Humanity at crossroads: Magnum opus
Every production phase or civilization or other human invention goes through a so called transformation process. Transitions are social transformation processes that cover at least one generation. In this article I will use one such transition to demonstrate that humanity is at a crossroads: up to a third world war or will humanity create new heaven on earth.
When we consider the characteristics of the phases of a social transformation we may find ourselves at the end of what might be called the third industrial revolution. Transitions are social transformation processes that cover at least one generation (= 25 years). A transition has the following characteristics:
- – it involves a structural change of civilization or a complex subsystem of our civilization
- – it shows technological, economical, ecological, socio cultural and institutional changes at different levels that influence and enhance each other
- – it is the result of slow changes (changes in supplies) and fast dynamics (flows)
Examples of historical transitions are the demographical transition and the transition from coal to natural gas which caused transition in the use of energy. A transition process is not fixed from the start because during the transition processes will adapt to the new situation. A transition is not dogmatic.
Figure: demographical transition
Four transition phases
In general transitions can be seen to go through the S curve and we can distinguish four phases (see fig. 1):
- a pre development phase of a dynamic balance in which the present status does not visibly change
- a take off phase in which the process of change starts because of changes in the system
- an acceleration phase in which visible structural changes take place through an accumulation of socio cultural, economical, ecological and institutional changes influencing each other; in this phase we see collective learning processes, diffusion and processes of embedding
- a stabilization phase in which the speed of sociological change slows down and a new dynamic balance is achieved through learning
A product life cycle also goes through an S curve. In that case there is a fifth phase:
- the degeneration phase in which cost rises because of over capacity and the producer will finally withdraw from the market.
The S curve of a transition
Figure: Four phases in a transition best visualized by means of an
S – curve: Pre-development, Take off, Acceleration, Stabilization.
Spreading process of transitions
The process of the spreading of transitions over civilizations is influenced by a number of elements:
- – physical barriers: oceans, deserts, mountain ranges, swamps, lakes
- – socio cultural barriers: difference in culture and languages
- – religious barriers
- – psychological barriers
The Neolithic transition was the most transition for mankind. This first agricultural revolution (10000 – 3000 BC) forms the change from societies of hunter gatherers (20 – 50 people) close to water with a nomadic existence to a society of people living in settlements growing crops and animals. A hierarchical society came into existence. Joint organizations protected and governed the interests of the individual. Performing (obligatory) services for the community could be viewed as a first type of taxation. Stocks were set up with stock management, trade emerged, inequality and theft. Ways of administering justice were invented to solve conflicts within and between communities and war became a way of protecting interests.