Shrii Sarkar's Theory of Power
"For Sarkar, there are four types of power. The worker, the warrior, the intellectual, and the accumulator of capital. Each type of power corresponds to a particular era in history. Each type has positive aspects, and negative, when their power becomes entrenched. Currently, in this model, we are at the end of the capitalist era. He argues that the next phase in this cycle is a revolution or evolution from the workers. This is possible through violent revolutions as those at the bottom no longer believe the system can provide their basic needs or through non-violent peer-to-peer networks, i.e., the economic and social commons expanding with the concomitant reduction in state and private spaces (Ramos, 2010).
The revolution or evolution, however, is short lived in Sarkar’s model, as the warriors – police, military, governmental regulatory authorities – align with citizens to end the chaotic conditions caused by the end of capitalism.
The question is what will this new system look like? To a large extent it links to scenario three and somewhat to the fourth future. Scenario three – the new Club – as argued above East Asia led. That means a far more disciplined and collectivist society. It is focused not just on more wealth but on ensuring basic needs are met. It is less the invisible hand and more the circle of hands. Rules around protection – children, the aged, youth, nature – are necessary to tame capitalism, to ensure systems made vulnerable are restored. This will require regional and global governance as national governance is unable to deal with the planetary crisis as hand. The disciplined society thus fits into scenario three (Dator, 2009). Ravi Batra argues that this system will lead to a planetary golden age (Batra, 1978). COVID-19 has been an excellent training ground. Those nations that locked down and put the collective before the individual have generally done far better. Those that have let the virus run have generally done far worse. Market mechanisms have not worked: biosecurity and public health advise has.
Thus, if we are to use Sarkar’s theory of macrohistory – which asserts that the end of the era of accumulators is a natural part of the cycle – then scenario three seems likely. Of course, the details of that future are impossible to predict at this stage. What we can say is that 1. It will be far more inclusionary. 2. New technologies will lead to cycles of cycles of innovation in the material spheres but also in post-material areas. 3. There will be a shift from corporate to platform cooperative structures. 4. Gender equity will become the norm. 5. Governance will move to the regional and then planetary levels. 5. To alleviate climate change, there will be a shift toward cellular agriculture and a reduction in livestock production (Clifford, 2020). 6. Identity will slowly become less past focused and more liminal, future-focused, and planetary. 8. Insofar as the warrior mindset searches for spatial challenges, we can anticipate space exploration to prosper. And finally, 9. Energy systems will shift from fossil fuel to integrated and decentralized renewable-led.
And what of scenario four, the radical future? In Sarkar’s macrohistory, the end of era of warriors/disciplined society leads to the advent of the Intellectual era. This is a renaissance of self and society linking the European renaissance with the Axial Age, that is, an explosion of inner and outer creativity. New immersive/AI/robotics/IOT/sensing technologies, new discoveries from space, new inner (meditation) discoveries all point to massive disruptions in what we know, how we know, and who we can become. Adding the works of Pitirim Sorokin to Sarkar, there is a pendulum shift from the five-hundred-year sensate materialistic system to an ideational/spiritual system (Sorokin, 1957). The integration of consciousness in matter – mind in technology – creates revolution after revolution (Sarkar, 2018: 68-77). While we cannot give dates to the emerging futures, if we shift to the disciplined society, the new club in this century, then we can begin to see scenario four becoming the norm by the 22nd century. It will be the true co-evolution of humans, nature, and technology guided by spirit.
Fourth is leadership. Leaders can use narrative to exclude and create what has been termed by Moises Naim (2010) as ideological necrophilia – commitment to ideas that no longer work – or used futures. Leaders can also anticipate the future and use narrative to construct societies indeed civilizations that create more inclusive and that enhance inner and outer peace. In the current electoral cycle, it is often easier to use negative narratives that inspire fear of the other to gain reelection. Constructive narratives that inspire transformation are more challenging since humans tend to be past-oriented. Sarkar and others suggest the need for leadership that can ensure leadership and ideas continue to circulate, transforming the cycle of history to a virtuous spiral. When leaders fail, and they do, then other systems need to be present to curtail their powers: the judiciary, citizen movements, and parliaments. Currently these operate at a national level, however, our crises are global and thus leaders can assist in greater integration of the world system or create the conditions for further fragmentation."