Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: & / Teaching / Society & Its Pathologies / Social Survival /
@ K. by 2004

Cooperation: a Rational Basis?

I want to launch a module on cooperation though I’m only half way through Robert Axelrod’s The Evolution of Cooperation [1984]. I’ll make a few basic statements now, adding more as I digest more of this and other recent studies on the subject, including other books by Axelrod.

My religious training came via a church which called itself Presbyterian. Presbyterians call themselves Christian. I understood Jesus’ basic message to be love one another. I took that message to imply cooperate. My secular training similarly resulted in my believing that the Founding Fathers of these Unites States were also interested in people surviving via mechanisms artificially placed (government) that would facilitate cooperation among not-always cooperative or Christian individuals. By 1970 I was convinced that whatever the Founding Fathers had or hadn’t intended, and whatever the churches said or thought they were doing, cooperation suffered and our survival looked bleak. Great thinkers like Bucky Fuller and Ivan Illich had better mechanisms to propose. In founding the Free Learning Exchange, yours truly pk, offered an ideal mechanism by which not-always-cooperative, not-always-Christian, human individuals could maximize their cooperation (while obviating defective mechanisms (like all our old counter-productive institutions: from school to health care to media to government)). (I believed that FLEX’s appeal in the light of Jesus, Illich, Jefferson, Fuller … should be obvious.)

Now I say forget Jesus. Forget Jefferson. There is now a scientific, mathematical, closely reasoned argument to show that cooperation outperforms selfishness for the individual in populations where cooperation can gain a toe-hold!

Axelrod’s book is prerequisite here: I’m not going to make his arguments: I’m merely going to refer to them. If you haven’t read his presentation, you have no more business here than has a nematode in a Shakespeare seminar: or an innumerate on a calculus team. Mark this location, get the book … and maybe you won’t need to come back.

I remind the visitor that pk and share Ilya Prigogine’s assumption that time is infinite. Visiting Macroinformation should multiply show the reader pk’s insistence that too few modern men have caught up with the chemists and physicists and systems theorists in appreciating the Gestalts possible in systems with added dimensions: one can do and be much more in one dimension than in none (position only), more in two dimensions than in one, more in three dimensions than in two, more in four dimensions than in three … And time may be treated as a dimension (and four or five dimensions are not a limit).

Number One for my purposes here, time is the difference that make cooperation viable for populations that without an awareness of time default to their basic settings of selfishness: if you’re never going to see the girl again, or her parents, or her brothers … if you’re never again going to encounter any witnesses, then you might as well take her and do whatever you want with her: ravish her, make her do your dishes, then cut a steak and eat her. You’ll be up the nookie, the cleanliness, and the nice protein calories. If you do encounter her parents, her brothers, the witnesses … again, and you’re too dim to recognize them; but they’re not too dim to recognize you … Good bye, you weren’t fit to survive.

Axelrod shows cooperation evolving in communities without much in the way of sentience: viruses, bacteria … basic symbiotic pairings such as lichen … How much more ready for cooperation ought pattern-recognizing upright apes to be?

And here we tie in with another branch of inquiry: some historians have been recognizing that your basic Homo sapiens is genetically preconditioned for cooperation: cooperation and competition! It’s only civilized man who’s prevented from following his natural inclinations. has long maintained, that Jesus (OK, we’ll remember him again in his context) was a reactionary revolutionary: he harked back to the cooperativeness of natural man, man before kleptocracy.

A conservative anarchist is one who wants the government to get off his back so he’ll be free to compete;
A liberal anarchist is one who wants the government to get off his back so he’ll be free to cooperate.

I’ve heard variants of that witticism more than once: spells it out a bit. [Search]

The Prisoner's Dilemma
The Prisoner’s Dilemma
thanx ingrimayne

Axelrod’s tournament for programs to play his Prisoner’s Dilemma games stimulated me; his conclusions, inferences, arguments and proofs thrilled me; and I’ll add points about any of the foregoing as I feel so moved on future visits to this module by the author; but, right now, I move to a specific point of his that opened my eyes wider than ever before in a specific context:

Axelrod pointed out the obvious: something so obvious I’d never heard it pointed out before, never thought it myself, I, who make a practice of lighting the neglected obvious. Axelrod pointed out that not all cooperations are beneficial, that there are only too many already successful cooperations that must be discouraged, interrupted, stopped. I’ll supply my own examples, thank you. When the government cooperates with the American Medical Association so that certified MDs have a 98.n% monopoly on health care, that is a cooperation that is not healthy, however good it is for AMA members. If the fat guy cooperates with the muscle bound guy to hold you still while the muscle bound guy punches you senseless, that is a cooperation not to be supported by the population at large. If Madison Avenue ad agencies cooperate (for pay, of course) with the fast-fat-food industry to sucker you into eating potato chips @ $3 per four ounces instead of fresh food for 79 cents or a few dollars per pound, that is a cooperation that should not be tolerated by those who would prefer a healthy human population.

2004 04 18 How could I have not mentioned already? the cooperation between General Motors and the government to let public transportation deteriorate where it existed and lie stillborn where it didn’t?

2013 08 20 Don’t forget (first learn) what got Msg. Illich defrocked: JFK of the US and pope of the RC dreamed up an alliance for progress: the richest church (RC) and the richest nation state (US) would cooperate to “help” third world countries: donate trucks to Peru, give them $1million, loan them a $1billion, so they can build US-type roads, bankrupt their future the way we’ve bankrupted out. Illich argued that it would be more benign for the US to send them tanks:
the tanks could blow up the cathedral, blow up the palace, and that would exhaust the destructive power of the tanks; but building roads to drive trucks on will put the peasants in hock forever.
Cooperation, but baad.

