Systemic Flexibility


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This posts is about a fundamental problem that pops up when you try to optimize a society to meet specific goals. It is something I have realized to be the case for some time and it is the cause of many problems even in Holland today, simply because the best solution to it (democracy) is no longer respected of functional.

The basic idea is simple : A system in use is resistent to change, but change is necessary to optimize the system. Forces that want to use the system will fight those that want to change it. Both sides need to be in this fight to make it work.

The above is quite abstract but you can imagine that a Formula 1 driver can not race and optimize his car at the same time. He races, then he goes into the pit and changes are made. In between races much more profound changes can be made. A formula one team is supposed to have in build mechanisms to optimize its actions, and this flexibility can be considered the actual competing entitiy in F1 teams (because they could in principle build anything).

If a system is a group of humans that try to cooperate to achieve mutually benificial results then the same thing goes : You can have all the farmers working the land with axes as fast as possible (to give an optimal system output), but one of them has to be able to invent a plough, build it and show that you can use the farmers more efficiently if one ploughs the field, the other tends the cows and another the chickens. What happens if all the farmers compete over who works the axe the strongest? You never get out of that situation!

Industry being a system that will simply run at maximum speed will use democracy to make the system more rigid in their favor, but they have also used revolutions (communism) and dictators (fascism). The parameter to watch is flexibility and human happiness

We know from history that systems created by people often become inflexible because people in it want to enjoy the effects of it rather than change it, even if this is at the cost to others. A lot like a game of musical chairs : Once people have a safe seat they don’t want to get up. Participants in a system that like their position will often start making it less flexible once they have the power to do so.

We are all both system elements and individuals, because the system can serve us as individuals. With respect to climate change it does not, which is why you see anti system sentiments

This systemic flexibility issue is found all over history, and my country Holland is now going through a phase where it becomes painfully apparent that our system has petrified under the influence of business interests. We have a prime minister that does not take a hint (he should fuck off) we have public offices (tax office) that for years harassed and abused innocent families. The country has effectively stopped building while banks maximize the cost of homes. These are systems that clearly need to become more flexible but seem to bussy themselves with being the opposite.

This clip from the movie “They Live” shows perfectly the difference between individuals and system lakeys. The system wants you to comply and be anonymous, the individual wants to express discretion and have identity. You are then asked to identify with system leaders with lots of identity that you choose yourself in a democratic process. In a system that has become to rigid the leaders are no longer individuals.

The solution to systemic inflexibility in government has been democracy, which originally was so flexible that laws agreed in the agora (of Athens) could be changed the next day (and where). Although this kind of flexibility was never available in dutch governance we have seen progressive steps to make the system more rigid, at the cost of democracy. Now it has come to the point we have a demissionair (no longer officially in power) kabinet with a prime minister we don’t want anymore that seems to be prolonging the ‘formation’ ( a process of agreeing which policies to implement in the next 4 years, which is one of those rigidity increasing inventions that where never meant to be) so as to guarantee its continuation of power. We already tolerate a party system (meaning votes are by party, not by parliament member as intended) and even when laws are made and a judge says they need to be inforced this does not happen (klimaatzaak). Democracy is not working.

It is not the role of a prime minister to turn to industry (and neutered labour movements) and ask “So what do you want me to do guys?”, but this is what has been happening.

The primary reason for the above is that industry and banks have gotten more influence over our politics and replaced or positions people in it that are on the side of system use, not change or optimization. The optimization taking place is that of making the system more rigid and solidly engrained in our rules. The main backbone of the economy being fossil fuels makes it so the most prominent drive is towards adapting to using those fuels and the institutions that depend on them (banks) to create a bearable society, but not one that is healthy and guarantees a future (not even for Holland itself we will be under water soon).

Our democratic institutions should contemplate the conundrum of systemic flexibility and conclude that it is really not possible to be a government if the parts that make it flexible and adaptive are not respected (the pariament is routinely ignored). Democracy can not function if members that make suggestions are not heard, and also not if those members seem to be ill informed or insanely ignorant.

The system we as citizen live in is also to blame, because if we make mistakes and we vote based on those mistakes we will create a government that makes mistakes. The people working hard to hold our attention, the media are thus part of the system that needs to function for us to be able to be good voters. This is also clearly not the case. Lies and nonsense in the media have to be given a place where we can recognize it as entertainment, separated from factual, relevant and timely information we need to be safe, healthy and make good choices for our own governance.

System flexibility is a fundamental challenge, it pops up everywhere, simply because you can not plan and execute at the same time when you are dealing with large groups of people. We need to question systems and look at how they are flexible, make choices conditional. Most of all we need to choose a principal goal (like ensuring human rights) that can inform us if our system has errors we need to fix.

Another form of inflexibility that has been building in our parliament is the introduction of fake right wing parties like Forum for Democratie, Partij voor de Vrijheid and Democrats 66, which are satelites of the main right wing Party for Freedom and Democracy, and the party Denk. This is a silent takeover of a democratic system by openly non-democratic groups.

This post was written by an individual who’s thought process detected a flaw, a principal dilemma we all face in trying to make things work. It will fall on deaf ears with some of those that profit from a system even if they know some suffer from it. The key to flexibility in the core is individual motivation which can not be greed (response to bigger numbers) or ego (response to higher social status), it has to be love (response to peacefull and thriving coexistence). This may in itself be flawed because today the future we achieve should be a major consideration, and none of the three motivations above really care about that. It would help however to make reward structures so that only those with the right motivation (care about others) find jobs in public office attractive.

The rigid right wing system wants to rush profitable laws through parliament, but parliament members want to process the proposals and respond. This causes some of them to become burned out, just like in many companies where people are ignored in the same way.

It is also clear that some figures in politics are expressly chosen for their own rigidity, take dutch politician Stef Blok who is like a rational machine that serves the banks and does not consider much else (he liberalized the rent market so that banks are now optimizing their profits over entire cities). He was a self proclaimed servant of the competitiveness of the financial market of Holland, citizen be fucked! We have had these kind of glaringly corrupt ‘machines’ placed in the system, and at the same time see others with other qualities positioned where they need to be very warm and fuzzy (SER) in order to screw over workers who resonate with such a personality (because they are warm an fuzzy), a real example of wolfs in sheeps clothing!

The simplest way to increase systemic flexibility in the most important place is to restore the dominance of parliament over our cabinet ministers. This should be done by any means. If it succeeds you know there is communication between all relevant parts (including police that will eventually refuse beating down riots or justice that will refuse to make demonstrations illegal), if it fails you don’t want to be governed by whatever results!

One of the reasons for the apparent rigidity in the system today is that any real democracy will end the dominance of the fossil industry, which will end the dominance of banks. These two interests are holding their political servants to their word in protecting them. This is another reason why it is important to replace individuals.

A good option to map how well democracy functions is to use the social security information system (DigId) in Holland to collect data on wellbeing and possibly referendum votes. This is low cost, low complexity and can be done in weeks.