Chaos/complexity theory shows that hitherto seemingly random and perverse human behaviour might be open to a quantitative analysis – without destroying the concept of the complexity of the individual human agent. It explains how tiny changes in social, and economic systems, can have a massive, but unpredictable, effect and how ‘normal’ and ‘deviant’ values and behaviour can be regarded as ‘natural’, emerging naturally from the social dynamics.
Thus chaos/complexity theory tells us that a stable economic system demands a degree of regulation incompatible with laissez-faire capitalism, and a stable social system requires a degree of regulation incompatible with the views of some socialists.
That message is currently being absorbed by the international business community, and global systems for the possible regulation of international finance are being constructed in the form of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organisation, etc. At national level the view that governments can intervene to stabilise the economy by regulating growth is back in fashion.
Chaos/complexity theory shows that there is hope, a possible possibility, for dramatic changes in human behaviour from relatively small changes in social dynamics if applied at certain strategic points. But before the nurture socialists rejoice at what might seem to be an endorsement of their view, they should read the chapter on ‘Sociobiology’ where the evidence of the strength of the innate genetic component of human behaviour tells us to qualify that comfortable assumption.
The implications of chaos/complexity theory for socialists (and sociologists) could be radical, and an analysis of Marx’s class conflict from a chaos/complexity perspective awaits the attention of the mathematically talented political philosophers – if there are any.
© Lusion 2005