“Could I tranquilly see my fellow-men walking like idiots in every imaginable direction, except that alone in which the happiness they were in search of could be found?” Robert Owen, New Lanark, Cole, 108, taken from The Life and Ideas of Robert Owen, by A.L. Morton, Monthly Review Press, 1962, p. 61.
Graham Gwynn and Tony Wright, Left in the Dark, Kaleidos Press, 2008. www.leftinthedark.org.uk. The following is a summary of their text, prepared with their permission.
From its inception, some seventy million years ago, humanity benefited from a diet made up of jungle fruit easily digestible and rich in flavenoids. This ideal diet inhibited the harmful effects of steroids and MAOs in the human body, stimulated pineal gland function and induced a physiological feedback loop that inhibited steroid activity, lengthened the prepubescent growth period (the more advanced the species, the longer its period of prepubescent growth) and tripled the volume of the human brain; all this in a very brief span of time from an evolutionary point of view. At the time, the human mind neared perfection by harmonizing the output of the brain’s two hemispheres.
Unfortunately, from 200,000 to 12,000 years ago, humanity had to adapt to a much more hostile environment. An indeterminate but catastrophic chain of events induced a catastrophic contraction of the human gene pool to a handful of female bloodlines. Thanks to humanity’s abundant brainpower, we survived this transition from a lush diet of arboreal fruit to the savanna equivalent of tubers and seeds, then ice-age animal flesh. These forced diet changes induced a cumulative decline in the intellectual capacity of humans without any corresponding physiological evolution. We remained exactly the same species, just ate different foods and thought less well.
This nutritional deviation boosted the effect of testosterone on the human body (both male and female), which induced a cascade of mental retardation that accentuated the human sleep cycle, suppressed the brain’s right hemisphere in favor of the left (linear thinking and short-term memory above and beyond holistic thought and long-term processing), and anchored human behavior in restrictive fear instead of overall comprehension.
As a result, we are brain-crippled survivors of a transition from a physiologically optimal diet of arboreal fruit to less and less advantageous ones (ending in the worthless junk-food of today) and thus afflicted by a spiraling decline in our values and behavior.
In her great book, The March of Folly, Barbara Tuchman examines cognitive dissonance. By her definition, cognitive dissonance is a bureaucracy’s (and society’s) tendency to abandon common sense, healthy conscience and long-term self-interest in favor of policies that violate these precepts. Cognitive dissonance takes the lead even though many warnings counsel against it.
Her prerequisites for cognitive dissonance included:
· lust for power,
· excessive power,
· mental standstill and stagnation,
· persistence in error, and
· protective stupidity (refusal to heed warnings).
The consequences of cognitive dissonance are:
· social suicide replaces reason, (as when the Trojan Horse was dragged into the city and everyone celebrated the imaginary victory without posting a platoon of guards around it; and Congress attends to its campaign contributors instead of global warning or gun ownership);
· social instruments abandon their appointed tasks and turn into institutions, (the Renaissance Papacy pursued wealth and power instead of religious reform, Congress pursues its campaign finances instead of the public good); and
· leaders enslave themselves to preconceived ideas: (America’s defeat in Vietnam, the self-defeating War on Drugs, the current prison empire, the collapse of Soviet leadership, the military quagmire everyone in a position of authority said would never happen in Iraq or Afghanistan, etc.).
The March of Folly has no chapter describing a self-critical government, even of exception. Weapons administrations stroke, praise and perpetuate themselves, even once their policies show signs of impending collapse.
Ms. Tuchman mentioned the 1981 martyrdom of Mohammed Anwar el-Sadat. As President of Egypt, he took the unpopular decision to negotiate peace with Israel and was assassinated for his pains. A few decades later, for exactly the same reasons, his eventual Israeli counterpart, the Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, was murdered by exactly the same species of psychopath on the opposite side.
Standard weapon policies are only held in check by clumsy exploitation, muddled methods, mental inertia, obstacles of protocol and squabbles over spoils. Since misguided leaders insist on doing things wrong from the get go, institutional incompetence lessens the worst of their ill effects. This despite maternal dictum: “Two wrongs do not make a right.”
This is how 1984 Syndrome originates. Since we have all been misled to believe that government is malicious by nature, why not keep it as dim-witted as possible to reduce its malice? Unfortunately, a stupid government is that much more malicious and eager to grow since it forgives itself in advance for each of its acts of corruption, neglect and ineptitude.
What The March of Folly calls cognitive dissonance, a rare aberration, Learner calls ritual stupidity, a constant tendency among weapon managers.
