The concept of systemic cooperative strategy has its philosophical origin in the Hegelian philosophy of dialectics and its practical application in Marxism / Leninism.
The three laws of dialectics of Marxism / Leninism have been driving revolutionary strategy throughout the industrial age and until now. They are very effective in bringing a society to a revolution, but ineffective thereafter in developing that society in an evolutionary manner.
The reason for this is the Law of Negation of the Negation which states that by negating capitalism (which is a negation of an original human socialim), the socialist order will arise again. However, history has shown that it did not spontaneously arise but had to be enforced by autocratic regimes.
From a systems thinking perspective this law represents the erroneous assumption that by getting rid of the problem the solution arises, instead of an error derived from reductionist thinking.
The principles of a systemic cooperative strategy (we could also call it a dialectic cooperative strategy) are derived from the second law of dialectics, the Law of Unity and Contradiction.
Depending on the context within which this law is applied, a systemic cooperative strategy can become
- either a revolutionary strategy, the aim of which is to destroy the current system,
- or an evolutionary strategy, the aim of which is to create a shared desirable future of the containing whole.
More specifically, to transform revolutionary into evolutionary strategy would imply changing the third law of the Negation of revolutionary strategy into a first law of Affirmation of evolutionary strategy. The following table compares the two types of strategy.
|First Law of Revolutionary Strategy Law of Quantitative and Qualitative Change
This law says that quantitative (i.e. step by step) change will eventually lead to a qualitative change which is the revolution. It represents the demise of the old order after which a new order (i.e. socialsm) will eventually arise.
|First Law of Cooperative Evolutionary Strategy Law of Affirmation of the Future
This law says that in order to achieve a desirable future, it needs to be affirmed. In practical terms this means that the desired outcome of what the future should be must be designed. Systems thinking suggest the method of ideal system (re)design for creating a picture of the future.
|Second Law of Revolutionary Strategy Law of Unity and Contradiction
This law states that in a society and its environment there are forces operative which are in unity with (i.e. serve or are aligned with) the interests of the revolution and others that contradict it (i.e. serve, favour or are aligned to the current order of society).
The revolutionary activist identifies, aligns with and aims to strengthen the forces of unity and opposes and aims to weaken the contradicting ones.
The actions are always unique to the context in which the activist finds him / herself.
|Second Law of Cooperative Evolutionary Strategy Law of Unity and Contradiction
This law states that in a system and its environment there are forces operative which are in unity with (i.e. serve or are aligned with) the desirable future of the system and others that contradict it (i.e. serve, favour or are aligned to the current order or status of the system).
Stakeholders and their leaders identify, align with and aim to strengthen the forces of unity.
Concerning the forces of contradiction, these could be transformed (e.g. through amending the design in a win / win manner), opposed (e.g. denounced) or ignored, depending on what is appropriate. By adding the term cooperative to evolutionary inserting the term cooperative
Since stakeholders are functionally defined systems, their actions will be function specific, as well as unique and context specific.
|Third Law of Revolutionary Strategy Law of Negation of the Negation
This law states that by getting rid of an evil regime and capitalism, the original human state of a socialist order will emerge.
From a systems theory perspective, this law represents a philosophical error associated with the reductionist worldview, namely that by removing the problem, the solution will emerge.
By comparison, systems / complexity theory recognise the co-production of complex societal problems by different stakeholders who will need to change their behaviour in such a way that they co-produce the desired outcomes of an aligned future.
|Third Law of Cooperative Evolutionary Strategy Law of Quantitative and Qualitative Change
This law says that quantitative (i.e. step by step) change will eventually lead to a qualitative change which represents a system transformation.
However, unlike the belief into a final order (i.e. socialism as being the end-state), evolutionary strategy acknowledges that life goes on and that social systems can reinvent themselves and shapeshift, as their changing environment and inner desire demand. The description of a future as an ideal which cannot be attained but continuously approximated, prompts continuous development which may or may not represent qualitative change at intervals.