Archive for the ‘Geography’ Category

Geo-historical Civilizational Logic

September 15, 2014

Abstract: Geography can dominate history. Examples abound. Civilization cannot just clash: it has to be defended by the sword, and by ideas which are even sharper than steel. Unfortunately plutocracy hate to see force, physical and intellectual, in command of We the People. This betrayal from class interest is how top civilizations go down: when plutocracy gnaws into civilization as the gangrene it is. The death blow is then given by the savages who are sure to come circling like hyenas. The latter is a symptom of the former.

Such hyenas brought down the Roman and Chinese state. Lest we be careful now, the Union of Savages and Thugs, with big titles, like president of Syria, or Russia, or the “Caliphate”, will engulf civilization. Let’s crush them when we still can (the “Caliphate” is only 20,000 strong, so could be literally exterminated, at this point). But we will crush them better if we also extinguish our plutocratic form of government.

Not Conquering Germania Magna Was The Proximal Cause Of Rome's Failure

Not Conquering Germania Magna Was The Proximal Cause Of Rome’s Failure

THE TEUTOBURG FOREST DISASTER:

The plutocratized Roman republic (aka “Principate”) suffered a psychologically shattering defeat at the Teutoburg Forest in 12 CE (just left of the G in Germania above).

Rome, as a real republic and democracy, had suffered much worse, even terrifying, defeats. However it was then, being a direct democracy, of a much stronger, much clearer frame of mind, and it rebounded with astounding efficiency.

Instead the Teutoburg defeat marked and accelerated an irreversible decay, as the Roman polity was taken in a pincer between exterior enemies and interior plutocrats. An army led by “princes” is much less effective than an army by the people, for the people… As the conquest of Germany required.

Some will object that the Franks, who conquered Germany after 507 CE, were led by kings. Right. But those kings were elected (more or less by the people). Nobody elected Augustus. Moreover, Frankish society was submitted to the equalitarian principle: the richest Frank was often elected king, but there was, or ought to be, no “nobilitas” notion among them; that point was made to the Pope around 740 CE by the son of Charles Martel, Pepin Le Bref.

Notice that the traitor (he had been a Roman officer) Arminius and his German army chose the location and time of the battle (which lasted three days). The miserable rain hindered the usage of Roman artillery; a swamp and a rise, the Kalkreise, prevented the maneuvering of the legions.

The treachery of it all (the legions were trekking back to their winter quarters) took Varus’ army was complete surprise.

GEOGRAPHY IS HISTORY:

The steppe which goes from Manchuria to Hungary allowed the Mongols to spill at least three times, in nine centuries, all the way to Central Europe (thus, having gathered immense power, they were able to build a giant empire, all the way to India, Japan and Indonesia).

Isolation from the Afro-Eurasian hyper continent, or, should I say, cesspool, meant that the Americas were not going to win the biological war between the former and the later. And so on.

I explained that a lot of the effervescent mentality which has festered around the place presently known as France has to do with the three giant trade routes between Southern and Northern Europe. The Alps and Carpathians, mighty mountain ranges, extend to the east over a thousand miles, blocking the way. Until the crisscrossing of wide rivers in the Ukraine-Russian plains. That, also blocked civilization’s penetration until the Vikings (“Rus”) used the waterways to enable profitable trade between Scandinavia and “Rome” (meaning Constantinople).

Nowadays, we are confronted to an old fashion modern Genghis Khan, Vladimir Putin, playing fast and loose, in a calculus where human lives are nothing. Putin has said a great number of things which should be taken literally: that Kazakhstan was not a state, that the Baltic countries had been a gift to the West, that the disappearance of the “Big Country” (USSR) was the “greatest tragedy of the Twentieth Century“, etc. His agenda is clearly to reconstitute the empire of the Czars at it maximal extent: he said as much, he will keep on coming for as much as he can get. This is not the “Cold War“. This is not a drill, either. This is war.

HISTORY AS A STAB IN THE BACK:

Scotland’s push towards independence from the London plutocracy is related to the struggle of Ukraine against the age old, vicious mentality in Moscow. That viciousness is how Moscow grew against, but also thanks to, the occupying Mongols (aka “Tartars”, or “Golden Horde”). Now that viciousness needs to be destroyed, as it is only compatible with a world war.

As facts of preceding centuries, even millennia, determine the flow of psycho-history, looking forward, it’s important to find out what those facts exactly were. In particular the exact history of the giant Greco-Roman republic-empire and its innovative successor, the “Imperium Francorum”-Renovated Roman Empire, is paramount.

Exactitude reveals that things could have turned completely differently, from small details: that’s known as the butterfly effect. From the flapping of a butterfly, a hurricane started (that’s probably impossible, for Quantum reasons, but let’s ignore that).

Out of the many penetrations by sharp objects which put an end to Julius Caesar’s life, only one was lethal, said his personal physician. Had Caesar survived, the history of Europe, and, probably, the world, would have been very different. Caesar had been on his way to a very ambitious military campaign which, knowing him, and his army, the best Rome ever had, may well have succeeded. The anticipated result was the extension of Rome over Persia, and all of Europe, west of the Caspian Sea.

THE MORE EXACT HISTORY, THE MORE FASCINATING:

Here is Eugen R Lowy, commenting on my site along these lines:

“The tragedy of Europe was caused by its two major rivers, the Rhine and the Danube. Since The Roman times it divided the Continent. Charlemagne was the first to unite Europe across the Rhine. Unfortunately it was not long lasting. The next one who would try to do it was Napoleon. But he was too eager to fight wars. Unfortunately at the time bungee jumping did not exist, that could potentially have pacified him.

The 20th century brought three unification experiences, the WWII of Hitler, then the Soviet- Stalin ( SS ) experiment, and the last one, the EU. Fortunately this one was the only successful one.

Let us hope that this time the [European] unification will thrive in spite of all those short sighted, petty minded but loud speakers.”

Eugen has it right, at least as far as the conclusion is concerned.

But the devil is in the details. Napoleon was tough: he charged at the head of his troops when his plan against the invading British was enacted at the siege of Toulon (1792), and was severely wounded in hand to hand combat. Later, as self proclaimed “emperor”, he took great risks, and had horses killed under him no less than 19 times.

Real history is often all too different, from what legends have it: the Romans were established across the Rhine, for centuries. As the Salian Franks were from one of the zones the Romans controlled (more or less), one could argue that they never left.

But, indeed, the (lack of) junction between Rhine and Danube was a huge military problem (especially as it extended the “Fulda Gap”: go ask Putin what it is, he knows!).

The Franks, three centuries before Charlemagne, had already united most of Franco-Germania, across the Rhine. What Charlemagne did was to mop up the last resistance in the most distant part of Germany, among the Saxons, and to push the frontier of Europe as far as (much of) the present European Union to the East. That made the European frontier short and defensible, stopping indeed Genghis Khan’s Mongols (the Central Asiatic invaders penetrated Poland, and Hungary, but collided there with united European forces, and, although they won in memorable battles, suffered unsustainable losses).

Calling WWII and Stalin “unifications” is farfetched: they were standard occupations and not the nicest. The situation with Napoleon was more complicated. Although he was a scum, he did not get the catastrophe started. Even greater scums, such as the pseudo-philosopher Burke, got the ball rolling.

WHY DID ROME NOT EXTEND MUCH INTO GERMANY?

The first Roman to cross into Germany was Caesar. He build a bridge across the Rhine, and went in to punish the Germans for having raided Gaul. He did this twice. However, the perpetrators tended to flee deep inside the immense forests.

Caesar thought about it, and rightly deduced it would never end. So he decided to catch the Germans from behind. A conspiracy of corrupt, idiotic plutocrats inside the Senate decided otherwise. 300 years later, the Goths were at the gates of Roma, the city of Rome herself (they finally conquered Roma another 160 years later).

Caesar’s grand-nephew and heir, Augustus, went back to the unimaginative method of the slow grind. The Roman penetration extended well beyond the Rhine, and even Danube. When three legions (18,000 elite legionaires, plus the supporting army) were annihilated by Arminius (“Herman”), they were going back to their winter quarters, and that trek back, along a narrow path, was in extreme Northern Germany, exactly were the hills met the immense swamp which preceded the North Sea. Over three days, in very bad weather, hindering Roman artillery, and a geography that prevented their maneuvering, the legions fought, until they met a final trap. Those survivors who had not escaped or committed suicide, were assassinated in human sacrifices.

So what happened after that?

Three things:

1) Augustus plunged into a nervous breakdown, losing his composure completely. He butted his head on the wall of the palace, begging general Varus to give him back his legions (Varus died at Teutoburg).

Against all common sense, Augustus counseled his successors to not try to control all of Germany. Yet, Germanicus (grand nephew Augustus, nephew and adoptive son Tiberius) knew better. He overruled the recommendation of Augustus to stay on the Rhine. Beyond the orders he got, he drove deep into Germany, with eight legions, and defeated Arminius for years. However, Germanicus was poisoned (by Sejanus; that was revealed only 15 years later, although widely suspected at the time, making Tiberius the object of hatred).

2) Increasing plutocracy in Rome meant ever less power for the army: that was evident by Marcus Aurelius’ reign (180 CE), when new German nations tried to break through the Danube towards Italia. Soon pieces of the army, starting with the Pretorian Guard, behaved increasingly like occupying and plundering bodies: this was the situation after the demise of the Severus dynasty (“Barrack emperors” period).

That enfeeblement, in turn, made the Germans ever bolder. By 250 CE, the Franks were raiding from ships, Viking style, throughout not just Gaul, but Spain and even North Africa, where they struck the populations by their appearance of blonde giants.

At the same time, the Goths commandeered a fleet of non-sea worthy ships, and rampaged for years all around the Euxine Sea (Black Sea), and even all the way down to Athens (which they plundered and burned).

