Thursday, December 17, 2009

Systems Theory and the Coming Collapse

Apologies dear readers for the lack of posts over the past week. Very busy getting a product launched and getting another project off the ground, not to mention working part time on a "backup plan" for the Mother of All Black Swans that I think is in our (near) future when social mood rolls over again.

In the meantime, please check out John Michael Greer's latest post where he talks about the ascent and the collapse of the Systems Theory "movement" from the last significant bear market "era" back in the 1970's. He makes a huge point that a lot of would-be reformers just don't seem to get - that when you push against the established order, don't be shocked when the established order pushes back.

I think that has relevance to many of us wondering just how in the heck we are going to handle the coming death of easy credit. Radical solutions might actually mitigate some of the worst hardships and at least provide shelter and food for a large swath of society - but implementing radical solutions will guarantee a backlash against it.

The Political Ecology of Collapse
...What made th[e] implosion [of the development of systems theory disciplines] all the more ironic is that a systems analysis of the systems movement itself, and its relationship to the wider society, might have provided a useful warning. Very few of the newborn institutions in the systems movement were self-funding; from prestigious think tanks to neighborhood energy-conservation schemes, most of them subsisted on government grants, and thus were in the awkward position of depending on the social structures they hoped to overturn. That those structures could respond homeostatically to oppose their efforts might, one would think, be obvious to people who were used to the strange loops and unintended consequences that pervade complex systems.

Still, Weishaupt's Fallacy placed a massive barrier in the way of such a realization. Read books by many of the would-be global managers of the 1970s and you can very nearly count on being bowled over by the scent of intellectual arrogance. The possibility that the system they hoped to manage might, in effect, have been more clever than they were probably crossed very few minds. Yet that's how things turned out; at the end of the day, the complex system that was American society had reacted, exactly as systems theory would predict, to neutralize a force that threatened to push it out of its preferred state...

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