Luc & Roger

Thank you both for these insightful comments. Very helpful.

And Luc, congratulations on becoming a grandfather -- I know that you will have noticed the new subtle energy shift that occurs as a new living octave emerges in the family domain (through Grace no doubt, although Dawkins would call it a gene thing I guess).


On Sun, Jan 2, 2011 at 11:12 PM, Roger Harnden <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Indeed, Luc, the important thing for me in Maturana's 'structural drift' is its conscious distancing from any notions of historical or genetic determinism. Dawkins is a strange instance. In terms evolutionary dynamics he is forced to reject purpose, but one always sense a desire for purpose to be lurking in his discourse. The thing I liked about the recent presentation that Russell referenced, is that Dawkins appears to be making an effort to 'reign in' this yearning for some sort of other '-ism'.


On 2 Jan 2011, at 15:03, Luc Hoebeke wrote:

Dear Roger,

The problem are not Friedman and Dawkins but the way they are abused behind ideological "determinisms" through the media. The only problem I have with Dawkins is his use of a teleology in his word creating programme to prove "randomness". He had to inject a phrase to obtain a sensible phrase (the Blind Watchmaker). Now if you reject teleology don't use it to prove your rejection. That's where ideology steps in. The concept of a selfish gene is a mess up of "languaging" and Dawkins got trapped in his representationist way of thinking. But, I agree, he ha more depth than Friedman.

Kind regards,


Op 2-jan-11, om 15:47 heeft Roger Harnden het volgende geschreven:

Yes, Luc, I go along with all that.

Slight caveat e Dawkins and Friedman. I think we might be confusing 'style' with 'content'.

Bot men are fanatics, though in slightly different ways. But that does not at all negate everything each one says or writes. With fanatics, we make a mistake if we 'throw the baby out with the bath water'. 

Best wishes,

On 2 Jan 2011, at 14:00, Luc Hoebeke wrote:

Dear Roger,

I like the way you understand me. 
Amelioration is making better (my book is named making work systems better), but I don't specify what "better" is, because this is a political decision, a decision for the polis, and thus a value judgment. Eudemony is not a pre-defined state, but a judgment which has to be made continuously. Pain and suffering are also value judgments and not "objective" facts. This is the reason why I am strongly resisting those who try to define others as "victims". Remember how the local people in the Wild Coast rejected to be defined as "destitute" because their income was lower than 2 $ a day. I am on their side, and not on the side of their victimizers.
This brings me to this question of "jobs". In the beginning of the 80's I wrote an article for Human Systems Development making the distinction between labour, employment and work. Employment is a modern form of slavery which replaced the  slavery of the Ancien Régime. What is avoided nowadays is the concept of "income": every human being has a right to have his/her basic needs met: food, shelter, security. No "employment" is necessary to achieve this goal. What is inevitable is labour, which is spending effort and energy, and work, which is meaningful labour fot the one spending his energy and effort. The basic metaphor is "a woman in labour" and the child as the product of her work (here is a recent proud grandfather writing).
When the younger generation is looking out for "jobs" and "employment" they get trapped in the discourse of those who need them for voluntary slavery. I think that the "elite" unconsciously created the crisis and its consequences to avoid the issue of the right to a basic income and to an eudemonic world where the human species accepts to become part of nature and not to pursue its exploitative role, the tendency to create slavery everywhere by those anxious to maintain their illusory power. Setting the younger generation agains the older one is a classical: divide ut imperat trick. The media which have lost mostly their critical function because they are paid by advertising for the powers in place, play the game for those in "power". This is why I am very critical about the hype with people as Dawkins or Friedman, because their message is fundamentally deterministic: they scientifically define what human nature is and put themselves beyond the political dimension entailed by the concept of eudemony. They have not the slightest idea about what a conversation is in Pask's terms. 
POSIWID is the language I use to start conversations in every occasion I have to talk.

All the best for 2011, which I think is a prime number.

Kind regards,


Op 2-jan-11, om 14:11 heeft Roger Harnden het volgende geschreven:


I'm still not sure where you're coming from - I mean in a positive, not a negative way.

I see a difference between attempts at prescription and attempts to be descriptive. Obviously, as a constructivist I know the two are braided together, sometimes pathologically, but still there IS a distinction.

Many of the 'items' identified by Friedman strike me as observable. Now, whether or not those observations imply 'proposed solutions', and what comprise those solutions is rather different.

