Liberal Education, Part II: Liberation and Rulesets

“The soul’s escaping, through this hole that it’s gaping
This world is mine for the taking
Make me king”

Eminem, “Lose Yourself

“Over and over again this cycle of Destruction and Creation is repeated until we demonstrate internal consistency and match-up with reality.”

John Boyd, “Destruction and Creation

In the previous post I described how kin (one’s family), folk (one’s people), and trade (one’s primary work-task) give identity to humans…


Identity is not just a type of name, a handle for an individual, but is part of the definition of the individual.

Recall what Ortega y Gasset said

I am myself and my circumstance

Or for that matter John Donne

No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine own were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.

In other words, while there is a “person” or “self that relates to folk, kin, and trade, folk, kin, and trade are part of the self


In my post on Quality, I had earlier referred to this “self” as “meaningful existence,” so this meaningful self could also be diagrammed as an entity and its attributes


Of course, reality is more complicated than this. These “soft” or implicit relations exist along with “hard” or “explicit” relations, such as being under the police power of the State, being under the military protection of the State, working under the rules set by the State, and living in family structures allowed by the State, etc. Visually:

The Meaningful Existence of the Self and the State

The diagram above would be a good description of Ba’athi Iraq, because it shows “traditional” structures as still meaningful, within the context of the State’s attempted monopolization of violence.

A more developed state will use liberal education, in the context of everything else, to improve its legitimacy. Instead of allowing the petty troika to co-exist with the State’s police and military, the state will attempted to sublimate all things under rule sets generated under the State — rule sets which people will then accept.


The United States and other developed countries are at this stage. Once explicit controls have become implicit, the larger society “just works.” The petty troika has been replaced by generated rulesets that the State finds increases its own power.

The goal of liberal education is to liberate the individual from the petty troika, allowing him to be defined by the generated rulesets he accepts, all within the context of the state


A wider view:


Under liberal education, the self of the citizen focuses on generated rulesets, just as the self of a child may shift from his mother to his nanny.

Through liberal education — through its substitution of the ties of folk, kin, and trade, the State seeks to reinvent the selves of its citizens around rulesets which focus on the State.

Liberal Education, a tdaxp series

Liberal Education 1: The Petty Troika
Liberal Education 2: Liberation and Rulesets
Liberal Education 3: Infection
Liberal Education 4: The Mitochondrial Peace

10 thoughts on “Liberal Education, Part II: Liberation and Rulesets”

  1. Only a very quick notation of a conundrum: You had mentioned in the other post that one example of “Folk” was “American.” (Dagney). So. In reading this post, I was curious about what would happen if you placed both the “State” and the “Person” in the middle of your diagrams; then, I simply began to wonder if “Folk” should be removed from the diagram. Then I began to realize that members of the “Police” and “Military” might also be “Folk” and “Kin.” For that matter, so might members of the “State.”

    Not all members of “Police, State, Military” would be Kin; but they might all be “Folk.”

    Now. “Trade” represents something a bit different. Again, there would be more overlap with Folk than with Kin — except for when Kin follow in the footsteps of their forebears. But it strikes me as pertinent to the discussion that Communist regimes attempted to blend “Trade” with all these other groups to a greater degree than Democracy has.

    These conundrums have me wondering if your diagrams, though interesting and revealing, require some revision. I realize you have begun with isolating the old troika ; I'm wondering if the horses have since interbred: leading, of course, to different types of offspring.

    And now, just as an afterthought, I'm wondering if that old troika has infiltrated the State, rather than the State infiltrate or subvert the troika. But as I said elsewhere, much depends on whether you consider the “State” to be a separate entity from the “People” or the “Person.”

  2. In the diagrams, State and Person are entities, and Folk is an attribute. That they share an attribute is evidence of intersubjective meaning, not unneccesary multiplications.

    Likewise, if you wished to complicate the charts (say “The Meaningful Existence of the Self and the State” for example), The State could “define” The Military while also “Creating” the military.

    By “trade” I mean the repetitive creation of a work-product and ensuing social relationships, not class.

    In cases where the rulesets are still explicit, one could argue that the troika has infiltrated the state. However, by the time that rulesets can become implicit it's much harder to say so, except under conditions of revolutionary strife (stay tuned to Part III!).

    I guess technically you could argue that the state is merely a complex process composed of the internations of persons, who are themselves complex processes. But that's a bit too “magical” and “cloudy” for me (or at least this level of analysis)! :-p

  3. Have you tried, or do you have a model, that connects the circuit, between people and state, in series instead of parallel. This would give the attributes closer to the person more potential (political pressure) than the ones connected next to the state but the amount of currant (kinetic energy, movement of people) would remain the same.

