Archive for April, 2008


April 25, 2008



Americans and Europeans seem to enjoy paying taxes for $300 billion of farm subsidies, and their main victims are the poor farmers of the poorest countries.

Morality would call to divert some of this exhuberance towards agricultural research, including genetically engineering plants that would allow to lower the fertilizer loads (which contribute heavily to the greenhouse). Corn is especially unsuitable for biofuels, requiring, as it does, lots of water, and fertilizers (biofuels from corn augment the CO2, those from cane sugar do not, but barely so). In general there should be a world law saying: NO FUEL FROM FOOD (except in remote islands converting say coconuts, but only with special authorization).

But the idea of biofuel is good. Simply, really interesting biofuels will have to be genetically engineered. They probably will come from some sort of hybridized algae .

In other words, a lot of genetic engineering is needed ASAP, although that is not popular in some places (which profit heavily from past agricultural practice: France). Erroneously so, factually and morally: nearly all the food calories consumed around the world come from genetically engineered organisms. Pigs, corn, rice, wheat, even potatoes have all been obtained by heavy selection. In some cases, it is not even clear where some of these species come from: apparently the ancestors of rice lived on land, not in water, and corn is such a man made species that its ancestors are a matter of speculation (it seems genes from different species were mixed, maybe up to 12,000 years ago. Neolithic man should get the Nobel prize in biology and medicine posthumously, for the invention of genetic engineering!)

We have come to a point where agriculture without more science is ruinous for soul and planet.

P/S 1: Nowadays the economy of food is not that of the Middle Ages, even in the poorest countries. Food is heavily dependent upon transportation (of the food itself, and/or water, and/or fertilizers). This all uses energy. Gasoline and diesel have the highest energy density. Europe suffered extreme deforestation around 1200 CE, due to the fact people got all their energy from that biofuel known as wood.

The poorest people on earth eat grain, and they are not cattle. That means, they cook. It used to be the largest part of their budget. These poor people deforest, because they need biofuel.

Some people who evoke lovingly electric engines apparently forget that their pet electric car is at the end of a cable at the extremity of which other super gigantic electric engines working in reverse (aka turbines) convert violent rotary motion from massive heat into electronic agitation.

Electric power comes from centralized energy generation, in other words, in practice, a huge fire. Those whining poetically about fuel cell technology should spare a thought for Apollo XIII (the O2-H2 fuel cell exploded, and the astronauts survived with lots of in extremis, miraculous brainwork). Advanced prototype batteries, because they pack so much energy, tend to explode.

So how do we generate all this centralized energy electric lovers need? The planet is dammed out (and tropical dams can create massive quantities of methane, besides drowning the landscape). OK, we could, and will, put maglev wind turbines one kilometer high everywhere windy…The only clean energy (carbon wise) deployable now in enormous amounts everywhere is nuclear energy (no screaming about the bad news, please!). Solar towers and photovoltaics could be deployed massively in the US West (which has exceptional insolation far from bin Laden). It’s starting, but way too slowly: it takes 50 years to deploy a new energy technology to have economic preponderance.

Coal and the tar sands should be tarred, feathered, and run out of town (they ruin the atmosphere, and the sea, and the earth). They surely will be when sea levels start to rise real fast, a few years from now.


P/S 2: Roger Cohen wrote an article weighing diverse observations on biofuels ( The preceding was a complement (in Cohen’s blog,, some readers pointed out some shortcomings of his work (especially regarding water usage, and displacement of agricultural land by biofuel, one more reason to go towards algae)).
Patrice Ayme


April 24, 2008
Barack Obama has been harassed for not always wearing a US flag all day long…  
…To show he is really a good patriotic simple minded American. For some reason, he does not seem to remind neoconservatives, and proper Americans, of the correct colors.

But did you know the following detail, that speaks volumes? Adolf Hitler started the little fashion of the flag pin pinned on the lapel of his jacket with his own three colors. This way, all Germans knew Hitler was a patriot. They needed to know this, because, through his efforts, Hitler ended up killing more than 10.1 million Germans (including two million civilians).

Adolf Hitler also emblazoned the SS with the slogan “Gott mit Uns!” (“God with us!”). Two decades before the US Congress unconstitutionally, but faithfully, imitated him with “In God We Trust!” this had real consequences, such as massive support, by US “intelligence”, for Muslim Fundamentalists (since 1945).

Not only do those who do not know history never leave childhood (as Cicero pointed out), and are condemned to repeat it (Santanya), but they can bury civilization.

Patrice Ayme


April 23, 2008


Overview: It is often said, especially in that great greenhouse perpetrator, the USA, that science fiction technologies need to be developed before the emission of greenhouse gases could be mitigated. We argue that this is not correct, as the example of Europe, and, especially France, shows. Ways and technologies deployed in Europe could be, and should be, imposed worldwide. This is a reply to a Nature article of 3 April 2008 “Dangerous Assumptions”.


The extent and nature of energy usage has pretty much defined human mental capabilities for 2 million years. We went from the conquest of fire, to the over consumption of fire. In Nature Roger Pielke Jr, Tom Wigley and Christopher Green argue that “the technological advances needed to stabilize carbon-dioxide emissions may be greater than we think”. Although we do agree with most of the article, we disagree with that conclusion. What is true, though, is that the economic redeployments needed are greater than those who believe in science fiction think. Thus the US policy of ignoring those redeployments has been erroneous.

