adrienne marie brown wrote Emergent Strategy after being inspired by Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower. Although I disagreed with many of Brown’s ideas because they were idealistic and based on subjectivity, I most importantly disagreed with her introduction, where she denounces critical thinking and encourages the reader not to seek any flaws in her logic. Nevertheless, there is an obvious connection to “The System.” In this brief I will mostly ignore the self-help philosophy sections and instead focus on how emergence relates to the system.
The System emerges from humans. While the abstract idea of “The System” would still exist without humans, more specific examples like the economy and race would not. Last class, during group discussions, my group was asked if there were an outside of the system. Given what I have read in brown’s book about emergence, it seems like the practical answer to that question is no. If the System emerges from humans plural, one could only live outside of it by living completely without other humans, which is practically impossible.
Since The System is made up of humans, it is directly affected by those humans think. Brown calls this the imagination battle. “Imagination,” brown says, “gives us borders, gives us superiority, gives us race as an indicator of capability.” (18) This imagination battle is the conflicting ideas that are present in our culture and that contribute to instability. Brown says we must imagine a new world with our own ideas. In other words, we have the power to change The System. Easier said than done.
This raises important questions for me. Is there a point of having a class called The System? Given we are students at a liberal arts University who applied to be in this optional class, I (hopefully) assume we all agree about very basic race issues and gender issues, e.g. black people are equal to white people and men are equal to women. Can we change the system by only talking about it in class? Brown says, “the more people collaborate on [this] ideation, the more people will be served by the resulting world,” but would our time be better spent fighting the “imagination battle” directly? (19) e.g. talking to people who don’t believe men are equal to women etc.