No Intelligence, No Power: No Morality, However Good

In Season Four of “Game of Thrones“, the immensely powerful knight, who has high moral principles, steals from his host, bangs him pretty bad on the head, leaving him dazed and bleeding on the ground. The valorous young princess Arya Stark, whom the knight protects, still a child, storms after him, and screams: “They gave you shelter, they fed you, they are good people, and you steal from them? The immensely powerful knight replies:”He is weak, that’s what wrong with him, they won’t pass the winter, so I may as well take his silver, or otherwise some worthless scoundrel will.” Arya shouts back: “You are the worst shit in the Seven Kingdoms!” The mighty knight smirks back:” To be good is not enough. How many Starks need to be beheaded for you to understand that?”

That was an allusion to the fact that Arya’s father, mother and brother had untimely, horrible, and unjust ends… And the engine of their destruction, and actually of the destruction of the Seven Kingdoms has been that goodness which fatally hobbles their would-be superior morality. If goodness leads mass atrocities, surely, it is not good.

This is the essence of the exchange, which I paraphrased because I am reproducing it from memory. This is also the essence of much my ethical system: to be moral, it is not enough to be good, one has to be smart and powerful. Smarts, in the matter of law has much progressed in the last four thousand years:

Good Laws Come Only From High Smarts. Hammurabi’s Laws Are 38 Centuries Old. Having Mastered Writing Was Necessary, As The 282 Laws Were Shown All Over The Vast Empire

Good Laws Come Only From High Smarts. Hammurabi’s Laws Are 38 Centuries Old. Having Mastered Writing Was Necessary, As The 282 Laws Were Shown All Over The Vast Empire

In Hammurabi laws, hitting one’s parents was punishable by death. Same for stealing (except if one was a plutocrat, of course; slavery was legal, although in many ways much less harsh than in the US in the nineteenth century.)

One needs the trinity of intelligence, power and goodness to impose morality. Absent any of the three elements of that trinity, mass immorality can, and will, blossom.

Examples abound in history. France is rich with them. For example, Louis XIV and Napoleon were neither smart nor good, so they were doubly immoral.

Louis destroyed the Protestants, which was particularly nasty, as his grandfather had made peace and a commonwealth with them; France lost millions, and found herself attacked from everywhere, including from the Netherlands and Britain, which used to be French, but were now full of angry protestants (many very intimately entangled with France).

Napoleon replaced the republics (for example in Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, etc.) which the revolution had created, into monarchies owned by his family: how much more nasty can one be? One could make a nasty, very deadly war to re-establish slavery in Haiti, which the First French Republic had eradicated. All this was an abyss of stupidity: Napoleon sold half of the USA to the USA for pennies, and then got millions of young Frenchmen dying for his family on the battlefield… while claiming he was fighting for the Revolution.

Want stupid? Napoleon, that enslaving self-obsessed monster is still much admired, from San Francisco to Vladivostok. It’s not clear why.

Another one, much admired is Joan of Arc. Why not? She re-launched the 100 year civil war between Paris and London for another 400 years. That was fabulously nasty, demonically stupid… The day (the cult of) Joan of Arc is viewed as immoral, much progress will have been made.

In the 1930s. The French Republic was smart and right to oppose the Nazism, all the way to giving Hitler an ultimatum. However, the whole enterprise became much less moral, when the French generalissimo ordered to do what his subordinate had argued may be a trap. Hitler had attacked the Netherlands just to draw the French army there. The result was catastrophic, as the French army was cut from behind, and the Nazis were able to conquer Europe, all the way to Saint Petersburg, Moscow, and the Volga, while engaging in various holocausts, and inciting the Japanese allies to do the same. Out of that came the American hegemon we presently enjoy, complete with its technology monopolies doubling as spy networks.

And, of course, We The World enjoy Facebook morality. Facebook just censored French (state) TV for reproducing on its Facebook page a woman demonstration in… Chile. Hey, some of the ladies wore no bras, and Facebook always wear a bra.

