical patterns typical of complex carpet, lace and chainmail designs, may give a new sense of how the different "voices" can be fruitfully interwoven in a larger song as an appropriate vehicle for governance in the future (cf Metaphors as Transdisciplinary Vehicles of the Future, 1991) . Curiously the presentation of any metabolic pathways chart, and especially its systemic significance for life -- recalls the myth of the "magic carpet". The isomorphic pattern for the governance of sustainable development is the "magic" required for the 21st century.

A vital question in relation to the above is the mix of disciplines relevant to the challenge. The contribution of bodies such as the European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music (ESCOM) is particularly relevant, especially in the light of their recognition of the interdisciplinary nature of any such challenge (see introduction to Conference on Interdisciplinary Musicology, 2004).

Organizational implementation

There is clearly a need to clarify the many dimensions and options of such a possibility, preferably in an appropriately documented conference. This might be done through an electronic forum. Some of the issues relating to such a preparatory event have been explored with respect to a conference on poetry-making and policy-making (Poetry-making and Policy-making: Proposal for an exploratory international conference, 1993).

A challenging question is why there is such a difference in content and form between an anthem that is designed for widespread popular use in celebration of the essential values of a country (or a region) and a constitution -- the latter being designed to detail the rights, responsibilities and processes of a country in terms of those values. An anthem is typically inadequate to the extent that it needs a constitution to ground the sentiments it expresses in legally binding text. A constitution is typically inadequate to the extent that its content has to be made palatable and comprehensible through communication tools that do not distort the checks and balances of its structure -- or severely diminish its credibility as an integrative device. The fact that the two are elaborated through quite distinct institutional agendas is a mark of institutional schizophrenia with highly unhealthy implications for the culture in question. Both are presented as symbolically important to the culture, but the investment in the intelligent "design" of each is totally different -- with the anthem readily evaluated as a cynical token to gull the masses. Ironically the constitution may also be judged in this way.

There has been very little effort to explore the representation of complex systems through music and song. However, ironically, there have been many studies using systems methodology to explore and represent the often problematic dynamics of the music industry. An early inspiration was the work of Jacques Attali (Noise: the political economy of music, 1977/1985). Such studies include: Patrik Wikstrom (The Enemy of Music: Modeling the Behavior of a Cultural Industry in Crisis, International Journal on Media Management, Vol. 7, 2005, 1&2, pp 65-74: Dominc Power (ed), Behind The Music Profiting from Sound: a systems approach to the dynamics of the Nordic music industry, 2003; The Cultural Dynamics Map: exploring the arts ecosystem in the United States, 2005).

Such studies point to the need to position any initiative within a complex socio-political context. Various approaches might be considered to elicite and disseminate an appropriate song:

In exploring such options consideration could be given to the weight to be attached to the following -- and how they might be combined:


Why should national legislation not be singable? Why should global strategies, like Agenda 21, not be singable? What is achieved by structuring policy so that its complex interdependencies are memorable only to the few and meaningless to those who depend on its viability? Should new resolutions of the United Nations, or new directives of the European Union, by their musical form -- as new leitmotivs? Downloadable as MP3 files?

It would however be wise to remember who attracted the most popular support in the 2006 Eurovision Song Concert -- and to endeavour to understand why. Failure to do so might simply provide a musical metaphor for the "clash of civilizations" -- an archetypal "clash of music" or a "clash of song", recalling the competing "war songs" of clashing cultures. Clarity in this respect is vital given the "democratic deficit" and the fact that relatively few attend "concerts" of classical form in democratic societies.

It is important to distinguish the use of songs "about" institutional change -- whether in protest, in praise of enabling agreements, or in celebration of the values they express -- from their use to "bring about" such a change of pattern, or inhibit it. Can music "give form" to new patterns of social relationship -- as with the early spiritual aspiration of "sacred music" and the belief in its inherent power to "bring into being" the reality it represents? Does music offer ways of integrating different timescales and cycles vital to the credibility of sustainable development and recycling?

Music has played a major role in mobilizing troops for battle and intimidating the enemy. It continues to be used for that purpose in modern armies. Is there a case for exploring the use of music and song in support of peacekeeeping and non-violent peace operations?

In addition to any minimal efforts at televised satellite debate between representatives of the annual World Economic Forum ("Davos") and of the annual World Social Forum ("Porto Alegre"), what might emerge from songs composed and sung by each in response to the policy concerns of the other? Especially interesting would be the musical challenge of interweaving the thematic and harmonic content of both -- notably by integrating a "voice" representative of the many people puzzled and unconvinced by both.

Might it be possible to both honour and reframe the archetypal encounter between the Davos and Porto Alegre "choruses" in the light of the understanding of the cultural significance of the Maori haka (so widely evident at the start of rugby games with the All Blacks of New Zealand) -- a musical encounter between the "All Blacks of Davos" and the "All Greens of Porto Alegre"? Could this be developed into politically significant encounters between opposing political parties based on their political songs -- enabling the articulation and expression of new forms of national harmony?

Of particular interest is the extent to which music and song should reinforce legal patterns formulated in the past as opposed to responding to the inspiration and collective intent of the moment -- in the light of new recognition of the nature of an emergent future. To what extent should the music and lyrics "look back" rather than "look forward", and to what extent can they provide a vital bridge between the two? Can the intent of declarations of the past now be better excpressed? Can the possibilities of institutional reform (as with the United Natuions and the European Union) be articulated through music and song for wider comprehension?

The challenge is to encourage the use of song and music to render credible new patterns of relationship worldwide -- imagining a harmonic expression of a "NewWorld Order". Can the complex harmonies of music "bring into being" new patterns of cooperative relationship responsive to the challenge of the times? What resources have been devoted to this possibility?

What is the song through which the many global stakeholders are to be collectively empowered by polyphonic singing of their respective parts? As Mozart explains in Amadeus regarding his opera Marriage of Figaro:

In a play if more than one person speaks at the same time it is noise. One can't understand a word. But with Opera, with music… with music, you can have 20 individuals talking at the same time and it's not noise -- it's a perfect harmony!

How is such music to be composed -- or improvised -- and how is any keynote to be sung?

Although many songs have been written about the United Nations or on related themes, there is no official anthem or hymn for the Organization. One such song, or hymn, was written and performed at the United Nations on 24 October 1971, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the United Nations (United Nations: Hymn to the United Nations words by W.H. Auden; music by Pablo Casals, 1971)
An Earth Song was produced by Michael Jackson in 1995 [lyrics]. In the music video it outlines how the Earth is being destroyed by humans, and it alludes to environmental and poverty issues in the world. The single sold over three million copies worldwide. There is also a heavy metal song named Gaia produced by Devin Townsend.
The Galaxy Song by Eric Idle is an upbeat and somewhat nihilstic song from the movie Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, later released on the album Monty Python Sings. The lyrics include a number of scientific theories about the creation of the Universe, as well as a small number of astronomical facts, many of which are surprisingly accurate (Paul Kohlmiller, A study of the Galaxy Song by Eric Idle, 2003) [song].


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