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Signaux Faibles N°28_Version anglaise

Signaux Faibles N°28_Version anglaise

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Published by Ds.2
The two approaches are both relevant and complementary. P&K's approach is addressed to managers and keeps up the fiction that they alone hold the power. The Vigilants/Sol work group is addressed both to managers and to agents of change within the company and its environs. If you want to encourage the metamorphosis of companies, you will have to be fluent in both languages.
The two approaches are both relevant and complementary. P&K's approach is addressed to managers and keeps up the fiction that they alone hold the power. The Vigilants/Sol work group is addressed both to managers and to agents of change within the company and its environs. If you want to encourage the metamorphosis of companies, you will have to be fluent in both languages.

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Published by: Ds.2 on Mar 27, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Weak signals and systemic social processes
(January, February, 2011).One of SoL’s France associated networks, initiated by Alain de Vulpian, is periodicallyproducing a note on Weak Signals and Systemic social processes observed by itswatchmen and women.A selection of recent observations:
1. An atmosphere of revolution
The idea of revolution or metamorphosis was in everyone's mind at our last meetingWeak Signals (25 January). It's not a new idea. It was already in the air at the end of 2007or in early 2008 at the Club des Vigilants when we created the Bascule ("Tipping Point”)group. The great financial crisis had made the economy topple. The coordinated actionsof governments provisionally avoided a collapse but without our returning to any sort of equilibrium. Every day we feel that power and influence in the world are beingredistributed, radically modifying the geopolitical game. We know that our productionsystems and our ways of life will rapidly have to change if we want to meet the ecologicalchallenge that faces our planet. The conviction that a radical metamorphosis in businessis becoming indispensable is spreading and has even reached the United States (e.g.Michael Porter with "shared value" and Kalar with "Employees first"). Western societiesare in some places close to apoplexy, and the IMF is drawing attention to the increase indisequilibria and inequalities that are feeding tensions with the risk of overflowing intocivil wars. In France we have the enormous success of "Indignez- vous !" and the exampleof SNCF travellers refusing to buy tickets, or the teachers who refuse to follow therequirements of the national education system. Frans De Vals thinks that humanity isundergoing a change of era, and that we are now entering the Age of Empathy. EdgarMorin has just published his book on "The Way for the future of Humanity".But at the end of this month of January we owe the presence of this idea of imminentrevolution above all to the revolts that the younger generations have triggered in Tunisiaand Egypt. They exploded out of nowhere, and nobody in the West saw them coming.They risk spreading. We hardly dare hope for a switch in the Arab world from seculardictatorships to equally secular democracies. Even if, here and there, the revolution wasrecuperated by Islamic extremists, the proof is there, of the existence of a modern anddemocratic tropism among the younger generations of Arab peoples.When thinking of possible revolutions in Arab countries, westerners fear beardedrevolutionaries from whom we are protected by the rampart of dictatorships. But in fact itwas modern young people, many of them graduates, who rose, armed with theirsmartphones. Then, seeing their success and shedding their fear, older people in themiddle and working classes joined them. The modern character of these revolutionsincreases the chances that they will result in relatively democratic socio-political regimes.The great waves of transformation of the second half of the 20th century liberated LatinAmerica, the people's democracies, the non-Arabic Muslim countries from Indonesia toTurkey, but had not touched the Arab countries. Their eventual democratisation could bea major event for planetary equilibrium analogous to the collapse of the Berlin Wall.
As for the world of the Arab Muslims, the populations and governments of the West hadmore or less clearly three families of future scenarios in mind:° The first family, inspired by the Islamicist revolution in Iran and the Americanreaction to the terrorist attacks of September 11 imagines the deepening of afundamental fracture between the Christian world and an increasinglyfundamentalist Islamic world.° The second family of scenarios had older roots. These scenarios are based on theco-existence, the cooperation or the opposition of a fairly authoritarian pan-Arabor pan-Islamic world and a democratic western world.° The third family imagines the development of co-existences, oppositions andcollaborations between an Arab world evolving towards a political and religiousmodernity, and the rest of the planet.In recent years the first family of scenarios has been the one most present in the Westernmind. This range of beliefs has led to western support of dictatorial regimes supposedlyforming a barrier against Islamic extremism.However, Cofremca, Sociovision and Société Rêvée put more importance on weak signalspushing in the direction of the third family of scenarios. Field research carried out byCofremca and Reachmass in the Lebanon during the 80s showed that customs (if notproclaimed values) in many Shi'ite and Sunnite families were evolving towards modernity.Much more recently signals began accumulating that showed that many French Muslimswere evolving towards modern democratic and tolerant attitudes. And our sociologistcolleagues in Arab countries emphasise the modernising evolution of populations in thesecountries and the decline in fundamentalist Islamicism. They observed during the twentylast years the evolution of four socio-cultural currents in the direction of opening towardsothers, surge for well-being, rejection of authority and above all personal autonomy.The Tunisian, Egyptian and other insurrections have reinforced the credibility of the thirdfamily of scenarios. It is not unreasonable to bet on it and imagine various radicaltransformations in the planetary geopolitical game..It would be interesting, in a few weeks or months, to try and sketch out a new set of scenarios for the evolution of the arabo-islamic-oil world and its place in the planetarygame. Or to try to locate the major trends that are liable to weigh on such scenarios.
