Archive for the ‘Systems Of Thought’ Category

Politically Correct Famous Democratic Economist Admits To Treachery of Political Leaders After 2007. Good. Yet, Why Just 2007? To Laud Plutocratic Clintonism?

November 6, 2018

It seems obvious to me that the official economic doctrine is the theoretical justification of plutocracy. Roman emperor Constantine used what he called Catholicism, his invention, to justify his increasing plutocracy. Nowadays, plutocracy is haughtily brandishing the philosophy of “economic science”. Now a famous economist looks at that, and blames everybody else. Mr. Delong is a friend and colleague of Krugman, and their ilk. We are talking here of the mainstream ideology of the self-declared “left”… Which is just stealth plutocracy: a definition of plutocracy is inequality. Inequality increased under Obama, when it reached its highest level ever (as measured by looking at the top 1%, or top .1%, etc.) Right, it’s probably getting worse under Trump… But Trump never claimed to be “left”.

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Inequality augmented under Obama. Here is the slice 2013 until 2016. This was caused by the fact Obama helped most the bankers, hence the wealthiest…

Blame the Economists?

Nov 1, 2018 J. Bradford Delong

Ever since the 2008 financial crash and subsequent recession, economists have been pilloried for failing to foresee the crisis, and for not convincing policymakers of what needed to be done to address it. But the upheavals of the past decade were more a product of historical contingency than technocratic failure.

BERKELEY – Now that we are witnessing what looks like the historic decline of the West, it is worth asking what role economists might have played in the disasters of the past decade.”

Unsurprisingly, famous economists protect Clinton from any blame. When, in truth, Clinton demolished the New Deal most effectively. Learning from Goldman Sachs, even before he was elected president, that, if he wanted to be re-elected he would have to do as he was ordered to, by the wealthiest men, Clinton told Robert Rubin Goldman CEO:”You are telling me by reelection depends upon fuckin bnd traders?” (Nowadays, the once famous quote has disappeared from search engines: no accident.)

Brad Delong: “From the end of World War II until 2007, Western political leaders at least acted as if they were interested in achieving full employment, price stability, an acceptably fair distribution of income and wealth, and an open international order in which all countries would benefit from trade and finance”

Patrice Ayme: Not true: Clinton, a so-called “Democrat” ruined the separation of banking and speculation (installed by president Roosevelt and Congress in 1933). Instead of serving all, banks were reset to serve mostly the wealthiest. Moreover Clinton enabled so-called “financial derivatives” with total free rein. Even more serving of the wealthiest, enabling them to leverage themselves tremendously. That led to the 2008 crisis, when a bank dealing mostly in US Treasury Bonds and an insurer, AIG, got acutely bankrupt from derivatives… with nearly all other major banks, just as bad. Bush, in accord with Obama, and then Obama alone sent to the banks all the money they needed and some.

Brad De Long: “Then came 2008, when everything changed. The goal of full employment dropped off Western leaders’ radar, even though there was neither a threat of inflation nor additional benefits to be gained from increased openness. Likewise, the goal of creating an international order that serves everyone was summarily abandoned. Both objectives were sacrificed in the interest of restoring the fortunes of the super-rich, perhaps with a distant hope that the wealth would “trickle down” someday.”

PA: Right. So why do we still call individuals like Obama, “Democrat”, and act as if they were,  when all they did was to serve the wealthiest, the plutocrats (feeding them ever since)?

De Long: “Others, like me, understood that expansionary monetary policies would not be enough; but, because we had looked at global imbalances the wrong way, we missed the principal source of risk – US financial mis-regulation.”

PA: One reform is necessary: banks are there to serve We The People and the real economy serving We The People. Banks should not serve speculation to make the wealthiest wealthier. Plutocrats hate it, so so-called “economists” can’t understand its utility (to themselves!)

De Long: “Between the financial crisis of 2008 and the political crisis of 2016 came the presidency of Barack Obama. In 2004, when he was still a rising star in the Senate, Obama had warned that failing to build a “purple America” that supports the working and middle classes would lead to nativism and political breakdown.

Yet, after the crash, the Obama administration had little stomach for the medicine that former President Franklin D. Roosevelt had prescribed to address problems of such magnitude. “The country needs…bold persistent experimentation,” Roosevelt said in 1932, at the height of the Great Depression. “It is common sense to take a method and try it; if it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.”

The fact that Obama failed to take aggressive action… With policymaking having been subjected to the malign influence of a rising plutocracy, economists calling for “bold persistent experimentation” were swimming against the tide – even though well-founded economic theories justified precisely that course of action.”

PA: Need one say more? Delong congratulates himself with the present state of affairs. But actually US society became much more unequal under Obama. Rising inequality brings the collapse of civilization: such is the lesson of history. One can’t get a worse result than collapse. Time to redefine “left” in light of increasing potential collapse..

That collapse didn’t happen yet is why we can still talk about it.

But never, in the history of humanity, has collapse seemed more likely, long-term. In no small measure, because of the cecity of official economy, which is more focused in increasing inequality than in realizing that this is another name for rising plutocracy.

Economists, like most of those working in the media, are just employees of the world’s wealthiest men. Directly, or indirectly through plutocratic universities. Plutocratic universities are not universal.

https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2015/04/03/plutocratic-universities-are-not-universal/

Nor is the present economic theory resting on a universal foundation: it rests only on pleasing plutocracy. Economy will become universal when it rests on energy itself, more exactly, Absolute Worth Energy.

https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2008/01/03/energy-is-the-fundamental-unit-of-economics/

Meanwhile, let those who managed the increase of inequality under Clinton, Bush and Obama blame others: that’s what they do best.

Patrice Ayme

We’re (Potential) CANNIBALS: LACK Of CANNIBALISM Is EVIDENCE OF PROGRESS. Montaigne’s Erroneous Multiculturalism Denied This

November 4, 2018

MONTAIGNE’S INVENTION OF THE GOOD SAVAGE was naive, anti-progress, anti-civilizational. To put it in one word: nihilistic. Dismantling Montaigne’s offensive credulity exposes the rotten roots of  grotesquely erroneous, extreme, indiscriminate so-called multiculturalism.

Abstract: Cannibalism was probably the environment in which humanity evolved, in excess of 99% of the time (see the scientific evidence below). Cannibalism was common in the Neolithic, and everywhere regulated. The discovery of cannibalism in the Americas contributed to demolish the Christian mindset. Montaigne, in particular, drew an erroneous conclusion. That error justifies today’s excessive cultural relativism (so-called “multiculturalism”), and an excuse for (“Neo”) liberalization, plutocratic globalization, and it’s little helper, Islamization (now that Christianization is collapsing, so the sheep are thinking too free and too much).

I demolish here Montaigne’s injurious, naive and unimaginative assertion that barbarity is just what we don’t do. So doing I demolish naive, unimaginative cultural relativism, re-establishing the concept of progress, and of the best of all possible civilizations (not what we have, but it could be worse).

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Montaigne’s Extreme Cultural Relativism: Barbarians Are US:

Legend has it that Rousseau invented the lamentably unreal myth of the “Good Savage”. Reading the original writing, I just realized he may not have… Instead, it’s wise old Montaigne who invented the error of the Bon Sauvage. This monstrosity, the Good Savage, is of some consequence, as the Essays are generally viewed as an epitome of wisdom (Montaigne’s influence was enormous, for the better, on Henri III, IV and his wife, Queen Marguerite de Valois, féministe extraordinaire (among other things), and thereafter, as that good Catholic, crucially, yet unwittingly crucially helped to dismantle Christian terror; paradoxically the error I criticize today, helped to do so; by claiming everybody was a barbarian, Montaigne undermined moral religious superiority… perhaps, although Catholic that’s what he wanted).

Smart, but not that smart. And preaching this extreme multiculturalism had dreadful totalitarian consequences. Stalinism and Nazism among them. And now multiculturalism has been the main tool of global plutocratization.

Seeing Montaigne throwing overboard the concept of progress overboard came as a shock to me. The evidence can’t be denied, as it is blatant in the essay on “The Cannibals: ”we call barbarian what is not of our usage”. No, Michel, no, no, you got it all too grotesquely simplistic! And, Michel, you got it very dangerous: after all, following the erroneous Michel de Montaigne, the Nazis could call the Jews “barbarian” because, after all, they didn’t follow what the Nazis could call proper German usage…

Now, agreed “The Cannibals” was written seven years after the mad civil war of the Saint Barthelemy, ordered by the crowned plutocrats sitting pretty in the Louvres (which was crisscrossed by assassins that night). (The Duke of Sully, who barely escaped alive, esteemed 70,000 had been killed; people of Arles, down the Rhone from Lyon couldn’t drink the Rhone’s water for three months, from all the rotting corpses… the philosopher Petrus Ramus, and in Lyon the composer Claude Goudimel, among other intellectuals were killed.)

So Montaigne had good reason to be indignant, and suffer a momentary lapse of reason. Even more: all the Dark Ages was a direct consequence of that monstrous thought system, Christianism. Montaigne couldn’t say that. Very close friends and associates of Rabelais had been burned alive, just for printing books: the French plutocracy was that enlightened (Rabelais himself, an ex-Franciscan and ex-Benedictin, and a famous physician, and high level magistrate with highest level connections, including cardinals, escaped to the republic of Metz, the condemnation of the University of Paris. Others were not so favored).

I am even more of a cultural relativist than Montaigne. But I do not claim all cultures are equivalent. Far from it. Even a despicable culture can contain gems (this goes even for the Sharia!) Cultural traits, ideas and feeling can be picked and chosen, among all and any cultures, real, and imagined, to bring in nutrients into the salad of thoughts we need to forge forward into the richest world of possibilities Earthly intelligence has ever faced

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Progress, which progress? Could Renaissance thinkers say:

Progress was hard to ascertain: the instigation of the Dark Ages by the civilizationally deranged Christians shook the very foundations of human reason. Burning nearly all books & intellectuals made it more irrecoverable.

When we look way back, now that we can reconstitute civilization through the fog of the immense destruction by the sexually deranged Christian Jihadists, we discover that the Greco-Roman empire was immensely advanced (and that empire extended well beyond direct political control: the Celts used the Greek alphabet and deities, centuries before the conquest of Gallia by the unifying Roman brutes).

23 centuries ago, around 330 BCE, the Greek scientist Pytheas headed an expedition by the Marseilles empire. Pytheas circumnavigated Britain, and  discovered the mysterious Thule: Iceland, or at least Norway, and certainly the polar circle and sea ice (his ship couldn’t advance anymore). Pytheas also discovered the method to measure the spherical Earth within 1% (often attributed to Eratosthenes, but the latter came a century later). Don’t ask today’s ignorant French: they may know what PC, but they don’t know the history of the place now known as France.

Other Marseilles’ expeditions went to Senegal, while Carthaginians captured gorillas, went around Africa, and traded with subsaharan Africa.

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Native Americans Followed the Wrong Strategy With The Viking, Whereas Carolingian Franks Did it Right:

A thousand years ago, after following Irish monks to Iceland, the Vikings discovered a huge part of North America. The Viking were unable to hold North America militarily, though, as the Natives proved hostile, and uncontrollably so. Thus, ironically enough, American Natives organized their own demise, long-term… If the American Indians had invited the Viking in, Native Americans would have become civilizationally, militarily and biologically stronger, and could have endured!

By the way, by inviting the Viking to stay and colonize, what came to known as Normandy, the Franks put an end to their (more than a) century long war with the Scandinavians: the French were smarter than the Native Americans… Normandy also became arguably the world’s most mentally advanced place by the Eleventh Century: watch the Duke of Normandy casually tell dinners that the Earth turned around the Sun, or Berangarius de Tours,  a church authority, claiming all the god we needed was reason. Berengar was in turn discreetly protected by the Duke…

Experts may moan that the Franks got the war started by addressing ultimata to the Danes regarding Saxon refugees (in the Eighth Century)… So it was natural that after 900 CE they extend an olive branch. Yes, maybe. But it remains that the Native Americans were certainly stupid not to welcome and embrace the Vikings… And the massacre of Columbus’ men was more of the same. It’s not smart for savages to attack the gods, just after they showed up.

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America, A Discovery Whose Time Had Come Through General Scientific Enlightenment:

But the discovery of North America was kept hushed, although maps went around, just as the existence of Inuits, one of whom paddled all the way to Scotland during the beginning of the Little Ice Age. The rich cod fishing off Cape Cod was also kept secret.

Various Portuguese sailors had determined that there was a continent west of the Azores, for example by recovering wood sculpted, but not by iron instrument, and also various trees of non-European origin, and even corpses of American natives, carried from the west by the mighty wind and currents Columbus would use to return in just 31 days.  

This Portuguese discretion was turned on its head in 1492 CE, when the queen of Castille decided to launch the veteran and irresistible Spanish army towards the New World (instead of liberating North Africa and the Middle East from Islam, as had been planned previously; 1492 was also when the Jews were thrown out, coincident to the day Columbus sailed away). A Portuguese sailor, Columbus’ father in law, had extensively travelled. His documents persuaded Columbus of the existence of the continent which became America… while his brother-in-law, Pedro Correa, produced more sculpted wood from the West…

Columbus informed the queen (the queen was less keen that her husband in pursuing Jews and Muslims to the ends of the world).The possibly Jewish Columbus sailed back on January 15 1493, reaching the Azores February 15 (after a terrible storm)! Columbus announced the discovery of lush and gold laden large islands, among them the enormous Cuba and Hispaniola. He brought back with him a few Natives. The 39 men Viceroy Columbus had left behind in a fort, were killed to the last man by the Natives (who were later themselves annihilated: just as with the Viking, Native Americans would have been smarter to welcome the powerful, knowledgeable strangers and insure their safety, come what may…).

