Caro’s legendary book about the rise of LBJ from Texas Hill Country to Senator
Social justice was the key platform for LBJ and the war in Vietnam became the black eye that haunted him to his last days. He was caught in many lies – both big and small – and the media coined “credibility gap” to describe his situation. LBJ drove a great divide, both domestically and internationally. Before him, the president was revered, feared even, and that image forever changed after his presidency
LBJ had a nose for power and would destroy anything in his way to achieving it. He had a nearly unlimited capacity for deceit and betrayal, coupled with the ability to mobilize government to help the downtrodden. His whole life and presidency brings up the question between means and ends. Many of the noble ends – especially with social justice – would likely not be where they are today if it weren’t for the ignoble means in which LBJ took to accomplish them. There is no more important question his life covers than between means and ends
LBJ started his political career by stealing thousands of votes to get into the Senate. This has become known as the “87 votes”
LBJ was the first political candidate to campaign in a modern way with advertising firms, helicopter, use of electronic media to influence voters. It was new politics vs old
He grew up very poor in the Texas hill country. He was driven by fear – fear of having to go back, fear of having nothing, worst of all, fear of being like his daddy. His dad was a successful politician for sometime but a terrible businessman. He eventually was penniless but was too proud to change his ways, which led to ridicule. The Johnson’s became the joke of the town. From then on, it wasn’t enough just to lead, he had to dominate. He had to be the one giving orders and never taking them, he had to stand out from the crowd
He very consciously tried to earn the trust and affection of influential older men and sarcastically became known as a “professional son”. FDR helped LBJ with a lot, giving him his backing during his political runs
LBJ was a master at counting votes, solving problems and raising money. He was fun and charismatic
He was an incredible bullshitter but the thing that separated him was that he eventually came to wholeheartedly believe his own bullshit
LBJ embarrassed Ladybird in public and treated her as hired help. He had an affair, he was rude to her in front of others, he was demeaning. Even though she took it all in stride and never lost her patience, beneath her shyness she was incredibly ambitious and determined. She was incredibly well read and able. She eventually became a big part of his political life, helping organize and run campaigns
While he was in Congress, he did everything he could to keep his opinion to himself. He avoided saying anything substantive, saying what he knew the other side wanted to hear.
LBJ believed – to the point of obsession – that he’d die early like his father. This gave him an insane drive to achieve things while he could. Normal means of ascent were too slow
Coke Stevenson was governor and became known as Mr Texas. He had his own ranch, got up at 5 every morning to read, never made a campaign promise, was the cowboy politician who never spoke an ill word about anyone. He hated politics but loved government. He truly loved the ranch he had built with his own hands. LBJ and Stevenson went up against each other for Senator in 1948. LBJ would use modern means such as radio and press and advertising whereas Stevenson would do it the old fashioned way with road trips and small gatherings. Stevenson was far more popular but because of this difference, LBJ actually had a chance. LBJ also was the first to travel by helicopter to various small towns around Texas. He was ridiculed at first, but it was a stroke of genius. It was novel and drew a crowd, but most of all it eliminated the daunting task of traversing a state the size of Texas. LBJ’s Machiavellian tactics against Stevenson are legendary. He used money, psychology, press, antics, and more. Anything to give voters some doubt and to tarnish Stevenson’s reputation. He had to utilize brash and unconventional means because anything else would utterly fail. He knew that Stevenson would never do anything he was pressured to do. Even though he was for a labor bill, Johnson said he wasn’t and that if Stevenson now said he was, he’d be flip flopping. It worked perfectly. Stevenson didn’t want to play politics and didn’t speak out soon enough. It was enough to introduce some doubt
LBJ was a political genius, but had many other world class talents too. He would see the simple answer in a complex situation. He’d be able to think clearly even under the most intense pressure. He’d be able to persuade any man to come work for him and know exactly how to make the most of their talents. To him, every man was a tool and knew to use them best
Although it went to court and nearly turned against LBJ, it was never conclusively proven that LBJ had stolen the election. While he won, it formed the foundation for misgivings and distrust that would follow him all the way to the White House. The stealing of the election was essentially confirmed later on. LBJ was one of the slickest politicians – in the most vulgar form of the word – and would do anything to amass power. He was amoral in his approach and would use it in the senate to become the most powerful majority leader up to that point
What I got out of it
An insanely good book. I felt like I was there and really came to know each character. Caro’s ability to transport you into the moment and share the details and personality traits of these people who were obsessed with power is just incredible
Scott is skeptical of “high modernism” which centers around the belief that societies can be designed and operated according to scientific principles. He digs into various means in which the state imposes schemes in order to make it easy and convenient for the state to keep track of things and maintain order. However, this is not always good for the people, but it does make societies “legible.” Census data, standardized weights and measures, and uniform languages make it easier to tax and control the population, for example
State projects of simplification and legibility
Planned social services always fail as they can’t possibly take into account all variables and things emerge anyway
Optimizing for one variable to be as efficient as possible often leads to disaster. See monoculture farming. The state does something similar in that it takes what is locally optimal (but illegible) and transforms it into something that doesn’t represent reality but is legible
Cities, people, and language
Social engineering of rural settlement and production
Taming nature – an agriculture of simplicity and legibility
What I got out of it
The desire for control, ease of use, and “legibility” often lead to overly simplistic and perhaps even harmful outcomes. What is good for the macro is not always good for the micro. Felt like the same theme simply shared in half a dozen various examples. I had heard a lot about this book, so if I missed something you found hugely valuable, please reach out!
I have 3 main hypotheses: 1) Information influences politics because it is indigestible by a government’s justifying story; 2) the greater the diffusion of information to the public, the more illegitimate any political status quo will appear; 3) Homo informaticus, networked builder and wielder of the information sphere, poses an existential challenge to the legitimacy of every government he encounters
There is a deep connection between online universities and democratized information that increases unrest and insurgencies
I found strong demographic and behavioral affinities: they are young, middle class, university educated and predominantly white, disproportionately anarchists
The most profound consequence of all the uprisings in 2011 was the sowing of the seeds of distrust in the democratic process
In information scarcity, those who have it become authoritarian, as information increases, authoritativeness decreases. Hierarchy, as a structure, has proven transcendentally inept in dealing with digital platforms…Tremendous energies have been released by people from nowhere, networked, self-assembled, from below. That is the structural destiny of the Fifth Wave – the central theme of my story. Democratic government in societies of distrust can choose to ride the tsunami or to be swamped by it. The latter choice will leave government mired in failure and drained of legitimacy. It will leave democracy, I fear, at the mercy of the first persuasive political alternative.
Clash of two modes of life: hierarchical/top down and networked/bottom-up
Center can’t hold and the border has no clue how to handle it
Crisis of authority coming from public awareness of incompetence. The authorities now lack control of the narrative and there are now alternative authorities. At some point around the turn of the new millennium, elites lost control of information, and power arrangements began to flip. Assured of the public’s wrath, elected governments have acted, or failed to act, motivated by a terror of consequences. Legitimacy was equated with the deflection of blame, and the aim of governing became to exhibit a lack of culpability.
Difference between companies and governments: The difference is that failing companies go out of business and are replaced by new companies, while government accumulates failure, making it, systemically , much more fragile
There is a democrat’s dilemma that is no less perilous than the dictator’s. Politicians must promise the impossible to get elected. Elected officials must avoid meaningful action at all costs.
The rise of nihilism
The nihilist is merely reacting to the pressures applied by his environment: which means, in this case, that he is acting to destroy the environment in which democratic governments are burdened with failure, democratic politics are removed from reality, and democratic programs drained of creative energy, and thus hope
I believe here’s a relationship between our fractured reality and the rise of the nihilist – persons and groups that consider destruction and mass murder to be a form of progress. The nihilist lurks in a broken sliver of truth that is impossible to debate or refute. There, he experiences absolute grievance and the absolute negation of the system, the repudiation of everything that stands and of everyone he encounters. Not just politics, but all of humanity, he holds, must be purified and made new. As the last righteous person, the nihilist aims to bring this about in the blood of random strangers. He acts out the violence that so many others perpetrate verbally and virtually on the web: he is, in that sense, the avenging angel of post-truth, and the rant made flesh
The distance between top and bottom is very great. The chasm of distrust will be difficult to bridge. And as elite fear and loathing of the public has increased, so has the craving for distance and isolation. Elites today have no idea how to speak to the public or what to say to it. They have shown little interest in trying. The hyper-educated individuals who ran the Clinton campaign were utterly indifferent to public opinion: they believed in big data
If structure is destiny, then the personal will trump the political. This is far more robust – personal success can be emulated and replicated. Personal failure will not implicate the entire system…Control, however tenuous, and satisfaction, however fleeting, can be found in the personal sphere, not in telescopic numbers reported by the government.
So I come to the abiding paradox that defines our predicament. An affluent, well-educated, hyper-connected public is in revolt against the system that has bestowed all this county upon it. The great motive power of the revolt isn’t economic resentment but outrage over distance and failure. Everyday life is increasingly digital and networked.
In the right relation between elites and the public, the former acts as exemplars to the latter. They embody and live out the master narratives. We can think of George Washington returning to his farm after the Revolution as a striking example…The quality that sets the true elites apart – that bestows authority on their actions and expressions – isn’t power, or wealth, or education, or even peruasiveness. It’s integrity in life and work. A healthy society is one in which such exemplary types draw the public toward them purely by the force of their example. Without compulsion, ordinary persons aspire to resemble the extraordinary, not superficially but fundamentally, because they wish to partake of superior models of being or doing. The good society, Ortega concluded, was an “engine of perfection”…Many are called, few will be chosen
The qualities I would look for among elites to get politics off this treadmill are honesty and humility: old-school virtues, long accepted by the living spirit behind the machinery of the democratic republic, though now almost lost from sight. The reformers of democracy must learn to say, out loud for all to hear, “This is a process of trial and error,” and even, “I was wrong.” Elected officials must approximate the ability of scientists and businessmen – and, for that matter, ordinary households – to identify failure and move on. Honesty means that the relationship to truth, as truth is perceived, matters more than ambition or partisan advantage. Humility means that the top of the pyramid looks to the public as a home it will return to rather than a carnivorous species from which to hide. Truth must be spoken even when it hurts the speaker or the audience. Distance must be reduced to a minimum, even at the risk of physical danger…The crucial move if we are to surmount our predicament isn’t transformation but reorientation, a turn in direction away from top-down control, bureaucratic power, and the high valuation of distance as a reward for political success. Such a reorientation strikes me as perfectly possible.
What I got out of it
Gurri is a prescient and beautiful writer. He makes really important points and will be fascinating to see how networks vs. hierarchies continue playing out
Lakoff describes how and why to frame things, mostly in a liberal vs. conservative sense. Frames are automatic, effortless, everyday modes of understanding
Frames are mental structures that shape the way we see the world. As a result, they shape the goals we seek, the plans we make, the way we act, and what counts as a good or bad outcome of our actions.
You can’t see or hear frames. They are part of what we cognitive scientists call the “cognitive unconscious”—structures in our brains that we cannot consciously access, but know by their consequences. What we call “common sense” is made up of unconscious, automatic, effortless inferences that follow from our unconscious frames.
Not only does negating a frame activate that frame, but the more it is activated, the stronger it gets. The moral for political discourse is clear: When you argue against someone on the other side using their language and their frames, you are activating their frames, strengthening their frames in those who hear you, and undermining your own views. For progressives, this means avoiding the use of conservative language and the frames that the language activates.
Because language activates frames, new language is required for new frames. Thinking differently requires speaking differently. Reframing is not easy or simple. It is not a matter of finding some magic words. Frames are ideas, not slogans. Reframing is more a matter of accessing what we and like-minded others already believe unconsciously, making it conscious, and repeating it till it enters normal public discourse. It doesn’t happen overnight. It is an ongoing process. It requires repetition and focus and dedication.
Reframing without a system of communication accomplishes nothing. Reframing, as we discuss it in this book, is about honesty and integrity. It is the opposite of spin and manipulation. It is about bringing to consciousness the deepest of our beliefs and our modes of understanding. It is about learning to express what we really believe in a way that will allow those who share our beliefs to understand what they most deeply believe and to act on those beliefs.
Framing is also about understanding those we disagree with most.
