“Your isolation is not so much the direct result of enemy action as of the fact that when you travel this road your experiences are shared by fewer and fewer people, until at last there’s no one to whom you can make yourself understood.” Sarah Patton Boyle, “Spit in the Devil’s Eye: A Southern Heretic Speaks,” from the October 20, 1956 issue of The Nation magazine © 1956. The Nation Company, LP. Reprinted with permission. Also found in The Nation 1865-1990, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, Ed., p. 214.
Secretly throughout history, weapons and peace mentors have diced for our wealth, talent, faith, bodies, posterity, sanity and Holy Spirit—the whole caboodle. The former sought to protect us militarily from the Other and protect themselves from us; the latter, to accept the Other and ourselves in peace.
You will find the same conflict between the weapon mentors and those of peace—whether among whites and blacks; Chinese, Argentineans, New Zealanders and Greenlanders; capitalists, communists, socialists and fascists (progressive or reactionary); among atheists, agnostics, deists, Christians, Muslims, Pagans, and Buddhists (whether fundamentalist or ecumenical); as much among jungle dwellers knapping scarce flint as among sky scraper tenants managing (or being managed by) a frenzy of info technology.
Is that fully understood?
This contest has slashed right across every social divide we hold dear. Age, sex, ethnicity, class, religion, ideology, geography and politics—mere window-dressing that has distracted us from our primary task: peace on Earth once and for all.
The Weapon/Peace Dialectic regulates our political dialog across a rigid Cartesian coordinate. Each of us communicates with a forked tongue, as do each of our nation-states. Its two tines (one controlled by weapon mentors, the other by peace mentors) share three communication traits. They are:
· dialectical: parallel along the axis of understanding;
· antithetical: at right angles to each other's beliefs; and
· antinomical: directly contradicting each other’s methods and outcomes.
This thrice-knotted, forked-tongue garble induces the Weapon/Peace Antinomy: absolute disparity between methods used, goals sought and results achieved.
My example will be the term “utopia.”
Along the first, dialectical axis, Utopia is a classic text whose author, Sir Thomas More, describes a “perfect” social order. Everyone agrees that his utopia is not an accurate historical representation, is not relevant to present circumstances and not possible in the future. What a wonderful model! But this is the nearest that most scholars of the Western Enlightenment dare approach the idea of PeaceWorld. There are a handful of later texts just as obscure and poorly thought out.
WASP reactionaries and progressives agree that this is all the documentation they require to determine the relative merits of weapon mentality and peace mentality. Might as well cross the Rocky Mountains using a map of Pangaea.
Along the second, antithetical axis, the word utopia signifies for weapon mentors, “that (place) which can never be.” Utopia is their favorite reference text, taught in every high school and college. It confirms their deeply held conviction that peaceful and benevolent societies are impossible. For peace mentors, utopia means “that (place) which is not but might be.” Utopia is a narrow speculation on their part, upon which to build a better peace.
Don’t ask me why progressives haven’t published a half a hundred better works, since: craven subservience to weapon mentors, flawed imagination, subconscious approval of the status quo or mere mental inertia? The ultimate reason for their failure is beyond my grasp.
Along the third, antinomian axis, weapon mentors use the word utopian like an adverbial clause: “When pigs fly and hell freezes over.” Any idea branded utopian can be dismissed by reflex without further consideration. Peace mentors use it to describe a social scheme that intends to improve current reality, whether or not it might be valid and practical. In other words, the peaceful version of the word utopia signifies "something good we should strive for," whereas the weapon version means "a horror to be avoided like the plague…Not only useless but somehow poisonous."
Thus, along the antinomical axis, the ultimate intention on each side is in total opposition. What was once a conversation is now a tug of war.
Nowadays, weapon mentality dominates our words, arguments and intentions the same way weapon technology dominates our material lives. We seek to survive in peace despite the universal dominance of weapon thought.
Our synchronization of meaning, definition and intent – and the clarity it may bring to public discourse – promise us security, abundance and fellow feeling beyond expectation.
Our institutions and cultures retain a few peace remnants we should cultivate, and a preponderance of dominant weapon memes we should render vestigial.
In this book, we will use the words “weapon” and “weapons” interchangeably. Rather than use them simply as nouns, we will wield them as modifiers: weapon technology and peace technology. From now on, “weapon” will go before words that begin with a consonant, and “weapons” anticipate those that begin with a vowel.
The text below separates the weapon/peace antinomy into four word-pairs:
· weapon mentality
· weapon technology
· peace mentality
· peace technology
Weapon mentality relies on fear, and fear rules our world.
“… [The English historian, Thomas] Carlyle said that the great element missing from our attempted entry into the past is Fear; he set himself to re-enact it, and succeeded extraordinarily well. His syntax is designed to embody a distracted groping for certainties in a fog of rumour [sic] and of events at best only half-understood, in moods of acute anxiety, rage and sometimes dangerous exaltation.” John Burrow, A History of Histories: Epic, Chronicles, Romances and Inquiries from Herodotus and Thucydides to the Twentieth Century, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2008, page 362.
In order to shield its adherents from overwhelming dread, weapon managers develop threat deterrents they believe so ghastly that none would dare challenge them. Alas, WeaponWorld ordains this challenge: “The best defense is a good offense.” In the long run, no-one’s agonizing death has deterred anyone; it has only offered momentary satisfaction to local psychopaths.
In this text, we’ll avoid terms like “war mentality” and “warfare mentality”. War mentality is to weapon mentality what road rage is to defensive driving. Neither weapon managers nor defensive drivers would rather engage in a violent collision.