How big is the energy challenge of climate change? Anthropogenic CO2 production is now approaching non linear tipping points (two examples: 1) enough rise in temperatures creates, by itself, the natural emission of more greenhouse gases (such as water vapor, CH4 or CO2) -this has already started; 2) melted ice caps, replaced by dark water or dark ground, would not grow back, etc..).

Right now, sea level is going up 3 millimeters a year. It is now understood that climate change is highly non linear. So what do we do when seas go up ten times faster (a foot a decade)? Inquiring minds want to know. Because, at some point soon, it will.

Food shortages are occurring. They were an expected consequence of the greenhouse effect. Now some governments have chosen (non fossil) fuels over food.

France, with the best health care in the world, the ability to arrest pirates in Somalia (April 2008), and a nominal GDP per head now superior to the US, spends not even a THIRD in carbon dioxide emission per capita as the US does. So carbon emission reduction can be done right away, not need to wait to the great pie-in-the-sky of futuristic technologies (the usual cop out argument of the US government, a puppet to obsolete industries).

Not that advanced technologies cannot bring solutions: in France nuclear “waste” is reprocessed into more and newer nuclear fuel, and burned again in nuclear reactors (MOX). And just to make sure, in case the pie-in-the-sky of science fiction works, France is at the head of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor effort (out of which the USA just pulled out financially speaking).

The French existing capability is the fruit of a multi decades long policy to make energy extremely expensive, thus forcing efficiency at all levels (including urbanism, housing, not just transportation).

To do this, France has used the full panoply of behavior modifications, from taxes, to regulations, to law, to the free market. It’s not just that more than 935 of the French electricity production is carbon free. Gasoline is nine (9) US dollars a gallon (at least), a price mostly due to taxes (without tax, oil would be cheaper in France than in the USA). A French car such as the Peugeot 307 HDi, a five person car which as been sold by the hundreds of thousands in the last few years achieves very high mileage. One gallon of fuel is sufficient for a mixed (Combined cycle) journey of 57.6 miles (Urban driving cycle conditions is an impressive economy of 46.3mpg). The car is fully capable, and can go above 100 mph. Such a machine sounds like Science fiction in the USA. An it’s not even a new car: Peugeot is bringing out its successor, the 308.

All of Europe is following. Germany, for example making a giant effort in renewables (unfortunately, at this point, spoiled by planning 12 giant coal plants). All of Europe is making a massive effort on electric railways (which are way more efficient and often faster than all, including planes)

Also the EU has been trying to find some price for carbon dioxide, so far up to $30 per metric ton of CO2 (for comparison, a tax of four cents per ton, 750 less, has been suggested in the San Francisco Bay Area). The idea is to force industries to pay for their mess (and trade the caps). There have been some problems with implementing that particular mix of free market and regulation (because some industries lied initially), but it will be solved. (Not to say that the EU is perfect, led by France, following the USA like the dog its master, it launched itself in Food-for-Fuel immorality.)

Historically, it takes about 50 years to deploy a new energy technology so that it can replace its predecessor. Even nuclear energy would have, to become a global solution (that is 8,000 reactors instead of the present 400!) to deploy reactors of generation IV or V (France is building two of generation III+). Such high temperatures and breeder reactors would be safe and extremely efficient, crucially extending the uranium reserves, but the research needs to start now (the preceding French government decided to not go for generation IV, a controversial decision in France).

To answer the question above, if the seas were rising by several centimeters a year, any fossil carbon burning would have to be stopped immediately. The world is not ready for this. Carbon sequestration will have to be imposed (as yet a not-really-existing technology). Some countries may refuse to do so, and it would constitute, long term, a clear casus belli. The causes for war would be numerous (including massive flows of sea and food refugees). The world would turn into a frantic mix of dams and levees rising, and war preparations.

The USA, fortunately, is in a unique situation of maximum insolation at high latitudes (the American West). It should embark on a massive program of solar towers (it has started, but is not massive yet; such towers don’t have the problem of energy storage overnight, because they can store the heat in salts). It’s not a question of solving the problem, but showing some leadership in the right direction (for a change!).

Conclusion: the greatest (directly anthropogenic) growth of greenhouse gases is now switching to the poorest countries, as they scramble to catch up in energy wealth per person. Thus, mitigating the greenhouse means the worldwide deployment of non carbon technologies, right away. Those technologies exist, but need the correct political environment to thrive. Many poor countries have shown willingness to mitigate their emissions (China adopts the EU standards for mileage; India is developing thorium breeder technology for making a little uranium go a long way, etc…). The most high tech countries should pusher higher technologies and standards, and then transmit them to the rest of the planet. It will be this, or it will be war.

Patrice Ayme






April 19, 2008



Roger Cohen finds the USA dangerously hypocritical: there is a US museum about the Nazi holocaust of the Jews, “a German crime”, but there is no museum about slavery, an American crime. He adds: “Germans have confronted the monstrous in them… The truth can be brutal, but flight from it even more devastating. America’s heroic narrative of itself is still in flight from race … it’s time for the country to ask itself the hard post-jingoistic questions and allow the memorialization of even its darkest chapters. To demand truth commissions of other nations, while evading them at home, is self-defeating.” (

Civilizations can change, and today’s Germans are lethal enemies of fascism. If time travel were possible, and they could go back to 1938, they would join the French republic to fight Nazism, in the blink of an eye. Fascism in Germany, however abominable and of great consequence (all together, at least 100 million dead), was a moment in history, abhorrent to the deepest roots of German civilization, and pretty much contrived by a few generations of leaders who co-opted each other (unfortunately starting with the often respectable Bismarck, political instigator of a monster he came to regret). The two main flaws of the German error were xenophobism and hubris. The main control mechanism, sitting above the preceding to make them possible, was blind and servile obedience to fascism, allowed by the death of the mind (obedience was deeply adverse to the original German character).