Facts matter enormously, but to be meaningful they must be framed in terms of their moral importance. Remember, you can only understand what the frames in your brain allow you to understand. If the facts don’t fit the frames in your brain, the frames in your brain stay and the facts are ignored or challenged or belittled.
This gives us a basic principle of framing: When you are arguing against the other side, do not use their language. Their language picks out a frame—and it won’t be the frame you want.
When you think you just lack words, what you really lack are ideas. Ideas come in the form of frames. When the frames are there, the words come readily. There’s a way you can tell when you lack the right frames. There’s a phenomenon you have probably noticed. A conservative on TV uses two words, like tax relief. And the progressive has to go into a paragraph-long discussion of his own view. The conservative can appeal to an established frame, that taxation is an affliction or burden, which allows for the two-word phrase tax relief. But there is no established frame on the other side. You can talk about it, but it takes some doing because there is no established frame, no fixed idea already out there.
The first mistake is believing that framing is a matter of coming up with clever slogans, like “death tax” or “partial-birth abortion,” that resonate with a significant segment of the population. Those slogans only work when there has been a long—often decades-long—campaign of framing issues like taxation and abortion conceptually, so that the brains of many people are prepared to accept those phrases.
The second mistake is believing that, if only we could present the facts about a certain reality in some effective way, then people would “wake up“ to that reality, change their personal opinion, and start acting politically to change society. “Why can’t people wake up?” is the complaint—as if people are “asleep” and just have to be aroused to see and comprehend the world around them. But the reality is that certain ideas have to be ingrained in us—developed over time consistently and precisely enough to create an accurate frame for our understanding.
Spin is the manipulative use of a frame. Spin is used when something embarrassing has happened or has been said, and it’s an attempt to put an innocent frame on it—that is, to make the embarrassing occurrence sound normal or good.
Propaganda is another manipulative use of framing. Propaganda is an attempt to get the public to adopt a frame that is not true and is known not to be true, for the purpose of gaining or maintaining political control.
If you remember nothing else about framing, remember this: Once your frame is accepted into the discourse, everything you say is just common sense. Why? Because that’s what common sense is: reasoning within a commonplace, accepted frame.
A useful thing to do is to use rhetorical questions: Wouldn’t it be better if . . . ? Such a question should be chosen to presuppose your frame. Examples: Wouldn’t it be better if we could fix the potholes in the roads and the bridges that are crumbling? Or, wouldn’t we all be better off if everybody with diseases and illnesses could be treated so that diseases and illnesses wouldn’t spread? Or, wouldn’t it be better if all kids were ready for school when they went to kindergarten?
Always start with values, preferably values all Americans share such as security, prosperity, opportunity, freedom, and so on. Pick the values most relevant to the frame you want to shift to. Try to win the argument at the values level.
Those are a lot of guidelines. But there are only four really important ones: Show respect, Respond by reframing, Think and talk at the level of values, Say what you believe
In fact, about 98 percent of what our brains are doing is below the level of consciousness. As a result, we may not know all, or even most, of what in our brains determines our deepest moral, social, and political beliefs. And yet we act on the basis of those largely unconscious beliefs.
People do not necessarily vote in their self-interest. They vote their identity. They vote their values. They vote for who they identify with. This is very important to understand. The goal is to activate your model in the people in the “middle.” The people who are in the middle have both models, used regularly in different parts of their lives. What you want to do is to get them to use your model for politics—to activate your worldview and moral system in their political decisions. You do that by talking to people using frames based on your worldview.
Orwellian language points to weakness—Orwellian weakness. When you hear Orwellian language, note where it is, because it is a guide to where they are vulnerable. They do not use it everywhere. It is very important to notice this and use their weakness to your advantage.
Levy addressed the question of why there were so many suicides in Tahiti, and discovered that Tahitians did not have a concept of grief. They felt grief. They experienced it. But they did not have a concept for it or a name for it. They did not see it as a normal emotion. There were no rituals around grief. No grief counseling, nothing like it. They lacked a concept they needed—and wound up committing suicide all too often.
The truth alone will not set you free. Just speaking truth to power doesn’t work. You need to frame the truths effectively from your perspective.
Accordingly, the frame-inherent world, structured by our framed actions, reinforces those frames and recreates those frames in others as they are born, grow, and mature in such a world. This phenomenon is called reflexivity. The world reflects our understandings through our actions, and our understandings reflect the world shaped by the frame-informed actions of ourselves and others. To function effectively in the world it helps to be aware of reflexivity. It helps to be aware of what frames have shaped and are still shaping reality if you are going to intervene to make the world a better place.
Studying cognitive linguistics has its uses. Every language in the world has in its grammar a way to express direct causation. No language in the world has in its grammar a way to express systemic causation.
Systemic causation has a structure—four possible elements that can exist alone or in combination.
A network of direct causes.
Empathy and sympathy both involve the capacity to know what others are feeling. But unlike empathy, sympathy involves distancing, overriding personal emotional feeling. Someone who is sympathetic may well act to relieve the pain of others but not feel the pain themselves. The word “compassion” can be used for either empathy or sympathy, depending on who is using the word.
Colin Powell had always argued that no troops should be committed without specific objectives, a clear and achievable definition of victory, and a clear exit strategy, and that open-ended commitments should not be used.
Tell a story. Find stories where your frame is built into the story. Build up a stock of effective stories.
What I got out of it
Didn’t realize it was a political book, but some of the core ideas about how and why to effectively frame things was helpful
A collection of quotes from LKY on a whole host of subjects
Lee’s pragmatism and unwillingness to be influenced by external pressures characterized his leadership style: “I was never a prisoner of any theory. What guided me were reason and reality. The acid test I applied to every theory or scheme was, would it work?”
Between Japan and Europe, we must make Singapore the best place to bunker and repair ships, either in drydock or on water. Once we have established ourselves as the ship repairing and shipbuilding centre, we will remain so for a very long time. For once supremacy has been established, whether it is an airport, a harbour, or a dockyard, it is very difficult for any other place to dislodge us. For others have to compete against an established centre with superior facilities, higher skills and expertise, and long-standing established customers.
Hard-headed industrialists and bankers of developed countries never take unnecessary risks. They look round the world for places where there is political stability and industrial peace before they invest. In Singapore they find such a place. Hence the massive inflow of capital, machinery, technological know-how and banking expertise.
Deep fluency in being able to see from other’s perspectives
We can build up this team spirit, this esprit de corps, where every individual gives of his best for the team, for the nation, to achieve its maximum. And the team, the nation, in turn, takes care of the individual, fairly and equitably. The art of government is the art of building up team spirit.
A society to be successful must maintain a balance between nurturing excellence and encouraging the average to improve. There must be both cooperation and competition between people in the same society. The Singapore cooperation and competition have improved standards of life for all.
Singapore has survived and prospered by making ourselves relevant to the world. In the last century, we traded in spices; this century, in tin and rubber. After independence in 1965, we moved into simple manufacturing. Now, we are in wafer fabs, pharmaceuticals and Asian currency units. As the world economy changed, so did we.
We have made home ownership the cornerstone of Singapore’s public housing policy – the vast majority of the population own, not rent, their homes. Ownership is critical because we were an immigrant community with no common history. Our peoples came from many different parts of Asia. Home ownership helped to quickly forge a sense of rootedness in Singapore. It is the foundation upon which nationhood was forged. The pride people have in their homes prevents our estates from turning into slums, which is the fate for public housing in other countries.
It is not the individual performance that counts. Of this, I’m quite certain. You can have a great leader, you know. If the herd hasn’t got it in it, you can’t make the grade. The herd must have the capacity, the stamina, sufficient social cohesiveness to survive.
One of the by-products of a migrant community is that it produces a population of triers. Whatever else they may lack, the offsprings of migrants are prepared to try anything to improve themselves. Having left tradition, their history, their past behind, they have only the future to go in quest of.
An island city-state in Southeast Asia could not be ordinary if it was to survive. We had to make extraordinary efforts to become a tightly knit, rugged and adaptable people who could do things better and cheaper than our neighbours, because they wanted to bypass us and render obsolete our role as the entrepôt and middleman for the trade of the region. We had to be different.
Our way forward is to upgrade our levels of education, skills, knowledge and technology. Life-long learning is a must for everyone in this knowledge economy with rapidly changing technology.
Even in the sixties, when the government had to grapple with grave problems of unemployment, lack of housing, health and education, I pushed for the planting of trees and shrubs. I have always believed that a blighted urban jungle of concrete destroys the human spirit. We need the greenery of nature to lift up our spirits. So in 1967, I launched the Garden City programme to green up the whole island and try to make it into a garden.
As a nation, we must have other goals. Economic growth is not the end itself. After the success of the economy, you want to translate it into high standards of living, high quality of life, with recreation, the arts, spiritual fulfilment, and intellectual fulfilment. So, we are also spending considerable sums for the arts, which will create a more gracious society.
Politics is about human beings and their lives. It is an art, not a science. It is the art of the possible. In Singapore, it means what is possible, given a hard-working people, with a realistic understanding of our narrow economic base and the need for social discipline and high performance, to keep ahead of other developing countries with low wages and more natural resources.
If democratic socialists are to make a contribution to the course of events, they must cease to think in terms of abstractions. They must give meaning to socialist ideals in pragmatic and realistic policies to produce changes for the better in the daily lives of their peoples.
If you want to be popular, do not try to be popular all the time. Popular government does not mean that you do popular things all the time. We do not want to be unpopular or to do unpopular things. But when they are necessary, they will be done.
How do you think today’s Singapore came about? Because everyone knows if I say that we are going in a certain direction and that we’re going to achieve this objective, if you set out to block me, I will take a bulldozer and clear the obstruction. I leave nobody in any doubt that is where we are going and that any obstruction will be cleared. So there were very few obstructions. So we got the highway cleared and travelled to our destination.
When you put up an idea which I know is wrong and believe profoundly to be wrong and will do us harm, I must crush it. I don’t crush you, I crush your idea. I mean, if I’m wrong then my ideas deserve to be crushed. Maybe ‘crush’ is a harsh word, but this is a harsh world. It is a contest of whose idea is right because if it is wrong, we are going to do harm to many people.
The weakness of democracy is that the assumption that all men are equal and capable of equal contribution to the common good is flawed.
Contrary to what American political commentators say, I do not believe that democracy necessarily leads to development. I believe that what a country needs to develop is discipline more than democracy. The exuberance of democracy leads to undisciplined and disorderly conditions which are inimical to development. The ultimate test of the value of a political system is whether it helps that society to establish conditions which improve the standard of living for the majority of its people plus enabling the maximum of personal freedoms compatible with the freedoms of others in society.
The very fact that we are not challenged is a pretty strong mandate.
There is no easy way to win power or stay in power. If the PAP does not renew itself regularly with fresh blood from the younger generation, stay honest and clean, upgrade the economy and improve the education and skills of our people, to have economic growth and bring a better life to people, it will soon begin to lose seats and eventually be defeated and ousted. So the PAP accepts the realities that the world is changing and we have to adapt ourselves to this different world. We are not stuck in any policy, theory or ideology.
The system that we inherited from the British was lopsided. Too much emphasis was laid on the examination and the paper qualification. We were, therefore, rearing a whole generation of softies, who are clever; who wore spectacles but who were weak from want of enough exercise, enough sunshine, and with not enough guts in them. That was all right for a British colony, because the officers came from England [and] had the necessary brawn and toughness. It was they who gave the orders and our people just executed them. That is not good enough. We have to give our own people the orders. And you have to throw up a whole generation capable of that leadership, conscious of its responsibilities, jealous of its rights, not allowing anyone to bully it and push it around, prepared to stand up and fight and die. That kind of a generation will endure till the end of time.
One of the reasons why Singapore thrived was because so many of the merchants, both British and non-British, when they gave their word, they kept to it, and the government when it gave its undertaking, invariably honoured it.
Great leaders mirror the qualities of the nations they lead.
We have continually to draw out younger leaders to fulfil the roles played by the traditional community leaders. Those with the higher social conscience must come forward to give of their time to get things done for the community. This is one of the strengths of Singaporean society, the absence of class divisions. It grew from our immigrant history. All started at or near the bottom. The successful immigrants have a tradition of helping the less successful.
