Challenges to Comprehension Implied by the Logo
of Laetus in Praesens
Laetus in Praesens Alternative view of segmented documents via Kairos

2nd January 1983


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Part 1 of Development through Alternation. Augmented version of a paper originally prepared for Integrative Working Group B of the Goals, Processes and Indicators of Development (GPID) project of the Human and Social Development Programme of the United Nations University (UNU). This document was originally distributed as a separate monograph in 1983. The paper provides a structure linking reviews of alternation as it emerges in studies from a wide range of sources. The paper is in 9 separate parts [searchable PDF version]

0. Introduction / Abstract

1. Monopolarization
1.1. Questionable answers
1.2. Forms of truth
1.3. Accumulative answers
1.4. Developing a new "meta-answer"
1.5. Decodification of analyses of capital accumulation
1.6. "New International Conceptual Order"
1.7. Accumulation and development
1.8. Development of accumulation
1.9. Domains of significance

2. Antagonistic dualities: polarization and paradox
2.1. Oppositional logic
2.2. Polarity
2.3. Paradoxes and antinomies

3. A third perspective
3.1. Beyond method
3.2. Constraints on a meta-answer
3.3. Meta-answer patterning
3.4. Containing discontinuity through aesthetics
3.5. Observer entrapment and micro-macro complementarity
3.6. Order through fluctuation: dissipative structures
3.7. Opening and closing: alternation for discontinuous learning
3.8. Third-perspective "containers": patterns of alternation
3.9. Revolutionary cycles of alternation
3.10. Trialectics: a logic of the whole

4. Threshold of comprehenisibility: a fourfold minimal container?
4.1. Omnitriangulation: interlocking cycles
4.2. Number and time
4.3. Logos and lemma for interparadigmatic dialogue
4.4. Epistemological mindscapes
4.5. Complementary languages
4.6. Nonlinear cybernetics
4.7. Modes of managing

5. Further constraints on conceptual container design
5.1. Cyclic self-organization requirements
5.2. Encompassing system dynamics
5.3. Encompassing varieties of form

6. Comprehension and learning
6.1. Non-comprehension "holes"
6.2. Discontinuity: comprehension and internalization
6.3. Pattern accumulation in a learning society

7. Complexification of integration
7.1. General systems and holonomy
7.2. Cognitive systematization
7.3. Wholeness and the implicate order
7.4. Health and space-time
7.5. Dissonant harmony and holistic resonance

8. Development of comprehension and compehension of development
8.1. Interwoven alternatives: organizational tensegrity and resonance hybrids
8.2. Non-comprehension as a structuring characteristic of a learning society
8.3. Learning cycles
8.4. Patterns of alternation: a musical key from a political philosopher
8.5. Patterns of alternation: an agricultural key from crop rotation
8.6. The entropic crisis and the learning response
8.7. Alternation between energetic expansion and mentalistic reduction
8.8. Uncertainty: the source of meaning
8.9. Morphic resonance
8.10. Toward an enantiomorphic policy
8.11. Game comprehension and identity transformation
8.12. Ecodynamics and societal evolution
8.13. Language of probabilistic vision of the world

9. Implications
9.1. Implications for agreement and consensus
9.2. Implications for action formulation
9.3. Implications for values and norms
9.4. Implications for organizations
9.5. Implications for unemployment
9.6. Implications for the developmental responsibility of answer domains
9.7. Implications for forms of presentation
9.8. Implications for information processing
9.9. Implications for the human self-image

10. Conclusions


1.1 Questionable answers

The many initiatives in response to the global problematique are in most cases stimulated by a need to determine guidelines for action. The question to which an answer is sought at all levels is some variant of "what can be usefully done?"

The answers to this question have taken a range of well-known forms which include the following:

These are all "classical" options to ensure an integrated response to any societal condition. They have been extensively applied since the origin of the International Development Decades and in response to every type of problem, including: energy, population, food, refugees, discrimination, health, youth, drugs or environment. It is fair to conclude that these answers have been successful to the extent that the problem was either a narrow technical one involving little controversy (e.g. smallpox) or did not call for immediate action (e.g. creating environmental awareness). The answers have however been of limited effectiveness in containing the problematique in its essential globality. The point has been reached at which predictions by the highest authority of the cumulative consequences of inaction are met with increasing indifference and a sense of helplessness.

It is possible to take any one of such answers and show why it is inadequate as a response and why in fact it may merely aggravate or displace the problem. This too is increasingly recognized. And yet such answers continue to be formulated in desperation because of the need to respond to constituencies who want to believe that something effective is being done which will alleviate the problem and avert disaster. Protests that such answers have proven to be of limited effectiveness in the past, meet with responses of the type:

It is possible to move beyond the uni-modal answer and recognize that because each form of action has both strengths and weaknesses, the key to a more effectively multi-modal answer lies in finding how to interrelate the various uni-modal answers so that they correct for each others weaknesses and restrain each others excesses. There are some efforts in this direction but they run up against another constraint, namely whether integrated action of any type is feasible at this time. Consider the variants implied by the theme of the 1980 Global Futures Conference "thinking globally/acting locally":

What then is the nature of the answer that would prove appropriate? What are its "properties"? What would be the response to the formulation of such an answer? Are there more fruitful ways of formulating such an answer?

