Archives for posts with tag: survival

How often do you hear this expression?
Are you OK with it?
Because you’ve grown accustomed with it or because you are OK with the idea of politics being a contest? A game to be won?

In a certain context, I’ve been asked which game is a more ‘fitting description’ of politics. Chess or Go?

Both being, as I’m sure you already know, strategic games where all ‘tactical’ information is above the board, where the scope is to ‘control the territory through the smart use of available resources’ and where neither of the competitors have any real idea of what their opponent might have in mind.
Yes, there are rules and limitations. Of course. So each of them are able to divine a ‘probable course of action’ but …

Going back to politics, I’ll just quote myself:

“Politics like Go… very interesting question.
Go is a game. Something to play with. And play is very important, indeed. Through play, we hone skills used in real life. When playing, it doesn’t matter whether you win or loose. There’s something to be learned in both situations.
While in real life, loosing is not an option.
In playing, all that matters is to participate. In life, all that matters is to survive.
When playing, we improve our skills by competing against each-other. In life, we survive by helping each-other.
In this sense, politics is an exercise of cooperation more than a competition. A process through which the whole community finds its way forward rather than a beauty pageant where the next beauty queen is nominated to carry the torch through the dark. For a while…
The point being that all community/nations which had allowed personal interest – lust for wealth/power, to trump the collective need to survive have eventually collapsed. From Ancient Rome to Soviet Russia.
This being where Marx was hugely mistaken. While he understood history as a succession of class struggles – to be ended by the mother of all dictatorships, in reality is was a continuous evolution/honing of cooperation. From slavery to feudalism and to democratic capitalism people learned to do more and more things together. The status of the individual – of all the individual members of any given society, gradually improved while the communities have become more resilient and more productive.
And all attempts to revert to more ‘centralized’ alternatives – no matter how the ‘winners’ were supposed to be determined, have failed. All political and economical dictatorships – authoritarian-isms and monopolistic situations, have crumbled.
Not before incurring a lot of pain to those who allowed them to happen, helas. Contestants and spectators alike.”

Now go fight for your favorite political figure.
And allow hate to alter your perceptions.

Three things have grabbed my attention this week.

Carrie Lam, the Cambridge educated Hong Kong’s top civil servant, whose career spans more than 40 years, who happens to be a devout Catholic, had tried to fast track legislation allowing the Hong Kong authorities to extradite people to mainland China.

More than a million of the 7.4 million inhabitants of Hong Kong have taken to the streets, in protest.

Across the Pacific Ocean, in Venezuela, a pregnant mother accompanied by her two small children, had joined other 31 people who attempted to flee their impoverished country. They had climbed aboard Ana Maria, a fishing boat which was supposed to take them to Trinidad but never made it across the 20 km wide stretch of treacherous water.

Maroly Bastardo, the Venezuelan mother, was trying to survive. Since it is harder and harder to find food in Venezuela – for themselves and for their children, more and more people attempt to leave the country. Which, despite having an immense natural wealth, is being led to disaster by a group of ultimately incompetent people.

The one million people protesting in Hong Kong have adopted another strategy. They attempt not only to survive, physically, but also to preserve their way of life. Their cherished way of life.

These two are relatively easy to figure out. It’s easy to understand the need to survive. Equally easy to understand is the determination of those who want to continue a lifestyle they enjoy.

But what drives the Carrie Lam’s and the Nicholas Maduro’s of this world?
OK, I might accept the idea that, somehow, each of them might have ‘lost it’.
But what about those around them? How come so many people still consider they can, somehow, contradict the entire human history?
‘This time will be different!” ” ‘This Reich’ will rule for one thousand years!”

Yeah, right…

Yeah, right… then please show me the Mongolian version of how they had conquered most of Eur-Asia during the XIII-th century…

Anyway, the fact that this saying is so popular tells more about us than about who actually writes history.

First of all, we seem to be convinced that history is nothing more than the story of back to back ‘the winner takes it all’ kind of battles we had to win in order to survive to this day.

Secondly, we seem to be OK with this vision…

But what does it mean?
That (written) history reflects only what the victors have to say/want to disclose about what had happened?