Good governance includes the pursuit of national interest regardless of theories or ideologies. Good government is pragmatic government.
No army, however brave, can win when its generals are weak.
Singapore’s progress, its verve, its vitality is assured because the administrative machine works. There is no grit. You don’t have to grease somebody to crank up the machine. We must keep it that way. To ensure this, I am thinking of an amendment to the law. The innovation is: if any official is found with wealth which cannot be explained and there is uncorroborative evidence of corruption, his whole property can be sequestered.
Singaporean teachers feel unhappy at the higher salaries paid to native English teachers. Well, this cannot be avoided. We have to pay them what will bring them to Singapore – the market rate in the UK plus an extra to attract them to Singapore. I frequently meet expat bankers, executives of multinationals, indeed occasionally expat officers working for the Singapore government on contract, who are paid more than I am. I have learned not to let it disturb me.
It would be stupid for us not to recognise that language and culture is a stronger force that motivates human beings than political or ideological ideals.
I learnt as a student that a word has three meanings: what the speaker intends it to mean; what the mass of people understand it to mean; what I understand it to mean.
I paid a heavy price for not having learned Mandarin when young. To this day I meet my teacher/friend once a week to keep my Mandarin alive. Every day I spend 20 minutes listening to Mandarin lessons on tape and 15 minutes reading ZaoBao, or Chinese newspapers online. These keep up my passive vocabulary.
Every time I think of people whom I have met and known as friends in school or in college, I think of those who became too de-culturalised too quickly. I had a friend who was a Sikh. He threw his past away: he shaved his beard; he threw away his turban; he had a haircut. No harm at all. But something happened to him and in next to no time, he was doing foolish things. He lost his anchorage. You know, it gets very difficult for a ship without an anchor in a harbour when it gets stormy. I want you therefore, to have your anchorage. But slowly, we must begin to learn to have the same basic points of anchorage. It may take a hundred years.
Whatever our race or religion, it is what we produce that entitles us to what we get, not our race or religion. Developing the economy, increasing productivity, increasing returns, these make sense only when fair play and fair shares make it worth everyone’s while to put in his share of effort for group survival and group prosperity.
A US-style constitution failed [in the Philippines] long before Marcos declared martial law. It was re-adopted in 1987 by President Aquino. The system worked in America because of a super-abundance of resources and riches in a vast underpopulated continent. I do not believe that Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong or Singapore could have succeeded as they have done if they had to work under such a constitution, where gridlock on every major issue is a way of life. And you will notice that since the Vietnam War and the Great Society some 28 years ago, the US system has not functioned even for the United States.
If the US tries to thwart China’s growth, China will surely want to return the compliment when it can do so.
Japan’s best investment is in the younger generation of potential leaders of China. The more Chinese students there are in Japan, especially the children of central and provincial leaders, the better the prospects for long-term understanding and cooperation between the two countries.
Americans are not criticising Singapore because they are concerned about democracy and human rights enjoyed by three million Singaporeans. Whether Singapore succeeds as a multiracial community in Southeast Asia or fails makes little difference to the future of America. Their real interest is what Freedom House has stated, that Singapore sets the wrong example for China, showing China that it can maintain social discipline and order with high economic growth but without becoming a full-fledged American-style democracy. This is the reason why the American media always attacks Singapore.
From time to time in the history of human civilisations, more civilised, more cultivated societies, with higher standards of living, have been overrun and subjugated by barbaric and less advanced groups. So the Roman Empire fell. And so successive Chinese and Indian civilisations were conquered by virile warrior races, who were socially and culturally of a cruder order, and less sophisticated in their social organisations. We must be on our toes all the time. We must never allow this to happen to Singapore through our growing self-indulgent and soft.
Our basic approach is never to allow fears and tensions to grow and mount in intensity. Early preventive action can forestall an ugly build-up. So whether it is a communist conspiracy to create pressure points for mass action, or growing interracial or inter-religious frictions and tension, they have to be defused early.
The communists failed because it was a propaganda based on the barricade, and you get men running to the barricades only if they are really hungry, really desperate. Then, they are prepared to take up the stone, throw it into the glass window, turn the car over and burn it. When they are not desperate, when they are reasonably fed, reasonably clothed, I won’t say contented, but not altogether frustrated and dissatisfied, then argument and reason become operative factors.
Mao Zedong said: “A single spark can light a prairie fire.” LEE: A prairie fire will only start if there’s a dry spell.
Communism, like so many other things, is best met when one knows it and gets immune to it. I believe the policy of complete isolation from communist thought, tactics, thinking, policy, is a dangerous thing. One day the windows will come open and like the South Sea islanders, when they first meet the tuberculosis bacilli, we will all perish. It is better to let these things come in gradual doses, containable, enough to generate a counter toxin in our wholesome society.
The difficulty arises from America’s expressed desire to make China more democratic. China resents and resists this as an interference in its domestic matters. Outside powers cannot re-fashion China into their own image. Let us not forget that even China’s conquerors like the Mongols in the 13th and 14th centuries, and the Manchus in the 17th to 19th centuries, could not change Chinese culture. Instead China changed them and they were absorbed and assimilated. The language and culture of its conquerors could not overcome Chinese language and culture.
Fortunately, we never attempted to subsidise rice or other staple foodstuffs. Those governments which have done so face grave problems, as more and more of their revenue goes into feeding more and more mouths at subsidised prices, generating overpopulation, under-education, low economic growth, massive unemployment and resulting social unrest. And this is what has happened because elected governments in several new countries have baulked at taking unpopular decisions.
While the western MNCs have the know-how, the Asian conglomerates have the know-who as they are conveniently plugged into the social, cultural, political and business networks in the region.
Like Nehru, I had been influenced by the ideas of the British Fabian Society. But I soon realised that before distributing the pie I had first to bake it. So I departed from welfarism because it sapped a people’s self-reliance and their desire to excel and succeed. I also abandoned the model of industrialisation through import substitution. When most of the Third World was deeply suspicious of exploitation by western MNCs, Singapore invited them in. They helped us grow, brought in technology and know-how, and raised productivity levels faster than any alternative strategy could.
Every citizen already feels he has a stake, a sense of proprietorship, in the stability and progress of Singapore. Every citizen can expect to get his commensurate shares of the prosperity to which he has contributed.
For over 30 years we have aimed for an egalitarian society. If we want to have successful entrepreneurs, Singaporeans have to accept a greater income disparity between the successful and the not so successful.
Knowledge and technology once disseminated, cannot be put back into the bottle and corked up.
We cannot predict which of our younger managers, engineers and professionals will have the entrepreneurial flair. It has to be by trial and error, tossing them into the deep end of the pool.
Corporations that get their ideas from only one culture will lose out on innovations.
Japanese people have been excellent in perfecting technologies. The standard example was the way they improved on the Chinese abacus which has seven beads, two above, five below, rounded and noisy. The Japanese reduced the seven beads to five, one above, four below, with sharp edges, silent and fast. So too Japanese chopsticks. The pointed ends make it easier to manage small rounded morsels like peanuts that are difficult to handle with the Chinese chopsticks. This ability to improve on present technology is worth preserving and maintaining. But improving on what others have invented is not enough. You have to be like the Americans and invent products that others have not thought of, that will be desired and bought by billions across the world.
No nation has ever become the major power without a clear lead in technology, both civilian and military. From the Roman legions, to the naval powers of Portugal, Spain and Great Britain, to Germany in World War I and the US post-World War II, great power status was achieved by those nations that were able to harness their technological advantage for holistic development of their civilian and military capabilities.
In the earlier stages of our labour movement, the trade union often became a place of refuge for the inefficient, the slack, the lazy and the anti-social. As has happened elsewhere, these are the first to join the union to seek protection against the natural desire of any employer to be rid of bad workers. […] I am not asking our trade union leaders, in an open democratic society, to take on the role of management. But I do urge them, with the help of these new laws, to stop giving cover to those who do not pull their weight. We must avoid slipping into a situation where trade unionism is the practice of protecting the weakest and the slowest worker and, with everybody being paid the same wage, nobody will have the slightest incentive to work harder than the weakest and the slowest.
We are mindful of the dangers of high welfare and unemployment benefits, watching the consequences of this compassionate policy on the job-seeking habits of the unemployed. Visiting the major cities of the industrial countries, I am struck by this curious phenomena of high unemployment and yet a shortage of waiters, cab drivers, nurses and garbage collectors. Some jobs are not worth doing, as a result of welfare benefits. Whatever principles may be applicable in highly developed industrial countries, for a resource-poor country like Singapore, hard work, and high performance amply rewarded, is the best way to attract capital and technology into the country to generate wealth.
When people get equal handouts, whether or not they work harder or better, everybody then works less hard. The country must go down. It is when people are encouraged to excel by being able to keep a large part of the extra reward earned by their extra efforts that the society as a whole becomes wealthier and everyone thrives and prospers.
I believe that life is a process of continuous change and a constant struggle to make that change one for the better.
Even in the capitalist West where they have tried throwing money at problems, what is the end result? You go down New York, Broadway. You will see the beggars, people on the streets. Worse than in the 1950s and in the early ’60s before the Great Society programmes. Why? Why did it get worse after compassion moved a President, motivated with a great vision of a society which was wealthy and cared for, could look after everybody – the blacks, the minorities, the dispossessed, the disadvantaged. There is more unhappiness and more hardship today and more beggars, more muggers. Why is that? Have we not learnt? Where are the beggars in Singapore? Show me. I take pride in that. Has anybody died of starvation? Anybody without a home left to die in the streets and have to be collected as dead corpses? Because we came to the realistic conclusion that the human being is motivated by instincts that go deep down into the basic genes of life. And the first basic instinct is to protect yourself, and stronger than that, to protect your offspring so that there is the next generation. You kill that link, you have killed off mankind.
East Asians are highly competitive peoples training themselves to win life’s marathons.
My experience in governing Singapore, especially the difficult early years from 1959 to 1969, convinced me that we would not have surmounted our difficulties and setbacks if a large part of the population of Singapore were not imbued with Confucian values. The people had a group cohesion and a pragmatic approach to government and to the problems in society. Confucianist traditions have made Chinese Singaporeans revere scholarship and academic excellence, and also respect officials when they are chosen on the basis of their scholarship.
They accepted that the interests of society were above that of the individual. They did not believe in the unlimited individualism of the Americans…One fundamental difference between American and Oriental culture is the individual’s position in society. In American culture an individual’s interest is primary. This makes American society more aggressively competitive, with a sharper edge and higher performance. In Singapore, the interests of the society take precedence over that of the individual. Nevertheless Singapore has to be competitive in the market for jobs, goods and services. On the other hand the government helps lower income groups to meet their needs for housing, health services and education so that their children will have more of an equal chance to rise through education.
The first principle of any civilisation is orderly living and the rearing of the young.
There is one aspect of this process of change or modernisation which we must avoid at all costs – that is the break up of the three-generation family. The three-generation family is a rarity now in Western Europe and in America. Yet it is still common in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong, despite their industrialisation and modernisation. It is a question of family structure, of social framework, of filial ties and bonds, which hold family units together. Our strong family structure has been a great strength for continuity in bringing up our next generation. The family has transmitted social values, more by osmosis than by formal instruction. We must preserve this precious family structure if our society is to regenerate itself without loss of cultural vigour, compassion and wisdom. There is another compelling reason why we must preserve the three-generation family: simply, that we do not have the land to build the flats needed if we break up the three-generation family.
That we have the will, the ability and the discipline with which to acquire higher knowledge and new skills, there is little doubt. The question is whether the next generation will have the same drive to keep well out in front fighting against the complacency which greater comfort and ease bring in their train.
If I have to choose one profession in which you give the most for the least it is probably teaching – if you take it seriously. You have to have the temperament for it to coax, to stimulate, to cajole, to discipline a young mind into good habits. You must have an aptitude.
We have given every student, regardless of language, race or religion, equal opportunities for education and employment. Hundreds get scholarships every year, over 150 to go to universities abroad. All are judged and rewarded according to their performance, not their fathers’ wealth or status. Economic progress has resulted from this and made life better for all. This has checked communist subversion and recruitment, especially of good cadres.