By the mid sixteenth educated Europeans had fully realized that much of the world thought and lived very differently from what they called “Christendom”. No thinker viewed Europe more critically in the light of the habits of the natives of the “New World” than Michel de Montaigne. He gathered much evidence from an employee of his, a Normand who had lived ten years in Brazil among the Natives (and who was used as a translator). Montaigne describes his Normand as “un homme simple et grossier”. The Normand (and thus Montaigne) described mostly the Tupinamba of Brazil.

Here are the most famous extracts from the Essais from the essay “Des Cannibales”. After making the apology of cannibalism, Montaigne concludes:

Nous les pouvons donc bien appeler barbares, eu égard aux règles de la raison, mais non pas eu égard à nous, qui les surpassons en toute sorte de barbarie. Leur guerre est toute noble et généreuse, et a autant d’excuse et de beauté que cette maladie humaine peut en recevoir…

(Personal) Translation:

We may therefore call them barbarous, by judging them according to the rules of reason, but not relatively to ourselves, who surpass them in all sorts of barbarism. Their war is all noble and generous, and has as much excuse and beauty as this human disease can receive …

But there is worse on Montaigne’s part:

“Or je trouve, pour revenir à mon propos, qu’il n’y a rien de barbare et de sauvage en cette nation, à ce qu’on m’en a rapporté, sinon que CHACUN APPELLE BARBARIE CE QUI N’EST PAS DE SON USAGE; comme de vrai, il semble que nous n’avons autre critère (“mire”) de la vérité et de la raison que l’exemple et idée des opinions et usages du pays où nous sommes. Là est toujours la parfaite religion, le parfait gouvernement (“police”), parfait et accompli usage de toutes choses. Ils sont sauvages, de même que nous appelons sauvages les fruits que nature, de soi et de son progrès ordinaire, a produits : là où à la vérité, ce sont ceux que nous avons altérés par notre artifice et détournés de l’ordre commun, que nous devrions appeler sauvages.”

Essays, l. I, chap. XXXI, “Cannibals”,

Folio, Volume 1, Gallimard, p. 305 sq.

Now, to return to my subject, I find that there is nothing barbarous or savage in this nation, as far as I have been told, except that EVERYONE CALLS BARBARIAN WHAT IS NOT OF HIS OWN USAGE (1); in truth, it seems that we have no other test of truth and reason than the example and idea of ​​the opinions and usages of the country where we live. There, in that country of ours, is always the perfect religion, the perfect police, perfect and accomplished use of all things. They are savage, just as we call savages the fruits which nature, of itself and of its ordinary progress, has produced: where, in truth, they are those which we have altered by our artifice and diverted from the common order, that we should call savages (2).

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Montaigne relaunched a tradition of using non-European peoples as a basis for engaging in a critique of Euro-Greco-Roman own culture. However Montaigne also went where (most) antique thinkers had not. He engaged in simplistic analysis, worthy of a 6 years old, undoubtedly in the process romanticizing what Jean-Jacques Rousseau would later celebrate. It is a theme which still appeals to many West-hating Westerners.

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Montaigne:

. . . “ I do not find that there is anything barbaric or savage about this nation, according to what I’ve been told, unless we are to call barbarism whatever differs from our own customs. Indeed, we seem to have no other standard of truth and reason than the opinions and customs of our own country. There at home is always the perfect religion, the perfect legal system–the perfect and most accomplished way of doing everything.

These people are wild in the same sense that fruits are, produced by nature, alone, in her ordinary way. Indeed, in that land, it is we who refuse to alter our artificial ways and reject the common order that ought rather to be called wild, or savage.  In them the most natural virtues and abilities are alive and vigorous, whereas we have bastardized them and adopted them solely to our corrupt taste. Even so, the flavor and delicacy of some of the wild fruits from those countries is excellent, even to our taste, better than our cultivated ones. After all, it would hardly be reasonable that artificial breeding should be able to outdo our great and powerful mother, Nature. We have so burdened the beauty and richness of her works by our innovations that we have entirely stifled her. Yet whenever she shines forth in her purity she puts our vain and frivolous enterprises amazingly to shame. . . . All our efforts cannot create the nest of the tiniest bird: its structure, its beauty, or the usefulness of its form; nor can we create the web of the lowly spider. All things, said Plato are produced by nature, chance, or human skill, the greatest and most beautiful things by one of the first two, the lesser and most imperfect, by the latter. . . .

These nations seem to me, then, barbaric in that they have been little refashioned by the human mind and are still quite close to their original naivety. They are still ruled by natural laws, only slightly corrupted by ours. They are in such a state of purity that I am sometimes saddened by the thought that we did not discover them earlier, when there were people who would have known how to judge them better than we. It displeases me that Lycurgus or Plato didn’t know them, for it seems to me that these peoples surpass not only the portraits which poetry has made of the Golden Age and all the invented, imaginary notions of the ideal state of humanity, but even the conceptions and the very aims of philosophers themselves. They could not imagine such a pure and simple naivety as we encounter in them; nor would they have been able to believe that our society might be maintained with so little artifice and social structure.

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Yes, Indeed, Cannibals Are Us, to the point we have cannibal DNA:

One thing Montaigne is right on, is to view cannibalism as nothing special. To quote Wikipedia:

Among modern humans, cannibalism has been practiced by various groups.[25] It was practiced by humans in Prehistoric Europe,[35][36] Mesoamerica[37] South America,[38]among Iroquoian peoples in North America,[39] Māori in New Zealand,[40] the Solomon Islands,[41] parts of West Africa[17] and Central Africa,[17] some of the islands of Polynesia,[17] New Guinea,[42] Sumatra,[17] and Fiji.[43] Evidence of cannibalism has been found in ruins associated with the Ancestral Puebloans of the Southwestern United States as well as (at Cowboy Wash in Colorado).[44][45][46]

Not just this: the evidence of cannibalism in humans is at least 600,000 years old. There are two reasons for it, I reckon: proteins were hard to find in the past. But not just this: by eating humans themselves, humans prevented predators to acquire a taste for human flesh, a paramount security consideration  around potentially human eating predators. Eating dead humans is then, indeed, nothing special, having two good reasons for it. What of the possibility of prion disease? (That was found in North Africa, and the Fore of New Guinea, who were too enthusiastic in eating their parents, causing the prion disease kuru).

In 2003, a publication in Science magazine suggested that prehistoric humans practiced extensive cannibalism, to the point human genetics adapted to this practice. According to this research, genetic markers commonly found in modern humans, worldwide, suggest that today many people carry a gene providing protection against the brain diseases that can be spread by consuming human brain tissue… A study of the Fore, an isolated tribe living in Papua New Guinea by Simon Mead, John Collinge and colleagues, at the MRC’s Prion Unit at University College London, found evidence that a gene variant arose in some of the Fore to protect against a deadly prion disease transmitted by their former cannibalistic habits. Prion diseases include CJD in humans and BSE – mad cow disease – in cattle.

The team found from analysing DNA samples that the same protective gene variant is common in people all over the world. This led the researchers to conclude that it evolved when cannibalism was widespread, in order to shield cannibals from prion diseases lurking in the flesh of victims.

https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn18172-gene-change-in-cannibals-reveals-evolution-in-action/

A DNA debate ensued, but my hunch is that the cannibalistic protection gene has got to exist, for the ubiquitous reasons I gave. Why New Guinea Highlanders are susceptible may have to do paradoxically with cannibalism being less practiced in that lush area since it was colonized by humans…

I suggested that cannibalism had, in part to do with not giving predators a taste for human flesh (notice the expression). Guess what? Native mammal fauna of New Guinea lacks large predators, so what I see as a main reason for cannibalism was absent in New Guinea! (Right, there are both Saltwater and Freshwater crocodiles in New Guinea, but those saurians are not smart enough to develop distinguished and cultural culinary habits, differently from felines, hyenas, canids, bears, eagles, etc.)

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Montaigne had little imagination:

If eating dead humans is then, indeed, nothing special, having two good reasons for it, not eating humans is a deviation from normalcy. Thus, not eating humans is an indication of civilization, that most striking anomaly life ever evolved.

In the 21th Century, the Disney company has a problem: patrons spreading around the ashes of their loved ones (which they put in medication bottles as large containers are checked). Haunted houses are a preferred place. People can be weird, but there is nothing weird about cannibalism (psychiatrist associations have refused to label cannibalism a mental disease).

The word “cannibalism” is derived from Caníbales, the Spanish name for the Caribs, whom Columbus encountered. (Some say the Spaniards invented the word in analogy with the Latin “canis”, mixing it with the sound for the karina as the islanders described themselves). Dog eat dog, in other words… In any case, “cannibalism” was introduced in France in 1515 CE.  

Spanish conquistadores observed that the Carib Indians were cannibals who regularly ate roasted human flesh. There is evidence as to the taking of human trophies and the ritual cannibalism of war captives among both Carib and other Amerindian groups such as the Arawak and Tupinamba (the ones from Brazil Montaigne knew best). The Caribs themselves were invaders from South America, having arrived around 1200 and displaced the indigenous Tainos. With the Mexican Aztecs, cannibalism took industrial proportions (and turned out into their undoing).

In long prose I will not bother to reproduce here, Montaigne makes an idyllic description of cannibalism: something that happened peacefully after death. What a dearth of imagination!

Real cannibalism is something else. Did Montaigne think about the problem of indigestion? One does not want to eat too much meat at one time. How to preserve the meat, when one has no salt, no cold drying wind, no deep freezing lakes? Well, one can eat the meat, one piece at a time. Over a period of weeks.

In 1910, the American anthropologist, A P Rice, described how the people of the Marquesas Islands ritualistically killed their captives.

First, they broke their legs, to stop them running away, then they broke their arms, to stop them resisting. This was an unhurried killing, because the Marquesans enjoyed observing their victim contemplating his fate. Eventually, the man would be skewered and roasted.

Nuku Hiva has a population of just over 2000 and has a history of cannibalism, but the practice was believed to have ceased. Not so sure. In any case, when battling the enemy, eating him, or her, can be viewed as the ultimate insult. So it was perceived for many cannibalisms, such as the one in New Zealand.(Dishonoring the dead is a long practice for cherished enemies: see Obama with Bin Laden.)

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If One Really Hates Them, One May As Well, Eat Them Alive:

(No, I won’t tweet that one! Such a statement will be evilly contextualized by the ill-minded and the mentally challenged…)

Long ago, I read extensive nineteenth century description of cannibalism in Oceania (I searched but could not find references). It goes from the humoristic to the grim. On the humoristic side, that time when the British delegation to New Zealand was invited to celebrate a treaty with the Maoris, with an extensive Luau comprising many roasted Natives.

That we have so much indications of cannibalism in Oceania is per the nature of islands (small, no extensive crops to raid after killing the peasants), and the fact these were Neolithic societies, equivalent to those found in Europe before the Mesopotamian farmers and their intensive agriculture crops colonized Europe, 7,000 years ago… (So, it’s not anti-Pacific Islander racism; actually the ethnicities of those islanders vary a lot, between Filipino derived and Melanesian… History is complicated, and not PC, as the case of New Zealand shows…)

One grim truth is that, in hot tropical climate, without refrigeration, some captives were eaten, ALIVE,  piece by piece over a period of days, or even weeks (not to say that Europeans wouldn’t do such a thing: the assassin of one of the “Orange” leaders of the Netherlands, William the Silent, was publicly tortured to death over several days).

The necessity to eat some people alive, under some circumstances, illustrates clearly that cannibalism, or the absence thereof, is dependent upon the environment and technology, not just the “mores”: there are widespread rumors that the Wehrmacht resorted to cannibalism in Stalingrad (in any case, the Wehrmacht’s Sixth Army resorted to practices, like torture to death, which are fully documented, in Poland, France, and Russia…)

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Conclusion: As an indication of barbarity, eating people is neither here, nor there. Eating corpses when there is no other choice, is viewed as correct, even in the most conservative societies. The real barbarity is to set-up, or contribute to set-up, or tolerate situations where cannibalism would be a natural outcome. It goes without saying that, in a world of 8 billion people highly dependent on international trade to feed themselves (most energy is traded, at this point), a serious war would disrupt trade, and invite cannibalism.

Montaigne, by claiming that what we do not practice we view as barbaric, and, by claiming implicitly that this was legitimate, or by transmogrifying cannibalism into something nice, voided the concept of barbarity from any content.

To stay attached to the notion of progress, we have to be able to distinguish between what is bad and what is better. For example, having a situation where one has to eat one’s enemy alive is bad, and a situation in which we have no enemy is better.

Montaigne, dejected by the Saint Bartholomew massacre launched by his Catholic party was led to hint that Catholics viewed Protestants as barbaric, just because of their different ways (“usage”). Understood. However, the concept that barbarity is entirely relative has since taken a life of its own: one can see it loud and clear in Nazism (Himmler recommended to his men, after their daily massacres, of civilians, women and children, to immerse themselves to eternal German culture, complete with soothing classical music).

Cultural multiculturalism, in its extreme contemporary form, claims we can’t judge other cultures. Or even other cultures’ ideas and practices. If religiously endowed, the more horrendous practices, sexual mutilations or executions, are tolerated.

For example, Pakistan’s court condemned a young Christian woman, Asia Noreen – commonly known as Asia Bibi, to be executed for allegedly insulting Islam during a dispute with neighbors (she already spent eight years on death row). The Pakistan Supreme Court ordered her freed in November 2018, but she was left in prison as the Islamists called for her death. Her senior male lawyer, saying he regretted nothing, fled Pakistan.

