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Priorities, Strategies, Consumption Patterns, and Definitions of Success

Organizations tend to have different functions, ways of allocating resources, ways of perceiving and interacting with others, and different structures and strategies depending on how they define their goals.  To my mind, there are absolute profit-maximizing organizations, profit achieving organizations (whose goals are more broadly defined than their absolute cousins), cost coverage organizations (similar to public utilities and other enterprise fund endeavors), cost minimization organizations (nonprofits, for example), and effectiveness maximization organizations (similar to cost minimization organizations but, again, with broader goals and definitions of success which do not come at the lowest resource cost possible).

The study and classification of how organizations pursue resources and goals, prioritize, strategize, and structure themselves to achieve these goals, and how they interact with the environment and one another is likely critical to knowing how to observe, regulate, and manage these organizations from the perspective of governing institutions, organizations, and people.  These governing institutions, organizations, and people are critical to maintaining our collective and individual abilities to survive and potentially thrive on this or any planet in the universe.  The reason and need for this social, organizational, and individual management is because without these regulatory and monitoring processes and programs in place, the cacophony of personal and organizational action will likely lead to an excessive amount of chaos in our human world, thus destroying our very ability to act due to the excessive uncertainty and danger that would be created in such a system.  Social life would descend back to the Hobbesean jungle, and be “…nasty, brutish, and short”, besides maybe not even being possible for humans and all other living beings in the first place.

Knowing how organizations prioritize, strategize, consume resources, allocate resources, structure themselves, interact with others, and define personal and aggregate success also enables governing institutions to get their regulations, management and monitoring processes correct relative to each organization and individual, and each type of organization and individual.  If the government(s) of the world fail to get their policies, procedures, regulations, management, and monitoring processes correct, it will not only inhibit healthy and optimal functioning of all other organizations and people, but will also threaten the legitimacy and authority of the governing institutions, organizations, and people, preventing them from being able to carry out their needed jobs.  Failure to get policies, procedures, regulations, management, and monitoring processes correct may also signal the death of the governing institutions, organizations, and people, thus putting all of Earth’s inhabitants at risk of having to survive in a period of anarchy and excessive chaos.

All of this musing should be taken with a grain of salt though.  Organizations need to be studied on their own terms and this piece alone does not prove or disprove the hypothesis that is presented.  This is just a rough sketch of my present understanding and comprehension of organizations, organizational classifications, and behavior based on how they sustain themselves with resources and how they define success.  More research is needed to search for what types, priorities, strategies, and resource use patterns are present in the real world, with the classification system being updated, reassessed, and challenged constantly in order to create an awareness of organizations that would enable governments and policymakers to more effectively work with these organizations and people in order to maintain and improve human social conditions on planet Earth and, possibly, beyond.

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Of Ants and Humans

Ants, like human beings, have a limited capacity to know, comprehend, accept, and work with their social and ecological environments.  However, there must be something built into the ants’ brains that enable them to have some kind of pro-sociability with ants from the same colony in order to enable and facilitate communication and production amongst the ants for survival and well-being.  Without this pro-sociability and willingness to engage with and help other ants, the ant colony would not likely be able to survive, let alone to potentially thrive in its given context.

Humans have more of an ability to know their environments and their social and ecological conditions than ants do.  Yet there seems to be at present a strain of “broken” or “confused” human beings who don’t or won’t get their individual places within the ecological and social contexts.  These people, who are likely to have brains that are less inclined to sociability, wisdom, and awareness of common reality, populate our  societies and are able to wield influence within our societies through either the democratic processes or through the monopolization of positions of relative power and influence in our societies.  When people with this anti-social, unwise, and delusional brains get into these places of power or wield significant influence in our societies, they tend to wreak havoc on themselves and on others in the long term in spite of them believing that they’re doing the correct things correctly.  I wonder if ants at one point had to likewise evolve beyond their own anti-social and/or non-perceiving cousins within their own colonies to achieve the degree of success that they have on this planet and within their own colonies.  I wonder if we, as a younger species, are likewise going to evolve around these anti-social, unwise, and non-perceiving people or whether we’re going to be destroyed by them in the grand scheme of things.

