293 - Meta-systems: Systemic model and polemological paradigm

N. Lygeros

The general systems theory of Ludwig von Bertalanffy via its structure can lead to strategic models able to manage the interpenetration of modern strategies. The systems theory has already been put into practice in international relations as the books attest: “Analysis of the political system” by Easton and “The sociology of international relations” by Merle. Nevertheless, the only serious transpositions in the military field are the Mazzoni and Warden’s ones. Whereas the general systems theory can construe the extreme complexity of modern strategy.
In this theory, the system is an organized unity whose elements are connected and has an inner regulation. It is immersed in an environment that forces it to make exchanges. The stability of the system is based on a feedback process. Contrary to some criticisms that were levelled at it, the only aim of the system is to reach balance without ever being conservative. Its balance doesn’t leave aside changes that can occur in consequence of problems likely to come as regards its feedback process. The systemic analysis transposes conflict in the unity operating, not necessarily clearing it. However, it is important to consider it only as a heuristic instrument. Differences are as important as similarities, contributing to dismiss any homological view or even analogical one. Nevertheless, as conflict has become a way of communication and regulation, systemic and strategic approaches, far from being excluded, can be construed as two completing approaches of the same phenomenon.
That’s precisely why it is possible to transpose the eight features of the technical phenomenon to the strategic phenomenon. These features have been pointed out by Ellul in the technician system.. Here they are: autonomy, unity, universality, totalization, self-growth, automatism, causal progression and acceleration. Now, it is clear that all this strongly matches with the holistic approach we address to understand complex phenomenon. One of these phenomenons is the right of interference.
The terminology due to Kouchner, could not be clearer as regards the multiple nature of this concept. And the simultaneous presence of the terms composing it reminds its paradoxical nature. This time, the system is not the only entity immersed in the environment. Several systems, often competing, are in the same situation. The environment pressures are more complex for they result from the connection of systemic actions. In this context, the right of interference suggests a re-interpretation of the situation, thus creating a new systemic model and a paradigm of peace and conflict studies. The environment and all the systems transpose in an environment and a meta-system. The latter is an organized unity whose elements (systems) are connected (exchange) and whose stability is based on a feedback process (right of interference). For the right of interference underlies it: the awareness of the existence of meta-system involves a holistic vision of the world. An apparently local conflict is actually a perturbation in the meta-system operating. So, the right of interference represents a quest of balance from the meta-system. It is its only means of action. Therefore, it is not only a humanitarian act in the most simplistic sense of the word but a real element of the conflict conception, a global strategy of the meta-system seen as a systemic model and a polemological paradigm.