Chapter 4. About societal governance and societal evolution
4.6. Twenty determinant 'individual- society' interrelations (Part 2)
The graph that follows illustrates the dynamic that shapes the life of species. Each living species has two polarities: societies (-, feminine) and individuals (+, masculine). The interactions or the play between these polarities is what generates the reality or the life of species.
As stated in "4.4. 25 interrelations between individuals & society": "Each of the 5 'individual necessities' interacts with each of the 5 'pillars of societal houses' generating a set of 25 feedback loops. These 25 feedback-loops are what gives its substance to the 'individual/society polarity-play'.
This 'individual/society polarity-play' covers the entire gamut of all possible individual as well as all possible societal plays. It is in the analysis of its 25 interactions and feedback loops that one finds the answers to the 'why' and 'how' of such and such actions and behaviors and also the eventual remedies to correct what is unwanted among them. In other words these 25 interactions and feedback loops offer an analytical framework to analyse and to understand the working of societies and how to operate them the most efficiently."
Here follows a graph illustrating these 25 interactions.
The horizontal arrows represent the polarity-plays of the cycle of life and have been analyzed in “4.5. Five polarity-plays between individuals & society”.______
The other 20 arrows represent 20 determinant interrelations between the 5 pillars of societal houses and the 5 necessities of individual life.
The other 20 arrows represent 20 determinant interrelations between the 5 pillars of societal houses and the 5 necessities of individual life.
4.6.8. Societal conservation – Increased individual consciousness
In “2.6. The mind and reproduction” I wrote that “The interrelation between the mind and reproduction is a matter of life and death. Life is all there is that counts and when life is gone all the rest appears as nothingness. If the mind of the individual loses trace of the necessity to reproduce then as a consequence his gene pool will be lost. Nature avoided this by equipping the particles of its sub-sub-sub-sets with instinctual mechanisms that trick them to search for pleasure and so reproduction was always realized without the individual knowing anything about it.
But with the rise of consciousness the mind started to take care of functions that were regulated instinctively in earlier stages of evolution. This is when the mind starts to reserve the power to chose between life and nothingness. It is at this point that we discover the importance of how the mind handles complexity. Will the mind be taken on a ride by an abstraction or will it succeed to confront complexity with systemic reality. If it is taken on a ride it could end up wasting the gene pool of its body while if it confronts complexity with systemic reality it is going to preserve its gene pool. But this presentation is more theoretical than practical. The facts show indeed that for most individuals the mind absorbs all the positions contained in the societal culture of the day as well as the worldview of society at large and as a result the near entirety of the individuals follow the flock.”
So the mind-consciousness acts simultaneously as:
- enhancer of complexity by taking care of functions earlier reserved to the brain. Note that this enhancement of complexity is something that is widely shared by all individuals. A simple example of this principle would be the action of the brain driving an individual away from a precipice to avoid him the risk of falling to his death. By enhancing the complexity of human knowledge the mind has eventually succeeded to create products like parachutes or gliders that are offered on the market and allow anyone to jump in a precipice and land safely at the bottom.
- a safeguard of individuals and society by integrating systemic reality in the consciousness of the individuals and more particularly by encouraging societal conservation. While enhancements of complexity are available to all; the safeguard, in the minds of the men of knowledge, procured by the confrontation to systemic reality procures increased levels of consciousness. The knowledge made available by these increased levels of consciousness in the minds of the men of knowledge have then to be transferred into the minds of all. But, as we have seen earlier, the societal function assumed along the entire span of human societies by the men of knowledge disappeared sometime during Modernity and so the safeguard function of their consciousness was lost with all the consequences that we observe today in Late-Modernity.
Basically, by expanding its reach to the whole earth, Modernity has stuck humanity with an existential threat. With what safeguard was the species meant to reconcile the enhancement of complexity after the disappearance of the men of knowledge? But the question did not register because humanity was kind of drunk on the higher levels of complexity of its societies while the popular success of mass consumerism appeared as the indisputable proof of the validity of Modernity. In other words humanity got distracted and that's how it paid little attention to the vital need of erecting a safeguard. One might even suspect that the idea of a safeguard was torpedoed in order to help capital generating faster returns. Whatever was the reason, for shelving the integration of systemic reality in the consciousness of the individuals, let's just observe that it did not take long for systemic reality to re-impose itself to our attention. The fact of the matter is indeed that, in Late-Modernity, the consequences of the anthropocene and the 6th mass extinction have shaken humanity and forced it to admit that as little as a century and a half of frenzied enhanced complexity without the safeguard of systemic reality has been enough to bring the species on the brink of general societal collapse. We discover indeed that these consequences are cornering humanity in a horror scenario. Not only have the risks being multiplying exponentially they are also converging and generating interactions amongst themselves that provoke negative feedback loops which are setting in motion a vicious cycle of life destruction.
