The single most important insight to have emerged from Beyond Intractability's 30+ year inquiry into more constructive ways of dealing with society-wide, intractable conflict is the importance of approaching these problems in a "massively parallel*" way. The scale and complexity of these conflicts makes it impossible for even the most sophisticated individual efforts to do much to reverse the destructive spiral of intractable conflict and hyper-polarization. Still, we believe that we can solve these problems if we learn how to work together. We each need to take responsibility for learning how to approach conflict more constructively, and then applying those those skills and talents toward the common goal of building a society in which we would all like to live. At Beyond Intractability, our goal is to encourage and support this process by helping to mobilize what we hope will eventually be massive numbers of such efforts, all working in parallel toward a common vision for the future built around the democratic ideal.
This strategy is more fully explained in the Conflict Resolution Quarterly article around which the BI/CRQ Hyper-Polarization Discussion is being framed, and in a second framing paper that, by looking at democracy as a dispute handling system, provides a much more detailed framework for thinking about many different things that need to be done for such a massively-parallel approach to succeed. This figure, which is explained in the framing paper summarizes the framework.
For years, Beyond Intractability has been adding to its knowledge base links to information about activities in each of these topic categories and the ideas that underlie them. In order to make it clearer how all of these materials fit together into the comprehensive framework described above, we have now started to add dark red taglines at the beginning of the links that we feature in BI's Blogs, Newsletters, Colleague Activities, and BI in Context sections. We have tried to write the taglines in a plain English style that we hope will be intuitively understandable. Hopefully, this will make it easier to see how the efforts of so many people fit together into a movement that shows real promise for reversing today's dismal trends.
* The term "massively parallel" is borrowed from the world of computing and the strategy for getting beyond the limits of individual processors by breaking a big computational problem into small pieces and then using very large numbers of inexpensive processors to solve each piece and then synthesize the solutions to these pieces into a comprehensive solution of the big problem.