Archive for February 27th, 2010

Nationalism, Superstition, Greed: Violins Of Evil.

February 27, 2010

 

HEAPING SCORN ON NATIONALISM, SUPERSTITION AND GREED IS A MORAL ABSOLUTE.

***

Abstract: Nationalism reinforces aggression, and thus fascism, which profits greedy elites. Mishandling reason is a must in the utilitarian perspective of the few on top. Superstition helps in that endeavor.

The USA would survive better, as a superpower, if it integrated the notion that unjustified nationalism is a disservice to the nation, although most helpful to the exploitative oligarchy. Europe has understood this the hard way: hunting down nationalistic behavior has become a moral absolute there. Time for the USA to follow.

***

ISLES MUCH DESIRED:

A nationalistic issue is resurfacing in the South Atlantic. There are a number of islands and archipelagos there. Their history is a bit complicated, in the sense that it is not clear who saw what first. When the Europeans happened on them, the largest land mammal was a very special wolf, the warrah. There were no indigenes.

The Spanish name of the main archipelago, the Falklands, is Islas Malvinas. It is a translation of the French name, "Îles Malouines", thus named by Louis Antoine de Bougainville in 1764, after the first known settlers, mariners and fishermen from the port of Saint-Malo in France. Hence, just here, the islands ought to be French, and, therefore British, since, as the Queen of England, Isabelle de France, pointed out, circa 1320, she was France’s rightful sovereign.

For a while British and Spanish sovereignty was claimed. At the time, Argentina did not exist yet. Both Spain and Britain being now part of the European Union, it is one more reason for the natives of the Falklands to be European citizens.

When the United Nations was formed, in 1945, Argentina mysteriously claimed sovereignty on the Falklands. Great Britain coolly replied that it was a matter of the natives’ self determination. It is a general principle that, if a people wants to join the European Union, and the later agrees, it can.

Unsurprisingly, the Falklands natives opted to become European citizens rather than subjects to, what was, at the time, a banana republic dictatorship, albeit without any bananas. Moreover, it looks as if some in Argentina are made to eat bananas.

***

ARGENTINEAN NATIONALISTIC OBSESSION:

Some Argentines claim those enchanted isles are next to South America, their continent, a mere 480 kilometers away. By that token, Alaska belongs to Russia, the USA to Canada, and Korea and Japan, separated by a much smaller 128 kilometers, have serious ownership problems. Also Spain should claim all of Africa, which is in direct sight.

Some Argentines observed that the Falklands were sitting on the same continental plate as they do. This does not explain why Argentina when it invaded the Falklands/Malouines in 1981, also invaded other islands not sitting on that plate (South Georgia, South Sandwiches).

In particular the large island of South Georgia (170 kilometers long) is about 2,000 kilometers away, thus, by that Argentinean reasoning of sort, since Antarctica is much closer to Argentina than South Georgia, the frozen continent also belongs to Argentina, and should be invaded. Come to think of it, the Antarctica peninsula is a geological extension of the Andes, also implying that Colorado belongs to Argentina, as confirmed by its Spanish name, and its discovery by conquistadores.

After the Argentinean dictators invaded the Falklands in 1981, Britain reacted and defeated Argentina in a small but ferocious war. More than 900 soldiers died, 255 of them British.

Why did the Argentinean dictators invade? Mostly to distract their people from the oppression they were submitted to, and to re-direct their anger as a nationalist frenzy towards the big bad British. After its ignominious defeat, the dictatorship fell.

Now an oil rig is off the Falklands, as oil reaches $80 a barrel again. Operating one of these devices is expensive – about 200,000 euros a day.

***

ALL YOU NEED IS OIL:

According to some geological surveys the Falkland Islands may have the equivalent of 60 billion barrels of oil in total.

By comparison, the USA has 21 billion barrels of reserve, enough for only…8 years. As another perspective, Venezuela’s reserve are 87 billion barrels. Iraq oil reserves are officially 115 billion barrels (3 rd largest in the world), and maybe as much as 350 billion barrels (first in the world, according to the latest estimates, a number I always held true and going a long way to explain why there are several hundred thousands American warriors in the Middle East, including 250,000 US soldiers…)

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[The exclusion zone is where Britain wants no Argentinean forces to show up again.]

