Crew Commentary

Either We Evolve Our Consciousness or We Risk Societal Collapse

Bob Leonard - Climate Risk Manager


by Terence Sexton


Humanity is facing two paths. One will take us further down the path of degeneration. The other is a path of regeneration. Which will we take?


Will we remain stuck in our degenerative consciousness? Or will we evolve a regenerative consciousness… a crew consciousness?


I fear we will continue down the degenerative path toward societal collapse because our collective consciousness has been industrialised by businesses, governments, our economic system, society and the advertising industry. This is the result of our increased psychological separation from nature, each other and ourselves:


  • Separation from nature began with the ‘New Science’ of the 17th and 18th Centuries, which the philosopher René Descartes kicked off when he said humans were conscious, but all of nature was unconscious. He believed animals were automatons and the rest of nature operated like a machine. New Scientists then set about understanding how the machine worked to pave the way for the Industrial Revolution.
  • Separation from each other began when the Industrial Revolution needed capital to fund machines and factories. Capitalism was born. The form of capitalism we have today in the western world is called ‘Neoliberalism’, which emphasises competitive individualism.
  • Separation from ourselves started when New Science broke away from religion. As a result, our psyche was split in two. Science took with it our ego (self-identity, self-image, and self-esteem), and religion focused on our spiritual lives. Since then, science has become more influential in society and the focus on the ego has resulted in widespread narcissism.



The result of these three separations is that our ego is increasingly isolated and vulnerable. But don’t worry. Corporations are here to help. Through their PR and advertising, we are convinced that we will feel better if we buy their products. Our peers will admire us. So, we buy the product and it works; we do feel better. But it doesn’t last… we have to keep buying. Gradually we became addicted to consumerism.


We need to keep consuming because our economy depends on it. When we stop, the economy goes into recession and a lot of people suffer. But we can’t keep increasing our consumption if we are to achieve a regenerative path. Clearly, we need a new economic system. But this can’t happen because our addiction to consuming keeps our destructive economic system in place.


To create a regenerative economic system, our collective consciousness now needs to evolve beyond consumerism. A majority of us must develop regenerative consciousness and crew consciousness.


To describe the evolution of our collective consciousness, I often borrow terms used by philosophers and sociologists to describe ‘cultural movements’. These are pre-modernism, modernism, post-modernism and Meta-modernism. Currently, in western societies, our economic system is supported by modernism, but there is evidence we are moving to post-modernism.


  • Pre-modernist consciousness is characterised by seeking to gain acceptance by controlling one’s own behaviour in line with the ‘established truth’ or the ‘word of God’. With this consciousness, rulers can only govern with a mandate from God. Therefore, religion becomes the means for the mass socialisation of people’s consciousness. The norms of accepted behaviour are internalised without question and conditioned through all aspects of society… through parenting, education, and law.
  • Modernist consciousness assumes everyone can be the author of their own mind and be independent of any external influences. Independence gives people the motivation to achieve on their own. With everyone competing to achieve independently, society progresses. Modernist consciousness reinforces our current neoliberalist, consumerist and capitalist economic system.
  • Post-modernist consciousness is characterised by challenging the generally accepted notions of objective reality, believing there are multiple perspectives on the truth, each being grounded in the perceiver’s social context. Without a shared perspective on the world uniting us, we are now fragmenting into sub-groups, causing the rise of ‘identity politics’. So, while our society is facing a sustainability crisis, we are increasingly arguing amongst ourselves.
  • Meta-modernist consciousness values acceptance and thrives in our society’s paradoxical and self-contradictory nature. It takes a ‘both/and’ rather than an ‘either/or’ perspective on life. Therefore, it accepts both modernist and post-modernist perspectives and unites them.


If we are to create a new economic system that enables us to step onto the regenerative path, we need to develop our collective consciousness beyond modernism. However, if we get stuck in post-modernism, we will just keep arguing amongst ourselves, and we won’t be able to take the actions needed to change paths. Clearly, we now need to evolve into an era of meta-modernist collective consciousness.


Evolving into a new era of collective consciousness will require a critical mass of people developing their individual consciousness beyond consumerism, characterised by crew consciousness and regenerative consciousness, where we are reconnected with nature, each other and ourselves. Developing our consciousness is the key to unlocking a better world. A world where we live in greater harmony with nature, are kinder to each other, and have higher levels of happiness and contentment. In my book Consciousness Beyond Consumerism, I explain how to make this happen.



Terence Sexton BSc. MSc. MBA is a Business Psychologist with over twenty years of experience consulting across a wide range of industry sectors. He works mainly with leaders delivering Executive Profiling, Coaching and Leadership Development. In recent years, Terence’s focus has been on Sustainability Leadership, helping to ensure businesses are being led by leaders who can co-create a better future. When working with leaders, Terence facilitates the development of their consciousness alongside increasing their skills and knowledge. In doing so, he converts psychological theory and research into practical application. Terence asserts that we need to develop our collective consciousness if we are to create a sustainable society.