Conditions of Creation
The Invisible Hand and the Global Acceleration Crisis

The following text appeared in:
Entropy and Bioeconomics, Proceedings of the First International Conference of the European Association for Bioeconomic Studies (E.A.B.S.), J. C. Dragàn, E. K. Seifert, M. C. Demetrescu eds., published by NAGARD, Rome 1993. ISBN 88-85010-11-3. It was written a few months after a free presentation at that conference (Rome, 28-30 November 1991), which took place in honour of Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen’s 85th birthday. I had been asked to talk about entropy, but I wanted to go a bit beyond and not only touch on the question of “how to organize limits to growth” but also mention an essential point of the answer – the necessary “de-subsidization of capital” and the introduction of a TAT instead of VAT – i.e. the replacement of “value-added tax” by “trashiness-added tax” …

Theories in economics remind an astrophysicist of simple games, like “monopoly”. Of course, there is more progress here. No longer do most economists believe in the possibility of a perpetuum mobile, and with improvements in general scientific education of the public, and particularly with the appearance of computers, the rules have become a bit more sophisticated. Even some non-linear terms may now be added in the formulation of the rules which allow for the development of “deterministic chaos” if parameters are appropriately chosen. Still, it remains a stunning observation, even in this meeting of “unconventional” economists, how few relevant facts of the real world are usually included in the theoretical thinking. If an astrophysicist would dare to produce a quasar-model containing so little reality, he would be ridiculed in his scientific community. Obviously, we have different criteria of falsification, and even different concepts of reality. A decisive difference is the strong back-action which economic theory has on its subject. In astrophysics, we cannot push galaxies or stars to behave in a theoretically preferred way. On the other hand, in economics, one cannot even demand that a theoretical model should represent essential features of a pre-theoretical world. Economics is the science of economy, where economy may be defined as a process of simplifying not only the models but the world itself until – in a climax of reductionism – it can be modeled by economists. There may be few formal errors in the theory, but even some of its “bioeconomical” versions tend to help reducing reality to money and its by-products. Since the idea that “hard science” forbids value-judgments is still in highest esteem, a realistic theory of value – which one would expect to be a basic part of economic theory – is scarcely looked for. (Still, economists find it compatible with science to believe in the value of money … )

Embarrassingly indecent as it may seem, I shall use this opportunity to sketch a theory of value on scientific grounds which does have implications for economists, too. Since the world appears so immensely valuable to every healthy mind and heart, theory must deal with the question how all this value could originate. We have to study the creation of the world. Reductionist science has now reached a level from which it can tell the story of genesis in terms of laws of nature and laws of logic. It turns out that even a theoretical “reduction to nothing”, which advanced theoretical physicists are striving for, will not reduce the value of our world but rather let it become more evident: The value of everything, including life, man and society, is not in the starting point or in the fundamental laws, and certainly not in the “use-value” for some sub-structure, but in the immense complexity which has evolved during those “six days”.

We must understand the principles of this creation process (now called self-organization) if we want to answer the question why all those structures – from elementary particles to healthy bodies and minds – could come into existence and fit together in such an intricate way. I shall try and strengthen the intuitive insight that a reasonable assignment of “value” is nothing but the perception of viable complexity. Only when we know under which conditions such complexity can or must arise, will we perhaps learn to understand where the cloven hoof comes in, why the “invisible hand” can also throw things in disorder, why the principle of creation doesn’t work successfully now – and why there is still hope.

1. Sources and sinks

Nearly everybody here seems to agree that present human activities endanger the survival of man and other higher life-forms on earth. The extinction of species (about one every hour!); the spread of chemical compounds which never before existed on earth or in the universe (perhaps a new one every hour?); the population growth (by more than 10 people while I count to 10 as fast as I can!) and the number of people dying from starvation (now one child every two seconds!); the steadily rising carbondioxide content of the earth’s atmosphere (predominantly from the socalled developed countries, where the average citizen contributes every day an amount of CO2 equaling nearly his own body-weight!); the thinning of the stratospheric ozone-layer (which has been developed by life and allowed the evolution of higher life-forms for a billion years); the perishing of forests, coral-reefs and more and more other ecosystems … Most of us feel that these are symptoms of decline or even fall.

The recent experience – that within a human life-time the terrestrial biosphere as a whole, including man, might be seriously threatened – seems to present a sharp contradiction to the previous ascent of life, mind and culture. Since this symposium is in honour of Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen, many of you may think this all has to do with the second law of thermodynamics which states the inevitable growth of entropy in a closed system. On the other hand, this law has always been valid, and obviously up to quite recently not only did not prevent, but even entailed the evolution of ever more complex, more beautiful, more valuable structures in the world. In fact, those are all “dissipative” structures which, in a sense, form and function by means of and because of their entropy production: As “free energy” or “exergy” flows through them and is degraded to “lower value”, there is a tendency to establish even more refined structures. Thermodynamically, a kind of “use-value” can be attributed to any deviation from equilibrium. Energy flow from higher to lower temperature or other equilibration processes tend to be organized in such a way that more complex structures evolve which make still better use of these flows.

Therefore, one of you said:
The problem is not the increase of entropy but the access to free energy … All problems can be solved with better technology and recycling. One of Georgescu-Roegen’s main concerns – the fact that the disequilibrium of “raw materials” in the earth’s crust is being exploited to its exhaustion and complete dissipation – is then answered with the remark that “the growth of matter entropy can in principle be reversed with energetic negentropy” and that we, therefore, only need enough free energy to regain any material from sea water or waste or even from polluted soil. What, however, if the problem lies in the fact that each problem-solution creates several new problems which cry for even faster and more global solutions and for the help of still more free energy? Then, what always had been called progress should suddenly rather be called an instability. Instabilities do not go on and on. They find an end. But how likely is the end to be found in a state of more viable complexity? Can our “technological optimist” convince us that the access to ever more free energy makes this kind of lucky outcome more likely?

You will certainly tell him, that it isn’t enough to consider the sources, but that the sinks are equally important. We must get rid of the entropy which is the unavoidable waste of all that free energy. In fact, two of the most urgent global problems discussed these days, the greenhouse effect and the ozone depletion, are directly due to disturbances in the old flow equilibria of exergy and entropy from the sun over the earth into deep space. Too much free energy has been used too quickly for the production of goods and bads which now choke the entropy-sink. The earth’s temperature will have to rise in the search for a new flow equilibrium, and this is now happening on the time-scale of a few decades. At the same time, and even faster, the ozone depletion raises the flow of a particularly valuable kind of free energy: More and more of the hard ultraviolet radiation can reach the earth’s surface.

Well, our optimist might throw in, if terrestrial life is so stupid that it cannot make sophisticated use of such innovations, can’t human intelligence help with a little more spirit of enterprise? Of course, he will say, he did not forget the “other end” of the problem. He clearly meant to include it in the concept of better
technology and recycling. We just have to endeavour global environmental engineering, “geo-engineering” as it has already been called! For instance, among the infinitely many possible combinations of old genes (and new home-made ones) we must find some which let amoebae or plants remove CO2 from air, or bring ozone into the stratosphere, or use hard UV to produce food for more people. True – more free energy may not suffice. But isn’t everything else just a problem of good will and more money for science and technology? With better education, nicer laboratories, larger computers and higher salaries for scientists the experts will be stimulated to create even more fabulous gadgets and drugs, and weigh their risks and benefits even more responsibly before they may be sold and spread and start saturating air and water and soil, and souls.

Of course, mistakes will be unavoidable. Much and perhaps most of the old world will disappear. But this has always been so. Nearly all species which ever existed on earth have died out and have been replaced by superior ones. This process will always go on, only faster – because now the source of innovation is no longer the accidental mutation of nucleic acids but fluctuations in the firing pattern of billions of neurons in billions of human brains. Compared to that tiresome reproductive diffusion of new genes within a species (with that unbearable limitation through boundaries between species!) this new principle of evolutionary progress is immensely more effective. If the old-fashioned kind of life has been able to find not only sources of free energy but also proper entropy sinks, mind will certainly succeed, too, and much more quickly!

A year ago I asked a scientist, in fact a social scientist: “How many new options do you want every year?”. “Stupid question!”, he answered, “of course, as many as possible!”. “And every day?”, I went on, “and every hour? and every second?” – Can you imagine the answer? No, there is no answer; just frustration; likely to turn into hate if I don’t smile and go away.

2. Probably, something likely is going to happen

Do you find the value-judgment which shines through my skepticism disgustingly unscientific? Let me put it on firmer ground! Access to free energy and sinks for the entropy are clearly essential prerequisites for any creation of values. But there are more necessary conditions. The timescales and the degree of diversity in the process of trial and error are decisive for the probability of “success”. We shall see that there are limits to speed and globality of evolutionary processes. If they are surpassed, progress degenerates into that instability in which people try ever faster to escape from their mistakes and make ever more new ones, and more and more quickly. Of course, they ask so-called specialists to take care of the prevention of mistakes. But how many possible “side-effects” of innovations do the experts have to consider in order to exclude later severe damages to human society or ecosystems, or to the whole biosphere? When can the process of “weighing the risks and benefits” be declared finished? As an example, think of a few trace-gases in the atmosphere which are involved in a few geological and biological loops. Let us assume we know the reaction rates between these gases under various conditions of density and temperature, in the presence of various kinds of radiation and with all possible combinations of the geological and biospherical partners. rather complex network of interactions will appear – but does this offer a real problem to modern computers?

