On the nature of Hierarchy

I’ve written at length about the role of zero-sum relations and their role in establishing prime divider societies. Here’s a nice illustration of the kinds of relations that both produce rigid hierarchies, and determine their dynamics. (HT/YK)

It’s meant as a spoof of current business relations. I suspect that if the author of this drawing (another Scott Adams?) had to experience this kind of treatment in a real prime divider society, he’d realize how well off he is, wherever he is.

But then again, I may be wrong and American culture today is every bit as mean-spirited and oppressive as the world my medieval folks inhabited. My students tell me to watch The Office and that there are significant differences between the American and English versions. I’m betting the British version is closer to this illustration, and the French version would be even closer. As for the Arab one, n’en parlons pas.

My point is that this kind of behavior is universal as a tendency, against which people at all levels have to fight in whatever small measure, starting with a kid coming home from being bullied in school dealing with younger siblings. In some cultures, the resistance is weak, and the sh%# piles up more than in others.

48 Responses to On the nature of Hierarchy

  1. obsy says:

    Article in a very big German newspaper (online version):

    Title: “Israels zweifelhafter Krieg der Bilder”
    translates as: “Israels questionable war of pictures”

    Below is a link to a video that says nothing about “questionable”. Starting picture is the scene where the Israeli soldier is thrown over board – including the ellipse that the IDF placed to focus attention on details.

    This image (in context of the title) reminds me (and others) of photoshop discussion, as if IDF would have forged the video.

    The text does not deal with this topic. It comes closest when it mentions that the attackers are seen from the backside but not from the front.

    Instead the author “questions” if paintball weapons are military equipment and such issues. As explanation is offered that Israels top spin doctors must have been in Canada with Netanjahu.

    The author finishes with criticism from Israeli Soldiers and Haaretz about the missions effectiveness.

    http://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/0,1518,698092,00.html

  2. Simona Fuma says:

    Richard,

    I am very much appreciating your high-quality coverage of the flotilla incident. I am glad you are back to blogging after such a long hiatus.

    I would also like to read more about the difference between prime-divider societies and civil societies. Do you have a link?

    Simona Fuma Weinglass

  3. obsy says:

    Flotilla fraudsters lied about their cargo:
    http://elderofziyon.blogspot.com/2010/06/flotilla-fraudsters-lied-about-their.html

    With Egypt-Gaza borders open Gaza-aiders could drive all the aid the want to Gaza, but they do not seem to be interested:
    elderofziyon blogspot com /2010/06/egypt-opens-rafah-borderso-where-are.html

  4. Lorenz Gude says:

    In RL’s linked essay on Zero Sum Relations he tells this joke “about the peasant whom the genie offers one wish, but whatever he asks for his neighbor gets double illustrates the zero-sum mentality to perfection: “Poke out one of my eyes.””

    Sounds a lot like the game played by jihadi flotillistas. 15 ‘honorable’ dead is a small price to pay to ‘shame’ Israel. It also reminded me of David Koresh suckering the ATF into a glorious finale at Waco. I felt that one coming for weeks before it happened, less so the trap in the flotilla. I think the common thread, if there is one, is suicidal religious fanaticism.

    At the end of the same essay RL makes this point:

    “Our ironic dilemma is that the more those who favor the naturally generous view of positive-sum adhere to PCP, the more they contribute to the zero-sum behavior of demopaths and the hard-zero-sum players whose intentions they systematically misinterpret.”

    Goes a long way to explain positive some peace activists being in league with hard zero sum jihadis. While I recognize that I am personally very much a positive sum person, I also know that I do not often misinterpret the intentions of hard zero sum players. In thinking about it I believe it is because I am aware of the darker side of human nature in myself – that I can recognize evil in myself and am therefore less blind to it in others. I think it is very difficult to avoid cognitive egocentrism without self awareness of things like envy, hate, schadenfreude and all the other impulses the human heart is heir to. This ironic fate awaits many well intentioned people because they have nothing beyond their meticulously polished false selves to project onto their jihadi friends. The voyeur in me would like to be privy to the self doubt that may be stirring in one of two of the more inward looking passengers from the non violent boats of the flotilla.