Only rarely will we use terms like militarism or fascism as substitutes for weapon mentality. It is much more widespread and subtle; it infects “free” democracies as intensely as dictatorships. Indeed, free citizens of free republics are better weapon technicians than the slaves of a dictatorship. A people that calls itself peace loving can manage its killing more skillfully than another that thirsts for foreign blood.
If you consider yourself a lover of peace, pure beyond reproach – even though you’ve not bothered to sort out your peace and weapon priorities – you’re actually a weapon fellow traveler and a pillar of the weapon status quo.
Like alcoholics in denial, we worsen our addiction to weapon mentality insofar we deny it.
Weapon mentality inflicts social distortions on purpose. Poverty, rigid hierarchy, injustice, inequality, underemployment, nurtured criminality, substandard education, malnutrition and professional arrogance—the list goes on and on. We mistake weapon mentality for a regrettable combination of stupidity, bigotry, insanity, greed, crime, honest error and disaster; and we refuse to believe they’ve been allowed to fester on purpose to further its own goals.
Social reformers imagine they can improve things reductively, gradually and incrementally—problem-by-problem, identity position by identity position and topic by topic. Using the same scattergun methods and birdshot reasoning, they’ve failed for the past five thousand years.
A categorical solution to this problem would be holistic, simultaneous and global peace mentality – agreed upon by almost everyone – followed by a swarming cascade of atomistic and reductive fixes. Long-term success is impossible in the opposite order (as currently practiced), since each small fix is paralyzed by the holistic, simultaneous and global counteraction of weapon mentality as it is worshiped today.
A society measures itself against a constellation of political metaphors its members agree to share. The one we share is crammed with weapon myths. Many common policies and beliefs of religion, law and morality constitute weapon mythology: popular rationalizations for our most irrational policies and institutions. Since the basic values of weapon mentality are insane to anyone with the slightest appreciation of peace, weapon mentors impose their own mythical vocabulary and syntax immune to peace mentors' reasonable criticism.
For weapons managers to succeed, they must be consistently incompetent at peace. Military technologies are the only fields at which they must excel (mercilessly graded on the battlefield by Darwinian selection); other fields of endeavor can be ventured with deliberate ineptitude and still fulfill their requirements. The worse they manage peace, the better they will succeed at war. Weapons technicians have ruled for thousands of years because it has been much less bitter to fail at peace and triumph at war, than to succeed at peace and lose a war.
A common weapon refrain is, “You’re not paid to think about such things; we are.”
Information proletarians are enslaved by their lack valid information. Junk data, served piping hot to them every day, maintains their servile status. Most often, you and I fit in somewhere here. At other times, our loyalties sparkle between these meta-groups like energy quanta between the atomic shells of a world-sized molecule.
As information proletarians learn, work and play, they produce wealth while sustaining themselves and their beloved. Much smaller groups (called information elites) seize most of this wealth in the name of military security, and use it to defray the anti-profit costs of their weapon technologies.
These costs go well beyond mere peacetime expenditures for weapons and soldiers, far beyond that. When comparing the economics of a peaceful society to the econolologic of a weapon society, an accurate distinction would be between the wealth of Geneva and the poverty of Mogadishu, or between the athletic performance of an Olympic runner winning his favorite race, versus that of a wounded soldier dragging his buddy’s body to the rear.
I’ve considered opting for the terms opinion elite and opinion proletariat to emphasize the fleeting nature of these prejudices and the information elite's paradoxical lack of merit. Opinion elites believe that their prejudices are a cut above everyone else’s; opinion proletarians convince themselves that their preferences are second-rate compared to those of the opinion elite. Well-entrenched in the media and schools, opinion elites fervently endorse this inferiority complex.
This may be the root cause why an overwhelming majority of progressives (relying on reason) never overcomes a tiny minority of weapon managers (shamelessly reliant on sociopath lies). Ah yes, I nearly forgot! That, and the knee-jerk reflex of reactionaries, to kill and torture a large number people at random whenever they feel seriously challenged—either in the cellars of the secret police during mass unemployment, or in the trenches of a war arranged for that purpose alone, or both as often in succession as they deem necessary to renew the proletariat’s reluctant submission.
Info elites and weapon managers are interchangeable among different nation-states, religious affiliations and political organizations. They include our rulers, their staff, media workers, judges, teachers, priests, politicians and other key misinformation and disinformation professionals―whether or not they understand what they’re doing and why they are doing it. They consider themselves superior to their proletarian hosts – from whom they spring and upon whom they depend – the same way a precocious youngster might scorn his humble guardians.
In the beginning, info proletarians picked their first elites from among themselves; thereafter, their replacements were promoted from the info proletariat. It did not matter whether this happened through princely privilege, democratic election, religious hierarchy, Soviet nomination, robber barony or whatever. Nor did it matter if the political setting was a kraal of mud huts, a stinking feudal barony or a continent spanning, multi-ethnic, military-industrial Empire. It never mattered whether weapon managers were enslaved or free, secular or religious, centralized or profit-oriented, plebian or noble, criminal or authorized, professional or amateur. Identical weapons elites emerged in any case, with remarkably similar mind-sets, attitudes and reflexive behaviors. Their talk might have changed over time and under different circumstances – cynically, opportunistically and with prejudice – but their walk never did. Except, perhaps, for honor …
Learners must appeal foremost to military honor: that of my father, of every noble warrior, which cleanses him of his filth. Real warriors will recognize honor at once and defend it against any crazy deviant who lacks it, lethal as he may be. That honor will inspire PeaceWorld and defend it fiercely from then on. Honor and Learning should become one. After all, one learns honor.