In order to answer this, let us simplify the picture and represent each partner in this net by a point and each possible interaction between two of them by a single straight line, neglecting all details of kind or strength and “catalysis” or other synergisms of the interactions. You are all mathematically educated. You see the disaster coming. But for other readers let me add: With two points there are two possibilities (you can draw one line or none), with three points there are eight (three pictures with one line, three with two, one with three, and one with none), with four points you find sixty-four … Clearly, the number of different possible relation-structures of this simple kind is rising rather steeply with the number of points. Now the question: How many points do we need in order to let this number surpass the number of atoms in the observable universe? – Mind your breath! The answer is: Twenty-four!

You see, there is a problem with the “weighing of risks and benefits”. Benefits are usually obvious – but how does one weigh risks if there are so incredibly many possibilities? The risk is scarcely ever what comes to your mind via calculations. It comes as the experience of something unexpected but very real. And this must necessarily be so in all complex situations. The unknown is simply too much. If the whole matter of our universe were organized as a single big computer, and this would run for many ages of our universe, it would not even be able to just
count the number of possible different interaction patterns between a quite moderate number of partners – not to talk about a calculation of probabilities for their realization in a “chain of unfortunate accidents”. Thus, reliable risk-assessment is impossible in complex systems. Planning and risk-assessment cannot have been parts of the process of creation of our world. Planning of creation is out, like planned economy.

You know that the alternative is not miracles but the “free market” of evolutionary self-organization. This paper shall summarize its logical structure which many scientists and economists have difficulties to accept because, at least subconsciously, they still stick to the belief that mind is not subject to the laws of nature. However, if a scientist looks at the world as material structures in space and time he finds only one kind of world. Even ideas influence the world only through some materialization. The introduction of a “metaphysical” difference between matter and mind doesn't seem to make much sense. Therefore, the scientific working-hypothesis is: All laws which govern processes in the world – like the formation and functioning of elementary particles, atoms, galaxies, stars, life, mind and societies – have evolved via “self-organization” from a single germ which we call
big bang and which includes the fundamental laws of physics. Whether these laws are themselves the result of evolutionary processes in the earliest stages of our universe, and how “simple” the world really can or must have been when it all started – such questions remain open. However, for a sketch of the logic of all subsequent evolution this does not seem to be very important. For the purpose of this paper, we may start the story when the fundamental laws have been fixed for what we call our universe.

A basic insight of our century is: Besides logic,
chance is the only necessity. Chance is enough to make the evolution of complexity likely for a wide range of initial conditions. The essential reasons are the vast number of possibilities and the fact that the laws of quantum-mechanics make everything in the world fluctuate. One can say this although the fundamental laws are not yet known, and not even known to exist in a conventional sense. The observational facts which led to the theory of quantummechanics will never allow a step back to classical concepts of reality. Any “phenomenon” or “event” or “realization of eventualities” contains stochastic elements. I put all these words in quotation marks because their meaning becomes blurred at the horizon of present physical theory. But, believe me, the cognition of the decisive role of “accidents” in the history of creation will not become obsolete with further progress in fundamental theory.

If any realized structure fluctuates, this means that a large number of its “neighbouring possibilities” are realized for some time. If among them there are “more viable” possibilities, that is if they are likely to survive longer, they will probably survive. This Darwinian tautology is the principle of selforganization, as creation is called nowadays. “
Probably, something likely is going to happen”, or: “Something more viable is likely to survive longer”. As far as the principles are concerned, nothing but these tautologies is needed in the free market of evolution from the birth of matter to our own innovative thinking and acting.

How does it all start? What kind of “everything” or “something” has to “be there” initially in order to go through our “six days of creation”? Obviously, we cannot start in thermodynamic equilibrium – where it is most unlikely that microscopic fluctuations ever reach something more interesting. Indeed, we do quite convincingly see that it all started in extreme disequilibrium! Everything which we call our universe was once very closely packed together, flying apart in an extremely well ordered way. All those galaxies and their precursors which now fill the space within our horizon have been created out of this simple initial state near the “big bang”. Our horizon is at the distance which light could travel during the about 15 billion years since this beginning. That means, we nearly see the beginning! “Nearly” we must say because the red-shift approaches infinity as we try to look nearer the beginning. Thus, in a sense, red-shift manages to make the finite distance to the present horizon infinite. But this also has the consequence that the (still unknown) fundamental physics of the big bang is not very important for the present discussion. It is enough to say that we came from “something with practically no detailed structure except the unavoidable fluctuations”. Let me leave this blurred here.

Some scientists have been puzzled by the fact that matter and radiation were close to thermodynamic equilibrium when they were born from the “original substance”. This seems to mean high entropy, and all the subsequent formation of structure might then appear as a miracle. But this is only so, if we forget gravitation – which plays the dominant role in the beginning, and even today. With respect to gravity, the world is in extreme disequilibrium, near the minimum of entropy. The presently observed entropy of roughly 109 natural units per baryon has obviously arisen in the first fraction of a second in the formation of matter (perhaps in a so-called inflationary period), but this seemingly large number is totally negligible if we compare it with the entropy which would be gained by gravitational recollapse. This point has been made particularly clear by Roger Penrose in his book “The Emperor’s New Mind”. (For physicists: In order to calculate the entropy of a black hole – in units of Boltzmann's constant –, measure its radius in units of the “Planck-length” and take the square of the result. The radius of a black hole is proportional to its mass, and is 3 kilometers for the mass of our sun. The Planck-length is about 10-35 meters …) All this talking about the low-entropy start of the universe may to some of you appear as theoretical fantasy. But let me remind you of the surprising experience that even without knowledge of the laws which govern the very beginning, present physics can successfully extrapolate back to the first minute and e.g. “predict” the abundances of Hydrogen, Helium and other light nuclei which have actually been observed in the oldest stars. And we have good reasons to say that before the first millisecond there were none of the present types of elementary particles “in existence”. Thus, it may turn out that physicists come to a conclusion which theologians have always known:
As a creator, God did not have any realized properties. What, however, were his possibilities? And how was a selection among them made and realized?

3. The Space of Possibilities

The beginning of the universe offers an immense store of free energy for the subsequent formation of dissipative structures and an ideal sink for the entropy they produce. The energy source consists basically of two types of “fossil energy from the big bang”. First, the regular expansion created (and still is creating) gravitational potential energy of matter which is eager to form lumps under its own gravity when irregularities develop; second, the fast expansion in the first few minutes prevented matter from trying out more than a few initial steps into the periodic table of elements. Matter could not reach full nuclear equilibrium in such a hurry. It was, therefore, likely to attempt this again later in stars, i.e. after the formation of lumps which stabilize themselves against further collapse for a long time while they slowly burn this kind of “fossil nuclear energy” in self-regulating processes. On the other hand, the sink for all the entropy from collapsing lumps and from “friction” (in the ensuing long-lived dissipative structures like galaxies, stars and planetary biospheres) is the dark sky. This nearly bottomless sink is due to the cold horizon – i.e. the low temperature of the background radiation (only 2.7 degrees above absolute zero) – which is itself a consequence of the universal expansion, i.e. again a consequence of the big bang. (If our universe has enough swing to expand forever, this “bottom” will sink deeper and deeper. If the world should fall back into a “big crunch”, the story will be different, but this must not bother us for many billion years – and, for the moment, allow me to leave this topic to John Barrow, Frank Tipler and other disciples of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin ... )

This simple beginning of the history of creation has laid the foundation for everything to come: The sources of free energy, the sink for entropy, a huge number of nearly independent places for further trial and error – and a lot of time. The nature of time, and especially its “arrow”, has puzzled many physicists and philosophers. I like to speculate (like others) that time does not have “a direction in itself”. I hope that in a more fundamental theory the acts of
realization may turn out to be a proper basic concept, and that they create more space and time and space of possibilities as they “happen”. But I think that even in the incomplete theories of today the direction of time is by definition that of the growth of entropy. The second law of thermodynamics is just a special case (for an isolated system) of the tautological statement that “probably something likely is going to happen”.

If there is a stochastic element in the realization of possibilities, any process becomes practically “irreversible” after very few steps. It is infinitely unlikely to find the way back by chance, but there is always a new way opening into the immense realm of possibilities. The “difference between past and future” is a consequence of the large number of possibilities which the world has, and of the fact that it started with a most special one, near zero entropy, which could not but become more complex. “Being” doesn’t define a direction of time. “Becoming”, however, does.

All this modern poetry about the idea of time is variations on one and the same theme: Start from a uniquely simple beginning, with immense swing, into a realm of inexhaustible possibilities. On the other hand, it is also this character of the common beginning which via the high global symmetry of our universe allows the choice of a universal time coordinate. (This would not be guaranteed by theory alone. Remember the theory of relativity and its consequence that the time-interval between one and the same pair of events may not only be judged as long or short by two different observers, but that in special situations involving black holes even the difference between
finite and infinite duration disappears! The concept of eternal existence becomes relative. …)

Now, what could possibly happen in our universe once it had taken off and started wriggling? The longevity of matter and astrophysical structures (in their “proper time” or in universal time) can be understood from the laws of physics. To some degree, we are able to calculate probabilities for their formation and survival under the typical fluctuations during early epochs of universal expansion. We can not yet do this for the
very early period, because fundamental theory is still incomplete. And certainly, for the much later stages, e.g. when life and mind have been reached, a mathematical treatment will forever be impossible because there are too many possibilities of configurations and interactions. But there is no good reason to doubt that the principle of innovation remains the same: Random fluctuations, as organized by already existing structures, try neighbouring possibilities, and more viable ones are more likely to survive.

