Modern explanation of five constant factors (art of war) [Less Wrong Premise]
May 15, 2018
Sun Tzu said: There are 5 constant factors that determine victory or defeat.
The first one is Moral Law, or in modern term: synergy. Synergy is when many people stop being too preoccupied with their own interest and start acting as a single super-organism which cooperatively tries to achieve mutual objective(s).
To achieve this synergy, we need good leaders, good followers, and good systems that push people to work cooperatively.
The second factor is Heaven, or things that change, or in meta-modern term: oscillation. A lot of things change beyond our control. A lot of things that change do so in a back-and-forth way, just like an oscillation. These changing things change the battlefield’s circumstances, which might change the probability of victory or defeat for the conflict belligerents.
In regard to Heaven, it’d be good if we know all of the possible contingencies and plan for each possibilities. Adaptability and agility are useful to switch from one plan to another.
The third factor is Earth. These are the things that are static and fixed. Of course, in the long run, some of these static things may change. But, in the short run, those things are still static. These are the battlefield.
Concerning the Earth, it’s time well spent to research about them because they don’t change much. Know the battlefield, know the mechanics.
The fourth factor is the Commander. In person, this is the figurehead. More generally, this is THE ideal archetype.
Find the ideal for your role and emulate it the best you can. If you’re a leader, be THE ideal leader. If you’re a follower, be THE best follower.
The last factor is Method and Discipline, or in modern term: the stock and flow of resources. Just like Heaven, Method and Discipline deals with things that change. Unlike the Heaven, Method and Discipline are things that fall inside our control. The things included here are:
- the distribution of human resources based on their capabilities and preferences.
- the management of infrastructures and institutions to acquire, maintain, and distribute economic resources such as money, technology, equipment, etc.
Regarding Method and Discipline, to assure your victory, study the best way to stock and flow resources in accordance to the Heaven and the Earth, and disrupt the enemy’s stock and flow of resources.