Fadwa El Guindi’s brief revisit to the Arab Spring in “Revisiting the Arab Spring” is a subtle examination of the challenges posed by the Spring. The so-called Arab Spring is not easily generalizable and its consequences are still unfolding. The case of Egypt is probably among the most interesting. Egypt had been under a dictatorship for decades, and the dictatorship was corrupt. There was a considerable amount of dissatisfaction among its citizens. The Arab Spring, as it took off in Egypt, was able to oust Mubarak, who was promptly replaced by a religious fanatic called Morsi. Egyptian protests continued, until Morsi was replaced and a new government inserted together with a new constitution. What is interesting from El Guindi’s paper is that Egyptian identity, which is composed of several different subgroups and religious differences, also draws on a deeper level of identity rooted in Egypt’s ancient and distinguished historical past. Apparently, Egyptians find those historical roots to be an important aspect around which to cement solidarity within modern Egyptian national identity. It is by no means clear that the changes experienced in Egypt are sustainable with a definite future. But, the author believes that the events surrounding the removal of two dictators provide a sense of optimism that the future for Egyptian nationhood can be more promising.

Juliano Vargas and Joanílio Rodolpho Teixeira have written an extraordinary and challenging piece in a short, but extremely precise, format. In “Institutional Challenges to the Labor Market and the Fourth Industrial Revolution in the light of a New Paradigm in Economic Thinking: The Brazilian Case,” they confront three formidable theoretical challenges, all of which are basic to new political theory. First, they bring clarity to the institutional context of modern political economy, but provide an important expansion and development of the institutionalized focus, developed by Chang and Evans, by providing a more explicit importance to the role of human agency in institutional dynamics. This provides institutions a level of dynamism and realism appropriate to the challenges of a new political-economic theory. Here the challenge is that institutions in general have a tendency to stabilize community expectations and limit the capacity for creative change. Human agency adds the relevant dynamism to this process. But both of these addenda to the foundations of New Economic Theory must also account for the importance and great challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The basic challenge of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is the place of labor and work in this process to enhance human progress. For example, it is technology that provides for more economic efficiency and less reliance on work. At some point, economic efficiency and technological change would reduce the weight of labor in the economy, and technology will be produced with radically-reduced markets and economic viability. The authors apply this to the challenges of the Brazilian labor market and provide important insights for the future, not only in the context of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, but the future challenges to New Economic Theory in general. The authors provide a paragraph which provides us with a cautionary view of the future:

“Based on an institutional heterodox approach, and aiming to contribute to the construction of a new paradigm in economic thinking, the objective of this article is to examine the progress of 4IR in developed and developing economies and their impact on the Brazilian labor market. In general terms, it can be seen that the economy and global society are at a crossroads. The 4IR has tremendous potential for improving living conditions in general, and it also has lamentable potential risks. It is necessary to reflect how this structural change is to be conducted, especially with regard to the relations between the advanced and the developing economies. However, reflection is not enough. It is essential to implement desirable actions (or goals).

“The 4IR will have a strong impact on the organization of the world of work. It will urge emerging countries—the case of Brazil—to rethink their strategies and development models. The greatest socio-economic menace of 4IR in this area is to generate insufficient demand for labor or available labor skills, threatening to throw millions of workers into structural and/or precarious unemployment.”

Emil Constantinescu is a brilliant, original, and deep thinker. He consistently explores some of the most fundamental, philosophical, and normative questions about the position of the self-system in the larger political culture of state, continent, and planet. In his article “Managing Uncertainty – A Challenge for Contemporary Society”, he provides profound and mature insights into the political implications of the experience of both servitude and uncertainty. The problem with servitude is often false stability and an effort to freeze social relations. Such an approach benefits the rise of an authoritarian class. On the other hand, there is uncertainty which provokes insecurity. On the other hand, uncertainty is a profound existential challenge. Uncertainty provides more choice for human responsibility for human choice. As Emil Constantinescu says, “Uncertainty grows without awareness of the place that humans occupy in the world.” He also adds, “If man cannot be defined in his intimate structure, can we define the world that holds him?” Emil Constantinescu is a profound and original thinker and this piece is a deep exploration of the fundamental problem of the temptations of an illusory stability and the challenge of profound transformation.

