Category: wicked problems

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Dealing with the “wicked” problems.

Please read this insightful comment by “Proofreader” here.

I’ll reproduce an excerpt from that comment below, but first some definitions of what a “wicked problem” is and how it applies to White nationalism.  I’ll say first that a rational-mined and linear person such as myself, with a fondness for direct solutions, is not comfortable with the wicked problem paradigm, but that’s too just too bad on me, since, to be honest, the wicked problem paradigm has more explanatory power to describe the current state of radial nationalism that does the more linear and binary approach.  Second, those familiar with the writings of van Vogt may detect a whiff of “null-A” (non-Aristotelian) thinking behind the wicked paradigm (van Vogt must be frowning in his grave over that). Third, this is familiar with Salter’s assertion in On Genetic Interests that there is no one, perfectly optimal approach to pursue EGI, and that there is never an endpoint – there can never be a stable “end” in which we can be satisfied that genetic interests are complexity safe, it is instead an endless iterative process of problems and interventions and complexity and consequences – the very definition of a wicked problem.

You can read this and also study Wikipedia’s definition, which includes the following checklists:

Rittel and Webber’s 1973 formulation of wicked problems in social policy planning specified ten characteristics:[3][4]

There is no definitive formulation of a wicked problem.

Wicked problems have no stopping rule.

Solutions to wicked problems are not true-or-false, but good or bad.

There is no immediate and no ultimate test of a solution to a wicked problem.

Every solution to a wicked problem is a “one-shot operation”; because there is no opportunity to learn by trial and error, every attempt counts significantly.

Wicked problems do not have an enumerable (or an exhaustively describable) set of potential solutions, nor is there a well-described set of permissible operations that may be incorporated into the plan.

Every wicked problem is essentially unique.

Every wicked problem can be considered to be a symptom of another problem.

The existence of a discrepancy representing a wicked problem can be explained in numerous ways. The choice of explanation determines the nature of the problem’s resolution.

The social planner has no right to be wrong (i.e., planners are liable for the consequences of the actions they generate).

Conklin later generalized the concept of problem wickedness to areas other than planning and policy.

The defining characteristics are:[5]

The problem is not understood until after the formulation of a solution.

Wicked problems have no stopping rule.

Solutions to wicked problems are not right or wrong.

Every wicked problem is essentially novel and unique.

Every solution to a wicked problem is a ‘one shot operation.’

Wicked problems have no given alternative solutions.

Parallels to Der Movement are many.  Racial nationalism consists of many unique problems that have no concrete definitive formulation – indeed, activists often cannot even agree what the problems are, and the language to describe the situation, much less on how to solve the problems.  There is no “stopping rule” – when do we know when these problems (that we cannot precisely define) end?  When do we stop?  The “one shot” characteristic sometimes applies, as significant failure usually leads to collapse, so there is no “do over.”  This: “The choice of explanation determines the nature of the problem’s resolution” is relevant since there is an issue in the “movement” of semantics and of interpretations.  For example, what I term “pan-European” and “ethnonationalism” is not the same as how others define those terms.  The “movement” likes to explain the failure of American racial nationalism by saying it is due to the multi-ethnic nature of White America, while my explanations are quite different (e.g., stupid fossilized dogma, bizarre theories, wasting time on peripheral issues, ethnic fetishism, and piss-poor quota queen affirmative action leadership).  So, how one proposes resolution is going to be based upon the different definitions and explanations. One can of course think of many other ways in which the “movement’s” problems fulfill the wicked paradigm – to make a comprehensive list would make this article ten times its actual length, so I’ll let the reader consider those examples themselves.

The Wikipedia article proposes three basic approaches to deal with such problems: authoritative, competitive, and collaborative.  Note that Proofreader cites some approaches (design, loose-fit) that can be used for each of the three major Wikipedia approaches; those three are described thus:

These strategies seek to tame wicked problems by vesting the responsibility for solving the problems in the hands of a few people. The reduction in the number of stakeholders reduces problem complexity, as many competing points of view are eliminated at the start. The disadvantage is that authorities and experts charged with solving the problem may not have an appreciation of all the perspectives needed to tackle the problem.
CompetitiveThese strategies attempt to solve wicked problems by pitting opposing points of view against each other, requiring parties that hold these views to come up with their preferred solutions. The advantage of this approach is that different solutions can be weighed up against each other and the best one chosen. The disadvantage is that this adversarial approach creates a confrontational environment in which knowledge sharing is discouraged. Consequently, the parties involved may not have an incentive to come up with their best possible solution.
CollaborativeThese strategies aim to engage all stakeholders in order to find the best possible solution for all stakeholders. Typically these approaches involve meetings in which issues and ideas are discussed and a common, agreed approach is formulated.

