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David Ronfeldt: Readings on tribes & tribalism

Tuesday, August 8th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — a catch-up post ]
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Despite his modest comments to the contrary, David Ronfeldt has in fact been posting up a storm on his Materials for Two Theories blog, bringing us up to date with his readings on tribalism as the key aspect of his TIMN (tribes, hierarchical institutions, markets, and networks) theory.

Just as I keep harping on the significance of — and our tendency to overlook — religious and particularly apocalyptic drivers across a range of problematic issues, so David relentlessly points to the significance of — and our tendency to overlook — tribalism as a key form in understanding many of those same issues.

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Most recent:

David’s two most recent posts are of particular interest.

#14: Richard Landes’s “How Thinking Right Can Save the Left” (2015)

Richard Landes, in addition to his encyclopedic work on apocalyptic matters, is the proponent of a game theoretical approach to the Israeli-Pakestinian question with considerable overlap with David’s focus on tribalism — regarding the core issue as that of a clash between zero-sum and win-win players, in which concessions made by the win-win player, in expectation of reciprocal concessions, are taken as victories, requiring no re ciprocation, by the zero-sum player.

I hope I got that right, albeit in very simplified / condensed form

#15: Mark Weiner’s “The call of the clan: why ancient kinship and tribal affiliation still matter in a world of global geopolitics” (2013)

Mark Weiner‘s entry is the one which comes closest to David’s TIMN work, and David accordingly uses parallels as a means of outside confirmation of certain of his own insights.

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The full monte:

Here, for your convenience, are David’s recent tribalism posts — some items deal specifically with America, one with Britain, and others are more general, but I have grouped them all together in the order of posting since David issued them as a numbered series:

  • Intro and #1: Sabrina Tavernise, “One country, two tribes” (2017)
  • #2: David Roberts, “Donald Trump and the rise of tribal epistemology” (2017
  • #3: Daniel Shapiro, “Modern tribes – the new lines of loyalty” (2008)
  • #4: Charlie Sykes, “Where the Right Went Wrong” (2016)
  • #5: Ben Shapiro, “The Revenge of Tribalism” (2016)
  • #6: Robert Reich, “The New Tribalism and the Decline of the Nation State” (2014)
  • #7: Glenn Harlan Reynolds, “Politicians benefit from American tribal warfare” (2014)
  • #8: Jonathan Haidt & Ravi Iyer, “How to Get Beyond Our Tribal Politics” (2016)
  • #9: Deepak Chopra, “After Trump, What Will It Take To Heal?” (2016)
  • #10: Jalaja Bonheim, “Why We Love Trump” (2016)
  • #11: NeoTribes, “NeoTribal Emergence” (2016)
  • #12: Ross Douthat, “The Myth of Cosmopolitanism” (2016)
  • #13: Kenan Malik, “Britain’s Dangerous New Tribalism” (2015)
  • #14: Richard Landes’s “How Thinking Right Can Save the Left” (2015)
  • #15: Mark Weiner’s “The call of the clan: why ancient kinship and tribal affiliation still matter in a world of global geopolitics” (2013)
  • Sunday surprise — Go on

    Sunday, July 23rd, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — zen mind, beginner’s mind, math mind, game mind ]
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    Pi:

    A Beautiful Mind:

    Ouroboros catch’em post

    Tuesday, July 18th, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — attempting to keep the self-eating serpents in one pen, so they don’t get tangled in your hair and eyes ]
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    From Aneurism, a brilliant long-form essay by neurosurgeon Henry Marsh, from his book Do No Harm, and presented in Slightly More Than 100 Exceptional Works of Journalism:

    Are the thoughts that I am thinking as I look at this solid lump of fatty protein covered in blood vessels really made out of the same stuff? And the answer always comes back–they are–and the thought itself is too crazy, too incomprehensible, and I get on with the operation.

    From Political Tracts of Wordsworth, Coleridge and Shelley via PR Beckman:

    The purpose of the historian, to Coleridge, is the same as that of the poet : to convert a series of events, which constitute the straight-line of real or imagined history, into a whole, so that the series shall assume to our understanding “a circular motion — the snake with its tail in its mouth.”

    Here’s one more:

    And this I can’t resist — there’s hope for humankind!

    There will no doubt be others, which I’ll drop into the comment section. So you don’t need to be troubled by a new post every time I see one.