Info elites inculcate the info proletariat that their weapon management best suits everyone’s needs (an obvious lie). They employ:
· weapon mentors to broadcast this fabrication during pseudo-peace, and
· weapon sectarians to do so more forcefully in times of war.
The information elite is no smarter than the info proletariat from which it springs. Its members merely promote weapon mentality and themselves in the short term. They do so by censoring important information and drowning this censorship in a tsunami of babble and lies. Those smart and conscientious enough to criticize this poor bargain are marginalized.
This triage “in the name of obedience and loyalty” dumbs down those chosen (and self-chosen) to monopolize power, collectively and automatically. After holding sway for a while, weapons elites run aground on the reefs of their social contradictions. Quite predictably, they sink into ritual cruelty, institutional terror and routine corruption (see “Ritual Stupidity”).
Info elites can practice one of three broad categories of info politics. The first two categories simplify information content; the third complexifies it. Transitions between these categories are gradual and flexible; they can go backwards or forwards—they need not be categorical, abrupt or progressive.
1. Politicians (or elites) of misinformation broadcast as many lies as possible. This is standard behavior for tyrants modern and ancient. Sooner or later, anything not a forbidden truth becomes a mandatory lie. Misinfo politics creates top-down battle management systems that seem optimized for war. Think of Stalin and Saddam Hussein.
Broadcasting misinformation and discerning the truth become relatively simple tasks. In most cases of this kind of politics, when it comes to news relayed through official monologue media, the exact opposite of what was announced is likely to be closer to the truth.
Misinfo politics breed paranoia, suspicion and terror. Nothing is as it seems and no one can be trusted. Under this claustrophobic compulsion, the info elite shrinks to a minimum and then purges itself beyond that. Brain-dead dogma becomes manifest reality, mindlessly repeated across every medium. Rather than merely manipulate mass opinion, misinfo elites fantasize that they can transform reality itself—as on paper, so in reality. They murder and terrorize their proletarian hosts until this fantasy replaces common sense.
Gangsters rule, while self-blinded misinfo politicians wage holy war against Learner creativity. The end result is brutal warfare abroad and internal genocide to confirm official propaganda: the ultimate simplification of public reality. Society runs on its own inertia and feeds off its last reserves until it grinds to a halt and submits to ruination and chaos.
We can rate misinfo elites by their “hardness.” How hard does the elite make survival for the info proletariat? The harsher the tyranny, the worse the politics of misinformation.
As a weapon state matures, the defects of its misinformation politics become more and more blatant. Lies yield nothing but stolen wealth and its entropy into chaos—sustainable wealth grows from the truth and trust in its legitimacy. Thoughtful reformers attempt to weave a few strands of peace mentality (including a few threads of info politics) into the rotten basketwork of weapon management. This conglomeration of opposites cannot hold together for very long. Instead, it pits corrupt weapon managers against frustrated weapon dissidents in a centrifuge of disinfo politics. Here we are, ruled by...
2. Disinfo elites include a mix of so-called populists and moderates, with a hard core of reactionaries who rule in the end on every important issue. All together and ceaselessly, they broadcast their semi-monologue through extensive hierarchies of corporations, governments and/or religions. Unlike politicians of misinformation, they permit carefully screened feedback in minute doses.
The keyword in disinfo politics is "but" as addressed thus: "We hear your calls for reform and understand that true morality, morale and efficiency dictate that we do things better; but …” there follows a long list of excuses why inefficient and immoral practices must remain routine.
“Please be reasonable, ladies and gentlemen. What you propose would be impractical, too costly, subject to abuse by thugs, inconsistent with ancient protocols we cherish; it might encourage our enemies, etc., etc....” Ephemeral religious dogma, ideological gobbledygook, distortions of history, exquisitely composed literary blather, commercial advertising, sports babble, arena violence, empty show trials, soap opera trivia, “scientific” data and “mathematical” conclusions that wind up being utterly false: the whole broadcast robotically through monologue media—endlessly, from as many sources as possible, in lavish detail, with painful exactitude and at nonstop volume.
Significant matters are lied about obsessively, usually by omission. This trancelike state becomes hypnotic and self-reinforcing. Producers and spectators alike refuse to distinguish obvious lies from the truth. Disinfo elites are just as vulnerable to their own disinformation as their host proletariat. Destructive activities increase while real wealth evaporates.
The populace ignores its greatest strengths and perils in favor of successive elaborations of trivia. It is easily convinced of its imaginary wealth when it is on the verge of bankruptcy and vice versa. Public policies become arbitrary and dithering, without ethical or ideological basis. The regime improvises as it goes along and its outcomes suffer accordingly.
Useless and trivial information becomes easier (cheap or free) to find and more profitable to mass-produce, while the useful kind becomes harder to broadcast and acquire (more expensive, “unprofitable” and laborious). Belief in anything but rabid commercialism, faith in anything but naked greed and senile dogma, all but those are forbidden by universal consent and popular decree.
Disinfo elites turn into bloated Mandarinates. Through the active promotion of certified mediocrities and authoritative conmen, gifted Learners are relegated to info proletarian status and sub-creative frustration. These habits of deliberate misunderstanding, consensus oversimplification and social mediocrity are only reversed in times of war when many frustrated talents are recruited into revitalized weapon cadres.
I recall a photograph of American shipyard workers leaving work at the end of their shift back during World War II (sic). An enormous sign was posted over the entrance: “Tell us your good ideas!” No such sign would have graced a similar factory gate at the same time in history, had it been between two wars.
