SEMANTICS FRAMES MINDS, FOR BETTER, OR WORSE.
Abstract: For George Washington: "Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master." Although I do agree, in first approximation, these concepts are more entangled than Washington suspected. And force starts with a single word.
I will worryingly argue that force is what humanism ought to be mostly about. Civilization itself is violence, but there are reasons for this violence. Even the apostle of love, Jesus, admitted this snidely. And human force is driven by the logos (Jesus, I hope I am not turning Christian!). But ideas are not just contained in logical propositions. The very logical elements the discourse is made of, matter. A single word or two, can carry so much semantics, that extreme violence ensues, right, or wrong.
Symbols, misleading or not, even reduced to one word, can induce massive force by impelling deviance from reason. Debates on race or around the meek euphemism "climate change", have been perverted by errant semantics.
The president of the USA ought not to label himself "black", as he is arguably much more white than black, while his color is brown. Such an offense to the color spectrum is an homage to racism. OK, some may want to make a few points, by claiming to be "black" when they are not, but points are often what vengeance, thus stupid violence is about (that is what the Lex Talonis is: keeping scores).
Similarly, to claim that one is against "climate change" is pusillanimous bimbo babble: it’s not the main problem.
Reciprocally, appropriate eloquence can frame a debate correctly. And eloquence starts with the very concepts, even reduced to a single word, that it animates.
An example is the expression "climate change", a potential partial description of what is going on. It should be given up, for a more responsible description: CARBONIZATION ought to replace it. Indeed, CARBONIZING the earth, an intrinsic evil, is what we are doing, which may, or may not, result primarily in man-made "climate change". Just arguing about the climate, and whether it is changing or not, is an homage to distraction.
Modern physics, with it accurate philosophy, is centered around the idea of using the correct words, and all of them. Time to get inspired by this.
The problem is not violence. As (the mythical) Christ observed, defending love with the sword is no sin. But defense starts with a discourse. As the Evangels (John 1;1) says, liberally stealing from Greek philosophy: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” And that word better be good and appropriate.
A NEW ERA OF IRRESPONSIBILITY; TOO BIG TO JAIL:
“I was right 70 percent of the time, but I was wrong 30 percent of the time,” said Alan Greenspan as he testified on Capitol Hill. Imagine the captain of the titanic, the pilot of the jumbo jet, or the commander of a nuclear strategic submarine telling that much.
Surveying America’s moral landscape in his Inaugural Address, Barack Obama called for “a new era of responsibility”. Well, responsibility starts with the careful choice of words, even with the careful choice of every single word. To call black what is white is wrong, and so is calling black, what is black and white.
"Responsibility" requires first to know what one would respond to. It starts with the choice of words. Because words represent the concepts logic manipulates.
In today’s USA nobody is responsible, no predatory fish who is big enough is ever caught. Be it official judicial precedent to make torture as official practice in the USA, or colossal theft endangering the world economy, nobody is to be prosecuted, because it’s a new era of (ir)-responsibility. Some will say that, so it is, in a kleptocratic plutocracy.
WHEN WHITE TURNS BLACK:
The USA is making its census, as it does every ten years or so. Besides finding how many Americans there are, where they live (thus determining the political circumscriptions), it finds which "races" Americans are. "Race" is important in the USA. The census is, literally, racist, and Americans feel that is OK. One of the races proposed is "white". Another is "Black, African-American, Negro". In a bold leap forward, because soon most Americans will be of mixed origins, people are allowed to write down more than one "race", thus making "race" into the irrelevance it ought to be.
Sadly, this point seems to have officially eluded Barack Obama. He wrote: "…I ceased to advertise my mother’s race at the age of twelve or thirteen, when I began to suspect that by doing so I was ingratiating myself to whites…"
Never mind that his white grandparents showed up at every school event at the time, as people who knew him very well testified. Moreover, since most people in Hawai’i are of mixed race, nobody cared to start with. (I spent my childhood in black Africa, where, just as in Hawai’i, nobody cared about what "race" one was, and where attention to race was called racism.)
