Tag Archives: rulesets

The Global Ruleset for Processing Poltically Bankrupt Empires

Empires have fallen before. The British, French, and Portuguese empires all fell in the second-half of the 20th century. Our “global ruleset for processing politically bankrupt empires” has been to encourage the center of the old empire to act as a responsible country, and forget its imperial ambitions. So we purposefully went out of our way to encourage Britain, France, and Portugal to lose their imperial positions. This process was occasionally painful, for instance during the Suez Crisis which caused the collapse of the British government. However, because the center of the old empire was esentially “Core” in nature, the process was eventually successful.

When the Soviet Empire fell, the same “global ruleset for processing politically bankrupt empires” was run on Russia. This encouraged the center of the old Soviet Empire to act responsibly, while encouraging Russia to forget its old empire. This process was occasionally painful, for instance during the Kosovo War, when their client lost some territory. However, because Russia was essentially “Gap” in its nature the process failed, and we are left with a belligerent successor state — an angry version of Portugal after her empire.

5GW and Ruleset Automation

In a recent post, Tom Barnett synthesizes Coming Anarchy RevG, ZenPundit, and myself on the subject of 5th Generation War. (It’s a timely subject, as Curtis has just launched a blog dedicated to 5GW!) Tom’s post is very kind, and he uses one of my thoughts as a basis for winning, and preventing, 5GWs:

But say we get the SysAdmin up and running, are we entering the realm of 5th Generation Warfare?

I would say yes.

The key phrase from Dan’s analysis that clicked it for me is that once you’re observed doing your thing in 5GW, the gig is up, and that follows nicely with my NASCAR scenario (BTW, Art Cebrowski and I were going to set up a research project on this concept at the Naval War College, but our dual “falls” prevented that–his from disease, mine from whatever it was that got me fired).

But the natural counter to that (much like relying on authoritarian govs in the Gap as the natural counter to 4GW–although it’s a long-time loser strategy) is the notion that you win by extreme transparency: you democratize “observe” for the world, for nations, for individuals.

Here is where the coming wave of ubiquitous sensing shoved through a SOA-enabled IT world gets really interesting (today it’s my MySpace, but tomorrow it’s AllSpace!).

Development-in-a-Box really gets you into 5GW because it alters the observed reality–pre-emptively–in a sort of bribe-the-proles mode that steals the thunder of the 4GW warrior of today in the same way that social welfare nets and trade unions stifled the rise of socialism in Europe.

So, in effect, DiB helps move the Core from the Horatio Alger phase of lecturing the Gap (just pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and try all over again!) to the seriously seductive phase of active recruitment.


And that’s why it seems only natural to me that we marry that Chinese model to something better like DiB, turning it from simple raw-material market-capture to serious jump-starting toward emerging market status (remember those hedge funds getting interested in Africa).

So a SysAdmin-DiB approach that strategically allies us with China and hits them where they ain’t (yet strong) would see Core “bribe” Africa pre-emptively with connectivity-leading-to-development (and yes, ultimately pluralism in politics), and perhaps focus with some equal effort on SEAsia and Latin America.

Development-in-a-Box (Steve’s strategy plus Tom’s vision) is how we work the Gap-to-Core journey.

That, to me, is what’s so revolutionary about the SysAdmin-DoEE-AtoZ-DiB toolkit: it says to the world that America’s getting into the business of marketing its own catch-up strategy WRT globalization, instead of leaving that model’s enunciation to either the radical left or right of the Gap (as we did with Marxism, Leninism, fascism, Stalinism, Maoism, Pol Pot-ism, and so on and so on).

Development-in-a-Box is part of the work of Enterra Solutions, Barnett’s (and Steve DeAngelis‘s employer) — a firm that focuses on ruleset automation and other business process services. I general I agree, but as one movie demonstrates, ruleset automation — and thus Development-in-a-Box — has its limitations…

Prosecutor: We’re in luck, then. The Marine Corps Guide for Sentry Duty, NAVY BASE Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. I assume we’ll find the term code red and its definition in this book, am I correct?

Witness: No sir.

Prosecutor: No? Corporal Howard, I’m a marine. Is their no book, no manual or pamphlet, no set of orders or regulations that let me know that, as a marine, one of my duties is to perform code reds?

Witness: No sir. No books, sir.

Prosecutor: No further questions.

Defense Attorney: Corporal, would you turn to the page in this book that says where the enlisted men’s mess hall is?

Witness: Lt. Kaffee, that’s not in the book, sir.

Defense Attorney: I don’t understand, how did you know where the enlisted men’s mess hall was if it’s not in this book?

Witness: I guess I just followed the crowd at chow time, sir.

Defense Attorney: No more questions.

The Long War will not be won by just explicit rulests or implicit rulesets, just horizontal controls or vertical controls. And one is not more important than the other. Both Automated Rulesets (like what Enterra sells) and Internal Rulesets (what people quietly believe) are important. Relying on automated rulesets to the exclusion of intuition destroys “fingertip-feeling” and forces us to make “rational” but sub-optimal decisions. Yet relying on intuition alone would prevent scientific investigations into dangerous types of people and how best to handle them.

