Three conditions for a stable panarchical system

Our friend Paul Hartzog’s tagline on is panarchy.com website is

“many.2.many ** peer.2.peer ** d.i.y”

He writes that it is “precisely because it takes all three of these conditions for an effective panarchy, i.e. complex adaptive socio-economic-political system to remain stable. No one of them is sufficient.”

“D.I.Y.” is necessary but not sufficient. “Many to many” is necessary because communication has to be happening so that individual parts are connecting, disconnecting, and reconnecting in a myriad of new ways all of the time, and “peer to peer” is necessary because that communication has to be happening in a non-hierarchical way in order to actively work against the systemic bias that is the natural consequence of power-based social systems. Communication is only possible between equals.

He develops the argument here below:

Paul Hartzog:

” * Positive Feedback

Positive Feedback in complex systems can cause the entire system to cross a threshold and suffer nearly-instant disastrous collapse.

This was illustrated perfectly by the resonance incident London’s Millennium Bridge ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millennium_Bridge_%28London%29#Resonance )
“The bridge’s movements were caused by a ‘positive feedback’ phenomenon, known as Synchronous Lateral Excitation. The natural sway motion of people walking caused small sideways oscillations in the bridge, which in turn caused people on the bridge to sway in step, increasing the amplitude of the bridge oscillations and continually reinforcing the effect.”

Consequently, multitudes of individual actions can result in outcomes worse for the group as a whole and thus worse for the individuals themselves in the long run. This known and well-researched social dilemma is also responsible for the depletion of commons, pollution, and many of the situations that Greer suggests will be solved by repeating the process.

In other words, when the environment provides an incentive structure that serves to coordinate individual actions according to a systemic bias then the result is no different than if those actions had been coordinated in the first place by a central planner with specific outcomes in mind.

* Duplicate Effort

Individual actions made in a non-communicative environment result in wasteful duplication of effort. This is one of the reasons that shareable.com and wikipedia.org are crucial to future efforts. Individuals who use those sites do not need to, and typically don’t, coordinate their efforts, but the consequence of the intersection of shared information and individual action is rapid innovation. In addition, it is essential that those innovations are shared back into the commons to spur the next innovation.

* Panarchy

The tagline on http://panarchy.com is “many.2.many peer.2.peer d.i.y” precisely because it takes all three of these conditions for an effective panarchy, i.e. complex adaptive socio-economic-political system to remain stable. No one of them is sufficient.

“D.I.Y.” is necessary but not sufficient. “Many to many” is necessary because communication has to be happening so that individual parts are connecting, disconnecting, and reconnecting in a myriad of new ways all of the time, and “peer to peer” is necessary because that communication has to be happening in a non-hierarchical way in order to actively work against the systemic bias that is the natural consequence of power-based social systems. Communication is only possible between equals.”

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