  5. Daniel Bielak says:

    Lorenze,

    You wrote,

    “While I recognize that I am personally very much a positive sum person, I also know that I do not often misinterpret the intentions of hard zero sum players. In thinking about it I believe it is because I am aware of the darker side of human nature in myself – that I can recognize evil in myself and am therefore less blind to it in others. I think it is very difficult to avoid cognitive egocentrism without self awareness of things like envy, hate, schadenfreude and all the other impulses the human heart is heir to. This ironic fate awaits many well intentioned people because they have nothing beyond their meticulously polished false selves to project onto their jihadi friends.”

    Exactly so. Well said.

    However, one minor point,

    The term “well intentioned” that you used in this comment that you wrote is inaccurate in this usage, and is inaccurate as the term is generally used, which is the way that you used it.

    The intentions of the people you described as “well-intentioned” are not good. The intentions of the people you described as “well-intentioned” are caused by their ignorance – ignorance of their own mind – and by resulting delusional views that they hold, and are driven by resulting malice that they feel.

    Th term “well intentioned” is, as it is generally used, is an inaccurate euphemism.

  6. Daniel Bielak says:

    So-called “well intentioned people” are what anti-Jewish bigots have always been for thousands of years.

    The factors involved with this constitute why anti-Jewish bigotry is so insidious.

  7. Daniel Bielak says:

    I wrote,

    “So-called ‘well intentioned people’ are what anti-Jewish bigots have always been for thousands of years.”

    Let me rephrase that in a more beneficial way.

    Most people who have held bigoted antipathetic wrong views about, and who have felt resulting antipathy towards, Jewish people have been people who are what is commonly, euphemistically, and inaccurately, called “well intentioned”.

  8. Daniel Bielak says:

    Lorenz,

    I apologize for misspelling your name in my previous comment by mistake.

  9. obsy says:

    The amount of aid that is said to be on the ships is even increasing further:
    Not 5000 tons, not 10000 tons, no:
    tens of thousands of tons of aid.

    http://elderofziyon.blogspot.com/2010/06/ap-now-says-tens-of-thousands-of-tons.html

  10. Daniel Bielak says:

    Lorenz,

    I apologize because instead of my writing,

    “…However, one minor point,

    The term ‘well intentioned’ that you used in this comment that you wrote is inaccurate in this usage, and is inaccurate as the term is generally used, which is the way that you used it…”

    I should have written,

    “… However one point,…”

    …eliminating the “minor” and eliminating that first paragraph.

    I feel grateful for and I have appreciated and I appreciate all of your comments, and I hope that I haven’t hurt your feelings or offended you with my comments that I have written in response to some of your comments. I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings or offend you. It is hard for me to communicate well in writing, and I am often, and in general, distressed, and vexed, because of my own personal situation, and because of the situation in the world. However, knowing that there are people like you who are not Jewish who understand the situation and who understand the situation that Jewish people are in, especially the situation that Jewish Israeli people are in, and who feel empathy for Jewish people, and knowing, especially, that there are people who are not Jewish who understand the situation and who understand the situation that Jewish people are in, and especially that Jewish Israeli people are in, and who feel empathy for Jewish Israeli people, makes me feel better and is a relief to me and is a comfort to me.

    We, human beings, are social beings, and the most painful thing is to feel hated by everyone and to feel outcast and isolated, and is especially to feel so because of being so because of being wrongly, and perversely wrongly, perceived.

  11. Daniel Bielak says:

    I just want to clarify that I am not Israeli. I am American. My ethnicity is Jewish. I grew up in, and I live in, and I am a citizen of, the United States. I was born in Mexico.