The real-world behavior of most public institutions is usually irrational. Even though their basic charter may be reasonable, their bureaucrats make a point of contradicting it. Ms. Tuchman admitted as much. She concluded that we may only muddle “through patches of brilliance and decline.” In her opinion, the only way to overcome cognitive dissonance would be by an electorate so well informed, it would value moral courage above material gain — a vanishing rarity these days. Growing such a cosmopolitan world citizenry is the basic Learner objective.
Among those solemn documents, many have justified crimes against humanity. Under the lofty tenets of Stalin’s Constitution, his officials killed more Russians than the Nazis did. Militant Chinese exponents of Mao’s Quotations condemned more Chinese than did Japanese militarists. Those who ratified France’s Declaration of the Rights of Man betrayed it, from the Terror to massacres in Indochina, Algeria and post-colonial Africa, (Rwanda in particular). Nowadays, this semi-fascist stupidity has sunk to the level of prohibiting good little girls from wearing their symbols of worship in public school. Secularism as an excuse for discrimination? What next?
As for the Preamble of the American Constitution and its Bill of Rights, well! Observe the prison empire built around us and the army of mercenaries bankrolled to protect it. What more Constitutional distortions will the American Empire tolerate; what more abominations will we have to witness before the truth dawns?
In fact, cognitive dissonance typifies human behavior. We practice what we preach only too rarely. In this “real world,” we compartmentalize our feelings. Certain plots, characters and settings trigger trust, compassion, cooperation and amity (towards family, clan, political allies, co-citizens, co-religionists and language peers). Meanwhile, others (dealing with the homeless or immigrants, for example) tarnish our mind with fear, untruth and violence by proxy.
We could refocus this double vision by replacing the cracked lenses of our weapon/peace dialectic.
Picture two men: Mr. Stoic and Mr. Nerves. When Mr. Stoic hurts himself, he secretes endorphin pain suppressors that let him function at minimal efficiency. In addition, he practices the stoicism our weapon philosophers never cease to praise. Best be stoical about problems our institutional stupidity forbids us to resolve.
This social stoicism promotes demented public policies and forges its bureaucracy, which Barbara Tuchman describes in detail. Decisions descend from the top in isolation from reality; they dictate fickle desires that may or may not be practicable on the ground and that may contradict survival instincts, local capabilities and moral precept. Who cares? No-one directly involved will be consulted. Middle managers will execute those decisions anyway, under the threat of summary removal. Reasonable objectors will be pruned from the decision tree. This pruning is most bureaucracies’ favorite pastime; ritually and automatically, they make themselves more stupid, passive, apathetic and “stoical.”
Mr. Nerves swoons at the first sight of blood, not to mention serious injury. Deep-sunk in blackout, his shock endures until his subconscious stipulates that new conditions may be survivable. While Mr. Nerves remains unconscious, his psyche mulls its options at leisure.
Argumentation and consensus-building govern nervous policy-making. The longer it takes to reach consensus, the longer the delay between actions. Nervous and pluralistic administrations compromise, vacillate and delay. No one within them commits to any position until everyone has staked a claim. As more and more voices join the debate, delays stretch out forever. The more data collected, the longer each new decision takes. Taking two steps forward and three steps back, executive organizations gather information, process it for revealed truth, announce their decisions, survey outcomes, rethink, establish the next course of action, etc.
Either that or a hidebound minority makes arbitrary decisions and ignores their downside: a simpler, more common practice. When decision-making deadlocks, short-term greed takes on the role of tiebreaker, the final arbiter of overheated debate. Soon thereafter, it substitutes for any serious debate. “Let the greedy have their way; that’s so much easier!” And reliably disastrous: excellence requires great effort, not greed and lack of concern.
Let’s discuss three weapon management cure-alls: discipline, morale, and glory. Military disciplinarians apply just enough brutality to short-circuit the common sense and rational self-interest of their recruits. “High” unit morale allows its minions to sacrifice themselves when push comes to shove. “Glory” occurs when discipline is so well enforced that all but a few military leaders (well insulated by distance and stupidity) submit to being massacred — often for no valid reason.
Elite combat units must endure heavy casualties yet remain aggressive. They must attack without hesitation even after they have been checked, forced back and chased. In certain cases, they must submit to annihilation against impossible odds.
After all, personal catastrophe is the only outcome for anyone killed or maimed in battle. It does not matter how “glorious” his sacrifice may have been. In short, all military personnel – from latrine diggers to supreme commanders – must commit cognitive dissonance on demand.
