Thursday, March 10, 2011

Institutions and rules

From a NY Times book review of Stanford Professor Francis Fukuyama's new book “The Origins of Political Order”:
“We take institutions for granted but in fact have no idea where they come from,” he writes. Institutions are the rules that coordinate social behavior. Just as tribes are based on the deep-seated human instinct of looking out for one’s family and relatives, states depend on the human propensity to create and follow social rules.
Without taking human behavior into account, “you misunderstand the nature of political institutions,” Dr. Fukuyama said in the interview at Johns Hopkins. Such behaviors, particularly the faculty for creating rules, are the basis for social institutions, even though the content of institutions is supplied by culture. Dr. Fukuyama sees the situation as similar to that of language, in which the genes generate the neural machinery for learning language but culture supplies the content.

Institutions, though cultural, can be very hard to change. The reason is that, once they are created, people start to invest them with intrinsic value, often religious. This process “probably had an evolutionary significance in stabilizing human societies,” Dr. Fukuyama said, since with an accepted set of rules a society didn’t have to fight everything out again every few years. The inertia of institutions explains why societies are usually so slow to change. Societies are not trapped by their past, but nor are they free in any given generation to remake themselves.
I liked this. I liked thinking about how societies protect and reinforce themselves through stability and unity. I liked thinking about how the downside of stability, however, is rigidity and a lack of maneuverability, as anyone who has been in a very small boat versus a very large boat understands. The best thing that any society can do then is to diversify itself. No modern navy would be complete without stable aircraft carriers, sure, but nor would it be complete without sneaky submarines. Similarly, no vibrant, dynamic society would be complete without those who show a propensity to create and follow rules, nor would it be complete without those ultimates in human flexibility and adaptability -- our good friends, the sociopaths.


  1. gonna getcha getcha comin to getcha gethca gonna gethca

  2. ^Can someone please explain to me why sw has people saying all the time? Who is going to get whom? And why?

  3. It's a song...

    Anyway, yes, there's room for everyone in the family. Amoral and ambitious people should be treated and revered for their purpose and capability, not as simple threats, if they're capable of it.

    But some of them are doing a hell of a job mucking it up for the rest of us. And they're the ones who get the most attention.

  4. Francis Fukuyama is the idiot who insisted in 1989 after the Berlin Wall fell that "capitalism had won and history was over". I really wouldn't see value in what he says. And we *do* know where institutions come from and it's *not* culture.

  5. I wish i could drink alcohol every day without the consequences.

  6. Institutions that provide stability are necessary to maintain a cohesive society. I agree completely, otherwise there would be constant infighting and the biggest predators would quickly devour/opress the smaller contingents that tend to make up the working class. Leading to unrest and ultimately rebellion.

    There does need to be that faction of balance though where the environment fosters the abilition for revolution. Revolution leads to progress and ultimately (hopefully) a more productive, and even more functional society.

  7. booooooooooooooring. you guys can suck a dick.

  8. Quite a good topic you've chosen today, M.E., and I agree with your conclusion though I think there's more to say about the issue:

    Fukuyama-san is obviously an intelligent man. And it's all true of course, though the inertia grows proportionally with the size of the society in question aka how numerous the species has become.

    We're at a state where inertia almost has become a force in and on itself, which we can see not only by the way mainstream keeps cutting off branches of individuality, of variety (first it was royalty and aristocracy, then it was religion, gods and all other entities - except for the occasional dead granma; by now we have only roughly three social levels, the merchants, the slaves and the beggars/criminals/i.e...

    What used to be seen under some circumstances as a good and healthy rebellion is now merely Sociopathic. The fact that it's not only the Psychopaths, but the whole bunch of Antisocial sub-groups that are in for scrutiny with the purpose of eradicating ANY form of stirring a wave in an otherwise motionless ocean shows clearly that even such natural phenomena as what Fukuyama describes when he says:

    "the content of institutions is supplied by culture",

    "the situation is similar to that of language, in which the genes generate the neural machinery for learning language but culture supplies the content"


    "The inertia of institutions explains why societies are usually so slow to change."

    May be the rule, but the exception speaks differently.

    "Societies are not trapped by their past, but nor are they free in any given generation to remake themselves."

    Right, but now that we're talking scientific basics to back up natural occurrences, we ought to keep in mind that what we've come to view as 'rules' and 'dominant tendencies of nature' (or however we choose to phrase it) is actually really itself an accidental diversion from the rule...

