During the last couple articles we had discussed the tendency of holons to self organize into natural hierarchies or holarchies. Although a flat organization is nice in theory it is in direct odds with this concept, a hierarchy will emerge, whether you like it or not. Ken Wilber further describes this contradiction in “A Brief History Of Everything”:
“The antihierarchy stance is self-contradictory. These theorists have a hierarchy; it’s just hidden or concealed. With this stealthy hierarchy they attack all other hierarchies, and they claim that they themselves are ‘free’ of all that nasty ranking. So they rancorously denounce others for doing precisely what they themselves are doing.”
Strange concept – By not having a hierarchy, one is automatically prescribing to a hierarchy or ranking. Hierarchies or holarchies are not bad or dangerous in and of themselves, it is when the natural order of things is opposed that the hierarchy can prove problematic. Wilber describes how to avoid the abuses of hierarchies in the following passage:
“The point is not to get rid of hierarchies or holarchies altogether – that’s impossible. Trying to get rid of ranking is itself a ranking. Denying hierarchy is itself a hierarchy. Precisely because the Kosmos is composed of holons, and holons exist holarchically, you can’t escape these nested orders. Rather, we want to tease apart natural holarchies from pathological or dominator holarchies.”
Because everything is made of holons and holons self-organize into holarchies, holarchies are inescapable because holons are inescapable:
“All evolutionary and developmental patterns proceed by holarchization, by a process of increasing orders of wholeness and inclusion, which is a type of ranking by holistic capacity. This is why the basic principle of holism is holarchy: the higher or deeper dimension provides a principle, or a ‘glue,’ or a pattern, that unites and links otherwise separate and conflicting and isolated parts into a coherent unity, a space in which separate parts can recognize a common wholeness and thus escape the fate of being merely a part, merely a fragment.”
Interlinking is important within holarchies, however interlinking is within the context of the depth provided within the holarchy:
“So linking is indeed important, but linking is itself set within ranking and holarchy, and can exist only because of holarchy, which provides the higher or deeper space in which the linking and joining can occur. Otherwise heaps, not wholes.”
As described in an earlier article, a holon by its very nature is simultaneously a whole and a part of something else. Problems within holarchies emerge when a holon rejects the group and focuses strictly on the whole:
“And when a particular holon usurps its position in any holarchy – when it wants to be only a whole, and not also a part – then that natural or normal holarchy degenerates into a pathological or dominator holarchy, which by any other name is illness, pathology, disease – whether – physical, emotional, social, cultural, or spiritual. And we want to ‘attack’ these pathological hierarchies, not in order to get rid of hierarchy per se, but in order to allow the normal or natural hierarchy to emerge in its place and continue its healthy growth and development.”
By focusing strictly on the self and disregarding the whole, the holon is violating the natural order or hierarchy.
For more information on holons and holarchies refer to “A Brief History Of Everything” by Ken Wilber.
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