PLUTOCRACY & MAN RUINED WORLDS BEFORE:
Mass destruction everywhere, all over, is how plutocracy makes the public violent and stupid, thus in synch with its rule.
Violence against people readily extends to violence against the environment, and reciprocally.
After all, one of the main reason to not hurt the environment is because, by doing so, people would be hurt. If one is willing to hurt people, one has one less reason to protect the environment. So ecologists should be concerned about the attitude to violence that people have.
VIOLENCE AGAINST THE ENVIRONMENT DID NOT START YESTERDAY, IT’S THE HUMAN THING TO DO. 50,000 years ago, Neanderthal applied the final solution to the Cave Bear problem. Cave bears and Neanderthals competed for the best real estate in Europe, caves. When Cave Bears had to do without caves, against their better instincts, they degenerated, and died off. There was even more a bear of a problem in North America.
The largest Polar Bear (Ursus Maritimus) ever was 1,002 kilograms (killed circa 1800). During the Pleistocene, which ended with the glaciation, 11,700 years ago, there were three gigantic bears: Arctotherium Angustidens in South America, Arctodus Simus in North America and the Cave Bear Ursus Spelaeus (the largest Ursus species) in Europe (that one was eliminated by 27,000 BCE). These bears are among the largest terrestrial mammalian carnivores that ever lived. The first two were dedicated meat eaters, and could reach up to two metric tons.
Arctodus Simus, long limbed, made for running, cruised as fast as 70 kilometers an hour. It could fight off Saber Tooth cats for the kills. Those giant bears specialized in terror supremacy. Those bears, and other terrible predators guarded the Americas (North America had more than half a dozen species of huge predators). That profusion of man eating monsters is why Australia, much harder to reach by sea, was invaded 40,000 years before the Americas. Those bears had only one thing to fear, man. They kept man off the Americas until man invented weapons advanced enough to kill them, and go south from Behringia, under the cover of climate change.
Why those ursine species did not invade Eurasia, whereas the European Brown Bears (“Grizzlies”) did invade the Americas seems rather mysterious, until one realizes that Neanderthals and their colleagues had long modified, and controlled, the Eurasiatic ecosystem. Grizzlies were compatible with man (and are delicious to eat), whereas the giant meat eating bears were not.
HUMAN INDUCED CLIMATE CHANGE: 11,700 YEAR OLD, EXPLODING NOW
After bioengineering many domestic animals, and creating new “cultivars”, or plant species (best example: corn), our ancestors had to cut trees… And kill lions. Studies have shown, and logic imposes, that lions and the like used to dominate the megafauna in total biomass, as a lion could survive on anything, from rabbit to elephant. American, and European lions were larger than the large North African lion (extinct for a century).
The end result was millions of cattle making methane, millions more than there would have been otherwise, and the climate warmed up relative to what it should have been (some specialists say that this Neolithic methane prevented a return of the glaciers to a great extent). More methane meant less glaciers, in turn more CO2 released through melting permafrost, etc.
This may explain why the CO2 density has been long out of control:
When people got to Australia, it was a massacre: the megafauna was quickly eliminated, leaving only kangaroos behind.
Conclusion: man has been violently modifying the environment for a very long time, we are in the Anthropocene.
WITHOUT PROGRESS, DELIBERATE, MEANINGFUL CHANGE, THE WORLD GETS OLD:
However, people did not get necessarily get away with it: in many places of the Middle Earth (Whatever can be reached from the Middle East within a few months of travel by Neolithic means, i.e. from Britain to India) cutting the trees accelerated, or even created desertification. Egypt is case in point (!). This was well known by the times of the Romans.
The Romans could see the mines getting exhausted, so they ran out of metals for their currency (currency crisis of the Third Century), and even for their weapons (metal crisis of the Seventh Century). After the Muslim attack, the Roman emperor came to Rome one summer to supervise the removal of metal from all the roofs of Rome to melt it, and make weapons of massive Muslim destruction.
Romanitas survived thanks to the metallic flame throwers of the Romans. Once, up to 2,000 Muslim ships were burned, as they sieged Constantinople. As late as the Tenth Century, a flame throwing Roman fleet coming from Constantinople, destroyed a Muslim fleet in the gulf of Saint Tropez, as a Frankish army, in a well coordinated pincer, eliminated the emirate Muslims had perfidiously established in Provence, so as to raid and ransom, all the way to Switzerland.