    ...The one real rule, if it is even sensible to speak about such a thing, would be that Chaos is the norm.

    If you think that's an outrageous statement, then take a look at how it is with fertilization.

    It isn't the rule for the egg to be incubated, that happens accidentally, and to this day man must still use trial and error and hope for the best - even the lab conceived life cannot be fully predicted and controlled.

    Life has found a way of creating some form of stability pattern from chaos, but that is what we're doing always: Creating some form of stability from the ever present chaos, and we have to work continually at keeping it functional or chaos will take over again.

    Stability is not the rule or the natural state of things, though that seems to be the contemporary ideal that is sought achieved with such fanaticism.

    The more we learn about empirical science, and the more we manage to create stability to an extent that allows us to overwhelm what might have been a fruitful chaos with a destructive status quo, the more frightened we become of every little sign that something isn't stable.

    It's a form of psychosis that has taken over the Western Industrialized societies, and the rest of the world is following rapidly.

  9. Zhawq, you don't have a poverty of insight, therefore you can't be a psychopath.

    TNP puts forth a good front of looking like the intellectual but i can see he lacks insight into the bigger picture.

  10. shut up you boring faggot. this place used to be interesting for fuck sake.

  11. Anon 12:05:

    "Zhawq, you don't have a poverty of insight, therefore you can't be a psychopath."

    Man, that's the kindest thing someone has said to me in a very long time.

    Except I'm afraid it doesn't hold water....that is, I'm not a psychopath (in my own view, since psychopaths are usually 'bad' and 'evil' and all that).

    But as a matter of fact, one of the reasons the clinical psychologists and the psychiatrist - who reviewed my diagnosis last year - refused to recant the diagnosis was that I DID/DO show insight, and yet I act and feel, etc., the ways that they say are psychopathic.

    And the re-assessment was payed by me!!, no less, because I was stupid enough to think I could prove them wrong. Yet, they refused to change even a comma in even the oldest version of my diagnosis from when I was 18! Non-negotiable!!

    - This is one of the few topics that can actually make me furious just by thinking about it, so I better stop here.

    But do know I appreciate your words!
    As much as I in several ways would like them to be true, I'm beginning to slightly come to terms with reality. Especially after realizing that most other so called psychopaths are just as mis-judged in many ways as I feel I am. - That said, we DO harbor the bad things, but there's so much more to us than being bad and violent and lacking remorse and not knowing what empathy really is, and so on.

    Hey, anon 12:05

    You're making it worse, you fool!

    If you want anybody to give you credit for your claims (since that's what it really is), then add something interesting to the discussion yourself.

    Why didn't you? It ain't like you weren't aware that the place lacked interesting posts according to yourself. So why didn't you?

    You didn't because you CAN'T!
    You're as lame and colorless as all the rest of the anons who don't have the guts to add anything under a persistent name, because they just MIGHT get some heat from the regulars.
    You're worse than them combined when you drip that drivel you just have!

  12. "Did UKan died?"

    Ask him!

    If you're fast you may catch him on his way out, he was here just last night. But you gotta be quick, he ain't easy to keep up with even when he's here, hehe.

    While you're at it you could give him some verbal spanking for not entertaining you whenever you want him to, and then tie him to a chair in front of his computer.

    Was that interesting enough?

    (Damn, that's what high fever does to ya. Don't ban me, M.E., I promise I'll behave. Hehe. Off to bed again - fuck, I hope I won't have to get on penicillin. Nah, I can ride it through, always do.)

  13. Perfect post to discuss at length in a cafe in Paris. ME when is our first SW summit?

    Diversity is king in my book. And I find the closest I come to in religion is science. My most favored scienticfic concept is biodiversity.

    I worship power. So reading this post was like a prayer. Therefore,
    I admire the rule makers and keepers as much as the rule breakers. All part of a healthy ecosystem.

  14. More self-serving denial: I am a rule breaker, society needs rule breakers hence society needs me.

    Society doesn't need people who break the rules simply because they care nothing for the rules nor the people who abide by them. If you're a "rebel without a cause", you're just a rebel. Useless to all except yourself.

    The rebels that have truly benefited society through the ages are not sociopaths but their opposite, those who feel and care so much that they are willing to do anything for the benefit of their fellow man regardless of the personal price they have to pay. People like that were once called shamans.

