Sunday, October 19, 2008

An Army of Boyds

There was an interesting discussion recently on John Boyd at the Small Wars Journal. A few comments on Boyd's role within the defense bureaucracy caught my eye and got me thinking that what we need is an Army of Boyds in every department and agency, every branch of government, federal, state and local, in the universities, at GM, indeed throughout our entire society:

Mark of Zenpundit:

On a serious note, the highest value that I see in Boyd's work was modeling the ethic of being a continuously learning, adaptive, thinking, competitor in a dynamic environment. Something that was very much against the cultural, organizational, grain of the U.S. military at the time, not to mention society at large.
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Much of Boyd's work is modeling a process of dynamic synthesis, of continual learning and adapting competitively and reaching to fields further and further away from "pure" military concerns in order to generate new insights.

Another commenter said:

I respect Boyd because he took on the system from the inside...His genius lay in his ability to be a governmental guerrilla, an insider insurrectionary, a bureaucratic insurgent...

The kind of role that Boyd played within the DOD is played in our economy by entrepreneurs. By creating new competitors, products, services, techniques etc. entrepreneurs are constantly challenging existing businesses to remain competitive and to be learning institutions. Like Boyd, entrepreneurs are "modeling the ethic of being a continuously learning, adaptive, thinking, competitor in a dynamic environment." This is one of the many reasons that I think that advocating entrepreneurship is so important for our society: by celebrating entrepreneurs and championing entrepreneurship we are reinforcing values, attitudes, and behaviors that are necessary for our society to remain innovative and adaptive.

We also need a political movement that can play the Boydian role more generally throughout our society. That is, a political movement whose vision of a 21st century America is "modeling the ethic of being a continuously learning, adaptive, thinking, competitor in a dynamic environment". This would be a dynamist alternative to the collectivist left's stasist vision. What would that kind of a movement look like? What would its symbols and imagery be? What kinds of stories would it tell? What would be its vision of the American Experiment?

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