30. Gaian order is not homogeneous but varies at each level of organization with the type of organization that is achievable at that level.
Biological organisms display order but cannot expand to create Gaian-sized organisms. There is a limit to the size of organisms, determined, among other things, by the limit to the extendibility of the bonds that hold together their constituent parts.
In a social system, the bonds in question are the family bonds and they will not extend very far. There is thus a limit to the size of a society capable of acting as a unit of homeotelic behaviour. A monolithic nation state does not satisfy these conditions in any way, for it is not a vernacular, self-regulating homeotelic system but one that is asystematically controlled by an alien agent – the State. It is thereby tending in a biospherically random (heterotelic) direction – and does not display biospheric order.
This principle was not understood by the holistic ecologists of the Chicago School, which flourished in the 1940s under the direction of Warder Allee. They saw that co-operation and integration increased with ecological development, and assumed that this process could occur at a global level, giving rise to a vast co-operative and highly integrated global community from which war would be eliminated. They ignored, however, the factors that must limit the size of co-operative and integrated societies, and failed to distinguish the latter from the nation states, whose expansion is only limited by bureaucratic inefficiency, and the costs of the armaments required to control their alienated inhabitants.Back to top
31. Gaian Systems are organised to form a hierarchy or homearchy.
Gaia is organised to form a hierarchy. Thus, molecules are organised to form cells, cells to form organs and tissues, the latter to form biological organisms which, in turn, are organised to form families, vernacular communities, ecosystems and so on. Each system, as both Paul Weiss and Arthur Koestler, in particular, have pointed out, is at once part of a bigger system and at the same time composed of smaller systems. That is why Koestler chose as the symbol of the system, or of the “holon” as he called it, the double-faced Roman God, Janus, who looks at once in both directions. 
Since the relationship of the smaller systems to the larger systems, and eventually to Gaia herself, is one of homeotely, the term homearchy could be used to replace hierarchy, a much abused term that has never been properly defined. (Even in the two main symposia held on this subject, one organised by Lancelot Law Whyte and one by Howard Pattee, the term ‘hierarchy’ was used by the participants in a number of different and conflicting ways).
Koestler suggested that the term ‘hierarchy’ be replaced by ‘holarchy’. Gaia, when seen as a life process, is also organised to form a hierarchy or homearchy or holarchy. Thus behavioural processes must be seen as the spatio-temporally differentiated constituents of ontogenetic processes, and ontogenies as the spatio-temporally differentiated constituents of the Gaian evolutionary process (see Principle 17). This is rendered possible by the functioning of informational feedback, interrelationships within the hierarchy of life processes (see Principle 17).Back to top
32. The environment is the larger system.
The environment is a term that is largely undefined. Darwinists and Neo-Darwinists see it as somehow capable of displaying discriminatory and highly teleological behaviour in ‘selecting’ from among the members of a population those that are the ‘fittest’. Once one sees Gaia as a hierarchy, however, then it becomes clear that, at each level in the hierarchy, the larger system provides its constituent sub-systems with their immediate external environment, their less immediate external environment being provided by the systems higher up in the hierarchy.
It is thus not an undefined environment that ‘selects’, but the larger system itself, which like all natural systems, is capable of discriminatory and teleological behaviour (see Principle 22). In the same way, at each level in the hierarchy, a system’s internal environment (to use a term coined by Claude Bernard) is provided by the smaller systems lower down in the hierarchy. The ecosphere itself provides its constituent systems with their total internal and external environments.Back to top
33. The hierarchy is the field.
Natural systems are arranged to form a spatio-temporal ‘field’. Each system is, on the one hand, made up of the hierarchy of smaller systems that comprise it – its internal environment – and is, at the same time, part of the hierarchy of larger systems – its external environment. The ecosphere is its total field.Back to top
34. Systems are most stable when living within the internal-external environment; in other words, when situated in the field within which they evolved and grew up.
A natural system is designed by its evolution, and hence its ontogenetic development (see Principle 17), to live within a specific field, or limited range of internal-external environments. It is when doing so that a natural system is best able to contribute to the stability of the Gaian hierarchy and, hence, best to maintain its own stability and ensure that both Gaian needs and its own needs are best satisfied.Back to top
35. Adaptive homeotelic behaviour is only possible within specific ‘environmental parameters’
A system can only be maintained along its course or Way (see Principle 51) in an internal and external spatio-temporal environment or field that has not diverted too far from the optimum, i.e. that to which it has been adapted by its evolution and upbringing.