Argentina said earlier this month that it strongly opposed energy exploration on "its" continental shelf (that extends all the way to Florida, remember, and please observe that "Florida" is another Spanish name).

"What they’re doing is illegitimate…it’s a violation of our sovereignty. We will do everything necessary to defend and preserve our rights," the Argentinean Foreign Minister opined. Venezuela’s Chavez addressed the queen of England, informing her that "imperialism was over". Since his oil reserves are four times that of the USA, and relatively increasing, Chavez is ever louder.

A resolute British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, an eye to his incoming elections in spring, said: "It is perfectly within our rights to be able to do this. I think the Argentineans actually understand that."

***

SUPRANATIONALISM: A WISDOM FOR THE AGE:

A good consequence of the European Union construction is that Europeans have annexed each other, making their empire much more considerable, without much pain or effort. No need to attack, as Argentina did. Europe looks forward annexing Siberia, someday. With smiles, and plenty of checks, and ideas.

This new method, of tolerance, understanding and inclusivity is irresistible. This has become the European way. But it is a re-acquaintance with the basic Roman method of integration: after the extreme violence of total war, the Romans were very inclusive, and tolerant (and introduced the notion, and realization, of universal citizenship, with full equal rights, a notion which escapes the USA to this day, since it officially discriminates against some categories of its citizens).

Maybe Europe should annex Argentina. It is not because of a continental shelf, or distance. It would solve neatly the problem of the Malouines (and not "Malvinas" please!). Saint Malo is in Bretagne (= Britannia = Britain… because the army from Britannia fled to Bretagne in the 6C, hence the name; before this flight, the Romans knew Bretagne as Armorica!)

After all, Argentina is a rebellious European colony, and, come to think of it, if Argentina is not going to recognize the self determination of Falkland islanders, why should Europe recognize the self determination of Argentines?

***

OUT WITH RESPECT FOR INFAMY:

Since God is dead, morality needs to be re-established on different principles, and an absolute basis. (Replacing the absolute God.)

Morality has been corrupted with "multiculturalism", a doctrine that says that, if they worship it, it is right. Whatever "it" is, and whoever "they" are. And absolute moral progress does not exist.

Indeed it can be argued that different cultures are different forms of mental achievements, and they all bring something. That way I am a fanatical multiculturalist too. But it is important to de-fang local cultures first, when global cultural progress has exposed their poison, if any. Because primitive cultures can be highly poisonous. After all, that’s how they survived.  

For example,  Maoris ate people, and other Polynesians were known to keep captives alive for days, as they devoured them piece by piece (salted and freeze dried meat technology having not being invented yet in these regions… although they had long been invented in other parts).

But there is no doubt that Maori culture brought something to the rest of the world (although Maori ways such as tattoos were found in the rest of Polynesia, the late and massive, well documented practice of cannibalism in New Zealand ought to provide the most advanced philosophers with an excellent counter example to many naive theories in multiculturalism and human nature!) 

Unexamined multiculturalism may make you not worth living. (In case the reader did not get it, this is a play on Socrates’ "The unexamined life is not worth living"). By the token of multiculturalism, the Nazis ought to have been revered for their deeply resented feelings. And the Aztecs would still exchange human limbs with a grateful president Chavez.

Multiculturalism’s modern prophets of evil were Herder and Rousseau.

***

NATIONALISM IS A VARIANT OF ABSOLUTE EVIL:

An example of intrinsic badness is nationalism. Nationalism is very bad, it is nearly always bad. Nationalism is discrimination on the basis of origins, gone official, and made into a religion.

There ought to be no excuse for nationalism, except as a defense (Iraq, Afghanistan). Aside from this, as a pure defense mechanism, it should never, ever, be tolerated. OK, when meeting an Afghan who does not know any better, and who has suffered a lot, by all means respect his nationalism and gently explain how, and why you beg to differ. But when nationalism happens between first world people, who ought to know better, it should be trashed.