But now everything is different for Obama, because the force is with getting votes wherever they are, in the racist continental USA. So he has to demonstrate he identifies himself to a race, to get the racist vote. So, OK, no more "mother’s race advertizing". Ingratiating to people who are just white, is pretty useless anyway.
WHY "RACE" OUGHT TO BE IGNORED:
In France, racist or religious demographics have been unlawful since the nineteenth century, and racist cultures are viewed with contempt. Indeed, one cannot even ask officially people about their religious obsessions, either. France does not even know how many of her citizens are "Muslims". Anyway, how to define "Muslim"? Most French are atheists, and genetic studies have shown that in South-West France, many French partially descend from Muslim invaders.
Why did France become so adverse to racism and religionism? Because of the atrocities committed against Cathars, Jews, Protestants, Atheists, and Catholics, on religious grounds, from the 1200s to the 1700s. One full blown crusade happened on French soil (!). Centuries of massacre motivated by paying homage to the exclusion principle. Only at the end of the 16C, seven religious wars occurred in quick succession. A century later, the protestants were kicked out, helping to foster a global European war.
So, when the Nazis occupied France, they could not tell who and where, the Jews were. Out of roughly 400,000 Jews in France, 75,000 were deported and killed by the Nazis, and the majority of the dead were not French Jews, but recent Jewish refugees from Nazism. Many were from Germany: the USA had refused to let them in. Small place, the USA, sometimes.
In the Netherlands, in contrast with France, people had to declare their "religion" on official government forms. Such was Dutch law, prior to the war. The Nazis liked that, a fellow country where "race" mattered. The Nazis were all about race. With a bit of help from IBM, most Dutch Jews were found out. In 1941, there were 154,000 Jews in the Netherlands. All of them, but a few thousands, were killed subsequently, including Ann Frank.
BLACK IS BLACK, BROWN IS BROWN, AND OBSESSION WITH ORIGINS, RACISM:
In 2010, president Barack Obama declared his "race" to be "Black, African-American, Negro". However, Obama was brought up by his 100% "white" mom and his 100% "white" grandparents in non-"African-American" society in Hawai’i and for four crucial years of childhood (age 6 to 10) in Indonesia.
OK, here is Obama’s black family:
[Barack Obama and half-sister Maya Soetoro, with their mother Ann Dunham and grandfather Stanley Dunham, on Punahou’s campus, Hawaii (early 1970s). His white grand-mother, who brought him up in Hawai'i, as he refused to go back to Indonesia with his mom, is missing in this picture, she is probably taking the photograph.]
After you believe that this is a black family, you are ready to believe Wall Street has nothing to do with the decay of the USA. Good for you, because you have no choice in the matter.
I DENY, THEREFORE I AM:
Of his early childhood, Obama recalled, "That my father looked nothing like the people around me—that he was black as pitch, my mother white as milk—barely registered in my mind."
He described his struggles as a young adult to reconcile social perceptions of his multiracial heritage. That could have been only after he left Hawai’i because, at the time, most of his school and friends there were multiracial. Reflecting later on his formative years in Honolulu, Obama wrote: "The opportunity that Hawaii offered—to experience a variety of cultures in a climate of mutual respect—became an integral part of my world view, and a basis for the values that I hold most dear."
Somewhat confusedly, Obama confessed about using alcohol, marijuana and cocaine during his teenage years to "push questions of who I was out of my mind". Obama identified his high-school drug use as his "greatest moral failure." Little problem here: as I said, at that elite private school, Punahou, most of his friends were multiracial, in a Pacific Islander-White cocktail (and some looked pretty much like Obama himself). And, as Obama himself pointed out, little racism was around.
One may wonder if opting to deny one’s "white as milk" origin, is more of a "moral failure". All the more since Obama knew his absentee father, a Kenyan polygamist, only for a short time, as a baby, and later, for one month. Now, of course, the characterization of Obama as an "African-American" came up during the electoral campaign, and Michelle Obama stepped loudly forward to call non sense assertions to the contrary (she is a genuine African-American). Thus, the Obamas made sure that all "African-Americans" would vote for him. But it is pretty obvious that Obama was elected precisely because his mind-set is not that of an African-American (his white, and world backgrounds made the difference).
