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If that challenge from Frank in March was to attract support, I would be more than happy to help facilitate such an event if the economics worked,

Roger
On 14 Oct 2008, at 00:15, Ern Reynolds wrote:

Hello Frank and Friends,
 
        I intended to be counted as one "single soul on this list responded to the challenge in my e-mail of March 19, last:
>"so my question and challenge to all here is this: are there thirty people here who are ready, willing and able to engage in a full fledged >Syntegration and begin meaningful progress in bringing Stafford’s ideas to a world in desperate need of real change?"   1 down, 29 to go.  I only regret that I don't qualify as a "person in charge".
 
        My left-wing pals in Urbana, Ilinois who compose the Performers Workshop Ensemble follow this dictum of their late founder Herbert Brun: Wrap the kernel of what you love (social progress set to music) inside a protective husk or wrapper (social activism).  This is another way of saying the real core objective needs the protection of the ostensible, or the strategic needs the protection of a diversionary tactical thrust.  This said, it's not so much a false agenda as a subtle thoughtful multi-step one.
 
        Stafford carefully differentiated running experiments inside the Viable System Model, as opposed to running them "in the flesh and in the metal".  Much less pain and much less unrecoverable cost. 
 
        It has long been my observation and belief that political people who are right of center should make better cyberneticians than those on the left.  Rightists are instinctively more conservative when building a regulator (legislating), so as to be more nuanced and not be excessive about it.  I once had to explain myself (schoolboy-on-the-carpet fashion) for writing "The Tory Stafford Beer". 
 
        Leftists are much quicker to overdo regulation and make too many sunnyside assumptions about the improvability of human nature.  Yet the cyberneticians I have befriended over the years most typically turn out to be political lefties.  Before my time, the most visible Republican among cyberneticians was Warren McCullough, a mentor of Stafford's long dead. 
 
Ern Reynolds
 
 
On Mon, 13 Oct 2008 23:24:41 +0100 Frank <[log in to unmask]> writes:
Dear Ern,
I think in a case like that it's best to sneak under the defence radar of the organisation. One way is to, so to speak, cover yourself with corporate approved protein thus avoiding being eliminated by the immune system of the corporation.
 
And how to do that? Well, learn the vision of the corporation and spout all their slogans at every opportunity thus making it difficult for them to attack you without being seen to be also attacking the company.
 
In other words you go in with a false agenda and the quietly introduce cybernetic principles without anyone noticing. I think that process is called The Front End.
 
Regards
 
Frank Wood
----- Original Message -----
From: [log in to unmask]" href="mailto:[log in to unmask]">Ern Reynolds
To: [log in to unmask]" href="mailto:[log in to unmask]">[log in to unmask]
Sent: Monday, October 13, 2008 8:28 PM
Subject: Re: Adaptation and Global Warming (Was Stafford Beer] and Oracle)

Protagonists of Syntegration and the VSM,
 
        I expect all of us have had the experience repeated many times of energetically participating in a forum or process that could not be translated into action by our clients and nominal superiors.
 
        Stafford himself had the ear of politically powerful patrons -- who stiffed him on his bill and implemented none of his wisdom. 
As Stafford counseled, the client must also "swallow the medicine".
 
        I have no doubt the Metaphorum collaborative could assemble some 30 luminous intellects in a New York minute.  But none of the 30 are "in charge". 
 
        In the US I have been deeply immersed in Republican politics (national, state, local) almost continuously since 1964.  I've worked on the ground politically in 43 of the 50 States.  I am freshly trained to deploy with other Republican lawyers to wherever needed in case of another 2000-style vote recount scenario or litigation imbroglio, so I have maintained some "street creds" within the party establishment.  And yet ... 
 
        I served a series of civilian subcabinet officials as a staffer 1981-87 during most of the Reagan Administration.  Even when I enjoyed an especially enlightened boss who would listen carefully and with comprehension, none of my cybernetic advice got taken to heart and implemented any further up the entirely civilian chain of command. 
 
        Legalisms were respected but science was not.  As a litigator I know something about persuasion, but management cybernetics is a "missionary sell" requiring intuitive mystical belief (rather than mentation or emotional jury appeal).  Military people are much more enlightened about cybernetics than any civilians I've dealt with in 40+ years. 
 
        There's a saying in American politics that you come to power through the efforts of one set of people, but you govern with an entirely different set.  The latter appointees and advisors are as resistant to cybernetic management as elected officials themselves, because model making, Syntegration and the VSM are outside their experience.  "They have not the variety."
 
        So, before 30 stalwart Syntegrators take on the question of what to do (about global warming or any other large question), a metaquestion is how and whether implementation could ever occur.  The stock answer is first identify the constraints, and second remove them.  That result I've yet to witness.
 
