Phase Transition: Between Past And Future

It has been a common opinion that the current economic crisis is not just another crisis of capitalism. It is a systemic crisis of the current industrial phase of human development accompanied by systemic problems of the predominant Euro-Atlantic civilization.

Today the world is at the threshold of the new phase transition, which will again, like before, divide the nations into ‘winners’ who will pass the phase barrier between present and future, and ‘losers’ who will stay in the past. In order to control our future with responsibility, we need to understand the nature of the phase transition.

Since the arrow of time has been thrown and will not turn away, we can only play better or worse with the given cards. We are destined to live in the era of a phase transition (“the epoch of changes” as the Chinese say), which is the rarest repetitive event in human history.

All phase transitions have common key features, and that is why we can try to understand the new phase, even though its key characteristics are not clear yet (like key technologies, for example). Such understanding requires a look into three interconnected spheres which are objects of different scientific disciplines, with each of them having its own language.

  1. Technological sphere: unity of physical technologies that determine material conditions of living. These technologies can be classified into phases (technological modes). Each phase is a special interplay between mankind and environment, which is reflected in the information and social spheres. Any society can be ranked against these phases.
  2. Information sphere: set of ideas that determine life of an individual and society. These ideas can be ranked against a scale of value systems.
  3. Social sphere: ways of adopting technologies and ideas in human society. These include socio-economic formations (systems of adopting technologies) and socio-political systems (systems of adopting ideas).

Let’s put this into a summary table with the acquired knowledge of the development phases of technological, information and social spheres, combined with the development epochs.

Technological sphere

Information sphere

Social sphere

Technological mode (phase)

Thinking paradigm (values)

Sociopolitical system

Socio-economic formation

Archaic (natural) animal kin, clan “under-society”
magic tribe classless society
Agrarian (traditional) individualism, leadership, victory chiefdom, tyranny slavery
order, way, sense monarchy feudalism
Industrial (modern) liberty, rationalism, enlightenment republic (nation-state) capitalism
harmony, interdependence, ecological co-existence market (arbitrary) community state monopoly capitalism
Post-industrial, information, cognitive (post-modern) knowledge, competence, tolerance, adaptability, mobility, flexibility



It is necessary to point out that there is no perfect one-to-one correspondence between the three spheres. Development in one of them may be hundred years behind compared with the other two (although the current transition phase may happen very fast within two to three generations). Nevertheless, all three spheres are interconnected within one auto-catalytic process.


One thought on “Phase Transition: Between Past And Future

  1. Pingback: Knowledge Dynamics | Alexander Svitych

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