The range of environmental conditions to which a natural system can adapt is contained within its ‘environmental parameters’.
It is significant that vernacular societies have only been able to preserve their structure and culture in relatively unchanging or slowly changing environments. Few have been able to withstand the dramatic changes induced by contact with industrial man.
Modern economic development inevitably causes the internal and external environments of vernacular peoples to diverge beyond the limits of their environmental parameters. Once this point has been achieved, their cybernetic mechanisms break down. Others may take over, but then they can only maintain a lower level of stability, involving greater discontinuities. If this process continues, then eventually, only the most rudimentary external controls are operative; those, in fact, that are provided by the ‘Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse’. The rapid degradation of the global environment under the impact of our economic activities has reached a point where this state of affairs is beginning to obtain globally and at almost all levels in the Gaian hierarchy.Back to top
36. Systems at different levels in the Gaian hierarchy arc homeotelically mutualistic.
If the climax state is the optimum for an ecosystem, and indeed for the ecosphere, the overall ecosystem and, if such a system provides its sub-systems with their optimum environment – that in which their stability is maximised – it must follow that their ‘interests’ coincide and that life processes, that satisfy the needs of the climax whole (the ecosphere) must also be those that also satisfy the needs of its differentiated parts. Such life processes are thereby homeotelically mutualistic (whether co-operative or competitive) all the way up the Gaian hierarchy.Back to top
37. The goal of Gaian life processes is the achievement and maintenance of stability.
The goal of Gaian life processes is to achieve and then maintain the basic features of Gaian order in the face of environmental challenges. This is the same as saying that their goal is the achievement and maintenance of Gaian stability – defined, in a dynamic context, as the reduction to a minimum of discontinuities.
A stable developing biological system is said to be ‘homeorhetic’, a term coined by C. H. Waddington (from the Greek words ‘homeo’ = same and ‘rhesos’= flow). Such a system maintains itself on its critical path or ‘chreod’ (from the Greek for ‘necessary course’), that which will enable it both to attain its optimum end state or goal, and, at the same time, (though Waddington does not say this), to contribute to the stability of Gaia, that is, to behave homeotelically to her. Waddington’s chreod is thereby ‘the Way’ (see Principle 51) of a developing biological system.
A homeorhetic system will be capable of correcting divergences from the central chreod, and hence of maintaining its stability in the face of environmental challenges, so long as these occur within its environmental parameters (see Principle 35).
Once a stable system has achieved its climax state, it becomes ‘homeostatic’, a term coined by the physiologist Walter Cannon (from the Greek words ‘homeo’ = same, and ‘statis’ = state). A homeostatic system is one that maintains its basic order – and (though this was not noted by Cannon) that of the hierarchy of larger systems of which it is part. i.e. the Gaian hierarchy that is homeotelic to it – in the face of environmental challenges, and is capable of correcting any divergences from it, again, so long as these occur within the system’s environmental parameters.
Jim Lovelock has shown how Gaia herself is a stable system in this sense of the term. Paul Weiss regarded the achievement of stability as a basic feature of all natural systems, at all levels of organisation.
A stable system can also be regarded as one that is under control. An unstable system, on the other hand, is one that is out of control; its self-regulatory mechanisms (which are essential to control and to the maintenance of stability) having broken down – as is the case with our modem industrialised society. Such a society can only be kept functioning, very precariously, and at the cost of moving in the direction of ever greater instability, by such asystemic controls as the state bureaucracy, and market institutions.
Hollings distinguishes between stability and resilience,  a distinction that Waddington rejected.  The former is simply stability achieved by increasing complexity, the latter stability achieved by increasing diversity – as is adaptive to a disordered environment.Back to top
38. Gaian changes occur for the purpose of preventing more general and more disruptive changes.
Orderly or controlled change from a pre-established path or chreod (see Principle 37), leading to the establishment of modified chreods or Way, and a modified climax, occurs not per se nor as a means of achieving some anti-Gaian end-state (progress), but rather as a means of avoiding bigger and more disruptive changes that would adversely affect the generalities rather than the particularities of Gaia’s critical order.