3) Why were there so many Germans? Obviously agriculture in the North was getting more and more productive, allowing to support more and more people. At the same time, exposition to the Greco-Roman empire had partly changed, and militarized the German savages, and they yearned for civilization and the wealth of Rome. Spectacular victories over the Roman army inside the empire persuaded the Germans that the empire was richer, and weaker, than expected. The Persians deduced the same simultaneously, invading Mesopotamia and Armenia.

***

WE ARE ALL ROMANS NOW:

It’s nice to philosophize about the demise of the Greco-Roman fascist plutocracy known to itself as the republic. What is the morality of all this, looking forward? Two main things:

1) The strength of Rome was its republic, its direct democracy, before the lamentable Augustus tinkered with it to transform it in a military dictatorship. The real, original republic, was a direct democracy.

2) Vladimir Putin is much more dangerous than the Europeans realize. Not just because of himself, the quickly expanding forces at his command, and the will he has proclaimed to establish a much larger empire all over Eurasia (which he calls the “Eurasian Union”). But also because he demonstrates to the world that Europe is much richer, and much weaker, than it was thought to be. And it makes the entire world, including the Europeans, used to this idea.

Fortunately some in Europe understand this vaguely: the French sent to the Kurds very effective, easy to use armor piercing weapons, that were used very effectively by the Peshmerga. French military advisers are on the ground. The Americans, who were not exactly born yesterday, are in the lead this time (differently from the Saturday when Obama made an about face about bombing Assad, while French pilots cooked in their cockpits).

A question is what can the USA do to help rise the bellicose spirit of Europeans?

The answer is to advantage the French Republic and loudly cooperate with it, for all to see. When the Germans and other neutrals realize that France is getting rewarded because of her effective role in defending civilization, they may be keener in following suit.

There is also no way that France can play an important military role while being held back by the 3% deficit Eurozone spending rule (the USA turns around the deficit through Quantitative Easing, a stealth nationalization of much of the economy that does not augment the deficit, technically, while having the same effect, under another name, balancing the Fed’s books).

Ultimately, who decapitates whom at will, is what history is all about. Facts don’t have to be nice, they can just stand there, impervious.

It will be European Unification, under a superior philosophy, or it will be war, under superior barbarity: Putin knows this, and opted for the latter. That’s how professionally trained assassins tend to be.

One may ponder why it is that Augustus took the wrong turn. First he wanted peace and control. Second, he did not have a grand plan (as his reaction to the Teutoburg massacre showed).

Institutionally, Augustus decided little besides making Tiberius his heir (under (one of his wives) Livia’s influence). That was informal, and for many weeks which dragged by, after the Princeps’ death in 14 CE, nothing was done about the exact status of the Roman Republic: a nervous Tiberius, although the top general did not dare say he was taking command (“of the Senate”: Princeps), before he was begged to do so by an official delegation.

Some historians have suggested the obvious: the (informal) Roman Constitution was made for the City of Rome, not an empire with a fourth of humanity. The only way for the empire to go on was to militarize and dictatorize the Republic as much as necessary, as Augustus did.

That’s not true. The empire actually morphed in a galaxy of local cities and provinces which were rather free. The central Roman administration was very efficient. However, when the central state could not pay for the armies, trouble ensued (and this was true by 150 BCE). The armies did public works, not just defense. Augustus did not fix the problem of paying for a Republican army, instead he instituted a moral decaying dictatorship.

That moral decay presided the fall of Rome is not just my opinion: emperor Decius, in the Third Century held it, and asked the Senate to re-establish the office of censor: Valerian got the job (Valerian became emperor later, and made history by becoming the first and only captured Roman emperor; he was rumored to have become the stool Sasanian emperor Shapur I used to mount his horse).

FREE AS A PEACEFUL BIRD:

On the positive side, the strength of Rome was local self-determination, and the ensuing peace: before the Goths rampaged in the central empire (Illyricum, the present Balkans, and Greece), the region had known three centuries of peace.

This is why letting local nations (Scotland, Catalonia, Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, Kurdistan) being free is important: it was one of the ingredient of the Roman success. Notice also that the Franks duplicated that regionalization later. Yet, the Franks did the latter to excess: regionalization got so extreme, that it led to alienation, nationalism, and finally, war.

This is what the European construction wants to correct: a millennium, or more, of alienation. But it will not happen without weapons. Intellectual weapons, but also, against thugs such as Putin, real weapons.

Intellectual weapons are the most powerful: when Bush’s USA destroyed the Iraqi republic of Saddam Hussein, it fostered the sort of thugs that now reign there (the expression “Iraqi republic” is similar to the one, “republic”, that the Greco-Romans used to qualify the Greco-Roman state for centuries after Augustus). This was highly predictable for anyone with enough of a brain.

Republics work, but only when they can strike in their defense. Nowadays, whether know-nothing Americans, and half boiled Europeans realize it, the republic has no borders, it’s all over the planet.

It’s easy for Germany to be tired of the French deficit (4.4% predicted, whereas Germany is at 0%). Germany’s fate, and course correction, was determined by bombs, not deficit.

Work works, but, in the ultimate cases, war is irreplaceable.

Consider the invasion of China by the Mongols over 60 years. The Jin dynasty, Western Xia, the Dali Kingdom and the Southern Song (which fell in 1279 CE) worked hard, and were on the top of civilization (the Xia was the most powerful Buddhist state ever). Their successive defeats were not caused by lack of industry, but by lack of military skill caused by the asinine stupor a lazy plutocracy prefers in the People they subjugate (that observation was made by Mongol generals themselves, again and again).

That, in turn, was caused by the wrong ideas all over.

Wrong ideas are all over nowadays. Examples: the fact that children should be less educated in the West than in Shanghai; that the Qur’an is a book of peace; that international law does not apply to Moscow (or George Bush), and that’s not a civilization threatening event; that we are not at war with Putin; that there are (military) borders; that banks are not public utilities, that the fractional reserve system is not a subsidy to plutocrats; that Quantitative Easing is not communism for the wealthiest; that greed will solve everything; that Earth’s biosphere is not in the greatest crisis in 65 million years; that the parliamentary system in most of the West can be called “democracy”. And so on.

All these very erroneous ideas need to be beaten into shape.

Without getting the right axiomatic first, we won’t know where, or even why, to strike. This was the problem Rome had after Augustus. This is why most of Europe is supine, as threats add to injury. That’s why Obama admitted he had “no strategy” in Iraq and Syria.

That was, at least, honest. Let’s give him a hint: hit the enemy in Iraq and Syria, while extending peace feelers to the ex-supporters of Saddam Hussein’s regime (thus splitting the enemy). That’s the most moral thing to do.

The most moral thing to do, is always the best strategy.

Patrice Ayme

Geography Is Destiny

January 21, 2014

Abstract: The vastly different geographies of the USA and Europe explain many things, and seem to require greater variety of behaviors than observed. Or how geographic destiny can lead both to exploitative ecstasy and conservative futility.

***

Many highly educated Europeans who migrate to the USA affect contempt for the old continent. That alleviates their remorse. Indeed they earn higher incomes in the USA’s jungle, most hospitable to the most educated (as long as said education can be sold!).

This weekend the New York Times revealed that the salary of Medical Doctors in some medical specialties average above 900,000 dollars, nearly twenty times the average family income in the USA. It’s of course just the tip of the iceberg. One of the insurance executive Obama has put in charge of covering the uninsured with his “philanthropy” earned more than 100 million dollar last year. That makes him of great counsel at the White House.

This is of course inconceivable in Europe. Something also inconceivable in Europe is the richness of North America.

Oil & Gas Shales Everywhere, That’s Smart!

Oil & Gas Shales Everywhere, That’s Smart!

But then so is the fact that one citizen of the USA out of six has no health insurance. That means one out of six citizens show up to the emergency room only when the cancer has grown too big, or the heart has failed too much.

Both facts are related. Abusive exploitation brings elation to the exploiters, desperation to the exploited. If the elation can leverage more power than the desperation, the exploitation goes on.

Sometimes, it’s the land that gets exploited. Fracking is devastating giant regions of the USA, but it does not matter, because the USA is giant. The USA is nearly the same surface area as Canada, the world’s second largest country (much of Canada is hopelessly frozen wastes, though). Nobody cares about what is going on in remote places of the Dakotas, Wyoming or Texas.

Fracking Near Riffle In The Rockies, Colorado: Where Is Everybody?

Fracking Near Riffle Rockies, Colorado: Where Is Everybody?

Wyoming is actually slightly larger in area than Great Britain (253 K square kilometers versus 243 K) however its population, about 550,000 people , is less than 1% of Britain’s 64 millions. Thus fracking in Kent does not compare with making a lot of pollution roughly anywhere in Wyoming.

The European Union, with a bit more than half a billion inhabitants, is not even half of the area of the USA, with roughly 320 million. Even more strikingly, the population of the USA is actually concentrated in less than half of the country. Many states in the USA are mostly empty, although many of these have a wonderfully temperate climate.

India, with more than three times the population of the USA, is a third the area. So about ten times the density. There again the density is not even at all, and the resources vastly inferior (but for… Thorium, hence the Indian Thorium program.).

At this point the economy of the USA is lifting up, because the energy production of the USA has been skyrocketing (both the energy used inside and the one sold outside, such as coal). This is deliberate. Any American business publication worth its salt, explains that the strategy of the USA is to render energy production cheaper, and more profitable, no holds barred. Obama’s EPA cracks down on coal’s pollution to better encourage its exports, pushed by fracking.

After all, as I have long explained, it’s the exploitation of oil in the USA, starting in the mid nineteenth century Pennsylvania,  that was perhaps the major advantage of the USA.

(Without Texas oil, generously provided by his plutocratic friends, Hitler would have been incapable of invading in Spain with Franco’s army, and his fascist helpers. That used to amuse Adolf a lot. He lost his sense of humor on September 3, 1939. Then he declared he would only wear a drab grey tunic until the war was won.)

