Four ways to understand transformation and evolution towards a sustainable society

I strongly recommend a meditation on these four figures representing insights on the right kind of evolution to expect and to strive for, based on the ideas of Ervin Laszlo:

4 figures of evolution transformation

Here is a commentary from Maria Rodriguez of

“Laszlo, despite the spiritualistic direction of his approach, has an interesting background. His model, originally presented in 1987, does a good job describing what, in “the big picture,” suggests decomposition, so he’s certainly talking about the times we’re living in now.

Let’s frame the the current situation using Laszlo’s model.

Following a “normal” cyclical stage, the economic system enters into a phase of faster and faster succesive crises. It would come out of the “neoclassical corridor” recently rescued by Juan Urrutia and enter an age of instability like the one opened by the end of the post-war model in the Seventies and the ensuing search for reforms aimed at reaching scales that give meaning to the subjects of hegemonic power. But after a certain point, the crisis worsens, because the financial system itself, whose innovations once looked like a solution, doesn’t know how to respond to the underlying problem: the reduction of the optimal scale of production. That’s the point we’re at right now, and the Spanish crisis is just one more example.

From here, there are basically three alternatives in the model:

* Do nothing, keep the system in place with no funadamental changes, allowing the struggle for ever-slimmer profits to feed decomposition, until there’s no State that isn’t a failed State.

* Leave a space for change, but grasp at the first signs of recovery as a chance to “go back to how it always was” — and so, keep the same group of people in power that always was. That’s the path to a “sweet death.”

* Push decisively towards the transition to an alternative mode of production, reaching for a new model of abundance.

Laszlo’s model also has something to offer on the evolution of ideologies, which is what Michel Bauwens wanted to point out out to us. The alternative is presented in contrast to the wishful thinking of those who act like nothing’s happening, and the catastrophism of those who act like nothing can be done about what’s happening, for whom the “alternative” is hitting bottom. That is, the alternative would be represented as a conflict between a power that rejects alternatives and a supposed otherness that doesn’t know how to see them, between the privileged of the old, elephantine world of large scales and those who dream of a degrowth apocalypse, between zombies and ghouls.

The possibility of raising alternatives, following the Laszlo model, comes at three “crisis points,” and the key to these is the appearance of a new narrative.

For Laszlo, this narrative comes through a “new consciousness” of eco-espiritual nature. We, on the other hand, see the need for an alternative narrative, which is still half-baked, but much much more concrete, centered on the transition towards the P2P mode of production, and which provides a roadmap for what we can do here and now against the crisis

Laszlo presents the “new consciousness” as a purely evolutionary and unbroken possibility. Degrowth, in contrast, hopes that the break will come about on its own, as a brutal implosion, so a new world can begun to be built. One way or another, both avoid the discomfort of building anything beyond a prototype, or doing any intellectual development, dodging the need to confront the powerful and often brutal inertia of established society.

We, on the other hand, advocate bringing about the break now, starting to produce and work another way in accordance with new values, with new means and even raising up new forms of public administration.

The narrative is half-baked, the technologies still a little green, the processes still in testing… but this is the way forward, because, if there’s one thing for sure, it’s that inaction won’t take us from decomposition to transition.”

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