Reading Mitch Ratcliffe's reply to my earlier post, and his subsequent entry, I was struck by something that's troublesome about the idea of organisation in emergent politics. It was the example of the ants that made it clearer. The emergent behaviour of the ant colony isn't produced in order to allow each ant to choose what it thinks is best for itself: it's produced in order to make sure that the colony does what's best for the survival of the colony, in the long term, regardless of the views of individual ants.
As Stephen Wolfram has studied in great depth, emergent behaviour follows from unambiguous following of simple rules. By defining the rules in which the ants interact, their behaviour can be moulded to produce a predetermined outcome. To apply this to a political situation could be dangerous, as it means those that decide the rules are also determining the outcome. Unless, of course, the players are also able to vote on changing the rules as they go along in a Nomic style. Or there are no rules.
Wolfram showed that some sets of rules governing simple 2D cellular automata could produce behaviour that always reached the same, stable conclusion, regardless of the starting conditions, while other sets of rules lead to chaotic, unpredictable outcomes. I'd like to think that emergentism in political terms could be seen, not as the fixing of a set of rules which produced a stable configuration that the authors thought to be desirable, but as the production of circumstances which remained regulated while allowing the kind of fluctuations and possibilities for interaction that would allow new courses to be taken by individuals or groups whenever and wherever they deemed necessary.