Tuesday 29 December 2015

Is the modern Mass Media a complex system? No

The Mass Media is the system that dominates the modern world, having taken over from politics, which took over from religion.


Clearly, the Mass Media - by which I mean newspapers, magazine, TV, radio and the internet and social media; all put together - is huge - far bigger than any other social system there ever has been.

Huge - but is it complex?

No it isn't.

A complex system is subdivided hierarchically, by specialised function - and such subdivisions are sustained and reproduced over time. By contrast, the modern Mass Media is almost formless.

Compare the Medieval State in England - which was a truly complex system and which persisted for several hundred years.

There was a hierarchy of information processing starting with the strategic and unifying person of The King, and descending through Princes, Earls, Lords, Knights, Gentlemen and Commoners (this was also the military hierarchy, since fighting was the main role of the aristocracy).

There was another closely related functional hierarchy of the Church with the Pope, Archbishops, Bishops, Priests Deacons and many minor clergy - and the laity. The aristocracy and the Church perfomed different aspects of the ruling function - coercive force and cohesion/ motivation.

There was an economic hierarchy too - including most people. Within common people there were apprenticed craftsmen in Guilds, lower level craftsmen, and some rich merchants as a middle class; among the 'peasants' there were many levels from freemen, via cottars and villeins and the like, down to landless serfs (I can't recall the precise order).

The whole society was strcutured, inter-related and held together by many laws, rules, and traditional practises.

My point is that Medieval Europe is what a complex social system looks like. Compare the modern Mass Media - it simply is not organised, it is a maelstrom.

The fundamental simplicity of the modern Mass Media can be seen in its uniformity. On any particular day, the whole vast sea of communications is massively dominated by relatively few 'stories', and these stories are found 'everywhere'.

Quantitatively, the mass media includes very few things, and deals with them very simply - and these few things are found 'everywhere' in the system and almost instantly.

All this is the exact opposite of a truly complex system in which information is processed by specialized individuals, working in specialised divisions and subdivisions, and through multiple hierarchical levels leading up to a specific person who ensures purpose and direction.

That is because a truly complex system has coherence and purpose - indeed the coherence is in-service-of its purpose.

The modern Mass Media has no teleology, it is not going anywhere, it is not trying to achieve anything positive - it is, indeed, a system of parasitic destruction: a simple system which feeds-off more complex systems (until, eventually the Mass Media kills its host - or is defeated first).

Thus, modern life may be informationally overwhelming, in terms of the sheer mass of 'stuff' being deluged over us - but this multiplicity is not complexity, any more than a polluted river containing millions of different and varying toxic chemicals is a complex ecosystem.

The Modern Mass media is just a massively-multi-component mixture - in formal terms of information processing, it is not a complex system.


Valkea said...

We are all idiots now, but it is important to differentiate to what degree and in what way. Liberals are specialized idiots. They might know relatively plenty about their field, but they are mostly ignorant outside their fields. When they dont know something, they rely on people in other fields, thinking, "Those people know about such and such things, so I dont have to care." What they dont understand, is that when their specialization is not balanced with larger understanding, their views, policies, practices etc. tend to veer into extremes. Also, the specialized fields doesnt play together well or are outright incompatible or contradictory. There is the metaproblem of ideological and political garbage in, garbage out. Liberals in general are overconfident about their individual and collective knowledge and policies. Liberals devalue history, except when it shows how bad it was before liberals, or tells the story of rising, good and victorious liberals. Liberals live in constant hectic now and expectation of future 'beneficial' things and utopia, that will cure, relief, ease, give potentials, transform people, etc.

