Emergence of self-regulation (2): From individual survival to emergent self-regulation of the energy-state of the System

The four accelerating war cycles the System produced during the period 1495-1945 – including their highly regular properties – are emergent properties of the System. These emergent properties are the product of the System’s conditions, dynamics and physical laws and mechanisms that apply to these dynamics.

The System I refer to, consists of interacting communities (that eventually evolved into states), and of international orders these communities ‘interactively’ implement(ed) and on which they collectively depend for their survival. The ‘parts’ – basic elements – of communities are individual human beings and ‘groups’ they form.

If in this paper, I refer to ‘the System’, I refer to communities (later states) in Europe that until 1939 made up the (core of the) System and dominated its war dynamics.

Emergence refers to the phenomenon whereby larger structures and regularities arise in a system through the interactions among its parts (basic elements); the larger structures – the self-regulating dynamic at the macro level of the System in this particular case – have properties that the parts (individual human beings in this case) do not have.

The finite-time singularity that was accompanied by four accelerating war cycles (1495-1945) regulated the energy-state of the System and emerged from a multitude of (micro) interactions between parts of the systems (human beings and groups). The purpose of these micro-interactions was (and still is) to ensure the fulfilment of basic requirements of individuals to ensure their survival. During these interactions, tensions were produced, that can be considered (potential) energy. Several physical laws and mechanisms apply to the System’s dynamics, and are also building blocks of the emerging self-regulatory dynamic of the System.

I assume that a number of conditions and factors were also crucial to start a self-reinforcing dynamic in the System – the finite-time singularity dynamics that was accompanied by four accelerating war cycles, the System produced during the period 1495-1945 – including: A minimum size (a minimum population size and number of communities), and a minimal interaction-frequency with sufficient exchange-intensity. These pre-conditions (to start the self-reinforcing dynamic) can be referred to as the ‘critical mass’ of an anarchistic system; enough human beings, communities and interactions to ensure sufficient tensions are produced to power a self-sustaining series of war cycles.

It is possible to identify seven components that make up the emergent self-regulating dynamic in the System, assuming the System has critical mass, see also below figure:Self regulation, PNG

Figure 1: This figure shows the seven components – variables – of the emergent self-regulating dynamic of the System. These components constitute a self-reinforcing (positive feedback) loop. The ‘process’ was repeated four times, each process constitutes a war cycle. The increasing production of tensions and increasing pace of life, caused the war cycles to accelerate. The four accelerating war cycles ‘accompanied’ a finite-time singularity dynamic. The moment (1939), the System reached the critical connectivity threshold and produced infinite amounts of tensions, the System collapsed, and experienced a phase transition. At that point, the emergent regulatory mechanism was replaced by human-controlled integrative structures.


(1) Population and connectivity growth. Human beings and social systems must fulfil several basic requirements to ensure their survival, including: (1) input of energy, (2) ensure their security, (3) make sense of their environment to be able to respond adequately to opportunities and challenges, and (4) ensure integration – a certain balance – of (contradicting) requirements. The urge to survive is the (most) basic driver of human beings.

Through grouping in communities (extended families, tribes, city-states and states, etc.) human beings can improve the fulfilment of their basic requirements and enhance their survival changes by exploiting economies of scale and scope.

Communities develop their own requirements that must be fulfilled to ensure their (own) survival. These ‘scaled-up’ basic requirements of communities are ‘extended versions’ – projections – of the basic requirements of individual human beings. Fulfilment of the basic requirements of communities contribute to the fulfilment of basic requirements of its members.

Population growth implies that the demand for resources – required for the fulfilment of basic requirements – increases.

The connectivity of a social system is a function of its population size. The connectivity – population size – determines the pace of life of a social system.

(2) Rivalries between communities. The System is anarchistic in nature: The System lacks an ‘accepted’ – legitimate – integrative structure at the level of the System. In anarchistic systems communities are sovereign and responsible for the fulfilment of their own basic requirements, including their security.

Resources required for the fulfilment of basic requirements are often scarce, and cause competition and rivalries between individuals and communities.

