The pandemic and the myth of balance

The preoccupation with balance belongs to an older form of society–one based on hierarchy and centralized control. Autopoietic systems never reach a condition of equilibrium. There is never balance between system and environment, but systems can still be relatively stable over the long term. Stable systems do not need to be in equilibrium. A physical structure like a table can be balanced, but living, evolving systems cannot be balanced.

Luhmann and Matter (unfinished draft)

When discussing organizations, which Luhmann argues consist entirely of decision-based communication, one might ask about buildings, desks, chairs, telephones, computers, electricity, as well as human beings. Aren’t these things essential to most organizations? Shut off the electricity or the Internet access and most organizations stop functioning. Thus, a common criticism of social systems theory relates to materialism or material agency.