  15. Way to go Anne, your mind is not a single track. I'm impressed but the fact still remains that you would not know what a rule is without the rule breaker. If everyone was this cohesive massive blob, which most are, and there were no rule breakers then there would have never been a need for rules because the blob, otherwise known as blah, wouldn't really DO anything beyond subsistence...

    The fact is, you would not be able to know, think, or fathom ANY of these thoughts without such an occurance.

    I would not downplay any "Shaman", as you say, for ones existance would earn even my respect. This is probably because they do not exist, however, I would admit them into what should be considered quintessential. In this category exists the sociopath as well.

    Think about it: Sociopathy would be malleable too, based upon the needs and wants of the people. I think a good question to ask yourself would be... If the poorest, hungriest people were idolized by said blob, would the sociopath really attempt to be wealthy? Maybe so, but even then they'd surely attempt to hide it and appear poor and hungry a hell of a lot more than drive their Ferrari.

    Afterall, If poor and hungry was the new rich and powerful, I would want to be revered by you and have you giving me even more power with you being the one holding me up so high. Amirite? What fun would life be without a game? You think I'd have ten billion dollars and just sit around in luxury? I don't think so. Truth be told I'd rather die.

    So, who was it that made "normal folks" sell their soul to everything superficial anyway? It certainly wasn't me, but there's many advantages to be had regardless of what and who they idolize.

  16. "Did UKan died?"

    It is "has UKan died?" or "did UKan die" Good god! Get it right. Nothing is more irritating than incorrect grammar.

  17. Anne,

    "People like that were once called shamans."

    Funny you should mention it. Many psychopaths have the traits that would make them self given as shamans in a pre-cultural society.

    I'm beginning to think that the self-serving and completely selfish person is as much a postulate as is the opposite claim.

    Every time I get to know someone who has a psychopath diagnosis (and I mean psychopath, those who are supposed to never having had high affect or the ability to feel remorse and empathy or love - Socioptahs and Antisocials are both considered to have the potential for at least some of these feelings) it turns out they have their own ideas of good and bad, etc..

    It's just so convenient to call is excuses and lies because it comes from a psychopath.

    Then there're the MRI scans. Well guess what: There are people who are considered anything BUT psychopathic or violent, but who nevertheless have the brain patterns that looks exactly like that of a serial killer!

    Another thing is, how can we determine that because someone's feelings don't give much impact on a material tool of measurement, then that must mean he also doesn't feel very strongly.

    Most who have so called flat effect do not consider themselves empty, they (or okay, we) don't walk around feeling empty or feeling that we lack feelings. We feel just as feeling as you guys do, we just see you as overly emotional for what to us seems like no apparent reason, the same way that you see us as cold and unfeeling.

    Do you see what I mean? It's in the eye of the beholder. Something such as feelings or good and bad/evil cannot be measured scientifically or empirically by the very nature of these ideas.

    Back to the shamans topic. It's a well known thing and is called 'Magical thinking' by professionals. But there's a lot more to it. We don't flaunt the details often, but many (many!, I tell you) have visionary experiences on a regular basis. It's normal to us, but we know it's not normal to 'normal' so called empathic people (who think empathy is needed in order to be visionary gifted), so we don't mention it.

    Take a closer look at what shamans are really like throughout history. Like artists the histories about their labile characters, their tendencies to play people or be slightly (or very) sadistic at times, are plentiful!!

  18. I'm waiting here to be found. Did anybody see 'tortured'?

  19. "Nothing is more irritating than incorrect grammar."

    Nah, me thinks you be taking them grammar thingies way too much serious-like pal. Loosen up, yous, it's be lots more funny and nicey, if you knows what I be meanin' when I says that.

    Also, you knows, some folks be having dyslexia. You wouldn't never be able to tell, but I has dyslexia big times!

    Anyways, me likes when other folk bothers to tell to me nice what's I been writin wrongly. I truly appreciates that, cause I can tell if them folks tellin me was meaning it in a nice ways. An THAT's make all the differing. ;)

  20. "Did anybody see 'tortured'?"

    Uhm, I saw somebody looking tortured, but that's not the same thing, is it?

    Is it a movie that you're referring to? Your grammar may be fine, but there're words missing in terms of descriptiveness. *s*

    (and don't mind me, pal. I'm having a bad fever here and it's messing with my awareness sort of. I really need to go lie down for a bit.)

