Monday, March 07, 2022


I've been struggling to decide what to write about Russia's invasion of Ukraine, because while it's very focused in this moment, it also feels like a larger trend of history that we have been unable to reverse. 

Systems of cooperation are uniquely unsuited to handle monsters.

How many millenniums has this gone on? All of them. 

It happens at all levels. There's always the abusive bully who takes advantage of everyone else's good nature. 

Coaches, often. City council members. The crazy guy who lives at the end of the street and threatens to shoot people who walk on his lawn. 

Roy Cohn. Joseph McCarthy. Donald Trump. 

Internationally, there are too many to count. One of the great themes of history, it seems, is people trying to cooperate and being befuddled by the monsters around them. 

To me, the most chilling part of this song of history is how many people are attracted to monsters. Now matter how incredibly foul or despicable they are, there will always be 30% of the population--or 50%, or 70%--who find a reason to support him. 

It's almost always a him. That's a separate topic. 

The monster is strong. He brings order. He's a master at using the psychology of threat (there's a conspiracy against us. There's an imminent danger only I can prevent.) to both make people afraid and convince them that only he can save them. 

Civilization still doesn't know how to deal with monsters. And the most terrifying part is that I'm not sure we ever will. 

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