Not so with America. The American system of thought is four centuries old, and was accepted by all Americans for twenty generations (although in increasingly diluted form, its fundamental nature -anti-intellectualism and profits uber Alles- was not changed).

The American thought system is the progenitor of the success of the USA. It soon intrinsically became the twisted expression of a democracy (“We The People… made of rich white males). But, according to the modern moral standards of the Enlightenment, it was not pretty. Efficient, yes, pretty, no. Thus, America is in flight from many its own master generating ideas, for the deepest reasons intrinsic to its very nature. Genocides, the Bible, slavery, racism, formed an intricate network of mind characteristic of, and crucial to, a growing English speaking North America for many centuries. From those evils blossomed out many of the splendid attributes of America. No intrinsic monstrosity, no American splendor (no wonder many careful students of America, such as Tocqueville, ended baffled and ambivalent). Without understanding this, major malfunctions will occur looking forward, and not just for the US. There is a lesson in this, which can be carried all over the world.

The German flight from the truth of what really happened on August 1, 1914, caused a profound revisitation of the same horror in January 1933, in a more obstinate and self righteous version. It was the flight from truth that created Nazism (Hitler was the first to assert this in print). In the case of the USA, the flight from truth is clear and present, it prevents to analyze what went wrong, and thus what’s wrong now. In that sense it is similar to fascist versions of Islam: in the very genesis of a thought system can lay the paralysis it gets afflicted with. The US mental paralysis is a world problem, because the USA was long one of the mental leaders for the world, but now it clings to memory loss and decerebrated childhood, feeding its various denials, such as been addicted to waste, enslaved to the Rich, terrorized by thinking, petrified by change. In the USA, systems of units dating from the Middle Ages are still in use. Only there, and nowhere else. In more ways than one, the USA is stuck in full mental reverse (just as this Taliban it gave birth to). Why? Because the US thought system is on the verge of a nervous breakdown. But breaking it is the best gift one can make to it.

What is a civilization? A system of thought carried by the many minds of a people (typically living in one or more cities, hence the root “civilis”). The US system of thought originated in English colonial America (hence not in 1776, nor in 1789, but in 1606). The US system of thought had two main proximal inputs: England herself, of course, and the London Company. It was a symbiotic mix of heavens and hell, each serving the other. We passed the 400th anniversary of the hidden Constitution of the USA in total silence, but the democratic candidates for the US presidency were embroiled in theology, as befits savages of 1606 CE, not philosophers of 1789 CE.


The London Company was an English stock company established by royal charter on April 10, 1606, with the purpose of establishing profitable colonial settlements in North America. The London Company had right of life and death over the entire continent, and the mission to impose Christianity on the natives (Charter of 1609). Things went on according to the master plan. The USA is the country that originated in a conspiracy, and we have its foundational document, black on white.

The Puritans arrived later, in 1620, under the authority of the London Company (and of the military). Their master idea fit perfectly well the London 1609 Charter, they thrived. The Puritans had decided to impose the Bible, on earth (and planned to go back in strength and invade Europe to impose their god!). As soon as established, they exterminated whoever was preventing the full expression of their purity (they exterminated not just Indians, although Indians had just saved them, but also “rough fellows”, independent British settlers further north, who had committed the sin of being too friendly with native women (who could be massacred and enslaved at will, since they were unbelievers; notice the similarity with the hard core Qur’an).

The fundamental principles of both London Co. and Puritans were pretty much according to a racist book full of Shoahs (holocausts), a book they were reading every time they wanted to look deep. That “Mein Kampf” of the invaders made holocausts into a religion, and also the grabbing of lands, etc…. It was easy to transpose the ideas of this book; the Puritans were the Elected people, their enemies who happened to be occupying the promised land, were enemies of their God, and had to be destroyed. Thus murderous, genocidal racism was instated at the top of the mental agenda, and with their God’s stamp of approval. This sort of barbarousness would never have sailed through the Roman Senate, but, armed with the Bible (a book which extolls events that happened more than a millennium before the Roman Senate agonized about destroying Carthage), the English settlers could go where Western Civilization had not gone before: genocide on a Biblical scale.

To start with, modestly enough because the Indians were watching their every move, the London Company had reinvented slavery in a European setting. Jamestown was initially crewed by white slaves (convicts and indentured servants, to be punished and killed in atrocious circumstances at the smallest pretext). (By comparison the French government sent to its colonies only people who had been checked for their highest morality, and they could return any time!) In the English colonies, slavery of the whites was, naturally enough, soon replaced by that of the natives, and, when the colonies could finally afford them, by African slaves (buying them with tobacco revenue, and that is why expensive African slavery was mostly in the South).

