WHY we haven't achieved world peace.
HOW we achieve it.
WHAT we should expect once we get there.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Asabyia, or the confidence of elite civilizations

Meditations on War and Peace and War by Peter Turchin, and The Muqaddimah by Ibn-Khaldun (a man whose heart was as great as his mind—if you claim the same gifts, go read him ASAP).

Historical empires are a standard method of maximizing human population density. Population is maximized from the center, the capital and/or central cluster of cities, out to the periphery where it is least dense. Ethnic agglomerations differ from empires in that they have (had, they no longer exist for the most part, among our modern urban societies) less well-defined centers, more mobile and diffuse in terms of population density.

The inter-ethnic barrier Peter Turchin describes is a line drawn between two or more expanding waves of population density of different and incompatible ethnicity (compatible ethnicities tend to blend, the denser absorbing the lesser ones, more or less aggressively). Normally, this barrier occurs along the least densely populated peripheries of these groupings. Its low population density is only increased as imperial armies and ethnic raiding parties cross over and/or fortify it. This is a high-lethality area where cultural evolution is accelerated by lethal competition and reduced carrying capacity. The outcome of evolution within this omnicidal Petri dish is a spike of mutual confidence among survivors (Khaldun’s asabiya plus Turchin’s elaborations). Comparatively speaking, this would be a social aberration, similar to bacteria learning how to pump antibiotics from their cells, even though this energy expenditure would be prohibited under normal circumstances of mutual competition with organisms that did not burden themselves with such a task. This social aberration (maximized confidence) permits smaller populations of “barbarians” to overcome/absorb greater, seemingly better organized ones and appropriate their resources (carrying capacity – land), reducing the opponent’s population density and increasing their own.

Though human population density has increased mindlessly throughout history – insofar it was able – this was not an inherent good. Population densities below a certain threshold do not permit effective resistance against denser outside concentrations – even if confidence spikes (as it would, inevitably, in smaller conglomerations competing with other small ones). Beyond a certain threshold, the population density of successful empires exceeds carrying capacity (multiplied by technology as appropriate), confidence is replaced by rational strategizing and moralists begin punishing saints and promoting knaves in their place (see Turchin’s definitions), instead of the reverse, in an attempt to solve this unsolvable problem. This would resemble an out-of-control immune response in an otherwise healthy organism. Both spikes and troughs of confidence would be situational aberrations. At that point, a lesser population density wave, its confidence spiking, attacks and takes over the denser one whose confidence is in trough.

This cycle will be reenacted endlessly until one world community (empire is an inappropriate term, since empires are built to fight other empires/ethnicities and there would be no other such to confront the world community we are talking about here) finds a way to regulate planetary population densities to just below sustainable carrying capacity, each sub-population within its own biosphere. Civilization is a series of clumsy attempts, constantly refined by disaster, to solve this problem. Our central problem is therefore not technological development, nor even peace, but the voluntary self-regulation of population densities to sustainable levels corresponding precisely with carrying capacity times technology properly applied (I might say reverently applied) of indefinite duration. The stabilization of optimal confidence levels, instead of feed-back transitions from spikes to troughs and corresponding military chaos.

There remain several problems: how is confidence boosted and how is it diminished within large human populations? The diminishing part seems easier to resolve. As womenfolk who belong to conquered peoples or declining empires witness their natal families being massacred and social structures destroyed, as they are raped and enslaved by violent strangers, as new periods of hunger and misery replace prior times of sufficient food and relative peace, they will undergo physiological stress factors that will subtly warp their children’s minds, both before and after birth. These affects will be both physiological and behavioral, increasing the number of knavish children and reducing that of saints, producing heightened levels of selfishness, antisocial behavior and social collapse.

Recall that we are speaking of very large numbers of people over great stretches of time. Turchin speaks of this type of transition, from confidence to selfishness, as taking hundreds of years for a full cycle within a given population, several dozens of generations. At any given time, even during the here and now, countless women are abused and their children grow up damaged by this abuse. But under optimal conditions and ideally, a majority of women would remain content (less stressed) and that contentment would reflect a healthier crop of children and greater levels of social cooperation. At least as long as population density did not exceed carrying capacity multiplied by sustainable technology.

