Living or Dead Organisations

Living or Dead Organisations 
This research was conducted by Creazene, Institute Towards Sustainability in Switzerland.

Are organisations and living systems negatively interdependent (benefiting some at the costs of others i.e. environment, life, social cohesion, conflict, earthquakes, aquifer pollution, CO2, Methane emissions, etcetera) or positively interdependent (benefiting everyone and everything) as a sustainable circular system mimicking nature using recursive patterns? (Capra, Luisi, 2014) (Mandelbrot 1980).
  1. Will they be based on systems science? Without rebuilding, re-designing the current competitive linear economic model into a non-linear economic system based on relationships in equilibrium, a sustainable and durable future global governance system cannot be created. (Bateson, 1972), simply because a linear system cannot be sustained in a non-linear universe.
  2. Will the system be controllable by cybernetical steering? Every living system would have to be built as a Viable System Model (Beer, 1972) which is able to learn, adapt and adjust and not be path-dependent. It needs to allow Ross Ashby’s Law of Requisite Variety in order to be regulated and be autopoietic. (Maturana, Varela, 1978, Prigogine 1977, Asbhy 1956). The current economic and financial  system can be considered as a non-learning one which in Systems Sciences is called a ‘dead system.’
  3. Will the new system be based on a ‘full and true cost analysis’?
  4. Could it be harmful for the environment, social cohesion and human and non-human life?
  5. Will the global governing System be operating within so called Boundaries of Functionality and not outside of them, i.e. operating within the limitations of reality we named  ‘Realimiteit?’ (Van Campen 2017)?
  6. Will it consider complexity science, order and entropy, chaos theory (Gleick, 1987) (Poincaré, 1890) (butterfly effect (Lorenz 1963)  and the Law of Unintended Consequences (Merton, 1936)?
  7. Will it be quantum mechanically sound by including the unified field theory, the observer effect and consciousness? (Hagelin, 2006)

If a new, future global governing system has to be designed, it needs to address these questions prior to launch.

Perhaps one will ignore this paper. But the reason why we are facing this great challenge is that information which does not fit purpose is ignored. This behaviour goes against all scientific research which endeavours to finding truth. Information through communications offer the solution towards a globally beneficial and sustainable governance system.

Lynn Margulis: ‘if it metabolizes it is alive, if it not metabolizes it is not.’
Introducing ‘Realimiteit Principle’ Sustained functionality is only feasible within natural boundaries of functionality or limits of reality i.e. within Realimiteit.
Sustained life or living systems are emergent properties or in other words the resulting qualitative improvement of a combined interdependence and cooperation of all information carriers. (Fritjof Capra, Pier Luigi Luisi, Arend van Campen)
In other words; energy and matter are dependent on information which is the key element for possible emergence. Stability, equilibrium or homeostasis are dynamic processes which form the basis of sustainability. This stability cannot be compared with the stability of a chair or table, for example. The stability of a living system is a continuous process of balancing between order and entropy (disorder) using all the available information by interaction between all the parts of a system. Natural systems like humans, animals, flowers or plants and the organisations we create should always be maintained in a state of equilibrium in relationship with the environment in order to keep functioning. Living or life is an ongoing process of communication.
Life or living systems according to Fritjof Capra and Gregory Bateson depend on the criteria needed for survival; for example health, a non-polluted environment, social safety or cohesion, biological and ecological balance. According to Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela Santiago’s Theory of Cognition, life is autopoietic, which means that it creates, maintains and sustains itself through communication (cognition) with the environment. The maintenance of life therefore depends on the availability of creative conditions and the continuous exchange of information which was called feedback by Norbert Wiener who wrote in his book; The Human Use of Human Beings; ‘feedback is a method of controlling a system by re-inserting into it the results of its past performance, i.e. learning.’ So, in short, we cannot evolve without learning, living or in other words; ‘functionality’ cannot be continued if learning is impossible.
Cybernetician Dr. Stafford Beer used the term that information ‘in forms’ us, meaning that in fact it is information that gives us shape and build us into who we are, giving us form. Maintaining or sustaining life without the combined use and exchange of matter, energy and information is impossible. Try to ignore traffic coming from the left when you want to cross a street and see what happens?

Organisations are Living systems of communication (information exchanges).

Let’s fast forward this to organisations, businesses, industrial production or political processes. Organisations often seem to ignore information which contradicts their goals or purposes, while only accepting the information that confirms them. When we understand organisations also as autopoietic, living, social systems of communication (Niklas Luhmann), we intuitively understand that stability and sustainability can only be achieved by using positive – and negative feedback (information) in a balanced order. Communication or the constant gathering and sharing of (new) information creates the very basis for steering, maximum control and predictability. A continuous learning process is the basis for long term continuity.
This fact confirms value-driven business ethics and corporate social responsibility as feedback (information) which, along with all other information, needs to be accepted, considered and used to maintain stability and therefore an organisation cannot afford to ignore. Again I emphasize that ignoring relevant information directly results in risk and instability.

