Breaking Free from Moloch’s Grip: Charting a New Course for Humanity

Humanity has a long history of civilisation, nation-states and empires falling.

Since the creation of nuclear weapons, existential threats to humanity are now global, whereas, in previous times, threats were confined to regions.

Our weapons can wipe humanity out. I am old enough to remember being taught to ‘duck and cover’ at school, which was clearly a parental placating gesture without providing any real chance of survival.

Following World War Two, nation-states made pacts to limit the proliferation of nuclear weapons. This is a good thing. However, nuclear weapons are hard to make and even harder to make in secret.

While we have sociopaths with fingers on the red nuclear button, they remain a threat. Recent history has shown that even in places that profess to be advanced democracies, sociopaths can be elected to office.

Yet death by nuclear is a kindergarten threat compared to our new technologies. Technologies that can be made in anyone’s basement.

Drones. Weaponised biology. Electromagnetic pulses that can wipe out the internet. And AI.

Add to this the global threat of climate breakdown and its side effects of massive migration, increasing plagues, loss of food, and loss of biodiversity, and we are in a very big pickle. (To put it politely.)

I have spent the last few decades in very intimate conversations with leaders of big businesses in banking, finance, real estate and technology. Over the course of our coaching relationships, which often lasted for years, I witnessed good people admitting that they knew the system they worked in was terrible, the profit-maximising machine a behemoth that could not be named. Yet they stayed, working away, all the while knowing that the incentive behind the machine they were trapped in continued to take the best of humanity and turn it sour.

How do we continue to say yes to this and the following?

  • The prison-industrial complex.
  • The military-industrial complex
  • Desecration of Earth for more stuff.
  • Extinction of half of our species in the blink of an eye.
  • Oceans and rivers so polluted they are dangerous to everything.
  • Fishing by scraping the ocean beds of all life.
  • The endless desire for more.
  • Young people spending a house deposit or more on some form of cosmetic enhancement, affirming that their body and image are unacceptable or not worthy in their natural state.
  • Politicians so corrupt they believe their lies.
  • A media machine algorithmically programmed to create hatred and rage.
  • Money as the judge of value. What you earn or have determines your worth.
  • Suicide rates escalating.
  • Unbreathable air.

And we might answer. “But we do not say yes to all of this.”

Yet we do. Again and again.

And we might ask.

What creates this type of circumstance?

This is a great question.

We want to answer it with something simple. Like a global dark cabal of men working the strings of their puppets, gathering more money and power as they do.

Yet this is the lazy answer. The one that lives in the nests of conspiracy lovers. We can point to the shadows: it is them. If we take the power away from them, all will be well.

Yet history tells us no. All will not be well.

So we ask again.

What creates this type of circumstance?

I love pop culture, as it is the canary in the coal mine of civilisation. It says more about humanity’s collective state than anything else.

Consider Voldemort from Harry Potter. He who could not be named. The dark enemy, not a person, but a force.

A dark attractor. Like the strange attractor from chaos theory. Ordering chaos, yet doing it in a way that ensures collapse—playing the eternal win-lose game. To the end. To then begin again.

In 2014 Scott Alexander wrote Meditations on Moloch. He wrote this article to propose a name for this dark attractor: Moloch.

Meditations On Moloch

Moloch is a figure, or archetype, found in the Hebrew Bible. He was a dark god, needing children as sacrifices. Over time, Moloch, as the metaphor has been used to describe our relationship with money, guns and a savage brand of religion. For example, Winston Churchill described Adolf Hitler as a version of Moloch.

In his article, Scott Alexander references Alan Ginsberg’s poem about Moloch as representing everything wrong with society.

My work over the years has been built around Buckminster Fuller’s call to action.

Do not try to change the existing system. Build new models that make the existing system obsolete.

But first we must see the existing system, the water we swim in, the air we breathe, and the subtext of everything we do.

Moloch is a good name for this.

What is Moloch?

It is not a god, not a person. It is a force, a dark attractor.

It is the force of unhealthy competition—the win-lose game. For me to win, someone has to lose until there is nothing. A zero sum game.

It lives in the race to the bottom that appears to those trapped in its web as the race to the top.