Just as a slap in the face will stop a fit of hysterics – and a deep kiss, likewise – mass trauma is the usual method to put an end to this delusional state. Without warning, disaster and warfare strike because no one has bothered to address important issues preemptively. Everyone is so surprised when their sand castle comes tumbling down all of a sudden. Thereafter, disinfo elites declare war—a much simpler task than promoting abundance and fellow feeling. Mass murder becomes once again the norm. At that point, it’s too late to adopt peaceful politics of information, since the requisite wealth and unstressed, unpanicked populations have gone to waste.
Learner – by the way – is the kiss.
On rare occasions, peace dissidents manage to overcome this social inertia and spread the good news that everyone should share Learning even-handedly. As info elites start paying miraculous attention to this idea and broadcasting it, they work themselves out of the job of restricting information flow. At that point, info elites and proletariats merge into an information (or learner) commonwealth.
3. Politicians of information would generate truth and lies on every topic without prejudice or favor, for Learners to sort out among themselves. A Learner commonwealth would emerge through unrestricted public discourse and extensive dialogues between self-selected info-jurors. They would pursue their topics of passion without regard to wealth or status—since those would be theirs by right in an Information Commonwealth.
Many statements that appear to be lies are just more complex elaborations of the truth. Whether through literary fiction, new ideologies, academic postulates, inventions, discoveries or reinterpretations of ancient dogma: the truth prevails because it is more profitable in peaceful settings. People revalue information content because it seems more important to them than expensive artifacts and mythmaking about military security.
Taking the opposite tack, misinfo societies opt for nothing but lies and terror. The truth becomes least profitable because it will get you and your kin arrested, tortured and executed. No such choice remains in disinfo societies where white noise drowns out everything else—until the World Trade Towers are brought down in controlled demolition. Everyone scrambles thereafter to resume the fallacious prattle of reassuring normalcy, thus exposing their neck to the next axe swing and doing nothing to ward it off.
In politics of information, expanding communication systems become more interactive, complex and adaptive. People engage in many more dialogues across new media, rather than submit to top-down, monologue propaganda from “superior” elites. They are more interested in their topics of passion than in the mass media’s trivial disinformation.
TV is a monologue medium, as are radio, print media and non-interactive web pages. You know, all those worthless corporate and bigot propaganda web pages that have no Contact link?
The Greek Agora, Town Hall meetings (unscripted… Gotta add that specification, now that Bush the Lesser’s disinfo technicians have scripted, rehearsed and hand-picked political audiences as a matter of routine), telephones and postal or electronic mails are examples of dialogue media.
It is a question of satisfying the armchair formula as quickly as possible. Dialogue media can carry at least ten times more useful interactions across the same bandwidth, than monologue media. The sum of useful communication equals real wealth (divided by the sum of useless and/or noxious messages?). I’m talking the same amount of hard cash with ten, a hundred, a thousand times more value without inflation.
“Your intent is noble, but your appeal misguided. If you talk to these emperors about profits, and in their love of profit they stop their armies – their armies will rejoice in peace and delight in profit. Soon ministers will embrace profit in serving their sovereign, sons will embrace profit in serving their fathers, younger brothers will embrace profit in serving their elder brothers – and all of them will have abandoned Humanity and Duty. When these relationships become a matter of profit, the nation is doomed to ruin.
“But if you talk to these emperors about Humanity and Duty, and in their love of Humanity and Duty they stop their armies – their armies will rejoice in peace and delight in Humanity and Duty. Soon ministers will embrace Humanity and Duty in serving their sovereign, sons will embrace Humanity and Duty in serving their fathers, younger brothers will embrace Humanity and Duty in serving their elder brothers – and all of them will have abandoned profit.
"When these relationships become a matter of Humanity and Duty, then the sovereign is sure to be a true emperor. So why mention profit? Mencius, translated by David Hinton, Counterpoint, Washington, D.C., 1998, p. 219. (Next quote).
It is up to us to create a Virtual Agora that spans the globe to coordinate a massive cultural dialog. The World Wide Web is the startup prototype of this Learner virtual agora. Insofar it spreads, it will attract good fortune.
With insignificant outside threats and lots of surplus wealth a mature society would allow Learners to complexify information politics.
Since complexity increases the likelihood of turbulence, it risks bursting the levies of social conventions intended to contain and regulate it. Thus, info politicians must revitalize more and more sophisticated vocabularies and habits of communication. Otherwise, the roar of chaotic argument might degenerate once again into misinfo politics.
The latest temptation of info elites, to censor the Internet from the top down, and of proletarians, to cripple it from the bottom up (with viruses, hacking, flames, spam and other info litter), those are nothing more than pathetic denials of an ever-expanding information universe. Think of a colicky baby who twists his face away from his next spoonful of strained peas. Bewildered individuals and disoriented groups attempt to re-simplify their existence by lashing out against the latest complication they consider vulnerable to their abuse. Poor jerks.
In pursuit of abundance, advanced practitioners of disinfo politics tend to disarm unilaterally and thus invite more military aggression.
Other societies evolved up to info politics, but were destroyed militarily and disappeared from the historical record. Many budding peace societies were annihilated and rendered “prehistoric” because their managers promoted internal wealth and peace while hungry outsiders lingered outside: restless, militant and jealous.