Talking about “neighbourhoods” implies some concept of space. One might think of the “phase-space” of all states of position and velocity of particles in a “classical” physical system, or of a more modern idea like “the wave-function of the universe”. However, with present physical theories such concepts cannot yet be clearly defined. Therefore, I prefer to speak rather vaguely of a “space of possibilities”. Clearly, such a space has practically infinitely many dimensions. Remember the example with the number of different relation-structures of only 24 things, or the fact that there are probably no two identical molecules of the same type of protein in one of our bodies, or even in all living beings on earth! (Considering the number of possibilities, small variations which do not influence the “functions” seem extremely likely in the formation of any enzyme …) It is also clear that
nearly all possibilities never have been and never will be realized in the history of our universe. Every moment in history is just a point in this space, and the whole history is a single path. It springs from a region (or point?) corresponding to the “simple” big bang and runs “upwards” to ever higher complexity, realized by more and more refined dissipative structures which feed on the flow of “fossil energy from the big bang” and dump the entropy in the sink of the horizon (and, partially, in collapsing black holes).

At any moment in the history of creation, the “upper” end of this path, the “presence” at that time, is groping its way further into the space of possibilities via the fluctuations. Near the beginning the more likely choices were simple enough to allow us to “understand” them or simulate them on computers. But as more and more dimensions of the space of possibilities become realized, diversity is growing so much that this is impossible. The tiniest fluctuations, very small “accidents”, can influence the path decisively. (Just think of the story of your own life!) Further up the path of worldhistory, when many complex sub-systems have evolved, we may for some of them and for some time neglect most of their “outside” interactions (except some feeding and relieving flows of energy and matter) and look at them as “isolated systems”. “Subspaces” corresponding to relatively isolated parts of the world – like a galaxy, a planetary system, a biosphere, a species, a living individual, a human brain, a society – are themselves practically still as “infinite” as the whole space of possibilities. (“Even a tiny fraction of this kind of infinity is nearly as infinite as the whole”.)

Is there any general principle which governs the choice of the realized future among the immensely many different neighbouring possibilities? Does perhaps the concept of entropy offer a guide?

4. The uselessness of the Second Law

Some of you may ask for “selection rules” which might tell us why the increase of complexity is so obviously more likely than a direct evolution towards configurations with the highest entropy. For the whole world, in case of a closed universe, the answer is simple: Its final configuration, with maximum entropy, would be the “big crunch” ( – mind the essential difference between the initial and final “singular” states which have minimum and maximum entropy respectively!), but this would only be reached after gravitational attraction has stopped and reversed the universal expansion. This would take about fifty billion years. Obviously, comparing entropies is not sufficient for judging the likelihood of somewhat nearer possible futures of the whole world. And the situation is not much different when we ask for the future development of sub-systems! Why do galaxies or stars not straight away collapse into black holes although those have an entropy many orders of magnitude larger?

Just look at such dissipative structures, and you see that their rate of entropy production is not determined by the “distance” from ultimate thermodynamical equilibrium (including gravity!), but by much more intricate features. In astrophysical structures those are e.g. the transport processes for angular momentum and various kinds of radiation. Entropy production in a confined region creates a flow of “waste” energy, directed away from its source, eventually towards the horizon. In the surrounding, this represents a flow of free energy which will help the fluctuations to reach and try out more complex possibilities. In a star, e.g., the flow from its centre excites the surrounding material into a state in which the central entropy-production itself is regulated and (for light stars) extended over billions of years. Relatively weak interactions in the outer layers manage to control the strong interactions in the centre. Further outside the flow is used again, and this is, e.g., why astronomers find clouds of quite complex organic molecules around young stars. On planets, as we know, more and more sophisticated details can come into play. The flow of energy (which appears as free energy from one side and as entropy from the other, and which comes ultimately from the big bang) finds more and more twigs and twiglets in ever new dimensions of the space of possibilities. The “decisions” in all the bifurcations are made by fluctuations, but the “transition-probabilities” depend on many properties of the realized structures and their reachable neighbourhood.

Clearly, the non-viability of our present economy has to do with the entropy production in the wasting of energy, the squandering of resources and the choking of sinks. On the other hand, dissipative structures
live on entropy production. Whether a given production rate is viable or not, cannot be concluded from the second law of thermodynamics. This does not even offer help in understanding the drive towards higher complexity and its successes and malfunctions. Neither does the formulation of a “fourth law”, tailored for judging the chances of mixing and unmixing matter. Georgescu-Roegen’s motives in proposing this, and his understanding of the destructive consequences of our present dealings with resources and sinks of raw-materials are certainly to be welcomed, but it does not make sense to introduce several kinds of entropy and formulate separate laws for them. In principle, there is only one kind of entropy but in the realm of real complexity this concept is anyway quite impracticable because one does not know which degrees of freedom have to be taken into account and which “coarse-graining” must be chosen in the definition of the system and its “macroscopic states”. The situation is particularly unsatisfying in economics, where one uses the word “system” even though one knows that the most important degrees of freedom have been neglected in the theoretical modeling.

One may be tempted to think of some extremal principle. Doesn’t better viability mean longer life through more economic use of the resources? So, shouldn’t the use – and, thus, the rate of entropy production – be minimized? Obviously, this is not true. Even black holes do occasionally form. But neither is the contrary true. Because of the immense number of possible dissipative structures it has been likely in history to find some with relatively long internal time-scales, i.e. long-lived ones. (In this context, life-time does usually not mean that of an individual material structure. The concept of individuality, which is lost at the level of particles, has its difficulties at the more complex levels, too. In more general kinds of metabolism not only matter and energy are exchanged and “consumed” but all sorts of “individual” structures. We may e.g. also speak of the life-time of species or even of a planetary biosphere.)

Of course, if we think of all possible paths in the space of possibilities, there are certainly always quicker roads to ultimate equilibrium. But in the labyrinth of so many other paths with long delays in “stations”, such direct roads are unlikely to be found via accidental fluctuations. Therefore, the speed of approach towards equilibrium does not necessarily have a positive selection value. On the contrary: If possibilities with slower internal dissipation can be realized (and protected from external disturbances) they are likely to survive. On the other hand, such structures are so stable because they have less internal fluctuations. (An extreme example is the proton, which is perhaps also a dissipative structure, but with a practically “eternal” life-time of more than 1030 years …) The long-lived structures cannot play a “creative” role in the “invention” of a more complex future. They will rather be used as building-blocks by “higher” structures, which organize weaker interactions between them. Viability has a wide spectrum from maximum stability to maximum evolvability. (Please, be startled by that word, which suggests limits to growth! Are we, at last, making headway towards economics?)

I am afraid we must accept that there is no reason to expect any general “selection rules” in the evolutionary process, except those of logic. Logic implies, of course, the generalized entropy law, i.e. the tautology that “probably something likely is going to happen” and that this will be the self-organization of something viable which can be found by fluctuations among the neighbouring possibilities. But how should such trivialities teach us how to judge values? Is the new more valuable, or the
old? Stability or speed of change? You may have become aware that the time-scales are important in some way. But wasn’t it pretentious to promise you a better understanding of the concept of value – just from logic? It’s true that from a tautology there follows everything, or rather everything possible. But isn’t it cheeky to claim to have understood something? Allow me a few more fluctuations between views of the space of possibilities. Perhaps we find the invisible hand … ?

At many moments a huge number of neighbouring possibilities may be nearly equally likely to be reached – and, therefore, in fact each extremely unlikely. But one of them
must be realized. Something must happen – which is just another way of saying that time does not stop. If there are many possibilities which can be reached with similar but very small likelihood, the result will be very sensitive to small fluctuations. Then, in spite of the weakness of a system's external interactions, it may be a poor approximation to consider it as “isolated”. The viability of its complexity might be founded in relatively weak interactions with many different parts of the whole. If complexity evolves very far in this direction, its viability is threatened by chaos and collapse. As we saw, viability and evolvability are intimately connected on more complex levels. A higher organization of trial and error increases not only the chance of success but also that of failure. Still, this kind of failure isn’t likely to lead to deep fall if there are sufficiently many independent trials. (Nietzsche’s collapse did not yet mean the end of mind … )

If we try to visualize the history of the world in the space of possibilities as a single line, we loose practically all intuition. We cannot think of all dimensions at the same time. We rather imagine infinitely many sub-spaces attached to the line in each moment, and view the complex dissipative structures as bundles of nearly closed loops in such sub-spaces. Then our “world-line” consists of hierarchies of intricately interwoven narrow spirals. Nearly everything repeats itself again and again in nearly closed “orbits”, i.e. loops which have been established as viable in the long process of trial and error. But there are “accidental encounters” which occasionally cause radical changes, and with extreme resolution we should be able to follow the history of such accidents back to tiny wriggling motions which represent spontaneous fluctuations. At the “present” momentary end of all those spirals, the random events give the whole bundle a chance to gain essentially new structural features, but this evolutionary progress through smaller and larger revolutions, the “Darwinian upward-drift”, is very slow compared to the essential internal time-scales of the spiral loops. Isn’t it? (It is no longer – and this is why I am talking here!)

