Ming the Mechanic:
Ratcliffe on Emergentism

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 Ratcliffe on Emergentism2003-05-19 15:26
16 comments
by Flemming Funch

Mitch Ratcliffe is writing a book, about something right up my alley. The transformation of power. How monolithic government and corporate monopolies get replaced with networked communities.
This book will explore the use of power in the 21st century from a variety of perspectives. Emergentism, which seeks to gather together the lessons of the streets in densely connected societies with the organizational ideas developed as the Internet became the predominant system for global communication in government and business. It will consider the role of the citizen, what is required of the citizen and how the existing states and new entities can organize to provide for the needs of a citizen who participates both directly and indirectly in the social decisions of their world. Business and economics' place in the emergent world will be incorporated into a worldview that seeks to address the power of individual or collective generosity and greed. The role of technology and power in diplomacy and war, as well as in addressing large-scale human and environmental crises, will provide a possibly disturbing insight into the future of the nation-state.

Consider for a moment that virtually all political ideas in their current form today are fewer than 400 years old. In 1650, the Prince and state were one, literally all power was endowed in one person, though the Prince struggled mightily to manage the intrigue that accompanied that power. Nationalism is a phenomenon of the late 18th and 19th centuries. Capitalism, socialism, conservatism and liberalism are all creations of the period since the Prince and the state parted ways, and power began to devolve first to a few and now to many people. Society is a constant flow of change and the state is idea among theses ideas that is the least bound to individual interests. Few today identify with their government, "the state," instead they passionately believe in their neighbors, their culture and the identity they associate with a territory, their nation. Many commentators have predicted the end of the nation and the reemergence of the tribe or village as the central organizing institution in society.

The theory behind this book is that the state, the mercantile-industrial kludge invented to separate the people and the prince from the levers of power, is the most transient organizational artifacts of the modern era. Along with the state will go all the accepted ideas about the meaning of a company regulated by a state and property ownership guaranteed by the state. At the same time, the corporation is an awesome organizational force and private property isn't going anywhere, as most humans are only now getting their first taste of ownership or they are still peering in over the gates at the propertied world wanting at least part of the security in ownership that they see--even collectives perceive themselves as entitled to access to resources, so a traditional village that shares land considers itself as stewards of resources that is analogous to ownership.

Most importantly, with no monolithic state to guarantee their rights and enforce responsibilities, the individual will experience a profound change, one with all the risks and rewards of Pandora's Box. Everything will be possible and permission will come through collaboration with others. With the state fading, but national and local identity still an important component of human identity, a vacuum will open into which someone will step. My bet, the one I hope fervently will succeed, is that no one institution will emerge, but that an emergent community of communities will take pieces of the power of the state, and these communities will begin to interact together with the remaining institutions of the state, international non-governmental organizations, religions, private business and what will surely become a freelance, stateless security "industry" formerly known as the military. Handled deftly, this could turn out very well. If it is bungled, history will turn out very badly indeed.

Having seen first-hand, many times, the power of networked groups, I hold out not hope, but a task, to organize and act, no matter who you are and no matter what it takes.



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16 comments

20 May 2003 @ 09:49 by dcaark : Thanks Ming
This sounds like a book I very much want to read.

Your hope... "My bet, the one I hope fervently will succeed, is that no one institution will emerge, but that an emergent community of communities will take pieces of the power of the state, and these communities will begin to interact together with the remaining institutions of the state, international non-governmental organizations, religions, private business and what will surely become a freelance, stateless security "industry" formerly known as the military. Handled deftly, this could turn out very well. If it is bungled, history will turn out very badly indeed."...sounds very similar to my hope for the future, and is also very close kin to the theories and designs behind THE ARK concepts. I continue to hope we can someday get on the sme wavelength and exhange our ideas and hopes. I look forward to reading this book. Thanks again.  



20 May 2003 @ 09:59 by dcaark : Sorry Ming
I mistook Ratcliff's word for your words. Maybe now I understand why we can't get on the same wavelength. I'll keep climbing, maybe I will get there:)!!!  


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