emerging complexities

Image: Marcio Costa
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By ANTÔNIO SALES RIOS NETO*

Faced with the possibility of such a dystopian future, common sense recommends not waiting to see what will result from the supremacy of the new algorithmic capitalism

“if truth about the world is to exist, it must be non-human” (Joseph Brodsky).

In one of his last interviews, the renowned Polish sociologist and philosopher Zygmunt Bauman summarized the drama that afflicts humanity in these too liquid times: (and outbacks!). So, hope, bereaved and devoid of a future, seeks shelter in a past that was once ridiculed and condemned, abode of mistakes and superstitions. With the options available among discredited Tempo offerings, each carrying its share of horror, the phenomenon of 'imagination fatigue', the exhaustion of options, emerges. The approach of the end times may be illogical, but it is certainly not unexpected.”

Bauman points out, in these few lines, the great dilemmas of the civilizing crossroads that marks contemporaneity. While a gloomy future awaits us, we uselessly cling to the nostalgic rescue of myths (progress is perhaps the greatest of them) and of failed experiences in the past, which reflects the creative void, notably in politics, to deal with emerging realities.

Among many critics of our world-system there seems to be a consensus that the civilizing crisis that has been dragging on and amplifying in recent decades is largely associated with two main factors. The first concerns the growing phenomenon of the decline of democratic regimes, as a consequence of the project of capitalist supremacy (“end of history” – “there is no alternative”), through the neoliberal doctrine installed in the 1970s, which went beyond state borders and ideologies. This neoliberal hegemony is the result of the effort carried out by a handful of transnational corporations, which, in symbiosis with the technological revolution, globalized, financialized and virtualized capital and has been gradually imposing the market standard of sociability in practically all corners of the world. globe. The most harmful effects of this phenomenon are the increasing degradation of political spaces and, consequently, the gradual collapse of nation-states, today hijacked by market forces through expedients such as public debt, economic influence in political campaigns, lobbies business processes, information control, capture of government decision-making processes, among others.

The second factor, far more destructive than the first, is related to climate change resulting from anthropic action, reflected in the extractive and predatory relationship between capital and nature. The greatest evidence of the incongruity of the capitalist reproduction system is in the overpopulation that overloaded the planet. At the beginning of this century, the noted British environmentalist James Lovelock already warned us, saying that “the time has come to plan a withdrawal from the untenable position we have now reached through the inappropriate use of technology. Better back off now, when we still have energy and time. Like Napoleon in Moscow, we have too many mouths to feed and resources that dwindle daily until we make up our minds.” According to him, the Earth suffers from a widespread plague of people. From this perspective, we are a pathogenic organism, as there is no way to maintain 7,8 billion human beings (current estimate, according to the UN) without devastation of the Earth's ecosystems.

From the first half of the XNUMXth century, when the Industrial Revolution was consolidating in Western Europe and the United States, an exponential population leap was triggered that multiplied by eight the number of people on the planet, increasing, concomitantly and perhaps in greater proportion , the ecological footprint (amount of natural resources necessary for consumption patterns). In the last forty-five years alone, the number of human beings has doubled over the entire period of human evolution. Homo sapiens, estimated at around 350 years. We went from 4,06 billion in 1975 to 7,8 billion now, in 2020. Humans and domestic animals now occupy 97% of the global area considered ecumene area (habitable area), leaving only 3% for wild animals. According to Living Planet Report (2020), released by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), between 1970 and 2016, the populations of these wild vertebrates suffered a 68% reduction, which shows that we are on the way to a new mass extinction of life on Earth.

In the last four decades, the Earth system has been suffering a phenomenal load of stress that we do not know how it will readapt, in addition to the environmental catastrophes that we are already witnessing. Writer Reg Morrison, a specialist in environmental and evolutionary matters, suggests a development that seems quite feasible, if we consider that nature behaves as a complex adaptive system, a web of interactions and feedbacks seeking new patterns of behavior. In one of his books, prefaced by renowned biologist Lynn Margulis, he projects that “the downward curve should mirror the population growth curve” and thus predicts that, just as we had a peak population growth in just 45 years, “The bulk of the collapse will take no more than a hundred years, and by 2150 the biosphere should have safely returned to its pre-plague population of Homo sapiens – somewhere between half and a billion”, equivalent to the period in which that capitalism was still in its infancy. As this projection indicates, the combination of these two factors, climate change and statelessness, will inevitably push us towards unprecedented global instability, with some chance of Earth and human beings reaching a kind of adaptive reconciliation. Within this entire dystopian and unknowable picture, necropolitics seems to constitute the newest and most sophisticated state form of capitalist reproduction, as so well identified by the Cameroonian philosopher Achille Mbembe.