  21. This comment has been removed by the author.

  22. Sociopaths do serve a function in our society, but those who step out of line should be executed. It's the empathic thing to do, protecting the masses, and it's the sociopathic thing to do, cruelly defending the monopoly. It's the perfect example of a truly complete society.

  23. Bella, did you think English is not my native language? what gives?

    Bella said...
    Femme fatale, what is your native language?

    March 10, 2011 1:40 AM

  24. One post (anon 3:16) said shamans do not exist. Well, Santa Claus does not exist, yet the power inherent in gift giving and reciprocity does.

    Thus to redefine the word "shaman" opens the discussion for a broader topic. "Shaman" is synomious with shapeshifting, trickster and cast out. The archetype of this persona carries the jugular and clear view which cuts through the veils of hypocrisy. And manipulation and power are drives which unharnessed become destructive vs. life affirming.

    There is a reason "shamans" are equated with healing. Healing as to "make whole." And to do such tasks requires a deeper understanding into death and decay.

    Think artists, madmen and cult leaders, mystics and bloggers.

  25. I thought I was normal and the crying ones were abnormal hystrionics. Is it possible that I am a socio and they are normal?

  26. Of course it's possible. It's also possible that you're a magical rhinoceros from the land of Trogdoros, and that everything you're experiencing in this life is nothing but a fleeting dream that will end in your death and subsequent awakening to graze on the purple lollipop grass. It's up to you to decide whether or not you really believe that. I suggest you put all assumptions aside and look at the facts objectively.

  27. @ Soulfulpath. If you get some time, you might be interested in looking into Koshares, the trickster/clowns. They sound a lot like what you're describing. They basically lend cohesion to social rules by breaking them.

  28. UKans at war. Ill be back if I come out on top when its over if I do. Its looking good so far. I hesitated too long trying to be diplomatic, but it ended up putting myself in a weaker position. If i dont come out on top good luck to you all. I know its not a easy life we lead.
    I should know where the wind blows in a week or two. Right now I don't have enough time to play around.

  29. Disgruntled TouristMarch 10, 2011 at 10:01 PM

    Where might I find this purple lollipop grass of which you speak? Last time I died in the Land of Trogdoros I was reborn as a spiky-skinned nun compulsively flagellating my melting back with a knotted penis. I was so completely traumatised that I didn't get to graze that I began to believe I wasn't really a sociopath. The voices in my head just tell me to write in, but my letters to the Trogdoros Tourism Authority have gone unanswered.

  30. Zhawq, you said "yous" lol. I love it. You remind me of.... me.

    Soulful, are you talking about yourself to a certain extent there? There's no shame-in it. Get it? Shame-in? :D

  31. That disgruntled tourist... That's some serious Koshare-ing happening right there.

  32. Lol, Disgruntled tourist!!!!!

    GOing to see what's going on with Sheen.

    nighty night night, crusty old men!

  33. I said:

    "I should know where the wind blows in a week or two."

    I meant:

    I should know where the Mind blows in a week or two.

  34. That Ukan is so attractive.

  35. Trogdoros Tourism AuthorityMarch 11, 2011 at 12:41 AM

    Dear Disgruntled Tourist,
    You dare say your requests go unanswered. Our 'pubic' relations department has worked out a devious solution. Ukan is looking for a war correspondent, effective immediately. We are sure you will view some action which is guaranteed not to be diplomatic. Just tell the voices in your head to shut the fuck up.


    CEO of TAA

  36. Looks like Sharkie's beatin' ya, Notay!

    Step it up, Bitch

  37. Tourist is extremely fucking grateful, Jackass.

  38. -Pubic!!!!!!!!!!!!


  39. I see Ukan's new site!

    You fucking rock, Ukan!
    Peace out

  40. Where is Ukan's site?

  41. Just click on his name, above

  42. Dear Trogdoros Tourism Authority:

    Are you TAA, or are you TTA?

  43. "Jackass" is a term of endearment
    -to some.

  44. who is ukan at war with, who are his suppliers, and who/what does he need??? (Aside from cold hard cash, of course)

    I am worried about Ukan's safety!

  45. UKan's the

  46. UKan is most at war with himself. So mad at not being where he wants to be he'll fight to his detriment. We'll miss him.

  47. "UKans at war. Ill be back if I come out on top when its over if I do."

    You'll have a good story to tell us when you get back.

  48. "Break a leg"

    My boyfriend already did that. With a baseball bat. I'm still with him.


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