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<nettime> the future of cool
lsi on Wed, 30 Aug 2006 11:47:39 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> the future of cool


the future of cool 
April 15, 2000 

Contemporary worldviews typically take one of two models. The first, 
absolutist model believes that, with diligence and integrity, 
perfection is attainable; the other relativist view asserts that no 
amount of anything will produce perfection. Because diligence and 
integrity require a base of reference in order to be meaningful, 
absolutists attempt to achieve perfection by building rigidity into 
their lives. "Law and order" is an absolutist concept, as are 
censorship and cryptography controls, and the police state in 
general. Any system built on enforcement of a rule can be said to be 
absolutist, in that it attempts to achieve stability by forcing its 
subsystems into strict, predefined patterns of behaviour. Absolutist 
thinking is a relic from Newtonian times, from Victorian times, when 
people believed that humans owned the world and could exploit it 
however they wanted; when they believed that The Christian Way was 
the Right Way; when they believed that force was acceptable, and that 
"the masses" should "eat cake" if they were upset about the tragic 
living and working conditions they were forced to endure. 

IN certain circumstances, absolutism is a good thing. For example in 
computing it is very useful to be sure that a 1 is a 1 and not a 0. 
But computers are machines, purpose-built to measure and be measured. 
People are none of these things. Yet, the "global military-industrial-
incarceration complex" -- the "New World Order" -- continues to apply 
absolutist approaches to social issues. This attempt to enforce 
rigidity upon the dynamisms of life is not simply futile, but also 
causes pain, creates other issues, and wastes resources. Inevitably 
it leads to an expansion of the Complex to enforce a new law against 
life, with a neat trickle-down right into the wallets of corporate 
investors, soldiers, prison guards, politicians, and anybody else 
remotely concerned with The Establishment. 

It could be considered that this magical transfer of wealth from the 
poor to the rich is an accident -- until one notices that life has 
been lived that way for as long as history records it. The NWO has 
new methods, but it is the same madness. Exploit the knaves until 
they die in misery. Keep them stupid; tax them for the privilege of 
wrestling their own ignorance. 

The "democratisation" we have seen in recent centuries was more a 
watering down of this absolutism to relativism than a form of 
emancipation. That is, margins for inefficiency were built into 
enforcement structures. The Complex realised that rules would be 
broken; the approach became that relatively few rule failures would 
occur, and smarter ways of dealing with exceptions were created. 

However, even relativist Einstein cannot explain the shape of clouds 
or the fluctuations of the stock market. To explain these phenomena, 
science has moved again to a newer theory. Chaos theory, or 
complexity theory as it has become, can explain such dynamics. 

Complexity theory states that all things interact with each other on 
all levels, all the time. It gives every object in the universe a 
life; this also gives it a death, and thus a lifecycle. The object, 
or organism, evolves through its lifecycle. It affects its 
environment in various ways, and at the same time, the environment 
affects it in various ways also. The exact results of these 
interactions are unpredictable due to the complexity of the 
environment, and of the organism. This inherent complexity leaves us 
unable to draw specific conclusions about the state of the organism 
or environment at any point. This is what renders structuralist "King 
Canute" approaches unsustainable -- the nature and substance of their 
structures are eroded by these unpredictable interactions, an 
inescapable flaw which only worsens with time. 

The process of evolution experienced by each organism works as 
described by Darwin (he applied it to biology) and Adam Smith (an 
economist, who termed it the "invisible hand"). However the process 
occurs in all things, not just within the spheres of biology or 
economics. The continuous cycle of action and reaction experienced by 
both the organism and the wider environment encourages the evolution 
of sustainable organisms only. This is Darwin's "natural selection" --
 nature (the environment) selecting only the fittest and most 
sustainable organisms for reproduction. 