There is a natural tendency of communities to expand their control, because it increases their survival changes. Several factors contribute to an urge to expand, of which the urge to survive is the underlying – basic – driver, these factors include: Population growth (and consequently a higher demand for resources), ‘more’ economies of scale and scope that can be exploited and can contribute to the fulfilment of basic requirements and ‘overall’ well-being, more control and less risks, and status and prestige.

(3) Tension (energy). Population growth is an important driver of connectivity growth: A relationship exists between population size and connectivity of a social system. Over time the connectivity of the System increased (and still increases).The connectivity of a social system determines its pace of life: the pace of life increases with population size.

Connectivity and anarchy are intrinsically incompatible in anarchistic systems (2). During the period 1495-1945, the population of Europe continuously increased, implying an increase in the connectivity of the System, and intensifying rivalries between communities; consequently, tensions the System produced also increased.

(4) Release and accumulation. The System produced four accelerating war cycles during the period 1495-1945.

A closer look reveals that these cycles have identical life cycles. A war cycle typically consists of a relatively stable period, when the System is in a subcritical condition, followed by a relatively short critical period, when the System produces a systemic war. During relatively stable periods, tensions are released through non-systemic wars. The purpose of non-systemic wars is to regulate (to balance) the relatively stable period, the international order that is implemented.



Figure 2: This figure shows a schematic representation of the typical life-cycle of a single war cycle: a relatively stable period, during which an international order is in place, is followed by a systemic war, when an ‘upgraded’ order is implemented. During relatively stable periods, the System is in a subcritical condition and produces non-systemic wars, while during systemic wars, the System is in a critical condition.


Initially, at the start of a relatively stable period – when an upgraded international order is recently implemented – the tension production in the System is still limited. Consequently, at the start of a relatively stable period, the average size of non-systemic wars is still limited, but it is only a matter of time, before the average size of non-systemic wars starts increasing.

However, at a certain point, when the tipping point of the relatively stable period is reached, the average size of non-systemic wars starts decreasing again, even though tensions are produced at an accelerating rate. This effect is caused by a network-effect, that concerns the network of issues between communities/states in the System (of which communities/states are integral components): When the tipping point is reached, the high-connectivity of the issue-network increasingly hinders the release of tensions, and instead of tensions being released and issues being resolved, tensions and unresolved issues accumulate in the System. During high-connectivity regimes the System is charging for systemic war.

Table compare systemic and non-systemic wars

Table 1: In this table, the most fundamental differences between systemic and non-systemic wars are shown.


Not only are the network-effect and the accumulation of tensions and issues it causes prerequisites for the emergence of a self-regulatory dynamic in the System (criticality and systemic war require accumulation), but also the type – nature – of non-systemic war dynamics (wars during relatively stable periods): For the System to develop a network-effect, the non-systemic war dynamics need to be chaotic in nature, my research shows (1).

The abnormal non-chaotic non-systemic war dynamics during the first exceptional period (1657-1763), during the relatively stable period (1648-1792) of the second war cycle (1648-1815), show this phenomenon. Due to the intense rivalry between Great Britain and France during the period 1657-1763, the number of degrees of freedom of the System – the number of other states that determine war decisions – was temporarily reduced to only two. Consequently, during the period 1657-1763, the System produced a series of periodic – very regular – but also unrestrained (‘extreme’) non-systemic wars: Tensions were produced at a high rate, and did – and could not – accumulate, but were immediately released. The issues in the System – in fact there was only one (dominant) issue, the intense rivalry between Great Britain and France, – did not form an issue-network, that would at a certain point (the tipping point of the relatively stable period) start hindering the release of tensions by means of non-systemic wars (1), (2).

In case the System has three or more degrees of freedom, the System produces chaotic non-systemic war dynamics; states take at least two states (and their ‘position’) in consideration in their decisions to go to war or join a war. A third degree of freedom, has a balancing effect, and the war dynamics of the System are consequently more restrained. This restraint allows for the forming of an issue-network, that eventually becomes sufficiently connected to produce a network effect, which is a prerequisite for the accumulation of tensions, and for the System to become critical and produce a systemic war (1), (2).

