Culture, Economy & Business, Politics

Taleb’s Ideas for Resilience Amid Crisis

One of the (few) joys of social media, at least for a (very) narrow subset of users, is the ability to watch intellectuals thrash out great ideas, or each other, in real time. It’s like being in a 17th century London coffee house, but with less syphilis and scrofula. In the highest pantheon of such is flaneur Nassim Taleb, who has something provocative, profound, and logically consistent to say about a staggering array of topics. And it is a particularly Talebian news-day today…

After all, US house prices yesterday jumped 1.2% m/m and 20% y/y, with a surge in new home sales to investors. Who needs a property-owning middle class? It’s only the long-recognized central pillar of a stable liberal democracy.

Taleb’s comment also segues to supply chains, if you rely on imports, i.e., goods that you don’t own; and to another key idea of his, antifragility – that some things get stronger when tested, in a Nietzschean sense. On that note, an article from March 2020 asked, ‘Why Didn’t We Test Our Trade’s ‘Antifragility’ Before COVID-19?’, noting Netflix uses software to regularly and randomly bring down its servers, allowing its system to adapt rapidly. They extend this metaphor that: “To be resilient, a social entity, whether a nation, region, city, or family, will have a diverse mix of internal and external resources it can draw upon for sustenance.” To do so, the authors suggest: 1) practice disconnecting, and; 2) do it randomly.

For individuals/families:

“…simply declare, ‘Let’s pretend all of the grocery stores are empty, and try getting by only on what we can produce in the yard or have stockpiled in our house!’ On another occasion, perhaps, see if you can keep your house warm for a few days without input from utility companies.” Now we don’t have to pretend. Read more…

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