Thanks for those thoughts -- they have stimulated my thinking further.

(I note you appeal to Allenna at the end and yet only emailed the reply to me personally -- ? I'm getting a few of these and I've had a few troubles as well with rejections from the Listser because of embedded graphics or something which came through from replies from others So, I'm assuming that it is the way the 'reply' function works ... ? In any case the purpose, I assume of this forum is to share thoughts etc, so ...)

I have no problem with the label -- it is just a convenient way of handling a difficult topic. Nelson Mandella spent many years labeled by a regime (and state) and yet has proven to be become one if the worlds most respected elders.

And I live in a country that was once the toxic dumping ground for many types -- including Irish freedom fighters. That was not my point.

However, you mention GW Bush, and by extension his 'haves' and 'have mores' etc. It is perhaps close to what I'm seeking -- an understanding of plutocracy and kleptocracy and how these seem just too cozy at times. And of course the cynical would perhaps say that kings with their 'mandates from heaven' simply emerged from a successful protection racket business. One only needs to consider Zimbabwe to see a certain madness at work today.

In respect to Stafford -- interesting that you say he could not use such a simple concept and yet the destruction of the work of himself and others in Chile must have qualified for this type label. However, in the end it is personal preference I guess.

In any case, having committed it to the public ether (Listserv = risk) and having now slept on it over night I think the essence of what I was struggling with is in the recursion idea. Put simply, that in some cases the so called System 1 is in fact a 'hollow man' (we have a TV show here called Hollow Men) -- i.e. more perhaps a 'system zero' where the centre of gravity is in the recursion below the system in focus. I'm not really saying anything new here I know -- and it still does not address the core issue of disconnect from a governance perspective -- but it must be cybernetics surely. At the macro level why so much investment in police and military? I guess the closest direct link to another manifestation would be to cancer cells in the body. They live, they grow, but they are not connected to the whole like the rest of the 'normal' cells.

In a similar way, we could perhaps, using the case in point, say the Italian Mafia, was originally a secret society that seems to have had some origin in the Islamic period of that area and has since descended into a self serving agent within the greater society. And I'm not suggesting it has anything to do with Islamic issues -- rather the remnant effects of a withdrawal or decay of a major system (say at n+1).

The question then is not so much how it comes about, or how it works (it is viable of course with its own S5 -to-S1) -- rather how the greater whole is impotent in dealing with it -- be it a cancer in the body or a hit squad of assassins taking out high court judges.

It seems some of this identity must be culture. The body is a collection of interoperative organs etc and yet it can also support a brain tumor that eventually kills it.  Now some may say that every system has the seeds of its own death within it -- an perhaps that is what I'm looking at . Where are these seeds? ... by way of origin, maintenance, governance, and perpetuation?

OK -- I've left the save zones ... and thinking aloud is dangerous ... but it seems a little naive if management cybernetics cannot comment on this area -- perhaps that is why it is dismissed by the management classes?  In fact this has reminded me of something I did in my Masters thesis on sustainable governance.

There is a small field I came across in my Masters research into 'sustainable governance' it related to management fraud risk assessment. The Fraud Risk Triangle (e.g. see Ramos 2003) cites three factors: incentive/pressure + opportunity + rationalization/attitude. (1)

It was the third factor, the capacity to rationalise as a hidden variable (2), that the forensic auditor has to determine. A very interesting area of System 3*. There is also a very strong emphasis on the role of risk synthesis in audit test design (3). It is about the 'tone at the top' and at that time it was ENRON etc -- but the story is the same.

So perhaps it is not a separate 'entity' per se -- rather a tonal relationship between the three factors of the fraud triangle that allows poor governance outcomes?

References (1, 2 & 3) if anyone is interested: I have uploaded my thesis Appendix J (5 short summary pages) on this topic and the associated Reference for these pages at: 

If anyone was to look to take action in response to these interesting times then the lead-in on Appendix J covers the Lima Declaration of Guidelines on Auditing Precepts (1998) and International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI) (2004) which might be good places the G30 could start writing to.

--- On Tue, 14/10/08, Roger Harnden <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
From: Roger Harnden <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: Toxic waste, loans & groans
To: [log in to unmask]
Received: Tuesday, 14 October, 2008, 4:49 AM


Not addressing the substantive issues, but I don;t know of Stafford writing about criminality. And, I am not surprised (though Allenna needs to comment on this) because I guess that - to a degree like myself - Stafford would see criminality as something fairly trivial. Not in its effects or as a symptom of social breakdown, but as a label.

IN ANY CULTURE, criminality ISA (trivially) anything that goes against the dominant logic of that culture.  That;s why Bush got away with calling the Guatamo prisoners criminal instead of prisoners of war (and, indeed, is the case in all tyrannical endeavours, whether in the name of democracy or not [because inf atc, they usually ARE in the name of something such as democracy or freedom]

Stafford dealt with - on a personal as well as a professional basis - many criminal cases. To my knowledge - and we did talk about it because I have skeletons in my cupboard - Stafford never used the word 'criminal'. The concept with its moral overtones, was foreign to him.

However 'wrong' and 'right' were dear too him, but I imagine he would have placed these within the context of 'viability'..

I might be out of order here, Allenna??

On 13 Oct 2008, at 14:41, R Clemens wrote:

What I subsequently came to conclude, after posting this topic, was there is a need (for me at least) to better understand what the VSM has to offer by way of analysing this organised crime arena. 

Organised crime, in my definition, can cover a broad set of antisocial activities -- wars of aggression even. However, in this case (below), and others like it, we can ask, perhaps, by way of the VSM, at a sustainable planetary scale, qui bono? -- i.e.