Fracking brought the cost of natural gas in the USA down to one third of the world’s price (gas is dangerous to transport by ships, so it mostly stays in the USA). Displaced USA coal production is massively  sent to gullible Germany (and soon, China).

Of course, lots of methane leaks. Measurements show that the powerful greenhouse is smothering the southern USA, and thus, the planet. But there again, and that’s left unsaid, is that a mighty greenhouse would advantage the USA… Or at least that’s what USA strategists apparently think. In their stupidity, they see that most of frozen Alaska (more than a third of the EU’s area) will become balmy, and that war has always advantaged the USA. They forget little details, such as Florida under water, and California roasting (greatest drought ever unfolding there, second year in a row).

Last year, the USA added the equivalent of four nuclear reactors, in solar photovoltaic power alone.

All of this will have an effect. Meanwhile, propelled by all this energy, the population of the USA augments by three million a year. (Never mind if the death rate related to childbirth in the USA is nearly thrice that of the EU: pediatricians are the worst paid doctors in the USA.)

To not become completely irrelevant, powers such as the EU will have to use different energy strategies. However, at this point, it has just been all about conservation, and that maybe the main trouble of Europe’s economy.

Let me repeat slowly: the rise of man has been the rise of what I call AWE, Absolute Worth Energy, the energy at disposal to effect a worthy task. A related, but grosser notion, the energy at the disposal of any single human being has constantly augmented(The easiest way to do that is simply to produce more energy, overall; that proved difficult in the Late Roman empire, or 1300 CE Europe).

To diminish the AWE is just impoverishment. To augment the AWE without augmenting energy production is difficult, yet this is what Europe has chosen to do. It becomes outright impossible without new technology. The Photo Voltaic effect discovered around 1830 by a French physicist is new. But not wind and water mills, which were already central to the European economy in the Middle Ages.

Thus it is astounding that Europe does not have active research and development in, say, Thorium reactors. Just digging giant holes in Germany while scrapping Appalachian mountains to feed German power plants with coal is assuredly not the key to a better future.

Much of the German error in behavior from 1871 to 1945 CE had to do with forgetting that Europe was not the USA, thus not realizing that behaviors that had proven profitable in the New World would not prove so in the Old Continent. In a way the same sort of error is made to this day. This time, it’s not about killing the Indians, but, rather, about living like Indians. Squeezing one’s belt can go only that far.

Patrice Aymé

Great Extermination, Big Nation, Little Minds?

September 11, 2012

SUPERIOR MILITARY BIG EMPIRE MAKES, BUT NOT CIVILIZATION:

  It’s 9/11, so we should celebrate, I mean commemorate, right? It’s not as if someone like me did not see it coming. I don’t have to commemorate in silence, because I have lots to say that is relevant, to avoid much greater horrors, looking forward (concentrate on Fundamentalist thermonuclear USA sponsored Pakistan for a hint).

 Thus I commemorate by telling the truth about the aggression of Washington DC against the Republic of Afghanistan, starting in the mid 1970s and related, more fundamental, conflict generating issues, such as foaming at the mouth nationalism, as made pathetically manifest in the deluded 2012 democratic and republican conventions.

  When nationalism blinds understanding, it’s evil. The plutocrats, and the corporations they own, irresistibly attracted by the minerals of Afghanistan, have first operated discreetly to create mayhem in central Asia, and then played USA nationalism as a violin, to get what they want; the greedy terror state they own and pay for.

  By coincidence, a day after I criticized Obama for fantasizing about the “USA is the greatest nation” Robert Kaplan published the major article in the weekend Wall Street Journal about why the USA is such a great nation. One would expect the Wall $treet Journal to extoll furiously the grandeur of the USA, and the glory of capitalism, and its armies, as Obama and Biden did last week, in an orgy of imperial self satisfaction. Well, think again. Most people don’t become rich by being idiots 24/7.

  Kaplan says that the pre-eminence of the USA is a lot about occupying a big, wonderful, special place. So make a note of this: while democrats, supposedly on the left, are screaming their heads out that the USA is a great, incomparable Reich, thanks to the intrinsic genius of its great race and its plutocratic ways, the Wall Street Journal, yes the journal of Wall $treet, more humbly conclude that it is all about enjoying the pleasures of treasure island. Kaplan observes:

  ” The U.S. itself is no exception to this sort of [geographical] analysis. Why are we the world’s pre-eminent power? Americans tend to think that it is because of who we are. I would suggest that it is also because of where we live: in the last resource-rich part of the temperate zone settled by Europeans at the time of the Enlightenment, with more miles of navigable, inland waterways than the rest of the world combined, and protected by oceans and the Canadian Arctic.”

  The resources of the USA have indeed proven, so far, practically infinite. No doubt, the wasteful habits of the culture of the USA come from that. And no doubt wasting resources has proven a profitable multiplier. Such as when wasting the buffalo, which, in turn, starved the well armed Plains Indians, a helpful factor in their genocide, that movie goers who watched “Dancing With Wolves” may remember.

  For most of the age of oil, the USA was the world’s primary oil producer. Not because USA citizens are geniuses, but because there is oil in the USA from the North-East, to the Los Angeles Basin in the extreme South-West. It’s something about the ground, not the hogs.

  This generosity with oil was most useful to clients of the USA plutocrats and corporations, such as Adolf Hitler, and his thousands of tanks and planes. Hitler started his invasions propelled by Texas oil…(Sold to him in spite of the Neutrality Acts. ) That was crucial to the self described “French-haters“. In geography is not just reality, but the impact of past and present philosophy:

***

WORLD LARGEST COUNTRIES BY LAND AREA:

1 Russia: 17 million square kilometers.

2 Canada: 10 million sq kms

3 USA: 9.6 sq kms

4 China: 9.6 sq kms

5 Brazil: 8.5 sq kms

6 Australia: 7.7 sq kms

7 European Union: 4.3 sq kms

  The first six largest countries are all recent empires established by military power (whereas the EU was established by debate). About two-thirds of Chinese territory was conquered over people who have fought the Han (most of the PRC’s population), for millennia. The Tibetans, for example, controlled much, or most of “China” for centuries. So did the Mongols and the Manchu. No wonder the Chinese government is not open to minority rights, self determination, and floods the exterior regions with Hans.

  The case of China is not the one where military invasion is the most conspicuous, because, after all, the Chinese have been fighting over China for as long as Rome existed.

  Russia was bottled west of the Urals until 1700 or so. Now Russia controls a land area four times larger than the entire European Union. Russia will be able to hold onto this immensity either by becoming part of the EU, or by deploying (extremely) excessive military force indefinitively (in other words, fascism at home).

  Let’s look at the other four. If one goes back 250 years, one notices that the ethnic composition of the land masses above changed completely over these centuries. The original inhabitants were (mostly) wiped out. Compare French New Caledonia, half made of descendants of the original population, and Australia next door, where the aborigines are mostly gone and the object of genocidal policies even in the 1960s or 1970s. By the official definition of genocide, which applies when one separates children from their parents. Canada used the same genocidal policies, just as recently. The USA had physically eliminated the Indians much earlier.

  One can classify the large empires in three groups. One, made of China, is actively oppressive. that means China did not yet exterminate the 100 or so ethnic groups that cramp the acts and empire of the dominant Han. Another, group, Russia, Brazil, is a mix of invasion and elimination (remember Stalin’s massive, murderous deportations). There are still natives left, and a tension in the air. The rest, made of Canada, USA, Australia has, in practice, eliminated the natives (except in a few zones, where they are shown as counter-examples of little consequence). Ethnic cleansing, at its most thorough.

Some will say that’s instant history. But yesterday’s history makes today’s philosophy

***

IF WE KILL THEM, THEY WILL GIVE US WHAT WE WANT: 

  How do we abstract that? Holocausts work. Can we propose a more general abstract from this? FORCE WORKS. That’s not surprising, but the fundamental fact of human evolution.

  Some who know basic classical mechanics will shrug that such is the definition of work: the application of force over an extent of space. This is an example where the categories found by deep thinking in the hard fact sciences can be readily used in the “soft” sciences.

  People on the “left”, would be “progressives” and similar types, do not like to be reminded of this principle, that force works, nowadays. Their excuse is that the fascist, Bolshevik style revolutions, which naturally abused force, being fascist proved to be, well, fascist, and abusive. To the point that they made a bad situation worse: it’s unlikely that the Czar’s regime would have been as bad as what Lenin put in place. By a very long shot. Indeed, fundamentally, it’s the Prussians who attacked Russia on August 1, 1914, who ended up putting Stalin in place. It would never have happened otherwise.

  But the truth is otherwise. In truth, they have learned to be happy to be pawns. Forgetting to apply force is inhuman. One does not have to go bloody in the streets, Lenin style. The most important revolutions are spiritual, mental, brainy.

  Thus the Indignes (Indignados, reduced semantically to “Occupy Wall Street” in the USA) movement is (was?) a good thing. Do we need president Romney to resuscitate it? Well, except for a severe degradation of the economy, there will be no president Romney. just singing the praises of Obama whatever he does not only will not bring progress, but an ever deepening regression down the hell of plutocracy. opening up like a giant, civilization devouring caldera.

  And just as the idiocy and jingoism of the Athenian People brought the defeat of Athens, and ultimately democracy, so it would be again.

  Mental force can be as quiet. A teen age French physicist made sparks in his father’s lab, and observed carefully how an electric circuit reacted. Thus, in 1839, less than 200 years ago, Alexandre-Edmond Becquerel discovered the Photo Voltaic effect. So is real innovation: a deep affair of the mind.

  In 2012, the USA will install about 2,500 Mega Watts of Photo Voltaic panels, more than two nuclear reactors. Solar power is now 20 times cheaper than it was when Jimmy Carter put solar panels on top of the White House (Reagan had them removed, because he hated the sun, as pertains those who love the Dark).

  Thanks to Monsieur. Becquerel’s innovation.