To call someone a "negro" in the USA is viewed as an insult. To celebrate Obama as the "Negro In Chief" would be viewed, by most Americans, as racist. But to consider whether they are "negroes" or not "negroes" in the census is not. Go figure.
It is also disheartening to see Obama follow the infamous "one drop rule". In the racist USA, even if you were blonde with blue eyes, you were counted as "black", as long as you had one drop of African "black" "blood".
In America, "black" is that strong a magical curse; a drop of it, and blackness pervades you. That way the American racists were way worse than the Nazis, who counted as fully Aryan anyone who had less of one grandparent of heinous "blood". The Nazis also had the notion of intermediate type ("Mischling"), and several types of Mischlings at that (depending how many Jewish grandparents, and if one was declaring Judaism as one’s religion, etc.) Thousands of Mischlings served in the Wehrmacht, and notoriously the Marshall invading and torturing Norway was a full Jew (he and his family were aryanized by an attentionate Adolf).
But, in the USA, for the racists, one drop of heinous (black African) blood does it. So, let the "conservatives" be reassured: Obama dreamed of his father, found him black as pitch, and therefore observed the "one drop rule". Obama is a good, traditional American. His mother was white, therefore, he is "black". The stain shall not be rubbed.
My take on it: the famous writers Cesaire and Senghor, in France, made the point, long ago, that there was no reason to be ashamed of the niger (= black in Latin), negre, negro qualificatives. They, correctly, celebrated "art négre", and négritude philosophy. This being said, to call, in France, or Africa, somebody who is brown, "black", is viewed as racism, precisely because it implies the "one drop rule", the most racist violent violation which ever was.
It is violating semantics to call "black" who is brown. It is as if one admitted that "black" origin changes everything. One drop of black, and all is carbonized. That later idea was the essential mental facilitator of American slavery. The pope, in the Middle Ages, decided that it was OK to enslave black Africans, as if they were not fully human. In other words: "monkey = black = slave". Because the whites wanted a lot of slaves, they then introduced a further equation: "non white of plausible partial black African origin= black = non human".
To call "black" who is brown, or beige, or vaguely tinted non white, is a reverence to the concept of the quality-that-changes-everything.
I do not want to pick on Obama, who has made deliberate efforts, precisely, to avoid the traps of misleading semantics. And most elder Americans embrace the "one drop rule", a sacred feature of what passes for culture in the USA. But, still, it is a flaw, an homage transmogrifying exclusion into a religion.
OBSESSIVE SEMANTICS TO IMPLEMENT ULTIMATE VIOLENCE:
The reverence to details that-changes-everything is the neurological root of tribalism, racism, exclusion. To call "black" who is "brown" is viewed in Africa as a deliberate insult. (Instead, Africans qualify each other with their ethnic origins, which are numerous, with different languages, even within the existing nations bequeathed by European imperialism. Overall, the word "African" is preferred, since it eliminates the obsession with skin color and, thus, race.)
To view a partial origin from somewhere as the quality-that-changes-everything is the root of racism, because it makes violence to reality. It makes a detail into a world. Once one has made violence to reality, one is ready to make violence on anybody.
And violence on reality, racism is: races can, in general, not be defined, even using modern genetics, because alleles of genes are all over the place. For example I have a friend who is, in appearance, completely Scandinavian: blonde hair, striking blue eyes, white skin, and what the Nazis would have seen as classical Aryan features. This is not just her appearance, but the reality of who she is: much more Aryan, superior white race looking than, say, Hitler’s wife, Eva Braun. Although this ideal Aryan views herself 100% "Jew", and born that way, being an American, the Nazis would have certainly sent her to the oven (except if Hitler had made her a "honorary Aryan", as he did, with thousands of Jews).
Why so much absurdity? Because mental violence is irresistible to humans. Among other advantages, it allows them to go to the bitter end of their errors, and, thus, to find the truth… by exclusion.
VIOLENCE IS WHAT HUMANS DO:
Violence is about force, powerfully applied. Some situations require swift, powerful force, and nothing else could remotely address the situation. So force has to be brought to bear.
When a fanatic decides to explode in a crowded place, that is violence, and only a swifter violence will prevent a great mayhem.
Smaller violence to kill much larger violence is violence well applied.
"Non Violence" is similar to "non-force". Philosophically, it is warm mud. Indeed, man is all about the modification of the environment, which means, the usage of manly force, energy. Thus "Non Violence" means actually "Non Human".
Some will scoff at this notion, but we have a zillion examples of this. Many tremendous warriors brought magnificent peace, whereas limp, non violent types brought only war. Examples are Henri IV of France, a warrior who put an end to the religious wars, whereas the hands off, holier than thou attitude of the USA relative to Hitler, condemning France for threatening to do the dirty work, brought only a world war, and a holocaust. As the Romans used to say: "Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum!" ("If (thou) want peace, prepare war!")
VIOLENCE GOOD, HYPOCRISY BAD, OR HOW MANDELA WAS BETTER THAN GANDHI:
An example of violence working for the good, contrasting with showy goodness propelling crime: Gandhi and Mandela. Both were lawyers, experts in British law. Both exerted their profession in South Africa. Both are revered. But they went opposite ways. Gandhi was an hypocrite, Mandela a honest thinker. One embraced goodness with poisoned lips, the other embraced violence, because it was the lesser evil.
Gandhi opted for "Non Violence", and is famous for it. Conclusion: not only was he violently assassinated by an Hindu fanatic, but his allegedly "non violent", certainly self satisfied, low quality thinking led to about 10 million people killed, and perhaps 100 million, soon. Or more.
Indeed, Gandhi’s religious, Hindu nationalism, in the guise of resisting the Brits, enraged and worried the Muslims living in India. Opportunistic Muslim leaders were then happy to have an excuse to get their own state to reign over, in turn. Gandhi was not the dragon itself, maybe, but he certainly woke it up, played with its tail, provoked it, and lit the fire. India would have been better off imitating Canada: it would not be divided as it is right now, perfused with conflicts, the thermonuclear match at the ready, to visit gamma rays upon itself.
Moreover, Gandhi’s entire show was pretty useless: Britain administrated India with a tiny number of officers (sometimes less than 2,000). Britain was on its way out, India was basically already independent.
Mandela thought bigger thoughts. And he faced a real, determined enemy. After he saw that the crushing power of racist white violence could not be finessed with, Mandela, this partisan of progress and human rights, deliberately decided that only violence in kind would allow the pride of non whites to wake up, and shock them into action, while it would make the world notice apartheid’s violence, and the reaction would prove too costly to the racists.
After a few bombs exploded, Mandela went to jail, switching to mental power, from inside, turning his own jailers around. Hence he succeeded to avoid a blood bath in South Africa, and to foster national and racial reconciliation. By using great mental energy, and physical violence, as needed. A much more difficult task that going around nearly naked, spinning one’s wheel, as Gandhi used to (the wheel being an Hindu-Buddhist symbol so, under the guise of making one’s own clothes, anti-Muslim emotions were promoted, not the best thing after 1,000 years of Hindu-Muslim civil war.)
This being said, violence is what we humans do. To know this, it’s enough to watch the Space Shuttle, or the Arianne rocket take off. We just have to do it well. But often, as Gandhi unwittingly proved (and understood too late!), the devil is in the details.
There is nothing more human than violence mixed with technology: the Nazi philosopher Heidegger had not understood anything in that matter (as in many other matters).
The ancestors of man arose from eating meat, much more meat than the meat obsessed chimpanzees, thanks to the use of weapons. Meat gives superior energy, hence force. Force is how Washington kicked imperialism out.
Weapon usage, feeble in chimps and baboons, was allowed by locomotion on two legs in humans, as it freed the arms to swing down from heavens, crashing various projectiles on a dejected fauna (baboons throw stones from below, swinging up weakly, humans throw stones from above, swinging them mightily; I have known quite a few baboons in Africa who could have testified to this).