The clarification of the significance of these questions is the purpose of this paper. Assumptions such as the following are too easily made:

  1. the appropriate answer can be made in the same conceptual framework or "language" as the question "what can be usefully done?"
  2. the answer will not challenge the status and self-image of the questioner or potential "doer".
  3. the answer can be rendered in a comprehensible form to the questioners or to those from whom they have received their mandate.
  4. the answer would simply involve a reshuffling of existing organizational resources and priorities, but would not imply any radical transformation of their status and mode of working. (It might well be interpreted by many to take the form of the N + 1th UN World Action Plan and therefore to conform to standard UN administrative procedures.)
  5. the answer would not engender valid opposition and resistance, except by reactionary segments of society whose views are irrelevant,
  6. the promulgation of the kind of answer sought would not deprive the future period (during which it is implemented) of the ability to initiate alternative responses.
  7. the answer cannot be conceived as competing with other answers, which if they are advanced must necessarily be subsumed, opposed, or preferably suppressed.
  8. the psychological and institutional systems could adjust satisfactorily to the complete elimination of the problematique by the ideal answer.

Assumptions such as these result from thinking similar to that associated with modern medicine. Illnesses are diagnosed and then surgery and/or a course of treatment is recommended based on specific drugs and diet. It is assumed that if the world problematique could be accurately "diagnosed" and mapped, malignant growth could be excised and appropriate "pills" could be designed and "prescribed". Some further treatment may also be advocated in the form of various therapies or re-educational exercises, with "stimulants", "tranquilizers" and "vitamins" as necessary. This "pill psychology" approach takes no account of the questionable role of medicine in society, as explored by Illitch (3) and Attali (4). It does not take into account issues analogous to those raised by such currently debated phenomena as conflict between specialists, malpractice, iatrogenic diseases, placebo effects, commercialization and institutionalization of medicine, drug cost as a perceived indicator of remedial power, folk medicine, euthanasia, hospital vs home environment, and problems of psychosomatic origin.

The approach to providing a "GPID answer" must therefore be examined very carefully. Advocating a particular model or course of action is tantamount to advocating a particular type of pill. It raises the question of how this might conflict with treatment advocated by other "health centers" from which the "patient" is seeking advice. On the other hand, presenting a range of conflicting opinions by eminent specialists on possible alternative courses of treatment would be of little value to the patient, as would recommendations for remedies for an aspect of the problem (a "micro-answer"). And pointing to directions for "further research" would be simply abandoning the patient to his own resources for the meantime.

In each case, it is not the treatment which is necessarily the main problem, but rather the framework within which the patient's relationship to the possible treatments is defined. The question is therefore whether this situation can be seen in a new light and whether a new kind of response can be made to the question "what can be usefully done?".

1.2 Forms of truth

The exploration of the nature of an appropriate answer must take into account a most important phenomenon. That is that few groups, projects, or schools of thought have difficulty in discovering and promulgating an answer. The difficulty for society as a whole arises from the conflictual relationship between such answers, or their denial of each other as irrelevant, out-of-date, erroneous, or unworthy of consideration. In the words of Jacques Attali (#2) concerning remedial ideas about the current crisis:

"Au-dela des problemes que pose toute selection d'idees....voici 1'essentiel: si tout ce savoir n'est encore aujourd'hui ni synthetise, ni assimile, s'il reste un lieu d'affrontement et d'anathemes, c'est parce qu'il charrie une image du monde d'une intolerable fixite; et que tout groupe social trouve interet a en occulter certain fragments pour tenter d'asseoir sa domination." (5, pp. 10-11)

Perhaps the most important feature of this phenomenon is that every effort is necessarily made to ignore it, to deny its significance, but especially to avoid exploring non-trivial routes beyond the barrier it constitutes to social development. As Attali continues:

"Face a 1'immensite de 1'enjeu, faut-il alors cesser ce combat rudimentaire entre un vrai et un faux, mettre un terme a cette denonciation de la parole de 1'autre? Et avoir le courage d'admettre que plusieurs discours peuvent etre simultanement vrais, c'est-a-dire peuvent valablement interpreter le monde?" (5, p.11)

Attali notes in passing that the multiplicity of truth is also encountered in physics (for example the wave vs particle theory of light). Clearly, as he proceeds to demonstrate, the problem lies in the way truth is to be understood. He distinguishes three senses (5, pp. 11-14):

  1. A theory is true if it can be articulated according to the rules of formal logic, and if its consequences can be verified empirically by any observer. This is the most common scientific criterion of truth, and is that used by establishment institutions of every kind in every society. It gives rise to difficulties if some of the consequences it implies are contradicted by experience. The institutions are then obliged to construct a representation of the world which denies any possibility of its own negation.