But what answers do our Late-Modern societies propose to counter the slaughter? There is much noise in the media but not many significant answers have been proposed. It is my view that it is already a bit late to propose a reform here or a reform there. The great majority of climate scientists agree that the survival of humanity necessitates hard choices. But the problem is compounded because interest groups are resisting the hard choices and so our predicament is getting ever more dire.
Having no other place to live for the moment than here on earth many scientists are shouting that humans have to make their way to the stars as an insurance policy against the collapse of the life sustaining systems on earth. I think that this proposition leads to a dead end for the good reason that there is no other place than earth which supplies the conditions for life as we know it; at least in our attainable vicinity. For this reason the only path forward is to protect the principle of life on this planet. Life is the most precious gift the universe offered to us. And to protect the principle of life there is no other way around than to confront our consciousness to the systemic reality out there.
If, for whatever reason, humanity failed to agree on the necessary hard choices to protect the principle of life on earth nature shall have no such compunction to clean up our mess and this includes drastically reducing our numbers. This has been verified a number of times during our history. Here is how Wikipedia describes the biggest know extinction: “The Permian–Triassic (P–Tr) extinction event, colloquially known as the Great Dying or the Great Permian Extinction, occurred about 252 million years ago, forming the boundary between the Permian and Triassic geologic periods, as well as the Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras. It is the Earth's most severe known extinction event, with up to 96% of all marine species and 70% of terrestrial vertebrate species becoming extinct. It is the only known mass extinction of insects. Some 57% of all families and 83% of all genera became extinct. Because so much biodiversity was lost, the recovery of life on Earth took significantly longer than after any other extinction event, possibly up to 10 million years.”
So it looks like nature, or systemic reality every so often, clean up the level playing field while preserving the principle of life so that a future cycle of life might evolve eventually. In such a scheme no one species is seen as being exceptional. Only systemic reality appears as exceptional and we should observe that after cleaning up it preserves the principle of life as if that principle had somehow to accomplish a mission that is known solely by the consciousness of the universe.
The presently occurring 6th mass extinction is such a clean up. Scientific evidence indicates that present rates of extinction are comparable to the rates observed during past extinction events. But one huge difference characterizes this 6th mass extinction it is the speed at which species disappear. Extinctions are caused by the destruction of habitats and the evidence suggests that, in their quest for economic gains, humans have been destroying habitats in a systematic manner all over the world over the last century which explains why “The Center for Biological diversity” can state that “It could be a scary future indeed, with as many as 30 to 50 percent of all species possibly heading toward extinction by mid-century ”.
Even if humanity were at last awakening to the present necessity to take hard decisions and acted upon them we would nevertheless not avoid the consequences of the side-effects of Modernity. In other words whatever the scenario ends up to be (or applying hard choices or a clean-up by nature) the context in which life on earth will unfold and evolve in the future will drastically change and we better prepare the necessary cultural adjustments so that our societies can eventually adapt as best as possible to such a changing context. I'll develop this subject next winter in a part 3 to this series “From Modernity to After-Modernity”. To conclude this chapter about “Societal conservation – Increased individual consciousness”.
I have to add that deeply in my mind I hope that nature will be kind enough to spare some human specimen from its present clean up and that those survivors will then remember about the absolute necessity of setting up societal mechanisms to safeguard themselves from the risks accompanying increased complexity. After all it could possibly be the case that our stupidity and the consequences it unleashed are perhaps the necessary reagents that will force humanity to upgrade its cultural computation program by adding a mechanism in its societal worldviews that automatically confronts the consciousness of the individuals to systemic reality. If this were truly the case then humanity would be allowed to reach a necessary balance in the future between consciousness and the working of reality. But we have to remember that no one species is exceptional in the eyes of systemic reality and, being a very young and still very stupid species, perhaps humanity will not figure among the surviving species after the 6th extinction is completed. For any normally constituted mind this idea alone would be a really very powerful reason for humanity to finally awaken and make the necessary hard choices to help preserve the potential of its future reproduction. But will the individuals with normally constituted minds succeed to drag the whole of humanity on such a path and in time? In all honesty I'm no longer sure about that.
4.6.9. Societal cohesion – Individual reproduction
We observed in “4.6.2. Societal reproduction – Individual satisfaction of needs” that “Once societal cohesion is down a poor satisfaction of individual objective needs might signal to the individuals that growing more children is not advisable. … high levels of societal cohesion easily overcome a weak satisfaction of individual needs and eliminates any negative impact such a weak satisfaction could have on societal reproduction.”