Such behaviors from powers in Pakistan depict barbarity unchained: in the place known as Pakistan, at some point Jihadists invaded, and imposed their barbarity (centuries after Christianism peacefully seduced Pakistanis). That Islamists use terror doesn’t make terror any less barbaric. Michel de Montaigne would have us believe that, because terror is a usage of Jihadists, we shouldn’t call it barbaric, as they use it, and we, the secular civilians, don’t. Well, that’s swine level reasoning.

We can only love those we can debate, as, at worst, they provide us with the occasion to prove them wrong. At best, they make us more intelligent, wiser and knowledgeable, making us stronger. So I love Montaigne more than ever, even though my esteem for him went down a lot, while Rousseau’s, to my dismay, went up.

I am a real multicultural, multilingual, even multi continental fanatic. I even call Chinese history home, although I grew up (mostly) in Africa. Good multiculturalism is to pick and choose particular elements of the hundreds of culture we have at our disposal, and reject others we find horrid. I understand what Native North Americans were up to, with their tortures to death. I also understand and appreciate the psychology and traditions which motivated the “47 Ronins. I know very well that some Africans traits viewed as primitive, are actually more advanced. But in all this there is one meta principles: some ideas and feelings are more advanced than others. Comparing, or accepting, cultures wholesale is naive, even criminal.

Patrice Ayme

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Notes:

  1. Parroted by Levi Strauss in Race et Histoire, Unesco, 1952, pp. 19 sq.

“Dans les Grandes Antilles, quelques années après la découverte de l’Amérique, pendant que les Espagnols envoyaient des commissions d’enquête pour rechercher si les indigènes possédaient ou non une âme, ces derniers s’employaient à immerger des blancs prisonniers afin de vérifier par une surveillance prolongée si leur cadavre était ou non, sujet à la putréfaction.

Cette anecdote à la fois baroque et tragique illustre bien le paradoxe du relativisme culturel (que nous retrouverons ailleurs sous d’autres formes) : c’est dans la mesure même où l’on prétend établir une discrimination entre les cultures et les coutumes que l’on s’identifie le plus complètement avec celles qu’on essaye de nier. En refusant l’humanité à ceux qui apparaissent comme les plus “sauvages” ou ” barbares ” de ses représentants, on ne fait que leur emprunter une de leurs attitudes typiques. Le barbare, c’est d’abord l’homme qui croit à la barbarie.”

Notice that this piece of brain-dead sophistry minded devious apology of extreme multiculturalism was published by the United Nations. Now the UN can be proud that non-Muslims get executed in Pakistan for just being non-Muslim (as many Islam texts say they should).

Translation: “In the Greater Antilles, a few years after the discovery of America, while the Spaniards sent commissions of inquiry to find out whether the natives had a soul or not, the natives were trying to immerse white prisoners to check by prolonged surveillance if their body was or was not, subject to putrefaction.

This baroque and tragic anecdote illustrates the paradox of cultural relativism (which we will find elsewhere in other forms): it is to the very extent that we claim to discriminate between cultures and customs that we identify ourselves most completely with those we try to deny. By denying humanity to those who appear to be the most “savage” or “barbarian” of its representatives, one only borrows one of their typical attitudes. The barbarian is first and foremost the man who believes in barbarism.

“The barbarian is first and foremost the man who believes in barbarism?” that’s Levi-Strauss parroting Montaigne, denying there is such a thing as barbarity. Here Levi Strauss is poorly informed, repeating mindlessly a racist insult (against Spaniards): the notion of Indians having a soul was never put in doubt by the Spaniards: that’s precisely why they tried to convert them to Catholicism, as ordered by the Pope! Thus, irony of ironies, the holier-than-thou Levi-Strauss proclaims those who believe in barbarity barbarians, while himself indulging in fake news, fake, and racially insulting data, trying to make us believe that the Conquistadors were themselves delirious stupid racist brutes (they could be as brutish as needed, but were nether racist, nor stupid: for example, Cortez’s relationship with La Malinche, a multilingual Yucatan Princess, was crucial for the conquest… He recognized the children.)

***

(2) Rousseau parroted Montaigne, but not just... It is often said that Rousseau parroted Montaigne, but, reading the originals, I didn’t find just this. Instead I found this:

Ce qu’il y a de plus cruel, encore, c’est que, tous les progrès de l’espèce humaine l’éloignant sans cesse de son état primitif, plus nous accumulons de nouvelles connaissances et plus nous nous ôtons les moyens d’acquérir la plus importante de toutes, et que c’est en un sens à force d’étudier l’homme que nous nous sommes mis hors d’état de le connaître.

“What is most cruel, still, is that, as all the progress of the human species constantly removes it ever more from its primitive state, the more we accumulate new knowledge and the more we take away from us the means to acquire the most important knowledge of all, and that it is in a sense the more we study man, the more we put ourselves out of the state necessary to know him.”

This is correct in the sense of the salons Rousseau frequented, but not in the sense of laboratories exploring dendrites and neurotransmitters. Such a quote is also extremely far from the myth of the “Bon Sauvage” attributed to Rousseau…

However it remains that Rousseau held that men in a state of nature do not know good and evil, but their independence, along with “the peacefulness of their passions, and their ignorance of vice”, keep them from doing ill (A Discourse…, 71-73). Curious that Rousseau never heard of the systematic usage of lethal, prolonged torture among North American Natives, as the way to end prisoners’ lives… That was extremely well documented and known at the time, so one can see Rousseau was extremely biased, to the point of idiocy.

I tied in Montaigne’s divagations with Jihadism. So did Rousseau, I discovered after I wrote the preceding… except that Rousseau approves of Jihadism, Christian or Islamist, and approves of burning libraries:

They say that Caliph Omar, when consulted about what had to be done with the library of Alexandria, answered as follows: ‘If the books of this library contain matters opposed to the Koran, they are bad and must be burned. If they contain only the doctrine of the Koran, burn them anyway, for they are superfluous.’ Our learned men have cited this reasoning as the height of absurdity. However, suppose Gregory the Great was there instead of Omar and the Gospel instead of the Koran. The library would still have been burned, and that might well have been the finest moment in the life of this illustrious pontiff.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on the Sciences and Arts (1st Discourse) and Polemics

***

3) So what’s barbarian?

Barbarian is relative to the circumstances. For example, many elements of the doctrine advocated by Muhammad, in his day, and age, and place of worship, was not barbarian… but, just the opposite, progressive! However, now, it both barbarian and regressive.  

Christianism, though, is another matter. When Constantine imposed “Catholic Orthodoxy” that was definitively barbarian and regressive. It opened an anti-intellectual abyss under Greco-Roman civilization it collapsed into.

PA

Why Plutocrats Hate France: Liberty, Equality, Fraternity

September 19, 2018

If Israel Is The Elected People Why Vote Again? (Thus,) Does the Biblical God Want To Kill The Jews?

July 28, 2018

Israeli philosopher Omri Boehm asks in the New York Times: “Did Israel Just Stop Trying to Be a Democracy”?

I generally do not comment much on Israel. My reasons are deep, tenebrous, far inside the vigorous flames of the circles of hell at the center of my philosophical system, sustaining the whole thing, just as the sun-like molten iron heart of Earth supports the heavenly biosphere… Just as the Dark Side supports the Enlightenment, as the Yin and Yang define each other…

But, as the New York Times itself decides to show some guts, so must I… I will not be outdone by commoners! (A very extended version of my published comment is below; it was approved by just 2 people, whereas comments in the Israel Uber Alles style, were approved by more than 100… Serious Jews are into introspection…)

Satrapies (subordinated plutocracies) were small in the West immense in the east. In any case, the Achaemenid (“Persian”) empire was extremely multiethnic… And extremely advanced: news came from all over the empire to Persepolis in one week with an efficient road network, and a pony express… (The real extent of the empire was even greater than that, going all the way to Ethiopia, and Oman was part of it…)

Dr, Boehm writes:”Last week, Israel’s government pushed through Parliament a new law calling Israel the “nation-state of the Jewish people.” That statement may sound like a truism — and in some respects it is one — but the implications of it officially being made are monumental.

In 1948, the Declaration of Independence, the text that marks the founding of Israel, created a Jewish state that would ensure “complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex.” Since then, the question of how Israel could be both Jewish and democratic has been the object of fierce controversy.

The effort to guarantee equal rights for non-Jews has at times seemed like trying to square a circle. Last week, Israel gave up on even trying.

implicit nod to Palestinian self-determination was driven by an overriding concern for Jewish interests, not Arab rights. In May 1948, there were about 600,000 Jews and some 1.2 million Arabs living within Palestine’s borders. With Jews in the minority, the Jewishness of a democratic Israel could only be ensured if Palestinians had a chance at self-determination. In other words, Israel’s foundational twin pledge (to be both Jewish and democratic) was hypocritical…

The system’s original contradictions are now being laid bare. Of the more than 8.2 million people living in Israel’s recognized borders today, roughly 73 percent are Jewish and 22 percent are Arab. But of the 11.8 million people who live in Israel and the West Bank, roughly 56 percent are Jewish and 40 percent are Arab. And as the prospect of a viable two-state solution has receded, so has Israel’s promise that it would provide full equality to non-Jews.

In keeping with this evolution, last week’s nation-state law says that, “The right to exercise national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.”

***

This picture symbolizes the problem. The two mosques visible (gold Dome of the Rock, etc.) were built on TOP of the Jewish Temple. OK, it may be better than latrines. But when we read that Muhammad, after his death, flew to Jerusalem on a winged horse… a heady mix of Judaism and Hellenism (remember Pegasus?)… one finds itself confronted to a fable for little children having turned lethal, for real… The Star of David is nearly two millennia older than Islam….

The theory that ethnicity commands citizenship was made most famous by the Nazis. However tribalism above anything else is one of the oldest, most primitive, and deleterious, not to say savage, lethal and criminal, ideologies. All great empires triumphed, because they rejected it, wholesale. This is what made them great. For example, the Achaemenid empire, which extended from Greece to India and Ethiopia to Central Asia, was extremely multiethnic. The Greco-Roman empire was extremely multiethnic (and so is its descendant empire, “The West”). China and India were multiethnic.

Multiethnicity is not the end all, be all: it doesn’t prevent intellectual fascism, nor, of course, the political type of fascism, as the Persians obdurately demonstrated in the last three millennia…. However, it is conducive to it…

A multiethnic empire is forced to admit that there are higher principles than origins and appearances.

Those higher principles are well-known: Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.

These principles are secular, they don’t depend upon the common superstition that the tribe at hand was chosen by “god” to be tops! Or the elected people”, or even the definition of “man” (as happened in many tribes).

The “Elected People” theory backfired spectacularly in the confrontation between the Jews and their mental offspring. First in the Fourth Century, Roman emperor Theodosius I legislated that the Christians were the Elected People, and “heretics” (“those who made a choice”) were to be burned. Finally the “Elected People” theory, reinforced by the Christo-Darwinist mindset led to apply the “selection of the fittest” to Judaism: the Nazis insisted that they were the “Elected People”, elected by their own will, not a “god” scared of shrimps and hogs who insisted on sexual mutilations…

The irony, then, is that the Jewish god is of an inferior sort, scared of hogs and shrimps. Hence the Jewish god favors superstition heavily: doesn’t it favor its “elected people”?  Actually it’s no favor to believe in all the stupidities in the Bible: it makes those who believe in them incredibly dumb. One may argue that they are made dumb on details. No. They are made dumb on the principle that dumbness has to be the ultimate ruler.

Thus, paradoxically, the Jewish god, who defines Israel, is its worse enemy. How did that occur? The vicious tribal fascism and exterminationism found in the Bible was a great help in the dog eat dog world which followed the simultaneous collapse of all the civilizations of the Middle Earth around 1117 BCE and, or, from the “conspiracy of the Sea People” (Pharaoh dixit)… Although versions of desiccated Egypt survived, and Greece would revive, mightier than ever, within three centuries.

The vicious exterminationism found in the Bible provided a justification for the methods Israel had to use, simply to exist. Before the Muslims crow:’We told you so!’, let me point out the original, literal version of Islam has exactly the same problem… And just as with Israel, that was the key to its early success. It’s no coincidence, but causation: in the grander scheme of thing, Islam is just a variant of Judaism, endowed with a similar ultra-violence (the Qur’an quotes approvingly Lot in the Bible on how to treat homosexuals:”with a rain of stones”; the Bible is the constant context of all of Islam, the “Messenger of god” Muhammad’s fundamental theme being that Jews and Christians didn’t abide correctly by the unvarnished Bible).

All this ultra-violence and ultra-discrimination? All the way to the ovens.

***

So why am I (nevertheless) pro-Israel? (But one should push my patience too far…) It’s not just a question of the enemy of my enemy being my friend. (Moreover, it’s not clear who is friend, who is enemy!) It’s not just a question of historical justice: Judaism is more than twice older than Islam. When the Islamists established mosques on top of THE temple of the Jews, they were symbolically put their feet on Israel’s face.

The Roman emperor Hadrian had kicked the Jews out of Jerusalem after the second Judaic War (135 CE). However, the decision, applauded by the fanatical Saint Augustine after 400 CE, didn’t have to be definitive: Roman emperor Julian had ordered the reconstruction of the Great Temple in 362 CE. Julian in the surviving Fragment of a Letter to a (Pagan) Priest: “I myself…intended to restore it [the Jerusalem Temple], in honor of the god whose name has been associated with it.” (Works, vol. 2., pp. 297–339.) Sixth-century historian Lydus quotes him, “I raise with the utmost zeal the Temple of the Highest God.