5. The Invisible Hand: Self-Organized Chance on Complex Attractors

I have insinuated that complexity and value are practically synonymous. But does this help us to understand what value is? Even the concept of complexity is difficult to grasp mathematically. The essentials of a complex system cannot be analyzed or synthesized in a reasonable time – not even by the largest computers which might ever be realized. Of course, mathematicians have been able to invent abstract measures of complexity – which may e.g. in principle assign a single number, some “degree of complexity”, to a given message or system – but for real systems the calculation of such numbers would either take practically infinite time or miss all the essentials, i.e. the true value. In fact, the practical determination of a degree of complexity of a real system would have to follow the immensely many accidental bifurcations along the path of its origin, i.e. the whole “wrigglingprocess” of trial and error in co-evolution with nearly everything else in the world which influenced the probabilities of choices.

The complex value of a genome or a poem does certainly not lie in the correlation structures of its letters but in their “context” within the whole world of life and culture. If we look at some “strange attractors” in the phase space of a simple dynamical system or if we let a computer “zoom in” at some micro-region of the fractal edge of the Mandelbrot set, or let it draw contours of the Lyapunov number of the simplest non-linear systems of difference equations with two parameters – we are overwhelmed by a feeling of immense complexity which we sense as beauty. But in a way, these are all still extremely simple structures, because they arise from trivial iteration processes, the rules of which can be written down with a few symbols, and because in their construction there enter no external interactions (except the random motion of the eye or the thought which decided where to look). What we call
the functioning of a cell or the health of an organism or the viability of the biosphere or the value system of a society – all these attractors in the space of possibilities are infinitely more complex than such visualizable patterns.

Do scientists really claim that the whole beautiful complexity of our world evolved from the utmost simplicity of the big bang via random fluctuations, i.e. “pure chance”? Yes, this is the working hypothesis! But we must understand that the evolution of viable structures implies an
increasing organization of random fluctuations! Any viable “gestalt”, a type of dissipative structure of matter and energy in space and time, can be looked at as an “attractor” in the space of possibilities. Considering the number of possible relation patterns in the world, this space must be full of infinitely many more or less attractive ideas of structures which are consistent with the fundamental laws. The question is, whether and how a specific attractor can be reached, how it reaches out for others, and how in an immense number of such steps the “Great Chain of Becoming” is realized – this one and only real history of our universe among infinitely many possible others which did not happen, and never will. (Of course, the concept of a universe becomes itself doubtful at this stage, and one must start speculating about a “multiverse” of infinitely many universes. Their conceptual position in the space of possibilities is not very different from that of the unrealized histories of “our” universe …)

You often hear, the real world could not arise through chance because the probability of “success” would be negligibly small: “If an ape played with a type-writer, many ages of our universe would not suffice to let one of Shakespeare’s sonnets arise by chance”. But there is a fundamental misunderstanding in this argument. Chance is organized on a very much higher level in human mind. Some complex features of this organization we name by the words “consciousness”, “intuition”, “wisdom”, “free will”, “responsibility”. But chance is still at the root of all this. An identical twin of Shakespeare would have written quite different poetry – if any at all. And if you would have “clones” of Shakespeare, born and brought up elsewhere and in other epochs, the probability for the appearance of one of his sonnets would be infinitesimally small – similarly small as with that ape and type-writer. And even with the real Shakespeare there is the same problem: Infinitely many random events have gone into each line of his poetry – every single line is, therefore, infinitesimally likely, i.e. extremely unlikely, namely one possibility out of practically infinitely many. However, once this level of complexity had been reached in his mind, something
had to happen at this new front of creativity. And, no surprise, it turns out to be something very attractive for other highly organized minds – which does not mean that from now on all minds move exclusively along the sonnet-attractor.

An attractor is a pattern in some sub-space of possibilities which attracts the path of a subsystem when it happens to come near. With a less fashionable word we might call it the “idea” of this pattern. Any realization is only an approximation. It is fluctuating in its basin of attraction due to internal and external random events – which may be spontaneous quantum fluctuations on a microscopic scale or accidental encounters on larger scales. The latter have a history, but if one could analyze this history, all accidents could in principle be traced back to microscopic fluctuations – at least in the big bang, but usually in the much nearer past. (Remember the “butterfly-effect” in meteorology!) As random fluctuations let the path of a system cross the border between the basins of neighbouring attractors, the tautological principle of creation (“survival of the more viable”) takes care of a statistical tendency to evolve in the direction of higher viability, which is the “better idea”. This quality must be ascribed to the attractor – not to the realized path. It is, therefore, again a tautology if we say that more viable attractors organize the statistical patterns of their internal and external fluctuations in such a way that
typical fluctuations and accidents are less likely to lead outside the basin of attraction.

All possible ideas, i.e. attractors in the space of possibilities, may be thought of as fixed and timeless. Time is, so to say, the counting of steps in the process of realization which draws a path into the space of possibilities and tries and proves the viability of more and more attractors. An attractor which has proven its viability is likely to be used as a building-block in the evolution of still higher structures which derive their own viability from the fact that they organize the fluctuations of their constituents even better, protecting them from all stronger interactions, and thus stabilizing their “attractivity”. Higher attractors organize relatively weak interactions of their constituents. Successful “enslavement” of sub-ordinate structures in more complex higher ones does, therefore, usually not mean a loss of all their individuality, i.e. their proven viability. Molecules don’t try to change atomic nuclei, life doesn’t try to change the genetic code, mind didn’t – until recently – try and change the biology of the immune system or the climate of the earth. The obvious hierarchy of attractors is not a hierarchy of “power”. Evolution is co-evolution. “Fitness” of a part is a property of the whole. The Darwinian drift towards “higher” attractors is not at all based on some mysterious “drive” of the attractors to “push aside” and replace others. It is a logical consequence of a large number of independent trials of possible attractors, with slightly different realizations at many places and times.

In summary, we may say: Self-organization of complex systems is the necessarily accidental organization of accidents, the organization of chance by chance – in which more viable systems must arise if they are possible in the accessible neighbourhood in the space of possibilities. We saw that in our universe the inexhaustible offer of “fossil” free energy from the big bang makes it likely to reach higher states, i.e. a higher organization of the fluctuations, via random fluctuations. Therefore, “it is likely that extremely unlikely possibilities are realized”. This entailed the co-evolution of ever higher complexity, from big bang to consciousness. Of course, in this general sense, minimized interaction, i.e. better isolation, of certain parts is included in the concept of complexity as well as intricately organized cooperation of others.

At this point you may have started thinking of your own brain, well kept in your skull – and of the realm of ideas which are approached in very weak interactions in and between our brains. Attractors of the mind become physically realized in the self-organized growth of connections between neurons (Gerald Edelman’s “Neural Darwinism”), in the firing-patterns of those neural networks, in language, gestures, music and all other sorts of communication between people, in libraries, in houses and all other works of art and technology. Due to internal fluctuations and accidental encounters in souls and minds and cultures the path wriggles upwards through attractive ideas. There is no difference in principle to the “premental” earlier stages of evolution. However, on the new level of complexity it becomes even more evident that attractors in the space of possibilities can be “realized” only approximately by matter in space and time. Think of mathematical ideas – like the set of natural numbers, or categories of infinity, or the Mandelbrot set. What is
their place in the space of possibilities, and their relation to the line of reality which time draws through it? And where are the Brothers Karamasov, or The Art of the Fugue, or England, or I myself, or my dead mother, or God?

Where do we place all our customary fancies about differences between “physical” and “metaphysical” realities and possibilities? If you are philosophically minded you may resume the quarrel whether “
universalia sunt realia”, which occupied outstanding European minds for centuries. But more urgent questions have developed since. Though the overwhelming majority of possibilities in our neighbourhood is of this “ideal” kind, more and more very material “hard-ware” is being selected for realization. The probabilities in the decisions at impending bifurcations seem to be determined by rather compulsory motives and motions. More simplistic ideas seem more likely to win. Let us try and reveal the nature of this invisible handicap!

6. The Visible Foot

Can you see why all this worked beautifully as long as mind had many independent areas for trial and error which were sufficiently weakly connected with the rest of the world? And can you see why there arises a problem when quick brains start effecting decisively their own roots, down to the nuclei of atoms and cells, and up to the global cycles of climate? What about the viability and evolvability of systems which try and plan improvements of their environment and their own “building-blocks” in a hurry, and globally? Why in a hurry? And why globally?

I think I don’t have to explain to economists why speed and global unification have a selective advantage. This is a logically unavoidable trend in the evolution of evolvability in a spatially finite system. Attractors on which the wriggling is organized at higher speed, are likely to conquer new frontiers in the space of possibilities more quickly than others. At any epoch in history, and in any region in physical space, some types of attractors are the most successful in this sense. We may say that such structures are locally “at the front of evolution”. However, the definition of this front of most successful innovation may depend decisively on the timescale on which the success is judged. In all that trial and error it must often be likely that some attractor is very successful on a short term but destructive in the longer run. Clearly, this will be more likely to happen if there is a higher speed of innovation at the “front”. Important interactions with underlying “sub-attractors” (which may be internal or external) or with more encompassing, larger attractors will later turn out to have been neglected. The trial may then turn out to have been an error which can no longer be mended by more trials in the neighbourhood, and this front collapses.