  12. incognito says:

    translates as: “Israels questionable war of pictures”

    Which tells you something about ideologies and dogmas that people vest themselves in: when in conflict with facts right in front of their eyes, ideology wins.
    What are you gonna believe: your eyes or your dogma?

    It also tells you how desperate the world wants to get rid of Israel.

  13. obsy says:

    rl,

    once this is over, it would be nice to have a comparison of casualties and media coverage to some other events. Maybe even to Cast Lead.

  14. Ray in Seattle says:

    These examples confirm a premise that I have tried to explain many times. Reason and logic have no power at all against strong beliefs. If you hold a strong belief in the evilness and guilt of Israel as opposed to the Palestinians, then you can look right at photographs and videos like this that clearly show IDF forces being attacked and beaten up by a vicious mob – and conclude without question that the IDF were the aggressors who attacked the people on the ship.

    That’s why Israel must stop trying to reason with its enemies. It only shows weakness and a need to be liked. Even the masses in the West do not respect such weakness which is one reason that Israel has steadily lost allies in the West.

    Israel seems to believe “stongly” (which means it is impervious to reason) that if it just keeps showing its inner Mr. Rogers to the world – at some point everyone will see that and love Israel for its forbearance dealing with such pathologically nasty people. This belief seems to permeate Israel’s leadership. In reality, the only approach that can save Israel at this point is to call up their inner Dirty Harry – if they’ve got one – and I just don’t think that’s in the cards. I hope I’m wrong.

  15. incognito says:

    Reason and logic have no power at all against strong beliefs.

    Very strong beliefs mean they ARE the reality in the believer’s mind, which replaces true reality BY DEFINITION. You have not contributed anything of value by stating that, it’s tautological.

    What’s of value is (a) how and why these beliefs are acquired (b) not to fall into the trap of accepting them or confusing them with reality (c) how to deal with them.

    That’s why Israel must stop trying to reason with its enemies.

    Exactly my point: this is how to deal with them. That’s why I tell those who keep insisting on improved PR from Israel that it won’t make a difference. But when I say that I get flak.

    Israel seems to believe “stongly” (which means it is impervious to reason) that if it just keeps showing its inner Mr. Rogers to the world – at some point everyone will see that and love Israel for its forbearance dealing with such pathologically nasty people.

    Methinks it’s the Israeli elite, particularly the left which holds that belief (the left is worse because it accepts the enemy dogma as reality and advocates appeasement, not just reasoning). If you talk to regular Israelis, part. of sephardic origins, they could not give a ff about reasoning with anybody. They lived among arabs.

    the only approach that can save Israel at this point is to call up their inner Dirty Harry – if they’ve got one – and I just don’t think that’s in the cards. I hope I’m wrong.

    They should have done it long ago instead of Oslo. Sadly, it seems, they need a refresher disaster to awaken their Dirty Harry and it’s not clear if that wwon’t happen too late, if at all.

  16. Ray in Seattle says:

    incog: Very strong beliefs mean they ARE the reality in the believer’s mind, which replaces true reality BY DEFINITION. You have not contributed anything of value by stating that, it’s tautological.

    I said that reasoning has no power against strong beliefs. That is not a tautological statement.

    Your statement that strong beliefs can replace reality in one’s mind is also true IMO but neither is it tautological. Both the replacement of one belief for another and the likelihood that reason will lose to strong beliefs – are little appreciated but unavoidable facts of human nature that become dominant in the mind during violent conflict.

    When facing conflict it’s good to be aware of those facts and how they are likely to affect your adversaries’ and your own behavior. That can give you an edge and is therefore valuable. But I pretty much agree with you on the rest of your comment.

  17. ~S~ says:

    Amnesty International official ties himself up in rhetorical knots
    http://elderofziyon.blogspot.com/2010/06/amnesty-international-official-ties.html

    MUST READ amazing interview by Jonathan Dahoah Halevi of Amnesty official!