Times they are changing though: the Obama administration is proposing to remove US generalissimo-president Andrew Jackson from the Twenty Dollar note. Jackson was no dummy, he was immensely powerful, and his nastiness was excellent for the expansion of the USA. And Jackson, in complete contrast with the corrupt Clintons, kept the banks in their place. Asked what he was the most proud of, Jackson said (in essence): to have kept the banks at bay. Quite a statement, as Jackson had doubled the area of the USA. (Nothing that Clintons’ admirers can understand at this point, though…)

The same remarks apply to Jefferson, or even Washington. Let alone Marcus Aurelius.

Nowadays, then the youth, even in the USA, understand that the criterions for morality have to be jacked up, so Jackson can go jack somewhere else.

All very good, of course. But Big Morality without Big Smarts will always backfired. It’s not very smart for the youth of the world to only go through the spy network, with its fine print which says that only American law applies (although a French Court just determined that was probably unlawful in France, since, actually, well, it obviously is).

No smarts, no morality. At least, at the civilizational level.

Patrice Ayme’


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23 Responses to “No Intelligence, No Power: No Morality, However Good”

  1. brodix Says:

    Sorry to see Jackson go. One of my ancestors, Louis Mclane, was his Secretary of State and Ambassador to England.
    Though speaking of banks, his son, Louis Mclane Jr, was president of Wells Fargo, when it was mostly just a stage coach company, running gold out of the Sierra Nevadas.

    • Gmax Says:

      You have got a great pedigree. Jackson was a form of energy that the US does not need anymore

      • brodix Says:

        Every age has its fresh energies pushing forward and motivating it, while older forms seek to stabilize and hold it back, in an overall balancing act. We are certainly at one of those stages where the older forms are breaking down, but the vital energies don’t have neat directions to flow. The pressure is building.

        Can we rethink humanity and our existence on this particular planet, or do we simply crash back down and fight over the scraps?

        It would seem the immediate and obvious problem is our desire to save notional wealth, to the expense of any and all resources, but few seem to see that.

        • Gmax Says:

          Notional wealth?????? What’s THAT?

          • brodix Says:

            Aka, paper wealth. Any asset backed by a promise that depends of a web of other factors, many of which are leveraged many times over. Pensions, for instance.
            The amount of notional value is many times the actual productive value of the economy.
            For instance, US government bonds are considered the fest form of investment, but what is the real return on investment of much of what it does? So they keep rolling it over and presumably some future generation will pay it off. Like the current younger generation, which also has student debt to pay off, can’t find jobs and can’t afford a house.

  2. Gmax Says:

    You should provide more links to your previous works. 🙂 So if we are dumb, we are nasty?

  3. EugenR Says:

    History is the past, but what about the future. It is clear the world population is in process of division to two parts, the ignorants drifted by an unknown stream and those who are in. Those in, will enslave eventually the others, like 300 years ago have done the European colonial powers to the rest of the world. There will be some insignificant events like the boxer revolution in China or the September 11, that will only encourage those in, to be more active and decisive. At the end all these events like September 11, will be lost in the dust of history.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      The past is full of human ethology, and so is the future. However, the former can be known.
      In the age of nukes, accidents are possible, such as the French army defeat after may 10, 1940 (that brought the Holocaust and US hegemony, among other things). In war games reproducing the situation on May 10, 1940, this nearly never happens again.

  4. dominique deux Says:

    In GoT, the Hound is (a) no knight (he despises the very idea); (b) utterly devoid of ethics or claim to any; (c) protective of Arya, a child of 11, only as an investment, as he crisscrosses the Kingdom trying to ransom her (and finding all her family frustratingly dead). That he indeed grows into a kind of father figure, and shows gruff fondness to her older sister, is part of a “redemption” process typical of the character complexity in GoT.