***

MENTAL FORCE IS THE GREATEST FORCE:

  Human beings are spiritual creatures. Most of what they do, they do, thanks to their minds. Obama, for whatever reason, some tied to his inexperienced, babe-in-the-woods, background, advantaged the banksters, the Military Industrial Complex and other dark forces in his first four years.

  Some will scoff, they will sneer that the Military Industrial Complexes are what allowed the creation of the world’s largest empires (exposed above), so the MICs are important creative forces (for good, or evil). They create facts on the ground. Those who disagree are just enemies to be, at best, ignored and despised.

  Empires create facts on the ground, thus in the minds.

  Indeed, it is important to realize that force can be applied to spiritual structures, not just material ones (the connection between both notions has to do with the fact that the spiritual world is actually brain based, that means, based in physical structures in the brain).

  Just as force can be applied on mental structures, so can inertia. The main problem of the Obama presidency, so far, has been that, instead of impelling momentum towards the forces of progress, it has, wittingly or not, imparted momentum towards the forces of Darkness. (And his debates about health care and banks, or Afghanistan, were shrouded in fog, mirrror, smoke and impenetrable committees. For example, what’s the name of the Death Panel at the White House? And if it kills citizens, it clearly has turned the executive branch into the executor branch, and overlaps another branch of government, Justice…)

  In all this I am not faulting necessarily Obama. After all, he was just parachuted into the presidency. But where is the rest of the progressive troops? Who is pushing Obama to the left? The Tea Party elected many representatives (Ryan an example). Where are the representatives representing “Occupy Wall $treet“?

***

WE’RE HYPER NATIONALISTIC & IGNORANT, WHAT COULD GO WRONG?

  A typical  pseudo progressive commented on my preceding essay:

  “…corporations are behind everything this writer [Patrice Ayme] says is happening. This is one big worldwide mob at work. Obama is just a tool of corporations, as have Presidents been before him. My husband & I have made scathing remarks about Obama and how he didn’t deliver on many things he claimed he would. But the level of scathing remarks of this person [Patrice Ayme] clearly shows a bias and hatred. …even though people are lulled by the rhetoric of positive speech, it’s still positive speech that people need to hear to jerk us out of fear, hopelessness and apathy. Our thought processes need to be elevated. …America is both the greatest nation on earth, from the standpoint of innovation, technology, and conveniences. At the same time, we are also the most corrupt and damaging force in the world. You cannot have one without the other in this world of opposites unfortunately. “

  Pseudo progressives tend to confuse “bias and hatred”, for what is simply… extremely firm advice to my good friend Obama (one voice against a mob of banksters and sycophants!). The text above is typical: after calling Obama a mobster, I am pilloried in the name of… an orgasm of wishful thinking and crazed jingoism.

***

USA AS INNOVATION GREATEST? THINK AGAIN!

  In truth, the USA has not been as innovative as the leading Western European nations. As far as the key breakthroughs. It’s mostly the huge USA market that makes USA products successful. Germany and Britain flew jets before the USA.

  It’s only by distorting reality that the USA is made to look more intellectual that it really is. A lot of USA superiority is not just from dominating a big virgin continent, but also, simply, by having a big market. For example the neon tube was invented in France, but even the French visiting Vegas do not know this, and the French inventors did not win the patent battle with the USA exploiters.

  At least Steve Jobs had the honor of thieves: “We have always been shameless about stealing great ideas.”—PBS Documentary, Triumph of the Nerds, 1996. I have met Venture Capitalists-engineers, in the Silicon Valley who told me the same, smiling that most of their jobs was to go to Europe and steal ideas in the smaller markets there.

  OK, some major innovations arrived too early, for the USA to play a role. Such as French Hugenot and doctor Papin, inventing the piston steam engine, and the first heat engine powered vehicle.

  Papin’s inventions the English stole for their greater renown, so we measure power in Watts and not Paps (17 C). This is all the more spectacular as it is a French lady  Gabrielle Émilie Le Tonnelier de Breteuil, marquise du Châtelet, who definitively demonstrated the concept of energy (the core of modern physics). Even Newton did not find anything that important.

  As her lover Voltaire said to Fredrick II of Prussia, du Châtelet was “a great man whose only fault was being a woman”. Also French. So the Anglo-Saxons are on their knees singing the praises of Newton, they don’t even know why, just that it is civilized to do so. A man. White. English. Master of the Mint (he switched England to the gold standard).

  So the France played the crucial role in the domestication of energy. The first cars (truly steam tanks commissioned by the French royal army), were followed by the first balloons (in Versailles) and a century later, the first motorized airplanes (Avion I, II, and III, of Ader, also a military program).  Irène Joliot-Curie, Chemistry Nobel Prize winner (1935), for the transmutation of elements followed this by discovering the nuclear chain reaction, that is nuclear energy, in 1937.

  Once again, for reason of quasi rabid anti-French bias, the discovery of nuclear energy is attributed by the dominant Anglo-Saxon plot, eager to make the French pass for simpletons, to those to whom Irène Joliot-Curie taught the reaction (although with lots of difficulty, because Hahn and Meitner were not as bright, and the former’s relation with Nazism far from klar).

  The French nuclear bomb program, started in January 1938, had to migrate to England and then Manhattan (Manhattan Project), for obvious reasons.   Later Anglo-Saxon political leaders (Churchill, etc.) thought about caging all French top physicists, because, in their anti-French rage, they thought they would tell Stalin how to make nuclear bombs. The scientific leader of the project was Italian Enrico Fermi, another non USA, anti-fascist Nobel Physics winner.

  And so it is for a lot of innovations. Photography, both black and white, and color was invented in France (the French government bought the patents, and put the discovery at the disposition of mankind”). 

  Basically all the basic ideas in cars were developed in France and Germany, from the internal combustion engine (Swiss with hydrogen, then French with gasoline, and then patented to Daimler) to front wheel drive (Citroen) and radial tires (Michelin).

  Same with planes (and that’s why much of the aircraft vocabulary is French)

  The same extent to science. And it’s not just about the Nicolas Léonard Sadi Carnot engine and the basics of thermodynamics.

  Let me say in passing that it is astounding how much the French did for energy, practically, conceptually, and mathematically, I discovered when writing this! If one adds the discovery by Laplace of the Laplacian, core of modern physics’ manipulations, the French pretty much discovered everything important about energy.

  Most of the ideas having brought the big physics breakthroughs (Relativity, Quantum), came from France (Relativity principle, Quantum principle), Germany (Quantum of Light, Gravitation as curvature), Britain (Atom model, QED), with important Irish (Equations of Relativity) and Dutch (Lorentz) contributions. The significant USA contributions were Michelson-Morley (no ether drag, although that was known from French Fizeau too) and the (accidental) confirmation of De Broglie’s deep inspiration.

  USA propaganda twists reality badly. During WWII Nazi cruise missiles sank even Allied battleships. Why? Germans had discovered Germanium (I am not making this up) transistors in the 1930s… So even the transistor was as much an invented in the USA as apple pie.

  What’s left for a great Americano-American innovation? The laser. But there again, it turns out Europeans did the heavy lifting, and USA citizens put up the last decorations. Thanks to Einstein’s discovery of optical pumping, on paper, and its practical invention, with directed stimulation of radiation by light, in Paris, rue d’Ulm, by Alfred Kastler, and his group.

  Kastler got a solitary Physics Nobel in 1966 for that key invention, which made the laser quasi obvious (although that near trivial consequence, the laser, got discovered at Columbia U in New York, and a Nobel was attributed, there was a legal fight, and the one who did not get the Nobel got the judgment in his favor!)  

  I do not want to denigrate the USA as all too many in the USA view as a mission from god (that would be Wall $treet) to denigrate France, but the USA is a society less carried away by deep thinking. Some will scoff, and point at all the Nobels and the classification of universities, from Shanghai University. But those notions are related, big time and non linearly, to plutocracy.

The Nobels are not just given by Sweden, a nation that collaborated with Hitler and its Anglo-Saxon plutocratic sponsors as early as the 1930s (see the Assange affair for how low Sweden can sink, although the collaboration with Hitler was so great that France and Britain had decided to invade Sweden in 1940). The Nobel committee in Physics, for example, is mostly made of USA physicists. Same in economics. And all intellectuals dream of being paid by the hyper rich USA plutocratic universities, so they are anxious to please those potential clients for their wares.

The process is self feeding and vastly overestimate the intellectual prowess of plutocratically managed countries.
 ***

GEOGRAPHY IS NOT JUST PHYSICAL, BUT HUMAN:

  As Kaplan puts is in the Wall $treet Journal:

“As a way of explaining world politics, geography has supposedly been eclipsed by economics, globalization and electronic communications. It has a decidedly musty aura, like a one-room schoolhouse. Indeed, those who think of foreign policy as an opportunity to transform the world for the better tend to equate any consideration of geography with fatalism, a failure of imagination.

But this is nonsense. Elite molders of public opinion may be able to dash across oceans and continents in hours, allowing them to talk glibly of the “flat” world below. But while cyberspace and financial markets know no boundaries, the Carpathian Mountains still separate Central Europe from the Balkans, helping to create two vastly different patterns of development, and the Himalayas still stand between India and China, a towering reminder of two vastly different civilizations.

Technology has collapsed distance, but it has hardly negated geography. Rather, it has increased the preciousness of disputed territory. As the Yale scholar Paul Bracken observes, the “finite size of the earth” is now itself a force for instability: The Eurasian land mass has become a string of overlapping missile ranges, with crowds in megacities inflamed by mass media about patches of ground in Palestine and Kashmir…”

  That, to make it clear, is an allusion to 200 millions fanatical, thermonuclear armed Pakistani, and their best friends have been the plutocrats of the USA. USA plutocrats brought with them immensely greater gifts. than the Greeks could ever imagine. (Ironically, it’s USA plutocrats, Goldman-Sachs, who brought gifts to Greek crooks. Curiously enough the eurocrats, so good at making European People suffer, have forgotten to visit pain onto Goldman-Sachs. Actually Goldman got rewarded, as two super Marios, Monti and Draghi, are now piloting Europe, among other Goldman alumni.

