Sunday, 21 June 2020

How Do You Go Bankrupt? Very Slowly. And Then Very Quickly.

You want the truth? You can't handle the truth.

Or maybe you can. It hardly matters. The truth correlates to the facts and the facts are embedded in reality. Reality doesn't change, so you are going to handle reality, the facts, the truth, like it or not. Or, put another way, failure to observe reality will not stop reality impinging on you. So far, this all sounds self-evident, but give me a minute and I'll get to where it isn't. If you find the current reality confusing, it will all become clear by the time I'm done.

To clarify requires some structure that is solidly based in reality. The first questions should be, what is real? What is the most fundamental statement about reality that pertains?

Biological organisms compete.

If anyone cares to undertake the endless quest for a biological organism that does not compete, feel free.

Competition is conflict.

No matter how passive that conflict may be, it is still conflict. A strangler vine is unaware of the existence of the tree, but at the end of the day the tree is still dead.

Conflict is war.

That may seem a little less firm, but observe that though there was no malice on the part of the strangler vine, the tree is still dead. It may have reproduced before it dies, but so did the strangler vine. The conflict continues. You might argue that war is a property of organisms that organise, but that is us so I find no comfort there.

Competition is conflict and conflict is war. No malice is necessary on the part of anyone at all.

Just for fun, let's take a human example. 'The abiding mystery of Easter island' is one of my favourite falsehoods. Observe the events in sequence and there is no mystery. Europe stumbled across the island accidentally; Europe being the Dutch, the accident being that they were looking for a posited continent that didn't exist. They fund an isolated nation, a people of one culture, without internal conflict, without external contact and so no external conflict. They apparently didn't even have weapons, subsuming the natural desire of young men to compete in an annual competition, the winner gaining some advantage. The Dutch describe a fairly stable farming nation. The statues were in place at the edge of the island. By the mid 1800's the statues had fallen and the island was a depopulated ecological disaster zone.

So, what happened? Did the Dutch arrive with the malicious intent of destroying the nation of the people of Easter island, wrecking the totemic statues and destroying the ecology? No. They primarily stopped to re-supply food and water. The conflict of cultures was sufficiently immediate that on the beach a dozen people died, despite being welcome enough to land, lead by a local, greeted with curiosity by locals who didn't recognize a gun as a weapon and so tried to take it from the hand of someone who did know it as a weapon. The Dutch wanted food and water, they got food and water, they left.

As ships from other European nations stopped by to visit, the interactions resulted in further losses. Pathogens from outside the isolated people took a toll, the introduction of a non-indigenous religion lead to internal conflict, they people toppled their own totemic images, ships took some for sailors due to losses of their own men to disease, some were taken as slaves and were later freed from Peru, taking smallpox home with them. This would be the mid 1800's and soon after the almost unpopulated island was turned into a sheep farm – and that accounts for the destruction of the ecology.

Competition is conflict and conflict is war.

How much malice was involved in the destruction of the nation of the people of Easter island? Some at some times over that few hundred year competition-conflict-war, but for the most part, very little.

[If you're wondering how the statues were moved into place in the first place, the locals were asked on many occasions and answered the same way, “They walked.” I see no reason not to believe them. Having walked an upright fridge-freezer across a kitchen floor and a wardrobe across a bedroom floor, it looks to me like an eminently sensible answer. The scale is different, but the principle is the same.]

Off the coast of India, there is another island. The nation of people here kill anyone who turns up. No one goes there.

Competition is conflict, conflict is war.

Views through this lens, the whole of human history adjusts itself into better focus.

It should be obvious that a competition of ideas is a conflict of ideas is a war of ideas. Any doubts about that are easily dispelled by by a brief examination of The 30 Years War, The Cold war, or indeed most or even all wars to some degree or another, in that ideas played a part in the divisions.

If you think that's bad, this next obvious logical deduction will make you wince (or howl or something). Different nations of different peoples express different cultures and have different ideas about what is right and wrong, good and bad, lawful and unlawful, and self-evidently want to live under political systems laws that reflect that. Where two nations inhabit the same territory, there will be competition to determine these things; some people(s) will find themselves living under laws they find abhorrent, and this will lead to conflict.

Shall we take a look at some of these conflicting idea? Well, why not. You must be familiar with some of them, or at least aware of the existence of same.


Of all the dumb ideas I have come across, this one is so self-evidently absurd that it's barely worth a mention, yet it will get the longest. There isn't any. It isn't possible to have what doesn't exist. Equality of outcome is impossible, equality of opportunity is equally impossible. That the bell curve concept exists in mathematics and can be applied to any and all areas of human endeavour makes the impossibility of equality obvious. The consequence that there are things I can never have and never be is mitigated by the fact that there are thing is I can be and can have. Same for everyone.


You won't have to think very hard before you stumble across something you will not tolerate. It probably took you about three seconds.


The same as tolerance. No, I don't want to include cannibals in my family, community, town, country, culture, nation.


Diversity simply ensues competition of what must by the definition of diverse be different from each other, ensuring competition between the diverse, and competition is conflict and... well, you know the rest.

Freedom of Speech

If you are surprised to see this one included on the list, I would respectfully suggest that you have not been paying sufficient attention to some of the things some people are openly saying. Some of those things are openly and self-evidently evil (and there's a word I don't use often) and no, I can see no justification for a society permitting freedom of lying and freedom of promoting evil things. A society is partly defined by those things which are a taboo, verboten, or whatever. The only competition is over which things, competition over this is conflict, and I'm not going to bother saying it again.

That there are people who will immediately attempt to jump all over me for expressing the above repudiation of ideas that have been permitted to become so mainstream that conservatives now passively or actively defend them will be proof of the underlying reality – competition is conflict...

While I'm here, a quick word about Sumto. The series is called The Price of Freedom, and really that should have been phrased as a question, because that's what I was trying to have Sumto work out over time. Well, reality overtook the project and I have put the work aside for now. The truth is that the price of freedom is everyone else's freedom. And the price is too high. A culture develops over time, through competition and conflict and war, over what freedoms the people of the nation decide they can give up, enforce others giving up, and which freedoms they can afford to keep or cannot abide to live without. This process is ongoing. It never ends. These are decisions the individual doesn't get to not make. They are what make an individual who he or she is, a family what it is, a community what it is and a nation of people what it is. The process becomes particularly sharp where different nations of different peoples inhabit the same territory, as they have different answers and … well, again, you know the rest.

I'm about done here. Read back from the top and you will come to a place where I point out that malice is not necessary for competition to be real (it's optional). Competition may be real yet unnoticed by one or either party, that conflict arises by the nature of the competition inherent in being a biological organism, no matter how passive that competition may be. As we are a species that organizes, war is an inevitability and viewed through this lens it should now be no surprise that history is written as though it were the history of war (and attempts to avoid or defer war), as war is conflict and a history of conflict is a history of competition, and competition cannot be avoided, even if no malice existed in any human heart.

Now I recommend that everyone go and sort themselves out.

I was going to leave it there, but by chance I came across someone literally frothing at the mouth. This concerns specific subjects, current subjects, but is as an apt expression of the foundational reality expressed above.

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