It is being observed in the Western world these last few years, and more particularly in the US, that the younger generation, known as the “Millennial Generation”, is facing very bleak economic and social prospects. Unemployment and under-employment, as a direct consequence of the Great Depression that started in 2007, are marginalizing a great many of the millennials on the fringe of the economy and as a result, in the US at least, they are often called “the lost generation” (1). Political responses are human choices and these human choices among the panoply of available answers to that economic marginalization differ widely and are also having various consequences. In general we observe that, out of fear of social unrest, Europe has instituted youth employment policies while the US has largely kept a hands off approach. But whatever the choice of policy response there have been dramatic increases in youth poverty everywhere.
Stark differences are nevertheless appearing as a result of the application of different choices. European countries have come to designate the Millennial Generation by different monikers that while indicating low income do not necessarily invoke the specter of a 'lost generation': the “€700 Generation” in Greece, the “Precarious Generation” in France, the “Mileurista Generation” in Spain (€1000), etc… And confronted with the specter of a deepening automation that will result in continued job destruction Europe is also starting to test more radical responses as for example a guaranteed income taking the form of a monthly transfer to the bank accounts of all citizens; in other words Europe has started testing the idea of a guaranteed income for all. In contrast the US hands-off approach has resulted in signs of withdrawal by a growing portion of the citizenry from their society:
- “the number of Americans aged 25 to 34 living with their parents jumped 25 percent during the recession” (2). Reasoned economic forecast about the future do not indicate that any economic improvements are in the cards that could possibly correct such a tendency. On the contrary it looks ever more evident that the family structure is going to make a comeback and that it will assume a more preeminent role in the future by resorting to old but abandoned methods like self production to ensure the survival of the members of the family. By necessity families will also be asked to assume the responsibilities of protecting the old as well as the young and of taking care of the sick; responsibilities that till now were the domain of failing societal systems. In the end this transfer of responsibilities from the state to the families could well prove to be what avoids us a societal struggle between the Millennial and the baby-boomer generations. Such a restructuring of the family it appears will also lay the foundation of a new “localism” centered on hand made goods. A brand new world awaits us indeed.
- “From 2009 to 2014, 1 million Mexicans and their families (including US born children) left the US for Mexico, according to data from the 2014 Mexican National Survey of Demographic Dynamics (ENADID). U.S. census data for the same period show an estimated 870,000 Mexican nationals left Mexico to come to the U.S., a smaller number than the flow of families from the U.S. to Mexico.” (3) Seen that reasoned economic forecasts envision the only possibility of further economic decline in the future of industrialized nations it is most likely that Latinos will be leaving in ever larger proportions in the coming years and that their immigration flows will soon dry up. The same phenomenon should normally also be observed for groups of other ethnic origins which brings us to think that the era of demographic growth, that grew America's customer base along the last decades, is coming to an end which will entice some very dire economic implications. The economic growth the US was harvesting along these last decades was indeed mostly due to the increase in consumer demand that was caused by significant numbers of immigrants. The implication, of an ending of immigration generated demographic growth, is that economic growth will enter negative territory which will reinforce the reasons why people leave the country in the first. We could then observe year by year an increase in US emigration rates with corresponding decreases in immigration rates. In other words an infernal spiral down the drain!
- a third trend, in the US, among the more wealthy citizens is the increasing number of them who voluntarily relinquish their nationality of origin in order to take the nationality of freer and less taxing countries. This is compounded today with the double taxation that the US government imposes to its expatriates who increasingly abandon their citizenship for the sake of saving cash.
By staying with their parents young US citizens seem to be postponing the traditional dating-marriage virtuous demographic cycle which indicates that they voluntarily decide to postpone their individual reproduction or worse that they do not any longer want to reproduce. All this is indicating a high probability of decreasing fertility rates among the Millennial Generation. In the meantime the Latino population has entered a negative migration trend that could lead to an exodus in the coming years if the US employment situation continues to dip as is widely expected. Both of these trends indicate a pattern in the forming that signals decreasing levels of population also called de-population. Concerning such a pattern see the mind boggling population forecast by deagel.com, a guide to Military Equipment and Civil Aviation, which puts the US as the biggest demographic loser among developed countries with a population falling from 319 million today to 65 million in 2015! Daegel forecasts thus a fall of 254 million people within the short span of only 10 years. At first sight this forecast seems too extreme to be believable but the fact is that extreme events are going to take place during the coming years that are going to radically alter the story of Western countries; Japan included. I mentioned Daegel's forecast as illustration of the pattern I describe here above but I personally do believe that the near future is so volatile that forecasting simply becomes non reliable guesswork.
The different approaches between Europe and the US show without any possible doubt that societal answers definitely matter and also that the absence of answers leads to increasingly lower levels of societal cohesion that conclude in the end with individual decisions to retreat from society. Abandoning one's country is the ultimate individual decision. It is like a sanction against the working of its society and, as we just saw, such a sanction can also take the form of a refusal to participate further in individual reproduction. Both individual sanctions participate in decreasing a society's population levels and end up dragging down its economy.
