| English
"Куда идет мир? Каково будущее науки? Как "объять необъятное", получая образование - высшее, среднее, начальное? Как преодолеть "пропасть двух культур" - естественнонаучной и гуманитарной? Как создать и вырастить научную школу? Какова структура нашего познания? Как управлять риском? Можно ли с единой точки зрения взглянуть на проблемы математики и экономики, физики и психологии, компьютерных наук и географии, техники и философии?"

Alexander V. Oleskin, Cao Boyang



This section directly addresses one of the main goals of the present work that lies at the intersection between two subfields of biopolitics (separately considered above):

  • The environmental subfield that undoubtedly includes the challenging task of protecting the plant diversity from humankind-caused threats, which is of paramount importance for modern-day China and Russia and requires that environmental activists should establish close-knit networks for this purpose

  • The organizational subfield that is centered on researching—and creatively applying to human society—the paradigms of network organization that are characteristic of living nature, including the plant world.

The following is the results of my own conceptual work on extrapolating biological paradigms of network organization to designing and implementing efficient decentralized network structures that should facilitate the activities of environmentalists dealing with plant resource conservation.

1. Potential Application of the Cellular Paradigm to Environmental Protection. The cellular network paradigm, like several other paradigms originally “invented” by biological evolution, can find application in human network structures set up for various purposes, including, notably, environmental protection. As mentioned above, this paradigm is used by the colonies and biofilms of unicellular organisms. Its analog in human society should be characterized by a tendency towards the formation of collective “superintelligence” from the individual minds of network members on the basis of the set of unifying explicit and implicit ideas and behavioral norms – of the intellectual matrix that underlies the network, in an analogy to the material extracellular substance in which cells are embedded in a colony/biofilm. The development of this network-wide matrix diminishes the importance of the individual differences among network members. For all network members, identification with the whole network clearly dominates over their individual self identification.

Extrapolating the cellular paradigm to human society implies the consolidation of a nonhierarchical creative team on the basis of psychological techniques that emphasize the importance of network-level values, goals, and creative interaction among network members despite their individual differences.

The eminent scientist Sergey Winogradsky, who was famous for his work in microbiology at the turn of the 20th century, also produced a number of important journalistic articles. One of them dealt with socialist communes. Winogradsky pointed out that “only an idea that is not of this world and which enslaves the sentiments and the will of individuals… can merge human souls into one single soul and deprive them of their selfish cravings’ (Winogradsky, 1918, p.621). In an analogy to the merging of the envelopes of bacterial cells into the biofilm matrix, the boundaries between the selves of network members become blurred, all network members become psychologically similar. This is what Nalimov and other transpersonal psychologists denoted as “personality merging”. Partial temporary ‘”personality merging” may take place while solving problems by the brain-storming method. In terms of brain storming, psychological techniques are employed that highlight group-level (network-level) values and symbols with which the members of a brain-storming team identify. Such network-level symbols include, e.g., animals, which resembles the belief of primitive people in totems. Group (network) consolidation is additionally strengthened by techniques that appeal to the evolution-molded behavioral trends and needs of people. It has been known since ancient times that the integrity of a human group (including a decentralized network) is promoted by collective meals. It is, therefore, recommendable that a brain-storming session should be accompanied or followed by a social breakfast, lunch, or even a dinner party for the whole network. Such psychological techniques enable participants’ behavior coordination and the synchronization of their individual activity rhythms even without a central controlling agency (a pacemaker). Of much importance are also role-playing games in which, e.g., Wan acts the role of the director of a soap-producing factory, while Sui becomes—for the role-playing game session—the head of the commission that assesses the environmental pollution caused by the soap-producing factory.

The application of the cellular paradigm to human network structures holds special value because it enables creating innovative teams that “brain-storm” a challenging issue. As far as the environment including flora is concerned, the goal should be developing novel strategies of “green business” also known as bio-business. Its pivotal concept is that the success of a business should be evaluated, apart from the profit, also using criteria related to environmental protection. They boil down to the following main points (Vlavianos-Arvanitis and Oleskin, 1992; Vlavianos-Arvanitis, 2003):

  • Environment-protecting regulations that are compulsory for all business enterprises and prevent environmental pollution;

  • Tax policies that favor enterprises which make efforts to keep the environment clean and sanction those using environment-endangering raw materials or equipment;

  • Biological education that familiarizes people with practical biopolitical strategies

How should these measures be applied to businesses that, e.g., rely on petrochemicals as raw materials and pose the threat of polluting the environment with toxic products? How should they be adapted for the specific conditions in China, e.g., within the Shenzhen–Hong-Kong conurbation?

