Business Binge Drinking

Nice piece about binge drinking in China.

Essentially, in business, you\’ve got to do it.

Sadly, it\’s reportage, it doesn\’t explain the real reason, which is that it\’s a low trust society. Or, looking at it another way, a low rule of law society making it a high trust society.

I got this when in Russia in the 90s. Most people you tried to do a deal with wanted to see you drunk before they agreed to do a deal with you. You could agree a deal, sign contracts all you wanted, but if something went wrong you couldn\’t depend upon the law to sort it all out fairly. You had to depend upon the bloke you\’d done the deal with. So what sort of bloke you\’d done the deal with was vitally important. And you measured this by their behaviour while drunk.

Someone who became vicious, who lied, or let slip stories about how they\’d screwed people over, not so interesting. Someone who got cheerier as they got more pissed a rather better prospect.

In essence, in the absence of that rule of law you had to rely upon an estimation of character: and for that, in vino veritas.

Mebbe.

9 comments on “Business Binge Drinking

  1. Sure you have an insight there – but a quick glance at the article suggests that this drinking is not so common amongst the ‘social elite’.

    The same thing in Japan – but there, I suspect, there’s also a glorious delight in drinking.

    But easy access to legal contract enforcement is limited in Japan too. YOu might have a point

  2. Walking out of an Irish bar in Stockholm Eli turned to Ms. Rabett, who is the Irish persuasion and asked, “this is Scandinavia, why so many Irish bars” only to receive the reply “The Irish are happy drunks”

  3. I remember my father saying of a man whom we found a little difficult in business “I’ve tried him drunk and I’ve tried him sober and I can’t make him out at all”.

  4. Essentially, in business, you’ve got to do it.

    That was very much so in Russia, as you’re aware, Tim. It was virtually impossible not to when invited out with people who counted in your sphere.

    It also helped to have a dacha with banya.

  5. Hmmm. Every time I got drunk in Russia in a business environment, the Russians who would supposedly have been assessing my character were in as bad a state as I was, i.e. barely able to stand, let alone interpret somebody’s inner thoughts. I always thought they were just using business as an excuse to get shitfaced. But you might be on to something, nonetheless.

  6. More often: in vino volubilitas.
    Or in vino verisimilitudinas.

    Veritas vera is remarkably elusive.

  7. Every time I got drunk in Russia in a business environment, the Russians who would supposedly have been assessing my character were in as bad a state as I was, i.e. barely able to stand, let alone interpret somebody’s inner thoughts.

    That means you’re practically Russian. Whether that makes them trust you more or less is another question…

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