What is needed for the Gap is not automated rulesets nor implicit rulesets, but functional ones. Throughout the Arab World, Sharia [Islamic Law] may be a better alternative than what now exists because of its market-orientation. In China, letting the current corrupt growth continue while internal elites import WTO rulesets is probably the best course. In North Korea we should Kill Kim, of course, while at home federalism and states right are the essence of Americanism.

As the founder of the greatest capitalist revolution in human history once remarked, “No matter if it is a white cat or a black cat; as long as it can catch mice, it is a good cat..”

Jesusism-Paulism, Part V: The People of the Book

John Boyd, the American Air Force Colonel, wrote that there were five stages to victory. In the first two, Penetration and Isolation, one’s forces enter the enemy’s networks and began tearing it apart. In the last two, Reorientation and Reharmonization, the old world is refashioned in one’s desired image.

There is only one grand choice, but that choice is critical. If, for the third stage, one chooses Subversion, one desires to “take-over” the enemy. The enemy’s house — his many mansions — should be viewed as one’s future property, and so their substance must be preserved while the deed is (re)-written

Victory Through Submission

Christianity, a political philosophy that could accurately be described as Jesusism-Paulism, was designed to Subvert the Roman Empire and seize her institutions in order to remake them. Jesus summed up the essence of subversion — the conquest of force by the service to force — in one line:

If someone [a Roman soldier] forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.
Matthew 5:41

Of course, there is another strategy. Instead of attempted to take-over, one might take-down. One might Subdue the enemy, destroying what is his, and win through war instead of through peace. Six centuries after Jesus, another Semite elucidated that strategy

Submission Through Victory

It is not for any prophet to have captives until he hath made slaughter in the land. Ye desire the lure of this world and Allah desireth (for you) the Hereafter, and Allah is Mighty, Wise.
The Spoils of War:67

The Rule-Set Revolution of Islam had begun.

Muhammed ibn-Abdullah was clearly aware of Christian victory over the Romans. Muhammed changed two basic strategies of Christianity, by transforming it into a strict monotheism and optimizing it for victory in chaotic conditions. Yet these are details compared to his grandest innovation. Muhammed focused his faith not on the Most High or on His Son, but on a Rule-Set. Islam is, at its core, is not Muahmmed and is not Allah. Islam is the Holy Koran.

Muslims were the first “People of the Book” in all history. The earliest Semites were tribalists who wished for their gods to protect their families, and Judaism falls into this category. Jews may be thought of as People of their Father and Mother. The land of the Jews is given to them because of descent from Abraham:

When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates- the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.”
Genesis 15:17-21

and his wife, Sarah

God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.” … Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.
Genesis 27:15-22

The Christians, meanwhile were the People of the Son

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
John 17:20-23

Muhammed saw a basic weakness in loyalty to a personality or Holy Family: ruleset corruption.

An essential difference between Christianity and Islam is that the faith of Jesus focused on resiliency while the religion of Muahmmed centered on resilience. Resiliency is “the ability to spring back from and successfully adapt to adversity.” The Christian takeover of Rome exhibited resiliency because the faith could adapt to problems, through unifying mechanisms such as the Nicene Creed. However, Muhammed wanted Islam to have resilience instead. Resilience, the capacity of a material to absorb energy when it is deformed elastically and then, upon unloading to have this energy recovered, focuses on recovering the initial form. Christianity as practiced during its take-over of Rome would not be operationally the same as Christianity after the fall of Rome, because the needs of a 4GW force in its early stages are different from the needs of a 4GW army in its later stages. However, Muhammad wanted Islam to be the same everywhere, he made his words into a universal ruleset.

To Christians flexibility was not a problem — only Jesus was the Word of God and revolution could “unfold.” The purpose of Christianity, after all, was not Law but Love, and Love is a magic cloud beyond words, but it is not measurable and not objectively verifiable.

To Muhammed this was a problem. As he said:

Say: “Of your ‘partners’ is there any that can give any guidance towards truth?” Say: “It is Allah Who gives guidance towards truth, is then He Who gives guidance to truth more worthy to be followed, or he who finds not guidance (himself) unless he is guided? what then is the matter with you? How judge ye?”

Mohammed was the first theorist in all history to define religion exclusively as rule-set adherence. Jesus and Paul had integrated a 4GW strategy — loving your neighbor — in with faith in order tow in. But Mohammed integrated every strategy into the faith. Contract law, criminal law, family law, even military strategy were elucidated before hand. Mohammed viewed Judaism and Christianity as failed because of the memetic drift they experienced.

Judaism and Christianity both “unfold” over time. Judaism can accurately be described as a Religion of Life because the focus is on the promulgation in this world of offspring of Abraham and Sarah. All Jewish Laws must be interpreted as rules to guide the People of Life. A Jewish Law that works against Life is not, in this context, being properly understood. Christianity can accurately be described as a Religion of Love because the focus in on the promulgation of loving kindness as described by Jesus and Paul. All Christian Laws must be interpreted as guide to the People of Love. A Christian Law that works against Love is not, in this context, being properly understood. In contrast, Islam can accurately be described as a Religion of One Ruleset, the Koran, in opposition to all others. The only proper Rules are those that spread the Ruleset. As a genetic program, Islam is frighteningly advanced.