Some may scoff:’Who cares about a Roman emperor?’ Well, our present regimes are descendants from Rome… As our law is, in its fundamental nature, Roman (extended to women and children). Moreover, morality (the mores) is entangled with law: what we consider legal is moral, and reciprocally.

In the best of possible world, the Middle East would free itself from the Biblical god: Arabic speaking peoples would harness the know-how of the Hebrew speaking people… But the complexity arises when one realizes that (some, many) Israelis, or, at least, Israeli companies, are so smart, precisely because their lives depend upon their smarts. The Dark Side, violence requires, enables and invigorates, higher mental functions. Such is the darkest of the dark.

Abominable are the flowers of infamy, yet beautifully mighty!

***

Conclusion? Tribalists are worse than fascists, or racists: they are followers of principles which reduce mental diversity, thus intelligence. Hence, in the end, tribalists are those whom much higher principles, which they are busy denying, subjugate. Israel may thrive right now by going solo in the world of decency and common sense. But solo is solo, and that’s dangerous, as all dead solo climbers, my friends, can testify.

Patrice Ayme

***

***

Note: The NYT decided the following comment was to be lauded (and it was approved by 100 times more readers than mine!). I reproduce it as it is, complete with its atrocious orthography (the New York Times has to live according to its picks:

pirranha299

PhiladelphiaJuly 26

Times Pick

Why is Israel, a country the relative size of a postage stamp, the Worlds one and only Jewish state always singled out for opprobrium no matter what it does.  The Arabs have 28 plus countries. Is it too much to ask that they can have a law that makes it official that its a Jewish State? Can’t Jews have one little state of their own?

Israel is a Democracy..This law does not change that.  It has a vibrant press, minority represention in its democratically elected legislature, and an independent judicial system that acts as check on the executive and legislative branches. As is typical, If Israel is not perfect the anti-Semites and Anti-zionists will take one element they disagree with and conglate it to portray all of Israel as “a Nazi state” and demonize it as a threat to World peace. Of course they say nothing when the true dictatorships demonize Israel, point out Israel’s flaws as existential threats to “their Palestinian brothers” while ignoring  their own brethrens terrorism, racism, and militirism.

Israel as the only Jewish State will always be outvoted by the far more numerous Arab and Muslim States. The author cites ” Israel’s right wing government” in a pejorative sense. If it can be categorized that way it’s because the People democratically voted it in. If it fails it can be voted out. Thats democracy.

***

The answer to this sort of logic is that we have seen it before, with Sparta. There was only one Spartan state. Sparta enslaved another city-state: Messene, to its west, a unique case in Greece. It didn’t finish well for Sparta… Although Sparta was an independent state for more than a millenium (longer than Israel), it ultimately disappeared. Athens didn’t: in the middle Middle Ages, Paris was considered to be the “imperial translation” of Athens: many of the best principles of Athens were taken over by Paris, a rebirth of Athens. Sparta though was dead, and stayed dead… Except if Israel takes itself as the new Sparta? Well, Sparta didn’t have the equivalent of Orthodox Jews: they would have been put to death immediately…

 

Rage Can Be Good: Reflecting On the Iliad’s Achilles

May 20, 2018

WISDOM: IT ENCOMPASSES OF ALL EMOTIONS, EVEN RAGE CAN BE DRAFTED AS AN ENGINE OF CREATION:

Achilles’ rage is the engine of Homer’s Iliad, it makes the story much more interesting, including the tragic figure of Hector, who does everything right, just to be dragged around the walls, as a piece of garbage. A frequent mistake is to identify rage, the engine of creation of the Iliad, with the cause of much unhappiness among the participants.  Actually, Homer attributes a cause to the rage, and, it’s… forgetfulness. Thus Homer condemns, ultimately, not a basic emotion, rage, but the erroneous logical processing of Achilles: Achilles forgot what he was there for.

What is the nature of wisdom? How all-encompassing is wisdom? Some want to clip wisdom’s wings, consign it to something tame, with few emotions. This is completely erroneous. Wisdom should encompass, and work with, all emotions. Including rage. Homer’s work and the Vedas,the Knowledge, (1700 BCE!? to 500 BCE),  teach us this.

That rage is sometimes optimal, the episode of the 1930s, appeasing the Nazis and other fascists, should have taught us. But many are still the subjects in history which justify our ire, and it should motivate us to explore them. For example why the criminal Louis XIV of France could get away with expelling all Protestants of France, and torturing the rest, or why slavery was re-introduced by Europeans in the Americas… a full millennium after being outlawed  in Western Europe (by the Franks who ruled most of it). This is one of the reasons why anger is good.

***

No Achilles, No Iliad:

Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey are Europe’s oldest literature (India’s oldest wisdom in writing, the Veda, is older). That oldest work from the 8th century BCE can still move us today is a testament to the genius of old thinking, and, in particular Homer (whoever he, or they, was/were).

Both works are full of larger-than-life figures, among them Achilles in the Iliad, and Odysseus in the homonymous epic. As Massimo Pigliucci discussed in the past, Odysseus was considered by all the major philosophical schools, each interpreting his story to serve their mentalities. For the Stoics, Odysseus was a role model.

Greco-Macedonian Phalanx, Ready to Promote Civilization, Gender Equality and Democracy

Massimo says: “But what about Achilles? I must confess, I never liked the guy. All brawns and no brains (exactly the opposite of Odysseus), he never appealed to my nerdy self. And I always thought his treatment of Hector’s body after their epic battle was irredeemably shameful. More recently, though, I started thinking about him specifically from a Stoic perspective. Particularly the pivotal episode near the beginning of the Iliad, when Achilles gets pissed off at Agamemnon, the head of the Greek expedition to Troy (and brother of Menelaus, the husband that Helen left for Paris, thus allegedly triggering the war itself).

It’s worth recounting the episode in some detail. Agamemnon has taken a woman named Chryseis as his slave. Chryseis’ father, however, is a priest of Apollo, and he asks the god to return his daughter. Since Agamemnon refuses, Apollo sends a plague to the Greek camp to make a convincing case. The prophet Calchas diagnoses the problem correctly, but refuses to speak up unless he secures Achilles’ protection. When the hero grants it, Agamemnon is forced to return Chryseis. Petty as he usually is, he takes revenge on Achilles, demanding the latter’s battle prize, Briseis, in reparation for the loss of Chryseis. It is now Achilles’ turn to get pissed off and petty: out of spite, he goes on strike and refuses to lead the Greeks into battle. Hence the famous opening lines of the Iliad:

“Sing, Goddess, of the rage of Peleus’ son Achilles,

the accursed rage that brought great suffering to the Achaeans.”

(Sounds better in Italian, I think: “Cantami, o Diva, del pelide Achille / l’ira funesta che infiniti addusse / lutti agli Achei.”)

That rage quickly leads to the death of Achilles’ intimate friend, Patroclus, who had donned Achilles’ harmor to lead the Greeks in a desperate attempt to push back the advancing Trojans, and was killed by the Trojan prince Hector (who will later, in turn, be killed by Achilles).

What would the Stoics think of Achilles’ behavior? One clue is in the word “rage” used by Homer: as we know, the Stoics thought that anger was the most devastating of the pathē, the unhealthy emotions, to be avoided at all costs. But we don’t have to speculate much, as Epictetus addresses the episode directly:

“And when did Achilles come to grief? When Patroclus died? Far from it. But rather, when he himself yielded to anger, when he wept over a young girl, when he forgot that he was there, not to acquire mistresses, but to make war. These are the ways in which human beings are brought to grief, this is the siege, this the razing of the citadel, when right judgements are overturned, when they are destroyed.” (Discourses I.29-24-25)

The “citadel” being razed here is not Troy, but the very same one so often mentioned by Marcus Aurelius in the Meditations: our ruling faculty, the hêgemonikon, a term closely related to Epictetus’ favorite one, prohairesis (our capacity of judgment). Achilles’ true loss did not occur when his friend was killed, but when he himself lost the way of reason (assuming he ever had it, since there is little evidence of that).”

***

Achilles: the Wrongs and Rights of Rage:

One can live big now. Yes, it requires sacrifices. Yes one can die from it like in old times. Yes, that’s how really new, bold and deep ideas appear, and otherwise they will never blossom.

Rage can be bad, rage can be good. It depends upon circumstances: how the rage arose, if it is justified, what it will achieve. As all human emotions, it is present, because it has evolutionary value. All revolutions were propelled by rage, and without them, there would be no advancing civilization.

Achilles increasing rage is an example of the wrong sort of rage, which scrambles a proper consideration of reality. Yet, Achilles’ problem is not so much rage, than having a wrong hierarchy of motivating factors in his logical processing: he “forgot”. Consider the revealingly truncated quote of Epictetus:

when did Achilles come to grief? …when he forgot that he was there, not to acquire mistresses, but to make war. These are the ways in which human beings are brought to grief, this is the siege, this the razing of the citadel, when right judgements are overturned, when they are destroyed

Basically, Achilles came to Troy and then engaged in the wrong activities: that shaped his mind wrong, “overturning right judgements”.

Achilles forgot that, when one makes war, one makes war, not love. Love making scrambles his war logic, his hierarchy of motivations, and cautions, he overlooks the fact that his absence will force his friends to take desperate measures endangering them. (After the death of his friend which he caused, Achilles further compounds the problem by directing further rage at the stoic Hector, whom he uses to hide his own culpability… from himself!)

Conclusion: our logical systems are shaped by our experiences. Examining one’s logic is not enough for the wisest: the logic can be perfect, and still wrong in a more general setting. One has to examine one’s entire mental input, that is, one’s entire life, to find out where one’s logic comes from… And judge it optimally.

Some will sneer that I spoke of rights and wrongs of rage, and then just mentioned wrongs.

But, of course, Achilles is famous, and awesome, because of his rage, and how destiny changing rage is: Achilles’ rage wins battles… Achilles, the Iliad, is a poem about how rage is the maker of destiny, thus, how Greece won… and how the West, in more than one sense, was won… From anger, not just meditation. Accursed rage, yes, but then there is rage of the other sort!

 

Massimo

May 10, 2018 • 1:58 pm

“Rage can be bad, rage can be good. It depends upon circumstances”

Not according to the Stoics, there are no circumstances under which it is good to shut off reason, which is what rage does.

***

Patrice Ayme:

Massimo: Thanks for the answer, it made me think. As often in matters philosophical, semantics is at the core of the debate.

I would suggest that rage doesn’t shut off reason, necessarily. Instead, it switches reason to the combat mode, a form of reason which enabled the human genus to survive, when it sustainably invaded and occupied lion territory. The real question is whether combat is justified. Any reasonable human would say that, quite often, there are situations where combat is justified. Socrates, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius said so, explicitly.

There are many ways to use a brain. There are many forms of reasons, and many reasons, and even forms of reasons, used by working brains. If I drive a car, while making an impassioned discourse about Rome’s Second Triumvirate, two sorts of reasons are at work: one quasi-automatic driving, the other, historical. However, the part of my brain operating the vehicle works flawlessly: otherwise I would have an accident.

When in combat, reason is still there, but it mobilizes the full combat brain: after a Greek phalanx uttered the Alala or a Roman legion the Barritus, shaking the plain, terrifying the enemy, the only “reason” that’s left is the reason of combat. It is akin to rage: consider the furia francese, the “berserker” Viking, the “amok” Malay or Indonesian. A human being in full combat mode is an awesome sight which makes even lions think twice (when lions see a Masai warrior, they take to flight).

Combat thinking is particularly important for philosophical, or any sort of mental, moral, progress. It is no accident that so many top philosophers were combat ready, or otherwise obviously unafraid, although they faced enormous threats, including, of course, death. Socrates came first to fame through his military exploits. And, as many a philosopher, he pursued his work, confronted to threats on his life:

…”take Socrates and observe that he had a wife and children, but he did not consider them as his own; that he had a country, so long as it was fit to have one, and in such a manner as was fit; friends and kinsmen also, but he held all in subjection to law and to the obedience due to it. For this reason he was the first to go out as a soldier, when it was necessary, and in war he exposed himself to danger most unsparingly. (Epictetus, Discourses, 4.1)

Combat mentality, akin to rage, enables, motivates, mental breakthroughs, because any mental breakthrough is, if formidable enough, something that tramples other minds, forcing them to reorganize, a form of ultimate aggression. The entire Iliad and Odyssey is there to tell us, first, that the deepest understanding only blossoms out of turmoil. Because a higher, more optimized mental order can only arise, after destroying the one before. To cut the Gordian Knot of obsolete reason, violence is the only way, whether we like it, or not, as Alexander pointed out.

Even Christ knew this: “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. [Matthew 10:34]

***

Massimo, on May 12, 2018, replied:

Patrice, two objections. First, we are not often in a combat mentality. Arguably, outside of actual combat, we shouldn’t be. Hence the idea of not relying on rage.

Second, Seneca rightly says that sure, an angry soldier is braver. So is a drunk one, but we don’t want our soldiers to be drunk on the job, because it would impair their decision making. So does rage.

Intrigued, “Chuchu” intervened, May 13, 2018: Is rage necessary for combat?

Massimo interestingly observed that:

Chuchu, Yes for Aristotle. No for Seneca. Seneca says that an angry soldier may be courageous, but he is also going to act rushly [sic] because of his rage. He makes the parallel with being drunk: that also gives you courage, but it impairs your judgment. We wouldn’t want drunk soldiers in the battlefield, right?