    Systems, loops, forms, diagrams, games

    Wednesday, July 5th, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — among other things, a great lecture on complexity / complicity in a complex world ]
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    I am always on about form, practicing ways of seeing form, of recognizing pattern in the very structure and logic of events — as though that practice were practical, had some eventual fruitfulness in practice, in the world of worldly affairs. And it may seem strange, erratic, off-course to many of my readers here, especially those who arrive in mid-stream, or with expectations of specifically strategic insight.

    The other day I watched a lecture a friend of mine gave a couple of years back, and I wanted to bring it here because — tangentially — with its loops and diagrams it shows underlying form as it in-forms the games we play, the worlds they conjure, the ways we understand and navigate them, and the world around us — in which we find ourselves, and on which they are, however remotely and ingeniously, based.

    My friend Mike has been lead designer on Sims 2 and Ultima Online among other games, and is currently a Professor of Practice in game design at Indiana University, Bloomington.

    Mike Sellers..

    More from Sellers’ bio:

    He has a Bacon Number of 2 and hopes someday to have an Erdos Number.

    Oh — and he was an extra — lucky dog, sorta — in Francis Ford Coppola‘s Apocalypse Now.

    **

    My own analytic approach, my insistence on monitoring form as well as content, and my own HipBone Games all work at the underlying / subconscious level at which Mike pitches his talk. I hope this helps you understand what I’m about — but even if it doesn’t, it’s a fine introduction to game design and the understanding of a complex world by the man who famously reminded his fellow game designers:

    An idea isn’t a design. A design is not a program. A program is not a product. A product is not a business. A business is not profit. Profit is not happiness.

    Good thinking, from a good friend.

    Numbers by the numbers: three .. in Congress

    Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — bipartisan Congress trumps Trump ]
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    Grasping the meaning of pop lyrics isn’t my forte, but this song’s title, Two Against One, fits with the point I’m making in this post..

    **

    I’ve talked about three-way games in Numbers by the numbers: three / pt 1, Of games III: Rock, Paper, Tank and Spectacularly non-obvious, I: Elkus on strategy & games — and very likely elsewhere —

    — ah yes, in Spectacularly non-obvious, 2: threeness games, where I describe my own three-way game in a hotel swimming pool.

    Today brought us a significant three-way play in Congress:

    Why Congress’s Bipartisan Budget Deal Should Make Trump Worried

    By cutting a bipartisan spending compromise among themselves, Republicans and Democrats in Congress not only prevented the White House from delivering on President Trump’s priorities in his very first budget, they also drafted a handy blueprint for circumventing the Trump administration in the future.

    It was an outcome that should worry the new president even though Mr. Trump will be spared the humiliation of a government shutdown early in his tenure if he signs the legislation.

    “We were sort of a united front, Republicans and Democrats, opposed to Trump,” said Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, in an interview.

    Not exactly the words a president wants to hear in the opening months of his term — that the two usually warring parties on Capitol Hill instead joined forces to gang up on him. But that is essentially what happened.

    Republicans, protective of their spending priorities, chose to cooperate with Democrats in the House and Senate to work out a five-month package they could all live with, ignoring demands from the White House for deep spending cuts in areas like environmental protection.

    By insisting on proposals that both parties on Capitol Hill knew could not pass — the border wall funding in particular — the White House took itself out of the game and ceded power to Congress. Members of both parties, freed to direct money to favored initiatives, eagerly seized the opportunity and increased funding for agencies such as the National Institutes of Health rather than cutting it.

    **

    And here’s my swimming pool game, with commentary, by way of comparison:

    The idea is simplicity itself, putting it into words unambiguously is difficult.

    Yesterday I was at a hotel swimming pool where two sons of another guest and my own son Emlyn were playing around together, all aged around 10-12, with nobody else there, and I asked them to play a game where one of the three would be “top guy” and the other two would try to dunk and generally overthrow him, and as soon as it became clear that the top guy had been dunked and dethroned, there would be a new “top guy” (one of the two who had been doing the overthrowing and come out the obvious winner) and the other two would pounce on him…

    They were not evenly matched, but any one of them was easily outmatched by the other two working together, and being “top guy” meant your head was above water and you were, so to speak, “comfortable” — so there was a real premium on being “top guy”, and the other two were (at any time) eager to collaborate to get the position.

    And there was no tendency for the two brothers to gang up against my son, because the immediacy of two defeating one was more urgent and compelling than any ideas of teaming by kinship interests, minor differences in strength and skill, etc…


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