Even in paradise, migration engenders violence.

I’ve been reading Ian Baker’s Heart of the World. It’s a travelogue about Baker’s journeys into the Tsangpo Gorge, which lies in the tribal areas along Tibet’s border with the northeastern India frontier. This is where rivers flowing from the Himalaya descend rapidly into the fertile forests of the subcontinent. It is the land that gave rise to the myth of Shangri-La. It’s also a land rich with ethnic and linguistic diversity, whose inhabitants show no willingness to get with the global program and open their economies and genetics to the world market. They don’t like each other and they really don’t like Chinese imperialists.

Baker is refreshingly candid about the ethnic violence the area has witnessed over the past century and a half. He has lived and traveled in southern Tibet and northeastern India for many years, which probably explains why he harbors no noble savage delusions. As I’ve been reading the book, I’ve been reminded that human migration need not happen over thousands of miles—and it need not involve people of wildly different ancestries—to yet give rise to conflict. (Americans should be thankful that the redneck migrations of the Dust Bowl and Great Depression didn’t give rise to anything worse than, well, The Grapes of Wrath.)

Much migration in southern Tibet, according to Baker, was instigated by the Chinese reinforcing their control over the region. (Though it may shock some Westerners, conflict over Tibetan sovereignty long predates Richard Gere.) One of the migratory events described by Baker was caused by Zhao Erfeng’s “punitive expedition” into the Kham region of Tibet in 1905, an expedition designed to “implement a process of sinification” at the behest of the Qing government. Wikipedia doesn’t mention any bloodshed, just destruction of property, but the ethnic Khampa Tibetans must have heard rumors of killings because many fled for their lives at the approach of the Qing commander. (Baker confirms that similar “sinifications” did indeed involve small-scale genocide: at a place called Showa, “Chinese forces decapitated all but two queens and a fourteen year old princess.”)

Where did these Khampa migrants go? Good Buddhists with nothing to lose, they went in search of paradise. Baker narrates:

One hundred Khampas in flight from mounting Chinese oppression had journeyed to [a] remote valley, where they built a temple—Karmoling—from timber and bamboo and set up a base from which to search for Chime Yangsang Ne, the paradisiacal sanctuary described in Padmasambhava’s prophecies.

. . . The texts described a “secret path” through dense forests and enumerated many dangers, such as tigers, leopards, and venomous snakes, that seekers would face en route. But they failed to indicate what would turn out to be the pilgrims’ greatest obstacle: the hostile tribes that confounded their every effort to journey further up the valley. 

In short: the Chinese pressed, the Khampa retreated, and their retreat was headed off by local ethnic tribes. This, in miniature, is the story of much human migration in the region. An outside power moves in and old residents exit right into territory held by some other group. Conflict ensues. (Indeed, isn’t this the story of all human migration everywhere? Terrestrially bound, humans who exit-in-space never find a clean getaway.)

Baker continues:

Two thousand more Tibetans set out from eastern Tibet to join the remote colony of pilgrims . . . Many starved when the valleys proved unable to support such large numbers. The Tibetan settlers who stayed were increasingly harassed by the Chulikata Mishmis. As quarrels escalated, the tribesmen began burning the Tibetans’ crops and houses, setting traps along jungle paths, and shooting at them with poisoned arrows. 

To be fair, Baker notes that other Mishmi tribes had better relations with resettled Tibetans. But conflict was the general rule. Writing in 1905 about the region and its array of ethnic groups and tensions, a British explorer named Frederick Bailey stated that,

For many many years the southern border between the Poba territory and that of the independent Abors and Lopas remained undefined and, as is usual with these people, the frontier villages remained in a perpetual state of war.

“Perpetual war” in Shangri La. Wherever you find humans, you will find human migration, and wherever you find human migration—even on a small scale—you will find conflict and violence.

In his review of Eichmann in Jerusalem, Scott Alexander articulates what, deep down, is probably my own political ideology:

I thank G-d for the annoying obstructionists, for the nitpickers, for the devil’s advocates, for the people who hear something that’s obviously true and strain to come up with an absurd thought experiment where it might not be, for the reflexive contrarians, for the people who always vote third party, for the people who urge you to sign petitions on whitehouse.gov because “then the President has to respond”, for the people who have two hundred guns in their basement “just in case”, for the people who say “well, actually…” all the time, for the mayors of sanctuary cities and the clerks who refuse to perform gay weddings, for the people who think being banned on Twitter is a violation of their human rights, and for the people who swear eternal hostility to other people on the same side who agree with them on 99% of everything. On the spectrum from “totally ungovernable” to “vulnerable to Nazism”, I think that we’ve erred in the right direction.