1) Can all systems (issues) be reconciled upwards in recursions to a single unified whole?

2) If so, then what is/are the relationships between the System 1s such that 'crime' can exist? Is this a necessary function, state or condition?

It seems to me that the core issues here, assuming the VSM is somewhat useful and accurate as a model to think with on this type/class of problem, must either revolve around sophistry or the question of whether is there really is dualistic reality (or dualism in reality)?

If sophistry, then we don't ultimately don't need to know more -- as it is only a mental passing of time.

However, if dualism, then we need to understand what makes criminality viable and how this viability is ultimately sustained? That is, by way of theory, and by way of praxis.

As you point out, rightly I believe, a key issue here, if not the key issue, is where in the meta-system is this dualism: (a) located; (b) sustained; (c) balanced; (d) grounded in identity; (e deployed in policy; and finally (f) operationalised in action?

If the 'problem' is not in the meta-system per se, then how does it manifest in a viable universe -- i.e. it would seem that at least one System 1 must be at odds with another. Then it must be a System 3, 3* or 2 issue? Or the algedonic. Otherwise, it seems to me,  we must refute the notion 'universe' and start developing 'multi verses' etc -- which it would seem the VSM cannot easily address by definition (it being a model leading towards a unitary synergy I assume).

Now I can subscribe to the opposing thumb (makes a hand) theory -- but I find it difficult to see this specific situation of concern (e.g. as per this case study) as anything other than either systemic failure and/or theory failure. I am working through Beer's books as fast as I can, it's a hard slog, but I have not yet seen anything on criminality. Does this exist?

I'm not interested in conflicts due to subsidiary system 'freedom fighting' issues. Nor am I interested in the viability of the mafia etc -- I assume the VSM simply applies as per normal. What I am interested in is the fuzzy boundary where S5-S4-S3  reconcile this issue logically and S3-S2-S1's in practice.

To ground this in the current thread: what is the commonality between these two case studies? (one focused on the virtual and the other on the very real). Systemic failure -- yes!  But there is intent also, and not just neglect or ignorance? And at the highest levels of governance it seems!

In what is this intent grounded and how is it explained via the VSM?

I am aware of many tribal narratives that attempt to explain (away mostly) this issue -- and I'm sure Dr Watson and Sherlock H. will be chasing Moriarty forever -- but does the VSM offer any help in addressing this issue in the real world of (future) sustainable governance?

Any ideas?


-----Inline Attachment Follows-----

Thanks for bringing this back to VSM specifics. This is a good example of the need for effective S5 of a global scope. It seems like this would be an appropriate focus for this group -- to articulate what that would look like -- and I emphasize "effective".

Doug McDavid

[log in to unmask]
408-927-1565 (IBM tie-line: 457)
Business Architect -- Global Business Services and Almaden Research Center
IBM Academy of Technology ( )
Doug Mandelbrot in Second Life ( )
Board Member, New Media Consortium (
"I start things, but I never" -- D. Stahl (Twitter)


It seems we have a significant systemic problem with our current approaches which require, to be 'viable', a dumping ground for toxic waste and toxic loans etc. It seems to be the same underlying problem with sustainality to me -- the Tragedy of the Commons.
In the case of Somalia (former) and Finance industry (latter) we see the outcome of a lack of good governace. In both cases it seems not having a working overwatch function is the problem (i.e. effective government and regulation) . Is this not related to the S5 level ultimately? Or do we target S3 & S3* -- or the whole rotten lot?
Somalia: 'Toxic waste' behind Somali piracy
Somali pirates have accused European firms of dumping toxic waste off the Somali coast and are demanding an $8m ransom for the return of a Ukranian ship they captured, saying the money will go towards cleaning up the waste.
The ransom demand is a means of "reacting to the toxic waste that has been continually dumped on the shores of our country for nearly 20 years", Januna Ali Jama, a spokesman for the pirates, based in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland, said.
. . . .
"European companies found it to be very cheap to get rid of the waste, costing as little as $2.50 a tonne, where waste disposal costs in Europe are something like $1000 a tonne.
"And the waste is many different kinds. There is uranium radioactive waste. There is lead, and heavy metals like cadmium and mercury. There is also industrial waste, and there are hospital wastes, chemical wastes – you name it."
. . . .
In 1992, a contract to secure the dumping of toxic waste was made by Swiss and Italian shipping firms Achair Partners and Progresso, with Nur Elmi Osman, a former official appointed to the government of Ali Mahdi Mohamed, one of many militia leaders involved in the ousting of Mohamed Siad Barre, Somalia's former president.
. . . .
However, Mustafa Tolba, the former UNEP executive director, told Al Jazeera that he discovered the firms were set up as fictitious companies by larger industrial firms to dispose of hazardous waste.
"At the time, it felt like we were dealing with the Mafia, or some sort of organised crime group, possibly working with these industrial firms," he said.
. . . .
The Italian mafia controls an estimated 30 per cent of Italy's waste disposal companies, including those that deal with toxic waste.
In 1998, Famiglia Cristiana, an Italian weekly magazine, claimed that although most of the waste-dumping took place after the start of the civil war in 1991, the activity actually began as early as 1989 under the Barre government. . . .

Make the switch to the world's best email. Get Yahoo!7 Mail. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ For more information go to: For the Metaphorum Collaborative Working Environment (MCWE) go to: METAPHORUM eList Archive available at - Archive of CYBCOM eList available at - ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Make the switch to the world's best email. Get Yahoo!7 Mail. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ For more information go to: For the Metaphorum Collaborative Working Environment (MCWE) go to: METAPHORUM eList Archive available at - Archive of CYBCOM eList available at - ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~