  Pursues Kaplan: “Even so seemingly modern a crisis as Europe’s financial woes is an expression of timeless geography. It is no accident that the capital cities of today’s European Union (Brussels, Maastricht, Strasbourg, The Hague) helped to form the heart of Charlemagne’s ninth-century empire. With the end of the classical world of Greece and Rome, history moved north. There, in the rich soils of protected forest clearings and along a shattered coastline open to the Atlantic, medieval Europe developed the informal power relations of feudalism and learned to take advantage of technologies like movable type.”

  It was also technology. The mastery of steel of the Gauls (and thus the Franks) was such that the very heavy ploughs necessary to dig in that heavy soil could be constructed , pulled by bio engineered oxen and giant draught horses, harnessed in new ways.

***

CIVILIZATION IS SUSTAINED, LONG TERM, BY, AND ONLY BY, CORRECT PHILOSOPHY:

  An area where the USA lags increasingly is anything touching to the philosophical. This area, of course is, by far, the most important to allow the continuation of civilization. For example, as the Maya went down, because of drought and ecological devastation, instead of thinking deep, they went to each other’s throats.

  And we have counter examples. When Rome fell to the Gauls, the entire Senate put on its most magnificent clothes, ivory staff by the side. All the Senators sat on ceremonial seats, in a vast courtyard. They took the thinkers’ pose, pinching their chins in their right hands. They stood standing completely still.

  The Gallic warriors , shock troops, armed to the teeth, covered with fine  steel mail, and light steel helmets, with their giant steel swords, the world’s best, invaded the courtyard and with their horses clinging with the brand new tech of Celtic iron shoes. The Gallic shock troops were stunned. All of Rome had been open, and evacuated, except for the fortress of the Capitol hill, symbolically held by a garrison.

  Why were all the Senators there? Why is this courtyard? What did they want to prove? And why this ridiculous pose, anticipating Rodin’s thinker by 23 centuries? What were all this most prestigious leaders of Rome thinking? Striking a pose? What were those past consuls trying to show to the finest Gallic warriors?

  The eldest Senators of Rome were trying to show to themselves, to all of Rome, that they had failed, that they had collectively failed, that the mental system, the strategies that they had advocated, for decades, were drastically erroneous. a global re-think was in order. The top mental leadership of Rome had got to be decapitated.

  They were there to offer their lives, to sacrifice them to the cognitive failure that they had committed. The Gallic warriors milled around, astounded, feeling. deep down that something immense was in evidence.

***

9/11: FRUIT OF THE DELIBERATELY ERRONEOUS WAYS OF USA PLUTOCRACY:

  The increasing imbalance is demonstrated by the rising inequity and inequality in the USA, all over the place, not just wealth and income, but also in health, justice, and education.

  This is not just a USA story, as USA clout is such, and the control its plutocracy exerts on allied plutocracies, all over the world, is such, that the cancer started in the USA has become globally metastatic.

  Hey, it’s 9/11, so we should celebrate, I mean commemorate, right? So I commemorate 37 years of the war of the USA against the republic of Afghanistan, with a particular thought for Prince Harry who is keen to demonstrate that it is a patriotic duty for a plutocratic Brit to shoot Afghans to death from his big armored helicopter, while occupying Afghanistan.

  2,700 died on 9/11, whereas more than a thousand times as many Afghans were killed since the beginning of the armed USA intervention in Afghanistan. USA plutocrats and their agents are poised to recolt trillions in minerals, as long as the USA military stay in Afghanistan, after NATO much advertized departure in 2014 (The French, disgusted, are already removing their attack army, they will leave only advisers).  

  As Obama put it: “We work harder and smarter than anybody else.”

  Error for the many, profits for the few.

***

MILITARY MEANS ARE ULTIMATE  TO DOMINATE GEOGRAPHY:

  Here is Kaplan again:

  “If you want to know what Russia, China or Iran will do next, don’t read their newspapers or ask what our spies have dug up—consult a map. Geography can reveal as much about a government’s aims as its secret councils. More than ideology or domestic politics, what fundamentally defines a state is its place on the globe. Maps capture the key facts of history, culture and natural resources.

  Maps capture the key facts of history, culture and natural resources…

  In this very brief survey of the world as seen from the standpoint of geography, I don’t wish to be misunderstood: Geography is common sense, but it is not fate. Individual choice operates within a certain geographical and historical context, which affects decisions but leaves many possibilities open. The French philosopher Raymond Aron captured this spirit with his notion of “probabilistic determinism,” which leaves ample room for human agency.

  But before geography can be overcome, it must be respected. Our own foreign-policy elites are too enamored of beautiful ideas and too dismissive of physical facts-on-the-ground and the cultural differences that emanate from them. Successfully navigating today’s world demands that we focus first on constraints, and that means paying attention to maps. Only then can noble solutions follow. The art of statesmanship is about working just at the edge of what is possible, without ever stepping over the brink.”

  Well, we are going over the brink.

The human engineered poisoning of the atmosphere with CO2 and other, even more vicious greenhouse gases, has a superexponential character to itself, that will become very obvious, all too soon. The Military Industrial Complexes have a great future, coming up.

And another thing. All too many, especially on the supposedly progressive left, but also on the self satisfied right, behave as if caring what’s all it takes. Yet, to really care, means to be aware. And of the harsh realities, first of all. If one wants to act well, one needs the facts good.

***

Patrice Ayme

Alsatian Lessons

August 9, 2012

NO PROGRESS MEANS REGRESSION, & REGRESSION MEANS COLLAPSE

The magnificent Haut Koenigsbourg, Alsace is a testimony of what a European Middle Age castle could be (the work on it started in the Twelfth Century). A real Neuschwanstein. Much of that monument is made of pink sandstone. Giant towers, on the very top of a mountain dominating the Alsatian plain.

Koenigsbourg enjoys more than half a million visitors a year, it is one the ten most visited monuments in France. Koenigsbourg was captured by the Swedish army during the Thirty Years war, and abandoned thereafter, until it became a tourist site in Nineteenth century France. The word “Koenigsbourg” sounds German, but it’s part Frankish (“bourc” is Frankish, Koenig ubiquitous).

Koenigsbourg: Military-Industrial beauty for all to see.

It is often said that Alsace is shared between two countries, France and Germany. However, it’s significantly more complex than that. Both countries recognize that Charlemagne was their common emperor by 800 CE.

And Charlemagne was more than that.

Charlemagne was not just any emperor: Carlus Magnus was emperor of the “renovated” Roman empire. And “renovated” does not mean just refurbished, but modernized, made again-new. The big difference between the empire of the Franks and Greco-Roman antiquity is that the socio-economy was NOT organized around slavery, but around owner-farmers (to be replaced by communal serfdom, something with little in common with plutocratic slavery!) This had profound consequences. Greco-Roman Antiquity, because of slavery, was un-human, hence, pathological.

Yes, some civilizations are pathological, and they do not  just cause pain to themselves, but to others, and even to the planet.

Charlemagne represented the crown of the (re-)creation of Rome according to the Franks (~ civilized Germans). The Franks had been hard at work on this project for five centuries. They represented the renovation of the Greco-Roman empire according to a philosophy that made more human sense than the enslaving Greco-Roman civilization.

The Franks were a confederation of Germans, the closest to the Romans who had succeeded to not been mauled and swallowed by Rome. Instead, after two centuries of passionate, not to say bellicose, alliance with Roman governments, starting with Clovis’ father, a purple clad imperator, they are the ones who did the swallowing.

Moreover, part of Germany and Gallia had been allied to, or more or less occupied by, the late Roman republic, for a full nine centuries prior to Charlemagne (if not more).

Thus Alsace has a fascinating history. The Rhine was the natural border of Celtic lands, and that is the way Celts, Germans, and Romans looked at it. The Caesar Julian with his Gallo-Romans and Franks would win a tremendous victory at Strassbourg against invading rabid German hordes determined to overwhelm the empire.

(That would happen a generation later, after the Roman army had been removed, for budgetary reasons, and the leading edge of these Germans, the Vandals, 50,000 frantic warriors would reach all the way to “Africa“, present day Tunisia, and cut-off Rome’s wheat supply, shrinking dramatically the city for the next millennium).

However, when Julius Caesar became involved in peace mongering in the Celtic world of Gallia, he was confronted to Germans crossing over, either to help the rebellious Celts against Rome, or simply to raid whatever could be raided, such as their Celtic allies, although they were not afraid to sneak onto Roman legions either, in the hope of stealing their treasury.

After particular egregious invasions, and also because some allied German tribes called for his help, Caesar crossed into Germania several times, building even a permanent fiercely guarded bridge over (most of) the Rhine to do so repeatedly. 

Caesar’s adversaries fled into the deep German forest. After becoming “dictator for life” (instead of 6 months or a year, as the oral Roman Constitution had it), and having reorganized Rome somewhat, Caesar decided upon a great, totally grandiose plan.

Leading the best army Rome ever had, Caesar decided that he would go east, destroy the Parthian empire, and then go up north through the Caucasus, before veering west into Germania, stabbing it in the back. (The Mongol army would follow that route 12 centuries later; after wasting Iran, it veered north, crushed the Georgians, obliterated the Russians and the Ukrainians, before smashing the Germano-Polish forces, before winning, with important losses, over European forces in the invasion of Hungary.)

This, most probably, explains why Caesar was oblivious to warnings about an assassination plot that day of the Ides of March: he was to leave for the Orient the next day with his legions, and it looked unlikely somebody would bother assassinating just then, when he was embarking on this most haphazard adventure. So he was not even accompanied by his aide Marc-Anthony, an extremely well trained special forces sort of soldier, as most Roman generals were. 

