Belmont Club

James T. Putin

There were so many disasters during the Obama administration it became a favorite topic of speculation whether they were caused by malice or incompetence. Recent events favor incompetence.  This does not mean malice was absent only that its effects were dominated by stupidity.  The malice or virtue of morons doesn’t really matter in effect. To paraphrase Deng Xiaoping ‘it doesn’t matter if the cat is black or white if either way it can’t catch mice’.


The reason choosing Corbyn or Sanders doesn’t solve the Left’s crisis is they only repeat the same mistakes sincerely. Progressives do not have the monopoly of systematic error.  It’s a feature of all dogmatic systems, of every movement ruled by groupthink. Any sufficiently fanatical movement will moronize itself.  The ongoing Islamic civil war is a sad example of people literally killing each other because that’s what the signal tells them to do.

Imitative thinking afflicts its adherents as Naseem Taleb points out, with a special sort of stupidity one actually has to learn: the art of “how not to find the coconut on Coconut Island”.  It disables common sense; must disable it so the group signal will dominate.

What we have been seeing worldwide, from India to the UK to the US, is the rebellion against the inner circle of no-skin-in-the-game policymaking “clerks” and journalists-insiders, that class of paternalistic semi-intellectual experts with some Ivy league, Oxford-Cambridge, or similar label-driven education who are telling the rest of us 1) what to do, 2) what to eat, 3) how to speak, 4) how to think… and 5) who to vote for.

But the problem is the one-eyed following the blind: these self-described members of the “intelligentsia” can’t find a coconut in Coconut Island, meaning they aren’t intelligent enough to define intelligence hence fall into circularities — but their main skill is capacity to pass exams written by people like them … The Intellectual Yet Idiot.


But groupthink has advantages.  For one it allows organizations to implement swarming tactics. People are attracted to such organizations because in exchange for submission it offers apparent power.  It is no coincidence that Hillary’s slogan of “stronger together” sounds like the “democratic centralism” of Lenin’s day.  It’s essentially the same thing. Submit to the group and you will be part of an irresistible movement. Alone you are weak but as part of a swarm directed by a single mind you can overcome anything.

It has weaknesses too.  The problem with swarms is their collective fate is tied to the network. Once the network is disrupted, hacked or collapses the whole swarm will fall apart or worse, commit collective suicide.   The fate of the swarm is reliant on the signal which binds it.

“Stronger together” doesn’t degrade gracefully. If the signal is corrupted the swarm dies. Once madness creeps into the talking points, “stronger together” becomes “crazy together.”  This often happens spontaneously.  Militant ideologies initially expand unstoppably and attract individuals eager to join the bandwagon. Then it all goes wrong.  Suddenly at the height of its triumph little tremors arise in the cloud. Bits of it start acting crazy. It starts turning against itself.  Even the swarm members who sense the danger cannot break away, because they gave up the ability to find a coconut on Coconut Island until the Narrative told them where it was.


The swarm shivers and vibrates for a fatal instant. Then with a flash it’s gone.

Freedom has certain strengths that are often overlooked amid its many weaknesses. Programmers know the rationale for loose coupling “an approach to interconnecting the components in a system … so that those components … depend on each other to the least extent practicable” is adaptability.  It can absorb change because elements are isolated from changes to some other element.  Each node has enough individual autonomy to operate on its own even with the network down.

If this architecture resembles the federal system it’s because it does.  The constitution defined functions which were shared and a common interface.  But sufficient freedom was left to the elements to ensure they were viable.  Elements were enhanced by the network but they did not need the network to survive.  By contrast the swarm can’t delegate. The stronger the Left got, the tighter they coupled.  It had to control everything until the personal became political, till privacy disappeared and one’s very words were policed.

What could go wrong? The signal.

Swarm architecture is vulnerable to an overload condition or the cascading effects of a bug. Putin understood how it worked and consequently how to jam it.  The sound you hear among progressives is the sizzle of their neurons fritzing out.  They are largely doing it to themselves. To make a system robust you have to design freedom into it . There’s a reason why nature evolved men as individuals instead of as ants. Individual choice confers a survival advantage that ants don’t have. That’s why men are going to Mars while ants are still building holes in the ground. God knew what He was doing. Stalin did not.