It is fair to say that Judaism is Tribalist, Christianity is Ideological, and Islam is Totalitarian. Not in some particular implementations, but in their meaning and purpose.

The victories of Islam were swift, and they kept coming. A well evolved super-organism, the Ruleset and its Armies move conquered all of Roman Empire, Roman Iberia, all of Roman Asia outside of Anatolia. Fleets would soon sail to the indies, and assist in the flow of labor from Africa to the empire through slavery.

Much worse for the Christian Revolutionaries, the shattering attacks would not stop. The Cosmopolitan Empire, imperfect as it was, of the Greek Christians would be less and less able to export the security a Cosmopolitan faith like Christianity required. The old Maoism of Greco-Roman Civilization, which Christianity aimed to conquer, would re-emerge and the Western Church would fall pray to the barbaric tribalisms of a petty continent.

Islamic ideals would challenge Christianity as the fumbling counter-insurgency of the Romans never could. Before the Christian Revolutionaries could even calculate their losses, the Islamization of Christianity had begun.

But that is a post for another time…

Jesusism-Paulism, a tdaxp series in six parts
1. Love Your Enemy As You Would Have Him Love You
2. Caiaphas and Diocletian Did Know Better
3. Every Man a Panzer, Every Woman a Soldat
4. The Fall of Rome
5. The People of the Book
6. Embrace and Extend

Politely Criticizing Zen Pundit on Rule Sets

Rules, Rule Sets, and Social Systems,” by Mark Safranski, Rule Set Reset, February 2005, ppg 9-10, .

When I was in high school, a science teacher gave me Thomas Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions to read. Kuhn broke down science into “normal science” – the boring yet important work or improving the precision of theories, and “revolutionary science” – the creation of new theories that change the “paradigm.” I was unimpressed, and handed in a review that attacked Kuhn on point after point. A few words in response by my instructor, and I was converted. I saw the book in an entirely new light, and often rely on it for philosophy-of-science arguments.

Similarly, a recent comment by Larry made me look at Mark Safranski’s article for the first Rule Set Reset in a new way. When I first read it, I agreed with all of it. But Larry’s remark made me read deeper and see much more meaning.

Thanking Larry for his comment, and Mark for writing in the first place, I offer my humble critique of Safranski’s “Rules, Rule Sets, and Social Systems: The Goldfish Bowl In Which We Swim.” Because his work is important, I am quoting his entire article and making comments where appropriate

Few of us would be comfortable living in a society without rules. Have you dealt with an incorrigibly antisocial colleague or attempted to control the actions of a two-year old? You might have caught yourself wishing you could create a few new rules of your own!

Taken together, the rules that govern a situation are known as a “rule set.” In human society, so powerful is the sense of psychological security provided by rule sets, so useful are they in creating predictable outcomes, that when we find ourselves societally adrift, like Robinson Crusoe, we quickly invent new ones.

Whether we’re talking about a nation-state or a family unit, societal rule sets function to structure a system, defining proper procedures and their anticipated outcomes. The rule set is a system’s “genetic code” that transfers a system’s characteristics and its values to its constituents. Understanding societal rule sets, therefore, is fundamental to understanding a social system.

My first comment is just an aside. When I wrote the simulation for my thesis, A Computer Model of National Behavior, I assigned genetic code to nations. However, I used the more simplistic categories of “aggressiveness,” “health,” and so on. Modeling genetic rule-sets would be fascinating.

How clearly a human society communicates its expectations to its members, in terms of procedures and core values, is measured by its place on an articulation continuum. On this continuum, rule sets can be explicit or implicit. In a complex system, just as in a nation-state, explicit and implicit rule sets coexist.

Explicit rule-set systems are highly formal, emphasizing uniformity of procedure, objectivity, neutrality, and attention to precedent. Literacy is a prerequisite for explicit, objective rules. The emergence of explicit rule sets like the Code of Hammurabi had to wait until a societal elite mastered the art of writing. Explicit rule sets are often the province of the State through the many organizations – unions, churches, professional groups, schools, corporations, fraternal orders, and so forth – that maintain codes of conduct and bylaws.

I’m not sure why Mark says explicit rule sets have to be written. “Explicit” means “said,” and it seems tht any rule that has to be “said” would qualify as “explicit.”

By making literacy a requirement for explicit rule sets, Mark rules them out for most of the human experience. For example, Islamic Sharia is a very explicit rule set that normally is strongest where literacy is weakest. Other tribes can have very specific memorized sets of rules without the benefit of writing.

Implicit rule-set systems are older, subtler, and often more powerful than explicit rule-set systems. They are subjective, intuitively understood, flexible, vaguely defined, and opaque to outsiders and novices alike. Unwritten and often unspoken as well, implicit rule sets may deal with status, tradition, group affinity, and personal identification.

A problem with this definition is that it doesn’t fully complement the definition of explicit. What to make of a new, glaring, and weak unwritten rule? What to make of an old, subtle, and powerful written rule? Much of Jewish law would be in the latter category, many “PC” restrictions on speech are in the former.

