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Robust action and the rise of Snadhya

Robust action and the rise of Snadhya

Postby Whizzard » Wed Feb 22, 2017 8:56 pm

"Robust action and the rise of the Medici Snadhya"

Since I'm studying social sciences, I was directed to this text by John F. Padgett and Christopher K. Ansell which explores something called "robust action" through the rise of Medici family (lead by 'sphinxlike' Cosimo de' Medici) becoming from a lower class banking family to the most powerful family in Italy for 3 whole centuries. (Tip: They did so by accident since they had tight connections with both the aristocracy, which they formed through loans [and when risch family couldn't pay back they of course married their daughters into Medici family despite it not being a noble family] and lower class district officals [since being of lower class, Medici couldn't always marry into aristocracy so they mostly married with lower class officials that held high places in different cities]).

And the text I read went as follows:

"Yet the puzzle about Cosimo's control is this: totally contrary to Machiavelli's
portrait in The Prince of effective leaders as decisive and goal
oriented, eyewitness accounts describe Cosimo de' Medici as an indecipherable
sphinx (Brown 1961, p. 186). "Cosimo was anxious to remain
in the background, hiding his great influence, and acting, when need
arose, through a deputy. As a result, very little is known of the measures
for which he was directly responsible" (Gutkind 1938, p. 124). Despite
almost complete domination of the state, Cosimo never assumed lasting
public office. And he hardly ever gave a public speech. Lest one conclude
that this implies only savvy back-room dealing, extant accounts of
private meetings with Cosimo emphasize the same odd passivity. After
passionate pleas by supplicants for action of some sort, Cosimo typically
would terminate a meeting graciously but icily, with little more commitment
than "Yes my son, I shall look into that" (cf. Vespasiano 1963,
pp. 223, 226).

Moreover, especially after 1434, all action by Cosimo (never explained
or rationalized) appeared extraordinarily reactive in character [Whizzard note: As opposed to pro-active]. Everything
was done in response to a flow of requests that, somehow or other,
"just so happened" to serve Cosimo's extremely multiple interests.

We use the term "robust action" to refer to Cosimo's style of control.
The key to understanding Cosimo's sphinxlike character, and the judge/
boss contradiction thereby, we argue, is multivocality-the fact that single
actions can be interpreted coherently from multiple perspectives simultaneously,
the fact that single actions can be moves in many games at
once, and the fact that public and private motivations cannot be parsed.
Multivocal action leads to Rorschach blot identities, with all alters constructing
their own distinctive attribution of the identity of ego. The
"only" point of this, from the perspective of ego, is flexible opportunism-maintaining
discretionary options across unforeseeable futures in
the face of hostile attempts by others to narrow those options.

Crucial for maintaining discretion is not to pursue any specific goals.
For in nasty strategic games, like Florence or like chess, positional play
is the maneuvering of opponents into the forced clarification of their (but
not your) tactical lines of action. Locked-in commitment to lines of action,
and thence to goals, is the product not of individual choice but at
least as much of others' successful "ecological control" over you (Padgett
1981). Victory, in Florence, in chess, or in go means locking in others,
but not yourself, to goal-oriented sequences of strategic play that become
predictable thereby

Robust action resolves the contradiction between judge and boss [Whizzard note: that someone can not be a judge and the boss at the same time because no one would trust such a character] because
at the center there are no unequivocal self-interests. Cosimo, after
all, "merely" responded graciously to the flow of requests. Because requests
had to flow to him, others, not Cosimo himself, struggled to infer
and then to serve Cosimo's inscrutable interests. Control was diffused
throughout the structure of others' self-fashionings."

Now, while Snadhya certainly is not the reactive type of character but rather pro-active, Cosimo's "robust action" style of control actually sounds something like how Snadhya's "just as planned" style of control works. She plays her moves in a way that her opponents become locked in a certain course of action. She doesn't so much as plan for every occasion, but rather just sets the gameboard so her plan goes through. Aka, robust action. Hence why there have been occasions that she didn't plan for.

Of course, not all or any of this probably applies but it's a little something I found that could explain how Snadhya isn't so much as a genius that really plans for everything but just very very good at manipulating people into doing what she wants them to do.
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Re: Robust action and the rise of Snadhya

Postby Doom Chinchilla » Wed Feb 22, 2017 10:19 pm

It seems to me that Cosimo was just following the strategy of extreme caution that had allowed him to rise: Avoiding taking an overt political position, not getting bound to any faction; not taking unnecesary risks; avoiding being seen as too big of a threat; not putting all eggs in the same basket, minimizing risk; preparing for all eventualities; slowly amassing power and using it to get more wealth and to protect himself...etc. He was pretty much a quintaessential businessman, acting like most great company's CEOs in our modern world.

His descendants took the step to become something else than just successful, wealthy businessman, and became overt rulers. Other families, like the Peruzzi, chose to remain in the background instead, avoid politics, and play it safe.
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Re: Robust action and the rise of Snadhya

Postby Whizzard » Thu Feb 23, 2017 8:47 am

True, that is probably how it worked, he was just being cautious. But this cautioness formed a pattern that created a very effective method of control. In fact, my professors speculate, that the "robust action" indeed happened entirely by accident and not by concious effort from Cosimo, just like their position in society as the middlemen.
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