The English historian Eric Hobsbawm baptized the 187th century as the “age of extremes” of war and peace. In fact, this was the period when humanity experienced the greatest horrors against the human condition, expressed in 1993 million casualties (Brzezinski, 12), equivalent to something around 1900% of the world's population in 1947. At the same time, the best experience of the Welfare State was observed, although this took place in a very short period (1973-XNUMX) and was more restricted to the countries of the North. At the beginning of this century, some similarities with the century of extremes are already beginning to emerge. Stalin's gulags, Hitler's concentration camps and Mao Zedong's agricultural communes may not be so far from what the refugee camps, countless slums and environmental breakdowns of today may become in the near future, where necropolitics is being experimented with increasing efficiency. Everything indicates that we will soon make the transition from the Anthropocene to the Necrocene, as Morrison suggests. For this reason, there are those who say that, with regard to the regressions that we may soon experience, this Hobsbawm reference could be radically revised at the end of this century, as is the case of the prognosis pointed out by the British writer and professor of political philosophy John Gray: “ most likely, we will look at the XNUMXth century as a time of peace”. To stick to just two names, another is the tireless and revered American philosopher, sociologist and political activist Noam Chomsky, for whom “we are at a surprising confluence of very serious crises” that could lead us to extinction.

One hundred years ago, the Polish-German philosopher and economist Rosa Luxemburgo proposed the view that the capitalist system behaves like a parasite. Once there were no more “untouched lands”, the parasite would be threatened by lack of a host. However, with the neoliberal doctrine, capitalism seems to have reached the last corners of the world and does not show any sign of cooling down. Therefore, Bauman broadens the understanding of Luxemburg. For him, “the system works through a continuous process of creative destruction”. There are not few who mistakenly think that capitalism is in a terminal crisis and do not realize that “what is destroyed is the capacity for self-sustainability and dignified life in the countless 'host organisms' to which we are all attracted and or seduced, in a way or another”. Capitalism, today in its algorithmic version, is more alive and creative than ever. That is why Bauman suspects that “one of the crucial resources of capitalism derives from the fact that the imagination of economists – including those who criticize it – lags far behind its invention, the arbitrariness of its procedure and the cruelty with which it operates”. The economicist view of the world, in force for more than three hundred years, created an automaton that escapes our ability to understand it. Hence the need to seek better methods of understanding reality and be much more creative than capital.

Faced with such an imponderable scenario, what imaginative effort, as suggested by Bauman, should be incorporated to propose a way of life compatible with the needs of the present time? If the evidence of regression and barbarism is so overwhelming, why does civilization still insist on continuing in the current self-destructive market model? What kind of policy would be able to deal with the emerging complexity, so as to avoid the collapse we are heading towards? These questions perhaps translate the main afflictions of our time. The idea here, then, is to make this effort, even knowing that, as Bauman himself recognizes, it is extremely difficult to “solve the problem of turning words into flesh”. Countless people have tried, are still trying, and must not stop trying.

But there is encouragement, as a small part of this creative effort has already been started for quite some time, what remains for us is to understand it and, based on it, change our way of interacting with the world and create conditions more conducive to a new World vision. To try to be more didactic in this reflection, I will raise three assumptions here, intertwined with each other, to try to explain the complexity of the emerging reality and at the same time identify the impediments to our imagination, the probable obstacles to changing our way of life. They are: cognitive blindness, patriarchy and the politics that stem from it. So let's go to those assumptions.

Blindness to the complexity of the real world

One of the assumptions of the approach adopted here is that if there is something very problematic about the world and if the world is a mirror of how we see it, a reflection of what we call the hegemonic worldview, it is because the world's problem is in the human animal, as we impose a model of sociability incongruous with the environment. In this case, then, we have to reformulate our mental models from a perspective that better dialogues with the reality that surrounds us. Putting it more clearly, we need a new worldview that goes beyond the current market view, or that at least allows us to create a reality that is not as unsustainable and dystopian as the one we have in front of us.

