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A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Sometimes the Mask Slips, Just a Little

In A Manifesto for Sustainable Capitalism, by Al Gore and David Blood, we are struck by a vital question: How long did Gore have to search for a co-author named Blood? 


Other than that, it is the same old delusion that Really Smart People, namely Us, can plan and operate a "chaotic" system.  The commoners are obviously incapable of making their own decisions on how to spend their own money.  "You might not spend it right," Bill Clinton once worried in a speech in Buffalo.  But, heck, we can't even solve the 3-body problem in physics under one natural law, that of gravitation.  What makes anyone think they can solve the 300 million-body problem is sociology and politics. 

Authoritarian states, however, are inherently brittle.  If I don't "spend my money the right way," the damage is confined to me and mine, and perhaps some nearby.  My bad is washed out in the decision-making of millions of others, as well as my own second thoughts.  If the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania makes a bonehead decision (a given - there is something in the water of the Susquehanna River that affects cognitive function in Harrisburg) the Sovereign States of New Jersey, Ohio, New York, and Maryland may survive the blast.  (Can't say about Delaware.  It's so small and way too close to the fallout from Philadelphia.)  Harrisburg's bad is tempered by the blast walls and watertight compartments of the State boundaries. 

However, when decisions are centralized in a Grand Council of Fasces, mistakes will not be "averaged out" by independent, counteracting decisions, and we get single-point failure modes.  It's like the Death Star.  One photon torpedo up the wrong waste vent and kablooey. 

The difference between the fascism promoted by Blood and Gore and that promoted by Mussolini is that Mussolini was actually trying to "make the trains run on time."  Blood and Gore do not seem to care if the trains run at all, as long as everything is green and we feel really good about ourselves.  Jerry Pournelle discusses the article here.

It's a religious thing, I suppose.  We must act piously in the name of the green goddess, so that we may feel righteous about our own righteous righteousness.  At least in old-time "science and technology," it used to matter if the theory actually worked
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And if we can't trust people to make their own decisions, we sure can't trust the people's representatives to make them.  Why, they are apt to disagree among themselves and not do the right thing.  That's why economic fascism entrains political authoritarianism.  Or as President Obama recently put it:
"Well, what we’re going to have to do is continue to make progress on the economy over the next several months. And where Congress is not willing to act, we’re going to go ahead and do it ourselves."

1 comment:

  1. The idea that it is impossible to "manage" economies cannot be understated. It is a computational impossibility.

    ReplyDelete