Chapter Three


The Intertemporal Strategy

Across more than 2,000 years and 4,000 miles, two hideously violent yet highly creative epochs in human history—the Warring States Period of ancient China and the military conquests of Napoleonic Europe—shaped the political landscapes of their times and gave rise to what have become two canonical texts of a universal strategic methodology: the Sunzi, attributed to a Chinese general known as Sun Wu (or Master Sun), and Vom Kriege (On War) by the Prussian major general, Carl von Clausewitz.

Traditionally, but erroneously, they have been positioned as contrasts, completing each other “like a perfect couple formed of opposites,”1 not only chronologically but philosophically. Vom Kriege has been typically viewed—particularly by its most vehement critic, English military historian Sir Basil Henry Liddell Hart—as advocating total war waged through the most deadly means of direct confrontation, while the Sunzi avoids destructive clashes whenever possible and, instead, subdues the enemy through indirect means such as manipulation and deception.

Within what is the greatest and most efficacious of human strategic thought is a common thread that, though winding and tangled, will lead us to an understanding of how it is applied in other realms of human endeavor with complex objectives—the most significant of which, I would argue, is capital investment (specifically the methodology of Austrian Investing). The thread shows us a metasystem, perhaps ...

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