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One of the most valuable things, and very easy to forget, is relationship. Social cohesion of the global society is a key stock, on a par with physical capital stock and natural resource and sink capacity. Just like damage of nature will affect the economy, damage of society will also affect the economy. Changes in each of them will change the other two significantly. Unfortunately, the invisible property of social relation compared to the other two makes it easy to be forgotten (and thus vulnerable).

It is a bit like Morale in an organization. Hidden, but important to survival of the organization.

Social cohesion is strongly affected by distribution (relative wealth). Wider and wider rich-poor gap (rich gets richer) hurts social relation; decreasing the gap so that weaker people can survive strengthens social cohesion. The problem of current system is that it does not internalize 2 major externalities enough – nature/environment and society/politics. There is social capital but it is not yet defined and entered the mainstream.

The social cost will need to be paid by one day. Society with low social cohesion is very vulnerable to shock. Conflicts make it even weaker. Survivalist who is aware of the crisis but just prepare for himself or his family is likely failed to survive because lack of community support. Human is social animal, don’t underestimate the importance of society.

Of course, it needs not be the case of collapse if we value the cohesion of global society. In this age of globalization, we are actually very interconnected and inter-dependent. We now have the common future (命运共同体).

Currently global community is dominated by international and inter-MNC (multinational corporation) relationship. These are very fragile and better be diversified to many types of relationship, such as inter-regions, inter-cities, inter-NGO and even inter-individual among different nations. The creation of internet and social networking web services is actually opportunity for sustainability, if we know how to utilize them.

Note: When measuring social relation, consider quality besides quantity. Various metrics in social network analysis may be helpful.


Groups not bound by faith or an equivalent shared value system tend to devolve quickly, as the friction of working with others grinds down the will to continue.

from this post.

Is this correct? Similar to a previous post, a man who values community like him actually blogged mainly financial commentaries.

Interesting to know that U.N. has created an organizational mechanism known as the cluster system in reaction to Darfur, and since then it has been implemented in Pakistan during the 2007 floods, Burma after Cyclone Nargis and Haiti after the earthquake, the largest trial of the system to date.

Based on this article:

“The management involved in a response like this is phenomenally complex,” said Wall, who worked in Aceh, Indonesia, after the 2004 tsunami. “A major event that causes such devastation, the government is weak, and there are underlying endemic problems. And you have the whole humanitarian world descending on the country.”

Particularly challenging, said Wall, is that cluster groups have no formal decision-making mechanisms or mandates. This becomes problematic in the extreme at a shelter cluster meeting, for example, where there can be as many as 400 participants. The effectiveness of any given cluster often comes down to the personality or leadership skills of a single individual. “It’s the collective action problem, which is a classic philosophical dilemma,” Wall said. “How do you get organizations with wildly different mandates, funding mechanisms, skill sets, experience in the country, relationships with the government—how do you get all of them to work together when you have no power to make them do so?”

If it can be improved, evolved to overcome the challenge, this way of organization will be very useful for future adaptation to global shift.

When you are trying to solve complex problems, it is essential to recognize that individuals matter. When a problem is more complex than a single individual, the only way to solve it is to have people solve it together. However, they must be organized in a way that lets each individual matter. The traditional experience with organizing people is for large-scale problems that are not very complex—the need for many people arises because many individuals must do the same thing to achieve a large impact. A hierarchy works in these instances because it is designed to amplify what a single person knows and wants to achieve. However, hierarchical structures cannot perform complex tasks or solve complex problems.

Unfortunately, the way we as a society have been trying to solve most problems contributes greatly to their existence. We continue to respond to societal problems by centralizing authority and imposing the will of one person. To be successful, we need to employ complex networks of people to solve complex problems.

from this article.

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