The Experiment That Failed

I’m increasingly disturbed by the ferocious polarization of America exposed by the 2016 election.  So when I read Arlie Hoschild’s book Stranger’s In Their Own Land I became all excited to scale the “empathy wall” for my own cohort (high IQ high SES high educational attainment).  The SSC commentariat is widely admired– I loved UNSONG, Scott Alexanders alternative kabbalist universe, and the two posts I was instructed to read were awesome.  I think a rationalist community is a noble goal, and the idea of a neutral space for discussion was appealing.  I could finally learn what made conservatives tick!  And scale the empathy wall.

Yet it did not go well.

This is pretty much how SSC saw me:

I was pretty much viewed as an attacker from day one– I was accused of being a troll, of being a moby, of being a sock-puppet for some banned-but-not-forgotten commenters, of being an “islamist” (apparently because I advocate islamic self-representative government instead of trying to bomb/drone muslims into secular democracy), of being a hater, of being a fake.

An SSC commenter hate-stalked my blog, made fun of my passion for social physics, chaos and complexity science, and then held a public shaming to absolve herself of all guilt and further humiliate me.

Whew.

But I persevered…I tried to change my comment style, tried to learn all the SSC jargon (muggle-realism, incels, paperclips, steelmanning, redpill etc) and learn all the SSC rules and comment-eating monster trigger-words, while weaning myself of my near-pathological addiction to domain acronym speak, and trying to obey the Steelman Protocol.

But in the end, this is how I saw the SSC commentariat– as the Zygote monster from Blomkamp’s new Oats short.  This is sadly convolved with how extremely physically repulsive Trump is to me– I guess that is the real reason I couldn’t believe Trump got elected.  In my head Trump IS the Zygote monster, all mashed together with the worst parts of the Red Tribe, a thousand grasping greedy hands beslimed with blood and fluids.  And I’m sure Red Tribers hated Obama and HRC just as much.

Yeah, I wasn’t assimilated.  I mean, I was trying to fit in when I accidentally drove my up-armored Blue Tribe tendency humvee over an IED buried in my own psyche.

I couldn’t handle the “rationalist” discussion of the utility good of killing-terrorist-families.   I should have quit right there.  To be fair, I never got brave enough to admit to the SSC commentariat that I actually am a muslim revert, whereby I might have used Augustinian circles to explain that all muslims see themselves as part of the Ummah, and that muslims are all technically one tribe.  I thought the moral universe and one tribe theory (we are all h. sapiens sapiens, so we are all one) would have prevented this kind of discussion.   But no.

And I really just couldn’t stand it, so I behaved badly.   I just can’t muster any empathy for these people.  There is a difference between empathy and sympathy.  I feel sympathy for the Red Tribe…their cultural fitness is eroding.  But that isn’t empathy.  I can’t walk in their shoes, I can’t understand them, I can’t scale the wall.

It is said that the SSC comments section is like a dinner party.  Well, I unexpectedly threw up all over the table service during the fish course.  Commenting at SSC actually pushed me way further left.  I’m more Frank Rich than Arlie Hoschild after my little jaunt into cultural tourism.

And the worst thing is, this proves Haidt’s thesis, and doesn’t help at all with mine.

My thesis is that two peer phenotypes arose in the EEA, and polarization is happening because the Red Tribe is losing fitness parity in the 21st century environment.  The CCP is breaking down…but if that’s true, we can fix it!  We can use technology to reshape the adaptive landscape.

But instead it looks like Haidt is correct. And that means there’s no technology fix.

I’m just as complicit in this as the Red Tribe–that is the depressing truth.  “I hate them.”  “They are evil.”  I want to punch-back too.  And punching-back means no more outreach, no more trying to persuade the other side, no more trying to understand them.

If they don’t want to be helped,  just leave them behind.

 

 

 

 

How I Learned to Love Trump: Aspects of the Trickster God

I am learning to love Donald Trump, his Foreign Policy at least.  And this is why.

In mythology, I love the Hero-Trickster the best.

Coyote (Maii’) is the most contradictory of the Navajo pantheon. He is a shadowy figure that can be funny or fearsome. Coyote is greedy, vain, foolish, cunning and also occasionally displays a degree of power. “In common with Tricksters generally, he serves to test the bounds of possibilities and order”.

Loki of Norse mythology has the same traits.  Generalized malice, chaotic behavior, and doing good works only by accident.

