Thursday, March 08, 2007

Cultural Transformation

As I view the social universe, I see a remarkable confluence of events and circumstances. As the world's institutions begin to grapple with the realities of climate change and resource depletion, a painful realization becomes all too clear.

Our existing institutions are simply not capable of dealing with it. At least they are not capable in their present embodiments.

Our Capitalists markets don't just ignore the externalities of carbon pollution, they ignore the health costs, the military costs of protecting it, its depletion etc. In an even greater shortcoming, our markets ignore our children's future, their future resources, and the legacies that we heap on them through our decisions to require them to guard our dangerous nuclear waste for eons.

We could fix this, but we haven't.

Our Media institutions are solidly locked in their own prisons of wealth and power and the Plutocratic status quo. They therefore begin to recite to us news that is shaped, and not news that is scraped up, bit by bit, from the actual scene.

We can fix this, but we haven't.

Our Political institutions are as fossilized and hard as the buildings they inhabit, and they are as unsustainable in these coming years as the energy that powers them. Our liberal /conservative dialectic is simply the coin of the realm with those two images on each side. Our once great 200 year old Constitution has become a door mat for those who would traffic in power and prestige.

Our overall mental ability to shape our future, our communities, our daily lives, is stuck in a bituminous pit of 18 th century mind forms.

Our overall spiritual power to imagine a generous and forgiving society has been buried in a landslide of nationalistic separation and pastoral hubris. And with that lack of integration, we see the contempt and the disrespect for others that it fosters.

We can fix this, but it will not be easy

Here is a piece from Josep Burcet on Culture Change which seems to make some sense.

"Between 2010 and 2025 the conditions for a big cultural change will be met. This will happen as a result of the current communication revolution. The magnitude of cultural change is proportional to the amount of communication increase (see the quantum leap communication hypothesis) .

So, a big increment in communication flows will produce big cultural changes .

But as far as the communication revolution is unfolding very quickly, cultural impacts will happen very quickly too. In consequence, after 2010 we may expect that humankind will need to absorb a huge amount of novelty in a very short period of time. Meanwhile, the vast majority of people may not be able to handle it.

The ability to cope with a very large novelty intake depends on some individual characteristics, but mainly
i) on the culture people use and
ii) the social framework where people live in.

Cultural and economic environment may facilitate changes or, conversely, may hamper them. So we may distinguish cultures depending on their ability to facilitate change and novelty intake. On the basis of cultural changes occurred during the last 25 years, let's consider four different types of culture.

Type I People living within these cultural regions remain using their traditional way of life. They live the same way their ancestors did 1000 years ago.

Type II Those cultures allow some changes but they happen very slowly. Usually, they correspond to pre-industrial societies.

Type III Change has taken place even if some important cultural elements still evolve slowly. Generally speaking, societies in transition to industrialization have this type of cultures.

Type IV This kind of cultures have allowed notable changes during the last 25 years. They correspond to confirmed industrial societies and, mainly, the post-industrial ones.

Difficulties for facilitating change are related to the relationship that everyone maintains with its own culture (see ' The unbending process ').


The main conclusion is that we need to make our cultures to evolve. It must be done quickly, towards any direction able enough to enhance our ability to stimulate change and, at the same time, to assimilate it.

Until now, we have managed intercultural tensions with more or less success. Nevertheless, current tensions could only be a small scale prelude of what we are going to face in the near future.

In the years to come, the magnitude of intercultural clash may result from:
i) unsustainable migratory pressures upon the more advanced regions,
ii) quick proliferation of bitter forms of international activism and terrorism and perhaps
iii) some forms of civilization confrontations.


In this scenario, between 2002 and 2004 a debate on cultural change starts all over the World. Many persons and organizations become involved.

Between 2005 and 2010, the failure of current cultures to manage the new emergent problems becomes obvious and the time for action will have come.

From the 2010 perspective it will become evident that the pacific cohabitation of different World populations will not be reached by the means of candid pacifistic attitudes, dualistic explanations (the good and the evil) or mere altruistic initiatives.

As a result, a kind of general emergency state takes place and several large projects of culture transformation start everywhere."

Maybe we could start this Cultural Transformation a few years early.

The folks I saw yesterday watching Fox News,

were a couple of years behind already.

"Transformation" art from Philip Poekert



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