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Foreword (To the first edition)
Nowadays world is facing an ever deeper crisis. The more we come closer to the XXI century, the more we approach another era with a different kind of organization and a different way of operating. This new era could represent a chance of improvement in comparison with the end of the XX century, or, it could represent a descent towards violence and chaos. On the eve of such critical events new ideas and new visions are of the utmost importance. Robiati describes a new vision inspired by the Baha'i Faith and pictures human society of the XXI century based on social, political and especially economical principles. Robiati' s vision is evolutionary and optimistic, but not naive. The author doesn't support the concept of history as a linear, granted progress. The author sees, and I think he is correct, encouraging signs even in deepest crisis. Dawn comes just when night is darker. In this folk saying there is a glimpse of truth. The progress of history is not linear. It is irreversible as a whole. It often has periods of standstill and, sometimes, even of regress. As Robiati explains, this assertion is made by Baha'u'llah (1817-1892), the founder of the Baha'i Faith. Anyway this claim should give us the courage and will to face the upcoming crisis, knowing they are the prelude of a new era, perhaps better that the one we live in. Only in a non linear perspective the assertion according to which "peace in the world is not only possible but absolutely inevitable" is no longer paradoxical; even if we are going through a period where differences and bonds, traditionally cause of conflicts, are strongly increasing. Only in this light the idea of being at the threshold of a unified world society makes sense. Even now that, on a national level, we are going through times of conflicts and desegregation. Utopia is always justified when the prevailing order reaches a point of non-return. It is not interpreted as a certitude, but as a desirable, realistic possibility. In a critical situation the chaotic states dynamics comes into play. It means that at first powerless "floating" can modify the dominant structures of the system and create entirely new kinds of organization and ways of operating. The Baha'i vision, explained by Robiati, referring in particular to economics problems and potentialities, involves this kind of "flotation" concept. Just in time of turbulence and general transition this vision is gaining importance in millions of people's mentality and that could influence society with important consequences. The cardinal principle of this vision is unity in diversity in the utmost respect of nature and other human beings. This perspective is a reason for us of encouragement and joy. The contribution given by Robiati is based on explaining this vision using thermodynamics principles in order to describe economical processes. This concept is simple and clear. All processes are based on labour of any kind: human, natural, and mechanical. Energy is needed for any form of labour. On the other hand energy, though infinitely convertible, is not available at infinity. As labour is carried on, freed energy is no longer available. So, it becomes scattered energy. Waste energy. This simple phenomenon has been for long disregarded by economists, politicians and managers focused only on the increase of potentialities. This led to the conversion of precious resources, often not renewable. Uncontrolled dispersion of energy led to serious social injustices either within the same nations or among different ones. Moreover it produced a serious impoverishment of nature. The original introduction of thermodynamics principles into economical and political systems is gaining more and more consent, although it is still rarely placed in the wider context of "historical tendency". The author uses these principles that, although apply to the values of his religious creed, deserve to be seriously analysed. The vision described by Robiati echoes the contemporary "sciences of complexity" that are the holistic and evolutionary base for a new vision of the world. If we overcome the crisis we are facing, by now at the threshold of the next century, the holistic vision deriving from the principles of the Baha'i Faith- supported by the complex systems of thermodynamics theory- it could let us progress in harmony with the urgent rhythms of universal evolution. According to my evolutionary interpretation of the world, I think we are increasing speed towards a global society characterized by: even bigger dimensions and complexities, growing levels of organizations, more dynamism, closer and more harmonious interaction with environment. The future era, if we ever can get there, will probably be global. Namely it will be characterized by the tendency to encourage differentiation in integration, unity and diversity. This is what we can affirm by catching a glimpse of the evolutionary tendency. We still have to see how society as a whole will be able to manage dimension, complexity, organizational levels, dynamism, and interaction with environment, all of which are increasing. Robiati' s book draws out some perspectives and opens up to critics and debates. In my opinion Robiati undertakes a useful and very important task. A task that the author, as others, will have to deal with more in detail and from more points of view. Anyhow this text, though remaining within the limits of an introduction to the problems of our contemporary economy in the evolutionary light of the Baha'i Faith, offers a great opportunity for reflection and deserves a wide number of readers.
President of the Budapest Club
Member of the Rome Club
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