Archive for the ‘Colonization’ Category

Syria, Garden Of Torturous Delights

May 24, 2016

What is going on in Syria? A zoo of human passions, and traditional patterns of history. A war is going on. There are simple wars, and complex ones. Syria’s war started simple, one dictator against his subjects, and it is now very complex, having become the war of all against all.

Big Bombs: Western Coalition Air Strike, Syria, 2015. The Islamist State Buries Underground

Big Bombs: Western Coalition Air Strike, Syria, 2015. The Islamist State Buries Underground

Initially the calm and secular Syrian society came of age, and a consensus was reached: the hereditary dictator got to go. However, the dictator, a trained doctor, son of tough and crafty tyrant, did not want to go, and those attached to him, all the way to Western Europe, in particular the City of London, did not want to go. Chess, Go, and other games people play have rules. War does not. War’s limit as those of the human spirit.

Don’t believe me? Remember then the Obama’s administration “signature strikes”: killing gatherings because terrorists also gather. On the face of it, the theory was as barbarian as anything in known history. Even Genghis Khan’s forces would massacre, but only after a fair warning: ”Surrender, or we will massacre you!” Even the Nazis, who did worse in secret, on a much larger scale, did not dare claim to be as vicious, for all to see.

Thus, definitively, progress is not a quiet, long stream. Instead it can go in full reverse.

Actors in Syria are now many: much of the Western world is involved, including Russia. Yet the motivations of Canada, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, US, Britain, France, Assad, etc.., are all different.

So what does Assad, initial master of that game, want? Initially, dictator Assad wanted just to stay in power, as all dictators do. But then, his strategy to free the Qur’an fundamentalists worked. He helped them, be it only by purchasing “their” oil, just like Turkey did (and sent back weapons, in the case of Erdogan; some people writing this in Turkey, got five years in jail, just for writing this…).

However, Assad is head of the Alawites. Alawites have their own Muslim religion. As the Qur’an promises to kill apostates and unbelievers, worshipping Mahomet and his god differently from one’s neighbor, is a grave, potentially lethal, fateful tragedy. Romeo and Juliet is nothing in comparison. The end result was that the Alawites were badly treated until the French showed up. Under the French, they quickly reached the highest spheres. Alawites have been reluctant to leave them ever since, especially considering that it’s not just a question of social status, but of survival.

Assad was able to get away with his savage repression of pacifist, secular civilians. Then he was able to get away with his manipulations of Islamists, freeing them and endowing them with enough power to become a justification to his brutal, homicidal rule.

Then a new mood surfaced: why not to just eradicate Non-Alawites?

How do I know (correctly guess) that such is the main motivation of Assad now? Too many strikes on schools and hospitals rather than enemy soldiers. That’s called reading between the facts.

So Assad is a monster, in the line of perfectly respectable historical monsters: just as Alexander the Great, or Little Father of the People Stalin, Assad sounds perfectly reasonable. Not to say that the “West” is not also an accomplice. In other words, it’s not just Putin who is a collaborator of genocide (Putin did save Palmyra, so he is not all bad… Far from it, on this subject).

And of course, Assad does not stand alone anymore than Hitler (or the Kaiser) did: when Cameron, France and the US stood ready to strike Assad, British MPs, copiously paid by the sort of fake prosperity the likes of Assad and his family bring to England, voted against striking him, blocking PM Cameron. Thus giving the pusillanimous Obama such cold feet, he had in turn to betray the French…

As we may see next, the mood of the so-called “West” is divided on the subject of striking monsters in a timely manner. In Syria as in many other places. Under the pretext of loud anti-”colonialism”, genocide is authorized… As it is perfectly compatible with the plutocratic doctrine, that evil should rule. Thus anti-”colonialism” is a fig leaf to hide the most significant naughty bits, namely free reins for torturous delights, hidden by tortuous denials.

Genocide of the mostly Sunni population of Syria is a delight many secretly savor. Too bad for the collateral damage.

Patrice Ayme’

How Civilizations Go Down. Why There Is Hope

January 2, 2016

Gloom and doom go only that far. A number of commenters, or authors such as Machiavelli, entertained pretty abysmal considerations on humanity and its future.

In the case of Machiavelli, pessimism was understandable: he rode two horses condemned to decline and fall, namely the Republic of Florence (which was turning into a plutocracy), and Caesare Borgia, Cardinal at 18 years of age, who later resigned his church position in an attempt to seize power in Italy, a place where Spain had invaded the south (freed centuries prior, by the Franks, from the Muslims), France was trying to hold onto Naples (but lost because the Spanish general in command was too good). Most of the peninsula was covered by forts and domains which had feuded for centuries.

Nowadays, we have grounds to be optimistic. I will explain why below. However with a caveat: history is now flowing extremely fast, as we are approaching a technological and computational, thus theoretical singularity.