This kind of mistake is a normal constituent of the evolutionary process. Think of a cell of your body which undergoes a small genetic fluctuation – e.g. from some radiation or unfamiliar chemical agent. Perhaps it is successful, and the cell discovers that it can multiply much faster than in its old organization. It wins the competition with your immune system, attracts more and more of the free energy available from your metabolism, grows into a tumor, conquers new frontiers in other organs, and swamps you with its waste – which is deadly poison for you. So what? This is probably a negligible event in world-history. You must die anyway, and there are many others to continue with trial and error. – We can see the same type of phenomenon at an even lower level of organization: Think of the water-lily on an pond which has become over-fertilized in some chain of fortunate accidents. What a fantastic offer of free energy! The lily grows and grows, covers the whole surface, blocks the sun for the biosphere underneath – and lets it die. Of course, now the lily dies too – and again it isn’t a lack of free energy which causes its death, but the poisoning of the whole system by the waste, that is by entropy production. But again, this isn’t a catastrophe in world-history. There are other ponds from which life will trickle back. And, in fact, much of the deadly entropy produced in this instability will be used as free energy by many micro-organisms. So what?

Are there other planets in our neighbourhood from which intelligent life could come back to the earth if we let it collapse into a state similar to the Jurassic or the Precambrian? Probably not. Or would there be a chance to try again with more success? Well, the sun will offer its flow of entropy, i.e. the earth’s free energy, for approximately another 5 billion years. Creation would go on. But we have understood by now, that it would have to find a totally different path in the space of possibilities. Only the features which are inevitable or very likely for purely logical reasons would have to become realized again. I claim that the present global acceleration crisis belongs into this category. It is not due to a chain of unfortunate accidents, but intimately connected with the level of complex organization reached in us – and with the fact that planets, the sites for long-lasting trial and error under relatively stable environmental conditions, are round and isolated. The selective advantage of a higher speed of innovation is very unlikely to be constrained via self-organization before trial and error approach the global scale. The reason is, in short, the success of what we call power.

We saw: Faster “wriggling” in the space of possibilities means faster progress. So, the speed of wriggling will increase and so will, correspondingly, the speed of innovation at the front. As an example for the organization of higher speed in our history, think of the “invention” of sexual reproduction. The old-fashioned simple splitting – i.e. copying with a few mistakes – was replaced by combination. This inflated the rate of “accidents” – i.e. the speed of wriggling in the space of possible genetic structures. Without this acceleration it would have been too unlikely to evolve the richness of our biosphere, especially the animals with their brains and nervous systems. Still more revolutionary, of course, was the evolution of the cerebrum. This shifted the front of trial and error from the molecular structure of DNS and proteins to the patterns of “firing activity” in huge neural networks. Remember the number of different possible relation-structures of twenty-four points – larger than the number of atoms in the universe! Our brain contains tens of billions of neurons, and each of them is connected to tens of thousands of others …

Among the possibilities of this system there is what we call soul and mind – attractors of very much higher complexity in newly opened dimensions of the space of possibilities. The exploration process does no longer have to wait for a quantum of cosmic radiation or some poisonous molecule to change a gene in an egg or sperm-cell. There are immensely more fluctuations in the firing pattern of brains. Even the thermal fluctuations may come into play (– think of fever-fantasies!). And more than that: The principle of combination gains far more influence now. Via language, a sort of hypersexual exchange, more and more individuals share their experience while they develop. The time-scales of loops in the leading attractors and of their innovation become comparable. Soon, 10 billion brains will be connected by a few TV-satellites and evolve as one. What a step forward in the organization of the tools of exploration! What acceleration! Now, how many new options do you want to be offered every day? There doesn’t seem to be a limit! Isn’t the globe being conquered by better and better ideas, ever more quickly?

We have reached the seventh day of creation. Remember, how God looked back every evening and saw “that it was very good”. Very natural, we may think, when we imagine how much time his wriggling fingers had in order to try and find more attractive shapes. The six days in the old myth of creation are about fifteen billion years in the new. The old myth didn’t take numbers so seriously. In fact, the shaping of man took only the last minute of that whole week, and written history is a blinking of the eyes. But I am puzzled now. It doesn’t seem to be clear which day it is
today. Didn’t a leading German specialist of genetic engineering recently announce the dawn of the eighth day of creation? Can someone tell me what happened on the seventh? Wasn’t the Sabbath meant to be a day of rest? A day for contemplation, i.e. for the unfolding of possibilities of soul and mind, for the evolution of arts, of ideas, of happiness, of love? How do the more and more accelerating restlessness and the demolishing of past works of creation fit into this picture? What has happened?

Excuse me for reminding you of old stories. There was that angel who had watched it all. He understood the laws of nature: How elementary particles function, and atoms, molecules, solid bodies and the genetic code, and neural networks, and societies with well-organized advertising. He even attempted to understand markets … When we became curious, like any intelligent child, he enlightened us. Therefore, he was called “the bringer of light”, that is
Lucifer. (In the Greek myth, he was called Prometheus, i.e. the “fore-thinker”.) He isn’t at all malicious or evil. He just wants to improve the world – do exactly what God had done, and with the same means. However, he wants to do it in a hurry.

He has not realized that the laws of logic come before the laws of nature, and that the logic of creation, i.e. of self-organization, implies some simple conditions of success: There must be sufficient diversity in trial and sufficient time to eliminate errors before they have destroyed the viability of the basis. Otherwise, it is
not likely to find more complex attractors in the space of possibilities, and the wriggling at the front of evolution becomes unstable. More and more free energy is turned into entropy via quite complicated dissipative structures. Locally, and for a moment, they may still seem very attractive, but they wriggle so quickly and extensively that the coherence of that bundle of spirals gets lost. Complexity falls apart, turns into complicatedness. Problems are being felt. You know the answer: No problem! With faster wriggling they can be solved! You know the result: Several new problems have been created, which are being felt on a larger scale, and which have to be solved still a bit more urgently. The answer: No problem …

You see why that race between problem-solution and problem-creation had to set in, down the road to hell, which has been paved with so many good intentions. Now, after his fall, the enlightening Lucifer has a new name: The Devil, i.e.
dia-bolos, i.e. “he who throws things into disorder”. Why? Because he wants to improve the world faster than it is logically possible. You see: The theory of value which I promised is nothing but the well-known system theory of God and Devil. Can we seriously apply it to economics?

7. Are We Free to Constrain the Devil?

Since the global acceleration crisis is implicit in the principle of creation, we cannot say that it started at any well-defined moment with one specific error. We may, however, say that the global aspect became manifest with the conquest of the globe by our own powerful system of attractive ideas. We are just celebrating the fifth centenary. What we call modern times, is the 500 years of self-organization of this enlightened power. Modern economy has a dominant part in this process. In short, it is the incessant discovery of more deviations from equilibrium which can serve as cheap sources of free energy to be used for the detection of new attractive possibilities. Exploitable sources of this kind have been serfs, slaves and whole subjugated people, as well as the energy sources proper and all the other resources – ultimately the whole realized creation. They allow “problem-solutions” which let more people of each generation live like kings of the preceding one – until the globe drowns in the entropy production of so many kings. (Remember that dis-covery and de-tection mean the same as apo-kalypse – namely “taking a lid off”. And Pan-dora means “the all-giving one”!)

The majority of economists either ignore the threatening collapse-singularity, or pin their hope on faster and more unified efforts of the same kind – i.e. faster innovation and global unification. However, those are
symptoms of the devilish disease, and cannot be its cure. Some have understood that the world has been seized by an instability, but they tend to consider this as an unstoppable consequence of the laws of nature. If this were so, it ouldn’t make sense to call it a “crisis”. The proper words would then be “decline, doomed to collapse”. In fact, the cancer-cell and the water-lily are certainly not able to stop their progress with their own means. In their case, the fluctuations are organized in such a way that they scarcely have a chance to escape from the unstable attractor once they happened to stagger into its basin of attraction. But such accidents don’t make the whole principle of cells or water-lilies unviable – because there are so many organisms that immune-systems could evolve, and because there are so any ponds. These are qualities of the biosphere which don’t have to be, and cannot be, organized by cells or lilies. Will the biosphere take care of our problems, too?

Scientists are easily taken in by the “biologistic” view in which “man is a species like others”. Since biochemists, biologists and ethologists have found out so much about the principles of life and even the behaviour and “psychology” of higher species – and because scientists have been taught to talk and think only about subjects simple enough to be studied scientifically – they tend to push aside the fundamental difference: The essential level of man is his mind, and mind is realized on a very much higher organizational level than life! The essentials of human life happen in very different dimensions of the space of possibilities. We must not confuse the human species and mind. Their relation rather resembles that between life and matter, or between matter and the big bang. Mind is not a “property” of the human species. It has been growing on it, like life grew on matter, and matter grew on the “original substance” (which physicists may one day even describe as nothing). The threatening collapse of the biosphere must not be thought of as a “biological event”. It is not due to a chain of unfortunate accidents of mutation and selection. It is, so to say, a spiritual event, namely an expression of that mental disturbance which the ancients called the Devil. Inescapable, but superable.

