“Expansion means complexity and complexity decay.”— C. Northcote Parkinson
“Simplicity does not precede complexity, but follows it.”— Alan Perlis
“The complexity of things – the things within things – just seems to be endless. I mean nothing is easy, nothing is simple.”— Alice Munro
“We struggle with the complexities and avoid the simplicities.”— Norman Vincent Peale
“The single hardest part of leading any organization is knowing what is going on. There’s too much noise in the system, too much complexity: you absolutely depend on people speaking up and raising concerns.”— Margaret Heffernan
“The complexity of the world is so overwhelming and so present to everyone.”— Susan Choi
“We lack an educated, resilient citizenry capable of navigating the increasing complexities of daily life.”— Ben Sasse
“I think the next century will be the century of complexity.”— Stephen Hawking
“There is a point of complexity beyond which a business is no longer manageable.”— Peter Drucker
“A system tends to grow in complexity instead of simplicity, until the resulting unreliability becomes intolerable.”— Paul Dickson
Do you feel that our world has become overwhelmingly complex? Impossible to understand, increasingly difficult to cope with? Each day, it seems to get worse. Can this go on forever, or will it eventually reach a terminal point? If so, what might this point look like, and how might we struggle our way through it?
Just when you think that things in our world can’t possibly get any more complex, they do just that. Most things in life have an effective upper limit that reflects the conclusion of a natural growth process of some kind. The upper limit is built into the process itself, and is rarely externally imposed. Maybe …
I wrote a post a while back that looked at complex systems in terms of complexity and interconnectedness that lead to fragility. Complex systems theory predicts that such systems are inherently fragile, and increasingly subject to failures from small random impacts.
One might also argue that complexity provides more components to help absorb impacts, thus increasing resilience. Perhaps this mechanism works, but only up to a point. Past that point, inherent dynamic system instability takes over. Some small random impact somewhere starts a collapse sequence. Unpredictably, but inevitably.
Does our complex world have a built-in complexity limit?
My sense is that it does – one caused by the nature of people, not technology. Complex empires have been collapsing from their people-dependent weaknesses forever, as Sir John Glubb, British general and historian, observed in his short book The Fate of Empires and Search for Survival (1978):
Empires, also known as our worlds across history, have a curious habit of self-destruction after about three generations of 80 years. Kind of like a people-thing, yes?
Well, maybe not. Empires result from growth of societies and nations. Growth creates complexity. Perhaps the real story is that empires become fatally fragile after about three people-generations of growth. Not size but complexity creates the fragility – sufficiently brittle to make collapse inevitable.
If valid, which is certainly a fair question, this would mean that human social, economic, and political complexity may well have some built-in upper limit – a terminal complexity. At or beyond this point, inherent complex system fragility becomes important and the system becomes increasingly failure-prone.
Where are we today in our path to terminal complexity?
Assuming that terminal complexity actually exists, we might be interested in just where things stand, complexity-wise. Pretty clearly, we have today almost unimaginable complexity – thanks in large part to modern communications, computing, and information technologies. Never before have so many things been so complex.
Might things get even more complex before the whatever-bubble bursts? Of course. We still have the evolving machinations of artificial intelligence and kin to mess with and further complexify our world. These are just getting rolling.
World domination by yet another crop of rulers and ruler-wannabes seems almost assured within a very few years. Their “progress” is truly amazing. Despite their great efforts to surveil and control everything, everybody, and everywhere, they are aiming at the simplicity of an our-way-or-else rule. Unfortunately, this apparent simplicity today requires huge complexity to gain and maintain. The ruler-simplicity is just an overlay on this primary base of enabling complexity.
This means that the tendency of complexity to self-destruct at some point is still operational. This is especially the case, since many fatally-flawed people are running all of this complexity. These people will cause the collapse, not their complex systems. Glubb’s 250-year empire lifespan looks quite feasible for us at the moment.
The good news here, if very bad happenings can be so-termed, is that we most likely do not have much more complexity to suffer. Things will soon begin to simplify as our fragile complex world system starts to disintegrate.
Just think: Everything today runs on electricity. Electricity makes possible our enormous complexity. Whack electricity by large wars, overzealous climate change restrictions, endless pandemic lockdowns, and population adjustments – and you have a perfect solution to excess complexity.
