Monday, August 09, 2004

State of Trust 2

In his last post, John describes some geopolitical and constitutional aspects of trust.

John is scornful of the entities in which we are supposed to invest our trust, and questions the legitimacy of these entities. But the problem goes deeper. These entities are symbolic or imaginary entities – they simply don't reflect political reality.

The British constitution is a symbolic fa├žade, which has very little to do with the true distribution of power and influence. Similarly, the African political map is a series of imaginary lines, historically imposed by colonial powers, which do not adequately reflect the identities and affiliations of the people who live there.

Nation-state dealing with nation-state is an example of the assumption of symmetry.

Symmetric trust assumes that trust can be managed through symmetric relationships between entities of the same kind (albeit different quantities of power).

Military strategists now increasingly recognize that the assumption of symmetry doesn't work for warfare, in which the primary threat doesn't come from nation states but from sources of a different kind – hence the interest in asymmetric warfare. The assumption of symmetry doesn’t work for demand either – hence the interest in asymmetric demand.

And it certainly doesn't work for trust. Hence Asymmetric Trust.