  2. A discourse is true (and therefore scientific) if it provides a useful mode of communication for a group in its struggle for power. Unanimity is then forcefully imposed rather than emerging from agreement with a universal rational structure.

  3. A discourse is receivable, and thus true, the moment it produces an understanding of the world for those articulating it. Unanimity is achieved neither by pure logic, nor by force, but by the virtue of seduction. As with beauty, and because it is intimately related to it, truth is not in itself universal. Truth is aesthetic.

Attali compares these three forms of truth in physics with mechanics, thermodynamics, and relativity theories. The equivalents he suggests in economics are regulatory theories, theories of value production, and theories of the organization or management of violence (especially of the non-physical variety), each with their appropriate modes of organization. The first two may be equated with capitalist (most general sense) and marxist (theoretical) approaches. It is the third approach, or basis for world order, which needs to be defined.

As Attali stresses, it is necessary to recognize that the reality of the world, whether in physical or psycho-social terms, is too complex to be encompassed by a single mode of discourse. The real cannot be separated from each necessarily partial view of it. It is in fact the multiplicity of views of the world, with all their differences and ambiguities, which renders the world tolerable to the majority, permitting each to develop his own understanding and to manage the violence done to it by others.

"Aujourd'hui cette multiplicite est difficile a preserver. C'est que les deux premiers mondes de la science ont prone, 1'un 1'universalite, le second la force: ni dans 1'un, ni dans 1'autre 11 n'y a place pour la tolerance. Aussi, toute societe qui accepte de se representer le monde selon une seule de ces deux classes de discours s'oblige a i'uniformite. Elle ne peut laisser vivre le troisieme sens du vrai, et le voila inevitablement contrainte au mensonge et a la dictature: tout ordre qui elimine 1'esthetique comme langue et la seduction comme parole implique inevitablement la dictature." (5, pp.15-16)

Just as in physics the three approaches continue to have their domains of validity, so it should prove to be in the realm of psycho-social organization. The human being has three brains, the third being essential to mediate between the conflicting functions of the other two. The key question is then what kind of organization is implied by this third order of truth such that it could be of any significance for social development? Failure to take account of this question can only result in an answer of essentially limited value.

1.3 Accumulative answers

As pointed out at the beginning, society does not lack for answers to its current difficulties. The problem lies in the limited constituencies to which such answers appeal. It is useful to look at answers as products, or visible manifestations of an accumulation process. Answers tend to emerge from ordered accumulations of information. The amount of information effectively entering any such accumulation process is necessarily limited because of limitations on human processing capacity. This does not mean that the information arises from a limited geographical region. On the contrary it is a characteristic of present day answers that they result from interpretations of information (of Edgar Morin (7)) selected from a globally distributed pool of information (e.g. data networks) which may well be physically accumulated at a particular spot (e.g. major libraries). It is the selection process which ensures the filtration. Each such answer is formulated in terms of a limited information base. For example, this is usually discipline-oriented in the case of academic answers, but ideological, action-preference, educational-label, "priority" and other filters may also be used, whether together, alone or in various combinations.

Once an answer has been formulated it acquires symbolic significance over and above the rational arguments which support it. It provides a rallying point for those searching for coherence in terms of the information base from which it emerged. Particular jobs may be tied to its promulgation or implementation. As such it reinforces the accumulation of further information in support of that answer. Competing answers, and contradictory information, are ignored, avoided or suppressed whenever possible. In the case of a well-developed answer, all "available" information of any "relevance" is perceived as supporting the position. The answer is then used as a vehicle for vigorous proselytizing activity amongst those who subscribe, out of ignorance, to different answers. The aim is to ensure that such "infidels" are converted to the answer, namely that consensus is achieved so that effective action can be undertaken. Everybody must be "accumulated" by the answer.

Over the past decade this approach has taken on a new aspect, due to some recognition of its obvious limitations. Instead of answers emphasizing particular conceptual perspectives or content, many now focus on a particular process (e.g. community dialogue) or mode of action (e.g. networking, struggle) which permits or engenders a variety of local answers in concrete situations. The process advocated thus becomes the answer for which universal support is sought.

There are many parallels in this to the emergence and historical development of religions, each of which makes universal claims for its unique grasp of the answer to the social condition. The current (lack of) relationship between organized religions provides an excellent model for understanding the relationship between groups subscribing to any given answer. The model is enriched by its representation of the formation of schisms and priesthoods as well as by the process of religious disaffection, accompanied by the continual emergence of a plethora of sects, each with a well-developed answer.