The English colonies were without adult supervision (because England was in terrible civil war trouble; when the English king asked the French king to come help with his army, even the war friendly Louis XIV prudently declined). So the most basic standards of civilization could be trampled with alacrity. Perhaps finding that the burning of Indian towns left too many natives roaming the woods, Boston was paying for Indian scalps. The passionate hatred between Indians and English settlers soon got some company from the passionate hatred between enslaved Africans and Whites (some southern states had more slaves than Whites, and only terror made them stable). American racism was an acquired staple of survival. It was married to slavery, creating the particularly monstrous progeny of racially determined slavery (something not tried since 15C BCE India, three millennia earlier!).

None of this, of course was very European: racism was unknown in Europe ever since the Romans had Spanish (1C), African and Arab emperors (3C). Slavery had been unlawful in Western Europe since the Merovingians (7C).

In English America slavery and racism were means to an end: the conquest and possession of an entire continent by greedy Europeans maximizing profits. But it’s no accident that both the Spanish and the French, who both used ethics that were not flying as low, completely failed in North America. Although the temperate coast of North America had been known since the Vikings (who imported timber from it for many centuries), it could not be colonized for military reasons: the natives were too fierce, and they knew that the Europeans had come to steal the land (see Viking and Cartier reports). The English settlers used all the weapons at their disposal, and the war manual that suggested many of them, and the righteous spirit to go with it was the Bible. It’s still true today: Bush attacked Iraq because his “Higher Father” told him to. Long live the Bible and its God! An argument few Americans can resist.

So one should not scoff, and call the European settlers in America naive. That system of thought, which mixed Bible primitivism and European high tech was immensely successful: English Americans became quickly the richest, best fed, and often best educated people on earth (they held that position for three centuries). They were free, and formed into a de facto republic before London and Paris figured out what was going on. Nine generations after inception, excited by French agents, the republic declared its independence (1776). Tocqueville, arriving another four generations after that, declared, not without scathing irony:

“The Spaniards, by unparalleled atrocities which brand them with indelible shame, did not succeed in EXTERMINATING the Indian race and could not even prevent them from sharing their rights; the United States Americans have attained BOTH these results with wonderful ease, quietly, legally, and philanthropically, without spilling blood and without violating a single one of the great principles of morality in the EYES of the world. It is impossible to DESTROY men with more respect to the laws of humanity” (from “Democracy in America”).


America invented and justified, by its very success, slavery, extermination and racism. Those (Biblical) ideas fed back to Europe: many Europeans were impressed by their triumph in North America, and longed to duplicate it all over the planet.

Civilization had to fight hard in Europe, to triumph over Europe’s own savagery, and it was natural to extend an even more violent effort overseas. Racism is a natural instinct, a consequence of psychobiological tribalism, when all one sees is white men, and one identifies civilization with them, and civilization is in a world wide fight (against superstitious religion, habits and elites of the past, etc…). Savagery got identified with anybody not white, such as black men. Although such an identification was certainly culturally correct (don’t scream or a 19C Maori will come back, and eat you on my behalf), it was genetically erroneous, sure. But the point is that racism, however erroneous, flourished in Europe, and the conquest of the “New World” was seen as its prophet.

English America and its USA were a great inspiration for many (such as a particular Belgian king who devastated Congo for Ivory, allegedly killing millions). The racist Prussian fascists, such as governor Goering (the father of that WWI war hero, Herman Goering), instituted in Namibia an accelerated program trying to do very fast, around 1900, what the Americans had done in centuries, away from prying eyes. The British themselves used against the (European) Boers methods of concentration camps, deportation and pseudo accidental death (of more than a third of all the Boer women and children) that they had learned from the US Americans.

The Nazis, of course, were the most dedicated students of the genocide of the Indians. They decided to duplicate it in Europe, applying it to all their enemies (starting with the Poles, then the Jews, etc…) They put all these ideas on steroids, missing out completely on the plausible self denying moral subtlety of the American ways (which made them sustainable). As Tocqueville indicated, the Americans had become expert at lying to themselves and keeping appearances civilized. Although of course he came to observe after 220 years of continual holocaust (missing most of it). (US American civilization took three centuries to exterminate the Indians, and, by trying to do the same to all of the advanced Europeans of Eastern Europe in three years, the Nazis were bound not to make friends, even among themselves.)

Another meta feeling that was comforted by the keeping of appearances, was that English America, come hell and high water, was always right: nothing succeeds like success. It was fundamental to assert this loud and clear, because this loud crowing was part of the cover-up (another was to play real dumb and inarticulate). This lack of doubt about America has become a central American mental tradition. It explains why the role of the USA in helping fascist regimes (and, first of all Hitler’s) was never put front and center. Unsurprisingly, so has it been for the role of the USA in pushing Judeo-Christo-Muslim fanaticism (before S. Hussein put God on the Iraqi flag, the USA chose as motto “In God we trust” in 1954. This religious slogan unconstitutionally replaced the US Founders’ “E Pluribus Unum”; it’s unconstitutional to bring a god in because, so doing, Congress made an “establishment of a religion”, and that is explicitly forbidden by the US Constitution. But nothing succeeds as well as enormity, as Hitler pointed out (in this apparent competition of enormities, Hitler earlier put “Gott mit Uns” all over his SS)).