Note this tendency in the United States where military casualties used to be political poison. This public aversion to military casualties in particular and to militarism in general, tempts aggressive outsiders and internal militarists to inflict more damage. As their assaults grow bolder, better coordinated and more destructive, survivors revert to politics of misinformation and overt weapon tyranny: tempting options in a hypermilitarized world where knee-jerk panic trumps rational thought.
Weapon technology includes the mechanical hardware and flesh-and-blood wetware of warfare: military forces (weapon technicians), intelligence and national security agencies, secret police, weapons industrialists, weapon workers, their capital plant, plus the enormous inventory of weapons themselves. Today, there is one personal fireharm for every ten inhabitants on Earth, and two or more bullets cast every year for each one of them. In case the first one misses…
Weapon managers discriminate against anyone and anything they can blame for their numerous policy errors (since they are, by definition, the worst peace managers): the poor, women, non-heterosexuals, children, liberals, ethnic/religious minorities, migrants and immigrants, primal myths, human nature and nature itself. Sophisticated weapon managers begin recruiting reactionary candidates from among despised and abused minorities. That way, they can pay lip service to pluralism while stimulating social abuse.
There is no recruit more faithful than an outsider recently converted, and no downtrodden population more loyal than one whose members are convinced they can win some implausible lottery to success, provided it’s at the expense of “inferiors” (see the average Republican voter).
“The more justly constituted the society, the more admirable its political form, the more war [weapon mentality] threatens to weaken its institutions and to pervert them. And it is also true that the best form of government is that least adapted to the exigencies of war.” How to Think about War and Peace, Mortimer J. Adler, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1944, p 42.
Weapon managers get battle elites (about a 10% minority among weapon technicians) to do their jackals’ share of the dirty work. Educated officers or enlisted slaves: it doesn’t matter. Half genetically damaged and half the issue of childhood neglect/abuse fears, battle elites thrive on both sides of the battlefield, the riot zone, jailhouse bars and Belsen wire.
The remaining 90% of weapon technicians serve as logistics and morale supporters for the battle elites, on their side, and as easy prey on the other. Finally, as firepower multipliers (artillerists and such) on both sides. Whether in peace or in war, battle elites do the close-up killing and the rest do the dying.
Battle elites cannot bring their aggression under control. This makes them valuable assets on the battlefield and expensive criminals elsewhere. Everyone shares some battle elite traits, even though most of us keep ours under strict control. Call it good manners, good taste, conscience, civility, delicacy, decadence or mere cowardice. Most of us are not hard-wired to thrive on the battlefield and in bar fights, the way battle elites are.
We may split battle elites into two groups:
· The Dirty Dozen: born warriors, gunmen, bullies and outcasts who often outgrow their aggression with a proper maturity and loving-kindness.
· The Himmler Subgroup: primarily civilians, ostensibly good parents, spouses, neighbors and administrators—and quite often, brilliant cowards. Charming and seductive as long as it suits them, they look forward to wreaking havoc on a world of Others they have grown to despise. They seek the highest rungs of power from which they may get away with as much mayhem as possible, shielded by their rank.
Just as a shark retains rows of spare teeth in reserve, info proletariats nurture info proto-elites eager to overthrow the current info elite. Proto-elites are a motley crew of ambitious clerks, students and subalterns – employed by authorities or not – but covertly dissenting from them. These frustrated rebels only cohere clumsily once their elite’s failure rate maxes out.
Eric Hoffer’s book, The True Believer, analyses proto-elite leaders. Unfortunately, he indulges in the sorry habit of biographical reductionism: reducing the complexities of global social movements into a simple inventory of their leaders’ idiosyncrasies.
Herodotus treated history and current events as cults of personality, as have many historians and journalists since. Everything happened because some poor slob and his flunkies – officially designated Leaders – made it happen in the exact manner they foresaw.
“By the mid-4th century, there existed a large and well-known body of Greek literature that had as yet no convenient name―it was not yet called Historia – but was generally described as the “writings of the deeds of war” or “inquiries about the deeds of war’: it included Herodotus, Thucydides, the several continuations of Thucydides, which went under the title Hellenica (Affairs of Greece) (only Xenophon’s survives), and the accounts of the western Greeks by the lost Syracusan writers Antiochus and Philistus, which went under the title Sicelica (Affairs of Sicily). It was taken for granted that this literature was the source of knowledge for anything about war, diplomacy or interstate relations. P. 85.
“But what of the historians? The 5th century had bequeathed two major narrative styles, the linear epic style of Herodotus and the antithetical realistic style of Thucydides, which were associated with two different views of the world—the encomiastic Herodotus world of moral achievement and cosmic law versus Thucydidean pessimism and irony….” Doyne Dawson, The Origins of Western Warfare: Militarism and Morality in the Ancient World, Westview Press, Boulder, Colorado, 1996, p. 95.
Those narratives are about as accurate as the one that follows. I’m driving my car and in absolute control. So I’m going to flip into carefully preplanned slots every car in a hundred-car pileup on a freeway in the fog, and thus make sure that my car and those that follow mine will come out the other end without a scratch. Sure, buddy; it could happen!
Yet that would be a rather simple problem compared to running an entire country. See the leadership section in the chapter “Identity Politics.”
After millennia of crushed dissidence, progressive organizations have become hopelessly Balkanized, which means chopped up piecemeal and thus rendered ineffectual. Many social activists have worsened their political impotence through exclusionist identity politics, mutual ostracism, special interest bickering, petty private grievances and nit-picking ideological puritanism. In this way, much more pragmatic, disciplined and cohesive weapons elites have managed to defeat them in detail.
