Cycles and patterns–The new Renaissance
What happens if we add geography to history and look not only at temporal repetitions but also at spatial changes?
Cycles and patterns–The new Renaissance
Rhymes in History

Cycles and patterns–The new Renaissance

Systems that produce cycles along dominant patterns are fractal in nature (Photo: iStock)
Norbert Csizmadia 15/02/2023 05:00

A growing number of authors in geopolitical and academic literature argue that our current era and age resembles an earlier pattern in history. David Gosset, Parag Khanna and Ian Goldin write about a ‘new Renaissance’; Valerie Hansen says that our current era is most similar to the era of the 1000s in terms of both economy and climate; Jared Diamond and Robert D. Kaplan state that we are reverting to the world of Marco Polo, while Bruno Macaes or Peter Frankopan write about a new interconnected Eurasian era. Mark Twain wrote that history never repeats itself, but it does often rhyme. The intersection of these theories tells us that 500-year (and 250-year) cycles are repeated in history. But what happens if we add geography to history and look not only at temporal repetitions but also at spatial changes?

Cycles and fractals

In his book On the Edge of Times, published in September 2022 and presented at John von Neumann University, György Matolcsy repeatedly discusses the importance of cycles and fractals. Fractals are ‘self-similar’ shapes, the smallest part of which has the same pattern as the whole. Just as nature is full of fractal patterns, our geographic environment also holds numerous fractals, but fractals operate not only in space but also in time. History, including economic development, has a fractal structure.

Economic cycles, and even decadal and centennial rhythms, show patterns where the course of a smaller unit is the same or very similar to the course of a larger phase. Therefore, as György Matolcsy says in his book, “without historical cycles and without deciphering fractals, there is no success”. Indeed, systems that produce cycles along dominant patterns are fractal in nature.

The centre of gravity of global economy is in the East

In 2017, consultancy firm McKinsey carried out a spatial examination of the changing centre of gravity of the global economy over the past 2,000 years. The researchers used estimated historical GDP values to determine the centre of gravity of the global economy in the given period. They found that the decade between 2000 and 2010 saw the fastest rate of change in the position of the centre of gravity, shifting eastwards at a rate of approximately 30 per cent faster than after World War II.

Danny Quah, Head of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and Professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science, modelled the shift in the centre of gravity of the global economy in 2011 based on averages of locations of economic activity. For his calculations, he identified and used the aggregate value of all of the world's gross domestic products, urban agglomerations of over one million inhabitants and rural clusters. According to his calculations, while in 1980 the centre of the world economy was located in the mid-Atlantic, by 2008 it was on the longitudinal line coinciding with Izmir, and has now shifted to China.
The magnitude of the change, when viewed from the Earth's surface, represents a shift of 9,300 kilometres compared to 1980.

English historian Ian Morris, looking at the development of the last 15,000 years, concluded that the course of history has changed along certain latitudes, in other words, the reason for development is primarily geographical and not cultural, religious or political, and thus geographical factors also demonstrate why the West has dominated the world for the last 500 years and why we should now look eastwards, in a new land-based, sustainable Eurasian era.

The circulation of time and space

Throughout history, the centres of civilisation have been moving westwards from the east for the past 5,000 years, only to circle around the globe and return to their starting point. Starting from interfluvial civilisations (China, India, Mesopotamia, Egypt) towards the major empires of the Mediterranean (Greek and Roman Empires), later in the 5th century, economic development migrated from the seas to the land, only to become centred once again on the Atlantic Ocean after a thousand years, from the late Renaissance onwards, with the great geographical discoveries.