1.4 Developing a new "meta-answer"

If "an answer" is sought for the current global condition, and one is urgently needed, it would seem that great care is required to avoid falling into the trap of formulating answers whose nature forces them to compete in the unending, and essentially inhumane, "gladiatorial combats" of the "answer arena", in an effort to attract the temporary support of fickle "spectators" partly inspired by novelty. This does not mean looking for a semi-secret answer only meaningful to those initiated into a particular elite group (cf. world modellers) with its own limited information base. The answer must be of a different nature, but at the same time widely comprehensible. It should not attempt to accumulate glory by direct combat in the answer arena. It should rather redefine the significance of that arena and the answers which emerge temporarily victorious there.

In effect humanity already possesses a single, universal "meta-answer". That is the one which defines the present nature of the answer arena. It is the mind-set which perceives that arena as the place on which differences should be settled and effectively legitimates the processes which currently occur therein. This legitimation is obviously neither fully conscious nor explicit. It is derived from the instinctually felt "appropriateness" of similar "stamping ground" processes in the time of early man. These were shared with pack animals.

This essentially instinctual meta-answer has, for specific and limited purposes, been partially modernized and given respectability. That is in the concept of the global "marketplace" for exchange of goods and services and the various "international assemblies" for exchange of views ("marketplaces for ideas"). But these are but a thin disguise for an arena which remains essentially primitive, in which most other differences are "settled", and as a result of which pack allegiances are redefined. Everybody participates actively or passively in these processes whereby movements of opinion arise and "world opinion" is formed and modified. They appeal to the "fickle instinctual spectator" in each of us. The challenge would seem to be to find a way of placing this current meta-answer in a new light, not so much by combatting it on its own terms, but rather by offering a more "seductive" (in Attali's sense) alternative. The difficulty is to avoid the temptation of defining this meta-answer as an answer and thus ending up in the current trap. But at the same time, if it is to be of any relevance, the meta-answer should do more than simply provide a context for the emergence of better answers.

1.5 Decodification of analyses of capital accumulation

In attempting to understand better how individuals and social groups accumulate the significance they associate with their particular answers, it is appropriate to look at critical analyses of the well-documented capital accumulation process. This should provide further insights and clues for the pursuit of the enquiry into the characteristics of a desirable meta-answer. The task is therefore to "decodify" such analyses, using them as a model to understand accumulation processes in general rather than as limited to economic processes in the narrrow material sense.

(a) Basic elements

It is first necessary to adapt some basic concepts in order to generalize the discussion and relate it specifically to the production of answers:

"Capital": Anything material or non-material which may be accumulated (or dissipated), including the inherited and acquired abilities of humans (as partially covered by "human capital"), but especially satisfiers for all varieties and levels of human needs whether physical, affective, intellectual, aesthetic, or spiritual.

A non-material basis for capital has in fact been elaborated in a recent study by Folkert Wilken on "The Liberation of Capital" (154). Capital, in his view, is like a river which flows from the Geistesleben into the Wirtschaftsleben before permeating every aspect of the latter. The Geistesleben means the entire intellectual, cultural, artistic, religious, mental, ideological, technological, and educational life:

"The entrepreneurial function, the organising function and the technological function together comprise the role of thought in the development of the economic system. The mind is the powerhouse of all these developments - indeed mind is capital. It is mind which determines the precise way in which nature will be worked upon...The basic nature of capital is thus embodied in mind; it is mind which determines how capital shall be efficient. This source is wholle non-material." (154, p. 224)

"The willpower of the entrepreneur is expressed in his thought, and so becomes his capital, the dynamic of which he directs....Thought therefore constitutes capital of the first degree. Capital of the second degree has taken a money form." (154, p. 225)

"At first sight it may seem odd - particularly to anyone trained in the natural sciences - that the essence of capital lies in the power of the human mind. Yet intellectual power can be seen in the initiatives which have to be taken by the managewrs, in the creative technological aptitudes essential if any capital equipment is to be designed, in the organisational and leadership abilities without which no work force could ever be organised. The means of production owe their very reality to the fact that the human mind has flowed into them; otherwise they would be no use to the entrepreneur at all." (154, p. 231)

Any person or group undertaking to produce an answer should therefore also be considered as an entrepreneur acting within the "answer economy".

"Production": Also covers non-material products and services (some of which may be exchanged without entering a monetary economy), but especially satisfiers for all levels of human needs (as noted above). This includes production of "answers" to a need, whether or not the answer is an adequate one. Products of any kind answer a need, although its necessity may be severely misrepresented.

"Profit": Includes the perceived advantage in initiating any exchange of products or services for the satisfaction of immediate needs or which is expected to result eventually in a net accumulation of value associated with fulfillment of development goals. Profit from the production or exchange of an answer is only possible if there is an effective demand for such an answer.

