February 23, 2008

Culturally engrained error

The following post was first published on my now defunct blog "Random Acts of Thought" on July 11, 2005 in the wake of the bombings on the London underground.

I havent posted to my blog in a while because I felt I had to articulate a response to what has occurred in LondonI realise I really dont have one.Here is what globalisation does.

1) Relentlessly crush cultural practices and values that are incompatible with the dominant American-led free market system of trade and thought

2) Empower individuals and allowing groups to have a disproportionate impact on the world.

Jihadists are using the very fruits of western civilisation to strike at it. Cell phones and the internet. What the multiculturalists consistently miss is that cultures are not varied and beautiful things to be admired and idealised on the national geographic channel or preserved like beautiful pieces of period architecture. Cultures have a practical use in that they are toolsets for dealing with the world that we live in. The primary value of cultural institutions is not aesthetic but utilitarian. In an increasingly interconnected world the playing conditions are being progressively leveled.

In the game of global competition, the players that employ a suboptimal strategy will continue to lose.I am reminded of the book Moneyball about Billy Beane, General Manager of Major League Baseball's Oakland Athletics. Billy Beane was able to establish a culture of objective analysis within a sport in which most personel moves and ingame startegy were governed by instinct, traditional wisdom and convention.

He relied on the work of amateur baseball researchers such as Bill James to decide which factors were the important ones in determing the usefulness of a baseballplayer toward the end of winning games. The results (On base percentage as a far more important statistic than batting average, the worthlessness of Wins in evaluating pitchers) cut deeply against the grain of traditional baseball culture.

However the As culture was more effective. It more accurately described the (baseball) world as it actually is. The result: Billy Beanes As won more games per dollar of payroll than any other team in baseball. They got more bang for the buck. Slowly and inexorably baseballs hidebound culture has changed to take these discoveries into account but the immense inertia and weight of the received wisdom was almost immensely difficult to overcome. People had a huge emotional investment in incorrect ways of doing things.

If it is immensely difficult for people to accept changes in baseball strategy even in the face of evidence how much more difficult will it be for them to accept changes in social organisation, changes in working life changes in social protections changes in government institutions? Real life outcomes are immensely more important than baseball penant races.

The deeply entrenched african cultural practise of nepotism has led to immense levels of corruption in africa. Despite its debilitating impact on African society the obligation Africans feel to extended family members have proven impossible to shift. African and Middle Eastern culture are both WRONG in key aspects. The outcome is is more losing. In baseball losing is reflected in the standings, in real life, in GDP and per capita income. How does this tie in to the London bombings? Terrorism is a response to losing. Blow up the playing field. Disrupt the game by any means neccessary since you cant win without changing the strategy to which your sense of selfworth is anchored. . Terrorists are pissing into the wind. It is the natural result of creating a mental link between your penis and your adherence to an objectively incorrect course of action.

But in an age of the hyperempowered individual, their capacity to disrupt becomes ever greater. As the losses mount and technology empowers small groups and individuals ever more, the temptation for the losers to be disruptive grows ever greater.

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