Worlds in Transition

Worlds in Transition

Evolving Governance Across a Stressed Planet

Joseph A. Camilleri and Jim Falk

The book’s detailed analysis of five strategic sectors (economy, environment, health, information and security) points to an intricate and rapidly evolving interplay of geopolitical, cultural and ecological spaces. It shows that the normative ethos and politico-legal institutions of the modern epoch are gradually being eroded. Despite competing trends and countertrends the authors discern the slow, at times ambiguous, often contentious but unmistakable emergence over the last several decades of a new governance regime, one which is striving for a leap in human reflexivity in response to the challenges of a stressed world that is simultaneously singular and plural.

Chapter 12: A Holoreflexive Epoch in the Making?

Joseph A. Camilleri and Jim Falk

Subjects: politics and public policy, international politics, regulation and governance


The Modern epoch, as turbulent and innovative as any of the preceding epochs in human evolution, is rapidly coming to an end. Though technological innovation continues to stimulate the senses and the imagination, modernity appears to have reached the limits of its intellectual coherence and organisational efficacy. This is not to say that all, or indeed any, of modernity’s distinguishing characteristics have disappeared or will soon do so. On the contrary, many will remain for some time highly visible elements of the social and economic order. These include the value attached to science as a way of understanding the physical universe, the centrality accorded to technological change in economic and social organisation, the decisive role of the market in the organisation of economic activity, and the corollary of these tendencies, the rising volume, speed and intensity of cross-border flows. Nonetheless, the assumptions, attitudes and expectations that govern the interaction of science, technology and economy have been undergoing a sea change, with far-reaching implications for human governance. The current period of transition has yet to run its course. However, a number of discernible trends point to the emergence of what we have chosen to call the holoreflexive epoch – a stage in human evolution that is for the first time distinctly possible though by no means certain. Holoreflexivity, as we have intimated and will shortly elaborate, characterises and sustains several of the most significant normative, legal and institutional shifts to have emerged during this period of transition. Earlier chapters have sought to...

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