Linearity and Non Linearity To explain linearity and non linearity.

Systems are linear when they consider direct cause and effect only, such as our modern economic and many political governance or industrial models. But reality and life are quite different. Only acknowledging cause and effect is based on the current and still dominant empirical scientific paradigm or a so-called mechanistic way of interpreting our world. But new sciences show us a reality which is non-linear, non-predictive, non-controllable. Up to a certain extent, processes are ‘controllable’, but then we have to manoeuvre them within boundaries of functionality (Realimiteit) by using all information in order to ‘control’ or ‘govern’ them.
James Gleick in his book ‘Chaos’ talks about the ending of deterministic sciences which are being replaced by ‘chaos, complexity and uncertainty principles’ based on ‘non linear’ sciences: as follows:

  1. Relativity eliminated the Newtonian Illusion of absolutes
  2. Quantum Mechanics eliminated the dream of a controllable measurement process. Mechanistic thought had been playing tricks to the human mind. It gave people the illusion that they were objective and in control (looking in from the outside), but subjectivity (the observer effect) is confirmed by Quantum Mechanics and Quantum Consciousness.
  3. Chaos Theory eliminates the fantasy of deterministic predictability, but found that order from chaos is a natural phenomenon.
  4. Systems Theory: Everything is connected, interrelated and interdependent (the observer effect)
  5. Cybernetics (Norbert Wiener, Stafford Beer and Ross Ashby) understood and used this notion of non-linearity and came up with the solution of requisite variety, which is maximizing learning and using information to control and steer energy and matter by the human mind and actions.
  6. The notion of the butterfly effect had to be included in science to understand chaos and complexity theory as unpredictability (non-linear effects).
Mapping and measurement; The Realimiteit Principle.
Natural boundaries of functionality can be described as environmental limitations, borders or thresholds. Continuity of life depends on undisturbed functionality, which continues throughout life because nature constantly evolves through communication with and within its environments. If a functionality can no longer be sustained, nature will stop its continuity either by adaptation, replacement or extinction. This drive for continuity allows natural systems to grow, but always within the limits of reality (Realimiteit), because if it trespasses such boundaries of functionality, systems either grow too big or too small which would indicate illness or non-equilibrium and announces an inevitable discontinuity of the whole system. Cancer can be considered as a non-linear effect. This happens for example when cancer cells replicate too fast and immediately jeopardize a system’s balance by minimizing its adaptability to new conditions. When we apply systems science or systems theory it become much easier to understand that systems are systemically connected and dependent on communication, information and energy exchange. Systems can be understood not from their direct functions but rather from their relationships with everything around them which support and enable their continued functioning.
What does this all mean to our Realimiteit principle? Well this should be getting obvious by now;  systems that surpass boundaries of natural functionality become instable and no longer can be continued outside of Realimiteit. Without learning they cannot be continued and will have to be adjusted and if possible steered back to remain inside of reality.

This steering mechanism brings us to the explanation and understanding the word ‘kubernetes’ which is the Greek word for ‘Helmsman’ to be understood as the one who steers the ship. From kuber, the way of adjusting course, Cybernetics was derived which is now called the way to govern  or control a system – all systems in our universe are guided by this principle of feedback (information exchange).
This system of controlling systems was proposed by mathematician and systems theorist Norbert Wiener in 1948, who connected information with the concept of feedback loops, because earlier the concept of feedback was usually used in mechanics. Ross Ashby added the Law of Requisite Variety which is often overlooked but would be THE way to control and govern systems in a more sustainable way; ‘The variety of a regulator has to match the variety of a system.’ Variety is about the capabilities of a system to regulate itself (by as much information, knowledge and capabilities as possible).’
This important Law is ignored by oppressive governments who try to regulate social systems by force, which is unsustainable and always ends in entropy (rebellion, conflict, etc). It is also ignored by organisations, companies, institutions etc. that are path dependent and negatively interdependent.
Cybernetics as a control system has been ignored, hence the instability of our world, because organizations, religions or industrial processes are based on market ideology. They are unable and certainly unwilling to allow information which contradicts their usual main objective (profit or power) and operate beyond Realimiteit which usually is harmful to human and non human life, the environment and social cohesion. These three main goals should be prioritized as common values or first goals. Markets do not distinguish values beyond financial gains and drive systems into entropy. Markets do not allow for a ‘full cost’ analysis, which must include impact on the three pillars mentioned above. Our financial system we call capitalism is therefore a dead system because it refuses to learn.
The main question you may ask to predict whether an organisation is dying or already dead is the following: Here is a model of feedback loops which illustrates the importance of connectedness. As you can see, all loops are connected, keeping  this system alive.
If, for example, a corporation  or government does not share potential harmfulness of its products or services i.e., by not sharing relevant information, the feedback loops are broken, rendering the corporation vulnerable and ultimately unsustainable. To verify which processes, industries, organisations or governments are durable and would not run out of their expiry date, all we have to do is to synthesize (map) their communication feedback loops and ask if they are either positively or negatively interdependent.

