Alternative Scenarios for a Trump Presidency after Peter Schwartz

I like the work of Peter Schwartz on scenario based futuring: telling 3 or 4 alternative stories about the future to avoid having one official future optimistic or pessimistic. He suggests we have for instance: one future that is current trends continued, one that is far worse, one far better and one completely different.

So to help envision Trump’s Presidency here are four scenarios/stories. They are intended to be all held in mind not picked or given probabilities. They are about tolerance of ambiguity to allow thinking. By all means add a scenario or suggest one is totally not going to happen, but spare me telling me you have a crystal ball: the future is pretty indeterminate and this is more about mentally opening to it, so as to head off or push trends. Schwartz suggests we use memorable titles for each scenario. And of course we may get combo sandwiches:

1) White Supremacy Kamikaze: Trump goes with his Breitbart supporters and really tries to reverse the demographic clock, mass deports, and uses the apparatus of state to screw his enemies and permanently weaken the Democrats. He makes America isolationist and climate change boosting and women/minorities oppressing. Fascism by any other name would taste as sour.
2) Plutocratic Optimization. Pence would ensure/continue Republican tax cuts for the rich and most of the Bush 2 policies and stay clear of long term demographic suicide and trade wars but screw Obamacare and continue the rigging of the political system to prevent the demographic trends in future elections, so a sort of White Supremacy lite
3) Trump Towers: Trump become a Keynesian like Hitler and his autobahns and goes for fiscal stimulus by the $ trillions in infrastructure and defense spending. Avoids anything especially White Supremacy, relying instead on bread and circuses reality TV smoke and mirrors to make the base Base think their identity is being protected and to avoid stoking opposition and the waking up of the abstainers from their sleep. And he doesn’t do much on climate change either way.
4) Trump Chaos. The conflicting forces in the GOP and Trump’s own personality cause a deep swampy mess and his Presidency teeters on and is easy to counter in the mid-terms.
Or “now for something completely different”

Personally for the Democrats #3 is the most threatening, especially if they continue not to get their strategic shit together and silo away and leader ego away and continue to be bureaucratically un nimble as my local Dems seem to be aka party in brewery incapable of organizing.

What do you think?

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Principled Resistance Principles

I responded to my friends’ election result despair with this riff:

Principled Resistance Principles: 
• The System is what needs to change
• To change the System we need to understand it deeply as it is and as it works
• You cannot hack a System you don’t understand
• Moral indignation is a great emotional motor, but no substitute for understanding the System to change it
• The personal is the political is the personal: we need to support each other morally and emotionally and intellectually in the quest to change the System
• We need to listen to each other, as well as study and understand the people we oppose, the servants of the System. And learn to debate to generate better solutions.
• We need to be economics literate, but mindful of: no planet no economy, no economy no humanity
• We need to be numerate and base our strategy on evidence and debate not on orthodoxies or sound bites
• We need to learn from our mistakes in the recent past and learn from our future mistakes as we make them, without blame. The only blame is for the failure to learn.
• We need to be strategic and make tough choices: there are trade-offs, Rome was not built in a day and purist approaches, the Vision without a Path, hand the system stability that it doesn’t deserve
• We need to leverage the cognitive diversity of the progressive coalition to find creative new solutions that win the strategic battles
• We cannot be silos of identity politics: we need to connect and align the interests of all parts of the progressive coalition and focus on strategically meeting our common interests as well as respecting our specific interests and meeting the needs of those outside our coalition: the wider We the People, who have turned against us
• The drive for greater equality is a possible organizing and connecting principle for our environmental, racial, sexual orientation and gender justice, employment, economic stability, immigration, health and education politics
• We are starting a Long March through our political and economic system: attention span is measured in years and resilience vital in the face of set backs
• We need to understand and find ways to counter Post Truth Politics of the Trump variety

Posted in Conflict History, Conflict Processes, Creativity and Conflict, Economic Conflict, Environmental Conflict, US Political Conflict, Ways to handle conflict | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

Systemic Thinking and Trump’s Environmental Policies

I thought two past posts on the work of Gregory Bateson (1904-1980) and his “Steps to an Ecology of Mind” worth reposting given what Trump is proposing to do to the planet: 
“On the one hand, have the systemic nature of the individual human being, the systemic nature of the culture in which he lives, and the systemic nature of the biological, ecological system around him; and, on  the other hand, the curious twist in the systemic nature of the individual man whereby consciousness is, almost of necessity, blinded to the systemic nature of man himself. Purposive consciousness pulls out, from the total mind, sequences which do not have the loop structure which is characteristic of the whole systemic structure. If you follow the ‘common sense’ dictates of consciousness you become effectively, greedy and unwise – again I use unwise as a word of recognition of and guidance by a knowledge of the total systemic creature.

Lack of systemic wisdom is always punished. We say that the biological systems – the individual, culture, and the ecology – are partly living sustainers of their component cells or organisms. But the systems nevertheless punishing of any species unwise enough to quarrel with its ecology. Call the systemic forces ‘God’ if you will.”