A characteristic of the American thought system is its anti-intellectualism. Pushed around, Americans tend to evoke their “faith” in “god”, rarely their supreme intelligence and sensibility. The Bible overlords it all, in some ways more than ever (some American Founding Fathers wrote some very strong anti-Christian stuff, and got elected, whereas saying the same nowadays would be death to any politician). At the same time, of course, in part to prevent the rule of absolute idiocy, which would be counter-productive to the overall mission, the USA has the best universities in the world (if “best” is carefully evaluated in the realms of easier thoughts, and the readily publishable; don’t expect the first genuinely American Abelard, Buridan, Voltaire, Gauss, Nietzsche or Einstein any time soon…).

Europeans remember the old Nazi proverb that “whenever I hear the word Kultur, I pull out my Browning” (Browning being an American brand of revolvers American capitalists smuggled to the Nazis in vast amounts). Culture was what ultimately stopped Nazism (the German army coup against Hitler of 1944 was launched as a matter of cultural principle by its upright instigators). France opposed Nazism at every turn, from January 1933 on, mostly for higher cultural reasons (just as the USA cooperated with Nazism against France by common hatred against those who detested genocides, racism, slavery, and the Biblical god).

The American thought system, increasingly laden with contradictions, encouraged by its devotion to the Bible, has avoided to think. Thinking is intrinsically creative, and may turn to dust the old American mummy of obsolete habits, if it ever touched it. In any case, the verdict of the American elite, when asked why they got into Iraq, admit that it was by “lack of intelligence”. No kidding. OK, that’s what they say, but not exactly what they mean, but that’s just because they did not think about it yet.

It’s encouraging that candidate Obama has been trying to think aloud in public, but the screams of the Beotians have been loud (thinking is traditionally viewed as “elite”, the plutocratic elite insists, in its successful strategy to confuse the American people). It’s discouraging to remember that, in the fight between anti-intellectual theocracy and the so called “Golden Age of Islam”, the theocrats won, and destroyed civilization (as they very nearly did in the Roman empire between 300CE and 550 CE).


After a crafty hesitation of four centuries, full bore European civilization threatens to finally land in North America (if it had landed earlier, the USA would have been more Indian than Mexico). The opportunistic causes of the English American monstrosity have faded; the continent was conquered, the beast should be digesting its prey, instead of getting all agitated. The Biblical political philosophy of holocausts, racism, slavery, and theft of the land, having fulfilled its role, should be safely disposed of, instead of trying to recycle it in Iraq or Afghanistan (with Halliburton playing the role of the London Company). But old habits die hard. Although they worked well against the Neolithic ones, Biblical methods will not work in the cradle of civilization, however numbed out it was rendered by that other war manual, the Qur’an (the Qur’an derives from the Bible, and was used in a similar fashion).

Moreover there are more pressing issues. The greenhouse disaster is upon us, and some old American ideas, such as the unrestrained exploitation of the land, long successful in a continent voided of its native population, have to be detected, exposed and thrown out before they attempt to germinate all over the planet, in the fury of the overcrowded rats.

In the 19C, most of the system of thought supporting slavery was destroyed. In the 20C, racism and extermination came into direct conflict with democracy, and democracy won, and the system of thought of racism ended fatally damaged (in no small reason because especially France (but also Britain and America) used colored troops in combat to munch through the white master race: many extremely fierce “French” divisions were mostly African; for thirty one years, Senegalese and Germans were not in the habit of making a single prisoner: the lethal hatred was mutual, a good ground for future respect).

So now what is left among US bad mental habits, that still set it aside from its parental European thought system? Is there a head to this nagging obsolescence? One idea is left above all, and it’s at the genesis of it all. It shows up in basic principle of the US health “care” system.

As we said above, the London Company itself was founded for profits, Biblical extermination was its tool, and the ultimate master idea of its foundation was that BIG PROFIT IS THE END THAT JUSTIFY ALL AND ANY MEANS (an example of the application of this idea is in US health care, where death of American humans is OK, as long as the profits roll in! Death of profits would be major, death of humans a way to prevent that). Slavery, extermination, racism, Bible and war crimes, and systemic lying and dissembling were just instruments of that master idea, in total violation of 20 centuries of explicit Western civilization (religion, aka the Bible, allowed and instigated that violation, and that is why it became the sacred American text par excellence). The progenitor idea of all master ideas has survived so far, and reached a new level of achievement by sending the US Army to the Middle East to protect the oil, as the paramount mission of America. And by having the richest Americans taxed at the lowest rate (15%!).

The overall American idea that BIG PROFIT IS THE END THAT JUSTIFY ALL AND ANY MEANS has to see its prominence destroyed. It was appropriate to the invasion and destruction of the old North America. But now is a new World, all over the planet, and we don’t want it destroyed. Throughout old civilizations, capitalism was always against the excesses of plutocracy, ever since there were cattle herders, and there was a wealth tax (and yes, a “death” tax!).


The time for holocausting some obsolete thought systems, before they holocaust us, has definitively arrived. We may as well start with this new approach to thinking within the USA rather than with Afghanistan (or China!). After all, the US Americans want to pretend that they can think, that they are an elite of a crowd.

It’s time to clear the mental tables, not just for the sake of the USA, but because now, whether we like it or not, whether we realize it or not, we are one world, one spaceship, and the air is getting foul, and the waters are rising, and the food stores are running low, and the third class passengers are rioting, and the oceans are getting empty of all, but poisons… It’s the road to hell, and no Bible can paper it over. Only hard core truth can come to the rescue, and appreciation for it is not found in many of the parts of American thinking that made the USA such a success. Therein the conundrum for the pusillanimous, and the challenge for the wise: how to save America while changing its soul.