Loki sometimes assists the gods and sometimes behaves in a malicious manner towards them. Loki is a shape shifter and in separate incidents he appears in the form of a salmon, a mare, a fly, and possibly an elderly woman named Þökk (Old Norse ‘thanks’). Loki’s positive relations with the gods end with his role in engineering the death of the god Baldr and Loki is eventually bound by Váli with the entrails of one of his sons.

IOW, servants of chaos, disruptors of order…like DJT.

I worked very hard on Obama’s 2012 campaign.  On Obama’s election night someone told me that the victory was “magic in a bottle”– but it turns out to have been poison in a bottle for the rest of the world.  Over the years I watched in horror as Obama amped up droning and bombing and increased weapons sales to tyrants and dictators and military aid to juntas and Israel.  Something I never could understand was his Syria policy– until I read this Tablet Magazine article.  Obama is the servant of order– he tried to re-establish the equilibrium system broken by the Bush’s Folly (OIF) and the Arab Spring uprisings.  Obama’s plan was containment: to turn the Middle East into a giant steel cage death match with all the players locked in a forever conflict, but with Israel and the US watching complacently from the sidelines as weapons brokers.  How delightful to watch all their enemies rip each other to shreds: Assad, Putin, Iran, ISIS, al-Q, other islamic insurgencies, Turkey, Kurds, KSA and the Gulf States, Alawhites, Shia and Sunni, etc.  Too bad about the half million dead civilians and the 12 million syrian refugees though.

America’s settled policy of standing by while half a million Syrians have been killed, millions have become refugees, and large swaths of their country have been reduced to rubble is not a simple “mistake,” as critics like Nicholas D. Kristof and Roger Cohen have lately claimed. Nor is it the product of any deeper-seated American impotence or of Vladimir Putin’s more recent aggressions. Rather, it is a byproduct of America’s overriding desire to clinch a nuclear deal with Iran, which was meant to allow America to permanently remove itself from a war footing with that country and to shed its old allies and entanglements in the Middle East, which might also draw us into war. By allowing Iran and its allies to kill Syrians with impunity, America could demonstrate the corresponding firmness of its resolve to let Iran protect what President Barack Obama called its “equities” in Syria, which are every bit as important to Iran as pallets of cash.

America’s Syria policy can, therefore, be best understood not in the terms most familiar to Mideast analysts, such as “getting Assad to step aside” or “supporting the moderate opposition” or “paving the way to a peaceful transition and elections.” Rather, it is a strategic-communications campaign tightly run from the White House, whose purpose was and is to serve as a smokescreen for an entirely coherent and purposeful policy that comes directly from the president himself, but which he and his aides did not wish to publicly own. The goal of the president and his closest aides is to convince the Iranians that we would meet our commitments to them while confusing and obscuring the real reasons behind the president’s set decision of nonintervention in Syria from American legislators and the public alike.

I would add concealing his purpose from our NATO allies as well, who will suffer enormously from the burgeoning Islamic Diaspora.

In a recent interview, Wall Street Journal reporter Jay Solomon revealed that in 2013, Iran told President Obama that if he were to strike the regime of Bashar Assad following the latter’s chemical-weapons attack, the Iranians would collapse the talks over their nuclear program. Obama canceled the strike, of course, and later reassured Iran that the United States would not touch Assad. Solomon’s reporting confirms a critical fact about Obama’s Iran and Syria policies: They are one and the same. Or, stated differently, Syria is part of the price for the president’s deal with Iran.

For five-and-a-half years, Obama has maintained an unwavering position against intervention on the side of Assad’s enemies in order to set the stage for a U.S. realignment in the Middle East. To shield this ambition from view, and therefore from criticism, the White House launched an elaborate spin campaign whose purpose was to deflect and manage domestic and allied criticism while the president pursued his objective. In partnership with Russia, Obama has directly shaped the course of the Syrian war while single-mindedly working to actualize his vision of a new American alliance with Russia and Iran that will allow America to take a permanent vacation from the Middle East. While the end result of this effort may not be what Obama and his closest advisers hope, his actions are clear, and their consequences now appear to be locked in, no matter who comes after him in the White House.