That’s a difficult state of mind for a State to achieve. Military hierarchies operate in a fog of cognitive dissonance as a matter of routine. Yet even they have a hard time maintaining it. Therefore, weapon states must pamper masters of cognitive dissonance and marginalize the insightful, the critical, and the outspoken. From ignorant grumbling of the info-proletariat to the pinnacles of literary myth, the cardboard facades of enlightened civilization must be founded on dense footings of ritual stupidity. This foundation is so commonplace, it has become invisible to us.
Weapon states have learned to mask their overt aggression in times of peace. Instead, racial and domestic violence become routine; sports and popular culture glorify brutal competition. The proletariat finds less and less legitimate work, which boosts crime. In pursuit of short-term profits to pay off titanic war taxes, humans pit themselves against each other and conspire against their environment. In a flash of resource depletion, eons of ingrained reverence for nature are forsaken. Mass consumption, individual littering and institutional pollution combine to work against the natural, social and psychic worlds. Excessive sexual restraints, religious intolerance, and the criminalization of recreational drugs serve to multiply belligerence.
Alcohol, drug, prostitution, gambling, and other human addictions multiply social costs, especially when legalistic prohibition makes them scarce and expensive (and thereby more profitable for a controlling elite). In that case, those matters should be legalized, subsidized and heavily regulated to reduce their social impact, obeying the flexible Dutch principle of gedogen: “illegal but tolerated if nothing bad ensues.” On PeaceWorld, the primary exceptions from this enforcement principle will be illegal weapons applications for which there will be no tolerance.
Addicts should get their kicks for free. Indeed, they should get special subsidies for their addiction. In the long run, these outlays would be much less onerous than forcing innocent victims to support their drug habit in person by being robbed: a perilous and regressive tax burden for the poor to bear.
New religious ceremonies will show young Learners the pathos of immorality. Learner rituals may re-enact ancient morality plays of excess and the Pandora’s Box they release. Mystery cults served the same function in the past; likewise, ancient Dionysian rites of public intoxication. Once society provides secure havens of drug initiation, intoxication and recovery, we may curb public drunkenness and harmful addictions. They will become unthinkable public faux pas (foh-pah, “missteps,” numb-nut strategies) to most members of a peaceful society.
Likewise, Learner society will encourage personal research into revelatory hallucinogens. Friends will gather in legal Kivas where they may share cheap, legal, high quality drugs, and meditate together on Dreamtime, having been provided with safe Kivas for these activities. Yet personal responsibility would never diminish for the public abuse of drugs and alcohol. On the contrary, drug-aggravated crimes would draw stiffer penalties from Learner juries. After all, those jurors would have been there and done that, themselves, without such harmful consequences.
It has been at least ten thousand years since humans began taking psychoactive substances. Arbitrary prohibition is show motion folly. Street drugs should be regulated to ensure their quality and reduce their toxicity. The designation “Sativa,” in Cannabis Sativa, is an ancient Sanskrit honorific reserved for rice and other beneficial plants (fennel, grapes). Properly cultivated and administered, its medicinal and Dreamtime qualities outweigh its risks. High quality marijuana reduces nervous tension and stress — as opposed to the mind-numbing trash the police and criminals have conspired to refine. It promotes socialization and philosophical discourse without jeopardizing our pursuit of the Muse. Learner peace will welcome this source of inspiration.
There are two main reasons why recreational drugs remain illegal. First off, what to do with all those spear-carriers of the War against the Druggies: those narcs, vice cops and petty criminals, once they’ve been let go? The “War on Drugs” has create legions of undercover agents, snitches, street dealers and kingpins for whom social abuse has become routine. Finding other work for them would unleash a backlash of complex criminality the like of which afflicts Russia since its secret police lost its license to terrorize the populace in the name of the Revolution.
The second reason why this war is waged against us? The huge profits reactionaries have obtained by flooding world-class banks with drug cash. During the last few decades, reactionaries have financed their media-driven political ascendancy with this criminal cash flow. All their fascistic spin control would dry up if drug use were decriminalized. Every new prison, drug law and illegal purchase increases their profit margin and power base. Think about that, the next time you score your favorite illegal high.
These days, some irresponsible people commit sick crimes and lay the blame for their horrific outcomes on drugs. Info elites coach these self-serving penitents so that their true confession horror stories may serve to demonize other, victimless drug criminals. The same goes for grieving survivors of suicide victims who took drugs. However, this careful selection of scapegoats and spokespeople cannot invalidate recreational drug use. Those who panic over adult “drug abuse” must understand its essential neutrality. When the abuse of drugs releases destructive urges, it only does so by magnifying deep-seated psychological conflicts, notably our subconscious defiance of the weapon/peace antinomy. We will never resolve these problems by slamming shut more psychic gateways. Instead, we should wrap the sufferers in strong, flexible and gentle safety nets.