Japanese corporations, for example, may have ultramodern quality control and finance procedures, but deference to age and seniority play enormous parts in the interpersonal dynamics of Japanese management. From the depth of one’s bow to the order in which participants engage in a discussion, senior-junior obligation relationships are governed by the implicit rule-set of Japanese culture. Even newer institutions with a younger heritage will develop a particular outlook and habits of mind not to be challenged lightly. It means something to be a Marine or a Rhodes Scholar, a Harvard man or a Teamster: at the level of personal identify, each adheres to a different implicit rule set. Yet all adhere to higher-level rule sets, also, as – in this case – Americans. Individuals are subject to and sustain multiple rule sets as part of their complex identities.

An aside: Mark’s definition of “rule sets” seem very close to my definitions of “controls.” Thoughts?

The danger of “value rivalry” threatens explicit rule sets. An explicit rule set can be undermined by implicit rules and values that are antithetical, that encourage destructive behavior. Nowhere in Enron’s official corporate policies were theft, lying, and financial fraud formally endorsed – in fact, they were probably decried in its official documents – but Enron’s implicit rule-set rewarded hyper-aggressive executives and punished those who played by the explicit rules. Such a conflict is typical of a dysfunctional rule set that characterizes a system at risk of decline.

Does it also characterize changing, dynamic systems? Perhaps such conflicts are typical of all rule sets (“controls”) in systems that are in a hyper-competitive environment rather than just those at risk of decline.

The degree to which a system can ensure compliance with its rule sets, by administering consequences, we call the enforcement continuum. On this continuum, enforcement of rule sets can be classified as strong or weak.

Here’s an interesting distinction between Mark’s “rule-sets” and my “controls.” I said that controls themselves can be strong or weak, while Mark talks about the enforcement of controls being strong or weak. Interesting.

When they challenge implicit or explicit rules, rule-breakers face consequences. Systems featuring strong enforcement respond immediately to rule-set infractions with severe punishments of reasonable certainty.

Not proportionate punishments of reasonable certainty? The Eisenhower administration developed a national defense based on severe retaliation. After the publication of The Uncertain Trumpet, however, Kennedy developed a system of proportionate response. The shift was because mandated severe retaliation was unworkable, because it would strain the “enforcer” too much.

Those with weak enforcement do not respond to infractions or do so incompetently. Either the system itself is sick and stretched thin by too many competing claims, or it has made a deliberate policy choice. To intentionally ignore criminal behavior as defined by law, to appease enemies, to fail to maintain order in the face of gross violations or violence, may be a partial repudiation of a prevailing rule set by the system’s own leaders.

In what way can a system be “deliberate”? I do not know if Mark is suggesting intelligent control of the system, or if the system reacts as if it is intelligent.

Arrayed in a 2 x 2 matrix, these continuums create social systems we may call Totalitarian (Strong-Explicit), Communal (Strong-Implicit), Individualist (Weak-Explicit), and Anarchic (Weak-Implicit). Social systems are dynamic and over time a particular system may shift position within a quadrant.

Using somewhat different concepts, I looked at horizontal and vertical controls and horizontal and vertical freedom. The major difference between us seems to be in shades. Specifically, Mark’s “individualist” shouldn’t be confused with one allowing for the most individual freedom. Because so many of its rules are implicit, communal societies give more vertical freedom to individuals than individualist ones. Therefore, a libertarian paradise would be a communal society.

Individualist social systems like the United States function relatively well with minimalist sets of rules with a high degree of legitimacy (“buy-in”): many aspects of the rule set are actually self-enforcing. Their constraints appeal to mutual self-interest. Traffic laws are an example of a simple rule set with high voluntary compliance. An Individualist system produces a highly economical social order. In the few instances where the U.S. has deviated from this model (e.g., Prohibition in the 1920s and the “war on drugs” today), the results have been disastrous. Buy-in has been lacking. Failed attempts at overly strong enforcement only make the infractions more attractive and profitable.

An aside: a reason that traffic laws have such high voluntary compliance is that they are (to an extent) also horizontal controls — they are also in the horizontal rule set. Just as driving 100 km/h in the wrong lane is illegal (against vertical control), it is also viewed as “strange” (against horizontal control).

Communal and Totalitarian systems differ primarily in their reliance on violence to enforce rule sets. Communal systems, like Afghanistan’s, are often bound by horizontal rule sets: tribal societies operating within the implicit rule set have a high degree of legitimacy. Shared values are maintained by socially approved acts of private violence against transgressors. Black markets among organized crime syndicates are another example of the Communal model. A more benevolent variant is European social democracy and especially Scandinavian culture, which encourages and rewards commendable, socially beneficial behavior with quiet but pervasive social approval.

This is a case of an overarching horizontal society possessing many miniature vertical societies. In Afghanistan pre-modern political networks are vertical — they use violence to function. So even though “Afghan culture” is horizontal, the families, clans, and tribes are vertical.

Mb to enforce rule sets that cover most spheres of public life. Unlike Communal societies, which are stable and admit little change over centuries, Totalitarian systems are unstable, rigid, and economically wasteful.