In other words, the yin-and-yang of American politics, though much derided, is yet necessary and important. We should ultimately be thankful for those with whom we disagree because they are the ones saving us from the nightmares we mistake for utopias.

Any ideology, taken to its extreme, without checks and balances, ends in its own singularity. Neither a Right singularity nor a Left singularity—to use the traditional axis—is a pretty thing. What unites Maoist China or Khmer Rouge Cambodia with Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan is runaway ideology, an ideology wholly institutionalized and not vulnerable to an opposing ideological vector. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if it’s ethnic nationalism or racial egalitarianism driving the vehicle, if it doesn’t have any breaks, it’s going to crash and burn and leave behind lots of mutilated bodies.

The great thing about the West’s republicanism (small r) and parliamentarianism is that they create entropy among competing ideological vectors. When working properly, they make it very difficult for any one worldview to force itself on the others. You get a bunch of Commies in the Senate, well, too bad, they’re blocked by a bunch of redneck nationalists in the House. People like to complain about obstructionism and congressional inaction, but these are good things. Checks and balances. They’re not about ensuring that change is slow as much as ensuring that the change you prefer will never get too far without being checked by the change I prefer. And back and forth and back and forth. That’s what makes American republicanism—when it works—so great: it’s a giant Singularity Stopper. Will it create strife and acrimony and wailing and gnashing of teeth? Absolutely. But at least it won’t allow any one ideology to control the vehicle for too long, lest it crash headlong into its own ideals.

After decades of globalism—with its strange coupling of endless war and endless expansion of rights—America’s political machine has kicked back into gear and put economic nationalism at the helm for a little while. It won’t last, but at least the Trumpenreich will put the breaks on the Leftist singularity that had begun to take shape (e.g., professors tweeting “ironically” about genociding the privileged). After 4-8 years of Trump and Bannon, however, it will be time once again to let the bleeding heart lefties do some of the driving.

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Of course, we must be realistic about the demographic particularity of the West’s Singularity Stopping political structures. They were forged in the peculiar fires of European history, and there is no reason to think they can be adopted willy-nilly by peoples who have not had secular flexibility forced into their genealogies. Some seem to take to it quite well (India, Japan), others less so (Iraq). No political structure is portable across populations. Why would we want it to be? That would defeat the core principle of Singularity Stopping. I like republicanism, but that doesn’t mean we should force the entire world into a republican structure, as the neocons would like to do.

We must also be realistic about the tenuous nature of the West’s Singularity Stopping structures. There is no guarantee that these structures won’t be overturned or done away with by some future generation. Already, “cases against democracy” are becoming more commonplace and written by prominent thinkers, but of course, these are cases against republics because that’s what America is. (Thank God we’re not actually a democracy, which is rule by mob and majority faction.) So, the existence in perpetuity of these Singularity Stopping structures is  by no means guaranteed. Various disruptions could lead to the erosion of American republicanism, which, in turn, could send the country hurtling toward destruction of either a left-wing or right-wing nature.

(Apologies to Jim and Spandrell, who have done the most to forward the idea of political singularity.)

Meine Heimat is poised to implement the most draconian climate change measures ever enacted in the United States. Two Senate Bills require the state to cut various emissions to below their 1990 levels. A skeptical L.A. Times writes:

Californians are likely to pay more for gasoline, electricity, food and new homes — and to feel their lives jolted in myriad other ways — because their state broadly expanded its war on climate change this summer.

The ambitious new goals will require complex regulations on an unprecedented scale, but were approved in Sacramento without a study of possible economic repercussions.

Nor, apparently, were the regulations approved in consultation with the industries they will affect most. The agriculture sector is already fleeing the state, and with ideas like this, more of that industry will continue to flee:

At a heated meeting in June, dairy officials pleaded with the Air Resources Board that they already reduced methane emissions. Air board scientist Ryan McCarthy suggested that new technology could help, and the discussion turned to an experimental system from Argentina that would capture gas in a backpack on each cow through a hose inserted into their digestive system.

