I came across an interesting concept that deals with the profound societal changes we all are experiencing. The Hungarian Philosoph Ervin Laszlo has explored the dynamics of the changes within our society, and integrated his observations and insights into the model of macroshifts. The notion of bifurcation plays a major role in this concept – in the way that is highlights two very different outcomes in the process of change we are currently in.
The term bifurcation is an important element in complexity science. In dynamical systems it describes a situation where a small change made to the parameter values of a system, can suddenly cause qualitative or topological change in its behavior.
Applied to societal aspects, Laszlo interprets a bifurcation as an evolutionary dynamic of a society, that comes across as rapid and fundamental change.
Let’s have a closer look at this concept of a macroshift.
The macroshift consists of four phases (or 4 ½ or 5 – it’s all about perspectives, but in retrospect there are only four):
Phase 1: the Trigger Phase. A phase in which innovations in ‚hard technologies‘ bring about greater efficiency in the manipulation of nature for human ends
Phase 2: the Transformation Phase. Hard technology innovations irreversibly change social and environmental relations with the consequences of
(i) higher level of resource production,
(ii) faster growth of population,
(iii) greater social complexity,
(iv) growing impact on the social and natural environment
Phase 3: the Chaos Phase. Changed social and environmental relations put pressure on the established culture, placing into question time-honored values and worldviews and the ethics and ambitions associated with them
And now it gets really interesting.
Phase 4 is an expression of the bifurcation, the forking of events in the process. Because there are two fourth phases.
Phase 4a is the Breakdown Phase. Values, worldviews & ethics of a critical mass of people in society is resistant to change, or changes too slowly, and the established institutions are too rigid to allow for timely transformations; social complexity, coupled with a degenerating environment, creates unmanageable stress. The social order is exposed to a series of crises that soon degenerate into conflict and violence.
Phase 4b is the Breakthrough Phase. In this bifurcation, the mindset of a critical mass of people evolves in time, shifting the culture of society toward a better adapted mode. The improved social order establishes itself; the social system stabilizes itself in its changed conditions.
“The shift is a series of precise mini-shifts in every one of the social systems functioning simultaneously.”
So, in which phase are we? 4a oder 4b?
I am sure everyone has immediately some examples in mind for both bifurcation phases. Most people probably tend to have more for the breakdown than for the breakthrough. An important reason for that is that our mass media function as a constructor of public opinions. They form our opinions by disseminating merely negative news and thus influence our perception.
But perception is a choice.
“We are influencing the future evolution of our genome based on the choices we make.” — Deepak Chopra
There is always more than just one perspective.
Everywhere in the world we can watch this collective madness – may it be America through the activities of Donald Trump or through the activities of several populist movements in almost every country in Europe.
“Cultural evolution has replaced biological evolution as the main driving force of change.” — Freeman Dyson
What we experience is the phase of the grand awakening. People are awakening to the fact, that something on this planet isn’t right. It cannot be right.
Since what feels like eternities, we are trapped in a collective vortex of hate, judgment, fear, competition and survival. All those subliminal energies that could be concealed until recently, are coming to the surface now – through the force of fury of those who disapprove change.
But it is perfect that they are coming to the surface now!
Each and everyone of us is now becoming aware of his or her attachments to these collective programmings. And I am saying “becoming aware” with full intent, because these programmings are happening in the subconscious. They are hiding there.
Finally becoming aware of these programmings, opens up the possibility for a reality check.
Who can claim to be right or wrong?
Often times, the consensus reality raises the claim to determine what is right and what is wrong.
But the consensus reality is nothing but a social agreement. And it is closely connected to the spiral of silence, which stipulates that people are only willing to express their opinion freely, when the public climate allows so.
What in terms of change has now approached our society, has catapulted those subliminal energies to the surface. Our collective programmings are piping up. The public opinion structure – the central barrier for the functioning of the spiral of silence – has turned over. Suddenly it isn’t that outrageous to stand to opinions that are divergent to what is accepted from the mainstream. There is now a mass of people that – unconsciously – is acknowledging these collective programmings and clears the space to – unconsciously – transforming them.
“Most people unconsciously believe that there is truth and rightness in consensus. Most people believe the power of group consensus is the power of discerning right from wrong and true from false. In reality, consensus is nothing more than the experience of many people sharing the same perspective.” — Teal Swan
Change can be painful. It sometimes questions everything that we see as self-evident or as god-given.
Gazed at from a macro perspective, it is however the only thing that makes sense at all.
“Keep constantly in mind how many things you yourself have witnessed change already. The universe is change, life is understanding.” — Marcus Aurelius
We simply have no choice than to surrender ourselves to this tornado of change.
4a or 4b. Breakdown or breakthrough.
Those who prefer to see everything breaking down, could just as well commit suicide. Honestly, that wouldn’t be the worst option, because then there would be less resistance towards those who diligently and with total conviction are working on co-creating a new reality.
There are massive drawbacks on this planet.
And I am talking about the destruction of habitats, of slavery, of hunger, of wars, of misery and diseases. I am talking about corruption, human trafficking, abuse and exploitation.
Only those can have an interest on maintaining these drawbacks, who profit by it.
It might be a reason for them to stick to their resistance.
For me and for millions of others, it is the reason to keep working towards the breakthrough.
Change The World
“Our choices are the only thing that change the world.”
Reference: Laszlo, Ervin (2001): Macroshift. Navigating the transformation to a sustainable world. San Francisco, Calif: Berrett-Koehler; London : McGraw-Hill.