[Yeah we surely should use Seneca, a giant plutocratic vulture, Nero’s teacher to tell us right from wrong…One of the very wrong aspects of present-day Stoicism: all too busy justifying moral monsters…]

***

Patrice Ayme: 

Massimo,

Top mental creation is in combat always. That’s nearly its definition. A really new idea, especially if true, requires mental reorganization of those submitted to it, so it will always be perceived as an aggression… be it only because it requires work, either to repel it, and even more, to accept it.

Also top thinkers tend to walk their talk. Thus, many of the most famous thinkers found themselves in combat situations: after the Vatican imprisoned and tortured Giordano Bruno for seven years, he was tortured in public and burned alive (1600). That persuaded Galileo to submit. Those two were among dozens of intellectuals killed in that generation, just between France and Italy. And it keeps on going: hundreds of intellectuals and artists are listed in Wikipedia as killed in the period 1940-1945. So, whether they want it or not, top intellectuals often find themselves cornered like Cicero or Boetius. Milder forms of combat exist: the US physicist Bohm was out of a job (at Princeton), thrown out of the US where he was born, and denied the Nobel Prize (he experimentally demonstrated the Gauge Field importance in quantum physics)… just because he refused to collaborate with Senator McCarthy.

***

The Human Species Would Not Even Exist, Without A Proclivity To Combat, & It’s Neurologically Deep:

Not to say it has to be approved. It’s just a fact, a major one, and we have to consider it.

Rage is not necessary for combat, but an even worse state is. In real combat, or in situation where one’s life is in extreme danger, the ideal state is a total neuronal commitment to survival. So the perception of pain (of oneself, or others) disappears, completely. The mental concentration mobilizes the entire brain, enormous strength appears, dedication to the task at hand is the only thing that exist. I have myself experienced this more than once, either under attack, or engaging in solo climbing or deep-sea apnea diving. This is why dangerous thrills are addictive. it is also why and because reason shrinks in combat, and forms a lance to pierce the enemy.

Unwarranted rage is a state derived from maximal combat ardor, a neurohormonal and brain state which is such that the combatant doesn’t fear death, at all. Thus rage is combat readiness, without the release of actual combat. In that state, hundreds of thousands of soldiers have stormed walls on top of wobbling ladders, pierced by arrows, drenched by boiling liquids.

Human brains are pickled with reward centers. Hatred, rage, combat, risk taking, life endangerment (of oneself and others) are all behaviors which come with rewarding neuronal mechanisms. Once engaged in these behaviors, they are, all too often not perceived as evil by the perpetrators.

Avoiding hatred and anger at any cost brings an opportunity to do it much more, for those whose good pleasure is to so indulge. As one gets killed by a cruel tyrant, pitying said tyrant with all of one’s might, doesn’t redress the situation, it makes it way worse, it even enables evil, as Hannah Arendt courageously observed (she was pretty much hated for daring to point that out…)

***
Massimo

May 13, 2018 • 4:26 pm

Patrice,

it is simply not true that rage is the only way to get people focused. While it is true that rage has all sorts of negative side effects, especially on one’s moral judgment. Which is the point of the Stoic criticism of anger.

***

Massimo has a 3 day reply limit, let’s we get too deep in a subject, so I didn’t reply. I have been in combat situations, or situations akin to combat, more than once. I have also been angry more than once. The neurological statuses are related. Refusing one totally, is refusing the other. All revolutions were based crucially on rage. Refusing revolutions is refusing evolution, and getting rid of parasitic elements in society, such as plutocracy, and the more organized the plutocracy, the harsher the, necessary, revolution.

All stoics were plutocracy compatible: the invention, blossoming and thriving of Stoicism coincide with the Hellenistic dictatorships. Seneca was a terrible person. Had a Nuremberg like tribunal been held after Nero’s destruction (on order of the Roman Senate), Seneca would have been condemned to be hanged (hopefully as slowly as Von Ribbentrop, Keitel and their ilk). I am not angry, or enraged, writing this: the fact is, examples have to established better paradigms. Had such a tribunal been held, the Republic, a more democratic Republic, could have been re-established. Instead what we got is more of the same: Vespasian and Titus were correct emperors, but Titus died within two years and was succeeded by his brother Domitian, who reigned for two decades of terror, in particular, philosophical terror. Under Domitian, Epictetus  and his “Stoicism” thrived in Rome…meaning “Stoicism”, revered by Massimo, was Domitian compatible (Domitian was very aware philosophically, he knew very well how and why to kill most philosophers and philosophies…)

Now, of course, it is easy for me to say all of this, because “Stoicism” is not my tax-deductible business… So I am free to see it for what it is: like rage, stoicism is sometimes indispensable. Yet, as Socrates correctly raged about, conflating teaching and income leads to very poor wisdom, and thus the fall of the City… The deer eaten by the wolves has to be stoic, yes. But then, we shouldn’t be deer.

Achilles’ rage is the engine of the Iliad, thus of history, and a good story. Yet, it’s not rage which drove him astray. It is forgetfulness. That’s Homer’s wisdom, in full. Without rage, and his amazing combat performance, which is related to it, Achilles simply would not have been, and the Greeks would not have defeated Troy, 12 centuries ago.

Rage is here, it is around, peoples, nations, governments, not only experience it, they compute with it: watch the recent exploits of Hamas and Israel, which got scores of civilians, down to an 8 months baby killed: Hamas computed that rage would break the fence. Israel replied that its own ferocity was too great for Gaza’s rage to overwhelm it psychologically…

Considering humanity without considering rage, is to miss the biggest picture… The first hominid who got enraged against lions, tried to do something about them. We would not be here without her (or him)…

Patrice Ayme

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Note: “People are unjust to anger – it can be enlivening and a lot of fun.” Philip Roth, famous US author.

Sophisticated Enough Intelligence Is About Choice, Thus “Evil”!

May 19, 2018

To Build Truly Intelligent Machines, Teach Them Cause and Effect, says Judea Pearl, a recipient of the prestigious Turing Medal, a prize given to top logicians. In Quanta, this pioneering figure in Artificial Intelligence, AI, argues that AI has been stuck in a decades-long rut induced by correlation science. Mr. Pearl’s prescription for progress? Teach machines to understand the question why. We have sunk so low, cognitively, that cause and effect is now viewed as “new science”:

In his latest book, “The Book of Why: The New Science of Cause and Effect,” Judea Pearl argues that AI, Artificial Intelligence, has been handicapped by an incomplete understanding of what intelligence really is. At the core of this is not understanding (anymore) that science is the set of all causation, and that this is, in turn, the backbone of intelligence itself! At fault? A long hierarchy of errors.

I couldn’t agree more with Mr. Pearl. I was actually dismayed, in recent conversations with some professors, from primary school all the way to the most prestigious academic positions, that they seemed to misunderstand profoundly what intelligence, and even science, are. And therein perhaps the source of the decay of basic knowledge in the West (relative to Asia, or, all too often to 1960s performance!) Not the ultimate cause of said decay (which is plutocracy’s evil brainwashing), but an intemediate cause in between plutocracy and the erroneous education provided in (most of) the so-called West.

Intelligence was invented, by evolution, to, first of all, enable to distinguish cause and effect. Artificial Intelligence theoreticians don’t get that yet. Why is the very basis of intelligence not discerned by AI theoreticians? Political Correctness has negatively influenced the Artificial Intelligence community… As it did so many realms of thought, and art… And that’s evil.

Intelligence is all about Judgments, some of them, terminal. Sophisticated enough AI, let alone Artificial Consciousness, will come upon, and execute, choices, thus, indulge in evil! (Specialists can think of the famous “Trolley Problem”, when a cognizant car chooses who to crush…)

PC itself was evolved by the servants of plutocracy to make us believe there were no causes, just effects. Another name for Political Correctness could be: Poor Causation. And poor causation rests on fake news. (Example: we are told that slavery was outlawed in the 19th century; actually, the Imperium Francorum, covering Europe’s core, outlawed slavery in the 7th century; had that first outlawing, 12 centuries earlier, not happened, the one in the 19th won’t have…)

“Quanta” asked Judea Pearl:  “I should ask you about the capacity for evil, which we generally think of as being contingent upon an ability to make choices. What is evil?

Indeed, Quanta is correct: the West and Islam have operated according to the metaprinciple that choices were evil (the Qur’an punishes apostasy with death; and the idea came from the very Catholic emperor Theodosius circa 380 CE).

“Heresy”, has everything to do with choice. 12th century French “heresie” denoted a philosophical school of thought from the Greek hairesisa taking or choosing for oneself, a choice, a means of taking; a deliberate plan, purpose; philosophical sect, school,” from haireisthai take, seize,” middle voice of haireinto choose“…

I have argued that the fundamental atom of choosing is in evidence with the fundamental demonstration of the Quantum process, the double-slit. That means that what all too many view as evil, choice, is at the core of physics.

Judea Pearl replied: “When you elevate your grievance above those universal norms of society, that’s evil.”

That’s too restrictive a notion of evil. It’s “evil”, not evil, and it’s evil to believe that evil is too restricted a notion…

Indeed the perception of “evil” doesn’t need “grievance”, as Quanta, Catholicism and Islamism point out.  Actually that point of view is, officially and in writing, even older: when the Roman dictator Sulla reformed the Roman state, he was driven by the idea that change (coming from We The People) was evil, intrinsically (so he re-established the prerogatives of the Senate against the Tribunes of the People).

The problem of Rome was that society had changed from its very success, massive geographical expansion, morphed ecology, etc. So the “universal norms” Judea Pearl appeals to as a solid substratum, are anything but universal… When society moves, so do “universal norms”.

And how do we know when society is moving? Well, by observing causes and effects, in other words, “causation”. When, and if, changes appears, it is diagnosed by the appearance of new causation (s). And yes, causations don’t have to be causally related to each other, or anything. (Relating causations by force, believing in a system, like monotheism, is the big mistake many a scientist, philosopher, or thinker has made… Even Nietzsche, ironically, fell into it, per his insistence to be systematically anti-system…)

The fact causation exists, is, by itself, a fact. A fact which is everywhere. I volunteered to teach some science to primary school third graders, by using a new method. I was pleasantly surprised by how much they focus on causation. They are hunting for pieces of causes and effects… In particular teaching children “the” scientific method, doesn’t work: children intuitively know there is nothing called “the” method (only Descartes and a few hundred millions mostly dead Frenchmen believe this). Children know the world is made from facts, many of them a causation: they home on these causal tidbits, because they have discovered the world of action is made from mastering them.

Fascist terror regimes know this all too well: to blunt the intelligence of potential future rebels, to prevent an inclination of the youth to make choices, thus limit what the see as “evil”, they make sure children are not taught the universe of causation… by limiting them to, say, one book to be recited by heart supposedly containing all and any causation (that’s why superstitious religion is the best friend of tyrants).

To come back to intelligence, as Doug Lenat put it: “Intelligence is ten million rules… Once you have a truly massive amount of information integrated as knowledge, then the human-software system will be superhuman, in the same sense that mankind with writing (or language itself) is superhuman compared to mankind before writing (or language itself). We look back on pre-linguistic cavemen and think ‘they weren’t quite human, were they?’ In much the same way, our descendants will look back on pre-AI homo sapiens with exactly that mixture of otherness and pity.”

There is a colossal amount of prior and tacit knowledge that humans presume other humans possess (such as “if person x knows person y, then x’s date of death can’t be earlier than y’s date of birth”). That, of course is culturally based: the 50 different types of snow of the Inuits are different  from the “facts” someone PC will find in the social networks they lurk in, or in what they search…

It gets worse: knowledge matters according to the significance it carries (that would how many significant consequences it has… including the emotional ones).

Here a very practical example: If your knowledge base is, allegedly, something an epileptic analphabet desert caravan raider said, 12 centuries ago, according to a panel of sexist generals whose idea of a good time was burning someone alive, your knowledge base is not as valuable as the best that can be obtained today.

Was I Politically Correct, just now? Of course not! I attacked a superstition invented 13 centuries ago, and about which the PC, the Politically Correct, the Plutocratic Con, told us that, if we don’t respect it, we are racist! That is, of course astoundly stupid, to the point of being evil.

However, Facebook, a large investor in AI, thus, presumably, viewing itself as a specialist of intelligence, just blocked “Génération Identitaire”, a French originated European organization, with more than 150,000 adherents, which claims that illegal immigrants should be kept out of Europe (naturally barbarians should disagree with the idea, as they did, when Rome collapsed). Facebook said it could not tolerate “hatred”. Facebook knows what is evil, and what is not evil… and will impose his notion of evil on to you: 500 millions African economic and Islam refugees in France? Excellent says Facebook. Not being happy about that? “Hatred”, Facebook calls it. Facebook is its own form of AI. Complete with a notion of evil…

For a while, what is now the USA was a land of opportunity. Now it’s turning into a land of plutocracy, and that domineering plutocracy gives the entire world an unending flow of “excellent” reasons for Europe to renew with the evil tradition, of giving birth to still another grotesque hereditary plutocracy… Where here evil means rising above what comes naturally to humanity, freedom and equality and fraternity.

You want to find, and destroy evil? You need intelligence and good capability to distinguish fairness and evil. It means adoring causation, revealing cause & effects… maximally. Causation, ferreting it maximally, is not just about AI. It’s about determining evil, absolutely. Thus indulging in choice and evil, virtually, cognitively, or effectively.