Ruefully,
 
Ern Reynolds
 
 
 
On Mon, 13 Oct 2008 14:07:49 -0400 "Boris G Freesman, Q.C." <[log in to unmask]> writes:
Frank: "What I would like to see discussed here is how we can build on the VSM in order to manage the challenge of global warming rather than the panic stricken reactions we have now."
 
No panic on my part!
 
But also note that not a single soul on this list responded to the challenge in my e-mail of March 19, last:
"so my question and challenge to all here is this: are there thirty people here who are ready, willing and able to engage in a full fledged Syntegration and begin meaningful progress in bringing Stafford’s ideas to a world in desperate need of real change?"
 
Talk about the brain of Savannah man!... or, are you referring to Savannah, Georgia?  ;-}>
 
Boris
 
 
----- Original Message -----
From: [log in to unmask]" href="mailto:[log in to unmask]">Frank
To: [log in to unmask]" href="mailto:[log in to unmask]">[log in to unmask]
Sent: Monday, October 13, 2008 9:42 AM
Subject: Re: Adaptation and Global Warming (Was Stafford Beer] and Oracle)

Hi Boris,
well as the saying goes:
 
"No answer is an answer in itself" which can be interpreted in many way :-)
 
SNIP
>until about 75 years ago, in what then was, comparatively speaking, a simple society, that seemed to suffice... who even thought, then, of >accelerating change and complexity?
 
Bill Livingston has a lot to say about this in his books "Having Fun at Work" and "Friends in High Places". The main thrust of his arguments is that we still have the brain of (say) Savannah man of eons ago and yet we are struggling to make sense in a highly complex world, both technologically and organisationally speaking.
 
His books and Beer's Purpose of a System Is What It Does and Ashby's "Law of Requiste Variety" saved my sanity and that's no understatement! Once I began to understand the nature of the organisational beast I could then have fun, do little controlled experiments to provoke predictable reaction from "org man".
 
And of course survive that reaction. :-)
 
SNIP
>Yes... that is why the VSM was articulated... but, as you say, humanity is extremely addicted to rearranging deckchairs: yes, let's change >everything, just so long as nothing changes
 
One of the examples of the rearranging of deck chairs is that over 130 million people have had their territorial rights violated by conservation agencies so that parks could be set up and certified logging concessions handed out and so on. Add to that alleged human rights abuses such as massive forced resettlements, destruction of property and farms and other violations.
 
All this done by conservation agencies so that we in the West can feel that we are "doing something".
 
What I would like to see discussed here is how we can build on the VSM in order to manage the challenge of global warming rather than the panic stricken reactions we have now.
 
Regards
 
Frank Wood
 
 
 
 
 
----- Original Message -----
From: [log in to unmask]" href="mailto:[log in to unmask]">Boris G Freesman, Q.C.
To: [log in to unmask]" href="mailto:[log in to unmask]">[log in to unmask]
Sent: Monday, October 13, 2008 1:00 AM
Subject: Re: Adaptation and Global Warming (Was Stafford Beer] and Oracle)

Sorry Frank. I did not ignore you; I forgot you!  ;-}>
 
I think we should be restructuring societies so that they can continuously adapt to constant complexification. People, too.
 
Yes... that is why the VSM was articulated... but, as you say, humanity is extremely addicted to rearranging deckchairs: yes, let's change everything, just so long as nothing changes
 
Until about 75 years ago, in what then was, comparatively speaking, a simple society, that seemed to suffice... who even thought, then, of accelerating change and complexity?
 
And I agree with you that human arrogance is a major (if not, the) problem: it stands in the way of letting go of what we think we know (but do not), to let something new come in... something that we don't think we know (but, in fact, do). 
 
Boris
 
 
 
----- Original Message -----
From: [log in to unmask]" href="mailto:[log in to unmask]">Frank
To: [log in to unmask]" href="mailto:[log in to unmask]">[log in to unmask]
Sent: Monday, October 06, 2008 2:10 PM
Subject: Adaptation and Global Warming (Was Stafford Beer] and Oracle)

Dear Boris,
"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."
 
Isn't that what we are doing with our approach to global warming? In our antrhocentric arrogance we think we can change a huge system such as global climate by rearranging the deckchairs.
 
Shouldn't we be adapting socieities to changing climates?
 
Can VSM be used to help us?
 
Regards
 
Frank Wood
----- Original Message -----
From: [log in to unmask]" href="mailto:[log in to unmask]">Boris G Freesman, Q.C.
To: [log in to unmask]" href="mailto:[log in to unmask]">[log in to unmask]
Sent: Monday, October 06, 2008 3:12 PM
Subject: Re: Stafford Beer] and Oracle

"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]" href="mailto:[log in to unmask]">William Livingston
To: [log in to unmask]" 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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