A Clash of Two Systems
Comment of the Day

September 02 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

A Clash of Two Systems

This article by Nassim Nicholas Taleb may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Solzhenitsyn clearly saw the diabolical aspect of communist society, but believed that Western society was just as harmful. But being naturally multicentric, the West aims to be like Switzerland — it’s bottom-top oriented in spite of occasional concentration.

Furthermore, the “West” is evolving; it does not have fixed centers of authority. Certainly, there are disproportionate influences in the West, as today’s Google and yesterday’s General Motors, but Google or General Motors are not the center of it — these multinationals do not even control themselves.

Multinationals tend to go bust — in fact they are more likely to fold than your family run business.

This model tends to “antifragility” — a concept present in my books that refers to a property of systems that strengthen when exposed to stressors, shocks or volatility. Russia cannot be what I call “antifragile”.

Eoin Treacy's view

Systems that prioritise the rights and responsibilities of the individual rather than that of the state tend to be more flexible.

That’s most particularly relevant today because the benefits of the liberal order are under constant attack both at home and abroad.

Concurrently, the resources available to authoritarians have increased significantly precisely because the liberal world order dreamed of an environment where they could be encouraged in from the cold.

At its most basic this is about the conflict between control versus cooperation. The paradox of capitalism identified by Adam Smith is individuals seeking their own welfare are more willing to cooperate. It is much less remarked that the paradox of authoritarianism/communism is individuals forced to subsume their self-interest are more inclined to seek it at the expense of their neighbour.

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