Bactra Review    The Self-Organizing Economy
Thus helping to make his point that
[S]elf-organization is not necessarily, or even presumptively, a good thing. I think it is fair to accuse many of the writers on complexity, especially but not only the more popular ones, of falling into this fallacy. Book titles like Order out of Chaos (by Nobel laureate Ilya Prigogine and I. Stenger, but with a Foreword by, believe it or not, Alvin Toffler), or Complexity: Life at the Edge of Chaos (by R. Lewin) come perilously close to making self-organization a kind of mystical goal. Even Stuart Kauffman, whose The Origins of Order is a serious and stimulating tract (if we ignore the inevitably careless and ill-informed section on economics), talks far too casually about coevolutionary systems that maximize ``average fitness'' --- a surely meaningless concept when the fitness of each species is defined at least partly in terms of how well it copes with competition and predation from others. Luckily, if we are at all serious about the economics of self-organization we immediately realize that no value judgement is implied. An economy with a strong business cycle exhibits more temporal self-organization than an economy that grows smoothly, but most of us would rather live in the latter. A city whose racially integrated communities unravel, producing huge segregated domains, becomes more spatially organized, but not better, in the process. Self-organization is something we observe and try to understand, not necessarily something we want. [pp. 5--6]
And this is leaving out epidemics, auto-immune disease, etc., etc., etc.