Friday, February 11, 2011

Egyptian uprising as an ultimatum game

In an ultimatum game (reference) two subjects are given a free endowment to split.  The experiments routinely find that a subject facing an overly greedy partner will refuse to play. 

The ultimatum game is a game often played in economic experiments in which two players interact to decide how to divide a sum of money that is given to them. The first player proposes how to divide the sum between the two players, and the second player can either accept or reject this proposal. If the second player rejects, neither player receives anything. If the second player accepts, the money is split according to the proposal. The game is played only once so that reciprocation is not an issue.[…]

In many cultures, people offer "fair" (i.e., 50:50) splits, and offers of less than 20% are often rejected.[2] One limited study on monozygotic and dizygotic twins claims that genetic variation can affect reactions to unfair offers, though the study failed to employ actual controls for environmental differences.[3]

The Egyptian protesters, unarmed, brought the Egyptian economy to a standstill.  So much for the force of arms.  Will they go back to work under the threat of arms? No likely.

Instead, the army has taken the people’s side.  Smart move.  So far.

So all the Homeland Security thugs who disarmed the people in New Orleans and who stand ready to disarm the American people should they engage in civil disobedience should take this to heart.  Who’s side do you want to be on, in the end?  The Gini coefficient in Egypt is more unequal than that in the U.S. (reference). What we lack so far is the abuses of the secret police in Egypt that, I believe, ultimately mobilized the people.

Egypt is showing the world a way forward.  I hope and pray the resolution is peaceful.  However it goes will serve as a model in the world’s imagination for how “the authorities” aligned with the American Empire can and will respond to civil disobedience and demands for social justice.

Added 2/14:  Egypt: The Distance Between Enthusiasm and Reality  Still a military dictatorship in the short run, a true revolution yet to occur.

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