  18. E.G. says:

    The Barak 21st century doctrine seems to be “concede to expose”.
    This is how he explained his Camp-David/Taba proposal: “give” Arafat practically everything and expose his refusal for what it is – unwillingness to have a Palestinian state next to a Jewish state.

    In the Flotilla case, it’s sending literally hand-tied commandos to deal with “pacifist activists” to expose the latter’s Jihadist intentions. And perhaps Turkish (Erdogan’s) duplicity.

    The 2000 “exposure” partially succeeded. Perhaps the 2010 one will do a better job.

  19. Ray in Seattle says:

    EG: Perhaps the 2010 one will do a better job.

    It’s starting out pretty dismally it seems with every Sec. Council state except the US demanding that Israel end the blockade. This is the price Israel pays for sending the message that it cares deeply that the world approve of its actions while defending its citizens. Sad state of affairs.

  20. Ray in Seattle says:

    EG: His strategy assumes that the world gives a damn and will reward Israel for its Ghandi-like behavior. It’s a false belief that Israel insists on holding – despite 75 years of history that disproves every facet of it.

  21. incognito says:

    The Barak 21st century doctrine seems to be “concede to expose”.

    Too bad he does not have an audience interested in the exposure.

    This is the price Israel pays for sending the message that it cares deeply that the world approve of its actions while defending its citizens.

    And Israel is the ONLY country that seeks approval. Looks like it has strong historical roots that are hard to overcome. Jews insist on being loved while everybody hates them for nonrational reasons rather than for cause. Lethal situation. Israel does not seem to learn from experience.

    It’s a false belief that Israel insists on holding – despite 75 years of history that disproves every facet of it.

    The current Israeli elite mainly, not all of Israel.

  22. incognito says:

    U.S. Pressing Israel on Gaza
    http://www.netflix.com/WiPlayer?movieid=70114338&trkid=1211018

    So: Israel has the right to defend itself, but the Gaza blockade is not sustainable. Makes sense.

    By all means, bring Iran to Gaza. Now, THAT’s smart policy. It’s not enough to fail on Iran, Obama actually helps them eliminate Israel.

  23. Ray in Seattle says:

    Hey incognito, Do you know that you gave us a link to a Netflix feature length movie “Not Forgotten”? I think maybe it was in your scratchpad.

  24. Ray in Seattle says:

    Here’s a timely opinion piece by Noah Pollak. He says it much better than me. I didn’t realize Israels’ “kick-me, humiliate me” responses were official policy until I read this.

    http://www.commentarymagazine.com/viewarticle.cfm/the-problem-with-playing-defense-15459

  25. incognito says:

    Hey incognito, Do you know that you gave us a link to a Netflix feature length movie “Not Forgotten”? I think maybe it was in your scratchpad.

    oops, sorry.

    http://feeds.politico.com/click.phdo?i=a7361e3ec1e181e2e68bc6798695012b

    But here’s poetic justice:

    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/wire/sc-dc-cia-drones3-web-20100602,0,7231878.story

  26. incognito says:

    He’s a nasty piece of work:

    Obama told Netanyahu: Go Home, Don’t Explain From Here
    http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/137838

  27. incognito says:

    He’s a nasty piece of work Obama is, but Israel like clockwork responds “Kick me”:

    Obama told Netanyahu: Go Home, Don’t Explain From Here
    http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/137838

    PMO considers raid probe options
    US suggests Israel establish inquiry team lead by int’l judge.
    http://www.jpost.com/Israel/Article.aspx?id=177362

  28. E.G. says:

    Very poetic indeed :-/

  29. incognito says:

    I see why the affinity of Obama to the arabs/muslims: just like them the says one thing and does another and he says different things to different people.

