Knesset and camera
The Israeli and Italian political systems are characterised by high volatility—coalitions collapse constantly, elections are held every two years, and politicians get up and shout things at each other along the lines: “Chi sono una lavazza cappuccino basta! La mamma è una poca rossa—perche verde giuseppe molto fiat bada bing bada boom. Ehh (rubs two digits and a thumb together).” Per Taleb, the constant volatility found in these political systems represents deep stability: the constant elections and petty disputes constitute anti-fragility—the Israeli and Italian political systems gain from disorder; the more there’s “chaos in the government”, the less changes—the more stable the system. So Italian and Israeli politics remains dead stable, contrary to expectation—hardly anything changes in these countries.
Corruption is anti-fragile: Italy and Israel are staggeringly corrupt countries—and this explains why the Freemasons (historically e.g. Propaganda Due) do so well in Italy. Smokey back-room deals are anti-fragile and, to deploy another Talebism, “Lindy”. The souk is anti-fragile, price-fixing is anti-fragile, cartels are anti-fragile—and Taleb, as a Levantine Lebanese, comes from and extols this world: the Beirut souk where “I knew you’d come back, meestah. You buy 100% genuine silk scarf for your habibi. Only 20 dahrams—you start me at 20 dahrams?”. Haggling is anti-fragile and Lindy. You go to the souk and you see lots of shouting and chaos—just like the Israeli and Italian parliaments—and yet underneath the souk is very stable. You could drop a barrel bomb on it, especially in Syria, and it would reconstitute overnight—just like fungi.
Aside from the implicit corruption mentioned here, the “I’ll scratch your back” kind that is technically not illegal, Italy is literally corrupt. Luttwak observed that Italy is stable because she is so corrupt in the literal sense: if you slide a briefcase under the table at a restaurant, you can get things done—actually, that is the only way to really get things done in Italy. Take away the corruption and everything would stop.
The commonality between Italy and Israel is that both societies are highly ethnocentric. Trust is built within your tribal network, not between individuals—and this encourages implicit corruption, it encourages “souk mindset”. Really, Italy is schizo because the south is very ethnocentric and corrupt—the mafia comes from the far south, from Sicily—while the north, the industrial north, remains more European and individualistic. However, as with a vat of wine polluted by a single dab of dung, an example Taleb favours, the lowest common denominator—the corrupt south—sets the tenor for the whole country.
So, recently, a “far right” government arrived in Rome; and yet nothing will change—there will be excitement for two years, the EU will take it seriously, especially the literal Germans, and then the government will collapse. All the parties and politicians in Italy are simpatico—they all know it’s theatre really. So they will shout and scream in parliament, drag each other through court cases that always seem to take about twenty years (the Italian legal system, as Amanda “the fox” Knox found out, allows you to appeal the appeal the appeal the appeal—yes, the Italian legal system is also anti-fragile, i.e. corrupt). Bada bing bada-boom.
Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, interests because Israel has the most proportional electoral system in the world—i.e. the whole country is one constituency; if you get 1% of the vote, you get 1% of the seats. This is why Israeli governments are so volatile, they are cobbled together from about five different parties—and, given coalition dynamics, the smallest party has a veto (they can collapse the government at any time). This means that small religious parties have historically been able to impose their will on the secular Israeli majority, since they can always demand riders for their participation in a coalition that the majority hates (e.g. everything has to close on an obscure Jewish holiday).
Israel is organised in this way because the Jews are very ethnocentric, just like the southern Italians with their “fraternal brotherhoods” (cosa nostra—our thing). This ethnocentricity leads to a preference for egalitarian politics so that no one in the tribe is left behind—and this is one reason why secular Jews often favour socialist politics, and why the most famous communist theorist, Karl Marx, was Jewish. So Israeli politics is consensus driven and the minority always has a veto—they can top from the bottom, the feminine position. The only people excluded from the coalitions are the tiny Arab-Israeli parties—outside the tribe, hence totally excluded. The mode of political organisation is “Levantine merchant”—the goal is not truth, the goal is to haggle over price (to come to an “accommodation that will be mutually beneficial” as a mafia don might say).
It is also feminine, everyone is included—and discussion, consensus, and kvetching (bitching) are considered integral to the process. This anti-fragile process is akin to nature: Mother Nature is anti-fragile, gains from disorder (as the mother’s contractions in birth come in little waves, as the earthquake also comes in little waves). Mother Nature never changes, she is ahistorical—the reeds wave by the riverbank under Pharaoh or Napoleon.
There is an old joke “two Jews, three opinions”—so that you get a few Jews in a room and they will all differ in opinion radically; one will be a Marxist, one a Revisionist Zionist, one an Orthodox Jew. However, per anti-fragility, the constant exoteric disagreement indicates complete esoteric consensus. It’s like the old married couple who bicker all the time—they stay together because they bicker, to bicker is anti-fragile. So although the Jews argue all the time and claim to belong to different ideological factions they are actually homogenous in their orientation—just as the Italian political class, whether “neo-fascist” or “communist”, is actually homogenous. The more they shout, the more they agree—you only know a real fight is about to begin when someone goes silent. It is the northern Europeans, more silent people, who radically disagree with each other as individuals.
In America, there are many ethnocentric brotherhoods in operation: the Jews, the Italians, the Irish—the melting pot is a myth, these groups never stopped the habits that are in the blood; and all are known for their gangsterism—the Jewish mafia, the Italian mafia, the Irish mafia (there are hundreds of films about them); and there is also the gay mafia (people are loyal to those like them, especially if they are a despised minority). Since America became democratic, dropped all barriers to participation in her elites, these ethnic brotherhoods have infiltrated every level of American society and politics—itself already based on a criminal conspiracy, Freemasonry (an organisation that simulates mafia-like behaviour in less ethnocentric people).
The upshot is that America is a gangster society to the core. Almost everything in America is rigged: the financial markets, the pharmaceutical industry, the media, the colleges—you name it, it’s captured by ethnocentric gangsters who look after “our thing”; remember, it’s not about truth—it’s about loyalty to the tribe. This is why American products are so shoddy and low quality—corruption is anti-fragile, rackets are anti-fragile, cartels are anti-fragile. Truth and honour—of these we have no need!
The alternative to consensus-driven anti-fragile feminine politics is masculine aristocratic adversarial politics: the British House of Commons, though completely degraded, remains adversarial—you face your opponent over the dispatch box, as with a duel, and duke it out. Even Congress, you notice, is arranged in a consensual democratic semi-circle—so we can all be “bipartisan” (a euphemism for “corrupt”). The search for truth is individualistic and antagonistic, it cannot be held back by a feeble minority bent on sabotage.
Northern Europeans, being more individualistic and less corrupt, do not comprehend consensus-based gangsterism, as promoted by men like Taleb. Even certain Italians, the northerners, do not agree with gangsterism—hence Mussolini cleaned out the mafia; and yet the Americans, the OSS-CIA, put the mafia back in charge when they invaded Italy. This is because the US is a gangster country—and the CIA is a gangster organisation (never mind gangsta rap).
Consensus politics is corrupt and anti-fragile—the soupy souk with its price-fixed cartels; it lives for a long time, like Methuselah, for it is like perennial Mother Nature—or a sick old man. So it is also ugly: what is beautiful is fragile, like the divine, and in robust health. The search for truth is the lightning strike from the fencer’s rapier, not the merchant’s greasy hands oily with the filthy lucre. The truth strikes like lightning: rape divine, consensual sex ugly.