Archive for the ‘Aristotle’ Category

Military Industrial Complex: A Necessary Danger To Civilization

April 16, 2016

Military Industrial Complexes are necessary, and have existed since cities came to be, 10,000 years ago. President Eisenhower warned against the danger the US Military Industrial Complex presented to the USA, and the world, in all sorts of ways. Now we can say we are right in the midst of what Ike was afraid of. However, there is another face to that coin.

Great Military Industrial Complexes (“MIC”) are characteristic of great civilizations. One can argue, that’s what civilizations are all about. Rome, the Franks and the Chinese had MICs. So did Japan. The Japanese Military Industrial Complex was able to confine behind walls the invading Mongols (who already had captured China). The Samurai, and their excellent steel, destroyed the Mongol beachheads, and Japan stayed Japan.

In The USA, The Military Industrial Complex, With The Exception Of WWI and WWII, Has long Been At The Service Of Plutocracy, and Its Corporations

In The USA, The Military Industrial Complex, With The Exception Of WWI and WWII, Has long Been At The Service Of Plutocracy, and Its Corporations

Interesting cases of Military Industrial Complexes were entangled with Greek civilization: Greece would not have existed without MICs.

The importance of war during the rise of Western Civilization was colossal. It could never have risen without it.

For example Sparta intervened and threw out Athens’ tyranny, establishing the great age of Athens’ direct democracy. The first thing the newly liberated Athenians did, was to establish a powerful MIC. Themistocles ran for office on a massive MIC program, to establish a powerful war fleet (after the first Persian invasion this grew to a 200 warships fleet). In the process the Athenian state ran a massive debt, and devastated the forests of Attica (to build the triremes). Themistocles’ argument was that Persia was going to attack. It did attack, twice, and was defeated, twice, in a number of battles, including the one at Marathon.

If anything, not enough violence was applied against plutocrats, early enough. Especially against the enemies of the Athenian and Roman empires. This is something peaceniks understand not at all, making them dedicated enemies of what they pretend to defend.

Twelve (12) centuries later, the Muslim invaders, having suffered grievous defeats from the Roman fleet and its Grecian fire, decided to use their military superiority on land: take Constantinople from behind, by invading Europe from West to East. The Islamists invaded Spain, and then attacked Francia (thrice). The Franks replied by boosting the size of their already considerable MIC. Propelled by a nationalization of the church, the Franks established the greatest army since the heydays of the Roman Republic, and mobilized all of Francia.

Ever since, France has been at war with Literal Islam. It was, it is, hard work: just in the second week of April 2016, three French soldiers died in combat in the middle of the Sahara. Frankish armies delivered Rome in 846 CE. The Islamists landed by surprise several armies in several places, and converged on Rome. The outskirts of the imperial capital were sacked, including the Vatican, but the formidable, 16 metres tall, 19 kilometer long Aurelian Wall held the invaders out of the city’s most sacred core. The Aurelian Wall is a beautiful example of MIC: it was used as a military asset, and involved in combat, for 17 centuries. The Aurelian Wall gave enough time for the Frankish Dux, Guy, grandson of Charlemagne, to arrive, and throw the Islamists out of the Latium.

When Genghis Khan and his Mongols invaded Northern China, some of his generals suggested to kill all the Chinese, and also kill the Chinese ecology (by destroying forests, etc.), and make Northern China like Mongolia. Genghis Khan refused to do so. However, notice that China came very close to extermination. Exterminated civilizations have existed before: Genghis Khan exterminated two, including the largest Buddhist empire, ever. The Hittites, and others, were exterminated during the invasion of the “People of the Sea”.

So civilization needs MICs. No MIC, no civilization.

However, a mighty MIC implies a deep militarization of society. The fundamental principle of militarization is the Fascist Principle: obey your superior as if s/he were god.

The fascist principle has long been an instinct with primates. Or at least those who invaded the savannah: baboons are intrinsically military, they move in armies, and the alpha males, the baboons are zoological equivalents to Roman generals. Complete with the right of death inflicted, whenever contradicted severely.

The fascist principle allows a social animal to behave as if it were a super-organism, with just one coordinated mind.

That principle is explicitly stated in the Qur’an. It was also the fundamental principle of organization of the Roman army, and, later, under the empire, of all of Roman society: the superior Roman officer had right of life and death on its subordinates, and would inflict it to encourage the others.