But because of Trump, I think the policy may no longer be “locked in”.  The generals may ally with Trump– because the ones hes surrounded himself with believe US military power can solve any problem.  And Trump will be able to exploit bombing “ISIS” to raise his dismal popularity polling.  A popular misconception is that Putin wanted Trump to be elected– like everyone, Putin didn’t think Trump could be elected.  Putin wanted to deligitimize US democracy…and Trumps advisors were venal and inexperienced enough to fall into Putins web.  Putin and Obama both viewed Trump as a buffoon.  But he may not be…Trump may be an avatar of the Trickster God, a servant of chaos and a disruptor of order.  Like Nadim Shehadi said– deterrence by uncertainty.  I study complexity, especially non-equilibrium systems, what John Von Neuman called non-elephants…and I love chaos unconditionally.

See the resemblance?

 

Understanding Erdogan: A Primer for Aspiring Western Putschists

I am seeing so much unhelpful verbage vomited out by the cottage-industry jihadologists like Shadi Hamid on the failed Turkish coup that I have to correct the record.  First, this is an enormous blow to Barack Obama and the US covert plan to create a “moderate” Islam (See Rand).  Second, the failure of the coup was utterly predictable in the sense that ever since the Sisi coup in Egypt Erdogan has been preparing for an attempt like this, and probably even before, given the history of military coups in Turkey.

One of the most important things Erdogan has done was the formation and fierce support of loyal religious police and intelligence services to counter the military.  The police and intel agencies subscribe to a traditional conservative islamic ideology which is very different from Güllenism– which is a kind of reform or “pluralist” Islam designed by Rand Corporation (see Fixing Islam) and covertly promoted by the US.

Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 9.16.04 PM Police praying.                 So here is the first difference: Sisi had both the military and the police, and the intelligence branch on his side.  But Erdogan had the support of loyal police and intelligence forces.  This is why we saw the putschists attacking not just the presidential palace and parliament, but Police and Intelligence Headquarters.  When the military coupists fired on the crowd the attempt was finished– the Egypt military never fired on the crowds in Tahir– nothing deligitimizes a coup attempt like live fire on civilians.

Although the elements that made up Sisi’s coup are roughly equivalent to the turkish putschists– secularists, military, deep state– there is a major difference btwn the islamic defectors (Noor Party in Egypt) and the turkish islamic defectors (Güllenists).  That is, public support by KSA.  Although the US was secretly very much in favor of the coup in Turkey, it could not be seen as publicly supporting it for a variety of reasons: NATO, Incirlik base, Syrian refugees, etc.  Obama had hoped for an eventual “soft” coup and the ascendency of güllenist “reform” Islam– this is now delayed for at least 50 yrs.  Who knows what Obama had to promise Erdogan to get Incirlik opened again before IS slaughtered all his kurdish mercenaries.  But if Erdogan really wanted Gülen I am positive Obama would have had to give him up.  The failed coup also showcased Incirlik value as hostage– it hosts some 50+ NATO nukes and is the lichpin of Obama’s kurdish mercenary protection plan.

I don’t think its in Erdogan’s advantage to extradite Gülen and try him– what he is doing is much more powerful– purging guellinsm from the military, the judiciary, and most importantly from academe.  In Egypt Mubarak currated appointments of jurists to Al Azhar for 30 years– creating a sort of statist reform Islam that Sisi has been able to exploit.  Now even Gullenist intellectuals are barred from leaving the country.   Erdogan is simply using Gülen to embarrass Obama.  The overture to Russia is just insurance.  Obama thought he could bully/persuade Erdogan into doing any thing Obama wanted– that relationship is shattered now.  Erdogan is rightly suspicious, and will be even more careful going forward.

The second difference is social media and flash mobs.  Ataturk was a dictator that outlawed the arabic alphabet and the adhan– both of which Erdogan has restored.  It is ironic especially that the adhan was used to call flash mobs to the street to protest the coup.  Westerners seem to have a terribly hard time  distinguishing between forced secularism of tyrants and consent of the governed (democracy).  What actually destroyed the coup was  a single CNN Turk anchorwoman and Erdogan facetiming his citizens on an iphone.  I hope she got a medal.

When Sisi prepared to slaughter the peaceful protestors in Rabia square he shut down the cell towers– so the world wouldn’t see him burning muslims alive in tents and bulldozing their bodies.  A big mistake of the putschists was failing to shut down the internet.  So the coup was defeated by social media and flash mobs, while Erdogan’s loyal police and intel forces stood off the putsch long enough for Erdogan to mobilize the citizenry.  The funniest thing to me is now that Erdogan has reaped incalculable power gains from the failed coup, there is all this western conspiracy theory about how the coup MUST have been staged!  Because western sympathizers could never have possibly executed so poorly– 911 truthers is the best analogy.

