It is quite possible for this world to be destroyed by human folly. We used to think at once of nuclear war, but that is only one edge of a many-sided emergency in which human damage to the earth can come back on us. The perils manifest in many forms: proliferation of weapons, nationalisms, racisms, destruction of animal and plant habitats, of soil, air, water, cities. Yet there is a pattern that connects them. These individual symptoms interlock to form a very big runaway system, which is the enactment of our own presuppositions, the underlying habits of thought that are deeply embedded in our everyday life as what we call ‘common sense.’

NACHMANOVITCH, Stephen (1981). “Gregory Bateson: Old Men Ought to be Explorers,” first published in CoEvolution Quarterly, (1982) and reprinted in Leonardo (Vol. 17, No. 2, MIT Press, 1984, pp. 113-118). German translations published in Bevußtseins (R)evolution, ed. Rudiger Lutz (Julius Beltz Verlag, 1983) and Pläne für eine menschliche Zukunft (1988).

Is running amok strictly an individual feedback runaway process? Or is it a social one? More importantly: is it possible when talking about feedback in a system, runaway and homeostatic equilibrium, to clearly separate the individual from the social? Case study: Falling Down (1993).

See also Running Amok – Der Amokläufer, Stefan Sweig.

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Groups of depositors in front of the closed American Union Bank, New York City. April 26, 1932. Wikimedia Commons.

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