Monday, March 5, 2012

Analysis of History-Centrism - Part 3

Part-A: Duality Induced Conflict

Summary of arguments in Part-1 and Part-2
A belief in an unique historical prior is both necessary and sufficient to qualify for membership associated with a History-centric thought system (HCTS), terminology that was introduced by Rajiv Malhotra. HCTS guarantee the bifurcation of space and time into two distinct and mutually exclusive zones, i.e. duality, which among other things implies human centrism. Furthermore, the non-repeatability of the prior over time induces a net outflow of members and a non-trivial stable equilibrium is never achievable. All other things being maintained equal, the membership of a fully decentralized HCTS is probabilistically depleting over time. In other words, any HCTS faces a perennial and self-induced existential question, even in the absence of competition (i.e. even if the HCTS has a local monopoly) from an alternative HCTS.

When a HCTS is faced with such an existential question, it is almost certain that a subset of the membership will erect barriers to exit (e.g. blasphemy laws) and/or provide incentives for entry and re-entry. Regions that are characterized by strong socioeconomic variations ("third world") represent the best (in terms of per-capita success per dollar invested) candidates to compensate for a loss in membership in the more prosperous areas. A penalty for non-entry is also common (e.g. Jeziya tax or religious discrimination) and has been prevalent in every major instance of HCTS the world has seen in history.

Active and Passive Duality
This constant need for a HCTS to answer such an self-induced existential question leads to the notion of a 'strong duality' or 'active duality', as compared to the 'nominal duality' or 'passive duality' that is guaranteed in every HCTS. Passive duality is a situation where a group simply differentiates between an 'us' and a 'them', those 'within' and those without. However, it does not automatically imply hostility and a call to arms or to discriminate. Tolerance is a typical example of such a state of mind. However, such a state is most likely to be a transitional and short-lived given that the constant depletion in membership can only be made up in the long run by gaining or regaining market-share.

Active duality is a situation where a HCTS group will almost surely regard any non-member as an adversarial competitor. Such a competitor need not be from another HCTS and only needs to be a non-subscriber to the necessary conditions for membership. For example, it could be a person from a Dharmic thought system (DTS), atheism, or modern science, all of which are non HCTS since they are not defined based on a belief in an unique prior. Active duality involves hostile competition with non-members for increasing market share. Note that such an active duality implies an objective of increasing membership size relative to its competitors at any given location, the mechanics of which are better understood using game theoretic arguments. If the adversary does not respond or is even unaware that it is being targeted, it gets digested, i.e., its most useful ideas and applications are appropriated in a manner that is consistent with the necessary condition for membership (e.g. conquest of Arabic Pagans and Persia). We now present the game theoretic aspects of active duality.

Effect of Active Duality: Zero Sum Game
Postulate: A two-person competition between memberships of two thought systems:
a) where participants subscribe to conflicting HCTS, can be represented as a zero-sum game
b) exactly one participant subscribes to an HCTS, can be modeled an symmetric or asymmetric zero-sum game
c) both participants subscribe to non-dual thought systems, can be modeled as a non zero-sum game

Outline of Proof: Based on the stable-membership theorem (postulate), HCTS based membership size will never achieve stable equilibrium. If it stops growing via extraneous methods, it diminishes. Consequently, from a HCTS perspective, such competition necessarily focuses on the payoff achieved by increasing its market-share at the expense of a competitor. If the participant subscribes to a hostile HCTS, then the membership gained by one HCTS is deemed as lost by the other and thus represents a classic zero-sum game. On the other hand, if a non-HCTS participant does not attach value to increasing market-share, it injects asymmetry into the payoff structure. In fact, unless the non-HCTS participant attaches a suitable payoff value toward (at least) maintaining current market share, it will be at an overwhelming disadvantage under the skewed and asymmetrical payoff structure. In contrast, non-adversarial competition that involves non-dual schools of thought would focus on decentralized inward-looking themes that are not mutually exclusive and win-win situations are not only possible, but also practically achievable and sustainable.