The sociologist and educator Pedro Demo, in one of his many books, said: “the greatest misery of science is having founded such a compromising and unfortunate neutrality (…) alongside fantastic formal competence, which grows at a considerable pace, has no nothing to say about the happiness of man (…). Science emerges as possibly monstrous: the human creature that swallows man. We know too much how to wage war, how to control the people, how to interfere with ecology, but we know almost nothing, sometimes nothing, about how to be happier”. Science is a method of investigation and, therefore, its main function is to bring human knowledge closer to reality. If science does not fulfill this role, it ends up feeding our blindness towards reality and, thus, instead of solving the problems created by humans, it ends up amplifying them. To a large extent, this seems to have been what happened to the science produced until the beginning of the XNUMXth century, as Demo suggests. However, the conception of the world offered by the new sciences of complexity, which emerged especially from the second half of the XNUMXth century, began to overcome this situation and can inspire us in this difficult undertaking of eliminating our blindness about the dynamics of reality around us.

There are many contributions, coming from different areas of knowledge, to what today we call complexity science or complex thinking, which has in the French sociologist, anthropologist and philosopher Edgar Morin one of its greatest exponents, defender of the need for a reform of thought. In an article entitled Complex vision for a complex way of acting, researchers Júlio Tôrres and Cecília Minayo, who work here in Brazil with the complexity approach, list the many references today: molecular biologist and philosopher Henri Atlan, who worked with information theory and self-organized systems; the Belgian philosopher Isabelle Stengers, who advocates bringing complexity sciences closer to politics as a form of resistance to the commodification of knowledge in the current knowledge economy; biologist Ludwig Von Bertalanffy, critic of the Cartesian world view and the compartmentalization of science who worked with the idea of ​​open systems (systems in interaction and continuous exchange with the environment); the German sociologist Niklas Luhmann, who developed an understanding of society based on the concept of autopoiesis (self-production, the creation of the self) developed by the Chilean biologists Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela.

The framework of interconnected theories associated with the notion of complexity has been around for a long time and continues to expand. Here are some considered more relevant: relativity (Einstein, 1905), uncertainty principle (Heisenberg, 1927), dissipative structures (Prigogine, 1977), chaos theory (Briggs, Peat, 2000; Gleick, 1989; Lorenz, 1996), theory of fractals (Mandelbrot, 1983; Zimmerman, Hurst, 1993), catastrophe theory (Thom, 1989), fuzzy logic (Kosko, 1995). Other contributions derive from science's own need to understand the type of society that emerges in contemporary times, in which new sociological concepts such as "post-industrial" (Kumar, 1997), "post-modern" (Kumar, 1997; Harvey, 2001), “information society” (Castells, 1999), “reflexive modernity” (Giddens, 1997), “liquid modernity” (Bauman, 2001), “hypermodernity” (Lipovetsky, 2004). As well noted, still in the 1990s, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry (1977), Ilya Prigogine, “we are witnessing the emergence of a science that is no longer limited to simplified, idealized situations, but puts us before the complexity of the real world”.

Unlike the worldviews that shaped human experience in the past and still shape it in the present, complexity (the origin of the term complex comes from the Latin complexus, meaning “woven together”) is an open worldview. It seeks to accommodate and reconcile the innumerable existing “truths” about reality. It is in a permanent process of discovery, deconstruction and reconstruction, in a permanent dialogue with reality. Its main attributes are linked to the idea of ​​randomness, ambiguity, instability, multiplicity, unpredictability and uncertainty. As Dostoevsky already intuited, “nothing is more improbable than reality”. As the hegemonic worldview that sustains current economism is still predominantly guided by Cartesian thinking, by the idea of ​​fragmentation, order, control and certainty, we are still conditioned to a mental model that cannot perceive and deal with the complexity of the real world.

The fact is that these new scientific discoveries and readings of the world linked to the idea of ​​complexity, associated with the silent sociocultural revolution that began in the 1960s, calling for another possible world, the interconnection and empowerment provided by the worldwide computer network, the mutations ongoing within the capitalist system itself, to regressions in politics, are all emerging phenomena full of contradictions. They both carry a destructive potential and contain regenerative possibilities, which characterizes the current historical epoch change, a transition marked by a feeling of uncertainty, instability, discontinuity, disorientation, insecurity and vulnerability. Something similar, for example, to what happened in history when agrarianism was overcome by industrialism from the XNUMXth century onwards.