Are we OK with this?

And still wondering why ‘history keeps repeating itself‘?

Wanna break the vicious circle?
Then how about ‘history is written by those who care enough among those who are able to write among those who have survived’?

This version of history is still incomplete. All history will always be incomplete, no matter how many people will have written it. How many sides of the events will have been covered.
But this version will be more inclusive. Hence more relevant.
Presenting survival, instead of winning, as being the essential part of any battle will diminish the intensity of the conflict. Hence allow us to learn more from it.

For instance, it will help us understand that war is the price paid, by both sides, for failing to figure out that cooperation works better than confrontation.

Just compare how the victors of WWI treated the vanquished with how the (same) victors of WWII treated (mainly) the same vanquished. And the aftermaths of WWI and WWII.

As I promised you some time ago, let’s have a look at ‘property’.

As you recall, I was arguing that we, humans, are only ‘qualitatively’ different from the rest of the animals. In the sense that we do everything that they do – and nothing really new or different, only that we do it ‘better’. And more ‘evenly’.

In my previous post, I was dealing with ‘trade’. So I’ll use ‘trade’ to explain what I mean by ‘more evenly’.

All living things are made of three things.

An inside, a membrane and a set of instructions which deal with two things.
How the whole thing should be structured in order to able to live and how the inside should interact with the outside – through the membrane, in order for the organism to remain alive and replicate itself.

My previous post dealt with individual organism trading food (a.k.a. matter) and information with their outside. It also dealt with manners in which trade can be performed.
Directly – as in barter, or indirectly – using symbols.
The most simple barter is breathing. Exchanging gases with the environment. Or foraging – individual organisms ingest food and water and excrete poop and urine.
‘Trading’ information is a little more complicated. An individual organism can be endowed with genetic information by it’s parents, presented with information by some of its peers – bacteria or playmates, taught by its voluntary or involuntary teachers or it can glean information by itself through mindful observation. Also, trading information is more complicated than trading food because information can be either ‘hardware’ or ‘software’. DNA inherited from the parents (received from peers/’invaders’) being ‘hardware’ while information gleaned through observation or during training being ‘software’.

Everything described in the previous paragraph is common for all living organisms, including humans.

My point being that we’ve been trading, from the ‘beginning’, far more items than any of  the other living things – plants and/or animals.
OK, an individual whale will eat far more than an individual human being. But whales eat, basically, one or two things. While we, humans, will throw down our throats almost anything that we fancy. Including some stuff which will actually hurt us.

But the real interesting thing is the manner in which we ‘trade’ information. We not only observe keenly what happens outside our consciousness (not just outside our-bodies, simply outside the shell that harbors our ‘mind’) but also translate that information into symbols and then communicate that symbolic information with our fellow human beings.

And here’s the catch.

I mentioned earlier that every individual organism consists of an inside, a membrane which keeps it together and a package of information.
For survival purposes, each organism must consider all its three components as being its own and to defend them ‘to the bitter end’. Or else…
Which is congruent to what happens in the real world… Membranes are relatively hard to penetrate, there are some defense mechanisms which at least attempt to take of any intruders – the immune system, for example….
More over, the more ‘sophisticated’ organisms also defend ‘their’ territories and the local resources they have identified and claimed as being theirs. If you don’t believe me, just try to take a bone from any normal dog which isn’t yours.

You see, not even ‘property’ is exclusively  specific to humans…. We have created the concept, we actually define ourselves using our possessions… yet we share this trait with all other living organisms… even if they don’t know anything about it…

Remember what I just said about us being able to trade ‘symbolic’ information? To ‘formulate’ the information before trading/sharing it?
Same thing happens with ‘property’.

For a dog, a bone is its property as long as it happens to be in his snout. And most dogs have no problem in attempting to ‘steal’ a bone from another dog – as long as the other is not way bigger, a pup or some-other special cases.

Meanwhile, most humans would painstakingly respect other people’s property.
Simply because, for us, property has also meaning. Besides ‘survival value’

NB. In English, ‘property’ is not exclusively about possession. Its root, ‘proper’, means from ‘clean’ to ‘as it should be’.