In my view, this is a situation that really calls for the collective creative work of a cellular paradigm-using team of enthusiasts. “Personality merging” during brain-storming sessions and role-playing games should result in producing specific detailed instructions for ‘green” businesspeople and the regulators that supervise their activities. The creative potential of such a “merged” network that is based on a unifying matrix of ideas and behavioral norms is expected to by far exceed that of each the network members should they work on their own.

2. Potential Application of the Rhizome Paradigm to Environmental Protection. This paradigm incorporates several principles that are of considerable social importance. First, each filament (hypha) in a fungal mycelium is a linear structure. Each of its parts (each cell in septed hypha) only interacts with two adjacent parts (cells). In business, an analog is a transaction based only on vertical interactions along the supplier producer wholesale dealer retail dealer customer pathway. As mentioned above, neighboring hyphae can branch, and their side branches can merge at some points. Hypha branching and fusion are analogous to the establishment of network-type connections that are beyond the routine vertical pathway; for instance, suppliers can be directly connected to dealers (bypassing the producer); alternatively, several suppliers or dealers can establish come into direct contact and cooperate. The establishment of direct horizontal links within the framework of a network structure that includes suppliers, producers, and dealers makes it possible to promptly respond to the customers’ suggestions, to customize the production.

Political decentralized networked movements often behave in conformity with the rhizome network paradigm. According to Deleuze and Guattari (2004 [1980]), connections among the lines of the rhizome structure form a “plateau”, i.e. a short-lived situational stability area in the constantly pulsating structure. In civil society, this stability area corresponds to a temporary consensus achieved between different networked movements in it,which enables formulating a joint communiqué on political issues. This communiqué can be then brought to the attention of the government.

Another socially relevant feature of many rhizome-type networks is their capacity to exist in two different forms, as a mycelium and as a group of separate yeast-like cells and, moreover, to interconvert between the two forms. This feature of rhizome-type networks, reminiscent of the quantum—wave dualism that is characteristic of photons in terms of quantum physics, can inspire, for instance the developers of dynamic business network alliances with changeable organizational forms.

And while the cellular network paradigm (see above) is expected to work efficiently at the stage of elaborating the basic principles of green business, the rhizome paradigm is likely to help us efficiently implement these principles in practical business acivities. The yeast-like cells  mycelium interconversion is analogous, in the business world, to the interconversion between a group of autonomous enterprises with only contractual interactions and a decentralized network working on a single project as a close-knit team, disregarding any bureaucratic barriers between the members of the networked team. Such a team is project-oriented and, therefore, it may be disbanded once completing the project, reminiscent of a mycelium that separates into yeast-like cells once the environmental conditions change.

A network’s work on a multi-stage project can involve repeated interconversion between (i) the independent functioning of each network member (or each small subnetwork) which necessarily results in competition among them and (ii) the operation of a close-knit team in which cooperation dominates over competition. Such a multi-stage project can, for instance, pursue the biopolitically important goal of Replacing Petrochemicals with Environment-Friendly Bio-Fuel (such as yeast-produced ethanol, bacterially synthesized butanol, and lignocelluloses made from wood). Introducing each of these bio-fuels could constitute a self-contained stage within the whole project to be carried out by a rhizome-type networked organization.

3. Potential Application of the Modular Paradigm to Environmental Protection. This subsection is also focused on the multi-faceted issue of developing environment-friendly and not plant resources-deteriorating “green business”.

In contrast to the cellular paradigm (see above), the modular paradigm implies that the individuality of each network element (module) is retained to a much greater extent, even though all the modules are connected by a single stalk (coenosarc), which is analogous to the common ideology that unites all network members in human society. Network elements can compete, and not only cooperate, with one another. Different network members have different individual work rhythms, and, therefore, competition promotes successful work at the level of the whole network thanks to the effect discussed above with reference to colonial cnidarians (Chapter 3, subsection 3): a single network member’s impact is potentiated if its behavior is in unison with that of a majority of other members in the modular network structure. “An analogous phenomenon is network-facilitated leverage. Each member who contributes some resources to the network may obtain access to a much larger pool of resources belonging to the whole network… Network-facilitated leverage can deal with material goods, information, social status, or communication facilities, depending on the types of resources that are collectively used by the network” (Oleskin, 2014, p.213).

