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Mediterranean Union: a symbolic challenge


Towards Polyhedral Global Governance: complexifying oversimplistic strategic metaphors (Part #16)


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Previously proposed as the Mediterranean Union, the Union for the Mediterranean is to be established in July 2008 -- following considerable controversy -- to associate the countries of different continents that border on the Mediterranean. The controversy has meant that the "union" will necessarily imply a lesser degree of integration than had originally been envisaged.

In this context however the potential of such a union takes on special significance since many of the countries have been at the root of the historical elaboration of the geometrical metaphors that sustain strategic integration and understandings of "union" at this time. The challenge for the future of global governance is in effect epitomized by the capacity to revisit the manner in which such metaphors emerged in the Mediterranean region, and were cultivated there, in order to apply more complex variants to the unresolved territorial issues of Israel/Palestine -- specifically with regard to Jerusalem and all it symbolizes. Presentation of strategic possibilities through arrays of "bullet points" might be recognized as inherently counter-productive (Enhancing Sustainable Development Strategies through Avoidance of Military Metaphors, 1998)

From a purely mathematical perspective, it can be argued that there are transforms between the patterns that have sustained strategic metaphors derived from Hellenic geometry and those that have been otherwise expressed in Islamic architecture (And When the Bombing Stops? Territorial conflict as a challenge to mathematicians, 2000). Indications of one such bridge are offered by the work of Keith Critchlow (Order in Space: a design source book, 1969; Islamic Patterns: an analytical and cosmological approach, 1976).

Possible explorations, if only as thought experiments or fruitful metaphors, might include:

  • recognition that the situation around Jerusalem is an epitome of cognitive chaos and confusion, with each focus (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) perceiving itself to be a source of clarity and coherence, with the others exacerbating the confusion and facilitating the cycle of violence
  • recognition that each understands that location as an epitome of "holiness" (reflected in their understanding of sacred geometry), of considerable relevance to any associated challenges of governance
  • recognition that the "triangle" of the three, viewed from a "scientific" or "gnostic" perspective, then together constitute a tetrahedron of mutual attraction-repulsion in the light of the delusions that each sees as associated with the others (and to which the respective governors and governed subscribe)
  • recognition that each perspectival node might be separately configured as a polyhedron whose global geometry reflects the structure of its most fundamental beliefs, notable challenges being:
  • transformation of mutual understanding through introduction of further (secondary) facets into each polyhedron in order to hold a richer variety of perspectives associated with each faith and the complementary views of its various adherents
  • consideration of the possibility of presenting the set of four polyhedra concentrically and exploring geometrical transforms between them, whatever such possibilities might be held to signify -- if only as pointing to potential lines of communication

If there is the remotest possibility of a fruitful topological reframing of this challenge, towards a new and richer understanding of "union", it is worth investigating -- unless the undeclared strategic commitment is to perpetuate cycles of violence, notably in the Middle East, in support of some larger agenda (Dysfunctional Cycles and Spirals: web resources on "breaking the cycle", 2002).

In a world in which faith is of great significance to viable governance strategies, clearly any such geometrical configuration of the Mediterranean religions could be fruitfully extended to include other religions, as with a corresponding tetrahedron of Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism and Animism. As one possibility, this would suggest configuring the two sets together as an octahedron, with each of the belief systems associated with one side. Many more complex and inclusive configuration are of course possible -- the purpose being to hold the totality of integrative beliefs as a whole as suggested above (cf Tuning a Periodic Table of Religions, Epistemologies and Spirituality: including the sciences and other belief systems, 2007).


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