The technological singularity is a moral adventure, just as when Caesar decided to steer the Republic: it costs ever more, and in more ways than one, to become divine…

Patrice Ayme

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Note 1: In General Topology, a branch of mathematics, which is very general as it is the logic of “place, region, space” (topos in Greek), an “ultrafilter” is a maximal filter of neighborhoods (“ultrafilter” generalizes to partly ordered sets). So the notion of absolute is pertinent, even without a notion of infinity (I reject the later). Absolute morality is an ultrafilter of morality…

Note 2: The preceding maybe related to a “nerd” notion, Roko’s Basilisk... Which as many nerd notions is cleverly stupid, replacing cognition by twisted complexity…

Marx As Vituperating Racist, Proto-Nazi

May 6, 2018

… A little complement on my (mostly, but not fully) anti-Marx essay:”Marx, for terror and tyranny all along… (part of Marx’s 200th birthday celebrations). After I published it some accused me publicly on the Internet to be “anti-left” when my position is the exact opposite. Buried in my essay is the intellectual relationship of Marx with Hitler who wrote, and said, that Nazism was “half Marxist dogma“. Marx’s strident racism and violent anti-Russian attitude were mental preparations for what fascist Germany did in 1914 and then again under the Nazis. And, no, the excuse that everybody did it at the time doesn’t fly. 99% of the great thinkers of civilization were not racist, and the entire Greco-Roman empire was not racist at all (emperors came from Spain, Asia, Gaul, Arabia and Africa). Quite the opposite: the religion of the Late Greco-Roman empire, “Catholicism“, is Greek for “Universalism“.

Marxism is an ideology calling for dictatorship of something called the “proletariat”. The “proletarius” was well-known in Rome: it was the lowest part of the Plebs, the part whose only contribution to society was “proliferation”: from prolesoffspring, progeny“. The proletariat had babies, and owned nothing, but those babies. Thus the proletariat was exempt from taxes and military service.

The idea that those without even an education should exert dictatorship flies in the face of common sense: in the Roman Republic, where the office of dictator was used occasionally, during emergencies, only the best and brightest, not the lowest and least educated, could pretend to it. In practice, in “Marxist” countries, an hereditary aristocracy of the dictatorship evolved, the “apparatchik”, those of the apparatus, who knew, from birth, how to use said system, the apparatus, blossomed. The apparatchik had exclusive stores, exclusive rights (as they were the ones dictating). Such heirs are fully visible in China or (North) Korea, where they are multibillionaires. Notice that the idea that those without an education should dictate can be viewed as “Political Correctness“. (As we will see below, it all has to do with Marx’s self-hatred: Marx condemned… was he was. Marx a stridently racist anti-Jewish Jew got into anti-“capitalist”economics when his family’s capital, vineyards, suffered from Prussian policies… Paradoxes, paradoxes…)

 

Russian Communist supporters holding portraits of Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin participate in a rally marking the 100th anniversary of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in downtown Moscow on November 7, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV. Funny how Marxists need gods.

The ideology was created by Karl Marx, borrowing the good bits from others, especially Proudhon. Marx—along with his collaborator and sponsor, the heir Friedrich Engels—wrote a pamphlet called “Manifesto of the Communist Party.”

In 1867, Marx wrote the first volume of “Das Kapital” from the British Library. The second and third volumes were published posthumously, edited by Engels. Neither Marx nor a fortiori Engels belong to the proletarius, by a very long shot: so why would they want dictatorship… when Marx spent lots of time screaming he was dictated upon?

Few people who call themselves Marxists have read “Das Kapital”, just as few people calling themselves Muslims have read unabridged version of the 83,000 words Qur’an. In both cases, the idea is apparently to make a show of believing in something absurd and offensive, to upset others, and use over them the dictatorship of insult to reason. If one did read Das Kapital, or Das Koran, one can see that people who call themselves Marxists, or Muslims, have little in common with those ideologies.

Marx and Engels were not always wrong. Those founders of so-called “scientific socialism”, which was neither, took positions on Islam most of the contemporary (pseudo-) left would reject as “Orientalist” and “Islamophobic”. Marx and Engels retrospectively supported the Franks of Charles Martel against the Arabs, and the defenders of Vienna against the Turks in 1529 and 1683. These Muslim empires threatened “European development”. It was necessary to save “European civilization”. In this context, Marx and Engels also approved of the medieval aristocracy who fought the invading Mongols at the battles of Legnica/Wahlstatt in 1241, and Klodzko,  in Poland, while draining the steppe invaders at the much larger Battle of Mohi in Hungary.

To contradict those who see Marx as their hero, here are a few historical tidbits they might find interesting. (One can read the 1979 book of Nathaniel Weyl, himself a former communist, “Karl Marx: Racist”.)

Marx and Engels had plenty of ideas, not just on dictatorship, but also on empire, race, war.

When the United States annexed California after the Mexican War, Marx sarcastically asked, “Is it a misfortune that magnificent California was seized from the lazy Mexicans who did not know what to do with it?” Engels explained: “In America we have witnessed the conquest of Mexico and have rejoiced at it. It is to the interest of its own development that Mexico will be placed under the tutelage of the United States.”

Marx’s was into self-hatred. This is clear in his attacks against his fellow socialist and Jew Ferdinand Lassalle (1824-64), a Breslau native who became the founder of German socialism, the SPD, as a mass movement. Lassalle’s achievements for socialism were much more considerable than Marx’s own. Lasalle secretly influenced Chancellor Bismarck, who installed the world’s first universal health care system Bismarck in 1878: …”[Lassalle] attracted me as an individual. He was one of the most intelligent and likable men I had ever come across”.

Marx’s vituperations stand in sharp contrast. Marx called Lassalle the ‘Jewish Nigger‘. Marx used the word “Neger” (although the word, meaning black was not, nor should be, pejorative…) Marx saw his fellow socialist as a Polish Jew and ‘The Jews of Poland are the dirtiest of all races.

Engels wrote to Marx, March 1856: “[Lassalle] is a real Jew from the Slav frontier and he has always been willing to exploit party affairs for private purposes. It is revolting to see how he is always trying to push his way into the aristocratic world. He is a greasy Jew disguised under brilliantine and flashy jewels.”  In attacking Lassalle’s Jewishness, and sneering at his syphilis, Marx expressed age-old anti-Judaism, virulent in Germany since the eleventh century.

Thus Marx wrote to Engels, 10 May 1861: ‘A propos Lasalle-Lazarus. Lepsius in his great work on Egypt has proved that the exodus of the Jews from Egypt was nothing but the history which Mantheto narrates of the expulsion of the “leprous people” from Egypt. At the head of these lepers was an Egyptian priest, Moses. Lazarus, the leper, is therefore the archetype of the Jew, and Lassalle is the typical Leper.‘ Or again, 30 July 1862: ‘It is now perfectly clear to me that, as the shape of his head and the growth of his hair indicates, he is descended from Negroes who joined Moses’ flight from Egypt (unless his mother or grandmother on the father’s side was crossed with a nigger). This union of Jew and German on a Negro base was bound to produce an extraordinary hybrid.

Lassalle doesn’t look subsaharan African at all… It is reality itself which was taken for a ride, in Marx’s addled brain…

Ferdinand Lassalle in 1860, Schriftsteller, Politiker, Begründer des Allgemeinen Deutschen Arbeitervereins. Er war zeitlebens Vertreter des philosophischen Idealismus Hegelscher Prägung.
geb: 11.4.1825 in Breslau,
gest: 31.8.1864 in Genf (Geneva, Switzerland, where died three days after being hit in the abdomen in a duel he called for, as his beloved went back to the Prince she had been engaged with…)
Does that gentleman, founder of the socialist SPD, look like coming from Subsaharan Africa? To Karl Marx, he did!

Engels shared Marx’s delirious racism. In 1887, Paul Lafargue, who was Marx’s son-in-law, was a candidate for a council seat in a Paris district that contained a zoo. Engels claimed that Lafargue had “one-eighth or one-twelfth nigger blood.” Here notice the idea that US racists and Nazi racist pushed, the “one drop” rule. By contrast, in France, several famous individuals were up to 100% subsaharan Africans, and that was not noticed (one became a most famous general, his son, the famous writer Alexandre Dumas).

In a letter to Lafargue’s wife, Engels wrote, “Being in his quality as a nigger, a degree nearer to the rest of the animal kingdom than the rest of us, he is undoubtedly the most appropriate representative of that district.

He was not joking…

Marx’s father, Heinrich, was the first in nearly a century to not become a rabbi and receive a secular education. Heinrich became a lawyer and lived a wealthy middle-class life, with his family owning Moselle vineyards. Although a descendant of rabbis on both sides of his lineage, Marx anti-Judaism was no passing vituperation. In his essay titled “On the Jewish Question”, published in 1844. Marx asked:

“What is the worldly religion of the Jew? Huckstering. What is his worldly God? Money. … Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist. Money degrades all the gods of man—and turns them into commodities. … The bill of exchange is the real god of the Jew. His god is only an illusory bill of exchange. … The chimerical nationality of the Jew is the nationality of the merchant, of the man of money in general.”

All too many otherwise good people got too drunk on that one… Hatred is great, yet, it is time to sober up.

***

Search the Diamonds in the Mud:

When his son asked Roman emperor Vespasian why he taxed urine, the latter famously replied:”Money doesn’t have a smell”. Well, ideas don’t have a smell either. So ideas can be grabbed wherever, and whoever they come from. What has a smell are systems of thoughts, and moods, mentalities.

Marxism, as a system of thoughts, stinks to high heavens. But that doesn’t mean Marx never had a good idea (though many of those he grabbed from others…)

For example, calling attention to Marx’s extravagant, quasi-criminogenic anti-Judaism is not to say Judaism shouldn’t be criticized. Far from it: on the face of it, Judaism is tribalism made divine (I will not tweet that one, at least not today…) Spinoza, a Jew, showed how a critique of Judaism reached radical and fruitful conclusions about the world. The French Enlightenment, while promoting Jews as individuals, struck hard against Judaism, Christianism, Islamism… And so do I (yet that doesn’t make me anti-Israel, as Israel has a good, multidimensional historical justification…)

Marx and Engels regarded capitalism and liberal democracy as historically progressive steps, compared to feudalism and royal absolutism. Only capitalism could create centralized nation-states with modern, industrial economies and hence lay the material basis for socialism, the next step in human history. For this reason, Marx and Engels supported “bourgeois” and democratic movements (such as the revolutions of 1848). However, as I pointed out “Marxist” style revolutions had happened before (especially the one which launched the coup of Octavian/Augustus… the dictator of Rome, a very much milder version of Stalin).

This is not all completely false. However, it suffers from a myopic vision of civilization. Civilization comes and goes, ebbs and flows, according to the vagaries of wars, invasions, ecology and plutocracy. It doesn’t go all one way. When the feudal system crystallized, in the Eleventh century, it did it the way it did from the Carolingian collapse which had followed the Carolingian renaissance which followed the Islamist invasions, which collapsed the Merovingian renaissance outlawing slavery, itself blossoming after vanquishing the non-Frankish savages, and mind killing terrorizing Catholicism.

In the end, by the year 1066 CE, civilization stood higher than Rome in some ways  (no slavery, more technology, more machines, more wind and water and tidal mills, better beans, better horses, hydraulic hammers…) and less well in others (constant wars of potentates against each others… As it was not clear who was the boss; and the European subcontinent was still blockaded and under siege from the Muslims).

Marx is so much on the right, or even Nazi, in so many ways that one can be cogent, right-wing, pro-Trump and view Marx as visionary in some ways… and be right! It’s complicated. However, unbounded admiration for Marx, and adoption of the Marx cult is also very simple, and completely erroneous. Much of the failure of the opposition to plutocracy originates just there: Marx made the left not just hateful, but so stupid, it cannot cogently act.

Indeed, much of the most determined part of the “left”, by embracing Marxism, thus the most delirious part of Marxism, embraced, however unwittingly, much of what constituted Nazism. Not a good idea. Nazism, tribalism gone mass murdering in a weird, yet neurohormonally addictive interpretation of the theory of evolution, could only fail, as open societies such as Nazism’s ultimate enemies, in particular the French Republic next door, were, and are intrinsically… superior (Nietzsche said as much, but not this way).

Some will say Marx was just the opposite… Well, look at what he wrote: if it walks like a duck, talk like a duck, flies like a duck, waddle like a duck, looks like a duck, and duck Adolf recognizes it as his own, should not it be called a duck?

Patrice Ayme

 

Super Earths, Or How The Exponential Function Can Matter

April 23, 2018

We live in the times where exponentials have come to rule, as they never ruled before. Ignore at the risk of everything we claim to hold dear. As mathematically challenged Silicon Valley nerds put it, all too simplistically, the coming “singularity” looms. Simple minds do not much understanding create, though, so here a little elaboration…

An example of exponentials in action, is graciously offered by so-called “Super Earths“, giant versions of Earths, hundreds of which have been discovered in our neighborhood.

Before I get into this, a short lesson on the exponential.

The Ancient Greeks thought they knew mathematics, but they were prisoners of linear thinking (especially after the top intellectuals spurned non-Euclidean geometry and arithmetic). The exponential is the most obvious, most crucial to understand, most vital to handle example of nonlinear thinking.

An exponential is any function which grows proportionally to itself.

Our present “leaders” (Putin, Trump, Xi, Macron, etc.), and their underlings have no idea what an exponential is, and that it feeds on itself.

Civilizations get ambushed by exponentials. This is why they so often irresistibly decay: the effect is blatant, be it the Late Roman empire, Tang China, the Maya…  

***

Socrates:The unexamined life is not worth living“. That was HIS (wise) feeling. His own feeling. Others don’t have to share it. Actually vain, self-admiring, erroneous, hateful people detest nothing more than self-examination. They deeply dislike, hinder those, and what, promotes self-examination.

