5 December 2016 | Draft
Engaging an Opposing Ideology via Martial Arts Philosophy
Reframing the challenge of Trump and Jihadism as worthy opponents
- / -
Beyond unworthy whining of the standard bearers and the wise
Recognizing the worthiness of a successful opponent
Recognizing contrasting "styles of play" in engaging opponents
Regroup / Rethink / Reframe vs Reactive Resistance?
Getting the collective act together: relevance of the martial arts
Potential insights from kata philosophy?
Game-playing in global governance?
Eliciting the complementarity of intractable opponents
Much is now made of the increasing challenge of right-wing populism, especially as it is articulated by unconventional leaders held to have dubious associations with dangerous political strategies. This is currently most evident within the USA following the presidential election of Donald Trump. It is evident in other ways with respect to the emergence of Islamic fundamentalism and the threat it constitutes to a way of life never previously called into question to the current degree.
The surprising nature of the times is evident from the case of Donald Trump:
Very few people thought he would actually run, then he did. They thought he wouldn't climb in the polls, then he did. They said he wouldn't win any primaries, then he did. They said he wouldn't win the Republican nomination, then he did. Finally, they said there was no way he could compete for, let alone win, a general election. Now he's president-elect Trump. (US Election 2016 Results: five reasons Donald Trump won, BBC News, 9 November 2016)
As widely remarked, his advance was in the face of unprecedented criticism by an estimated 90% of the US media and their experienced commentators. His election is acknowledged to be a profound shock to those who had underestimated his appeal, as separately summarized (Radical Disaffection Engendered by Elitist Groupthink? 2016). A similar pattern is evident with respect to populist movements in various European countries, most notably France. Curiously the pattern bears strange similarities to the foreign policies of western countries in their engagement with the surprisingly enduring strength of fundamentalist Islam, exemplified by ISIS and Al-Qaeda.
Following the election of Trump, the negative campaigning has continued through every possible criticism of his initiatives prior to formally achieving office. As during the campaign this is accompanied by careful choice of unflattering images of Trump, in contrast to those of icons appreciated by the elites. This is especially noteworthy in the left-leaning, alternative media where the more measured style of the past has been replaced by hysterical commentary increasingly shrill in nature. There is little call for historical or strategic perspective. This may even be deprecated as failing to address the dangers for which expressions of abhorrence, urgency and panic are seemingly held to be the most appropriate response.
The concern here is with the possibility that more measured response might be elicited through the philosophical traditions basic to the practice of the eastern martial arts. In that context reference to "philosophy" implies development of attitudes capable of informing strategies appropriate to engagement with a deadly enemy. The argument was previously developed by reference to its aesthetic dimensions (Ensuring Strategic Resilience through Haiku Patterns: reframing the scope of the "martial arts" in response to strategic threats, 2006).
In contrast with the prevailing sense of panic and abhorrence, such attitudes imply an unusual form of respect for the enemy which reframes fundamentally the nature of the engagement. In strategic terms both Trumpism and Jihadism could well require consideration otherwise -- in a manner contrasting with the inadequacies of conventional thinking of the past.
To that end a focus is given to recognizing contrasting "styles of play" in engaging opponents, as variously illustrated by sport, negotiation, and the martial arts. This could even justify anticipation of the hypothetical challenge of contact with extraterrestrials (Writing Guidelines for Future Occupation of Earth by Extraterrestrials, 2010; SETI: a "universal" criterion for species maturity? 2008). Understood otherwise, however, it could be said that -- with Trumpism and Jihadism -- the "aliens" have already arrived and necessarily call for a new mode of thinking.
Beyond unworthy whining of the standard bearers and the wise
Establishment and media shock: The unexpected nature of the election of Trump calls for the most careful attention, notably a recognized by Sheldon Filger:
The election of Donald J. Trump as America's 45th president was not only an irredeemable defeat for the political establishment in the U.S. in general, and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in particular. It represented a seismic shock for the nation's mainstream news media. Never before had American journalism, in print and on-air, been so invested in confidently, even boastfully, predicting the impossibility of one of the two major contenders for president winning the White House. And never before has the hubris and complacency of the establishment media been do devastatingly shattered (President Donald Trump: an aarthquake for America's media, The Huffington Post, 3 December 2016)
There is however a curious irony to the presentation of this argument in The Huffington Post as an exemplar of the media which have endeavoured to frame the Trump candidacy in the most negative terms possible. Despite the value of the analysis, its presentation in that context could be considered an example of cynical turncoat politics.
Whining by the "Good"? Why can the response to challenges such as Jihadism and Trump be caricatured as whining? The attitude seems to be that some ideologies and their supporters have not understood the beautiful justification of the message and strategic options with which the standard bearers consider themselves to be identified. The justification is upheld as inherently unquestionable and non-negotiable -- whatever the suffering which some experience as a consequence of such inspiration. That this may be a myth to some degree is naturally contested (Cultivating the Myth of Human Equality: ignoring complicity in the contradictions thereby engendered, 2016.
Being inherently "Good", any opposition must necessarily be inherently "Bad" -- or more precisely "Evil". This follows from the foreign policy argument that You're either with us, or against us -- as explored separately (Us and Them: Relating to Challenging Others -- patterns in the shadow dance between "good" and "evil", 2009; Evil Rules: Guidelines for Engaging in Armageddon Now, 2015).
Learning capacity? With respect to the election of Trump, Sheldon Filger continues his analysis as follows:
In the wake of its failure, the humility one would expect from the media has been largely lacking. Instead of a post-mortem introspective on its journalistic failures, much of the media has been looking for scapegoats outside the confines of the Fourth Estate. In addition, some in the conservative faction of mainstream media have blamed the failures in news reporting on Trump's campaign on the old standby slogan; "liberal media bias". (President Donald Trump: an earthquake for America's media, The Huffington Post, 3 December 2016)
Missing is seemingly any capacity for perspective on such a framing and the associated dynamics. It is held to be an absolute despite the enthusiasm with which competition is cultivated in business and sport contexts. In politics any "other" is necessarily held to be "bad" -- readily reframed as "evil" in the perception of one political party of another within a single democracy. This is especially the case in relation to others elsewhere who act in opposition to the positions so righteously held.
It is understandable that Jihadism is inherently evil for the Judeo-Christian world -- just as the reverse is the case. More curious is the manner in which Trumpism is deplored as abhorrent in a similar manner by those who claim to represent the enlightened standards of civilization -- as was McArthyism in decades past.
In sport and business, competition does not readily evoke such whining and negative campaigning -- which would be readily seen as a case of "poor loser" or "sour grapes". Somehow the response to Trump has allowed losing to be transformed into an urgent preoccupation with existential threat similar urgency to that associated with terrorism.
Game-playing and rule-changing: The conventional standard bearers lost the presidential election to their shocked surprise. Trump played them at their own game, according to their own rules, and despite the widespread scorn at his campaigning style. If Trump won according to the rules by which it was thought he could be completely routed, who can be said to have lost according to those same rules?
The argument (at the time of writing) that Clinton "really won" is totally undignified, implying that the losers have nothing whatsoever to learn -- contrary to what is recognized in sport or business. The effort to modify interpretation of the rules subsequent to the election is laughable. It could be compared to an effort to reframe the outcome of any ball game -- like basketball or football -- by arguing that "possession of the ball" was really the basis for winning -- not the scoring of goals, as defined by the rules. Given the major controversy regarding doping in Olympic sport, is the medal score of US athletes to be called into question by the extent of their use of prescribed medication by athletes, as framed by the World Anti-Doping Agency?
Even more pertinent with respect to the proposed democratic logic, any focus on which country "really won", in terms of medals received in the 2016 Olympic Games, should be in terms of medals per capita. From this perspective, top ranking countries were: Grenada, Bahamas, Jamaica, New Zealand. The USA is then not the greatest sporting country in the world as otherwise claimed -- rather it ranks as #43, up from #49 in the London Olympics (Medals Per Capita).
In sporting terms Trump would have been laughed out of the arena -- in a manner curiously reminiscent of "Eddie the Eagle" who represented the UK in the ski jump in the 1963 Winter Olympics. As with Eddie, the media were so fascinated by his innocent daring (in a discipline in which he had no training whatsoever) that the rules had subsequently to be modified to ensure that media attention focused appropriately on the stars of that discipline (who had plaintively complained of being neglected).
Planetary catastrophe: When the tone of commentary is not one of frenzied focus on the slightest detail which could contribute to framing Trump negatively, an effort is made to frame his potential policies as the sole immediate danger to the safety of the planet. The message would then appear to be that catastrophe is imminent -- unless due attention is accorded to the conventional wisdom of the standard bearers.
The difficulty with this argument is that the standard bearers have had many decades in which to avert catastrophe and their track record in that respect could itself be held to be disastrous, as can be variously argued (Recognizing the Psychosocial Boundaries of Remedial Action: constraints on ensuring a safe operating space for humanity, 2009; Convergence of 30 Disabling Global Trends: mapping the social climate change engendering a perfect storm, 2012).
Given the levels of violence world wide, it could be argued that the "think tanks", which inform elitist insight into governance, are themselves entrapped in a very particular metaphor ("Tank-thoughts" from "Think-tanks": metaphors constraining development of global governance, 2003; Enhancing Sustainable Development Strategies through Avoidance of Military Metaphors, 1998).
Potential surprises to come: The point can however also be made that the surprise of Trump's election for elitist groupthink suggests that the very possibility of such a surprise is indicative of the possibility of other such surprises likely to emerge from "under the radar" of conventional thinking, as argued separately (Possibility of other shocking challenges to groupthink? 2016).
His election has proven to be a "Black Swan", in the spirit of the arguments of Nassim Nicholas Taleb (The Black Swan: the impact of the highly improbable, 2007; Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder, 2012). A case can be made that other such possibilities are systematically ignored. The point is also made by Karen A. Cerulo (Never Saw It Coming: cultural challenges to envisioning the worst, 2006). What is seemingly required is a way of engaging otherwise with such possibilities.
Recognizing the worthiness of a successful opponent
Curiously, and perhaps appropriately, it is seemingly in the world of public contracting that caution is expressed against stereotyping an opponent. The argument is articulated by Timothy Sullivan as a Tenth Commandment, entitled: Thou Shalt Not Stereotype Thine Opponent (from A Government Contractor's Ten Commandments of the Public Contracting Institute). The first paragraph reads:
One of the most dangerous things that can happen to us in our business career is to make the mistake of stereotyping our adversary. In the world of Government contracting, the two most common stereotypes are (1) all Government employees are stupid and lazy and (2) all contractor employees are thieves and liars who are out to bamboozle the Government. There are several problems with both of those statements, of course, but the most obvious is how absurd these stereotypes become when the two sides sit down at a table to negotiate: half the Government team used to work for industry, where presumably they were thieves, and half of the contractor's team used to work for the Government, where presumably they were stupid and lazy.
It would appear that no analogous insight is available to those in the political arena -- especially in the light of the negative campaigning between Clinton and Trump. An exception is implied by the Ten Commandments of Talking Politics on Social Media (The High Calling, 13 September 2015).
Respect: It is a fundamental tenet of competition and warfare that a measure of respect should be accorded to an opponent before and during the engagement (76 Bible Verses about How To Treat Your Enemies, OpenBible.info; Honour the Enemy, Torah in Motion). In the much studied Chinese classic by Sun Tzu (The Art of War), the principles include:
So it is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be put at risk even in a hundred battles.
If you only know yourself, but not your opponent, you may win or may lose.
If you know neither yourself nor your enemy, you will always endanger yourself.
Arguably the standard bearers of conventional wisdom can be said not to have known Trump in advance of the encounter -- nor during the campaign. Given the undignified whining reaction to his election, it could be said that neither did they know themselves. Hence the third condition currently applies.
The mockery of Trump throughout the presidential campaign can be recognized as an instance of underestimating an opponent, about which The Art of War also indicates:
He who exercises no forethought but makes light of his opponents is sure to be captured by them.
There is no greater danger than underestimating your opponent
Such a lack of respect for an opponent has been evident in the decades-long American-led action against the Taliban in Afghanistan, as noted by Kyle Shideler (America's Fatal Flaw in the War on Terror: underestimating the jihadist enemy, Breitbart, 16 December 2014). The arrogant lack of capacity to learn can be argued otherwise (Transforming the Unsustainable Cost of General Education: strategic insights from Afghanistan, 2009). The pattern can be recognized in other arenas (American-led intervention in Iraq: 2014-present; American-led intervention in Syria; Overseas interventions of the United States).
With respect to the rise of populism world wide, as noted in a review by The Economist of a recent study by John B. Judis (The Populist Explosion: how the Great Recession transformed American and European politics, 2016):
The Western intelligentsia, snug in its echo-chamber, has done a dismal job of understanding what is going on, either dismissing populists as cranks or demonising them as racists. (A perfectly timed book on populism, 3 December 2016)
A similar argument could be made with respect to the encounter with Islamic fundamentalism and the threat of Jihadism. Will the future deprecate the qualities of peoples who have been caricatured as a "bunch of wogs" from mountain caves and deserts?
How will their qualities of resistance in military terms be compared by the future against the unprecedented trillion dollar deployment of western military might in Afghanistan and Iraq over decades? It could be asked whether the failure to recognize their strength and worthiness is not a reflection of a failure to understand the weaknesses of those endeavouring so arrogantly to eradicate them. How will the month-long resistance of ISIS in Aleppo be compared with the strength of a 60-nation coalition arrayed against it?
Qualities of abhorred opponents: In that spirit it is then appropriate to ask where a balanced list of the qualities of leaders abhorrent to conventional standard bearers is maintained. Given the negative campaigning and the perceived need for a barrage of intense propaganda to discourage fellow travellers, what attributes might be variously shared by those perceived as a threat?
Other than Trump and Osama bin Laden, exemplars might variously include the deprecated leaders of resistance movements, of revolutionary movements, of freedom fighters -- notably of various countries who painfully acquired their independence after being labelled as terrorists. Necessarily controversial, these might include such as: Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, Ho Chi Minh, Menachem Begin, Yasser Arafat, Jomo Kenyatta, Stalin, and even Hitler. The list could extend to Mafia godfathers, and the like -- and might include George Washington (Patrick Tyson, George Washington was a Terrorist! 2007).
What are the qualities which history is able to detect in tyrants whose regimes may be regretted by some following their liberation -- as with the nostalgia of some for Stalinist Russia and the regimes of the Communist satellites? What regrets might well be expected of the citizens of Iraq and Syria following the western humanitarian intervention to overthrow Saddam Hussein?
Whatever the legitimacy of any criticism, and if only in strategic and military terms, could it be denied that respect is due for qualities such as:
- strategic skills
- organizing capacity
These feature in any set of recognized leadership qualities, irrespective of other considerations on which those critical of leaders may obsessively and mistakenly focus. On the occasion of the funeral of Fidel Castro, such qualities are variously detailed -- matched by criticism of his tyrannical rule. However it was such qualities which enabled Castro to survive the hundreds of assassination attempts ordered by a succession of 10 US presidents (All the US Presidents Fidel Castro outlasted, and how they dealt with the Cuban Leader, The Independent, 26 November 2016).
Is it increasingly naive to assume that "our" leaders are unquestionably "good" and those opposing us are unquestionably "bad"? The naivety has been highlighted by the scandal resulting from the praise of Castro on the occasion of his funeral by the French Minister for Ecology (Ségolène Royal critiquée pour son éloge sans nuances de Fidel Castro, Le Monde, 4 decembre 2016). The naivety is further highlighted by subsequent revelations of the highly reprehensible secret behaviours of many leaders of western democracies -- long held to be admirable.
With respect to attraction of Jihadism for the young, it is is extraordinary that no historical comparison is permissible in the media with regard to the International Brigades, namely the paramilitary units set up by the Communist International to assist the Popular Front government of the Second Spanish Republic during the Spanish Civil War. This is consistent with the righteous deprecation of any association between the much-publicised beheadings characteristic of Jihadism and the use of the guillotine to execute thousands in public during the Reign of Terror -- in the process of establishing the French Republic, as discussed separately (Beheading versus Befooting: in quest of the lesser evil for the greater good, 2014).
Unbroken spirit? Expressed differently, what is the quality that ensured that such a long series of US generals engaged so fruitlessly in different campaigns, most notably Afghanistan, as argued separately (Transforming the Unsustainable Cost of General Education: strategic insights from Afghanistan, 2009). The question is of particular current relevance now that General James Matthis ("Mad Dog") has been named by Trump as Secretary of Defense after commanding US forces in Afghanistan. How is it possible so repeatedly to claim to have "won the war" but to have so evidently "lost the peace" -- leaving regions and cultures devastated?
Nevertheless how is it then that the "spirit" of the opponents was not "broken", as might have been expected following the "carpet bombing" of Dresden, the atomic bombing of Hiroshima/Nagasaki, and the use of Agent Orange in Vietnam? The failure to eradicate Mafia families and organized crime within the US suggests that the ambition of eradicating Jihadism merits careful reconsideration (Eradication as the Strategic Final Solution of the 21st Century? 2014). Western imperialists have all had to come to terms with those they previously labelled terrorists. Do all such victories have a "pyrrhic" dimension, as separately argued (Pyrrhic victory and metastasis? 2016)
Engendering vulnerability and insecurity: It is the very assumption that the "other" lacks qualities worthy of respect and admiration that dooms any engagement to failure. Such failure is all the more problematic when the standard bearers explicitly abandon and deny the value of their own standards. This is evident in the current tendency to set aside the Geneva Conventions relating to inhuman treatment of the "other" with the proud assertion that "the gloves are off".
Is respect by the "other" to be expected when none is accorded? How is intercourse to be enabled when respect for the "other" is so obviously lacking? What qualities are acknowledged in Kim Jong-il -- or in Kim Jong-un -- in anticipation of any meaningul engagement? Where is any respect accorded to Trump by those who so desperately seek his removal, "by fair means or foul"?
Given the desperate quest by science for extraterrestrial life, and for alien intelligence elsewhere, the potential challenge of engagement with radical otherness is seldom given due consideration except in science fiction and popular blockbuster movies. The issues here have been admirably highlighted by the movie Avatar (2009). This aroused controversy because of the implied criticism of the lack of respect accorded to alien culture by a conventionally exploitative mindset.
Recognizing contrasting "styles of play" in engaging opponents
Styles of play and rules of engagement: Curiously the challenges of Trump and Jihadism share the distinction of constituting a different mode than that habitually characteristic of governance and international relations. The future will see the pattern to have been strangely exemplified by the uniform attire of its practitioners -- dark suit and tie -- strangely reminiscent of the unformed attire of the leadership of the regime it most deplores.
Metaphorically, from a US historical perspective, the elites of western governance enter battle aligned like the Red Coats of the British Crown. They are opposed by Populists who bear far greater resemblance to the guerillas whose tactics were developed during the American Revolution.
Irrespective of their contrasting dress, Populists and Jihadists do not "play" in a familiar way by the normal rules. Both are therefore naturally shocking in their behaviour.
The question to be asked is how to distinguish the variety of "styles of play" which might be encountered in engaging with an opponent. This is clearly as important in competitive sport, in business, or in any military encounter. Personality profiling has acquired considerable importance in a security context and in the engagement of personnel -- with the aid of "head hunters". It is of course central to matching algorithms in computer dating.
Can it be said that any such techniques have been applied to distinguishing Trumpism and Jihadism? More generally, how might they be used to distinguish from "normality" the populism and radicalism they are respectively held to represent? Various initiatives were undertaken to assess Trump (and the other presidential candidates) using a well-known psychometric test [Myers-Briggs Type Indicator] -- but with inconclusive results. These include:
Behavioural typing systems: Such techniques can be variously understood as personality typing, cognitive and/or behavioural modalities, or cultural categories. It would clearly be most useful to present the challenge of an opponent in such terms. Various authors have highlighted such distinctions differently. A summary of the contrasts offered by some systems is presented separately (Systems of Categories Distinguishing Cultural Biases, 1993). Whilst others have indeed been developed for a variety of purposes, the examples noted there include:
Axes of bias: Of particular relevance to the engagement with an opponent, is the last. Despite its misleading title, this endeavours to identify seven axes of bias which clarify why people may disagree in engaging with one another -- or in according respect for each other's perspectives. The author was particularly inspired by long-term, well-documented, academic dispute amongst authors regarding the "romantic period" in history.
The axes distinguished by Jones, on which protagonists may be variously positioned, are :
- Order vs disorder: Namely the range between a preference for system, structure, conceptual clarity, etc. and a preference for fluidity, muddle chaos, etc.
- Static vs dynamic: Namely the range between a preference for the changeless, eternal, etc. and a preference for movement, for explanation in genetic and process terms, etc.
- Continuity vs discreteness: Namely the range between a preference for wholeness, unity, etc and a preference for discreteness, plurality, diversity, etc.
- Inner vs outer: Namely the range between a preference for being able to project oneself into the objects of one's experience (to experience them as one experiences oneself), and a preference for a relatively external, objective relation to them.
- Sharp focus vs soft focus: Namely the range between a preference for clear, direct experience and a preference for threshold experiences, felt to be saturated with more meaning than is immediately present.
- This world vs other world: Namely the range between preference for belief in the spatio-temporal world as self-explanatory and preference for belief that it is not and can only be comprehended in terms of other frames.
- Spontaneity vs process: Namely the range between a preference for chance, freedom, accident, etc and a preference for explanations subject to laws and definable processes.
Contrasting Normality with Trumpism and Jihadism: Given the existential challenge to conventional thinking of Trumpism and Jihadism, the question is what insight into their respective "styles of play" could be gained from recognizing how their set of biases are distinguished from the global norms widely preferred in governance discourse. In terms of that framework, this suggests the need for careful consideration of the following -- enhanced and enriched by insights from the distinctions made by other typologies.
|Styles of engagement distinguished by axes of bias (tentative)
|Axis of bias
In the absence of any well-researched comparison, it is appropriate to note the emphasis of The Economist on Trump as a vaudeville impresario (The Impresario-elect, 3 December 2016). This is clearly a role he has cultivated to greater effect than his drably conventional rivals in the presidential race. It obviously contrasts with the uninspiring performance of many politicians and academics with a horror of the unusual.
Styles of play in various domains: The question to be asked is how many such axes might be useful to distinguishing modes of engagement -- and where to obtain such insights. Insights could be obtained from enquiries such as the following:
- Online gaming:
Of particular relevance to insight into political game-playing, the study of online gaming by Chris Bateman, et al (2011) argues:
Player satisfaction modeling depends in part upon quantitative or qualitative typologies of playing preferences, although such approaches require scrutiny. Examination of psychometric typologies reveal that type theories have -- except in rare cases -- proven inadequate and have made way for alternative trait theories. This suggests any future player typology that will be sufficiently robust will need foundations in the form of a trait theory of playing preferences. This paper tracks the development of a sequence of player typologies developing from psychometric type theory roots towards an independently validated trait theory of play, albeit one yet to be fully developed.
In the case of negotiation, the following table is developed in the light of the above-mentioned System of Geert Hofstede.
|Michelle LeBaron: Culture-Based Negotiation Styles
(In: Guy Burgess and Heidi Burgess, Eds, Beyond Intractability, 2003)
| Preparation and planning skill
|| Dedication to job
|| Persistence and determination
|| Preparation and planning skill
| Thinking under pressure
|| Perceive and exploit power
|| Win respect and confidence
|| Thinking under pressure
| Judgment and intelligence
|| Win respect and confidence
|| Preparation and planning skill
|| Judgment and intelligence
| Verbal expressiveness
|| Product knowledge
|| Verbal expressiveness
| Product knowledge
|| Demonstrate listening skill
|| Product knowledge
| Perceive and exploit power
|| Broad perspective
|| Judgment and intelligence
|| Perceive and exploit power
|| Verbal expressiveness
Styles of behaviour distinguished by cultural metaphors: With respect to the number of axes whereby the variety of styles of engagement could be distinguished, particular attention might be accorded to the relation between 4-fold distinctions and 8-fold distinctions as highlighted separately with respect to the emerging importance of post-truth considerations (Towards articulation of a "post-truth table"? 2016). This makes particular reference to the Chinese pattern of distinctions in the 8-fold BaGua system.
An emerging diplomatic scandal between China and the USA (at the time of writing) has been evoked by the telephone communication of the President of Taiwan with President-elect Trump in breaching of an accepted 37-year pattern, This has been framed as a:
Whether it says it or not, China will regard this as a deeply destabilizing event not because the call materially changes U.S. support for Taiwan -- it does not -- but because it reveals the incoming Presidency to be volatile and unpredictable. (Evan Osnos, The Real Risk Behind Trump's Taiwan Call, The New Yorker, 3 December 2016)
Could the breach of practice be usefully explored through the BaGua pattern as it distinguishes the styles of play it variously implies? Intriguingly reference is made to a gaming term in Chinese -- xiao dong zuo -- in endeavouring to clarify the significance of China's reaction (Yuan Zeng, Little tricks: how China's response to Trump's Taiwan call got lost in translation, The Conversation, 8 December 2016).
Far more succinctly accessible is the memorable pattern of provocative metaphors through which the Hindu Kama Sutra traditionally distinguishes the challenge of intimate engagement with another. Eight such patterns of union are distinguished which could be usefully recognized in other forms of intercourse. There is of course considerable irony to its potential relevance to the presidential race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
|Metaphorical distinctions of forms of intercourse
Enthusiasm for such metaphors is of course characteritistic of their use as symbols of political parties. Use of "bull" recalls its value in caricaturing the favoured mode of discourse of politicians and academics from a Populist perspective -- most explicitly in Australasia. In his focus on draining the swamp, the efforts of Trump could be recognized as a form of "bullfighting", as separately explored (Viable Global Governance through Bullfighting, 2009). With different terms, and in an existential framework, this could be understood as a preoccupation shared by Jihadists.
Regroup / Rethink / Reframe vs Reactive Resistance?
Learning from failure: Typically in both sport and business failure encourages a period of regrouping, inspired by rethinking, leading to reframing the future strategic opportunity. In the case of the election of Trump the standard bearers have simply extended their negative campaigning to a mode of reactive resistance (Richard Eskow, How Trump's Great Con Gave Away the Government to the 0.01 Percent, AlterNet, 5 December 2016). By contrast they effectively frame themselves (with their traditional practices) as the opposition held to be worthy of greater respect.
As noted by Zach Carter (Why Hillary Clinton Lost: she wrote off working people. The Huffington Post, 3 December 2016):
Hillary Clinton's top aides would like the world to know they are morally superior to Donald Trump and his staff, who ran an ugly campaign courting white nationalists. The Clinton team is right. And it doesn't matter.... But Clintonia's (persuasive) defense of its own righteousness helps explain why the election was close to begin with. Trump ran a deeply bigoted campaign that whipped up and played off of white resentment.... A good chunk of the Democratic Party intelligentsia applauded Clinton for taking the moral high ground, declaring the entire white working class to be a deplorable racist swamp.
A special issue of AlterNet is themed on the question (Top 13 Theories for Clinton Defeat, 1 December 2016). With Clinton framed as an icon of the global elite -- if only as the "lesser evil" -- there is no quest for greater insight. It is difficult to trace any element of rethinking or reframing.
Is reactionary resistance the "best shot" the standard bearers seemingly have to offer? Perhaps to be understood as accompanied by a backing chorus chanting "Woe, Woe, Woe" as with the "Greek chorus" accompanying the tragedies of Ancient Greece from which democracy originally emerged.
It is indeed tragic to see the seemingly deliberately misleading framing of the diplomatic scandal evoked by the communication of the President of Taiwan with Donald Trump (as noted above). With or To: why employ a heading, echoed in other media (and in translation), which will incorrectly imply for many that Trump initiated the call (Evan Osnos, The Real Risk Behind Trump's Taiwan Call, The New Yorker, 3 December 2016)?
For example, citing the report in The Huffington Post (which linked to that article), a variant is entitled China Not Happy With Donald Trump For His Phone Call To Taiwan's President (TruthTroubles, 2 December 2016). Other such examples: Critics say Trump's call with Taiwan may alter decades of foreign policy (The Guardian, 3 December 2016); Donald Trump Speaks To Taiwan's President, Reversing Decades Of U.S. Policy -- Huffington Post (Kitimi Elections, 3 December 2016). This reinforces the widely-made point about deliberate media bias.
Succinctly stated, there is no indication of learning. Indeed why should there be since the only reframing takes the form of the assertion that the standard bearers really won? In predicting planetary catastrophe, there is no sense that the standard bearers have themselves been significantly at fault in failing to "keep their eye on the ball" -- the globe.
Missing is any sense that the very nature of the success of Trump merits careful reflection on how the standard bearers could ensure more fruitful engagement with the 60 million who voted for Trump. The focus is rather on how those gullible voters were so skillfully manipulated to subscribe to the false promises made by Trump rather than to the programs skillfully articulated by Clinton.
At the time of writing, with Trump as president-elect, the focus now extends to the ridiculous nature of the programs he has variously intimated prior to taking office. His inherent incompetence is now affirmed in the light of failures in his various business initiatives. This fails to recognize the extent to which risk is fundamental to the corporate environment where a percentage of failure must be tolerated. The risk-averse do not succeed in business. An emphasis is even placed on the value of failure in enabling learning (Amy C. Edmondson, Strategies for Learning from Failure, Harvard Business Review, April 2011; Julian Birkinshaw and Martine Haas, Increase Your Return on Failure, Harvard Business Review, May 2016).
However there is no embarrassment on the part of critics in avoiding any acknowledgement of the proportion of policy, strategic and programme failures by the "Good Guys": communes, NGOs, programmes, conferences, demonstrations, etc (Craig Whitlock and Bob Woodward, Pentagon buries evidence of $125 billion in bureaucratic waste, The Washington Post, 5 December 2016). More significant is that there is typically no process by which learning from such failures is sought -- again in contrast to sport and business.
Reframing: Of particular interest here is how an existentially threatening opponent is framed beyond the negative campaigning characteristic of propaganda seeking to mobilise public opionion. Clearly the propaganda endeavours to define the enemy, as in the media response to Trump, with every imaginable negative characteristic: lying, hypocrisy, sexual abuse, racial discrimination, tax evasion, violence, association with other enemies and their fellow travellers, and the like. In some cases this extends to complicity in torture, cannibalism, satanism, and anything imaginably worse. The predictability of this tendency renders it ever more incredible.
Of greater interest is therefore the framing for any strategic response to Trumpism (or Jihadism), especially understood in military terms, as may well be the case with competition between corporations. What might be understood as the strategy emerging from rethinking and reframing by elitist standard bearers who were so off-footed by Trump's success? There are indeed few traces of thinking in such terms.
The corporate world has long explored strategic metaphors whereby strategies can be reframed. The study by Dudley Lynch and Paul Kordis (Strategy of the Dolphin; scoring a win in a chaotic world, 1988) blends the latest findings in psychology, physics, sociology and business strategy to contrast the subtleties of thinking/acting like a dolphin with that of carps (prey) and of sharks (predators). Management is urged to think like a "dolphin", rather than a "shark", in order to keep on top of the "carps". A reviewer in a management journal greeted it as "a welcome respite from other management books that urge us to think like samurais, Attila the Hun, or members of the Prussian General Staff."
The standard bearers are not renowned for that mode of thinking -- as is implied by Chris Rose (A Time for Strategy, Campaign Strategy, 2008). Their understanding would seem to be that they are naturally to be recognized as the Warriors of Light and therefore need no reframing for those unpersuaded by this metaphor. This is despite the questionable success of the Forces of Light in the past century -- of which texts from decades past offer some indication (Collective Learning from Calls for Global Action, 1981; Cooperation and its Failures (From the 1960s through the 1980s): 12 Metaphors towards understanding the dilemma for the 1990s, 1988). From another perspective, this is consistent with the study by James Hillman and Michael Ventura (We've Had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy -- And the World's Getting Worse, 1993).
Getting the collective act together: relevance of the martial arts
"Warfare"? The engagement with an "other" can indeed be framed metaphorically in terms of warfare -- as in much-dramatised Battle of the Sexes, with its game theory variant. There is then a case for seeking inspiration from classics such as Sun Tzu's Art of Warfare. This continues to be much valued in the corporate world, but it is unclear how such strategic interest is adapted to the quarrels only too evident in the relations between those claiming to be standard bearers for global civilization -- peace movements, environmental movements, etc.
This is especially evident in the case of the problematic relations between the Abrahamic religions and between their own factions and denominations. With each claiming unique insights into the most fundamental values, the capacity of these religions to encourage bloody violence between their supporters has been only too evident down the centuries -- and at present. In ideological terms they could be said to be engaged in eternal warfare and completely unembrassed by their capacity to encourage its physical manifestation. This is ironically consistent with the sympoathy of religion for so-called just war theory.
It is therefore of some interest whether the principles and philosophies of the "martial arts" can be adapted to such contexts -- and to the "spiritual combat" between those upholding values seemingly in conflict. Ironically "spiritual combat" is a term variously honoured by the Abrahamic religions (Dom Lorenzo Scupoli, The Spiritual Combat, 1589; Paul Thigpen, Manual for Spiritual Warfare, 2014). As with the motivation for the crusades, this is duly echoed in the significance attributed to jihad (The Spiritual Significance of Jihad, Al-Islam.org).
Relevant to the introduction of this theme is the seldom publicized involvement of Trump in mixed martial arts, one of the most controversial forms of western combat sport -- a blood-spattering blend of boxing, wrestling and karate often fought in a caged octagon -- through which he developed an association with Russia (Michael Crowley, Donald Trump's other blood sport, Politico, 30 August 2016; Josh Rosenblatt, Donald Trump's Long, Strange Relationship With MMA, Fightland, 27 July 2015). As noted by Crowley, this is a significant basis for the bond with Putin (Vladimir Putin earns 8th-degree black belt in karate, The Washington Times, 25 November 2014).
Deception? Much has been made of the level of lying and misinformation during the course of the presidential race, notably with respect to the assertions of Trump and the misrepresentation of him by the media. The continuing controversy on the matter is now framed in terms of "fake news" and "post-truth". Missing is the extent to which it is increasingly accepted that politicians lie most of the time, if not all the time, most notably with respect to the promises made to electors. As asked by The Economist: Politicians have always lied; does it matter if they leave the truth behind entirely? (Post-truth Politics: art of the lie, 15 September 2016).
The media continue to whine obsessively about the extent to which Trump has lied and may continue to be lying. It is ironic that any such deception should be deplored as "lying" by observers when it is valued as a primary aid in any competitive strategy (including ball-games and card-games), counter-intelligence and the covert operations on which security is claimed to be dependent (Carolyn Pumphrey, et al, Strategic Deception in Modern Democracies: ethical, legal, and policy challenges, 2003). Soviet army victories in 1944 were in large part the result of the skillful practice of maskirovka (strategic deception) that off-footed Hitler and the German high command, as noted by Vadim J. Birstein (SMERSH, Intelligence Analys and Reporting, 12 December 2013).
The strategy is highlighted in The Art of Warefare:
All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must appear inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.
Unwittingly, as previously argued, it is possible that Trump made skillful use of his absurdities and irritants as distractants, perhaps best compared with use of decoy flares as counter-measures by aircraft seeking to reduce vulnerability to missile strikes. Commentators have assiduously followed the heat of the flares -- in a fruitless effort to bring him down. They "fell" for the decoys -- literally.
Coherence of conventional values? Much is made of the shared values fundamental to western civilization. However, just as religions dubiously identify themselves with "peace", whilst hypocritically supporting the warfare of their adherents as a matter of convenience, such is also the case amongst those claiming to be the standard bearers of secular values.
It could be considered remarkable how superficial and tokenistic is the coherence of the intiatives of those upholding values deemed to be threatened by Trumpism or Jihadism. Their failure to "get their act together" within any domain, or between domains, is only too evident -- despite the efforts of public relations.
Ironically it could be said that it is only the threat of Trumpism and Jihadism which is forcing the standard bearers to greaer coherence. The pattern is reminiscent of references to the integrative force engendered by invarion by extraterrestrials -- as depicted in The War of the Worlds (1897) and variously dramatised. Any "Clash of Civilizations" could even be construed as beneficial in that respect.
Typically for the values with which democracy is held to be associated, any emergent coherence is also evident in the cross-party alliancs urgently formed to block any access to power -- or representation -- of those deemed to be extreme. This is currently relevant to the emerging left-right alliance in France to block the threat of deprecated populist expression represented by Marine Le Pen. So much for the practice of modern of democracy in contrast with the principles upheld and promulgated as necessarily universal.
Seemingly missing from any understanding of the coherence of contrasting values is the nature of their complementarity in the dynamics of a civilization. Curiously this is reflected in the range of behaviorual types identified by psychometric tests and highlighted above as axes of bias. Rather than any systemic understanding of how these behaviours must nexessarily play off against each other in a democracy -- as a healthy political ecosystem. The practice is intead to claim particular biases as unquestionably valid and those challenging them to be unquestionably wrong. Hence the binary politics of "right" and "left", variously interpreted as "good" and "bad" (if not "evil").
Engaging authentically with coherence? Missing from commentary on the presidential race has been adequate consideration of authenticity in politics. His embodiment of it has indeed been variously challenged (Donald Trump Is Not 'Authentic' Just Because He Says the Bad Things in His Head, Time, 10 October 2016; Clinton, Trump And The Battle For Authenticity, Forbes, 24 September 2016; Authenticity in the Age of Trump, The Economist, 17 November 2016; What Makes a Politician 'Authentic'? The New York Times, 5 July 2016).
Those complaining at having lost would like it to be assumed that they alone represent that quality -- despite the incoherence of their response to date. Given the failure of the media to predict his success, there has certainly been a failure to recognize the nature of the authenticity of Trump -- for which 60 million Americans voted. Somehow those voters failed to be distracted by the absurdities of his vaudeville style -- as many avoid distraction by the hyperbole of salespeople. It had a sufficient quality of genuineness to be convincing. This was not the case with Clinton.
If a sense of authenticity can be associated with the style of Trump -- despite his absurdities -- the challenge for those opposing him is to recognize his worthiness in those terms. Given his success, the focus on endeavouring to negate it is indicative of probable strategic failure. There is the further challenge for them to render coherent their own authenticity, which as yet remains elusive.
Rather than the tepid formal congratulations offered to Trump by the leaders of western democracies who had previously deprecated his candidacy, a more appropriate response to his election is exemplified by the "greeting" dance of the Maori haka -- widely publicized in media coverage of the All Blacks rugby team. Within such a dance metaphor, it could be said that Trump successfully off-footed the world leaders critical of him.
In that challenge to the rules of the democratic game, an appropriate twist is to be found in the No Rules Campaign used in the acclaimed advertising of a particular product (William Lawson's Response to the Haka, Inspiration Room, 2006; John Leo, Breaking The Rules With The Gap, The Huffington Post, 25 May 2011). Within the dance metaphor, any authentic challenge to Trump could merit being more fruitfully understood as some form of eternal dance. In the absence of more comprehensible insights, as an existential game, this understanding can be further developed in aesthetic terms (All Blacks of Davos vs All Greens of Porto Alegre: reframing global strategic discord through polyphony? 2007).
Potential insights from kata philosophy?
The focus here is on the modes of engagement promoted in the traditional martial arts of China and Japan -- more especially the set of katas in the latter culture. The importance of the "philosophical" attitudes underlying these is recognized in the practice of the martial arts world wide, but especially in Japan and with regard to its implications for collective action, as noted by various authors (Graham Priest and Damon Young, Philosophy and the Martial Arts: Engagement, 2014; Kenji Tokitsu, The Katas: The Meaning behind the Movements, 2010; Boye De Mente, The Kata Factor: Japan's Secret Weapon! 2014).
Whilst the relevance of such a world view may be deprecated within the western conventions of global governance, it is only too appropriate to recall the demonstrated inadequacy of that understanding in relation to the election of Donald Trump in the USA and to the rise of Populism and Jihadism elsewhere. Given the equally unpredictable success of China and Japan over decades past, the deprecated insights inspiring those cultures merits particular attention. This is all the more justified by threats of new forms of engagement between the USA and China (John Pilger, The Coming War on China, CounterPunch, 2 December 2016). Clearly the evolution of this threat will be partly determined by the interplay between the strategic attitude of Trump and that of the culture in question.
In the vocabulary of the martial arts, the kata is a succession of blows and parades. Each one bears a name, one learns it by practicing it. The search for truth and the practice of martial arts are complementary exercises that illuminate one another but not simultaneously. Developed by monks, often under the pressure of persecution, the transmission of the martial arts is accompanied by a philosophy of presence and awakening -- typically ignored in western perceptions of the art.
As but one example, in a section on philosophy, the Japan Karate Association stresses that:
Karate is not a game of points, weight classes or showy demonstrations. It is a martial art and way of life that trains a practitioner to be peaceful; but if conflict is unavoidable, true karate dictates taking down an opponent with a single blow. Such an action requires strength, speed, focus, control. But these physical aspects are only part of the practice; they are just the vehicle, not the journey itself.
True karate is based on Bushido. In true karate, the body, mind and spirit -- the whole person -- must be developed simultaneously. Through kihon, kumite and kata we learn to control our movements. But more importantly, we learn to give up control too. We can perform the techniques without thinking about them, and remain focused without having to concentrate on any one thing. In essence, the body remembers how to move and the mind remembers how to be still.
This harmonious unity of mind and body is intensely powerful. Even the greatest physical strength and skill are no match for the power of wholeness. The result of true karate is natural, effortless action, and the confidence, humility, openness and peace only possible through perfect unity of mind and body.
Misleading physical connotation: Although widely used across cultures, the term kata lends itself to misunderstanding as fruitfully clarified in a study by Simon Dodd and David Brown (Kata: the true essence of Budo martial arts? Revista de Artes Marciales Asiáticas, 11, 2016, 2, pp. 118-119):
Kata is a common pedagogy found throughout Japanese society and is particularly prevalent in the Japanese martial arts. Kata has become an internationally recognised symbol for the Japanese approach to teaching, learning and creativity and has been referred to as "a pattern structure of the Japanese society and culture in general" ...
Analysis found that a failure to recognise the sociocultural setting of kata's origin has led to kata based training being afforded less importance in Western practice due to a lack of understanding. It was felt that this failure has led to the cultural purpose of kata, to embody the principles and philosophies of an art, being largely forgotten or mystified by practitioners. We argue that the sociocultural developments of bushido, and the transformation of bujutsu to budo, that placed moral, social and spiritual development at the core of the martial art philosophy intertwines kata with budo practice. As a result of this, we conclude that the pedagogy of kata has become the bodily allusion and expression of the core values of the Japanese arts , and an essential pedagogy of intercultural transmission. This may, therefore, suggest that kata represents the true essence of budo
Katas as metaphors of governance processes: Of relevance to this argument is how a culture imbued with the philosophy of martial arts has come to apply such thinking in the processes of its currnt governance. The question is partially addressed by various authors (Kimio Kase, et al, Asian versus Western Management Thinking: its culture-bound nature, 2011; Yul Sohn (Whither the Japanese Model?: institutional change and emergence of "Many Japans", Journal of International and Area Studies, 2008). One such study argues:
And increasingly, Asia is developing its own strain of management thinking. Its champions are not gurus in the brash American mould, but cerebral and low key; not only material, but spiritual too; informed by the West but gaining thoroughly Asian insights. (Stuart Crainer, Asian Management Theory: Brain gain, Management Today, 1998)
Along with Sun Tzu's Art of War and Tao Zhu-gong's 12 Principles, many Asian executives have read another Chinese military classic, The 36 Stratagems. Japanese executives may have also read the work of the legendary samurai swordsman Musashi Miyamoto, The Book of Five Rings... (Frank B. Tipton, Asian Firms: history, institutions and management, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2008).
Only apparently unrelated, the grades in traditional martial arts are those of the traditional game of go -- considered to be the most complex of board games, and recently the focus of a widely publicized achievement in artificial intelligence (Cade Metz, The Sadness and Beauty of Watching Google's AI Play Go, Wired, 11 March 2016). That game embodies fundamental principles of Chinese strategic thinking -- as with chess in the West.
Systemic implications of winning or losing? Traditional insights include:
- If you focus your attention on the opponent's sword, it creates a distance between you and him and then you lose your energy. If you do not create a distance between him and you, you can capture your energy.
- There are three kinds of victories: winning after fighting, winning before fighting, winning without fighting.
The aim of the martial art is to achieve the latter through the use of a set of technical tools -- as well as the appropriate philosophical attitude. So framed "combat" uses intuition, which must go as far as a sort of harmony with any opponent. The principle of this teaching is the simulation of combat, aided by reflection and meditation.
Varieties of kata: The World Karate Federation recognizes the following styles of karate in its kata list: Shotokan, Shito-ryu, Goju-ryu, and Wado-ryu (see checklists of associated katas with commentaries). Other listings include:
Other katas are recognized in other martial arts, notably aikido katas, judo katas, and kendo katas (see List of Martial Arts Kata and Forms). Typically missing is commentary relative to the strategic and cognitive insights in each case, although this is much more explicit in the case of of T'ai chi ch'uan, whose forms are also recognized as katas (List of t'ai chi ch'uan forms).
Analogous checklists are to be found in relation to the game of go, specifically with respect to "ko fights". Typical situations on the board are described by a set of go terms -- also with their strategic implications.
To a far greater extent than with respect to katas of martial arts, the relevance of go has been variously explored in relation to politics (Japanese Politics: like a game of go, The Economist, 6 December 2007; Pokemon Meets Politics in New 'HillaryDonald Go' Game, NBC San Diego, 2016; Yasutoshi Yasuda, Go as Communication: the educational and therapeutic value of the game of Go, 2002; David Lai, Learning from the stones a Go: approach to mastering China's strategic concept, Shi, Strategic Studies Institute, 2004; Mateusz Hudzikowski, The Go Game Model in International Politics Research, Strategic Impact, 4/2013). The latter concludes:
Basically, the go game can serve as the aid in developing some kind of strategic thinking, negotiation skills, planning, decision-making, as well as shaping some qualities, such as patience, tenacity, flexibility. The game has been probably invented mainly for this purpose as a hobby for kings, political leaders and soldiers. Of course, it would be naive to think that a success in the game is necessary for the success on the battlefield or in politics and that if someone succeed in go game, then he would be successful in any other domain. There is rather no researcher who would claim that. The game is more likely a learning method of dealing with complexity, change, uncertainty, weakness, conflict, multiple goals achieving. Moreover, in various domains of social sciences go game as a learning and training method is frequently invoked, so the same usage of go game in political science can be worth of our attention.
These metaphorical frameworks can be explored more generally (Navigating Alternative Conceptual Realities: clues to the dynamics of enacting new paradigms through movement, 2002).
Game-playing in global governance?
The following set of "katas" is of particular interest as a western insight into the systemic processes of governance of what might now be called the Swamp of the Washington Consensus -- which Donald Trump has variously promised to "drain" (as noted above). The set of "institutional katas" appears as an annex to a book entitled L'Ecoute des Silences: les institutions contre l'innovation (1978) -- of which the provisional title was equally appropriate (La vue basse et l'oreille bouchée). It bears comparison with an earlier exercise with similar concerns (Wrecking an International Project: notes from a saboteur's vade mecum, 1972).
Any such set is necessarily reminiscent of the "games" which are the focus of transactional analysis (Eric Berne, Games People Play: the psychology of human relationships, 1964).
A particular merit of the following articulation is that it employs the pattern of opposing moves by White and Black -- long characteristic of strategic games like chess and go. This helps to frame the challenge of transcending binary game-playing, as argued separately with respect to insights into a "post-truth table" in which the distinctions are encoded by use of a traditional Chinese pattern.
|The Institutional Katas
by Thierry Gaudin
English translation of a French version published in Transnational Associations, 1977, 3, pp 77-79.
1. Sutemi: White lets Black advance until the absurdity of Black's position
becomes apparent. It is then easy for White to throw Black by
benefitting from Black's momentum.
2. Double-bind (enigma and double constraint): This is a family of ploys:
White defines rules so that it is impossible for Black to respect
them. Black typically responds by some absurd behavior of
a schizophrenic type. White (institution) can then take charge of it
3. Passing back the ball: White requires of Black a solution.
Black produces one. White finds objections. Black produces another
and so on until Black wearies or White gives in order not be be blamed.
4. Putting the ball into touch: White driven back by Black, diverts the confrontation
into a matter of procedure and obtains referral to another authority.
5. Focussing on detail:: Not being able to face a sensitive point,
White and Black clash lengthily on a point of detail.
6. Overwork: White dissolves into lamentation, presenting a long
list of activities progressing well -- before the point has been made that
one of them is not. White thereby dampens
criticism, and can remain thus a long time without effectively progressing
any of them.
7. Provocation-repression: White raises a question which, although not corresponding
to an achievable benefit, brings into question the statements and
status of Black. Black reacts by a show of force. White draws public attention
to its own martyrdrom and victimhood, retreating with secret satisfaction.
Apparently victorious, Black is blamed.
8. Is it there that it hurts you?: White evokes a difficulty
of Black, asking "is it there that it hurts you?".
Black makes a show of strength and answers "no";
White starts again elsewhere, until Black cries out or pushes White aside with
a brutal gesture. White is then satisfied, having found a way to make Black
lose control. Black is also satisfied having acquired the status of being ill
-- that Black sought through participation in the game. The status of patient
is very advantageous, even for the largest companies,
such as the most distinguished centennial ones, with civils servant
competing for the right to provide remedies.
9. Godfather: White states, in the absence of Black: "I
will make Black an offer that Black will not be possible to refuse".
White then threatens Black -- then asks
Black for a small favour. After momentary principled resistance,
Black submits humbly. White wins, having demonstrated authority. Black
also, through feeling protected.
10. I am not a candidate: White covets a vacant position. White outlines to
all who will listen the qualities necessary for the position and the difficulties
of exercising the function. If
asked, White offers a not very
credible reason for not being a candidate..
11. Encirclement: White, not being credible to Black, wishes to persuade
Black. White ensures that the persuasive argument is made to Black
by several different people. If Black does not detect the common source, Black
will not resist more than 4 endorsements.
12. The Lubrifying speech covers its object without really
describing it -- dissimulating its questionable aspects, in order to make
it acceptable. Many great projects are thus presented --accompanied by studies
in the syrupy language designed to dissuade those most directly concerned
from voicing any objections. These texts are widely disseminated by
the institution, and are even the subject of debates before
regional authorities, while the legal consultations with those
with vested interests (generally questionable) are held in the greatest
13. Running board speech is used to promote a person (generally
the author) while speaking about something else. This speech breathes
competence and also indicates, by discrete allusions, a knowledge of the forces
in play, a subtle recognition of the institutional positions -- an unquestionable
indication of a good intervention.
14. Tidal wave speech is characterized by its volume. It
is used to prevent those present from forming an opinion -- while expressing,
by the extent of the work proposed to them, all the
consideration from which they are expected to benefit. In fact the speech makes
it possible to neutralize certain committees. It is also the speech which certain
great organizations address to their highest authority.
15. Redefinition (the speech from the center): This is a family
of ploys, whose common characteristic with double-bind (see above) is
that White assumes the right to define or change the sense of the words.
The most usual variant is the definition of nomenclatures or classifications
aiming at the reorganization or separation of functions. It is the ploy
of the center faced with the periphery. It can lead to a genuine witchhunt.
16. Help me: White claims to be experiencing difficulties. Black, for the
sake of prestige, comes to White's help. Black is then trapped in an unexpectedly
17. Roundtable: After some time, ten victims of the HELP ME ploy are
trapped and gather about a round table. This situation exemplifies the well
known aphorism of bankers: it is better to be ten together
on a bad deal than all alone on a good one.
18. No waves: It is the favorite ploy of the eminent. An event occurred,
which could provoke unfortunate reactions. The eminent of all kinds agree among
themselves on how to calm matters down.
19. Who will wear the hat: White
notes an incident. White elaborates an analysis of its causes, showing
their complexity and the many implicated people. This brings the situation
back to the NO WAVE ploy.
The inverse variant is that a significant decision is blocked because nobody
wants to take responsibility. The possible manœuvres for passing the
buck are innumerable.
20. You know so-and-so? Some have built their whole careers on this ploy
which is however played outside working hours. It is analogous to the behavior
of insects who recognize each other by touching their antennas. White:
you are in this line of business, or you come from that area so...
then you know so-and-so. Black: yes. I saw him last week. White: how is he...
followed by five minutes on his qualities and defects, after which
the focus passes on to someone else. When they
have covered all their common relations, it is then said that White and
Black know each other.
21. Labels: It is the professional alternative of YOU KNOW So-AND-SO. Instead
of speaking about health, travel, and the witty remarks of so-and-so, he
is defined: by his education, by some elements of his curriculum vitae,
by his affiliations, by his bank... and especially using adjectives. He
is cynical, he is effective -- a lefitist.
22. You knw the recipe of conservatism: It is the principle of the pussy:
take a brilliant young graduate, place him in a position
of responsibility on a subject of which he knows nothing. During the first
three months, having still failed to assimilate, he
will be able only to continue making the old mistakes; afterwards, he will
obliged to defend them and, being brilliant, will succeed.
If however he tries to act before understanding, one or two failures
will put him straight. Conservatives surround themselves in this way with a
cloud of brilliant young people whose role is to give the illusion of change
by refusing genuine mechanisms of change, based on self-analysis and
the dispersion of power, namely the renunciation of power.
23. The Gestation of a new idea in an institution normally takes two years.
Initially a phase of screening, reframing answers without presenting valid
counterarguments: "not serious", "if
that would work, it would already have done done", etc. Then follows a
period of maturation during which the bearer does not lose courage. He continues
to infect receptive sites and additionally succeeds in obtaining the reason
for the initial refusal. During all this time the institution pretends to be
unaware of the idea or treats it as negligible. After this patient effort,
he sees the first emerging recognition, sometimes in unexpected places, in
the form: "tell me, this idea, I do not remember it
well, why does one not hear any more said about it?" He must then pretend
indifference, taking care not to remind others of his association with it
and await the following phrase: "how
is it that nothing is done about this?". This precedes
designation of a responsible institutional body mandated to
implement it -- a function from which he should try to escape, if he wants
the institution to be the supporter of the idea.
24. Intervention: The think tank proposes to answer the supposed latent
anguish of enterprises by making a proposal to assist them to
25. Collective interpretation: The participants try to guess the nature of
the underlying intentions from what they have seen. Each
interprets what he does not see. If he does it alone, he only evokes phantasms
-- traces of his past. If several do it with him, he constructs a collective
image and creates a basis for institutionalization.
26. Examination of the tools: The tools determine and express the institution.
The examination of their conformity and of their coherence with the institutional
discourse is fundamental to the knowledge and preparation of
the institution. Through the tools, one touches both the inner and outer interactions
of the institution.
27. Building on the side: The participants act to institutionalize.
Any association or grouping, even a specially created company, can be used
as a framework. Patience is then required -- the evolution of
institutions takes years, because it is based on mutual confidence.
28. Diverting: To make the institution evolve of its own accord, there
is no point in confronting resistance to change. It
is better to divert a small part of the flux with which it is concerned and
to manage it differently
29. Displacing: In the institution those involved cannot allow
themselves to set aside their role, -- their image is constantly in play. But,
if their focus is switched to questions which do not concern them, then one
can hear them reveal not only their feelings, but also the state
of their perception -- how they reconcile their person and the roles it
Eliciting the complementarity of intractable opponents
Complementarity: Whilst a case can indeed be made for according a degree of respect to ideological opponents in principle, it is another matter entirely to recognize the value of such disagreement in practice.
Accepted in principle, with whatever reservations, such an ideal is dissociated from the practice and inherent incommensurability experienced. Another cognitive modality is required. This is characteristic of increasing recognition of biodiversity in the environment. This modality is as yet a major challenge to comprehension, notably due to the complexity to be encompassed.
A primary characteristic of this understanding is acceptance of a psychosocial analogue to the biological dictum that every species is some other species lunch. This is clearly unaccptable to any political initiative faced with loss as a consequence of the success of another. Whilst the potential of alternation offers little consolation, thia experience evokes philosophical acceptance through the dictum win some, lose some.
From a systemic perspective, missing is the discourse which recognizes the complementarity of the roles of a set of distinctive personality types, world views -- such as those categorized by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Closest to that understanding is the complex of strategies implied by the arguments of Edward de Bono (Six Thinking Hats, 1985; Six Action Shoes, 1991; Six Value Medals, 200; Six Frames For Thinking About Information, 2008).
In the latter terms, what respect is systemically appropriate from one "hat" to another? In what sense is the "worthiness" of one "hat" to be recognized by any other -- and when might it be considered "over the top" and unacceptable, whether appropriately or inappropriately?
Systemic jostling: So framed, each "hat" is effectively a specific mode of struggle by one ideology with another. However understanding of the systemic dynamics remains elusive -- and difficult to communicate. Some indications can be derived from the work of management cybernetician Stafford Beer (Beyond Dispute: the invention of team syntegrity, 1994). Rather than "struggle", he uses the term "jostle" in articulating the processes of "syntegration".
From that perspective, Beer's focus on the icosahedron as a mapping device for the complex system as a whole can be used as a dynamic framework with which seemingly incommensurable perspectives can be associated. This was explored on the occasion of the UN Earth Summit (Configuring Globally and Contending Locally: shaping the global network of local bargains by decoding and mapping Earth Summit inter-sectoral issues, 1992).
Fundamental coherence of a set of katas? As a set of "struggles with an other", the katas might then be understood as dynamically mapped by the inherent dynamics of the icosahedron in its tensegrity form, as illustrated by the animation below. The distinction between tension and compression elements in that structure is basic to the improbable integrity of a geodesic dome. This is then evocatively reminiscent of an aesthetic pattern of kendo positions (see kendo kata), as otherwise discussed (Evoking Authenticity -- through polyhedral global configuration of local paradoxes, 2003; Cognitive configuration of haiku -- and dimensions of strategic engagement, 2006). A corresponding western understanding has also been articulated by Nick Evangelista (The Inner Game of Fencing: excellence in form, technique, strategy and spirit, 2000; The Art and Science of Fencing, 1999).
The contrast between the tension and compression elements in the tensegrity as a whole could appropriately distinguish the yin ("soft power") and yang ("hard power") characteristics in the set of katas as a whole (see the distinction of hard and soft martial arts).
There is a confluence of other associations which merits further exploration -- given the fundamental challenge of engaging with an intractable "other". Fundamental to the eastern martial arts, from a Chinese perspective, are the 5 movements or phases of the Wu Xing, as depicted in the image on the left above (adapted from the entry in Wikipedia). It is fundamental to the Japanese martial arts classic, namely The Book of Five Rings by Musashi Miyamoto -- noted above as widely read by eastern executives for its strategic insights .
(reproduced from Wikipedia)
|Chinese 5-phase Wu Xing cycle
Arrows: black = generating;
white = overcoming
The pattern corresponds closely to that of the western Hygeia from the time of Pythagoras, from which modern insights into hygiene have been derived, as separately discussed (Cycles of enstoning forming mnemonic pentagrams: Hygiea and Wu Xing, 2012). The associations can be further explored in the light of the insight of Stafford Beer, and the relevance of the Pentagramma Mirificum, so fundamental mathematically to navigation of the globe (Beyond dispute in 5-dimensional space: Pentagramma Mirificum? 2015).
The significance of this possible confluence of associations also lends itself to speculative exploration in terms of a Concordian complement to the controversial 5-ringed Discordian Mandala depicted above. That 2D configuration epitomizes the discord in the set of problematic "institutional katas" (as previously indicated).
Quest for "new thinking"? The question is whether greater insight could be engendered by a Concordian complement, as explored separately (Con-quest Aesthetically Reframed via the Concordian Mandala: inspired by implications of the systemantics of the Discordian Mandala, 2016; Concordian Mandala as a Symbolic Nexus: insights from dynamics of a pentagonal configuration of nonagons in 3D, 2016; Visualization in 3D of Dynamics of Toroidal Helical Coils: in quest of optimum designs for a Concordian Mandala, 2016).
Having engendered vulnerability to the threat of Populism and Jihadism through inadequate strategic thinking, the much-quoted insight of Albert Einstein merits particular consideration in envisaging a response:
|We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them
Promoting a "lesser evil" is not a strategy. Nor is "not-Trump". Nor is "not-Jihad". Subtler strategic insight and creativity are required.
Stafford Beer. Beyond Dispute: the invention of team syntegrity. John Wiley, 1994
Eric Berne. Games People Play: the psychology of human relationships. Grove Press, 1964
Scott Boorman. The Protracted Game: a wei ch'i approach to Mao's revolutionary strategy. Oxford University Press, 1971
Guy Burgess and Heidi Burgess (Eds.). Beyond Intractability. Conflict Information Consortium, 2003
Boye De Mente:
- The Kata Factor - Japan's Secret Weapon!: The Cultural Programming That Made the Japanese a Superior People. Cultural-Insight Books, 2014
- Japan Unmasked: The Character and Culture of the Japanese. Tuttle Publishing, 2011
Mary Douglas. Natural Symbols: explorations in cosmology. Pelikan, 1973
- The Art and Science of Fencing. McGraw-Hill, 1999
- The Inner Game of Fencing: excellence in form, technique, strategy and spirit. McGraw-Hill, 2000
Howard Gardner. Frames of Mind: the theory of multiple intelligences. Heinemann, 1984
Joseph Henrotin. The Art of War in the Network Age: back to the future. John Wiley, 2016
Geert Hofstede. Culture's Consequences: international differences in work-related values. Sage, 1984
Mateusz Hudzikowski. The Go Game Model in International Politics Research. Strategic Impact, 4/2013 [text]
W. T. Jones. The Romantic Syndrome: toward a new method in cultural anthropology and the history of ideas. Martinus Nijhoff, 1961
John B. Judis. The Populist Explosion: how the Great Recession transformed American and European politics. Columbia Global Reports, 2016
Lawrence A. Kane. The Way of Kata: a comprehensive guide to deciphering martial applications. YMAA Publication Center, 2016
Kimio Kase, Alesia Slocum and Ying Ying Zhang. Asian versus Western Management Thinking: its culture-bound nature. Palgrave Macmillan, 2011 [text]
David Lai. Learning from the stones: a Go approach to mastering China's strategic concept, Shi. Strategic Studies Institute, 2004 [abstract]
- Mindscapes, social patterns and future development of scientific theory types. Cybernetica, 1980, 23, 1, pp. 5-25 [text]
- Polyocular Vision or Subunderstanding? Organization Studies, 25, 2004, pp. 467-480 [abstract]
- Towards a Multi-Cultural Modernity: beyond neo-liberal/neo-conservative global hegemony. 2005 [text]
- Global Issues and Interparadigmatic Dialogue: Essays on Multipolar Politics. Torino, 1988
- The Strategies of Negotiation: an American-Japanese comparison. Sophia University, 1970
Stephen Pepper. World Hypotheses: a study in evidence. University of California Press, 1942
Christopher S. Plante and Jem Bendell. The Art of Collaboration: lessons from emerging environmental business-NGO partnerships in Asia. Greener Management International, 1998, 24 [text]
Graham Priest and Damon Young:
- Philosophy and the Martial Arts: Engagement. Routledge, 2014
- Martial Arts and Philosophy: Beating and Nothingness. Open Court Publishing, 2010
Yul Sohn. Whither the Japanese Model?: institutional change and emergence of "Many Japans". Journal of International and Area Studies, 15, 2008, 1, pp. 79-92 [text]
Emmanuel Todd. La Troisiéme Planéte: structures familiales et systémes idéologiques. Editions du Seuil, 1983
- The Katas: The Meaning behind the Movements. Inner Traditions, 2010
- The Inner Art of Karate: cultivating the budo spirit in your practice. Shambhala, 2012
- Ki and the Way of the Martial Arts. Shambhala, 2003
Siren Torsti. Winning Wars Before They Emerge: from kinetic warfare to strategic communications as a proactive and mind-centric paradigm of the Art of War. Universal-Publishers, 2013
Yasutoshi Yasuda. Go as Communication: the educational and therapeutic value of the game of Go. Slate and Shell, 2002 [abstract]
Barry Scott Zellen. The Art of War in an Asymmetric World: Strategy for the Post-Cold War Era. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2012