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Evidence-Based Policy-Making

I truly believe that the conservatives, the Libertarians, and the neoliberals are all based poorly in terms of how they look at the world and, thus, are rendered inferior at governing relative to governing practices and techniques based in evidence.  This is not to say that evidence-based policy making is always going to be correct in its conclusions.  There is a lot of data that needs to be collected and sorted through in order to infer accurate understandings of how things work on the social, economic, and environmental levels.  However, what makes evidence-based policy superior to anything the ideologues can come up with is its willingness to admit mistakes, reverse direction, and change course to do something that is actually healthier and more appropriate for the society in question.  Mistakes are going to be made, like the ideologues.  The difference is that the mistakes of evidence-based governing are considered learning opportunities and not failures or things to be ignored in favor of pure belief and faith.  Initially, evidence-based governing may be no different than ideologically based governing, in terms of its statistical success rate.  However, with time and data, things can be improved and will be improved if the people leading the governing actually do a good job at it.  Evidence-based governing is an insanely difficult process, as one has to correctly define the data that is needed, gather it in appropriate and effective manners, and interpret the results honestly and accurately.  However, I don’t know of a better way of doing governing, in spite of the difficulty and problems that it always will have.  I won’t sell you all short about it, but, it’s probably going to be in the long term better than ideologically based systems and logics of governing.  If only humans had the ability or the sense to implement this system and logic of governing in actual halls of power.

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Possible Common Traits of “Golden Age” Periods in Human History

To my mind there are commonalities amongst periods of sustained “growth and benefit” which we can characterize as “Golden Ages” in human history.  The list is as follows:

1) Innovation based on human needs and evidence based effects on the collective whole, not just for the individual’s absolute gain. 2) Responsive governance within society to the needs of the general public in favor of the general public, rather than the handful of people who actually hold and make the choices in a given society.  3) The enabling, if not, enforcement of wealth to flow to the general public such that people can still become rich individually, but not outside of the social bounds of the rest of the people who produce wealth.  4) Obedience to lower, bottom-up laws, conditions, and needs with top-down enabling this bottom-up directed growth in a coordinated and mediated manner.  5) A healthy respect for nature and the environments in which we find ourselves.  6) Adaptation of, rather than conservation or preservation of ideals in the face of evidence and practical results. 7) A healthy but not foolish respect for all other societies and peoples living on the planet with us.

From my (sketchy) knowledge of the history of the more positive times in humanity (such as Ancient Egypt, the golden ages of China, al-Andalus and the Islamic Golden Age, the Serenissima of Venice, the American 20th century, etc) these are common social, political, economic, and environmental traits that characterize these high points.  Failure to adhere to any combination of these seven generally resulted in the long term decay and collapse of those who failed to abide by these natural laws and principles which enable societies to survive and maybe thrive and flourish.  Governing groups need to respect and actually love in a non-grasping manner their people, the environment, and other societies in order to prevent wars, resolve conflicts peacefully, and coordinate domestically and internationally to resolve common internal and external problems through the sharing of knowledge, awareness, and practices, working to produce better societies internally first, and then working in concert with each other on the international level next.

I’m specifically talking about a massive top-down coordination amongst governments on all levels with a focus on bottom-up results, which then should cause adaptation and alterations on the top-down level again in an on-going dialogue between the governed and all levels of government, from the international level down to the smallest local unit that is possible in the given domestic society in order to produce a happier, healthier, more sustainable, and more resilient society that can survive, adapt, and grow with any and all shocks that are likely to happen.  I want a society that can proactively persevere anything the universe may throw at it and avoid the pitfalls that it itself can create for itself through its lack of knowledge, wisdom, compassion, understanding or acceptance of facts.  These seven, to my knowledge and awareness, are the groundwork traits that a society’s people and governing body must practice within themselves in order to create that happier, healthier, more sustainable, and more resilient society.  We cannot afford to continue to do the same things as we’ve done in the past and expect different results, especially as conditions continue to change on their own and by our own actions.  We can either live in this happier, healthier, more sustainable, and more resilient society, or we can live in the same  way we’ve done in the past and continue to be at severe risk of obliteration by our own hands or some other unknown force in the universe.  Relaxation is not an option, I’m afraid to say, nor should we be lackadaisical about our condition as a species or a society.  That’s a sure way to get oneself and ones’ people killed and rendered unable to recover in the long and short term.  The choice is up to each of you.

This is what I can tell at present based upon my understanding and knowledge of the past and how things work in the present.  We can either grow up from a world of ideologies and embrace evidence with a bias towards facts and the truth.  Or, we can continue to wallow in our narrow vision of humanity and ourselves, and cease to be a problem in the universe.  The choice is up to each of you as to whether you are more apart of the solution or the problem.  What are you going to do?

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Emergence, self-organization and network efficiency in gigantic termite-nest-networks build using simple rules

Termites, like many social insects, build nests of complex architecture. These constructions have been proposed to optimize different structural features. Here we describe the nest network of the termite Nasutitermes ephratae, which is among the largest nest-network reported for termites and show that it optimizes diverse parameters defining the network architecture. The network structure avoids multiple crossing of galleries and minimizes the overlap of foraging territories. Thus, these termites are able to minimize the number of galleries they build, while maximizing the foraging area available at the nest mounds. We present a simple computer algorithm that reproduces the basics characteristics of this termite nest network, showing that simple rules can produce complex architectural designs efficiently.

