Landes, Landes, Taleb and the Meme Merchants Consortium – congruence on the culture of generativity vs the culture of piracy


There has been an interesting congruence this week between the workings of the Meme Merchants Consortium and Richard Landes’s, blog the Augean Stables, which has been cited here before on several occasions, most recently: Poison in the Well of Culture.  Landes’s latest article, Romney Cites Landes, Offends Palestinians is a discussion of the recent controversy surrounding US Presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s suggestion that key differences in Palestinian and Israeli culture are responsible for the stark divide between the two societies economic productivity.

In reading Landes’s article I was struck by the congruence between our separate conclusions about two ostensibly different societies, in Landes’s case the Palestinians of the 21st century, and in the Meme Merchants case the Barbary Corsairs of the 16th to 19th centuries.  Landes concludes [emphasis mine]:

On the other hand, Arab political culture, amply embodied by the Palestinian variety, promotes a cultue of  contempt for hard work by leisured elites, widespread commitment to zero-sum games of dominance, an distrust of intellectual openness and external influences, a strong emphasis on rote learning and respecting those older and more powerful, hostility to women in the public sphere, ubiquitous protection rackets (e.g., Arafat the PA), a violent repression of public criticism… in a phrase, a culture dedicated to taking, not making.

I reached a similar conclusion in my article, Hostis Humani Generis – reflections on the enemies of mankind… over the weekend, that pirate culture is a kind of kleptoparasitism and that a key distinguishing characteristic pirate society and civil society is that, “…it produces nothing.”

I found the congruence of the timing and analyses of our two articles interesting.

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A reply to EM – A view down the road towards evolutionary concrescence


E.M. Smith, the Chiefio, has a comment in under my previous post A Roman Holiday – Chiefio on the problem of no fixes for the same ol’ same ‘ol, which was itself an elaboration upon a post at his blog, Same Solution, Same Problem, no fix .

In the comments E.M. noted:

FWIW, I think California is a great example of how the myth of “closer ties” is broken. We’re about as “tied” to the USA as you can get and fully economically and financially integrated. We’ve just had a 3rd city declare bankruptcy and several counties along with the State proper are headed toward it. We are the “Greece of the USA” and everyone knows it. So if ‘closer integration’ was going to fix things: How come California is so messed up financially?

My reply became long winded enough, and covered enough new theoretical ground that I’ve decided to promote it to a new post.

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Black Swan Bad – Tutelary Insults, the strangest beast in the world can’t be imagined – or how Cygnus atratus dreams of being a Platypus


For over two thousand years the idea of a ‘Black Swan’ has been synonymous with something that does not exist or cannot exist, and comes down to us originally from Aristotle’s Prior Analytics where the concepts: white, black and swan are proposed as predicates in syllogisms using white + swan as a necessary relations and the black + swan as an improbable or impossible one – not an entirely unreasonable position when you consider that no one had ever seen anything but white swans and seven eights of the world was unknown to the Greeks.

The Black Swan form was further popularized from the 2nd century on by Roman satirist Juvenal’s couplet:

rara avis in terris nigroque simillima cygno

[a rare bird in the lands, and very like a black swan]

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