2005/01/08

Conclusions (4)

The age of CoGaH arises: Cosmos, Gaia, Humanity.


Postmodernism is the process of societal globalization whereby the rationality of the logic of capital is being extended as a common way of thinking to the whole world. This may seem very abstract put like that in words but the process is absolutely worldchanging in terms of the daily ways of live of everybody on earth.

Generally speaking this process takes quite different forms in the different geographic areas. It is indeed a big unification of the life conditions around the world. This is also the master subject of the work of Thomas P.M. Barnett who describes the interactions between the "Core" and the "Gap".

Basically the life conditions of the populations of the world are unifying and rebalancing around "a middle-class way of life" (what Barnett describes as a geographic distribution in the Core):

    • The populations in Western advanced countries are bound to suffer a decrease in their income and of most of their social rights that had been established as privileges of living in the then industrially dominating West.

      Globalization of capital is driving whole sectors of economic activity out of those countries for the simple reason that the cost structure of their wages is no longer competitive. The transfer of the textile industry to countries of the South is a perfect illustration of that mechanism.

      The result in the countries of the West is invariably a stagnation of real incomes that will be followed by a fall in real incomes. The myth that technology would replace lost jobs with new ones that give highly paid wages is indeed only half true. All lost jobs are never fully compensated by new highly paid technology jobs. The fastest growing employment sector is indeed the service sector where wages are minimum wages that are less well paid then the lost jobs and furthermore technology jobs lowly paid in the South will be competiting with highly paid technology jobs in the north.

      This painful trend towards lower income averages is paralleled by a cultural disintegration. In other words "the conflictual change fostering relationship", between the individual and his society that I illustrated in chapter 2.5 of ARTSENSE, is breaking down with the individuals running in all directions as if they had lost their compass.

      The visual artists had been pulled into confusion some decades earlier already and are now on the verge of taking the first step out of confusion towards sense.


    • The populations of East-Asia and South America are registering increases in their incomes that gradually will allow their countries to integrate into the hard core of the "middle-class way of life".

      Investments in work intensive productions of goods go to countries disposing of reasonable political stability, good education systems and most important of all where wages are low. At the dawn of the 21st century the best example of such a country is unmistakenly China which indeed captures the highest input of Foreign Direct Investment.

      This economic growth is followed by an increasing social well-being but this is also accompanied by a very severe social and cultural shock. Traditional culture is being battered under the opening of Pandora's box of greed (1) which allows in the last instance for the flow of commodities. The younger generations are growing up in an "air of the time" that is encouraging individualism and materialism while their parents can't let go the values of their traditional cultures. The cultural shock is furthermore reinforced under the weight of creeping social inequality.

      In such conditions the million dollar question is whether those countries will succeed keeping their societies together. The experience of Europe's industrialization has been a story of political balancing of the interests of the different classes/interests and their representation into the political decision making process in order to avoid social explosions leading to revolutions as the one of October 1917. Even the US did not escape severe social upheavals even if it's society was unburdened by strong traditions.

      In such a fast changing environment the artists are somehow plunged back into the debate that was raging at the dawn of the 20th century in Western Europe about the necessity to abandon their pictorial traditions. But this is not all of their story they are also under the impact of what Western artists have been doing this last century and this starkly influences their experiences. In one decade they leapfrogged 150 years of pictorial research and all styles practiced in the West are today practiced in China without the Chinese artists having had the need to experience the agonies endured by Western artists in the course of the process of research driving to these styles.

      Their absorption of modernity is thus only very superficial which I believe is not a bad thing in itself for it will not deepen so far their difficulties at going back to the traditional societal functionality of art which is basically identical in China and the West. My bet is thus that we will soon see Chinese, Indian, South American and other nations' artists jump into postmodernity roughly at the same time as Western artists.

    • Africa and South-West Asia are experiencing the weakening and often the disintegration of their traditional societal systems and their populations are thus largely living in extreme poverty while having access, at least sometimes, to the window on the rest of the world that is television.

      Such a situation can only lead to a severe shock and simultaneously it also speeds up the flame of the desire to share into the goodies noticed in the window on the world. But those goodies are not coming basically because their societal systems are dysfunctional and unstable.

      Those areas are remnants of Western European colonialism. Their borders have nothing to do with their historical experience they were simply imposed on them by European whitemen who thought they knew better. But it seems that they knew nothing or was it only the desire to divide that motivated their early nation building? The borders set up by whitemen are generally regrouping people who have separate histories, often conflictual histories. Look at Irak for that matter: Shia, Sunni, Kurds and others been lumped together it seems for the only purpose that this assembling would oblige the locals to recourse to British power for assuring order. But order finally reigned in the country only when it was under the dictatorship of an autocrat basing his power on the tribe of his origin, not the best of structures to foster social and political stability and the inflow of Foreign Direct Investment.

      Those artificial nations could eventually be stuck in a permanent impasse not able to assure the necessary consensus between their disparate populations for setting up the conditions that would allow them to start their industrialization. The Gap looks more and more insurmountable indeed.



Sorting out the contradictions of the gap will be a long and messy undertaking but the core of modernity will not stay still and wait it will gradually expand geographically on its margins while simultaneously advancing on the road of postmodernity.

A unifying worldview, in the end, is what will eventually overcome the gap of the South and allow for its transformation into a middle class societal model that will allow for a truly unified world.



It's kind of an intellectual adventure to wish for a description of what comes after a mature postmodern world or in other words what life could be like in CoGaH. The thing is too far down the road and eventually humanity will perhaps succeed, well before reaching that point, to provoke its own evolutionary demise.

But this dream about what comes after postmodernity, if it was at all possible, could nevertheless project some very useful light on humanity's road through postmodernity and as such it would indeed be very enlightening in guiding and orienting our present-day endeavors.


(1) In chapter 2.3. "The opening of the gates" in ARTSENSE.

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