Social systems are very interesting to me.
When we look at society, ecosystems, or our planet on a systems scale, it appears to be resilient, stable. In general, large systems are averse to change, and we’re happy to assume things to be constant. But every so often, catastrophic transformations take place in a very quick time period. Ecosystem collapse builds on itself, and suddenly total species live in a world completely foreign to them. Coral reefs may be going through a mass extinction from climate change within the next few months, as algae are suddenly multiplying thousandfold in the warmer water. If these “rainforests of the ocean” are coming to terms with large tipping points in their lives, what does that mean for the human environment 4 degrees warmer?
I believe that social systems are the same way. If you consider it, the bloom of algae happens once conditions exist for them to prosper. It’s not complex, it’s really simple. The old status quo (old-world economic systems) rely on the same nutrients (resource surplus) being there, and cannot backtrack nor adjust to new realities. The discipline now faces hard issues like backwards-incorporating ecological realities, social equality, or generational risk. While the bottom-liners turn a blind eye, these are the issues we must deal with! And that means the rules of the game have to change. Cultures don’t cut back on their own: As in the barrier reef, new conditions bring organisms to either adapt to the new conditions and multiply, or die with this global crisis, and good riddance. *Obama’s election means that overall this evolution will be positive.*
Socio-economic change: each person responding to new opportunities in a predictable way brings about systemic, evolutionary-level change.
Now I’m not saying that losing a reef is a good thing, it’s actually quite terrible to see things go and hurts a lot of people. But the example can be a good model for the one thing that can spread like bacteria: human word-of-mouth. Once a new reality emerges, there’s surprisingly little holding the former winners in place. What does this mean? Now will be the time when people question the validity of long-standing military-industrial-government rule, and now we finally have choice in what lives and dies. Even a small preference, shared over dinner/conversation/the web can become a huge impact. During a recession, climate meltdown, internet revolution and world political change following Obama’s inauguration, my bet is on the peasants to make out alive. The silent masses will have a say in the new world order.
For small farmers, why submit to the hierarchy traditionally imposed on you if you can become a natural farmer and change your family, your country and homeland? The answer is often that they haven’t had the choice. If a few leading industries can now make it possible for everyone to be a part of a new worldview, the system will follow. Enough people on the supply side freeing their houses can create a new (free) equilibrium that is more peaceful, sustainable and just.
Change to the masses: it’s coming in more ways than you think.