Everyone’s heard the old witticism about assumptions: When you assume, you make an ass out of u and me. Anyone who has gone drinking with Engineering majors has probably also heard the one about an engineer’s answer to “Why did the chicken cross the road?” First, assume a spherical chicken….*
Which highlights the problem with assumptions. They’re both necessary, and necessarily false.
Engineering works (I’m told) by getting in the ballpark via assumptions to simplify the math, then dialing it in to get a workable structure you can actually build in the real world. It might be lacking in pure mathematical elegance, and maybe engineers “aren’t real scientists,” but you can actually drive a car over the damn thing. And that’s the test: Does it work? Are the real-world results (cars driving over it) in line with the predicted outcomes (the bridge not collapsing)? The “get it in the ballpark” method might result in some “over-engineering” — more buttresses or whatnot than are strictly necessary on paper — but it works, because math is math and the physical constants hold.
Too bad human affairs don’t work like that.
Alas, we act as if they do, because assumptions are as necessary — and necessarily false — in social life as they are in engineering. People being people, we can’t know how a given person, much less a given group of people, will react in a certain situation. We take the information we have, we make a few assumptions based on it, and we go…
Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. A good example is the Pearl Harbor attack. If you look at it one way, it was suicidal — America is orders of magnitude larger than Japan, her industrial capacity is even further advanced than that, etc.** BUT: Were the Americans really going to mobilize all that in their fury for revenge? Or would they make a token gesture and fold, because they lacked the will? If you look at it another way, that was the much likelier outcome, and — this is the important part — anyone with any actual experience of such an attack knew how the first one turned out: Total Japanese victory.
The Russo-Japanese War was over almost before it started. The Battle of Port Arthur didn’t smash the Russian fleet as it was intended to do, but it did render that fleet functionally useless… and, with it, destroyed the Russian will to resist. The Tsar had to dispatch his Atlantic fleet on a zillion-mile end run to get to the Pacific; meanwhile, his armies toiled at the end of 6,000-mile supply lines. The only reason the Japanese didn’t get everything they wanted at the peace table, they concluded, is that the victory, though smashing, wasn’t smashing enough. When the opportunity came for Port Arthur 2.0, they’d push in all their chips. Would the Americans, like the Russians, send their Atlantic fleet around, to fight at the end of 6,000-mile supply lines? Maybe as a token gesture, but with the Imperial Navy already gearing up to invade Australia, it wouldn’t be anything more than a token…
…or so the Japanese assumed. “Assuming Americans will act like Russians” seems pretty dumb to an American, but it made sense to a Japanese. One White devil imperialist is pretty much the same as any other. And, as they saw it, the Americans weren’t real imperialists anyway. Weren’t the majority of Americans avowed isolationists? Didn’t Woodrow Wilson fuck over half the planet at Versailles — including giving Japan control of Germany’s concessions in China — in the name of anti-imperialism? The British might make suicidal gestures for King and Country, but the Americans wouldn’t. Like the Russians — who very nearly overthrew their government after defeat the first time around — the Americans, who were almost exclusively concerned with economic matters, would fold once they looked at the map and saw the entire Pacific under the Rising Sun….
I think this is where Our Betters, the Liberals, are now. As the Z Man notes today, the Left is immolating itself. Their actions make no rational sense — can only be self-destructive, in fact, and any fool can see it…
… except they’re not fools. They’re just trapped in their own culture. They believe their own bullshit, as Barack Obama famously quipped, and they have every reason to do so. They own everything. They run everything. Our culture IS their culture, because they control almost all the channels though which culture is transmitted, and the few they don’t control — e.g. the nuclear family — they’ve mortally wounded. They’re sitting on Olympus, looking down at the last little pocket of potential resistance, all nicely tucked away and snug in Pearl Harbor, blissfully unaware and utterly defenseless. The only logical thing to do, they assume, is push in all their chips. Bring overwhelming force to bear, and wait for the token resistance to stop flailing around.
The only question is: Are they preparing the final hammer blow, or do they see what we’re doing now — bitching on blogs, basically — as the last flailing of the token resistance? Are Donald Trump and The Deplorables the fleet parked at Pearl Harbor, or the Tsar’s generals taking pot-shots at their conquerors from Port Arthur’s walls?
Figure that out — find out what they assume — and you’ll know how the next few years are going to go.