Terminal complexity is here, or virtually here
There is yet better-than-good news in all of this. Our rulers and ruler-wannabes rely on so many hugely complex systems to gain and maintain their surveillance and control. This ruler-power gets whacked if these complex systems start to fail for any or many reasons.
Humanity may even get its act together and help out with this complexity termination process. Or perhaps not. Humanity also depends hugely on so many complex systems, so that failure would have an almost unimaginable impact on life. Depopulation so beloved by rulers and their supporters today may end up taking place inevitably as a result of their actions.
So, terminal complexity will occur and make things thereafter so much simpler – at least for the few folks who somehow manage to survive this simplification process.
What are the odds of this actually occurring? My estimate is: approximately 100.00%. Timeframe? A few years at most, but probably much sooner.
Everything today moves at incredible speeds. What used to take decades or years to play out can now, thanks to our powerful complex systems, take place in months or even days. Think WW III, or worse.
System collapse is assured, but how to survive
As much as I dislike even thinking about it, system collapse in our relatively near-future seems assured. Why? Simply by taking account of many “facts”.
The nature of this collapse is impossible to predict. We have so many options to choose from. Assuming we have a choice. Most likely, some random occurrence – perhaps even a black swan – will kick things off. Fate of the world chosen by a black swan? How cruel.
Survival seems to have two main paths. One is the nuclear WW III path in which survival may be highly restricted, and may well be the worst personal outcome. The second is failure of yet another effort at world domination. This is my bet.
The rulers and ruler-wannabes are almost certain to self-destruct. They have always done so in past, reliably, so it seems reasonable to expect a continuation of this lengthy track record of failure. Our crop of world dominators seems especially inept so their failure should be correspondingly disastrous and certain.
Direct resistance seems both futile and unwise. It marks those resisting folks as targets for erasure or worse. Being whacked by a failing ruler is not a good survival plan. While visible resistance is probably unwise, it is possible to resist under the radar, so to speak. I offer here my favorite example in the 2006 German movie The Lives of Others.
Empires do not collapse suddenly, but slowly disintegrate
Empires are huge complex systems that tend mostly to fade away. The Roman Empire took centuries to expire, if you date from Commodus’ reign (180 AD). Much longer if you consider the split of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire around 330 AD that lasted until 1450 AD when the Ottoman Empire took over.
That’s a very long time. Today, we could have done the job in just a few years with our complex technologies and systems. This means that, even on such a compressed timescale, our world system collapse will almost certainly take many years and involve many steps. For all we know, the collapse may have already begun.
Our survival as individuals, families, and communities therefore seems highly probable – provided that we don’t make serious mistakes and self-destruct. We may in fact be our own worst enemies with respect to survival.
VUCA to the rescue?
As you might expect, our deep thinkers have anticipated just such a requirement in terms of leadership and supporting systems. From Wikipedia: “Volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA)”:
“VUCA is an acronym coined in 1987, based on the leadership theories of Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus, to describe or to reflect on the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity of general conditions and situations. The U.S. Army War College introduced the concept of VUCA to describe the more volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous multilateral world perceived as resulting from the end of the Cold War. More frequent use and discussion of the term ‘VUCA’ began from 2002 and derives from this acronym from military education. It has subsequently taken root in emerging ideas in strategic leadership that apply in a wide range of organizations, from for-profit corporations to education.”
“The deeper meaning of each element of VUCA serves to enhance the strategic significance of VUCA foresight and insight as well as the behaviour of groups and individuals in organizations. It discusses systemic failures and behavioural failures, which are characteristic of organisational failure.”
V = Volatility: the nature and dynamics of change, and the nature and speed of change forces and change catalysts.
U = Uncertainty: the lack of predictability, the prospects for surprise, and the sense of awareness and understanding of issues and events.
C = Complexity: the multiplex of forces, the confounding of issues, no cause-and-effect chain and confusion that surrounds organization.
A = Ambiguity: the haziness of reality, the potential for misreads, and the mixed meanings of conditions; cause-and-effect confusion.
“These elements present the context in which organizations view their current and future state. They present boundaries for planning and policy management. They come together in ways that either confound decisions or sharpen the capacity to look ahead, plan ahead, and move ahead. VUCA sets the stage for managing and leading.”