Nationalism is not a violin making an harmonious sound. It is the screech of barbarity unchained. The "Na" in Nazi stood for Nationalism… This is no coincidence. Auschwitz is what nationalism and associated tribalism do, when they are fully allowed to express themselves. Nationalism and tribalism, and other discriminations posing as secular religions, always did such things, and always will.

Nationalism is a form of tribalism that poses as an emotional ultrafilter, an emotion that dominates all other emotions.

That ought not to be tolerated.

The Argentine president talks nationalism, because her economy is lousy, and her people need some distraction, so she treats them as crocodiles, throw them some meat, in the hope, that, indeed, they will revert to the saurian condition, characterized by immense stupidity, carnivorous greed, and easy herding in some swampy pen. Too bad, I like her otherwise. But she may have little choice, as many are the dogs of nationalism howling to the sky…

Kanzler Merkel with the President of Argentina, Christina Kirchner, before the EU-Latin America summit.
[Photo: Regierungonline/Bergmann]

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***

WHY TO CONDEMN NATIONALISM WITH SUCH ELAN?

As I said, the evidence of the extreme mass lethality of nationalism and affiliated feelings was plain by 1700 CE.

Weirdly, though, nationalism became ever more popular during the next 245 years in Europe. Nationalism festered already in the philosophy of Herder in the eighteenth century. Far from being repelled by the horror nationalism and its ilk brought in the late Middle Ages, under provincial and religious forms, Herder extolled the beauty of tribalism, singing its praises as an end in itself, a teleology he deprived the concept of progress from. Herder was the anti-enlightenment philosopher par excellence.

What had happened prior to Herder? Centuries of mayhem all over Europe, animated by petty misunderstandings of the sort people learn with mothers’ milk.

The civil war between France and England started comically with a feast of the Franco-English aristocracy, a big family, where each side insisted to eat its own food (roasted versus boiled, etc.), and drink its own beverages (wine versus beer, etc.). And sit at different tables. In the following generations, this comic posing ended with the durable devastation of France, and acts of war for more than 5 centuries.

Nowadays, the seven French religious wars, the century long war between France, the Netherlands, and Spain, the 30 year war in Germany, the war between France and… Savoy have all been forgotten, and so are the tribalisms that animated them. Those wars, plus the Crusades, durably transformed Europe into a battlefield for half a millennium. All very good, according to Herder, but his student, Goethe, disagreed.

Goethe was a universalist, he loved the (French) revolution: all men are brothers, as Ludwig van put it.

Herder thought it was his sacred duty to hate French universalism, and kneel at the altar of tribal difference. Herder founded multiculturalism (aka cultural relativism).

Multiculturalism, in Herder’s time, led straight to terrible wars: the Pitts Prime Ministers of Great Britain took it onto themselves to rabidly oppose the (French) Revolution, and the revolutionary reaction was terrible, as France fought all of Europe’s Ancient Regime.

In the end, after the terrible dictatorship of that spiritual dwarf, Napoleon (a direct consequence of British meddling, as PM Lloyd George would point out a century later), France was defeated, many millions died all over Europe, Belgium was born…

But the French revolution won the war: the ideals of the revolution now rules the European Union (including increasingly Great Britain, in an ironical twist). And even the United Nations (although the UN self contradicts its charter of human Rights by some mumbling on multiculturalism).

In any case Herder, plus Rousseau’s hatred for civilization, led directly to Hitler (the Prussian educational system, using these worthies and their philosophical clique formed generations after generations of Germans according to these erroneous doctrines of violence, race, savagery celebrated as PURITY OF ESSENCE).

I am not claiming here that Herder and Rousseau were worthless in all ways. But they were worse than bad in some most important ways (and Goethe, Voltaire and Sade were vociferous in their opposition at the time).

Why is nationalism so intrinsically bad? Because nationalism is tribalism on steroids. And TRIBALISM MEANS THE MAINTENANCE OF GLOBAL ECOLOGICAL BALANCE BY THE MASSIVE KILLING OF OTHERS.

That art of balancing the ecology through war is already practiced in chimpanzees (as documented first by the very Christian Jane Goodall, good-all around).

With weapons of mass destruction, and an enormous human population with its own delicate technological ecology, tribalism reborn would mean humankind dead, and no rebirth. Far from bringing the spice of originality, TRIBALISM CAN ONLY BE NOW THE END ALL OF BE ALL.