Performance in examinations depends upon two factors: nature and nurture – nature being the natural intelligence of the child, nurture being the training and education. Or to use computer language, it depends on hardware and software, the hardware is the size or capacity of the computer, and the software is the teaching or educational programme. What weightings are allotted to hardware as against software, or nature against nurture, is a matter of deep controversy between the experts, the psychologists and doctors. The fact is, individuals are born with different capacities. What we must set out to do, therefore, is to help students achieve the maximum potential of whatever nature has endowed them with. In other words, to nurture them, to give them the software, to encourage, support and help them to achieve their fullest.
I had never thought of nature/nurture through this analogy and find it intriguing
If we want high morale, we must have high standards. If we want high standards, the law must be enforced fairly and firmly. There will be no squatters or beggars sleeping on our pavements doing their ablutions in our drains. People will be housed and cared for. Hawkers will not clog up the main streets. There will be thorough and proper cleansing every day of the year. Laws will have to be passed to help rid us of the malpractices that have crept into our workforce. Only a year before last, malingering and shirking and sabotage to create overtime and treble pay for public holidays was a way of life. Discipline and efficiency must be re-established.
It is Asian values that have enabled Singapore to contain its drug problem. To protect the community we have passed laws which entitle police, drug enforcement or immigration officers to have the urine of any person who behaves in a suspicious way tested for drugs. If the result is positive, treatment is compulsory. Such a law in the United States will be unconstitutional, because it will be an invasion of privacy of the individual.
Rest on laurels? I wish I could do that. No, you rest when you’re dead.
I always tried to be correct, not politically correct.
At the end of the day, what I cherish most are the human relationships. With the unfailing support of my wife and partner I have lived my life to the fullest. It is the friendships I made and the close family ties I nurtured that have provided me with that sense of satisfaction at a life well lived, and have made me what I am.
What I got out of it
Amazing lessons from one of our generation’s great leaders and nation builders. Do what works, be pragmatic, honor incentives and human nature, have conviction
Manchester describes not only the man, but the times, context, history, background, “gestalt” in which he lived. “This is a biography and not a history, but you are often confused because they are in fact quite different. A biography details the life, context, times, and decisions of a man and is not merely a chronological recounting of the past. As a biographer, we try to re-create an illusion of the man’s life to give people a true sense for who they were and the circumstances they were dealt.”
What is our [Britain’s] War Policy? – I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.” Just as Churchill predicted, the road to victory in World War II was long and difficult: France fell to the Nazis in June 1940.
On a particular day when the Royal Air Force had amazing results, Winston’s famous line was, “never have so many owed so much to so few.”
Vol. 1: 1847-1932 Visions of Glory
Many men have judgment, few have insight. He was an extroverted intuitive and his capacity to inspire and unite was unrivaled. He preferred to work by intuition and impulse rather than analysis. This is what the country needed at this time but it rubbed many people the wrong way. Most men misjudge their importance, Churchill did not. He was indispensable
In the age of the specialist, he was the antithesis. He was a Renaissance man in every sense of the word. The defender of freedom, a poet a writer, a statesman, a politician, a biographer, a historian, one who is a force of character and can never be summed up easily. He is one of history‘s great men. It is pointless to expect consistency and balance in genius. He was different from other men and had what seemed to be built in shock absorbers that allowed him to continue on through all his defeat and downturns. It was said that one of the strongest traits was his ability to focus on one thing and doing it exceedingly exceedingly well. That is a trait of genius .
Deep insight and not stability were his forte. He knew the British people had to be united when Hitler came to power.
Although Winston was brave and a strategic mastermind, it was his mastery of the English language which set him apart and helped him shape history.
The book begins with a deep dive of the British empire and how large and dominant it was at its height – spanning 3x the size of the Roman empire! This unstoppable mindset and the belief that it was the British right to rule is important to understand and cover because it heavily influenced Churchill in many ways
He spoke to the British people, the world, like nobody before or since. He was raw, real, unabashed
In all his life he showed incredible courage – from his time in the military to his final days as a politician. He was accused of loving war but this was not the case. He felt the heaviness but knew he had to step up or things would get much worse
Winston was as much American as he was British. His mother was from New York and he loved her dearly but she neglected him early on. Later, however, because of her promiscuity and relationships with multiple wealthy and influential men, she was able to open many doors for Winston. His nurse was the most important person in his life until he was 20. He was also beat savagely at his boarding school, was bored in class, and rebelled against authority. His only defense was an unconquerable will and he showed how stubborn and iconoclastic he was early on. He struggled mightily in school, never achieving good grades and hardly getting into colleges or prestigious schools.
His father was a prominent politician but played his cards wrong and ended up being kicked out, never to return again. He deeply loved his father and considered him an idol, but his father neglected him and hardly spoke to him because he didn’t achieve in traditional measures. Famous men are typically the product of unhappy childhoods
Churchill had great faith but also believed you have the power to change things. He changed his image to one of an athlete, a bulldog, to display to others his courage and confidence
Churchill is one of the most losing politicians of all time. He switched parties numerous times, rubbed people the wrong way, and was often thought as a charlatan who had a lot of talent and intellect but didn’t know how to harness it
He always fought for and rooted for the underdog, as he himself was the underdog. He suffered serious bouts of depression and melancholy, was bullied as a kid and never fit in. The most insecure and oppressed people seek external approval and Churchill was no different. He simply wanted people to applaud him and tell him how great his works were, not to offer critical feedback or advice. He always thought that he was destined for greatness and was rather arrogant about it at times. He loved being the center of attention and would often listen to his own speeches and re-read his own work to listen to himself
It was said that Churchill was a simple man – he simply enjoyed the best of everything
Churchill never had a feel for the British public. He simply did his own thing. He was born into a society where class differences were prevalent and accepted. It was said that he would’ve been just fine in the feudal society. His aristocratic heritage was the cause of many blind spots but it was also responsible for his great talents as well. He was never accused for being humble and owned up to that
Churchill had an incredible memory, able to remember and recite thousands of lines of poetry and what he remembered he hardly forgot. He was also an incredible writer and made his money as a journalist and author. Since he was young, the only thing he wanted was become master of the written and spoken word. He didn’t improvise. He planned and wrote ahead of time and wrote most of his speeches in the bathtub with a cigar. He dictated his speeches to a secretary who typed them up then came the scissors and the glue to rearrange the lines multiple times before the final draft was ready. The final draft had bigger letters for what he wanted to emphasize spacing between words that he wanted to stress and bolded others what he thought most important
Churchill was a voracious reader, remembering everything he read and calling the dead authors his friends from whom he often pulled from. He was never a man for small talk
In his early 20s he got shipped off to India with the British army. It was at this point that he started becoming an auto didactic, reading everything from Aristotle to Plato to Socrates, learning from the lessons of history. He allowed himself to believe whatever he wanted to believe even if paradoxical or contradictory and let reason take him wherever she might. It was at this time he decided he wanted to get into parliament, but first he decided he needed to be a famous war hero who displayed courage. He brilliantly manipulated his mother and her lovers so that he could be on the front lines where ever the fiercest battles were
Churchill had his own path, he fashioned his own life. He didn’t follow anyone
Churchill went down to South Africa during the Boer War. He was held captive there for some time and showed great courage throughout his time there. Once he came back to Britain, he had earned a lot of political power and recognition. He had parties fighting for him to join their constituencies and the people were excited about him. He became magnetic around this time and soon a great speaker. He memorized every word he wanted to say, just like his father had.Nobody put in more work to prepare for his speeches but it was paradoxical that he was also the quickest on his feet. Churchill didn’t care about approval, he simply wanted attention.
One of Churchill‘s advantages was his lack of formal education. He questioned everything, thought from first principles, and wasn’t afraid of stating simple truths. These were things which others, who were more buttoned up and had more classical training, did not even consider or were too afraid to even think about
One must be always ready to change sides, if that is the side of justice. What is the use of supporting your side only when it’s right? It is exactly at the time when they are wrong, when there is disagreement, that you must step up and speak. He fought for what he thought was right, not what his party said was right. This made him many enemies on all sides and when he was young, he wasn’t able to handle this solitude too well. He went into deep bouts of depression. He experienced this later on too but managed them and learned how to handle them when he was alone and behind closed doors. He jumped sides early on from a tory to a liberal. One said this was ambition because he could move ahead faster but he retaliated by saying that some men change parties to match their principles whereas others change their principles to match their parties
Winston as awkward with women. He really only liked talking about himself and abhorred small talk. He eventually became very dependent on his wife but early on he didn’t seem to respect women too much
Traditional religions were losing their grip on the English and they were looking for substitutes. This meant that dogmatic, hardheaded, and simple answers to complex questions attract people because this allows them to have something to hold onto that feels concrete
By the early 1900s, the British had conquered pretty much everything there was to conquer. This just stifled people’s energy and innovation, making them turn inwards and expecting higher levels of innovation and fulfillment to come from England herself
Men rarely understand the sources of their strength
His same qualities attracted and repelled – his compulsive and witty conversation offended and attracted
His capacity for work is difficult to even understand but he still had time for polo, leisure, travel, and more.
He was in egoist in the true sense of the word – whatever he was focused on was then, by definition, the most important
England for centuries adopted the grand strategy of allying with the second most powerful country in Europe and that is how they defeated Napoleon, but the strategy was not written down until Churchill came along. The English Navy also had a mandate that they must be more powerful than the second and third most powerful navies.
The best admirals do not risk the vessels that they’re given, they win by superior strategy. During World War I, Churchill was the First Admiral and although his thinking and strategies on the war were spot on, he didn’t have authority to fully carry them out. He wanted to open up a second front in the Dardanelles so that they could exploit the Axis Powers unstable ally, Turkey, and gain the upper hand. It didn’t work however because the top brass wasn’t committed and people ended up blaming him for the fiasco and wanted to exclude him from the cabinet after the war. After the war it was determined that if his strategy was followed through correctly and effectively the war could’ve ended several years earlier. He saw that trench warfare was savage and there was no decisive advantage. That’s why he fought so hard for gaining control of the Dardanelles but it didn’t pan out because he didn’t have authority to do things as he saw fit and those in charge we’re stuck in the past and couldn’t change their strategies as the technology changed. Generals tend to fight their last war
Change is the master key. Particular parts of the mind can be tired by overuse but it can be rested by using other parts of the mind. This is why Churchill loved to draw – it was his escape, a way to recharge
At it’s apex, politics, strategy, economics are all one.
This understanding of strategy and military maneuvering was second to none. However, after World War I, he was blamed for many fiascoes and things that he really wasn’t in charge of. During and after the war, Churchill experienced much isolation and criticism. Clementine told him his flaws, how his confrontational nature, need for the limelight, and sharp words earned him many enemies, distancing first rate men and attracting those who were fickle and could turn on him at any time.
It is amazing what people can justify to themselves by changing their reasoning
After WWI, the Russian and Bolshevik threat was not wasted on Churchill. He wanted to suppress them militarily but PM Lloyd George was vehemently against it and Winston had learned his lesson that he should not bulldoze his way through life when those who make the ultimate decision are so against it
One of Churchill’s biggest battles was with Communism. However, he often mistook pink for red and had major battles with the socialist labor unions. He was the Chancellor at this point and doing an excellent job. He was gaining great popularity and people were guessing when he would end up at 10 Downing St. as prime minister but there was hesitation too because he was still independent and not beholden to any one political party
Churchill was against Gandhi’s freedom of India mostly because it was out of an old school of thought that Britain had to hold onto their colonies or else they would become irrelevant. But, he also argued that the tens of millions of untouchables were in a position worse than slaves and if left alone, the country was and these people would be in a worse position because of all the religious infighting. However, it was also a difficult time to get the British population to really care for it was in the middle of the Great Depression. He was a political pariah through much of this period
Churchill became one of the world’s highest paid and most prolific writers. He sold books magazines articles and earned a healthy living off these skills
Churchill was one of the first to see the writing on the wall and understand how dangerous Hitler was and how damaging the treaty of Versailles was. He recognized some of himself in Hitler even though he understood, before anyone else, the evil vision that Hitler had. Hitler too recognized his greatest foil in Churchill even though Churchill was not in power
Vol. II: 1932 – 1940 Alone
Churchill loved his baths and was very particular about them. They had to be filled the right amount and at the right temperature before he would jump in. He started every day with breakfast in bed and spent several hours reading editorials and newspapers.
