Adonis Diaries

Archive for March 5th, 2021

What Black Swan Theory has to do with Arab Spring uprising?

Posted on June 13, 2012

I have posted several articles on the Black Swan Theory and this link is in response to its application to Lebanon political/social structure

Zaher Yahya posted on Huffington Post an article (with slight editing) that is a general “refresher” post on the topic:

“The Arab Spring has been described and associated with a variety of symbolic designations.

At times, the term describes the series of protests that have swept across the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region. It may also indicate a person’s political position on the wide and highly polarized spectrum.

The term ‘Arab Spring’ has even been criticized by some who support the pro-democracy (or anti-regime) protests, citing this description as being Orientalist and therefore inappropriate.

The ‘Arab Spring’  (protests and upheaval), which started on December 2010, has become a brand for the region, and has motivated and catalyzed many popular protest movements around the world.

International media generally refers to the term as a unified concept, largely citing its contagious aspects as well as the key links between the countries involved.

We now know that the Arab Spring will not be an easy ride for the countries that it has affected, though it cannot be denied that the region has been marked by a political paradigm shift.

People in the MENA region have:

1. Denounced the long-accepted principle that unelected officials and family dynasties can cling to power for decades without consequence.

2. People have broken the long-standing barriers of fear regarding corruption and intimidation,

3. People are adjusting to the ideological diversity of their societies (though many still have much to learn on this front).

For these reasons, I tend to be optimistic about the Arab Spring despite much rhetoric about it becoming an Arab “Winter.”

Having lived through the global financial crisis that has affected people of all walks of life, I view the Arab Spring as being related to these events that shook the world economy in 2007.

Are you surprised that I find a relation may exist between these two events, both vast and far-reaching, but seemingly distinct? It may appear a tad philosophical, but the answer lies with Nassim Taleb.

Nassim Taleb (see note 2) lays the foundations  in his two books Randomness (2001) and Black Swan (2007) for his theories about uncertainty, randomness and Black Swan events.

Black Swan theory describes unpredicted major-impact events that effectively appear sensible in hindsight.

Taleb theory is framed in a financial context, (many experts contend that Taleb forecasted the financial meltdown of 2007), and describes the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s as one of these Black Swan moments.

Black Swan moments are characterized as being rare, high-impact and paradoxically unpredictable occurrences at the time of their occurrence. Most of us would assume black swans don’t exist, simply because we were only accustomed to seeing white swans in pictures and videos…

In the terms of the financial crisis, speculators assumed there is only one way for the markets to go; asset values would rise indefinitely with no limit to the amount of debt people could incur.

It has become clear afterward that the reality on the ground was different of what was written on their balance sheets and portfolios bottom lines.

The impact of the debt crisis was colossal and wide-spread that no expert envisaged at the time, with many talking about the failure of capitalism as a result. This global crash has really shattered the image and ultimate authority of the dictators of the finance sector (i.e. investment banks and hedge funds).

The Arab spring proved as difficult to predict as the financial meltdown showing economists, intelligence agencies, policy makers and analysts clueless about their own business, simply because they have never considered a Black Swan moment for the MENA region.

The Arab Spring was triggered by what could initially have been interpreted as an isolated event, spread surprisingly fast over a vast region, and led to major and unexpected developments.

In the same way, norms of the banking system that was held for generations collapsed with stunning speed and magnitude, the image and privilege of Arab dictators were shattered by popular revolts in a movement that took the world by surprise.

A Black Swan moment was never considered in the experts’ minds to apply to the Arab States: many Arab dictators held a seemingly unshakable iron grip on power and ruled undeterred for up to four decades, all while preparing their sons to someday take the reins after them, unshaken by popular and economic conditions in their country.

So the public witnessed only their moukhabarat (secret service agents) running the show, as well as the brutal backstage of the regime if you were unlucky enough to pay them a visit.

Years of tradition made this construction of power a social norm, a backbone of society so persevering it was often assumed (and reasonable at the time) to be unshakable.

And this is exactly what Nassim Taleb focuses on, exactly on the things we don’t know rather than the things we think we do.

A small exception to a rule (events in the tails of the normal graph) in the future can have the ability to trigger large-scale change and dismantle norms, theories and paradigms that have been accepted for years.

The colossal impact of the Arab Spring across the region was beyond anyone’s realm of expectations – either idealistic or highly calculated.

In the world of risk management, this event appeared highly unlikely: The probability of such events spreading across such a vast region were not on the minds of political forecasters, in the same way so many bankers did not fathom their long-standing stability could be shattered so suddenly.

In hindsight, the Arab Spring may now appear to have been predictable.

How could we have assumed that despite torture, censorship, abuse, brutality, corruption, unemployment and poverty, regimes would remain sustainable?