The contrast between Western very low levels of societal cohesion with Palestine could not be starker. The Palestinian economic situation is dire indeed but societal cohesion is artificially kept at maximum levels as a reaction to Israeli aggression and this directly results in extremely high birth rates. The same phenomenon has been observed in China, during the cultural revolution when the economic situation was extremely poor but societal cohesion was nevertheless extremely high, resulting in extremely high birth rates. With the reforms of the 80ths the Chinese economic situation was set on a decades long path of improvement but societal cohesion was nevertheless rapidly falling which resulted in decreasing birth rates now approaching non renewal levels.
These examples indicate that there is a close correlation between societal cohesion and individual reproduction. Economic well-being appears far less significant than societal cohesion in the individual decision to reproduce which is perhaps the most important decision that an individual ever takes in his whole life.
This determinant parameter is nevertheless being ignored, at the risk and peril of their nations, by political decision makers. Only in Russia has a real effort at rebuilding societal cohesion been observed and this effort appears to have reaped fruit nearly instantly as attested by the following graph. See 4.6.10 for further elaboration of this idea.
4.6.10. Societal cohesion – Individual for change
The stronger the societal cohesion the least the individuals will be drawn to satisfy an urge for change. By contrast the weaker the societal cohesion the more urgently the individuals will feel drawn by an urge for change in order to enhance the 'feel good' effect procured by living in a cohesive society. So societal cohesion is very intimately related indeed to the individual urge for change.
There is visibly a paradox in the description I just gave about this interaction because, while change appears as a necessity to increase the cohesion of weak societies, this runs counter to the 'polarity-play conservation-change' that I wrote about in “4.5.3. Conservation-change”. “The impact of the societal urge for conservation (order) on the individual urge for change (disorder) is one of the longest standing sources of conflict in any power society. Those urges represent indeed very strong polarities and satisfying them simultaneously is a near impossible feat. So political decision makers, whose practice is the art to re-conciliate those polarities, strive to contain the individual urge for change as much as they can while limiting as much as they can any derogation to the status quo. As such politics is a game of the status quo that will only be deranged if the individual urge for change unites sizable portions of the citizenry. This principle is valid in whatever political system under which a society is governed.”
Following the observations, I refer to here above, it becomes necessary to adapt the thesis I developed in 4.5.3. by distinguishing between the different contexts of societal cohesion in which the dynamic between conservation and change plays out in.
In highly cohesive societies the individual urge for change is generally high and this makes it a direct threat to societal cohesion for the good reason that “when well fed ” people have the weakness to forget about the meaning of scarcity. This weakness will inevitably pitch those individuals who ask for change against the societal urge for conservation and the individuals who are in charge of the application of this principle who are the politicians and the bureaucracy. In this case the individual urge for change not only invokes a direct danger for the potential reproduction of highly cohesive societies, which motivates their urge for conservation, it also weakens their societal cohesion which is directly responsible for weakening individual reproduction thus unleashing a wrath of societal conservation.
By contrast in weakly cohesive societies we observe the exact opposite happening. The individual urge for change is being perceived by the great majority as the only way to increase societal cohesion which is unconsciously known by the individuals to bring them peace of mind and in consequence the societal urge for conservation is being muted throughout society at large. The individual urge for change in the context of weakly cohesive societies fosters hope in the individuals' minds that cohesiveness through the sharing by all of a common worldview will soon bring them peace of mind and this seems to prepare the ground for a change of mood concerning individual reproduction. The graph of Russian demographics here above is a perfect illustration of how rapidly the depressed mood in a weakly cohesive society can turn positive after societal cohesion is strengthened which then immediately changes the demographic dynamic. This Russian example is so much more impressive that I still remember the dire predictions of demographers, in the 90ths and in the first decade of the 21th century, who projected a fall of the Russian population in the environs of 80 million by 2050. The turning was extremely rapid and spectacular indeed. And this can not be explained by any other factor than a rapidly increasing societal cohesion that followed the policies set in place by the team of decision makers led by Vladimir Putin.
Now let's observe that the change of mood concerning individual reproduction, that was initially being fostered by the peace of mind promised by cohesiveness, is then completing a feedback loop that dramatically strengthens societal cohesion which, in the citizen's minds, strengthens the perception of being highly satisfied with their political leadership. It is indeed impossible to miss the contrast between on one side the levels of popularity of the Russian and the US leadership and on the other side their levels of societal cohesion. This has nothing to do with the commonly held notion that the economic conditions of countries are the determinant factor in the popularity of their political leadership. If economic conditions were the determinant factors of the citizens satisfaction with their political leadership we would observe exactly the opposite of what we observe today in the US and Russia in term of citizens trust in their political leadership.