Although he is known for always drinking, he was never drunk and said that he got more out of alcohol than alcohol I’ve gotten out of him
Churchill had a faculty for organizing large works, had an uncanny ability to focus on what he was working on in that moment, and did a surprising amount of the first hand reading, writing, and synthesizing of his works
He would spend between 6-8 preparing for a 40 minute speech and he made it a priority to remove all bureaucratic jargon and include as many visuals and emotional ties as he could. He was extremely precise with his words and demanded the same of others
He could recite entire epic poem from memory but had trouble remembering the names of his servants. He treated them quite poorly and would often times act childish and impulsive if they didn’t understand him or do as he wished. In one quarrel with one of the servants, the servant lashed out and said that Winston was rude first and Churchill replied, “yes I was, but I am a great man!” There was no arguing this as everyone in the house knew he was right. He was not a man to apologize but he would sit show he was sorry I being appreciative for what you have done for him
The only way to make a man trustworthy is to trust him and the easiest way to make him untrustworthy is to distrust him and show that distrust
I would rather be right than consistent
Other than Churchill, few others saw the writing on the wall and how hungry Germany was to recover their honor at the first possibility. They had hate in their hearts, were embarrassed by the Versailles Treaty and wanted revenge. One of the more shortsighted and devastating decisions was to try to recoup some of the losses from the Great Depression by having the losers of the war pay for it. This germinated hatred and the desire for revenge which culminated in World War II
No trap is as deadly as the trap you set for yourself. Many other political and astute figures were duped by Hitler. They were drawn in by his magnetism and believed him when he said that all he was looking for was peace
Political genius lies in seeing over the horizon anticipating a future invisible to others
He was a poor politician by the traditional sense of the word, although he was the most gifted orator of his time. He didn’t have the patience to proceed by traditional parliamentary processes and he didn’t have the skill to manipulate the House
Although he was a brilliant strategist, he missed how important and decisive submarine and air dominance would come to be. He was far ahead in calling for a rearmament and strengthening of England to offset the not so secret rearmament of Germany
Stanley Baldwin was the most popular and powerful PM in a long time and he knew that he would lose that if he were to call for a rearmament of England. This might have been the right call even though it was a tough and unpopular decision
Great wars usually come only when both sides have high confidence in victory
The blind spot of the time was that everyone preferred peace to war because of the atrocities seen in World War I. However, Hitler managed to unite and set fire to a huge group of people who felt betrayed, broken, and who wanted revenge. They were willing to fight to regain their honor when nobody else was
When Hitler invaded the Rhineland, all the officers were terrified because they knew that if France acted they would be crushed. It was later learned that this was when Hitler was most nervous but he saw the risk is worth taking. According to existing treaties, if France was attacked and they mobilized, Britain would send troops to support but they decided not to. The British decided to call this an assertion of equality rather than an act of war
Men of genius are able to focus on one thing exclusively more intensely than average man and never tire. Churchill’s focus was now on Hitler at the exclusion of everything else. He did whatever he thought was needed to stop him even before others even recognized the danger he posed
Hitler understood his orderly people and knew he couldn’t usurp the government. So, he went about acquiring power through normal means and moved his way up. He used the secret police and other intimidation methods to get votes but it was done with the intention of looking legitimate in the eyes of the people so that they would accept him
Churchill understood that short simple words that were commonly understood or more powerful and effective than fancy words. He also believed that the key to a rousing speech was sincerity the speaker had to truly believe and be enthusiastic about what he was talking about and then it would be infectious
1937 was a difficult year for Churchill. King Edward abdicated the throne in order to marry Mrs. Simpson and the way that Winston handled the situation and his ties to the king and his constant call for rearmament in order to equal Germany strength left him with no political power and he even contemplated leaving politics altogether
As a political outcast he didn’t have the same constraints and expectations as those who held responsibility and this allowed him to maneuver and track down information on Germany’s position and actions that otherwise may have been difficult or riskier to attain
Really interesting to learn more about the mindset and priorities of people at the time. Appeasement was the route they took because everyone was so shell-shocked and devastated by World War I that everyone was trying to avoid war at all costs and keep the economy strong and growing. Many saw how powerful Hitler and Germany were becoming but we’re reluctant to act on it for fear of war and economic devastation
Hitler’s invasion of the Sudetenland was one of those rare historical moments which took on a momentum of its own and exerted its own field of pressure
Prime minister Chamberlain was ineffective in dealing with Hitler. He didn’t understand how ambitious he was or how vengeful the country was. Churchill, on the other hand did. He and Hitler were very much the same and may be why they understood each other – they were both both artistic, believed in the supremacy of their countries, that they were men destined for greatness, and both used their intuition rather than reason to lead
In hindsight, the appeasement efforts were pitiful and ineffective but at the time, the public was so distraught by the first world war that they cheered the concessions made to Germany regarding Czechoslovakia. This Munich Agreement had torn the government in the country apart as people were either applauding Chamberlain and the peace he had manufactured or understood that this was only a temporary solution that Hitler would be back and stronger than ever
Wise men avoid extravagant predictions
Churchill was a terrific writer and thinker as he was able to assemble droves of information in his head, form it into a prism. and reflect it with blinding leaps of intuition. His writing and research helped him dive into the past and find patterns that would help him navigate through World War II
Churchill was willing to change his mind in order to protect his country. Even though he hated the Bolsheviks, he knew that an alliance with Russia was a great idea so that Hitler would have a two front war if it got to that point
The present is not tidy or understandable and, once it has become the past, if one tries to make it neat, it only becomes implausible
A fundamental misconception about dictators in this time was that they could be reasoned and negotiated with. They hate compromise and negotiation
The British ruling class we’re also known as the leisure class and they hated to be in a hurry. They disappeared on the weekends and could not be reached. Hitler, knowing this, took advantage of that by making big moves and key decisions on the weekend when the people with the power and authority to make decisions weren’t around. He used velocity to his advantage
Vol. 3: 1940-1945 Defender of the Realm
Britain finally declared war on Germany and soon after Churchill joined the Admiralty. Someone who worked closely with him recounts how big of a difference his presence made to all levels, both civilian and military
Churchill likes risks and always sought ways to bring the war to the enemy
The English navy taught their cadeets that the greatest sin was to lose their ships and therefore, when war came, they were very conservative and risk averse
Churchill was known for his incredible work ethic and crazy hours but he still needed to sleep about 8 hours within a 24 hour period, they were just more erratic than most
Hitler famously used velocity to his advantage with the blitzkrieg. However, he also importantly avoided going strength to strength and always sought weaknesses that could be exploited. Hitler had hardly traveled abroad but he had an intuitive sense for finding people’s and country’s weaknesses and exploiting them.
A couple days after Germany attacked the lowlands and France, Neville Chamberlain resigned so that Churchill could form a national government. Churchill felt like his whole life was leading up to this point, that he was walking with destiny
Churchill never delegated any PM decisions because he wanted to be number one but also because he wanted to know everything, allowing him to form the hologram in his head. He saw bigger picture than anyone but also got into the weeds. He issued ear plugs for soldiers because it was so loud on the frontlines, he used WWI memorabilia if it was still functional, asked what would happen to the animals at the zoo if it was bombed, etc.
Getting America involved in the war was one of Churchill’s most important objectives. He worked FDR and Harry Hopkins, charming both of them and eventually getting America to agree to the lend lease program. Churchill knew he had convinced them when Hopkins rose during a dinner with Churchill and quoted from the Book of Ruth: “Whither thou goest I will go, and whither thou lodgest I will lodge. Thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God,” he declared, dramatically adding, “even to the end.” Churchill wept openly.
The furnace of war had smelted out all the base metals from him. – Chamberlain on Churchill
While he could be rough, he had a deeply empathetic streak. He also saw things simply, which is why the masses loved him
He kept a box with organized folders out of which he ran the country and the war
He required each command he gave to be answered in writing because this ensured that nothing was confused or misunderstood
He was a man of action who didn’t care much for fancy social theories. He cared about what worked. However, he was very well read as he believed this was a very effective form of action
Every report had to be summarized in less than one page before he would look at and sign off on it
He was hard on others but he was even harder on himself
Churchill didn’t go to church often and when asked about this, he said he wasn’t a pillar of the church, but a buttress – supporting from the outside rather than the inside
He was of the belief that in peace times, be good to all, but during times of war, only show absolute fury
He digested history to the point that he could recount every detail. He made them his personal memories and it informed his life and decisions
Napoleon urged his men to never form a static picture of what he thought the enemy might do. Maginot clearly didn’t heed this sage advice. He and Petain concluded that the Germans would never come through the Ardennes because it was too thick of a forest. This was clearly a huge blind spot
On a particular day when the Royal Air Force had amazing results, Winston’s famous line was, “never have so many owed so much to so few.”
Winston was very thoughtful and deliberate about he he communicated with the masses, making sure that steps were taken so that they knew how hard the army, navy, and military were fighting on their behalf, stoking their patriotism, bravery, and courage
Something Germany didn’t understand was the tenacity of the British. Parliament voted 341-4 to fight on and avoid a peace treaty. In a divided government, this is an incredible show of unity
Eventually a ministry of information was created to help combat Germany’s propaganda. Churchill called this department a “stand alone and off-the-shelf unit”
Churchill abides by the law of flexibility and opportunism – allowing himself to react and make decisions as situations unfold – rather than sticking to rigid grand plans
Churchill was a great painter and understood that war, like painting, is a situation where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts
Niels Bohr had a rule that things were either explained clearly or accurately, but they could not be both
If there is only one option on the table, it is not an option
Churchill had an encyclopedic knowledge of warfare and came to many of the same conclusions that von Clausewitz did – confuse and deceive the enemy, add idiosyncratic elements to your charges, capture armies and not real estate, and more
What I got out of it
Like great biographers do, Manchester gives an intense look into the context, time, environment, in which Churchill live. Loved hearing about his quirks, his “gyroscope” which kept him on the right track regardless of the public’s mood, his oratorical skills, and so much more
Li Lu rose to become deputy commander of the student protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989. He recounts his childhood and how he ended up in that position
His biological parents were deemed “intellectuals” and ostracized. He spent much of his childhood like an orphan, jumping around from school to school and family to family. However, he was able to become a great student and went on to study politics at Nanjing. He later left though for Beijing to take part in the student demonstrations. He was able to rise up in the movement’s leadership because he was able to step out of the moment, be calm, and think.. He helped ensure the movement remained non-violent. This became the most powerful democratic movement in Chinese history, and it exposed the true nature of the Communist Party. They fought to be seen as dignified human beings and for the right to live a life that’s worth living.
Moving the Mountain – power of long-term thinking, over generations. Little steps, actions, behaviors can have tremendous impacts over the long-term
He does a great job describing what the mindset and culture was like in China after Mao and the Cultural Revolution. He sensed a strong sense in his generation of individual standing up against an autocratic system that sought to eliminate individuality
Voice your true feelings. If you’re confident you can move yourself, you’ll also move others
Most difficult thing is to develop the right way of thinking
I came to realize that those old Marxist books were like the old man using his own theory to criticize others. No matter how absurd a theory, it seeks to explain and rationalize itself, and when a theory has a strong logical system, it has an exclusivity that can convincingly dismiss other theories. Marxism, I saw, had played a big joke on us. It refuted all other theories just to prove itself correct
A person’s goal does not express itself in the result of his action; its significance lies in the great efforts he makes to achieve the goal
What I got out of it
Some amazing context on what life was like in the aftermath of China’s Cultural Revolution and what the student protests look like from the inside
This book is about how fast or not economic transformation is achieved. It argues there are 3 interventions the government can take to influence this process: maximize output from agriculture with highly intensive household farming (pushing up yields and outputs to its highest level which primes demands for goods and services), direct investment and entrepreneurs towards export-oriented manufacturing as it makes use of the limited skills of labor by working with machines and technology (subsidies should incentivize spending in technology and manufacturing), and interventions in the financial sector to focus capital on intensive small scale agriculture and manufacturing development. The state’s role is to keep money targeted at a development strategy which gets the highest rate of technological learning, giving the highest rate of return, and helping the country grow as sustainably as possible, improving the lives and outcomes of everyone .
