Shadi Hamid is Wrong Again

Why does the Atlantic pay Shadi Hamid?  He’s like the King of Wrong on both American government and Islam.  The only thing i can figure out is that Hamid is the token soi disant muslim.  Here is the latest affront to our intelligence.

Presidentialism can work fine when there is basic consensus over what it means to be a citizen and what it means to be a nation. But the United States no longer enjoys such a consensus. The country is now polarized along cultural, ethnic, and ideological lines. There are, quite literally and not just figuratively, two Americas.

The consensus in a presidential system depends on electoral parity, which is increasingly a thing of the past in America.

In a complex adaptive system like US government the Cooperation/Competion Paradigm is critical for an equilibrium system.  (note: all CA systems are either equilibrium systems, in transition, or non-equilibrium systems– what the legendary Hungarian mathematician John Von Neuman called “non-elephants”)

Dr. Baranger:

Finally, there is one more property of complex systems that concerns all of us very closely, which makes it especially interesting. Actually it concerns all social systems, all collections of organisms subject to the laws of evolution. Examples could be plant populations, animal populations, other ecological groupings, our own immune system, and human groups of various sizes such as families, tribes, city-states, social or economic classes, sports teams, Silicon Valley dotcoms, and of course modern nations and supranational corporations. In order to evolve and stay alive, in order to remain complex, all of the above need to obey the following rule:
Complexity involves an interplay between cooperation and competition.
Once again this is an interplay between scales. The usual situation is that competition on scale n is nourished by cooperation on the finer scale below it (scale n+ 1). Insect colonies like ants, bees, or termites provide a spectacular demonstration of this. For a sociological example, consider the bourgeois families of the 19th century, of the kind described by Jane Austen or Honore de Balzac. They competed with each other toward economic success and toward procuring the most desirable spouses for their young people. And they succeeded better in this if they had the unequivocal devotion of all their members, and also if all their members had a chance to take part in the decisions.
When the US had rough electoral parity there was incentive to compromise.  But as the GOP remains lily white and the percentage of non-hispanic caucasians continues to drop, a presidential system devolves towards a zero-sum game, and the only way for republicans to “win” is to cheat (Sinner in TFT), or not to play.  This was apparent in the republican house over the last eight years.  Going forward the GOP has to worry about demographic doom, coming not just from the death cross with majority minorities, but from the increasing correlation between liberal voting patterns and educational attainment, revealed in the 2016 election.  Currently 70% of the US adult population doesnt have college degrees, but that number decreases by millions every year, as even conservative families push their children into degree programs.  Does anyone really believe that good 21st century jobs wont require college?  And young people go to college for the most part– not the olds.  A tribe without reps cannot survive.
In the EEA it was beneficial for h. sapiens sapiens to evolve 2 distinct phenotypes (call them red and blue) to maximize benefit from competion/cooperation (note: this is not genetic determinism because the four paths of heredity include environment).  Like our self-destructive lust for sugar and fat these two phenotypes are still with us.  But the red phenotype is losing relative fitness in modernity, causing the system to dis-equilibriate.  So Hamid is wrong when he says this is “culture, ethnicity, and ideology”– the polarization is phenotypical.  The two sides are literally incomprehensible to each other, the polarization gap is so wide.
I agree with Hamid that the only way to preserve democratic values going forward is to create a parliamentary system–  but the Founders made it extremely difficult to change the constitution.  Good luck explaining that to the republican base, people wholly incapable of understanding how health care, evolution, or climate change works.
Unlike most Americans I do believe in evolution though:

The Elephant’s Child and the Theory of Non-Elephants

Sometimes I wander the Dark Forest of Twitter like Kipling’s Elephant’s Child and pester the twitterati with my bothersome ‘satiable curtiousity…Sometimes I just drift in the datastream, soaking up information.

But this week I had an especially annoying question–

Why would you play a game that you can never win?  An expensive game?

One answer I got was “survival”– another answer was “have to do something”.  The reason I ask is because America played this game before– in VietNam.  And there is no “winning” for America in this.  The only way to win is not to play.

In VietNam US understood fairly early that it was playing a game it could never win (for example, the “crossover point” is Xeno’s paradox: US could never kill enough VietCong to make them give up, even by dropping 640 Hiroshimas on them).  But US continued playing exactly the same way until the electorate of the US realized VietNam was a CAT game and withdrew support.  This occurred partly because of Daniel Ellsburg and the Pentagon Papers, and partly because of television and the draft.  The war became non-costviable.  The current war on the Islamic State will end the same way– once the electorate realizes the war is unwinnable they will withdraw support…or possibly Econopalypse 2.0 arrives first.  And the gamespace is even more biased towards the Islamic State than it was towards the Cong– regional population demographics for Sunni youth will provide an endless resupply of recruits for the State until well past midcentury.  Also social media connectivity continuously frags the US narrative that “we are winning, honest we are.”

The core problem with the ceaseless US attempt to impose secular capitalist democracy and western moral values on indigenous populations in third world countries is it can never work.  Because the coarsest scale of homo sapiens sapiens is ALWAYS strictly greater than 1.  We are not all one.  There are no universal human rights.  There are no universal moral values.  There are only organism level rights and values.  And that is what we call in mathematics an impossible problem.  And in reality it is called an unwinnable war.

Which brings us to the study of non-elephants.

“…On the other hand, no general theory for large non-equilibrium systems exists.  The legendary Hungarian mathematician John Von Neuman once referred to the theory of non-equilibrium systems as the “theory of non-elephants” meaning there could be no unique theory of such a vast area of science.” Per Bak, How Nature Works

Now in the 21st century, a sizable chunk of the math/science community is doing just that– devoting itself to the study of non-elephants in order to advance science and mathematics.  We stand on the shoulders of giants– Benoit Mandelbrot, Per Bak, Yaneer Bar Yam, Von Neuman and Feynman.   And Michael Baranger.

The paradigms of sandpile collapse, avalanches, complexity, emergence and self-organizing criticality likely extend from subatomics to galaxies and metaverses…but the places where humanity could most benefit are the studies of climatology and conflict.  We simply have to stop poisoning ourselves and killing each other.  And for US in MENA, that means leaving the Game.

Chaos is a very big subject. There are many technical papers. Many theorems have been proved. But complexity is much, much bigger. It contains lots of ideas which have nothing to do with chaos. Chaos is basically pure mathematics, and by now it is fairly well-known. Complexity is almost totally unknown still. It is not really math. It is more like theoretical physics, or theoretical anything. Of course, once it is in good shape, it will use a lot of math, perhaps a lot of new math. So the field of chaos is a very small subfield of the field of complexity. Perhaps the most striking difference between the two is the following. A complex system always has several scales. While chaos may reign on scale n, the coarser scale above it (scale n−1) may be self-organizing, which in a sense is the opposite of chaos.
Perhaps complex systems, such as biological systems, manage to modify their environment so as to operate as much as possible at this edge-of-chaos place, which would also be the place where self-organization is most likely to occur. It makes sense to expect self-organization to happen when there are strong long-range correlations.

We think we live in an equilibrium world– even the stock market and US wars could be modelled as periodic equilibria–but thats because our lives are so short.  What if the Non-elephants are really examples of what Dr Sean Carroll calls slow life?  What if their “hearts” beat only once every millenia or two?  Interesting times indeed.