O YE WHO BELIEVE! Obey Allah, and obey the messenger and Obey Those Of You Who Are In Power.” (Qur’an’s fascist principle, Sura 4; verse 59).

The principal drawback of a fascist society is that intellectual progress comes only from contradicting what was known before, hence, from contradicting one’s superiors. Thus, a society organized around the fascist principle will stagnate intellectually. And, in particular scientifically and, thus, technologically. Hence, being ruled by a MIC brings lethal stupidity (and a very inegalitarian society).

Thus the Barbarians will catch up in technological military prowess. This is exactly what happened to the Romans: under the Republic, buying the best military metallurgy from the (highly divided) Gauls, the Romans dominated in the quality of their weapons (Hannibal defeated the Romans many times, but, arguably, his best troops were Gallic). Under the empire, the savages, such as the Franks, had better weapons than the standard Roman army (so they were co-opted into it!)

However, by the time of Marcus Aurelius, that wind bag, a certified intellectual fascist with a sugar-coating still mesmerizing the naive, the barbarians caught up with Roman military technology… In no small measure because Roman emperors, those professional fascists, paid inventors not to invent.

Nowadays we can observe similar phenomena: US corruption has brought the reign of the F35, an obsolete, but extremely expensive weapon. Meanwhile, the Barbarians, including Kim of Korea, are catching up technologically, at a torrid space.

Civilization has to keep a balance between MIC and innovation in all ways, lest imagination collapses, bringing a weaker MIC.

Reciprocally, though, a MIC is a friend of fascist rule, and thus of oligarchy. But oligarchy is sustainable only in a satanic form, known as the rule of Satan (an older name of which being Pluto). So uncontrolled MICs bring plutocracy: Rome was the paradigm there.

We are in the process of creating another such example, because we did not heed general-president Eisenhower’s warning, that the Military Industrial Complex:

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.”

Eisenhower stays modern to this day. He saw the rise of plutocratic universities coming, with their fake thinkers, all dedicated to the power of money:

Eisenhower: “The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.”

A few days before democrats are going to surrender democracy to the power of money, once again, let me remind them, that this can happen only so many times.

Democracy needs to be defended, but, first, some will say that it needs to be worthy of a defense. Right.

However, democracy needs a strong enough Military Industrial Complex. The Athenians and other Greek democrats were initially successful at defeating Antipater. But then Krateros, hyper dangerous with his hardened troops arrived from the Orient, and the Athenian fleet, of 170 triremes, the largest since the wars against Persia, was defeated. Twice.

As I explained in “Aristotle Destroyed Democracy” the friendliness of Aristotle to Alexander, Antipater and Krateros, and thus, to the idea of monarchy, goes a long way to explain that the Greek MIC came short of the Macedonian MIC. The philosopher Demosthenes was not heard enough, in his strident, fully justified, prescient warnings against the savage, tyrannical Macedonians.

So here we are: pretty much 23 centuries of trampling of direct democracy, the one and only, by the forces of oligarchy, and, or, when oligarchy is not enough to rule, plutocracy. Ever since official plutocracy was installed in Athens by Antipater.

All this because the direct democratic military industrial complex came short to the one of the Macedonians. So let’s not despise the MIC. It can save the best. But now, we don’t have to worry about foreign enemies first: the plutocrats are already in power.

Patrice Ayme’

Trump A Demagogue? So What?

March 27, 2016

“We empowered a demagogue” laments the New York Times ostensibly bleeding heart liberal, the kind Mr. Kristof, in his false “Mea Culpa” editorial, “My Shared Shame: How The Media Made Trump”. By this, Mr. Kristof means that Mr. Trump is a bad person. However, Mr. Kristof’s choice of the word “demagogue” is revealing. (Actually it’s not really his choice: “demagogue” is not Mr. Kristof’s invention: he just repeats like a parrot the most prominent slogan of the worldwide campaign of insults against Trump).

Trump a demagogue? Is Mr. Sanders a “demagogue”, too? (As much of the financial and right-wing press has it: for The Economist and the Financial Times, Trump and Sanders are both “demagogues” and that’s their main flaw.)

To understand fully the word “demagogue” one has to understand a bit of Greek, and a bigger bit of Greek history.