Whatever your opinion of the Arab Spring, and whatever term you choose to designate it, what started in December 2010 has proven itself a Black Swan moment of the Middle East and North Africa, one that is far from over, and whose impact will perhaps take years to fully assess.

Note 1Michelle Ghoussoub, Blogger at Lebanon Spring, edited Yahya article.  Follow Zaher Yahya on Twitter:

Note 2: Nassim Taleb is a renowned Lebanese-American statistician, best-selling author and former Wall Street trader. His books Fooled by Randomness (2001) and Black Swan (2007) brought him to fame, with the latter described by The Sunday Times as “one of the twelve most influential books since World War II”.

Note 3: Opinion experts would like us to believe that the uprising were not expected by the US. Evidences are pointing that what was unexpected is the development, steadfastness and far-reaching movement of the Arab people to get away with their long established indignities and humiliation by usurping oligarchies.

Note 4: What is of most importance is to study how the colonial powers and Saudi Kingdom, and monarchic regimes went about taming this mass upheaval and re-instituting dictators power in the MENA region. Only the fomenting of the extremist religious movements were the major barriers in resuming these mass upheaval.

Titbits #112

Les femmes s’habillent selon la convoitise des yeux des hommes

La vie a octroyé à la femme saine sexuellement, le droit de se marier a succession. Les hommes sains et indépendant doivent être soulager.

Quand je m’éveille, je garde les yeux fermés et je me débrouille à rassembler les miettes de la vie: les exercices de respiration, les roulements des yeux, les échappements des gaz…

A worthy mythology: A woman who didn’t want that the father name to be known would attribute the birth to the pink dolphin. And the baby enjoyed special attention from the tribe

Urgent. Confirmer la nouvelle règle: tu n’est pas libre de N’avoir pas une opinion sur le dérangement de ce monde.

La femme maligne, elles le sont souvent, marient un homme “ordinaire” à son second marriage, ou le troisième.., selon l’age: elle rechigne de se faire tromper.

Il n’y a pas de bordels d’hommes: ils ne sont jamais doués pour ce job a succession, et ca coûterait trop chère pour survivre.

Le mariage est institué’ pour faciliter le bon fonctionnement des institutions des Etats: la liberte’ et l’independance sont mattes a un grand echelle.

Many commented that Macron needed Not test himself before meeting our maligned sectarian leaders: A few deaths among them would have cleared the path for a significant political change.

After Macron tested positive to Covid: Macron en the phone: “Allo, Professor Raoult? Au secours”.

Des mots spirituels sont jolis, occasionnellement. Le sens de l ‘humour est perpetuel et qui allonge la jouvence.

Dommage. Si les gens que tu connaissent n’avaient pas un secret espoir/plaisir de te voir malheureux.

J’ai la prétention de ne pas plaire a tout le monde: ceux qui croient me connaître.

On Dec.16, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said that employers can require employees to get vaccinated before entering the workplace. We asked legal scholar Ana Santos Rutschman, who teaches a course on vaccine law at Saint Louis University, to explain the decision and the rights employees and employers have.
Here’s a sample:
Can US employers require employees to get a vaccine? Yes, with some exceptions.
Even Covid-19 vaccines, since they’re so new? That’s the current interpretation, yes.
What about religious or disability exemptions? Yes, technically, but there’s some gray area.

They are migrants/immigrants/refugees. They are Not “ordinary people“. They are “pseudo-citizens” of States created artificially by the colonial powers and still dominated by the colonial powers through all kinds violent activities.

Activities such as launching “pre-emptive wars”, civil wars, sanctions and mass punishments. They are the disinherited people of the basic minimum of human dignity, human rights and fair play in the most terrifying of circumstances.

These refugees want to experience what “normal people” keep shouting out loud “Liberty, Fraternity, Democracy…”. They want to survive all the injustices and limitations imposed on them for basic food, medications for curable diseases, potable water, Not polluted lands and rivers.

A decision of last resort is to “Stand tall” in dinghies and makeshift tents, trying to keep their families safe. 900 of these “Not so ordinary people” have drowned in seas because States are closing borders to “welcome” those “savages”.

Il parait que les couples doivent se “rencontrer” plus souvent: Manière de tester le potentiel de leur charme.

Une vaste différence entre “on s’ennuie” et “avoir des ennuies”. Cette différence s’applique entre célibat et mariage. Vaste difference en consequences: On peut altérer une situation “d’ennuie”.

Une autre vaste différence entre penser et agir a ce qui nous donnerait du plaisir; en relation humaine, bien entendu. Sexual Daydreaming stories are the best in providing satisfaction.




March 2021

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