    Napoleon could indeed be quite nasty, and did commit his share of war crimes, notably in his earlier career as a Republican general. (the English were no laggards, such as when they stranded a whole army of French prisoners of war and left them to starve to death on a desert island, even though they had surrendered on a promise of repatriation…) He did understand the practical value of ethics though, and his “Code Civil” nicely illustrates the gist of your article. More to the point, his creation of family-owned monarchies was less a greed-motivated grab than the realization that the remainder of Europe would never let a Republican France exist; he hoped that getting back into the monarchic fold would help foster peaceful cohabitation, and his efforts in that direction are well documented. How many tyrants, after repeatedly crushing their opponents on the battlefield, repeatedly kept them on their thrones? No Mary Stuart blood on his hands. About his relation to slavery and race you are quite right. About his not being smart… aw come on.

    I’ll always be grateful to Joan of Arc that she was instrumental in sparing France the fate of Ireland, which the Black Knight’s countryside exploits plainly showed was in store for her after defeat. (was he, a British hero to this time, the inspiration for the Hound, or for the latter’s mass-murderous, scorched-earth expert brother, the “Mountain that Rides”? remember in GoT, the Lannister dynasty stands for the English).

    As an aside, it was common in her time to strangle a sentenced person before she was burned at the stake. She was denied that mercy. The English wanted their slow roast. A comment on ethics?

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      At some point early in their relationship, Arya asks The Hound why he did not steal from King’s Landing, and he claims that a man needs some sense of honor, an ethical system. Sometimes greed is an excuse for higher pursuits. As when he initially saves her older sis.

      Napoleon? There are no excuses for him, except he was an aristocrat (officially recognized as such by Louis XVI, hence the fact he attended military school). And except for the invasion of Provence by the Brits. De Sade, a much deeper thinker than Napoleon, thought that forcefully expanding the Revolution was a mistake. By giving Europe to himself and his family, Napoleon contradicted the main argument against plutocracy, which was, and is, that the few cannot possess too much.

      No, Napoleon was not that smart. Not considering he made himself dictator of France. When told Washington intended to relinquish, Napoleon observed that, should Washington do this, “he would be the greatest man who ever lived”. So not only was Napoleon not smart, but not well read: examples of great leaders who relinquished power abound, starting with Solon.

      Joan of Arc’s story is extremely complex, and 10% of the story and not the most important part, is taught in France. It’s propaganda, Stalin style. She sieged and invaded PARIS, BTW… Ireland was tiny in population, relative to England, Whereas France was more than three times the population. Henri VI made an excellent, philosophical king. When the Netherlands invaded England around 1688 CE, Dutch leaders intended to make England a weapon against the fascist theocrat Louis XIV and his despicable Jihadist pseudo-queen. However, although the war thing and the financial leverage thing were transmitted, the more populated British took over. The same would have happened with the Franco-English union Joan of Arc destroyed.

      It’s not even clear she was executed. At the time, the Jihadist church had a woman burned every three weeks, and her face was hidden. Clearly a woman was burned, the executioner made a big show about that after she was dead (and before re-starting the fire). There is a parallel history saying she was not Joan. The Queen of the Four Kingdoms was behind the whole thing.

      A few quotes from Jihadist Joan:
      One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it. But to sacrifice what you are and to live without belief, that is a fate more terrible than dying.

      Children say that people are hung sometimes for speaking the truth.

      King of England, and you, duke of Bedford, who call yourself regent of the kingdom of France… settle your debt to the king of Heaven; return to the Maiden, who is envoy of the king of Heaven, the keys to all the good towns you took and violated in France.

      I am not afraid… I was born to do this.

      Act, and God will act.

      It is true that the king has made a truce with the duke of Burgundy for fifteen days and that the duke is to turn over the city of Paris at the end of fifteen days. Yet you should not marvel if I do not enter that city so quickly.”

    • Gmax Says:

      Templar monks were roasted alive. So was Jan Hus, or that guy Calvin burned, close and personal. Also Giordano Bruno, or the main preps of the Affairs of the Poisons

      • Gmax Says:

        Main perps, the main perpetrators, including several rich and beautiful seductresses

        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          A marquise got beheaded, then burned. But the main ring leaders, a number of women were burned alive, indeed. Under Louis XIV. The inquiry’s documentation was personally burned by Louis XIV, as it involved the Montespan, mother of 4 of his children….