A change of era is something procedural. It happens almost imperceptibly, hence our blindness in the face of emerging phenomena, as we do not have an open mental model capable of assimilating them at the same speed at which they occur, which generates a state of crisis. In this context, “morbid symptoms” arise, as the great Italian philosopher Antônio Gramsci already pointed out, because in the crisis “the old is dying and the new cannot yet be born”. However, there are already some strategies to improve our cognition regarding the complexity of the natural world. One of them, for example, is to apply the so-called Cognitive Operators of Complex Thinking, developed a long time ago by authors from different areas of knowledge. They are: circularity, self-production/self-organization, dialogic operator, hologrammatic operator, subject-object integration and ecology of action.

Despite the effort already achieved by science, complexity is a vast field of knowledge in development that will be able to give us better references about the human condition. The writer and psychotherapist Humberto Mariotti, one of the most dedicated in Brazil to studies on the complex thinking and its application to human action, especially in the business world, shows us ways to overcome this cognitive blindness and come to understand that “complexity is not a theoretical concept, but a fact. It corresponds to the multiplicity, interweaving and continuous interaction of the infinity of systems and phenomena that make up the natural world. Complex systems are within us and the reciprocal is true. It is therefore necessary to understand them as much as possible in order to better live with them.”

With regard to human behavior, some consensus is already beginning to emerge. The main one is that, in order to free ourselves from this blindness in the face of the complex dynamics of the natural world, we must urgently incorporate a way of life based on beliefs and values ​​linked to the idea of ​​alterity, interdependence, cooperation, inclusion, plurality, dialogue, diversity, community, tolerance, care, creativity, flexibility and, especially, the reintegration of man as part of nature and not separate from it. However, there is another major impasse to be overcome, closely related to our cognitive blindness: the lock of patriarchal culture, as we will see below.

Our millennial patriarchal conditioning

The assumption that there is blindness in the face of the complexity of the real world also means that overcoming it invites us to review the history of humanity from another lens. This leads to a second assumption, that the impulse that has driven human beings since time immemorial is not only of biological origin (or existential as some prefer) but also cultural, which may or may not be congruent with each other. It is at this point that history needs to be revised. The cultural here refers to the acquired capabilities, in the anthropological sense of the term, in which we create beliefs, values, techniques, art, morals, customs, etc., which, together, express the worldview through which we shape our reality. . In this sense, the anthropological understanding of the trajectory of Homo sapiens it has a little studied and valued aspect that understands that there are fluctuations in this congruence between the biological and the cultural, in which the cultural can overlap with the biological.

One of the most in-depth studies on this subject is recorded in the book The Chalice and the Sword: Our History, Our Future (Palas Athena, 2007), by Austrian sociologist Riane Eisler, in which she investigates how, at some point in the Neolithic, the “evolutionary crossroads in our prehistory, when human society was violently transformed”. It refers to the passage from the “partnership society” to the “domination society”. Supported by studies by renowned archaeologists, anthropologists and sociologists, Eisler defends the idea that there was a “cultural transformation”, based on a socio-anthropological review of how human societies evolved, in which she proposes two basic models of society: “The first, which I would call the dominator model, is popularly called patriarchy or matriarchy – the supremacy of one half of humanity over the other. The second, in which social relations are primarily based on the principle of unity rather than supremacy, can best be described as the partnership model. In this model – starting with the most fundamental difference in our species, between male and female – diversity is not equated with inferiority or superiority.”

Eisler's work is perhaps one of the most comprehensive and transdisciplinary surveys of our cultural evolution in prehistory. In addition to the many archaeological, historical and sociological evidences, the theory of “cultural transformation” defended by Eisler is also supported by some of the recent theories of complexity, especially in the theory of chaos and the self-organization of systems, in which great changes can occur. be explained “at the critical bifurcation points and crossroads of the systems”. This idea even makes her think that the current “model of domination is apparently reaching its logical limits” and that “today we find ourselves at another potentially decisive bifurcation point”. Eisler's conception converges, for example, with the investigations of renowned scientists such as the Chilean neurobiologist Humberto Maturana, for whom “the anthropological origin of Homo sapiens did not occur through competition, but through cooperation”. This incongruity between the biological and the cultural in human evolution, triggered from the Neolithic, has to do with what the English biologist and anthropologist Gregory Bateson stated: “the source of all problems today is the gap between how we think and how we nature works”.

