For the past forty years, Barbara Marx Hubbard has been a pioneer and driving force in the movement to create a positive future for humanity. She has been instrumental in the founding of many future-oriented organizations, including the World Future Society, New Dimensions Radio, Global Family, Women of Vision in Action, The Foundation for the Future, and the Association for Global New Thought. She worked closely with Dr. Jonas Salk and was one of the original contributors to the Salk Institute. In the 1970s she co-founded the Committee for the Future in Washington, D.C. which developed the New Worlds Educational and Training Center, based on her work.

She is currently chairperson of the board of the Foundation for Conscious Evolution, creating a DVD series entitled
Humanity Ascending and establishing the new field of conscious evolution with Wisdom University and through Gateway to Conscious Evolution.

A graduate of Bryn Mawr College, with a B.A. cum laude in Political Science, Barbara studied at the Sorbonne and L’Ecole des Sciences Politiques in Paris. She was awarded the first Doctor of Conscious Evolution degree from Emerson Theological Institute. She is widely regarded as the philosophical heir to Buckminster Fuller, who once described her as “the best informed human now alive regarding futurism.”

In 1984 her name was placed in nomination for the vice-presidency of the United States on the Democratic ticket; in the years following that election, she served as a citizen diplomat as one of the original directors of the Center for Soviet American Dialogue. She is author of
Conscious Evolution: Awakening the Power of Our Social Potential and Emergence: The Shift from Ego to Essence. — J.D.M.

What led you into the kind of work that you’ve been doing for the past four decades?

I believe that many of us are coded internally with a sense of what’s emerging in the future. While we’re all born into different backgrounds, religions, colors and races, there is a certain percentage of humanity who have that innate desire to participate more fully in the process of creation. We just need to get near the right question or the right person, and that encounter activates that seed within us.

What happened to you to activate that seed?

It was the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the summer of 1945. I was fifteen years old, and I awoke one day with a sense of the horror of it, as well as a burning question: what is the meaning of all of this new power we seem to have? Contemplating this extraordinary level of science, technology and industry and the fact that we can destroy at such a horrendous level, is there something positive we can create at an even greater level?

That set me on a search through religion and philosophy, a quest to find images of the future equal to our full potential. And I couldn’t find them. There was a lot about life after death, there was destruction and Armageddon, and there was plenty of science fiction. But there was no clear, well articulated next stage of evolution revealed anywhere.

I didn’t realize the degree to which the answer to my question wasn’t known. It seemed to me such a good question, I began to give my life to it.

I had a series of epiphanies that helped me see that our problems and crises are evolutionary drivers propelling us toward the birth of a more universal humanity, capable of co-evolving with nature and co-creating with spirit.

I became devoted to a whole new worldview we’re calling conscious evolution.

Conscious as opposed to stumbling blind.

Exactly. For billions of years, species have evolved and become extinct but not necessarily choosing any of this consciously.

In the past, we’ve had mystics, visionaries and other extraordinary human beings, but they never faced a collective global crisis to the life support system of the whole world.

Our crisis is new. Our capacities are new. Conscious evolution, at this stage of reality, is new.

You speak about the “generation of choice,” which makes it sound like you’re talking about a pretty narrow window of time here.

It’s a shocking reality, but in view of our environmental crisis, the shortage of the oil, financial disasters that may be looming, the fact that cities will go underwater and that we will run out of water supply, the crisis is very real and very quick.

When I talk with people at the growing edge, almost everybody feels that there are solutions to every one of these problems. But most are not fully developed yet. There is no collective leadership or collective vision.

So you’re saying, we have the technical capacity to address all these issues, but the question is, will we?

Not only the technical capacity; we also have the spiritual and social capacity. But at the level of institutions and nations, we don’t have the leadership. Evolutionary leadership, guidance from those who can see what’s emerging, is the stage we’re at.

We do have the collective will, but it’s a question of organizing ourselves around a form of leadership that hasn’t emerged yet?

That’s a very good question. One of the people who’ve influenced me is a man named Jean-François Noubel. He described how early humans had collective intelligence in the small tribal communities.