The Hellenistic Kingdom Mood, And Aristotle, Had A Devastating Influence On Rome, Thus On Western Civilization, Thus Us, Ever Since

The Hellenistic Kingdom Mood, And Aristotle, Had A Devastating Influence On Rome, Thus On Western Civilization, Thus Us, Ever Since

What does demos mean? And what does agogos mean? Both words are Greek. Agogos means “leader”, Demos means “people”. In ancient Greek “demagogos” meant “leader of the People”. A demagogue was viewed as bad in the Hellenistic Kingdoms period, because kinship was good, and We The People was bad. We inherited 2,000 years of dictatorship from the Hellenistic Kingdoms’ mood.

The latter point is the key: thanks to Aristotle’s devastating influence, monarchies and tyrannies became the ideal political regimes (for the next 2,000 years). I explained the whole thing in “Aristotle Destroyed Democracy”. Aristotle was the senior, most respected figure, of an impressive number of mass criminals who were his personal friends, students and followers: Alexander the Great, Antipater, Craterus, etc.

The practical result was that the entire Greek world became subjected to monarchies and tyrannies. With the sole exception of Massilia (modern Marseilles) whose small empire stayed democratic and independent (in spite of being at war with no less than Carthage based in Barcelona!) Marseilles would fall only after Julius Caesar besieged it (in one of Julius’ particularly ridiculous exploits). But the fact only Massilia stayed democratic tells volumes (OK, when Greece, attempted to go back to democracy, plutocratizing Rome crushed it, culminating with the devastation of Corinth in 146 BCE).

So the deeper question is this: since when has “leader of the People” become a crime in the US? Was president FDR a “demagogue”? What is the president of the USA supposed to be? What is the problem? Is the president supposed NOT to be a “leader”? Or to NOT be a leader of the “People”?

Is the President of the US supposed to be a follower? Of whom? The plutocrats? Is the president of the USA supposed to take Air Force One every few weeks, to get money from the Silicon Valley plutocrats, and ask them for instructions?

The ascent of Trump is precisely tied to the opinion that the office of the President of the USA is not anymore that of the leader of the people. Instead the president has become the leader of the 1%, exclusively. Thus, the more one complains that Trump is a “demagogue”, the more one presents him as precisely what the country, and maybe even the world, needs: somebody who wants to lead We The People, not just the 1%.

[Mr. Kristof allowed a shortened version of this comment to be published… After sitting on it for 12 hours. Delayed publication is akin to censorship, as the comment was published in 777th position instead of being among the first. So Mr. Kristof is not as kind and open as he wants to depict himself.]

A hard day may be coming for global plutocrats ruling as they do thanks to their globalization tricks. And I am not exactly naive. Andy Grove, founder of Intel, shared the general opinion that much of globalization was just theft & destitution fostering an ominous future (the Hungarian immigrant to the USA who was one of the founders of Intel). He pointed out, an essay he wrote in 2010 that Silicon Valley was squandering its competitive edge in innovation by neglecting strong job growth in the United States.

Mr. Grove observed that: …”it was cheaper and thus more profitable for companies to hire workers and build factories in Asia than in the United States. But… lower Asian costs masked the high price of offshoring as measured by lost jobs and lost expertise. Silicon Valley misjudged the severity of those losses, he wrote, because of a “misplaced faith in the power of start-ups to create U.S. jobs.”

Silicon Valley makes its money from start-ups. However, that phase of a business is different from the scale-up phase, when technology goes from prototypes to mass production. Both phases are important. Only scale-up is an engine for mass job growth — and scale-up is vanishing in the United States (especially with jobs connected to Silicon Valley). “Without scaling,” Mr. Grove wrote, “we don’t just lose jobs — we lose our hold on new technologies” and “ultimately damage our capacity to innovate…

The underlying problem isn’t simply lower Asian costs. It’s our own misplaced faith in the power of startups to create U.S. jobs. Americans love the idea of the guys in the garage inventing something that changes the world. New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman recently encapsulated this view in a piece called “Start-Ups, Not Bailouts.” His argument: Let tired old companies that do commodity manufacturing die if they have to. If Washington really wants to create jobs, he wrote, it should back startups.

Friedman is wrong. Startups are a wonderful thing, but they cannot by themselves increase tech employment.”

However, American-based manufacturing is not on the agenda of Silicon Valley or the political agenda of the United States. Venture capitalists actually told me it was obsolete (before stepping in their private jets). That omission, according to Mr. Grove, is a result of anotherunquestioned truism”: “that the free market is the best of all economic systems — the freer the better.” To Mr. Grove, or Mr. Trump, or yours truly, that belief is flawed.