The main thing that I keyed into was the simple proposition of the need for as many people as possible to have access to global connectivity (what I refer to as ENS). I simply can't see this as anything other than a truism.

I think everything else (including symptoms you and others mention) concern other things - such as failures in representative or consensus politics, persistence of educational and economic inequality etc..

The 'flattening' (as Friedman's Q & A0 make clear), surely concerns potential NOT actual.

I suppose, Russel, maybe where you and I sometimes get in a tangle is that I tend to talk about long-term trends, where you (and Luc) are immersed in (and preoccupied with) immediate measures that might alleviate pain and suffering in transition states. I suppose, from Luc's perspective (I am presumptuous in assuming this, but I do think about things he has said) social living is ALWAYS a transition state, requiring some sort of amelioration.

And I am aware that my point of view sometimes seems to ignore this because of a fascination on the shape of the trends,

Does that make sense?

The quotes you refer indeed strike me also as informative about a possibly shifting mood and tone. I think what we are witnessing is the insights of the seventies and eighties (which were ignored) concerning the impact of automation etc, coming home to roost. Since then we have been (falsely) driven by a stated need to 'provide more jobs', instead of 'plan for the future when there are few jobs'. I have all my working life been puzzled by the drive for something called 'full-employment' which equates 'employment' with 'paid work' instead of 'paid' something else.

On 2 Jan 2011, at 04:00, russell_c wrote:

This type of thing catches my eye, Roger.

The outrage of the young has erupted, sometimes violently, on the streets of Greece and Italy in recent weeks, as students and more radical anarchists protest not only specific austerity measures in flattened economies but a rising reality in Southern Europe: People like Ms. Esposito feel increasingly shut out of their own futures. Experts warn of volatility in state finances and the broader society as the most highly educated generation in the history of the Mediterranean hits one of its worst job markets.

Politicians are slowly beginning to take notice. Italy’s president, Giorgio Napolitano, devoted his year-end message on Friday to “the pervasive malaise among young people,” weeks after protests against budget cuts to the university system brought the issue to the fore.

Giuliano Amato, an economist and former Italian prime minister, was even more blunt. “By now, only a few people refuse to understand that youth protests aren’t a protest against the university reform, but against a general situation in which the older generations have eaten the future of the younger ones,” he recently told Corriere della Sera, Italy’s largest newspaper.

The phrase: "the most highly educated generation in the history of the Mediterranean hits one of its worst job markets" -- a classic environment described in Norman Cohn's The Pursuit of the Millennium -- e.g.

BTW: my little annual 'future scan' at the New Year sees one emerging weak signal in an increase in the number of references to Karl Marx in cometary. I'd suggest perhaps some people are re-reading him in light of recent trends. 

Russia can also now pipe oil to China and Europe.   And China is offering the EU a bailout for greater access to technology IP etc and Latin America coming online  .

With a Free Spirit (see Cohn) like ethos emerging within the Environmental movements we may be approaching a new tipping point.

With rising unemployment and under employment we may begin to see the beginning of a questioning of the meaning of "work" and its relationship to a 'good life'. This is not a new idea. Is unemployment so bad in itself? 

If the slogan "Never work" doesn't strike you as heresy, it can only be because -- after centuries of becoming historical -- the dream of not working is no longer an illusion or a matter of speculative doctrine. Never working has become something for the eye to see and desire, and for the hand to reach out for, hold and enjoy. (

Whether they were Dark Ages or Middle Ages ( , we are all headed for Old Ages. This time was around when a bunch of Irish monks fell down a hole in St Gallen, Switzerland while on walk-about. Why were they walking about? Economic recession in Ireland? Did the banking system fail?


(*) I take this view in referring to it.

On the rare occasions when the term "Dark Ages" is used by historians today, it is intended to be neutral, namely, to express the idea that the events of the period often seem "dark" to us only because of the scarcity of artistic and cultural output,[12] including historical records, when compared with both earlier and later times.

And I see a difference between "artistic and cultural output" and data/information output.

On Sat, Jan 1, 2011 at 11:47 PM, Stefan Wasilewski <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
acronym ;-)

On 1 Jan 2011, at 12:22, russell_c wrote:

Is "crap" a new technical term?

Having been through a very political IT outsourcing exercise in the late 1990's, which was not rational, and lead to one of my staff committing suicide some time later after the new US company chewed him up and spat him out (PHD in Chemistry and quiet achiever, two beautiful twin daughters), I can confirm that, in my experience, it is not 'good'.

