Structural Politics is a research field (I just invented) that attempts to codify and study the wildly complex interactions between political systems, individual personalities, language, culture, philosophy, geology and ecologies. Keeping track of all these different aspects within their own spheres is complicated enough.

So what I want to know is, how does one not lose their mind in the details when keeping track of all those minute details? What are some strategies for managing all those details and interactions?

  • $\begingroup$ I don't think I quite know the best way to expand this into an answer, but I rely heavily on self-similarity. If the different relationships are sufficiently similar enough to eachother, I don't have to keep the whole system in my head. I'll see if I can think through a more complete answer. $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Aug 31, 2015 at 19:43
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    $\begingroup$ One step at a time, with lots and lots of notes. $\endgroup$
    – Avernium
    Aug 31, 2015 at 19:48
  • $\begingroup$ Structural Politics as a field of political science? i don't recall that. Is it structural functionalism? $\endgroup$
    – Vincent
    Aug 31, 2015 at 20:50
  • $\begingroup$ It isn't really, I just invented the term. There probably is a really term for the scope of what I'm describing. Geopolitics isn't inclusive enough though. $\endgroup$
    – Green
    Aug 31, 2015 at 20:51
  • $\begingroup$ Probably : De l'esprit des lois by Montesquieu. He talks about how the different elements of a country : climate, geography, traditions, etc will impact on the laws and the politics of a state. It's more into political philosophy. $\endgroup$
    – Vincent
    Aug 31, 2015 at 20:59

4 Answers 4


We are no longer particularly in the business of writing software to perform specific tasks. We now teach the software how to learn, and in the primary bonding process it molds itself around the task to be performed. The feedback loop never really ends, so a tenth year polysentience can be a priceless jewel or a psychotic wreck, but it is the primary bonding process--the childhood, if you will--that has the most far-reaching repercussions.

-- Bad'l Ron, Wakener, Morgan Polysoft

Post-structural political science, part of the third rebirth of science in the first decades of the century, encompassed the new non-linear mathematical principles developed with the aid of hyper-convoluted polysentiences, based on the lessons learned from the earlier failures during the Wars of the Greater Abominations.

Using the Tao-Morgenthau ultracompressed sensing theorem to determine an optimal search-path through Hilbert spaces allows the generation of maximum likelihood chaotically reconvergent paths. While computationally demanding even against a high-end peta-qubit computer substrate, once converged, the projections ranges exhibit remarkable metastability.

Most laymen refer to this as "futurecasting" and refer to the partial unknown-unknown-invariance (i.e the ability of the model to predict quasicorrectly despite a literally infinite number of unknown variables) as "freaking amazing."

  • $\begingroup$ I think this may be the first time I've really not understood a post on this site. Did you respond to the wrong question? $\endgroup$
    – Frostfyre
    Sep 1, 2015 at 12:16
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    $\begingroup$ @Frostfyre: He's suggesting that in the future, this will be done using advanced self-learning expert systems running on quantum computers. It's an answer to this question, it's just wrapped in lots of tasty computer science flavor. $\endgroup$ Sep 1, 2015 at 15:56
  • $\begingroup$ @DanSmolinske "Tasty" is subjective, and may not be well-received on WB. A lot of this went over my head, and I work in the CS field. $\endgroup$
    – Frostfyre
    Sep 1, 2015 at 16:08
  • $\begingroup$ @Frostfyre, the question asks us to 'solve' human politics. This is my attempt at defining a minimal requirements set. Since the solution is so far out of our current range, it makes sense to me to have a post-singularity flavored reply. I'll add a few links for the curious. $\endgroup$ Sep 1, 2015 at 18:18
  • $\begingroup$ Remarkably, it has less buzzwords than contemporary machine learning popsci. +1. $\endgroup$ Dec 27, 2016 at 21:29

Use a computer.

When interactions between two objects, be they proteins, ecosystems, or political entities, become sufficiently complex, it becomes impossible for a human mind to fully keep track of all of the details. Doing so is unlikely to drive you insane, but it is likely to make you question the usefulness of trying to memorize so much as all of the relevant facts surrounding a complex political interaction, let alone expound upon their effects.

Luckily, people have created just the tool for helping your mind comprehend such things, and it looks like this:

enter image description here

You'll have significantly more luck crunching those numbers on a supercomputer, and remembering how to operate one is guaranteed to not result in gibbering insanity.*

*WARNING: this statement is not FDA approved. Use of supercomputer may lead to seizures, gibbering insanity, or death. Supercompute responsibly.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Everyone who has ever used a supercomputer has died or will in the coming years. Maybe there really is a correlation between the two! :) $\endgroup$
    – Frostfyre
    Sep 1, 2015 at 12:19
  • $\begingroup$ The trick is in getting the software right. $\endgroup$
    – Green
    Sep 1, 2015 at 12:51

Draw a graph.

You can process the complexity by visualising it. Draw a graph connecting the aspects an interactions of the polity. Say you have a large and important military-industrial complex. This is a large bubble connected by many arcs to other bubbles, mostly smaller.

Identify those nodes of your graph with the highest connectivity to other nodes, flesh those out first, then add more minor nodes. The major nodes will identify the main structure of your polity and all the connections to minor nodes add richness and detail.

Then analyse the structure of the network you drew. The diameter (max hops from one node to another of the network), and the degree of the network (average number of connections per node), are key parameters.

Armed with these metrics compare your network to other natural world and political networks - there is plenty of literature about them.

If you do all the above I hope you will arrive at many new insights...


The study of complex environments is "Systems Thinking". This is a relatively new field which looks at the interactions of the entire system rather than breaking systems into individual parts and studying each part.

There are a lot of different interpretations of Systems Thinking, but since you are specifically looking at human systems of politics, economics and sociology, then the best fit might be "soft systems methodology". This is a sub branch of Systems Thinking methodology, developed in England by the University of Lancaster.

The process requires a lot of work (you are studying a complex system, after all), but here is a breakdown of the process via Wilkipedia:

7-stage representation of SSM:

  • Enter situation considered problematical
  • Express the problem situation
  • Formulate root definitions of relevant systems of purposeful activity
  • Build conceptual models of the systems named in the root definitions
  • Comparing models with real world situations
  • Define possible changes which are both possible and feasible
  • Take action to improve the problem situation

Step 2 itself can also be refined by using a methodology known as CATWOE

There are six elements of CATWOE

  • Customers - Who are the beneficiaries of the highest level business process and how does the issue affect them?
  • Actors - Who is involved in the situation, who will be involved in implementing solutions and what will impact their success?
  • Transformation Process - What is the transformation that lies at the heart of the system - transforming grapes into wine, transforming unsold goods into sold goods, transforming a societal need into a societal need met?
  • World View - What is the big picture and what are the wider impacts of the issue?
  • Owner - Who owns the process or situation being investigated and what role will they play in the solution?
  • Environmental Constraints - What are the constraints and limitations that will impact the solution and its success?

So what you want to study specifically will require a vast setup process, and detailed definition of the various starting points and factors (CATWOE and other background investigations). You will also require lots of information and perhaps a team of specialists in each of the sub disciplines of the system you want to study. Even though Systems Thinking is about relationships between elements, you still need to understand the elements that make up the system as well.

I should point out that several of the elements that you describe, such as political systems, culture and ecology, are themselves complex systems, so you have a pretty huge task ahead of you. Good luck!


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