Advertisement

Complexity & Political Dynamics

  • Alex WilliamsEmail author
Chapter
  • 345 Downloads
Part of the International Political Theory book series (IPoT)

Abstract

How do concepts drawn from complexity theory, such as phase space, metastability, attractors, and symmetry breaking, help us understand the large-scale dynamics of political change? In this chapter, the author surveys a number of such applications: the philosophy of individuation of Simondon, the Marxist sociology of Harvey and Reed, and the process-thinking of Deleuze, Guattari, and DeLanda. Each has a distinct understanding of how complex dynamics can be modelled using ideas from the world of complexity theory, whether thermodynamic or mathematical in nature. This chapter identifies the principle of anti-hylomorphism as vital for an interactive concept of political influence, reliant on manipulation of the pre-existing causal dynamics of social systems towards some desired end. It also draws out the notions of dynamic stability, phase spaces, and attractors, as constituting an effective model of political change at the macro level.

Keywords

Thermodynamics Phase space Simondon Deleuze DeLanda Hylomorphism 

References

  1. Bryant, Levi R. 2013. Politics and Speculative Realism. Speculations IV: 15–21.Google Scholar
  2. Byrne, David. 1998. Complexity Theory and the Social Sciences: An Introduction. London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  3. Cohen, Jack, and Ian Stewart. 1994. The Collapse of Chaos: Discovering Simplicity in a Complex World. New York: Viking.Google Scholar
  4. Combes, Muriel. 2013. Simondon and the Philosophy of the Transindividual. Trans. Thomas LaMarre. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  5. DeLanda, Manuel. 2002. Intensive Science & Virtual Philosophy. London: Continuum.Google Scholar
  6. ———. 2006. A New Philosophy of Society: Assemblage Theory and Social Complexity. London: Continuum.Google Scholar
  7. ———. 2011. Philosophy and Simulation: The Emergence of Synthetic Reason. London: Continuum.Google Scholar
  8. Deleuze, Gilles. 1968. Difference and Repetition. London: Continuum.Google Scholar
  9. ———. 1992. Postscript on the Societies of Control. October 59: 3–7.Google Scholar
  10. ———. 2002. The Actual and the Virtual. In Dialogues II, 148–152. London: Continuum.Google Scholar
  11. Deleuze, Gilles, and Félix Guattari. 1972. Anti-Oedipus. Trans. Robert Hurley, Mark Seem, and Helen Lane. London: Continuum.Google Scholar
  12. ———. 1980. A Thousand Plateaus. Trans. Brian Massumi. London: Continuum.Google Scholar
  13. Friedman, Milton. 2009. Capitalism and Freedom: Fortieth Anniversary Edition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  14. Gleick, James. 1987. Chaos: Making a New Science. New York: Viking.Google Scholar
  15. Hallward, Peter. 2006. Out of this World: Deleuze and the Philosophy of Creation. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  16. Harvey, David, and Michael Reed. 1994. The Evolution of Dissipative Social Systems. Journal of Social and Evolutionary Systems 17: 371–411.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Lorenz, Edward. 1993. Predictability: Does the Flap of a Butterfly’s Wings in Brazil Set off a Tornado in Texas? In The Essence of Chaos. Seattle: University of Washington Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Machiavelli, Niccolò. 1958. The Prince. Trans. William K Marriott. London: J.M. Dent & Sons.Google Scholar
  19. Marx, Karl. 1852. The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte. New York: International Publishers.Google Scholar
  20. Medina, Eden. 2011. Cybernetic Revolutionaries Technology and Politics in Allende’s Chile. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Paolucci, Mario. 2002. The Edge of Organization: Chaos and Complexity Theories of Formal Social Systems. JASSS—The Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation 5 (4).Google Scholar
  22. Prigogine, Ilya, and Isabelle Stengers. 1984. Order Out of Chaos: Man’s New Dialogue with Nature. Toronto and New York: Bantam Books.Google Scholar
  23. Protevi, John. 2001. Political Physics Deleuze, Derrida, and the Body Politic. London: Athlone Press.Google Scholar
  24. Sawyer, Robert Keith. 2005. Social Emergence: Societies as Complex Systems. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Sellars, Wilfrid. 1963. Philosophy and the Scientific Image of Man. In Science, Perception and Reality, 1–40. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  26. Simondon, Gilbert. 1958. The Genesis of the Individual. In Incorporations, ed. Jonathan Crary and Sanford Kwinter, 297–319. New York: Zone Books.Google Scholar
  27. Thom, René. 1975. Structural Stability and Morphogenesis: Essay on a General Theory of Models. Reading, MA: W. A. Benjamin.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication StudiesUniversity of East AngliaNorwichUK

Personalised recommendations