Stafford's Work

A VSM reflection on US politics and democracy

May 12, 2021


Democracy in the West, with the United States as a recent example, is under threat due to its antiquated protocols and practices. Its Constitution, while innovative at the time, was written at the very start of the Industrial Revolution when communication traveled by horse and buggy.

A look at US politics through the lens of the Viable System Model reveals issues at every level and at the delineation of recursions. It is not difficult to see how vulnerable it is to manipulation from special interests with deep pockets to squeaky wheel minorities. It is poorly protected from misinformation spread via advertising and social media, noise and the channel capacity of news organizations and individuals. Its ‘checks and balances’ can be abused to create gridlock; tribal party affiliations undermine the usual boundaries feedback loops and the prevalence of ‘alternative facts’ and ‘alternative realities’ make it difficult to find common ground of agreed facts.

Some cybernetic remedies are suggested to improve some, but not all, of the deficiencies.  

Dr Allenna Leonard

Allenna Leonard is an independent consultant in Toronto who worked with Stafford Beer from the early eighties to his death in 2002. She works with non-profit and business organizations applying cybernetic approaches and models, primarily although not wholly those of Stafford Beer. She is affiliated with the Cwarel Isaf Institute of Malik Management Centre in Switzerland that is applying Stafford’s VSM, Team Syntegrity process and Operations Room design as part of its business offerings. She currently president of Metaphorum and is a past-president of the American Society for Cybernetics and the International Society for Systems Science. Her work can be found at http://www.allennaleonard.com. Read about THE LEGACY OF STAFFORD BEER AND MANAGEMENT CYBERNETICS

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