It All Works Together

It All Works Together

First - I've also got a recent post on strategies for dealing with the lies we are fed .

I've written before on "tribal knowledge" and how important it is to maintain a deep knowledge store.  On a related note, over at Chicago Boyz, they discuss the impact of the  loss of knowledgeable people with systems experience on continuity of operations when cyberattacks hit.

Financial Times notes that when cyberattacks occur, it is useful to have some employees around who know how to operate the system…whatever that system might be…without the automation. And the workers with this knowledge are often those who have been around for quite a while.

The value of older workers with deep operational knowledge was demonstrated two years ago at the Norwegian metals and electricity company Norsk Hydro. Like Colonial Pipeline, Norsk Hydro received a ransom demand but, instead of a shut down, a group of veteran workers switched to manual operations, removing the company from the attackers’ claws. “Without them, our production would have plummeted,” says Halvor Molland, Norsk Hydro’s spokesperson. “They had knowledge that existed 20 years ago but not today, and fortunately some are still employed by us while others returned from retirement to help.”

Sure, it could be just another example of the benefits of long term antifragile thinking vs bean counting "efficiency"-centric planning, but there is more.

First of all - consider why we offshore these jobs- including in some sectors critical design and manufacturing processes -  in the first place, why we automate them, and neglect to train people on the hard-earned reasons certain steps exist.

It's because we don't value that wisdom, that experience, that history.

Is it any surprise? if we truly valued wisdom and experience, if we truly understood and internalized Chesterton's fence, if we truly and regularly dealt in second-order thinking and planning, and actually valued planning for decades ahead, planting the seeds under whose boughs our grandchildren would play, in not eating our seed corn, we'd recognize the value in the very people and jobs and skillsets that budget and bottom-line minded accountants and executives, worried about the quarterly profit and their bonuses (someone can clean up the mess next year) are all too happy to get rid of.

Again: because they do not value them.

Not only are we doomed to repeat the past if we don't learn from it, but if we don't value the past, and handing it forward like our forebears, we won't have a future. Part of the reason GenX is so cynical is we've heard a lifetime of buzzspeak about "sustainability" and "valuing the team" from locusts who'd sell out everyone around them and their compatriots future livelihoods for a bigger bonus.  

They also do not value sacrifice. Why set aside resources that likely won't be needed if the odds of a problem are low? Even now, the lessons of the Black Swan are lost on most when faced with the prospect of a bigger, better swimming pool.

The thing is that discipline is a holistic thing. We may have our faults, or things we are particularly easily goaded or tempted into doing, but in general, a person who is orderly in small things will be so in large things. Ditto conscientiousness. This will carry on through all aspects of life. So even as we value discipline, sacrifice, and tradition less in business and projects, we see the same when it comes to matters of sex and family, with similar effects. From Why Sexual Morality May be Far More Important Than You Ever Thought:

So what did he find?

I have prepared a 26-page collection of quotes from his book that summarize his findings (2), but even that would leave you with a significant under-appreciation of the rigour and fascinating details revealed in data from 86 cultures. Here are a few of his most significant findings:

  1. Effect of sexual constraints: Increased sexual constraints, either pre or post-nuptial, always led to increased flourishing of a culture. Conversely, increased sexual freedom always led to the collapse of a culture three generations later.

  2. Single most influential factor: Surprisingly, the data revealed that the single most important correlation with the flourishing of a culture was whether pre-nuptial chastity was required or not. It had a very significant effect either way.

  3. Highest flourishing of culture: The most powerful combination was pre-nuptial chastity coupled with “absolute monogamy”. Rationalist cultures that retained this combination for at least three generations exceeded all other cultures in every area, including literature, art, science, furniture, architecture, engineering, and agriculture. Only three out of the eighty-six cultures studied ever attained this level.

  4. Effect of abandoning prenuptial chastity: When strict prenuptial chastity was no longer the norm, absolute monogamy, deism, and rational thinking also disappeared within three generations.

  5. Total sexual freedom: If total sexual freedom was embraced by a culture, that culture collapsed within three generations to the lowest state of flourishing — which Unwin describes as “inert” and at a “dead level of conception” and is characterized by people who have little interest in much else other than their own wants and needs. At this level, the culture is usually conquered or taken over by another culture with greater social energy.

  6. Time lag: If there is a change in sexual constraints, either increased or decreased restraints, the full effect of that change is not realized until the third generation.(Note: I’ve added a clarifying footnote at the end of this article. See footnote #13)

The whole article is worth a read, but the long and the short of it is that the success of a society strongly correlates with the degree to which people marry, stay together, and raise families - and the single biggest factor is chastity before marriage. He then compares it to where we are now.

"Surprisingly" - actively producing a future, and being socially invested in fulfilling that responsibility correlates toward the growth and success of a society. For those who bring up "but boomers had kids" - see "socially invested in fulfilling that responsibility" and cross-reference it with the rise of divorces, abortions, latchkey kids, and boat names like "My Kid's inheritance."

Looking at this from another angle, this meshes up with my observation that, even if one accepted that promoting women's careers, homosexuality, abortion, and car seats were all good things in and of themselves for the sake of argument, that every one of them acted to reduce the number of children we have as a society, and the investment we have in ensuring that the culture we have is passed on. In concert,  we rapidly approach the paradox of the heap. One metaphorical grain of sand is not a heap, but enough of them and you have not only a heap, but a mountain.

One look at the declining birth rates tells me that each and every thing we promote for "me me me" instead of for raising future generations and passing our culture on in the most direct and effective way possible has a major impact on our future generations, not only in the society we leave them, but their very existence.

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