Monday, August 29, 2016
CRITICAL MASS AND SOCIAL DYNAMICS
Stes de Necker
In social dynamics, critical mass is reached when a sufficient number of individuals adopt a certain innovation or common interest in a social system, that causes the rate of adoption to become self-sustaining and creates further growth.
The term is borrowed from nuclear physics and in that field it refers to the amount of a substance needed to start a chain reaction.
Critical mass may be closer to majority consensus in political circles, where the most effective position is more often that held by the majority of people in society.
In this sense, small changes in public consensus can bring about swift changes in political consensus, due to the majority-dependent effectiveness of certain ideas as tools of political debate.
Critical mass is a concept used in a variety of contexts, including physics, group dynamics, politics, public opinion, and technology. Social factors influencing critical mass may involve the size, interrelatedness and level of communication in a society or one of its subcultures, social stigma, or the possibility of public advocacy due to such a factor.
Critical mass and the theories behind it help us to understand aspects of humans as they act and interact in a larger social setting and help us understand why humans do or adopt certain things which are beneficial to them, or, more importantly, why they do not.
Much of this reasoning has to do with individual interests trumping that which is best for the collective whole.
By its definition, "critical mass" is the small segment of a societal system that does the work or action required to achieve the common good. The "Production Function" is the correlation between resources, or what individuals give in an effort to achieve public good, and the achievement of that good.
Such function can be decelerating, where there is less utility per unit of resource, and in such a case, resource can taper off. On the other hand, the function can be accelerating, where the more resources that are used, the bigger the payback.
There is a limit to how much stress can be put on something before it is finally and irreversibly destroyed. It goes by several different names. Critical mass, tipping point, and system overload are but a few. In each case, the term refers to an event that finally breaks the camel's back (to use yet another term for the same thing).
The electoral surprises of the recent municipal elections in South Africa came as an abrupt reminder to politicians that the poor masses cannot be ignored, even as official attention is lavished on a few islands of prosperity, on narrow, though stupendous, successes in a few select areas.
The backlash has up until recently been silent. That is changing. People are fed up. And the current political debates and political mergers and positioning are merely the rumblings of a volcano preparing to erupt.
While the Mugabe administration has been clumsily stumbling from one catastrophe to the other, the current upheavals are clearly a definite sign that a political mass has been reached in Zimbabwe and the Zimbabweans are definitely in a transitional phase.
In most societies throughout the world, political tolerance is not merely reaching its critical mass; it is reaching it so swiftly that, predictably, there will be an abrupt and catastrophic breakdown of historic proportions to come.
Internal security conditions in many parts of India are already intolerable. Jammu & Kashmir, much of the country's Northeast, and an almost continuous swathe of land along our their Eastern border, from the Nepal border to Andhra Pradesh, which is afflicted by Left Wing Extremist, or "Naxalite", high levels of violence and disorder, compounded by great and enduring neglect are experienced daily.
Besides India, there are much wider spheres in which security of life and property is, at best, tenuous.
In Bihar and Uttar Pradesh conditions are near anarchical. Governance and the Constitution have long been forgotten in the realpolitik of caste and communal alliances in these states, and the local crime lord and goonda are a reality of everyday life that almost everybody must deal with.
In Nepal, after the devastating sweep of the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M), the Maoist power grew and was continuously consolidated, even as the ill-equipped police force was systematically targeted, and the Royal Nepalese Army (RNA) looked the other way. It was only after the Army camp at Dang was attacked on November 23, 2001, that the government began to address the problem with requisite seriousness, deploying the Army, raising new paramilitary forces, and upgrading police weaponry, communications and transport.
Today, all of Nepal, outside the various district headquarters, has passed out of the control of the government. Nepal is receiving millions of dollars in developmental aid from a range of international agencies and friendly countries, but is in no position to execute any projects, and some aid agencies have now made aid conditional on the resolution of the conflict.
It is important, within this context, to understand that anti-state groups and pressure groups do not have to replace the state to wreak the havoc they desire. They have only to make the agencies of the state ineffective, and to create and sustain disorder. The state, on the other hand, has a far more onerous responsibility: It must not only maintain order, it must effectively deliver a wide range of public goods and services, absent which it is deemed to have "failed", creating the spaces for the activities and dominance of anti-state and pressure groups.
All over the world, the increasing criminalisation of politics, and the deepening criminal-politician-bureaucratic-businessman nexus exposed in many recent high-profile scandals, suggest that the situation has reached political tolerance mass that can only be expected to worsen over time.
There is no need to list the examples of political tolerance, or to be precise, political intolerance. The litany of social upheavals eroding family, morals, and education in the Western world is well known to those who follow such things. Likewise, the accelerating advance of technology has affected us all in its breathtaking speed. Beyond that, radical Islamist terrorism has become destructive not merely in terms of its death toll, but also in the fact that it has become the hate that dare not mention its name.
The exponentially increasing revelations of truth that the alternative research community is exposing, is having a profound effect. This uncensored research is based on efforts toward a more honest, integrated and holistic worldview, using real history, honest facts and trends, and accumulated information outside the controlled and censored media.
We need to take that awareness and apply that as direct knowledge on other fronts and act accordingly.
The walls are coming down. The wake up is clearly reaching critical mass.
The massive vibrational change of public consciousness is palpable.
And more so by the day.