Caesar assassinated, the Parthians conquered all of the Orient, but for the city of Tyr, an island. Marcus Antoninus counter-attacked, all the way to Mesopotamia, starting centuries of Roman-Parthian wars (and then Roman-Persian wars, resulting in the victory of… the Arabs!) What we are seeing right now in Syria, to a great extent, is more of the same.

Augustus was good at domesticating Romans, but less so at domesticating foreign enemies, such as the Germans. He let one of his generals, Varrus, conduct war in North Germany, with the resulting loss of an elite army centered around three elite legions. Augustus admonished his successors to never try to conquer Germany again. They obeyed.

In the end, the Romans were half installed in Germany, behind, the Rhine the whole way, behind the Danube, and, awkwardly, behind the gap between Rhine and Danube. That arrangement caused four centuries of debilitating war, as German tribes could attack whenever they wanted, close to the core of the empire. the situation was so critical, as early as Marcus Aurelius, that the emperor spent most of his reign on the front, around the Danube. The non payment of taxes by the plutocracy went a long way to explain the defense problem. Marcus Aurelius was reduced to sell the palace’s cutlery, to finance the legions.

The Treaty of Verdun separated the (Occidental) Roman empire in three parts, with the acknowledgement that the king of the Western part was “emperor in his own kingdom“, and that the western Franks were supposed to present a candidate to the imperial position for Eastern Francia. But the Parisians could not care less, they were more preoccupied by cutting deals with the savage Vikings, who were beating the Franks at the game they used to play so well, six centuries before (raiding from ships up rivers).

So the two thirds not nominally controlled by Paris went their own way. Even in the West, in theory, accentuated by the Renovatio Imperium Francorum, more or less of the Roman republic was pursuing a subterranean existence: kings of the Franks were supposed to be elected, and were often the richest plutocrats around. But the Salic law forced equidistribution of inheritance, and the Franks were prolific, as they were excellent farmers, now fed on bioengineered foods such as beans. Thus inherited wealth easily dissolved.

The Feudal System installed under Charles Martel to fight the Muslim Arabo-Berber invasions made the situation even stranger. To support a vast, and best army, expenses were not spared. The Catholic Church was nationalized to pay the army. And resources were put at the disposal of knights to create a heavy cavalry. In counterpart, said knights assumed other functions such as law enforcement and justice. The villages, the communes, were communally organized, under the watchful eyes of the knights.

(The arrangement with a class of knights up high in society already existed in the Roman Republic. The Macedonian conquest of the world had been pretty much propelled by the lover-of-horses, such as philo-hippo, Philip, as the rulers of Macedonia were cavalrymen.) 

Soon the entire Imperium Francorum was subdivided into several hundreds of local power centers, many of them derived in part from the 300 counties into which the Imperium Romanum of Charlemagne had been divided.

The feudal system was neither aristocratic nor communist, but in between. The arrangement with the knights overlording was informal to a great extent, and the cities were not part of it. The picture one is left with is that of an extremely varied society, without really a dictatorship at the center.

(So Marx’s linear evolution from feudalism to capitalism needs to be re-evaluated; certainly fabulous castles such as Koenigsbourg represented enormous capital, and certainly the attribution of parcels around villages according to family size was a form of communism!)

Ultimately the division into East, Central and West Francia proved completely unstable. So did the conquest of England by the Western Franks and Normans (1066).

The Franco-French war between Paris and London went on, on and off, from the Thirteenth to the Nineteenth Centuries, from Eleanor d’Aquitaine to Waterloo (when the English king renounced the claim to France inherited from Isabelle de France, absolute monarch of England, as her name indicates).

The Roman emperor of the non Parisian part became “Holly” centuries later. Meanwhile today’s France was divided in enormous pieces: Armorica (“Brittany”, where the British army had fled in the 6C), Aquitania, the entire South-West (already one chunk before Caesar showed up), and now brought to London by Eleanor, London which already owned Normandy and surrounding counties. Of course a little bit east of Paris, Flanders, Belgium, Bourgogne and east of the Rhone it were all part of the “Roman empire”, not Francia Occidentalis. In the south the giant county of Toulouse was busy reconstituting the Roman Republic, while turning Christianity upside down, by making official that the world was controlled by an evil deity rather than a good lord.

It became the war of all against all. However, the land around Paris was, and is immensely rich (Under the Antonine emperors, Lutetia reached 80,000 citizens). Paris had accessed notoriety by nominating the anti-Christian Caesar Julian “Augustus” in 358 CE. Throughout the European Middle Ages,  Paris was the largest city in Christian Europe, with a population of the order of 200,000 by 1300 CE.

So a sort of reconquista was launched by Paris. First Toulouse was massacred by a crusade. Then, Paris recovered from London the west (traditional chronology of  the “100 year war”), and then, from the Roman empire, the east, a lot of it under the crafty Louis XI (that’s when the Roman empire decided it was “Holly” and “Germanic“).

Louis XIV pursued the job by recovering Alsace. But he could not get Flanders (the ancestral land of the Franks!) and keep the Rhineland and the Palatinate (traditional Roman stomping grounds). Lou

All this was immensely complex: Louis XIV made a huge crime and profound error by revoking the Edict of Nantes (throwing the Protestants out of France, a policy that Louis XI or Henri III or IV would have found abominable, and certainly worthy of the death penalty).

Thanks to its Catholic fanaticism, Louis XIV made ferocious enemies, such as the Dutch republic, and deservedly so. In their rage, the Dutch took over England to wage war against the erratic enabler of their independence, France.

Things went from and to worse when the long suffering king of Spain, dying without an heir, gave his crown to his “heir general“, who happened to be no less than the son of his half sister, Maria Teresa, and of… Louis XIV . This (World) War of the Succession of Spain lasted 13 years, and prevented the unification of the giant French and Spanish empires in one enormous empire covering the Americas, the Philippines (trade with China), and most of Europe.

Let’s notice in passing that the semantics implied by the words “World War One” and “World War Two” are therefore not correct. There were several world wars before that! Certainly the war started by Genghis Khan was a world war, as it went from Japan to Indonesia, all the way to Egypt, Poland and Croatia. More disturbingly, Europe produced several World Wars before 1914.

Even more disturbing is the origin of these world wars. The perpetrators did not just know each other, they were often family! When a barren Eleanor of Aquitania divorced the king of France (1152 CE, after been queen of France for 15 years!), and went on to marry the king of England, and have eight children with him (three of them would become kings), carrying along her giant province, it was certainly very personal.

Two centuries later the “100 year war” (which lasted in truth until 1815!) started when because all too many people in Paris knew Isabelle de France, queen of England, daughter and legitimate heir of Philippe Le Bel, all too well! 

The same holds in modern times. Who was Wilhem II, Kaiser of the ill fated “Second Reich“? (The official name was Deutsches Reich, the German Realm.)

The “First Reich” had been the one started by Otto I, if not Charlemagne, or more exactly the Roman Consul Clovis, king of the Franks, who reconquered a vast swath of Germania, a territory expanded further by his ferocious successors. That was a deliberate mistranslation, as the original state was an “Imperium“, not a kingdom. In an Imperium, the People was implicitly in charge.

Wilhem II was the grandson of queen Victoria, and considered himself to be the preferred one. That may have made him overconfident.

Elected queen Merkel I should remember this. It can start innocuously, among friends. But then enmity can grow. As the ancient Greeks pointed out, violence most often grows from hubris. During its 47 years of existence, the Deutsches Reich became an industrial, technological and scientific giant (with the caveat that the Swedes, and many Anglo-Saxons were notoriously pro-German, the Reich enjoyed more Nobel Prizes than Britain, France, Russia and the United States combined).

There is little doubt that, by 1914, all too many Germans viewed themselves as the most civilized, most meritorious, and it was not the already amputated French Republic that was going to stand in their way. Still the four Prussian generals who plotted World War One were not too sure about the Kaiser, so they sent them to his vacation home during the crucial month of July, when their plot entered its terminal phase. The generals obviously feared that the Kaiser, realizing that he, the grandson of queen Victoria, may find himself at war with Britain if his realm invaded France and Belgium, may stop the march to war.

So was Wilhem II all bad? No. He ordered the restitution of Koenigsbourg to its original state. Alsace has many castles, including 60 reduced to ruins: Louis XIV, after (re) conquering Alsace, ordered their destruction: the frontier was going to be back on the Rhine river, not the Vosges dominating it.

Lessons:

1) Alsace is naturally part of Gallia (Gaul); it was indeed solidly Celtic. So was Belgium, under that name, too! And Flanders got converted to Christianism under (“Le Bon Roi”) Dagobert I by his financed minister, later canonized Saint Eligius (= Eloy, Éloi) The old germanoid argument that Alsace is naturally German in some sense is false, on an historico-geographic basis.

2) Who the Celts were is more obscure: they had three languages. Their difference with the Germans was grounded in culture, not ethnicity. Although there were various Celto-German tribes they were all taller than the Romans, and, the more savage their got, the more gigantic their bodies, at least so the Roman sources seem to have it.

What was the cultural difference between Celts and German? Well, the Celtic oligarchies used a written language, and the Roman sources say it was… Greek(!). That makes sense as the Greeks arrived on the south coast of France while the Romans were still herding cows. Southern France was an important place, because it commands three trade routes: towards the Atlantic (Aquitania), towards the North Sea, along the Rhone and then Saone valleys. The latter route bifurcates to the North East towards Germany, between the mountains. 

The Germans got militarized, archeology shows, as they got in contact with the Roman Republic, but then they got the idea they could conquer Italy, as the Celts had conquered Rome in the Fourth century BCE (the Romans bough it back).

3) The West is really a symbiosis between Greco-Roman democracy, resting on slavery, and Germanic equalitarianism. German equalitarianism had risen how it had risen initially in Rome, or elsewhere; from small owner-farmers. What had degraded the Greco-Roman world was not just cliodynamics (~ the cycling of plutocracy), but the facts that the leading example of direct democracy, Athens, rested greatly on silver mines (and thus abject slavery), and that, after the Hannibalic war, a super charged Rome, intellectually decapitated, in fascism and empire mostly trusted.