The goal of evolution is thus what Julian Huxley called “stasigenesis” as opposed to “anagenesis”. Evolutionary change ceases to occur once an evolutionary climax is achieved. This explains the very long periods during which species underwent no change at all, and the very rapid and concentrated changes that occurred when conditions favoured the achievement of new climaxes – situations in which it could be predicted that stability would be increased; that is in which the probability of the occurrence of discontinuities, as well as the seriousness of such discontinuities, would be further reduced (see Principle 37).Back to top
39. When developing Gaian systems achieve their most stable state – their climax – they cease developing.
As vernacular systems evolve or develop, their relationship with their internal and external environments is marked by ever smaller and less frequent discontinuities until an end state is achieved, at which point stability can no longer be increased. When this point is reached, systems, at all levels in the Gaian hierarchy, can be said to be as well adapted as possible to their respective environments and hence to Gaia as a whole, which is thereby as stable as is possible in the circumstances.
This must be the ideal situation. At the level of the ecosystem, it is referred to as the ‘climax’ – the adult state, so to speak. Once achieved, the system becomes homeostatic rather than homeorhetic (see Principle 37). It then changes minimally since there is no need for further change and energy and resources are only used for maintenance and repair (see Principle 58). Because this principle makes nonsense of the idea of progress, which is fundamental to the world-view of modernism (see Principle 40), the principle has been abandoned by modern mainstream ecologists.
The first ecologist to do so was Arthur Tansley at Oxford. He decreed that man, with the aid of science and technology, could outdo nature and achieve a different, and better, climax which he called the “anthropogenic climax”, seeking thereby to rationalise and legitimise the idea of progress. This is very much the position of today’s mainstream ecologists.Back to top
40. Progress is anti-evolutionary.
If evolution is seen as random – as neo-Darwinists and reductionist scientists in general see it – then there can be no anti-evolutionary process. However, once evolution is seen as a teleological (see Principle 22) and homeotelic process, tending towards the achievement and maintenance of maximum Gaian order and stability – the climax – then if it is misdirected (see Principle 65) and tends, instead, in the direction of reduced Gaian order and stability – the disclimax – or its neo-pioneer state, then it must be regarded as heterotelic, pathological and indeed as anti-evolutionary.
A climax social system is one which is designed to fulfil its functions within a climax ecosystem – or, more precisely, within the climax ecosphere. That is why the tribal vernacular society is the most highly developed and why a modern institutionalised society, which can only subsist in a neo-pioneer or disclimax ecosystem, is a ‘neo-pioneer’ or ‘disclimax society’. This explains why what our scientists, sociologists and economists have taken to be social or economic development, or social evolution, is in fact regression to a lower state of evolutionary and hence of social development.
That the climax biosphere which man inherited cannot be improved by man and hence that any notion of progress is an illusion, was clear to vernacular man. Lao Tsu, for example, asks:
Do you think you can take the world and improve it?
I do not think it can be done.
The world is sacred.
You cannot improve it.
If you try to change it, you will ruin it
If you try to help it, you will lose it. 
Progress is regressive and anti-evolutionary. It involves, in effect, reversing three thousand million years of evolution, by systematically substituting a biospherically random (see Principle 22), atomised, low-complexity (see Principle 37), low diversity (see Principle 26), predominantly competitive (see Principle 28), externally and asystemically controlled (see Principle 48), heterotelically organised (see Principle 65), and hence immensely unstable (see Principle 65) organization of resources – the technosphere – for a biospherically ordered (see Principle 20), teleological (see Principle 22), organised, high-complexity (see Principle 26), high diversity (see Principle 26), predominantly co-operative (see Principle 27), internally and systemically controlled (see Principle 48) and homeotelically organised (see Principle 49), and hence highly stable, organisation of resources (see Principle 37) – the biosphere – with its associated atmospheric environment (Gaia, the Ecosphere).Back to top
41. Natural systems are self-regulating.
If natural Systems, by their own vernacular efforts, have succeeded in maintaining the critical order and stability of the biosphere for hundreds of millions of years, it can only be that they can function as cybernetic systems.
