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Forum Post: When is Chaos Useful?

Posted 10 years ago on Jan. 8, 2012, 11:45 p.m. EST by zymergy (236)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

Most political systems do not appreciate chaos. After all, chaos is the ultimate state of uncertainty. During a chaotic period, nobody knows who is in charge, nobody knows how the rules will be enforced, nobody knows if the rules still hold. Fortunately, social systems, like most dynamic systems, can self organize based on fundamental and common forces or biases. Chaotic social systems always resolve to more stable states (the second law of thermodynamics does not apply here) dictated by these fundamental forces or biases. If there are competing forces or biases in a system, rather different resolution states can emerge or self organize from very similar initial chaotic states. These resolution states can become quite stable and hard to change even when the forces continue to struggle or compete within that particular resolution state. In practice, the surest way to change a highly stable resolution state is to induce chaos, and attempt to bias the resolution to a different state.

Wars and violent revolutions are the usual chaotic engenders in social systems, but these are associated with many undesirable side effects. Another method to generate chaos is civil disobedience. Civil disobedience forces the questions of the validity of laws and the validity of the authority that made and enforces those laws. There are costs associated with civil disobedience as well, but since civil disobedience is non-violent, the reactions from those who are attempting to sustain the status quo tend to be less violent, at least in the beginning of the transformation.

There is yet a third method of generating chaos that we have touched upon in this FORUM. That is a method that calls the hand of the current power structure. It involves playing by the rules of the status quo, yet using the rules in unusual ways, like sacrificing a queen in chess. Like chess, our present political system tries to control the game through our party loyalties and susceptibilities to campaign advertising. Inevitably we are forced to choose one or the other of two candidates, neither of whom we particularly want.

Third-party candidates and independents rarely are taken seriously in our elections because the vast majority of Americans (roughly 90%) play the election game obligingly, voting for either a Democrat or a Republican. Psychologically, people hate to be left out, to pick a loser, to be in the minority, so they vote with their local majority, with their party, with their peers. The politically powerful expect this, and support candidates of these two parties. This support provides the politically powerful with the influence that they need to maintain their economic advantages when one or the other candidate wins. This system is very stable, and will be changed only after it fails through disruption of the feedback that maintains it. Our obliging votes are the feedback. Disruption of feedback is a consequence of chaos.

Chaos to the politically powerful, however, is not the emergence of a third political party, for that party will function predictably in the current political system. The principal characteristic of chaos is uncertainty. To generate chaos within the rules of the game, we must prevent predictability. To do this we must interrupt the link between financial support and electability. We must vote independently.

In the beginning of this process, those who attempt this interruption will surely be in the minority. Just count the number of people you know who are OWS supporters, and compare that to the number of people you know who prefer playing the political game the old way. Voting only as a minority block will result in another Peace and Freedom party, or a Libertarian Party, or a Green Party, but not interruption to the two-party monopoly. The most likely way to interrupt the influence of money in politics for a minority vote is to side with the challenger in any and in every election. This will make it difficult for any favored politician to make a career of responding to his or her financial supporters. The greater the frequency of elections, the more successful will this strategy be at generating chaos. It is certainly true that great wealth can afford to support both sides of a two-way election. But, once elected, the politician is less able to represent and respond to that great wealth if his or her re-electability is in question. The link would then be broken for that individual, and the electorate might then have a chance of getting back their representation.

As the numbers of independent voters grow, they can use voting to ensure that no candidate representing the status quo is elected or reelected to office.



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[-] 1 points by jimmiller5417 (25) 10 years ago


Re: Forum Post: When is Chaos Useful? http://occupywallst.org/forum/when-is-chaos-useful/

Excellent article; well done. I agree with your insight until we get to:

    “As the numbers of independent voters grow, they can use voting to ensure that no candidate representing the status quo is elected or reelected to office.”

Our election laws are set to avoid this result by using primaries to reduce the number of candidates to one in each major party, then a “run-off” election between the two. The minority candidates always lose these rigged elections, thus preventing them from holding the levers of power. The “rigged elections” lies in allowing the state legislatures and the county registrars of voters to run Federal elections. The states have passed anti-fusion election rules which basically shut-out minority parties and minority candidates both individually and collectively. Voting independent and nothing more merely maintains the status quo. We must do more.

Here’s my take on the need for minority parties and fusion candidates:

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE TRYANNY of the TWO-PARTY SYSTEM By Lisa Jane Disch Highlights published by Intelligent E-Publications, LLC, at: http://thedragonsteeth.wetpaint.com/page/HIGHLIGHTS%20-%20THE%20TYRANNY%20OF%20THE%20TWO%20PARTY%20SYSTEM Jim Miller, Managing Member

Prof. Disch lays down a galaxy of authority for the proposition that th

James E. Miller, JD (Stanford, 1959) jimmiller5417@gmail.com 12/21/2011 http://occupywallst.org/forum/moderating-policies-will-be-reposted-somewhere-pro/

[-] 1 points by jomojo (562) 10 years ago

Chaos would be useful if the data got screwed up. Political power is akin to casinos. Betting on mathematical odds, is a sure thing, in the long run. Electronic vote machines. Is that plan B?

[-] 1 points by zymergy (236) 10 years ago

Would you elaborate on your short sentences? What screws up the data? Gambling odds at casinos are slightly rigged in favor of the casino, in order to guarantee a profit. Is there an analogous political mechanism in place? Are you supposing that the electorate behaves randomly? Besides the ease of fraud with voting machines, does the temptation to fraud differ fundamentally during the counting and reporting of hand-scored ballots?