The crusade is the best example of an active-duality induced zero-sum game. The extermination of the Aborigines in Australia and the conquest of Buddhism in India are examples of outcomes of an asymmetric zero-sum game. A good example of a non zero sum game involved the Hindu and Buddhist schools in ancient India where the debates that centered on conflicting metaphysical truth claims were intellectual (it certainly did not involve any systematical discriminatory practices) and required a profound understanding of the opponent's point-of-view, and represents a form of cooperative competition that resulted in amazing progress in science and philosophy that benefited both sides and remains one of humanity's truly divine achievements. For example, it is well known that several Hindu kings made generous endowments to the Nalanda University that was primarily Buddhist-oriented. It is not surprising that Nalanda was annihilated by members of a HCTS in a never-ending quest for market share.

As we can see above such conflicts caused by duality lead the participants (both willing and the unwilling) to constantly re-examine their tactics as well as long-term strategy. In part-B of this post, we analyze the nature of the choices available to participants in this regard.

Part-B: Participant response in Duality-Driven Conflicts

The Yogi's Dilemma
A beautiful Dharmic idea for case (b) is presented by Rajiv Malhotra where one participant is Dharmic ("Yogi archetype") and the other is History-Centric ("Gladiator archetype"), which fits well with the underlying game-theoretic model. As we observed before, the Dharmic participant is not prone to violence, but may have to fight back or get either annihilated or digested. However, by fighting back he/she runs the serious risk of turning into a gladiator himself/herself, i.e win a 'historic personal victory' that potentially becomes a focal 'faith' point for future followers, thereby injecting a degree of history-centrism into a previously non-dual system. This is the Yogi's dilemma associated with such a asymmetrical zero sum game. Per Rajiv Malhotra, the Yogi has two ways of resisting while continuing to remain a Yogi after the struggle. Either adopt a Gandhian non-violent approach and hopefully shame the other into withdrawing. The alternative is to first attempt the Ahimsa method and if that fails, follow the Bhagavad Gita and fight the gladiator with violence but without any self-interest whatsoever. Both are incredibly difficult to achieve because of human ego.

The Porcupine's Dilemma

Consider two clashing HCTS attempting to come to a truce or understanding as a temporary solution to the zero-sum game they are playing. How would such a relationship play out?

Step 1: They recognize their considerable similarities (monotheism, male God, history-centrism, and duality-driven beliefs). These act as centripetal forces that brings them closer.

Step 2: When they get close enough and understood the similarities, they recognize the key history-centric differences that are absolutely irreconcilable with respect to each of their chosen historical priors P1 and P2, which causes them to drift apart, thereby resuming their war of attrition.

After a period of time, as a consequence of certain events, they cycle through Steps 1 and 2, resembling two porcupines who would like to be friends but are unable to get too close because of their sharp quills. The conclusion from this is that nations driven by differing HCTS are unlikely to become permanent friends.

The Prisoner's Dilemma
This is a popular concept in game theory. Its general usage indicates situations where two opposing forces have to decide if it is a better strategy to cooperate rather than fight it out despite having the same objective in mind. In particular, we apply this to the situation where we have two different thought systems trying to capture market share from within a local population.

Example 1: In India, the last Mughal rulers in the 18th and 19th century did not appear to cooperate with the British [to be verified].

Example 2: On the other hand, we have a current situation in India where an atheistic thought system (Indian Communists) that was opposed to theistic groups in the past, appears to have decided that its best strategy is to cooperate with HCTS groups (evangelists and mullahs) even as these parties seeking to entice members away from the predominantly Dharmic thought system into their fold. See this interesting roadside poster in Kerala, India [from the Deccan Chronicle newspaper, 2011]:

It is possible that a similar situation may be prevailing in Europe as well with atheistic groups (left liberals) cooperating with mullahs to score over the established Christian thought system.

Update: April 28, 2012
Below is a "histomap" (courtest Maria Popova) that depicts a western-centric view of the ebbs and flows of world powers over four thousand years. It is apparent that this domination is measured largely in terms of military power, given that culturally and economically, Dharmic thought system based India / Hindus/Buddhists/Jains had a pretty large market share along these dimensions for quite a while prior to the Islamic invasion.

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