Then, in the last 7,000 years, we organized ourselves into pyramidal, hierarchical structures. Almost every great activity or institution is organized in a hierarchy, but that pyramidal structure has created complex problems it can’t handle. Global warming, for example, can’t be handled from the top down. It’s much too complex.

In some respects, says François, global intelligence is like being in cyberspace. In global intelligence, there are literally thousands of answers existing right now, but they’re not accessible in a linear manner. If we had the next level of the global brain working, we would get the collective response to our deep questions.

So although I’m a novice at this, I have become fascinated with the question of how to introduce some of this work into cyberspace.

That is sort of a nascent version of that collective brain.

It is. And I think we’re moving out of that pyramidal structure, but individual action, compassion and consciousness alone does not suffice. We’re in a systems crisis, and only new systems can solve the problems of energy, of hunger and of war.

Scarcity is actually built into our monetary system.

I like network marketing, because at least to some degree, it transcends the current competitive system.

Richard Brooke has been saying for years that our real product in this business is not skin cream or vitamins, but leadership.

I think so. It’s synergistic leadership, that is, leadership that facilitates and empowers rather than dominates and controls.

Shifting that whole system orientation within a generation would seem a fairly radical upsetting of the apple cart, if not catastrophic. How are we doing?

Because we didn’t have the leadership to make changes ten or fifteen years ago, on things like fossil fuels and carbon emissions, the problems have escalated to the point where we can’t avoid some catastrophes. It seems to me, from an evolutionary point of view, the human species won’t evolve without some intense pain.

I relate this to a crisis of birth. Some births are relatively easy, and some are very painful. We’re going through a birth crisis of the next stage of humanity. Because we haven’t responded soon enough to many of the things that we already knew, particularly in relationship to the environment, the crisis is going to be more painful.

At the same time, the potential for change and the capacity for connectivity are growing very rapidly, too.

I think this is where freedom enters the evolutionary system. How many people know this? And if you do know this, what contribution do you feel you can make about it? Because everybody will have a different contribution to make.

I have a big overview; I’m an evolutionary educator. Others will deal specifically with new energy, or with how to educate kids at risk; everyone has a different part to play. It’s like a body: if you put it all together, you see that it’s a living system emerging.

This is a system shift that we’re in, and in fact, there’s already enough of that new system in place that if it were just more connected, more networked and communicated, we would be in a very new position.

So the pieces are in place—and we’re the pieces.

Yes, we’re the pieces. We just haven’t pieced ourselves together yet.

“Give pieces a chance.”

[laughs] Exactly! I don’t think we’re going to have peace if we don’t piece together the emergent potentials of our system. The pieces need to be networked—and that brings us back around to network marketing.

Network marketing is a different way of self-organizing. In a large network of distributors, none of them are employees; they’re all volunteers. They’re not members of the same church, or the same race, or the same geographic community. They’re cohered by this loosely-defined mission.

I think it is prefiguring global intelligence. I really do.

In the context of this new system that’s trying to be born here, what does leadership look like?

I think it’s a matter of finding your life purpose and saying yes to it the whole way, and then connecting with others doing the same so that you can co-create your life purpose.

Barbara, once you found this life path yourself, where did you go from there?

I was a mother of five, married to an artist and living in Lakeville, Connecticut, and I began to understand that I was part of evolution. I had a role to play, which was to be a communicator of evolutionary potential.

When you find your life purpose, you start acting on that inner impulse. I studied and I read, and then began to reach out and connect with others who were excited about this same thing. I formed a newsletter called “The Center Letter,” wrote editorials and compiled quotes from people I admired—and before you knew it, I was networked into the system of what’s emergent.

I got a divorce, moved with my children to Washington, D.C., and founded The Committee for the Future, did conferences and theater. And I ran for vice president of the U.S. I became a whole different person.

You throw yourself into your life’s purpose, and then it simply unfolds.

And it keeps unfolding.

As an ordinary person, working my networking business and reading this interview, what can I do to help respond to these crises and make this next evolutionary step?

There is what I call a three-fold spiral. There’s social evolution, which is to connect the positive as much as we can. There’s self-evolution, which is shifting from your identity as an egoic, separated self to your essential, divine self.