    Rosner: If you didn’t yet read Elliott Abrams…

    So why did we agree to the presidential statement? The White House did not wish to stand with Israel against this mob because it does not have a policy of solidarity with Israel. Rather, its policy is one of distancing and pressure. This was evident last week at the NPT conference as well, where a final statement that singled out Israel while ignoring Iran – precisely what the Bush administration blocked in 2005 – was permitted by the United States. From this perspective, it is just as well that Prime Minister Netanyahu did not make it to Washington this week, where a phony love fest would have pictured him in the Obama embrace. The entire purpose of the invitation was to “change the atmosphere” and reverse the damage done during his last visit, where photos of Netanyahu with Obama were not permitted. There were no doubt many rabbis, Jewish leaders, and Democratic party pols prepared to beam and conclude that all the troubles are behind us.

  30. E.G. says:

    I hope Ron Ben-Yishai’s piece, titled “the delegtimization war” will soon be translated into English.

    http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-3898069,00.html

  31. obsy says:

    Al-Kurd said Hamas was waiting for instructions from the Turkish government on whether to accept the supplies. “We will wait for a Turkish green light to receive the aid because this flotilla was flying the Turkish flag,” he said. “Once it decides we should take the aid, we will take it.”

    http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/n.php?n=hamas-refuses-israel8217s-delivery-of-flotilla-supplies-2010-06-03

  32. obsy says:

    This goes far beyond my abilities to comprehend:

    Hopes that the blockade against the besieged Gaza Strip may soon be lifted have been bolstered in the wake of the deadly Israeli attack on a flotilla seeking to deliver humanitarian aid to the area.

    The possibility for this positive consequence to come out of the tragic incident does not mean, however, that bilateral Turkish-Israeli ties will return to normal, Ankara said Tuesday.

    http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/n.php?n=turk-israel-ties-suffer-fatal-blow-amid-hope-on-gaza-blockade-2010-06-03

    Is this a trick to cause further damage in Turkish-Israel relations?
    Like:
    1. Propagating: “A termination of the blockade may be ahead, but we won’t be nicer to Israel.”
    2. Because no termination comes, Turkey has to be tougher on Israel ― i.e. more hostile than now.

    Or is Erdogan afraid that an unlikely termination would improve relations with Israel?

    Or, I don’t know. Very weird, and I doubt it’s a good sign for Israel.

  33. obsy says:

    I may have missed an article, but I have not found one word about videos in any Hurriyet article. There are only eyewitnesses and comments from Israeli officials ― well, and a lot of inflaming.

    Is the Turkish press not even trying to interpret the facts away? Are the Turkish people left deliberately in the dark by their own press?

    I’m reading the English texts. The Turkish language press is probably worse.

  34. obsy says:

    The most frightening article of them all.
    The increased pressure upon Arab leaders which results from Erdogans action is not just a theoretical possibility but very real:

    http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/n.php?n=turkeys-arab-appeal-surges-after-israels-raid-2010-06-03

    Because of Erdogan, this flotilla incident may very well turn out to be far more devastating than Cast Lead and Golstone for every non-radical-Islamic state in the ME.

  35. incognito says:

    Because of Erdogan, this flotilla incident may very well turn out to be far more devastating than Cast Lead and Golstone for every non-radical-Islamic state in the ME.

    Finally people start to understand what I have been warning about for so long. I reiterate: you are watching efforts to eliminate Israel.

    As to Turkey, they are doing what Arabs have been doing for decades: speak one way to the ME and another to the gullible west. Taqiyah.

    One thing Erdogan did was to stifle the independent press.

    Erdogan does not have as much popular support as he wants and has found a cheap way to increase it: hatred of Israel. He is also taking advantage of Obama’s weakness to develop a ME leadership in competition with Iran.

    After the flotilla incident it was sad and shameful to read that Obama called to practically beg him to desist from his anti-blockade support only to be refused and told “if you don’t punish the Israelis I will”.

    What you are watching is the post-American world. You ain’t seen nothing yet.

  36. obsy says:

    incognito: “you are watching efforts to eliminate Israel

    I disagree.

