The Dawn of Parallel Societies
When old contracts break, new alliances form.
The first time I heard the term “parallel” societies, I thought of secret societies within countries — obviously this is not what is meant here. But it’s also more than just a community of e.g. German expats bonding together over “Octoberfest” rituals whilst living abroad.
Perhaps the “Little Italys”, “Chinatowns” etc. in major global cities are smaller versions of “parallel societies” as the cultural heritage is so rich and condensely presented, that it almost feels as if entering another world.
On the flipside, with the refugee crisis in Europe going on for well over a decade now, otherwise positive aspects of cultural parallelism have also taken a dark turn, with police sometimes even not daring to enter certain areas in German or French cities.
For me, this trend of building parallel structures is being hyped by many global initiatives1 right now and therefore important to be aware of — both as a risk as well as an opportunity in Modern Times.
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Several years ago, a friend who grew up in Eastern Germany told me that forming parallel structures in a society (with limited political choice) was the norm and explained how people used them to get by in a system they had little or no say in. It was the first time my mind registered this concept but it wasn’t the last.
Five years ago, at a Family Office Conference in London, another friend highlighted to me that there would soon be the real possibility of people estranging themselves from each other over not just religious or political, but also health2 related choices.
Whilst I didn’t realize it back then, when I saw how certain communities (such as the Amish functioning as a control group3) managed to get through Covid better than the rest of us, it did make me think:
Religion, as in the case with the Amish, is one trigger to form a parallel society. Health, obviously, given the past few years, is yet another. Major differences in opinion of how to handle matters exist not just in health or religion, but in other areas as well, for instance:
finance and economics
science and education
nature and climate
These issues come to light when political systems start to fail certain groups of people who then start to ask themselves:
When society stops working in my favour and protests fall on deaf ears — is it my right (and/or duty) to build my own?
When the economy enslaves and controls me — is it my right (and/or duty) to build my own?
When life’s comforts and my family’s prosperity is solely dependent on the benevolence of an elite — is it my right (and/or duty) to build my own?
There are many reasons for people considering forming “their own world” and it’s difficult within the context of a nation’s homogenous society. I’m not suggesting you should start a parallel society. But it is a real matter going on in the world today and given that it’s driven by many factors and with sincere vigor in a context covering a wide range of citizen’s concerns, at least debating the concept of parallel societies seems to be of merit to me. Technology for instance, especially after the recent rise of AI, is one such factor.
Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) is making the news now on a daily basis in mainstream media. Latest since ChatGPT’s ban in Italy and as global leaders are voicing their concerns about ethical issues with AI and possible long term consequences detrimental to humanity’s interests, it’s only fair to ask yourself:
What if I could choose to live in a (parallel) society which did not adopt AI (or only to a certain degree), would I prefer that?
These answers aren’t simple and whilst binary thinking quickly helps with saying “yes” or “no” to something, it doesn’t address the complexity of “how much” very well.
“how much” internet speed is good enough,
“how much” technology in humans is appropriate,
“how much” AI makes our lives easier and more meaningful whilst still having a job…
are key questions to answer.
I experienced this first hand at two CxO leader breakfasts in Singapore4 and Dubai5 during the past couple of months. The hopes and fears associated with the revolutionary pace of AI are very likely leading to some sort of parallel societies within certain countries and could even cause some nations to completely opt out of the AI fuelled tech race and simply not participate in this phase of our evolution6.
The movie Surrogates7 depicts this situation in a certain (partially comical) extreme, when the majority of people stops going out in their real bodies, instead sending out their life like android copies as “Surrogates” vs. other people who gather in a small community and are considered trouble-makers for refusing to use this otherwise tempting piece of technology. Yes, it can keep people safe (until the safety-switch is hacked), but they also don’t want to see themselves in the mirror any more:
I can imagine there will be people who refuse technology altogether, others who will fully embrace “transhumanism”, and of course, every shade in between.
Local vs. Global Challenges
Thinking about this topic made my head spin. Just consider the complexities living under the same sun, but on different lands in a country where the majority may have different views of your own — yet, the problems the world is facing at large could only be overcome together. It’s the ultimate battle.