My psyche got blistered by one or two bad drug trips, so I have little use for powerful mind-altering substances. Once such drugs are legalized, I might grow the most benign of them in my garden or share them with friends from theirs. All recreational drugs, however, should be legalized. This would reduce secondary crimes and invasive police intervention: far worse ills in the long run.
Like gobbling enough chocolate to make you sick, the prevention of drug-related mishaps would become a primary responsibility of local barefoot doctors dedicated to the Hippocratic Oath: “Do no harm” — not to armed, invasive and trouble-stirring police.
Minors should deny themselves such drugs by choice. They should demand better alternatives. They might “save themselves” for graduated ceremonies of age-set initiation: powerful shapers of their destiny. Imitating ancient tribal ceremonies, Learner rituals would promote kinship among age-set peers. These clans would endow novices with social responsibilities as a function of maturity and by well-timed and well-deserved merit.
Local crime watch could become one of their primary responsibilities. Children could assume adult privileges once they were ready for adult responsibilities but not before. A few police responsibilities may default to young children in a mature peace society where unfettered brutality would not have been heard of for years.
Pain – humanity’s faithful companion – has long reinforced historical stoicism. Despite the braggart medical community, rich and poor alike suffer from poorly mended fractures, toothaches, chronic irritations and allergies, digestive disorders, psychiatric emergencies and wounds induced by accident, crime, battle, self-infliction, medical neglect and malpractice.
Our bodies are sullied by accumulations of toxic, misunderstood and poorly taught nutrition. Disinformation is the bread and butter of food processing mega-corporations. In truth, their ultimate goal is to mass-produce battlefield rations: the most toxic and profitable foodstuffs ever produced.
In the past, elderly warriors suffered more pain than most people; their perks let them outlive lesser folk despite battlefield traumas and the aches and pains of old age.
Indeed, the archaic “superiority” of nobles over peasants may be traced to their long-standing monopoly of hunting privileges. They ate more animal protein, while peasant children grew up on vegetables, pulses and grain gruel. Their maturing brains never got enough protein to grow up and compete successfully. The same goes for slaves and masters; the same goes for info elites and proletarians.
The cultural stagnation of certain modern nations and minorities can be traced to their inadequate nutrition, especially their lack of iodine in salt, as well as other micronutrients (like iron) about which we are more of less ignorant. Learners could reverse this error at small cost and boost local intelligence virtually overnight. Yet another confirmation of our weapon degeneracy: that we have failed to fix this problem planet-wide.
On the whole, people who have not been properly cared for or educated as dependants are more expensive to maintain in life, keep sane and out of prison or the hospital. Those who have been, tend to give back dependable profits on their own initiative.
Poverty is the most expensive social policy on Earth — but produces legions of good infantry.
Aside from cannabis, willow bark, mandrake, hypnosis, acupuncture and poppy sap used by many cultures, effective painkillers were rare in the past, soon harvested out and forgotten. Leaders, especially hereditary leaders, made important decisions while beset by atrocious pain. Not to mention their underlings.
If you’ve been lucky enough to have been spared this kind of pain, trust my experience. Otherwise good people become perfect brutes under a lengthy dazzle of pain; their reason abdicates to cruelty and rage.
Alcohol was the painkiller of choice long before more effective analgesics appeared. The combination of pain and alcohol annuls social grace. Alcohol and hot water herbal infusions have always served as healthy substitutes and supplements for drinking water that was often contaminated in primitive, poorly engineered cities.
Alcohol may also have helped digestion. Like the carbon dioxide bubbles in soft drinks, it kills food-borne microbes harmful to digestion and the blood. In this way, it allowed populations with no better means – there are better ones, up to Learners to discover – to purify their guts from time to time; also, to clean wounds and soothe the troubled mind.
A social philosopher, whose name escapes me now, hypothesized that societies used alcohol to sort out their people. After all, alcohol is a mere concentrate of grain or fruit: complementary to basic sustenance if produced from their surplus, or detrimental if produced despite their dearth. It would provide a significant surplus to survival requirements for a family operating on the margins and deciding whether or not to consume it: a real bonus above and beyond the basic necessities for poor families both ancient and modern.