Human nature has evolved considerably since we’ve climbed down the proverbial tree/been made in His own image.
Some of our ancestors used to eat their fellow human beings/the first brother had killed his sibling for profit while a sizeable proportion of the present humankind governs itself in a democratic manner.
No individual has ever been able to change, by themself, the human nature. Time and time again, this has been attempted in vain. Plato, Napoleon, Marx, Lenin, Hitler, Stalin…
Yet each of us can change their own persona. This is what Buddha and Jesus have been successfully teaching us.
This is how we’ve figured out that eating our brother might satiate our hunger for the time being but will never solve the problem. Feeding ourselves for the long run demands cooperation. It cannot be achieved through mindless/cut-throat competition.
As long as more and more of us understand this, we’ll have a fighting chance to survive. As a species.


The moment we try to appraise the value of human life, in monetary terms or in any other way, is the threshold to man made hell.
By simply accepting the notion of collateral damage – that the ‘ultimate goal’ might be considered important enough to justify damage suffered by innocents – we enter the realm of ‘fantasy world’.
The place where wishes trump reality and where desires are considered – by those who entertain them, of course – more important than anything else.
In this realm people cannot get along with each-other, simply because they cannot find any common ground. Whenever a group of people accepts the notion that one life can be considered more important than any another – that individual human lives can be ‘filed’ according to their individual values, sooner or later its members will start fighting each others for preeminence.
‘Top dog’ position becomes not only desirable but also the only thing a ‘rational’ individual will ever pursue. Simply because no other position comes even close and because, by agreeing that human life can be appraised, the members of that group have proclaimed that ‘social life’ is more about competition than about cooperation.
The problem with ‘no holds barred’ competitions being that some of the spectators think they are fun to watch while those in the pit discover very quickly that survival is almost impossible but for the briefest lengths of time.


Supposedly humans are autonomous and sometimes rational individuals. Overwhelming them with huge quantities of information while restricting the scope of that information – with the declared goal of keeping them focused – will shortly reduce those individuals to the status of highly biased and eventually completely programmed hu(man)-bots.

Whole article appeared in Bizcloud,


“But what, you may ask, has the early and welcome arrival of bees and blossoms to do with food?”


PS the video starts in earnest only after 0:30.

“România are cea mai ridicată rată cumulată a contribuţiilor sociale plătite de angajatori şi angajaţi din regiune, de 55% din salariu, ceea ce poate favoriza munca la negru, cu efect negativ asupra veniturilor colectate, potrivit unui raport al Băncii Mondiale (BM).”

Stirea zilei din domeniul economic in Romania este ca platim cele mai mari contributii sociale din aceasta parte a Europei si ca rata mare a taxelor are un efect negativ asupra veniturilor colectate.
Aha, a descoperit si Banca Mondiala ca pe lumea asta exista apa calda. Mai are un pic si observa ca unii practica mersul pe jos…

Dar hai sa vedem partea plina a paharului. Daca ii incurajam poate inteleg si ce se intampla in jumatatea cealalta … care e adevarata problema a taxelor mari.

Cu cat acestea sunt mai mari SI consensul social cu privire la plata lor este mai slab cu atat existenta acestor taxe distorsioneaza extrem de grav intreaga viata sociala a unei tari.
Da, ati citit bine. Intreaga viata sociala este afectata, nu doar cea economica. Totul. Economia, politica, viata de zi cu zi a fiecaruia dintre cei care traiesc in acea societate.

E adevarat ca exista tari in care taxele sunt mari si unde oamenii sunt in general multumiti. Scandinavia, Germania, chiar si Franta pana nu de mult…
Chestia e ca in tarile alea cetateanul contribuie foarte mult la ‘bugetul tarii’ numai ca acolo primeste inapoi sub forma de servicii sociale aproape tot ce a platit ca taxe. Drumurile sunt ca in palma, politia functioneaza, invatamantul si sanatatea ofera servicii de calitate iar politicienii nu (prea) fura si in orice caz atunci cand sunt prinsi o incurca rau de tot. In conditiile astea cei mai multi dintre contribuabili isi platesc taxele relativ de buna voie iar cei care incearca sa insele sunt prinsi destul de repede. Aproape nimeni nu este avantajat in mod nejustificat.