It is important here to explain the idea around what patriarchal culture represents for our way of life, beyond the common sense that translates it into sexist behavior, easily observed in the daily lives of societies. Indeed, a considerable portion of academia reduces the understanding of patriarchal culture to a way of life characterized by a system of domination and oppression of men over women. The notion of patriarchal culture addressed here is much broader than that. It is characterized, according to Maturana’s definition, “by the coordination of actions and emotions that make our daily life a mode of coexistence that values ​​war, competition, struggle, hierarchies, authority, power, procreation, growth, the appropriation of resources and the rational justification of the control and domination of others through the appropriation of truth”. Its counterpoint would not be matriarchal culture, which in this conception has the same sense of hierarchy as patriarchy, in this case, the relation of superiority and domination of the feminine over the masculine.

Eisler's study reveals that before the patriarchal culture, a more egalitarian society prevailed in relation to male and female values ​​and symbols, which is conventionally called matristic culture. This pre-patriarchal matristic culture was, also as defined by Maturana, characterized by “conversations of participation, inclusion, collaboration, understanding, agreement, respect and co-inspiration”, attributes that evidenced a culture “centered on love and aesthetics, on conscience of the spontaneous harmony of all living and non-living, in its continual flow of intertwined cycles of life and death transformation”. It does not mean to say that there were no wars and conflicts. Such behaviors existed, but not as a rule, but as a contingency of reality. In the patriarchal culture that has prevailed for millennia, the most egalitarian societies, in which hierarchy and the appropriation of truth are not the standard, have always been the exception rather than the rule.

Among the many references used by Eisler is the philosopher, anthropologist and archaeologist Gordon Childe. Although some saw him as a Marxist, he did not accept the justification of class struggle as an instrument of social change. Eisler drew on Childe's studies in his book entitled The Dawn of European Civilisation (in Portuguese it received the title The Prehistory of European Society, editora Europa-América, 1974), published in 1925, with which he gained enormous notoriety. Contrary to what many people think, Eisler states that “one of the most remarkable and thought-provoking traits of ancient European society revealed by the archaeological shovel is its essentially peaceful character”. In order to understand the great cultural bifurcation that took place as war became the norm among Indo-European peoples, she also resorted to Childe's studies. For him, the culture of early Europeans was “peaceful” and “democratic”, without traces of “chiefs concentrating the wealth of communities”, which led him to the conclusion that “the old ideology was modified, which may reflect a change of the organization of society, from matrilineal to patrilineal”.

In this sense, patriarchal culture constitutes the way of life that has permeated the entire trajectory of humanity over the last six or seven thousand years and which has forged a very peculiar vision of the evolution of societies. The very idea of ​​“civilization”, of the man who concentrates in the city and organizes the social division, which both science and common sense understand as an advanced stage of human society, reached from the transition that occurred with the so-called revolution of the neolithic or agricultural revolution, was conceived from a linear model of thought. According to this model, what existed before civilization was preceded first by a phase of “savagery” (hunter-gatherers) and then “barbarism” (farmers and shepherds).

However, after the tragic experience of the XNUMXth century, there are many socio-anthropological readings that tend to think the opposite, that is, that there is nothing wilder than civilization. And, contradictorily, this savagery resides exactly in this superimposition of the patriarchal culture that gave “sustainability” to the development of civilization, since it was the patriarchal values, symbols and beliefs that influenced all dimensions of human experience, be it religious, scientific, institutional , politics, among others. In this regard, the American sociologist Immanuel Wallerstein made the following reflection: “Are we more civilized? I don't know. This is a dubious concept, first because the civilized cause more problems than the non-civilized; the civilized try to destroy the barbarians, it is not the barbarians who try to destroy the civilized. The civilized define the barbarians: the others are barbarians; we civilized people.”

The fact is that, due to this long patriarchal prevalence, we are still today not only a civilization totally disconnected from nature, but also a disintegrated civilization, of individuals increasingly disconnected from each other, without the alterity that makes us human, as defended by Maturana . One of the most worrying consequences of patriarchy is that we have lost our capacity for community, the bond that kept us congruent with nature. And this phenomenon reaches its apex with the neoliberalism that today is leading our world-system towards an environmental collapse. The economic view of the world gradually forged a civilizing arrangement that, by giving more and more centrality to the ego, creating and recreating subjectivities linked to the satisfaction of individual desires, distanced us from community life. From then on, human relations were guided by an unhealthy marketing relationship. Who identified this development well was Dee Hock, founder and former CEO of Visa, considered one of the references in the application of the complex thinking. For Hock, “the non-monetary exchange of value is the heart and soul of community, and community is the essential, inescapable element of civil society. (…) In a non-monetary exchange of value, giving and receiving is not a transaction. It is an offer and an acceptance. In nature, when a closed cycle of give and take becomes unbalanced, death and destruction soon follow. That's how it is in society.”

