Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Autolysis and Blowback

Political and corporate elites must compete with rivals and threats to their power, as they have throughout history. In the Cold War, everything became a weapon towards these ends, even art. As the nation state expands into byzantine bureaucracies and ensuring accountability becomes more difficult, there can be two approaches.

The simplistic and easy one is the knee-jerk one, relying solely on brute force and entrenching corruption instead of trying to combat it. The problems are over time, you treat the symptoms (instead of the causes) of your problem. For example, if you shoot whoever says the trains are late, it does not make them run on time (as opposed to improving infrastructure). Media censorship tends to have that effect.

The alternative is try to fix things, even a superficial effort. It has the benefits of channeling that rage into your political foes, but also could make you a lightning rod for their efforts. A drawback with both approaches, however, is the top down structure. It can be very hard for a leader to make decisions when they are not directly positioned there. Perhaps a savvy elite would aim to relocalize a good deal of the decision making, while they just sit back and relax?

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Soviet Daze

The center cannot hold. The United States has made many of the same errors as its Cold War nemesis, the late Soviet Union. From gulags, to invasive border searches, to economic mismanagement, to ignoring corruption, to costly interventions in Afghanistan, to targeted secret assassination, to suppression of whistle-blowers, and failing infrastructure, the similarities start to outweigh the differences.  

One issue is that over two centuries of legislative process, there exist many laws on the books that are contradictory, bizarre, and downright strange. Imagine if for profit prisons, combined with drones and surveillance, begin enforcing them selectively in ways that targets political opponents. Who needs a public secret police force when the whole thing is privatized and for profit? Of course, the system requires taxpayer money to function, so the difference between 'socialism' and 'capitalism' is largely non-existent.

Many of the few productive centers of US business (thus excluding financial speculation, guard labor, patent/copyright trolling, and polluting resource extraction sectors) want out. As empires falter, the richer sectors try to leave, the educated flee for greener pastures, and the poor are thrown to the dogs. The recent debt circus merely postponed the next act until early 2014, by which time many of the larger players' flight from the US dollar may be well underway. So many matches could ignite the oily remains of the petrodollar economy. Who knows which will be the straw that breaks the camel's back? 

Monday, 14 October 2013


A similar prediction to this blog was made by the UN recently. It depicts a future where special economic zones replace conventional nation states. Given the technological movements towards relocalization, so called 'para-states' could eventually replace current states. The catastrophic mismanagement of the Soviet, and currently the US, UK, and EU, is stirring up countless protests. Separation and relocalization, I believe, will dissect the conventional nation states. On the other side, smaller nation states can adapt easily to such a world: Iceland, Switzerland, Singapore, and New Zealand being my personal favorites to watch. How long can the center hold? We shall see. 

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Creative Annihilation

Sometimes, a force comes that simply utterly annihilates and obliterates what came before it. More often, it is a slow and gradual process as a status quo adapts and readapts to a new balance of powers. Other times, however, it can be a single, overwhelming force that truly is the stuff of legend and nightmare alike.

Destruction events can provide a clean slate, and not just in human history. Mass extinctions in Earth history usher in new types of dominant life, from dinosaurs and the age of mammals. Native Americans were nearly annihilated by European diseases, while colonists would swoop in to seize the freed real estate.

The destruction occurs when the ability of a system to adjust is overwhelmed by its ability to respond and reform, when the body fails to the pathogen. From barbarian invasions to plague biology, natural selection tends to favor the adaptive. While more specialized animals (the fastest, the smartest, the strongest, etc.) may die off, the common types endure. Compare machinery that can be built in caves to an over-complicated piece of crap. However, once the initial shock is gone, specialization occurs again. Such is a natural process of biology and economics alike. The lesson, however, is to have backups in case the over-specialized and delicate things fail. Because they will.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Brinksmanship: Applied Supervillainy

Due to American political dysfunction, the government shutdown is a thing. While there have been shutdowns before, there are almost always overhyped. It is ironic that such a system promotes brinksmanship, as opposed to reasoned debate. Such is a symptom of dysfunction.