By Tibor Hartel
I read in the news that the Euro zone is shaking. With its past trajectory and recent situation, the whole socio-economic (and environmental) dynamic of Europe could fit within the adaptive cycle framework of the resilience theory. Maybe if approached from a broader, system dynamic perspective, all what is happening (and will happen?) may have more sense. I thought to develop a blog entry with this topic.
Below is my trial.
After filling almost all economic niches and maximising wealth, the socio-economic systems which happens (?) to be in Western Europe entered into a relatively stationary phase. This is the state when the financial wealth is high and the development is maximised. Connectivity is high – and with this the ‘world’ became small. The yield gaps are closed at this state, and every drop of resilience of the agricultural lands is absorbed (and sacrificed) for production. Monocultures are wide on the expense of adaptability of the landscapes. People are busy with work, everything is well planned and they have very little possibility to reflect about what they do and for what purpose. This may contribute to the feeling of meaningless. This is a typical situation when knowledge is high and the wisdom (to select the best knowledge) low. Social capital is strong. Financial dependency is high and this introduces a high degree of stress in the system. One may feel: the society reached a ‘developmental climax’. It is not only hard to further ‘develop’ at this stage but it becomes increasingly hard even to maintain the existing wealth and consumption. This phase could be described as being the ‘K’ phase of the system. One can feel: this phase is quite vulnerable to change. And the options for future of this system are limited and not optimistic. The system, which initially promised all the possibilities, now is trapped in its own development. The collapse (i.e. the Ω phase) is knocking on the door and people feel that something wrong is in the air. Not sure what, but certainly it is something. Including with academiaJ.
Europe is not like this everywhere. The Eastern part of the continent is different. Using as reference point the ‘K’ state described above, we call Eastern Europe ‘developing’. Indeed, from this perspective this part of the continent is in a (prolonged) reorganization phase (the ‘α’ phase) after the collapse of previous systems, and has a lot of potential and options for further trajectories. The yield gaps (sensu above) are widely open, filled with resilience, and the soils fertile. Everything is slow and human (even the academia). The time and the space are still not lost and the connectivity is low. It cannot be in other way: infrastructural development is low, and the life is still not computerised. With an increasing help and ‘assistance’ from the ‘K’ part of Europe and the internal ‘wish’ of the system, the Eastern countries slowly start a development (‘r’) phase. The existing ‘K’ phases of the system with their above described features and states represent a huge ‘attractor’ for the Eastern systems. With other words, choosing other path than the ‘western’ societies seems impossible.
I suspect that the shaking ‘K’ phase of Western Europe (and similarly rich countries) has some potentially strong consequences for less developed but productive Eastern European countries. For example the West may maintain / prolong its ‘K’ phase on (partly? increasingly?) the shoulders of the East and other countries which are developing (sensu above). There are many reasons why I suspect this. For example, it may not be random that the recently exploding ‘food security’, ‘increase of production’, ‘closing yield gaps’ problems come exactly from countries where all these (and with these, the possibility to return to a more calm, human life) are lost and closed forever. And now their attention is directed towards countries where yield gaps are still widely open – that is, their potential for agriculture is huge (this is not all about yield gaps – I just used this as example). If this is true, then the socio-economic trajectory of Eastern Europe and other developing countries may be in fact largely under the control of those systems which are more powerful and have more (financial) wealth. The ‘K’ phase of the ‘west’ must be prolonged as much as possible, with all expense – because the only other option is the collapse. Time and space are lost from the ‘K’ systems. Therefore individuals and companies of these systems search for time, space and energy in developing systems. Looks quite obvious to me. But maybe I am wrong and Eastern Europe may still have the power to choose an alternative ‘r’ path, which would culminate in a different and more sustainable type of wealth than in Western Europe now.
Of course all these are speculations and therefore may be far from being true. Anyways (and for any case) my suggestion is: keep your eyes and your yield gaps open – don’t close them. It could make a (worth) difference sometimes for you, for your children or for somebody else.