How is it, though, that the greatest historic outbreaks of confidence have occurred among relatively minor tribes at interethnic boundaries – a location so lethal that it would seem to optimize the victimization of women and corruption of their children? The only alternative would seem to be the advent of truly wolf-like small societies within this zone: infinitely cunning, brutal and successful in their attacks upon outsiders, yet angelically benign with respect to their own women and children. How this paradox arises (powerful military groups are by nature abusive of their children) I do not know. Perhaps there is a level of social stress and military peril beyond which the increase in wife and child abuse becomes paradoxical, the way massive or continuous dosages of a drug would produce the opposite outcome expected? This topic requires intensive study.

The same can be said of reduced confidence levels in well-fattened old empires en route to decline. What is it about the provision of adequate rations, social order and reduced stress that would reduce confidence levels and replace them with selfishness and destructive social conflict? In short, why would overall peace corrupt civic virtue, while the threat of annihilation would appear to groom it? This topic requires even more intensive study.

Monday, September 04, 2006

What set off WeaponWorld, 5000 years ago?

The causative events that replaced peace mentality with weapon mentality in the human conscience are subtle, numerous and synergistic. What’s more, peace mentality is by nature prehistoric, since during the past five thousand years, written history has consisted in the perfection of weapon mentality at its expense. It would take centuries of historians much smarter than me to enumerate these origins honestly. The section WHY of LEARNERS attempts this enumeration in a few hundred pages.


Would I be crazy enough to dare delimit, on a page or two, some causative elements I presumed to find without scientific proof? Of course! Thank you (SLP) for asking me that question. In this American vacuum of cerebral dialogue, wherein I find myself captive, my own conclusions cannot succeed all by themselves.

First off, the transformation of mankind, from meat for saber-toothed tigers into the dominant omnivore species of this planetary ecology. Don’t ask me how that happened; I have no idea. As a tactical problem, facing species of stronger carnivores, it seems almost insoluble to me, without talents if not extraterrestrial assistance of which we have no idea. Also, the bankruptcy of these magical and mythical aids - at least, according to us modern ignoramuses – that rendered human economies into a zero-sum military proposition, instead of that of peaceful, unlimited resources prior, based on grace and the miraculous co-operation resulting therefrom. All that since hundreds of millennia, concluded 5,000 years ago.

I bandy about thousands of years of human culture. Recall that one thousand years of human time equals at least twenty successive generations of tribal elders, each at least fifty years old. Each generation subtly influenced by its predecessors and each subtly influencing its replacements. None of this occured overnight.

Meanwhile, the cyclic and accelerating destruction of a much more peaceful human civilization, of a planetary ecology much more welcoming and of technologies that would seem bizarre to us; by means of continental ice melt tsunamis that took place approximately 10,000 years ago. The only survivors were a few primitive shepherds and hunters-gatherers on highland plateaus proof against these tsunamis (and some civilized survivors who enlightened them as best they could). They rebuilt isolated and much less subtle civilizations in a decimated ecology and equipped with starveling energy technologies. They replaced this ancestral culture based on oral recitation of holy texts learned by heart (and thus much more worthy) with those based on written texts, much better at authorizing and perpetuating weapon lies and stupidities.

I love poetry; you cannot understand how much. My digitally pixilated words are shit compared to poetry you could not help but memorize and recite because they were so beautifully wise.

The following transformations are not listed in chronological order; be warned.

The dumbed-down survivors of this destruction could not cure those born with violent mental pathologies and incorporate them into peaceful civilization in an elegant manner. These deviants agglomerated and organized themselves into destructive bands. The prior civilization could not survive them, suffering as it did climate transformations and new plagues beyond its ability to cure. Given the disappearance of truly nutritive and medicinal farming, remaining agricultural technologies competed against those of nomad herders, and the first villages, rebuilt during millennia of mounting shortages, were fortified and militarized. The Plant Trap impaired the raising of healthy children. (I am summarizing – see LEARNERS for details). Alcohol was adopted in order to concentrate rare farm surpluses for preservation through many periods of famine. Its behavioral repercussions canceled hundreds of thousands of years of refinement in our social ethics as internally peaceful packs of omnivores. Military technologies, religions and organizations prevailed at an accelerating pace over those peaceful, and managed to extinguish them almost entirely. Here we are.

Yet this attribution of first causes, no matter how attractive to the intellect, is not required for Learner transformation. These causes are embedded in the depths of time and therefore beyond our control. Weapons mentality survives because of the weapon mythology it disseminates. We need to replace that mythology, in its cultural entirety, by a peaceful, entirely parallel one just as justifiable. Our recognition that we hate peace – as much as individuals as members of cultures that hate it – and our self-transformation as well as that of our cultures by acts of pure, communal will – no matter how lame – those must be our current goals.

I suspect that this transformation could be the most lethal one we need undergo, barring the ultimate expression of weapon mentality that could sterilize the whole planet, short of our stopping it once and for all. Thereafter, if our civilization survives at all, we may rebuild peaceful paleotechnics, if not their superior substitutes, able to grant us unlimited energy directed towards peace, replacing ours of military penury. We are willfully stupid; it is a question of reinventing ourselves smarter on a planetary basis; of recabling the collective superconscience, as ADN would wish us to do.

The religious implications of this transformation, I leave you to consider according to your fancy. Christ never required them of us; He compels nothing of anyone, as Love never does. “Let him without sin throw the first stone.” Those words confirm His Divinity, and God’s—beyond our wildest expectations. If we will not adopt them voluntarily, we are not worthy of them, nor is our species to survive. After all, ADN has all the time in this universe, as well as those to come, to create a worthy civilization. Will we be found worthy? I stumble over refuse on our streets and children famished all over the Earth, that confirm our unworthiness.

The substitution in peace of this cultural weapon mythology is our principal task. Scientific enumeration of prior causes will be the task of Learners to come: beneficiaries of a civilization much smarter than ours, recovering from our perpetual self-lobotomies to better answer military requirements, each antinomial and ultimately insoluble.

I await this perestroika, while dreading the repercussions of our militant, ritual stupidity. Given this principal task, our primary problem consists in adhering to peaceful means (of which we are virtually ignorant) in order to reach this peaceful end, instead of falling into the trap of militant means (seeming many times easier and less suicidal to us) that will only confirm the cultural dominance of weapon mentality. Rather, I await the advent of international Learners much more gifted than me, through the coaching of their distinct lives, to teach us how to reach it. LEARNERS is just the spark of inspiration cast upon the parched tinder of their planetary genius.

If it were up to me all alone, or to a few Learners so inclined, no success would be feasible. Up to every one of them operating as a co-operative commune, perhaps one chance in two. Up to someone else, practicing whatever else, good luck with that!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Fight in Iraq or fight at home

Nixon negotiated with the North Vietnamese behind President Johnson’s back during a declared Police Action (Vietnam). Reagan negotiated with the Iranians behind President Carter’s back during the (Iran) Hostage Crisis. Bush the Minor negotiated with the Taliban behind President Clinton’s back during another military crisis (Twin Towers I, the Destroyer Cole, the bombed Embassies). Then, as President, this same Bush the Minor choke-chained the intelligence community and thus permitted 9/11 to happen (so as not to disturb delicate natural gas pipeline negotiations that the Taliban broke off nine days before 9/11).

Now, from my eccentric perspective, rendering aid and comfort to an avowed enemy of the United States, behind the back of the Commander in Chief and in direct contradiction of his intent, and facilitating thousands of American casualties in the process, that’s Treason punishable by firing squad (I’d settle for throwing every responsible party in jail and chucking the keys – no need for an International War Crimes tribunal; we can dispose of this little matter in-house).

This is no wild-eyed conspiracy theory. These high crimes and misdemeanors are on the record for anyone to see. Heck, Republicans BRAG about getting away with them. What is the punishment for serial Treason in the USA? Getting your Party Commissar elected against a Democrat incumbent. Not once, mind you; three times. Who permitted this triple treason? The Democrats, both in and out of Congressional majority. If a Democratic President is ever elected again (which I doubt, unless some crypto-slime like Lieberman) the Republicans will simply cut a deal with our worst enemies abroad, and thus regain the White House. Simple. Effective. Guaranteed success.

Throw in an unpunished Presidential assassination (Kennedy) and the assassination of a Democrat Presidential shoo-in (another Kennedy), plus two blatantly stolen Presidential elections, (2000, 2004). Plus NOTHING done to prevent recurrence (2006, 2008). I cannot help but conclude, if Bush the Minor or his upcoming Republican Presidential replacement, Adolph Hitler III, went out on the White House Lawn and, in front of the entire White House Press Corps, shot your Grandmother in the back of the neck, the entire Democratic Leadership Committee would fall over itself to swear it was the fault of Left-Wing extremists, and the lot of you would buy it

Please! Let’s have no public disturbance!

The other day, Bush told us that if we withdrew from Iraq, we would have to finish this war on our streets at home. God bless him; for once in his lifetime, he spoke the truth. If we force him to withdraw from Iraq, he will wage exactly the same kind of war against us at home. We have been warned.

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