Connections for connections sake

January 2012

Here's an uncomfortable thought...

The recognition that interconnectedness is the most fundamental quality lending stability to the natural world (living and non-living) has played a significant part in the ongoing global financial collapse.

Simplistic thinking joined up all the financial institutions into one great big web thought to imitate nature.

The theory was that the very existence of such a complex system was bound to stabilise individual banks: thus, so the story goes, if individual banks can't fail then the whole couldn't fail. The regulators sat back, confident that they were in control. However, the web was not only totally interconnected, but also totally interdependent.

While the currency of financial connectedness may have started out as a flow of wealth in which interdependence didn't matter, it has since, unnoticed by the regulators, degenerated into a flow of debt. Economist Paul Krugman describes this as 'Securitization', the repackaging of loans to be sold on as assets. He said:
“Loans no longer stayed with the lender. Instead, they were sold on to others, who sliced, diced and puréed individual debts to synthesize new assets. Subprime mortgages, credit card debts, car loans - all went into the financial system's juicer. Out the other end, supposedly, came sweet-tasting AAA investments. And financial wizards were lavishly rewarded for overseeing the process.”
The result was that, when one bank failed, the weakness rippled through all the interconnected and interdependent paths and set off a chain reaction of collapse from one interdependent institution to the next. This wasn't a system of girders holding each other up, but a house of cards.

In the natural living system (ecosystem, individual physiology, or single cell) each part supports all the others at all levels, physical, communication and responsiveness, nourishment and waste disposal. The whole is not only mutually supportive, but is cyclic so debt is impossible, and all dependence is fluid. Failure of one part can be absorbed because the whole is designed for perpetual change: it can rebalance itself by its interconnectedness.

What's this got to do with GM?

The biotech industry and regulators are sitting back confident that they're in control. GM organisms, or GM cells are assumed to have become an integral part of the existing, self-stabilising living system: the assumption is that interference by artificial DNA will simply cause a rebalancing, but the whole can't fail.

Engineered genes, however, are designed to create debt: they incorporate a syphoning off of energy and other resources for their own man-made purposes. Worse, the nature of GM creates blockages in the essential cyclic processes. Add to this that man-made genes will, by their very design, stay indelibly somewhere in the world. When a part of this system fails, the means to rebalance the whole may simply no longer be there.

Here's the uncomfortable thought .... This permanently debt-ridden and blocked 'system' your food supply.

Think 'global financial collapse': how much confidence do you have in human ability to mimic nature?

(If the reasons for our financial crisis are puzzling you, check out the Institute of Science in Society description of it in 'Shut Down Wall St!')

  • Mark Buchanan, Dangerous liaisons, Physics World, August 2011

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