The Civilization of Holos
Laszlo predicts that a series of underlying social and economic trends will force society to confront a very clear choice between a global breakdown and a global breakthrough. In The Chaos Point, he concludes, “2012 is indeed likely to be a gateway to a different world, but whether to a better one or to a disastrous one is yet to be decided.” The result depends on the new set of initial conditions. These are fundamental changes in structure that will end the increasingly volatile fluctuations inherent in the old order.
The Origin of Logos in Greco-Roman Society
This change, Laszlo predicts, will be a fundamental shift in the value system of society. Looking back at the past two-and-a-half-thousand years, Laszlo identifies the dominant worldview as being based on Logos. These values are derived from the ideas of rationality and the rational mind first proposed by Greek philosophers. This subsequently became the intellectual template for the classical Greco-Roman civilization. Laszlo believes this mind-set has defined our current era, but it reached its logical conclusion in the materialistic-mechanistic philosophy of René Descartes. According to Laszlo, the consequence of Cartesianism, with its division between mind and matter, has been to reduce the natural world to a secondary kind of existence as a mere raw material, or resource to be exploited. Under the culture of Logos, nature has been our captive, leading us into a precipitous ecological crisis.
Laszlo concludes, “Humanity finds itself at the threshold of a sociocul-tural mutation beyond classical industrial civilization. If the systems do not break down, the next mutation will see the birth of a planetary civilization . . . the civilization of Holos.”
Breakthrough Versus Breakdown
If breakthrough is achieved, the materialistic rationalist civilization of Logos will potentially give way to the holistic culture of Holos. Some of the values Laszlo suggests Holos might initiate include a renewed respect for nature and a sense of custodianship for the natural world:
The new Holos culture will be truly global but decentralized.
It will emphasize regional self-governance and celebrate diversity.
It will be ecologically aware and imitate natural systems in its social design.
If society goes into breakdown, the Logos culture will be reduced to its constituent parts. Rational, technological society then risks going into catabolic collapse. This is where a society temporarily sustains itself by stripping its own infrastructure and consuming it to manufacture resources. This would be succeeded by a return to a nightmarish dark age.
The Hopi people have a prophecy that is encoded in a petroglyph carved on Prophecy Rock near Oraibi, Arizona. This depicts two paths that humanity could choose to take at the coming chaos point. Abundantly growing corn represents the path of life. The other, the path of progress, is represented by a set of stairs, which end abruptly.
The Emergence of a Planetary Culture
All the ideas that attempt to explain the unprecedented social changes in the world seem to share one common theme: Whatever is happening is truly planetary in scale. From the communications revolution to climate change, we are being asked to think on a global level more than ever before. Nationalistic self-interests and the philosophies that served them, including the culture of Logos that prospered during the Age of Empire, now look outdated and inadequate to deal with the challenges humanity faces.
Several ideas first proposed in the twentieth century, including those of the biosphere and the Gaia hypothesis of James Lovelock, are now gaining ascendancy as the search for tools to effectively conceptualize a planetary scale of thinking becomes ever more urgent.