And then there is vocational evolution—finding life purpose and moving into the wheel of co-creation. That involves moving into the emerging world, finding your partners and teammates, and networking it so that you can manage to communicate and actually manifest the positive.

In the last decade or so, there’s been such a shakeup in traditional corporate structures and so many of us are self-employed agents now. I supposed that’s a good thing, because it’s given us more options.

I think it’s good. I have a lot of faith and trust in evolution. It’s leading either to extinction or to transformation. I prefer transformation.

The whole birth analogy is wonderful, too, because there’s bleeding and pain in birth; it’s not an easy experience.

That’s right, and as a mother, because you know what’s happening and you know it’s a birth, it’s amazing how much pain you can manage to suffer without destruction. If you didn’t know it was a birth, I don’t think you could stand it. It’s dangerous, but natural—and possibly the greatest experience a woman can have.

What a wonderful point.

Our crisis can be the birth of something we haven’t seen before but have long had an aspiration towards: being more co-creative, more participatory and more illuminated; as we go through the crisis, realizing that it’s pressing us forward. And this is so in your personal life as well as in your social and community life, and eventually global life.

It’s interesting to note that many people choose natural childbirth when they could have pain relief, because they’d rather have the process happen naturally. Now, that’s a big choice.

To what degree are we managing this larger birth naturally, and to what degree are we self-medicating? It seems to me there’s an awful lot of epidural going on.

There is, so my work is about communicating the meaning of our crisis and the meaning of what’s emergent, as much as I can, as well as of what’s being destroyed.

Are there areas of the world or sectors of society where you see more of that awareness and where this whole evolutionary process is advancing more smoothly and rapidly?

I believe there is evolutionary emergence in every major sector. In health, in education, in business, in new energy, in forms of social cooperation—everywhere.

And there are definitely people who are already doing this, who are bringing systems together. For example, Stephen Dinan of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, or Avon Mattison with Pathways to Peace. I’m doing an intensive for Wisdom University called “Conscious Evolution and Social Synergy: Toward an Evolutionary Politics.” For that program, we’re bringing together people like Stephen and Avon. There are quite a few people now trying to bring the larger system together. I think of it as wheels with many spokes.


[laughs] I’m actually a spokesperson at the hub. The reason my name is Hubbard is that I’m a hub bard: I sing of hubs.

Well that worked out quite nicely!

And I actually like hubs, because they are focal points.

Like in network marketing, there’s certainly not one hub that everybody circles around, but there are hubs and wheels. I think of it as the still center of the turning spiral, and the spiral is evolving.

At the same time, there’s a center in every one of us. And when that center is shared, there’s resonance. And when there’s resonance, there’s inspiration and the design of creation is revealed.

And as with birth, when you see what’s coming, it makes all of the trauma so much easier to bear.

And it’s important to remember that what’s coming isn’t fixed. There are tendencies in nature towards more complex whole systems: molecules to cells to animal to human. But it has to be more choiceful now, it has to be more participatory than before, because we’re more powerful and more aware.

So I think there’s a tendency for it to work, but it still does depend on how we humans respond to it. And therefore, everybody is called. Everybody.

I asked earlier, “What does leadership look like?” and you gave a lovely answer. But it also sounds like you’re saying, another piece of the answer is that leadership means having a clear vision of what the potential is here.

I think so. That’s one reason we’re holding this five-day event, “Evolutionary Politics,” May 5–9, at Wisdom University. I would like for your readers who are interested in knowing more to participate with us.

I think if network marketing folks participate with us in evolutionary politics, it would be hugely important.

This probably goes without saying, but I assume this is something that transcends partisan party politics.

This is actually how to network at the grassroots level—to support any candidate and any party who would like to be more cooperative.

The system is designed for opposition; in Washington, D.C., it’s very hard to get anything done because the powers are evenly balanced and in opposition to each other.

It’s just the way the game is rigged.

The game is rigged for opposition to create a balance of power. But how do you transcend that into a co-creative power? How do you create a democracy that is designed to empower the individual to create within the whole? That’s what we’re looking for. I call it a synergistic democracy—a way of being in the world where we realize that every choice each one of us makes matters and affects where we are all going.