Sunday 9 December 2007

The degeneration of a system

The conceptual tool set offered by Otoom makes it possible to analyse the dynamics of systems at any scale, large and small.

As to the former, societies move through their time lines determined by the interplay of their subsystems. They also relate to their environment, where other systems and their functional elements characterise their dynamics.

The more complex such systems have become the more details establish their functional boundaries, each with their own positive and/or negative potentials. What those boundaries mean depends on the elements they define and the latter's affinity with each other and the whole.

The West is one such large-scale system, and its variance across the nations, together with their demographics, has produced its history over time.

Our nomenclature (systems, subsystems, elements, etc) are not merely convenient descriptors. They stand for perceptions, interpretations; in other words, mind sets that evoke the actions among humans here and there. Those mind sets have their particular history, and that link with the past causes them to function sometimes in harmony, sometimes alongside, and sometimes in opposition to present developments.

Today there are number of conceptualisations that do not support their host. As such they undermine the foundations on which they grew.

Incongruence does not necessarily imply destruction per se, but it certainly means the existing frameworks become compromised. "Nature abhors a vacuum", as has been observed before, and in the absence of a maintaining force other influences will come to the fore.

The self-referencing nature of complex systems is but one of their aspects, but translated into more common language it stands for self-confidence and a clear view of oneself and one's direction.

In the case of the West the earlier confidence (often accompanied by brashness and arrogance, it has to be said) has given way to a more insecure disposition. Greater complexity in thinking, due to its heightened internal variance, makes for less compact and so more diverse opinions. For that reason a fanatic will always act more self-assured than their more objective counterparts.

If two of these disparate mind sets confront each other the outcome is a matter of the respective societal resources standing behind.

Today the West is a hotchpotch of many styles; sophisticated attitudes, brutish niches, profound education and superficial beliefs, they all vie for attention and their assumed right to make a difference in our affairs. And all this against the background of climate change, diminishing resources, and internal and external threats. All of which redefine our standards, and all of them are in the process of becoming even more influential as the years go by. Beyond its borders demographics assert their stance in a manner they simply could not have managed in previous decades.

Internally the succession of generations are interrupted by certain demographics - young and old - which have been allowed to negate authority and by doing so demonstrate the virtual paralysis of the system they are meant to be part of. Whether it be children performing like adult criminals or gangs battling it out with police in a suburb, in terms of the underlying dynamics both are similar in nature. They are joined by religious and political demagoguery that dismisses objective pragmatism in favour of moralistic attitudes forcing the rest of society to march to their idealistic tune. In tandem we have the veneration of the primitive, its sycophants falling on their knees before the demands of anti-intellectual fanaticism; and, when attacked, coming back for more.

Complex systems do not move in a linear fashion. They do not evolve - or devolve for that matter - in equal steps. History seems to stand still until suddenly the latent potential erupts and evolution surges ahead. Likewise, the status quo prevails until one more instance causes an implosion. The foundations grew all along, they just weren't recognisable at the time.

Is there a 'final straw' in the West's case? Just as the Otoom mind model predicted the mess in Iraq and Afghanistan, the riots in France, and the difficulties in so many Pacific Island states, here too it has something to say.

More of this later.

No comments: