On creation vs. persistence:

Things that _come into being_ are very often the result of a single person or champioon, even in joint or collaborative projects, but also solo.

Things that _remain in existence_ are the result of adoption by some group, cause, organisation, or culture. Even vigorously championed creations can fade entirely once their initial creators have passed.

It's less about the starting up than the not-shutting-down.

Much of the inertia and irrationality around large institutions is, I think actually this _persistence machinery_ in action. The parts which seem so often wasteful or inefficient seem to be the same parts which ensure that the mission persists.

Related: when designing systems, *especially* social or political ones, keep in mind what WILL happen when control falls to adversaries who wish either to corrupt or dismantal it. Build in resilience, support, and integrity.


Institutions with robust mechanisms for acception and rejection effectively have a digestive system -- some things get filtered out, the rest becomes part of the group or connected to it.

Sadly, rejection mechanisms are seldom used in most governments I see; the futile scrabbling by the elites to the last thread of the emperor's robe. Usually The Government Was Right In The End is the party line until there's no party left.

Most organizations make me despair for humanity. 😔

@sydneyfalk It's not so much about acceptance/rejection (though I suppose that definitely does come into play). It's more about a million and one things that seem completely idiotic, but actually reinforce the continued persistence of organisations, departments, bureaucracies, and all of that. Self-preservation is part of it, but more than even just that.

@sydneyfalk Also, very much, the idea that, well, _just having an idea_, or even _implementing_ it, isn't enough.

You've got to get _other_ people vested in it. _Seriously_ vested.

Sometimes that happens on account of the initial creator. Sometimes in _spite_ of them.

Also, go beyond just government bureaucracies. Think of ideologies, religions, cults, academic specialisations, programming languages, musical traditions, etc., etc., etc.

Things-that-give-persistence. What's the German word?


I tend to suspect that's a result of victors writing history than an actual benefit to the organization, but I'm told I'm cynical

and I have no idea, TBQH

@sydneyfalk What's antecedent to "that's"?

The points I'm getting at are:

1. Creators aren't (generally) persistors.

2. Starting up isn't enough. You've got to also not-shut-down. (A variant of this was an inspiration to this little thought: news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1)

3. The mechanics of persistence are complicated and often apparently contradictory.

4. There are few non-contradictory / irrational long-persisting institutions or philosophies.


I think I'm trying to say it's potentially due to survivors fallacy; organizations that fail are what we need to examine, not orgs that succeed forever


Survival conclusions can be drawn from both but if more minnow orgs need to survive accounting for survivors fallacy will be necessary; the truth is that a lot of groups that fall apart is often not well documented out of sheer denial.

@sydneyfalk Since I've been reading about Spinoza of late, he's an example.

Philosopher, excommunicated from his religious and cultural community, _itself_ a diaspora of a diaspora culture. Questioned almost all sacred cows of his time. No family. Died at age 44.

And yet his major work was passed on, after his death, to a publisher, and established him as among the greatest philosophers of all time. Not _quite_ household-name status, but pretty close.

@dredmorbius I also feel Bureaucracy is a self-defense mechanism.

@tuttle That's very close to the point.

Though also: not all bureaucratic mechanisms enable perpetuation. Though bureaucracies dominated by characteristics *not* conducive to persistence, don't.

(Somewhat reflexive.)

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