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Dear Boris,

Is not a system's purpose what it does? -- or perhaps paraphrased -- it is, what is does.

Therefore this Listserv, in as much as it is a 'system', is meeting, by definition, it's purpose (declared or otherwise).

One possible purpose statement could be, to use modern internet parlance: to provide communication, entertainment, comfort and virtual stimulation for a healthy community of lurkers (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lurker).

One little interesting fact came to light at Metaphorum 2008 when the inevitable discussion came up about using something else more 'up market' than an old black&white teletext on a PC system (i.e. this listserv): only one person had asked to be removed from the Listserv address list (and he was at the conference I think). Other gripes, such as corporate memory, were quickly addressed by a new archive feature. So, there we have it: it works!

Yes, I also swore off it as well -- several times!

But like all good addictions (if such a thing is possible) I cannot quite bring myself to actually request that my email address be removed. Although it works spasmodically, in fits&starts, with strange calling signals and communications rituals, and usually gravitates eventually towards the theme of "saving the world", none-the-less, my real world would be a little darker and colder without its virtual reality (or is it its reality virtually ? ... that one is for Luc ;-)

I realise there are men and women of gravitas here who may find it difficult to expose their careers and persona to the less than serious -- but I'm fully committed to not taking it all too seriously, but rather I try to take it artfully.

So, lurk on I say, until the force moves you to offer sacrifice at the temple: then offer freely and with or without complaint -- all seem equally served by public indifference.

Russell
p.s. welcome back!

--- On Tue, 7/10/08, Boris G Freesman, Q.C. <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
From: Boris G Freesman, Q.C. <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: Stafford Beer] and Oracle
To: [log in to unmask]
Received: Tuesday, 7 October, 2008, 1:12 AM

"There is absolutely no shred of evidence that, given time, society will gravitate towards what’s best for its survival and advancement. There is no compelling force towards enlightenment-based action. Anyone can find the same miserable pattern of sabotage in the literature of a century ago..."
 
Thanks for that, sir!
 
It echoes the criticism I have levelled at this very group in the past... which is why I had sworn off this list: we are a much smaller group but subject to the same ailment.
 
As explanation-in-part, I offer one of Stafford's favourite quotes from Machiavelli:
"It must be considered that there is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle, than to initiate a new order of things. For the reformer has enemies in all those who profit by the old order, and only lukewarm defenders in all those who would profit by the new order, this lukewarmness arising partly from fear of their adversaries, who have the laws in their favour; and partly from the incredulity of mankind, who do not truly believe in anything new until they have had actual experience of it. Thus it arises that on every opportunity for attacking the reformer, his opponents do so with the zeal of partisans, the others only defend him half-heartedly, so that between them he runs great danger."
 
It also corroborates my deep concern (fear?) that Prigogine's theories apply to our social systems, too: society must first collapse in the face of overwhelming complexity before we can reorganize it at a higher level of structural complexity.
 
And, finally, another quotation that I consider germane... this time, from G. B. Shaw:
"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man."
 
Can we, the Metaphorum group, learn anything from all of this?
 
Remains to be seen!
 
Boris
 
 
 
 
----- Original Message -----
From: [log in to unmask]" target="_blank" href="mailto:[log in to unmask]">William Livingston
To: [log in to unmask]" target="_blank" href="mailto:[log in to unmask]">[log in to unmask]
Sent: Monday, October 06, 2008 5:09 AM
Subject: Stafford Beer] and Oracle

Thanks for providing another round of data points about the sociology of inter-domain technology transfer. What is significant about the vast collection of these experiences of passive/aggressive rejections, over the ages, is that the creation of this ubiquitous response remains undiscussed and unexamined. Where is the clarion call saying “Hey, anybody see a pattern here? How come there are no contrary examples?” None.

 

Decades ago I made it a point to visit with the living greats in systems think, including Stafford. Near the end all would say something to the effect that – “Although my concepts have not yet taken hold to any commensurate extent, in a hundred years or so society would gradually get the message and the discipline of systems think would become a cultural norm.”  I noted these mentors, and their mentors, had tormented endings – to a man.

 

There is absolutely no shred of evidence that, given time, society will gravitate towards what’s best for its survival and advancement. There is no compelling force towards enlightenment-based action. Anyone can find the same miserable pattern of sabotage in the literature of a century ago – Thorstein Veblen being but one example. What is striking is that the behavioral attributes of institutions are exactly the same, century in and century out – oblivious to circumstances. The institutional rejection of VSM, wholesale, is but one instance of the institutional aversion to intelligence-informed management. Friday, USA citizens bailed out Wall St. to the tune of a trillion dollars without once investigating by what means this global emergency manifested, unforeseeable, overnight.

 

“Oh, you had no idea on Friday when you reported solid financial strength that by Monday your institution would be down $300 billion? No problem. Here’s money for you to keep doing whatever you were doing. After all, your $400 trillion in unregulated derivatives makes out national budget look parsimonious.”

 

In view of this stunning measurement of institutional ideology, it just doesn’t seem likely that promoting VSM in the ways and means it has been promoted will fare any better in the future. But, that’s another undiscussable.

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