"Tivo-ifies the web" Paul Kedrosky

The Terror of Zimbabwe


A solid documentary on the tragic Failed State of Zimbabwe and the responsibility for it that one man, Mugabe, bears. Watching this made me wonder if failed states were not the result of monsters, but that monsters were the result of failed states.

If Mugabe were assassinated, there is a strong chance that many innocent lives would be saved and huge number of people would suffer less. Unlike many leaders Mugabe does not have the resources to make himself safe, and a single Cruise Missile would perhaps have a chance of success. Yet this outcome is unlikely, leaders rarely get assassinated outside of war, by a foreign state. There are reasons for this: Zimbabwe has no strategic benefit to others – no oil, and it is ‘illegal’ under UN law to assassinate a leader of a foreign state etc. But what if these reasons were actually an inevitable result of the way that countries evolve collectively?

What if the institutions of states evolve over time so that they self calibrate towards the stability of rule rather than the well being of the largest number of people? The natural equilibrium of politics is such that decision paths that allow for attacking the head of an organization or society will be rarer than war which requires bottom up confrontation with lots of individuals when evaluating the chance of a net reduction in suffering.

In other words, like the Selfish Gene perhaps there is a Selfish Meme, a naturally selected macro organization where people are expendable if the rules and institutions and nationalistic ideas (extended-genotype?) that create countries (extended-phenotype) survive. Perhaps what looks like the result of corrupt humans in government, is in fact the nature of government itself.

politics, world

4 comments on “The Terror of Zimbabwe

  1. I believe the words you are looking for are “Don’t hate the playa; hate the game.” :)

  2. anon says:

    What a strange documentary. It sets out a paranoid world, then can’t prove it exists and finishes simply by proclaiming Mugabe’s undercover operational genius by confusing everyone. Hmmm.

    A much better film is due soon ‘Mugabe and the white African’ about a brave white farmer who refused to surrender his farm and took Mugabe to court. Case still pending….

  3. anon says:

    You write “f Mugabe were assassinated, there is a strong chance that many innocent lives would be saved and huge number of people would suffer less” and “Unlike many leaders Mugabe does not have the resources to make himself safe, and a single Cruise Missile would perhaps have a chance of success.”

    Aren’t you in fact expressing the very “selfish meme” about which you hypothesize? A cruise missile is not justice. What kind of people are we that we have begun to think in terms of assassinating Mugabes instead of arresting them and trying them in a court of law?

  4. Kevin says:

    Again, I’m reminded of a disquieting thing that OBL said , about the failure of the nation-state ideal which began in Westphalia.

    1. “Arresting Mugabe” is identical with assassinating him. To “arrest” a head of state requires a body able to break the monopoly on violence that defines a “state”. When that is said, you actually mean “Invade his country, and bring him to an area where we have a monopoly on violence, and then we can do what we like with him, without fear of repercussion.” Sounds a lot less noble eh?

    2. Why should our youth do these things? We are not in danger here! I suggest respectfully that if the OP needs Mugabe dead, then put on your hero suit and go kill him. Try to attain the level of bravery that even the Victorians, or more recently, the jihadis have, and put your life on the line. Otherwise, stay home, stay out of Zimbabwe, and tell the kids to go into business, or science, not slaughter.

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