The process of selection is simply one of iterated reinforcement. 
Organisms with attributes disharmonious to its surroundings will 
receive negative reinforcement with respect to those attributes. That 
is, they will be discouraged from displaying those attributes. 
Meanwhile, harmonious attributes are positively reinforced by the 
environment. That is, the organism will be rewarded for displaying 
those attributes. Over time, organisms will learn from these 
reinforcements and adapt themselves accordingly. If they are unable 
to adapt, they are deselected - that is, they will probably not 
reproduce, for one reason or another, and may die prematurely. 

There is probably an exact combination of attributes that facilitates 
a purely harmonious existence, but it is highly improbable that any 
organism will possess it. Most likely, organisms will display a 
variety of harmonious and disharmonious attributes, a few of which 
may be fatal, or key success factors, in some circumstances. 
Attributes in between will cause mild pain or mild pleasure as time 
passes. The unpredictable nature of the environment means that the 
sequence of events and outcomes is also unpredictable. 

This consequence means that those in the business of prediction, such 
as marketers, psychologists, climatologists and economists, are of 
limited worth. And the previously noted consequence -- that of 
constant evolution -- has already limited the worth of laws, police, 
politicians, and criminal justice systems. All of those entities are 
snake-oil merchants. None of them can ever be sure of anything, and 
serve merely as commentators before and after -- but never during -- 
the events they claim to be so closely aligned to. They have no power 
- the environment has all the power. They are nature's bootlace, and 
a parasite to us. 

Indeed, it is asserted that absolutes such as good and bad are 
meaningless. In the end, only the sustainable organism survives. 
Diversity is strength; attempts to create crimeless societies have 
stifled innovation and have produced a slow, unresponsive society 
instead. The lesson of complexity is to embrace diversity; absolutist 
approaches attempt to stifle it. Diversity is important because it 
increases the probability of sustainable organisms evolving. Actions 
by individuals may at first reduce diversity, but this is an 
unsustainable approach which will eventually topple itself, if not 
speedily abandoned. In this way, actions judged "bad" at the time can 
result in "good" outcomes. For this reason, good and bad become 
relative to when the judgement is made, and indeed by who makes it - 
such a subjective view can only ever have little meaning to others. 

Thus, it can be concluded that over time, the environment will 
produce sustainable entities only. We can relax in the knowledge that 
unsustainable behaviour is not rewarded. In the end, life always 
wins. Being a "good citizen" is more about encouraging feedback and 
diversity than conforming to rules. One cannot judge good from bad, 
but one can distinguish between encouragement and suppression. Does 
it give, or does it take? 

It is on this basis that I believe the future of "cool" resides. The 
application of Complexity Theory to our socio-political systems and 
our economies. In essence, it is a liberal ideal - embrace freedom of 
all kinds. The trend to market-driven economies is evidence of the 
rise of liberal thinking. Privatise, globalise, self-organise are all 
byproducts of this thinking. Contemporary bickering over trade bloc 
membership, level playing fields, barriers to entry and import 
tariffs are all evidence of the friction between old-world ideas 
being vigorously defended by the "new world order". Why would they 
resist the liberals? What have they got against free and fair trade? 
In a word: profit. The NWO's stranglehold on power translates to 
money. Liberalising anything reduces the height of their pile - so 
they greedily and selfishly resist liberalisation. 

The NWO can only be termed exploitative; there is no excuse for 
suppression. The cosy hegemony that is currently world politics did 
not occur by accident. However, nature does always win, and the 
hegemony is not sustainable. Thus, the hegemony will ultimately fall. 
Given the ugly side-effects of the hegemony, that is, war and famine, 
poverty and pollution, ignorance and violence, its demise cannot come 
soon enough. 

Ordinary people can do their bit by seeing past the facade of the 
media (which is simply a mouthpiece of the Establishment), 
conscientiously objecting to all forms of suppression, living 
environmentally-friendly, and speaking their minds loudly, 
particularly in public places, using whatever media is available. 
Make an effort to encourage life. Let people learn. Give people 
choice. To me, this is the future of cool.

Stuart Udall
stuart at {AT} cyberdelix.dot net - http://www.cyberdelix.net/

 * Origin: lsi: revolution through evolution (192:168/0.2)

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