Systems theory, as I have come to understand it, flies in the face of human arrogance. There is a long list of things where we give credit to human action and look to human action to have the power to solve problems. I think you can make your own list. In contrast, and as an example of what I am driving at, a system that endures is stable for some very simple reasons. They all boil down to the fact that the system hangs around because every threat to its existence is either destroyed or absorbed and begins to contribute to the system's stability.
The obvious example is the drug issue. Take individual humans out of it, jail them, and it gets even more adaptable and more effective. It is as much a part of a nation's economy as any other successful business.
Who designed this system? Who fixes it when it is damaged? What human mind is so central in its capacity to go on? I submit that it uses humans but is not the creation of any grand human plan.
This is why systems theory appeals to me whenever we are confronted with a conspiracy theory. In my mind, conspiracy theories give too much credit to human cleverness. They ignore the idea that you can remove any human form key places in the system and the system will go on. Read on below and we can speculate on this eve of the 50th year after the assassination of JFK.
I have to express my prejudices openly. They are how I have come to think after almost 78 years. I am a skeptic. Conspiracy theories are about equally hard to swallow as official investigation reports.
Let us rather focus on the system and its role in the death of JFK.
First we know that there was a lot of hate out there. That hate had many apparent forms and origins but I submit they had a common thread then as they do now. The old motto about divide and conquer is as old as human institutions. Blacks against whites, republicans against democrats, men against women, believers against non-believers, and so on and on and on...
Where do these divisions come from? We are not born with them. They are taught. Why are they taught? No simple answer here other than the fact that the divisions do serve someone. They serve anyone who might be threatened by unity among these various groups. Conspiracy? No, just a way of stabilizing a very complex self organizing system. It seems to work very well.
What is so effective about these divisions is that both sides demonize the other and glorify themselves or see themselves as victims. They are victims, both sides, but they do not understand completely why or how.
So flash back to certain events. JFK is the one we are focused on, but his brother and MLK are others. Then there are all the conspiracy theories about 9/11 that could be approached this way as well.
Once the hate builds to action by someone the damage gets done. Then the challenge of systems thinking raises some fundamental questions. Here area few:
Had JFK lived what would be different?
Ask the same about any of the others.
Ask it about the drug issue and the removal of individuals from that system. Consider the issue of human arrogance and the reality of limits on what humans can accomplish by design.
My belief after studying systems for a good part of my life is that we understand too little about how they operate. We like to believe we are in control. Yet as I approach the end of my existence I see very little to make me believe we are in control. We are destroying our habitat, using up what we need to sustain the insane life styles we have become accustomed to, and we pretend to govern ourselves. It seems to me we do not need a weatherman to see which way the wind is blowing.