Is system failure also theory failure?

The link between 'sustainability' and cybernetics must be an issue of interest for anyone seeking 'System 5' operating theory in the fields of action research.

Some might suggest that 'System 5' emerges from a viable coupling of self-regulating natural phenomena. Others may choose see the System 5 as a top-down hierarchy deploying into some viable and sustainable existence of sub-elements.

On a planetary level, Lovelock and others have named this field of governance the 'Gaia' theory – global governance of integrated and viable economic, social and environmental systems.

However, for the theory of 'Gaia', whether emergent or pre-existent, viability does not necessarily include an anthropomorphic perspective or value system.

Whether 'lite-green', light-green or deep-green theology, it must be a situation of interest, and perhaps even concern, for many that so little is known about the future in 30, 50 or 100 years form now?

Some believe that tectonic shifts are now taking place due to geopolitical, economic and climate change.

Such is the scale of this shift, that the 'English' language being used here may not be in use at all in the dominant cultural-economic regions of the future. However, few seem to take this 'System 4' perspective with gravitas, in either thinking, or in practice.

One hears of 'Wizard Prangs' from apparently serious people involved in a forum of one of the most senior of sciences, and yet like philosophy, this science appears hidden away in some arcane corner.

More pragmatically, perhaps, we read the other day of a co-pilot who had a nervous breakdown en-flight and was chained in the economy class in a state of full blown psychosis. Has the system failed?  Was it an 'accident'? Certainly, in this case the selection systems appear to least sub-optimal. 
Or perhaps can we entertain the scenario where some food-chain event was involved, or some bladder infection occurred in addition to genetic issues? And this pilot’s psychosis could have been induced by a number factors: solids, liquid, gases with induction arising from domestic or industrial sources and involve a complex mixture of elements and situations.

However we view it, a reported call to 'God' for help during this event is evidence of a control system in crisis.

An operating System 4 perspective can explore scenarios embracing integrated social, technical economic, environmental and political phenomena.  So, what if the 'targeting' is related to a 'Gaia' theory – in all it guises. What if that mysterious system labelled 'al-Qa'idah' (see: has found a better way into the cockpit?

One way to approach this system 4  'futures' perspective, at this global planetary scale, that potentially affects us all, is to consider the 'term sustainable governance'. While the debate in sustainability mainly focuses on ' triple bottom-line' of social-economic-environment exchange, there is also 4th agenda stream labelled as "governance".
Five years ago there was no formal definition in sustainability discourse of what "sustainable governance" meant. Have things changed?

Systems failure?
Theory failure?
Or a crisis in theology?

Any of these strategic questions offer perspectives on this complex issue of global sustainability and anthropomorphic responsibility. Wide spread systemic failure in the future may have more to with the coupling relationships we establish with the upper System 5 – whether real or imagined – whether natural or supernatural.

More in common may exist between cybernetics theory and deep-green theology than first appears.  Perhaps those who value systems thinking should consider a future where 'systems thinking' is increasingly seen as that "level of thinking" from which the unviable and unsustainable world emerged? Some think this is 2030, some 2050 – some even as close as 2012! 

Perhaps some wizard will prang in Kansas before we all join Dorothy in 'Oz' - perhaps not?  Enjoy the next flight and hope that 'George' is operating.  He wasn’t some time ago when a pilot crashed a plane in Jogjakarta after ignoring numerous signals and no one overrode his authority for cultural reasons (we assume).

Many today, are on the edge of believing that there is a viability crisis looming.

Whether its last week's multi-million's travelling in China's new year blizzard, the 1 billion expected to die from tobacco smoke before the end of the century, the 80% who live on around $2 per day - those who are interested in tomorrow, for themselves and their children's children, cannot afford to be ignorant of sustainability and the need for sustainable governance. And if the meaning of this term cannot be found here: then where?  

The lack of apparent interest in or understanding of the subject of sustainable governance suggests that, although in theory, system 5 thinking could exist here, in practice it does not. Will this S5 level be attained at the 5th Metaphorum conference in Ostersund, Sweden on 17, 18 and 19 June 2008?
Will it be a cybernetic systems theory failure or success in practice? Perhaps there is also deep-cybernetic theology at work? Or perhaps the real wizards of today's prangs are living in the caves of Afghanistan and Pakistan as part of an advanced viable decentralized system of practical theology informed by viable systems theory and motivated by one of many interpretations of Gaia.
Some may see the problem closer to home – e.g., see the online petition against the nomination of Tony Blair as "President of the European Union" ( )
Further discussion is also directed to

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