    Or what if you run folk, kin and trade in parallel and run police and military in series? Police would give the person more political pressure and the military would be least resistive to the person. I see in one of your diagrams you run folk kin and trade parallel and police and military also in parellel.

    Also, wouldn't the state sometimes move the person and vise a verse? Kind of like Stalin and Mao and so on. So it would be alternating currant instead of direct currant. Things run in cycles so I image the AC circuit as being more common in nature than DC.

    I am just wondering if the way (geometry) that the sled is pulled changes the connection between person and state. I mean the outside horses have an x (or y) component to its force. This should change how the flow crosses the gap. If they were pulling in parallel I don't believe there would be another component.

    I hope this doesn't set you back too much, I mean I should have asked this in part I.

  4. Larry,

    The folk, kin, and trade would run in a web together, simlar to how the five factors of Orientation run in a web together [1]. I described this in section V of “The Magic Cloud” [2]

    Therefore, the web would share aspects of both series and parrellel nets. Interestings, weby back-referential logical networks are often used to build AI systems — which is a coincidence I hadn't thought of until now! 🙂

    Your comment was wonderful, and I hope this answers your “series” of questions. 🙂


  5. In reference to your drawing ( If you assign Observe as the highest potential for energy, people don’t usually get really mad until they observe something that can make them that way, and you assign Act as the less potential for energy, the potential is tied up in the motion of the mass in motion, then all the objects in between are connected in parallel. All the objects of Orientation are connect in series, as could be expected, but Orientation, Decision, and world are in parallel to each other. This would seem to me that you are trying to run everything at the same potential (voltage). I think it is a little early to assume that the whole world runs as our decisions dictate or the orientation of our country.

  6. In a parallel circuit all voltage is the same. Voltage is potential energy. The potential energy in your drawing is between Observe and Act. When a fighter jet meets another fighter jet, each jet represents potential energy until one of them releases their potential, either pulls the trigger or pulls away (I am not sure if running from the fight qualifies as converting from potential energy to kinetic energy or not. I guess it would be adding negative potential energy to the situation.)

    Observe, in your drawing, represents the greatest potential. Act represents the smallest amount of potential energy; all the potential energy has been release when you act. Therefore any connection that has one line to Observe and another to act has the same potential or voltage, this would make any such connection a parallel circuit.

    I don’t think we are arguing about the OODA strategy here, only about how the drawing was made. To me the connection to the middle of Decision is not clear. It would seem to me that it has to go completely through the decision process. If the line from Orientation were connected to decision on the side close to Observe (in your drawing), this would make it in series, partially, with Orientation. The other problem I have is that it seems that Orientation is connected to Act directly. While it might be that a true believer, in a cause, has a short orientation cycle, I don’t think you can shorten it to Act, bypassing Decision. I believe your drawing shows this bypass.

    I suppose it would be an accurate statement to say OODA is the converting of potential energy to kinetic energy.

  7. Larry,

    I enjoy your electrical network pe-ke analysis, and I hope you can fully apply it to the OODA loop.

    Observe does indeed flow directly into Action — indeed, Decision is a secondary branch that is often not used. The most common example of this is automaticity [1].

    Boyd and Richards call the Observe-Act link “implicit guidance & control” and the Decide-Act link explicit control. [2]

    I actually re-drew the OODA loop to emphasis the by-pass based on feedback by Dr. Richards [3].

    See slide 21 of “Certain to Win” for more on this. [4]


  8. On further assessment.

    “Mutual trust is now recognized as essential by every successful practitioner of maneuver concepts from the US Marine Corps to Japanese industrialists to General Electric.” (

    It is clear, in one sense, that your picture of the OODA loop is true. However, the decision node is never bypassed as it looks in Boyd’s diagram that you referenced me. The decision node is important because it represents the least amount of potential in the circuit before it is converted to kinetic energy. The orientation node is simply a too complicated circuit, with attributes in series, to substitute for this important role.

    What the bypass line shows is the opponent making the decisions and not the 4GW warrior. Once the 4GW warrior is in your loop, the decision that follows comes from you not them. This is very apparent in Boyd's scenario of two airplanes in battle. The enemy sees the 4GW pilot making the same moves as he himself is making. Actually what is happening, only one person is making the decisions, the enemy. The 4GW warrior simply knows what those decisions are, or will be. Hopefully the 4GW is piloting an airplane that can take advantage of the information.

    Because an OODA loop represents mostly potential energy, if someone is inside your loop, they are not easy to see. In more ways than not, a true 4GW warrior is hidden. The enemy simply sees the consequences of his actions and not the fact that someone else is performing the same actions, only possibly quicker and more accurate. This goes back to my comments on technologies, which were on Zenpundit posting about the SOTU address.

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