2013 08 20 I posted this a decade or so ago. The FBI arrested me in 2006. My pubic defender saw everything that I was saying, saw that I was a resister of the American Empire, saw that my solution had been to join Illich, to join Jesus, in offering non-kleptocratic, non-coercive digital record keeping. For a few dollars, citizens could have dumped the vampire state. But my lawyer passed none of this information on to the court: the court was on a mission, was following a program: fuck up dissidents, destroy them! Don’t listen, don’t let anybody listen.

So, imagine a Prisoner’s Dilemma game played by Trotsky & an anarchist, the state played by Stalin; now imagine a Prisoner’s Dilemma game played by Jesus and Augustine, or by Illich and pk.

The latter is exactly apposite. My attorney, a “public” “defender,” made it clear to me that the court would never listen to a word I was saying, that they’d find a jury in Palm Beach County that would see only that I wasn’t a fellow kleptocrat with them, would make sure that I went to jail and never got out (except by being murdered there) (and believe me, the kleptocratic state can safely rely on its own victims to murder would be reformers: Pilat won’t have to ask Barabas to stick a shiv in Jesus; Barabas will want to do so!) My attorney made is clear to me that the court would never understand let alone acknowledge that the nation state had stolen the internet I’d offered the public, had perverted it, had changed it from a solution to kleptocracy to a weapon to preserve kleptocracy.
He put it simply:

Defend your self, get convicted, go to jail for forty years. (I was 68, I’d be 108.)
Confess, apologize, and be released in fifteen months: thirteen with “good behavior.”

What were my rewards?

I assumed, wrongly I now know, that I’d be able to continue my publications at K. Manson had a web page, why shouldn’t I?
Wrong, wrong. The fed destroyed my five domains, destroyed my business,, censored my AgainstHierarchy/NYU/ section: and the host destroyed all of my data.

People on the outside, people who should have known who and what I was, could have restored it, maintained it for me: like keeping Gospels even after the crucifixion: my son, for example, Catfarmer, for example, didn’t.
And no one has helped since.
Oh, my girlfriend is very nice to me in someways, woman long have been: but though they’ll hug me and make my dinner, they do nothing to serve the work!

IBM said in 1971 that a reasonable budget for FLEX would have been $20,000,000 a year: for NYC alone! Giving me a shirt is nice, I take it, but it isn’t supporting FLEX.
FLEX, funded, could have perhaps unseated the US kleptocracy for a few million dollars. Now trillions wouldn’t be enough. We lost. Fuck us, not my fault.

Notice though: If I write something, a new message from God say, or an old message newly worded, newly imaged, and no one reads it, that’s tough nougy on all of us, whereas the teacher interrupting me, the state (and its tag teams) blackballing me, hanging me from the dungeon wall, are active censorships. The people who stand with their thumb in their ass while a messenger from God is crucified are guilty but only mildly: the centurion with the vinegar on the sponge at Jesus’ lips is guilty at another level. The non-hearer is slightly guilty, the outright censor is very guilty.
If only we could know who’s who, rationally, truly, before Judgment. Grr, I still haven’t said this right.

Actually, I think I’ll add another kind of section here. Axelrod supplies provocative examples illustrating his argument. Minutes later I think of my own: as I don’t doubt the alert visitor will too. I’ve already forgotten the examples I thought of myself through the first five chapters: though, if I scan my emails to bk, who recommended this book to pk et alia, I’m sure I’d find some. But I just thought of another that I won’t email to bk: I’ll put it right here:

In Chapter 5, The Evolution of Cooperation in Biological Systems (with William D. Hamilton), Axelrod (& Hamilton) point out that complex organisms like man are built up of many symbiotic teams, right down to the sub-cellular level. We all know that, good. Ah, but Axelrod adds that when the death of the host is imminent, the symbionts may defect! A cancer may be slow, or, the symbionts, sensing the death of their host and their own demise, see immediate profit in taking a bite for themselves: and a lymphoma can rip through you, killing you in a month!

Right, thinks I. And what about heirs bickering just beyond ear-shot of grandpa’s death bed? When gramps was a little sick, everyone got together to support him. Now that gramps is very sick, Cain and Able are already sneaking the silverware into their own pockets. If we weren’t so fussy about cannibalism, we might treat gramps the same as the aforementioned “girl” (or the just-mentioned cancer host).

(Reading the book you already understand that the Prisoners’ Dilemma game reduces conflict to binary choices: cooperate or defect; be loyal or betray! Variant results can then be classified (to R, S, T or P), a few other considerations (w) are included, and the “whole” can be treated digitally: without gross injustice to the territory being mapped.)

Do make sure you’re reading the Axelrod.

When I return I’ll also want to say something about Tolstoy’s policy of non-resistance to evil in relation to Axelrod’s theory. (I never said to forget Tolstoy!) (Some of Axelrod’s competing programs continued to cooperate even after the competitor defected!) (The first mutant to cooperate, and then cooperate again, may be the strategic father of the future regardless of whether or not she breeds before succumbing to the lack of cooperation around her!)

Other exigencies over the past couple of weeks have left my sails luffing here. I may get back to it piecemeal at best. So I add a Cooperation Scrapbook visitors may browse prior to all being woven into a coherent composition.


About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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