Having being the author of a Biblical revisitation of an atrocious past transposed in modern times for seizing an entire continent, a form of civilizational devolution that directly preceded, encouraged and inspired such extravagances as Nazism, the least US American civilization could do now would be to acknowledge the enormous errors and terror of its old ways with many museums allowing people to recognize the full horrors of racism, slavery and genocides that made the USA what it is now. It is not a question of begging forgiveness on ones’ knees. After all, contemporaries did not commit these crimes. But the trains of thoughts and emotions that allowed these crimes are still in great part still around (as the mayhem in Iraq demonstrates for the whole planet to see). Becoming passionate about condemning these crimes will energize the vigilance against the cognitive, logical and emotional patterns that gave rise to them.

Patrice Ayme


April 13, 2008


 N. Kristoff quotes with approval the theory that Planetary Heating will augment mayhem, because disruptions of climate caused problems in the past ( No doubt. The Little Ice Age is a plausible example, because a lot of social turbulence and wars occured then, after the relative calm of the earlier Middle Ages (see the P/S below though for a more refined chronology). And sure the eruption of a volcano in Iceland played a role in the budget problems of the French government that led proximally to the French revolution.

 However, Kristoff sinks in moral error when he claims that “Europe’s “Little Ice Age” led to a sharp cooling in the late 1500s, and that corresponds to a renewal in witchcraft trials after a long lull.” His dates for the Little Ice Age are roughly correct: the LIA was apparently caused by the “Maunder Minimum”, when 99.9% of sunspots disappeared, probably because the sun cooled a bit (sun spots are convection cells, like in a boiling soup in a pot). But the first minimum was in 1674, at a time when laws against withcraft had been outlawed, and maximal religious violence was clearly a century earlier.

 It’s important to find out what causes religious violence (it’s a question of planetary survival). Kristoff implicitly claims that climate change is the most prominent factor. But the evidence is otherwise. By presenting a plausible correlation as a direct causation, one creates a red herring, and one does not get to the proximal cause, the detection of which is necessary for prevention. So let’s set the record straight.

 Witch burning was taught by the Bible, Christianity, and, to a great extent Saint Paul and Christ themselves (alltogether, they insisted that bad people, and in particular bad women, should be thrown in everlasting fire). To claim religious persecution was -literally- in the air, is to let murderous superstition off the hook. When the sacred founding texts celebrate mayhem, their followers practice mayhem, it’s as simple as that. Whether the air was fresh or not, has nothing to do with it.

 Witch burning appeared during the late Middle Ages because, for the preceding millennium, Frankish and (Eastern) Roman power had kept Christianity under control. Leaders, especially the Franks in the West, had cracked down on Christian supersition because they were alarmed after the disastrous collapse of civilization of the Dark Ages (4C & 5C), which had been caused directly by Christian book burning and rage against anything having to do with freedom of thought.

 As early as the 6C, Pope Gregory the Great insisted that Frankish bishops allowing the teaching of grammar to people should be burned (the Franks ignored him). A millennium later, though, the Pope had Papal states, on which his law and terror of Christ could be extended, something he did not have in the 6C; similarly, Calvin, who enjoyed to see heretics burn slowly, close and personal, controlled Geneva in the 16C, but no religious maniac had any control in the High Middle Ages, a millenium earlier, at least, under the Franks.

 The same holds for anti-Judaism and religious wars: they both thrived in the Fourth and Fifth Century, and were then suppressed by the Franks, and much later resurrected from the dead in the late Middle Ages. The reason was the weakening of Frankish power (which had a strong centralizing theme around Pagan and Secular values) and later political opportunism of local potentates. In the late Middle Ages, nationalizing centers of power played with religious passions as instruments of power amplification (the momentary kicking out of Jews from various places, including Britain and France (13C), being an example).

 To some extent the invasion of Iraq for oil used Christianity in a similar fashion: G. W. Bush told us that “his Higher Father” had told him to invade. A magnificent case of what Sartre called “Bad Faith” (as in his famous garçon de café example). The proximal cause of the invasion of Iraq was the US domination by oil men and a national thirst for oil (Bush called it an “addiction”).

 The proximal causative reason of witch burning was letting Christianity run amok. Climate change was, at best, only weakly correlated to it. It was not directly causative. If it had been, it would have happened everywhere equally, in places equally climate affected, but it did not. By causative contrast, Christianity was directly causative in witch burning. The best proof of this is that witch burning became insignificant and then was made unlawful in the later 17C, although the Little Ice Age was reaching its maximum. Places such as Chamonix in the Alps (invaded by “horrible” glaciers in the 17C), did not burn any witches (although they asked the state to be freed from taxation).

 In Iraq, right now, the proximal causes of murderous violence are the foreign invasion by the self righteous, culturally challenged aliens from the other side of the planet, and a mix of ethnic oppression and Islam run amok. If one climbs high enough in the causation chains, one could of course say that the USA invaded because of energy, and that, along another causation chain, the energy and food crises, by throwing up in the air enormous quantities of greenhouse gases, cause climate change, and thus that, somehow climate change correlates to violence in Iraq. There is something to this kind of murky logics, but not much.