Andy Grove: “Scaling used to work well in Silicon Valley. Entrepreneurs came up with an invention. Investors gave them money to build their business. If the founders and their investors were lucky, the company grew and had an initial public offering, which brought in money that financed further growth.” 

The triumph of free-market principles over planned economies in the 20th century, Mr. Grove said, did not make those principles infallible or immutable. There was room for improvement, he argued, for what he called “job-centric” economics and politics. In a job-centric system, job creation would be the nation’s No. 1 objective, with the government setting priorities and arraying the forces necessary to achieve the goal, and with businesses operating not only in their immediate profit interest but also in the interests of “employees, and employees yet to be hired.”

As even the New York Times now admits, the situation has degenerated since 2010. Although the employment rate halved, in a slave state, everybody is employed. But neither the economy, nor the society, let alone progress and civilization are doing better.

“Insecure, low-paying, part-time and dead-end jobs are prevalent. On the campaign trail, large groups of Americans are motivated and manipulated on the basis of real and perceived social and economic inequities.

Conditions have worsened in other ways. In 2010, one of the arguments against Mr. Grove’s critique was that exporting jobs did not matter as long as much of the corporate profits stayed in the United States. But just as American companies have bolstered their profits by exporting jobs, many now do so by shifting profits overseas through tax-avoidance maneuvers.

The result is a high-profit, low-prosperity nation. “All of us in business,” Mr. Grove wrote, “have a responsibility to maintain the industrial base on which we depend and the society whose adaptability — and stability — we may have taken for granted.” Silicon Valley and much of corporate America have yet to live up to that principle.”

So the argument counter-Grove was that plutocracy was OK, as long as it was all American (an argument Trump long disagreed with, BTW). But, clearly, it’s not the case anymore. Instead the US government has become the back-up to global plutocratic corporations (watch Obama flying to Argentina to encourage the new US pawn there, just elected… after making economic war against left leaning Argentinian governments ever since Argentina refused to take orders: the first beneficiary are New York vulture funds).

Sanders, the other “demagogue” just defeated Clinton (the establishment insider plutocrat) in three states out of the US mainstream: Washington State, Hawai’i and Alaska (with 3/4 of the votes). Interestingly, and differently from all the other past or present primary contenders, Clinton is implicated in several inquiries from the FBI, Department of Justice, etc. At least she is not terrorized like Maria Carey, who cancelled her concerts in Belgium (other singers did not).

Mr. Grove: “… the imperative for change is real and the choice is simple. If we want to remain a leading economy, we change on our own, or change will continue to be forced upon us.” Trump and Sanders say nothing else.

Yesterday, a dove penetrated inside my house, flew around, collided a bit with something, and then exited the window with precision, before perching on a eucalyptus branch, looking at me dazzlingly. I have seen it many times before, but generally it stays outside. Last night, I dreamed of seeing a pigeon fly at an angle into a wall. I asked it why it did that, so deliberately. It replied: “Did you see the state of the biosphere?” I suggested a more constructive actions. And it’s how it is going to happen: at some point, all the biosphere we depend upon will revolt (and after Zika, we have now Lassa fever, which is very close to Ebola).

Our corruption is not just an economic and social problem, a political problem, and a civilizational problem, as it was under Aristotle.  It is a problem for the entire planet.

We empowered a demagogue“, laments Mr. Kristof. His true calling, and that of the Main Stream Media, was to empower plutocrats, and their obsequious servants. How sad they are.

Patrice Ayme’

Momentum, Force, Inertia, Middle Ages, Buridan

March 20, 2016

WHAT’S MASS? It is not an easy question. An answer for inertial mass was given seven centuries ago. Astoundingly, it’s still the foundation of our most modern physics. Let me explain.