Those who abstained from alcohol could use the extra income as collateral for profitable enterprise during good times and as a survival edge during times of famine, whereas those who wasted it on excessive drinking would pin themselves into the lower classes in good times and croak faster in times of famine, they and their family. Ancient societies that forbade alcohol became more rigid and fixed by forsaking that surplus and their families’ option to use it, whereas societies that permitted it would have promoted the upward mobility of families by merit, if only indirectly.
Also, in millions of man-to-man confrontations, the sober swordsman would have cleaved a slower drunkard who had swilled his fill before battle to compensate for his fear (the way a few sober Russian hooligans beat up masses of drunken British ones during a soccer riot in 2016). Was that the Q’ran-dictated margin of victory of Muslim Arabs warriors over Byzantine, Persian, Hindu and Chinese armies, each of which outnumbered them sometimes by ten times or more? That, plus the Koran’s hygienic dictates while disease carried off many more of the filthy, lifelong stinking foreigners?
Another social philosopher, whose name I can’t recall either, had this other thing to say. He concluded that dynamic societies force women who didn’t want to have children (and men too, though he didn’t mention them), to raise babies. Permissive societies produced fewer children, became less productive and degenerated accordingly, since they allowed neurologically gifted people to drift into celibacy (and homosexual intimacy, again unmentioned) and since “sensual” women would have been the only ones to have children in those societies.
According to this model, chemical birth control would produce the worst form of social decay: another prized reactionary prejudice. Even though he, a Victorian Britisher, only spoke of religious sexual segregation, that I recall.
Per this model, the same brutal constraints employed to produce more children, would also have been brought to bear against them during their upbringing, (also against women, social inferiors and whomever else came to hand) to make them more ferocious. Otherwise, social indulgence would have mollycoddled more babes, turned them into decadent peaceniks who couldn’t defend themselves militarily against the inheritors of those merciless constraints.
In many warlike societies (such as the Roman) it was illegal and even sacrilegious for a highborn citizen to avoid having children. Adoption was compulsory in the most extreme cases. Indeed, this inadmissible habit (since it blocked bloodline purity) must have been very widespread in ancient high society after deadly wars and epidemics — one of its only sources of genetic renewal besides forbidden sexual adventures.
What’s more, I would never have written this up or outreached to others to get them to read it, without the divine lubricant of alcohol. Without the psychic emancipation of drink, I would have been too bound-up by my weapon indoctrination to defy it. My spirit, dead sober and unmodulated by the resonance of psychoactive drugs, might have found tolerable the murderous platitudes of weapon mentality. I suspect that a lot of cultural creativity springs from the same source.
I am an ardent introvert, thanks in part to the thorny welcome my spoken thoughts have received up ‘til now. The prospect of broaching these topics with my fellow killer primates repulses me unless wine has loosened my lips. Plus it’s easier to take on the chore of the umpteenth rewrite once it is washed down with a glass or two of the fruited red. Besides, it’s fine for body and soul.
The history of Russian elites and that of alcohol abusers share many similarities. These include intense suspicion, periodic withdrawal, violent outbursts, destructive self-criticism, poor self-imaging, temporary repentance, improved behavior, worsening lapses, alternatively doting and abusive treatment of co-dependents, frenzied outbursts interspersed with bottomless apathy, meticulous planning followed by indifference to outcomes, brilliant beginnings and clumsy follow-up. We might include the willingness of both parties to betray true friends and the bearers of good advice.
Unfailing friendliness (metta in the Pali language Buddha spoke) is considered the supreme Buddhist virtue. It is also the first personal habit weapon managers suppress in the name of loyalty to their institutions.
“This is not a popularity contest. You have been given a serious job to do. Now go out there and hurt someone grievously, then report back to me. Dismissed!” WeaponWorld talk.
These traits characterize every weapon state, even though centuries of Anglo-Saxon propaganda have fixed them as a Russian stereotype. Such typical human behaviors occur chaotically in parallel on different scales, from the abusive sibling, the mismatched mate, the spiteful clerk and tyrannical desk sergeants up to the highest rungs of power.
A case can be made, that Industrial Era leaders not only drank to excess but did so from lovely, leaded glass decanters — thus poisoning themselves synergistically with alcohol and lead, and their world with pointless violence. High-flying propaganda and institutional inertia justified this foolishness to every poisoned drunkard’s satisfaction — and to ours, today.
Ancient Greek and Roman info elites, as well as modern ones, suffered from similar poisoning. Acidic wine was served to them from lead and lead-soldered vessels. High-class homes collected rainwater from lead-covered roofs; lesser folks’ apartments were roofed with cheaper ceramic tiles. Thus, the richer they grew and the more they ate and drank, the dumber they got. Romans used lead as a sweetener, the same way we use Aspartane today (God protect us from it).