“All of our jaws hit the floor,” recalled Raudabaugh. “It is an outlandish scheme.”

Of course, neither the L.A. times nor anyone in Sacramento has named the most obvious source of increasing emissions in the Golden State: people. California’s population has skyrocketed from 10 million in 1950 to almost 40 million today. Growth has “slowed” but is still on an upward trajectory, with CA adding several million people every few years. The majority of these California Dreamers come from places (third world shit holes or rural Midwestern shit holes) that had previously limited their capacity to do what they plan to do as new Californians: drive, consume, drive some more, then consume some more.

CA’s emissions will not be cut to 1990s levels without draconian restrictions on industry or draconian restrictions on migration and fertility. Draconian restrictions on the California lifestyle will not be tolerated by Californians, especially not the new ones (note that the skeptical Times article was written by an Armenian), and although I suspect Governor Moonbeam secretly would like to implement some anti-dysgenic population control measures, that aint happening this side of the zombie apocalypse. So that leaves draconian restrictions on industry in a state famous for draconian restrictions on industry.

How many regulations will it take to break the back of the golden bear?

Shadi Hamid argues that the “deplorable” rhetoric against white Trump voters is counterproductive and perhaps dangerous. Progressives fail to comprehend his ecumenical streak, but it’s easy to explain: being a Sunni Muslim, he knows what a majority backlash can look like when a vengeful minority is on the ascendant.

Sunnis comprise 80% of the world’s Muslims, and they are the majority in much of the Middle East. Only Iraq and Iran are majority Shiite. The West’s strategy has long been to neutralize sect supremacy by putting the minority sect in charge of Muslim nations: Sunnis or Kurds in Iraq, Alawites in Syria, and so on. (It’s curious that the Left doesn’t champion Assad’s regime, since it’s the perfect example of a Secular Minority Government.)

Sunnis are the minority in Iraq, but they’re not the minority in the region and certainly not globally. So one can see how Sunnis being ruled by non-Sunnis in Iraq is a shitty situation for them. Nationally, Iraqi Sunnis are a dominated minority. From a regional or global perspective, however, they’re also a dominated majority. Being both a dominated majority and a dominated minority can’t be good for the psyche.

In Syria, Sunnis comprise 75% of the population and are ruled by secularizing Alawites, who comprise 13% of the population. Here, Sunnis are clearly a dominated majority.

Sunni jihadism and ISIS can thus be understood, to some extent, as a majority backlash against minority ascendancy and rule. The backlash was always bubbling beneath the surface in Syria, but it began in earnest with the placement of non-Sunnis into power in post-invasion Iraq. King Adbdullah II of Jordan understood this from the very beginning. Here’s his infamous “Shia crescent” interview from 2004:

If pro-Iran parties or politicians dominate the new Iraqi government, he said, a new “crescent” of dominant Shiite movements or governments stretching from Iran into Iraq, Syria and Lebanon could emerge, alter the traditional balance of power between the two main Islamic sects and pose new challenges to U.S. interests and allies.

Abdullah, a prominent Sunni leader, said the creation of a new Shiite crescent would particularly destabilize Gulf countries with Shiite populations. “Even Saudi Arabia is not immune from this. It would be a major problem. And then that would propel the possibility of a Shiite-Sunni conflict even more, as you’re taking it out of the borders of Iraq,” the king said.

The Middle East is often discussed, as King Abdullah discusses it above, in terms of Sunni versus Shiite Muslims, with syncretic sects caught in the crossfire. However, Sunnis far outnumber Shiites, so the recent Middle East conflagration is better understood as a case of majority backlash. Sunnis were sick and tired of being told what to do by minorities who continued to concentrate their power.

Shadi Hamid recognizes the American parallel. Rightly, he recognizes the potential hornet’s nest the Left is stirring every time it gleefully sounds the death-knell of the white Christian American. In all likelihood, they won’t go quietly into that good night if the Left continues to treat domestic politics as a zero-sum game between Whites and Everyone Else. Majorities aren’t generally fans of minority rule, as the Middle East has violently proven.

Immigration generates a variety of negative and positive effects, many of which are negative or positive depending on one’s position as host nation or migrant.

