The future models of sustainable societies will be network-based
The future models of sustainable societies will be network-based
CBA CONVERSATION WITH VIOLETA BULC
02nd April 2020
Many thanks for your thoughts. They represent starting points that can foster more than one good debate.
It almost feels a bit mischievous to write letters like this. Private, yet, I know we plan to share them. But this privacy opens many doors in my deeper thinking, higher self. It seems like I am also discovering myself while debating with you. It is a beautiful, crisp and sunny day outside, nevertheless unusually cold for this time of the year. Just another manifestation of climate change, I suppose – another invitation that we raise our awareness and do whatever we can to leave this planet as a better place than the one we inherited.
But let me focus on our questions. I like your narratives and I hope I can explore them even further, inviting our other colleagues into this debate circle. Please, find my contribution imbedded in your text below. I wish you well – stay healthy and positive.
Let me go deeper with one of the key points your mentioned, namely the network-based society. You say:
“The future models of sustainable societies will be network-based and will embrace in its core a system thinking.”
I tend to agree. Let’s elaborate this very bold statement.
Throughout this crisis we have been reconnecting with each other through the basic institutions through which we are fighting the pandemic: the state; the government; our health systems; the media. Certainly, the social media and digital platforms likewise help us stay connected.
Indeed, I, too, sense that we started to recognize the value of meaningful relationships, of what true wealth and the real needs are.
The EU set in front of an unprecedented test of solidarity, crisis management and cooperation. Convergence is a must this time, an utmost necessity, not just a remote goal. Even though no European country has got a viable exit plan at this point in time, we can perceive that our lives in the future will be much better off if we can strengthen the functioning of the EU, in order to preserve a large common market and all other achievements of the European integration. We will need each other even more, because the world of tomorrow is sliding into new divisions between “planetary superstates“.
I could not agree with you more. It puzzles me often, when people have so much to say about matters they have no clue about, and they do not even make an effort to learn about them either. EU with all its weaknesses and strengths is a great demonstration of a network-structure. It is a net, and a project, not a state (many get constantly confused with this), yet, because of the level of delegated responsibilities from the member states, it is politicly recognized as an entity and a partner in a dialogue at a global level. I am also surprised (or not) with a lack of reporting about the EU mechanisms and initiatives that, as you rightly so recognize, keep the single market going, organize the solidarity and financial means, help citizens and companies to cope, adjust, and manage the new reality well. All these activities have network-structures underneath.
A positive collective experience may emerge from a thorough re-thinking of our societal connectedness, without any ideological prejudice beyond a convincing prioritisation of a human and humanity over any other interest. This recognition, no matter how obvious it may seem to be, is not trivial.
The rising inequality in the past decades is definitely a result of a decremented value of a human life, together with wars, massive ecological devastations, etc. This pandemic bitterly teaches us how to value a human life. The severity of the crisis has eventually brought its value afloat, above any other consideration or interest. We are now putting human lives ahead of the economy, above anything else. This, I hope, will re-state the collective priorities in the long run, long after the pandemic has been overcome. And should our collective decisions be centred around the human life, this brings more equal chances to everyone, more respect for diversity and personal freedom and more responsibility for the common good, rooted in the collective awareness of our interdependency- If we simply want to preserve and sustain our current achievements of the modern civilisation.
Let me be a bit bold here. Yes, re-thinking, re-inventing, re-structuring are the words that need manifestation. For months, even years, a concept of a new civilization has been intriguing me, keeping me busy. Let me share with you my own dream. Yes, I have a dream about a new civilization. The one where we change the perspective on what matters. As you say, where (human) life has a new value. Here, I share with you a picture I drew a few nights ago and would love to get your response on.
I also owe you a short background explanation: I see the society as a network of dynamic structures which are constantly subject to evolutionary processes.
These dynamic structures (entities), such as: beings, land, state, community, or consciousness, are connected through dynamic relationships. Each of the entities has its own dynamic path, with its own content and behaviour. Yet, when they co-relate, they co-relate bi-directionally or multilaterally, based on the understating of the characteristics and priorities of each other.
In such a view, the current static functions we are so used to today (i.e. economy, education, science, police, health…) become properties of a relationship, or projects for the manifestation of relationships that are defined by the sincere needs of the entities. For example, if people are at the level of awareness of creative, innovative societies, then education system and economic models need to nurture such needs. Today I have an impression that the tools are the goal not the means. So, I propose a view where the entities and their relationships are seen as dynamic networks and nodes, in the constant dynamic re-invention. This is possible in a value-based society, in a relationship-based civilization.
An open question remains whether democratic institutions, human rights and freedoms, may fall short during this period or even after the pandemic is defeated; at least in some countries.
In the model I shared with you, I see all of the above in the systemic foundation.
From here on, another question that puzzles me is the future geopolitical map of the world. Globalisation is being replaced by macro-regionalisation. This calls for bold responses from the EU, in terms of its relationships towards other “planetary superstates”, noticeably China, Russia or the US. In economic terms, for the EU, accelerating the transition to a circular economy and the mass migration of businesses, institutions and households to renewable energy resources becomes an even more important part of the solution. In terms of global security, Europe will yet have to devise the way to defend the value of a human life elsewhere. A “fair trade” principle should work, but it may not be enough, given the current vulnerability of the EU. Leaving aside the tariff wars, just look at the effects of mass immigration or the competition in the field of 5G.
Indeed, these are important global questions. As far as I see it, there is a chance that we do not gather so much by regions but by shared visons. Yes, as soon as I said that, my inner voice screamed, “no”, we shall continue to evolve multilateral cooperation, shared planetary visions and shared aspirations. Yes, this feels right now. I have a dream for the Planet Earth to be a unique, inspiring planet in the Universe with biodiversity as its mayor treasure and humans as its stewards. Do you share my vision?
Well, a more resource-sustainable European economy is not possible without the recognition of the value of a human life. For us, Europeans it means we should definitely strengthen our nexus of social institutions across national borders, including healthcare, commercial and personal transport, pension system or financial regulation, to make it more just and less exposed to such symmetric risks. While the financial crisis of 2008 urged us to develop the safety net for the financial nexus, noticeably through the European Stability Mechanism??, the European Banking Union, this time we are challenged to do much more in order to provide basic health security to the European citizens. It is not a question whether to do it or to what extent, but rather, how we will do it. A common sense of collaborative network- and stakeholder-based approach of the 21st century should prevail over national differences and, sometimes divergent views. It is a long process. I believe this can really strengthen the EU.
This is such an important thought. I wish I had a magic wand. But I can sense that there will be a growing conflict between net-type of structures/systems like the EU and the hierarchical, static systems as Member States. I hope Member States can re-invent themselves. They are needed, but currently in many cases only used by groups of political opportunists that seek power instead of strength, positioning their own elite instead of the prosperity of the people. We have all the knowledge to resolve such conflict in peace, but what do you think – will we?
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