CFP | ISTC 2019 | Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy in the 21st Century

Dr. Steffen Roth

Call for papers to the 19th International Social Theory Consortium conference ISTC 2019 on “Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy in the 21st Century: System as the future of modern society?”


  • Harry F. Dahms, University of Tennessee-Knoxville, USA*
  • Steffen Roth, La Rochelle Business School, France, and Kazimieras Simonavičius University in Vilnius, Lithuania*
  • Ilaria Riccioni, Free University of Bolzano, Italy
  • Frank Welz, University of Innsbruck, Austria

Date: 5-7 June 2019

Venue:Inter-University Center Dubrovnik, Dubrovnik, Croatia

Paper submission: Per email to the corresponding co-organizers (*). Deadline: 15 March 2019.

The theme of this year’s conference pertains to affinities and complementarities between systems theory and critical theory for purposes of analyzing modern societies in the twenty-first century as social systems whose stability, functioning and future increasingly is in doubt.  Conventionally, critical theory and systems theory have been regarded and treated as mutually exclusive treatments and modes of analyzing of societies undergoing transitions from premodern to postmodern conditions. …

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Prisoner of a Heartless Ideology: Part II – Barry Oshry

Prisoner of a Heartless Ideology: Part II

Barry Oshry

Writer, Thought Leader, Presenter

It can be illuminating to strip nations of the ideological baggage of freedom and totalitarianism, and to see them instead in terms of the interplay between Power and Love. I intend this not in the sentimental meaning of these terms, but rather as the fundamental processes that drive all human systems, from families to organizations, to communities and, in this case, nations.[1]

Power is the drive of human systems (nations) to individuate, that is, for the system parts – individuals and groups – to function independently of one another, to go their separate ways.  And, as the parts go their separate ways, they tend to differentiate, they become more different from one another. The Power state of systems is characterized by freedom, energy, competition, variety, innovation, and growth.

Love is the drive of systems (nations) to integrate, for the parts to come together as interacting components of an integrated whole. And, as the parts come together in common effort, they tend to homogenize, developing more commonality with one another. The Love state of systems is characterized by togetherness, cooperation, uniformity, oneness of purpose.

Nations survive by developing a balance between Power and Love processes, and what differentiates one nation from another is the balance and intensity with which these processes are expressed.

Systems self-destruct when one process totally drives out the other.

Anarchy develops when Power completely drives out Love. The welfare of the parts supersedes the welfare of the system. Parts lose their commonality with one another. Competition devolves into warfare and internal struggles for survival. The system as a whole dis-integrates.

Totalitarianism develops when Love completely drives out Power. Freedom is suppressed in the service of cooperation. Difference is suppressed in the service of uniformity. Individuality, entrepreneurism, and innovation are suppressed, as is the human spirit. The systems collapses under its own weight.

Ideological struggles. Warfare develops as humans attach values to the neutral processes of Power and Love, seeing one as the good and the other as evil.

The advocates of Power champion Power as freedom and liberty, and they see Love as all that crushes freedom and liberty.

The advocates of Love champion Love as equality, community, and unity, and they see Power as all that destroys equality, community, and unity.

Both advocates are correct in one respect. Power and Love have their creative and destructive properties. Power can and has destroyed community, equality, and unity. (See the hollowed-out cities, the growing inequality, and divisiveness in the US and other western societies.) And Love can and has crushed freedom and liberty. (See the history of communist nations.)

No system is pain free. Even in balanced societies – systems of Love and Power – Power both liberates individuals and groups and it weakens and destroys community and leads to inequality and divisiveness.

And Love both creates equality and mutuality and #it suppresses freedom and independence.

So, for example, both the US and Scandinavian countries are balanced systems; Scandinavian countries are weighted more on Love, resulting in less inequality at a cost of some freedom; the US is weighted more on Power, resulting in more freedom at the cost of inequality and divisiveness.

That complexity of system life is just how it is.

Advocates tend to stress the creative aspect of Love or Power while denying or ignoring the destructive consequences.

It is paradoxical that, in their ideological purity, prisoners of heartless ideologies insist on destroying the very processes that are essential to system balance and survival.

[1]For those unfamiliar with my work on whole system processes, see Barry Oshry, Context Context Context,Axminster, U.K., Triarchy Press, 2018

Complex Systems in Transition – Stellenbosch Centre for Complex Systems in Transition


Source: Complex Systems in Transition – Stellenbosch Centre for Complex Systems in Transition


A journey towards becoming a systemic practitioner: becoming a project manager and an educationalist – Ian Joseph Cammack

The ‘Cammack toolkit’ available as a pdf on here is a nice guide to reflective practice.

Source: A journey towards becoming a systemic practitioner: becoming a project manager and an educationalist – University of Bedfordshire Repository


A journey towards becoming a systemic practitioner: becoming a project manager and an educationalist