The Authoritative approach is the default for Der Movement – some leader, some fuhrer will decide everything and tell us what to believe: a Hitler, a Pierce, or whoever.  That has failed; not only is there no one with the moral authority to do so, especially in the Internet age where everyone has a “voice” and an opinion – and getting all these people to agree is like herding (rabid) cats, but this approach failed in the past, with all the eggs being put into failed baskets.  Some wish to do this today, they think their leader or their group has all the answers – actually they usually are not even asking the right questions – but not everyone is buying their nonsense, and the activist rank and file, with their debased currency of stupidity, couldn’t buy even wise ideas.  Note: “that authorities and experts charged with solving the problem may not have an appreciation of all the perspectives needed to tackle the problem.” Indeed.  Narrow-minded folks sitting on the mountaintop with their fossilized dogma and serial monogamy cannot have any idea of how to deal with problems – they cannot really understand what the problems are.  The same applies to groups that are stuck in freakishness and narrow fossilized dogma and do not grasp all the perspectives required to deal with problems.  And the authoritative “movement” – which in America sometimes makes the pretense of being “pan-European” – certainly does not engage all of the “stakeholders” in their alleged pan-European effort (unless they define Europe specifically as that land area to the north of Vienna and the west of Berlin).  In my early days in Der Movement I bought into (with my debased currency of that time) the Authoritative mindset, until seeing the (gross) error of my ways.

I have more recently favored the competitive approach, after having given up trying to get most (forget about all) of the “movement” to see reason as I define it.  Therefore, let the various stakeholders or groups of like-minded stakeholders form their various groups and groupuscules, maintaining ideological diversity, and competing for influence among racial nationalists. Having more and more ideologically (and ethnically) diverse White involved increases the chances that someone will have the perspectives required to deal with the problems at hand.  Over time, some groups can become more influential, not by self-declared authoritative fuhrership, but by a process of memetic natural selection, an iterative process (well-suited for wicked problems) in which those memes and meme-promoting groups/groupuscules prosper (or not) depending upon how well they approach the problems in a given context and environment.  Indeed, by “approach” I mean not only offered solutions (or, per the wicked paradigm interventions rather than solutions) but the explanations, definitions, and identification of problems that underlie what interventions/solutions are offered.  Of course, the process of natural selection can be thrown off the correct path by “movement” freakishness and the quota system as per “movement” leadership, ethnic fetishism, and memetic success (or lack thereof).  The competitive approach also has the problems cited in the Wikipedia article: for example, knowledge sharing and productive collaboration is disincentivized by the competitive aspect of this approach.

The collaborative method – the truly collaborative approach – has never been tried in the American “movement.”  If it is done truly and sincerely, this may be the best approach, getting all the relevant stakeholders involved and attempting to find the best iteration for the current situation.  This leverages the ideas and abilities of a greater pool of people and memetic diversity, and by sharing knowledge enhances the possibility of building infrastructures and making the correct interventions.  Of course, this is a double-edged sword. More people involved makes it more difficult to find agreement, may cause compromises that dilute optimized interventions, and increases the possibility of defective malefactors getting involved.  The natural selection process that is optimized in the competitive mode is not going to be as powerful in the purely collaborative model.  Another danger – one that is likely given “movement” history – is that the collaborations will become narrow, exclude a more diverse set of stakeholders, and morph into an Authoritative model that descends into rigid dogma.

Here is an excerpt from Proofreader’s comment:

I think one should define problems and solutions in more iterative, dynamic terms, “to shift the goal of action on significant problems from solution to intervention. Instead of seeking just the right moves to eliminate a problem once and for all, one should recognize that any actions occur in an ongoing process, in which further actions will be needed later.” Carl von Clausewitz’s discussion of “fog” and “friction” in warfare, and Maurice Bardèche’s remark that fascism is “an empirical medicine born of crisis,” are pertinent here.

