Friday, August 13, 2010

Thoughts on Sovereignty and Emergence

One core concept to come out of the MetaCurrency camp is that of fractal sovereignty. A fractal is self same at all levels. Similarly, fractal sovereignty is where the sovereignty of the individual and the sovereignty of the group are simultaneously fully embraced.

The question about where to place sovereignty has long been one of the core divides in politics. Many who consider themselves conservative favor the sovereignty of the individual over the group, decrying regulations, taxes, etc. Those who may consider themselves liberal tend to believe that taxes are a good thing because they contribute to the common good. In the spirit of "transcend and include" we have been exploring what it would mean to embrace both types of sovereignty fully. And, as is the case with many other topics, the MetaCurrency people don't all agree. But here are my thoughts.

Fractals are all over the place in nature. Consider a snowflake. Its hypnotizing symmetry is a direct result of the "V" shape of a water molecule. A water molecule is bent at a very specific angle, causing it to be polar. This means one side is positively charged and the other is negatively charged. The collective interaction of billions of these tiny polar molecules is what ultimately leads to the snowflake's macro crystalline structure. So the larger scale pattern emerges fractally from the smaller scale pattern.

Now apply this to sovereignty. For a group to be truly sovereign as a group, the only possible foundation is full individual sovereignty. So what do I mean by full individual sovereignty? In this case I don't simply mean that you have a vote. I mean you are fully sovereign to act however you deem best given the information you have. That last part about information is really the key.

As you may already be aware, I consider a currency a method of keeping account of things that happen in the real world. It doesn't take a big leap to see that my perception of the world largely depends on how I account for events. If I am a teacher who cares how polite the kids are with each other, I might want to keep track of pleases and thank yous. Perhaps I would choose to use a gold star system. If I care about academic performance I would use grades. If I care about athletic performance, I would keep score. All of these are currencies that shape my perception of the students in my class.

When we share methods of accounting, we can better coordinate our actions. For example, it wouldn't be much of a football game if half the team was paying attention to the score, and the other half was counting the pleases and thank yous on the field. Coherence in the game emerges from shared perception of the events taking place on the field, and our perception emerges from how we account for these events.

So far, so good. But how does this apply to sovereignty? In the Industrial paradigm, we tend to get to cohesion through coercion. There are rules that are usually dictated from on high. Even in a democracy, how much say do you really have over the rules? Not much. What if instead of relying on RULES to create social cohesion, we let cohesion emerge from everyone's fully sovereign individual actions. Everyone would be fully sovereign to use whatever method of accounting for events they found most useful. In other words, everyone would be fully sovereign to choose how to perceive the world around them. I predict that ultimately, this would produce large scale social coherence without coercion, much like how water molecules produce the coherence of the snowflake without any coercion or rules.

That is the soft claim. The strong claim is that true group sovereignty has as a necessary logical underpinning full individual sovereignty. Groups that cohere otherwise are not actually sovereign in the sense of choosing how to respond to their environment AS A GROUP. Sure they can respond, but not as sovereign entities. They respond based on rules and policies formalized on paper.

Think of it this way. In nature, species exist BECAUSE they work. No one sat down and looked at the ecosystem and said, "You know, I think a small hairy critter would do well here." If there are small hairy critters, it is because small hairy critters emerged. Similarly, groups that are truly sovereign will exist BECAUSE they work, not because they were designed ahead of time. That is the essence of emergence versus creation from outside.

This difference in thinking is analogous to that between G_d the watch maker, and G_d the mother. G_d the watch maker makes a plan first, and then executes it. G_d the mother simply creates a healthy environment for the baby to emerge as the baby self-determines.

1 comment:

  1. It seems that one of the fundamental aspects of sovereignty is the authenticity that comes through the full unfoldment of one's passion, gifts, and Calling in service to others. The expression of these hints at the emergent value in *relationships* that arises from purposeful engagement - which would be fundamental for fractal sovereignty.

    One of the artifacts of our scarcity based money system is the mass adoption of substitutes. Eric Hoffer pointed out that the adoption of substitutes leads to pretty much exactly what we see today.

    “Things are different when people subjected to drastic change find only meager opportunities for action or when they cannot, or are not allowed to, attain self-confidence and self-esteem by individual pursuits. In this case, the hunger for confidence, for worth, and for balance directs itself toward the attainment of substitutes.
    It needs no underlining that this reaching out for substitutes means trouble. In the chemistry of the soul, a substitute is almost always explosive if for no other reason than that we can never have enough of it. We can never have enough of that which we really do not want. What we want is justified self-confidence and self-esteem. If we cannot have the originals, we can never have enough of the substitutes. We can be satisfied with moderate confidence in ourselves and with a moderately good opinion of ourselves, but the faith we have in a holy cause has to be extravagant and uncompromising, and the pride we derive from an identification with a nation, race, leader, or party is extreme and overbearing.
    The fact that a substitute can never become an organic part of ourselves makes our holding on to it passionate and intolerant.” ~ Eric Hoffer