What about cultures like North Korea, which (according to reports) are descending into gang-lawlessness with the army removing itself from police work and focusing on political enemies? Pyongyang is very totalitarian, but does not possess a monopoly on violence.

The Soviet Union lasted only three generations; Maoist China, only two; and the Third Reich and the Qin dynasty’s Legalist regime, only one. It’s a common tenet among political scientists that authority vanishes the moment it’s used. Totalitarian systems collapse inherently, but if their implicit rule sets compensate, they can endure over time, as did the Roman Empire.

My knowledge of legalism is laughably small — about everything comes from its parable in Xenocide by Orson Scott Card. In my understanding, legalism was defined by a fanatical belief in the rule of law. Is that not an opposite of totalitarianism?

I’m not sure that the Roman Empire was totalitarian. Because of the limited communication system, regional governors and commanders exercised broad control. At what point was the Roman Empire “totalitarian”?

Anarchic systems are significant in failed states and among lynch mobs. The State is incapable of protecting itself, much less enforcing rule sets, as the very mores of society disintegrate. Anarchy represents the failure of rule sets.

Special-pleading claims by parties protecting self-interest or seeking advantage occur in every system. The consistency with which such biased appeals are rejected is a good indicator of a social system’s rule-set stability and its health. When a system begins to cater to illegitimate demands, openly or in secret, the system is in decline.

Bribery is an old method of horizontal control. Special-pleading complements a system’s power when its rejection or acceptance is defined by the power and nature of the special pleaders, and not their “legitimacy.”

Who defines legitimacy? How do we characterize warring social rule sets? Legitimacy, in a Lockean vein, derives from the consent of the governed, expressed in a variety of ways: consensus and voluntary obedience, formal procedures to ratify societal approval, and acceptance of the moral/ethical premises of the prevailing rule sets in everyday, informal situations. Special-pleading claims are judged illegitimate because they seek to carve out illogical exceptions to the rule-set in contrast with what are perceived to be logical, necessary, and ethically harmonious exceptions. Warring social rule sets produce a dysfunctional state of affairs.

Do any Afghan warlords possess legitimacy? Mark’s argument implies not.

Rule sets often (some would say, always) outlive the era for which they were created and no longer fit current conditions. Instead of regulating the system, the rule set’s effects are to multiply or worsen problems. It is then time to “Reset the Rule Set” via evolution or revolution. The United States reset the global rule set after WWII by creating the UN, Bretton Woods, NATO, and the IMF to replace the former systems of protectionism and imperialism that resulted in two cycles of economic gyrations and world wars.

This made me wonder the manner in which rule sets evolve. If they evolve as described by Darwin, evolution is constant and a rule-set cannot be “reset” by evolution alone. On the other hand, if rule-sets evolved in punctuated equilibria, the comment is more accurate.

There is a personal dimension to rule sets. If the society in which one lives is following its normal procedures, yet its outcomes are perceived to be meaningless or counterproductive, then the rule set probably must go. This may be one of those times.

Thanks for the fantastic article, Mark! Sorry it took so long to understand it!

Influence v. Source Code

The Eastern Question: Part III,” by Chirol, Coming Anarchy, 3 May 2005, http://www.cominganarchy.com/archives/2005/05/03/the-eastern-question-part-iii/.

Chirol at Coming Anarchy makes a good point about the difference between influence and style. We have nothing to fear from a state that’s in China’s political orbit. We have everything to fear from one that acts like the old China

We need to remember that influence and ideology are different. A country where China has influence through say business interests like Kazakhstan isn’t as dangerous as a country running China’s “code” like Burma or North Korea. The west in the broadest sense is expanding its system, running its source code in more countries and that is part of the Eastern Question. Countries merely competing for influence is another matter entirely.

Thus, in order to maintain not the balance of power, but to maintain peace and international prosperity, we must expand or realign large sections of the world. Thus the latest Eastern Question deals more with the balance of power between stability and chaos than among states. The Cold War era was stable and thus safe. Since it ended, we’ve seen anarchy erupt across the globe. Keeping that in check and molding these regions into stable democracies will be our challenge.

Countries like Russia and China have had to slowly become like us in order to compete with us. All other isms have failed. Liberal democracy has no credible ideological competitors. We can’t fall into the classic trap of “masterly inactivity” we need to be forward thinking and acting.

Well said.

Pat Robertson Right, dKos Wrong, on Vertical and Horizontal Perturbations

New Rules for a New Crisis,” by Thomas Barnett Deleted Scenes, 2004, http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/delscenes/scene22.htm.

Reviewing Deleted Scenes Part III,” by Mark Safranski, Zen Pundit, 23 October 2004, http://zenpundit.blogspot.com/2004/10/reviewing-deleted-scene-part-iii-to.html.

crazy Pat: Judges worse than 9-11
,” by kos, Daily Kos, 2 May 2005, http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/5/2/13442/06486.

Boy, the dude is off his rockers.

Federal judges are a more serious threat to America than Al Qaeda and the Sept. 11 terrorists, the Rev. Pat Robertson claimed yesterday.