Hence, the modular paradigm implies the creation of a self-contradictory situation that promotes creative tension and stress: network nodes (members), despite their competition, make progress in terms of the network’s project and promote shared values and goals, which represent an immaterial analog of the stalk that connects the zooids of colonial cnidarians. This immaterial matrix can be materialized by suggesting that network members should hold hands with one another, alternatively, that they should hold on to the same rope or rail (the human analog of the coenosarc). Since “every emotional state is imprinted on the matrix of the neuromuscular system” (Vachkov, 2001), the muscular tension that is associated with holding a hand or a rope strengthens cooperative behavior that is likely to override competitive behavior within the framework of the decentralized network structure.

What are the prospects for using the modular paradigm in terms of environmental protection? A prerequisite for environment-protecting activities is biopolitical education that is an essential part of the training program for new environmental enthusiasts. In terms of the environmental policies of modern China, it has been emphasized that education is to be efficiently used in order “to enhance the whole nation’s awareness of the environment” (Environmental Protection in China, 1996).

In the modern-day world, humans are constantly confronted with biology-related issues and problems. The syllabi at all education levels should, therefore, be supplemented with knowledge concerning living nature and related ethical values It is imperative that the students, regardless of their profession, should acquire sufficient knowledge concerning life and related ethical values. This means that the students, apart from possessing basic biological knowledge, should also assume a protective attitude towards life and the sense of responsibility for it. They should realize that they should stop doing harm to living nature because this is immoral, and not only because such behavior towards living nature endangers the life of humankind itself. Importantly, the students should be able to appreciate the beauty of the manifold of life as exemplified by a flower, a coral, or a bilayer lipid membrane. It is imperative that teaching biology and biopolitics should provide new foundations for the whole educational system (Oleskin, 2012, 2014).

An urgent task is to make good use of biopolitics and network science in order to develop social techniques of interactive teaching based on decentralized networks of students. A prerequisite for such techniques is the students’ active creative work and ongoing communication among them and between the students and the teacher as well as the use of psychological methods of stimulating the students’ work. Students should set up classroom network teams that do the creative tasks given by the teacher.

There are important reasons for choosing the modular network paradigm as the optimum organizational pattern of classroom creative teams. Each of such teams is to be considered a semi-autonomous module within the framework of a higher-order netwok that includes all students in the classroom. Like zooids, such modules are expected to solve problems in parallel, to compete with one another (which should increase their motivation) and nonetheless, to cooperate in terms of carrying out the same project, e.g., suggesting new legal and (bio)political regulations for the purpose of protecting the forest around the mountains near Shenzhen. Each of the teams (modules) is acquiring new knowledge and skills while doing creative tasks in the classroom; each of them also acquires its special team image and collective identity. However, all the modules are interconnected because they all deal with the same project, an immaterial analog of the coenosarc holding zooids together in a cnidarian colony.

4. Potential Application of the Equipotential Paradigm to Environmental Protection. The tendency toward minimizing individual differences and equalizing social ranks that is characteristic of an equipotential, leaderless fish school should find application in network structures in human society; this paradigm can be used, for example, in small and medium enterprises (SMEs). This is exemplified by 37 Signals, a computer software-producing firm in Chicago that really resembles a fish school. In one respect, the enterprise differs from a school composed of conspecifics (fish of the same species) and is similar to mixed shoals including different fish species, e.g., jackfish and barracudas (Pavlov and Kasumyan, 2003): the small-size team of workers is subdivided into subgroups with different specialization.

The team includes 8 programmers and 5 designers; there are no director positions (Freed, 2011). The only feature that makes the network slightly hierarchical is the position of the team leader. However, this role is rotatable, and each incumbent performs it only for one week (cf. the statement in Chapter 3, subsection 4 about “a chance individual that is the first to swim in a moving school” of fish). Promoting ambitious people might result in blocking the career of other efficient employees, and this is what the 37 Signals firm should never let happen, according to its website.

The present work concentrates on stimulating the efficiency of decentralized networks, and this subsection focuses on the potential application of the equipotential paradigm. Such networks tend to be leaderless, they lack even specialized partial leaders that are characteristic of other network types. The project carried out by such a network is not broken down into subprojects. All network members work in parallel on the same project, stage by stage. They accentuate not their individual differences, but rather their similarity, like the fish of the same school.

What are the advantages of the parallel mode of operation of an equipotential network?

First, the parallel functioning of many network nodes enhances the network’s robustness and reliability in the face of stress factors.

Second, the collaboration of many nodes synergistically increases the intellectual power of the whole collective “information processer”, comparable to a distributed system of computers.

