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Spartans and Soviets

I have been working a lot lately, but also rapidly studying historical eras. It is refreshing to realize that I do not have to do any one thing myself; in fact, is is ineffective. On our staff, I'm the most knowledgeable and effective historian, strategist, recruiter, trainer, marketer, and project manager. I'm also adequate-to-good in dozens of other roles, but I'm dispatching with almost all of them - and now, I'm starting to dispatch with project management (my first professional love) and marketing (my most recent professional love).

We have better legal, financial, sales, administration, management, and creative people than me. That's nice.

My time will be largely spent doing grand strategy, recruiting, training, and studying. I will mix in a little statistics and analysis, but this will be the bulk of my role going forwards. I do not need to laundry, I simply need to find someone competent to do it, and pay them well. There is something like a 1000x gap between successfully defining strategy with all the relevant contingencies, constructing completely workable models in identified big opportunities, and staffing those and training/compensating the staff well - and washing socks. The socks? I will not be doing that, because it would mean less time studying history, identifying opportunities, and finding/training/compensating very good people.

Thought of the day: Sparta and the Soviet Union both excelled at military arts by concentrating immense amounts of their society's total creative, intellectual, and productive output into military. This led them to be fierce warrior societies immediately after their rise, but with a gradual decline as they were out-paced by societies with a smaller military concentration and faster growth.

"Flex" societies that can gear up and gear down on war production can maintain a larger credible military presence with less resource drain. "War concentrated" societies show stronger than flex at first, but must win quickly or be defeated. Time is their enemy. Of course, pacifist societies are quickly conquered if they do not have allies, and thus do not enter the discussion.

Book: Seeing Like a State

On Mental Models

Seeing Like a State by Scott is quite an eye-opener, especially if you've been dabbling in decentralization, economics, and social models.

The general premise is that central planning doesn't work, but the perspective taken is very unique and I haven't seen anything like it in classical free-market economics texts. Scott demonstrates how central planning has failed. The book is like a visual guide to what Hayek described as the "fatal conceit" of central planners.

What strikes me every time I read about the failures of central planning is that planning isn't the problem. Everybody plans, you can't not plan. If you decide to not plan, that's a plan right there. Free market types plan all the time, every company and every capitalist plans.

So is the problem with central planning "central"? What does that even mean?

Scott circumvents these etymological problems by using different words. He doesn't talk about central planning. He talks about high-modernist authoritarianism.

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