The moment the intense rivalry between Great Britain and France was resolved (in favour of Great Britain), the System resumed its ‘default’ chaotic non-systemic war dynamics, and reached the tipping point in 1774; it was now only a matter of time before the System became critical (1792) and produced a second systemic war (the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars).


Figure 3: The data indicate that during the first exceptional period (1657-1763), non-systemic war dynamics were more extreme but also much more regular; during the second exceptional period (1945/1953-1991), in contrast, non-systemic war dynamics were highly subdued. During the period 1657-1763, two highly regular sub-cycles can be identified in the war dynamics of the System, with each sub-cycle defined by four non-systemic wars. The correlation coefficient of the severities of these two sets of wars is 1.00. The war frequencies of both sub-cycles were rather similar, 0.082 and 0.085 wars/year, respectively. Data from Levy (5).

Periodic dynamics, PNGFigure 4: This figure shows the non-circular trajectories in phase space of the abnormal non-chaotic – periodic – non-systemic wars during the first exceptional period (1657-1763). The two subcycles shown in above figure (figure 3) are ‘enclosed’ in these trajectories.

Circular trajectory 1763-1792, pdf

Figure 5: This figure shows the orbit (consisting of six non-systemic wars) the second relatively stable produced following the first exceptional period (1657-1763), once the System in 1763 regained a third degree of freedom and resumed chaotic non-systemic war dynamics. During this relatively short period the System charged itself for a second systemic war. I argue that chaotic non-systemic war dynamics, which are intrinsically more inhibited than the preceding periodic war dynamics – are a precondition for the System to be able to become critical and reorganise itself.


(5) Criticality and systemic release/war. It is a matter of time before these accumulating tensions and issues percolate the System, and form a global cluster (a connected issue-cluster that spans the System). At that point, the System is in a critical condition and typically has a correlation length of one (6). The System is then highly sensitive for disturbances (incidents and events), that can reverberate through the System (because of a correlation length of one). It is a matter of time, before an incident triggers a cascade of tension releases, a systemic war.

Because the System during criticality has a correlation length of one, not only can a small incident trigger a massive – system wide – response, a correlation length of one also enables system-wide communication and coordination, essential for the design and implementation of upgraded orders (that by definition concern the whole system).

(6) Upgraded orders. During a systemic war, the accumulated tensions are used to design and implement an upgraded international order that allows for a lower energy-state of the System and a new relatively stable period. The new relatively stable period allows for further (population) growth and development, which then results in more tensions, etc.

The finite-time singularity dynamic – in other words – feeds on itself, it is a self-reinforcing dynamic: Population growth and rivalries between communities produce tensions, that then are used to upgrade the System and produce new stability (at least temporarily), that again allows for further population growth and development. During the period 1495-1945, this dynamic repeated itself four times; the four war cycles accelerated because of the increasing amounts of tensions that were produced at an accelerating rate.

While during relatively stable periods the purpose of wars (non-systemic wars) is to maintain the status quo – the international order that is in place – the purpose of systemic wars is to change the status quo by designing and implementing upgraded orders, creating a new status quo, that (at least temporarily) allows for a lower energy-state and relative stability.

This dynamic – the implementation of increasing levels of (international) order – can be attributed to physical laws that determine that free energy will be used to implement upgraded orders that allow for a lower energy-state of the System.

Because the war dynamics and war cycles were path dependent, and increasingly locked-in on integration and cooperation, the eventual outcome of the finite-time singularity dynamic was a next level of social integration and expansion; the implementation of a dedicated hierarchy that transcended state-structures.

(7) Relative stability. A lower energy-state allows for a ‘new’ period of stability. The international order that is implemented is instrumental in maintaining stability. The function of international orders is to regulate interactions between communities, in efforts to maintain the status quo. During relative stable periods, the System can grow and develop. This causes new tensions, and the cyclic dynamic repeats itself.

As I explained, the four accelerating war cycles, that accompanied the finite-time singularity dynamic (1495-1945), constitute an emergent (self-organised) self-regulating dynamic – ‘mechanism’ – that regulated the energy-state of the System. By regulating the energy-state of the System, the finite-time singularity dynamic – the four war cycles – contributed to the collective survival of communities, the building blocks of the System.


To be continued.