Meanwhile the Franks had invaded Eastern Europe, Rome’s unrealized dream. There the Franks got enough silver for making a currency again (China, having had drastic inflation & counterfeit from paper money would get silver for its own currency from Potosi, Bolivia, through the Philippines’ Spaniards, eight centuries later; paradoxically, by then the greatest European powers had reintroduced paper money for centuries, as their states were as strong as the 7C Tangs, who did use paper money!).
The cities of Sumer, at the root of (“Western”) civilization, were ecologically devastated. First there was salination (from too much sweet water usage), then deforestation in the Zagros and in the mountains around the Fertile Crescent caused an apocalyptic flood (the famous flood in the Bible). What had been civilization got covered by water, horizon to horizon.
Another famous (mostly) manmade disaster is the drought that put an end to the Mayan civilization. We now know that there was enormous environmental stress. The Mayans had run out of their preferred tree for construction: they used less and less mature specimen, until they had to switch to species that were not as good. The Mayans’ agricultural system depended upon the high technology of an enormous network of artificial lakes and canals. As the drought proceeded, that system failed, while war took over.
DARK FUTURE WITH COAL, THUS PERFECT FOR THE DARK SIDE:
Clearly a similar mechanism threatens us today: we need, desperately, more advanced technology. The only thing that can save the seven billions is more advanced technology, massively deployed. Thorium reactors are an obvious opportunity.
Right now, we do NOT have to proceed with coal. Anymore. British leaders were debating getting out of coal, exactly a century ago. Now leaders, everywhere, and especially the developing world, have decided to develop coal big time. In a few years, it will become, again, humanity ‘s main source of energy! Thus we will carry the sins of the Kyoto accord.
So what is going on? These leaders are actually plutocrats. They are not just leaders. They are rich, powerful, and nasty. They develop coal because they find natural to be nasty, as nastiness is the most distinctive quality that fostered their ascent. But it goes further than that. More nastiness deployed even makes them feel good about themselves, and the most developed quality they have, nastiness, showing them that nastiness is the force that moves the world.
THE DARK SIDE TOOK OVER ROME, PERFIDIOUSLY:
The fascist Roman empire imposed himself in a sneaky fashion. First there was a genocide against Carthage, one of the worst genocides known. It put an end to a civilization that was, in several ways, the world’s most advanced (in navigation and agriculture). Then the republican Greek city-states were exterminated (Corinth), or terrorized into abject obedience, after losing their independence. At that point, the plutocrats had to destroy the republic in Rome itself, and that is what happened in the following 130 years.
After this, the republic was not formally gone. Augustus did not make the mistake of his great Uncle Caesar, of violating tradition too far by making himself dictator for life (a notion all too close to the kings that Caesar had imposed all over Gaul, to the rage of the local Gallic Senates, causing in turn the great revolt against Caesar). Augustus called himself Princeps (First Man). First man in the Senate (and thus Rome).
Augustus’successors could only survive by augmenting the fascism, and the plutocratic index. The plutocrats around the emperor played a central role, and are always found in all tyrannies. Cultivating a small clique of “grands du royaume” buttressed the Princeps ( “grands”,as they were called in France: the Greats of the kingdom = plutocrats). These were of course the barons in England (with whom William conquered England, and their descendants) and the retinue of the “electors” in Germany (as the Frankish emperor was elected).
This was particularly obvious in the case of emperor Domitian (circa 80 CE), when we have actually reports of major conversations of the plutocrats around a dinner table, one of them the emperor, and they waxed lyrically that any of them could be the ultimate boss, and that those of their colleagues they had killed before, due to some conspiracies, had they not killed them, would naturally find their place again, and enjoy that meal with them.
The philosopher in chief, under Domitian, was Domitian himself, though. Those who disagreed with him, were, obviously, very bad, even dangerous, philosophers, and the sanction was death. Domitian exaggerated a bit, though. He rewarded some for their philosophy, and then eliminated them. Domitian progressively lost touch with his fellow plutocrats, so they send a professional assassin to have a picturesque fight to death with him in his bedroom.
Under the Antonine emperors that Gibbon admired so much, philosophers reached a pinnacle of power never seen before, or since. Most of them were Greek, some were billionaires, all said what the emperors, and the fascist-plutocratic structure supporting them, wanted to hear.
ROME & ATHENS CONTRADICTED THEIR RISE’S PHILOSOPHY, SO CRASHED:
A central tenet of the philosophy of fascist-imperial Rome was the exact opposite of what had allowed Rome to rise.