Rejecting holistic transformation, weapon dissidents opt for endless hairsplitting, moral compromise and existential despair. Indifferent to genuine peace and progress that they assume are quite beyond their grasp, they turn into conformist adherents of a “loyal opposition.” They are emotionally invested in token resistance against a thriving weapon state that grows stronger from their trifling resistance. Too bad for those who challenge their fragmented conformism!
Recall that body builders push and pull their muscles like taffy against resistance. In roughly the same way, weapon states exploit their weapon dissidents. Thus, the clichéd yammering of the average weapon dissident makes his weapon state stronger, subtler and more difficult to bring down.
On occasion, a breakthrough peace movement manages to dissolve its weapon state. This lopsided relaxation of weapon technology is usually fatal for the society involved, given the preponderance of hungry outsiders armed to the teeth. So success at peace has never been encouraged in the past. Today’s fashionable “community activism” is a continuation of thousands of years of ineffectual (indeed, inversely effective) weapon dissidence.
My mailbox bursts with a flood of rival solicitations for my pitiful charitable contribution, each appeal more heart-rending than the last. None of them seeks anything more than a check that magically disappears with the promise that it will support some worthy cause, probably to pay for more solicitation mail.
On the other hand, our institutions vacuum fortunes from our pay packets to deploy the means, justify the motives and develop the opportunities for mass murder. The beneficiaries of thousands of years of successful propaganda, weapon managers think holistically and plan monolithically. Their international transactions and expenditures are pseudo-voluntary, free spending and largely independent of outside influence.
Just like after the Franco-Prussian War, the leadership on both sides has more in common with one another, during their minuet of death, than with their own info proletariat carefully lined up for massacre. Those who disagree with their goals will be marginalized into a political minority both voiceless and trivial (by definition, not by numbers), no matter how many of us there are or how sensible our proposals, thanks to our historical incoherence and hysterical paralysis.
After thousands of years of defeat, rejection and Balkanization (and the rare, absolutely lethal success), standard-issue weapon dissidents have become divisive, elitist, holier-than-thou, miserly, exclusive, reductive and atomistic. They have satisfied themselves with empty dramatics, ritual bonding in adversity, moralistic self-indulgence and existential despair. Thus have we honored our long tradition of defeat. Most of us would rather keep things that way indefinitely. We would rather not alarm ourselves by grabbing real, transformational power. The prospect scares me, too. So what? As if we had any other choice but successful transformation at this point in time.
Thus – every hour on the hour – the media announce fresh weapon triumphs and peace tragedies. Progressives cannot master the political mainstream until they have rallied around a hyper-complex platform of inclusive, cooperative and mutualistic reforms under the control of local progressives who have become experts in these domains. In other words, until we’ve maximized Learning planet-wide.
Some text – perhaps this one, perhaps another better? – may catapult to world power its international, interdenominational and interethnic adherents of every age, sex and class. This could happen more readily than you might think. Like other hidden truths, it is just a question of time and numbers: the time it would take to spread this understanding and the number of those who’ve understood.
Like a vampire caught out in daylight, weapon mentality cannot survive full exposure to the truth.
This transition could be as swift and unforeseen as the U.S.S.R.’s perestroika. Modern-day leaders – suddenly rendered powerless, clueless and dumbfounded by the exhaustion of “inexhaustible” energy supplies and/or orthodox power structures – could abandon their posts all at once. In the absence of an organizational framework like Learner, this transition could become horribly destructive—simply put, the mafia will take over the world, and the worst political horrors will roll out like clockwork. Does that not bring current events into focus?
Independent ideologues and anonymous polemicists are hard at work at this task, each bringing different insights and talents to bear. But it is almost impossible for any of us to broadcast our findings—especially among weapon dissidents. Paradoxically, they are more closed to new ideas than weapon managers who will adopt novel improvements (reluctantly but assuredly) into their robust and self-confident management schemes. The shaky ground progressives must negotiate does not allow them such open-mindedness, at least until they change their mind. May dissidents experience a change of heart and allow our best ideas to be heard, seriously meditated and rebroadcast! Unlike the current practice of mutually assured ineptitude.
As our civilization polarizes between luxuriant minorities and restless majorities, as reason and rights fade from public discourse, raw greed becomes the final arbiter of more and more new policy. But even shifty greed must find its rightful place. Well-regulated cooperatives of plenty shall welcome private enterprise – that wellspring of innovation and abundance – provided every citizen has access to the same basic benefits.
Despite their inflated privileges, info elites are just as vulnerable to false beliefs – both self-inflicted and out-sourced – as are info proletarians. In order to guarantee dependable benefits for themselves and their dearest (as opposed to rickety perks they must defend at gunpoint), info elites must find new ways to generate sustainable abundance and adopt harmless rituals that redirect fearful aggression, destructive diligence and harmful ideas.
Among the tools info elites use to manage their partisans, greed is second only to fear. Learners won’t tempt them to abandon their conspiracies of greed until our shared vocabulary and purpose outwit their hysterical avarice. Learner doctrine must be clear, concise and immune to prejudice, cupidity and panic. There must be a plan or a series of plans that most people will adopt because they see a better chance to benefit cooperatively (or merely survive) within the plan, regardless of their origin and status.
The belief is obsolete that ordinary people can be punished into better behavior. The more penalties imposed beyond the necessary minimum, the more resistance—automatically. Weapon managers are the only ones to profit from this tailspin of coercion and defiance.
