- this text in German -

Covered Realms:

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Make your own future

- The Heuristic Role of the Concept of Self Organization -

(first attempt-version in English, please mail me mistakes.)
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1. Turning Point Experiences

It wasn't until in the year 1992 that I had the possibility of reading about new Conceptions of the world. I started to attempt combining society's practice and the theory as I had known it, after having done my diploma in physics in 1985.

I came across with the concept of self organization. I was just reading my way through Prigogine and Jantsch as major chances took place around me. This was the "Wende" (Turning point) - the end of the GDR.

My concept of life was shuttered. I took advantage of people throwing out their Marx and Lenin´s volumes to stock up my library. On the other hand I was well aware that holding on to old schemata by all means wasn't the best solution either.

I was lucky: since I had already encountered the concept of self-organization briefly, I could recognize courses of development within the "Wende" as I had already read about. This was particularly the case for the role of first seeds of opposition; their tremendous pace of increase at a certain, under certain circumstances and later for the submission of the formerly open situation under a new schema, the logic of profit.

It makes sense, not to consider these processes as unique, even though the concrete driving forces and circumstances cannot be included in the theory of self organization. These processes have to be examined on the grounds of facts.

The topic did not interest my friends an me solely for scientifical reasons, since we consider the logic of profit (even applied to modern society) to be inhuman and unecological. Consequently we searched for alternatives.

The old style theory of evolution and the avant-garde role of the elite were no longer valid to us, not so much because of their ineffectiveness but mainly because of our thoughts on self organization. The avant-garde role of Communists is in accordance with the Communist Manifesto founded on the thought, that the Communists would better know, what the history brings, because they have the knowledge about the laws of history.

The opinion that these weren't predictable in a definite manner had already been debated by GDR scientists. Herbert Hoerz formed the term of "statistic law" to include fields of possibility and a multitude of feasible effects, stating the same quintessence. In materialism a dialectic version was applied, never stiff determination.
2. Orientation on a Concept without strict rules

Different references may be used within the concept of self organization. We found the famous image of bifurcation to be of us.


Illustration: Bifurcation

If the involved (open and not linear netted i.e. positively linked) systems in developing processes were taken away from the equilibrium, the picture could be regarded as a model for the course of development. We discover that the stable system can reach a different state when certain parameters are exceeded, if this exceeding divides new possibilities. It may occur after a short while that the system reaches a very stable state where new parameters of order provide stability.

Then again, the plethora of possibilities can be so great that the system fluctuates and alters its state very often. These possibilities are described by the theory of systems.

Our system does not inevitably allow us to conclude about changes of human society in future, these decisions are made within society. However, the model tells us a few fundamental properties of courses of development. We learn that no matter how stable a system with growing disbalance shortly before its point of bifurcation might appear to be, there is no chance that this system could escape its fate. On can forecast that no state is occupied with certainty. Thus, it is not predictable. Looking for future-theory in this sense would therefore be pointless.

We cannot categorically say, that salvation starts after this, as New Age supposes.

Politically many conclusions may be drawn from this. Firstly, one could attempt to remain our system stable in its current state for as long as possible. Along these lines it would make sense to ask for critical parameters and how parameters of order might be steered. One could also search for conditions that must be influenced in order to increase the probability of rearranging into a new human and ecologic state without knowing its precise structure and how it works.

And upheaval includes enormous risks which makes conservatism understandable. Yet, can those risks be reduced by ignoring the approximation of radical changes? We made bad experiences with this in GDR history. In our global situation it is about the life of millions of people, about civilization as such.

3. Do Future yourself

There is more besides the concept of self organization. We know important differences between Chaos (like Brownian motion) and what is generally associated with the notion of chaos. This is chaos in equilibrium.

An new state emerges from distant nonequilibrium which is distinguished in the picture by overlapping and interacting features that makes stable states in the sense of stiff order impossible.

This Turbulent Chaos´ characteristic is the occurrence of subunits that are in ordered state. Computer calculations proved this recently. The inner laws of this kind of chaos are most beautifully illustrated by fractal portrayal:

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Illustration: a beauty fractal

Mathematical depiction's are not representative for society. Inspire of this, one can derive that the system can show states where smaller subunits aren't "enslaved" (as they usually are by parameters of order), but which are more or less autonomous inside the turbulent current. This opened my eyes on already fairly anarchistic outlines of the future that were almost unknown to us beforehand. This whole thing drew away my attention from mere scientifical studies and I started to catch up on political education.

I read about communes, so-called eco-villages, new political movement an I commenced to look at political reality for different points of view.

"Old" political questions became a new meaning, were put into different context. Like the question, how economical democracy works in industrial practice. A group of people inspired by the ideal of decentralized yet linked communities of living and working began to collect material. This was entirely new to us, whereas it would be like carrying coals to Newcastle for "trained" Western Germans.

We have now attained the "negation of negation", despite those promising alternatives.

A decentralized way of production must not lead back to techniques applied during the Middle Ages, even if it has to be ecological. We are also sceptic of spiritualization as a basic concept since we find it hard to follow the new elite concept.

However, we must negate current main industrial technology as well as recent human interaction and relations in private.

Solutions must not get totalitarian once again (Spirituality has this tendency). We need to do major technical work to develop highly productive and still ecological work aids.

The concept of self organization can help too, to deal with representatives of other concepts in a tolerant fashion, as long as human and ecological principles are not violated - because we know about the existence of a multitude of possible futures. The argument about "the on and only right"-solution is fruitless.

We are slowly going along these lines. Our inquiries take us to the different levels of each topic. It would be dangerous and misleading to wear out the concept of self organization in this context. New Age demonstrated what happens if a position of life philosophy is put on all practical subtleties. On the other hand, we are interested in understanding the concept of self organization better and to link to other spheres, like advancing our grasp of dialectic and materialistic philosophy.

Please refer as well to (all in German):

and (also in German):

oder siehe untenSystemtheorie  AutopoieseSelbstorganisationEntwicklungsprinzipienGesellschaftstheorienAttraktoren und ChaosChaosZukunft zum Selbermachen

another English text:
Thinking about Gaia and Contingency, Wholeness and laws

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- This page is a part of "Annettes Philosophenstübchen" © 1997/98 - http://www.thur.de/philo/en112.htm -
(translated by a member of the Saaletaler Tauschring in 1997)
- Thanks Mustafa C. for some corrections! -