Agriculture is the place to start with up-and-coming countries because the vast majority of their people are tied to the land. Structuring incentives so that these people can prosper creates the foundation for further economic success
By approximately evenly dividing up the land amongst the peasants and incentivizing a maximization of output (rather than profit), yields go through the roof which helped pay and feed these families. It allowed everyone to compete on an approximately equal footing and everyone believed they had a chance st success – which they did. This “gardening” approach is the most appropriate way to think about and structure agricultural societies early on as it can make full use of all the available labor. Surprisingly, these smaller plots owned by the farmers had far greater yields than many plantations – busting the myth of efficiency in large scale agricultural operations
The political elite tend to be out of touch with the agricultural peasants and therefore undervalue and under-appreciate their power and ability to help the economy
If you want industrialization, first fix agriculture
Even a total outsider can tell the difference between a plot of land tended by an owner vs. a tenant
A consistent application of these policies across different cultures and regions is a stark reminder that geography is not destiny
Farmers laid the foundation for industrialization and their household savings provided the base to build factories and later the market for the goods these factories made. Taiwan is the prime example in this case as many factories were built in rural areas and many farmers became industrial entrepreneurs. Indonesia and the Philippines are the negative examples – they nationalized land before the farmers could build up wealth and plantation inefficiency took hold. In addition, loopholes in policies so the rich could amass massive land holdings, put the poor at a disadvantage and worsened conditions
Besides owning the small fields, the farmers need the extension, marketing, and credit to progress
As rural laborers begin moving into higher paying industrial and service jobs, farming needs to rebalance from productivity towards profitability – shifting towards more mechanized farms away from gardening plots. The countries will need to specialize at this point, moving away from farm protection and subsidies and to a niche they can compete in. This shifts money to this area and gives other poor countries the chance to follow the same playbook
If there is one thing economic history can teach us is that there are no economic policies or laws which are sound forever
Manufacturing helps local people learn skills and to leverage the machines which they initially import, increasing productivity. Local entrepreneurs know the local market but they must compete with international firms in order to continue improving and to survive long-term without protection
Government must incentivize – through protection and subsidy – their rural entrepreneurs so they can get into large scale manufacturing rather than service industries at this phase. They must have export discipline – proving that their goods are competitive on a global stage and thus merit subsidies to grow.
The government shouldn’t pick winners as much as weed out losers. South Korea did this which is why they ended up with one or two massive companies in each sector without explicit state investment or control. Protectionism hurts in the short term but helps economies evolve and it’s people learn useful skills and in the long term is beneficial
Growing economies typically start industrialization with textiles later moving on to steel, shipbuilding, food stuffs, petro-chemicals, and eventually cars other heavy industry
While Taiwan what is the exemplar in land redistribution, South Korea took over as the exemplar of industrialization – setting up their entrepreneurs to have to compete with international markets and companies by providing enough subsidy and protection to let them grow, learn, and thrive
It is interesting to look in hindsight that Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan accomplish their amazing feats with no, or at least very few, trained economists. They simply followed the model of early America and later Germany
Government must not ask entrepreneurs to innovate for moral reasons. Rather they must accept and incentivize their animal spirits so that they can innovate, industrialize, and develop the country as is needed for their own benefit and for the benefit of all
More than ever, firms are able to flourish if they have the right state industrialization policies in place. Hyundai was able to flourish and become one of the world’s most successful car manufacturers from an unpromising start and a family with no automotive experience thanks to the favorable Korean policies
The goal is technological learning which hopefully leads to internal, domestic innovation. While land reform and infant industry regulations are difficult, there are no better options. Technical and technological progress equates to economic progress and history has shown that these difficult but necessary steps must be taken
Big business is incredibly important. There are smaller countries with big firms which have gotten rich but never the other way around. However, government must continuously restrain their entrepreneurs or else you end up with oligarchs like in Russia or SE Asia
Bank deregulation and removal of capital controls too early hurt developing economies such as Thailand or Indonesia. The agricultural and industrial sectors must be ready before these financial policies are enacted. Several different monetary and fiscal policy approaches have led to success but they all had the right policies, pointing at the right targets
In the Philippines, private banks would lend to the rich entrepreneurs at favorable terms which of course help them but didn’t help the country develop at all. However, ultimately what led to the downfall of economic collapse of the Philippines was their lack of export discipline which would have provided them with export loop feedback so that they could continuously improve and better compete on a global stage – improving their technical know-how across the country
Korea and the Philippines both borrowed extremely heavily and were in a lot of debt but Korea used that money to improve the technology and scale to a global level where the Philippines did not
Malaysia pumped too much money into real estate and the stock market instead of directing it towards industry. They tried to skip a step in order to compete and out do Singapore but this eventually led to an economic collapse and stagnated technological progress
Capital allocation must be tied to industrial policy and export performance or else capital will be deployed in low return investments. Government must incentivize and cajole entrepreneurs towards manufacturing and international markets. The financier is not the economic savior some suggest but responds to the environment around him which the government helps create. Foreign funds must not be allowed in too early and deregulation can only happen once manufacturing is humming and technological progress is underway
Banking systems are so effective because they respond to central bank policy which is controlled by government policy. It is a simple and effective method, easier to to control than bond and stock markets
There is no good understanding today of when a country should deregulate
China first tried the mass scale agriculture approach but soon realized it was ineffective so they transitioned to the gardening approach which greatly helped feed and put to work hundreds of millions. They also abandoned an approach where they would try to come up with everything internally and opened up trade to buy, borrow, and steal the best inventions and processes rather than trying to come up with everything internally
Chinese government has always been paranoid of being at the mercy of necessary food stuff importers. They have taken away a lot of farmland dedicated to these grains in the past decade and may soon change the policy so they secure enough food to be continue to be independent
It is yet to be seen if China’s close control of oligopolies can help the economy long term. So far they have been able to strike a balance between control and allowing the entrepreneurs and employees to profit
China has a heavy bias to public and state owned enterprises rather than private companies.
People worry about shadow banking systems which lend to wealthy citizens outside the direct view of the government in order to seek higher returns but this has existed in one form or another in every developing country. Whenever government policy favors agriculture and industry over finance, shadow finances will pop up
China’s financial policies are not as loose as many think if taken into context of Japan and Korea in similar stages, the size of their economy and the make up of their assets, and the fact that little money is owed externally. They are making great technological progress with the money they’ve borrowed but the best days of industrial-led policy development have passed so they will need to be more efficient moving forward. It is China’s size and not necessarily their innovative policies which have shaken the world. It does not yet have any world renowned firms and, if it is to take the next step developmentally, must improve its institutional policies
One of the key lessons when analyzing failed states is that they are isolated, closed off, and do not trade or interact with external countries. It has shown to be very hard, if not impossible to thrive if you are not open and trade with other countries
There is a weaker than expected correlation between education and rise in GDP. Most education occurs on the job and within firms rather than in school settings making industrial focus extremely important. If there is no industry to serve as a vehicle for learning, formal education may go to waste
Demographics, political pluralism / democracy are very important but is not touched on at length in this book
Rule of law is not one of the pillars for economic development but it is for overall development
Broadly, there are two types of economics. The first is akin to an education for developing countries in which the people require the skills needed to compete with their global peers. It requires nurture, protection, and competition. The second is more focused on efficiency and is applicable for more developed countries which needs less state intervention, more deregulation, freer markets and a larger focus on profits. The question is not if there are two but when they meet and how to best transition between the two. Where certain economically developed countries have fallen flat is that they fail to continue to evolve and develop. No policy is good forever and things must change. In addition, economic development is only one leg of the stool. Freedom, rule of law, environmental health, and individual autonomy are equally important and are needed for any country to prosper
There is no significant economy who has evolved successfully out of policies of free trade and deregulation from the get go. They require proactive interventions – namely in agriculture and industry that foster early accumulation of capital and skill
What I got out of it
For developing countries, the best way to prosper is to first redistribute land so the people can use gardening style agriculture to feed themselves and save some money, then government’s must create subsidies and protective policies so that internal industry can grow and flourish with the goal of increasing skill and technological know-how so that future innovation can happen, then finance comes into the picture and must be used to further direct these two areas effectively and sustainably
An incredible insight into the takeovers and social organization of a chimp colony in the Netherlands. “The behavior of our closest relatives provides clues about human nature. Apart from political maneuvering, chimpanzees show many behaviors that parallel those of humans, from tool technology to intercommunity warfare. In fact, our place among the primates is increasingly a backdrop of substantial similarity. Our uniqueness breaks down as we study our relatives.”
Simplified conditions, like the one found at Arnhem Zoo with this chimp colony, allow researchers to see more because there is less. A totally wild environment is too dynamic, too chaotic to be able to closely observe some of the interactions which are dissected in this book
“Every country has its Dick Cheneys and Ted Kennedys operating behind the scenes. Being over the hill themselves, these experienced men often exploit the intense rivalries among younger politicians, gaining tremendous power as a result. I also did not draw explicit parallels between how rival chimpanzees curry favor with females by grooming and tickling their young and the way human politicians hold up and kiss babies, something they rarely do outside the election season. There are tons of such parallels, also in nonverbal communication (the swaggering, the lowering of voices), but I stayed away from all these. To me, they were so obvious I am happy to leave them to my readers…The social dynamics are essentially the same. The game of probing and challenging, of forming coalitions, of undermining others’ coalitions, and of slapping the table to reinforce a point is right there for any observer to see. The will to power is a human universal. Our species has been engaged in Machiavellian tactics since the dawn of time, which is why no one should be surprised about the evolutionary connection pointed out in the present book.”
Only in harmonious groups are adult males solicitous and tolerant of kid’s behavior
When excited or aggressive, their hair stands on end so they appear larger than life and often this behavior can be seen as much as 10 minutes before by inconspicuous body movements and changes in posture
The group dynamic is one large web and the alpha male is just as, if not more, ensnared in the web as the rest
Since they don’t need to forage for food as they do in the wild, there is considerably more time to socialize and the close quarters, especially in the winter months, which leads to nearly twice as many aggressive incidents as in the summer months
“Experts sometimes choose to create the impression of knowing nothing. They act in exactly the opposite way from the young teacher, who held forth with such conviction. Both attitudes lead nowhere, but unfortunately I will not be able to avoid them completely.”
“Everyone can look, but actually perceiving is something that has to be learned. This is a constantly recurring problem when new students arrive. For the first few weeks they “see” nothing at all…Initially we only see what we recognize. Someone who knows nothing about chess and who watches a game between two players will not be aware of the tension on the board. Even if the watcher stays for an hour, he or she will still have great difficult in accurately reproducing the state of play on another board. A grand master, on the other hand, would grasp and memorize the position of every piece in one concentrated glance of a few seconds. This is not a difference of memory, but of perception. Whereas to the uninitiated the positions of the chess pieces are unrelated, the initiated attach great significance to them and see how they threaten and cover each other. It is easier to remember something with a structure than a chaotic jumble. This is the synthesizing principle of the so-called Gestalt perception: the whole, or Gestalt, is more than the sum of its parts. Learning to perceive is learning to recognize the patterns in which the components regularly occur. Once we are familiar with the patterns of interactions between chess pieces or chimpanzees, they seem so striking and obvious that it is difficult to imagine how other people can get bogged down in all kinds of detail and miss the essential logic of the maneuvers.”