Momentum, force, and inertial mass were defined from trajectory deviation, first. This, I will show below, is incredibly modern (the idea is found in Riemann ~ 1860 CE next). This was all in Buridan’s work, in the Fourteenth Century (14C).  Jean Buridan postulated the notion of motive force, which he named impetus. Consider this, from Buridan’s Quaestiones super libros De generatione et corruptione Aristotelis:

“When a mover sets a body in motion he implants into it a certain impetus, that is, a certain force enabling a body to move in the direction in which the mover starts it, be it upwards, downwards, sidewards, or in a circle. The implanted impetus increases in the same ratio as the velocity. It is because of this impetus that a stone moves on after the thrower has ceased moving it. But because of the resistance of the air (and also because of the gravity of the stone) which strives to move it in the opposite direction to the motion caused by the impetus, the latter will weaken all the time. Therefore the motion of the stone will be gradually slower, and finally the impetus is so diminished or destroyed that the gravity of the stone prevails and moves the stone towards its natural place. In my opinion one can accept this explanation because the other explanations prove to be false whereas all phenomena agree with this one

 In 14 C, In The Late Middle Ages, Buridan Defined Momentum And Force By Considering Deviation Of Particle Trajectory

In 14 C, In The Late Middle Ages, Buridan Defined Momentum And Force By Considering Deviation Of Particle Trajectory

Just a word of the modernity of it all: the idea translates directly into defining force(s) with changes of distance between geodesics (in differential manifold theory).

Buridan states that impetus = weight x velocity (modern momentum). All the predecessors of Buridan thought one needed a force to keep on moving, but Buridan did not. Famous predecessors such as Hibat Allah Abu’l-Barakat al-Baghdaadi, who modified Avicenna’s theory, which followed John Philoponus believed in inertia NOT. They all followed Aristotle, who believed all and any motion died away, if no force was applied. (Not to say no Muslim ever invented anything scientific: the Uzbek ibn-Musa al-Khowarizmi crucially put the finishing touch on the zero, which he partly got from India, in the Ninth Century.)

Buridan’s pupil Dominicus de Clavasio in his 1357 De Caelo, pointed out that this extended to gravity:

“When something moves a stone by violence, in addition to imposing on it an actual force, it impresses in it a certain impetus. In the same way gravity not only gives motion itself to a moving body, but also gives it a motive power and an impetus, …”.

Buridan knew celestial bodies were moving from inertia: “God, when He created the world, moved each of the celestial orbs as He pleased, and in moving them he impressed in them impetuses which moved them without his having to move them any more…And those impetuses which he impressed in the celestial bodies were not decreased or corrupted afterwards, because there was no inclination of the celestial bodies for other movements. Nor was there resistance which would be corruptive or repressive of that impetus.”

By definition, inertial mass is what resists an applied force. The greater the resistance to a force, the greater the inertial mass of what it is applied to.


Buridan’s Revolution:

Buridan introduced p = mv, called it “impetus” and stated that it did not change if no force was applied. Thus Buridan buried the complete idiocy known as Aristotle’s physics. (That Aristotle could be a complete idiot at the mental retard level is philosophically, and historically capital, as Aristotle set in place the leadership system through celebrities, which we enjoy to this day).

Buridan’s Inertia Law is known as Newton’s First Law (because Buridan was from Paris, while Newton demonstrates the superiority of the English born three centuries later by attributing to him what Isaac did not discover).

More generally Newton asserted clearly his Second Law: dp/dt = F (where  F is the Force, by definition). It’s an axiom. (Weirdly the Second Law implies the First…)


Force = Deviation From Trajectory:

This is Buridan’s idea. It was taken over again by Bernhard Riemann, in the early 1860s (five centuries after Buridan’s death). In modern mathematical parlance, force is depicted by geodesic deviation. It’s this idea which is at the triple core of Einstein’s theory (with the idea that gravitation/spacetime is a field, and that it’s Newton’s theory, in first order).

So this is ultramodern: the idea got carried over in “Gauge Theories”, and, because there are several forces, there are many dimensions.


Thought Experiment Often Precedes Experiment: 

Yesterday I bought a (2015) book by a (British academic) historian of science. In it, the honorably paid professional asserted modern science started with Tycho in 1572. Tycho, a Count set his student Kepler onto the refined study of the orbit of Mars. Both Tycho and Kepler were 5 star scientists (differently from, say Copernicus or Einstein, both of whom too little inclined to quote their sources). So they were, because, differently from, say, Obama, they had strong personalities. Great ideas come from great emotions. Tycho believed the Ancients had lied. And he was right, they had lied about the orbits of the planets: observations with the same instruments gave different results from the ones the Ancients had claimed.

The preceding shows that this trite notion is profoundly false; the scientific revolution was launched by Buridan and his students (among them Oresme, Albert of Saxony), contemporaries and predecessors (including Gerard de Bruxelles and the Oxford Calculators). Some of their work on basic kinematics, the exponential and the mean theorem of calculus was erroneously attributed to Galileo or Newton, centuries later.