Peace mentality sustains our souls. Like a spiritual physicist, Gandhi revealed that its nucleus was the fusion of Truth and Non-violence. Our souls sparkle around this nucleus like electrons around a vast atom. Every moment of every day, a still, small voice whispers to us, “Love fearlessly.” Tirelessly, it repeats itself at celestial amplitude from across the cosmic void. We have but to listen and obey.
Even though peace mentality burns bright in idealistic young minds, it gutters out in middle age and is often extinguished in unlucky souls. Almost everyone would pick peace mentality over the weapon variety on an even playing field. However, our opportunities for peace are as fleeting as our weapon practices are diverse, forceful and tempting. Given so much negative conditioning, only an enlightened few achieve mastery at peace.
Peace technology pays its own freight and that of weapon technology. Despite countless obstacles imposed by weapon priorities, peace mentality flows on. It transcends life and death—much less the shameless narcissism of disinfo politicians.
Peace technology includes:
· our flight from misery (above and beyond any “Constitutional” pursuit of happiness);
· our run at abundance, health, human rights and sustainable agriculture;
· our worship of nature and supernature;
· our quest for learning: play, entertainment and enlightenment;
· our pursuit of:
o Peace enforcement,
o Sound philosophy,
o Valid enterprise and
o Useful professionalism, as well as other life-giving activities.
Without such exemplary modifiers (in italics), we needn’t consider these things intrinsically valuable. After all, they easily revert to organized bullying, wordy nonsense, greed satiation and naked elitism: giveaway symptoms of weapon mentality.
Peace mentality has one Categorical Imperative: raise the children well. Everything else takes back seat to this effort or impedes it. They say, “It takes a whole village to raise a child.” Raising healthy children requires everyone’s cooperation. The goal is not to raise many children indifferently; that is a weapon requirement. Peace management would demand that every child be cocooned in optimal surroundings. Their health and Learning should take absolute priority, as would the civil rights of their mothers.
“Young children all know love for their parents. And when they grow up, they all know respect for their elders. Loving parents is Humanity, and respecting elders is Duty. That’s the secret. Just extend it throughout all beneath Heaven.” Mencius, translated by David Hinton, Counterpoint, Washington, D.C., 1998, p. 240. Bibliography
It seems obvious that all social good flows from cherished children growing up into good citizens. Logically, we could conclude that the opposite is also true: that bad citizens proliferate when more children are abused. At gut level, we delight in children’s happiness, suffer heartache when they come to harm, and sigh intense relief when they are delivered therefrom. We needn’t be parents to feel these things, nor particularly sensitive.
If you believed in reincarnation, you would have to be crazy to support any social habit that did not pamper every child without exception. Otherwise, you’d be signing your own warrant to be tortured during future incarnations. Totally bonkers… Another reason to push the belief in reincarnation.
Those who resist this empathy are deeply disturbed, as is our whole society since it flouts this basic truth. We let children perish by the million, let billions more grow up to be stupid adults through malnutrition and neglect.
We should make good these lethal scandals. Such travesties would be unthinkable on PeaceWorld―unheard of since a barbarous past (our present). Any one of them would trigger government meltdown and a complete overhaul of leadership. Ex-leaders would withdraw in disgrace from public service, paralyzed with shame. Today’s weapon-leaders are not likely to live up to such peaceful ideals. The best of them might, under ideal circumstances. Once we’ve convinced ourselves, they must be likewise convinced or replaced.
A political homily drones like elevator music in my mind. Humans cleave to three broad categories of political behavior. Regardless of other allegiances, we fit in among Ex-Herbivores, Ex-Carnivores and Omnivores (oft-reincarnated herbivores and carnivores who have learnt the futility of their old ways).
Ex-Herbivore: “Hey, there’s plenty of good grazing out there. Grass ain’t brain food, so let’s make a lot of babies and munch away―what we do best.
"We live in the present. If we got an itch, we scratch it. Our universe is in that scratching. Anything more―that’s just too complicated for us.
“Gee, our carnivores are pretty nasty. They hunt us, kill us and eat us. But they do chase off other carnivores who might be worse. Who knows; things could be worse. Anything that really scares us, well, our blind stampede will make it disappear, won't it? Why bother to vote? We just want to be happeeeee.”
Ex-Carnivore: “Behold this beautiful body of mine: powerful, lean and hungry. My mind ticks over, lethal and remorseless. I live in the future, when my darkest needs will at last be satisfied.
“I am an expert at magical thinking. As long as I carry out a precise series of steps in exactly the correct sequence and with perfect timing, I may feast to perfection and indefinitely (which must be paradise and proof of my selection as the chosen one of God). No one may stop me, and I will kill anyone who tries. If I fail, it is from lack of self-perfection. It doesn’t matter how many times I fall short; I must succeed in the end or die trying.
“This obsessive compulsive condition can be carried out by a lion during his hunt, a hierarch during his cult devotion (bloody or otherwise), a tycoon during his stock market transactions, a science doctrinaire doing his laboratory tricks or an author ruminating his prose.
“My reincarnations have been more or less rewarding in these settings and more. My universe is centered on the repeated sacrifice of prey and my self-perfection in so doing. Nothing else matters, and neither God nor I need show mercy to anyone less obsessed. My sires taught me to use this money, these fancy institutions and novel gadgets to satisfy my hunger. Anyone slower, weaker and more ethical than me is fair game. Anything I can claw down is my sacred property, to dispose of as I please. If I don’t claim it, some hungrier carnivore will.
"End of discussion. Time to pursue happiness.
“I know! Let's run for Congress!”
Omnivore: “Salads are fine in their place. My peers and I can neutralize any piddling carnivore at will. It’s fun―plus what’s left is good eats.