In my view, one of the most negative effects of immigration is the tendency of immigrants to bring with them to the new world the political strife of the old world.

taiwanhamid

Here is Shadi Hamid, a Sunni, retweeting a Taiwanese American on her “mixed emotions” regarding Trump’s apparent recognition of Taiwanese sovereignty. This is a good illustration of the problem.

For those who don’t know, Hamid’s position is that America should exert her military power in the Middle East to benefit Sunni Islam. This explains his sympathy for the Taiwanese girl who would like to see America doing more to exert her power to benefit Taiwan. Both, I’m assuming, are first or second generation immigrants who want their new host nation to get involved in old world shit—shit that concerns neither the native American stock nor immigrants from places like Mexico or Nigeria. Imagine that an eighteen year old moves out of his parents’ house because they are constantly fighting and getting violent with each other, and the first thing he does upon taking up residence at a friend’s house is to cajole his friend to intervene in his parents’ fights, even though the friend doesn’t know his parents and has no idea why they fight or whose side to be on. Not cool.

On one hand, I don’t begrudge Hamid’s or the Taiwanese girl’s desire to defend their people (indeed, I agree with a lot of what Hamid writes regarding secular liberalism and Islam). Tribalism is a natural human instinct, and only progressive urban whites seem inclined to disavow their own kind.

On the other hand, I do begrudge Hamid’s and the Taiwanese girl’s desire to hijack their new country’s systems to address their old countries’ problems. For them, America is a tool, and they don’t seem particularly interested in what’s good for America or Americans in their decision to wield that tool for their own tribal ends. Staking a position in the Chinese/Taiwanese fight is certainly not in America’s interest. Nor is meddling in the Sunni/Shia vortex, but of course, that ship has already sailed. But as an American, Hamid shouldn’t be exacerbating the problem by cajoling his new countrymen into joining his side in a fight that does not or should not involve us.

As David Goldman has long pointed out, the traditional bargain for immigrants to America was that they gained liberal access to all the benefits of American society on condition that they gave up their old world identities and stopped being involved in old world bullshit. Of course, different ethnic groups honored this bargain on different time frames (the Fenians were futzing about as late as 1880). By and large, however, the bargain was honored—by the Italians, the Germans, the Greeks, the Slavs. It was even honored by the first wave of Mexicans in the middle of the twentieth century (my grandparents made sure their kids grew up speaking English and dating gringos). America is indeed an immigrant nation, but historically, it has been a nation of immigrants willing to give up their immigrant identity and to forge a new American one grounded in commerce, a Protestant work ethic, and Anglo political structures.

The trend lately is just the opposite: more and more immigrants refuse to give up their old world identities. They adopt an American identity, to be sure, but it is the quintessential hyphenated American identity bemoaned by the Bull Moose. Dual identity is the emerging norm. Immigrants’ children learn English (although that may begin to change in California); they dress like Americans; they consume American media. However, thanks to new technologies, they also keep a foot in the old world, which means we now have a growing immigrant population that is bringing more and more old world shit to the United States—like Hamid and the Taiwanese girl.

(Let me admit that, unfortunately, America’s political elite has, if not created, at least made worse a lot of the old world shit that immigrants are fleeing. America is not as innocently isolationist and non-imperialist as it was before the World Wars. As always, the exploits of the Washington establishment have consequences for everyone but themselves.)

 

I may be late to the party, but is this Moldbug in 2006 predicting the 2008 recession? I don’t know enough about finance to understand the details of the conversation, but CPDOs seem to be a play on credit default swaps, so Moldbug is obviously playing the prophet here.

The Big Short oversold the narrative that NO ONE SAW THIS COMING. Plenty of people saw it coming, but their voices were drowned out by the bulls, and, in fairness to Michael Lewis, it is true that only his protagonists actually bet their money on the housing bubble bursting.

