Brexit, Trump, shut-down, rebirth

When governments are dysfunctional–as they are today in the US and Britain–nobody is happy. Especially those with federal employees in the family. We like smoothly running government.  We want systems which just tick along like clockwork. The career politicians who built the system which led to the current crises are especially distraught.

thunderstorm at capitol

Anyone who has ever worked hard to build up a farm, a business, a career, a garden, or a family finds it hard to face one fact: all systems disintegrate.  To not recognize this fact is to ignore the adaptive cycles characteristics of all living systems. All systems go through stages of growth, maturity, release/destruction and reassembly.  All too often, in our efforts to maintain the system, we sow the seeds of a more destructive release.

The mature forest, watched over carefully to preserve it from fire, will eventually build up so much flammable material that a much hotter, more destructive fire results which even destroys the seed needed to regrow the forest.  The landscape is stripped of protective cover, suffers erosion and can never again become a lush forest.

Semi-arid lands, if totally protected from animal grazing by well-meaning conservationists, will develop a crust on their soils leading to less penetration of moisture and exacerbation of desertification.

A company focused on buying or eliminating competitors to dominate a national market  doesn’t pay attention to changing market drivers, only to have a more innovative company come in from outside and destroy it.

A people are intent on maximizing pleasure because “you only have one life.”  Their society becomes increasingly dependent on immigrant workers, beset by crime, and dissolves.

The mature oak trees would probably maintain their forest as it is, if they could.  Their system, luckily for oak trees, allows disturbances to maintain the adaptive cycle of growth (r), maturation (K), disassembly (Ω) and reassembly (α).  Unluckily for our species, we are so adept at prolonging the K phase that we often destroy the capacity for reassembly.  The cradle of civilization in Turkey, Syria and Iraq attests to this fact with hundreds of dead cities in a man-made desert[1].  And more are in the making.

What will break us out of our seemingly uncontrollable need to maintain a stable, mature phase?  Those of us who are Christians might remember that “you must be born again” and creative destruction.  We might then recognize we were in a stultifying K phase and needed someone like Trump to induce chaos so the system has an opportunity to reassemble and jump to an enhanced, revived growth phase.

Or, like the transcendentalists[2], maybe Shiva, Brahma, Vishnu as destroyer, creator and preserver might be more to your liking. Though the Indians have had the Bhagavad Gita for 2500 years and they are still stuck trying to preserve a K phase and endure overpopulation as a result.

Or, we might pay attention to the Tao Te Ching and encompass both the creative (yang) and the destructive (yin) while not becoming too entranced with either.  Though the cradle of the Tao, China, is the most powerful modern example of perpetuation of the K phase until the foundations for resilience and transformation are destroyed.

Or, maybe we could be convinced by the Austrian school and the creative destruction of Schumpeter[3].  Though the big business types entranced by the Austrian school love to form the monopolies and oligopolies which undermine the diversity needed fore resilience.

More radically, we could just set aside all these theories and return to what stimulated them in the first place.  We might even see how natural systems manage to be resilient and transform themselves if the disturbance is strong enough.

We might learn of how complementary diversity, conservative innovation, modular connectivity, and controlled redundancy are four qualities which lead to increased potential for ecosystem resilience and transformation.

If we continue in our communion with nature, we might even understand a little better how to scuttle the stable, mature phase before it gets too comfortable and move into an rebirth which expands our potential even more.

Establishment Republicans and Democrats (Republicrats) are trying to manage the present disruption to return to the stable system they liked. Radical Democrats are trying to replace the stable system with a socialist system which has never worked.

The devotion of Republicrats to their stable system of big business/big government collusion is much like suppressing fire until a cataclysmic forest destruction takes place. The Trumpettes and the socialists are just different sides of the same coin. Both represent attempts at rebirth after the Trump induced destruction.  In the midst of that destruction, we cry out in anguish, wondering where we went wrong.

The adaptive cycles are indifferent to our anguish, to fairness, to our limited sense of right and wrong.  They just are.  Or, if asked what you should call them, they would say “I am.”

So you can learn more about r, K, Ω, α and the qualities which lead to resilience and transformation.  Or you can just let them buffet you around as they wish.  Rebirth will come.  The only question is whether you use it or it abuses you.

[1] Lowdermilk, 1953.Conquest of the Land

[2] Thoreau, 1839. A week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers.Pp. 111, 116.

[3] Schumpeter, 1943. Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy.