Dateline 2010: the world-historical situation

In the twilight century of western civilisation, the US, the last resting place of western power, has as its primary purpose the containment of rising China. China has as its primary purpose to put the world 'back to rights'. It is playing a waiting game, and is anxious not to jump the gun.

Dark Age Watch (DAW on hold.)

Issue du jour 1: War with Iran--important to containing China but delayed over two years

Issue du jour 2: The world economy--unbalanced, interwoven, delusional--some predict its unravelling

Issue du jour 3: Somalia--leading the world into a dark age

Issue du jour 4: Pirates exploit the decline of international order

Tuesday, 22 May 2007


In my last post I talked about the lifestyles of New Yorkers or San hunter-gatherers as being each a self-consistent solution to the problems of social living.

I call such a self-consistent way of life a social eigenmode.

'Eigen', from the German, means 'characteristic'. An eigenmode is therefore a characteristic mode of social living, i.e. one that is feasible/allowable as opposed to impossible/inconsistent. (This use of the prefix is derived from mathematics. An eigenvector of a matrix is a vector whose direction does not change after multiplication by that matrix; in this sense the vector is characteristic of the matrix.)

Let us put this symbolically.

Suppose a society's way of life (mode) is designated by M, which includes technology, population density, customs and everything else that describes how the society's members live.

Such a society is then exposed to the problems of social living, e.g. obtaining sustenance, caring for the young, resolving disputes and so on. These problems challenge or 'act on' the society's mode of existence. Let us represent this by P(M).

If the society's way of life is not a successful solution to the problems of social living, the society will necessarily change to a different way of life, say to M'. Let us write this as P(M) -> M'. If M' also does not solve the problems, the society will need to change again, say to M''. I.e. P(M') -> M''.

A social eigenmode is a value of M that satisfies the equation P(M) -> M. A mode that satisfies this equation is one that solves the problems of social living and does not need to change in response to those problems.

An eigenmode is therefore an attractor of the operator P(). [At least, if the operator P() has attractors, they will be eigenmodes.] What this means is that any given mode of existence will evolve, under repeated exposure to the problems of social life, towards one of the allowable and self-consistent eigenmodes successfully solving those problems, and there it will stay.