The Musical "Hamilton" and Systems Theory

I saw Hamilton last weekend and it has stayed with me. The show is not about just the Revolution, that big day when everyone raises their arms and shout, “we’re free!”  It’s about the after.

Does freedom mean “time to build a new system that supports freedom”? Or, does it mean “no more systems,” as in, “we’re free of them”?

The latter is naive. Systems will form as long as there are people who want to get anything done. Systems arise to facilitate objectives. The more people agree to a system, the easier it is to get things done that people want done, basic things, like having a system that allows us not to live in our own excrement.

Systems build the roads money runs on, too, which is why many are so bad. Their primary purpose becomes channeling money instead of the task it is supposed to perform. That’s what a corrupted system is - a system whose primary design element is about accomplishing anything other than the stated purpose.  




From Kevin Kelly's book, Out of Control, on systems theory, chaos theory, evolution, swarm theory, artificial intelligence and more. It's one of what he calls The Nine Laws of God. 

"Seek persistent disequilibrium. Neither constancy nor relentless change will support a creation. A good creation, like good jazz, must balance the stable formula with frequent out-of-kilter notes. Equilibrium is death. Yet unless a system stabilizes to an equilibrium point, it is no better than an explosion and just as soon dead. A Nothing, then, is both equilibrium and disequilibrium. A Something is persistent disequilibrium - a continuous state of surfing forever on the edge between never stopping but never falling. Homing in on that liquid threshold is the still mysterious holy grail of creation and the quest of all amateur gods." 

(It might be considered a rather poetic description of the "phase transition" in physics.) 

Though read 20 years ago, I return to it often and it remains one of the most influential books on how I think that I've ever read. My copy is a dog-eared, underlined, tattered soul.