The confederation of the Franks was able to exploit new crops and new steel (the heavy plough) to augment considerably the yields of Northern Europe, its own population, and impose a symbiosis of German and Roman ways on the North West part of the Roman empire (only now is it being imposed on the South East part of the empire!).

4) Pretty much the entire present European Union is a direct descendant of the Imperium Francorum-Renovatio Imperium Romanum. So far, so good. However, history shows that ALIENATION IMPLIES AGGRESSION. The extreme bellicose mood between Germania and Francia took a full millennium to rise after the initial alienation that one can date to the election of Otto I. And the opposition became so great that it became quasi metaphysical, the Western Franks (French) opting for the Republic, and the Eastern ones (“Germans”) for a sort of fascist Satrapy.

Although I hyperlinked to Wikipedia here it is in error, as it calls the Roman empire “Holly” (Sacrum). Sacrum was added only after 1254. The word “German”, as in Imperium Romanum Sacrum Nationis Germanicæ was added only in 1474 CE, for the reasons quoted above, namely the gnawing back by the Parisian king of the old Parisian dominions (Otto I had celebrated his coronation in Aachen, which was a West Francia domain… as befits what is on the west side of the Rhine, an old Celtic area.

So Alsace reminds us of this: beware of history and its meandering paths. A breadth of fancy can soon turn into the dangerous insanity of destiny on a rampage.

Merkel I and the likes of Jean Claude Junker (head of Eurogroup, Prime Minister of the banana duchy of Luxembourg) should remember that their pseudo rescue of Greece (and real rescue of private banksters who helped corrupt Greece) should keep in mind that the oppression they let be visited on common people is real pain, integrated over hundreds of millions of individuals, a heavy initial condition for futre history.

The subprime system still exist. Structured financial products” nobody know what they are, still dominate the world economy. Whereas France (say) has cracked down on derivatives, a lot of the trading conducted there has fled to London or New York. Of course, in this, it’s beyond Europe, but not beyond the lessons Alsace brought.

The Middle East did not yet recover from the collapse of Republican Roman law, when it was replaced by the Sharia, and when the Phoenician-Greco-Latin alphabet was replaced by the alphabet used in the Qur’an.

Only now is Germany recovering from the crusading spirit of the Teutonic knights (who reigned centuries, whereas their colleagues in the West got chopped off), conquerors and colonizers of Prussia. Anti-Judaism, initially launched by the abject Saint Augustine, 16 centuries ago, has only now become a bad word.

Yes, it is Saint Augustine who Obama claims to muster for inspiration when he makes sacred war against those geographically associated to al Qaeda. No wonder he is so wrong. It’s a small world, but often the same mental patterns. Until more advanced civilization comes to erase them.

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Patrice Ayme

Species, Niches, Cultures

December 9, 2011

SPECIATION COMES FROM NICHES, BUT THOSE CAN BE SELF CREATED.

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 The diversity of species is much greater in the tropics. How come? The main reason is obvious: species get periodically vacuumed in the high latitude regions, by ice and cold. This has various notable consequences. Especially in the cultural domain.

 One has to remember how speciation happens. Speciation is a discovery that Darwin made explicit in the Galapagos archipelago, far from the South American continent. Species of the local birds had evolved from a common ancestor, a kind of South American finch. More than a generation before, Lamarck has studied various invertebrates (a word he coined), and their fossils, to show that the species had evolved over the eons, and thus that the Earth was immensely old (something that made a huge scandal at the times, at it was more in tune with Indian than Christian thinking). 

 (The theory of evolution itself, and especially evolution by natural selection was old, and its original authors were Maupertuis, of the Least Action Principle, writing 120 years before Darwin, and Lamarck, who, as a research professor in biology, another word that he also coined, could lay it thick; Darwin’s refining observations were decisive in the Anglo-American empire, though. Just as French physicists developed Newtonian mechanics in the 18 C, English evolutionists, especially Wallace and Darwin, developed the French breakthrough work of the preceding generations in biological evolution!)

 The following became clear: once introduced to a new ecological niche, a species will evolve anew. Biological species tend to be optimal for their inheritance in symbiosis with the environment they also inherited. That is why species such as oysters, sharks, turtles or crocodiles, did not change much in more than 100 million years: they were optimal, and their environment did not change. Crocodilians are the picture of perfection: not only they munched on the last dinosaurs, but recent discoveries have shown that, in some dinosaurian environments, crocs were already the top predators.

 Change the environment they are made for, and by, and suddenly species are not optimal anymore. They are forced into the survival mode. Then naturally occurring variations present an advantage or disadvantage relative to the new environment, and evolution happens again. And it happens all the faster, the greater the difference with the previous environment is. 

 Hence environments with many new ecological niches will create many new species. So the question becomes: why are there more niches in the tropics than in the cold regions? Well, one has to realize that the question is asked in space-time. History matters. When a niche changes, a species can resist through mini adaptation, while, simultaneously, the throttle of evolution is open to the max. But nothing can force all individuals of the suddenly inadequate species to evolve fast and far. Some will just make do. Thus outright new species can evolve, while versions of the old still cling around.

 In Australia, a lone, extremely ancient eucalyptus was found in the mountains. Some suggested it was the oldest individual plant in the world. That plant was, and it is, the oldest, and unique, representative of its species. The species had evolved when the climate was much colder (during or before the last glaciation). Somewhere else in Australia, in an isolated, secret canyon, in the Blue Mountains another species of pine trees, long disappeared elsewhere in the world, was also found (now they are for sale worldwide). Those plants survived to the disappearance of the niches in which they evolved long ago, through luck or happenstance (a particular canyon with special circumstances throughout history).

 Australia did not have a very cold climate, even during the worst glaciations, due to its overall location (and it drifted there from the polar region while Earth climate was much warmer). If Australia were a subpolar island, all its trees and animals would have been wiped out during great glaciations (as they were in Antarctica, which used to be joined to Australia). Under milder conditions, Australia would have been recolonized by distant trees from tropical areas: genuine Australian trees would have disappeared during a cold episode.

 Another example: trees grow again in Greenland. Trees have grown in Greenland for dozens of millions of years, but all the species of Greenland trees were eliminated when Greenland was covered by ice. If Greenland had been located next to New Guinea, it would have maybe even more species than the land of Birds of Paradise (I say “maybe” because, although Greenland is bigger, New Guinea, the wrinkled forefront of the Australian plate, has higher and larger highlands, which creates a lot more environmental niches than one would expect from a place of that size; there are isolated sky islands in New Guinea, surrounded by steaming jungle, with, of course, their own species).

 So it is in all regions that icecaps and glaciers could trample in the last four million years: cold hostile to life wiped biological evolution out clean, periodically. For example sequoias were eliminated from Europe: the slow moving trees (trees move as a species), got blocked by glaciers, and destroyed. This because mountain ranges are mostly east-west barriers in Europe. In California, they survived because the ranges are mostly north-south.

 This is nothing new: many dinosaur species evolved in very high latitudes, where their adaptation allowed them to enjoy the polar night. That was when what are now subpolar regions enjoyed a tropical climate (when crocodilians thrived in Greenland). The distant ancestors of mammals, the mammalian reptiles, evolved in very cold climate, so they evolved strong thermoregulation. This came in handy when drastic changes occurred 65 million years ago. Said change has long been viewed as an asteroid strike. But it is unlikely that an asteroid strike would have struck all dinosaurs, and all dinosaur-like sea reptiles, while leaving mysteriously mammalian and bird alone.

 Whereas, obviously, episodes of intense cold and heat could have had that effect. Dinosaurs had poor thermal regulation, but also high metabolism (differently from birds, which evolved from them; birds have higher temperatures than mammals). Crocodilians, turtles and sea snakes could survive, as they have lower metabolism: when it gets cold, they just stop moving, a luxury dinosaurs did not have. Of course, the colossal Dekkan Traps eruptions, by covering entirely the planet with clouds, while poisoning air and seas with CO2, fit the crime perfectly.

 So what I propose is simply that, as glaciations fluctuated dramatically, conditions in the tropics also fluctuated dramatically: for example the Amazon suffered droughts. This created niches (however transient, they were long enough for species to evolve). However the conditions never fluctuated so much as to lead to complete extinctions, in the tropics. As conditions changed, species tended to adapt, and new ones evolved, thus leaving a patchwork of diversity behind… At least in species which can exist in great numbers, such as insects.

 Not so in subpolar regions. In subpolar regions, intense cold periods happen, and during intense cold episodes, all species get killed (at least among plants and insects). When conditions become mild again, the regions are reconquered by survivors from the tropics (much of which became a temperate zone during glacial maxima). A similar mechanism could have demographically flood Neanderthals in suddenly warm interglacials.

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EXTINCTIONS AS A DRIVERS OF EVOLUTION:

 If an extinction occurs, it is probably because all the ecological niches were changed at once. So all species are not optimally adapted anymore. Some will resist in micro niches (as crocodilians, turtles, etc. did), some will evolve drastically (as birds and mammals did after the Cretaceous). In the end more species will be created, and they will compete with the old ones, so, in a sense, in the average, they will be improved, or at least the adaptability of the entire ecosystem will be greater (some of the old will be around, some of the new too).

 It is not excluded that the dinosaurs disappeared through such complicated mechanism: after an initial ecological shift, the competitivity of small mammals, or birds, may have been improved (as their personal dinosaur predators went away, say), and they may have been free to eat larger dinosaurs’ eggs, etc.

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WHY EUROPE BECAME SO SUPERIOR INTELLECTUALLY:

Europe is assuredly the largest expanse of greatly interconnected peninsulas, islands, mountain ranges, lakes and seas in the world. An enormous set of potential ecological niches. Some could brandish the Arctic archipelago of Northern Canada, but first, well, it’s frozen, and was completely covered by an ice cap for most of the last three million years, not a situation conducive to any sort of biology.