When chimpanzees are frightened or distressed, they bare their teeth much further than when they put on the so-called play-face
When males are displaying and trying to intimidate, it is not uncommon to see females take away their weapons
Side-Directed Behavior: behavior toward opponents and behavior toward companions or outsiders
Seeking refuge and reassurance – the most common form and an excited or frightened chimpanzee clearly has a need for physical contact
Recruitment of support
Reconciliations – after conflict, the opponents are attracted to each other like magnets! They had to physically connect to make up and tension and hesitancy remains as long as the opponents had not reconciled their differences. This action serves to repair valuable relationships
Coalitions – when two apes fight or threaten each other, a third ape may enter the fray and side with one of them. Sometimes this escalates and larger coalitions are formed. However, this does not cascade – chimpanzees never make an uncalculated move and the top position in a group may depend on aggressive cooperation (highest form of strategy, dominance) and, often, it was the females who were the most important part of helping their chosen male get into the position of alpha
Social Intelligence Hypothesis
Chimps developed such high intelligence in order to deal with an increasingly complex group life. The evolution of primate intelligence started with the need to outsmart others, to detect deceptive tactics, to reach mutually advantageous compromises, and to foster social ties that advance once’s career
Hair is constantly slightly on end, even when not actively displaying and walk in an exaggeratedly slow and heavy manner – all meant to make one look larger and heavier
The submissive greeting is the most special form of behavior indicative of social order – deep bows, grunting, looking up at the alpha, kiss his feet/neck/chest. Alpha reacts to this by standing taller and making his hair stand on end which makes the contrast even greater
Dominance manifests in two different ways – social influence (power, who can defeat whom and who weighs in most heavily when a conflict in the group occurs) and formal dominance (ones actual rank within the colony)
Physical strength is only one factor and almost certainly not the critical one in determining dominance relationships
A leader who hesitates in defending his proteges might very well have problems defending himself
Tantrums are indicative of the beginning of the end but familiarity breeds contempt. Tantrums which are thrown too often are ignored
Tend to think that the outcome of a fight determines the social relationship, whereas here the outcome was determined by the social relationship. The same was seen in later dominance processes. The prevailing social climate affected the self-confidence of the rivals. It was as if their effectiveness depended on the attitude of the group (rather like a soccer team playing better at home than away).
Speed and agility are just as important as strength
Alpha males experience a physical and emotional change when they become the alpha – hair on end, a “policy” of trying to stabilize the group after the shake up in hierarchy
Pattern Recognition – an older alpha had a better eye for potentially dangerous social developments and realized better than his partner that such developments must be nipped in the bud
One of the new alphas, Nikkie, received great resistance from the females and never had secure rule. He was “greeted” and groomed and obeyed but he lead from a position of fear rather than respect. Must have the backing and support of the females or else your power is fragile
Chimps overcome basic competitive tendencies more than other animals and achieve a high degree of cooperation. They cooperate in order to create a common front against the neighbors – the psyche is one of both competition and compromise and this is what makes chimp society so much more recognizable to us than the social structure of the other great apes
Chimpanzee males avoid looking at each other in moments of tension, challenge, and intimidation. In moments of reconciliation, on the other hand, they look each other straight and deep in the eyes. After a conflict the former opponents may sometimes sit opposite each other for a quarter of an hour or more, trying to catch each other’s eye. Once the opponents are finally looking at each other, first hesitantly but then more steadily, the reconciliation will not be far away. Often, a “sense of honor” would need to be overcome before the reconciliation begins and often it was a third party who would help them out of the impasse. This third party was always one of the adult females
After a fight, contact and conciliation is so important than the winner can blackmail the loser. The winner refuses to have anything to do with the loser until he has received some respectful grunts
A stable hierarchy is a great sign of peace and harmony in the group but only partially ensure peace in the social system. Horizontal developments – in which children grow up and social ties are established, neglected, or broken – inevitably affect the temporarily fixed “vertical” component, the hierarchy. Western “ladder” view of social ties compared to Japanese “network” view. Hierarchical stability cannot be equated with stagnation and monotony, dominance must constantly be proven (Red Queen Effect)
Loser-supporters: a third individual who intervenes in a conflict on the side of the party who would otherwise have lost
Young males of superior fighting ability cannot usurp power without the support of a sizable portion of a group. You have to have the group buy-in and back you – can never do it alone
The chimps have incredible awareness of their social cues. During one of the fights, both sides were bluffing about how brave they were and could be seen holding their hands in front of their mouths so that nobody could see them bearing their teeth (a sign of fear, excitement, nervousness
In all the time studying the apes, the researchers never once witnessed a conflict between the two highest ranking females
Key for stability within a hierarchy to have the top women on the same page?
There are often issues when there is ‘dual leadership’ or a second person who feels they are entitled to respect and power just as much as the true leader. As Machiavelli reasoned, “He who attains the principality with the aid of the nobility maintains it with more difficulty than he who becomes the prince with the assistance of the common people, for he finds himself a prince amidst many who feel themselves to be his equals, and because of this he can neither govern nor manage them as he might wish.”
The males are incredibly tolerant of children. They cannot risk getting upset and losing the support of the females
The formation of territories is one way of demarcating procreational rights; the formation of a hierarchy is another. There is a definite link between power and sex; no social organization can be properly understood without knowledge of the sexual rules and the way the progeny are cared for. Even the proverbial cornerstone of our society, the family, is essentially a sexual and reproductive unit. Sigmund Freud, speculating about the history of the unit, imagined a “primal horde,” in which our forefathers obeyed one great chief, who jealously guarded all sexual rights and privileges for himself
A female can only be fertilized by one male. By keeping other males away from her, a male increases the certainty that he will be the father of the child. Consequently, children will more often be sired by jealous than by tolerant males. If jealousy is hereditary, and that is what the theory assumes, more and more children will be born with this characteristic, and later they in turn will attempt to exclude other members of the same sex from the reproductive act.
Whereas the males fight for the right to fertilize as many females as possible, the situation for the females is totally different. Whether she copulates with one or one hundred males, it will not alter the number of children she will give birth to. Jealousy among females is therefore less marked. Female competition occurs almost exclusively in pair-bonded species, such as many birds and a few mammals, such as humans. Men get most upset at the thought of their wife or girlfriend having sex with another man, women dislike most the thought that their husband or boyfriend actually loves another woman, regardless of whether or not sex has occurred. Because women look at these things from the perspective of relationships, they are more concerned about a possible emotional tie between their mate and another woman
If a female does not want to mate, it is usually over. Persistent males run the risk of being chased by the female they approached and some of the other females too. Consequently, it is the females who largely engineer the evasion of the rules that exist among males
If the number of individuals in any colony becomes unnaturally alrge, the system collapses (Dunbar’s Number)
Triadic Awareness (Lateral Networks)
Just as individual recognition is a prerequisite of a stable hierarchy, so triadic awareness is a prerequisite of a hierarchy based on coalitions. The term triadic awareness refers to the capacity to perceive social relationships between others so as to form varied triangular relationships. For example, Luit knows that Yeroen and Nikkie are allies, so he will not provoke conflicts with Yeroen when Nikkie is nearby, but he is much less reluctant to do so when he meets Yeroen alone. What is special about this kind of knowledge is that an individual is not only aware of his or her relationships with everyone in the group, but also monitors and evaluates relationships that exist in the social environment so as to gain an understanding of how the self relates to combinations of other individuals. Elementary forms of three-dimensional group life are found in many birds and mammals, but primates are undoubtedly supreme in this respect. Mediation with a view to reconciliation, separating interventions, telling tales, and coalitions would all be inconceivable without triadic awareness
If any of this sounds simple, it is because triadic awareness is second nature to human beings, and we find it hard to imagine a society without it
Dependence on third parties plays such a prominent role in the chimpanzee hierarchy that the basic relationships are completely overshadowed. This is not only true for the complex balance of power in the male triangle. A small child, for example, may chase away a full-grown male. He is able to do so under the protection of his mother or “aunt.” Like the children, these females are basically inferior to the males, but they, in turn, can rely on the support of other females and sometimes can appeal to dominant males for help
The Female Hierarchy
The basis of hierarchical positions is sex-related. Among males coalitions determine dominance. The male dominance over the females is largely determined by their physical superiority. Among females it is above all personality and age that seem to be the determining factors.
Conflicts between females are so rare and the outcome is so unpredictable that they cannot be used as a criterion for determining rank.
The female hierarchy in our chimpanzee group seems to be based on respect from below rather than intimidation and a show of strength from above
Perhaps why it is so stable and powerful – get buy in and respect from the bottom
Our understanding of ape hierarchies is further complicated by the fact that there is a third type of dominance that exists alongside formal dominance and power. For example, when the alpha male places a car tire on one of the drums in the indoor hall with the intention of lying down on it, one of the females may push him away and sit down herself. Females also remove objects, sometimes even food, from the hands of the males without meeting with any resistance
They have things to offer that cannot be taken by force, such as sexual and political favors, and their silent diplomacy, which helps to calm tempers. This provides the females with a good deal of leverage: if being popular among the females is critical for the stability of a male’s leadership, he had better be lenient and accomdating towards them
Quite the opposite from subhuman primates, a man must be generous to be respected
Mutual fear as the basis of alliance formation makes nations weigh in on the lighter side of the balance. The result is a power equilibrium in which all nations hold influential positions. The same principle applies to social psychology and is known as the formation of “minimal winning coalitions.”
A rational choice is based on an estimate of the consequences.
The hankering for power itself is almost certainly inborn. The question now is, how do chimpanzees achieve their ambitions? This too may be hereditary. Some people are said to have “political instinct,” and there is no reason why we should not say the same of chimpanzees. I doubt, however, whether this “instinct” is responsible for all the details of their strategies. Experience is needed to use innate social tendencies as a means to an end in the same way that a young bird born with wings to fly needs months of practice before it has mastered the art. In the case of political strategies, experience can play a role in two ways: directly, during the social processes themselves, or through the projection of old experiences into the future
Sympathy is related to intimacy and familiarity
For the adult male, the amount that he himself possesses is not important. What matters is who does the distributing among the group. (However, this only applies to incidental, extra food. Main meals and hunger can cause chimpanzee males to quarrel violently, as the Holloman colony showed.) Females, on the other hand, tend to share mainly with their own children and best friends and do not get into quarrels with other group members. Taking food by force is extremely rare in our colony; sharing is something apes learn young
Their control rests on giving. They give protection to anyone who is threatened and receive respect and support in return. Also among humans the borderline between material and social generosity is scarcely distinguishable. Observations of human children by the psychologists Harvey Ginsburg and Shirley Miller have demonstrated that the most dominant children not only intervene in playground fights to protect losers but also are more willing to share with classmates. The investigators suggest that this behavior helps a child to command high status among peers. Similarly, we know from anthropological studies of pre-literate tribes that the chief exercises an economic role comparable to the control role: he gives and receives. He is rich but does not exploit his people, because he gives huge feasts and helps the needy. The gifts and goods he receives flow back into the community. A chief who tries to keep everything for himself puts his position in jeopardy. Noblesse oblige, or, as Sahlins said, “A man must be generous to be respected.” This universal human system, the collection and redistribution of possessions by the chief, or his modern equivalent, the government, is the same as that used by chimpanzees; all we have to do is replace “possessions” by “support and other social favors.”
Honor this golden rule of generosity in all areas of life. Give more than you receive in every manner
The influence of the recent past is always overestimated. When we are asked to name the greatest human inventions we tend to think of the telephone, the electric light bulb, and the silicon chip rather than the wheel, the plough, and the taming of fire. Similarly the origins of modern society are sought in the advent of agriculture, trade, and industry, whereas in fact our social history is a thousand times older than these phenomena. It has been suggested that food sharing was a strong stimulus in furthering the evolution of our tendency to reciprocal relations. Would it not be more logical to assume that social reciprocity existed earlier and that tangible exchanges such as food sharing stem from this phenomenon? There are indications of reciprocity in the nonmaterial behaviors of chimps. This is seen, for instance, in their coalitions, nonintervention alliances (A remains neutral if B does the same), sexual bargaining (A tolerates B mating after B has groomed A), and reconciliation blackmail (A refuses to have contact with B unless B “greets” A). It is interesting that reciprocity occurs in both the negative and the positive sense. Nikkie’s habit of individually punishing females who a short time before joined forces against him has already been described. In this way he repaid a negative action with another negative action. We regularly see this mechanism in operation before the group separates for the night. This is the time when differences are squared, no matter when these differences may have arisen. For example, one morning a conflict breaks out between Mama and Oor. Oor rushes to Nikkie and with wild gestures and exaggeratedly loud screams persuades him to attack her powerful opponent. Nikkie attacks Mama, and Oor wins. That evening, however, a good six hours later, we hear the sound of a scuffle in the sleeping quarters. The keeper tells me later that Mama has attacked Oor in no uncertain manner. Needless to say Nikkie was nowhere in the vicinity. Negative behavior hardly enters into the theories about reciprocity that anthropologists and sociologists have developed. Despite the emphasis on powerful exchanges there has not been much theoretical progress
Every individual voluntarily enters and stays in any relationship only as long as it is adequately satisfactory in terms of rewards and costs. Interactions between humans have been regarded as a kind of trading in advantageous and disadvantageous behavior. Here too reciprocity is an important theme, not only in the positive form but also in its negative form.
