I have been studying slime molds, the structure of AA , Chaos Theory, open source software and the structure of the world wide web itself trying to grasp the nature of the phenomenon demonstrated by the Ron Paul inspired movement. I found that the common elements of it exist universally and the principles create many of the most durable organizations. The concept is new to me but this “emergent intelligence” is as old as it gets. From single celled independent organisms to great networks of people worldwide, a common theme appears. I may have stumbled upon the term to describe the quality that makes the aesthetically unappealing example of the slime mold uniquely successful. Chaordic.
What is Chaordic organization?
Here it is in a nutshell; System of organization that exhibits characteristics of both chaos and order but is dominated by neither.
The term was coined by Dee Hock, founder and CEO of VISA USA and VISA international. He paired two seemingly polar terms, chaos and order, to describe a system that encompasses both but is dominated by neither. In his book Birth of the Chaotic Age, chaordic is defined in this manner:
1. The behavior of any self-governing organism, organization, or system which harmoniously blends characteristics of order and chaos.
2. Patterned in a way dominated by neither chaos nor order.
The structure as well as the nature of this movement is as fascinating as its unifying principle. The individuals that comprise the liberty movement are, by far, the most noble group of people I have ever had the pleasure of mingling with and they have earned my faith in them. Every obstacle they have encountered has been surmounted in the most reasonable, ethical manner possible proving to me that the tenants of individual freedom are truly born of the natural order of existence. What I hope to gain by studying slime molds and the emergent organizational structure of self-help groups like AA is a solid understanding of this “unstructure” so that I can better maximize our strengths and avoid the pitfalls that inevitably lead to the destruction of artificially imposed hierarchies. Natural law is simply benign justice and nothing will survive for long that tries to operate apart from that principle.
If you are curious about slime molds, here is a link that gives a brief explanation of Steve Johnson’s concepts based on his book Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software.
I have a copy of a paper that goes into more detail if you are interested. Just email me and I will gladly send you the file.
The Twelve Traditions of AA are a large part of that organizations longevity. I don’t think all of them are applicable to this movement but there are some operational tenants they espouse that are priceless.
If form truly does follow structure then we will benefit from examining this subject immensely.
originally posted December 26, 2008