The explanation for the contrast in the political leadership's popularity that we observe today between Russia and the US resides exclusively in the levels of societal cohesion of these countries. The same phenomenon is being observed in China today where a slowing economy and its accompanying social trauma is nevertheless accompanied by an increasing popular satisfaction with the leadership of the country. The fight against corruption, a simplification and rationalization of state services at the attention of the population while the public administrations are being rendered more accountable to the citizenry and other measures of the same kind; all this is indeed perceived very positively by the Chinese street and participates in a gain of trust in the institutions and the leadership. Now let's be clear. Such a regain of popular trust is due exclusively to the leadership's initial decisions and now it wants to capitalize on this newly gained trust in order to strengthen the traditional Chinese worldview (see 1.3.4. The civilization of China = animism+) and its sharing by the citizenry. The ultimate goal here is to:
- solidify societal cohesion
- build up a well oiled and competent bureaucracy
- redress the present demographic imbalances
- solidify the path to further economic reforms
- down the road the 4 here above will guarantee further high trust levels by the people in their political leaders who then will push for further reforms
What we observe here is that the Chinese leadership seems well aware that better economic conditions are necessarily going to grow the demands for change by the citizenry which will only be containable if the levels of societal cohesion are very high. I sometimes wish that Western political decision makers would find inspiration in Chinese practices but I guess that their ideological tainted minds will always have the last word and blind them to pragmatic ways that lay in plain sight for who wants to see.
4.6.11. Societal cohesion – Individual communion
As we have seen in “4.6.7. Societal conservation – individual communion” societal cohesion, by definition, is the direct outcome of communion and cooperation. So high levels of societal cohesion means necessarily a deep communion exists between all the citizens that is being fostered by their sharing the worldview of their society among themselves which then instills in their minds a strong desire for cooperation. In contrast weak societal cohesion implies that there is a weak communion between the citizens because their belief in a societal worldview is largely fragmenting along the lines of diverse interests. In other words the citizenry is no longer sharing a common societal narrative and the worldview has split in different branches. In such conditions the citizens can't possibly be trusting each other any longer and the desire for cooperation is thus inexistent or very weak. The societal urge for conservation has always been the reason why the men of power urged their men of knowledge to supply their population with a foundational story or a worldview that could be shared by all. Societal conservation strives indeed to increase the level of societal cohesion in order to enhance communion and cooperation between its individual particles so that they feel united in a common project. As far back as we can go in history we observe that strong societies all had very high levels of societal cohesion while weak societies all have low levels of it. This has been a historical constant.
The fact of the matter is that high levels of individualism break down the level of communion between the individual atoms and this very fast results into weak societal cohesion. In contrast weak levels of individualism free the space for communion to blossom which acts like a powerful tonic on societal cohesion. So societal cohesion is the direct outcome of deep communion and strong cooperation.
As I have already abundantly illustrated earlier Western societies are afflicted presently by extremely high levels of individualism that have durably weakened their societal cohesion and the individuals have thus been pushed into a corner where they feel isolated and alone to carry all the weight that the reason of capital has placed on their shoulders. As a consequence their bodies and their minds are aching and, unconsciously, they crave for communion that they feel will ensure them peace of mind while reducing the aching.
But extremely high levels of individualism have imprisoned Western citizens and communion and cooperation have been relegated to the margins of society. So at first sight it might well appear in their minds as if their salvation was laying there at the margins of society where all kinds of belief systems are being shared by small groups of individuals reminiscent of the tribalism of yore. The temptation of their minds is then great to join one such groups in the hope to find like minded individuals with whom they can share the weight of daily life and commune in a common narrative about what reality is all about. But there is a huge difference here with the historical tribalism; I mean the life of tribes before the emergence of power societies. I always insist on this clarification about tribal societies because the word is used today in so many different configurations that its true historical meaning has all but vanished.
What binds individuals in tribes today are most often beliefs in the irrational, in conspiracy theories, and more generally in manipulation schemes devised by power and money hungry individuals who assume the positions of power in these groups in order to control the minds of weaker individuals. The attraction to such fake tribes is related to the sharing of a narrative, a belief system, but in reality such belief systems are no more than an excuse for the individuals to commune and cooperate with others. It is thus understandable that in such a context the narrative is diluting the original message and further diverting it by inclusion of contemporary popular memes. The warmth experienced through communion with others procures peace of mind and so the communion acts thus like a relaxation when one can let go the memory of all the weight that the reason of capital and individualism has placed on her/his shoulders and it is the awakening from that nightmare that rushes one to expand his communion through cooperation.
