Throughout history, weapon mentors have downgraded peace mentality and promoted weapon mentality in its stead. Recorded history has been nothing much more than the glorification of weapon states. If pure peace civilizations ever existed, they disappeared, erased from history and thereby rendered “pre-historic.”
Weapon managers maintain that too much peace technology reduces (much less attractive) weapons efforts. They believe that communal hopes for evenhanded prosperity will outstrip their ham-fisted methods of social control, once peace managers allocate too many resources to non-military goods and services. They worry that peace will soften the populace, make it less pugnacious in war—more “sophisticated, cosmopolitan and decadent” instead. Minimal peace technology is the only alternative to open revolt and warfare they will tolerate. Emphasize the word “minimal.”
Peace accustoms people to the quiet resolution of their differences; too much aggression disturbs them. Weapon mentors protest: “If we let this decadence go unchecked too long, weapon barbarians will overrun us.”
Martial poverty and hierarchical brutality are the flip sides of peaceful abundance and pacifist vulnerability.
Francis Fukuyama’s infamous prophecy in his End of History may come to pass in a manner he least expects and desires. The Thousand Year Reich of National-Capitalist weapon mentality he venerates will collapse under its contradictions—either in omnicidal holocaust or through Learners’ peaceful transformation.
Let’s assume we were surveying a faraway planet. It would be much like Earth except its climate would be so tropical that hurricanes would gust past 300 MPH from time to time. Your expeditionary vehicles would have to anchor themselves to bedrock so raging winds wouldn’t blow them away. Your scrooge-like interstellar logistics, however, would specify that these vehicles be lightweight, nimble and fuel-efficient.
Fixed or featherweight? This paradoxical requirement forms an antinomy: a contradiction along every dimension. Solving both problems in the same design will produce a gas-guzzling monster that will tumble away at the third serious gust.
The weapon/peace antinomy is entirely similar.
Picture a lush, green jungle otherwise empty. Release two lizard varieties into it: mottled green ones (weapon technologies) and Day-Glo ones (peace technologies). Day-Glo lizards are fat, vegetarian and friendly; the cammo ones are fast, venomous and mean. While they may interbreed with equal fervor, Cammo lizards develop a cannibal taste for Day-Glo flesh and eggs.
After a few thousand years, how many Day-Glo lizards will survive? How much Day-Glo DNA will persist among Cammo lizards? Cammo characteristics will wind up marking every survivor.
The dominance of weapon mentality is not chiefly due to a dark plot among a few psychopathic evildoers – even though that too can happen – any more than sharper fangs would be among surviving lizards. Like them, we all conspire with the prevailing paradigm without understanding it—in our case, weapon mentality. Unlike them, we could become aware of WeaponWorld, choose stop conspiring with it and transform the context of our conspiracy into PeaceWorld.
It would be that simple. We would need to make up our mind during the same generation, with but a few exceptions. For the first time in history, we can take all the communication channels, peace infrastructure and mutual recognition we need for World Peace, right off the shelf.
The problem is—would we have the guts?
Another, more sizzling example. Suppose the atmosphere held a slightly higher concentration of oxygen. Fires would ignite spontaneously and burn super-hot.
Fire fighting would become The Elite Preoccupation: the dignitary’s duty and the poor man’s obligation. Everyone – from tiny toddlers to teetering old folk – could act out basic fire drills in their sleep. Babies, brought to life by the touch of a red-hot iron, would learn fire management with their first few breaths of life. In medicine, the most talented healers would be pyrologists who treated burns.
Schools, the media and popular culture, all would hyper-refine this blazing reality in hypnotic cycles of rote repetition. Hundreds more terms would describe “fire.” Both byblos and mythos would bristle with uplifting tales of fire fighting heroes.
Traditional fire fighting technologies would engulf national budgets; they’d distort land development, planning and architecture. Compulsive taboos would smother high-energy technologies, from kitchen matches to nuclear power. Masonry, cold metalwork and cave sculpting would replace all carpentry. Asbestos, its health hazards ignored, would be worth its weight in gold. Root crops would replace stemmed plants that grew too vulnerably above ground.
Their governments (each with its favorite technique of fire management adapted to local mores and circumstance) might claim they devoted only a small fraction of the Gross National Product to Fire Management. They would fail to mention the fortunes gone up in smoke during intermittent firestorms. And these titanic sums wouldn’t begin to cover the hidden costs and personal sacrifices that citizens have to bare.
From time to time, the very real threat of conflagration might lead these people to backfire most of their infrastructure preemptively. They might even sacrifice each other in trembling forfeiture to their pyromanic God(s) and ideologies. The hellfire of religion would burn bright and cold in fanatical imaginations―even more so than they do in ours today…
As alien observers, we’d trip over social contradictions and cost overheads that locals find perfectly acceptable.