At any rate, here’s Moldbug’s comment in full, posted 30 December 2006. 

~~~

The big picture in CPDOs is that they are a classic example of government failure. Nothing like a CPDO could possibly exist in an unregulated economy. Of course, that doesn’t mean the best choice for this far-from-unregulated economy isn’t to find some way of regulating the damn things out of existence. But fortunately this is not my job.

CPDOs exist because NRSROs exist. Rating agencies (Moody’s, S&P) are not private actors. They are granted enormous official authority. Imagining the market price of NRSRO status, sold with no questions asked – for example, to a company which could shake down its clients for ratings – is one way to conceive of the scale of this delegation of power.

In a transparent, professional system of government such as ours, authority of this kind must never be personal and arbitrary. Old John Moody, perhaps, could tell his customers that Joe’s Railroad was a shoddy outfit run by notorious shysters, whose bonds shouldn’t be touched with a ten-foot pole no matter how many payments they’ve made. If his successors rate JRX, they have to justify their result with some serious math. Nothing else would be compatible with “nationally recognized” status.

As Mises pointed out in the ’20s, excessive dependency on calculation is the general flaw in central planning. The planners are constantly being forced to calculate things that cannot possibly be calculated. Credit default probabilities, especially aggregate spread projections, are a classic example.

So Moody’s can’t issue a report saying that these CPDO things just don’t smell right. It can’t call Stratfor, get a ballpark number on the chance of an Israeli-Iranian war, and factor that into the probability of a generalized credit panic. It has to do what it does – run the things through its models. Which predict, as usual, future results from past performance.

And it’s not just that Moody’s has to do this. It’s that it can do this. Because it is effectively a government agency, it has transferred all of its risk for this behavior to the state. It is Uncle Sam that will take the hit if the models fail, and rightly so. Moody’s only existential risk is failure to comply with its own properly approved policies and procedures.

Fortunately, Uncle Sam is perfectly capable of insuring the risk of the models. He can, after all, print more dollars. Which will then be used to buy bonds – keeping those spreads svelte. Moreover, with this same mechanism, he can stimulate the economy, keeping the people who actually have to make their payments flush.

This is a perfect example of an expansionary ratchet. It is a political mechanism that causes immediate pain if the presses are stopped. Hyperinflation happens because the political cost of a liquidating recession exceeds the political cost of continuing around the spiral. Systems that increase sensitivity to default, like the system that the CPDO is gaming, make the spiral harder to escape.

In other words, the more CPDOs are outstanding, the more stress the financial system will suffer in the case of a sharp credit spread widening that overpowers the “stabilizing” reaction when the CPDOs automatically react by selling protection. The CPDO machine sets up a critical point, below which it is a “stabilizing” feedback loop that causes spreads to converge (as CPDOs gear up), and above which it is a thoroughly destabilizing one, that causes them to diverge (as CPDOs max out and fail).

It is, in other words, major “bubble skin.” The lovely old metaphor of a bubble, which really just means “disequilibrium,” can easily be extended to other materials than the usual soapy water. If your bubble is made out of latex, for example, it can get much bigger and sustain a much higher internal pressure. It is harder to pop, but it makes more noise when it does.

With CPDOs, and ultimately with the power of the printing press, the bubble is the size of the Hindenburg, its interior could easily be mistaken for the atmosphere of Jupiter, and its walls are Kevlar and nanotubes. As Steve says, it is very hard to break.

And it is very important to note that it is not just the personal whim of “bulimic CBs” that supports it – it itself enforces exactly that bulimia. The bubble skin is not really the critical point of the CPDOs. It is the fact that CBs cannot allow spreads to reach that critical point.

For all the hawkish talk, they will accept any level of consumer price inflation first. It is much easier to tweak the index again (maybe it could just be the GCPI, the Game Console Price Index, measured in triangles per second per dollar) and suffer the occasional human-interest story in the Times or Post about how the man on the street thinks prices are too high, despite the fact that there is no inflation.

So fasten your seatbelts, everyone. If I am even close to right, there are no brakes on this thing, and we are headed north in a hurry. It may be a happy 2007 indeed.

Nick Land’s latest musings on independence, dependence, and connectivity got me thinking about networks.

Briefly, Land recasts the Left/Right dichotomy not in terms of individualism and collectivism but in terms of independence and dependence. While the Left, he writes, is “enthused” by interdependency while merely “accepting” a degree of comparative independence, the Right, in reverse, is enthused by independence but accepts a comparative degree of inter-dependency.

Independence, Land continues, is a rough synonym for sovereignty. I would add that independence is a rough synonym for power. Independence means I can do or get what I want. Of course, power is always constrained (by the laws of physics if not by other humans), so a degree of interdependency is always there to constrain independence. However, ideologies emphasize one constraint over the other. Do we emphasize inter-dependence and admit a degree of independence here and there? Or do we emphasize independence and admit a degree of inter-dependence here and there?