In “Big Government and Global Governance: Managing Complexity for the New Society,” Rodolfo Fiorini has written a bold, innovative, and explicitly interdisciplinary meditation on the problem of (and a possible solution to) multi-scale ontological uncertainty management. To reduce to the language of normal speak, Fiorini provides us with a proposed solution to the problem of anticipation. In recent years, the World Academy and its allies have focused their attention on the nature and importance of anticipation in human psychological and social processes. The conferences produced surprising levels of complexity. Anticipation, a relatively ordinary idea, proved to entail a wicked level of complexity and profound challenges to a deeper understanding of the security and advancement of the human prospect. A senior Fellow in our Academy, Momir Durović, provided a threshold exploration of the complexity of anticipation in the global social process, in an impressive book titled The Future Has No History. It seems, to the editor, that the human dimensions of the problem of anticipation touch on nothing less than understanding not only the being of human existence, but its becoming as well. The challenges posed by such an inquiry are manifold, and the ability to both understand and measure the phenomenon turns out to be beyond the reach of normal processes of cognition and science. This is the formidable challenge that Fiorini has sought to explore. His march through the social sciences, advanced physics, cybernetics, and more, emerges with a model to manage “ontological uncertainty”. He proposes a new and more reliable method for conceptualization of the complex multi-scale system implied in understanding the phenomena. The solution, according to Fiorini, lies in what he calls “Fourth Order Cybernetics”. These are listed as follows:

  1. Zero Order: a totally isolated open-loop system
  2. First Order: system is “self-steering”, isolated from the act of observation
  3. Second Order: the influence of observers on “self-steering” now understood
  4. Third Order: the process is understood as an interaction, but there’s no addressing of “social response-ability” of observers
  5. Fourth Order: multiple realities emerge through the freedom of choice of the observer, who must be self-aware and have “response-ability” for/in action

This is a remarkably original and penetrative piece. It will doubtless provoke much discussion in future volumes of this journal. Fiorini is to be congratulated on the excellence of this submission.

Gerald Gutenschwager has provided a convenient and insightful examination of the riddle of human anticipation in “Planning as the Art of Collective Anticipation”. It seems to me that anticipation implicates an age-old challenge: What do we mean by being? What do we mean by becoming? How are we to understand the interrelationship between being and becoming? Humanity has gone through multiple revolutions in biology, psychology, political economy, and more, but we’re still confronted with what exactly is it that we are as human beings; what are the potentials of our hidden intuitions and psychologies; and where do these potentials suggest we are headed. Can we separate the individual sense of becoming from the collective sense of becoming? Indeed, our very understanding of the stability of the material world is challenged by the ideas of entanglement between microscopic and macroscopic materials that are drawn from the world of quantum physics. Gutenschwager has given us an important introduction to the challenges presented by the art of collective anticipation.

Juliana Sandi Pinheiro and Danielle Sandi Pinheiro have written an excellent and original study of the role of peace-keeping and stabilization in a country undermined by insecurity, internal gang violence, and chaos. In “Social Power and Stabilization Strategies: A Case Study of Brazilian Troops Deployment in Haiti,” they provide a careful, methodologically-precise effort to examine the interplay of military intervention by the UN and peace-keeping operations, and the importance of peace-keeping and stabilization to the overall improvement of the target population (in this case, Haiti). The lines between peace-keeping and stabilization are not precise; the peace-keepers are often required to do more than merely constrain gangs and the purveyors of anarchy and violence. To ensure that peace-keeping has secure roots, it has to engage in some form of stabilization of the body politic, and that is a form of intervention not necessarily charged to the functions of peace-keeping under the command of military officers. On the other hand, without some form of stabilization, peace-keeping is undermined. The authors have given us a detailed appraisal, combined with tough-minded methods of analysis, to examine the stabilization role of peace-keepers. They have extended their analysis to include a careful examination of the role of anomie in the generation of antisocial violence, and the role of gangs in destabilizing society. This is an extremely insightful analysis into an understanding of the problems of peace-keeping, stabilization, and the importance of understanding the role of anomie in undermining international peace-keeping efforts in situations of complex disorder. This is an excellent piece of scholarship.

