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Home · Book Reports · 2017 · The Starfish and the Spider - The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations

Published: August 31, 2017
Tags:  Oligarchy

The book in...
One sentence:
An introductory comparing and contrasting of centralized and hierarchical to flat and decentralized organizations.

Five sentences:
At first many examples of centralized and decentralized organizations are given and how one, generally the decentralized structure, overwhelms the other. One major example is the record industry in general, MGM in particular, going after file sharing services, like Napster, in the legal arena only to create an even bigger problem for themselves as Napster was replaced by more decentralized services like Kazaa and eMule, the latter of which no one ever knew the author of the software and there was, therefore, no entity to bring a legal suit against. A more traditional conflict is seen in the example of the Apache Indians versus the Spanish and later USAmerican invaders and how the Apache used a decentralized order in their tribes so that neither invading force could defeat with traditional tactics. GM versus Toyota, the ALF (Animal Liberation Front), and Al Qaeda are three more examples that are used to support the point that the decentralized organization has many advantages over the centralized organization. Lastly there are some rules for understanding, and fighting, decentralized organizations that include centralizing the offending starfish by granting some member the ability to dole out accolades and getting the group to follow a new ideology as was done by giving cattle to the Apache, effectively domesticating them.

designates my notes. / designates important.


My first thoughts upon finishing this book were that it is eerily familiar to the plans for decentralizing the English empire into a commonwealth.

I heard Bill Clinton promoting this book a few years ago. This piqued my interest in wondering if this would be a disinformation book or a glimpse into the oligarchy’s thought structure. I can safely say that, while there may be disinformation contained within, the book reveals, in laymen terms and with great ease in reading, the idea behind many of the new control mechanisms we see around us today. The network effect has been understood since the advent of graph theory, but in the post World War 2 environment it seems to have been harnessed for social control in earnest. This book offers an introductory perspective on what the oligarchy has known for decades.

Pierre Omidyar, of eBay/Paypal fame, both lauds this book and is interviewed within its pages. eBay, along with Craigslist, are two of the main examples of decentralized, or at least partially decentralized, organizations born of the internet. Recited ad infinitum is the buzzword “community”. The community of eBayers or Craigslisters or Amazon book reviewers are trotted out as the future of interaction and trust. Given that the book was published in 2006, I’d say it did accurately predict how these so-called communities would be at the center of our connected world.

One of the communities I was only half surprised to see discussed was that of Burning Man. Steve Outrim, of Burners.me, has shown a plethora of evidence that Burning Man is essentially the peak of modern psychological warfare and culture creation. Steve has put together a very good presentation on Gnostic Media. Burning Man is the epitome of pushing depravity into culture in the form of promiscuous sex, drugs, homosexuality, and even pedophilia. It primarily targets disenfranchised youth with the allure of raver culture and pries said youth away from traditional families by having them reassociate the BM community as their new family.

Another interesting phrase you’ll find in the book is “agents of change”. Reading that had all my alarm bells sounding. That is very “Cultural Patterns and Technical Change”-ish. Refering back to the claim that Burning Man is an experiment in culture creation, plus the changes anyone can see all around the world for the last few decades and accelerating currently, you can see why “agents of change” in addition to the suggestion that starfish organizations must be fought by altering their underlying ideology could be interesting to the people in Bill Clinton’s community.

The last chapter is quite in you face with the title: “The New World”.

Additionally, Al Qaeda is used as an example of a decentralized network. If you subscribe to the thought that AQ might be some kind of Operation Gladio B, and they are using the same ideologically driven strategy that only gets stronger when confronted by traditional means… doesn’t it follow that the people behind AQ/Gladio B knew that this operation would increase in potency when those same people are behind the traditional tactics we have seen in the Middle East for almost 20 years?

It is so easy to read it feels like it could be titled: “How to Structure the New World Order for Dummies”

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