A journey towards becoming a systemic practitioner: becoming a project manager and an educationalist
Cammack, Ian Joseph
This thesis is a systemic examination of my practice as an educator specialising in the development of early career project managers. This inquiry is conducted through an internal inquiry into my living theory and an externally focussed inquiry into the journey that the early career project managers take to becoming a project manager. Four broad foci of my living theory are identified, ‘Soft Systems Methodology’, ‘Action Learning’, ‘Reflective Practice’ and ‘Systemic Practice’. These are discussed in order to consciously consider the foundations of my practice and to identify areas where the practice has been eroded through familiarity and developed through innovation. The external inquiry draws on three sources of qualitative data. The first two sources of data explore the experiences of students enrolled on the MSc in Project Management at Lancaster University during an action learning project. These two sources are an analysis of ‘word clouds’ and ‘critical incidents‘ presented in the dissertations that reflect on these projects. The third source of data is a series of interviews held with alumni of the MSc in Project Management at Lancaster University. These two areas of inquiry combine to present a framework for project management practitioner education that comprises of three broad areas of development. These areas of development align to the ‘ways of knowing’, ‘ways of doing’ and ‘ways of being’. The ways of knowing zone is made up of the development of a systematic approach to project management. This zone is complemented by the ‘ways of doing’ that looks at the development of this systematic perspective through the development of a range of analytical and social skills. It is suggested that systemic eloquence may be gained by enhancing the ‘ways of knowing’ and ‘ways of doing’ with a systemic perspective that encompasses relational dispositions to the practice of project management. This relational disposition covers the ways in which project managers learn to understand the dynamics of the problem situations that they co-create with their stakeholders. Furthermore, it is noted that the development of project management practitioners should be facilitated through their experience in the practice of projects. This ‘hands on’ engagement combined with an approach to self-development founded on reflective practice helps to develop people capable of delivering projects rather than talking about the delivery of projects.
Cammack, I.J. (2013) ‘A journey towards becoming a systemic practitioner: becoming a project manager and an educationalist’. PhD thesis. University of Bedfordshire.
University of Bedfordshire
Thesis or dissertation
A thesis submitted to the University of Bedfordshire, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Professional Doctorate in Systemic Practice

Complexity Explorer – Fractals and Scaling course starts 15 January


Source: Complexity Explorer


Fractals and Scaling

Lead instructor: 

About the Course:We will begin by viewing fractals as self-similar geometric objects such as trees, ferns, clouds, mountain ranges, and river basins.  Fractals are scale-free, in the sense that there is not a typical length or time scale that captures their features.  A tree, for example, is made up of branches, off of which are smaller branches, off of which are smaller branches, and so on.  Fractals thus look similar, regardless of the scale at which they are viewed.  Fractals are often characterized by their dimension.  You will learn what it means to say that an object is 1.6 dimensional and how to calculate the dimension for different types of fractals.

In addition to physical objects, fractals are used to describe distributions resulting from processes that unfold in space and/or time.  Earthquake severity, the frequency of words in texts, the sizes of cities, and the number of links to websites are all examples of quantities described by fractal distributions of this sort, known as power laws.  Phenomena described by such distributions are said to scale or exhibit scaling, because there is a statistical relationship that is constant across scales.

We will look at power laws in some detail and will give an overview of modern statistical techniques for calculating power law exponents.   We will also look more generally at fat-tailed distributions, a class of distributions of which power laws are a subset.  Next we will turn our attention to learning about some of the many processes that can generate fractals.  Finally, we will critically examine some recent applications of fractals and scaling in natural and social systems, including metabolic scaling and urban scaling.  These are, arguably, among the most successful and surprising areas of application of fractals and scaling.  They are also areas of current scientific activity and debate.

This course is intended for anyone who is interested in an overview of how ideas from fractals and scaling are used to study complex systems.  The course will make use of basic algebra, but potentially difficult topics will be reviewed, and help is available in the course discussion form.  There will be optional units for more mathematically advanced students and pointers to additional resources for those who want to dig deeper.

Course Outline

1. Introduction to fractals. Self-similarity dimension. Review of logarithms and exponents.

2. Box-counting dimension. Further examples of fractals. Stochastic fractals.

3. Power laws and their relation to fractals. Rank-frequency plots. How to estimate power law exponents.

4. Empirical examples of power laws. Other long-tailed distributions: log normals and stretched exponentials. Implications of long tails.

5. Mechanisms for generating power laws. Rich-get-richer phenomena. Phase transitions. Other mechanisms.

6. Metabolic scaling. West-Brown-Enquist scaling theory.

7. Urban scaling.


About the Instructor(s):David Feldman is Professor of Physics and Mathematics at College of the Atlantic.  From 2004-2009 he was a faculty member in the Santa Fe Institute’s Complex Systems Summer School in Beijing, China.  He served as the school’s co-director from 2006-2009.  Dave is the author of Chaos and Fractals: An Elementary Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2012), a textbook on chaos and fractals for students with a background in high school algebra.  He has thrice offered a MOOC on Chaos and Dynamical systems on the Complexity Explorer site, in addition to this MOOC. Dave was a U.S. Fulbright Lecturer in Rwanda in 2011-12.


Casey Acklin is a graduate of College of the Atlantic, where he studied neuroscience and anthropology from 2011-2015 and frequently worked with Dave Feldman as both a student and a teaching assistant. After graduation he worked at The Jackson Laboratory studying Alzheimer’s disease, and now plans to serve for one year as an AmeriCorps VISTA member working with the Dementia Engagement, Education, and Research program at the University of Nevada, Reno. Casey likes to say: “A day without math is like a day without sunshine!”

What does it mean to be critical? – complexity, reflexivity and doubt in everyday organisational life.


Complexity and Management Conference – 17th– 19th May 2019, Roffey Park Institute.

One of the difficulties of thinking, as Hannah Arendt pointed out, is that it tends to unravel things. Next year’s conference will address a theme which has come up again and again in previous conferences, the degree to which questioning, particularly of our own assumptions and value positions, can unsettle. It’s not always easy to question what’s going on, particularly in organisations which encourage us to align and be positive, but what are the ethical consequences of not doing so?

In a recent piece of research carried out for LFHE/Advance HE, we discovered that senior managers in Higher Education establishments may feel conflicted about some of the change projects they are responsible for. Keen to do a good job on the one hand, on the other they may also entertain doubts about the long-term effects…

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Chris Beiser on Twitter…  the role that complex systems theory played in letting Xi Jinping centralize power in China… with cybernetics.

via @meaningness

 Jan 9

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