“Over 100 years, I think the gradual erosion of the consensus that’s held our country together is probably more serious than a few bearded terrorists who fly into buildings,” Robertson said on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.”

“I think we have controlled Al Qaeda,” the 700 Club host said, but warned of “erosion at home” and said judges were creating a “tyranny of oligarchy.”

Confronted by Stephanopoulos on his claims that an out-of-control liberal judiciary is the worst threat America has faced in 400 years – worse than Nazi Germany, Japan and the Civil War – Robertson didn’t
back down

“Yes, I really believe that,” he said. “I think they are destroying the fabric that holds our nation together.”

It used to be that “9-11 changed everything”, but apparently that pales in comparison to the horrors of 7 filibustered judges and the whole of the Republican-dominated judiciary.


Robert’s an easy target, but he is right here. Given that Pat Robertson naturally believes the judges issues is very important, the issue comes down to what is more important: horizontal scenarios or vertical scenarios . That is, what are more harmful to American society: “bolts from the blue” or “long, drawn-out attacks”?

Robertson’s views are not extreme. The esteemed Mark Safranski calls the consequences overrestrictive visa policies potentially worse than 9/11 economically

When budding scientists and mathematicians from India, China, South Korea, Russia- many of whom after studying in American universities decide to stay here permanently and contribute to our economic and technological preeminence – decide a U.S. visa isn’t worth the security restrictions hassle, we are shooting ourselves in the foot. Somehow I think we can take precautions to screen out young Islamist males belonging to Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaida without targeting 180 I.Q. Asian physicists and genetic engineers. Long term this trend represents an economic disaster far worse than 9/11 – we depend on foreigners to fill about half of our annual hard science Ph.d slots – there are no ” substitute goods ” for these kinds of brains. If they aren’t here, they’re not here and critical opportunities simply get lost.

While Grand Strategist Thomas PM Barnett says that horizontal scenarios harm horizontal systems (like American society) more than vertical scenarios:

Rule #6: Vertical scenarios harm vertical systems more, while horizontal scenarios harm horizontal systems more. This rule simply says that Rule #5 is basically wrong, despite what people in both systems tend to believe. In reality, vertical strikes can do little damage to truly distributed systems. If someone wipes out the White House, Congress and the Supreme Court one afternoon, nothing would really change in our country in terms of our ability to maintain rule. Yes, it would be a huge shock, but it would not be hard to replace all those leaders rather quickly. I could find you 535 ex-senators and representatives living within a ten-mile radius of the Capitol itself who could easily step back into rule, tell me how hard it would be to find nine lawyers in Washington who think they are smart enough to sit on the Supreme Court! But even beyond those facile examples lies the reality that we have 50 “farm teams” around the country, each complete with their own set of executives, supreme courts, and legislative branches. You if you wipe out our national leadership you do not really kill our capacity for leadership, because we have got more political leaders than we can count! What really stresses out horizontal systems like the U.S. are the horizontal scenarios that never seem to end, like a Great Depression, which really only ended when the vertical shock of Pearl Harbor put the country on another pathway. In contrast, vertical systems like Saddam Hussein’s regime can really be dismembered quite profoundly simply by taking out the leadership. Remember the “most wanted” deck of cards? That said we really needed to nail only about 50 bad actors in Iraq and we would have eliminated the bulk of the Baath party rule.

One may agree or disagree with Mr. Robertson’s concern about activist judges. But it is not extreme to say a “boring” long-running trend may be much worse than 9/11.

Update: America Blog, Dada Head, Escaton, Supreme Irony miss the point

Update 2: Larwyn wrote to say that Ed at Captain’s Quarters picked up the story. He’s wrong too. At least Riehl World gets it.

Bribery as a Form of Horizontal Control

Side Payments in Marketing,” by John R. Hauser, Duncan I. Simester, and Birger Wernerfelt, Marketing Science Journal, Vol. 16, No. 3, 1997, http://bear.cba.ufl.edu/centers/MKS/abstracts/hausersimesterwernerfelt.html.

In Random Regional Business – Reflexions,” by Collounsbury, Lounsbury on MENA, 19 April 2005.

Collounsbury continues to provide the best arguments in favor of bribery (at least in international markets) that I have heard. After discussing impacts of the Sarbanes-Oxley (anti-corruption) Bill, Col writes

One begins to wonder how publicly listed US firms will be able to compete in emerging markets where … ahem standard and legal practice departs from the increasingly absurdly prissy standards in the United States.

In particular, I draw attention to this observation:
“To those tempted to see this as American smugness, she points, in contrast, to sharply lower prosecution rates across much of Europe for similar international bribery cases. The problem is particularly acute in industries or regions of the world where a degree of modest generosity has always been seen as a polite way of building long-term relationships.”