Of course, admitting “significant actors to the design process,” as Schuler recommends in some situations, should not mean admitting “significant malefactors to the design process.”

I would suggest that a major source of wicked problems among White nationalists is the “toxic triangle” of destructive leaders, susceptible followers, and conducive environments briefly discussed in Adrian Furnham’s book, The Elephant in the Boardroom: The Causes of Leadership Derailment (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010). For want of a sound political culture, “followers ‘conspire’ with bad leaders and particular situations. They encourage, allow, and even require, destructive leadership styles rather than prevent them” (p. 22). This might help to explain the rise of destructive leaders like Nick Griffin and Gianfranco Fini. Although such “postfascists” should have their heads stuck on posts for their betrayals, such exemplary punishment is unlikely to solve the problem of bad leadership. The role of susceptible followers (who can be divided into “colluders” and “conformers”) in enabling destructive leaders needs to be addressed. Some means of breaking the toxic triangle needs to be found.

The combination of destructive leaders, susceptible followers, and conducive environments may be likened to the combination of heat, fuel, and oxygen needed to sustain a fire. Some political cultures are prone to spontaneous combustion.

Another source of wicked problems is widespread disregard for sensible and adaptive priorities, methods, and metrics — something you have discussed repeatedly, notably with reference to the Pareto principle.

Most “activists” are “conformers” who go along with “movement” dogma and enable the affirmative action program and most of the rest are “colluders” who constitute the secondary “leadership” who enable and amplify the flaws of the top “leadership.”  On the one hand, we don’t want malefactors involved in the “design process” but, on the other hand, most “activists” tend to be malefactors of one sort or another.

I would like to make clear that consideration of the wicked paradigm by no means implies that we should not strive for resolution of issues, attempt concrete declarations on fundamental points, or pursue goals, with defined endpoints.  Therefore, we need to address “movement” problems, we need to define what our ingroup is (after all, the very definition of any group is “in/out” – anyone who cannot answer that is useless for organizing) and what our goals are, and we need not lose sight of the ethnostate as an endpoint.  

We need, however, to be cognizant of the fact that some of these objectives may not be reached in a neat “over and done with” manner.  It is possible that the manner in which “wickedness” manifests itself is by a lack of broad-based agreement through the “movement” on these issues.  In other words, it may be possible, within each group or groupuscule, to come to final and definitive conclusions on some fundamental issues, but that there will be continued disagreements between groups and groupuscules in these issues. This implies a lack of a current authoritarian consensus; therefore, intervention on these issues would imply the competition model (which may or may not eventually lead to an authoritarian winner) and/or the collaboration model (which may or may not lead to a soft-authoritarian consensus on these issues).  But one should not throw up their hands in despair and say “we shouldn’t attempt resolution.”  Just accept that one cannot accept blanket agreement (at this point in time at least) within the “movement” on these issues. The intervention therefore should be to at least get your corner of the “movement” resolved on certain issues so you know how you are moving forward in competition and/or collaboration with other “movement” corners and precincts.

So what do I recommend?  This is going to require more thought and give-and-take among sane and reasonable racial nationalists.

I would reject the Authoritative model and go for some combination of the Competitive and Collaborative models – strike a balance that conserves ideological diversity and healthy competition and memetic selection while also having collaboration, including a wide array of stakeholders, between at least groups and groupuscles with broadly similar ideas.  As stated above, I think we should strive for real solutions even though the wicked paradigm suggests that such solutions are not strictly achievable.  If you strive for a real solution and fall short, at least you may have a solid intervention that can be adjusted through iteration; if you give up and only go for ad hoc adjustments, you may not even achieve a reasonable intervention. Of course, one must be realistic and not rigidly demand the One and Only Solution, but there does need to be some set of fundamental principles that underlie activism.  If everything is questioned, if everything is in flux, if everything is always unstable, then nothing can be achieved.

That’s all for now, likely more to come.  This should be a topic for discussion and analysis for people other than me.