We Already Have A Better Understanding Of What Brought Rome Down The First Time, We Can No Doubt Avoid It, The Second Time, With Even More Understanding

We Already Have A Better Understanding Of What Brought Rome Down The First Time, We Can No Doubt Avoid It, The Second Time, With Even More Understanding

There are three reasons why civilizations collapse: invasion, ecological collapse, plutocracy.

I use all the time analogies with Rome’s Decline and Fall, yet on a much grander scale than Edward Gibbon. I root firmly the Decline and Fall as starting in 200 BCE, with the rise of plutocracy. There are a lot of deep analogies between what happened then, and what is happening now.

Yet we also enjoy major differences with Rome. To avoid Rome’s fate, we have to cultivate these differences. (And our gaze turns towards the European Union.)

Rome was a quarter of humanity, and Roma was ALL the civilized, and Republican influence zone. Yes, China, India, Persia, and well before Egypt, were civilized. But only the only drowned and expired Sumerian cities could pretend to have a high Republican index: Sumer invented the bicameral system still in use today. Persia did not, China did not, and, as far as I know, neither did India.

But Rome, like the top Greek cities, was a Republic. However, most Greek cities crashed and burned within a century or so. Rome built a huge empire, and lasted so long, it’s not clear it ever stopped. Although it declined, and fell, it got up again, as the Franks engineered and observed. Thus Rome founded the present political system

Persia was advanced enough to seriously bother Greeks and Romans, it was only or equal civilizational level for a fleeting moment under Darius, and in the late Sixth Century (thus, 1,000 year later). (This is my own observation/theory, sure to rile up some out there!)

All the neighborhood of Rome was vastly inferior. Although the Celts were superior in ocean going ships and metallurgy, and even captured Rome in the Fourth Century BCE, their abominable religion was quite a drag.  Actually, it was such a drag, the Celts embraced Greco-Roman civilization even before Julius Caesar showed up with his ten legions.

The Persian religion, Zoroastrianism was very advanced, arguably more so than Christianism (which copied many of its elements, in particular the obsession with truth and the logos, thanks god). The Middle East got tied down by the instauration of “hydraulic dictatorships” all over. The Persian/Iranian/Mesopotamian ensemble was a vast military mess which never recovered imperially, thus politically, from the People of the Seas invasions.

Now the situation is quite different.

First, the USA is a EUROPEAN COLONY.Rome was not a colony; it was initially occupied by Etruscans, themselves one of the People of the Sea. But, at the same time, the Etruscans civilized Rome. Rome also got civilized by the “Magna Grecia”, the Great Greece of Southern Italy, stating in Nea Polis (Naples).

Second, the mother ship, Europe, gave birth to a gigantic empire. It’s not just that European colonies control the Americas and Australia. France, the USA and Britain Exclusive Economic Zones, EEZs, covers much of the world’s exploitable oceanic depths.

Although weakened by its own crazies (Prussia/Germany/Nazis, Mussolini, Franco, Lenin/Stalin and their subordinates), plus major American plutocratic maneuvering, and in a bad state presently, Europe not quite done yet. After all the good guys (French Republic and British pseudo-monarchy) won. Now the French Republican systems, and monarchies to the same effect, cover Europe. Germany is sister republic to France, in particular.

Third, the Roman Republican system spread way beyond Europe and her colonies. China and India, and most of the rest of the UN have actually adopted (and adapted) many of WESTERN civilization’s better sides. However, China is still a dictatorship, and (partly) India a mess.

Another difference with Rome starts with a similarity: Rome got in a huge ecological crisis, starting around 100 CE. The Romans could not understand what was happening. They said:”The world is getting old”. Well, what was happening is that Romans had exhausted the soils, and the mines. However we know what they did not: tremendous technological progress can enable to change exploitation regimes.

Thus, the fourth difference with Rome; a huge CO2, GHG, Climate Crisis is incoming, but everybody knows about it, and fixes are in sight. A crisis is an opportunity as the Chinese would say.

Hope? People have to learn from history, and that means, the real history. Hyper maneuvering by USA plutocracy happened in much of the Twentieth Century, and is still ongoing right now. People can’t understand that, as long as they don’t realize that, without American plutocracy, Hitler just won’t have happened. At least, not happened as catastrophically as he did.

But there is hope that people, thanks to the Internet, realize that they have been manipulated in both what they know, and what they can hope to achieve. In particular, Direct Democracy is in the best position to succeed ever. The Athenian Republic found difficult to achieve Direct Democracy, because it did not have the Internet. The average Athenian voter was one day’s travel away from the voting booth. Nowadays, the average voter has her, or his hand on the voting device, namely the smartphone. No more excuses.

