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Physics and Politics

Posted on Thursday, June 27, 2024
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by AMAC, Robert B. Charles
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26 Comments
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America is at a dangerous place in history, far from our traditional fixed point. We see indicators – recurring lawlessness, long and high levels, and now abuse for political gain. What is happening? Will our society stabilize like a damping curve, or will we oscillate out of control toward chaos?

In physics, there is a way to answer that question, which involves calculating the “angular wave vector” and changes in wave amplitude, to see whether the curve you are on is more stable or unstable. Will things settle down, or will they grow more uncontrolled?

If you forgive the physical analogy reference, can we identify the eigenvector of society, where we are, whether the curve is stable or unstable, damping or not?

Is there a way to use data to predict whether recent events suggest higher frequency, longer, deeper bouts of instability, or the reverse, a storm-tossed society soon restabilizing?

In physics, to figure out whether you are on a stable curve that is temporarily unstable, or an unstable curve likely to get more so, you have to do lots of math, but there are “thought experiments” to assess whether the curve settles (returns to a fixed place) or whether, driven by persistent outside forces, the curve gets wilder.

So, where are we? Are we in a “rough patch,” temporary lawlessness – open borders, abuse of power, distrust of government, lawfare, riots, a tit-for-tat delegitimizing of institutions, White House to Supreme Court – or worse?

Most hope we are in a “rough patch,” a passing storm. We would like to believe the Constitution’s protection of individuals – and the legitimacy of our institutions – will hold. But will they?

One way you assess your place and whether you will return to a fixed point is data. Was the original fixed point stable or unstable? Are we the ball at rest in a troth between two hills, which can be rolled up one hill but returns to where it started, or the ball at the top of a hill, which rolled down rests in a different place forever?

In political terms, will the storm of lawlessness – penetrated borders, record drugs, public corruption, demagoguery, ideology, and misuse of the law to persecute opponents – pass or grow worse? Will the ball return to a place of stability, or not?

In history as in physics, to figure out whether the fixed point is stable or unstable, forces at work temporary or permanent, we must look for data.

Typically, data puts you on one of three curves –“stable and damped,” big swings but destined for normal, like WWII, 1960s instability, the oil shock of 1973, or “stable and undamped,” like rising and falling of interest (constant fluctuations), or “unstable and ever-increasing” (like a car fishtailing until it crashes).

Physics applied to politics might say that today’s curve will damp itself as institutions restore stability, or might pound us to exhaustion, or might increase “fluctuations… to catastrophic failure.”

Which curve are we on then? Consider our past. America has hit big storms before and survived every war – external and internal. Our institutions have so far outlived every politician who abused them.

Our people have never said, “Please, take my rights.” We are not saying it now. That said, we have almost lost rights many times until people stood up and asserted power over corrupt leaders.

A dozen presidents and vice presidents have been sued, charged, and put through the courts, Aaron Burr for killing Alexander Hamilton, Abe Lincoln, and Harry Truman before office, and Theodore Roosevelt for libel after office. The past ten presidents were all sued. 

Scandals – especially tied to elections – often plague presidents, from the 1824’s “Corrupt Bargain” favoring John Quincy Adams over Andrew Jackson, who held more popular and electoral votes, to “Teapot Dome” under Harding and electoral corruption charges in 1876, 1912, 1960, and 2000.

Other data? Politics in the courts happens when we are closely divided, tempers running hot, and the incentive to abuse is high, as now. Elections do settle things.

In other words, if you look back, what you see is wild events, violence, and abused power – yet damping oscillations, much self-correction, returns to a fixed point.

Some will say the fixed point changed in the past 70 years, toward a more progressive, less conservative spot. That is so. But history is a strange thing. It depends on your rangefinder. The past 800 years have pushed individual rights.

To me, the “eigenvector” of society turns out to be a function of who we are, our history, unwillingness to let big government rule us, although we rise only in crisis. America is surely in a dangerous place, far from our fixed point. But lawlessness and corruption end, like wars. The hope is our “angular wave vector” and changes in wave amplitude return the ball to where it belongs. But we have to keep our eye on it. That is part of the equation.

Robert Charles is a former Assistant Secretary of State under Colin Powell, former Reagan and Bush 41 White House staffer, attorney, and naval intelligence officer (USNR). He wrote “Narcotics and Terrorism” (2003), “Eagles and Evergreens” (2018), and is National Spokesman for AMAC.

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PaulE
PaulE
17 days ago

Interesting discussion of applying science, in this case the laws of physics, to determine both our future direction and probability of returning to something most would describe as relative normal or steady state or whether we are on a different path to a far less desirable future. I use scientific analysis on a daily basis to chart probable outcomes based on a multitude of both known variables and relative constants to determine likely future outcomes for specific things in both the markets and on the political stage. Both of which are reflective of the actions or reactions to the other, as governmental actions, both positive and negative, have become so intertwined with our economy at this point that there is no practical way to separate the impact of one on the other. Yes, it entails a lot of complex mathematics, but that is what computer algorithms and detailed data analysis are for.

