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Post In Geopolitics, We Must Avoid the Zero-Sum Game
Created by John Eipper on 05/03/21 3:44 AM

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In Geopolitics, We Must Avoid the Zero-Sum Game (Tor Guimaraes, USA, 05/03/21 3:44 am)

Commenting on my post of April 30th, John Eipper had some interesting questions: "Tor, twice you've referred to a 'zero-sum game' in this context. What exactly do you mean--within a nation or internationally?"

I bring it up because I have learned that the ZSG mentality should be avoided whenever possible and replaced in all contexts with a synergistic approach. When I was a young man trying to understand and conquer the world, everything was black and white, and if you want something you compete for and get it. You win, they lose, and that is life. A lot of ruins were left behind, unnecessarily in many cases.

After I took a position of leadership for my first groups, things got much more complicated: I became responsible for everyone's welfare, not just mine. One night, God the Universe made me realize that as the world gets smaller, the need for working together increases dramatically, thus without cooperation there is little progress, stagnation, or conflict. We can't overemphasize the importance of avoiding zero-sum games at the personal, group, or national levels.

Specifically, it is also obvious to me that the two reasons why the US was so prosperous in the 1950s and beyond. The first was because we and the USSR and others won War II against the Axis (a ZSG). The second reason was due to a set of circumstances (geography, good strategic leadership, popular support, ability to learn, all kinds of resources, powerful allies, etc.) within the winning side.

Except for the USSR, the US, and a few other nations, most of the world became destitute because of WWII. The USA after WWII became the powerhouse of the Capitalist world and kept the lucky set of circumstances described above. The Marshall Plan was based on the idea of synergy with Western Europe, lest Communism take over under a ZSG perspective. The ensuing Cold War with the USSR, unfortunately became a huge set of ZSG which cost both sides huge expenditures for useless fireworks. Part of the unnecessary wealth destruction as far as humanity is concerned partially culminated with the fall of the USSR, but less dramatically also has hurt the US by sapping enormous resources into the military-industrial complex, government/big business corruption, increased financial system control of the economy with re-occurring financial crises, etc.

Generally speaking, from a nationally and international perspectives, apparently it is much easier for people in power to rip people off with ZSG which have relatively quicker direct benefits to the winners, instead of following the relatively cumbersome rules of law, respecting regulations, true democratic processes, truly competitive markets, never too big to fail or jail, etc. The latter are requirements for working synergistically with others; they take boring stuff like thinking, respect, following the rules, etc. Synergy is a powerful thing for long-term accomplishments, for people who want to have a functional growing loving family, want to learn, grow and live in harmony with everything and everyone in the Universe. It takes time, discipline, investment, and energy. On the other hand, ZSG is quick, violent, exciting, primeval, soaked in adrenaline and testosterone. Also, there might be glory, however fleeting and imaginary, and it is more likely to create death and destruction for those caught unaware.

JE comments: Sporting contests and currency speculation are true ZSGs, but war is usually a negative-sum game, with even the winners suffering from demographic devastation and economic ruin.  Look at the UK, France and Italy after the Great War.  The United States was uniquely fortunate in both World Wars, because the fighting took place elsewhere.  Tor, I'll have to disagree with your appraisal of the USSR in 1945--it was victorious and absolutely destitute at the same time.

I concur that geopolitics can never be a ZSG, for the simple reason that the losing side will always seek a rematch. 

And Tor, if I may pry into your past, what kinds of ruins did you leave behind in your brash younger days?

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