Indeed, emerging US standards are absurd and cold in the context of where I am at

Bribery is interesting in the context of horizontal controls. It is clearly a form of strong (because money talks) explicit (because it is obvious) horizontal control. Becuase horizontal controls are preferable to vertical controls, it is questionable whether bribery should be a crime. Fortunately, a better solution than Sar-Ox may have been form: good horizontal management

Side payments, known politely as gainsharing and pejoratively as bribery, are prevalent in marketing. Indeed, many management schools have added ethics modules to their basic marketing courses to discuss these issues and there is much discussion of side payments in the literature (e.g., Adams 1995, Borrus 1995, Mauro 1997, Mohl 1996, Murphy 1995, Peterson 1996, and Rose-Ackerman 1996). We seek to provide insight with respect to one class of marketing side payments. We hope that our analyses clarify some of the issues and suggest how these side payments affect marketing activities.

We next show that the firm can anticipate these side payments and design a reward system to factor them out at no loss of profit. The intuition is straightforward. The firm first adjusts the marginal returns in the reward functions for sales support and for the salesforce such that they will each take the “optimal” actions even though they engage in side payments. Then the firm adjusts their fixed compensation so that the firm extracts its full profit. The proof is difficult because we must show that adjusted reward systems exist and we must show that they allow the full profit to be extracted.

Market-based solutions tend to be better than government solutions. Col is onto something.

Update: He comments further

Quickly from an internet cafe: I have no problem with sidepayments that are transparent and subject to disclosure. Obviously there has to be a line between criminal behaviour and greasing the wheels. People are people, and trying to run human interaction without a little grease only ends up criminalizing what should be open.

So long as there is disclosure, that should help keep keep distortion to a minimum, without overloading commerce with wrong headed regulation (and as you know, I am not against regulation per se, regulation is good when it is market making – which is more often than market purists admit, far less often than Big Gov people would have it either.)

Controls: Vertical-Horizontal, Strong-Weak, Implicit-Explicit (Spousal Abuse an a Transcending Example)

Chapter 13: Submission to the Authorities,” by Paul, Letter to the Romans, http://bible.gospelcom.net/passage/?search=romans%2013:1-7&version=31.

Mmm, that’s interesting,” by “Not One of Chad’s Little Sheep,” Clean Cut Kid, 12 April 2005, http://www.cleancutkid.com/2005/04/09/ways-to-actually-reduce-abortions#comment-1141.

Freedom of contract is great,” by “Not One of Chad’s Little Sheep,” Clean Cut Kid, 12 April 2005, http://www.cleancutkid.com/2005/04/09/ways-to-actually-reduce-abortions#comment-1143.

Yesterday I blogged on the unequal nature of work. This post extends that words and also replies to a comment on CCK

I’m using the following definitions

  • vertical control is domination supported by nonconsentual violence
  • horizontal control is domination not supported by nonconsentual violence

For example, the following groups may excersize vertical control against you

  • The IRS (they will take your property)
  • The Police (they can imprison you)
  • Thugs (also may take your property, but with less fuss and more random violence than the IRS)

Meanwhile, the following probably are excersizing horizontol control over you

  • Friends (be rude to them, they will be rude to you)
  • Employer (not show up on time, he will stop paying you)
  • Parent (“fail” expectations, they are no longer proud of you)

Systems of horizontal and vertical control can interact. Saint Paul created a morality of authority to get followers to peer pressure each other into obeying the government — horizontal pressure reenforcing vertical pressure.

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.

Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

Vertical controls are sometimes used to reenforce horizontal ones as well. Hillary Clinton is noteably encouraging the government to force employers to recognize religions — an authority of morality

Vertical and Horizontal Controls can be strong or weak. Roughly, a control is weak if it can be profitably violated to little personal ill effect. For example, the following prohibitions:

  • Strong Vertical: Terrorism, Murder, Bank Robbery
  • Weak Vertical: Littering
  • Strong Horizontal: “Stealing” a significant other
  • Weak Horizontal: Spitting outdoors

The ultimate consequences of violating strong controls may be severe, regardless of whether they are vertical or horizontal. Breaking the strong vertical prohibitions may lead to imprisonment or even death. But breaking strong horizontal prohibitions can also lead serious emotional which can kill (suicide).

What’s nice about horizontal controls is that they are voluntary. If a man wishes to be a devout Catholic and observe all the canon laws, fine – the Church will have horizontal control of you. If not, fine – the Church no longer has that control. If you yearn for the acceptance of your friends, you are under their horizontal control and must be the friend they wish you to be. If not, be yourself.

Note how the voluntary nature of horizontal controls affects the bargaining situation. There are thousands of faiths in the world, so if a man just wishes to be faithful he has tremendous buyer power. But if that man wishes to be a devout and noted Roman Catholic in the Sioux Falls Archdioces, suddendly that Churh has immense sellign power. In horizontal control, the bargaining positions are voluntary.

One last note: horizontal and vertical rules can be implicit or explicit. Implicit rules are often recognized as “natural” while explicit ones are “artificial.” For example

  • Implicit Vertical: murder (the legal term is a heinous crime or crime of moral terpitude)
  • Explicit Vertical: accounting fraud
  • Implicit Horizontal: murder (even in anarchy, few people would kill even if able to get away with it)
  • Explicit Horizontal: When at an expensive restaurant, use the outer silverwear first

Note the overlap between implicit vertical and implicit horizontal controls — both are “natural.” And also notice the calculation needed to avoid violating explicit rules — both are “unnatural.” Any rule can be internalized and made implicit — public nudity is an implicit vertical prohibition in the United States and a implicit horizontal prohibition pretty much everywhere.

