In defense of complexity

Somebody wrote in a group on “Transforming Capitalism” in the Presencing community  :

> all complex civilisations have collapsed at one point or another. Only ‘simple’ societies have managed to survive.

Cellular Complexity by David Sweatt.gifIn the spirit of helping each other unearthing our assumptions, let me point out that the feudal society that invented the first forms of science was more complex than the slave-based mode of production that, in turn, was more complex than the hunter-gatherer mode of production. The same is true for capitalism that is more complex than the feudal society, and emerging, post-capitalist reality that is moving towards global-scale self-organization and collective intelligence, which will be more (not less) complex than the capitalist world. More complex means capable to differentiate, absorb and integrate more variety.

Just think of nature. Hasn’t life been moving towards increasing complexity from the single-cellular to the multi-cellular organism, from worms to mammalians and humans? (To let that really sink in, use the Cellular Complexity painting above, by  David Sweatt, as a meditation object.Click on the image to enlarge.) You can find another example of increasing complexity in your own life. Isn’t it a story of increasing the variety of phenomena that you were capable to differentiate, absorb and integrate, from kindergarten, to school and adulthood?

The move towards more complexity doesn’t stop in adulthood. The development of such subsequent value systems depicted by Spiral Dynamics as TruthForce, StriveDrive, HumanBond, FlexFlow, GlobalView, is also an evolution towards more complexity. (I wrote more about it in Communitas Sapiens that you can find in the files of the London Integral Circle, and in my paper on Collective Intelligence, Collective Leadership .) In fact, 2nd tier stages of development, starting with FlexFlow and GlobalView are the first ones that cease to think of complexity as an enemy to defeat and start appreciating it.

Facing the overwhelming complexity of today’s world, the “natural” response is to look back and long for a lost “natural rhythm and pace.” That’s the best that our individual ego can find when one’s world is growing more complex than one can fully comprehend. It is the best that it can do, simply, because it cannot see what is above its head: the next level, at which the assumption that I, me, mine, is the most important in the world is recognized as an increasingly useless assumption.

What if
what we sense as overwhelming complexity was only evolution’s trick to seduce us  into the collective identities and shared minds needed to make sense and higher meaning out of our world? What if someday we woke up realizing that we left the fixation with the narrower perspectives behind just as we did with toys that we’ve outgrown in the kindergarten? What if that day was today?

I know, it’s easier said than done. Spreading good practices worth replicating does help. Here is a beautiful example. The good news is there’s a growing number of us who recognize that awakening communities are not the death of our individuality, only the death of our ego. In fact, autonomy gains never before experienced depth and richness in the unfolding dynamics and interplay between autonomy and communion. So, what are we waiting for? 🙂

This entry was posted in Autonomy, Communion, and CI, Collaborative Sense-Making, Spiral Dynamics & the Colors of CI and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to In defense of complexity

  1. Complexity is inside us, and we can live without understanding how our own bodies work.
    We usually do not like complexity because it prevents understanding, and we are afraid not to be able to control what we do not understand.
    But we do not always need control, and so we could allow ourself to change our perpective shifting to a broader perspective, on a more abstract level.
    We are both complexity builders and components, watchmakers, architects, wheels and gears of a mechanism we are growing.
    Thank you,
    Marco (@mgua on twitter)


  2. George Por says:

    Marco, thanx 4 your comment!
    > We usually do not like complexity because it prevents understanding
    What prevents understanding is not complexity itself (because it just is), but our inadequate tools and methods for absorbing it.
    > We are both complexity builders and components, watchmakers, architects, wheels and gears of a mechanism we are growing.
    Beautifully said!
    Btw, I loved the tagline of your blog: “swimming in the stream of global consciousness.” Welcome to the virtual circle of fishes, who try the impossible: seeing the water!
    ciao –


  3. George, you are to be commended for trying to elucidate the meaning of complexities by recognising ‘simpler’ is a function of the universe to remain replicatable.
    Blessings, K and Dr Michael


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s