The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Swarm

The truly crazy behavior that has afflicted the Left post-election has absorbed many of my posts over the last 6 weeks. The reason is that it's fascinating. The seeming inability to graciously accept an election lost, examine the reasons for the loss introspectively, and adapt for the future is troubling for those of us who believe that differing political viewpoints and debate are healthy and that reality on the ground will ultimately sort out the winners.

Today is the day that some progressives have used as a deadline to lobby, or threaten, or otherwise try to intimidate electoral college members to change their vote and "elect" Hillary Clinton, because ... well, she's not Donald Trump. This "stupid and futile gesture" embarrasses almost everyone, except the true believers on the Left. I can only wonder what will happen tomorrow.

Richard Fernandez discusses all of this when he writes:
Progressives do not have the monopoly of systematic error. It's a feature of all dogmatic systems, of every movement ruled by groupthink. Any sufficiently fanatical movement will moronize itself. The ongoing Islamic civil war is a sad example of people literally killing each other because that's what the signal tells them to do.

Imitative thinking afflicts its adherents as Naseem Taleb points out, with a special sort of stupidity one actually has to learn: the art of "how not to find the coconut on Coconut Island". It disables common sense; must disable it so the group signal will dominate.
What we have been seeing worldwide, from India to the UK to the US, is the rebellion against the inner circle of no-skin-in-the-game policymaking “clerks” and journalists-insiders, that class of paternalistic semi-intellectual experts with some Ivy league, Oxford-Cambridge, or similar label-driven education who are telling the rest of us 1) what to do, 2) what to eat, 3) how to speak, 4) how to think… and 5) who to vote for.

But the problem is the one-eyed following the blind: these self-described members of the “intelligentsia” can’t find a coconut in Coconut Island, meaning they aren’t intelligent enough to define intelligence hence fall into circularities — but their main skill is capacity to pass exams written by people like them ... The Intellectual Yet Idiot.
But groupthink has advantages. For one it allows organizations to implement swarming tactics. People are attracted to such organizations because in exchange for submission it offers apparent power. It is no coincidence that Hillary's slogan of "stronger together" sounds like the "democratic centralism" of Lenin's day. It's essentially the same thing. Submit to the group and you will be part of an irresistible movement. Alone you are weak but as part of a swarm directed by a single mind you can overcome anything.
The swarm seems to be changing its narrative on a weekly basis. Today, it's jettison the electoral college because "The Russians Did It!" but before that there were many other excuses. Next week there may something else.

But overall, it's still a swarm. Fernandez continues with a metaphor taken directly from a core software engineering concept:
Freedom has certain strengths that are often overlooked amid its many weaknesses. Programmers know the rationale for loose coupling "an approach to interconnecting the components in a system ... so that those components ... depend on each other to the least extent practicable" is adaptability. It can absorb change because elements are isolated from changes to some other element. Each node has enough individual autonomy to operate on its own even with the network down.

If this architecture resembles the federal system it's because it does. The constitution defined functions which were shared and a common interface. But sufficient freedom was left to the elements to ensure they were viable. Elements were enhanced by the network but they did not need the network to survive. By contrast the swarm can't delegate. The stronger the Left got, the tighter they coupled. It had to control everything until the personal became political, till privacy disappeared and one's very words were policed.

What could go wrong? The signal.

Swarm architecture is vulnerable to an overload condition or the cascading effects of a bug. Putin understood how it worked and consequently how to jam it. The sound you hear among progressives is the sizzle of their neurons fritzing out. They are largely doing it to themselves. To make a system robust you have to design freedom into it . There's a reason why nature evolved men as individuals instead of as ants. Individual choice confers a survival advantage that ants don't have. That's why men are going to Mars while ants are still building holes in the ground.
Thoughtful adherents to leftist thinking should consider Fernandez' comments dispassionately. There is truth in his words, despite what members of the swarm want to believe.


As if on queue with still more excuses, The Hill reports on the opinion of former president Bill Clinton:
Former President Bill Clinton is blaming his wife's loss in the presidential election on FBI Director James Comey.

"James Comey cost her the election," Clinton said, according to an editorial published in the Bedford-Pound Ridge Record Review in New York after its editor ran into Clinton at a local bookstore.

Comey in October sent a letter to lawmakers about the discovery of new emails the FBI said were potentially relevant to the investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while secretary of State.

Bill Clinton said Hillary Clinton's campaign was leading in national polls and on a path to win key battleground states prior to Comey's letter, as first reported by Politico.
Hmmm. I wonder ... Was it Comey himself who installed the private server in Hillary's house? Was it Comey who allowed national security violations on that server? Was it Comey who deleted 30,000 emails from the server once its existence was revealed? Was it Comey who repeatedly lied about the server?

But the answers to those questions don't matter much to the swarm.

UPDATE (12/20/16):

Even left-wing VOX notes the swarm's failed, yet ridiculous, attempt to subvert the Electoral College:
When Donald Trump won the presidential election in November, some liberals and activists had a cool-sounding idea. What if, they mused, they could in fact block his win through the Electoral College, which actually casts the ballots that will officially make Trump president?

But when the electors gathered across the country Monday, this plot backfired embarrassingly — more electors defected from Hillary Clinton than from Trump.

Overall, Clinton lost five electors from states she won — three of whom instead cast their votes for former Secretary of State Colin Powell, one of whom voted for Bernie Sanders, and the other of whom voted for Faith Spotted Eagle, an activist involved in protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Meanwhile, three electors in other states Clinton won attempted to defect from her, but two were replaced with Clinton-supporting alternates and the other one changed his mind after a revote.