As things get bigger, it's not just the scale that changes. Something else fundamental changes too. Working for a small company is not the same as working in a big multinational; their whole way of doing things is different. Governments make decisions that seem nonsensical to individuals. The death of one person is a tragedy: the death of a million is a statistic. When you change the scale of something, more of the same thing ends up being different. Paracelsus, the medieval alchemist, put it like this: 'Substances are not poisonous, dosages are.' Friedrich Engels put it more precisely: 'a quantitative change, sooner or later, becomes a qualitative one.' A popular bumper sticker makes the point more succinctly: 'You are not stuck in traffic; you are traffic.' The anomie of the modern world is caused by massive changes in scale without the requisite changes in attitudes, institutions and social mechanisms. There is confusion between hierarchical levels. Perception has become reality. There has been no easy way to express these themes - these disorders of magnitude - in a single word. Until now, that is...Catataxis, a neologism from the Greek for 'level confusion', explains why many of today's problems are caused by using yesterday's tools in an inappropriately scaled modern context.
Disparate issues such as celebrity culture, banking regulation, global warming, the war on terror, soaring CEO's salaries, internet security, unrepresentative democracy, spin doctors and political correctness can all be linked to a single underlying concept: more of the same is different.