The integrity of a fish school is highlighted by the fact that it has a clear geometric shape. A moving fish school often resembles a rhombus in shape, a school staying in one place may be doughnut-shaped, whereas a school of predatory fish prefers the shape of a crescent. Likewise, creating a network-level geometric image is expected to promote the creative work of a network structure in human society. For instance, all network members during a brain-storming session might collectively form a doughnut or a rhombus figure. From the psychological viewpoint, the geometric image of the whole network s expected to influence the performance of its members.

Importantly, flat leaderless structures that reveal much similarity to fish schools in organizational terms, have been already established in the field of environmental conservation. Such organizational principles—and the important role of informal interactions among network members—are stipulated in the official documents of the Socio-Ecological Union (SEU) that has been in operation in Russia and some other republics of the former Soviet Union. The SEU has succeeded in bringing together the “people who are ready to work for our common future” (SEU, 2019). Since its institution in December 1988, the Union has lacked a “vertical power structure”. Each SEU member is encouraged to take action independently, in compliance with the SEU Statutes. Even though the SEU structure includes the Chairpersons’Council and the Head Office, these bodies do not control the SEU members, they merely assist them in the activities in which they decide to engage and provide them with detailed relevant information.

5. Potential Application of the Eusocial Paradigm to Environmental Protection. Although the term “eusocial” was originally coined with reference to the colonies of social insects, it also applies, to a large extent, to network structures that are formed by plant communities and ecosystems (see Chapter 3, subsection 5 of this work). Netork following this pattern include a number of partial “team leaders” that nonhierachically interact to form a flat higher-order network.

Table 1. Network paradigms in the plant world and their application to human society as exemplified by creative network teams tasked with protecting plant resources. Note: the Table also includes the egalitarian paradigm that is not widely used by plants but is also applicable to network teams.(according to: Oleskin, 2018, modified)


Implementation in biological systems

Typical examples

Implementation in human society in terms of environmental conservation


Behavior coordination depends on cell–cell contacts and distant communicative signals. The system is consolidated by the matrix, an extracellular biopolymer structure


biofilms of microorganisms, cell cultures

A biofilm analog is a structure made up of human individuals that are cemented by ideas, myths, and spiritual values. The structure can develop guidelines for green business activities


The paradigm is characteristic of biological systems that contain many uniform units (modules); the predominant organizational pattern is flat (leaderless)

Colonial cnidarians, bryozoans, and ascidians

Creativity-promoting stress is caused by the tension between competition among nodes and cooperation in terms of the network’s project, e.g. a classroom task given to a student team


Nodes and links cannot be distinguished. The network consists of filaments (hyphae, rhizoids, roots) as uniform elements: the network can interconvert between a system of filaments and a group of separate cells

Mycelial fungi, plant rhizomes (rootstock)

The paradigm can inspire social engineers that create dynamic network alliances with changeable structures that do multi-stage tasks (e.g., assess the ecological effects of costructing a new road)


In the absence of a leader, a chance individual temporarily occupies the foremost position in the network structure. Individual differences among nodes in one network are minimized

Many fish species, cephalopodes,, intra-population plant groups

Such completely flat networks are exemplified by “smart crowds”, small-size creative teams, and environmental bodies such as the Socio-Ecological Union


Teams of active specialists with situational leaders form a part of a flat higher-order structure. Such active teams interact with a pool of mobilizable generalists

Ants, termites, bees, naked mole rats, plant com-munities and ecosystems

Working teams with temporary leaders interact with non-specialized network members within higher-order networks, e.g., small environmental teams that combine to deal with large-scale projects


Neural networks are capable of collective information processing and decision-making. “…Neural networks can create the image of the whole object based on its fragments” (Oleskin, 2014)

Animal or human nervous systems and their analogs

Working teams with temporary leaders interact with non-specialized network members. SeeFig. 2


Based on individual freedoms; respect for high-ranking members; and loose links between network members

Chimpanzees,bonobos, capuchins, muriquis

The paradigm is applicable to networked labs emphasizing independent individual creativity and the patronizing role of high-ranking network members

Another feature of many eusocial structures of insects that can be creatively used in human society is that specialized worker teams with their leaders co-exist with a pool of non-specialized network members; they are potentially ready to make their contribution to any kind of job. For instance, non-specialized ants are mobilized whenever an anthill is attacked by enemies. Notably, a similar principle of combining steams of specialists with a pool of generalists supporting them.

It is to be hoped that efficient measures for protecting the flora of any region of the planet will be promoted by setting up small temporary hierarchical teams (with team leaders) that will be embedded in the matrix of a higher-order horizontal networkthat has the potential to carry out large-scale projects that require costly equipment for assessing such environmental characteristics as the pollutant concentration, the radioactivity background level, or the intensity of plant photosynthesis and respiration.