Poor people ate and drank from wooden and clay vessels. They did not suffer from this problem except indirectly, through the bad decisions of their social superiors. Even though, now that I think of it, their famous viaducts were lead-sealed.
This chronic poisoning would have been enough to collapse a civilization. Each new problem got dumber solutions spiced with reflexive terrorism. Does that sound familiar?
What’s our excuse? Many times more background radiation? Maybe. A million times more dioxin, antibiotics and metabolic hormones double-parked in our food, air, drink and body fat? Perhaps. Or could it be our rote repetition of hypnotic weapon myths? Could we find the antidote among Learners?
The recreational consumption of psychoactive drugs (minus alcohol) actuates a different set of social indicators, involving decadence. When otherwise energetic people take recreational drugs, they tend to drop out of productive materialism into mysticism, art, passive denial and asocial indifference. The extent of their withdrawal depends on the types of the drugs they take and their dosage.
Adults often use these drugs as low-stress boredom relievers — trying to compensate for their failure to entertain their topics of passion and communicate with fellow Learners equally obsessed. Roller coasters and dating, for example, are high-stress boredom relievers. Combat is the ultimate boredom reliever for society as a whole, as are other risk-taking activities.
Legalized, the social effects of recreational drugs are value-neutral and perhaps beneficial. Drug use, however, dangerously weakens a weapon state. This is especially true if the craved drug is grown, processed, and/or distributed by foreigners and thus eventual enemies.
See the history of China and its cultural collapse due to opium imported by Westerners.
Ideally, these drugs should be cheap, legal, grown locally and administered hygienically. If so, their side-effects would be less harmful than those induced by the compensatory abuse of tobacco laced with toxic additives, alcohol, caffeine, bleached flour, processed sugar and sugar substitutes; not to mention police Prohibition along with organized crime commensal to it (that feeds at the same table) and every violation of human rights these august bodies bring with them.
Mohammed’s injunctions against gambling and drink helped shift his Islamic brethren toward enhanced social justice.
· Might social justice be proportionate to public health plus ultras. To simple public health?
· Would the consumption of alcohol offer an antibiotic effect equivalent to washing one’s hands five times a day?
· What would equal to washing the feet of a stranger, of one’s enemy?
· In courts of justice, perhaps…
· Washing a tired stranger’s feet as a social routine: what would that equal to?
Early Islam wrested huge info proletariats from the control of weapon elites that could not be defeated otherwise. The Koran offered more wisdom than the dogmatic injustice of prior weapon religions and their potentates.
Long before Learner, God used Mohammed’s voice to divide the world into a House of Peace (lodging those who would concur with Islam) and a House of War (their opponents). One need not be a practicing Muslim to belong to the House of Peace, just let Muslims practice their faith in peace. It is certain that Allah prefers the House of Peace and abominates the other one. No wise Muslim would contradict this conclusion, surely not Mohammed.
I am not qualified enough to comment further. Muslim Learners should do so in my place, loudly!
City-based agriculture and urban tyranny are thought to have evolved hand-in-hand. Crop surpluses were impossible to trade beyond the local weather frontier. Cities were established along waterways that split these territories. In other words, everyone shared local weather – thus surpluses or dearth – simultaneously. Only an extremely complex, post-technological transportation network could shift farm surpluses any distance beyond their district of origin.
In the absence of cheap bulk transport, something had to be done to preserve unmarketable surpluses. It was neither wise nor safe to gorge in years of plenty and starve during the bad ones. Some way had to be found to level this nutritional roller coaster. Surplus perishables could be saved for years of famine by extending their shelf life.
Fermentation helped “solve” this problem.
Up to that point, human hunting packs would have operated much like a pack of wolves. They’d have shared merit-based leadership, self-enforced honesty, equitable food and labor distribution, automatic reproductive restraints, permanent controls against internal violence and the best possible care for a few youngsters raised by the whole community. Over the course of eons, marginal conditions destroyed any pack that deviated from this norm of moral excellence.
We have been bred for this peace mentality a thousand times longer than for the weapon version.
Let’s ignore for a moment the philosophical quibbles, knee-jerk nihilism and existential doubts that ensnare us these days. Real morality increases the long-term likelihood of species survival by reducing the harmfulness of unintended consequences. On the other hand, bad behavior induces worse outcomes more often than good behavior does — when run through the probabilistic black box of unforeseen consequences.
In short, obey your conscience, do good and expect unforeseen miracles; disobey it, do more evil and expect more unforeseen catastrophes. Obedience to conscience and its gift of miracle as a scientifically demonstrable phenomenon. Period, paragraph.
