The Labyrinth Syndrome … the desperate search for the right path …
Article Latin Trade May 2020
The Labyrinth Syndrome
… the desperate search for the right path …
Brazilian entrepreneur, CEAL Brasil President
The labyrinth represents complex paths, in order to bewilder those who seek to find the exit. World social isolation has paralyzed humanity, which is now looking for ways out, preserving lives, and resuming economic and social activities.
The labyrinth syndrome has set in. There are no clear paths, much less obvious exits.
The labyrinth has different meanings, and interpretations about the importance of the search. Architect Dedalo built the labyrinth in Crete to imprison the Minotaur, who was killed by Theseus, saved by Ariadne’s wisdom through Ariadne’s thread or a ball of wool, rescuing him back. Dedalo had a purpose, Ariadne the strategy and Theseus the solution. Dedalo aimed to disorientate imprisonment. Theseus the figure of the leader, who takes the risk, enters and ventures without knowing where he will leave, and the hero is saved in the face of the fearless Ariadne’s mentoring.
In the spiritual concept, the initiate needs to go through the labyrinth, to purify himself and thus reach the philosopher’s stone, that is, perfection. It is on this journey that the initiate reaches the core of himself. We have in history the labyrinth of Solomon, the wise king of the Old Testament, or the labyrinth of Chartres’ cathedral, which spearhead this experience of seeking the essence of truth in itself.
The works idealized with labyrinthine forms created to challenge, from Dedalo on the island of Crete, whose debris we can visit until today, ancient labyrinths of Ancient Egypt, the labyrinth of the garden of Versailles, among others, and in modernity the largest Network of connections, deviations points already created one of the greatest experience of society the internet. In the maze of networks, two ingenious styles are used to navigate. One of them known as Ariadne the Wise (remembering the mentor’s strategy for Theseus not to get lost), where the path is marked by the ball of wool, so that the Internet users return in a clearer and safer way. The other called Ariadne the Crazy, where the Internet user navigates without paying attention to the path, through trials and errors, without being able to redo the trail covered. Both one strategy and the other can lead to varied results. Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges used this image in the composition of his texts “The Labirinth” of a world from which it is impossible to escape, since its paths are totally disorienting and illusory.
It is in this search syndrome that, in order to know ourselves, we are, like Theseus, sailing through the Dedalo, guided by Ariadnes, without knowing the ways out.
An internal search for true essentials, as a process, as described in my last article on mindset.2.
It seems to me interesting for this moment, to raise options of the exits, specifically the economic ones, and to question some essentials that we will find along the way.
Two economic outlets seem to be on the horizon. Political and liberal capitalism. Branco Milanovic describes in his brilliant work Capitalism Alone 2, liberal capitalism as the one founded in the West, with predominance of the USA, and political capitalism in the East with its exponent in China. In the end, capitalism won, but its shape is quite different. Liberal meritocratic capitalism, there is democracy, and merit in theory is the key to the rise of elites, subject to the rule of law. Political capitalism represented by China’s economic success calls into question that capitalism needs liberal policies to develop. In China, 80% of production is in the private sector, even though recognizing at the end of the day that these companies have the State as a partner. The thought provoking in Milanovic’s work given by the reference to the acceleration of world inequality. Confirming differently what Thomas Piketty describes in “Capital and Ideologies” in which he confirms the increase in the concentration of world income.
We thus have a conceptual clash of capitalism where the USA represents the liberal meritocratic side and China the political capitalism. The clash that some already characterize as a “new cold war” where the world will be forced to take a stand, with the risk of sanctions from two sides. The European Union will have to make its scenario of belonging, and any side that will tend will have severe economic consequences. Latin
America, on the other hand, is the target of both fronts, one for state investments in infrastructure and the other for privatization, as well as for its markets. More exposed are the countries and their blocs, which have a strong exposure of their international trade by GDP. So, Japan, Korea, Singapore on the one hand and Germany, France, Sweden on the other.
After the pandemic, the world will have poorer people, and the rich will be richer. In this inequality, the labyrinth syndrome will cause severe social and political changes.
In 2020, we will have a greater participation of the State in the economies. The measures to stimulate the recovery of the economy and the distribution of minimum income will increase the presence of the State with a preponderant role. We are going to see public debt on GDP unprecedented in history, which will certainly contribute to political capitalism, and at this moment democratic institutions will be under severe stress from the radicals of the left and nationalists, for whom this solution has always been favored.
Inequality will show itself with its worst face. Hunger and misery will increase sharply, generating enormous indignation that will favor the search for more radical solutions.
It is on this trip that we find ourselves, seeking to find the true essentials, with chances of finding ways to reduce inequality, through individual, collective actions, rediscovering solidarity, being part of the donation for the best, overcoming selfishness, seeking more us, than the self, share and divide to win and add.
The labyrinth syndrome, maybe it can teach us how to find the way to the right, and maybe modern Ariadne, it can instigate us to more solidary, humane and sustainable alternatives. If God took Moses to walk for 40 years in the desert before showing him the Promised Land, will we in this year of 2020 be going to discover how to do the right thing, in the right way?
Be like Theseus, do not be discouraged, continue your search and if you find a good way out, share it!
3) Branco Milanovic, Capitalism Alone, The future of the System that rules the world, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press 2019,
4) Capital and Ideology, Thomas Piketty, Harvard University Press, 2018