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A Metalogue on Synergetics and Cybernetics

Supporting the Ecology of Mind
And Hence the Ecology of Choice, of Will,
And of Feedback-Cultivating, Knowledge-Harvesting,
Wisdom-Accumulating, and Evolution-Affirming Excellence in Governance

Copyright © 2014 by Barnabas D. Johnson




"Huh?" is a message repair initiator, inviting further mutual inquiry.



The U.S. Constitution is "designed to force us into a conversation, a 'deliberative democracy' in which all citizens are required to participate in a process of testing their ideas against an external reality, persuading others of their point of view, and building shifting alliances of consent." Barack Obama, "The Audacity of Hope" (2006), p. 92.


The map is not the territory.



Perhaps the first general statement of this thesis, much-discussed five decades ago, appears in Vera Micheles Dean, The Nature of the Non-Western World (1957, rev. 1965). For example, at pages 31-32:

"The anti-Westernism that Westerners find difficult to understand in the Middle East and Asia had been a marked characteristic of the Russians long before Karl Marx wrote Das Kapital or Lenin seized power through soviets of workers and peasants. The Russian people have been affected little or not at all by the ideas of ancient Greece and Rome in philosophy and law. Their concepts of religion and of the relationship of the church and state were inherited from the Christianity not of Rome but of Byzantium. … Nor was Russia affected by the Renaissance and the Reformation, which powerfully molded thought and action in the Western world. The English, French, and American revolutions were not a part of Russia's experience."

Over the centuries, Russian law has suffocated in a vast tangle of inconsistent decrees — a "collection" at best — and much of this law was not even "collectible" because it was secret. Alexander I (1801-1825) commissioned the first great jurist of Russia, Michael Speransky, to codify this law, but Alexander's successor, Nicholas I (1825-1855), would not allow Speransky to "change" that law. As the students of Bologna discovered long ago, however, one cannot turn a collection of decrees into a system of law without "changing" something. What medieval Western lawyers changed was not merely the law, but the very structure and concept of governance.

True, Speransky and his successors did make significant strides in modernizing Russian law. But, in my opinion, Russian law — and Soviet law thereafter — remained essentially a "collection" rather than a "system"; and, most important, Russian law and Soviet law never developed the cybernetic feedback processes so essential to a healthy legal system.

The people of the former Soviet Bloc should take great pride in the courageous souls who sought to "speak truth to power" and sought, thereby, to reform Soviet concepts of law and governance. But courage and truth-seeking are not enough. Deeply-rooted understanding is essential.

Our task is to illuminate the theory and advance the reality of something which is not self-defining: law. We shall define it not as logic, not even as science, but as an essential aspect of a "learning society" — a civilization that can learn from the past, build for the future, and grow as a seedling planet grows.


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