I did this in Holland. I work in the oil and gas sector and wrote a book called ‘Toxic Tanker’. When I used Realimiteit modelling and created feedback loops maps, I understood quickly that because oil products may have harmful effects the information about this is not willingly shared.

a. Negative Interdependence: 
an economic or industrial goal, a personal ambition, production process or political ideology can only be achieved for some, but at the cost of others: people, the environment, society, ecological balance, etc. The protection of the environment, social cohesion, and human and non-human life are secondary objectives. This is unsustainable, but is the principal foundation of our current linear financial system. It runs everything all systems entropy. It tries to maintain itself outside Realimiteit.

b. Positive Interdependence:
an economic, industrial goal, personal ambition, production process or political ideology can be achieved for everyone. Protection of the environment, social cohesion and human and non-human life are principal, central and shared objectives. This is sustainable and in fact would be creating millions of jobs as negative interdependent processes, industries or policies can be phased out and replaced by positive ones. This will be manageable by cybernetical steering using information as energy to create and manage matter.

Using this mapping tool it becomes easy to predict sustainability, longevity or inevitable downfall or implosion of an organisation by using the questionnaire below to check and verify sustainability, longevity and stability of systems, companies, political ideologies, strategic goals and or any other living system.  I call them Cybernetical and Social Systems of Communication. If a system has to survive, it will need to balance itself through communication and learning within natural boundaries of reality. It cannot lie or negate Realimiteit and expect to sustain itself. This scientific mapping tool can be tested empirically by observing the way information is suppressed by governments or organisations of which, ulteriorly motivated or pre-meditated goals are kept hidden. Central Planning, according to Friedrich Hayek is first principal cause for this phenomenon. He wrote in Road to Serfdom The vindication of the official views becomes the sole objective. This in fact lead to totalitarianism and Nazism, which are ideologies which are systems that are already dead. If we look into the past, did not and could not sustain themselves, because they operated beyond borders of functionality a.k.a. Realimiteit. 
To test sustainability and longevity of living systems this paper proposes the following questions:
1.       Is the system open to cooperating and communicating with all stake holders?
2.       Is all information available?
3.       Is information willingly shared with all stakeholders, including all employees?
4.       Is your system willing to listen to information that perhaps contradicts its goal or purpose?
5.       Are you flexible and open to change course if information could interfere with your goal or purpose?
6.       Could your system be path dependent?
7.       Could your system be negatively interdependent?
8.       Would you be willing to acknowledge that the processes, products or services you offer could be harmful to human and non-human life, the environment and social cohesion?
9.       Would your system be open to build in more variety in order to absorb outside variety?
10.   Is negative and positive feedback always being fed into your system in order for it to learn and stay adaptive?
11.   Is the main purpose of the system sustainability, longevity and stability, or could ulterior motivations be a risk factor?
12.   Do you think you control yourself and your system?
13.   Are you willing to accept facts that could contradict your purpose or goal? In other words, could your system be at risks of human factors i.e.  psychological biases such as cognitive dissonance, confirmation bias, self-serving bias.
14.   Are protection of human and non human life, the environment and social cohesion the principal first goal?

I mention here the word ‘ideology’ and according to Thessaurus its definition is: a body of belief, doctrine or thought that guides an individual, movement, or group. Ideology has little to do with scientific or empirical fact, because it is an imagination, perhaps a dream which can become an objective that does not allow factual inconsistencies or information when these does not confirm purpose. I will name a few ideologies that form the existential causes for the current status of our world. They are being expressed in all kinds of ‘-isms’ such as communism, marxism, socialism, nazism, fascism, zionism, anti-semitism, racism, capitalism, neoliberalism or terrorism has become necessary. Fact is that these ideologies are dead systems because the avoid communication and therefore cannot learn or interact with constantly changing dynamic environment and context.
What they all have in common is that ideologies are dependent on parts of information and cannot be sustained when ‘all ‘ information would be allowed. Such doctrines deny acknowledgement of a whole interrelated and interdependent society. They deliberately exclude those parts that do not fit purpose, which leads to a stratified society, i.e. them versus us, autochthone and allochthone separation, refugees, forced emigration, interstate conflict and war on terror. The war on terror has everything to do with ideologies, because it feeds on them. Terror is a reaction on terror, fuelled not only by religion, but mostly by poverty which is caused by our current economic doctrine and enforced removal of non-compliant rulers by military actions, which in fact is an ideology too, and so on, ad infinitum. This ability, resulting in genuine awe to predict which living systems can be sustained and which living system will die, gives the scientific community great responsibility. Applying the Realimiteit mapping tool can prevent repetition of harmful governance or control systems. The maps can be used to show and empirically prove the difference between unsustainable (dead) systems and those that are sustainable (living). This measurement ability can work as a verification tool to test which system can be continued and which system should be phased out.

