Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Edge of Chaos?

@Rondon (via @DavidGurteen @tetradian ) points to some ‘weak signals’ that "complex adaptive systems thinking may well be about to assert itself as the new paradigm" [Edge of Chaos - The Ecology of Knowledge].

Ron cites a number of recent examples of fragmentary political action that have evaded the control of the traditional forces of law-and-order. However, different stakeholders will have different ways of making sense of these example.

From a law-and-order perspective, there is a great deal of activity that remains under the control of the traditional forces of law-and-order, and these examples might be regarded merely as isolated failures. The forces of law-and-order will undoubtedly wish to improve their ability to anticipate and manage future incidents more effectively, and will therefore be looking closely at these examples. From this perspective, it would not be surprising to discover some useful patterns in these examples.

Meanwhile, the forces of radical change in society may be looking at these as hopeful signs of future transformation in our sociopolitical systems. From this perspective, the objective would be to identify tactics that were robust, not only against current police procedure but against any future police procedure.

Ron's new paradigm might be based on a belief that there is a fundamental asymmetry that is shifting power away from the traditional forces of law and order, which no amount of police innovation could ever catch up with. But while there are undoubtedly some asymmetries in the modern world that create new demands and challenges for the forces of law and order, history suggests that traditional order is a lot more robust than student activists might wish.

1 comment:

  1. There was an article by Ian Blair, a former 'force for law and order', in the Guardian recently, pondering the means by which police can engage with the public to explore the contextual factors that should influence police behaviour and tactics.

    I thought the piece was quite interesting and thoughtful, but, given his history as Met Commissioner, it attracted a lot of negative comment from the readers.