Routine alcohol abuse, however, shattered long-standing social controls through bouts of unthinkable violence and incivility, sickly hangovers, degenerative disease and adverse effects on the newborn. Generations of people recovering from benders, or just sickened by daily tippling, would have evolved insane traditions and institutions to rationalize their drunken misbehavior. Is that us?
The first cities served (have always served) as logistics centers, disaster refuges and fortresses. Primitive citadels housed only priestly elites and their bodyguards: a perfect pick of weapon mentors and battle elites. Later on, the inhabitants of walled cities faced three choices: dispatch a field army against an oncoming horde, suffer annihilation at its hands or submit to it — often the three in succession. Field armies are just voracious, migratory cities.
Sedentary agriculture, urbanism and centralized-capital militarism evolved along parallel but independent tracks. Surplus riches demanded military defenses, property laws and police protection. Dense urban populations and their fixed assets made fortifications mandatory and affordable. It did not matter whether they were manned by armed slaves, mercenaries, regulars or “free” militia.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) also affects ritual stupidity. PTSD survivors are afflicted with permanent hyper-vigilance, attacks of unfocussed panic, paranoia, temper tantrums, a yearning for mayhem, and general inability to readapt to civilian life. Post-traumatized veterans of the First (sic) World War formed the nuclei of totalitarian movements across Europe and Asia in the 1930s. Hundreds of thousands of American veterans of the war in Vietnam came home to die alone and homeless for decades afterwards (and now, those from Iraq and Afghanistan): many more throwaway dead than the 59,000 and some names engraved on the Black Wall in Washington — the same losses we suffer every year on our highways, with traumatized survivors in proportion.
Ancient leaders upheld their claim to nobility by charging into the thickest combat. Nonetheless, they were supposed to display inhuman sagacity in the course of peacetime decision-making. This, despite the fact that they may have been temporarily crazed by PTSD or permanently crazed members of the battle elite.
Besides, to a great extent, the world has been ruled by six generations of victims of concussions suffered as amateur athletes in school or professional ones thereafter (Rugby, Football and boxing), and by veterans who survived explosions and went home to become civilian leaders afterwards. Their bruised brains justified stupid policies for the rest of their life. Thus, Congress.
Another factor favors ritual stupidity. It takes time, lots of it, to collect intelligence and transmit orders via slow communications channels. Running a country in the days of horse and sail was like piloting a defective radio-controlled airplane with a daylong command/control delay. In other words, the command you input at moment X would not take effect until X plus 24 hours (plus weeks and months). This built-in time delay would induce a long series of crashes-on-takeoff no matter how expert the royal hand – or the republican hands – on the joystick.
Nowadays, much has been written about “risk management.” Management theorists bemoan the fact that professional risk managers fly by the seat of their pants especially in foreign policy circles. They base their decisions on “subjective criteria” (read bullshit).
Weapon technicians are at the forefront of broadband communications, virtual reality, artificial intelligence and knowledge systems. Meanwhile, “free market” parsimony foists obsolete information systems on civilians — assuming anyone bothers with civilian applications a lot less well paid even though much more profitable in the long run.
Few civilian organizations gather every bit of data in real-time and study it in detail. Such systems have just begun to be adopted as military communications, command, control, computers and intelligence (C5i) systems. Modern C5i hardware and expertise accelerate the process of analysis, execution, surveillance, repeat ... tremendously. Unfortunately, most civilian institutions continue to honor the languid habits dating back to ponies and sailboats.
Weapon mentors practice routine protocols of stateliness, deliberation, and (whenever possible) retrenchment, censorship and reaction in matters of peace and social welfare. In matters of war, they practice free-spending creativity, vigor, speed, unpredictability and open-minded problem solving.
It takes decades to reverse major blunders (like the Vietnam War and the ones in Iraq and Afghanistan). After all, awful programs must be carried out to their awful conclusion, once top officials have “staked their reputation” on them. They would rather appear to be infallible – until catastrophe pulls down their pants – than admit mistakes, make mid-course corrections and achieve a workable outcome.
The vulnerability of entrenched elites peaks when their least awful managers realize their pernicious habits have brought them more trouble than gain. Then, half-heartedly, they tailor new policies to a broader cloth. Reactionaries block this transformation at every step. Having acquired the most privilege and profit in times of worsening repression, they are outraged by any change in policy. Their weapon hypnosis decrees that self-serving exploitation is paramount: more so to them than a clear conscience.