 Indeed, European geography is at mid-latitude, with an oceanic climate rendered mild by the Gulf Stream (which has transported tropical water towards Europe, for millions of years, since the Americas became one, and the currents changed). During the worst glacial maxima, Southern Europe was still ice-free. With mountain ranges and flowing waters everywhere, this labyrinth of ecological niches was excellent for evolving many species.

 And so it was with evolving many cultures later. The many environments in Europe allowed for evolving many cultural species. That was helped by trade, of goods or ideas, using the ubiquitous waterways. Some of the old stuff survived and transmogrified. For example, many ideas of Zoroastrianism have become part of the mental skeleton of the Enlightenment. The ideas went west by 3,500 kilometers, and in time by 3,500 years.

 (Europe is geographically defined, linguistically, humanly, commercially and physically, as roughly the Western part of Eurasia, west of the Himalayas and the Urals; India is also part of that ensemble, consecutively to conquest and colonization, about 3,500 years ago, and subsequent continual and extensive exchanges. Yes a vast steppe corridor starting in Hungary, goes all the way to Mongolia, and was always there, hence the many visits of various Mongols to Western Europe, all the way to Orleans…) 

 Compare with the entire African coast, North and West, which has only a handful of natural ports, on maybe more than ten thousands kilometers. Whereas the European coast is covered with possible ports, each ready to serve the local ecological and cultural niches with trade. Look at the Croatian coast: from far away, rather short. However, from close by, a length of nearly 6,000 kilometers, and thousands of islands. Similarly Greece or the British isles each have nearly 15,000 kilometers of coastline. And Norway, with all its fjords, more than 100,000 kilometers! This sort of extremely detailed geography and imbrications with water, allowed for extreme diversity and exchanges of very differentiated goods. Compare with the Sahara desert, with a handful of oases on an area greater than the USA (full disclosure: my first memories are from one of them, the amazing Gardahia). 

 Just an example: a small part of the Italian coast, facing the island of Elba, and endowed with natural ports, was rich in extravagant ore deposits. Especially iron. This attracted, among others, the Etruscans.

 Thus, without the wealth of iron, Rome may never have been. Verily, the long standing half joke is that the Roman peasants learned all what they knew from the Etruscans… And, later the Greeks. By the way, that grafting of a higher culture on the more simple minded may explain why Rome evolved down the blind alley of over-exploiting others, instead of developing its own deep ideas… As the Franks did, when they took over in 486 CE. 

 Some will scoff about claims of European superiority and diversity. But little known are the basic facts. For example the Celts had developed technology which was in some ways superior to Rome (and in 399 CE, the Roman republic did not get annihilated, just because the Celts condescended to be paid to go away from the Latin capital that they were occupying; the superiority of the Romans laid in the institutions of that republic). The Celts were probably the first to make fleets of thousands of boats to conduct intense systematic trade, and a polity of sorts, over an ocean (the Atlantic). 

 European diversity was a strength, as long as it did not explode into devastating conflict. After the Celts subdued the Romans in 399 CE, some marched on to present day Anatolia. They refused to submit to Alexander later. Notice that it  would have been a much poorer world if the Celts had destroyed Rome in 399 CE (as they probably could have, had they been meaner). True, the Romans conquered the Celts, but they did not destroy them: in 400 CE, the bishop of Lyon (Lugdunum, capital of the Gauls, just supplanted by the Parisian capital of the Franks), preached in Celtic. Thus a Gallo-Roman mental ecology had established itself, where many of the best ideas of both had thrived, while terrible ones (such as Celtic sacrifices) had been snuffed.

 Europe may want to remember all this, the richness of diversity, as it tries to resist homogenizing plutocracy, be from Russia (where filthy rich strongman plutocrat Putin accused Hillary Clinton to have caused the arrest of thousands of Russians, by giving a mysterious “signal” which made thousands of Russians whine in unisson), or with the so called market (intent on berating France and Germany, while lauding financially much worse, Greece like Great Britain, because the latter’s government is plutophile, thus a friend of the slave market).

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SUPERIOR MINDS, HOW THEY EVOLVE, WHAT THEY FEAR:

 Thus one will acquire a mind endowed with more, and superior ideas by varying one’s environment: the more mental niches, the more ideas can adapt to them, the greater the chance to develop superior ones.

 I guess that is the idea behind having scientists travel all over the world to conferences where they meet each other. Although, of course, this may lead to homogenization, not speciation! To have speciation, one needs time to evolve separately, otherwise one will be thrown back with the blob, as one more undifferentiated piece of the blob.

 Speciation in the realm of ideas is why greatly original thinkers go to the desert, to avoid too much mental entanglement with the commons. That is why Montaigne called attention to the necessity of the Ivory Tower, to think deeply, quietly, and from above. Great minds cannot blossom, if they mix too much with the stupidity of what was long viewed as true by common invertebrates.

 Thus, in these times of budgetary restrictions, and considering the existence of the Internet, I would suggest that scientific conference budgets be reassigned to the rescue of scientific experiments (which are threatened, especially in astronomy, the part of physics which has brought most of the spectacular experimental results of the last 50 years). In general, the requirements of scientific careers are little conducive to originality, and groupthink is to be feared. 

 To pursue the analogy further, if ideas evolve in mental niches, what would be the equivalent of life killing cold? Well, intellectual fascism, glacially crushing all in the way. 

 Intellectual fascism could be the Roman attitude to slavery (the foundation of the economy, with the large slave enterprises of the empire, such as agribusinesses). Or it could be the social and economical devastating Christian philosophy (for example Roman Catholic Christians believed it was wrong to kill highway men, so highway robbery, being unpunished, exploded to the point that Roman roads could not be used anymore, and public order collapsed). Mao and company made the point that Confucianism was a form of intellectual fascism which had paralyzed China for millennia. And indeed they introduced communist forms of thinking which had evolved in the French niche. The French communist, not to say Communard niche. 

 The most famous intellectual fascism is Islam, a superstition which has the arrogance to claim the entire public sphere for itself (which is what Christian bishops did in the West around 400 CE; however, as Christ had very loudly ordered to separate Caesar from God, and thus soon the bishops, after trying their hand at dictatorship for a while, decided to outsource government to the Roman army, by then reduced to Imperator Clovis’ Franks). 

 Groupthink was not our ancestors’ forte. After all, our very distant ancestors were lizards who colonized subpolar areas: they were not held back by the prospect of a career among the multitudes, quite the opposite. To be different, and go where no lizard had been before, urged them on.

 And so it did, even before that, for the first fishes which followed plants on land. We live on a planet where life itself is teleonomic: it looks forward, at a distance (tele) and finds out what can be changed, or, at least, managed (nomos), to invade further. This goes against the philosophical grain of Jacques Monod’s “Chance and Necessity”, which makes a big deal that life is not teleonomic. But, just as in physics there is something called “Effective Quantum Field Theory”, so should it be in philosophy: if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, flies like a duck… It should be a duck. Life is an adaptation machine. 

 That is why probes to Mars are carefully sterilized; experiences have shown that some bacteria can survive in space. Of course, space is not a niche where bacteria evolved, but some can survive there. So it is with ecological diversity (bacteria may find harder to survive a glaciation than interplanetary space). Evolved in a particular niche, a species can survive independently, as long as a big bad glacier does not come its way, crushing all in the way.

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LIFE DOES NOT JUST ADAPT, IT CREATES, EXTINGUISHING SOMETIMES ALL IN THE WAY:

Minds and lives were made by wasting the environment, and make it more complicated, make it at their service ever more. 

 Life changed the atmosphere of the planet by replacing its reducing atmosphere into oxygen laden air. Many suspect that this biological change brought “Snowball Earth” episodes, by knocking off greenhouse gases and replacing them by a nitrogen and oxygen mix (around 700 to 600 million years ago). The fist evidence for Snowball Earth were traces of glaciers in the tropics, at sea level. Later life adjusted itself to provide itself with a more comfortable environment (yes, adjustment does not necessitate consciousness). 

 Biological complexity has inertia. And biological complexity represents immense riches, because life forms have evolved many systems to handle the environment, countless environments, past and present. As the plutocrats ravage the planet, and biological diversity, we thus see that riches is not what they are truly after, whatever they claim. 

 What Pluto, the Dark Side of man, is after, is the illusion of the domineering self, because it has not embraced diversity. So it is with those who rule according to him, and his principles. When I speak about the illusion, I know what I mean: John Corzine, past head of Goldman-Sachs, past Senator of the USA, past governor of one of the richest states in the USA, New Jersey, has lost one billion, two hundred miilion dollars: Corzine went in front of Congress, to “apologize, I simply do not know where the money is”. He was playing with Italian debt. 700 trillions of credit swaps out there. Or maybe more, or maybe less. It’s all about illusions. Except for the Italians or American farmers whose money Corzine and his accomplices have devoured.

 The USA is under the illusion of energy independence, because frantic fracking is quickly augmenting the fossil fuel and gas production of the country. Damn the water table. Damn the CO2. Full fuel ahead! The oil crats of the USA are in heavens. So the USA has been blocking progress towards an effort to mitigate climate change (in a disingenuous ping pong with China, for the third climate conference in a row, one more illustration of the collaboration of the American and Chinese plutocracies). Hey, once again, never mind that the EPA has found what everybody knew, that fracking devastates the “vital groundwater” (with CH4 at saturation, benzene at 50 times maximum, and the Ph of bleach). OK, that’s in Wyoming, who cares?

 We may not want to indulge in near extinction, as during the Snowball Earth, before we can adjust to our new found powers (some of them powers of illusion). After all, some of us are conscious, endowed with our own personalities, even our own ideas, and we may be teleonomic enough to manage at a distance what is ahead without getting crushed by it…

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Patrice Ayme