The Argentinean howling towards the Falklands would be funny, if seeing human beings reduced to the lupine condition by their cult of the primitive was funny. But it is less funny than French and English lords from the same families arguing about the merits of beer versus wine in the twelfth century. And that did not end well.

***

NATIONALISM KILLS PEOPLE, SUPERSTITION KILLS REASON:

Another emotional ultrafilter, that ought to be viewed as always bad, is superstition. Whereas nationalism means the gathering of evil feelings and ideas to promote the mass extermination of other human beings, SUPERSTITION EXTERMINATES FIRST REALITY ITSELF.

Superstition is also known, by abuse of language, as "faith". Faith is an excellent behavior, the milk of hope. Superstition is what pigeons do. Superstition hides behind faith, like a murderer behind a grandmother’s smile.

After killing reason, or torturing it, or making seriously fun of it, unsurprisingly, anything goes. Then an elite can kill whoever they do not like. Emperor Justinian used Christianism that way, during four long decades, and Stalin used Marxism-Leninism that way.

That is why superstitious religions can be tolerated only when their superstitions make themselves very discrete (Rome was very tolerant with any superstitious religion, as long as practical bounds were not breached).

Superstition is a natural abuse of the metaprinciple of causation that intelligent animals discover early on in their mental development. As the famous American psychologist Skinner observed, pigeons kept associating in their minds facts which are truly unrelated if they had happened together first in their experience. "Some pigeons responded up to 10,000 times without reinforcement when they had originally been conditioned on an intermittent reinforcement basis."

Tell children that God wants this, that and the other thing, plus a few murders besides, if need be, and they will believe it all their lives. Advantage, if you are an oligarch; once your subjects believe this, they are ready to kill, and get killed, and you will stay on top, as the masses murder each other.

***

GREED, REAGAN’S ENGINE, LEADS WHERE HUMANKIND CANNOT GO:

Greed is called the "profit motive", in the present USA, and now, undeterred by the weak and scared Obama, the private health, military and banking industries of the USA are running away with greed, pushing around the naïve and overwhelmed young president.

Some health insurance jumped by 39% (now delayed by weeks, to Obama’s naïve satisfaction), and the number of American soldiers killed in Afghanistan tripled in the first year of Obama’s naivety, now having passed 1,000. The military budget of the USA, also augmented enormously, bigger than the rest of the world combined, has jumped up, in a country with 10% deficit. And bankers own the place, now that all taxpayer money, and more (borrowed from China), was sent to them to lose again.

Greed is another bad emotional ultrafilter, and it is related to nationalism and superstition. Greed basically asserts that having power on others is the emotion that matters most. In a sense greed stands above nationalism and superstition, because it is conducive to them both.

***

NATIONALISM, SUPERSTITION AND GREED ARE INSTRUMENTS OF RULING OLIGARCHIES:

When one has removed such bad emotional ultrafilters, as nationalism, superstition and greed, what are we left with?

Well, with those emotional ultrafilters resting and encouraging reason, and love, pure and simple.

Reason resting on animal and human nature, as they profit to individuals, and the masses. What is there not to like?

Why are such bad emotions, such as nationalism, superstition, and greed, fostered, instead, with such enthusiasm? Of course, ecological constraints can lead to the necessity of reducing considerably a human population, the hard way.

But sometimes the natural ecology is not to blame. What else is there? Well, the ecology of elites.

Oligarchies. Oligarchies are those mostly exploiting bad emotional ultrafilters. Why? Because they are bad, precisely, meaning bad emotions lead to mega death, thus activating the main defense mechanism in the collective psyche, in other words, fascism.

***

OLIGARCHIES LOVE ANYTHING CONDUCIVE TO STRIFE, HENCE FASCISM, AS LONG AS THEY STAY ON TOP:

Fascism is first an intellectual reflex, that of allowing a mass of individuals to operate as one: "E Pluribus Unum". Thus the mass of individuals is made by the fascist instinct into one super-organism, fighting as one: discipline is the strength of armies, because of this, precisely (and chimps on the war path behave very differently, as one silent well coordinated mega individual, and so do fighting baboon troops, fighting, or the threat thereof, being something that happens to baboon troops many times a day).