I'm just following the logic of the lecture -- it is efficient (or claims to be). "Good" and "natural" do not come into it imo. The logic (e.g. of the brown shorts men) is: they can specialise and then provide a service more efficiently. The host company retains the identity and franchise etc -- and one assumes the improved bottom-line profit result.

I understand the logic, and it may work well in some cases, but I'm not sure I agree when all the more w/holistic longer-term factors are taken into consideration. But in economic rationalism they are externalities.  Sustainability etc is the new ethos that tries to address the larger/broader stakeholder theory (as distinct to shareholder theory). The 'court case' on these two theories is still running I believe.

If your comment's focus is on "resource management" -- then I'd say, from a VSM perspective: what does it matter, as long as the contractual linkages are robust and clear and suit the S3 etc?

And in part answer to one of Roger's points (which I'll get to later) -- Ozz is shipping natural resources to China as if there is no tomorrow. Money everywhere except in people's pockets (who do not work in the mining/energy sectors). We have a major outbreak of 'Dutch Disease' in New Holland! Local businesses were promised the great bounty (but not the regulations to enforce it as that is against ideology!) -- but they are going broke because they cannot complete with Asian manufacturing and fabrication costs. The focus at present is on how to get a fair share in the global supply chain that these huge resource conglomerates are, and use. There is also so much 'inside' trading that the tax systems struggle even work out who is trading with whom or whether it is just internal company operations! Boundaries!!!

BUT it is Saturday night on New Year's Day here and I'm off for some R&R! ... ;-)



On Sat, Jan 1, 2011 at 7:07 PM, Stefan Wasilewski <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
There's a lot to consider in your email Russell (as usual) so I'll pick up on one thing.

Are you saying outsourcing is a natural and good thing to have because of resource management? If so crap!

On 1 Jan 2011, at 10:12, Roger Harnden wrote:


On 1 Jan 2011, at 01:23, russell_c wrote:

My 2 cents worth.

I think Friedman has picked the emerging and defining trends well (for 2005) but is a little rosy eyed on the social-political implications. As we see now, it was the USA that hit the road bump and everyone else's wheels fell off except China.
I don't think it is about 'social-political implications. It's about observing and recognising infrastructural changes and THEN thinking about governance issues in the light of the implications of such changes.

Criticizing China's political system while speaking from Singapore, where the same family/group has run the place since inception ('liberation' from British rule), is a bit cheeky. He does not seem to see a connection between socio-cultural factors being aligned and good governance. The US model of 'freedom' works for the US -- Singapore synergises the Chinese/Indian.
Well, I didn't pick this criticism up as strongly as have you. The nearest was to equate India and China to two super-highways - India's with cracks and weeds but perhaps opening into a smoother future in the distance; Chiina's an exquisite road surface with a whole population driving along at 80 miles and hour and a speed bump somewhere ahead.

I think his horizontal (flat) concept is very VSM friendly -- outsourcing/insourcing is all system 1/2 etc. The future is supply-chain control which is network control and not 'command and control'. 
This is the real point from a management cybernetic point of view, Russell.

The notion of identity (and hence S3/5 and boundary for profit) is now increasingly the task -- i.e. how to define net benefit for share/stake holders. So it is three levels of S5 interacting to produce (the capacity for) eudemony -- i.e. country/nation -- company/corporation -- individual/family.
I'm not sure what you mean, here.

The classic problem still exists -- closing the circle via capital (dividend) or labour/employment. Unemployment at personal level implies disconnect with corporate level (including state public services and ngo welfare organisations etc) which in turn decouple from the nation-state concept.
I think this issue though currently prevalent is withering on the vine, but its withering will lead to major social and political unrest in all countries.

The biggest risk for many US (and others) industrial systems today is that peace will break out.  The risk for many smaller nations states in the near future is that it won't. And I note the rhetoric these days is about troop pull out (US/Nato) while handing over to mercinary hirelings (Blackwater in all its variants). Where as war gives some sense of identity (who the enemy is), corporate security force employee does not quite have the same ring to it.
Totally agree - but this has nothing to do with the 'flat' world, and everything to do with the global one.

A globalised 'viable network' will be the innovative inter-meshing of viable system elements into producing the 'juice' for the owners and participants across a globalised planet economy. But how are the benefits fairly distributed? And be seen to be so! We are likely to see the UN dissolve in the next decade as the US pulls funding (they cannot get the arms sales through UN funding as they can through bilateral agreements). What then?
Bah! How are the benefits ever fairly distributed, and when were they ever.  US clout will massively decrease in this timescxale, with all sorts of consequences,.