The greatest expressions of patriarchy, as an instance of control and domination, are represented in the two main forces that drive humanity: the State (now in decline), due to its authoritarian nature, and the market (increasingly upward), due to the subjectivities it produces. . These expressions can also be observed in the most varied forms of social relations: family, institutional, educational, business, religious, among many. Now, in contemporary times, patriarchy, at the same time that it seems to reach its peak, by taking neoliberal sociability to all corners of the globe and suppressing politics, also shows some signs of exhaustion and has been questioned in many ways, especially in as a result of the relational context that permeates the profound socio-cultural and technological changes that have taken place in recent decades. So there is always some hope. As Eisler predicts, it might actually make sense to imagine the possibility that the historical epochal transition we are currently experiencing will result in a new cultural bifurcation towards a neo-matristic society, in which the Homo sapiens-demens, as Morin prefers, can be reconciled with its natural condition.

The human being is an animal that does not live without illusions and they are what, for better or worse, give meaning to our way of living. That's why it's important that we know how to differentiate between good and bad illusions, in order to better adapt to the ongoing changes. Gray states that "from now on, our purpose will be to identify our unbeatable illusions". For this, he suggests that we welcome the good myths, recommending two criteria to identify them: first, to verify if it approaches the conflicts and ambiguities inherent to the human condition and second that it is not exclusive, demonizing and eliminating segments of society, as did Nazism. . Deep down, Gray is proposing that we adopt myths that approach the complexity of the real world and move away from our patriarchal impulse. It is then necessary to reflect on which myth could better guide the current way of doing politics, in order to deal with the new emerging realities and thus create possible sociabilities.

A policy that dialogues with reality

Some say that John Gray, in his book straw dogs (Record, 2006), caused a certain moral fear in many sectors of science and philosophy still impregnated with the idea that progress will bring salvation to humanity. In one of the passages of the book, he states: “Political action has become a substitute for salvation, but no political project can save humanity from its natural condition. As radical as they are, political programs are modest devices designed to deal with recurring ills. (…) Straw Dogs argues for a change away from human solipsism. Humans cannot save the world, but that is no reason to despair. He doesn't need saving. Fortunately, humans will never live in a world of their own making.”

For the majority still conditioned to the binary thinking that sustains patriarchal culture, Gray's philosophy is disconcerting, as is the notion of complexity. That is why it is so difficult to change a worldview that proposes, at the same time, to eliminate our cognitive blindness in the face of the complexity of the real world and to overcome our millennial patriarchal conditioning, especially through politics, the most sensitive field of experience. human nature and certainly the most important thing for us to get out of civilization impasse current. But Gray is right about one thing, “outside of science, progress is just a myth” and that is why he defends a policy that is close to our “natural condition”, a policy that dialogues with the complex reality in which we live.

Political spaces today are deteriorating not only because of neoliberalism that has been imposing the business model of sociability, denying institutionality and politics, but because the type of politics based on patriarchy is no longer tolerated by the new sociocultural dynamics that emerged after 1968 , when there was the movement unleashed by students and workers in France, considered by some as the first global demonstration for the end of conservative and oppressive postures. I developed this idea in a recent article under the title The Uprooting of Democracy, in which I present a list of recurrent political practices that deny democracy. It contains the entire booklet of patriarchal politics that still sustains a patriarchal democracy, from top to bottom. A policy suited to the emerging context needs to somehow rescue the ancient Athenian Agoras. Faced with growing religious and market fundamentalisms, which absorb the State and degrade democratic regimes, political actors who have not yet bowed to the neoliberal fetish will hardly be able to reverse the ongoing regressions if they continue to adopt the same political practice guided by class struggles. or ideological.

Most Marxists maintain, to some extent rightly, that the root cause of the civilizational crisis resides in Capital. In fact, Capital still constitutes the structuring axis of civilization. But even so, resorting to Marx as many have been doing to overcome the crisis through the “class struggle” does not seem very useful and only imprisons us even more in the patriarchal arena. British geographer and professor emeritus of anthropology at the City University of New York, David Harvey, for whom the need today consists of “extending and deepening the cognitive maps we carry in our minds”, is one of the few who rescues Marx and goes beyond Marxism . He understands that “capital is not the only possible subject of a rigorous and exhaustive investigation of our contemporary ills” and that “the fiction of a duality produces all kinds of political and social disasters”.