There must be many recent approaches to theoretical studies of processes in what I call the space of possibilities. (I don’t know them because I don’t read much.) One of you quoted Richard Dawkins’ concept of general structural ideas called “memes”. Those are considered as analogs of the genes in biological structures. To the biological phenotypes, which continuously replicate the genes and try out their mutations, there will then correspond analogous “interactors” for the memes on the structural level of mind and its cultural and economical stage. One may then talk about mental, cultural, technological and economical evolution in a quasi-biological terminology. Progress – the generalized Darwinian upward-drift – is then due to the selection of more successful memes in the “meme-pool”. Of course, this scenario is similar to what I have described with the visualization of “attractors in the space of possibilities”. This similarity will not surprise you once you have understood the tautological character of the Darwinian insight. However, no matter which words and images we choose, we won’t find help in judging values and choosing reliable paths from such pictures, unless we consider the question of time-scales and discover the logical inevitability of the global acceleration crisis and the logical conditions for overcoming it. Otherwise, any generalized evolutionary theory will remain an empty frame, or it will – more likely – be misused for a still more effective self-organization of the forces leading
into this crisis. Like all science, it will serve very well as “opium for the people”. Just imagine how much more effective advertising might become under the more promising and distinguished scientific name memetic engineering!

I have the impression that all evolutionary theorists shy away from one simple thought which leads immediately to what I called the “deviltheorem”, i.e. the basic insight into the character of the acceleration crisis. When somebody claims that something is going too fast, the reaction of a scientist must be:
Too fast in comparison with what? The answer seems to lie far outside the reach of scientific knowledge about the time-scales in the processes involved. Indeed, the answer is “pre-scientific” and comes from logic. Among the many evolutionary processes in a spatially finite system like our biosphere there is that fastest one, at “the front of evolution”, defining the time-scale of innovation. But there is another time-scale involved at that front, namely the life-time or reproduction-time of those “leading structures”. This will not become shorter in the course of evolution, because the internal complexity of the most highly evolved structures requires that minimum of time for maturation after reproduction. Therefore, due to the selective advantage of speed of innovation at the front, the two time-scales will approach each other until they coincide. This is the systemtheoretical, “purely logical”, origin of the acceleration-aspect of the crisis. It is obvious that it must become global, and that rush and global unification amplify each other.

It is very unlikely that this devilish attractor can be overcome by selforganization before the crisis has become manifest in both its aspects. Its prophets will be ridiculed or smashed by the successes of power. However, when the symptoms indicate the approach of catastrophe, there is still a chance to realize the idea of the “seventh day”. The selective advantage of speed and globality may be constrained by conscious organization of mind and society. The idea may be overcome, that the “good” is something “better” which can easily, quickly and globally be found with the good will of a majority or the expertise of some elite. It sounds like an internal contradiction, that the same idea should then help us to overcome the crisis. It is again a tautology that a rapid global instability can only be overcome by quick and world-wide action – if at all. However, constraints may be more easily developed than all the details of a complex system. We don’t have to and we must not design society, but only better boundaryconditions for its development.

The devil is a highly organized attractor. It interweaves practically all other realized attractors of the mind, because mind fluctuates so fast. But if you are old enough to have a little experience with your own mind, you may have realized that the same can be said about God. The fact that the road to hell is so well paved does not necessarily mean that it has to be followed to the end. All along, beautiful paths can be found away from it. We have a word to describe those manifold possibilities of bifurcations: We speak of our freedom. But this does not mean chaotic fluctuation. As we saw, the ascent to viable complexity is due to the more refined organization of chance on ever higher levels. The history of human mind is
the selforganization of freedom.

8. The Cloven Hoof in the Market

Liberalism is at the intellectual foundations of modern economy, but the idea that freedom has to be organized smells of dirigisme. Constraining the Devil is by many considered as a fiendish act of enslavement. To be sure, the ideological war of words is not very helpful if we want to approach the questions of economy from the point of view of logic and general system theory. On the other hand, ideology is an unavoidable guide in the world of ideas. We can never discuss decisions in all details, because those are not known, and not knowable. So, self-organization of freedom will always mean trial and error with a very blurred vision.

The usual scientific type of mathematical formulation and computation doesn’t help here. It is mainly intuition what we need, and this does imply ideology, in a modified sense. Our various ideological principles have to be checked in the light of basic insights about self-organization, which I have tried to sketch here. Although the working hypothesis behind this picture introduces no other kind of realized mental phenomena beyond our own mind, it keeps a little bit of the traditional “dualism” in the discrimination of reality and possibility. In a way, the whole spiritual world lives in the space of possibilities. Doesn’t this offer the chance for a
re-unification of materialism and spiritualism?

Because of its irrefutable logic the evolutionary theory of the invisible hand and the visible foot may be acceptable for ideologists of many schools in science, philosophy, religion and even economy – possibly with the exception of some fundamentalists who claim that God or the rules of the stock exchange tell them directly which way to take at each bifurcation. All others might perhaps agree that God is the attractor which leads “higher” in the space of possibilities, but that he is found in the course of physical time via the worldly interactions – beginning with “quantumfluctuations of geometry”, through elementary particles, molecules, lifeforms and, for the present, the abilities of our minds, which are wriggling in that basin of attraction.
Praying is then a good word for our attempts to allow the self-organization of better sub-attractors. Successes are stored in cultural loops, and even in stone. If you worry about uniqueness, you must remember our first visualization of the space of possibilities, in which reality is a single line. If you are intimidated by too many dimensions, stay in your homely subspace. In fact, I am doing this here right now. This doesn’t mean that I deny the possibility that I know and use only a small selection of human mental abilities – but I am glad to say that even the known ones leave us a lot of hope.

We have the freedom to choose – not only as individuals but also as democratic societies. E.g., we must choose which dealers should be admitted to the market. Who should be responsible for this? Adam Smith already told you that the invisible hand cannot even build the light-houses, needed to show safe waters. Nobody but informed and conscientious people can take care of this. They must struggle to convince everybody. It is a misunderstanding of the idea of equal political rights, when such people leave the responsibility with the less informed majority. If you see rubbish and poison and weapons being sold and bought in the market,
you must shout and act and try and stop this. The most important section of the market must be the free exchange of ideas, and exactly this cannot be regulated by money. If the view of the masses makes you wash your hands of it, your cowardice may cripple or paralyze the invisible hand. The front of evolution is in the individual minds. The ideas of a personal soul and of equal human rights have their roots in this insight. God can defeat the Devil and realize higher parts of himself only through our wriggling. Now we understand the peculiar notion, that God has to be served. Just one tiny complication arises. Someone said it: Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Once a global instability has set in, you will find its organizational principle acting everywhere. Nearly everything which happens on earth today, is organized in a wrong way! This sounds ominous. However, since nearly everything develops from good will – and not from malice, as we saw – it will be possible to find a few “leverage-points” in the organization of society, from which changes will spread easily to many other points of that complex network. I think the monetary system, land-law and other so-called property-rights are such leverage-points from which the self-organization of freedom, i.e. the organization of the necessary impediments to “size and speed”, might start. Of course, this can and will not happen in one mind. I shall only give a few hints and leave the necessary research to you, the experts. (I have said a little more elsewhere, also in my last book: “Das Grundgesetz vom Aufstieg”, Carl-Hanser-Verlag, München 1989.)

The basic ideological principles of the present organization of society are called democracy, free market, and capitalism. People have needs, demands, wishes – often very “selfish” ones – but all this is supposed to come into a viable quasi-equilibrium with a Darwinian upward-drift if (1) everybody has the right of vote and thus can every few years influence the choice of the main figures in the administration, and if (2) everybody has access to the free market of ideas and goods which organizes itself via supply and demand. These ideas are summarized in Adam Smith’s image of the invisible hand. The idea of democracy sprang from an intuitive insight into the evolutionary principle of self-organization, supported by the experience that we don’t have reliable means of classifying people according to the quality of their aspirations. So, in its root, it is a good idea. However, future thinking must turn to the long-neglected question which scales are optimal at various levels of democratic organization, and how the relations between these levels should be organized. Much of the present “constitutional” state of our planet and its regions, and much of the recent developments in the political organization is clearly “wrong” from the point of view of viability and evolvability, which would require more diversity. Size and speed will have to be constrained in the world’s
political organization, too.

The idea of a free market is, at first sight, exactly what evolution needs. Everybody participates in the political and economic trial and error, and if improvements are possible and can be reached by present activities, they are likely to be realized. The main defect of the so-called socialist system – which just collapsed at last – was the attempt to replace the free markets of opinions and goods by planning in small groups of “those responsible”. Now, everybody admits that “planning replaces chance by error”. Originally those systems were “devilish” not because of bad intentions but because of good will – like with Lucifer. We must not forget that socialist ideas formed at a time when children were forced to creep through mines and chimneys in order to survive. But degeneration of good will is inevitable if principle flaws block the chances to reach improvements. Then, the “evil” side of the Devil tends to show up – which is a very subtle feature of that attractor. Atrocities certainly accelerate the recognition of the non-viability of a system. Unfortunately, the fact that the other system collapsed does in no way prove a much longer viability of ours. In fact, the largest contributions to the ongoing destruction of atmosphere, soils, water, species etc. – as well as the weapons for most of the brutal violence in the world – come from the richest western democratic societies. The ideology of the free market does not guarantee viability. The spread of cancer-cells is a freemarket phenomenon, too. When the immune system of the organism has been overcome, freedom becomes unlimited – for some participants at the cost of others. So, which constraints should be taken into consideration as an immune system for the free market?

