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The Critical Variable of All Time
(and btw, the most scientific and convincing definition of freedom you'll ever find!)
Given that the basic game plan of the universe
Top evolutionary biologist, Ernst Mayr, puts it this way:
"Variability is inherent in any natural population and is favored by natural selection on account of the frequent superiority of heterozygotes and the diversity of the environment."
is simply...to continue,
What is the critical, all-time variable
for human beings
and the very long term continuity of large living systems?
Answer: ...variability itself.
Page 398 in Populations, Species, and Evolution (Harvard U: Cambridge, MA, 1963,70,74).
"And it is this always-available variability that makes the process of natural selection possible."
Page 88 in What Evolution Is (Basic Books: New York, 2001) [our italics].
That means that the priority variable that economic designers must strive to maximize is variability itself. Variability needs a maximum of harmonious variety as a prerequisite, and variability is in turn the raw material of adaptibility and long-term survivability. For economic designers, maximizing variability maximizes the long-term survivability of the core economy that they design, or rather, to inject some variability right here, maximizes the long-term survivability of the evolving series of core economies that they design. This aligns with a view of evolution as a very long-term trend away from greater violence and drama and toward greater gentleness ("harmonious") and variety.
The raw material of variability is diversity or variety - compare "Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations" or I.D.I.C., the phrase adopted by Star Trek fans to represent the Vulcan motto (see "Fans hope suns can rise again on Star Trek," 8/31/2004 NYT, B1, B5.)
- In the context of individual employees, variability translates into versatility. This means that training has to be a lot easier and more accessible, on par with World War II levels of pervasive on-the-job training.
- In the context of the overall economy, variability translates into becoming more accessible to one another on a non-destructive and potentially cumulative basis, or in a word, variability translates into sharing (econ: deconcentration; unactionable: narrowing the income gap; left: redistribution; phys: centrifugation).
The Timesizing program fosters employee versatility by automatically converting corporate overtime (Phase 2) and individual overwork (Phase 3) into on-the-job training (including cross-training and retraining) +/- hiring.
- Notice that in defining variability further, it can only be approached negatively. In the example of thesis-antithesis-synthesis, we approach greater variability in stages: we start with This; we sense something else that is Not This and as we move out of This, Not This gradually takes on more shape; then we want our cake and eat it too so we move toward This AND Not This and gradually a more or less harmonious Both takes shape - which then becomes a new starting This. At the top of each triplet, Bucky Fuller's caveat about synergy applies: the behavior of the (currently perceived) Whole (or more modestly, the Both) is not predictable from the behavior of its parts.
- In the context of the biological environment on which our economies utterly depend, diversity translates into biodiversity. The "young master" of evolutionary biology, E.O. Wilson, believes the most important problem of his lifetime is the rapid extinction of species, especially in the rainforests where they are most numerous, and the consequent loss of biodiversity (which will take 100,000s of years to restore). The reasons for this rapid reduction in the survivability of our biosphere and consequently, us, are -
- our own human overpopulation (handled in Phase Five of the Timesizing full-employment program)
- the global desperation for jobs due to our current dysfunctional economic designs (handled mainly in Phases One and Four of the Timesizing program, as described in Volume III, Timesizing, Not Downsizing, of the Millennium Orienteering Trilogy aka the 'time trilogy')
- our consequent over-reliance on quantitative material motivation alias the "Gospel of Consumption" alias inflationary mercenary incentive (balanced with qualitative deflationary incentive in Phases Two and Three, of the Millennium Orienteering Trilogy aka the 'time trilogy')
- In the context of social evolution, that is, the evolution of our species as tracked by history and prehistory and evolutionary anthropology, diversity translates into linguistic diversity, which in turn branches into
These topics are covered in Volume II, "The Football of Time," and in (for measurement) Volume I, "Defining Time," of the time trilogy.
- semiological and drumming-beating diversity,
- (agri)cultural, and counting diversity,
- writing and measuring diversity,
- religious-political and logical diversity,
- economic, scientific and mathematical diversification, and
- psychological, lifestyle and ecological diversification.
Questions for additional study
- Is God variability (or v.v.)?
- Can variability ever be approached in positive terms, or must it always and only be approached negatively - in silhouette, as it were - i.e., "not this, but this (same) and something else (different)," or "not this, but something very much like it with one essential difference."
- What is the connection with Hegel's "thesis, antithesis, synthesis," i.e., his "dialectical method"?
- What's the connection with "action, reaction"?
For more details, our laypersons' guide to our best economic future Timesizing, Not Downsizing is available from *Amazon.com online.
Questions, comments, feedback? Phone 617-623-8080 (Boston) or email us.