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Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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Peace: Neither Ink nor Blood


One of the problems of the interventionista –wanting to get involved in other people’s affairs “in order to help”, while genuinely wanting to do good, results in disrupting some of the peace-making mechanisms that are inherent in human’s affairs, a combination of collaboration and strategic hostility. As we saw in the prologue, the error continues because someone else is paying the price.

I speculate that had IYIs (intellectuals yet idiots) and their friends not gotten involved, problems such as the Israeli-Palestinian one would have been solved, sort of –and both parties, especially the Palestinians would have felt to be better off. As I am writing these lines the problem has lasted seventy years, with too way many cooks in the same tiny kitchen, most of whom never have to taste the food. I conjecture that when you leave people alone, they tend to settle for practical reasons.

People on the ground, those with skin in the game are not too interested in geopolitics or grand abstract principles, but rather in having bread on the table, beer (or, for some, nonalcoholic beverages such as yoghurt drinks) in the refrigerator, and good weather at outdoors family picnics. Also they don’t want to be humiliated in their human contact with others.

For imagine the absurdity of Arab States prodding the Palestinians to fight for their principles while the potentates are sitting in carpeted alcohol-free palaces (with well-stocked refrigerators full of nonalcoholic fermented yoghurt)and the recipient of the advice living in refugee camps. Had the Palestinians settled in 1947, they would have been better off. But the idea was to throw the Jews and neo-crusaders in the Mediterranean; Arab rhetoric came from Arab parties who were hundreds, thousands of miles away arguing for “principles” when Palestinians were displaced, living in tents.
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On Interventionistas and their Mental Defects


Skin in the Game is necessary to reduce the effects of the following divergences that arose mainly as a side effect of civilization: action and cheap talk (tawk), consequence and intention, practice and theory, honor and reputation, expertise and pseudo-expertise, concrete and abstract, ethical and legal, genuine and cosmetic, entrepreneur and bureaucrat, entrepreneur and chief executive, strength and display, love and gold-digging, Coventry and Brussels, Omaha and Washington, D.C., economists and human beings, authors and editors, scholarship and academia, democracy and governance, science and scientism, politics and politicians, love and money, the spirit and the letter, Cato the Elder and Barack Obama, quality and advertising, commitment and signaling, and, centrally, collective and individual.

But, to this author, is mostly about justice, honor, and sacrifice as something existential for humans.

Let us first connect a few dots of items the list above.

Antaeus Whacked

Antaeus was a giant, rather semi-giant of sorts, the literal son of Mother Earth, Gaea, and Poseidon the god of the sea. He had a strange occupation, which consisted of forcing passersby in his country, (Greek) Libya, to wrestle; his trick was to pin his victims to the ground and crush them. This macabre hobby was apparently the expression of filial devotion; Antaeus aimed at building a temple for his father Poseidon, using for material the skulls of his victims.

Antaeus was deemed to be invincible; but there was a trick. He derived his strength from contact with his mother, earth. Physically separated from contact with earth, he lost all his powers. Hercules, as part of his twelve labors (actually in one, not all variations), had for homework to whack Antaeus. He managed to lift him off the ground and terminated him by crushing him as his feet remained out of contact with his mamma.
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