"Value": Conceived as a continuum between the extremes of material and non-material values. In practice several kinds of value (streams) may be distinguished as being generated simultaneously and independently by the answer production process, desired as a goal of development processes, or intrinsic to an exchange process.

"Money": A token of confidence permitting delays and flexibility in the process of exchange. Such tokens serve temporarily as a store of value and significance. Verbal and other formulations of answers can serve as such tokens.

"Accumulation": Production and accumulation of more answers than are required for the satisfaction of immediate needs. Such a surplus of answers to a need increases freedom of choice beyond the condition in which there is no alternative to the single answer available for the satisfaction of a need. The accumulation of answers is essentially a learning process. Accumulation tends to become an end in itself, leading to so-called anarchy of production.

(b) Critical analysis

Some key phenomena can now be adapted, especially to illustrate structural problems in the production, and distribution of answers:

"Organization of accumulation": Progressive development of societal and psychological structures to maximize accumulation, despite the consequent (a) increases in the inequality of distribution and the contractualization of transactions, (b) exploitation of the producers, and (c) creation and reinforcement of dependency relationships.

"Capitalist system": The mode of production in which answer production is for profitable exchange in the market place. As a buyer (of answers) on that market efficiency is rewarded, but as a seller (of answers) political power is used to thwart efficiency. This basic contradiction is the defining characteristic of a capitalist "world-economy".

"Bourgeois/proletarian dichotomy": Control of the capitalist system by an elite group exploiting privileged access to decisions about answer production by the producing group.

"Centre/periphery dichotomy": In a capitalist system there is an accumulation of surplus answers under exploitative conditions of unequal exchange, resulting in capital leaks from the periphery to the centre. This is pervasive, continuing, and constant.

"Exploitation": A characteristic of the capitalist "world-economy" as a process with a centre and a periphery, both of them moving, the context of them moving, the exact processes within and between changing, but the gradient of exploitation remaining, enriching the centre and impoverishing the periphery in various ways. This reinforces inequality and dependency. The process is set in motion when and where the two conditional inequalities, inequality of distribution and dependence, become coincidental, interrelated, or interwoven.

"Inequality of distribution": Disparity between entities of a system in their possession of, or control over, accumulated capital, and consequently in their freedom of choice. This situation can only be maintained by a system of repression governed by the relation between the willingness of the possessors of answers to repress, and the ability and willingness of the others to rebel or acquiesce.

"Dependence": Centre/periphery structural-relational constraints that make it impossible for certain units in the system to initiate and sustain answer accumulation processes.

"Demand": A function of the sum of the political arrangements between the organized units (resulting from previous struggles) which determine the real distribution of the accumulated surplus of answers.

"Cyclical stagnation in accumulation": The imperatives of answer accumulation result in an inherent tendency to the expansion of absolute volume of production, although demand remains relatively fixed for intermediate periods. This results in recurring bottle-necks of accumulation in the form of stagnation, decline, or retraction, possibly aggravated by the disproportionate energy required to appropriate the surplus. Such down-turns create pressures to restructure the network of answer production processes and social relations to renew the possibilities for expansion.

"Expansion": Cyclic stagnation is ultimately resolved by: (a) expanding the outer boundaries of the system through creating new pools of low-cost direct answer producers incorporated at a disadvantage into the market; (b) expansion of effective demand for answers, partly by proletarianization of direct producers, partly by redistribution of the surplus among the "bourgeoisie". There are logical limits to both these possibilities.

"Hegemony": Results when answer producers in a given domain make their products more readily accessible to those in other domains than are equivalent (competing) products produced within those domains. Such a systematic advantage enables the hegemonic domain to reinforce the advantage of its producers by seeking a dominant position for its other products, especially through imposition of its modes of thought and analysis.

(c) Critical perspective

The previous phenomena can only be satisfactorily examined within a broad perspective from which alternative possibilities can effectively emerge. For the purpose of this exercise the material, above and below, has been adapted from papers on the "world-system" perspective by I. Wallerstein (9, 10, 11) and Herb Addo (1 3), although as interpreted here they bear little relation to the intent of these authors.

"World-system perspective": Assumes that social action takes place in an entity within which there is an ongoing division of answer producing activity. Empirically it seeks to discover whether such an entity is or is not unified, and in what way. Theoretically it asks what are the consequences of the existence or non-existence of such unity. This focuses attention on alternative possibilities for organizing that entity.

"World-empire": A world-system characterized by organized production and distribution of sufficient surplus of answers to support both the producers and the group administering production. Expansion of production is limited since too large a surplus engenders the temptation for its pre-emption before it reaches the administrators. The extent of inequality is therefore subject to some limitation. Cyclic accumulation patterns involve the perpetual incorporation and release of mini-systems based on the simpler process of reciprocal exchange.

"World-economy": A world-system characterized by the continuing absence of overarching organization. It is based on a single division of capitalist productive activity, but without any unified process for the redistribution of accumulating capital, other than the market (whose processes can be readily manipulated by appropriate intervention).