So oligarchies, be they the power elite in Argentina, or some religious-superstitious order, or the American financial military oligarchy have interest to activate those bad emotional complexes. Because that single mind at the top, it’s precisely them.

This could be viewed in the financial crisis of 2008: it was an economic and financial assault, and fascism, economic fascism, was activated. It was decided that the People would give all and support, as one man, its leader, and that leader was the same as the one that precipitated the crisis, namely the exact same group of corrupt financiers. The crisis augmented the economic fascism, because it reinforced the leader, as all crises do, if one is not careful.

This is why, as the disasters they provoked unfolded, Napoleon and Hitler and Stalin, and countless other demented leaders, got ever more support; disaster activates mental support for the one who leads the fight, whatever the fight is, and even if he started it. All independent thinking on the big stuff is shut down, and left to the leader. The mass just follows.

***

WHY THE USA IS MORE NATIONALISTIC, & EUROPE LESS SO NOW:

Bad emotional ultrafilters favor the exploitative leadership of the few, hence the great deference of the American power elite for bad emotional ultrafilters such as superstition (Christianity or Islam), greed or nationalism (remember Obama in the "State of the Union", telling us America invented the automobile, whereas the USA invented none of automobile technologies, at least in the first 150 years of the history of the automobile; but American oligarchs love this sort of national glorifications, to use them as emotional red herrings)…

The final enlightening step is to realize that greed, nationalism and superstition introduce themselves humbly always, in the small, and that is in the small that they shall be crushed most readily.

Here are concrete examples of nationalism light: When some Americans claim that the USA invented things they did not invent (the car, the plane, the transistor), that’s nationalism. When Americans claim that French cars are "crappy", that’s nationalism, or that France is basically a communist country, an American protectorate, where nothing gets done except wine, cheese, and welfare, that’s nationalism too. When Americans claim the USA is the land of the free (implying thus that other lands are not), that’s nationalism. When Europeans claim that all is bad in the USA, or that the USA is all about money, and private enterprise that’s also nationalism (but a mistake Americans themselves make: in some ways the USA is more public than the EU! Say about water…).

There are subtler forms of nationalism. Say, just from ignoring other people’s cultures, thus weakening one’s reflection on the very existence of one’s nationalism. An example of this is the USA’s discrimination against those of its own citizens not born there. No other country does that. It is a screaming example of natio-nalism: only those born there, in the USA, are fully human. Others, less so, with fewer rights. Thus establishing that principle that there are several types of human beings, even inside the nation.

Such screaming tribalism is rendered possible by being blind to American exceptionalism, through the ignorance of other countries. No other country has two kinds of citizens (but it is nothing new: think of the slaves). [After I wrote this, Roger Henry kindly observed out that this was not quite true, and he pointed at Germany. Although Germany had a multi track citizenship under Hitler, not so before, or since. The question of naturalization in Germany, although scandalous, was different, and has been addressed; for more details, see the comments. Muslim states DO have multi track citizenship, just like the USA.]

Being blind to one’s country’s major defects is a form of nationalism, unwittingly, or not.

The last infiltration of greed in USA society is charging ($300) for emergency calls: soon you will be asked for your credit card number if you want to live another day. Greed. Then, again, no other country does this, but for the USA (or, more exactly the great city of Tracy, California!). But a consequence of nationalism is that Americans do not know this.

One will have noticed that examples of nationalism gone mad abound in the USA. Am I exhibiting anti-American bias? Some will excitingly clamor that this is so. And they would be right, if I were wrong, but I am right. To deny the truth in national matters is also nationalism.

Some will say that this is my opinion. Yes, sure, but not just my opinion. My opinion is not coming naked and screaming. It is coming armored, intelligent, knowledgeable, and well escorted by facts.

