The Conservative Paradox: Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa (1896-1957)

Having read much about societal collapse including Jared Diamond’s fine book “Collapse”, I wonder if all civilizations are brought down by what I call the Conservative Paradox. The very movement or school of thought that attempts to preserve society, that movement brings it down.

How might this work?

Jonathan Haidt’s work “The Righteous Mind” suggests that conservatives value hierarchy, in group loyalty and the sacredness they apply to these constructs. But unfortunately I suspect that makes them fearful of threats to these constructs, things that threaten their sacred, hierarchical in group status quo. And they fear these threats more than they fear the destruction of civilization itself.

So they fail to grasp the Conservative novelist Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s in fine his novel the Leopard:
Things have to change so they can remain the same.”
Society’s hierarchy, it’s tribal nature and what it holds sacred has to change for civilization to survive. In our case what is needed is a more egalitarian society, a therefore more stable society, that transcends tribalism and creates global alliances to save the planet and punishes free riders. A society that makes the Planet the focus of the sacred, not hierarchy or one tribe.

So for our civilization to survive, for conservatism to survive and contribute to it, it has to change as Lampedusa suggests.

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The Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946)

“When the accumulation of wealth is no longer of high social importance, there will be great changes in the code of morals. We shall be able to rid ourselves of many of the pseudo-moral principles which have hag-ridden us for two hundred years, by which we have exalted some of the most distasteful of human qualities into the position of the highest virtues. We shall be able to afford to dare to assess the money-motive at its true value. The love of money as a possession — as distinguished from the love of money as a means to the enjoyments and realities of life — will be recognized for what it is, a somewhat disgusting morbidity, one of those semi-criminal, semi-pathological propensities which one hands over with a shudder to the specialists in mental disease.

John Maynard Keynes, “Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren”


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Walls versus Windmills

So fitting:

When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills.

Chinese Proverb


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Amazing Prescience from Carl Sagan (1934-1996)

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The UK/EU Restoration Movement

UK now having left the EU, time for:

The UK/EU Restoration Movement:

1) Keep connected, keep our spirits up, support each other
2) Try to get a good Labour Leader sympathetic to our cause
3) Join political parties to gently advocate our cause
4) Bide our time, counting on the demographic dividend: Brexiters dying off, Pro Europeans getting the vote
5) Highlight every Brexit disaster and keep using the word Brexit over and over again, never let them them hide it
6) Support closer personal and trade links with the EU and learn their languages and follow EU developments
7) As the disasters, unfold advocate Restoration of the links to Restore the economy and our place in the world: part of Europe
8) Eventually full on drive for the Restoration of the free movement of people, goods and services as our right as Europeans leading to rejoining.
9) Develop economic policies to make the most of EU Restoration for all of the regions of Britain
10) Be prepared for set backs and learn from mistakes


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Colonel John Boyd’s (1927-97) The OODA Loop

Thanks to our correspondent Kakatoa for pointing out the link between Double Loop Learning and the OODA Loop of Colonel Boyd: here is the latter: from Wikipedia:

The OODA loop has become an important concept in litigation, business, law enforcement and military strategy.  According to Boyd, decision making occurs in a recurring cycle of OODA: Observe–Orient–Decide–Act. An entity (whether an individual or an organization) that can process this cycle quickly, observing and reacting to unfolding events more rapidly than an opponent, can thereby “get inside” the opponent’s decision cycle and gain the advantage.

Boyd developed the concept for fighter pilots operating at high speed to explain how to direct one’s energies to defeat an adversary and survive. Boyd emphasized that “the loop” is actually a set of interacting loops that are to be kept in continuous operation during combat. He also indicated that the phase of the battle has an important bearing on the ideal allocation of one’s energies.

Boyd’s diagram shows that all decisions are based on observations of the evolving situation tempered with implicit filtering of the problem being addressed. The observations are the raw information on which decisions and actions are based. The observed information must be processed to orient it for decision making. In notes from his talk “Organic Design for Command and Control”, Boyd said:

The second O, orientation—as the repository of our genetic heritage, cultural tradition, and previous experiences—is the most important part of the O-O-D-A loop since it shapes the way we observe, the way we decide, the way we act.

As stated by Boyd and shown in the “Orient” box, there is much filtering of the information through our culture, genetics, ability to analyze and synthesize, and previous experience. Since the OODA loop was designed to describe a single decision maker, the situation is usually much more complex than shown, as most business and technical decisions have a team of people observing and orienting, each bringing their own cultural traditions, genetics, experience and other information. It is here that decisions often get stuck, which does not lead to winning, because:

In order to win, we should operate at a faster tempo or rhythm than our adversaries—or, better yet, get inside [the] adversary’s Observation-Orientation-Decision-Action time cycle or loop … Such activity will make us appear ambiguous (unpredictable) thereby generate confusion and disorder among our adversaries—since our adversaries will be unable to generate mental images or pictures that agree with the menacing, as well as faster transient rhythm or patterns, they are competing against


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How Not to Negotiate Trade Deals Post Brexit

Lifted from the UK Guardian comments this morning. Says it all really. And I post this for conflict and negotiation interest rather than a specifically Brexit point though despite my old friend Bill Ury teaching the British Cabinet Interest Based Bargaining in person at the start of the whole sorry process, there is no sign that any of them understand interest-based bargaining. Not so the EU who are past masters at it.