In tarile in care serviciile sociale nu sunt de calitate dar unde taxele sunt mari – la noi de pilda – apare un cerc vicios. Contribuabilul de rand, care nu se simte aparat/ajutat de stat, are un dispret suveran fata de ideea de a plati ceva catre stat: ‘de ce, sa se ingrase aia?’. In conditiile astea fentarea fiscului devine un sport national si nimeni nu mai sesizeaza adevaratul pericol: cei care reusesc sa nu plateasca taxele si sa nu fie prinsi au un mare avantaj competitiv fata de ceilalti. Daca TVA-ul este de 24% si reusesti sa nu-l platesti atunci tu poti sa mergi cu o marja negativa de 14% si la sfarsitul anului sa ramai totusi cu un profit de 10% din cifra de afaceri…(bine, calculul nu este foarte exact dar ati priceput ce vreau sa spun) Nu e rau de loc, nu?
Si daca tot nu platesc TVA-ul ce rost mai are sa angajez muncitorii ‘cu carte de munca’? Ar insemna ca sunt tampit, nu? Daca n-am TVA de platit inseamna ca n-am produs nimic si atunci de ce as avea nevoie de muncitori?

In conditiile astea cum sa concureze cu mine cei care isi platesc toate taxele? Poate doar daca or fi de doua-trei ori mai eficienti decat mine… precum si un pic naivi… Iar eu o sa ma descurc daca vin niste controale… ca am de unde…iar angajatii de la stat au niste salarii de mizerie…  de unde bani la buget pentru lefuri daca nu-si plateste nimeni taxele?

Aveti impresia ca asta mai este economie de piata libera?

Ce nu inteleg eu e cat mai dureaza pana intelegem ca in conditiile astea absolut toti avem numai de pierdut. Inclusiv cei care, doar aparent, profita acum si isi umplu buzunarele de bani. Copii lor tot in scolile astea proaste invata, isi rup masinile in aceleasi gropi ca si ‘fraierii’ iar daca au nevoie de o operatie ceva trebuie sa se duca tocmai pana la Viena…

We lead our daily existence by constantly ‘negotiating’ two sets of limitations.

For instance we people cannot fly unless we somehow deal with the law of gravity, obey air-traffic rules and observe the on-board etiquette.

Apparently the first, the natural law/unavoidable reality that “any two bodies in the universe attract each other with a force that is directly proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them”,  is more important than the second, a collection of rules/customs imposed by the people who run the air industry, by those who ‘police’ the skies and by the passengers themselves.

In fact, their importance born out of us becoming aware of their existence.

Humberto Maturana, an evolutionary neuro-scientist turned philosopher, aptly observed that we humans are not merely conscious but conscious of our consciousness   and also that “all knowing is doing and all doing is knowing“.

As long as we don’t try to fly it doesn’t really matter for us that things tend to stick together. In fact most of the time ‘this is good for us’: objects stay put, air stays around the planet….
When we made up our minds that we wanted to fly we found a way – we used what ever other natural laws we had noticed until then that could have helped us in our endeavor. And immediately after we ‘took of ‘ the day to day human interaction related to the act of flying gave birth to new, man made this time, rules.

The way I see it when it comes to ‘natural laws’ the onus is on us becoming  aware of them, not on their mere existence and when it comes to humans dealing with other humans the important thing is their willingness to cooperate, not the ‘rules of engagement’. These can be altered to fit the situation but if the people involved refuse to cooperate even the friendliest of the encounters can easily degenerate into an all out extermination war.

There is precedence though. No matter how hard me might cooperate among ourselves in order to ‘negotiate’ a ‘new set of rules’ we’ll never be able to overcome the natural ones. We might ‘bend’ some of them (we ‘invented the GMO’s , didn’t we?) ignore others (global warming) but the hard reality sooner or later catches up with us. Sometimes with a vengeance.

Some other with a caress.

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