Building statues out of sand
Posted by aogMonday, 31 January 2005 at 13:51 TrackBack Ping URL

Junkyard Blog reports on evidence that the North Korean regime is starting to come apart. What I find interesting is the box that the regime has gotten itself in to, which nicely illustrates the issue of static strength vs. dynamic strength.

The North Korean regime has a lot of static strength. There is not only juche but also the cult of personality around the Kim family. But this strength is also a trap. It is far from clear that Kim Jong-Il can be deposed without bringing down the entire regime. The same propaganda that helped Kim stay in power as infallible makes admitting he’s not very deadly to the regime. This is not accidental. Static strength requires using ephemera as eternal verities. Once those ephemera change or the world changes around them, what used to be a wall turns in to an cement overshoes.

In contrast, dynamic strength, the ability to adapt locally while maintaining global principles, tends to look weak day to day. It flexes under even small strains and seems to bend in any wind. Yet over time, by adjusting to the flows of history rather than trying to stand immutable, dynamically strong cultures continue to flourish while static cultures eventually get clubbed under by the clue by four of reality.

This is just another variant of the “degree of meta-ness” I’ve brought up before. If you’re going to pick eternal verities on which to base your government, it helps if they’re sufficiently high level to actually be eternal.