The French philosopher Patric Viveret, who says that “May 1968 is not over yet”, helps us understand why overcoming the patriarchy underlying the market view of the world is much more productive than trying in vain to defeat capitalism. According to him, “Marx's blind spot is that the proletariat is also human! He may well fight exploitation, but, freed from chains, he cannot ipso facto become fully human, for he is not immune by nature to the risk of barbaric regression.” In this case, the proposal of many Marxists to eliminate capitalism, through the class struggle, to put socialism in its place does not seem to be a minimally feasible idea in the current context, not least because the past has already demonstrated that “the fact of having been victim does not vaccinate against the temptation to be an executioner, just as the fact of having been colonized does not prevent him from becoming a dominator.” This is exactly what happened with “real socialism” in Russia. In the history of humanity there is perhaps no record of a system of domination as efficient in its cruelty as Stalinism was.

Today's platform capitalism is not only very much alive, it challenges the notion of common sense and sanity. Here are two convincing examples, among many: 1) according to the United States Geological Survey, in just two years, 2011 and 2012, to respond to the 2008 financial crisis, China consumed more cement (6,651 billion tons) than the US consumed (4,405 billion tons) throughout the 2th century; XNUMX) according to an estimate of the Bloomberg, a company that monitors financial markets, Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, earned in a single day (20/7/2020) 13 billion dollars, equivalent to just over half of the GDP of Honduras (US$ 23,9 billion in 2018), even with the economy in recession due to the pandemic. That is why Harvey, when reflecting on the senses of the world in the face of economic aberrations like these, he defends the need to create new “theoretical frameworks” and, according to him, this “demands that we explore process-based research philosophies and embrace more dialectical methodologies in which typical Cartesian dualities (such as that between nature and culture) dissolve into a single stream of historical and geographical creative destruction”.

These two cited examples say a lot about how neoliberal capitalism wants to shape the world. And there is no political project underway, at the global level, to divert it from these insanities. If the notion of complexity better defines the real world, as an open thinking system that embraces all realities, then why not think of a policy of embracement. The metaphor of the hug carries many symbolisms linked to the notion of complexity and, therefore, it can be very useful to help us better understand the core of the very serious crisis of civilization that we are going through and have some chance of overcoming it. But this embrace will only be possible if we manage to suspend our patriarchal nature, our identification with the ego. In this regard, it is worth reading Mariotti's essay entitled The five knowledges of complex thinking. In it, Mariotti explains how the “Know how to hug” it is a powerful integration strategy, which, if added to politics, can lead us to a more matristic and less patriarchal way of life.

That is why it is worth considering to what extent the growing phenomenon of the decline of democracies in many nations is not the result of the lack of a policy of embracing government and opposition, left and right, conservatives and progressives, among other dualities. I'm not talking about the embrace in the sense of submission to the opponent's ideals, be it liberal, socialist, anarchist or any other ideological aspect, but about the embrace that dissipates polarities and fundamentalisms, and creates new inclusive and plural sociabilities. One of the greatest hugs recorded in history took place during World War II. Hobsbawm describes it in this passage from his book age of extremes (Companhia das Letras, 1995): “democracy was only saved because, to face it (Hitler), there was a temporary and bizarre alliance between liberal capitalism and communism”. What could result from this embrace if hadn't he limited himself to just resolving the world conflict? The patriarchy would not resist for long and we would have a much healthier planet than the current one.

It seems that today's political actors need to read and understand Bauman, Harvey, Morin, Maturana, Eisler and so many others. Faced with the possibility of such a dystopian future, common sense recommends not waiting to see what will result from the supremacy of the new capitalism of algorithms, without adequate political mediation. A scenario that has everything to turn out to be the last and most harmful expression of patriarchy, without counterweights to its insane desire to finally mold the world in its image: self-destruction. We will have some chance of seeing civilization not succumb in the near future if we abandon this illusion of superiority that affronts our natural condition. Like the great embrace of the XNUMXth century, which arrived in time to put a stop to the Nazi “Final Solution”, a belated embrace of current dualisms may not be enough to contain what is to come.

*Antonio Sales Rios Neto is a civil engineer and organizational consultant.

 

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