Friday, June 1, 2012

Catastrophe as Transition

Mr.  Palin is at it again...

Philip J. Palin, ever the thoughtful blogger, has made an interesting start to what promises to be a fascinating series at under-appreciated Homeland Security Watch blog.

A catastrophe is not only a matter of numbers killed or property destroyed, it involves a fundamental shift in direction or perception, well outside pre-event expectations.

Hypothesis: The velocity of a catastrophic shift is correlated with two factors: 1) preexisting systemic resilience and 2) the intentionality of post-catastrophe response.   The more resilience and intentionality depend on control mechanisms, the greater velocity of change.  The more resilience and intentionality are predisposed to creative adaptation, the [more the] velocity of change is reduced.

Proposition: What we call homeland security is a catastrophic consequence of the 9/11 attack.

I propose that our “pre-existing systemic resilience” was poor and that our response to 9/11 was predictably and sadly reflexive rather than intentional.

The 9/11 attack cost AQ $500,000 USD and has resulted in two trillion dollars (and climbing) in unplanned and unfunded spending in the decade since. Bankrupting a superpower that now spies on its citizens, gropes grandmothers, and tortures its enemies, all for a mere half million bucks and the lives of 19 martyrs, is a payoff like no terror attack has ever accomplished.

That said, my concern is that the sort of catastrophic transition Philip contemplates may come as the result of the delineation, reinforcement, and concretization of the boundaries of the culture wars. Right/Left.  Conservative/Progressive.  Republican/Democrat.  Drive time reactionary radio personalities/NPR.  Rich/Poor.  Fear and greed/Hope and understanding.  In group/Out group.  The differences between Hierarchical-Individualists and Communitarian-Egalitarians have never been drawn more starkly. The political, economic, and cultural issues we use to define ourselves have never been more distractingly and dangerously polarized. What if our republic were burning and the Tea Party, the Occupy Movement, and everyone between were unable or unwilling to do more than play fiddles?


  1. Could 9/11 just have been one more periodic outburst of outrage by Islam against Christians as has happened since the religion was established? The converse has also occurred of course. Sebrenicia [sic] massacre!

    Recommend the book "The Children of Aristotle"!

  2. Aristotle's children : how Christians, Muslims, and Jews rediscovered ancient wisdom and illuminated the Dark Ages / Richard E. Rubenstein
    Rubenstein, Richard E.
    Orlando : Harcourt, c2003.