It might seem at first sight that such a cooperation in fake tribes might free from the shackle's of the genie of individualism that the reason of capital had liberated from its bottle. But such a cooperation in the context of fake tribes does not really free oneself from those shackle's. Cooperation cumulates the effort of all which then succeeds to take off the weight that the reason of capital has placed on one's shoulders. But real freedom from the genie of individualism only comes when, after having unloaded the weight from one's shoulders, one strengthens his consciousness and liberates oneself from the genie of the reason of capital, or any other illusion, that is being peddled by power structures which are chaining their followers in the prison of individualism where one is forced into isolation.
Those groups that make it their priority to strengthen their members' consciousness about the working of reality reject the prison of individualism and yearn for communion and cooperation. Doing so they are laying strong foundations under the path toward a future new era of societal cohesion. But the foundations of that path has still to be paved with the material of a common dream about a better tomorrow. In the end only such a positive dream will have the power to glue all the citizens in sharing a common worldview and this is what will cement the cohesion of their future society.
But has this any reasonable chance to ever succeed after the societal atomization of Late-Modernity has messed up the minds of most individuals?
Nobody can answer such a question with any degree of certainty. But that is not really what is important. What counts, for individuals, is to take the path toward the future by walking resolutely toward the vision or the ideal of the destination one wants to reach. This is how one confronts his own vision of a better tomorrow with the visions of others and it is through this kind of exchange that ideals and visions are rearranging and eventually solidifying in shared visions. And the sharing of what is thought to be an ideally better tomorrow constitutes the material of the shared common dream. Our resolution to follow the path of such a common dream acts like a vacuum cleaner on the societies we leave behind and ensures an entire clean-up of any trace of individualism. This is what opens us to the way of communion and cooperation and that's how we find our way toward the future destination where our individual dreams of a common destiny are meant to come true. This is the destination of After-Modernity that I plan to think about in Part 3 of this series of posts.
4.6.12. Societal cohesion – Increased individual consciousness
As we saw in “2.2.2. The emergence of awareness”: “At the intersection of biological evolution and societal evolution when the brain reaches a certain threshold of computational power awareness transforms into an arising consciousness. … Consciousness then unleashes the search for more knowledge as a means to procure more societal pleasure. The thirst for knowledge acquisition to satisfy the desire for more pleasure is the process that sets the men of knowledge on a path toward ever increasing consciousness.”
That path toward ever increasing consciousness results in the accumulation of ever more knowledge which opens our minds to ever larger fields of reality. “From a systemic perspective this means that the individual is given a growing perception of the systemic complexity of reality”. And this results in what I wrote in “2.4. 'Increased Complexity' and ' Reproduction' ”: “the rise of consciousness has had world changing effects. Suddenly the individual mind:
- or starts to take care of functions that in earlier stages of evolution were regulated instinctively
- or starts to take care of new functions to answer higher levels of complexity. “
But as we have seen earlier the fostering of complexity by higher levels of consciousness is often similar to building sand castles that soon will be brought down under the waves of systemic reality. So to avoid this kind of sanction it is imperative that our consciousness remains at all times infused by the principle of reality. A clear consciousness of what works and what does not work in systemic reality is the only thing that can possibly protect us from absurd beliefs and ideologies that oblige us to produce cathedrals that soon will be wiped from the face of the earth under the wrath of some negative feedback loops originating somewhere in the reality that our beliefs and ideologies had missed in the first place.
Beliefs and ideologies succeed eventually to foster a following by the flock but when systemic reality starts to clean up, the act of those ideologies to restore the level playing field of life, societies often collapse and as a result their citizens die. It is difficult to imagine finding any societal cohesion left in this kind of descent in collapse. This suggest that we have to look to the formation of beliefs and ideologies as the moment when consciousness missed the connection with reality. In other words this means that the entire process, when our beliefs and ideologies are forming, has to confront our consciousness with systemic reality. What this implies is that societies have a role to play to ensure that new ideas and new products conform to the principle of prudence. Societies have to set up mechanisms to help their citizens deal with the rise of ideologies that run counter to the working of reality.
To bring these abstractions a little nearer to real life lets look at the emergence and development of Modernity and lets discover how the absence of prudence permitted an abstraction to take over the minds of all and lead us to the great convergence of Late-Modernity. See 10. From Modernity to After-Modernity. Modernity and 11. From Modernity to After-Modernity. Early-Modernity.