 Direct causation is better. For example, it should have been pretty obvious that, by allowing to use public subsidies and regulations to transmogrify food into fuel, one would get an immediate world food crisis. But never mind: to seduce farmers with a newer, stealthier subsidy, politicians in places such as France and the USA supported ethanol production from food, and the self righteous billionaire Branson fueled a plane with food. Now there are riots around the world caused by food inflation, itself caused by food burning, real and anticipated. And the causation is direct.

Patrice Ayme

 P/S: On the Late Middle Ages disturbances. Europe had a huge population by 1,200 CE, with the highest energy usage per inhabitant on the planet (hence the highest wealth per person). People were well fed, many indicators of power and economy were well ahead of the best Rome had provided with, and modern physics and engineering were pushing ahead of the best Antiquity had done. Favored by a peak of warmth around 1,000 CE, the Vikings had reached Greenland and North America (where conflict with the natives, and the moving south of the ice pack made everlasting colonies impossible). Then a number of things went very wrong: first massive ecological problems (due to overpopulation, deforestation and lack of ecological laws), then increasing tensions inside the Franco-British realm, then outright civil war, and the “Black Plague”.

 The Little Ice Age became maximum around 1,650 CE, at a time when religious wars and persecutions and witch burnings were on their way out, and clearly well past their apex (that was sometimes in the 15C). The first Thames frost fair was in 1607; the last in 1814. Amusingly, all sorts of evidence points out that the LIA centered around the century of the Enlightenment, rather than around witch burning! So maybe climate change renders people more intelligent (as it should!)?

 And what of the continual wars during the LIA? Clearly the LIA may have been an aggravating factor, but the proximal cause was the rise of large nationalist states fighting each other: the LIA was essentially a coincidence (England and various French regions had tried to become independent from each other for centuries, before they came to blows).


April 10, 2008


The People Republic of China learned its modern ways from Western Europe, and most particularly the French revolutionary models (several top leaders of the PRC were formed in Paris with the help of French leftists: Zhou Enlai, Deng Xiaoping…)

Very good, but also pretty dangerous. Leaders of Cambodia were also instructed by the French Communist party. But they did not take to croissants as much as Deng Xiaoping did: French theoretical extremism has always been somewhat mitigated, within France, by benign hedonism, and the love of placid happiness. Absent enough of the later, Armageddon is at hand (the Terror under the French revolution has elements in common with the Chinese Cultural Revolution).

Ominously, we have seen that story before, with Germany. And Japan. A military elite, drunk on technological and economic success, pulled too hard the strings of fascism (that had favored this particular form of success), and disaster ensued in a lethal clash with democracies.

Germany used to be broken up in a few hundred states (nominally united as a rather benign empire inherited from the Franks). Then Britain and France, busy with their own civil war with each other, messed up with it (Britain financed and excited Prussia in the Seven Year World War of the 18C, then France united all of Germany as one state under Napoleon, who raised a giant German army to go vanquish Russia). Next Prussia came out of the whole interference like a roaring economic and military colossus, eager to show to her creators and competitors, Britain and France, that she was even bigger and stronger. Nationalism and fascism rose to a fevered pitch, disgusting Nietzsche, who could not find enough bad things to say about the way Homo Germanicus was evolving.

Soon the German empire, led by Prussian military men, and having integrated some democratic structures, such as a parliament (which had all secondary powers), reached achievements far ahead of the rest of the world: best literacy in the world, best health care in the world (with the first single payer system, still going on today). Besides in technology the Second German empire often reigned supreme, and had the world’s strongest military.

 Germany had a single Achilles’ heel though, FASCISM. It was mild fascism, all right, and for many Germans it looked just as if they were in democracy. Economic well being was going straight up, and so was pride, and creations everywhere.

Some revolutionary events occurred in Russia, and the fascist system there was replaced by a constitutional, democratic monarchy. Next French capital flooded Russia, and that new democracy started to develop like crazy.

The top Prussian generals took fright. Initially Bismarck had wanted to destroy France, and started the job in 1870-71. By 1890, Bismarck himself, maybe having read Nietzsche, realized that German fascism was getting out of control, and was heading towards the ditch. The young, brash, vainglorious and deformed Kaiser, a grand son of Queen Victoria, sacked him. The top Prussian generals, by 1912, had become very anxious with the enormous rise of the republican, democratic French empire in the west, and the giant democratic Russian empire in the east. The fact that France and Britain had got sort of married very officially was not reassuring in the least (”Entente Cordiale”, 1908, now transformed in “Entente Formidable”, 2008).

The last big time fascists in Europe felt surrounded. In December 1912, the top Prussian generals explained to the Kaiser that time was working against the fascist German empire: the future was to democracy, to survive, fascism had to strike now. It was convened an attack should be mounted within 18 months. Preceding attacks, against Denmark, Austro-Hungary, and France had been crowned with success, so why not again? An envoy of the US president visited, and to appease tensions, offered to overlord the world with a British-Americano-German triumvirate. On August 1, 1914, the German empire attacked four countries by total surprise, including France and Russia, and pushed a fifth one, Austro-Hungary, to declare war too. An astounded, but courageous Britain, having her closest democratic allies invaded, declared war within two days, although she had no army. This little adventure finished on May 8, 1945, with more than 100 million Europeans dead, and Europe devastated. A gang of five criminals had started it, all by themselves.