VUCA, we have a problem. It was designed of course for handling a wide variety of nasty situations – excluding world system collapse and world war. While the latter still seems to me to be unlikely, the system collapse scenario seems to me to be extremely likely – and imminent.
Even though a world system collapse will almost certainly happen gradually, in stages hopefully, it will very quickly overwhelm and disrupt VUCA as well as ruler machinations and carefully-laid plans. So, we are safe from VUCA.
How about collapse of the international monetary system?
Everyone knows that the powers-that-be-and-wannabe are striving mightily to create a global economic, financial, and monetary (aka money) system. Run of course from the top by themselves.
Main players in this ambitious endeavor include the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, Bank for International Settlements (BIS), World Economic Forum (WEF), United Nations (UN), European Union (EU), and most of the world’s largest banks and governments. And corporations.
These organizations and their leaders are enormously powerful and have virtually unlimited resources. Their success in large measure seems almost certain. Well, sort of at least …
The main stumbling block that I see is people, human folk, who have thwarted imperialistic ambitions forever. No, not the humble normal folks like us, but the leaders and supporters – rulers and ruler-wannabes. While these people are mostly intelligent, they are mostly not smart. They have huge blind spots and endless self-destructive weaknesses. As noted above, their empire destruction success rate is truly impressive.
So, we seem assured of a major systems collapse shortly, thanks to elite-level human nature.
We just so happen to have the recent opinion of an expert who may well have an elite-level track record for such prognostications:
James Rickards via DailyReckoning.com and Zero Hedge: “Rickards: ‘We’re At War!’”:
“I’ve been studying monetary economics for about 50 years. All of my research has led me to one conclusion — we’re going to see the collapse of the international monetary system.”
“When I say that, I specifically mean a collapse in confidence in paper currencies around the world. It’s not just the death of the dollar or the demise of the euro. It’s a collapse of confidence in all paper currencies.”
“Over the past century, monetary systems have changed about every 30–40 years on average. Before 1914, the global monetary system was based on the classical gold standard.”
“Sure enough, 31 years after the end of the classical gold standard, in 1945, a new monetary system emerged at Bretton Woods. The dollar was officially designated the world’s leading reserve currency — a position that it still holds today, though that position is weakening.”
Climate change? Just a distraction
In a couple of recent posts here and here, I took a swing at good old one-size-fits-all climate change. My bottom line was that if a Nobel prize-winning physicist and climate scientist says climate change isn’t happening, that’s good enough for me.
Further evidence of his truth-telling just happened, as it does to all such folks: “Nobel Laureate Silenced”.
See Related Reading below for a fascinating alternative take on climate change from history.
In any case, this is especially unfortunate in that it distracts attention and resources away from some truly important environmental needs.
Climate change hysteria is simply another tool being used to gain global domination. The real story is elsewhere …
One world digital currency coming up
This seems to be where the real action is. The IMF, WEF, and UN are quite open about their urgent goals of one world government and one world money. These immensely powerful organizations are far along on their paths to success. My take, for whatever it may be worth, is that they will largely succeed in the quite short term. Probably before 2024 wears out.
Their goals involve global surveillance and control. To achieve one world government, they must have almost complete control of everybody, everything, and everywhere. This control will be enabled by total surveillance via a mandatory digital ID and tightly-managed digital money.
To expedite all such joyful machinery, it seems necessary to generate a series of major (global) crises. COVID was the first of the most recent crisis series. It worked, sort of, but probably far better than the wildest dreams of our powers-that-be-and-wannabe.
COVID and its progeny seem however to have peaked operationally, so another crisis – or better yet, a crescendo of crises – is needed, ASAP or sooner. Climate change, failure of fiat currencies like the U.S. dollar, wars and rumors of wars, introduction of government-controlled Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs), centralized global payments systems, AI, …
These plus others are well on their way to full implementation today.
The final push seems likely to require a crisis-of-all-crises that justifies a global lockdown like COVID did, but much more completely. Temporary martial law everywhere. This will allow all of the final pieces to be rammed into place before any effective resistance can be organized.
A masterful plan conjured up and implemented by the most intelligent people in the world. What could possibly go wrong?
What goes wrong is what always goes wrong: people and human nature
Rulers and ruler-wannabes are so often powerful, but hugely-flawed people. Ruthless. Napoleon. Stalin. Mao. Hitler. Nero. Caligula. Long list …
“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority.”