This all leads up to two comments on Clean Cut Kid on spousal abuse

The abusing spouse has inordinate control over the abused spouse. The inherent power of the abusing spouse makes their abuse worse than that doled out in a simple battery outside of a marriage or relationship and abuse of that power should receive greater punishment.

and later

Freedom of contract is great. When the parties are of equal strength. It has no application in the case of spousal abuse where, typically, the abusing spouse has inordinate control over the abused spouse.

I thank the poster for the comments, but the comments themselves are spurious. The husband has the selling power the wife wishes, and the wife has the selling power the husband wishes. Each spouse only open to abuse to the extent that spouse chooses — further, each spouse recognizes abuse to the extent that spouse chooses.

A devout Muslim woman may choose (have an internalized horizontal ruleset that states) to recognize abuse as being told to appear in public without a veil (“forced” to be “immodest”). A secular American man may choose (have an internalized horizontal ruleset that states) to recognize abuse as being calmly verbally abused (“nagged”). Each recognizes and accepts those actions

On the othe hand, laws against spousal abuse are vertical controls. They are non voluntary. Spousal abuse laws are completely nonhorizontal — they are culturally arbitrary. American laws against spousal abuse may heavily punish a striker but consider the woman who wishes to be veiled weird (at best). Analagous Saudi laws are the reverse.

And such is the way of controls, both implicit and explicit, strong and weak, vertical and horizontal.

To Protect and Destroy Horizontal Controls

Dancers cited for exposing breasts,” Daytona Beech News-Journal, 27 March 2005, http://www.news-journalonline.com/NewsJournalOnline/News/WestVolusia/03WVolWEST02032705.htm(from White Cheech (nsfw) through Technorati).

Blagojevich Requires Pharmacies To Fill Birth Control Orders Quickly,” Associted Press, 1 April 2005, http://abclocal.go.com/wls/news/040105_ap_ns_birthcontrol_orders.html (from Tiger Hawk).

Two related stories.

Nine female dancers were charged with exposing their breasts at Softtails Saloon.

The dancers, ranging from 24 to 38 years old, were issued notices to appear in court and then released after being cited Thursday night, Volusia County Sheriff’s spokesman Gary Davidson said.

Volusia County law requires women to partly cover themselves and not reveal certain areas of their bodies while dancing at businesses that serve alcohol.

Business manager Lynn Fraser, 20, was charged with allowing the violations to occur. Softtails is on U.S. 92 just east of DeLand.

Davidson said the Sheriff’s Office received complaints about the dancers flashing. Plain-clothed deputies with the Sheriff’s Office Crime Suppression Team visited the business Thursday. After deputies witnessed the violations, the 10 women were issued citations


Gov. Rod Blagojevich filed an emergency rule Friday requiring pharmacies that sell contraceptives to fill prescriptions for birth control quickly, following recent incidents in which a Chicago pharmacist refused to fill orders for contraceptives because of moral opposition.

“Our regulation says that if a woman goes to a pharmacy with a prescription for birth control, the pharmacy or the pharmacist is not allowed to discriminate or to choose who he sells it to or who he doesn’t sell it to,” Blagojevich said. “The pharmacy will be expected to accept that prescription and fill it … No delays. No hassles. No lectures.”

The anti-stripper law probably was probably written by moralists, while the birth control decree was issued by a Democrat. On one level they have different purposes. The Softails case is a case of government interference because of a perceived lack of virtue (horizontal control). Blogojevich’s order is goernment action because of too much horizontal control. But they both illustrate a major problem with American laws.

But they share a common theme: public policy overriding private morality. They replace horizontal controls with vertical ones, or weaken civil society and strengthen government diktat . This is a tragedy, this is dangerous. Focusing on state control channels citizens higher instincts away from voluntary organizations and toward influencing government. True virtue is abandoned in favor of using state force. Internalized civility is replaced with institutionalized thuggery.

Tiger Hawk, who I agree with, spotted a vertical control I miseed. I’ll close with his words

TigerHawk belongs to the “more the merrier” school of birth control, so I do not subscribe to the thinking of these moralist pharmacists. However, some of them believe that certain types of birth control, including particularly pills in a “morning after” dose, act to abort a conceived egg, and that by selling these pills they are participating in an abortion. Or maybe they just oppose contraception. In either case, I think their position is asinine.

The good news, though, is that small-town women have it within their own power to solve this problem: Keep a big old stock of birth control pills handy. If you don’t have ’em, have friends who have ’em. If you accidently have unprotected sex, take several the next morning and several more before you go to bed the next night. Read this, and read the label on the pill so you can calculate the dose. And since I don’t give medical advice, which is smart because I’m a lawyer, consult your doctor.

The Times missed a great opportunity to protect the right of a pharmacist to his conscience and flank the activists who are trying to drive birth control out of the economy. Had I been writing this morning’s editorial I would have argued that the morning after pill — “Plan B” — be sold over the counter. If it were sold in every 7-Eleven as it should be, we would not have to write rules ordering pharmacists to choose between their God and their livelihood