Walter Cannon has shown how biological organisms are capable of maintaining their homeostasis. Eugene Odum also sees ecosystems as cybernetic systems. Roy Rappoport, and Gerardo Reichel-Dolmatoff and his colleagues have shown how this is also true of tribal societies in New Guinea and Amazonia respectively, and Jim Lovelock and his colleagues have shown that this is true of Gaia herself.
As systems disintegrate under the impact of economic development, they become less stable (see Principle 65): this implies that environmental challenges are less effectively countered and corrected, and that discontinuities correspondingly increase. As this occurs, sophisticated internalised controls become inoperative, and the only controls that remain are crude external controls.Back to top
42. A cybernetic system is endowed with a set of instructions, whose implementation, in the light of its total experience, enables it to achieve its goal of maintaining overall Gaian stability.
These instructions are organised hierarchically, with the more general, non-plastic instructions (see Principle 44 – those that reflect the experience of the total Gaian spatio-temporal system and which reflect the system’s basic features – being differentiated into the more particular and more plastic instructions (see Principle 44) which reflect the system’s most recent experience, that of the sub-system in the latest evolutionary stratum, and which determine the system’s less basic features.
As the system disintegrates, so is the continuity of the instructions with which it is endowed, disrupted. It is then endowed instead with a new set of instructions that reflect no more than its most recent experience within the technosphere, whose implementation enables it to achieve the heterotelic goal of contributing to the technosphere’s continued expansion and, hence, to the further degradation of the biosphere on which it is (heterotelically) parasitical (see Principle 65).Back to top
43. The instructions with which a system is endowed are non-plastic.
General instructions, which reflect the experience of the total spatio-temporal system, as opposed to that of its most recently developed spatio-temporal parts, are non-plastic and hence immutable in the short-term at least. This is the only way in which continuity and hence stability can be maintained. That is why genetic information is non-plastic. If it were plastic, then there would be nothing to prevent zebras from engendering baby wildebeasts and vice-versa.
That is also why cultural information – that which serves to mediate the behaviour of climax societies – must also be non-plastic. If it were plastic, then it would display no continuity or stability, nor would the societies involved; each generation being forced, as it is today, to develop ad hoc heterotelic (see Principle 65) expedients for dealing, ever less successfully, with its growing problems.Back to top
44. A self-regulating system is endowed with a model of its relationship with its environment.
Kenneth Craik was perhaps the first to show the role of the mental model in the mediation of human behaviour. Enlightened anthropologists, such as Reichel Dolmatoff, are now making it clear that the cybernetic behaviour of vernacular societies (see Principle 41) is based on a cultural model, formulated in the language of mythology.
The model, however, is indisassociable from the instructions (see Principle 42) with which the system is also endowed, and is thereby subjective.
It provides a picture, not of the environment itself, but of that relationship between a system and its environment that seems relevant to the achievement of the former’s goal. In other words, it is not just an academic model but a teleological model – the one that best serves to guide the mediation of an adaptive (homeotelic) behaviour pattern. More precisely, it provides the system with the information required to implement its non-plastic instructions by enabling it to adapt its less plastic instructions to changing environmental conditions.
Such an instruction-model complex, I refer to as a ‘cybernism’ (see Principle 45 and Principle 46). A genome falls within this category, as does a gene-pool, a brain and the cultural pattern of a vernacular society.Back to top
45. All information within the biosphere is organised into a cybernism.
The normal scientific concept of information, as developed by Shannon and Weaver, is undoubtedly of use to communications engineers, but it plays no role in the strategy of the biosphere.  Biospheric information is not divided up into atomised and isolated ‘bits’, but is organised instead into a cybernism. In fact, it is best defined as a cybernismic organisation, to which both cybernismic complexity (see Principle 48) and cybernismic diversity (see Principle 48) contribute.
It is in the light of the information organised in a cybernism that data relevant to the achievement of a system’s goal are detected, interpreted and transformed into information that is used for mediating adaptive (homeotelic) life processes. This must be true at all levels in the Gaian hierarchy, including that of the vernacular human society.
As such a society breaks down, the model, like the instructions, and hence the cybernism itself, ceases to reflect the system’s total spatio-temporal experience, and comes instead to reflect the recent short-term experience of its cognitively maladjusted parts (see Principle 64). Under such conditions, the cybernism serves to mediate heterotelic, as opposed to homeotelic, behaviour.Back to top