Globalization 0.0: The real paradigm shift is for us to zero how we've done business until now

By Lamìs Shejni

If you misdiagnose the problem, it's highly unlikely that you will find the appropriate solution. Though a well-known maxim in public policy circles, it would seem not so given the frequency of problem misidentification. We have gone from "give them cake" to "give them austerity," and we all see the results.  Now, it's the turn of "give them technology," and if the past is any indication, we are likely to continue touring Dante's Inferno.  Not only people are rightfully apprehensive of the implications of the current exponential advancement of technology that precedes our ability to fully understand its effects, and  thus to regulate it, we still have not determined the root of our problems: social and economic injustice, environmental crisis, war, etc. 

Perhaps the juxtaposition of manmade brilliance of technological advancement  with its darker side: The threat of taking over every aspect of our lives to the point of debilitating democracy, abusing human rights, even extinguishing life on the planet is appropriate in its dystopian reach; because it illustrates how fundamental is the need for changing the essence of our being.  The solution is not as simple as Batman saving the day from the mad scientist. There's no security blanket to run to. Hard work is required. The kind of work that humans detest the most: introspection, growth, changed behavior, and thus overhauling policies. 

As Einstein has often been quoted saying, "you cannot solve a problem at the same level it was created." The human minds that created what we dare call modern life, cannot solve the problems within it. We need an almost complete overhaul of how we view and organize human life, and consequently our relationship with the rest of the planet. It may sound dramatic, but it should be familiar. The wisdom of indigenous cultures have been telling this to industry men for centuries, scientist and activists for decades,  and now even children are preaching capitalists and politicians in international venues ringing the alarm of doom: "We strike asking you to do something. Why should we go to school if the world as we know it will end, and adults are doing nothing about it," I paraphrase the sentiment.

Yet, here we are. Same old, same old.

Last week the World Economic Forum held "The Transformation of Industry and Business: Globalization 4.0." A strategic meeting built on this year's and last's WEF traditional annual gathering that conceptualized Globalization 4.0.  Basically, WEF is attempting to find policy solutions to problems that the "fourth industrialization" wave is brining: "How will Globalization 4.0 affect industries? How can the Forum work with business leaders to shape the future of the global economy?" In reality, they are perpetuating the same dysfunctions that got us the environmental crisis in the first place.  

This year's WEF traditional meeting in January left us with the same slogans about the need to tackle inequality and conflict. As it has become customary at WEF, Oxfam presented the latest annual data on inequality. Every year, the numbers are more staggering than the one before, the inequality grows deeper and deeper, and the proposed solutions by the rich at Davos continue the same lip service of meaningless rhetoric and superficial changes.  Now, it is only 26 people that own half the world's wealth, down from 43 in 2017, and 61 in 2016.

Recently, the UN said unequivocally that we are destroying the planet at a pace never seen before in registered history, which will have endless effects. “The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide,” said the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).  And though we can easily deduce  the rise of conflict, violence, and war because of the environmental crisis, there are actually many studies that make such connection, as does the United Nations University Institute for Sustainability and Peace. A 2013 study of Berkley University tried to quantify such impact concluding that "post-1950 era suggests that the magnitude of climate’s influence on modern conflict is both substantial and highly statistically significant (P < 0.001). Each 1-SD change in climate toward warmer temperatures or more extreme rainfall increases the frequency of interpersonal violence by 4% and intergroup conflict by 14% (median estimates)."

The environmental crisis does not need some tweaking at the corporate level to incorporate Corporate Social Responsibility parameters, or more recycling, or some magical technology that is still to be invented. Just like gender and racial equality will not be achieved with simply a Black-female face in the boardroom. What we need is a complete change of how we do economy, how we do politics, how we relate to each other to coexist in society and on the planet. It is impossible to separate the environmental crisis from social and economic injustice, or politics, or the role of each adult on this planet. Thus, the change must include all. We need a paradigm shift.  And we need it now.

The crisis is not only environmental. In fact, the environmental crisis is only a symptom of a deeper long lived crisis that we have tolerated because we believed this is human nature: to dominate, to be greedy, and at times able of kindness. The knowledge available to us was evolution theory that somehow was erroneously misunderstood and reduced to "survival of the fittest" being the survival of the most powerful,  a field of pseudoscientific psychology, remnants of religious parables of dichotomies of good and evil, while ignoring ancient indigenous wisdom, and the essence of the scientific method . What we did with the knowledge of choice is attempt to dominate others and make profits, and we continue to do so today with the so called fourth industrial revolution. Perhaps the name Edward Bernays is well known for those familiar of the applications of Freud's thought on propaganda and marketing, which British director Adam Curtis has elaborated well connecting it to the rise of the individualistic capitalistic culture, and the strategies of the powerful to control public opinion, in his documentary The Century of the Self.

Today, we have a wider understanding of evolution, cognitive and neurosciences, and less anxiety accepting skepticism as the fundament of all knowledge.

It has been accepted that survival of the fittest as previously interpreted to be a myth, and as the New Scientist puts it: Survival of the fittest  "can mean anything from the best camouflaged or the most fecund to the cleverest or the most cooperative. Forget Rambo, think Einstein or Gandhi."  Cognitive and neuroscience can revolutionize education and the theory of justice as we know it. The strides made in quantum mechanics, last century, need make us realize once for all that we can assert anything only on a conditional basis.

All of aforementioned advancement set the ground for a paradigm shift that need us to zero  on how we've done business up till now.  The Anno Domini system doesn't have year zero, but we need Globalization 0.0, not Globalization 4.0. We need a globalization where our perspective has matured to beings whose primary goal is peaceful coexistence with themselves and the ecosystem, with economies and politics that reflect that, and most certainly technologies that do.

We are undergoing a new phase of evolution,  as we have constantly done throughout our history as a species.  What we can observe is that after the paradigm shift of man seeking and having control over nature, now man need to find harmony with nature and to do that he must also find harmony with his own kind and to do that he must find it within himself.  As someone who  has always viewed the New Age industry with suspicion, I write these words with extreme caution and sense of responsibility. Yet, none of this is really new info. We have cherished the iconic personalities that brought us wisdom, sometimes even savagery, but we have always recognized the importance of the level of a person's consciousness in making good judgments, policies, and leading us to the future. In a democracy, we all need to be that person. We cannot abdicate our responsibility to voting once every two or four years.  We cannot rely on capitalists creating technologies that will have our best interest at heart and that of the planet. We need only look at their documented behavior through the centuries, even if now they recycle and clean eat.

It is hard not to consider the ascendance of neo-fascism as a reaction to sensing such a shift in the collective consciousness, and attempt to keep the status quo instead or even regress to dark ages.  It is up to the people and mainly civil society with scientists at the forefront to lead the paradigm shift, to insure the change and accelerate it applying new and old intelligence. We need to learn from past successful strategies of change, as well as come up with new ones. Most importantly, we need to democratize power for any real transformation to happen, and in this case technology might be a good ally. We should not be less radical in our demands and approaches than our children. 


Lamìs Shejni writes on global governance and public policy based on lessons learned working for more than two decades on human rights, sustainable peace and development in the different political realities between local and global.  Twitter: @shejni  To read more: Paradigm Shift Now