It is the nature of complex systems to fail, particular when they have been compromised or exceed their design parameters.
By Anatole d’Ecotopia
Whether a matter of “intelligent” design or the end-result of several billion years of random stochastic process, the primary design parameter of the complex system that is the human body is that it lasts long enough to replicate. Past that point, it begins to fail — gradually, if one is lucky, but rapidly in other cases… for example, under attack from an external pathogen — say, for example, a novel coronavirus.
But some complex systems are also resilient. Even after it fails, a human body can occasionally be rebooted — although, if the process takes too long, it might come back minus a crucial piece of software. The most complex of known complex systems, the biosphere of the living planet Earth, has proven to also be the most resilient of complex systems, having “rebooted” on multiple occasions.
It remains to be seen whether or not the political corpus of the United States or the complex system of neoliberal global corporate capitalism have similar characteristics of resilience… but we’re about to find out.
Because those systems are indisputably failing.
The United States was designed to be both self-correcting and resilient, but a number of use cases have emerged in recent decades that the designers of that system clearly did not envision. Being fluent in the language (it’s called “English”) in which that system is written, it never occurred to those designers that anyone would willfully misconstrue the phrase “well-regulated militia” to refer to unregulated and heavily armed gangs of insurrectionists… yet here we are.
Having fought their way free of a tyrannical despot, those designers could not imagine the senate of the republic founded by that struggle willfully colluding with a would-be despot acting in bad faith, as the president of that republic… yet here we are.
There was never a single unitary design group behind the complex system of global corporate capitalism — it more nearly resembles a living organism (let us be clear: a parasite). But this system is also in the process of failing. But in this case, the failure is not because it has exceeded its design parameters. It is failing because of a fatal and uncorrectable error in those parameters.
Essential to all systems based on any form of capitalism is the idea of inexhaustible and endless growth. How such growth is possible on a finite planet with finite resources has never been explained by proponents of capitalism — largely because it can’t be. Either you take as an article of faith that human ingenuity is somehow equal to that task, or — as seems to be the case with capitalism’s current leading proponents — you seek ways to extend the resource base for your parasitic system off-world… before the resources of its current host are simply used up.
Meanwhile, those of us with no choice but to try to live in these failing systems find our lives more difficult, dangerous, and at risk with every passing day. Increasingly, our choices are to either passively accept these dangers — or perhaps succumb to the Stockholm Syndrome of believing we deserve them… or resist. And resistance is fraught with dangers of its own. But if these failing systems cannot be corrected… there are really only two options: either the current systems run in their current state until they crash…
Or they get rebooted.
This shouldn’t be a difficult concept. Most of us have now spent the majority of our lives dependent upon and surrounded by complex digital systems that either get rebooted at our convenience or crash at theirs. We may not yet be able to reliably reboot failed organic systems, but political and economic systems? That’s another matter — it’s been done.
And it may be a matter of our own survival.
Rebooting the failing systems that are killing us will be no easy matter — not least because the elites that profit from these failed systems have every intention of defending them with deadly force to the bitter end. But, of course, those elites defend nothing on their own — that deadly force you feel choking the life out of you is being exerted by someone who is as much a victim as you are… they just don’t know it.
The reboot rebellion is going to require not just a fundamental re-thinking of our entire civilization, but a different way of thinking altogether. We need to learn to think in terms of mutuality, harmony, and sustainability. Seeing one another as “resources”, seeing the resources of this world as “capital”, seeing violence and oppression as acceptable means to the end of exploiting capital and resources… it all has to end.
Or the world will end us.
There are those who believe there is an animating spirit within the living world, and worship that spirit. But neither belief nor worship is required to see this world as a self-regulating system, one that predates our kind by billions of years. Whether the plague that now ravages us all was created in a laboratory or created itself on the blood-soaked ground of a “wet market” is irrelevant. In a self-regulating system, it was inevitable. As long as we behave like an out of control virus within the body of the world, the world is very likely to find ways to return the favor.
“Reboot” might be an overworked metaphor, but it is also a highly familiar concept — even a phone needs the occasional rebooting… and who doesn’t have a phone? And who is not, at this point, familiar with the wonders that can result from the other major reason for a reboot — installing a new operating system. In this case, it doesn’t even need to be written in a different language; for current purposes, English works just fine.
Nor does the entire system have to be rewritten/rebooted at once. The work can be carried out locally, a few nodes at time — but it’s fairly critical work… that needs to start as soon as possible.
Only a sociopath, bereft of humanity or compassion, could look upon the current state of the world, shrug, and say “it is what it is” — but that is, of course, precisely what is happening. Left unanswered, that statement of ugly indifference will be the epitaph to us all.
Therefore… let us find another answer.
Never before in human history has so much information — if not knowledge — been so available to so many. Never before has the potential to reengineer our society, our culture, and ourselves been so eminently available.
And never before has the need to do so been more critically, crucially, upon us.
Reboot, baby… pull the fucking plug.
Let’s figure out how to make this happen.