    • Kevin Berger Says:

      Marrante, l’exégèse de GOT sur ce blogue.

      Sinon, comme à chaque fois que ce sujet est abordé, accord total au moins de principe avec DD : Jeanne, Napoléon, fruits de leur époque et réponses aux circonstances d’alors – et le tort de Napoléon est d’ailleurs surtout d’avoir échoué. Mais de toute manière, la révolution était une impasse, une nasse dont la France n’est toujours pas sortie, je ne sais pas si un “happy end” aurait été possible avec qui que ce soit d’autre. Napoléon aura au moins eu le mérite de solder l’ancien régime, et de poser les fondations de ce qui allait suivre et qu dure toujours, bon an mal an.

      Et je ne vois pas non plus d’intérêt à détricoter le mythe Jeanne d’Arc (élaboré au 19ème siècle, je crois, en même temps que “nos ancêtres les gaulois”). Pourquoi faire? La France comme Nation est en état de mort clinique, peut-être même en début de déliquescence (conneries identitaires en Bretagne, Corse, pays Basque, acculturation de masse, immigration de masse et impuissance publique délibérée qui annoncent conjointement, au mieux un Liban, au pire une Syrie); pourquoi gratter encore un peu de ce reliquat de mythe National?

      • Patrice Ayme Says:

        Because we have to go back to the IMPERIUM FRANCORUM

      • Patrice Ayme Says:

        Joan of Arc, Napoleon and Louis XIV and XV demolished civilization and, in particular, France.
        Being for Joan of Arc is being for Jihadism, banditism, hypernationalism, cretinism. I mean, really, if not for Joan the roasted all too late, France may be a hyperpower right now, from San Francisco to Vladivostok… OK, now, forget France. As you yourself point out implicitly the banditism of Joan brought later, in the history of moods, that of the West Country Men.

        Napoleon dreamed of conquering the world, but destroyed his army at Saint Jean D’Acre. Anyway Nelson was ruling the sea… Then he sold half of America for pennies after relaunching slavery from Europe, which was unconstitutional, anti-civilizational, against all what the Franks did.

        Why do we still have to explain these cretins (Joan, Louis, Nap) were monsters, and haters of all what is valuable France stood for? Nap did not even hide well the fact he hated France. Joan sieged PARIS. Louis XIV was Hitler with a skirt and pantyhose…

  5. dominique deux Says:

    “The same would have happened with the Franco-English union Joan of Arc destroyed”

    Pure wishful thinking. But of course, we’ll never know. Thank God for small mercies. Others were not so fortunate.

    • Gmax Says:

      Henry V was loved in Paris, his son became a philosopher king

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      The monarchies of France and England had negotiated an elaborate treaty. Henry/Henri V was to become global king, as per his hereditary right. It was a treaty between French people, ultimately.

      I don’t feel like the “National Front”. Not sorry about that. Can’t despise the FN, and then think exactly like it.

      The Civil War Jihadist Joan re-launched was a tragedy. We live with its consequences to this day, including smothering by the “West Country Men” philosophy…
      Notice that Jihadi Joan declared war to and stole a kingdom from a child.

    • Kevin Berger Says:

      “Pure wishful thinking. But of course, we’ll never know. Thank God for small mercies. Others were not so fortunate.”

      Yes; PA might be writing about the “East Country Men” instead.

      • Patrice Ayme Says:

        “WEST country men”… Indeed! 😉

        The general mood Dominique offers about Britain is traditional. I don’t share it. It’s all FN/Brexit 100%. The separation between France and England was a result of a civil war in which Joan of Arc played a horrible role.
        Then, of course, there was hatred. And it goes on to this day.
        The rise of the West Country Men and what happened in Ireland is a complicated matter. The invading Scotts were involved, too, it was not just the English.

        In other news, I am in a camping trip, so lack of reply just means the woods have no power and no wifi

  6. picard578 Says:

    Reblogged this on Defense Issues.

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