Civil War Bugle wrote:
So socionomics works nicely in the whirling world of AD 4901, where it's had a nice amount of time to be thought up and be implemented, and is supposed to be based on the past (at the time of the novel) 3000 years of humanity's high tech industrial culture. It's mentioned that colonies don't necessarily instantly implement the full socionomics program, but that may be because of peculiarities related to being interstellars colonies. Which invites the question, how high tech does your culture need to be, for socionomics to work well for you, assuming you have the political will to implement it? And somewhat relatedly, on what geographic scale do you need to implement it? It exists in a culture where people can connect to the internet via their brains and where very intelligent AI exists, and where we have a nice interstellar economic zone. I assume that if all economic interaction between the different stellar systems inhabited by humans stopped in 5000, each human planet could get by on its own easily enough with a nicely functioning socionomic economy without much lose, but what if you take a Socionomics 101 textbook and send it in a time machine to the ancient past?
If some dudes have socionomic knowledge and sufficient political will behind them, how well could you implement socionomics today, or in 1950, 1900, or 1850? Any interesting things about trying to implement it earlier than that? I have the telegraph in my mind as the earliest point at which real data of real usefulness to the real development of socionomics started to be available, since it allows somewhat fast communications, and is at about the early times of human industrial development. But could socionomics be applied usefully in 1850 on a worldwide scale, assuming sufficient political will to force it through, or is that too early?
And if not on a global scale, how easily can it be applied in one country or a group of countries in the present or recent past? Could the USA or the USSR, or Nato or the Warsaw Pact, suddenly decide to implement it and have it function properly while having a good chunk of the planet not following this sudden new ideology? Could some lower subnational polity do so, such as the state of California or the city of Chicago?
Or, even if the world or nation or whatever wanted to do so, is socionomics dependent on also having a given level of technology or development like how you couldn't build a nuclear bomb in 1700 even if you had a perfect understanding of 2013 physics?
EDIT: And to be sure, this is distinct from the question of whether, in actual practice, you could get the political willpower to implement it in the first place, in 2013 or the past two centuries. Or, for that matter, whether socionomic would work among Almeans who are receptive and at the right tech level, or whether socionomics needs to be tweaked for non-humans.
I haven't read the book, so what I will say here is just a thought.
I believe you are misled one small yet very important detail. You are comparing socionomics to physics. But is it really that appropriate?
I will ask you, what about biology
? Some will contest its scientific nature (mostly physicians), but here you got a science with which a comparaison with socionomics is better. The problem with describing societies and how they work (and this applies to biology as well), is pretty the amount of different basic units involved. Look at physics; we are looking at a handful of elementary particles and just over a hundred elements for your nuclear bomb. The amount of different elements you have to describe is pretty low. Now comes chemistry, with its hundred elements and the thousands of molecules. Biology is just one step ahead, but we are speaking or so many different molecules and combinations thereof that, in the end, a lot of the work we are doing in Biology is description, though we are also starting to make some predictions especially through the theory of Evolution.
Now, comes in Socionomics. As far as I can understand Mark's head, it's basically applying the scientific method to human societies
. Each single human is a different element; none of us behave exactly alike, because we are absolutely all different (even "identical" twins). On current Earth, we are 7 billion dudes. And the groups, societies, we form are even more numerous, because we easily form groups, and groups of groups and etc up to the very Incatena
, the Common League. And, obviously, each and every of these groups will be different, because its components, well, are
. Even if, say, two cities had the exact same population and the exact same configuration, its inhabitants would still be different. Making predictions and acting upon them is very, very hard in such a context.
But some (*cough* Jane Jacobs *cough*) have taught us that, even if all these are different, that does not make it impossible to see patterns. Sure, because we are lousy statisticians we must first try to reject these as random chance, but after the random hypothesis is excluded, patterns can surely be found. But I will give you an example out of urban studies : mass public transit
Mass public transit didn't appear before the 1850s, in London. And the reason is simple : to have mass public transit, you must be able to make all the various tools like the engines, the cars, the roads etc. And to have all that, you need specialization. But to have specialization, you must have exessive production of what is currently needed; the first step of this is exessive production of food per person, which leaves some people free; and the more free people there are, the more specialization can occur.
If you have an independent group of about 100 people in a small village, you will not see much specialization. When you only have 100 people, you might afford a metalworker for agricultural tools, a guardian to educate the children, but certainly not the mechanic for trucks. (Remember, you are on your own : no big cities.) Multiply by 10 this population, 1000, and now we are getting closer. But we aren't there yet; this is still quite a small village, but it probably can afford a little more specialization now on its own. One of the first thing is to have a leading council, because above 1000, while we still can know everyone, we are on the verge of loosing track of some. Now, one step further: 10,000. Now we are speaking! This level is pretty much your typical medival town. You probably have some sort of school (like a fully fledged church) at that level. Go one step further : 100,000. CITY! Now it is starting to swelling, specialization does occur at a greater pace. 1,000,000 : Damn, now we are at a level where specialization can occur even further; public transit can finally appear, because the city could finally afford all the institutions needed for a public transit company... (I usually have fun saying that cellphones need to go one step further, when a city reaches 10,000,000 people like NYC was when the first cellphones were created. Smartphones needed even more specialization, but looking at migration patterns within the US, one could see it as a fully 100,000,000 people city region around NYC, because of how much production is delegated to other regions in the world...)
Basically, it's not that socionomics seems useless or unapplicable; it's because a community with 100 people will not and, actually, cannot work the same way as a community with a billion souls like those in the Incatena. I would say that you can apply socionomics pretty much at any point if you want to have a bigger, stronger and healthier community. But you have to adjust what you apply, not because each community is following different socionomical laws, but because the elements within the community are drastically different. Like between a human and a sponge in biology.