MORE HONESTY, PLEASE:
But of course, stealth is half the victory as Sun Tzu pointed out. So it is often best for aggressors to do like Gandhi, or (the mythical) Jesus, and claim goodness, when they are hell bent at encouraging implicit aggression
Although the mythical Jesus was more honest about his aggressiveness than the Hindu fanatic Gandhi, since Jesus admitted that: "I come not to bring peace, but to bring a sword" (Matthew 10:34); OK, philosophers are dangerous, at least to others’ minds, and the mythical Jesus was a philosopher of love, so, he, indeed, brought a "sword".
THE EUPHEMISM "CLIMATE CHANGE" IS BAD CLIMATE FOR CHANGE:
The euphemism "Climate Change" is another deviation from reality opening up the possibilities for lots of implicit aggression. It reminds us of Don Quichote charging windmills: who wants to fight the climate, and its changes? Does not the climate have a right to change itself? After climate has changed, what is it going to wear? Fighting the climate: does not that sound ridiculous? And even if it implicitly means a warming of the climate, this does not have to be negative: tropical beaches in Alaska, why not? Agriculture and forests in Antarctica; why not? Millions of square kilometers in gigantic Siberia and central Asia, free of permafrost, at last, why not?
Indeed the way the planet is, most of the warming would be at the poles. "Global Warming" means the poles would melt. Temperate zones would become tropical, some would get in the desert belt, true, but most of the changes would happen in the refrigerator, and the freezer of the planet, which would get busted.
So it was in the heydays of dinosaurs: the poles were very warm. Dinosaurs and saurians thrived there. Ever since the climate has cooled down. And the biosphere had 100 million years to get used to the cooling, although there were hick-ups along the way, like the extinction of dinosaurs, and their flying and swimming cousins.
Unsurprisingly, the mammals, who descended from mammalian reptiles who had warm blood to live in cold areas, 200 million years ago, and the birds, flying dinosaurs with high metabolism and a very warm temperature, replaced dinosaurs, and their cousins, who were not adapted to the cold (dinosaurs liked Alaska, Greenland and Antarctica, but only when those were covered with forests now found closer to the equator, with species such as Patagonian beech).
HOW TO WIN A DEBATE BY FRAMING IT WRONG:
So it is not the climate which woke up, some day, and decided to change. And, even then, it does not have to be a bad thing. By emotionally framing the debate thus, those who want their carbon profit friends to keep on messing the planet, win it automatically; climate is doing its thing, and its thing is a nice warming.
Framing the debate thus is a fallacy. Such fallacies are historically important: human beings are reasonable, and, if you frame their reason craftily, an oligarchy will put them in any mental corral it likes.
For example, the Nazis claimed that they improved the economy of Germany. Everybody swallowed that lie, and it is repeated to this day. But, in truth, they ran a super gigantic deficit, while stealing their self declared enemies bare, and redistributing the stolen wealth to their followers, making them rich. But, by asking the question to their followers and their admirers: "Are we better off under Nazism?", they framed the debate around erroneous emotions, such as glee for their "success". (This strategy inaugurated by the Nazis, of focusing just on partial apparent economic success was used again by American neo-conservatives, as they were sinking the USA in the last 40 years. As Wall Street GDP went up, they misrepresented it as a success for the USA.)
CARBONIZATION IS A CRIME:
Thus the expression "Climate Change" is inaccurate, and misleading. It is even fallacious; most of the real change is a massive extinction of the biosphere, and a poisonous acidification of the ocean (indeed half of the CO2 created by the carbon industry goes into the sea). Thus it’s not so much the climate that is changing than the BIOSPHERE THAT IS POISONED, AND EXTINGUISHED, BY MAN.
So I propose to label the process of injecting billions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere by evoking it, as it is. I propose "CARBONIZATION". I am against the CARBONIZATION OF THE BIOSPHERE. "Climate Change" is an amusement. "Carbonization" is, obviously an inconvenient crime.
The concept of "Carbonization" includes the warming of the lower layers of the atmosphere, of the oceans, and the soil, plus the acidification (through carbonic acid), plus mass extinction, and depicts what is going on, namely the injection in the biosphere of half a billion years of buried carbon.