In “Self-determination versus Techno-economic Determinism: Managing the Cultural Challenge of Techno-economic Determinism,Leon Miller has provided a challenging article which focuses on the human right to self-determination and its aversion by forces of techno-economic determinism. It is a common place today that our cultural norms are influenced by the technological revolution in communications and other forms of technological innovation and convenience. Perhaps what is less clear is where this dramatic techno-economic force is taking us, and whether it is taking us to a place that subverts the human right to self-determination. His focus here is on the micro-social aspect of techno-economic determinism. The challenge is not only for social commentators to understand the macro-social implications of technological determinism, but also to more deeply understand its micro-social implications. The central point here is that the macro and the micro are deeply inter-dependent and, in fact, inter-determine the human future. The problem of understanding the whole and the part is a crucial human problem, and a critical challenge for the future of the social and political sciences.

Shlomo Yishai’s article “Inspirational thinking: A Manifesto” is a brilliant extrapolation on the impact of the global technological communications era on global identity, global thinking, and the challenges this presents for the future of the global social process. This article gives us a remarkably precise insight into the impact of such phenomena as Google and Facebook, the mother of all social networks. It explores the implications of a radically new form of global interpersonal communications networks. In Yishai’s view, this represents a new global reality. It is a reality that has implications for emotional experience and intellectual self-understanding. One of the insights generated is that all of humanity is now connected through virtual networks, and this is considered to be a new form of global being and identity. According to Yishai, this global giant had its first steps in 2011. It now represents a challenging march into the future, challenging social orders in the world of the 21st century. It is an entity that disturbs the reality of our lives, threatens traditional systems, and is indeed a global giant generating a new “life sphere”. The critical question is how humanity will be able to absorb such radical transformations, whose anticipations of the future are uncertain. The author points out that the new global giant challenges democratic government, challenges leadership, challenges security and economy, challenges industry and finance, and ultimately challenges the very identity and personhood of the individual citizen. One of the issues implicated in the new electronic order is that humanity has to become acclimated to radical changes in space and time. The author suggests that we take a long, hard look at the forms of thought that informed us to return what we can learn, and what we might manage from our new technological reality. He provides us with a challenge of a new inspirational thinking. This is a brilliant article.

Ajay Tejasvi Narasimhan and Anand Pillai have written a very useful article titled “A Paradigm Shift in Public Service Delivery: The Malaysian PEMANDU” on a little-discussed subject in the context of economic development: the role of public service delivery in improving the development prospects of average people in democracies, and especially average people in relatively underdeveloped spaces. They have written up an article on the Malaysian Performance Management and Delivery Unit, which was set up in Malaysia to improve the country’s public sector delivery services. The model was initially developed in the United Kingdom under the influence of Prime Minister Tony Blair. It was set up as a response to the fragmented and somewhat disorganized delivery system of the British government and agencies. The Blair approach had four organizational attributes:

  • Respected Leadership
  • A small size
  • Top talent
  • A non-hierarchical relationship with the system

Malaysia adopted this approach and modified it to fit its political and economic conditions. In addition to assistance from British experts, the private sector firm McKinsey was also instrumental in facilitating the project. The Malaysians agreed upon a focus on six key areas: reducing crime, fighting corruption, improving student outcomes, raising low-income household living standards, and improving urban public transport. Among the issues that they focused on was governmental and economic transformation. The progress reports suggest considerable success in all areas focused on by the project. The successes achieved in Malaysia suggest that this could be a model for future development. Indeed, the government of the United States’ failures in Puerto Rico suggest that such an approach to the delivery of services could be very useful, not only for developing countries, but also for developed ones.

In “Mastering What Transforms: Dream the Impossible and Go for It,Charles Smith takes a critical perspective on the forms of modern thinking that provide us with the social solidarity of mutuality and success. He does not view the tradition that currently constitutes the dominant cultural paradigm as one that leads to a successful human future. He sees, in this particular model, many limitations on innovation, cooperation, cognitive and analytical discourse, and more. The cultural blinders that these represent he believes will require bravery from all of us if we are to transcend them and not be lost. Smith is deeply influenced by Taoist thinking, which he understands is rooted in the natural order of human intuition. Without a capacity to identify and mobilize this inner intuition, the human capacity for wisdom is diminished. He provides us with important guidelines to cultivate this deeper level of intuit or understanding and wisdom. He provides a multitude of examples where such intuitions have emerged as greater expressions of our culture. The key insight from Tao is that it is transformative and provides profound counterintuitive insights that improve the human capacity for wisdom and enlightenment. This short article is challenging and worthy of considerable thought and reflection, with a view to benefitting from the intuitive insights it suggests are available to all of us. A fine and challenging article.