How to manage communications, transactions and interact with the current systems and world out there, and perhaps, other parallel structures which have formed in the meantime? What if there are different concepts of ownership of life, property, etc.?
For instance, I used to live in New Zealand and remember that the Māori regarded land, soil and water as treasures (taonga). They saw themselves as the guardians (kaitiaki) of these taonga, which provide a source of unity and identity for tangata whenua (local people). The traditional Māori society subsequently did not have a concept of absolute ownership of land. Whānau (extended families) and hapū (sub-tribes) could have different rights to the same piece of land.8
Lack of understanding this simple principle still causes great grief and is responsible for a major disconnect between spirit and matter in an otherwise fantastic country. Imagine this in the context of today, when even siblings are fighting for “real” estate?
Forget property and its spiritual aspects for a minute. People have different opinions on climate change, some want Universal Basic Income and CBDC’s, others don’t. It’s not ideology only, it’s what suits them. In a parallel society you might barter within your local community for physical needs and globally for remote services, or even form parallel structures that allow you to transact “commercially”, yet what if you want to fly from one country to another to visit your friend?
Which airline will take you?
How will you pay?
What does your passport say?
Climate change is another debated matter which doesn’t stop at your doorstep. When geoengineering is done over your head and your property, what can you do?
Perhaps, the bigger the challenge, the less likely parallel structures will work, because ultimately a parallel society rises and falls with its ability to stay private.
Then again, if tomorrow a species of aliens landed on Earth, rest assured some of us would form a religion, others an allegiance, some would go to war, etc. — there’s no one size fits all approach for the big pivotal moments in our planet’s history.
And that’s precisely where parallel societies could prove to be extremely meaningful and useful in future — just as the Amish served as an independent control group during Covid, which, if they hadn’t carried on as usual, we wouldn’t have found out easily that forced mandates killed more people than they were meant to save. Thanks to the Amish (and if we dare to compare and learn), we have one more option for consideration if we have to deal with future pandemics.
My friend who is an expert in building family based communities and has been involved in helping set up globally leading Cooperatives such as “Karma One” (see below) which focuses on Freedom, Protection and Abundance has kindly agreed to an interview to share what he learnt in the process and what to watch out for when dealing with Parallel Societies. You will find it at the end of this article.
So is it time to ditch the system, to build parallel structures and relationships with like-minded people? I don’t know. However I do think it is something we have always done quite naturally and at certain times, be it during puberty when we take some of our concerns to our friends instead of our parents, when in business we realize that we need to keep some of our uniqueness to ourselves, or simply when life gets hard and we need to start remembering to help ourselves in order to help each other.
“This [system] will not last for so much longer, because the lies ultimately will come out and enough of society who is not benefiting directly will say, 'Enough of that system.' The new system needs to be local; we need to know each other face-to-face ...” — Robin Monotti9
Historically, parallel structures and societies have always existed and taken on different shapes. But given certain triggers, new forms seem to emerge with strong force and at a peculiar time when technology is reaching an inflection point, access to resources and information could be controlled rigorously and science at large has failed its main objective during the last pandemic.
Personally I believe we’re all connected — whether we want it or not. In various theories of quantum physics there may be parallel worlds and universes that exist, but ultimately at one point or in another, they’re all entangled and no complete detachment is possible in conscience and consciousness.
Those who dream about parallel societies often think that they trade losses for wins and those who don’t care about such separation have nothing more to gain from the people who have left. Yet, eventually both will need each other. A “Union” is different from sameness and Union needs diversity. As without differences, there is nothing to Union.
Given our history, the formation of parallel structures and societies in times like these is quite natural, in fact, such actions could lead towards closing the evolutionary gaps we may otherwise face. If you’re interested in diving deeper into the subject, I invite you to watch the following interview with my friend who first introduced me to the idea of the “Dawn of New Parallel Societies” and who is one of the world’s leading subject matter experts in this field. As a Premium Subscriber you can see the full video of course.
Have a wonderful weekend everyone!
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