The rise of Rome was technological. Rome was first a melting pot, founded on equal opportunity. that equal opportunity made it an irresistible army, of citizens-soldiers, and that army, in turn, very pragmatically, favored technological innovation, by whatever means.
An example: Rome found itself at war with the greatest power in the western Mediterranean, Carthage. Carthage ruled the sea, her navigators had gone around Africa, and she brought, by sea all kinds of goods, from Black Africa, Gaul, Britain. Carthage ruled the seas, with the world’s most advanced ships.
The Romans captured one of them, and copied it . Within a few months, unbelievably, they built a fleet. The sailors were trained on the rocky soil, in fake triremes. They were declared sailors, and the Consul who had built the fleet, was declared to be an admiral. They sailed away. A Carthaginian fleet sank them all.
Never mind. The Romans built another fleet, paying more attention to detail. Soon they invented a device, the Corvus (=Crow), that could rotate around, and allowed to disgorge the redoubtable, hyper trained legionaries on the decks of the enemy. Carthage sank.
Amusing exploits. Demosthenes had incited Athens to engage in a private-public program to build a war fleet to fight Persia. That was done, and brought the tremendous victory of Salamis, just off the shore in Athens that ended up the efforts of the savage orient to conquer the West for 2,000 years. However, doing so, all the magnificent primary forest of Attica was razed, and never grew back, modifying irreversibly the climate, and making Athens even more vulnerably dependent upon Black Sea wheat. That is, Athenian food supply came from a very great distance, the kind of vulnerability many countries have nowadays. It forced Athens to conduct an aggressive military policy, constructing an empire that extended from Egypt to Byzantium and beyond.
In turn, that empire made Athens increasingly nasty. Within two generations, that nasty spirit, and its fragile far flung extent, became Athens undoing. Athens collapsed morally first, as she engaged in a pattern of war crimes (among them: attacking Syracuse out of the blue, annihilating an island’s population, etc.).
Here to define war crimes, I use Nuremberg, 1945. Some will say that I make an anachronism. However, not so. The roots of Nuremberg 1945 were planted 2,550 years earlier. Reading many texts of the period, and a century earlier, when republican, democratic Athens was created, is revealing. The Nazi like mood that seized Athens around 450 BCE, would have looked horrendous to some of the creators of its democracy (such as Solon), a century earlier, around 550 BCE (Solon was so disgusted by Athens after installing its democracy that he left for ten years to get better ideas, and visited Egypt, among other places).
Thus we see that, not paying attention to the ecology, even for the best reason (wasting Attica to build a war fleet to defend against fascist Persia), can lead to ill conceived, unsustainable empire (the Athenian empire rested on too small a population of Athenians), and then survived just by amplification of nastiness. When a besieged, starving Athens had to surrender to the coalition of Greek city-states, it’s (Persian financed) Sparta that saved it from the vengeance the other cities wanted to visit it with; some of its own medicine, annihilation.
That is why the moral drift in the USA leadership, ever since navy brass, and the dying Roosevelt became best friend with Ibn Saud, or blatant even earlier, when the USA declared Britain and France to be “belligerent” in 1939, and sanctioned them, is so dangerous. That’s how civilization dies.
Athens recovered, but not enough before the goons from the north, the Macedonians, the lovers of horse, Philippe and his son, with their own retinue of major plutocrats (Antipater, for example) could take over all of Greece.
Athens, and the other Greek city-states, ultimately rose successfully against Macedonia. But that was the help of Roman legions. By then the plutocrats were too powerful in the Roman Senate, and they made sure that the Social Revolution in Corinth was crushed. The new philosophy was sustainable fascism, plutocracy desired.
ROME COLLAPSED MORALLY FIRST, ECOLOGY FOLLOWED LATER:
So what happened under the Antonine emperors? The philosophers, and other Romans observed, as they said, that “the world was getting old”. Namely there were ecological disasters all over. The economy was becoming more difficult to operate, and command and control would be imposed within 150 years, as precious metals ran out. 300 years later, after the Franks had been unable to stop them, the vandals would seized North Africa, and so doing, starved all of Italy.
Could have Rome been spared that ominous fate? Well, yes, by more advanced technology, which could have been deployed (primitive steam engines existed, and Papin made a steam engine boat, in the 17th Century, using roughly the same metallurgical expertise; there is no doubt that the Romans could have made the same). But the Roman emperors deliberately blocked advanced tech.
The emperors, ill advised, thought that higher technology would increase unemployment.
