Archive for the ‘Strategy’ Category

Political Chicken

As a preliminary, a little XS background, which I’ll aim not to repeat.

The take on Trump’s advantage that seems under-emphasized: He credibly signals a refusal to swerve. I’m not arguing here that it’s realistic to trust that. The point is only, the Trump candidacy looks to a substantial swathe of the electorate — at least comparatively — like the strategic choice for not losing at chicken games. As noted in the linked post, when democratic party politics becomes highly polarized, that’s the game being played.

Anyone playing chicken through an agent prioritizes certain definite virtues. Trump’s rhetoric reflects these uncannily. “Winning” — for instance — is a word to watch.

To see what it is to be a chicken game loser, there’s no better model than recent GOP presidential candidates. John McCain appeared to positively delight in the honor of being defeated by Barack Obama in 2008, and Mitt Romney followed quite faithfully in his footsteps. In both cases, which can be extended to the GOP establishment generally, respectability is defined by the sentiment: “Sure, winning would be nice, but we’re not going to be crazy about it.” If there’s a single key to winning at chicken, however, ‘crazy’ is it.

The greater the media onslaught against Trump, given only that he doesn’t flinch, the stronger the signal that he’s not a swerve kind of guy. In this respect, the specific content of the attacks is almost irrelevant. The nastier the better. Best of all, if the message gets communicated that this maniac would take us over the cliff, he’s already won. From the perspective of this analysis, there’s simply nothing else he has to get across. It translates to: With Trump we either win, or at least don’t lose. (Objection: “But ‘everyone dies’ is losing isn’t it?” — Thanks GOPe, but you’re not getting this at all.)

Cruz and (to a parodic extent) Rubio look flexible next to Trump. It’s not that people think they might swerve — it’s what they firmly expect. They seem bendy, and specifically prone to compromise, concessions to media-fabricated realities, back-downs, apologies, and pre-emptive cringe.

Never, ever, even for a moment back-down, laugh at demands for ‘disavowal’, double-down on offense, concede nothing, and never swerve. Regardless of what one thinks about this orientation, it’s the one hungered for by the Trump constituency right now. Trump’s instincts, if not perfect in this regard, are impressively sound. We’ll know within 24-hours or so how it’s working out.

ADDED: It’s chicken all the way down.

ADDED: Trump poker.

March 1, 2016admin 26 Comments »

Quote note (#218)

Libertarian in genesis, but strategically sound:

“… those who consider themselves modern American revolutionaries often envision manning barricades and mass revolt as the undoing of the government. That attacks the government at its greatest strength — its capacity to use force and violence. The US government has at its disposal the most potent military and surveillance capabilities ever assembled. … […] The idea that some sort of mass movement will rise and by force of its inferior arms throw off the yoke of oppression is the stuff of weak novels, not a real life strategy that has a chance of success. Those who buy into it and attempt implementation commit the biggest strategic failure: they have fooled themselves. Consequently, their enemy — the government — profits. It uses their failure to justify further tyranny and repression.

There is surprisingly little written about attacking the government at its weakest point: its financial dependence … An offensive would require a mass movement far less massive than that required for armed revolt, and its tactics would be legal. A few million simultaneous phone calls and requests via websites for the withdrawal of balances from banks, money market funds, and stock and bond mutual funds would precipitate a financial panic. None of those institutions keep enough cash on hand to meet a tsunami of redemption and withdrawal requests. They’d have to sell their assets to raise cash. The prices of those assets would drop, begetting further selling; negative crowd psychology and wealth effects would kick in as markets crash, and debt and economic activity would contract.

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February 9, 2016admin 40 Comments »

Flea Politics

One time-tested way to shed parasites is to take a dip:

Foxes will actually take a stick when they have fleas and get into the water slowly. They let the water raise up to their necks and hold the stick up in the air. As the water goes higher up their face, the fleas will climb higher. Eventually the fox will just have it’s nose out of the water while holding the stick. The fleas will climb up the stick and the fox will sink under the water and let the flea infested stick float down the river to the flea’s watery grave.

As Balaji Srinivasan remarked (on Ultimate Exit): “… but the best part is this: the people who think this is weird, the people who sneer at the frontier, who hate technology — they won’t follow you out there.”

Did you really think it was going to be that easy?

Space de-colonization is already preparing to queer-up the escape trajectory:

As venture capitalist space entrepreneurs and aerospace contractors compete to profit from space exploration, we’re running up against increasingly conflicting visions for human futures in outer space. Narratives of military tactical dominance alongside “NewSpace” ventures like asteroid mining projects call for the defense, privatization, and commodification of space and other worlds, framing space as a resource-rich “frontier” to be “settled” in what amounts to a new era of colonization … […] we have to stake a claim in the territory of space programs now. We need to add our voices, perspectives, plans, our cares. There isn’t time to wait. We can’t sit back and say: Space isn’t urgently important, we should be looking at problems here on Earth. First of all, much of space science is looking at and working on problems here on Earth (from conflict, migration, and drought to climate change, deforestation, and more). Secondly, SpaceX, Boeing, and others are preparing new craft and taking humans into space now — and human technology is leaving the solar system. Perhaps it’s not happening on the timeline you would prefer, but it’s already happening and has been for decades, and they’re pretty much doing it without us … So what’s next? We — all us queer, trans, disabled, black, native, etc. folk and more — we need to fight back, take back, de-colonize and re-imagine our futures in outer space, we need to pop up where they least expect us. (Emphasis in original.)

Leaving those ‘cares’ behind is going to take a colder exit.

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January 29, 2016admin 44 Comments »

The Management of Savagery

Is this strategic guide to Jihad by Abu Bakr Naji the equivalent of Mao Zedong’s On Guerrilla Warfare (link) for our time?

November 16, 2015admin 5 Comments »

Sounds like a plan …

If Putin was facing down Fernandez he’d have something to worry about.

ADDED: (In a spirit of scrupulous nihilistic detachment.)

ADDED: “Whether the administration was, as The Washington Post reported, “blindsided” by Russian military operations, or whether it quietly welcomed the bombing as some kind of macabre burden-sharing, Moscow’s Syrian initiative makes matters worse. As Nancy Youssef of the Daily Beast recently tweeted that she ‘overheard’ at the Pentagon, ‘Right now, we are Putin’s prison bitch.'”

October 6, 2015admin 16 Comments »