c. 2019 - ?: Europe, China and the use of cycles to envision alternative futures

In 2008, I wrote a paper titled: “c. 1315 - 1640: Why Europe? Why not China?” — a nod to Deleuze and Guattar’s Mille Plateaux. In that piece I explored, through the lens of the French philosophers’ work, the complex but contingent socio-political and socio-ecological mechanisms that gave rise to the capitalist system in Europe, rather than China, over the long sixteenth century. As we stand in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis, there seems to be not only a renewed interest in futures and foresight as individual and social capacities but also, behind the now popular idea that we’ll transition to a “new normal”, a recognition that we may be witnessing the end of a cycle. For some commentators, what we’re seeing is merely the return of a recession similar to those of 2001 or 2009-2009. For others, we’re attending a larger crisis only comparable to a compressed version of the multiple crises of the middle of the 20th century: the Spanish influenza pandemic, the Great Depression and even the World War II rolled into one. The most adventurous argue that we’re living through the final crisis of capitalism originating now, interestingly, in China rather than Europe. The identification of long wave, cyclical forces is one of the methods that can be deployed to envision alternative futures. In this presentation I’ll use the notion of short and long historical waves to review current discussions about emerging potential futures.

April 11, 2020


Jorge Camacho

Jorge Camacho

Co-Founder. Researcher & Lecturer

Diagonal Studio