“If you put God outside and set him vis a vis his creation and if you have the idea that you are created in his image, you will logically and naturally see yourself as outside and against the things around you. And as you arrogate all mind to yourself, you will see the world around you as mindless and therefore not entitled to moral or ethical considerations. The environment will seem to be yours to exploit. You survival unit will be you and your folks or conspecifics against the environment or other social units, other races, and the brutes and vegetables.

If this is your estimate of your relation to nature and you have an advanced technology, your likelihood of survival will be that of a snowball in hell. You will die either of the toxic by-products of your own hate, or, simply of over-population and over-grazing. The raw materials of the world are finite.”


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US Presidential Election: Cut Out the Panic that the World Will End on November 9th if Trump Wins

I am getting tired of all this the-world-will-end-on-November 9th if Trump is elected. It will all take time.

  • Violently deporting 11 million undocumented immigrants will not take place immediately, but may take a few months to get really going after the Inauguration (which will presumably be based on the Nuremberg Rally model).
  • Making abortion illegal and jailing women who have had abortions in the past that will take time and a new Supreme Court justice.
  • Increasing the rate of police shootings and the paramilitary deaths squads takes time to organize, based on the Argentinian experience, but expect early practice.
  • Crashing the global economy may take up to a year.
  • Breaking all treaty obligations can be done quite fast: climate change, Iran disarmament: an afternoon’s work I suspect.
  • NATO may take a bit longer.
  • Increased subsidies for fossil fuels and closing down alternative energy sources, building lots more pipelines through sacred sites will take a few months if Congress is supportive.
  • Abolishing the EPA, CDC and other pesky government agencies can be done in a year or so.
  • Repealing Dodds Franks and greatly reducing taxes on the rich: a year maybe.
  • And I can’t predict how soon Trump will start the nuclear war that 20% of his supporters apparently when polled expect him to deliver, but surely it must be in his first term for credibility and narcissism sake?

    All good stuff for the Bernie holdouts, Steinistas and absentionists, who all believe it has to get far worse before it gets better, rather like the German Communist Party (KPD) in 1932…50 million dead in WW2 later they were not so sure. Let’s hope we can do it for fewer dead this time, but don’t count on it.

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The Theory of Constraints and US Politics

In manufacturing there is something called the Theory of Constraints. The Theory of Constraints is a methodology for identifying the most important limiting factor (i.e. constraint) that stands in the way of achieving a goal and then systematically improving that constraint until it is no longer the limiting factor. In manufacturing, the constraint is often referred to as a bottleneck. And fixing it is part of Lean Manufacturing disciplines. I have seen it done and its impact is very powerful.

See also:

By any systemic analysis the Republican Party are the main constraint on almost anything today in US politics. Magical thinking that Hillary Clinton by an act of will can pass legislation does not help much nor will her critics saying at the end of 4 years she wasn’t radical enough.

She faces a Congress gerrymandered to oppose her. She faces a lunatic media machine just getting going against her. And she will face progressives who have no plan to take back Congress, fix gerrymandering, and solve the media attack machine issue, let alone appeal to the 40% who have been driven to loath the Democrats, loath minorities and immigrants and continue to show contempt for women. President Bill Clinton was good at triangulating, but now I hear that isn’t good enough. We are hearing progressive purists wanting the world and wanting it now. Where’s the plan Stan?

Progress in a democracy is about deal making to create coalitions that pass legislation. What Bismark called political sausage making: best not to know what is in there. Sometimes you have to agree to things you don’t much like to get the things you do like. And there are tough trade offs like fracking reduces dependence on middle east oil so reduces need for US to fight wars there. Not advocating it, just noting that most policy involves trade offs.

And in those countries with strong third parties and coalition governments, it is even more about behind closed doors deal making than in a two party system. Go check Italy, Greece, Spain, Germany and the UK during the recent coalition.

So progress if we can get past our fascist viral outbreak, will depend on deft operation of the Theory of Constraints. Any politically inclined manufacturing engineers out there willing to lend a creative helping hand to the Clinton Rock and Roll Band?

Posted in Conflict Processes, Creativity and Conflict, PERSONAL CONFLICT RESOLUTION: CREATIVE STRATEGIES, Philosophy of Conflict, US Political Conflict, Ways to handle conflict | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Trump Take Down: Clinton Debate Strategy

This blog usually focuses on trying to achieve non Zero sum creative outcomes. But faced with some extremely dangerous opponents, it is sometimes necessary to simply take them down in order to avoid a massively negative sum game outcome. Thus Trump.

And here is a good analysis of the take down of Trump by Hillary Clinton:


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Conflict Handling: Michael Clayton Movie

I love the movie Michael Clayton for its insights into corporate pathology. But I think this scene below is also a perfect introduction into the process of helping one side in an impending conflict great real about their situation and come to see their interests and the way forward, against their magical thinking that they can get away with something.

I also think that something like this could be said by British Chancellor Philip Hammond over Brexit discussions in the British cabinet.

The key lines are:

"There's no play here. 
There's no angle.
There's no champagne room.  
I'm not a miracle worker, I'm a janitor.  
The math on this is simple.  
The smaller the mess,
the easier it is for me to clean up."


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