biomatrix systems theory blog

information age governance challenges

broad historical overview

During the industrial age two ideologies dominated world politics: capitalism versus socialism / communism. They shaped the political scene within and between countries, represented by political parties of the right and left.

Socio-economic evolution advanced faster in capitalist societies and with the collapse of the Berlin Wall, capitalism was declared the victor in the ideological conflict and socialism / communism regarded as having failed to deliver on most of its promises. It also changed the ideological stances of political parties, driving them towards an ideological middle by proclaiming virtually the same ends (with somewhat different orders of priority) and with means largely differentiated by more or less liberalism or interventionism.

challenge of the information age

Although capitalism has co-produced a growing and prosperous middle class worldwide, it has also failed in eradicating poverty. And while researchers argue if poverty increased or decreased during recent decades, a closer look at data and their measurement suggests that both seem to be right: in relative terms poverty has declined, in absolute terms the numbers of poor people have increased (the population explosion being a huge contributor, as well as wars, natural disasters and the exceeding of carrying capacity of natural systems, amongst others). Similarly, the gap between rich and poor is widening and relative poverty increasing (including in the more developed countries).

Even more perturbing, capitalism has morphed into a vicious form of finance driven mega capitalism that is not only exploitative of the poor (whereby coal mines have been replaced by sweatshops), but is also exploitative of countries and their tax payers, mortgaging them for generations to come. The focus on self-interest of capitalism that should bring about the collective good is instead driving humanity closer and closer to an abyss of unsustainability that could mean extinction, with growing sectarian strife along the way.

Moreover, the current governance model (i.e. nation based representative democracy), cannot deal with the challenges posed by business corporations that operate in different nations and shift from one country to another as its profit driven corporate self- interest demands, leaving the countries to mop up the damage and cost of their withdrawal. Even worse, supply chains of independent corporates, each driven by self-interest, legacy business models and non-renewable resources, run across nations, regions and continents. There is no governance body that could facilitate their redesign towards sustainability, nor enforce their compliance with such designs. For example, who indeed could redesign the global finance system? Merkel suggested this a few years ago (i.e. to consider splitting the finance system related to the “real-economy” from that related to the investment economy). Obama (not surprisingly considering who some of his largest funders are) said no. Her other bold attempt to bring about an Energiewende (i.e. energy transformation) to more renewable energy has bankrupted the German solar industry since (largely because the energy supply chain was not redesigned before political interventions were made and possible impacts explored).

ideological vacuum in global governance

Globalisation and its impact on social, technological and natural systems proceed within a governance vacuum:

  • The nation state based representative democracy model cannot exert sufficient governance in a global economy (i.e. the power of global corporates can and frequently does overrule interests of nations and the power of their governments).
  • With the failure of both capitalism and socialism / communism to produce the common good and secure peace and stability for humanity, a new (or amended existing) political ideology needs to be found in order to deal with the current and future governance challenges.
  • There is no appropriate governance ideology and model guiding the sustainable interaction of social and technological systems with nature.

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