However, what he fails to see (and we are seeing it now) is the blow-back of new protectionism. It may well be that his development versions 1,2,&3 (1492 to the present, i.e. focus from countries, companies, individual)  reflect mega-trends. However, after the cargo-cult orgy there is the 'morning after' when the mums and dads and kids wake up in fright at the socio-economic Luna landscape they find outside their newly foreclosed front door. 
Once more, I am lost here, Russell. I think I live in a different world than you do. 

It is sobering to see globalization ideology and inertia still driving economic and foreign policy today. But what is the alternative? The Net itself becomes the 'Wall' which our plastic cards either engage with or not. In fact the cards and their id information is the wall as well. Being 'beyond the pale', as Assange is discovering, is only a mouse click away. But who is making the decisions? Us or them? Or can we even use that split sensibly in this new world order?
This once more is perhaps your key point, Russell. 'What is the alternative?' I hear it all the time in political debate in UK. What a kop-out! They even all said that a coalition was not an alternative - well, believe it or not (even ignoring the case of Germany) it IS!!

There is still some Utopian idealism in play today but I think it is equally possible we are entering a new Dark Ages where high mobility (in mobile homes) and lack of writing (just uploads into the You Tube system etc) become the norm in many areas. Interesting times indeed!  
Russell! l;l my previous comments about your cynicism here come home to roost!!!☺



On Sat, Jan 1, 2011 at 6:02 AM, Trevor E Hilder <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Dear Roger,

I can't argue with anything you say here.

Happy New Year :-)


On 31 Dec 2010, at 20:07, Roger Harnden <[log in to unmask]> wrote:


I totally go along  with your sentiments and unease, which I find with you is often the case. But, as I said, person (and motives) don't necessarily negate arguments. Stafford forcefully instructed me in McCulloch's imperative - "Don't bit my finger, llok where it's pointing!".

The reason why I posted the URL for the clip (and why such clips are valuable) is that people can quickly make up their own minds without spending the hours needed to digest the book (as did you and I), and without relying on third party commentaries. And in between the USA-ism and the corporatism, there are a number of really good points......


On 31 Dec 2010, at 18:29, Trevor E Hilder wrote:

Dear Roger,

My suspicions about the book were aroused by the fact that I first heard about it from a friend to whom it was recommended by an economist who was getting paid absurd sums of money (including multi-million dollar bonuses) by one of the big US merchant banks. Call me cynical, but anything that gets recommended by such people immediately makes me nervous :-)

I suppose my view is that the world is "flatter" than it was, but it still isn't very "flat". The increased flatness is mostly to the disadvantage of badly educated and poorly informed people in the Western world. This is a particular problem for "ordinary" British and American citizens, who find themselves either unemployed or forced into increasingly pointless and badly paid jobs providing unnecessary "services" to people who already have more stuff than they could possibly need.

On 31 Dec 2010, at 17:55, Roger Harnden wrote:

'The World is Flat'. And I sent a URL for those who haven't the time to read the book, to get a sense of it from a presentation from the author, Thomas Friedman:

The only problem (which I imagine I find as distasteful as does Trevor) is that Friedman appears to put 'free trade US' at the centre- when it wasn't!.

But I don't think this flaw takes anything away from the argument that the world is a 'smaller' place with more equal opportunities for more people.


On 31 Dec 2010, at 17:43, Paul Stokes wrote:

What book are you guys talking about?
From: [log in to unmask]" href="mailto:[log in to unmask]" target="_blank">Roger Harnden
Sent: Friday, December 31, 2010 5:10 PM
To: [log in to unmask]" href="mailto:[log in to unmask]" target="_blank">[log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: The World is Flat
I disagree, Trevor. I too have read the book. It's a case of the devil (him) making an actually very insightful point. Don't shoot the messenger!
On 31 Dec 2010, at 16:37, Trevor E Hilder wrote:

Dear Roger,
Hope your Christmas was merry and here's to a Happy New Year!
I've read the book. The world isn't as flat as he makes out. I think this is a variant of the old Trickle Down Theory of economic development. It provides a comforting idea that everything will turn out just fine without anybody actually having to make any ethical decisions or doing anything other than what they were going to do anyway.
If the book was more truthful, Friedman would be a lot less popular than he is!
On 31 Dec 2010, at 16:28, Roger Harnden wrote:

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