In these chapters 10 and 11 of part 1 of this essay we saw how the reason at work within capital was imposed in the minds of long distance traders and how the successes they harvested from its application resulted for them in an explosion of material possessions that generated the envy of all Europeans. But the nature of the reason that was thought to be at work within capital had to wait until the 19th century to be rationalized by economists. In the meantime from the 13th to the 19th century the envy of the merchants' material possessions morphed the reason of capital into something akin to a dogma, or a belief in an absolute truth, that shaped all human activities while simultaneously downplaying any other idea or belief that did not fit in this dream of material possessions. In other words, what I mean to say here is that, it was as if the minds of Europeans had been hijacked. And what hijacked their minds, and blinded them to anything else, was merely an abstraction. Unfortunately that abstraction blinded the minds of all to the principle of systemic reality and that's how the whole story of Modernity finally ends up as the nightmare that we discover in Late-Modernity.
As we have seen earlier it did not take long for this kind of hijacking of the minds to bear fruits:
- exponential curves in term of population growth, use of fossil fuel, use of raw materials, emissions of gazes in the atmosphere, pollution of the land the oceans and the air, etc...
- mass consumption made accessible to the masses what had been hitherto thought to be accessible only to the rich and this ensured that the prestige of Modernity would infect the minds of all citizens on earth
- the introduction of more hygienic practices in term of the distribution of drinking water and the treatment of used water pushed up life expectancy and simultaneously industrialization and salarization increased incomes. Both, the introduction of hygiene and increased incomes, were the reasons that caused the demographic boom illustrated by exponential demographic curves.
We had to wait till the second part of the 20th century to come to understand the real meaning of exponentials (4) and this was when we discovered their consequences. The exponential form of the curve taken by population explosion dragged another exponential towards the infinite demand of energy and resources but the fact is that we are living on a finite planet which implies that something will have to give one day. And then we discovered that what would give first was the quantity of available energy and other resources which would lead to a bottleneck forcing us to reduce the world's consumption of energy and resources. But this idea was immediately rejected by some on the ground of anthropocentric ideologies considering that humans are the most exceptional thing in the Universe and as such all the rest is there exclusively for our use. Such ideologies can not fathom, nor accept, the idea that humanity is being confronted with the finiteness of its living context. This is in substance what explains the rejection by old white males of evolution, climate change, peak resources, and so on...
But the fact of the matter is that the exponential emissions of gazes in the atmosphere, that are accompanying the exponential production of goods demanded by an exponentially growing population, have inflicted climate consequences that future generations will have to live or die with. Late-Modern individualism reaches indeed such egotic proportion that some have no qualms to poison their descendants in order to enjoy at present a consumerism that devastates tomorrow's life conditions. And this whole thing is so advanced already that in the minds of a growing number of scientists the damage inflicted as of this day to our habitat appears irreparable already and will lead to increases in world average temperatures that surpass the bandwidth of survivability. What this means is that humanity's demise from the surface of the earth is perhaps already a decided matter. See “4.6.1. Societal reproduction - Individual for change. The principle of prudence”. The same could be said of the acidification of the oceans, and so on...
Another category of individuals refuses to accept the logical conclusions that follow the finiteness of our habitat but starting from a different set of ideas. Their reasons are also ideological. They hold the same anthropocentric ideologies that are considering humans as the most exceptional thing in the universe but their reasoning, for rejecting the finiteness of humanity's living context, is of a different nature from the reasons of old white males. The reasons of this group don't reside in conservation they reside in progress which is the idea that humanity has only one way and that it is a straight way toward always better outcomes. This is the ideology of progress that is espoused by tech-futurists who reject the idea of a possible resource bottleneck or a climate that goes out of the bounds of the bandwidth of survivability. But such a blatant rejection of facts ignores the 25 determinant parameters of the dynamic of life that are illustrated in the graph of the dynamic of life. And so they are ignoring the necessity for consciousness to submit to systemic reality or the absolute need to satisfy societal reproduction and other parameters.
The problem with both of these ideologies is that they are pushing the thinking of their followers so far out of the bounds of systemic reality that, not only are they participating in the voluntary destruction of humanity's habitat, they are also poisoning the societal atmosphere which directly weakens the societal cohesion that is so badly needed to solve the problems created in the first place. This is the societal dilemma that the West is now confronted with. The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP 21 or CMP 11 held in Paris France, offers a good illustration of how the United States will have to deal with the consequences of such a dilemma. The text of the Paris Agreement on the reduction of climate change mentions the following: “The agreement will become legally binding if joined by at least 55 countries which together represent at least 55 percent of global greenhouse emissions. Such parties will need to sign the agreement in New York between 22 April 2016 (Earth Day) and 21 April 2017, and also adopt it within their own legal systems ”. The dilemma for the United States resides in the fact that the Republican majority in the 2 houses of Congress have already announced their opposition to the agreement that the Obama administration signed in Paris. But if congress does not adopt the agreement this means that it refuses to make its content an integral part of the US legal system and come the 21st of April 2017:
- the division of US political decision makers will further decrease the little societal cohesion that is being left
- the US will make the news in the rest of the world and the other nations will have to decide how to counter the US ideological position. But in the meantime the US will have painted its face as the face of a pariah state...
