Which One Wins: Central Planning or Adaptive Networks?

February 19, 2019

Those who are betting on Central Planning do not understand the essential role of adaptation.

The global economy is in the midst of a grand experiment pitting centralization (Central Planning) against the evolutionary model of adaptive, self-organizing networks. Centralization is the dominant dynamic of the Status Quo everywhere: the economies of China, Japan, Europe and the U.S. are all dominated by Central Planning: central banks, central state agencies, and Deep State / private sector nodes of wealth and power that pull the systemic strings.

Central Planning--the concentration of power and wealth in the hands of the few--is presented as the "solution": in China, the "solution" is a Total Information Awareness Social Credit Score system of centralized control of the populace. In the U.S., Medicare for all-- the PR term for centralized cartel-state profiteering on a vast scale--is just one of many Central Planning "solutions" being touted by the "Progressives."

Geopolitically, American "Progressives" and neoconservatives alike are enamored of the centralized Imperial Project as the go-to "solution" to any and every challenge.

As I explain in my latest book (now out as an audiobook), Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic, there's one fatal flaw in Central Planning "solutions": they run completely counter to the principles of evolution which guide all systems, natural and human.

That which is rigid and inflexible cannot adapt to rapid change, and thus it fails to adapt and vanishes from the Earth. That is the essence of evolutionary dynamics.

Central Planning is a monoculture that incentivizes self-serving corruption and propaganda. Central Planning is by its very nature opaque, as transparency is its mortal enemy. Propaganda is necessary to mask the true nature of the self-serving elites who benefit from central Planning, as their primary task is to convince the commoner sheep being sheared that being sheared is the best of all possible worlds--and that dissenting sheep will be led off to slaughter.

The essence of Central Planning is coercion: skepticism and dissent are dangerous and thus must be suppressed; everyone must consent to the control of elites and agree with the rigid ideology that provides cover for Central Planning's blatant inequality, as the few insiders reap the benefits at the expense of the many--the classic definition of systemic corruption.

Central Planning works until it doesn't, and that moment of failure is at hand. Central Planning is in essence a vast machine of mal-investment of irreplaceable capital. Capital--financial, human and social--that's squandered on unproductive graft, embezzlement, bridges to nowhere, Imperial misadventures, ghost cities, student loans, grossly overpriced, ineffective medications, monuments to Central Planning, etc. cannot be replaced by creating currency out of thin air, or borrowing it into existence.

Eventually, the fantasy that we can replace capital that has been lost to mal-investment with freshly printed/borrowed capital dies: borrowing from our future eventually runs out of rope when the future arrives and can no longer sustain the fast-accumulating mountain of debt.

Central Planning strips out the all the core dynamics of adaptation as dangers: dissent, experimentation, decentralization of power and capital, and a diversity of competing narratives. These are all mortal threats to Central Planning, which is by its nature rigidly hierarchical.

Whether we acknowledge it or not, the world is placing its bets on which system will survive the coming era of destabilizing non-linear change: inflexible, opaque Central Planning or flexible, self-organizing networks of decentralized autonomy and capital.

Those who are betting on Central Planning do not understand the essential role of adaptation: what cannot adapt will die, and Central Planning is by its very nature incapable of true adaptation. Central Planning exists in a self-defining world in which shuffling the facades of PR passes for adaptation: nothing actually changes structurally, the rigid power hierarchy remains untouched.

Adaptation can't be faked. Organizations that cannot adapt quickly and efficiently implode. This is a scale-invariant dynamic: the organizational size doesn't matter. Size and scale do not provide magical protection. Households, corporations, governments and empires that fail to adapt will collapse.

There is a real solution: decentralize, diversify, open the economy and society to dissent, experimentation and self-organizing networks of peers. Rapid adaptation requires radical decentralization, autonomy, transparency, flexibility and experimentation.

Mark Jeftovic and I discuss these topics and more in our new podcast (YouTube, 43:27).

I address these topics in greater depth in my book Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic, Now available as an audiobook. You can read the first section for free in PDF format..

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($6.95 ebook, $12 print): Read the first section for free in PDF format.

My new mystery The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake is a ridiculously affordable $1.29 (Kindle) or $8.95 (print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)

My book Money and Work Unchained is now $6.95 for the Kindle ebook and $15 for the print edition. Read the first section for free in PDF format.

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