General Intellect Unit 038 - The Viable System Model


Brilliant podcast from General Intellect Unit on the Viable system model.

Some notes I took as I was listening:

  • Stafford Beer got to some of his ideas via influence from his time in India
  • You could probably get to the ideas via multiple routes though, e.g. via Deleuze & Guattari.
  • VSM can gives you both autonomy AND cohesion

    • And help avoid the tyranny of structurelessnes
    • Jon Walker who writes The VSM Guide was applying VSM to coops in the UK in the 80s (including Suma)
  • VSM provides a framework for how organisation in communism might work, once the state has withered away
  • VSM can help identity what is the ACTUAL purpose of an organisation, often different to what the STATED purpose of the organisation might be. (Example: e.g. a group states their purpose is to overthrow capitalism, but empirically their actual purpose is to sit around drinking coffee.)
  • In VSM management becomes a function of the overall system, not an individual role attainable only by those with a class privelege.
  • We should think of VSM as an explicitly socialist technology.

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