“The Big Five”

Posted in Global Net Assessment


I ended class last night with what I called “The Big Five” — five big questions we need to posit as baskets for the host of sub-issues surrounding how world systems respond to crisis. I quickly suggested five that we can use as a baseline for discussion next week. The number five is of course simply notional, and like the number of acts in Elizabethan plays, is probably the limit for encompassing the totality of the crisis while at the same time balancing simultaneously all of its basic constituent parts. Three would be too simplistic, six or more impossible to keep in our heads. Like this schema of a five-act play:



Let me recapitulate the five I suggested last night:

1-What is the health/strength/resiliance-quotient (before crisis onset) of the world system?

2-What is the duration/depth/dynamic of system stress and rising change (before crisis onset)?

3-How much does system-inaction or self-destructive system responses — as negative forces — add to or multiply the dynamic of stress and change from other sources (2), and how much do negative forces within the system itself work against system resiliance (1)?

4-How effective are positive system responses to crisis, and how much do these responses help to mitigate the time to system reconstitution (T→R)?

5-At the end of the crisis (however that is to be defined), has the system achieved its best outcome — restoration (defined as a reasonable return to pre-crisis “normal,” or .8N) — or is the system irrevocably changed, but nonetheless still coherently systemic, or has the worst outcome attained — where the world system is beyond recovery or reconstitution (below a baseline system threshold, which is defined as a percentage of prewar system working normal, or  B=xN).

I hope this initial take will get us started on Tuesday!