Sunday, April 19, 2015

Packs Off a plane, home for 26 hours, on the road, home for twelve hours and on a plane, then home for less than nine and on a plane again. And something is happening to my internal wiring, because (so far) I don't appear to be burning out on people. This is more exhilarating than exhausting. We'll see if that keeps up.

And the to-do list is somewhere between ambitious and overwhelming. Especially the writing section. And it's imperative to fight the paralysis that comes with having an excess of worthy goals. Things to do, things to do...

So let's make this quick.

Very few things are zero sum games. Outside of artificially imposed stuff (like the rules in a game. There are only sixteen chess pieces per side, only so many pieces of property in Monopoly) the only truly non-zero sums I can think of are space (literally the surface of the earth) and chemical elements, like Fe, iron. And exposed to human creativity, even those can be tweaked. There are only so many acres in Manhattan, but a skyscraper vastly increases the useable acreage by thinking in three dimensions. Money may have been a zero-sum game when we were on the gold or silver standard (although even then, it was never limited to one metal) but it certainly isn't now, and wealth never has been zero-sum.

Power, absolutely is not zero-sum. Increasing your intelligence does not decrease mine. Becoming more creative will not make me less creative. Your reps in the gym do not prevent me from doing my own reps (ooooh, though-- waiting in line for a squat rack is a zero-sum game. Limited resource of a specific object...until you apply human creativity and go outside and lift rocks.)

Power does have the effect of making other people who want to use power to coerce think. Coercion over powerless people has zero consequences. Coercion over powerful people is always risky. And thus evil people want to be surrounded by all the weak people possible. And they will claim that others getting strong is weakening them.

And look at the mechanics of that one very carefully. Because te other side is to claim that weakening the strong somehow, magically, strengthens the weak.

From a conversation with Anna Valdisseri when we talked in Sheffield. (I like the way she thinks, that's one of my highest compliments.) She had a unique way of looking at it. As best I can paraphrase:
Humans live in groups. We're social animals. When we see ourselves as pack animals we know that becoming more powerful as individuals makes the pack stronger. It's better for everyone. When we see ourselves as herd animals, we want all the other members to be weak because it increases our chances. If everyone is weak, the wolf will get someone else.

When something bad happens and hits the news, is your instinct to learn more and train harder so that you have options if it should ever happen around you? I started carrying regularly after the Luby's shooting in Texas because I realized I could not have contributed unarmed. If your instinct is to randomly disempower the people around you when bad things happen, that's a herd mentality.

Actually wrote this three weeks ago but stumbled on an internal monkey brain problem in the middle. Took a while to work it out.


Jason Azze said...

You are on your way to re-deriving libertarian political philosophy from first principles, and I like it.

Jose Tadeo said...

Another thing to consider is that those with the herd mentality resent those that take the steps to become strong because it sheds light on their laziness and complacency. If everyone around you is weak and lazy, they feel good about themselves, if someone is stepping above the herd, then it creates an unflattering contrast.

Maija said...

A thought -
Herds are prey and their behavior is based on not getting eaten.
Packs are predators and their behavior is based on eating.

Humans seem to sit in the middle somewhere as containing in them both prey and predator.

Prey behavior is passive, predator behavior is active.

Interesting thought is if you can change those who FEEL like prey, into predators, and perhaps vice versa too ...?

pax said...

Reminded me of Marko Kloos' excellent essay, Why the Gun is Civilization.