Acquiring Intuition about Nationalism; Grocking a Vice Video

One purpose of this blog is to make transferable the skill of open source analysis. In the service of that goal, pseudo derivations of  the conclusions are provided. This is not to say that the mental process is so formal. Since the 1980’s, the limitations of the “expert system” based on formal methods have been laid bare.  Such systems do not approach the general problem solving ability of the human expert, although they can exceed it in specialized areas. Computer chess is one such example, but chess is a game with formal rules.

Open source intelligence has no formal rules. It is an occupation of neural networks, and has been long before the term was known. A humanist who is acquainted only with the useless system of formal logic would benefit from a look at Ludwig Wittgenstein and Franz Zwicky.

Wittgenstein destroyed the concept of formal language as a complete system of communication. His Tractatus is only 75 pages in length, yet he is regarded as one of the first rank philosophers of the 20th century. That should tell you something. That he did not provide a replacement for the destroyed concept of language is the mark of an honest man. Whether you understand the payload of Tractatus after the first 30 pages, or remain puzzled after the whole 75, is a point of self-discovery.

The Wikipedia page on Franz Zwicky places him as a Caltech astronomer. But Zwicky also designed jet and rocket engines, an incredibly complex undertaking, and hypothesized the existence of dark matter using the virial theorem. Having addressed these problems, he then studied how he solved them, which he described as the method of general morphological analysis. The Wikipedia article on this is questionable, but the method itself is an important suggestion as to how neural networks might be coupled to create a mind capable of complex strategies.

The highfalutin introduction done with, watch a Vice video, The Yakuza’s Ties to the Right Wing. You’ll see most of the elements of the post World War I German right wing: the lost territories to be regained, the authoritarian impulse, represented as Japanese version of honoring the “Leader”; the various factions: thinkers, politicians, and brown shirts; factional conflict; the search for civic respectability by providing services; the desire to kill; the desire for conflict. Racism, which is denied, is replaced by an equivalent, xenophobia.

Since virulent nationalism with the right wing shadow is one of the most popular and persistent national delusions, grocking the Vice video will enhance your predictive toolkit much more than knowing the interminable history of conflict on the plains of Poland. The take-away, the thing to be extracted, is Zwicky’s morphology–the shape of the problem, once all the cultural influences are subtracted. That this is Japan makes this easy, because the Western norms, so easy to gloss over, are replaced by jarringly different customs, as in the banquet towards the end of the video.

With the cultural norms subtracted, and Zwicky’s morphology squirreled away in your memory banks, it will usefully come to mind when examining three extant or brewing troubles: Russian, German, and Indian nationalism.


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