The fact that the USA has a scandalous two-tracks citizenship, is hard, harsh, cold reality. The fact that the USA has the lousiest health care system in the developed world is also a fact, and the fact Americans mostly ignore this, and never miss an occasion to sing the praises of the USA health care system is a nationalistic fact. The fact the USA spends so with a "defense" system that girdles the world is undeniable too. In Europe, people would know what it means: nationalism out of control, foaming at the mouth. In the USA, American hyper militarism is nationalistically interpreted as American goodness, next to sainthood, as militarism used to experienced in Imperial Germany.

Europe learned that nationalism was conducive to the deadliest things around, the hard way. Whereas in the USA exhibiting strident nationalism is viewed as an indispensable part of the mien of a citizen in good standing, in countries such as France, nationalism is viewed as in poor taste. This, to look down on nationalism, the Europeans, and, in particular the Germans, have learned the hard way. Things have really gone a long way, because the Germans and the French used to be extremely nationalistic a few generations ago, much more than the citizens of the USA used to be.

After 1945, top intellectuals in Europe understood that nationalism ought to be abated. That ought to be a primary mission. A change people ought to believe in. And abated it was. It was even mutilated. a point was made that European superpowers ought to have no more rights than others (starting, of course, with Germany and its insufferable past tendencies). Malta (population: 400,000) and Slovenia (population, 2 millions) have, on paper, the same rights as France (population close to 70 millions). By 1945, Europe had learned something important: nationalism pays back, big time. But only in blood, sweat, and tears.

***

ENOUGH EVIL AROUND ALREADY!

Nietzsche famously pointed out that: "Verily, there is a future, even for evil." Well, there is plenty enough of a future for evil. New technologies open new avenues to evil all the time. So we have to be busy closing those we have identified, already. Nationalism is one of those.

The savage wars that wrecked Europe for seven centuries (1250 to 1945… after many centuries of quasi peace…) have been a lesson for Europeans in the dangers of nationalism. Nearly all nations on earth existing today are of recent vintage (even China ought to be viewed as recent, just as the Kaiser’s Germany in 1914 was only 44 years old, China is about 60 years old in its present philosophical nature). Fresh nations have learned nothing much yet.

It is hilarious to see the Americans furiously reproaching the Chinese the under-evaluation of, well, the Sino-American currency: talk about blind nationalism.

The fundamental reason for nationalism is the same fundamental reason for evil: too many people do not a world make. So, shall we rise above fatality and the weight of natural evolution? And impose man above fate?

As Voltaire said:"One must crush infamy"… And one should not miss a single occasion to do so. There is not just morality in crushing infamy, but the prospect of sheer survival for all concerned. Blind and unexamined nationalism is the most dangerous infamy. Let’s crush it, it’s good exercise.

PA

P/S 1: The notion of ultrafilter comes from topology, and has a precise meaning there, as a maximal element for inclusion. It basically corresponds to (being perceived as) ultimate concept.

***

P/S 2: I said nationalism was justified if and only if ("iff") a defense mechanism. Critiques will point out that offenders always claim to be defending themselves under some sort of perceived aggression. The wolf had to kill the sheep becomes the latter’s brother polluted the canine’s water last year.

For example, NATO claims to be defending itself during its occupation of Afghanistan, already much longer than WWII, and still killing completely innocent civilians there with wild abandon. Indeed, one has to be careful with the concept of defense. NATO is clearly under attack from hard core Islamism (just as the West used to be under attack under the extremely similar hard core Christianism) , but NATO is not under attack by Afghanistan… And never was. (Bin Laden and friends were put in Afghanistan by the USA, and equipped with fancy weapons.) Thus, differently from the WWII started by Franco-Britannia on September 3, 1939, it is not clear that the Afghan war is a just war. It will be just, only if well done. Which is not presently the case.

As far as the Afghans are concerned, though, their war against NATO is a just war of national defense. Thus, the real enemy of NATO is not just that reality, but also that perception.

***

P/S 3: The Chinese have pegged their currency to the US dollar. So, as the USA proceeded to lower its currency to gain unfair economic advantage (although the USA has 25% of the world’s industrial production, 2010). The Chinese peg meant that the Chinese currency went down with the American dollar, ruining the little American plot for gaining…unfair advantage. This is now over, as the European Union had enough, and found a way to ruin that unfair little plot. These could become tragic games, if people stopped seeing the humor hidden in them…


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