Quotable (#134)

In The New Yorker, John Cassidy lucidly rehearses the core game theoretic model of economic crisis:

… deciding whether to invest in financial assets or any other form of capital can be viewed as a huge n-person game (one involving more than two participants), in which there are two options: trust in a good outcome, which will lead you to make the investment, or defect from the game and sit on your money. If you don’t have a firm idea about what is going to happen and the payoffs are extremely uncertain, the optimal strategy may well be to defect rather than to trust. And if everybody defects, bad things result.

Does anybody seriously expect honesty from the status quo within this context? ‘Optimism’ is a fundamental building-block of regime stability. Expect it to be very carefully nurtured, with whatever epistemological flexibility is found helpful.

(Stay to the end of the article for the ominous nonlinear dynamics that correspond to narrative dike-breaking.)

Climate of Uncertainty

Natural cycles being what they are, there’s bound to be another mini-Ice Age (of the Maunder Minimum-type) eventually, and quite possibly soon. The implications for climate science, climate politics, and much beyond, are huge. Clean data on systemic effects are not accessible within history. That means all vulgar attempts to read out the effects of anthropic interventions from the historical record are doomed to fail, until perfect understanding of confounding rhythms are fully understood — basically, indefinitely. (Throw in chaos theory and other sources of epistemological pessimism here.) No one seriously thinks that a globally-coordinated ‘precautionary’ policy stance viz anthropogenic warming is constructible during a mini-Ice Age (do they?).

The consequence: Climate politics could — in reality — be a fairly remote science fiction scenario. By the time its opportunity comes around, far more will have been decided than is being allowed for.

ADDED:

Twitter cuts (#36)

Andreessen tweet-storming on prices and information:


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Hubris

In the complete absence of philosophical pretension, certain stark commitments — of deep philosophical significance — are sometimes made manifest. Such is the case with Grant Williams’ extended (and thoroughly charted) meditation on The Economic Consequences of the Peace.

What emerges, with exceptional clarity, is the fundamental complicity of Austrian Economics, Metaphysical Naturalism, and the Tragic Sense. This triple-headed harsh realism finds itself positioned in a relation of radical dissent to the dominant assumptions of our time, deploring the hubris of a global managerial elite who presume to turn back the tides through technocratic action. As Williams lucidly states:

Both war and financial collapse occur in cycles and are subject to the overwhelming laws of nature.

Those inherent characteristics of the natural order are permanent. They cannot be altered.

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