[-] 1 points by jomojo (562) 10 years ago

"When is chaos useful?" If the data used to predict voting were to be wrong, it would be of no value.

Knowledge (data) is power. I think with the billion$ used in all the districts, someone is collecting and studying lots of data.

I don't think it's news that paper ballots are preferred in many districts for some reason.

All may be fair in love and war, but rarely in politics. (joke)

[-] 1 points by zymergy (236) 10 years ago

There is much merit in your first sentence. We should always consider the risks posed by incorrect data or intelligence, and the probability that the data are wrong.

[-] 1 points by jomojo (562) 10 years ago

What is "the probability that the data are wrong"? I would think only reliable data would be mined, by professional staff, even before deciding on the next new buzz word we'll hear.

[-] 1 points by zymergy (236) 10 years ago

When we must use data to make decisions (which is usually the case), we have to consider the risks of a bad decision based on incorrect data, but we also have to consider the degree to which the data can be trusted, that is - the probability that the data are wrong. An example might help: if I buy a car that is supposed to get 40 miles per gallon, and I know that anything less than 35 mpg will prevent me from eating more than 1,200 Calories per day, I must consider the risk to my comfort and energy by committing to the purchase if the car indeed gets much less than the advertised mileage. I also must consider the veracity of the source of the mileage estimate. If it comes from a highly reliable source then I might go ahead with the purchase, but if the source is out to deceive me then I probably should not buy the car, regardless of the margin.

[-] 1 points by RedJazz43 (2757) 10 years ago


[-] 1 points by zymergy (236) 10 years ago

Yet from Chaos the universe was formed (Big Bang Theory).

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 10 years ago

Voting for the candidate with less funding (another idea)?? I guess here's my two cents, for what it's worth. I think OWS has a pretty good model. No demands, no leaders, protest, have a discernible message without needing to articulate it (so far so good). Talk about foreclosure, political corruption, homelessness, unemployment/underemployment, lack of access to higher education, unfair trade, banking reform, civil liberties, etc. (things that resonate with everyone).

Basically, keep doing what you are doing (and I promise, I'll get my ass on the train & try to make more protests in the city).

[-] 3 points by epa1nter (4650) from Rutherford, NJ 10 years ago

I couldn't disagree more.

Create legislation, specific demands, articulate the message, field candidates, develop recognizable leaders who can take the message to the people in a way they can relate to personally, hash out a platform, make real change.

DO SOMETHING about foreclosure, political corruption, homelessness, unemployment/underemployment, lack of access to higher education, unfair trade, banking reform, civil liberties, etc. (things that resonate with everyone).

Walk the walk instead of just talking the talk.

It's less sexy, but the tangible results for people, not the protests, are what matter.

[-] 1 points by zymergy (236) 10 years ago

Quite often, though not always, the candidate with less funding is the challenger.

The objective of stimulating chaos, that may be achieved by refusing to re-elect any incumbent, is to create an environment in which political change is possible.

OWS has done a great job of increasing awareness of the issues you listed. To correct those issues, however, will require rewriting some laws, and perhaps amending the Constitution. Can we expect our present politicians to take those steps under the current conditions? Will protest alone be adequate influence for their remediation?

[-] 2 points by francismjenkins (3713) 10 years ago

Right, but I could imagine some obvious drawbacks to just arbitrarily supporting the challenger (I mean, what if the challenger is a nutty right winger)?

[-] 1 points by zymergy (236) 10 years ago

To make exceptions for good causes may be a little like creating exemptions in the tax code. Pretty soon the government is bankrupt and the lowly tokenly-exempted salaried employee is paying all of the bills.

No, I am proposing that in the beginning we need chaos to break the relationship between money and government. To accomplish this we would have to throw out our own babies with the dirty bath water. But if we can remain disciplined, then any nutty right-winger who gets elected will remain in office for only one term unless recalled earlier.


[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 10 years ago

In fractal geometry?

[-] 1 points by zymergy (236) 10 years ago

yes, and in many other systems


[-] 0 points by Renaye (522) 10 years ago

"Order out of Chaos" It is the elite's modus operandi.

[-] 1 points by zymergy (236) 10 years ago

yes, because it is consistent with natural laws and therefore it works!

But isn't a comparison of the chaos strategy with the "elites" a little like cautioning that because sex is the reason why there are so many homeless puppies in the pound, we young people should not try it among ourselves? Yes, chaos is sexy and consequential. Why should only the "elites" get to understand it and use it?

[-] 0 points by Renaye (522) 10 years ago

I would have to agree with that. Knock the elites out of power using their own strategy. We need to think like they do. Seems its the only thing they understand. It would be bliss to see the elites shoot themselves in the foot.

[+] -4 points by ZenDogTroll (13032) from South Burlington, VT 10 years ago

Consider carefully this forum post and my response.

[-] 1 points by zymergy (236) 10 years ago

ZenDog, here are three links to discussions of the utilities of parties that were inspired in part by your comments:

Part I of this thread is found at http://occupywallst.org/forum/when-are-parties-useful-part-i/

Part II of this thread is found at http://occupywallst.org/forum/when-are-parties-useful-part-ii/

and Part III of the thread is found at http://occupywallst.org/forum/when-are-parties-useful-part-iii/

[-] 1 points by zymergy (236) 10 years ago

Zendog, an adequate response to your comments requires another editorial on party politics, or something like that. But we can now easily search through the history of FORUM posts for similar ideas, which I will do first, and incorporate any I find.

[+] -5 points by ZenDogTroll (13032) from South Burlington, VT 10 years ago

that is a brilliant strategy - ensuring tea party bullshit in perpetuity