Littlefinger: “Chaos isn’t a pit. Chaos is a ladder. Many who try to climb it fail and never get to try again. The fall breaks them. And some, are given a chance to climb. They refuse, and cling to the realm or the gods or love. Illusions. Only the ladder is real. The climb is all there is.”
Analysis And Explanation
Littlefinger was talking about how chaos allows people to increase their power. Specifically, he was able to go from an insignificant house to Lord of the Vale and influencer of House Stark. He attributes part of this to his ability to create and thrive in chaos.
On the other hand, some think it is a pit. It is a pit in the sense that chaos makes life hellish, unpredictable, and miserable for most average people. But Littlefinger doesn’t care about average people. He only cars about himself.
He mentions how other people either don’t climb because they are focused on a moral ideal they have created for themselves. Or some try but lose so badly in the game that they never are able to have the power to try again.
But Littlefinger rejects these philosophies. He knows what he wants isn’t to achieve a moral goal. He simply wants power. That is why to him increasing his power is all that is important in life. Everything else leads to a result that he doesn’t value.
Why Does Chaos Make It Easier To Gain Power?
- Chaos divides people, and divided people are easier to control, manipulate, isolate, and conquer. We wrote a whole article about the division tactic here. Basically unified people have more power. If you can split up an army, they are less dangerous than if they are working together. This is true socially as well. Divided people are less likely to communicate and strategize together.
- Chaos makes people more desperate for allies and support. Since chaos stresses existing systems, people who control those systems will eventually begin to seek help in order to maintain power. This assistance can come in the form of armies, finances, or information.
- Chaos can make obtaining some resources more difficult, so they become more scarce. Those who have the scarce resources can charge more money for them. For example, when is information from spies more valuable, during an oncoming military attack or when the nation is stable and people are content?
- Chaos makes people create more rules so they feel in control. But rules make for slow, predictable, and rigid movement, which eventually leads to being outflanked. Would you rather attack someone who was predictable or a person who you had no idea what they were going to do?
- Chaos leads to an unpredictable future. In an unpredictable future, people don’t know what will be valuable and what won’t. If you are lower on the totem pole, you want opportunities to snatch up valuable resources. But in an organized and predictable situation it will be clear to everyone what is valuable and what isn’t. In chaos, you have a better chance to gain control of a valuable resource since the future is unknown, and that makes it unclear what things will be influential and therefore valuable. This article talks a bit about how small changes in management’s actions can lead to large changes in a chaotic situation.
Littlefinger’s secret is that he is anti fragile. Anti fragile is a term used by the author Nassim Taleb, to describe things that “gain from disorder.” In other words, the more chaotic things get, the more Littlefinger is able to refine his systems, make more money, improve on his weaknesses, and build more leverage.
Taleb says that you can become antifragile by not relying on one thing. Like a hydra, Littlefinger seems to pop up all over the story with different schemes and plans. He isn’t limited to one source of power. You can cut off one of his sources but he has others. Taleb also says to keep your options open, to take lots of small risks, practice minimalism, and to resist the urge to suppress randomness and instead set up a way to gain from chaos, volatility, and disorder. All of these things we can see to some extent or another in the character Littlefinger.
See the book Antifragile for more.
Learn more about manipulation tricks, some of which are used by Littlefinger, here.