(d) Transformational goal

In the light of the above insights it is useful to look at the goal envisaged by those attempting to eliminate the negative consequences associated with capital accumulation:

"World-government": A world-system in which both answer production and distribution are controlled within a unified organization, acting in the interests of the producers and of those in need, who ultimately determine the policies of that organization.

Such statements are not particularly illuminating. Unfortunately critical analysis of the defects of the accumulation process are seldom accompanied by any clear insight into the kinds of "unified" structure which could be created to counteract the acknowledged defects of "unified organization". For example, Wallerstein notes:

"Mais il est tres difficile de prevoir les formes institutionnelles que pourrait prendre un tel ordre socialiste mondial. Le systeme interetatique devrait sans aucun doute etre remplace par une structure politique unifiee (indispensable pour prendre des decisions sociales de production a 1'echelle de I'economie-mondiale), rnais dont la forme est impossible a definir aujourd'hui." (11, p. 53)

Wallerstein does however recognize that: "II serait d'ailleurs aussi futile que dangereux d'extrapoler les formes politiques de 1'ordre socialiste mondial a partir de celles que nous connaissons actuellement..." (11, p. 53). Unfortunately, other schools of thought which do venture into explicit discussion of the "world government" structure required tend to generate just such simplistic extrapolations which take no account of the polarizing processes noted above, or else do so in a totally impractical manner.

(e) Paradox

What is refreshing about the world-system perspective is the manner in which it avoids taking present structures for granted. Both Wallerstein and Addo (13, pp. 6-7; 1 4) criticize the conventional "developmentalist" framework within which current answers have been vainly sought for two decades. Wallerstein contrasts this with the world-system perspective:

"What is crippling about a developmentalist perspective is the fact that...large-scale historical processes are not even discussable, if one uses the politico-cultural entity (the 'state') as the unit of analysis" (9, p. 352)

Equally crippling however, in attempting to understand the accumulation of significance, is the restriction of "world-system" type analyses to the limited range of material phenomena significant to a scholastic entity, namely "political economics". Other phenomena are then simply "not even discussable". The difficulty is understandable in that once the scope of the analysis is extended to non-material phenomena it is obliged to become self-reflexive (15) and include the production and distribution of world-system perspectives. Since it is an explicit characteristic of any such perspective to use political action in the "marketplace of ideas" in order to ensure its own dominance, it is difficult to see how its strategy can be distinguished from that of any other aspirant hegemony. The same is naturally true for any answer entering that marketplace or with an established place in it.

1.6 "New International Conceptual Order"

It is not solely at the level of material phenomena that an appropriate meta-answer can be usefully sought. Somehow the relationship between answers at all levels must be examined more creatively. It is a "New International Conceptual Order" that is required as a basis for any effective New International Economic Order. All the unsatisfactory material processes for which an NIEO-type response is sought are a rather pale reflection of equivalent conceptual processes which continually reinforce them and undermine remedial action in any context.

Adapting Johan Galtung's comment on "structural violence", it could be said that: Amateurs use the organization of material accumulation to dominate a situation, this can be done professionally by the organization of non-material forms of accumulation. In fact the very vigour of the processes of radical analysis and conceptual innovation may well reinforce the material accumulation processes deplored in such analyses.

The subtleties of Addo's (13) assessment of the limitations of NIEO could also be generalized to cover those of the "answer economy". What is to be the status of answers formulated or favoured by minority groups or weakly organized large groups? There is an exploited "Third World" to be recognized in non-material terms, and current concern with cultural domination is a step in this direction.

In discussing associative approaches to peace Paul Levy focuses on the central problem of claims for an exclusive hold on the truth, which any answer implies:

"Rien, aucun sentiment n'est plus poiemogene que celui de detenir seul la verite. Les conflits internationaux ne sont qu'accessoirement des conflits d'interets, tous finissent par reveler leur veritable nature: ce sont des guerres de religion. Un conflit qui aboutit a 1'effusion de sang se sacralise inevitablement et il ne peut durer et se developper que dans la mesure ou il se sacralise vraiment. La prétention a la détention exclusive de la vérité engendre l'intolérance et l'hostilité. Les Etats connaissent toujours l'agressivité des possesseurs de vrai. Leur qualité d'Etat leur interdit d'admettre la "vérité des autres". 11 en est de meme des religions et de toutes les idéologies a l'origine. Elles n'arrivent que graduellement a se dégager de l'intolérance indissolublement liée a leurs premiers pas. Puis vient l'âge de l'ouverture: de l'exclusion on passe a la mission (d'abord violente, ensuite non-violente), puis de la mission a la co-existence pour finir par la coopération." (16, p. 35)

Edgar Morin (7) touches on similar points, as does Attali (5). But in all such cases the nature of an appropriate meta-answer remains unclear. It is quite insufficient to favour such out-dated, optimistic remedies as "cooperation", which is a vehicle for many forms of exploitation, when it is not essentially cosmetic and ineffective. Levy's religious metaphor is also limiting because the phenomenon is more general. The religious manifestation is merely a well-known form, now and in the past.