Emergence, self-organization and network efficiency in gigantic termite-nest-networks build using simple rules
Diego Griffon, Carmen Andara, Klaus Jaffe

http://arxiv.org/abs/1506.01487 ;

Sourced through Scoop.it from: arxiv.org

Confucius observed that when humans follow a particular, internalized code and logic, the need for the top-down command and control forms of social organization disappear, allowing for much more effective and efficient bottom-up systems of organization to arise.  In other words, laws from on high levels of government should be simple, basic, and in accordance with the present natural laws and conditions of bottom-up organization.  Imagine a border collie moving sheep in a particular direction.  It guides the system by moving them in the general direction that the farmer needs while simply correcting and focusing on those sheep who stray from the flock or begin to pull the flock in undesirable directions.  Each society probably uses different strategies depending upon their own internal logic and “state of propriety”.

In the United States, it seems that we get extremely focused on the details and what was past rather than consider the general principles behind the laws, which are reflective of our actual values and stable desires as a nation.  We need to refer back to the principles and deeper meaning of the Constitution and not get so hung up about what is or isn’t actually written in the Constitution.  It’s this intuitive base level of understanding where the logic of our society is and how we are doing that is relative to that common direction we all share as Americans that is more likely to help us.  The details of which sheep are going where is insignificant relative to the big picture of what direction are the sheep as a flock headed and which ones are pulling us in those unhealthy directions.  Sadly, Americans prefer to look at the sheep rather than the flock at their own expense.  That’s probably how we got so many highly detailed laws and rules that are contradictory or counter to our base principles and values.  Silly society.  Silly people.

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Common Features of Social Collapse

The important thing to remember about our economy, is that it is a nonlinear system.  It does not go up automatically, and what is a positive trend today can be a sharply negative trend in the near future when there are underlying fragilities and weaknesses in the overall social system.  The United States actually seems to have very weak governing institutions.  Its legislatures and executive bodies are unable to operate without the blessing of a few outside and unaccountable power brokers and funders who are not accountable to the public’s needs and have demonstrated no care or concern for the overall well-being and health of the public and the environment.  The judiciary is appointed by these weak institutions, and are therefore, tainted with the unhealthy biases towards personal private profit at the expense of overall social, individual, and environmental health and well-being.

A common thread of societal failure are these institutional weaknesses in the political field.  Losing legitimacy, lacking authority and agency, and genuinely not caring or knowing about the health and well-being of the society as a whole are all signs of severe weakness that the American system has been displaying for a number of decades at this point.  A sufficiently powerful government that is able to assert itself over the powerful few, working on behalf of the general public is preferable to any kind of government.  Powerful governments that don’t work effectively or at all on behalf of the public are obviously not good for the government or the society.  Weak governments, regardless of whom they are working for aren’t good either, because they leave a vacuum for the private elite to set up shop and take over society and make the powerful sub-government that is unaccountable to and disinterested in anyone but its small self that actually rules.  When the government doesn’t have sufficient power, it just gets taken up by those who can afford it.  That’s what Americans don’t seem to get, and why they’re being played the saps by the CEOs and shareholders in the guise of Libertarianism and conservatism.

Therefore, we need a new system of government entirely which is transparent, able to be held accountable often and effectively by all citizens for all citizens by peaceful methods, and independent of the powerful private concerns that are already present.  It’s only an idiot group of people who would rig a democratic system in their relative favor at the expense of other people.  That’s precisely what we have in the United States and how we are more likely to fail in the long term (which becomes the short term all too soon).  Enjoy your fun.

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A multifaceted program causes lasting progress for the very poor: Evidence from six countries

Source: www.sciencemag.org

Don’t ever tell me that poverty is a condition that will always be around or is something that laissez-faire economics will take care of.  Quite frankly, it’s lazy thinking and unfeeling to view a challenge such as poverty or extreme poverty as a feature of human society that has a place in such global abundance or that doing nothing will solve the problem.  Furthermore, I am willing to hypothesize that these efforts to relieve poverty, using time, energy, and resources from the production of wealth in our societies will not come at a great expense to that production of wealth and may, in fact, balance out or exceed on its returns for the overall global economy, especially with more consumption, increased savings to protect against shocks, and if it is done in an environmentally sound and sustainable way.  It’s science, but it’s not rocket science.  Enjoy!

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Data Mining Reveals a Global Link Between Corruption and Wealth

Social scientists have never understood why some countries are more corrupt than others. But the first study that links corruption with wealth could help change that.