    That is the completely self obsessed position that I criticize.

    We are watching the Islamistic diplomats and propaganda machine radicalizing Islamic countries and Muslims around the world. If Israel would not exist, they would focus on something else. Israel is the path ― not the target.

    Israel, the Mohammed cartoons, US-Soldiers in Iraq, …

    These people are enraging themselves about a police action on a boot of terrorists. Completely ridiculous.
    Every citizen of those countries has seen worse violence with his own eyes.

    The propagandists and inflamers are more concerned with their own struggle for power and survival than with a country that they have never seen. They want control over the Muslims. They want the moderates back under their rule of Islam.

  37. incognito says:

    I disagree.

    Suit yourself.

    I was not speaking of the islamists, but of the “int’l community”. It is sick and scared of the conflict, it is cowed by the jihadists and they gang on Israel, which is their opportunity to get rid of the guilt; they also hate the fact that Israel lives their self-invented moralism in the dust.

    Islamists would mean nothing if the world, part. the west had any brains and guts.It’s the west which eliminates israel, not the jihadis.

    Once the latter don’t have Israel they will continue with the west. Europe is already seriously islamized.
    And Obama facilitates that in the US.

  38. incognito says:

    IOW, Israel is the first stage.

    Yes, it’s their power and domination the islamists seek, but over the infidels.

  39. incognito says:

    The Art of Seaborne Humiliation
    Victor Davis Hanson
    http://article.nationalreview.com/435408/the-art-of-seaborne-humiliation/victor-davis-hanson

    See what I mean?

    It’s civilizational collapse which invites attacks and makes them effective.

  40. longbow says:

    “Military advance 101″, you can never leave an enemy enclave,(Israel) behind your lines. the Islamic takeover of the world cant afford to have any opposition in a rear area, militant Islam are in this for the long game , they dont really care how long it takes they consider that eventually they will win.

  41. Daniel Bielak says:

    incognito,

    I think that it may be appropriate from me to say that it’s nice to see you back after these many months, and if that is the case then it is the case that it’s nice to see you back after these many months.

    If I have mistaken you for someone else, or if it is wrong for me say this comment, which I have said to prove my ability of discernment to you and to others, and which, as such, I have said out of narcissistic egocentrism, but I hope not harmfully, or at least not very harmfully, I apologize. In any case, I appreciate your comments, and I agree with, in general, all of your comments.

    Also, I sincerely write that if you are who I think you are, I’m glad that you’re doing okay, and I want to let you know that you’ve given me an education. :-)

    Dan

  42. Daniel Bielak says:

    incognito and everyone, please forgive me, I’m a jerk.

  43. Daniel Bielak says:

    incognito,

    But, just to clarify, I really meant what i wrote in the first and last paragraph. (I also meant what I wrote in the second paragraph.)

  44. Daniel Bielak says:

    I have severe OCD and I am not well and I am sleep deprived. I apologize if my comments are harmful. I hope that I have not caused any harm.

  45. incognito says:

    The most frightening article of them all.
    The increased pressure upon Arab leaders which results from Erdogans action is not just a theoretical possibility but very real

    But I thought you said elsewhere that the “arabs are used to their leaders doing nothing” in the sense that they’ll do the same now. Isn’t this a contradiction?

    Remember what my response was?

  46. obsy says:

    incognito,

    no contradiction, maybe bad communication.
    I’ll be more explicit:

    1. Arabs have extreme Anti-Israel rulings in place, boycott Israel and use the UN to pressure Israel (for issues that the UN would have to pressure them for if it were a court bound to precedent cases).

    2. Arabs are masters of big words without meaning. Perfect example:
    http://elderofziyon.blogspot.com/2010/04/behind-scenes-at-arab-summit.html

    3. Arabs react to pressure from their Islamic opponents. The Saudis have started financing Salafis outside of Saudi Arabia who spread radical teachings in the west, Egypt recently opened its borders to Gaza.

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