The international order: From mutualistic to parasitic?

M3

Our understanding of biology, ecology, ecosystems etc. is far more advanced than our understanding of social systems. The relationship between the structure and dynamics of ecosystems is extensively researched. The use of the scientific method by these disciplines explains their valuable insights and their progress.

Biology, ecology and ecosystem theory also offer interesting insights and concepts to improve our understanding of social systems.

Symbiosis – and mutualism, commensalism and parasitism – are such concepts.

Read more

The Architecture of Complexity: Understanding the development and dynamics of the System, Part I

Architecture of complexity

Complexity and hierarchy go hand in hand (illustration: source)

In the publication “The architecture of complexity” (1962), Herbert A. Simon makes some observations concerning the typical structure and dynamics of complex systems.

In three articles, I discuss two questions concerning the development of the System. To answer these questions, I make use of Simon’s perspective on the structure and functioning of complex systems. The two questions are:

(1) How can the phase transition the System experienced during – by means of – the fourth systemic war (the Second World War, 1939-1945) be explained? and (2) What can Simon’s insights in the functioning of complex systems contribute to our understanding of the condition of the current international order and what can – according to Simon’s perspective – now be expected?

In this article I discuss several of Simon’s observations, before discussing these two questions in Part II and III

Read more

Applying network science to current developments: With the election of Trump, Al-Qaeda achieved its objective

network

In this article, I apply insights in the relationships between network topology and ‘error and attack’ tolerance of networks to the dynamics of the System.

The (current) decoupling (disconnecting) of the United States from the international order can be interpreted as a response to the attack of Al-Qaeda on the WTC in New York, September 11, 2001.

The attack has set in motion – and has shaped – a series of responses from the United States (an attack on the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001, an attack on Iraq in 2003, etc.) and events that then followed (the Arab Spring, the collapse of states in the Middle East, terrorist attacks, the fragmentation of Europe).

Despite the efforts of president Obama of the United States (2008-2016), the United states – as the most central and dominant state in the international network – was not able to maintain its own and the System’s stability and coherence.

In response, the United States in 2016 (under president Trump) de facto ‘decoupled‘ from the international order, in efforts to promote its own – now narrowly defined – interests (America First).

Insights in network dynamics help explain (from a network perspective) what the impact is on the stability of the (global) System when the United States disengages – decouples – from the international order.

Not surprisingly, the decoupling causes the fragmentation of the international order, and consequently states and radical communities will intensify their efforts to shape local and regional issues in accordance with their own interests as well (and by doing so, confirm Trump’s self fulfilling prophecy).

In this article, I explain the impact of the ‘decoupling’ of the United States from the international order from a network perspective.

Read more

Preorder Donald J. Trump’s new book now: “The Art of making Enemies”

art deal-03

Trump is a master in creating ‘self-reinforcing diplomatic failure’

A self-reinforcing (positive feedback) mechanism is a mechanism that reinforces a certain effect, because of the ‘positive’ interplay between variables in a dynamical system.

Read more

The urgent need for fundamental reform of the United Nations, part V: Creation of an International Panel on the Reform of the United Nations (IPRUN)

Trump in Un

President Trump addresses – blasts – the General Assembly of the United Nations to convince the assembly that nationalism should guide international relations: It seems he did not bother to read the Preamble of the United Nations Charter.

In the previous four parts of this series of articles, I argued that superficial reform – like streamlining the UN’s bureaucracy – will not suffice to solve the fundamental problems the current international order – the United Nations – now confronts.

Because of population growth, differentiated growth of states and rivalries between states in anarchistic systems, international orders require periodic reorganisation.

The problem is that international orders in anarchistic systems lack mechanisms to ‘upgrade’ an international by means of consultation and consensus.

In this article – the last article in this series – I argue that an International Panel on the Reform of the United Nations (IPRUN) must be established, in an effort to avoid a violent systemic crisis.

Read more

The urgent need for fundamental reform of the United Nations, part IV: Only fundamental reorganisation of the United Nations can prevent its collapse

Us shouldering

International orders – like other organisations that are confronted with growth, change and differentiated growth of its departments (states in case of the international order) – have typical life cycles, and need periodic ‘upgrades’ to ensure their continued effectiveness and efficiency.

However, contrary to ‘normal’ organisations, international orders are anarchistic in nature and lack mechanisms to adapt in a non-destructive manner to changed circumstances, history shows.

Awareness of the underlying mechanisms of the System’s dynamics is required to avoid collapse of the United Nations, as I explain in this article.

Read more