Sunday, November 2, 2008

GENERAL MacARTHUR'S ISLAND-HOPPING STRATEGY: The EROEI for Internet duels with Growthist Fools is Negative

History buffs might recall the strategy employed by General MacArthur and the US Navy against the Japanese in the Pacific War. It was a clever one.

The Japanese were famous for their fanatic tenacity and their determination to fight and die to the last man in futile and suicidal attempts to impede the Americans in their march to conquer and occupy the Japanese homeland. The Japanese goal was to inflict such heavy casualties upon the Americans that America would give up and negotiate a peace more agreeable to the Japanese than unconditional surrender would surely be.

General MacArthur and Admiral Chester Nimitz, however, sensibly realized that it was not necessary to challenge every single Japanese-held island and subdue it. Why not just leave them be, they reasoned? Why spend the time, and the blood, taking them? Why not just “leap frog” over them to more strategically important islands, and let the other less important ones die on the vine? This became known as “island hopping” and it proved cost-effective in lives and results.

I would suggest a similar strategy be employed by those in the movement who are addicted to debates with inveterate pig-headed cornucopians in their intellectual bunkers. Their obsolete paradigms are impregnable and cannot be breached by reason, and the only battering ram available is your head. So why press the issue? Why not cut your losses and get on with that book you are supposed to be writing or re-introduce yourself to your dog or something. Leapfrog over the lost causes and save your energy for the winnable battles.

If we are right, their ideas will “wither on the vine” and their convictions will die unrepentant, as Thomas Kuhn predicted they would. Reality and the passage of time never forces a dogmatist to recant his beliefs. On the contrary, like a 90 year old Japanese soldier still lost in the jungles of the Philippines, he will maintain that the war is still being fought and that Shintoism, er, Growthism, is a durably viable cosmology for the end of time.

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