— Lord Acton, 1887
There is a corollary to this truth: Absolute power is intelligent, but not smart. It almost always self-destructs.
People who gain absolute power are often mentally-unbalanced and blindly ego-driven. They typically stay in power by placing a layer of ruthless, smart people in positions of surveillance and enforcement. This structure can maintain itself until the ruler expires for one reason or another. Then, someone in the next level down takes over but usually fails rather quickly (but not quickly enough for the ruled).
While such people can cause untold misery, pain, and suffering among their mostly unwilling subjects, they do eventually crash and burn. Slowly in past, but probably much faster in our supersonic, ultra-computerized times. Think of how much has happened in just the past twenty years or so. Now we have AI to help speed things up even more.
Applied to the present, some degree of world domination seems very likely, within a year or two. My view, at least. Then the competing rulers and ruler-wannabes will have to fight it out for top dog spot. Rulers typically don’t welcome competition. The alternative is that competitors are too strong to eliminate, so that two or three major ruler blocks emerge.
World domination plans are pretty much out in the open
The U.N.’s Agenda 2030 is an example of such plans. Of course, the real mechanics and tools used to achieve this one world everything where we will own nothing and be happy state are obscured or omitted entirely. No surprise here. To get a sense for what might actually be going on, one has to poke around a bit in the small pool of outspoken (and soon to be unspoken) views. Here’s one of these:
J.B. Shurk writing for All News Pipeline tells it like he thinks it is and will be: “As We Enter The Final 2030 Death March Intended To Unleash Global Despotism, The Tentacles Of Totalitarians Seeking To Rule The World Are Engaged In All-Out War On Personal Conscience”:
“It seems as if all the great powers of the world are marching in lockstep toward the same Zero Hour. Global industry must be immediately reorganized in order to avert ‘climate’ disaster. Americans must be universally chained to an online system that can monitor their movements, control their digital assets, assess their compliance with ‘vaccine’ and ‘global warming’ mandates, and feed them ‘approved’ information. Free countries such as Taiwan must be absorbed by communist dictatorships. Outspoken nationalists who oppose one-world government must be deposed or jailed permanently. Mark your calendars and prepare accordingly, because 2030 sure looks as though it will be a doozy!”
“This is no surprise. The United Nations has an entire strategy campaign designated as Agenda 2030 that essentially acknowledges the end of the decade as the beginning of a New World Order in which a few global ‘elites’ will control everything. In this planetary utopia, people will want for nothing. Economies will thrive. Disease will be well controlled. Apocalyptic ‘climate change’ will be abated. “World peace will be at hand. The promises are so over the top that it is almost unbelievable that they are presented as part of an official U.N. policy roadmap for the next few years. “
“All we have to do is follow the U.N.’s various marching orders that intend to regulate every facet of human life — including the interpretation of religious doctrine, the legality of speech, the accessibility of information, the limits of personal property, the extent of global economic redistribution, the resettlement of immigrants from around the world, and the imposition of ad hoc ‘emergency’ powers whenever convenient. In return for obediently handing over our freedoms, the U.N. will provide a ‘free’ lifetime supply of control and security. It’s a lot like living inside a prison — except well-behaved inmates will adore their prison guards and accuse anyone who attempts to escape of being a fascist! Just as in the State’s other penitentiaries, you will still own nothing.”
A bit extreme, yes, but possibly accurate in many essentials. I differ mainly in seeing a self-destruct mechanism in play as well. The people who are running the show in these efforts are not smart and they will not succeed. My view, at least.
What they are doing is hugely if not entirely dependent on our enormously complex world and systems. We are near or at terminal complexity where the system’s inherent fragility becomes subject to small random disturbances. Collapse is inevitable.
A survivor’s game plan
If this scenario is anywhere close to the mark, we have a rough few years ahead. At least for those who survive the nastiness. Some survivor-wannabes urge active resistance. My guess is that will serve mainly to paint large targets on their backs. This will be very helpful for the rulers, but not so much for the survivor-wannabes.
Unfortunately, the resistance options available in a fully-surveilled and money-controlled world order appear to be rather limited. Worse yet, I just ran across an article about getting our “… eyes scanned by the orb”. This does not sound at all good.
As I started digging into this survival issue, it is beginning to look like we can’t rely on the well-proven historical collapse of terminally-complex systems. This process may well take much longer than our rulers-and-wannabes are going to allow. We are dealing with a very different kind of complex world than has ever existed.
