Crisis & paradigms – Are you afraid of ghosts?

There’s a constant tension between individual and collective matters. And individual ones must be kept within certain limits in order to make a coherent whole, being it called “culture”, “religion”, “beliefs”, “tradition”, and so on.

Tradition (and in times like Easter, becomes quite evident) helps us fill the emptiness. By following traditional customs, we avoid having to decide what to do great part of our time. Otherwise, it would be a huge effort to think, plan and execute activities for such an amount of time in one’s life.

There are other “tools” society created to keep people thinking in a similar way: paradigms or utopias. That way, although there are differences between each one of us, we all tend to move in only one general and predictable direction.

Examples of utopias and paradigms are:

– the “next generation”: we sacrifice part of our present wellbeing for the sake of future generations

– Democracy is the most desirable government system (the worst president is better that the best dictator)

– Each country is free to decide its own destiny

– We are all equal before God and the Law

– Illness, diseases and famine must be eliminated

– Society must be a safe environment

And more recent examples:

– Research on renewable energy sources

– Concern on the environment (urban and natural)

But to set up a Paradigm into a society, some actions must be taken first: discussion on what issues will constitute the new paradigm, who will lead the achievement or at least, the approach to it, how this new paradigm will be transmitted to every single individual in society and finally, a method to survey how well is society performance is sticking to the plan.

This is when “Crisis” play its role.

On one hand, its instructive and exemplary nature. We must learn new patterns of behaviour, from our experience. But, what do we learn? What do others learn? Do we all learn the same lessons?

On the other hand, it is utterly functional if you want someone to make a choice, by spreading the fear about the risks of considering any other possibilities. And it reaches its most effective results, when applied in opposite pairs: left-right, terrorism-security, death-life, spending-saving, capitalism-communism, democracy-dictatorship, black-white.

It’s a perfect methodology when it simplifies problems, helps people think, and its most valuable benefit is that it excludes automatically any other mid-term option. Thus, whatever is called “Democracy” will be the only valid option for  a government system, since any other alternative will unavoidably fall into the category of “dictatorship”. It also excludes criticism of any kind: critics will not come from Democracy itself (our contemporary culture is not  very fond of dialectical thought), it will, therefore, come from a dictatorial point of view.

Contemporary crisis, being global, synchronic, financial, and long-term, leave many of us in a very uncomfortable place. Although they seem to be caused by multiple and uncontrollable factors, and following the “linear” process of History (let’s leave “cycles”, for fashion, design, and other shallow aspects of culture), they also show evident functionality with certain results, that benefit some groups in Society, and damages of others.

We know “for sure”, that earthquakes are natural catastrophes, but we will never be sure about how “natural” these social crisis are.


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