The US dilemma is a sign of a society that is deeply fragmented and can no longer take the necessary decisions to save humanity from a catastrophe that the large majority of climate scientists consider a certainty. This indicates the ultimate importance, for the survival of the human species, of the interactions between “Societal cohesion and Increased individual consciousness”.
4.6.13. Societal coexistence – Individual reproduction
The example of Palestine and Israel come immediately to mind. As indicated in “4.6.2. Societal reproduction – Individual satisfaction of needs”: “high levels of societal cohesion easily overcome a weak satisfaction of individual needs and eliminates any negative impact such a weak satisfaction could have on societal reproduction”. The daily life miseries experienced by the Palestinians at the hands of Israel's institutions of power, and more particularly its army, are solidifying their societal cohesion in a willingness made of steel. Such a strong societal cohesion is then directly impacting their fertility rates and increasing Palestinian fertility rates rapidly increase the count of their population which then appears as a new life threatening situation in the eyes of Israel.
But Israel has only itself to blame. By having adamantly refused for decades to accept the Palestinians' demands for their recognition as a State Israel created an impossible future for itself. And because of that many are already forecasting that Israel has lost its chance at surviving as a mono religious State in the future. Israel's sabotage of the process of Palestinian statehood, populations statistics being what they are, Palestinians now speak of a one state solution in which they soon enough will constitute a majority of the population in the Greater Israel which Israel will try to counter by excluding them from the electoral process. We can already imagine the future titles in the media that will inevitably stigmatize Israel for its 'apartheid policies'.
More generally, and on another topic, low individual reproduction is not conducive to strengthen a country economically and it often leads to its assimilation, or its bullying, by a more aggressive and fertile neighbor. High fertility rates was Mao Tse Toung's slogan to empower China and one has to recognize that the present size of China's population is what makes the industrialization of the country such a huge dragnet resulting in the capture of the minds of its neighbors and the rest of the world. Not losing sight of the multiplier effect of population size India embarked on its own population increasing path and will soon pass China as the most populated country on earth. But population size is not a panacea it comes also with a steep price as the Chinese learned early on. Where are the resources, the energy, the drinking water, the food going to come from that are necessary to sustain such high levels of population? This is why, since the end of the seventies, China embarked on a one child policy to limit its increasing size. As a result its population is going to peak somewhere between 1400 and 1500 millions around 2050. By then India will have passed that number which will render so much more complicated the task of its government to supply all its citizens with decent life conditions.
The form taken by societal coexistence can vary widely from peaceful to conflictual so the variations in the form of its coexistence could eventually impact individual reproduction in various ways. But it seems difficult to ascribe a definite outcome, or conflict or peaceful relations, to a set of different forms of coexistence.
The demographic pyramid of nations registers the outcome of wars as a shortening of the annual bars representing the quantity of adult males. But this disequilibrium between sexes seems then to balance out over the following years. One case that merits special attention is the evolution of the Palestinian population under Israel's occupation.
The increase in Palestinian fertility rates is stunning in its amplitude. But if this happens, while Palestine is being occupied by Israel, it would be imprudent to stretch such a concomitance into a direct causality. The fact is that, even if the Palestinian leadership is split between the PLO and Hamas, the societal cohesion of the Palestinian nation in its rejection of Israel is at maximum levels. The fact that Hamas was encouraged by Israel in the seventies and eighties as a strategy of division of the Palestinian cause clearly backfired upon them. Instead of decreasing the societal cohesion of the Palestinian nation this division gave way to a competitive race between the two factions that acted as a booster on their nation's societal cohesion. The result of the ensuing re-enforcement of the Palestinian societal cohesion can be measured today in the increasing levels of its population and Israel's policy of rejection of a Palestinian state during the last decades now concludes in the real possibility that they will be stuck with a one state solution while the Palestinian population is forecast to overtake the Jewish population in the coming decades.
This particular example reinforces what appears to constitute a pattern. The intensity of the impact of one societal pillar on one individual necessity is modulated by the mix of its interactions with one or more of its brother or sister pillars. In the case analyzed in the present chapter the mix of societal cohesion with societal coexistence results in an explosive outcome. I bet had the Israeli political decision makers known about the existence of such polarity-play variables of the Entity-Humanity they would have strategized a better outcome for themselves.
1. the lost generation. See “More Signs That American Youth Are a Lost Generation”, “Are Today's Youth Really a Lost Generation? ”,…
3. “Migration Flows Between the U.S. and Mexico Have Slowed – and Turned Toward Mexico” see More Mexicans Leaving Than Coming to the U.S.
4. The power of exponential curves.
“Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist” by Kenneth Boulding cited in “Dangerous exponentials”