Japan’s case maybe even clearer; a society of sheep was railroaded into attacking the world by military leaders, after similarly getting drunk on spectacular technological and economic progress, in two generations. It helped also to have crushed Tsarist Russia (when it was still fascist). An attempted coup by younger Japanese officers, anxious for action, accelerated the movement towards militarism, and full fascism was imposed, crowned by the Second War against China (1936-37).

Both in Germany and Japan, fascist militaries ran the show, flushed with technological illusion, drunk on their power.

Fast forward to the 21C. China is in many ways on a trajectory similar to imperial Germany. It has the same arrogance of recent success. It loudly proclaims its difference, and its fascism with a human face (fascism is not an insult, it’s a technical term depicting the default psychological governance of baboons under attack). The Chinese military pulled all the strings until very recently, and a militaro-plutocratic elite has run the show, resting on the 5% of the Chinese population who are in the (“Communist”) Party. China claims to be ready to engage in a war about a small island. That, in the case that particular words would be uttered (to risk a world war about a relatively small place, a de facto independent democracy with 2% of the population of the PRC, is a psychological imbalance characteristic of hypernationalistic minds).

China has imported many elements of the Western European civilization. Among them is the right of “Just War” by “We The People” against its enemies (that right was central to Rome, and the Christians (St. Augustine) themselves approved of it. In this case, “We the People” is dubiously reduced to the elite of the “communist”-military machine, the small brain heading the PRC.

But China is missing many crucial elements of Western European civilization. In particular, that democracy’s most fundamental reason is that it allows to tap the big brain of the many, and not to stay stuck with the small brain of the few. China, as Japan and Germany long ago, seems to confuse the many movers and shakers of its techno-economico-capitalist-military complex, with the few who are taking, all by their little selves, the really most crucial decisions, such as going to war. China demonstrates this by its hard edges on Tibet and Taiwan, let alone the South “China” Sea.

Remember: only five “Prussian” generals took all the fascist decisions that threw the world into war for the next 31 years. The situation in Japan was similar: even the top of the Japanese Navy, admiral Yamamoto, who had deep and excellent reasons to oppose the war, and voiced them loudly, was forced into war by his superiors (he was one of many in the top Japanese brass in that situation: one can imagine how little the average Japanese’s opinion counted!). 

Confronted to all these facts, well trained sophists on the Chinese government payroll insist that China is different, that it is secular, and has never known Christianism. This is a red herring: Confucianism is a religion (the reigning native religion of China for 26 centuries; Buddhism was imported). Christianism became just one of many convenient excuses for European civilization (after having nearly succeeded to destroy it). Not, either, that Confucianism was successful in smothering war: the Warring States period lasted centuries, and only the particularly strong, book burning fascism of Qin ended it (221 BCE).

Confronted to Tibetan protests, China applied censorship methods akin to that of Nazi Germany. Massive protests in Paris by all segments of French society were ignored on Chinese TV (Paris was only depicted as “very pretty”, that Paris City Hall was decorated by a giant banner, put by the mayor, was ignored. So were the banners on the Eiffel Towewr, and Notre Dame, so were the demonstrating MPs, and the president of the Region Ile de France, momentarily stopped because she was rushing the flame with a fire extinguisher. Finally the Olympic flamme got extinguished twice, once for twenty minutes. None of the this Chinese TV viewers saw. And we are not talking about neglectable events: the Region ile de France has 16 million people, and the largest GDP between New York and Tokyo (and it’s headed by a woman: where are the women in the Chinese Communist party?).

The West has to teach China that these manipulations of information are not acceptable. Democracy means first that the people (demos) has the power (kratos) of INFORMATION. During Germany’s three generations of fascism, information was frantically controlled, starting in primary school (that’s why both Nietzsche and Einstein fled, among others). Literacy was the highest, true, but it was more to make the monkeys 

China is huge and potentially very dangerous, if its fascism gets out of control and metastatic. There is something to the fact that democracies do not attack democracies: the oldest and fullest democracies around, France and the USA, never had a war (Britain and the USA in 1812, the last time when they fought, were far from being full democracies). A quick span of history shows that democracies were typically at war with fascism (although democratic Athens attacked other democracies [5C BCE], it was part of a larger war initiated by fascist Sparta, financed and instigated by ultra fascist Persia).

China has to become more democratic in an orderly fashion, as soon as possible, under the Communist party guidance. The argument that this is impossible is ludicrous, considering the Indian example (the only threats to India are from other countries with rather fascist systems; internal instability is not a problem, the “millions of little mutinies” that animate it are like butterflies on an elephant).

China can start by reporting events as they happen, and not as it wishes them to happen. This goes for Chinese TV, and giving free access to journalists. When French TV wants access to the US armies in combat in Iraq or Afghanistan, it gets it (and then shows pictures not shown on the main US outlets). China has to watch and imitate. Refering to Confucius will not help, because we can refer, in turn, to the Warring States and the fascism that succeeded him. Confucius was just one man with a restricted philosophy not really transcended by his successors. Western information gathering capability is not restricted to the the West, and to the now.

China cannot just use a few pieces here and there of particularly aggressive and uncritical pieces of Western philosophy, and run away with them. It needs the whole thing, and that means democracy. In all ways.

Patrice Ayme.

Patrice Ayme, Hautes Alpes — 09 April 2008