That myth is entertained to this day. See Krugman’s December 9, 2012, editorial in The New York Times: Robots and Robber Barons. technology has taken a turn that places labor at a disadvantage… About the robots: there’s no question that in some high-profile industries, technology is displacing workers of all, or almost all, kinds. can innovation and progress really hurt large numbers of workers, maybe even workers in general? I often encounter assertions that this can’t happen. But the truth is that it can, and serious economists have been aware of this possibility for almost two centuries. The early-19th-century economist David Ricardo is best known for the theory of comparative advantage, which makes the case for free trade; but the same 1817 book in which he presented that theory also included a chapter on how the new, capital-intensive technologies of the Industrial Revolution could actually make workers worse off, at least for a while — which modern scholarship suggests may indeed have happened for several decades.
The debate is nothing new: Aristotle argued that, having no robots, civilization needed slaves, to do the work. The entire Greco-Roman civilization operated upon the bedrock of this completely idiotic assumption. And died from it.
So the emperors argued that, unemployment being a chronic Roman catastrophe, and people needing to work, the machines had could have alleviated work should not be constructed. That sorts of logic looks good, but it’s wrong at every turn. Unfortunately variants thereof presided to the making of the Kyoto Treaty.
All what happened was that Parthian arrows, fired from powerful double curvature composite Mongol bows, started to go through Roman armor, and that cataphracts terrorized the Roman army. Pathetically, in the end, the Romans adopted those military techniques… more than five centuries after suffering the devastating defeat of Carrhae from them.
What was the truth?
UNEMPLOYMENT AS A PLUTOCRATIC DEVICE:
In truth, unemployment was caused directly by the plutocracy that ruled Rome, it was a deliberate strategy. Unemployment empowers plutocracy. An unemployed man is impotent, and feels completely unworthy: after all, he is no use whatsoever. How could he be trusted to make a revolution? Let alone to vote? Another advantage is that unemployment means that the plutocracy lives off globalization, distant workers, who do the job, but can be cut off anytime, and replaced by others safely. That is why Rome, and then Italy got increasingly deprived of employment and even army under the fascist empire, culminating with the removal of the capital to Byzantium, by Constantine, to make Constantine-polis, Constantinople. To make sure, Constantine also removed the entire Roman metaphysics and tradition, by imposing Christianity.
When the Franks took control, they decreased the fascist index (the kings were elected, and the function was not hereditary, and women could reign), and they decreased the plutocratic index (sons were supposed to inherit equally and daughters would do, if there were no sons). Then the Franks formally outlawed slavery (~650 CE).
Outlawing slavery, that is, cheap labor, meant technology and science had to advance. It did. Countless tech advances occurred within a few centuries: heavy draught horse, bioengineered protein rich beans, water and wind mills all over. Frankish architecture (now known as “Gothic”), hydraulic presses, gravitational and spring clocks soon followed.
PLUTOCRACY IS BACK! IT HAPPENS ALL THE TIME:
We are in a very similar situation nowadays, to the decay that corrupted Rome.
The plutocratic phenomenon has blossomed again. The banking sector has been taken over by bandits. This is very grave: in the Roman, Frankish, Tang, and other various Chinese empires, it was the state that created money. In the modern state, starting with the Italian republics of the Middle Ages, it has been the bankers that the state mandated to create money, through credit. So now the money creating system is corrupt, and the political, and even judicial class attached to them, is also corrupt.
Proof? All over the papers, everyday. Even inside the Wall Street Journal, December 20, 2012, the most incredible dialogues among plutocrats and crooks, about manipulating interest rates, and meeting back on their yachts to laugh it off, while exchanging 6 figures gifts.
LARGEST PLUTO CRACTY EVER, LARGEST CRIME SYNDICATE, EVER:
Then there was the case of drug laundering by HSBC, a British based world bank. It showed the drug war is a very bad joke played upon the gullible public. Assistant Attorney General and longtime Bill Clinton pal Breuer is another of these plutocratic enabler who obviously expect to be well rewarded some more.
“Breuer this week signed off on a settlement deal with the British banking giant HSBC that is the ultimate insult to every ordinary person who’s ever had his life altered by a narcotics charge. Despite the fact that HSBC admitted to laundering billions of dollars for Colombian and Mexican drug cartels (among others) and violating a host of important banking laws (from the Bank Secrecy Act to the Trading With the Enemy Act), Breuer and his Justice Department elected not to pursue criminal prosecutions of the bank…”
This is another case of international plutocracy at work, the largest criminal enterprise ever.