Each answer is effectively an attempt by a limited group (with limited sensibilities, and with a limited information base) to give better organized expression to "the good, the true, and the beautiful". The problem is in devising a suitable rneta-form to interrelate answers which can only retain their essential quality within forms which are antagonistic to one_another. Advocating tolerance in a pluralistic, laissez-faire context is a very superficial, impractical response to the current existential challenge.

1.7 Accumulation and development

There would seem to be a vital connection between human development, social development, need satisfaction, and accumulation. This can be represented by Diagram 1.

These relationships are more clearly seen in three dimensions as expressed by the tetrahedron in Diagram 2a. Note that this may be usefully skewed to indicate distorted relationships between the different processes, or limiting cases where one is identified with another.

The difficulty arising from this representation lies in the ambiguous status of accumulation as:

Diagram 1: Mutually constraining interrelationships between development, need satisfaction and accumulation processes
Constraints  between development, need satisfaction and accumulation processes

Diagram 2: 3-dimensional presentation of Diagram 1
Diagram 3: Transformative development of the development processes of Diagram 1 through successive levels -- namely a Development II process
At each new level the content of the Development I processes is redefined and partially substitutes for the content at preceding levels
Transformative development of  development processes

There is a further difficulty with accumulation in the context indicated by Diagram 1, namely that it "ties" or defines the processes of human development, social development and need satisfaction in terms of that which is being accumulated. As such the accumulation process restricts evolution of these other processes, limiting them to the level of whatever is being accumulated.

l.8 Development of accumulation

The restrictive nature of a particular form of accumulation also affects the kinds of answers sought to the problems arising from that accumulation process. Answers tend to focus on changing the pattern of accumulation or eliminating it altogether. The focus of attention is however limited to the level of accumulation at which the problems are currently most evident. Answers tend not to be sensitive to what is accumulated through promulgation and implementation of the favoured answer. It is also important to understand how a system can slip, or be displaced, into other modes of accumulation at an equivalent level.

It is assumed in the light of the variety of forms of accumulation and its ambiguous functions, that it is highly unlikely that this process can be eliminated. The question is then whether it can be transformed such that the focus of attention is not on a particular level. Whilst it may not be possible to eliminate accumulation (e.g. of X at level 1), it may be possible to give progressively greater emphasis to the accumulation of X2, X3 ...Xn. This would involve changing the significance of X, in relation to its context, especially by classifying the range of X's (at different levels) more creatively. This would allow Diagram 1 to be presented in a more elaborate form as Diagram 3.

From Diagram 3 it becomes apparent that it is useful to define two forms of "development". The first, Development-I, characteristic of a Diagram 1 context, is primarily associated with "growth" and "spread", namely "quantitative" development. The second, Development-II, is primarily associated with qualitative development or transformation. This is brought about by shifting the centre of gravity of the accumulation process. In this sense the challenge is to find ways to "develop accumulation".

1.9 Domains of significance

It is convenient to designate as a "domain" that subset of the space of psycho-social communication within which questions of a particular type maintain their credibility for sufficient time to sustain a discourse. If Attali's lead is to be pursued, the nature of such domains needs to be clarified.

Attali argues that three theories open the way to an analysis of the production and circulation of meaning in an organization (5, pp. 207-208). The theories converge and give the following. An organization exists:

Diagram 4a: Schematic relationship of learning zones associated with a particular answer domain
Schematic relationship of learning zones associated with a particular answer domain

Zone 1: No significant new information acquired from beyond domain. The domain engenders answers perceived as comprehensive and self-consistent. Supporters are totally committed.

Boundary 1/2 Learning from other domains is limited to recognition of their existence

Zone 2: Learning rate with respect to domain (zone 1) is greater than rate of generation of new meaning from other domains. The significance of the domain is increasing. Supporters become progressively more convinced.

Boundary 2/3 Learning rate with respect to domain (zone l) equals rate of generation of new meaning from other domains. The significance of the domain is not increasing.

Zone 3: Learning rate with respect to domain is less than rate of generation of new meaning from other domains. The significance of other domains is increasing. Supporters are attracted by other domains.

Boundary 3/4 Learning rate with respect to domain (zone l) is zero

Zone 4: Learning rate with respect to domain (zone 1) is undermined and eroded by learning rate with respect to other domains. The relative significance of the domain is decreasing.

Boundary 4/5 Learning about domain is limited to recognition of its existence. The perceived significance of the domain is at a minimum. There are no supporters.

Zone 5: Existence of the domain is not recognized.

