Ülo Ennuste Economics

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Letter to the JCE

Draft 6.VIII 11

Letter to the Editor of the “Journal of Comparative Economics”

Sir – Paul R. Gregory, Philipp J.H. Schröder and Konstantin Sonin in the paper:

“Rational dictators and the killing of innocents: Data from Stalin’s archives”(*) 

have correctly posited a classical rational decision theoretic stochastic/Bayesian choice model of terrorist dictatorship to explain the tendency of dictators to repress innocent citizens. This model adequately demonstrates that, when the quality of information about regime enemies is low, a rational dictator will knowingly/”rationally”  kill and imprison citizens who are not real enemies.

But as we know from many and many documents (e.g. the Mitrokhin Archives) and studies (e.g. “Estonia 1940-1945” Tallinn 2006 1333 p, and  “White Book” Tallinn 2005 171 p(**))  – under both Stalin and Hitler regimes) and multiple credible biographies etc – the lower coordinators  (generals, governors,  administrators, managers etc) in the dictatorship hierarchy and including satellite dictators etc were strictly  commanded  to behave irrationally, make contradictory demagogic statements, implement inconsistent laws, were prescribed quotas of eliminations and deportations of the citizens etc. By the way a class of  analogical historical problems – e.g. from Prof P. Ramazzoti (2005, privately):

In Aeschylus’ Oresteia, Agamemnon is forced to choose between losing his army or losing his daughter. He is therefore forced to link two previously independent sub-systems: the sub-system that defines his family relations and the sub-system that defines his military/political relations. The two sub-systems involve very clear rules: defend your family, on the one hand; defend your kingdom, on the other. The two rules turn out to be inconsistent under the specific circumstances Agamemnon finds himself in.”

And last but not least – for the Stalin’s paradigms the classical set of  “innocent  citizens” may not be the sufficiently reliable and valid research instrument – as in those paradigms positively absolutely all citizens have some kind or rate of guiltiness (e.g. at least relatives abroad, ancestors rich or have served other regimes etc).

Understandably in these situations the rational choice theories would certainly not adequately describe/model reality: in these circumstances may be that formalized modelling by Zadeh’s  fuzzy sets and logic (1965) should be more appropriate (perhaps therewith involving complex numbers etc): as there are in Zadeh’s semantics idiosyncratic (contradictory to classical set theories) membership rate functions – à la membership rates of the families or the peoples in the both sets – membership rates in the set of innocents and in the set of the regime enemies, and therefore this “allows” publicly somehow to justify repressions/eliminations of certain innocents and to have mercy upon some enemies – for the glory of the godlike dictator.

(*) Journal of Comparative Economics Volume 39, Issue 1, March 2011, Pages 34-42.

(**) http://tallinn.ester.ee/search~S7*est?/.b2042174/.b2042174/1,1,1,B/l856~b2042174&FF=&1,0,,1,0


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August 4, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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  1. […] http://www.sjsu.edu/faculty/watkins/fuzzysets.htm – vt lisaks nt https://uloennuste.wordpress.com/2011/08/04/letter-to-thejce/ LD_AddCustomAttr("AdOpt", "1"); LD_AddCustomAttr("Origin", "other"); […]

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