Objections can be raised. The preceding was a partial answer to several commenters on this site, John, Aaron, GlouconX, Eugen… The latter jumped on Machiavelli to object to Direct Democracy; however, Machiavelli was not just an author and philosopher. Like Plato, and especially Aristotle, he was a vested ACTOR of the disasters he described, and thus deeply biased, all the way to the greatest depths of the human soul. People who have interest to be stupid, will be stupid. Be it only to forget the fools leading us by the nose. Direct democracy is the answer to stupidity.

However, there is snow outside and further comments will be delayed until enough snow will have been mastered by the imperialistic author of these lines. Hey, it may be the last snow ever, let’s enjoy a cold El Nino, while it lasts! Non-Linearity is ready to ambush us. Let’s build memories while we can, be it just to be melancholic later… being of many minds is what intelligence is about.

Patrice Ayme’  

Could We Colonize Mars?

October 7, 2015

Yes. There are no show stoppers. The main problem is how to get there fast, cheap and safe. That, in turn is an energy source problem. We need to go beyond chemical rockets (which were invented in China nearly a millennium ago).

Mars is a tempting prize. Mars colonization will double the extent of land humanity live on. Indeed the Red Planet is endowed with nearly as much surface area as all of Earth’s land surface combined (145 million square kilometers for Mars, 149 x 10^6 sqkm for Earth’s continents).

Mars’ rotation axis, over the eons, wobbles impressively. Right now, it’s half way (same inclination as Earth’s). But when the axis is fully inclined, my bet is that the poles melt. Then Mars has got to become much warmer, and wetter: the atmosphere would be full of H2O, water, a powerful greenhouse gas. Maybe life blossoms. Hence Mars is even more interesting than it presently looks (one could imagine life adapted to these super-summers).

Smaller, But Inhabitable Even Before Terraforming

Smaller, But Inhabitable Even Before Terraforming

 

Could we conquer the seas instead? Sure, we have to. However, it’s more difficult. How could it be more difficult to conquer the ocean? The average terrestrial ocean is 3,688 meters deep. This means that we have to handle, to live there, a pressure difference of 370 atmospheres. On Mars, as it is, the pressure is 1% of one atmosphere; that is just one atmosphere difference. A light spacesuit can handle Mars. But just going down 20 meters in Earth’s sea doubles the pressure problem we have on Mars.

Radiation on Mars, and getting there, is a problem: a year stay, with the trip, would augment the probability of getting cancer by 5%. NASA, and radiation workers’ limit is 3%. The average smoker doubles his cancer habit from his gaseous drug habit. Thus, by only sending smokers to Mars, and thus preventing them to smoke (the fuel debris smokers smoke clog air filters), one would vastly diminish their probability of them getting cancer.

The problem with Mars is how to get there. Getting in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) is already (very) difficult, expensive, chancy, and will stay so, barring huge advances in material science. We need better engines, better airframes, and, or, a space elevator. Work is going on, in a number of ways, from perfecting launching rockets from planes, to airbreathing reaction engines, to the simple Ariane 6 solution of switching to solid rockets (French and American ballistic missiles are 100% dependable, as they sit in submarines stuffed with thermonuclear bombs).

Some hope that space tourism (one day in LEO for $50,000, say) will provide incentives for cheaper ways to leave Earth. Maybe, but university departments working on materials built atom by atom, better get lots of money (such materials, for example nanomaterials such as graphene, can be hundreds of times stronger than steel; we need to make them work on a large scale).

Given energy, rocket fuel can be made on Mars in a number of ways. Thus, plenty of energy, plenty of fuel. There is plenty of water on Mars (the Curiosity rover found between 2% and 3% in the soil). At least, at the poles (and perhaps all over). Some universities are already bioengineering mosses and other plants to survive on Mars.

With existing technology, and materials, we (or, rather, robots) could build a Space Elevator on Mars. So Mars could turn into a very convenient outpost, while terraforming proceeds.

To get to Mars fast, and to have the plenty of energy we need there to fuel robots, which, in turn, will be able to dig in the ground and make vast caverns and the like (etc.), we need a concentrated energy source.

The only one imaginable energy source would be from small thermonuclear reactors. A number of companies and universities are working on these.

There should be a crash program  on these (while pursuing steadily ITER).

Mars had life and an ocean, for probably at least a billion years. Not having a core nuclear reactor, hence a protecting magnetic field and plate tectonic, Mars lost liquid water, warmth and most of its atmosphere (Venus has the same problem, although Earth sized). Mars is waiting the human touch to smile with exuberant life again. Colonization can expand diversity as it most often does (will cynics add perfidiously). Besides, a Mars polis would be an insurance policy.

The only way to not being able to colonize Mars? If civilization collapses first, it won’t happen. Unlikely? This is exactly where abusing fossil fuels is leading us.

Patrice Ayme’