To believe everything got invented around the seventeenth century is not to understand how the human mind works. Experience has to be preceded by thought-experiment (even Einstein understood that). Buridan and his contemporaries did the preliminary thinking (while others were making clocks and hydraulic presses). All of this would become immensely easier after the invention of algebra and Descartes’ analytic geometry, true.

So let’s have a loving and admirative thought for Buridan, the main author of the scientific revolution, whose reputation was destroyed by the CATHOLIC STATE: Buridan’s astronomical reputation was destroyed by the Catho-fascists, more than a century after his death. That’s why the heliocentric system is attributed to an abbot from a rich family (Copernicus), instead of the master physicist said abbot was forced to read as a student.

Studying the history of science, and mathematics uncovers the fundamental axioms, in the natural order given by their obviousness.

Determining which ideas came first, and why is not about determining who is the brightest child, or most impressive bully in the courtyard. In 1907, Einstein made a big deal that he, Albert, was the discoverer of Energy = Mass (“E = mc2”). A careful inspection shows that this either reflects dishonesty, or misunderstanding on his part. Or both. I will address this soon, as I keep on studying mass and momentum.

Buridan put momentum at the core of physics, and thought-measured if dynamically. Momentum is still at the core: photons have momentum, but not mass.

It’s important to realize that many of the latest ideas in physics (all of “Gauge Theories”)  rest on an idea invented in Paris seven centuries ago. Not to slight it, or to heap contempt on all the noble Nobels. But, surely, the time has come for really new ideas!

Patrice Ayme’  

Beyond Cynicism, Reason

October 27, 2015

We have a lot to learn from the history of ideas and moods in Greco-Roman antiquity, and how it was entangled with the history of battles, empires, and the near destruction of civilization. We are clearly in a similar scheme. Except now it’s the biosphere itself, not just civilization, which is in peril. So let’s have no pity for our so-called “leaders”, and those who admire them.

In that light, Diogenes and the mental topology around him ought to be contemplated. The founding cynic Diogenes of Sinope, was of the opinion that people ought to behave more like dogs (or, even, mice). To this, I would add baboons. Understand what moves a baboon, shine a light on the human soul.

In particular, Diogenes’ followers would have sex in public. This was viewed as a much ridiculed oddity at the time. But Diogenes persisted loud and clear, even in the marketplace, responding: “he wished it were as easy to relieve hunger by rubbing an empty stomach” (Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers, Book 6, Chapter 46).

Diogenes believed that each individual would either be guided by reason, or, like a domesticated animal, she would be led by a leash. Diogenes, did not despise knowledge per se, but spited pretensions to knowledge which serve only domestication. He had the intuition that the logic of behavior (human and animal) was the master wisdom. And more can be said. Why don’t human beings poop in public? (Aside from “Sun King” Louis XIV, but he was certainly not human.)

A dog has got to do what a dog has got to do. However, the point of human, is that human does not have to do what a dog has got to do. A human ought not to do what a human ought to do: this is the difference with dogs. We are free, free to go against the grain, and that’s all the freedom we have, as free human beings.

Diogenes was labeled mad for acting against convention to the extent he did (allegedly by Plato). To this, Diogenes retorted that conventions often lacked reason: “Most people, are so nearly mad that a finger makes all the difference. For if you go along with your middle finger stretched out, someone will think you mad, but, if it’s the little finger, he will not think so” (Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers, Book 6, Chapter 35).

For Diogenes, reason clearly plays the central role. There is a report that Diogenes “would continually say that for the conduct of life we need the right reason or a halter”.  (Lives of Eminent Philosophers, Book 6, Chapter 24). A halter is something one puts around the head of a dog or horse to lead them around. So either the truth will make you free, or you are just cattle. Cattle ready to trample over civilization.

Diogenes’ influence was deep. He started a line of argument which denied motion (it evolved into Zeno’s paradoxes which have caught a second wind with Quantum Physics; Zeno founded the philosophical school known as Stoicism; probably being a stoic was best when subjugated by the “Hellenistic Kingdoms”, the dictatorship Antipater imposed by naval battle).

Diogenes was a harsh critic of Plato, disparaging Plato’s metaphysics and breaking away from theoretical ethics which only justified oligarchy.

“Plato had defined the human being as an animal, biped and featherless, and was applauded. Diogenes plucked a fowl and brought it into the lecture-room with the words, ‘Here is Plato’s human being.’ In consequence of which there was added to the definition, ‘having broad nails’” (LOEP, chap 40).