“So, let’s do a quick tally.
We’ve told the home countries – NI, Scotland and Wales to fuck off.
We’ve told that nice Mr Varadker to sling his hook.
We’ve told the EU to fuck right off and we’re not going to play with their ball. Ever.
On the other hand:
We’ve asked the US to extradite the wrong-way driver, and been told to fuck off.
We’ve been told by India that unless we open our borders to them we can fuck right off.
We’ve dumped the cost of protecting a pair of Royals on Canada.
The Australians haven’t stopped laughing.
Mr Putin sends his regards.
And next Monday we start trade negotiations. I wonder how they’ll go?”

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Blessed are the Peace Makers: Seamus Mallon (1936-2020)

From UK Tortoise News Feed:

The most under-noted news of last week was the death of Seamus Mallon the 83 year-old former deputy first minister of Northern Ireland and deputy leader of the SDLP – the moderate nationalist party. He was part of the coalition of leaders of the SDLP who forged the Good Friday Agreement – an achievement of that party more than anyone else.

Mallon will always be in the shadow of John Hume, the Nobel-winning party leader and all-round visionary. But Mallon had a critical role. He was Hume’s John the Baptist, as one joke had it. Mallon kept the party together during the long march, while Hume got the photocalls. He put the hours in at Westminster, and in the province. He lived in danger, an excoriating opponent of violence. Few will mourn at more funerals than Mallon did.

Mallon’s memoir A Shared Home Place released last year, repays reading; politicians can be serious. They can be of a place, and for it. They can read and think. Modernity is not the enemy of seriousness. The plaudits to Mallon from all parts of Northern Irish society are evidence of his success.

A life well lived. RIP Seamus Mallon

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Arguing with Friends of Friends on Facebook: Ad Hominems and All

I have these arguments with friends of friends (FoF) on FB. My friends know better. 🙂 I post a typical fairly pessimistic political comment with say three points and some evidence/argument for each. This is what I think is going on….sort of thing. And a FB Friend reposts them.

FoF then replies saying I am talking nonsense or ad hominems me: you are an X. Often their attack is what I perceive as “ideological” aka distorts reality to fit their belief system.

I politely reply, asking for point by point refutation or data to show that what I am saying is indeed nonsense.

FoF shrilly re-asserts the opposite of my points without argument or evidence

I add some more data to support my points.

FoF gets even more upset and denounces me as knowing nothing about history or economics or whatever the topic. And/or calls me an ideologue.

I say I am an historian and economist by training, studied these subjects for 55 years, but say I am quite open to being wrong, often am, can you show me how with argument or data? And that I never distort data on what is, to fit my beliefs.

FoF says I am just playing games

I say actually this “game” is called arguing point counter point with data and argument and has been going on for 5000 or more years that we know of.

FoF: sulky silence or further abuse.

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Beating Trump in 2020 as Per Deng Xiaoping

So roughly to answer a friend’s question how is Trump to be beaten? Assuming the election is close, which in Electoral College terms is likely, then it will be decided by a few hundred thousand voters in Wisc, Michigan, Penn. If Ohio and Florida roll in Dem then its not close.

The last election may well have been lost by Trump lies, Comey, Jill Stein, Russian hackers, but that only counted cos it was close in Electoral College terms.

These swing voters that delivered us to Trump, in the main voted President Obama twice and then voted Trump once. So it is hard to call them bigots, deplorables etc. And hardly helps if you do. Absent either party actually representing a real economic New Deal, they voted challenge status quo and maybe identity: proud Deplorables?

The only real issue that matters this year is how to swing them back? What credible policies, what personal identification with the candidate, what political message? Right now I rather doubt the Dems have this? And personally I guess my money would be on Pete Buttigieg, but that is very subjective and I am far from convinced.

What do you reckon?

As one of these voters in Michigan put it in a Guardian report: “If the Democrats don’t have a compelling policy answer to address people’s actual problems, then they’re just going to keep being resentful and keep voting for the most spiteful right wing people.”

The mid terms suggest healthcare may be part of that, but incredible Medicare for All in one step hardly cuts it for me. A public option to Obamacare carefully pitched more likely.

I would also add my favorite quote from former leader of China, Deng Xiaoping (1904-1997): “I don’t care if a cat is black or white so long as it catches mice.” Insert Trump for mice.

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