Regulations or Regulators? Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes?  

1.       Business models based on deceit √
2.       Political models based on deceit.√
3.       Errors of omission: not doing what you should’ve done. √

Religions, Political Ideologies, Harmful Energy Industries, Harmful Foodstuff Industries, Harmful Chemical Industries, Conflict dependent Arms Industries, Paranoid Intelligence Organisations, Secret Services, Financial Institutions – Central Banks and local banks, Stock Markets, Trading companies, Mining Industries, Fishing Industries , Academia and Universities, Oligarchic, non-democratic or fascist Governments, United Nations and all of its institutions, Politically motivated NGO’s, Armies and defence institutions, Judicial Institutions (legality before morality),Trade and Commercial Partnerships (TTP, NAFTA, etc) Enforcement of Power GMO Industries, Press outlets, TV stations. What they all have in common is that they are motivated ‘not’ to use or share allow ALL information and because of that they are dying (already dead) organisations. But before they inevitably perish, they will unfortunately cause great harm to life, justice, environment and society.


When we look at for example; Erdogans Turkey, the European Commission, Washingtons reckless military interventions, international political landscapes, the UN, Volkswagen, etc. we can easily observe that their stability or sustainability is being made possible by enforcement and/or acquiescence alone. It is being sustained artificially by misinformation or by suppressing dampening, or corrective (negative) feedback. This automatically leads to a status of non-adaptability, because these organisations try to operate beyond natural boundaries of functionality. This makes them immediately instable and unsustainable, which will lead to an inevitable implosion (death of the entire system). They are path dependent are unable to adapt and adjust. A constant flow of corrective feedback is the only basis for balance and sustainability for social systems as they are living systems.
Immediate Application Potential
By measuring if a system (business, political, industrial, governance or management) is functioning within or outside of Realimiteit, we can easily determine which organisation, system or process will be sustainable or not. By using the outcomes of such measurements as an early warning system, unsustainable practices of negatively interdependent operating systems can be prevented or curbed in time before they become harmful. Obviously such a warning system will be categorically denied, but it would work to enhance public awareness. Information feedback on potential harm can then be fed back into the systems in order for them to learn and adapt. This opens the door to continuity of all living systems.

Aristotle (2004) ‘Selection from Nicomachean Ethics’ ISBN 1-904919 111, CRW Publishing Limited, London

Ashby, Ross (1957) An introduction to Cybernetics, Chapman and Hall, London

Ashby, Mick (2017) Ethical Regulators and Super Ethical Systems (Power Point presentation)

Bateson, G (1972) ‘Steps to an ecology of mind’, Ballantine New York

Capra, Fritjof, Luisi, Pier Luigi (2014) ‘The Systems View of Life’ ISBN 978-1-107-01136-6, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge UK.

Cox, Peter. Ruelle, David, Poincaré, Henri (2008) ‘High Anxieties, The mathematics of chaos’, documentary by David Malone.

Gleick, James, 1987 ‘Chaos, The making of a new science’, Penguin Books. Penguin Books; Anniversary, Reprint edition (August 26, 2008).

Hagelin, J. ‘What the Bleep’   Documentary and Interview on Consciousness; 

Hayek, Friedrich (1944- 2007) ‘The Road to Serfdom’ ISBN 13-978-0-226-32055-7, University of Chicago Press

Lorenz, Edward’ (1995) ‘The Essence of Chaos’,ISBN-13: 978-0295975146, University of Washington Press

Mandelbrot, Benoit (1980) ‘The Fractal Geometry’ ISBN-13: 978-0716711865, W.H. Freeman & Co.

Maturana, H and F. Varela (1980/1972) ‘Autopoiesis; the organization of the living’, ‘Autopoiesis and Cognition; . D. Reidel, Dordrecht Holland.

Merton, Robert K. ‘The unanticipated consequences of purposive social action’
American Sociological Review
Vol. 1, No. 6 (Dec., 1936), pp. 894-904

Prigogine: I, (1980) ‘From Being to Becoming’, Freeman San Francisco, CA.

Van Campen, Arend (2013) ‘Safety of Ethics’, ISBN 978949101314, Next Print, Den Bosch, Holland

Kind regards,

Arend van Campen MA

Switzerland, April 02, 2018


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