Countries that were close to the ocean rose up, while inland areas were increasingly relegated to the background. Just as in the middle of the last century, the centre of development first migrated from the west coast of the United States to Asia’s Little Tigers, and from there it is again turning to China. Drawing a large circle – as Ian Morris put it – along the same latitudes. The 19th century was clearly the age of the British Empire, the 20th century is the century of America, but the 21st century will be the age of Eurasia.
The centre of economic gravity is shifting eastwards (Photo: iStock)

Long-term and solar cycles – 504-year cycles

For many ancient civilisations, astronomical observations, the study of the planets and the creation of calendars were of paramount importance. The societies of the ancient East, based on irrigated agriculture, had a surprisingly high level of astronomical knowledge. The Chaldeans living here were known as the magicians of ancient astronomy. In Mesopotamia, between the Rivers Tigris and Euphrates, several city-states were founded. The Babylonians were highly familiar with the celestial bodies and their movements. Stars were grouped into constellations, which are still used by astronomers today. Particular attention was paid to the Sun, the Moon and the five bright planets visible to the naked eye (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn). They recorded the (apparent) looping motion of the planets in the sky. They could also predict solar and lunar eclipses.

According to the ancient Chaldeans, the basic unit of life on Earth is the 36-year historical unit. They believed that life on Earth and the functioning of humans, and therefore history, can be described in 36-year cycles. Together, the Sun and the six planets influence life and history on Earth, with their interaction felt together. The interaction of the magnetic lines of force of the seven planets creates 252-year cycles (36x7). As one of the laws of the universe is duality, life on Earth and human history is characterised by a great cycle of 2×252 years, that is 504 years. The 504-year cycles correspond to the long solar cycle as well as the 500-year (longue durée) grand cycles of the Annales school.

Chaldean tradition takes into account the world ages according to planetary rulership, so the seven planets also give 504 years, since the Earth's axis of rotation moves forward one astrological degree (world day) every 72 years. Like every day, a world day has a day half and a night half. The day half of a world day lasts 36 years, and the night half also lasts 36 years. In 2017, a new 36-year period started in the Earth's cycle, known as the solar cycle.

The beginnings of these Solar Ages mark the birth of a new era, when a global change occurs, with new empires, new actors, a technological boom that will affect the centuries to come after. New philosophies are born and spread, and new geographical discoveries are made — as happened, for example, 1,000 years ago with the Vikings and Polynesians, or later in the 13th century with the traders of the Silk Road in Eurasia, and from 1492 with the great geographical exploration. Today, a new geographic discovery was launched in the mid-1990s — with the birth of the global internet.

This new ‘Solar Age’ will see major climate changes, a complete shift to renewable energy sources, including solar energy, and a reinforcement of centres in all areas of human activity. The strengthening of the ‘centres’ means that in a multipolar world order, several ‘little suns’ emerge, i.e. the world becomes multipolar. The Solar Age is also a time of intense solar activity, high energy and information content. The flows of energy and information within human civilisation on Earth accelerate, becoming massive and amplifying in their effects. The sun is a symbol of life and the word Renaissance means rebirth.

Long-term sustainability

504 years ago, the year 1517 was the birth of the Reformation. On 31 October 1517, priest Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. The global COVID pandemic of 2020, which intensified megatrends and in which sustainability, security, the role of nations, the family became increasingly important. Life has taken centre stage, the beginning of a new world order, one based on long-term, life-centred sustainability.

On 31 October 2021, the Budapest Centre for Long-term Sustainability (BC4LS) published a global discussion paper entitled “95 points for long-term sustainability and a comprehensive life-centred world order”. In our day and age, we are once again witnessing a radical change of world view. A whole range of new scientific disciplines are converging towards a life-centred world view. A comprehensive, life-centred, community-focused and nature-centred shift in approach is needed, the conditions for which are now in place and are already available.

It is time for a new renaissance, a great rebirth. Life has taken centre stage, the beginning of a new renaissance, a new world order, one based on long-term, life-centred sustainability. In order to keep the world on an ecologically, socially and financially sustainable path under these circumstances, we need a fundamentally new way of thinking. Transforming our thinking about a sustainable future, putting economic growth on a new footing, is the way to create a new sustainable Eurasian way of thinking, involving the world's leading researchers.
The author is a geographer and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Pallas Athene Domus Meriti Foundation and the John von Neumann University Foundation.

This article was originally published in our Hungarian-language magazine Eurázsia in 2022.

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