People often believe that models can be made more useful by increasing their complexity, so that the model better imitates the “real” thing.
Untrue. Making a model more complex will lead to it being increasingly useless as a tool for understanding, or a guide to changing the real thing.
So, here is a deliberately simple model:
Imagine a core of social, political, and financial communities that populate our elites, their entourages, and the centrist organizations and subcommunities of our society. (The Macro-CAS or Complex Adaptive System).
Now imagine two insurgencies, one on the right and one on the left, that struggle with the centrist core and each other.
Taken together, these various communities are The Macro-CAS or Complex Adaptive System.
This is the base model. It is different from other models of political/social insurgency in that it points to a variety of interacting insurgencies, rather than the simpler version of a centrist social state and various specific politically motivated insurgencies.
But it is still pretty simple. Here are a few deeper notions:
- There are financial, social, and political insurgents in the core elites. Sometimes they tie themselves to the right and left insurgencies, and sometimes they just sabotage their elite competitors. And sometimes they switch back and forth as their operational plans for supremacy confront the uncertainty of the future.
- Obviously, there are diverse sub-insurgencies within both the right and left insurgencies, and they too evolve.
- This variety of insurgencies and elites most resembles the endlessly diverse evolution of single-celled organisms, and the ecosystem of viruses, chunks of DNA and RNA, proteins, hormones, and other various forms of biological detritus that was the energetic and volatile soup of ocean life 3 billion years ago.
- So, as was the case in the primordial soup, all of us have within us bits and pieces from many of the regions/possibilities of the basic model. Because our environment elevates, in a more or less chaotic way, different trends which resonate with these different bits and pieces, we might seem to see that “members” of one insurgency have suddenly moved to or from another. This is one of the meanings of the word “entanglement” in this post series title.
- We try to make it easier to understand the dynamics of the simple model through the use of traditional simplifications of reality, such as “you are only a member of one part of the model”. Doing this only means we will be constantly surprised by the actual dynamic evolution of the entangled reality.
- “Surprised” doesn’t just mean that we are wowed or scared (the social media definition). It also means that, as much as we relentlessly try, we are ineffective in meaningfully altering the dynamic, and we may make the dynamic even more surprising by our efforts to control it.
- Our attempts to alter the CAS produce unintended consequences reliably, some of which make what we are trying to change worse than it is now.
- While I’m focusing on the last half-century, the basic model has been operating at least since the first states, with growing complexity. (Maybe 7,000 years ago?)
In the past, we treated the unintended consequences of our efforts to improve the common challenges of our Macro-CAS as “new” problems popping up out of “nowhere”, and we would then come up with ways to solve the “new” problems. That approach is no longer tenable because of the acceleration and expansion of both novelty and disruption in The Macro-CAS. We no longer have the time to delude ourselves with our solutions. They become failures much faster than they used to. They become myths to believe rather than guides to effective change.
Well, if we can’t use past problem-solving techniques, and we can’t even count on the consistency of the struggling parties in our model, what do we do?
Part Three: First, We Have to Understand why Insurgencies are so Effective in Disruption…