2. Globalisation of the process of civilisation
The Arab revolutions that are unfolding now are a strong signal of the globalisation of theprocess of civilisation. It is not restricted to the West. The emergent countries are takingit up in their own ways, and more rapidly than one would have expected.In the West we are at the heart of a civilizing process that is taking us into other worlds,and which is now very advanced. A very deep transformation of people and of the socialfabric began during the 20th century. It gives great weight to people who become moresensorial and emotional, more consistent, more autonomous, and at the same time morelinked to each other. It also gives more weight to networking, where fast spreadinginterpersonal communications technologies are multiplying networks which interact andinterconnect. A new society of people is self-organising from the bottom up, sculpting itsown life in its own way, and freeing itself from earlier powers and structures. A newcivilisation is in the process of emerging.The form taken by the Arab revolutions shows that these countries or at least the youthof these countries are already very marked by an analogous process of civilisation. Theserevolutions have exploded spontaneously without having been prepared or systematised
by installed organisations, official or clandestine parties or leaders. An incident sparkedthe powder, and the results spread like wildfire. These revolutions have been triggeredand piloted by young people who are suffering, will not put up with the passivity of theirparents and who rely on the most modern techniques of interpersonal communication tospread and direct the change. It is a revolution whose motive power is emotional ratherthan ideological or religious: they are demanding freedom, dignity, bread and the fall of aregime. No Islamicist proclamations. No anti-American or anti-Israeli posters.As in Iran after the disputed election of Ahmadinejad, our TV screens have shown us menand women who appear modern, little concerned with ideologies but more concerned forconcrete acts, with eliminating a dictator and corruption. They do not make appeals toIslam. They do not have leaders but seem to function by a sort of collective intelligence.The women wear or do not wear headscarves and that does not seem to pose anyproblems. And, after the dismissal of Moubarak, the first reaction of the demonstratorswas to clean up Tahrir square so that life could go on. We have seen in action ageneration that appears modern and post-Islamist. In support of this analysis we will needin-depth interviews that will make it easier to understand how these Tunisians and theseEgyptians live the religious question.The process of civilisation is sweeping the world along more rapidly and more profoundlythan we think. The extremely rapid development of television, mobile phones and socialnetworks is having its effect. The young people of Tunisia or Egypt whom we see on ourscreens (like those in Iran a year earlier) are inventing their modernity. The political,economic and social regimes under which they live are diametrically opposed to thismodernity. A clash is under way.With a gap of 45 years, this revolution resembles in certain of its aspects the revolt of young Europeans and Americans in 1968. They wanted to change usages and morals andthey did it. The young North African Arabs want to change the political regime, thedistribution of wealth and usages and morals.The Arab revolution has expanded. Authoritarian regimes have collapsed in a matter of weeks, swept away by crowds whose pacific character must be emphasised. Otherregimes are tottering. Today (25/2/11) a battle is raging in Libya.In other authoritarian emerging countries could a similar modern and frustrated youth bethe detonator for rebellions and revolutions? It is said that the upper levels of China areuneasily watching the Arab revolutions and that Chinese TV is presenting these events inattenuated form, insisting on the chaos that they are causing. The major Chinese Internetgateways have blocked their search engines in response to the word "Egypt". And what'shappening in Russia?Our situation is not so different. In fact, while in the more industrialised countries theprocess of civilisation is very advanced, certain old power structures (our governmentsand our big companies, in particular) resist its progress, and have not yet succeeded intransforming themselves so that they are comfortable and effective in the newenvironment that is visible on the horizon. Dramatic turbulences may result from thisdevelopmental lag. Our younger elements may decide that it would be a good idea toremedy this.
3. The next generation, a global club and accelerator of sociocultural change
The decision to take action by young Arabs is a warning bell for the industrialisedeconomies as well as for emerging countries.Young people born between 1975 and 1995 are today between 15 and 35. They becamefamiliar with computers and free interpersonal communication at a young age. They

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