- Le Chatelier’s Principle: Complex systems tend to oppose their own proper function. As systems grow in complexity, they tend to oppose their stated function.
- A complex system cannot be “made” to work. It either works or it doesn’t.
- A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that works.
- A complex system designed from scratch never works and cannot be patched up to make it work. You have to start over, beginning with a working simple system.
- The Functional Indeterminacy Theorem (F.I.T.): In complex systems, malfunction and even total non-function may not be detectable for long periods, if ever.
- The Fundamental Failure-Mode Theorem (F.F.T.): Complex systems usually operate in failure mode.
- A complex system can fail in an infinite number of ways.
- The larger the system, the greater the probability of unexpected failure.
- As systems grow in size, they tend to lose basic functions.
- Colossal systems foster colossal errors.
The flawed design of the EU and its currency is widely recognized. One wonders how can such a bad design actually go directly from the drawing board ‘into production’. Well, it did.
Let us now attempt a post-Brexit prediction of what may happen next. First, a quick reminder of what complexity is. Complexity is a function of basically two things: structure (S) and disorder (E). Disorder (entropy) tries to dismantle structure which is equivalent to something ordered and organized. Thinks of processes such as aging, friction, corrosion, fatigue, dissipation, decay, hysteresis, etc. Formally, complexity is defined as the following function:
Throwing disorder into a system will undermine its structure. Think of uncontrolled migration, economic/financial uncertainty and volatility, weak politics, decadence, violence, etc. But entropy (disorder) is guaranteed to grow in virtue of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The bottom line is it that given the chance, complexity will increase. Even in ancient Greece they knew that each generation leaves behind more chaos than it inherited from the previous one.
What this means is that in the EU things will get more complex, not simpler. There are many centrifugal movements in Europe. Think of Spain, Belgium, the UK itself. It is only natural that super-complex systems will tend to break up. Without a strong choreography and leadership, the EU will continue to dissolve and fractalize. Therefore, we predict an increase of fragmentation. This is neither bad nor good. It is a natural process which creates new multiple scenarios, new opportunities and challenges. History is full of examples.
An immediate consequence of the breakdown of a huge super-complex badly governed system is that some of the fragments may actually become more governable, and more efficient (the UK?). This may trigger a secondary fragmentation wave in the other components. As an inefficient system naturally breaks down – again, breakdown of excessively complex systems is guaranteed – the one big problem is the huge number of scenarios (scientifically called attractors) towards which these fragments may converge. The higher the complexity of the original system the more post-breakdown scenarios there may be. This is what makes it impossible to make predictions.
The bottom line: we don’t know what will happen to the EU – prediction is futile – but we can be sure that the situation will become more complex. As EU leaders will have to face a more complex scenario one wonders how they will be able to cope. It is precisely the way that the EU has been governed that has set the foundations of its dis-aggregation. And this is only the beginning.
The Brexit is, ultimately, consequence of non-negotiable laws of physics. Systems evolve, grow, develop new structure, they become more complex, able to perform new functions. This evolution is a dynamic process, never in equilibrium.Then, inevitably, they reach their peak complexity (known as critical complexity) after which break down commences. This can be prevented if extraordinary structural changes are implemented. But to do that, you need to comprehend the system in question, to know its dynamics, to govern it. In the case of the EU, this seems quite impossible. It appears that the EU, in its present form, is not Too Big To Fail, it may be Too Complex To Survive. The Fundamental Failure-Mode Theorem tells us why.