As Liv Boeree described in her Beauty War video, it is the Instagram filter that ever so slightly tweaks your facial features to the point you no longer like your natural face. Even though you hate what you are doing by using the filter, if you do not, you will not get the likes, the hit, or the fame.


It is the profit-maximising machine—the win as much as possible at the cost of everything incentive.

It is the arms race, where unless 100% of all wealthy nations stop accumulating arms, countries must accumulate arms in case a state goes rogue.

It is capitalism, which can incentivise companies to cut corners on safety, workers’ rights, and environmental protection to maximise profits until there is nothing left.

Moloch is an archetype. An energy pattern that coordinates people to make bad choices, often without them even knowing they are.

It thrives in the Social Media algorithm. It is in charge of the monopolies like Meta, Google, Microsoft, Apple and Amazon.

As with many other forces, we have anthropomorphised Moloch into a horned creature. Try not to think of Moloch like that. If you consider Moloch as the dark attractor, this will help you to know it.

We rightly fear Artificial General Intelligence. AGI. The moment AI becomes so powerful that it regulates and grows within itself, no longer needing its human designer for oversight or development.

Daniel Schmachtenberger has pointed out that Moloch is already an AGI. Our current system is an AGI. It is learning from itself, growing exponentially, and finding more ways to convert things and human labour into capital on the path to endless profit. It is rapacious. Iterative. Unhinged.


And it is Moloch that is creating AI, aided by the technicians following instructions from the Moloch-captured companies. Moloch rules the monopolies and companies behind the exponential development of AI. The new arms race is the race to get the best AI, the most powerful AI, and the most profit from AI.

Without consideration of consequences. No time for that.

Tristan Harris, the founder of the Center for Humane Technology and the main person behind the Netflix documentary, The Social Dilemma, stated in the last few weeks that 50 % of the people working in AI believe there is a 10% chance AI will extinct humanity. He also said that it now takes 3 seconds for AI to capture your voice and use it to convince family members to do things you do not want them to do. Anyone who has heard of a bank or Government Institution that says your voice confirms your identity is wrong. It does not. Not any longer.


AI is held captive by Moloch. And it is from within Moloch’s clutches that we seek regulation of Moloch. That is the irony. The context of Moloch, so misaligned from any purpose to increase the well-being of Earth and all her creatures, is creating a tool that is misaligned from increasing the well-being of Earth and her creatures. And doing this at an exponential rate far exceeding anything we have seen.

What can we do?

Great question. I certainly do not have all of the answers.

The first step of any change is clearly and objectively naming the issue and its source. Go to Source. Unless we do, we will continue polishing the Titanic guard rails.

Confront the Source: I see it.

It is not a person or people. It is the context in which humanity operates. Our operating system. The dark strange attractor, operating everywhere, all at once, like gravity.

See Moloch in yourself if it lives there. Root it out.

Build new models of human coordination with incentives unattractive to Moloch, such as increased well-being for Earth and all her creatures, without ecological offence or the disadvantage of anyone. This is our work at Syntropic World.

Remember to dare, knowing that change is always lead by people at the grassroots.

Truly explore your relationship with enough. What is enough money, stuff, status, fame, sex, alcohol and enough food? When are you overcome by greed, power, or desire for fame?

Get to know your competitive nature. What will you do to win? Why? Competition is not bad. Competition gone rogue is Moloch. The athlete who injects drugs to get the performance edge. The Social Media Influencer who will do almost anything to get more likes.

Discuss Moloch, competition, power, and enough in your teams and enterprises regularly. Moloch arrives as a little atrocity. Sneaky, innocuous at first, until its power has deep roots or worse, collapse is the only exit.

Little atrocities – the path from integrity to self-deception and bad business

Learn to speak up and out. To name the elephant called Moloch. To not be seduced by the symptoms, or to spend your life energy towards fixing the thing over there while the rogue operating system purrs away in the background – laughing delightedly at its success of distraction and obfuscation.

Surround yourself with people who believe in you, each other, and the good, the true and the beautiful of humanity. It is time for us to come together and coordinate a different path. To build those models that make the existing obsolete.

Consider joining us at Syntropic World. The next Syntropic Masterclass, our foundational program, is open for enrolment. Here.

We would love to meet you. We have much to do.