As of now, consider me a remote observer alienated from this world, as many Learners must find themselves The military anarchy that prevails on this planet has nothing to do with us Learners except to cast us as desperate witnesses and peacemakers castaway on this planet of killer apes. Learner! I invite you to save your soul, no matter what may transpire from this mess—a humble offering to my brother and sister Learners with their backs up against this wall.
From our point of view, this world seems warped and its natives, acting under horrific compulsions. But they find everything fine.
Slightly more enlightened natives might decry the most extreme demands of firefighting orthodoxy. For instance, they might politely suggest that sacrificial victims be roasted alive less often. But no argument would budge smug majorities from the familiar comfort of their prejudice, and the most sophisticated resistance would come from native “progressives” immunized against significant transformation by their intensive study of cliché arguments from the past.
Assuming you could show them that the atmosphere’s oxygen concentration had subsided along with its combustibility, rendering obsolete most of their prejudices and practices, they’d resist such suggestions anyway, out of sluggish habit, imaginary panic and mental inertia. The fear of fire would continue to distort all their social arrangements – the way the fear of military aggression distorts ours. Just as they’d cling to their firefighting reflexes, we cling to our war fighting reflexes.
Another example. Suppose you were the chieftain of a barbarian horde that had overrun an ancient civilization. To begin with, you would ignore your victims’ cultural achievement. Even if you were cunning enough to order the scribes interrogated and their books translated to you in private, you’d still disregard most of their useless rubbish. Your frustrated curiosity might make you look the fool in front of your lieutenants; knowledge of soft, city ways might damage your warriors’ fighting spirit; traditional native culture might attract popular opposition to guerrilla liberation bands.
You would thus ensure that this written culture disappeared along with its literate cadre—by neglect and by design. You’d terrorize, overtax and enslave the locals until they had lost the will to educate their children for anything but your plow fields and barracks squares. Learning its literature, religion, history and mythos would become capital offenses. This is how nomad conquerors distanced themselves from their victims, through ignorance and apartheid. They made this the spirit and letter of their law. Of our law.
Warrior clans dominated urban civilizations as long as they could retain simpler, nomad ways. Irrigated croplands were inhospitable to herds; soft city habits induced military decadence. Therefore, farmlands were laid waste, irrigation systems, breached, and great cities, razed to the ground on a regular basis. Only a small, portable fraction of urban wealth was looted; only those books that served weapon mentality were preserved. The remainder was burnt to ash and washed away in blood, including priceless peace archives, technologies and technicians, all of them obliterated.
Our societies have enshrined weapon mentality at great peril to themselves. Lower standards of living, higher taxes and cults of repression, all of them engender militant bigotry, institutional arrogance and escalating insanity. The end result is an exploding penal population, tidal waves of corruption and super-stratified class hierarchies.
Society reacts to these irritants much the way a disturbed bee colony would. As the proletariat’s attack reflexes shift into overdrive, goaded by these contradictions, it gestates new proto-elites eager to revolt.
Battle elites usually hire themselves out to protect the info elite, but only so long as this guardianship raises their profits. Once matters begin to fall apart in a serious way for the info elite, more and more battle elites take sides with the most vicious proto-elite (revolutionary cell) they can find.
Warfare provides a handy outlet for popular discontent. With surprising ease, info elites can shift responsibility for social evils from themselves to declared enemies both internal and external. An info proletariat at war submits to its elites until it is convinced it has won or it has bled dry. A passive witness to government assaults against harmless minorities and outsiders, the info proletariat becomes disgusted, terrorized, relieved, fascinated, unified, regimented and ultimately inspired to commit worse crimes against humanity.
Foreign attacks against a “civilian” population strengthen its will to resist. No matter whether those attacks are mounted by stinking cavalry hordes, gleaming bomber streams or wild-eyed terrorists; such assaults will raise the proletariat’s tolerance for the failings of its elite.
This siege mentality reduces the opportunities for effective dissidence. Info elites often galvanize this passive popular support by organizing domestic terrorism and international adventures. They hold unarmed combatants (civilians) hostage by controlling their relatives in the military and vice versa.
This is standard practice in the USA. Since almost no-one has any taste for war, useless wars are initiated (as lucrative for weapon ghouls as they are painful to the troops and costly to their relatives), then skeptical civilians are condemned for refusing to offer moral support. We are told we must “support our sacrificial troops, if not the war itself.” If you are against the war, you are against the troops; if you are against the troops, you are not patriotic and may not criticize the war. Deadly circular logic.
What if they gave a war and nobody came?
