The planet of the giants

The era of gigantism

Sixty-five million years ago, a meteorite that fell in the Yucatan caused the extinction of the dinosaurs. Only small animals survived the catastrophe. In history there have been periods in which nature has tended to evolve towards giant forms. And the same happened for humanity.

If we think of the empires that have established themselves over the centuries, they have sought ever larger dimensions until they inexorably collapsed under their own weight. This was followed by periods in which the world was fragmented into small realities, much more suitable for surviving in times of difficulty. The case of the Roman Empire is exemplary in the Western world, which after reaching its maximum extension rapidly evolved to bring Europe into the high Middle Ages of city states and small territories.

Gigantism works well in some periods because it tends to multiply the scale factor making very large systems more efficient. It then responds to the need to govern reality – and crystallize it in some way – while large dimensions are not capable of responding to rapid and radical changes.

Even in this historical phase, we are witnessing the reorganization of the planet into political and financial giants. States such as China and India have become world powers thanks to their economic gigantism, while Europe is trying to transform itself into a unitary organism. From an economic point of view, the possibility of accessing world markets is creating realities that would be once confined within a state, or a few states, in global companies with sprawling capacities all over the planet.

One of the characteristics of gigantism is that of cannibalizing the little ones who have less capacity for economies of scale and therefore are crushed under the magnification of the big ones. The disappearance of the little ones leads to a cultural and innovative impoverishment of the system which tends to become sclerotic on winning models. Not only. It also leads to an increasingly concentrated distribution of wealth and power in a few hands, with the deterioration of the condition of the generality of people.

Gigantism has no limits and when it reaches the borders of a market it also crosses over into other areas. A natural landing place for economic gigantism is political power. All the global giants sooner or later also come to conquer political power, especially in those states where financial and economic weakness is greatest.

Gigantism is also reflected on an individual level and it is no coincidence that ours is the society of obesity, which is itself a reflection of a bulimic attitude towards existence that leads many to be induced to acquire many more things than necessary and, especially, things that are often unnecessary.

What could be the meteorite destined to extinguish today’s giants?