Personal and academic blog. Explores the borderlands between rhetoric, politics and intelligence.


Swarm theory and rhetoric

From the excellent Global Guerillas Blog I was directed to a nice article in National Geographic Magazine on swarm theory. Swarm theory is an effort to understand how self-organising systems such as a hive of bees, ants or a widespread insurgency is governed.

I might have a tendency to see rhetoric where ever I look, but I just couldn't resist the quotation below, describing how a swarm of bees find a new nest:

"The bees' rules for decision-making?seek a diversity of options, encourage a free competition among ideas, and use an effective mechanism to narrow choices?so impressed Seeley that he now uses them at Cornell as chairman of his department."

This translates directly from a swarm of bees into a University meeting room. But Isocrates was on to the principle of anti-logos quite a while ago, and it seems to me that this is close by. The only issue here is the "effective mechanism to narrow choices". At Isocrates' time this was consent or action, whereas today it is the popular vote.

Swarm Behavior - National Geographic Magazine



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