009 Constructing a systems metamodel

We can now diagram a metamodel which a) accounts for i) biospheric and ii) sociocultural inputs from the total environment; b) recognizes the given sociocultural system as i) converter, ii) withinputs-generator, and iii) comprising numerous sub-systems (including the political); and c) relates its outputs — as material and societal technics — to positive and negative forms of feedback.

The diagram below indicates both how material and societal technics interact and, depending upon the state of the system vis-A-vis its environment, how they can combine so as to result in systemic self-stabilization or, alternatively, in systemic transformation. We shall designate the first systemic process „Cybernetics I“; the second „Cybernetics II“;. The diagram also aims to show that whereas Cybernetics I, comprising net negative feedback processes, acts to stabilize a given sociocultural system within its environment, the dominant positive feedback processes comprising Cybernetic II can i) increase the system’s negentropy and information gain, and thereby also increase its environmental control capability so as to actualize the existing potential within the system-environment nexus; and/or ii) enable the system’s outputs (in the form of material and societal technics) to cross the permeable frontiers separating one environment from another and so quantize to a new level of societal organization.

Examples of Cybernetics I are found in sub-hominid societies where Darwinian mechanisms are fully operative; again in mature or senescent sociocultural systems in which the available material technics have achieved their maximal environmental control capability and reached steady-state. As an example of the first type of Cybernetics II (systemic self-organization), we might choose lithic man’s advancement into the high latitudes. It was made possible by control of fire (energy production) and invention of progressively efficient tools (such as microliths). By attaining maximal use of this technology, the Eskimos could survive beyond the tree-line and maintain a viable symbiosis with an austere, i.e., low-energy physical environment. However, since the latter set constraints on expansion and control of the biosphere, negative feedback mechanisms became dominant, resulting in overall societal stabilization (Cybernetic I) – so that Eskimo society remained at S1 (in Figure 1), at least until the intrusion of an alien, more advanced technology.