“We coordinate the past, the present and the future to improve our chance of personal success. We’re not so much interested in everyone else's pursuit of happiness—that’s their business. We are interested in accelerating their flight from misery: a political duty carnivores keep forgetting in their wild pursuit of personal happiness.
“Under the control of natural selection, we evolved to learn. The more complex our information universe, the more we owe it our success. This wealth could serve to distract ex-herbivores and divert ex-carnivores until they’ve grasped the fundamentals of Learner civilization.
“After five thousand years of bloody compromise, we’ve just hit our stride and that’s exciting! Our information potlatch promises to supplant the rigors of the stalk and the rights of spring. Everyone merits abundance and security: the best, most obvious way to secure our own.
“You, fated ex-herbivore bereft of imagination! Look up beyond your cud.
“Hey, you, shifty ex-carnivore! Your aggression betrays your weakness. Go ahead, make your next lunge. Sooner or later it will fail, as it has always done.
Both of you! Join us in peace!”
But this is mere EZ listening. Learners shall take a much closer look at the physiology of social behavior and public responsibility; they will model clearer explanations of human motivation.
“Paul MacLean tells us, ‘We are the possessors of a triune brain – not one brain but three, each with its own way of perceiving and responding to the world.’ Richard M. Restak, The Brain: The Last Frontier (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1979). In ascending order on the phylogenic scale, they are: (1) reptilian (central core), (2) paleomammalian (limbic system), and (3) neomammalian (cerebral cortex). The first of these, the reptilian, is the most primitive; MacLean has also labeled this the “R-complex.” It is comparable to much of the brain found in [fish and] reptiles. And it includes the hypothalamus. Surrounding the reptilian R-complex is the next level, the limbic system which is associated with the brain found in early mammals...
“In effect, we appear to have been ‘pre-wired,’ at least partially, by the reptilian brain to be ritualistic, to be in awe of authority, to develop social pecking orders, and perhaps even to develop obsessive-compulsive neuroses ...
“We appear to have been pre-wired in the case of the limbic system as well, to respond emotionally to threats to self- or species-preservation …”
Of course, the scientific community has done its worst to naysay this theory, asserting that non-mammals have other brain structures that serve similar functions. They cite cephalopods and birds (though not reptiles) that display surprisingly advanced mental capacities. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=one-world-many-minds. But this theory remains quite useful to illustrate the mental priorities in different kinds of humans.
Once our models of human awareness improve somewhat, better estimates of human motivation and better treatments for violence-, greed- and fear-driven deviants may help us love one another fearlessly—at last!
Debra Niehoff reviews criminal correction in her mindful book, The Biology of Violence, The Free Press, New York, 1999, “Picking Up the Pieces”. Herself the victim of a brutal crime (as I have been, at gunpoint; and you too no doubt in this sorry day and age; just like in the past), she downplays violence as a criminal deterrent and suggests more thoughtful methods of behavior modification. Her research reveals that police terror and penal brutality do not so much suppress criminality, as increase it. This is a constant striving of weapon mentality: to increase criminality and aggression.
We occupy a man-dominated WeaponWorld bereft of God’s Peace, mutual welcome and care. Could we re-establish God’s own PeaceWorld? The God I believe in abhors War and loves Peace among the children. God will reward faithful Learners eager for Peace, as genuine offspring and true saints. That reward will translate into miracles.
Let’s say you were neither an atheist nor overly devout – neither doctrinaire nor closed-minded – and sought to verify the existence of God solely for your own satisfaction. What better way to do it than rebuild WeaponWorld into PeaceWorld and witness God’s self-confirmation by showering us with miracles of approbation? After all, we would be doing what God had always taught us to do instead of what God forbade – despite thousands of years of aberrant commands from weapon fundamentalists and ideological liars: “Kill, lie, rob your neighbor, despise him, and pray in public. We order you to obey the commandments of mere men, even though they are forbidden by God.”
Those miracles would be God’s substitute for our perfectly scientific, perfectly orthodox, perfectly serial disasters. We could pour into PeaceWorld all the sanctity pent up in our hearts, and benefit from miracles of wisdom and loving kindness. Every Learner could become a brother and sister on PeaceWorld―beyond our capacity to imagine it.
It would be like acting out our part in a play, except that all the props, costumes and lighting would conform more closely to Peace and improve over time. Furthermore, the play’s sponsors, cast, crew and audience would all of them have changed their mind – that WeaponWorld was not so hot – and that we’d be better off on PeaceWorld.
Every Learner could assume – with more freedom, zeal and fellow feeling; with ease, happiness, thrift and safety; less troubled by fear; using exponentially greater artistry, passion and devotion – the bearing of God’s massed saints: athirst, drunk and fulfilled with the Peace of God until God had secured His Peace.
We are all Learners, from birth to death. As political, moral, spiritual, and pragmatic beings bonded in love and family affinity with everyone else – for better or for worse – we are the Chosen Ones in this space-time continuum. Of God, of Allah, of Fate or of Nothing? Whatever you choose to call it. I call it God, and us, God’s, including every allusion above, below, in between and nowhere.
Does that bother you? If so, why?
Instead, we have elected to hang around as WeaponWorld slaves. Caught up in a tap dance of perpetual war and ephemeral peace, we’ve improvised all along, paying homage to two opposite sets of values: weapon mentality and peace mentality. Suffering from this mass schizophrenia and hostage to it, we have turned into nothing more than asocial sheep and incompetent wolves … God’s spoiled brats instead of God’s saints.
What a sorry waste!