Wendy Chun, a media professor at Brown, provides the ultimate Left emphasis on inter-dependence in her book Programmed Visions. In the book’s conclusion, Chun attempts to define freedom as an immersion in larger human collectives, arguing that true (political) freedom may in fact rightly curtail “economic and civil freedom” by undoing the “autonomous subject.” She illustrates her point with a story from an individual who, taking part in a mass protest in the Philippines, was at first frightened by but eventually at one with the throngs of humanity surrounding her:

I was caught in the thick waves of people far from the center of the rally. I could barely breathe from the weight of the bodies pressing on my back and sides . . . After what seemed like an eternity of extremely small movements, slowly, slowly, there appeared a clearing before me. I was grateful not because I survived but because I experienced the discipline and respect of one for the other of the people—there was no pushing, no insulting, everyone even helped each other, and a collective patience and giving way ruled.

. . . The night deepened . . . While resting on the sidewalk, I felt such immense pleasure, safe from danger, free, happy in the middle of thousands and thousands of anonymous buddies.

Thus the individual found safety and happiness amidst an anonymous mass of humanity that operated upon a principle of “giving way.”

Taken in a moral direction, the story might illustrate a pseudo-Buddhist parable on the importance of abandoning one’s ego so that others might live and that all might live together in peace. However, taken in a political direction—which is where Chun takes it—the story illustrates an ideological emphasis on inter-dependence that only allows a small degree of independence to exist within the confines of (and only when subordinated to) that larger system of dependence.

Being immersed in a massive crowd—whether or not it’s orderly—is for me a vision of hell, but for Chun, it becomes a metaphor for the philosophical ground of political freedom at the expense of independence. Someone like me, who would be darting for the nearest exit, the nearest way out of that crowd, is, in Chun’s estimation, subverting larger political freedoms through my insistent obsession with independence.

. . . However, let’s reorient the story and its object lesson a little and totally undermine what Chun is trying to do with it.

The individual in the crowd, we read, feels safe and at peace with the crowd only once it has given her a way through or made room for her . . . that is, she finds freedom in the crowd only once she has been given space and granted a place of independence. Presumably, what she does in that space is up to her, so as long as what she’s doing doesn’t invade other spaces, she is also granted a place of sovereignty. Maybe she wants to invite some other people into her space; she’s not a rugged individualist, after all. (She will probably not invite everyone into her space, though, because then it’s not her space anymore; she’s not an idiot, either.)

The mass of humanity is a given. How we divide that humanity in space—and I’m thinking here both in literal geographic terms as well as more abstract political terms—determines our ideology.

Network theory gives us some basic terms:

networktypes

Given the mass of humanity, we have three ways to divide it: one node rules and subordinates all the other nodes—a centralized network; all nodes are clustered discriminately into autonomous communities—a decentralized network (or, more commonly, a scale-free network); or all nodes are in equal connection—an ordered network.

In the centralized network, independence and sovereignty are granted only to one node, be it a person (i.e., monarchy) or a small elite (i.e., oligarchy). In a decentralized network, local clusters are granted independence from other local clusters, and sovereignty exists only locally; it does not expand outward (i.e., patchwork governance). In an ordered, lattice-like network, sovereignty is nonexistent—a function of the fact that hierarchy is nonexistent—and every node is equally not subordinated. Chun would have us believe that every node in this network would therefore be free, but by that same token, every node is equally positioned to control every other node (i.e., the world is just as easily its own tyranny as its own utopia).

Chun, I imagine, wants a political system that embodies an ordered, lattice-like network. No hierarchy, no clustering, no radical differences in node connection (or degree). The ordered network is the Leftist, inter-dependency ideology personified.

Given the networks above, we might also posit that differences among Right-wing political ideologies are partially reducible to a preference for centralized or decentralized sovereignty networks. Is there one ring to rule them all? Or does each ring only work among its own people? Is true independence granted to a privileged elite? Or does independence simply mean a freedom from other communities, a freedom from other ways-of-doing-things.

I have simplified network theory quite a bit here, but it gives us a starting point by which political ideology—and, in particular, independence and sovereignty—can be explored through network visualizations. One major point I’ve left out is centrality, particularly betweenness centrality, which, in a decentralized network, denotes those nodes that control the movement from one cluster to another. I’ll save centrality measurements for another post because I’m still not quite sure how they map onto this political metaphor.