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Complexity Science and World Affairs

Walter C. Clemens Jr.

Publication Year: 2013

Applies complexity science to the study of international politics.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. FM1-vi


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pp. vii-viii

Figures and Tables

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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xvi

Walt Clemens is a much admired friend whom I have known since a summer when we both served as counselors in a camp for diabetic children in the Sequoia National Park. I was fifteen, midway through high school, and he twenty-two, a fledgling grad student. Working with these diabetic children planted the seeds for my own future in medical and biological sciences....

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To the Reader

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pp. xvii-xx

This book is about societal fitness—defined by complexity scientists as the ability to cope with complex challenges. The capacity to cope with complexity, this book argues, hinges heavily on culture—the values and way of life of each society. These values, in turn, arise from the heritage of a broad civilization...

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pp. xxi-xxii

Deep thanks to Stuart A. Kauffman for his foreword and for his efforts to decode complexity and other fields of knowledge for me over more than half a century. Exploring the ties between art and science, Daniel Kohn provided the book’s illustrations. Anshul Jain, Boston University, compressed many numbers to produce the data-rich fi gures throughout the book. Dino...

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Chapter One: Why a Science of Complexity?

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pp. 1-22

“Quarks are simple but jaguars are complex,” explained the Nobel laureate in physics and pioneer in complexity science Murray Gell-Mann (1994). So too, the inner workings of a cell in a worm are more complex than those of the sun. A survey of particle physics research finds that the “universe is a...

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Chapter Two: Basic Concepts of Complexity Science

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pp. 23-38

Fitness is the capacity to cope with complex challenges and opportunities to enhance one’s own survival and other interests. The fi tness of every organism, including whole societies and the international system, is found somewhere on the spectrum between rigid order and chaos (in politics, anarchy)—but usually closer to the edge of chaos.1 The Greeks said that Alexander went as...

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Chapter Three: A Crucial Test Case:Why the Baltic Is not the Balkans

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pp. 39-54

Here is a test for complexity science. Can it explain why, as communist rule collapsed in Eastern Europe, human development advanced relatively steadily in the Baltic region—but languished in most of the Balkans? Both regions had been repressed by alien despots for centuries; both were inhabited by...

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Chapter Four: Culture and the Capacity to Cope with Complexity

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pp. 55-70

Greater societal fitness would make it easier to moderate ethnic conflicts and to advance human development. How to move in this direction? Culture matters. As Daniel P. Moynihan noted, conservatives believe that culture determines the success of a society, but liberals know (or hope) that politics can change a...

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Chapter Five: Complexity Science as a Tool to Understand the New Eurasia

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pp. 55-106

Why did the Soviet empire and Yugoslavia collapse? What forces within and without shaped these momentous events? And what happened afterward? Which peoples became more free? More prosperous? Better able to fulfill their ambitions and potential? Which achieved higher levels of human development and individual dignity—and which did not? Our focus is on the USSR and...

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Chapter Six: How Complexity Concepts Explain Past and Present Fitness

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pp. 107-120

Basic concepts of complexity science offer a powerful way to explain the movement toward or away from understanding and coping with ethnic and other problems in emerging countries. These concepts do not contradict explanations rooted in democratization but enrich them and offer linkages to...

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Chapter Seven: Hyperpower Challenged:Prospects for Americans

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pp. 121-146

The twentieth century, as Henry Luce predicted, proved to be an American century. The United States amassed and deployed its power to coerce and to persuade in ways that permitted the country to play decisive roles in war and peace. More important, Americans and their leaders—in culture and business...

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Chapter Eight: What Future for the American Dream?

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pp. 147-164

The American dream proved elusive. Asked to join in a discussion of why the United States is the greatest country, the news anchor on Aaron Sorkin’s HBO television drama The Newsroom, shocked his audience on the show’s season premiere in 2012, After attempting a few jokes, he declared: “There’s...

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Chapter Nine: Why Is South Korea Not North Korea?

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pp. 165-178

Until 1945, Koreans had long formed one of the most homogeneous societies on the planet. Partitioned at the thirty-eighth parallel in August 1945, the South and North became two different political systems and societies. In 1948, the South became a separate state, the Republic of Korea (ROK), as...

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Chapter Ten: Toward a New Paradigm for Global Studies

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pp. 179-200

To avoid entrapment in the narrow choices posed by realist and idealist paradigms, analysts of international relations can fruitfully apply the basic concepts of complexity science to analyze the properties and patterns (if any) of global interdependence. To illustrate the value of these concepts...

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Chapter Eleven: Challenges to Complexity Science

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pp. 201-210

Complexity science hearkens to Albert Einstein’s advice: “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.” In 1952, while still in college studying applied mathematics, Peter G. Neumann talked with Einstein for two hours over breakfast—a meeting that filliped a lifelong romance with...

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Afterword: Science and Art in this Book:Exploring the Genome Together

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pp. 211-212

Too often, science and art are spoken through their antagonisms—science is seen as dealing with truth, whereas artists deal with ego and expression. But for myself and many other artists, our pursuit is not one of personal expression, but of interrogation. Interacting with life scientists, I see with increasing...


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pp. 213-226


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pp. 227-244


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pp. 245-266

Back Cover

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p. BC-BC

E-ISBN-13: 9781438449036
Print-ISBN-13: 9781438449012

Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2013