Diagram 4b: Possible ("standing wave") articulation of an answer domain in terms of number of learning factors

Articulation of an answer domain in terms of number of learning factors

Based on Table 2 and Diagram 5, but organized to correspond to Diagram 4a

Note that the more frequently occurring or short-lived the answer domain, the fewer the number of learning factors characteristic of its organization. Thus the most frequent domains would only have zone "L", namely with one factor only

Few answer domains would develop to the stage of including six factors, namely zone "ML2/T3"

The form may be destroyed by aggression, noise, fluctuation, catastrophe, or by the accumulation of internal conflicts. Attali argues that under the first two forms of truth, any such crisis can only be overcome by absorbing or eliminating the disturbance.

In order to link the argument more closely to human and social development, it is appropriate to express the organization of such domains of significance in terms of the learning process (as in Diagram 4).

A domain of this type clearly remains fairly stable provided it can extract or "import" information (products) on which the learning process can feed. Knowledge, in the form of processed information, is then distributed out from the centre of the domain, or "exported" beyond its periphery, as part of the process maintaining the stability of the domain.

Before discussing the nature of this "learning" process in more detail, it is appropriate to note that it involves the accumulation of knowledge in one form or another. Domains based on the accumulation of knowledge, in its narrow sense, are not the only kinds of domain characteristic of society. Similar domains arise from other accumulation processes which each create a coherent environment for communication or exchange. At this stage it is therefore useful to make the argument more concrete by giving an extensive range of examples of accumulation which each tend to give rise to such domains (see Table 1).

Table 1: Transformative interrelationships of complementary forms of accelerative - including accumulation of human need satisfiers (tentative)
N.B. Neighbouring "cells" may be viewed as interacting learning domains linked into interweaving learning chains and cycles


Infinition Context Health
Love (family,
sexual, other) Solidarity
Quality of living
Sense of
Risk-taking Identity Individuality (Poverty)
Equanimity (Justice) (Detachment)
d evelopment
Sense of
Post-humous credit Generosity
of agriculture
(organic farm)
Linguistic cap.
Language level
- jargon
Design cap.
Unified system
Predictive cap.
Absolving cap.
Shamanistic cap.
Aid Atipropriatenes
of technology
(windpower, solar power)
of natural
Honouring cap.
Dignifying cap.
Collective fitness
Critical cap.
Aesthetic sens.
Cult. heritage Historical sig.
Cult formation
Strategic cap.
Logistic cap.
Defining cap.:
- morality
- ethics
- religious
Power, influence
Agricultural improvement
Legal justice
Research cap.
Organizing capacity
Group process control
Habitable env.
Planning cap. Formulating cap.
Process control
Model formulat.
Prestige Importance
Lending cap.
Borrowing cap. Opportunities
R&D capacity
Social-II Normative cap.
Accrediting Gate-keeping
Skills, expert
Advisory cap.
Kicks, appetite Experiences
Style, fashion
Military cap:
Destructive cap Protective cap.
Security, order
Celebratory cap.
Ritualistic cap Proselytizing
Legislative cap.
Regulatory cap.
Taxation cap.
Judicial cap.
Arbitration cap.
Social-I Family bonds Dynastic bonds
Breeding lines
Cultural bonds
Tribal bonds
- work
- non-family
Earning-work Conditions of work
Sources of inf.
Collected objects
Maintenance cap.
Shelter, build.
Consumption cap
Mobility, trav.
Distribution capacity
Informing cap,
Educating cap.
Propaganda cap.
Explanatory cap
Influencing cap
Commodities Trading cap.
production cap.
I ndustrial cap
- hygiene
- safety
P ollution cap
Wastage cap.
Biological Plants (and microflora)
- for food (processing, spice)
- as property (eg new variet.)
- interplay with (eg trees)
Invertebrates (and microfauna)
- for food (processing)
- for agriculture (bees, worm)
- pest clearance
- interplay with (butterflies)
Vertebrates (reptiles, fish)
- for food or transpotation
- as property (camels )
- interplay with (birds, dogs)
- pest clerance (wolves, wild)
- as symbols (Hindu cows)
-for food (cannibal society)
- as property (slaves, harem)
- for breading (eugenics)
- as manpower resource
- as mutual challenge
Appreciation of nature
Physical Breathable fresh air
Interaction with wind/sky
M odification of wind systems
Drinkable fresh water
Interaction with water (Gangeé)
Water rights (cattle herds)
Modification of water systems
Warmth (or ooolth) Interaction.with sun/fire
Access to light
View (ancient lights)
Earth for agriculture (land)
M inerals for nutrition (salt) Interaction with earth (rocks
Appreciation of physical environment
Strategic locations
Existential fundamentals Time-related existence
- survival
- life expectancy
- life prolongation (e.g. rejuvenation, support systems)
Space related existance
- living space
- territory (space to be)
- privacy

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