Conclusion; ONE WORD IS UTTERED, AND EVERYTHING IS CHANGED:
After Louis de Broglie launched the full blown Quantum Wave Mechanics in 1924, there was a tremendous philosophical debate about the importance of words in physics. Bohr argued forcefully that classical words led to the erroneous Classical Mechanics irresistibly. Nearly a century later, it is clear that Bohr was right. For example, there is nothing such as the "trajectory" of a particle involved in a fundamental quantum process. To utter the word "trajectory" is already to assume what is not. One word is uttered, and everything is wrong.
Interestingly, as Heisenberg told a recalcitrant Einstein, the later, adopting Poincare’s pragmatic approach to space, had changed the semantics of space and time, and thus changed Classical Mechanics already a lot. Some words (such as simultaneity), and the physics associated to them, had been eliminated, others were born (such as spacetime, or mass-energy).
Responsibility starts with responsible words. As Frank Rich points out in "No One Is To Blame For Anything", "Obama has been less forceful in stewarding a new era of responsibility when it comes to adjudicating unresolved misdeeds in the previous White House. “Turn the page” is his style, even if at times to a fault. Many of the Bush national security transgressions, including the manipulation of the case for war, are rapidly receding into history and America’s great memory hole.
The president will not have the luxury of mass amnesia when it comes to the recent economic past… Most of its victims are genuinely innocent bystanders who lost their jobs and savings while financial elites cashed in on the crash… the fear that the Obama administration is protecting its friends persists. On the same morning that Rubin testified last week, Eamon Javers of Politico wrote about his continued influence on his many acolytes in the White House. That includes Geithner, whom Rubin talked with repeatedly in the weeks before the president released his financial regulatory reform proposal last June.
Americans still waiting on Main Street for the recovery that lifted Wall Street once invested their hopes in Obama. Getting the new era of responsibility only 70 percent right won’t do."
Responsibility starts with the correct words because each word, in each mind, neurologically connects to a number of other words and concepts. Connecting irrelevances together is just as irrelevant as the irrelevances it is made with. Pedaling besides the bike does not an efficient mind make. Black and white is not just black, climate change is not just the problem, and so on.
Quantum Mechanics has shown that, in any fundamental process, nature takes into account the whole context, and never just a fraction of it. Taking into account only a fraction of the context of a fundamental quantum process changes its Hilbert space, hence the eigenvalues and eigenvectors, hence everything. It’s irresponsible.
It is high time to bring daily human logic up to the level of rigor our study of nature has revealed. Responsibility starts with responding to nature as we know it. Quantum Mechanics has shown that contextuality is everything, and it starts with the exact words.
Annex on acidification, and global carbonization: NOAA states in their May 2008 "State of the science fact sheet for ocean acidification" that:
"The oceans have absorbed about 50% of the carbon dioxide (CO2) released from the burning of fossil fuels, resulting in chemical reactions that lower ocean pH. This has caused an increase in hydrogen ion (acidity) of about 30% since the start of the industrial age through a process known as “ocean acidification.” A growing number of studies have demonstrated adverse impacts on marine organisms, including: The rate at which reef-building corals produce their skeletons decreases. The ability of marine algae and free-swimming zooplankton to maintain protective shells is reduced. The survival of larval marine species, including commercial fish and shellfish, is reduced."
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) writes in their Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report: "The uptake of anthropogenic carbon since 1750 has led to the ocean becoming more acidic with an average decrease in pH of 0.1 units. Increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations lead to further acidification .. While the effects of observed ocean acidification on the marine biosphere are as yet undocumented, the progressive acidification of oceans is expected to have negative impacts on marine shell-forming organisms (e.g. corals) and their dependent species."
IPCC also includes in its last report that with a probability greater than 0.66: "the resilience of many ecosystems is likely to be exceeded in this century by an unprecedented combination of climate change, associated disturbances (e.g. flooding, drought, wildfire, insects, ocean acidification) and other global change drivers (e.g. land use change, pollution, fragmentation of natural systems, overexploitation of resources)."