Conservatives are slightly less idiots. Conservatives understand that they or anybody else in society dont have enough knowledge or understanding, so they srive towards larger understanding of society, history, peoples, science, religion, etc. Conservatives are more likely to learn and appreciate timeless and universal wisdom of historical authors, respect historical authors and authorities. Historical authors are dead and their words will always stay the same, so they cannot be corrupted by the present liberal incentives, vices, conformism, etc. Conservatives understand that when science and technology "progressess", men mostly become less and weaker. E.g. when people have computers and internet, they can always find the information or 'knowledge' with internet search. They dont have to remember anything, know anything or understand anything, so they become less knowledgeable, they have weaker memories, they understand less, they become de facto less intelligent, etc. Thus conservatives see the sea of idiots swelling around them, including scientists. Morality, personalities and characters are weakening too. Consequently conservatives dont call this time "progress". Conservatives use the whole human moral spectrum, whereas liberals use only two or three moral factors. Hence conservatives understand people better (including understanding liberals better than liberals understand themselves or conservatives); can form more functional societies; can predict outcomes of policies, social reforms, societies changes; etc. in better way than liberals; etc. Etc.

Continued ...

Valkea said...

Part 2.

If liberals' knowledge is represented as dots, which cover the whole society quantitatively well, but not qualitatively well, then conservatives' knowledge could be represented as 'amoebas', which enlarge their hands as widely and in as many directions as possible. Because amoeba is small compared to society, one amoeba cannot do very much on his own. There are, of course, many amoebas. They are at the same time locally fairly randomly distributed, but heavily concentrated to certain painful areas of society, perhaps too much, because important things is then left relatively unseen and unexplored. They expand often with little or no planning. Some better amoebas are larger than others and expand more systematically. Still, smaller and unplanning amoebas can make important dotty contributions to the whole too. The best amoebas, although considerably wider and more planning than others, are far from covering the whole society. Amoebas often discover, realize or invent the same thing again and again, and process the same thing again and again, or they endlessly process less important, counterproductive or insignificant things. Their overall effect is weakened. The question for conservatives is then how these amoebas are expanded co-operatively and coherently to cover the whole society, so that their knowledge mutually reinforces each other, and each knowledge is as fully as possible connected with reasonable ties to other knowledges.



Conservatives could have predicted e.g. the microaggression type extremes given certain swollen and toxic bureaucracies, bad incentives, liberal victimhood status competition, and one-sided harm / care and justice morality. Liberals stepped on the every mine on the way, although their best minds planned these policies. Now the more intelligent liberals try to fix the monster they have created, the monster which have turned against liberal professors and other liberal faculty members:


One of the liberal fixing projects. Note that they try to restore "good" liberalism, not navigate to any conservative direction. "Good" liberalism might be in some respects better situation than the present, but far from ideal. Note also, that they are worried that the present extreme liberalism is starting to produce uncontrollably liberalism's opposites, illiberal tyranny AND free conservative movements. The latter are to some extent useful to us:



Imnobody said...

"The modern Mass Media has no teleology, it is not going anywhere, it is not trying to achieve anything positive "

I agree that it is not trying to achieve anything positive. But I don't agree that it is not going anywhere. You don't need structure when you have an ideology, in this case, leftism, which most workers in the Mass Media perceive as "the truth that must be imposed on the population". All mass media is striving for the achievement of leftist ideals. This is its teleology.

In the same way, Christianity during the first times was not a complex system. A bunch of geographically isolated communities loosely connected through some preachers that visited several of them (Paul is the better example but the Epistles show that there were other people like him). But they achieved their goal because they had a common ideology: Christianity.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Imn - Yes, but Leftism has no psotove goal - no state that it can regard as utopia. It is permanent revolution - moving from target to target in rotation (one victim group one day become the target of Leftist destruction some time later - e.g. from 150-50 years ago the Left's heroes were male, white, native manual workers and their families). So the teleology is destruction nof The Good, destruction of created order. But most Leftists don't realize this, of course, they just get caught up in the latest campaign.

Imnobody said...


I completely agree.

One of my ex-students (influenced by American culture) has embraced the ***redacted*** cause as if it was the Communist Revolution or the Second Coming of the Messiah. For me, it is only another degenerate leftist cause but young people tend to think the past does not exist and the last campaign is all they got. The fact that people are taught a completely false version of history so they don't have historical perspective does not help.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Imn - It seems to me that a lack of real purpose is maybe the root of this kind of random drift.