My next post will attempt to outline what we seem to be facing and how we might arrange be among the survivors.
To many of us, our world has become overwhelmingly complex, almost impossible to understand, and increasingly difficult to cope with. Such complex systems – worlds, empires – have reliably collapsed in past after about 250 years on average. But these collapses tend historically to drag out over decades and even centuries. We likely don’t have the time for such a leisurely complex system collapse.
Our rulers-and-wannabes are moving very quickly to tighten the noose globally on everybody and everything. They are rapidly closing former means of resistance and survival. Once these close, we are in a whole new, real, survival game. Next post will tackle this amazing new world and offer some survival ideas.
Brendan O’Neill, chief political writer for spiked, “… the magazine that wants to change the world as well as report on it”, has a fascinating take on climate change and its very long history: “The climate witch trials”:
“In 1590, in Scotland, an elderly woman named Agnes Sampson was arrested. She was from East Lothian. Earlier in her life she had been a midwife and a healer, but lately she had been living in poverty. She was tried, found guilty and taken to Edinburgh Castle where, on 28 January 1591, she was strangled to death by rope and then burnt at the stake. Her offence? Climate change [emphasis added].”
“Sampson was charged with stirring up ‘contrary winds’, among other things. Her persecution stemmed from the troubles of King James VI whose attempts to bring his new wife, Anne of Denmark, to Scotland were continually thwarted by hellish weather. ‘Unusual’ winds capsized ships of the royal fleets. Twice did Anne’s ship have to dock in Norway due to the ‘fierce storms’. James, inspired by reports from Denmark of witches being burnt for their supposed part in the frustration of Anne’s journey, became convinced of a witches’ plot in Scotland, too. He pushed the idea of ‘weather magic’, where witches use their demonic power to cause ‘unusual’ storms, hails and fogs to descend on Earth.”
“The end result was the North Berwick Witch Trials, one of the deadliest episodes of witch-hunting in the history of Great Britain. Taking place a hundred years before the better-known witch-hunts of Salem in Massachusetts, the hysteria in North Berwick involved 150 accusations, copious amounts of torture to extract confessions and 25 deaths. Mrs. Sampson’s was just one of those deaths. She and many others had been accused not only of the usual witchy things – mysterious healings, issuing curses and so on – but of something else, too. That they had changed the climate. That they had whipped up destructive weather. That they had deployed their malevolence to the end of ‘conjur[ing]’ terrible storms ‘in cahoots with the devil’.”
“The chilling crusade to manipulate both our psychology and our language in relation to climate change, both our minds and our speech, confirms that the elites believe there is no need for any kind of debate here. This is a ‘settled’ issue, they say. ‘Case closed’, as one newspaper headline said about the science on climate change. Joel Kotkin describes this as ‘“the debate is over” syndrome’. … No questions, no discussion, no need for ‘rational argument’, in the words of the IPPR. We’re done. It’s over. Shut up. As Kotkin says of ‘the debate is over’ syndrome in relation to climate change, the effect is that an issue of ‘great import’ is ‘buried by the seemingly unscientific notion that everyone needs to follow orthodoxy on an issue that – like the nature of God in the Middle Ages – is considered ‘settled’.”
“This is because, when it comes to climate change, we’re not really talking about science. We’re talking about scientism. We’re talking about the use of science to fortify political agendas. We’re talking about the way the technocratic elites now marshal expertise in their fearful moral favour. And we’re talking about the treatment of science, this science at least, as a god for a godless age, whose decrees must be blindly obeyed. We are facing ‘catastrophe’ and ‘only science can save us’, as the Guardian once put it. That isn’t science – it’s religion. Hence why it is heresy, tantamount to blasphemy, to think or utter any thought that might wound, even slightly, this mystical and misanthropic worldview that calls itself science.”
“An essential task of the heretic is to bristle at orthodoxy, to be suspicious of consensus. As John Stuart Mill reminds us in On Liberty, in times of tyranny ‘the mere example of non-conformity, the mere refusal to bend the knee to custom, is itself a service. Precisely because the tyranny of opinion is such as to make eccentricity a reproach, it is desirable, in order to break through that tyranny, that people should be eccentric.’”
Long read but worth every minute.