SOME COMMENTS ON HANS KUIJPER’S PROPOSAL AND SUBSEQUENT CORRESPONDENCE
by Enrique G. Herrscher (ISSS, ALAS, GESI)
1. As indicated by ALAS president Ignacio Peón in his 10/11/08 mail, at the 3rd regional meeting of that entity (Latin American Association of Systemics) in Mexico city last November, H. Kuijper’s letter was extensively discussed. The outcome was that each systems group in the diverse LA countries, as well as each individual member willing to do so, should communicate their opinion and contribution to the problematique expressed therein. That is the purpose of the present comments.
2. There was consensus at that meeting that the systemics community would have to make a major effort in view of the world problems we see around us. As to the reasons why up to now these efforts are not as successful as expected, there were some discrepancies:
a) some concur with H. Kuijper that the main reason is excessive specialization: each systemist working isolated in his/her own field
b) others (myself included) concur with R. Ackoff (his keynote speech at ISSS’ 49th annual meeting at Cancun in 2005) that the main problem is that we mostly speak among ourselves, without reaching the policy makers whose thinking should be more systemic
c) perhaps the root problem is that the world is just not systemic, or even un-systemic, and that our systemic pathologies (in G. A. Swanson’s terms) are not easy to eradicate.
3. On the other hand, there was consensus:
a) that the present crisis may have been triggered by loose or non existing financial regulations, but that it certainly is not a “financial crisis” but rather a financial – economic – social – political – cultural crisis: in other words, an essentially systemic crisis of values
b) that due to its systemic nature, it is (fortunately and unfortunately) a unique occasion to “spread the word”, i. e. to promote Systemic Thinking to a broad audience
c) that, given the depth of the problem, both centralized an decentralized efforts will be required: thus the central role of IFSR and also of the regional and national entities, as well as of committed individuals.
4. On what should concretely be done as a first step, there were also discrepancies:
a) some thought that a unifying Conference as proposed by Hans Kuijker should be such first step
b) others (myself included) agreed with Kathia Laszlo that perhaps we such seek for some other consensus-generating device through the modern information technologies (I was reminded of the humorous but tragic account of one such conference, in Arthur Koestler’s superb “The Call Girls”)
c) however, if no such alternative can be implemented, let us not discard any possibility, Conference included. Assuming bona fide, the worst effort is the one not tried.
5. Finally, as to the contents of such effort, and after reading the extensive correspondence since, I conclude that:
a) the serious predicament we are in does not call for dealing “with systemics” (sort of looking at our navel) but with “the world” and with people
b) out of Brian Catellani’s four subjects, the fourth (adapted as per above) may be the best label for our collective effort: CONTRIBUTION OF SYSTEMS THINKING TO THE CURRENT FINANCIAL – ECONOMIC – SOCIAL – POLITICAL – CULTURAL (SYSTEMIC) CRISIS
c) also the title, reported by Marta Zuber, of an activity by SASE (the prestigious and very systemic Society for the Advancement of Socio Economics, of which I used to be a participant member): CAPITALISM IN CRISIS: WHAT NEXT, could be an adequate description of what we want to deal with.
Dr. Enrique G. Herrscher
CAPSIST - Center for Systems Thinking & Action
Madero 1160 Vicente López (1638) Argentina
VP, ALAS - Latin American Assoc. of Systemics
Past President, ISSS - Int'l Society for the Systems Sciences
Advisory Board, GESI, Group of Systemic Studies (Argent.)
Honorary professor, UBA, University of Buenos Aires (Arg)