Aldo Leopold on the Resilience-Stability Tradeoff

We all strive for safety, prosperity, comfort, long life, and dullness. The deer strives with his supple legs, the cowman with trap and poison, the statesman with pen, the most of us with machines, votes, and dollars, but it all comes to the same thing: peace in our time. A measure of success in this is all well enough, and perhaps is a requisite to objective thinking, but too much safety seems to yield only danger in the long run. Perhaps this is behind Thoreau’s dictum: In wildness is the salvation of the world. Perhaps this is the hidden meaning in the howl of the wolf, long known among mountains, but seldom perceived among men.

Source (emphasis mine)

The last line of the above quote refers to how wolves in their predatory role protect the mountains from being denuded by herbivores such as deers.

Legibility, Control and Equilibrium in Economics

Peter Lewin notes that

It is an understanding of the incentivized behavior of human beings that allows us to understand and predict invisible-hand outcomes.
Yet, the complexity problem remains. Can we be certain, as a logical matter, that if certain conditions obtain, certain definite types of outcomes will result from the free market process? It is on this type of thinking that the more sophisticated Keynesians might base their arguments for benevolent and effective intervention in the face of economic crisis.

Both the invisible-hand and the mainstream Keynesian argument implicitly take legibility, predictability and stability to be desirable characteristics of economic outcomes. The Keynesian argument sees the illegibility and uncertainty as justification to put in place a system of control whereas the invisible-hand argument claims that the system is legible and at “equilibrium”. The latter operates in a fantasy land and the former through the very act of stabilisation renders stability all the more elusive.

Hyman Minsky on need for fairness

the measures undertaken to prevent unemployment and sustain output “fix” the game that is economic life; if such a system is to survive, there must be a consensus that the game has not been unfairly fixed.

from ‘John Maynard Keynes’ page 163

Geoffrey West on Why Cities Survive and Companies Die

Geoffrey West on Why Cities Survive and Companies Die

My take: Organisations and Living Beings are the unit of selection whereas cities, economies and ecosystems are emergent entities comprising of these units. In a complex adaptive system that needs to innovate just to maintain the status quo, the unit of selection  is usually fragile as it competes with all other units. In fact, if the micro-unit is more resilient, then it leads to fragility at the macro-level. In other words, micro-resilience is incompatible with macro-resilience in many complex adaptive systems as I explain here.