The swarm will continue to decline until it tunes into a new frequency.  That’s not to say that Putin didn’t help the collapse along by jamming the Talking Points signal to some degree with his disinformation campaigns.  But as with the discussion of malice vs incompetence, the defects of the swarm design dominated the malice of the Kremlin.  A robust system would hardly have been affected by Putin’s jamming.  Hillary’s “stronger together” design failed from incompetence.  It set up the failure; it failed because it was stupid. All James T. Putin had to do was push it over, like Captain Kirk in Star Trek who learns “that VHF transmissions can disrupt Krall’s communications. Matching the swarm’s frequency and using the ‘classical’ song “Sabotage” by the Beastie Boys, [he destroys] almost the entire swarm”.

This is the power of the evil meme. Groupthink periodically sweeps through history driving people mad, making killers and idiots. The 20th century was punctuated with such events and one should have learned that “stronger together” ideologies can have their own self-destruct code where last line sets the created objects to nothing.  If that doesn’t happen someone like Putin can come along and do it for you. The reason freedom, and to a certain extent chaos are valuable is they prevent the plaque of groupthink from forming.  They are jam-resistant.

How do the progressives escape stupidity? By smashing the system of talking points, groupthink and intellectual rigidity that create it. Hillary had twice Trumps money and couldn’t find the coconut on Coconut Island.  She lived by the Narrative and fell by it.


Follow Wretchard on Twitter

Support the Belmont Club by purchasing from Amazon through the links below.


Possession: The Curious History of Private Collectors from Antiquity to the Present, by Erin Thompson. Whether it’s the discovery of $1.6 billion in Nazi-looted art or the news that Syrian rebels are looting UNESCO archaeological sites to buy arms, art crime commands headlines. Erin Thompson, America’s only professor of art crime, explores the dark history of looting, smuggling, and forgery that lies at the heart of many private art collections and many of the world’s most renowned museum

The Leadership Genius of Julius Caesar: Modern Lessons from the Man Who Built an Empire, Author Philip Barlag shows us that Julius Caesar is one of the most compelling leaders of the past to study — a man whose approach was surprisingly modern and extraordinarily effective.

American Ulysses: A Life of Ulysses S. Grant, by Ronald C. White. A major new biography of one of America’s greatest generals — and most misunderstood presidents.

Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders, by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras and Ella Morton. Every page shows how strange and marvelous the world really is. With compelling descriptions, hundreds of photographs, charts, and maps for every region of the world. Tagged as addictive by readers.

The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds, by Michael Lewis. This new book from the author of The Big Short, The Blind Side, etc. tells the story of Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, whose Nobel Prize–winning theory of the mind altered our perception of reality, created the field of behavioral economics, revolutionized Big Data studies, and advanced evidence-based medicine.


In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette, by Hampton Sides. In the late nineteenth century, people were obsessed by one of the last unmapped areas of the globe: the North Pole. This book tells the story of USS Jeannette, an official US naval expedition to reach the Pole by a group of seafarers led by a young officer named George Washington De Long and their desperate and heroic struggle for survival in the most unforgiving territory on Earth.


iRobot Roomba 960 Robotic Vacuum Cleaner

Chamberlain MYQ-G0201 MyQ-Garage Controls Your Garage Door Opener with Your Smartphone

Sensi Smart Thermostat, Wi-Fi, Works with Amazon Alexa, Installs and works just like a standard thermostat until homeowners connect to Wi-Fi at their convenience. After connection, the free mobile app (compatible with Android and iOS) serves as an intuitive remote control so homeowners can set, change and schedule home temperatures from anywhere in the world.

Did you know that you can purchase some of these books and pamphlets by Richard Fernandez and share them with your friends? They will receive a link in their email and it will automatically give them access to a Kindle reader on their smartphone, computer or even as a web-readable document.
The War of the Words, Understanding the crisis of the early 21st century in terms of information corruption in the financial, security and political spheres
Rebranding Christianity, or why the truth shall make you free
The Three Conjectures, reflections on terrorism and the nuclear age
Storming the Castle, why government should get small
No Way In at Amazon Kindle. Fiction. A flight into peril, flashbacks to underground action.
Storm Over the South China Sea, how China is restarting history in the Pacific
Tip Jar or Subscribe or Unsubscribe to the Belmont Club


Join the conversation as a VIP Member