Source: www.technologyreview.com

The question then becomes whether wealth, or the lack thereof, is a cause of corruption or wealth is caused by a lack of corruption.  It makes sense in my mind that a lack of corruption leads to increased potential to make wealth because the appropriate use of resources (ie, using resources for their stated purposes) and the honesty that underlies that point could, in my view, make for more wealth than the dishonest methods and inappropriate usage of public funds would.  We could hypothetically run simulations to test which one is the case, similar to the Sugarscape experiments.  On the other hand, a lack of resources may incentivize those who don’t have much to take more from the public resources and use them for private uses (ie, what I call the Jean Valjean effect).  More experimentation should be done to tease this out.  Perhaps by knowing what they’re giving up by having corruption, the officials will be more circumspect about how they live off and take from the public till.

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A Theoretical Organizational Framework, Logic, and Ethic for Governments

The science of policy-making, governance, and politicking from the perspective of improving, enhancing, and maintaining power structures all stem from the science, principles, practices, and ethics of good medicine from the perspective of benefitting all patients.  Policy-making and governance are the technical, scientific parts of it.  Advisors, staff, and researchers are like the specialists, surgeons, and medical researchers who develop the techniques full time; potentially great at what they do and at operating technically, but sometimes not so great at the bedside manner which is important in communicating medical treatments and policies to and for the general public.  Politicians and those who work with the public need to be more like the family doctor or the general practitioner; trained and aware of the science and limitations and able to do experimental treatments sometimes, but ultimately owing a lot of advice and knowledge to the researchers and technical specialists.  The communication processes with the public and with people in the public is an art.  It can be practiced and taught; but not all will be great at it due to personality, temperament, or preference.

The politicians are the ones who need to be able to synthesize all of the research and knowledge and practices of every field of medicine in order to come up with an accurate, general, and overall picture of societal, economic, and environmental health in order to make the day to day management choices over the governing agencies and the social body that is human society.  Advisors, researchers, and staff help fill in the technical cracks in their knowledge, awareness, and function, creating a detailed yet holistic synthesis of information for the politicians to do.  All members of the government and the governing and research bodies are interdependent on one another and on the health and well-being of the society that is in their technical charge.  Any failure in the society that can be addressed by government is ultimately a reflection of the failures within the government.  Any failure in the society that the government cannot get at due to a matter of political choice and preference on the part of the society is a fault of the society.  These can possibly be remedied by the government through its policy and choice making systems in given moments and over time, especially as the benefits and costs are made more known to the public.  There is also the fact that there are diverse “correct” answers in policy making depending upon the given situation that a planet, international region, country, intra-country region, state, intrastate region, or locality may be in that does no harm to others or to themselves and enables the given area to thrive due to its favorable circumstances and choices.  All of these layers must work together and communicate with one another freely, openly, and honestly in order to ensure optimal functionality in the long term, both within governmental organizations and across social organizations and people.  Otherwise, we get less effective and efficient policy-making and governance in our social world and across societies, which ultimately costs lives, well-being, health, quality of life, resources, energy, and effort for disappointing or negative returns.

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The Evolution of Science, Society, and Policy Engineering

A big problem with data is that it takes time, energy, and resources to accumulate and acquire.  This is easier to do in the “hard” sciences where things are done in laboratory conditions over relatively short periods of time.  In the social sciences, data collection can take years or decades and has to be done in the fuzzy conditions of the real world or in a simplified world that may or may not be accurate in a computer program.

The first step to making our government operate more effectively and efficiently is to make a conscientious and sustained effort to ethically and effectively collect data.  The next step is to synthesize and analyze the data to tell a story about how things work in our human societies.  The third step, and I think, the most difficult step, is to actually use the data to achieve better results in our human societies and across human societies.  To do this, we must sacrifice our old notions of how things are and how things ought to work in an endless stream of refinement and bias smashing until we recognize the universe, ourselves, and our places in it for what they really are.

We were at this same place once before, way back in the Renaissance when Western civilization rediscovered, refined, enhanced, and built upon the awareness and knowledge of medicine.  We can infer causal relations amongst aspects of the social system, just as we learned about the human body. However complex and interconnected societies and parts of society may be, it is incorrect to say that it is impossible to figure the age old problems of societies, economies, and environments, even if we may not presently have the statistical techniques or software to do so at the present time.  We can either invest in this new research now and implement what we can ethically implement at this time to help ourselves, or we can wallow in the willful ignorance of the past, consuming planet and society in the pursuit of wealth and relative power that is not real and is not being used well anyway.

Policy making is a science; politicking is an art.  The former serves as the root for the latter, even though the former is effectively impotent without the latter.  Politicking without grounding in the science of policy engineering and compassionate care will always only backfire on those who are exercising their technical abilities to politick.  Policy engineering, however, needs to be wrapped in the garments of effective and appealing politicking in order to be preserved, implemented, and expanded.

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