The one thing that can’t be distilled down to a mathematical formula is the human decision-making process on the political side of things. While we would all like to think most humans are inherently rational beings, ultimately making the right choice if for no other reason than practical self-preservation in most instances, reality tends to be far different in practice. Not all people think and reason the same way and thus they all don’t come to the same conclusion on a subject. Even when presented with the exact same set of facts in the exact same manner. This has a tendency to create massive distortions, or as you put it oscillations, on the political side of the equation. Those distortions then tend to create what amounts to a feedback loop, for either positive or negative outcomes. That is the hardest part of trying of trying to apply science to mapping out any potential future outcomes where the human factor is involved. Some people, on an unfortunately regular basis for a multitude of reasons, tend to make what one would describe as irrational or bad choices, which end up creating negative situations or futures for the country as a whole. Thus, any assumption relying on “eigenvector” of society, as you state, can’t be considered a constant in any equation used today. It is much more of a variable today, depending on when an individual was formally educated. The systematic approach by the left in this country to leverage the public education system to change basic human values and perceptions has effectively re-written that baseline.

Good article by the way. Something quite enjoyable and a nice change.

Lieutenant Beale
Lieutenant Beale
17 days ago

In quantum physics, the major forces at work in the known universe are gravity, strong force, weak force and the newly discovered “woke force”
Woke Force has utterly baffled physicists because it doesn’t follow known scientific principles or universal laws.
Even the most powerful force in the known universe, the mighty Black Hole, cannot stand up to Woke Force (which postulates Black Holes are racist)
Woke Force is insidious in that it eats away the gray matter in the human brain. It seems to be concentrated in our institutions of higher learning, the upper echelons of government and even in some of our houses of worship.
Woke Force dictates that mathematics is illogical, up is down, down is up, freedom is slavery, evil is good, bitter is sweet (but only on Tuesday of every other month excluding Federal Holidays)
At this time there is no known cure, vaccine, scientific method or atomic physics application to combat Woke Force (but I have a working theory that Common Sense might be an effective deterrent to at least mitigate Woke Force (but that seems to be very elusive and hard to find these days).

Max
Max
17 days ago

RBC, nice comparison with physics. The majority of Americans react to a situation as it occurs rather than being proactive which is a rare occurrence. This upcoming election may get a reprieve, but the majority of the people will return to their docile state and evil will again raise its ugly head. This election will be ugly at all levels.

Jerry
Jerry
16 days ago

Our constitution is just words on paper if we the people and our elected representatives don’t abide by it and give it life.

Rob citizenship
Rob citizenship
17 days ago

In the first paragraph the question presented — will our society stabilize or go out of control towards chaos ? The idea of Related Rates in Mathematics. came to mind with that question — in that with related rates calculations it can be determined how much two forces are changing in relation to each other and the matter of having stability or things going out of control can be judged by political measures in the same spirit as the related rates method. For example, the crime statistics could be thought of as headed in a northerly direction and new police recruits headed in an easterly direction At some point there is going to be an imbalance between the two that will indicate something is unpresidented and the circumstances will confirm that a situation is in need of being fixed to prevent chaos and maintain stability . It is very good to have something like Physics or Mathematics to get the mental gears turning I usually practice spherical trigonometry — as applied to navigation related matters — Great Circle sailing, the cosine equation for celestial navigation . And the basic physics of weight and balance calculations for ship and aircraft stability. Historical references in this article are appreciated ,as there is something solid to help in dealing with rapidly changing policies, with knowledge of the history , the matters can be presented at an understandable pace – and sensible opinions can be formed . Political stability is the goal and I reckon that the Declaration and Bill of Rights will help The. Eleven Principles of a Reagan Conservative will be good to think about as well . Praise for this article Robert, Well Done for sure. ! P.S. Map projections are another great way to check on the mental gears turning — the Mercator projection ( meridional parts calculations) and the Lambert Conical projection. Great geometry in both of those !
.

Morbious
Morbious
16 days ago

My take on this: ill feel renewed confidence if Trump wins a resounding victory in November and drags the rino congress along in his wake. With all three branches he can make the left squeal. In other words, if the next election resembles 1980, we can cheer up to the fact that it might be morning in America again. If sniffy wins its good night for good.

johnh
johnh
16 days ago

Forget about physics, if every American citizen would abide by THE TEN COMMANDMENTS , this would be the greatest nation in the world. And this nation would withstand the SATAN forces to create evil and chaos. The law of physics do not control this nation as they do not include the human factor.

PaulE
PaulE
17 days ago

Hey AMAC moderator, please explain what is wrong with the comment I just posted. It contains no “bad” words or anything that might be deemed offensive to anyone. So please clarify what your problem is with what I wrote. Thanks.

Jonboy
Jonboy
16 days ago

Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. America today is neither

uncleferd
uncleferd
16 days ago

“Physics” is comprised, in part, of the “law” of “President” Biden’s natural attraction to unearned moneys through his shady associations with other “Democrats”.

Don’t do it
Don’t do it
17 days ago

Don’t come here with psychics when you can’t even unlock an IPhone gramps lol

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