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Antifragile (caution)



Taleb’s concept “antifragile”, as opposed to “fragile” and “robust”, has great value but it must be used with caution because it’s easy to think that “antifragile” means “good”.


Antifragile things gain from disorder—so that might be a rhizome, or a souk in Syria, a market that re-forms and bustles right after a barrel bomb is dropped on it.


But it’s also the mafia and cancer.


The mob is difficult to eradicate because it thrives on chaos.


The constant turf wars between capos prune the organisation in an efficient way so that the police, never as ruthless as a gangster turf war, can’t deal with it.


The converse is also true, fragile things have value.


Virginity is fragile, innocence is fragile, beauty is fragile.


A vase is beautiful and fragile.


Taleb extols the gangster with his wise-guy archetype “fat Tony”—he’s better than a cheap-talk expert who reads The Economist.


The mobster is antifragile but the knight in shining armour is not.


Honour is fragile—and “honour lost, all lost”.


There are few knights in shining armour today.


Taleb says you need “fuck you” money to speak the truth—so you can say “fuck you” to whoever would stop you.


But money can’t buy you freedom of speech—money can always be taken, by the state or by chance.


Musk can say what he wants because he’s essential to the system’s defence industry, not because he’s rich.


Trump is rich, but his “fuck you” money didn’t stop them from fucking him over.


So money isn’t security—and Taleb wants you to be like a gangster, but the problem is everything is run by the mob already (though not necessarily the Sicilians).


Integrity is not antifragile, but it’s not fragile either.


Integrity is to be like water, to follow the course of things without protest—to be hard if hit and soft if stroked.


Water neither gains nor loses from disorder—the Tao can contain both without being changed.


Why not put your faith in something that cannot be created or destroyed?


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