A critical shortcoming of present realizations of democracy and markets is the extreme economical inequality. If people cannot even satisfy their fundamental human needs through relatively simple own efforts, they can be easily exploited. In order to properly feed and house your family and bring up your children, you need a “job”, and you only get the job if you do what the “employer” wants. As a result many people are working hard to help producing goods which they have long recognized as rubbish or poison. But they must help producing and selling
something – with the means of production owned by others. So, a majority depends on producing and selling rubbish and poison. And on advertising it! Demand is often created by supply – like in the drug-scene. Science and technology do their best to supply more “opium for the people” and let themselves be paid by the producers of poison to supply the wanted “risk-assessment”. It is cynical to talk of a free market when people are not free to do something less destructive, and can satisfy their basic demands only with so many “sideeffects”. The democratic idea – to define value via demand – must then lead to break-down.

Economic inequality is still increasing – in practically all nations as well as world-wide. With small variations the present distribution is like this: The first tenth of the people owns half of all property, the second tenth owns one quarter, the third tenth one eighth … and so on in the geometric progression. This means that the vast majority of people own scarcely anything. One might think that this “injustice” is at least steadily being corrected when there is so much good will everywhere. It isn’t. The distribution is changing, but still further in the wrong direction! This means that the majority of people work for their bare life or even starve in order to make a minority richer.

Increasing inequality is organized via the idea of capitalism. Capitalists tend to confuse this concept with that of the free market, but it is something quite different. The basic idea of capitalism is income from property. A very attractive idea, admittedly, if you own something! But in fact it is the most effective suppressor of the individual and collective components of the mental immune system, the main organizational principle of the global acceleration crisis. Why that? As an economist, one must not talk about the problem, you know, because Karl Marx wrote so much about it and is still being blamed for the consequences. As a physicist, I may be forgiven a few remarks: If some people are allowed to appropriate the foundations of living of others, the vicious circle of growing inequality sets in. The owners let the non-owners pay for the unavoidable use of their property. So, the property grows, which means that the owners become richer and can appropriate more of the foundations of living of others, even further away.

Since people are no longer the main means of production, it is useless to own them directly. It is much more rational to own just the foundations of their life. The old-fashioned kind of slavery could be abolished. But most people in the world are still forced to misuse their mental abilities for bare survival. This is not what those were “meant for” in their evolution. (Remember: Like life is not there for the functioning of molecules, mind is not there for the functioning of life.) The degeneration is not always a consequence of brute force. Unobtrusive gifts can lure you into deadly addiction. A particularly vicious feature of this attractor loop of appropriation and expropriation is the fact that capital ultimately also controls the foundations of living of university professors, including economists and even moral philosophers. This is why there is so little scientific and ethical discussion of this obvious and very effectual phenomenon. It is considered as a law of nature. Perhaps you are right, then, to leave its exploration to physicists?

Modern history is dominated by consequences of this fault in the selforganization of society. It is tempting to write volumes like Marx, but I cannot go into details here. I must, however, at least mention the obsession with the growth of gross national product. It has been clear for decades that the contributions in the GNP which are related to damaging activities are growing fastest. But whatever has been paid for with money, is still simply added up in the GNP, as though economists had never heard about negative numbers. So strong is the general feeling that money is something positive! Something which has not been bought or sold is worthless. People with zero per capita income are, in a way, considered as nonexistent – although the majority of all ancestors of economists were among those, too. Recently, many of you may feel a bit ashamed about the misuse of the GNP, and rather keep silent about it. But it isn't enough to be ashamed of dangerous stupidity. You must name it and attack politicians and media whenever they talk about growth without mentioning entropy or cancer. Economic progress has become a cancer of the mind, and it metastasizes throughout the biosphere. When it has become so overwhelmingly clear that most economic activities are damaging our roots, why don’t you admit and loudly demand that the GNP must
shrink? We know the answer: Because the whole political and economic system would break down! And that seems unacceptable – until one has understood that this system organizes a far more encompassing collapse, along that unstable attractor which I called the global acceleration crisis. Once you have realized this, you will of course try and help break down this system to let a more viable one grow.

9. Reduction Strategies

First, forget about GNP and its “sustainable growth”. Second, forget the idea that you have to replace GNP by some other “welfare-indicator” which should grow. The devil can only be defeated if we stop doing things which we have recognized as wrong. The concept of “qualitative growth” must be taken seriously! The first steps towards qualitative growth mean quantitative shrinking in the areas which we have recognized as most damaging. E.g. the production of such chemical compounds and materials must be reduced, which are probably incompatible with the viability of our biosphere (because they didn’t co-evolve with it) – no matter how many people profit from the investions, the jobs, the trade, the application and consumption, or the attempts to heal the damages. Most of such wrong activities cannot be stopped over night. Reduction strategies have to be developed, where the time-scales will depend on the present speed of destruction due to each activity.

Sorry, there will be
planning involved. Not for the design of some saleable good, but for the reduction of sales, especially for the greatest runners. So, the kind of thinking necessary will appear as “countereconomical”. But economy has to be countered when it organizes collapse. Let me illustrate this with only one example – the energy problem: Practically all climatologists agree by now that the continuation of the present world-wide energy consumption would overthrow the earth’s climate in about 5o years. Due to many unknown or ill-understood positive and negative feed-back mechanisms the time might be longer or shorter, but most experts agree that it would be very foolish to rely on good luck in this case. So, a reasonable energy policy should set the aim of reducing the present consumption of fossils by about a factor of five within the next fifty years. Today, four fifth of mankind do practically not contribute anything to the consumption, and the population is still rapidly growing in exactly those “under-developed” countries. Therefore, if we assume that we (the “developed” countries) manage to reduce our energy consumption to, say, 20% of the present German one, and if you give justice a chance in 50 years and allow the rest of the world to approach the same level from below, world energy consumption will roughly remain the same as today – namely about 10 Terawatts. With the about 10 billion people living 50 years from now, this would mean about 1 kilowatt per capita – as compared to more than 5 kW in Germany and more than 10 kW in the US today. (This means the daily production of your own body-weight in carbon dioxide! One human generation scatters to the winds what the biosphere stored from solar energy on a millionfold longer time-scale!)

1 kilowatt may sound like utmost poverty to some of you. But, believe me, nearly all our present energy consumption goes straight into entropy. With more intelligent use, to be developed by the next two generations, 1 kW will be comfortably enough. However, even this radical reduction of the worst sins would not bring the earth one step nearer to viability! The same two generations which must achieve this tremendous task of saving energy, will at the same time have to develop alternatives to fossil energy at the scale of the global consumption, i.e. 10 TW. Huge advertisements in all newspapers tell you that
there is one good plant in the greenhouse, namely the nuclear one which produces no direct CO2-emissions. Some of its proponents still rant about a nuclear future, in which they will supply even all the fuel. But you need little more than counting, to recognize the nature of such dreams. To supply 10 TW within 5o years, with plants of about 1 GW each, which live for about 30 years, you must set in operation one big plant every day, for 50 years, from now on. This shows the size of the so-called energy-problem. But nuclear energy is not only out because of this order of magnitude, but because the radioactive inventory of even the safest reactor makes you play a sort of “Russian roulette” with cities and whole regions. Those infamous “chains of unfortunate events” can never be excluded in a world with so much good-willed megalomania and so much stupidity, not to talk about wars and terrorists. Therefore, in a viable society, any large-scale technical use of radio-active nuclides will become for ever taboo.

The only remaining alternative is solar energy in the widest sense (which also includes wind and water), used in manifold ways. Many of them can already be seen, many new ones will be found and developed by our children and grandchildren. In Munich, where I live, the sun delivers on each square meter annually the energy content of 100 liters of oil. With realistic efficiencies an average area of about 100 square meters will be needed for each inhabitant of the earth to “harvest” his share of energy – a fraction of what is needed for his food. (Perhaps it is helpful to think of an example of a particular piece of land of 100 square meters, say in Kenya. The former owner has sold it to a land-lord who produces
cash-crops. He could buy a used TV for his family, and he is now working for the new owner. The harvest is a box of beans which can be sold for about 1 British Pound to an export firm. On the next day it is on the European market, where the consumer pays about 13 Pounds. Exercise: What is the growth of GNP in Kenya and in Europe, respectively? How much energy has been spent? How many people have been fed, and what is their body-weight? …)

From what I have said about energy, it is clear how the reduction strategy has to begin in Europe: In order to reach 20% of today’s consumption within the next 50 years, we should reduce it by 3% every year. It is worth thinking about your own possibilities of reduction – when you buy a car, when you choose the type of vehicle for your way to work or for a voyage, when you buy electric household equipment or energy-intensive food or consumer goods, when you build or renovate a house. You will see that for the first few years you and everybody can easily save 3%, and it will turn out that this doesn't even have to cost you money. On the contrary: Even money will be saved, and we just have to take care that everybody gets a fair share of these savings. In later years this will, of course, change. It will cost a good part of the efforts of two generations to “solve the energy problem”. But what does this mean for economy? It means that people will have something
meaningful to do. There will be plenty of jobs which do not accelerate the destruction of the biosphere and regional cultures. If we are able to find a better type of “division of labour”, those jobs will not be organized for the growth of capital but in order to achieve a long-term coexistence of mind and biosphere on earth. It’s worth trying! We are getting a bit nearer to the concept of real value ...