I say this after considering very carefully the involvement of JP Morgan, Henry Ford and company with various fascist movements, some of them genocidal, in the period 1920 to 1945; although the extent of genocide is lower, by an order of magnitude, so far, with WWII, with only a bit more than six millions or so assassinated in Africa, the intricacy, extent and penetration of world financial, economic, political and informational systems is unprecedented. (I have said this long ago.)
IGNORING NUCLEAR ENERGY IS BEYOND GROTESQUE:
Nuclear energy is around one million times more energetic than any other energy source. So it’s the future, and it will allow to conquer the solar system, and go the stars.
Nuclear energy is intrinsically clean. It exploits decay, so its waste disappear quickly: nuclear waste becomes less radioactive over time. After 50 years, 99.1% of radiation is gone. This is in sharp contrast with coal. Arsenic, mercury and other chemicals that are stable, forever poisonous are released burning coal: under our eyes, the oceans and the Arctic are made too poisonous for life, and all what idiotic environmental NGOs can talk about is how bad nuclear is!
Well, if the Plutonium based 1950s nuclear tech is so bad, push for other nuclear technologies! Thorium comes to mind. But the first giant Thorium reactor will be ready in a decade or so. it will be made in China, of course.
KYOTO, AN ERROR IGNORING THE MIGHTIEST ENERGY SOURCE:
The Kyoto accord decided that emissions of CO2 would be reduced after a while to 1990 levels. So far, so good. But then it was decided that the most developed countries, in other words, the West, would bear the burden, all the burden. On the ground that they caused the mess. In other words, those who set the fire would extinguish it, while those who did not could go right ahead with a new conflagration. The USA refused to ratify that unwise injustice. The Europeans, who have a long history of self flagellation, ever since they roasted most of the Jews, signed on greedily, and, glutton for punishment as they are, are suffering indigestion ever since. Now China emits three times more CO2 than all of Europe. And many times that in arsenic, mercury, etc.
Denmark gives renewable lessons to all, and depends more crucially on burning carbon than basically any other country. New burn factories are under construction. (On the positive side, this is self limiting, as most of Denmark will soon go below water, including all the Do-goodism.)
Why all the burning fires? Because of Kyoto’s most vicious flaw. Kyoto, and a later annex, Marrakesh, held that nuclear energy was an enemy. The Marrakesh Accords state:”Recognizing that Parties included in Annex I are to refrain from using credits…generated from nuclear facilities to meet their commitments under Article 3, paragraph 1″ .
However, this all hogwash. Out of say 100 different potential nuclear energy methods, the only one used is the military one, the U235-Plutonium cycle.
Conclusion? The do-gooders fanatically anti-nuclear ecologists are bringing back coal. Within a few years, after an eclipse of a 100 years, COAL WILL AGAIN BE the world’s main energy source. Most of the ecologists who were influential in the last quarter century should get their heads examined, because the return of coal is their work.
NO PROGRESS, NO LIFE:
Fascist imperial Rome refuted technology. Thus progress. However any human society, since the Pleistocene is as if on a bike: it cannot stand still without crashing. Why? Because resources get exhausted, they always have, they always will (Malthus wrote nearly 5,000 years after Sumer flooded, from deforestation, so Malthus was right, but his were old news).
Technological progress is an ecological stabilizer.
Intelligence evolved because it enables to manipulate the world in a self serving way. In the war against the plutocratic phenomenon, what is in play is the meaning of self. And intelligence itself: the selfishness of the plutocrats is not just self serving, is afflicted with lethal shortermism. Why? because more is different.
Plutocracy is related to fascism, in particular intellectual fascism, where only a few ideas, a few moods, and a few people lead. That’s why Rome got increasingly stupid: any new intelligent discourse is specialized, it’s a techno (special)- logy (discourse). By refuting technology, Rome did not just refute progress, it refuted intelligence.
Nietzsche famously founded his philosophy on the “eternal return of the same”. Nothing could be more false; everywhere we look, however far in the past, long ago, in galaxies further than we can see, there is change, tremendous dynamics at works. We cannot go back to the past, we can only forge a sustainable future. And that means using force, and we have more force at our disposal than ever before, but, paradoxically, not enough yet to put the world on the right track.
Shooting at each other all day long to see who the good guys are, as the NRA and its fellow plutocrats are suggesting, is certainly not the way. Nor is the return to coal, more devastating than anything but outright thermonuclear war.
We are facing the greatest ecological and energy crisis ever, just when plutocracy is heating up. What to do? Full speed ahead with new technology, based in the deepest new science, and that goes all the way to throttle up in more advanced philosophy.