And tell me, Socrates, you who didn’t like knowledge you didn’t already have, and you thought everybody had, when did you learn about the exponential function? How can you know something that important you never even suspected existed? And, absent that tool of the spirit, you thought you could examine everything? How stupid was that? And you, out there, the ignorant admirers of Socrates and his ilk: you don’t even have the excuse to have been dead for 24 centuries! To extract you from the gutter, seize the exponential!

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After discovering a few thousands exoplanets, Super Earths are, so far, more frequent than simple Earths (it may be a bias from our present telescopes, but I don’t think so…). If the Super Earth is slightly bigger than Earth, depending upon the nature of its core, its surface gravity doesn’t have to be much higher than Earth (I computed). However, the present article considers Super Earths were the gravity is much higher than on Earth…

“Super-Earth” planets are gigantic versions of Earth. In some ways, they are more likely to be habitable than Earth-size worlds: their thicker atmospheres protect them better from radiations, either from their parent stars, supernovae, gamma ray bursts, galactic core explosions, etc.. However, it would be difficult for any inhabitants on these exoplanets to access to space. At least with known, or imaginable technologies.

To launch a vehicle as light as the Apollo moon mission capsule, a rocket on a super-Earth such as (potentially inhabitable) Kepler 20b would require more than double the escape velocity.

To leave Earth (“⊕”)’s gravitational influence, a rocket needs to achieve at minimum the escape velocity vesc = s 2GM⊕ R⊕ ∼ 11.2 km s−1 (2) for Earth, and vesc ∼ 27.1 km s−1 for a 10 M⊕, 1.7 R⊕ Super-Earth similar to Kepler-20 b. Computation shows one would need a mass of about 400,000 metric tons, mostly due to the exponential demand of fuel. That’s 5% of the mass of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt (still by far the Earth’s most massive monument, excluding utilitarian walls and dams).  

That means a chemical rocket there should have one hundred times the mass of one here (Apollo’s Saturn V launcher was 3,000 tons). However, that’s not a show stopper: our largest ocean-going ships are more massive than that, and a massive rocket is imaginable. So Hippke is not correct when he says that:

“On more-massive planets, spaceflight would be exponentially more expensive,” said study author Michael Hippke, an independent researcher affiliated with the Sonneberg Observatory in Germany. “Such civilizations would not have satellite TV, a moon mission or a Hubble Space Telescope.

This is of great practical interest. Research has revealed that Super Earths are abundant, and obvious targets for human colonization. They can reach up to 10 times the mass of our own Earth (after that, they retain light gases, and turn into mini Neptunes, unsuitable for direct colonization, although Pandora like scenarios are highly plausible). Many super-Earths apparently lie in the habitable zones of their stars, where temperatures can theoretically support liquid water on the planetary surface and thus, potentially, life as it is known on Earth. Although I have had reservations about this: I view the presence of a nuclear reactor inside the planet as necessary for life, since it provides with a magnetic shield, and the recycling of the atmosphere through plate tectonic, let alone continents… (Being in the water belt and the nuclear belt simultaneously is a miracle Earth’s biosphere profits from.)

This being said, it is true that some ways to access space that we potentially have, won’t happen on Super Earths. Rockets work better in the vacuum of space than in an atmosphere: super-Earthlings might want to launch from a mountaintop. However, the strong gravitational pull of super-Earths would squash down super Alps (it’s a pure application of Quantum mechanics). Super towers won’t be be feasible, either…

Using space elevators traveling on giant cables rising out of the atmosphere depends upon the strength of the cable material. The strongest (per unit of mass) material known today, carbon nanotubes, is just barely strong enough for Earth’s gravity (it is not at this point possible to imagine stronger materials, putting in doubt the feasibility of space elevators on super-Earths). Here is Michael Hippke (Submitted on 12 Apr 2018):

Spaceflight from Super-Earths is difficult:

 

Many rocky exoplanets are heavier and larger than the Earth, and have higher surface gravity. This makes space-flight on these worlds very challenging, because the required fuel mass for a given payload is an exponential function of planetary surface gravity, ∼3.3exp(g0). We find that chemical rockets still allow for escape velocities on Super-Earths up to 10 times Earth mass. More massive rocky worlds, if they exist, would require other means to leave the planet, such as nuclear propulsion.

Comments: Serious version of the April Fool’s idea (arXiv:1803.11384). Submitted on April 4th 2018
Subjects: Popular Physics (physics.pop-ph); Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as: arXiv:1804.04727 [physics.pop-ph]
(or arXiv:1804.04727v1 [physics.pop-ph] for this version)
  1. INTRODUCTION Do we inhabit the best of all possible worlds (Leibnitz 1710)? From a variety of habitable worlds that may exist, Earth might well turn out as one that is marginally habitable. Other, more habitable (“superhabitable”) worlds might exist (Heller & Armstrong 2014). Planets more massive than Earth can have a higher surface gravity, which can hold a thicker atmosphere, and thus better shielding for life on the surface against harmful cosmic rays. Increased surface erosion and flatter topography could result in an “archipelago planet” of shallow oceans ideally suited for biodiversity. There is apparently no limit for habitability as a function of surface gravity as such (Dorn et al. 2017). Size limits arise from the transition between Terran and Neptunian worlds around 2 ± 0.6 R⊕ (Chen & Kipping 2017). The largest rocky planets known so far are ∼ 1.87 R⊕, ∼ 9.7 M⊕ (Kepler-20 b, Buchhave et al. 2016). When such planets are in the habitable zone, they may be inhabited. Can “Super-Earthlings” still use chemical rockets to leave their planet? This question is relevant for SETI and space colonization (Lingam 2016; Forgan 2016, 2017).

***

Pessimistically, Hippke considered another possibility, a staple of science-fiction which originated in the very serious “Orion” project of the 1950s, an apocalyptic period: nuclear pulse propulsion. It works by detonating thousands of atom bombs below a shield cum shock absorber attached to the vehicle, hurling it through space. This explosive propulsion has much more lifting power than chemical rockets, and might be the only way for a civilization to leave a planet more than 10 times Earth’s mass, Hippke (naively) said.

However, slaying the radioactive dragon he himself brought up, such a nuclear-powered spacecraft would pose not only technical challenges but political ones as well, he said: “A launch failure, which typically happens with a 1 percent risk, could cause dramatic effects on the environment. I could only imagine that a society takes these risks in a flagship project where no other options are available, but the desire is strong — for example, one single mission to leave their planet and visit a moon.”

Unwittingly, Hippke then demonstrates the danger of the single mind (in this case, his!) Indeed the most obvious way to use nuclear propulsion is simply to run a liquid, even water, through the core of a nuclear fission reactor. That was tested, and it works extremely well… and very safely! It’s much less prone to failure than a chemical rocket.  On a planet with ten times the Earth’s surface, there would be plenty of space to do such dirty launches by the thousands.

Besides, it may possible to engineer absolutely giant thermonuclear PROPULSION reactors (thermonuclear fusion is easier, the larger the reactor: the exponential at work again; if we just made a fusion reactor that was large enough, it would certainly work). The radioactivity generated would be neglectable.

So we don’t have to worry about colonizing Super Earths… We just have to worry about weight (that is, surface gravity)….

But, here, now, we have to worry about all those exponentials going crazy. Last I checked, the Arctic ice was running one million square miles below its old minimum: at some point the so-far linear decrease of Arctic ice is going to decrease exponentially, as warming there is highly self-feeding (that’s why it runs already at twice the rate of the rest of the planet…).

And as usual, let’s remember what the arrogant, stupid imperial Romans never learned, and the Maya never reached: inventing completely new, liberating, energizing technologies is how, and the only way how, to break the strangulation from the ecological, political, economical and moral exponentials which smother civilizations. A most recent example is diffuse, dim light solar cells, dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs), a tech already in full deployment, which has just made spectacular progress in the lab.

Even language acquisition is exponential… Let alone thought system acquisition. You want to examine life, in ultimate depth? Learn to think exponentially!

The coming “singularity” looms. How to manage it? First by understanding what makes it tick, exponentials.

Patrice Aymé

 

DON’T BLAME ME, I Am Only Human After All?? (Aurelius’ Perversity, Fall of Rome XI)

April 8, 2018

Abstract: Of Rome we talk, but the present worldwide civilization we ponder… What went wrong with Rome? The most basic spiritual strategy. Philosophy. Rome’s disease was to be ruled by a philosophy unable to resist plutocracy, while deliberately preventing innovation, as befits a highly conservative regime… the exact opposite of the philosophy which brought the irresistible rise of the Roman Republic. The greatest names in philosophy originated that infection, that gangrene of the mind: Plato, Aristotle, Marcus Aurelius…

Could it have been different? Could Rome have pulled out of her philosophical disaster? Could imperial Rome, extending from Scotland to the Persian Gulf, and from Northern Germany to the Sahara, Armenia to Egypt’s long Red Sea coast, have reverted to the philosophy which made the success of democratic Republic?

Once fascism was installed, helped by the opiate of economic success, it was a question of leaders. The Roman Senate’s leading influence tended to be entirely negative, as Septimius Severus, dying in Britain, told his sons.

Aside from the well-known creeps (Nero, Caligula, Domitian, Constantine, Theodosius I) and the abysmal cases (Augustus, Constantine, Theodosius, Valens), it seems to me that Marcus Aurelius, considering his tremendous influence, was one of the leaders into the abyss. Marcus’ philosophy was radioactive, so to speak: it looks wise, but it brings death. Worse: Marcus’ influence is alive and all too well to this day: just as Constantine is a saint of Christianism, Marcus is a saint of a particularly perverse version of stoicism. Marcus is also an intellectual fascist, under the purest form. 

https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2016/02/16/marcus-aurelius-intellectual-fascist-why-rome-fell/

Make no mistake: it is a version of stoicism on trial here, that many influential philosophers subscribe too, and, worst of all, which is perfect for the growth of unbounded plutocracy!

And yes, it could have been different, if “dictator perpetuo” Julius Caesar and emperor Trajan had lived longer, and been able to find successors with similar mindsets and capabilities… All of this to  establish a plutocracy hating republic: Julius Caesar and Trajan were both what’s derogatively called “populists” nowadays; but populism is the only thing which could have saved Rome from lethal stagnation, and ecological aging, a weakness naturally followed by horrible invasions.

All this long gone history gives vivid lessons valuable today: we, as the world civilization many Greco-Romans dreamed to establish, are more or less repeating some of the errors Rome made. However, enlightened by the dramatic collapse of the Roman State, Europe has not quite, so far, repeated to the same extent, Rome’s errors… including Russia! Consider Czar Peter The Great, who cracked down on Christianism, and embraced progress, thence saving Russia from the Swedish reconquista… Peter the Great, circa 1700 CE, had fully understood, in his heart of hearts, that it was crucial NOT to repeat the errors of the Roman state’s long agony.

Some historians hold that the Roman empire was even larger under emperor Caracalla, son of Septimius Severus, a century later. Under Caracalla, the law of universal citizenship was passed, something now taken for granted by all states (with the possible exception of Burma…) The Franks, a confederation of Germans equipped with Latin Lex Salica, succeeded Rome after 476 CE in the North-West. In particular, they owned the orange part of Northern Germany which Augustus had stupidly, and selfishly loudly given up in 9 CE. By 507 CE, the Franks had defeated the Goths, and controlled Belgica, Gallia, and Aquitania, not just much of Germania… The main difference with the Romans was that the Franks re-engineered Christianism as an asset, whereas the terrorizing Roman version of Catholicism due to Constantine and Theodosius, had crippled Rome.

Very practical consequences of behaving according to the exact opposite attitude to Rome, explain how and why Europe avoided collapse since Rome. Enough friendliness to technology, & law, enough abatement of plutocracy, enabled the extrication of Europe from ecological devastation (~ 1300 CE). Having enough of these three philosophical pillars also explains why Europe has not been devastatingly invaded for 15 centuries! (ultimately Muslim, Viking, Avar, Turk, and Mongol invasions were crushed and repelled… differently from what happened to the Muslim, Chinese and Indian civilizations, which were conquered, periodically destroyed; similarly, the invasions of the Germans and Huns in the Fifth Century, and Muslims in the Seventh Century, destroyed the Roman state, east and west, leaving imperial remnants in north-west Europe and around Constantinople. The resulting lesson, the enormous devastation it brought, has not been forgotten. At least until a few years ago).

If nothing else, we have engaged the planet in ecological collapse. David Attenborough, 91 years old, observed this in New Scientist.

… And Attenborough issues a “call to arms“. Rightly so. We are also one short-circuit away from devastating nuclear war, a pure case of tech gone mad. And not too many care. Rome was crazy. We are much more so. This is no age to try stoicism again… Activism is more appropriate.

***   

We The Wise Know No Blame, Says Marcus!

An excellent song, from someone looking like an overweight Viking is going around: “Don’t Blame Me, I Am Only Human After All… Don’t blame me, you are only human after all…”. The same idea has a long pedigree. It already affected Rome. The idea that: no blame, no shame… came to be viewed, in all too many influential circles, and all too long ago, as the principal message of the Greek philosophy known as Stoicism. “Stoicism” from stoa, a column below which it was taught by Zeno of Citium, became a philosophical school after the fascist Macedonian plutocracy and its descendants “Hellenistic” tyrannies and kingdoms took over the Greek civilization, pretty much crippling it. Including Marcus Aurelius, ten major Stoic philosophers followed in Greco-Roman civilization. Marcus was also single Roman emperor, and played a major role for civilization, and not for the best, contrary to repute, as I have already written and will show some more below.