Carroll Quigley’s unfinished thesis, The Evolution of Civilizations: An Introduction to Historical Analysis, (New York, the Macmillan Company, 1961), provides an excellent reading on the transition of historical bureaucracies. From pages 50 to 62, he contrasts:
· “Instruments”: social organizations that fulfill their mandate effectively, with
· “Institutions” whose members claim illegitimate goals.
Some institutional leaders betray their mandate through personal weakness. Others focus overmuch on their own contribution. “The purpose of military discipline is to spit shine shoes and salute superiors; that of military training, to eliminate accidents.” They often yield to laziness, mediocrity, neglect, greed, simony or inferior precedent. At other times, they refuse to accept the need for new training, equipment and circumstances. Others, often the most powerful, are merely corrupt.
Besides, the biggest chunk of most problems is solved with the first few increments of energy used to resolve it. The remnant demands more and more effort. Solving the last few details requires infinite energy, like pushing an object to the speed of light with a Newtonian mass driver.
In order to achieve significant results, we needn’t solve problems down to their last detail. Instead, we should redefine each problem so as to apply the primary, most efficient amount of energy to resolve it. Then redefine the problem, resolve that efficiently, and so on.
As social instruments decay into institutions by failing at this redefinition, their leaders mismanage more and more effort for lesser results. They ignore new breakthroughs and compound past errors. As their success fades away, they wind up attributing more and more importance to packaging and intent and less and less to content and results.
Three outcomes arise from this “tension of development.”
· Failing institutions resort to reaction. This spirals antagonists into vicious cycles of injustice, dissent and suppression.
· They reform into viable instruments. Emergency leaders take over from ineffectual timeservers and their new instrument becomes more honest and competent.
· New instruments assume real power by circumvention. They leave former institutions as hollow husks that fulfill ceremonial, cosmetic functions only. For example, parliament overrules a degenerate monarchy and limits it to leading annual parades and pageants; or a Roman emperor bullied Senators while honoring the Senate with many traditional distinctions (as did the almost-emperor Marius).
Weapon managers insist that international corporations are the most disinterested form of social management. They’ve concluded that stable government requires the disinterest of the public more than any other attribute. I wonder who funded their research?
For this situation to endure, corporations must assume all the rights of the individual: freedom of speech and assembly, plus immunity from liability unless proven in a court of law, plus a million times more wealth and power than that held by individuals—without corresponding vulnerabilities or responsibilities. Finally, a continuous and unlimited lifespan instead of our common mortality. In other words, they must become organizational monarchies. Long live King Cola!
By their estimate, the most vital social assets are an apathetic, poorly educated and undermotivated electorate—and the shadow-puppet political infrastructure needed to groom it. This is just the latest attempt by reactionaries to resimplify the political landscape back to medieval norms optimal for them in the past.
Learner insists it is not so much disinterest we require – or so much fine reasoning – as passion.
“The heart accepts a conclusion for which the intellect subsequently finds the reasoning. Argument follows conviction. Man often finds reasons in support of whatever he does or wants to do.” Gandhi quote, taken from Young India (weekly newspaper), Navajivan, 1919-32. Taken from Raghavan Iyer’s The Moral and Political Thought of Gandhi, Oxford University Press, London, 1973, p. 18.
Human disinterest hardly exists at all. Our perceived self-interests tug us where they will, even unto mass extinction. When we abandon real needs and succumb to mortal panic, we submit to short-term greed, arrogance, cowardice, denial and sadism—actually schadenfreude.
Suffering from serial hierarchies of vicious Corporals, the German Volk coined this term to describe the shady delight some people take in the misfortune of others. Such people achieve satisfaction by harming people bad or by savoring their suffering at third hand.
Russians have an equivalent term: zloradtsvo. The 19th century Russian philosopher, Pyotr Chaadeyev, wrote:
“We are exceptional people; we are among those nations that, as it were, are not members of mankind but exist only to give the world some terrible lesson.”
This lament could apply just as well to the inhabitants of every weapon state.
Tsar Nicholas I had him declared insane and placed under house arrest (no exit, no visitors; think about that) until he recanted. Pyotr may have been the first of many Russian political prisoners on psychiatric grounds.
I suspect that any linguistic group would coin such a term after a recent bout of tyranny. Now that the tyranny of corporations has become commonplace throughout the world, a more accurate Anglo-Saxonism might be shadism.
Sadism is sexual arousal from another’s pain: a perversion that preoccupies only a jaded few. Unlike it, shadism is taught surprisingly early and often to each and every one of us. By means of infinite rehearsals and painful repetitions, all of us have become expert shadists, equally at home as co-dependent victims, remorseless witnesses and expert tormentors.
We administer Hell on Earth because we’ve been brought up to admire fearful hatred and begrudge fearless love—in slavish submission to what we were taught most often.
It is time we sent the psychopaths packing, invoked the inspiration of our better nature and nurtured a global peace of our own making.