Diogenes insisted that true human beings lived in accordance with nature. He lit a candle in broad daylight, and proclaimed he was searching for a human being, as so few lived in accordance with nature. Life in accordance with nature made human beings fully rational.

This was indeed true. Plato the chicken let to Aristotle, who was worse: that famed philosopher played a direct role in the destruction of civilization, and why there are still “royals” in England, leading, at least symbolically, the worldwide plutocratic charade.

That Diogenes had an anti-plutocratic bend is clear. He was captured at some  point by pirates (long story), and ended his life in Corinth. Alexander so-called the Great, was thrilled to meet the famous philosopher. The thinker was basking in the sun. ‘Could I do anything for you’, asked Alexander. Diogenes replied to the exterminator of cities and states alike: “You could stand out of my sun”.

Not easily defeated, Alexander tried the rejoinder: “Were I not Alexander, I wish I could be Diogenes”. In answer, Diogenes stared at a pile of bones: “I am looking for the bones of your father but cannot distinguish them from those of a slave.”

You have to understand that this was the turning point of civilization in Greco-Roman antiquity: Greek philosophy, at its sharpest, was meeting the fascists, wealthy savage gangsters from the north, the Macedonians, rich from horses and gold mines. Macedonia was the world’s foremost sophisticated military.

Yet, the Greeks, led by Athens and Corinth, had the brains. Alexander, taught by Aristotle, was not too sure where he was standing. In the east was monstrous Persia, a hyperpower made of an archipelago of plutocracies (satrapies).

Alexander was hesitant about which course to follow, clearly. Alexander respected demographically vanishing Sparta, and fully resurgent Athens. Yet he annihilated Thebes (a move that would have helped Athens, actually, had a mild Alexander stuck around). Alexander went on to destroy Persia. He gave up on his attempt to reach the Pacific, after he discovered that India’s kingdoms could defend themselves.

Alexander then died, all too soon (a conquest of Arabia was being prepared). Alexander was perhaps assassinated by Antipater, Aristotle’s estate executor. Antipater, senior even to Alexander, certainly replaced Alexander and encouraged by Aristotle, destroyed Athenian democracy, replacing it by a plutocracy (only the rich could vote).

Antipater and the world Aristotle created, that of monarchies, thereafter ruled for around two millennia (although the Franks allowed small republics here and there, starting with Venice, then Firenze, Genoa, Switzerland, Escartons, Netherlands, etc., the first big break was the French Republic, a full acknowledgment that the Roman Republic was right all along).

Monarchies make no sense: if anything, being just the brain of one, they are dumb and weak against democracies (as the Swiss Canton demonstrated when they rebelled against the (Germanized)Roman empire ). So, for peoples to accept to be subjugated by individuals and their families, one has to make them stupid.

According to Diogenes, nature makes intelligent.

Thus, to reign monarchs (the Roman emperors in this case) had to fight nature and its gods. Switching to the fascist, cruel, demented and jealous Christian god was not enough. One had also to destroy the interface with nature, the body. Making it gross and smelly, reeked with lice and infections, was a good start.

In the fullness of time, the Catholics decided that anything having to do with the body was dirty. Some woman became a saint just because she never washed, and waited for her clothes to rot of as she piled more clothes on top. Her face was black with grime: she was lauded for that.

The Catholics were after the entire mood of the Greco-Roman civilization, and kept at it for more than eleven centuries: when they took the last Muslim kingdom in Grenada, their very fascist, cruel and demented majesties, Isabella of Castille and Ferdinand of Aragon, inventors of the Inquisition in Spain, closed all the 2,000 or so baths therein (disclaimer: an ancestor was ennobled by the Aragon king, 12 centuries ago).

So Diogenes was right: if one wants unreason, behaving unnaturally is a good start.

But now let’s go further than Diogenes: what is the interest of a sharp dichotomy between the public and private spheres? It enforces a morality, a sort of hygiene: just as it is good to wash one hands. Recent studies show that just washing hands would cut down child mortality by 40%, in the most destitute countries  (diarrhea kills more children than all other diseases combined). Symbolically, preserving a private sphere is a king of conceptual washing: it keeps some bodily functions and activities out of the public morality, thus segregates and hence weakens their influence, allowing for a more elevated society, let alone diarrhea free..

Any question?

Patrice Ayme’