No one doubts that the adaptability of human societies is the key to their survival. Jared Diamond describes the example of the Viking stable society in Greenland between the 10th and 15th centuries1 . It is an edifying example. Jared Diamond shows how culture, beliefs and preconceived ideas hindered the Vikings‘ ability to adapt and led them to leave Greenland for good. Will we have to leave our planet because of our obscurantism?
In the West, we are entering a period where the surplus of wealth will not be able to compensate for the lack of decision-making. Everyone’s common sense tells them that developments are progressive and measured by rates of growth or contraction. We all have our eye on rates that we really don’t understand, because they are average rates that obfuscate the reality of the phenomena. Looking at the progression of rates, it’s not so bad, it’s urgent to wait.
Vladimir Putin’s failed poker game has changed the world order, the West and Europe have entered a war economy. It has already caused a food shock and an energy shock, both of which are long-lasting. More will come. The behaviour of countries and actors in the global economy is undergoing a radical transformation. The debt economy will grow to pay for the arms needed for Ukraine, and with it inflation. Energy frugality means using fewer cars and contracting a vital industrial activity for Europe, as well as reducing travel of all kinds, including tourism. It also leads to a reduction in the construction of housing, weighing on the price of rising rents. As soon as activity contracts, the least useful services will suffer and accelerate the contraction.
The realisation of investments will have to be increasingly rapid, to avoid the erosion of value due to inflation, while we have to invest in infrastructure with a very long life span.
This reflects the reality, the dynamics in which the West is caught up. There is an urgent need to continue. Some hope that a bloodless Russia will fold in a short time. If nothing changes, or if we leave our salvation to the gods, whoever they may be, we will watch the catastrophe pass and take the weakest among us with it. This is not the spirit of a Democracy. Ideologies, whatever they are, are by nature out of touch with reality, they have always led societies to chaos, whether they are populist, Catholic, populo-socialist, Islamist, but not only, the received ideas, the irrefragability of the national culture, the a-priori inferiority of women because they are women, the systematic contestation taken for the expression of the critical spirit, science set up as a dogma which is surprised that it is not understood, notably in economics, ecology, sociology and medicine, as we saw during the Covid. The social networks and the media that have joined them have such an amplifying effect that all these ideologies are close to taking over the government of our democracies.
What should be done? Strengthen the democracies, make sure that the issues are debated in their reality and thus decide and accept the most appropriate solutions. Today they are in danger all over the world, in the United States, in France, in Europe and elsewhere. Adapt their governance to the present time, because the people cannot be sovereign for everything, their decisions must be part of an ethical, humanist, universal framework, which must include the environment. Spread this democratic ideal all over the planet, especially by improving people’s living standards, without which no democracy is possible.
Let us not be like the Vikings of Greenland, let us not think that our ideologies, whatever they may be, contain the truth. The truth belongs to us all, it is the expression of a healthy democracy.
1 Diamond, Jared, Agnès Botz, and Jean-Luc Fidel. Collapse: How Societies Decide Whether to Disappear or to Survive. Paris: Folio, 2009.
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)