Islamists kill dozens in Brussels, injuring more than 270, some horribly. As usual when bad people do bad things, people gather and sing John Lennon’s Imagine. A beautiful song I love, but the “Imagine” mentality will not snuff out the mentality of the Islamist State. Only the mentality of the Marseillaise will. As I will show here, in the light of recent science which I had fully predicted, evil is another way to look at intelligence. Or all too close to it.
Recent humanism has kept away from the Dark Side. It may as well have kept away from humanity, and bask in impotence. Ignoring evil, calling it psychopathological is an exception, a vain insult, to the deepest Occidental tradition (let alone to cannibalistic societies, which used to be ruled according to what we view now as evil principles). It’s true that, in normal circumstances, it is progress, to not eat one’s neighbor. However, it’s not progress when one starts from the principle that one’s neighbor could not possibly be a killer, on a matter of principle, and when one organizes society according to this sheep principle (that Nazis, or the Soviets, could not possibly be mass killers was a mass delusion of the 1930s which enabled the 1930s to unfold as they did). The sheep principle is exactly why there is mass murder and mass exodus in Syria: because the West’s leading powers did not exert the necessary evil in the appropriate fashion, in their neighborhood.
Our (cultural) ancestors the Romans, were deeply cynical about humanity: “Homo Homini Lupus” (Man is a wolf for man.) Or maybe that should have been: Lupus Lupis Homo (Wolf is a man for wolf). Roman games’ cruel period lasted at least seven centuries (after Christians took power, the circuses showed animal fighting, the human sacrificial element was removed).
Christianism, invented first by a Roman citizen, Saint Paul, has a very dark side. The cruelty, baseness, disobedience, desire for strife of the genus Homo starts from the beginning of the Bible: brother kills brother, exactly as in the (earlier) fratricide of Remus by Romulus (did the Roman story made all its way to Babylon, where the Bible was written? That’s highly plausible!)
[Signature strike: A white-tailed prairie dog kills one of the small ground squirrels that graze in prairie dog towns. John Hoogland.]
After the Christian decline and fall of civilization was over, and the Franco-Romans finally took control, ferocity got reinstituted: the Franks’ standard penalty for false coinage was death by slow boiling. The famous story of the Soisson vase was symbolic of the fact consul-king Clovis had the powers of Caesar, but did not feel it was wise to deploy as much magnanimity and “clementia”.
As Friedrich Nietzsche insisted, the Middle Ages was a tale of two moralities: that of the aristocracy on top, the ferocious mentality of the “blonde beast” (see the armories full of lions), those of serfs, below, Christian, begging for forgiveness.
Machiavelli a bit, Hobbes, and even much more Sade, pointed out that nature was not behaving like the Virgin Mary (accusing the other guy, up in heavens). Nature is front, center, brutal, indifferent to cruelty, master of all. The lesson was not lost on revolutionaries, from those of 1792, to the countless revolutions which shook Europe in the next 150 years. Therefrom the ferocious “dictatorship of the proletariat” of Lenin.
My thesis on the Dark Side is, of course: horrendous. The Dark Side is as natural to intelligence as the management of the biosphere it is in charge of implementing.
Meaning? Intelligence is god. Intelligence does not just watch the world, it molds it. And it does not have to be human intelligence. All animals do it, even herbivores.
Did you ever wonder why social herbivores fight so viciously? The loser generally ends up weak, and isolated, soon to die. Not that the winner is much better off: it’s pretty weak. The broad picture is herbivores killing herbivores.
White-tailed prairie dogs — those stand-up, nose-wiggling cute chewers of grass — have just been revealed to be serial killers of baby ground squirrels.
It gets worse: serial killing is associated to better motherhood. The “strongest sign of successful white-tailed motherhood” is apparently repeat ground squirrel kills, researchers say.
Females who kill at least two ground squirrels raise three times more offspring during their lives than non-killer females do, says John Hoogland of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science in Frostburg. The “serial killers”, rarely nibble at the carcasses and aren’t getting much, if any, meat bonus. Prairie dogs and ground squirrels eat plants. So why all the killing? Lebensraum, the grabbing of natural resources: Prairie Dogs are little furry Nazis, and they are right in Prairiedoghood.
The assassin supermoms may improve grazing in their territories by reducing competition from grass-snitching ground squirrels, Hoogland and Charles Brown of the University of Tulsa propose March 23 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. [J.L. Hoogland and C.R. Brown. Prairie dogs increase fitness by killing interspecific competitors. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Published online March 23, 2016. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2016.0144.]
“This really caught me by surprise,” Hoogland says. “It’s also striking because it’s so subtle”. He had been watching prairie dogs in general for decades and the white-tailed prairie dogs in the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge for a year before he noticed an attack. A female “jumped on something, shook it, shook it hard, kept attacking — and then walked away,” he says. The encounter lasted just minutes. Hoogland rushed from his observation tower to the scene of the fight and, to his surprise, retrieved a dead baby ground squirrel.
Animals compete for resources. It’s actually why they have brains. This, naturally has ethological, thus moral, consequences.
A propensity for killing ground squirrels turned out to be the only factor (once factoring body mass, age and number of neighbors) which predicted a tendency toward lifetime success in raising lots of young. That capability, which biologists call “fitness”, is the most important parameter in analyzing how populations change and species evolve (it’s the core of raw “Darwinian evolution”).
I love John Lennon’s music and some of his ideas. I miss all what he would have said about the evil deployed during the last few decades. However, having a few nice ideas and even greater songs, do not a wisdom make. John Lennon’s lamentable death showed his philosophy was full of holes (and was in part due to this, his assassin claimed at the time: he had condemned Lennon to death for… hypocrisy).
Intelligence has a Dark Side; it’s intrinsic. Denying its existence is a pernicious addiction, which, paradoxically, leads to non-optimal outcomes, the greatest horrors. The failure of the left, in the West, during the last few decades, is directly attributable to forgetting this. We The People were manipulated into our own subjugation, because we became oblivious to the relationship between evil and intelligence.