11 Cato J. 27 (1991-1992)
Nondesignability of Living Systems: A Lesson from the Failed Experiments in Socialist Countries

handle is hein.journals/catoj11 and id is 29 raw text is: THE NONDESIGNABILITY OF LIVING SYSTEMS:
Jixuan Hu
To some readers from the West, the point addressed here may
seem to be just common sense. However, not all cultures share the
same idea of common sense. Ideological bias may cause blindness
to or misunderstandings of another culture's common sense. For
instance, Western ideas cannot be accepted easily in socialist coun-
tries such as China and the Soviet Union, and vice versa, but careful
scientific analysis of ideas may produce a better chance of communi-
cation between people with different ideologies. On the other hand,
what appears to be common sense may be misleading. Many West-
erners observe the problems in socialist countries at only a tourist's
level. At such a level, phenomena are oversimplified and misunder-
stood. Thus, larger gaps instead of bridges of communication are
Designing a better or even a perfect society is one of the most
persistent ideals in human history. From the time of Plato to that of
Marx, and even today, finding a blueprint for a better society has
been a constant goal.
The communist movement since the 19th century can be seen as
an experiment in designing a better society. The core of the design
is a centrally controlled social-political-economic system. Marx drew
a sketch, Lenin worked out a draft, Stalin standardized the blueprint,
and Mao copied most of it. People in power-Tito, Khrushchev,
Cato journal, Vol. 11, No. I (Spring/Summer 1991). Copyright 0 Cato Institute. All
rights reserved.
The author is a Visiting Scholar at the Department of Management Science at George
Washington University. He wishes to thank the Cybernetics Research Program at
George Washington University for supporting his work. He also thanks Stuart
Umpleby, Hao Jia, and Zhengfu Shi for their valuable comments and assistance. This
paper is an edited version of Hu (1990), which is based on Hu (1988).


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