To me the most important outcome of the failed coup is the epic destruction of güllenism– practically eradicated from Turkish society and culture, demonized and deligitimized for the next half century at minimum.  The validated purge of discredited gullenist professors, jurists, and intellectuals on a vast scale…it says to me that Erdogan learned a great lesson from my hero Malcolm X.

Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 3.59.46 AM

 

 

Masque of the Red Death

Screen Shot 2016-05-01 at 10.19.47 PM“There are chords in the hearts of the most reckless which cannot be touched without emotion, even by the utterly lost, to whom life and death are equally jests, there are matters of which no jest can be made.”
Edgar Allan Poe, The Masque of the Red Death

I get some of my best inspiration from Billmon1….he’s my muse, even though he mostly blocks me ever since i observed that Obama prolly REALLY IS the mule of the jews.

But his analogy between Obama’s last Nerdprom and Poe’s Masque of the Red Death is pure genius.

The Fourth Estate is supposed to watchdog the creatures of power like Obama…but instead have been suborned in much the same fashion as regulatory capture by capitalism cartels.  Obama is running the least transparent admin evah, prosecuted the most journos and whistleblowers, radically enhanced the surveillance state, and its purely revolting to see journos and celebs fawning over him.

To see Obama yukking it up over drones and Guantanamo while Aleppo burns and Baghdad crumbles fills me with incredulous horrified loathing.  And I fear that unless we can unmask…we are as doomed as the Romans.

“And the life of the ebony clock went out with that of the last of the gay. And the flames of the tripods expired. And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all.”
Edgar Allan Poe, The Masque of the Red Death

 

 

Obama Lying About His TOPSECRET Global Police

In watching President Obama’s SOTU I was frankly astonished to hear this– at 10:05 in:

Third, how do we keep America safe and lead the world without becoming its policeman?

This amazed me because creating a global police force made up of United States Special Operations Forces is exactly what Obama is doing right now.  Last year Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the founding of the “Strong Cities Network”.  Essentially it means UN cover for the global police force Obama wants to pretend the US isn’t solely staffing.

Here is the fundage for those 70k SOF troops via DefenseOne.  Here is the indispensible Nick Turse on deployment– A Secret War in 135 Countries .

And thanks to the wonders of internet connectivity I even know how Obama plans to implement his TOPSECRET non-boots-on-the-ground global police force– via Dr. Bar-Yam.  Here’s the white paper for the SOF global policemen.

Amazingly Bar-Yam is proposing yet another externally imposed topdown control system (global SOF police) on emergent regional processes.  Everything I know about complexity science mandates this will fail– indeed, it is failing already as evidenced by the sad fate of Div 30– supposed to be a localized emergent agent to counter IS and JaN, now sadly defunct at a cost of 500 million US taxdollars.

And this part– why, this is actually a description of IS isnt it?  The only difference is IS is self-organizing and locally emergent, unlike Obama’s stealth police.

In an advanced organizational concept, the forces involved may be similar to conventional forces, but they are coupled to a distributed decision-making process that enables many factors to be considered in order to achieve desired objectives. Actions in general will probably not be at full force, just as the availability of muscles that can kick or punch does not imply that they will be used at full capacity at all times. The objective is to deliver the right force to the right target at the right time through an understanding of the specifics of the situation as it changes in time. Developing such decision-making capacity requires adopting network structures for the decision-making system.

The immune system most naturally corresponds to special operations forces that have the expectation of being embedded in local contexts and serving highly complex, (i.e., diverse) roles. The existence of high fine-scale complexity forces, including special operations forces and integrating diplomatic, intelligence, and law enforcement agencies, and the extensive engagement with non-combatants, training of local forces, non-lethal force, psychological warfare, economic incentives, and economic support, reflects the natural extension of the complex fine-scale actions that are needed for achieving local and global objectives of complex warfare.

Agents interact with each other primarily through local communication to achieve coordination of their individual actions for effective attack, defense, search, or other tasks. The primary role of such coordination is to achieve the right level and kind of local capability.

Seriously, in the body of MENA the great powers are the invasive agents, and the various islamic insurgencies are the immune response protocols: leucocytes and T-cells.

This information is all out there– anyone can access the datastream.  I just continue to be shocked at the bovine complacency of the American electorate, and the blind cultural chauvinism of the scientific community.

We aren’t the good guys here…we aren’t even the better guys.