As social justice declines, (im)pertinent proto-elites froth up from the host info proletariat, eager to challenge ambivalent elites. Reactionaries and radicals often reinforce each other’s brutality. Battle elites serve one political extreme or the other or both; their brutality sponsored by weapon managers at home and abroad. Often, partisans of opposite political extremes act in concert and in succession to disrupt the peace. Autonomous and antagonistic yet paradoxically complicit, they raise as much hell as they can get away with. Take chaos twins like the pre-war Russian Communists and German Nazis, the modern Palestinian and Israeli fascists, and the global fascists of corporate and Islamic persuasions.
It takes more self-control to grit one’s teeth and quietly bury one’s dead, than to dispatch the next helicopter raid or suicide bomber; firmer authority to forbid the next act of retaliation rather than look the other way while local hotheads take matters into their own hands. Until such time, popular moderates will be targeted: the bravest ones will be assassinated, the most prudent terrorized, and the most covetous corrupted.
It will be the shared task of the World Court and World Militia to promote Peace by defending brave moderates, by protecting the prudent and by subsidizing the covetous everywhere.
The info proletariat is always moderate in its politics, at least until threats, propaganda, selective assassination and orchestrated aggression distort its outlook. Political violence favors extremism and blocks moderation.
The question is not how often extremists have indulged in knee-jerk terrorism but how rarely majorities have held to their peaceful ideals and made extremists suffer the consequence of their aggression instead of rewarding their brutality by multiplying it.
The only time I’ve seen a terrorist group suffer from its actions and stop, at least for a while – as opposed to turning themselves into martyrs and inspiring the next bunch of murderous whackos – was during the Munich Olympics of 1972. Palestinian gunmen took Israeli athletes hostage, got them cut down in the crossfire and congealed world opinion against their cause. What was the difference between that massacre and every one on either side, since? This I cannot fathom. Perhaps the Palestinians horrified themselves for a while, back in the day when the conscience-driven among them retained some say in their politics?
To summarize Anatomy in Learner terms, the info elite loses its privileged status when its disgruntled cadres defect to proto-elites in growing numbers. Reinforced by these defectors, the proto-elite most likely to rebuild a more lethal army, absorbs many battle elites. It kills off the most effective opponents, terrorizes the remainder and takes over. Suffering from paranoid siege mentality, its bosses brush aside any thought of peace. In this way, they manage to sharpen their nation’s threat deterrent.
The only outcome of every weapon revolution, war and techno-political phase of “progress” has been weapon states of greater lethality.
“The [French] Revolution cleared the way for a much larger, more centralized, state apparatus, able to exploit its revolutionary-patriotic ideology and new means of coercion to mobilize large armies and the economic resources for major wars. The Revolution inevitably upset the balance of the European states system, in which France was centrally situated; and it created plenty of reasons on both sides for the series of wars which quickly unfolded. War, in turn, drastically affected the course of the Revolution, delivering the “coup de grace” to the liberal phase of 1789-91, and creating both the bureaucracy of La France Fonctionnaire and the elements of a professional officer corps and a modern national army. Not for the last time, therefore, a social revolution was instrumental in bringing about a major development of the state machine. (Marx, incidentally, recognized this in the French case, where he erred was in believing that proletarian revolution would have a different result). Martin Shaw, Dialectics of War: An Essay on the Social Theory of Total War and Peace, Pluto Publishing Ltd, London, 1988, pp. 47-49.
Traditional info elites attack each new revolution with just enough force to set the revolutionaries back on the track of weapon development. Peaceful revolutionaries are unseated through open warfare, subsidized terrorism and economic blockade. Where outright invasion is inappropriate because of a popular Militia has been established to block it, internal chaosists (Contras) can be unleashed instead.
Freer societies, more evolved in peace, can be goaded back onto the path of weapon tyranny by means of pinprick acts of terrorism from external sources or internal ones.
Every world power accelerates this regression to the militarist mean, and weaker states follow along close behind. Weapon managers pick off peaceable idealists and replace them with pet weapon mentors; they neutralize political moderates and replace them with battle elite creeps.
We are programmed to admire this Darwinian selection for heightened brutality and sociopathy. No exceptions are permitted.
Thus, the deadly status quo of contending warfare states grows more tyrannical every year, despite weapon revolutionaries’ mistaken attempts to resist and transform it by renewed violence. This tyranny grows stronger despite and because of them. Every form of violent resistance renews, strengthens and perpetuates it.
Non-violent resistance by conscience-driven Learners united on a planetary scale – fully confident, steadfast, transparent and homogeneous in their diversity – should dissolve the Pathocracy of WeaponWorld once and for all.