You may think, society must first find a better way of organizing the committees which discuss the probabilities of “risks and benefits” of technological or economical activities and make recommendations to politicians. I agree. As the experts for technology assessment one should no longer call the people who invented a technology and want to sell it. And as experts for constraints to economy one must not ask the moneygrowers. I think, however, that even more barriers must be found against the fast offering of “new options”. The organization of freedom must lead us in a direction where it becomes less likely to find buyers and consumers for more and more fast world-wide innovation. Under present conditions it appears illusionary to try and stop the spreading of fashions of ever more sophisticated gadgets. Not only will soon every child want to carry a “game-boy” with his “walk-man”, but everybody may wear tiny computers, perhaps under his skin, which can receive messages of his own voice via microphones, and via radio from other people or from libraries and big computers anywhere in the world – and probably from the “administration”. Your “personal computers” will then really be part of your person and assist your little brain by processing all incoming information in microseconds and supplying the output as words in your ear-phone, or showing it on screens which cover the back of your hands or the inside of your glasses. Who is laughing? Thousands of the brightest young men in well-equipped laboratories are working hard to let even you, but certainly your children, participate in such blessings of “AI” – which stands for
artificial imbecility.

Wouldn’t a high-tech development of this kind be one of the most instructive examples of “qualitative growth”? Yes, indeed – if it happened in some Silicon-Valley, and we wouldn’t mind. But obviously, such innovations would conquer the globe within a few years and would change everybody’s way of life and thinking immediately. And a good part of the people would only find a job in this branch of industry – if at all. This is the characteristic of the global acceleration crisis. Am I telling you, we must try and constrain such developments, which are as democratically legitimated as anything? Who is “we”? Who am I, that I dare challenge the free market of evolution?

10. Optimal Scales of Property?

You may think, with me, that human mind and soul are the highest structures realized in the space of possibilities – the “crown of creation”. But it takes our generation-time or our life-time to experience this complex value and let it blossom and bear fruit. The attempt to improve basic features of an attractor before it has run through just one cycle, is doomed to failure. This is a logical, not an ideological statement which summarizes once more the essence of the crisis. In fact, we are changing essential features not only of society, but even of climate and the whole biosphere within our own life-time. This is the system-theoretical climax of the crisis, in which everybody at the front will feel it, because he doesn’t recognize the world of his youth any more when he has grown up. Life-long experience has become worthless. This hurts, but old people’s pain does not count. They can’t move much. Midlife-pain, however, and the pain of the youth, will cause wriggling. At this point, that is in our children’s generation, today and tomorrow, it will be decided whether it was a crisis, or whether we go to hell.

One of you asked “whether the shift to qualitative growth should be left to market forces or to rational, conscious, democratic decision”. Isn’t it a fascinating psychological phenomenon, that an economist can ask such a question, when it is so obvious that
both the market forces and the democratic process are organized predominantly by that “invisible foot with a cloven hoof”? Market forces are the collective result of processes in many human minds under environmental and psychological constraints, as well as political and economical constraints which are of chiefly ideological nature. The imminent task is a more rational shaping of those ideological constraints via democratic decisions, with the aim of increasing the likelihood of evolving viable societies of free citizens in a viable biosphere. This is certainly not an impossible task. (Remember the number of possibilities!) So, let us ask many rational, conscious, democratic citizens: Which constraints does the so-called free market need most urgently, and which have to be taken away from it, in order to foster relatively slow qualitative growth with a lot of diversity?

Probably, the first thing which comes to everybody’s mind is the monetary system. In its present organization it takes care that the value of anything is defined by the amount of money which somebody will pay for it. On the other hand, the system takes care that money grows by about a factor of twenty per generation. (Let me neglect inflation here. Taking it into account would only strengthen my argument.) What can all that money buy and turn into more property? After the abolition of slavery there aren’t many really valuable things for sale, are they? We have already seen what the secondbest is: Appropriation of the foundations of living of many others! Or should we rather call this “misappropriation” or “usurpation”? Who can explain why such property rights are right? If you don’t own much more than you need, however, don’t be frightened to hear the war-cry “property is theft”. The self-organization of freedom will certainly include the concept of property, perhaps even innate and inalienable property, for everybody on earth. But there must be limits to the
size of property.

Legal limitations to the size of property will probably suffice to change the world in the right direction, and awaken the kind of market-forces which deserve that name. The continuation of slavery by appropriation of the essentials of other people's lives will simply become impossible. The discussion about the idea of interest and capital gain can be followed from Moses through antiquity and the middle ages to Karl Marx, Joseph Proudhon, Silvio Gesell, John Maynard Keynes, down to our time. The mainstream of economics has, of course, always shown little interest in such unscientific topics. Nowadays, only a few outsiders have tried to keep the discussion alive. I should like to mention the German constitutionalist Dieter Suhr, who recently died in an unfortunate accident. His thoughts about
neutral money are certainly worth further consideration. (His last book was The Capitalistic Cost-Benefit-Structure of Money, Springer-Verlag, Berlin-Heidelberg, 1988.) The “wrong” ideas about the creation of values are focused in the institutions of interest and capital yield. Real progress in the space of possibilities cannot run at a speed corresponding to that factor of 20 per generation. This kind of growth rate enforces exploitation. Actually, the pauperization of the third world was not sufficient to render all our development possible. Through exploitation of all resources and sinks, nature had to be reduced to misery, too.

For those of you who still believe in the money system, let me add a remark on the discount rate. This is a perfect symbol for the “exploitation of the future”, typical for an instability. One of you showed a table here, in which a discount rate of 12% had been assumed! At that rate, one dollar which has to be paid in 10 years is valued today as 28 cents, a dollar in 30 years as 2 cents. You see why it doesn’t itch us today if we prepare the annihilation of the GNP of all times and nations just a few generations from now. Shouldn’t the discount rate rather be negative? (Again, inflation doesn’t mend this flaw. Its expropriative effect hits only the small owners. The big ones own the “foundations of living” which don’t lose value.)

A reformation of the money system and of property rights will have to run parallel to more general constraints which must prevent “everything big and fast” – like the size of companies, organizations, nations and what else you may think of on earth. The earth is round, and since the creation of values needs many independent trials and errors, most structures which tend to grow must probably be limited by laws and taxation long before they approach the global scale. Optimal scales between the individual and the globe will have to be found in the imminent process of organization. The only global structures which mankind must soon establish will be a world-constitution which must guarantee those constraints and regulate the co-operation of political sub-units in finding, implementing and defending this constitution. A “world market” will scarcely play a role in the longer run, and the idea of international competition will be ridiculed as one of the most absurd manifestations of the global acceleration crisis: “Who is first in the collapse-instability?”

The other day I had a dream: Our parliament found leverage points for some of our seemingly insurmountable problems. The usual taxes were abolished and replaced by a tax on money and taxes on goods or activities which are known or suspected to be damaging. Imagine: This included a tax on size and speed in many areas! And an old idea (of Silvio Gesell’s, I think) was realized:
All rent from land would regularly be distributed among all children! Billions of pages of coded results of bureaucracy were pulped. The hopelessly complicated legal system was suddenly not needed any longer. Its radical simplification, relying more on boundary conditions than on detailed regulations, opened paths for the self-organization of highly complex societies of free citizens. More and more countries followed as the viability of the new values became obvious. In a loose world-wide cooperation of such societies, our planet started blossoming again in many different colours and patterns.

You may smile about this unrealistic sermon of an itinerant preacher. I find it quite ridiculous, too, that a physicist must try and teach economists how to judge values, and tell them why
the liberation of the free market from capitalism is a basic condition of further ascent to viable attractors. Fortunately, mind is still alive, and creation can go on and realize unreal possibilities. Many economists, who are still theoretical assistants in the organization of the crisis, will have difficulties to imagine that the necessary is possible. But this lack of imagination is quite normal before revolutions. The climax of the crisis is quickly bringing forth a revolutionary situation. Managers in industry and finance, and even professors have begun to realize that our economic system is not viable without some basic changes.

We have seen: Entropy and Free Energy are certainly not sufficient concepts for a discussion of why economy ruins the earth. The question of the
scales is the decisive one. But you may still be waiting for the announced “theory of value” – or be angry that I dared to use this word at all. Have I been able to offer a better understanding of the invisible hand? Maybe you have a wrong idea of understanding! I have tried to make clear: Viable complexity is valuable because it cannot be understood or planned. At the present front of evolution, new value is something that may grow in and through ourselves under proper boundary conditions. Those conditions, however, can be easily understood. They must guarantee diversity and a leisurely pace. This will mean the end of history for all sorts of power which organize the global acceleration, and for many activities which are called economic but are, in fact, destructively wasteful. In the new realm of possibility, where we must succeed in the self-organization of our freedom, history may just be beginning.