This give-and-take mechanism is a very old, and very fundamental feature of our species and of chimps. Much of the process may take place in the subconscious, but we all know from experience that things come bubbling up to the surface when the difference between costs and benefits becomes too great. It is then that we voice our feelings. By and large, however, reciprocity is something that takes place silently. The principle of exchange makes it possible actively to teach someone something: good behavior is rewarded; bad behavior is punished
Life in a chimpanzee group is like a market in power, sex, affection, support, intolerance, and hostility. The two basic rules are: one good turn deserves another and an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth
The major themes found and discussed in the chimpanzee colony
Formalization – ranks are formalized. When they become unclear a dominance struggle ensues, after which the winner refuses reconciliation as long as his new status is not formally recognized
Influence – an individual’s influence on group processes does not always correspond to his or her rank position. It also depends on personality, age, experience, and connections. I regard our oldest male and oldest female as the most influential group members
Coalitions – interventions in conflicts serve either to help friends and relatives or to build up powerful positions. The second, opportunistic type of intervention is seen specifically in the coalition formation of adult males and goes hand in hand with isolation tactics. There is evidence for a similar sex difference in humans
Balance – in spite of their rivalry, males form strong social bonds among themselves. They tend to develop a balanced power system based on their coalitions, individual fighting abilities, and support from females
Stability – relationships among females are less hierarchically organized and much more stable than among males. A need for stability is also reflected in the females’ attitude toward male status competition. They even mediate between males
Exchanges – the human economic system, with its reciprocal transactions and centralization, is recognizable in the group life of chimpanzees. They exchange social favors rather than gifts or goods, and their support flows to a central individual who uses the prestige derived from it to provide social security. This is his responsibility, in the sense that he may undermine his own position if he fails to redistribute the support received
Manipulation – chimpanzees are intelligent manipulators. Their ability is clear enough in their use of tools, but it is even more pronounced in the use of others as social instruments
To my eyes, the most striking result is that there seem to be two layers of social organization. The first layer we see is a clear-cut rank order, at least among the most dominant individuals. Although primatologists spend a lot of energy discussing the value of the “dominance concept,” they all know that it is impossible to ignore this hierarchical structure. The debate is not about its existence but about the degree to which knowledge of rank relationships helps to explain social processes. I think that, so long as we concentrate on the formal hierarchy, the explanations will be very poor indeed. We should also look behind it, at the second layer: a network of positions of influence. These positions are much more difficult to define, and I consider my descriptions in terms of influence and power only as imperfect first attempts. What I have seen, though, is that individuals losing a top rank certainly do not fall into oblivion: they are still able to pull many strings. In the same way, an individual rising in rank and at first sight appearing to be the big boss does not automatically have the greatest say in all matters. If it is hard to explain this duality of the social organization without using human terms, it is because we have very similar behind-the-scenes influences in our own society. When Aristotle referred to man as a political animal he could not know just how near the mark he was. Our political activity is part of an evolutionary heritage we share with our close relatives. What my work at Arnhem as taught me, however, is that the root of politics are older than humanity
Human’s daily dabbling in politics are not always recognized as such because people are past masters in camouflaging their true intentions. Politicians for example, are vociferous about their ideals and promises but are careful not to disclose personal aspirations for power. This is not mean to be a reproach, because after all everyone plays the same game. I would go further and say that we are largely unaware that we are playing a game and hide our motives not only from others but also underestimate the immense effect they have on our own behavior. Chimps on the other hand, are quite blatant about their “baser” motives. Their interest in power is not greater than that of humanity, it is just more obvious
To compare humans with chimps can be taken to be just as insulting, or perhaps even more so, because human motives seem to become more animal as a result. And yet, among chimps, power politics are not merely “bad” or “dirty.” They give to the life of the Arnhem community its logical coherence and even a democratic structure. All parties search for social significance and continue to do so until a temporary balance is achieved. This balance determines the new hierarchical positions. Changing relationships reached point where they become “frozen” in more or less fixed ranks. When we see how this formalization takes place during reconciliations, we understand that the hierarchy is a cohesive factor, which puts limits on competition and conflict. Child care, play, sex, and cooperation depend on the resultant stability. But underneath the surface the situation is constantly in a state of flux. The balance of power is texted daily, and if it proves too weak it is challenged and a new balance established. Consequently chimpanzee politics are also constructive. Humans should regard it as an honor to be classed as political animals.
What I got out of it
Female support counts for as much as nearly anything, coalitions/reconciliation as important in chimp’s life as in human life, much more about cooperation than simply brute strength/size/speed, aggressive cooperation is one of the highest forms of strategy, the need for physical contact is crucial for social bonding and reconciliation, power is truly comprised of two things: social influence and formal dominance, must get buy in from the bottom of the group in order to have a stable hierarchy, man must be generous in order to be respected, stability vita for a well functioning group and hierarchy, hierarchy is a cohesive and a constructive factor which put limits on competition and conflict
Chernow’s goal is to make Washington as close to the living, breathing figure he was to his contemporaries, rather than the lifeless role model he is today to most people. He was only able to achieve so much because he could bottle and funnel his intense emotion to his noble cause
Washington always sought to conceal his feelings and not express too much emotion. He was a master at controlling his emotions but when he cracked, he was full of great wrath. Opacity was his means for influence and shaping events. He commanded respect from all because people knew how emotional and passionate he was, yet how well he managed these emotions. He possessed the gift of listening and self command but only after work hard at attaining these traits
Washington’s great grandfather was a successful military man who later came to possess thousands of acres in Virginia and this wealth would be eventually passed down to George. Washington’s father remarried to Marry Ball after his first wife died and she would have a tremendous influence on George. She was a very moral woman who stood strong in times adversity but had a temper. Washington’s father died young and forced Washington to take much responsibility at a young age. His mother was tough and they did not have a loving relationship. She made George uneasy with criticism and emotionally closed. His older brother Lawrence was a great influence on him and pushed him to pursue a military career
Washington is an incredible case of self improvement as he had little to no formal education but was self taught through books and experience. Washington is a story of self construction. Washington was also a physical specimen – taller than 6′ with almost comically large hands and feet, athletic, graceful and a good dancer
Washington’s first job was as a land surveyor and this would influence his future love of land and land speculation
Already by the age of 22 Washington had distinguished himself militarily and politically but a skirmish with the French almost ruined his reputation. However, he acted bravely and his reputation was soon restored. He learned early on the effectiveness of guerrilla type warfare that the Native Americans fought. Washington had to learn to mask his ambition as he too often butted heads with more senior leaders. He often felt slighted by the British military traditions and was sometimes passed for deserving promotions
Early on Washington decided it was of utmost importance to have a loyal and well trained army. He was able to take a ragtag group and instill some training and order into this already courageous group. He came to love his men and through his leadership and courage on the battlefield, his men came to love him too – was able to get the most out of his men
Washington married Martha Dandridge Custis, a short, wealthy widow with a warm, even temperament. She had two children, Jackie and Patsy, who Washington adopted. The oldest son, Jackie, was a jet setter and ignored the education Washington so badly wanted as a youth. Patsy died young and caused her parents much grief but it gave Washington a sizable inheritance which helped a lot with his large debt and to expand Mt. Vernon. He had no children of his own
Washington was strict but relatively fair and humane with his slaves
Washington was extremely prompt and believed a judicious and efficient use of time was a sure path to success
The Tea Party was a seminal moment as it furthered the colonists’ aversion to taxation without representation. Washington, having been out of the military since his glory days of the French and Indian War, took an important political position at this time and much frustration with the British began bubbling over in him and advocated a petition of British goods and perhaps even military action. Washington was soon elected to the First Continental Congress. He was soon after unanimously elected to be the commander in chief of the continental army once it was assembled. His wealth and self command made him a popular choice. His ragtag army from every corner of the colonies was difficult to unite and train but they showed more courage and will than any other army. There were many other obstacles too such as lack of gunpowder, fewer fit men than he had anticipated and much more. His self command was vital at this time in order to keep his men optimistic even though he knew how dismal the situation looked. Secrecy and deception were key tools he used throughout the war. Washington saw the war as a struggle of good vs evil and urged his men to treat POW humanely and to be a model citizen for all the colonies. Creating a draft was not politically possible at this time and Washington eventually decided to bar slaves from serving but free blacks were allowed in
Washington was careful but a bit unorthodox in his selection of high ranking generals. General Greene had almost no military experience and General Knox was very overweight. Washington bucked his aristocratic streak and gave promising men the opportunity to rise and learn although they didn’t seem to have the credentials. Nearly all the men he chose performed admirably. Washington excelled as a leader because he was able to select the men he saw as most able and then get the most out of them. After the war, Washington assembled one of the most impressive and effect cabinet members in history, notably Hamilton as Secretary of Treasury and Jefferson as Secretary of State
Thomas Paine’s Common Sense energized a demoralized American army and the populace for American independence
Washington was able to win back Boston from the British by setting up cannons in the middle of the night and scaring the British. This was a great victory with no deaths and Washington was praised the country over
The American army were getting beat early but Washington pulled some military magic and got some much needed victories at Trenton and Princeton. Washington portrayed a mystique and energy which won him over the admiration and respect of every man under his command
Hamilton was very young when he became Washington’s aide de camp and helped extensively with any written correspondence. They made a great team but their very different personalities often clashed
Horatio Gates rose through the military ranks and while he won several important battles, he butted heads with Washington as he tried to blacken his name and remove him from his position as general
Marquis de Lafayette became Washington’s protege and one of the key commanders of the American Revolution. Baron Von Steuben introduced order and uniformity across the army
It is to Washington’s credit that he studied England’s weaknesses but also her strengths in order to determine what practices to exploit and which to emulate. With Hamilton’s influence, Washington established the national debt and national bank
Washington had full faith in Benedict Arnold and was shaken and distraught when he found out he had a betrayed his country
Washington greatest achievement laid in cobbling together unifying and motivating a dove verse group of people who had to come over substantial odds to be the British army
Washington’s view on abolition softened over his tenure and throughout the war
After the United States Britain the prospect of keys was difficult for Washington too. He was worried about exerting his own influence and speaking his mind on what he used to be the correct course of action for the United States after gaining independence. Washington ceding his power after the war was one of his most important and meaningful acts. He understood his power to be “on rent” and returned it as soon as it was appropriate to do so. Washington had a very busy public life, entertaining thousands of people who wanted to see and meet this great hero. Washington was nominated to be president a couple years later which again but him in a non partisan role
Washington left Martha and Mt. Vernon for over 4 months to join the Constitutional Convention which drew up the Constitution. As the Constitution was ratified, Washington was expected to put it into action as the first President. This expectation was likely a major cause for the great support the Constitution received. That Washington willingly gave up his military power after the war, was seen as reluctantly accepting the presidential nomination and the fact he had no children added to people’s desire for him to lead. His no children made it less likely that power would simply be handed down
Washington never lost his stylish desire and lived quite lavishly although he faced significant financial worries
Washington saw the VP as the head of the legislature which diminished Adam’s role and influence
After having the capital in Philadelphia for a temporary 10 year stint, Washington, Jefferson and L’enfant chose the site and designed America’s new capital in Washington DC
It was vital that Washington serve as president although he was reluctant to step back into the public light. He was sure he’d retire after his first term but there was much fraction and his continued tenure was necessary for the success of the new nation
Washington rose even higher in people’s minds when he willingly gave up political power after his second term. Washington’s farewell address touched on many important political points and took a clear Federalist stance. He thought there should be commercial over political ties and that a strong central government was important for the future success of the country. His just actions and influential decisions forever shaped the presidential role and proved that a republic could be run without absolute authority and that the leader is an extension of the people. His biggest failings lay in not abolishing slavery and the poor dealings with Native American uprisings
Adams became the second president and Jefferson the VP
Washington was able to put his conscience at ease once he revised his will and freed all the slaves he owned once he passed away
What I got out of it
Learning about Washington the man was really interesting to me. His desire to keep learning, his like of English fashion and at times extravagant spending, how indebted he became during the war, his relationship with Martha which was more friendly than loving and the raging temper which was buried beneath his icy interior