Nowadays, Stoicism has become business (as it started: Zeno of Citium was wealthy, although he lived modestly). Massimo Pigliucci commented on “Marcus Aurelius: a guide for the perplexed by Stephens”.

In it is found the following gem: it is futile to blame! Let me quote Massimo Pigliucci quoting Mr.Stephens:

”My preferred example is in the context of Marcus’ discussion, in VIII.17, of the idea that it is futile to lay blame, regardless of what particular metaphysical view of the world (the Stoic, the Epicurean, or any other one) we happen to hold. Here is Stephens’ reconstruction of the full argument:

  1. The matter is either in our control or in the control of someone else.
  2. If it’s in our control, then we can handle it appropriately without blaming ourselves.
  3. If it’s in the control of someone else, then we could blame either atoms (if the

Epicureans are right about how the cosmos works) or the Logos (if the Stoics are right about how the cosmos works), or no one and nothing.

  1. It’s stupid to blame atoms (since they have no intentionality).
  2. It’s stupid to blame the Logos (since the cosmos — which for the Stoics was a living organism — knows best what should happen).
  3. Hence, if it’s in the control of someone else, then blame no one and nothing.
  4. Therefore, blaming is pointless.

QED.”

***

I Blame Us, We Are Only Human After All!

In the past, Massimo Pigliucci censored many of my comments on Marcus Aurelius: he even accused me to have made up the facts and quotes I evoked, which cast a sinister light onto his idol (I actually made up nothing, just pointing at little known facts, and even getting trouble in my own family with some who also rever Marcus, for having lifted them of an otherwise dreary childhood…)

It’s hard for admirers of Marcus to recognize his culpability in the repression of Christians (I don’t like Christianism very much, but what Marcus did to Christians was not just criminal, but made the situation worse, and more stupid; moreover, Christians laid the blame on the wealthy, rightly so, and, as I make clear below, Marcus Aurelius exchanged the health of the Roman empire against the wealth of the few, the core of the lethal disease which affected the empire, according to me! Positive point: Marcus got to blame no one around him. Negative point: that attitude brought the collapse of civilization! The motive of Marcus may have been plain old selfishness, the easy way out…)

This time professional philosopher Massimo Pigliucci allowed this comment from me, accusing Marcus of the worst crime someone with intellectual pretense can commit: …”a different perspective I have developed shows why Marcus Aurelius made the mistake of making Commodus a Consul, while still a child (and so on, until making Commodus co-emperor at… 16). In other words, Marcus’ error was no error, but system. Marcus Aurelius thought that ‘non-useful’ thoughts should be banned! He wrote that explicitly!”

Nobody can know, when creating a thought, what it could turn out to be useful for. Banning “non-useful thoughts”, as Marcus Aurelius wanted to, is to ban a better logic for the future, to ban any better future. In other words, Marcus didn’t want to improve things. Unsurprisingly, thanks to such a towering absolutism from above, such plain banning of thinking, so inhuman, the Roman state went from bad to worse, until it collapsed.

Massimo replied, April 2, 2018 • 8:08 am: “Patrice… At any rate, I don’t see what banning non useful thoughts has to do with it.”

I retorted: “Dear Massimo, trying to explain myself a bit more:

Can one be a creative, or rigorous thinker, and not attribute blame? I think not.

Marcus Aurelius said (paraphrased): “If a matter is in the control of someone else, then we could blame either atoms (if the Epicureans are right about how the cosmos works) or the Logos (if the Stoics are right about how the cosmos works), or no one and nothing.”

Is that a typo? What happened to blaming people? Isn’t that the most natural blame to attribute? If I don’t like Trump’s tax reform, shall I blame atoms, the logos… or no one and nothing? I prefer to blame Trump, and his ilk.

Let’s be cynical, as the fine hounds we are. Those who refuse to attribute blame to anybody seem to say: ‘I can’t be blamed, I am only human, after all!’

Those who claim “nothing” can be blamed say: ‘everything that is, is true and innocent. And there is no scientific method, as nothing is false, hence our rule is above any suspicion…’

The essence of the most advanced thinking is to disconnect the motivation which brings it from any utilitarian objective. Advanced thinking is born from the honor of the human spirit, not from whether the emperor finds it of some use. Marcus could not conceive of this.

Although Marcus was strong and determined against the German barbarians, not being a believer in advanced thinking, he didn’t realize that the way out of the invasion crisis, was the one launched by the Roman Republic, seven centuries prior: mental creativity to invent new strategies, weapons and mechanisms, all to be paid by higher taxes on the wealthiest. Instead, emperors went to fear inventions, imagination, and taxes, at the cost of hundreds of ever more crippling invasions (the same problem would occur with the Carolingian/Renovated Roman empire, in the second part of the Ninth Century).

The Roman empire understood finally that one had to tax the wealthiest, to pay for a sufficient army, under Aetius, 250 years later, when it was too late, and more than half of the Roman tax basis, let alone food supply, had been occupied or demolished by the savages (Marcus Aurelius had pathetically ‘solved’ his tax crisis, by selling state property, like the palace’s silver…).

If one is really human, after all, one is rational, and reason requires correction, correction arising from blame.”

The entire subject is, for me, like visiting the Moon: where is the air? If one spends one’s time only engaging fools, not only does one become one of them, but one gets depressed, as one subjects oneself to the cruel and unusual punishment to debase, and contradict oneself, just out of respect, for what one has worked so long to rise above… And the same happens with foolish subjects. But still someone has to address them”

Massimo, as many who are all too busy, doesn’t like long comments, but he replied:  April 2, 2018 • 12:48 pm

“Patrice,

there are a number of things in your comment that I think are off the mark, but I will comment on just two.

First off, “not blaming” is a standard Stoic attitude, meant to recognize that all human beings err, and that nobody does evil on purpose. I find it refreshing and very useful in dealing with others. It doesn’t mean one should not stop others from doing bad things.

Second, there is no way Marcus could have reverted from empire to Republic. He would have been killed instantly. It has nothing to do with not believing in advanced thinking, which by the way is not what the Stoics counsel. They counsel that the best way to prepare for the future is to act rightly here and now. Not the same thing.”

I felt like a Neanderthal contemplating a smirking mammoth deep in a pit I digged.

The nature of the Greco-Roman empire is deeply misunderstood, to this day: it was way wealthier, more populous and more democratic, than generally assumed. Yet, in some philosophical ways, it was far removed from what we take for granted today (and the situation is complex: on cruelty, contrarily to repute, the Romans got it basically right, we don’t. On progress, the situation changed completely from the very progressive Democratic Republic to the fascist empire. We are not as progressive as we need to be, in great part because we are repeating the plutocratic mistake Rome made….)

It was an ideal occasion to set the perception right about the Roman empire. My reply:

“Dear Massimo:

Thanks for your answer. The description of the “standard Stoic attitude”, that “all human beings err, and that nobody does evil on purpose”, it seems to me is exactly what prevented Marcus Aurelius to put back the “Republic” on the correct trajectory it was clear it desperately needed during Marcus’ reign.

Ah, yes, the “Republic”, not a detail: the “Principate” was considered to be a Republic by those who partook in it. The Roman Republic justice system and Senate were still going on during the “Principate”. As emperor Decius said in June 251 CE, after his son was struck by an arrow at the battle of Abbritus: “Let no one mourn; the death of one soldier is not a great loss to the republic.”

So it was not a question of “restoring the Republic”: the first emperor, Augustus, claimed to have done so (27 BCE). Local democracy was alive and well (until the first German raids deep inside the empire, starting with Alexander Severus, circa 234 CE!)

Marcus Aurelius had two major problems, one fiscal, the other technological. Trajan had taxed the wealthiest to create an empire which was more social, more expanding, and giving advanced education to meritorious youth through scholarship. (Unfortunately Trajan died at 63, preventing consolidation of his enlightened rule, all the way to the Persian gulf.)

Marcus had a disastrous situation: the Germans had learned to become a military threat to Italy. All what Marcus did was to battle away against the Germans, for a continuous 20 years, in the here and now, with insufficient means, insufficient militarily, fiscally, technologically, democratically. Marcus should have followed Trajan fiscal, educational, social policies. Marcus’ closest policy to Trajan was in military matters: Marcus understood the Marcomanni and their ilk had to be crushed (Commodus inverted his father’s conquests). However he didn’t have the fiscal means for his army, that Trajan gave himself by hating the wealthiest.

This lack of inclination of Marcus for finding in-depth revolutionary change prepared for a future of more of the same, precisely because Marcus enjoyed an enormous prestige as a philosopher-emperor. Marcus just had to follow Trajan, he didn’t.

Thus, for an astounding three centuries of war (176 CE-476 CE) the Romans fought as Marcus did, not realizing that, as long as they couldn’t integrate the Germans into the empire, they made them stronger, and more ferocious, just by battling with them. (The only emperor who understood the problem was Julianus, Julian “the Apostate”, who studied philosophy in Athens, and was elevated to Augustus by the Parisians. Unfortunately he died from combat in Mesopotamia, 363 CE.)  

Marcus had to raise the taxes on the wealthiest, on the .1%. Marcus had to blame the wealthiest, as Trajan did. The other philosophical solution, which Marcus didn’t embrace, was to reject Plato’s hostility to technological change, and re-embrace the Roman (true Republic) love of technological innovation.

Individuals drunk on the neurohormones of cruelty and domination exist, denying it is counterproductive to progress: the head of the Brazilian army just made a threat (on Twitter!) Hence the Brazilian Supreme Court decided to jail Lula, who leads by a very long shot the 2018 Brazilian presidential race.

https://mobile.nytimes.com/2018/04/04/world/americas/brazil-lula-corruption-prison.html”

[Please excuse the length, more on my site…]”

Amazingly, considering our turbulent history, and his unbounded admiration for all things Marcus, he used to be afflicted by, Massimo published my comment on his site: we are progressing in the right direction, at last! (Massimo may be learning to practice what he teaches…)

What I didn’t say, lest I be accused of digression, how low Rome had already fallen: a few hours later after his statement that Rome was a republic (which it was, by present standards, adapted to the times), Decius would die, first emperor to do so, with most of the Roman field army. Rome had sunk that low, 70 years after Marcus Aurelius’ passing, and as a result of his overall outlook.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decius

By the way, it is important to realize that seriously creative thinking blossoms from digression… An important meta principle Marcus Aurelius doesn’t seem to have conceived of.

***

By Marcus’ Time, Solutions For Imperial Rome Should Have Been Obvious:

Two changes were needed. To my knowledge, Marcus Aurelius doesn’t seem to be conscious of the necessity of these two changes, changes back to the distant past, a renewal with what made the success of Rome in its first seven centuries.

The first problem facing Marcus Aurelius was not restoring the Republic (justice was nominally independent, local democracy, the Curiatii, was flourishing), it was to raise taxes on the 1%.

A plutocracy of ferocious, tax-free 1% backed-up the imperial system under its “Principate” form (and would back-up the “Dominate”, starting with Aurelian, before, in the end, backing up the barbarians!) They are the real cause of the Decline and Fall of Rome, as their tax evasion and subjugation of We the People left imperial Rome with too small and too powerful a professional army. The wealthy, when faced with invaders in the Fifth Century, would make nice with them. Being entangled with the Christian Church helped.

Contrarily to what Massimo brazenly asserts, it is not clear that if Marcus had tried to restore the rights of the Populus Romanus, he would have been killed: Marcus enjoyed enormous prestige, and was surrounded by devoted advisers and generals. Marcus spent 20 years on the battlefield, at the head of the Roman field army, he had no rivals (Commodus profited from the awe and competence of his father’s government for years, after his death).

Head of the army Aetius and others, in the Fifth Century, made the 1% pay taxes, way too late, after military collapse and annihilating invasions (⅔ of the spending went to the professional Roman army). If Aetius, not even an emperor, could do it in the Fifth Century, Marcus could have done it in the Second Century. By then half of the Western Empire had been invaded and occupied by savages.

On the other hand, in 235 CE, Maximinus Thrax, head of Legio XXII Primigena was elevated to Augustus, as the army was furious young emperor Severus Alexander was busy paying the barbarians, instead of making war to them. However Maximinus rose taxes on the wealthy, to pay for his successful war making, and the Senate revolted for that reason in 238 CE. However, Maximinus was of peasant origin and had acquired Roman citizenship from Caracalla edict. So it was natural for the Senate to revolt against him. Whereas, if Marcus Aurelius had risen taxes as Maximinus did, it is unlikely that the Senate would have done anything, considering Marcus’ pedigree and his total control of the army (as Cassius’ short usurpation, cut short by a centurion, showed).   

The Senate would lose (nearly all) its prerogatives later, in the late Third Century, turning into Rome municipal council (de facto).

So could something have been done to prevent the ongoing slow degeneracy of the Roman state? Yes, and it is clear what: Rome had to become as smart as the times required. Because of a massive ecological crisis caused by its very success, Rome had to get as smart, or smarter than when the Republic ascended. Instead, it became ever more stupid.

Marcus Aurelius had to lay blame onto the plutocracy, do reforms in the spirit proposed by the Gracchi Brothers. (However, he blamed laying blame, as a matter of weird logic…)

Another type of PHILOSOPHICAL reform needed was to lift the ban against inventions, inherited from… Plato, an Athenian conservative who was so afraid of change, he preferred to ban tech (an attitude which was fundamentally anti-Roman, as the Respublica triumphed from invention!)  This is a pernicious effect of the conquest of Greece by Rome: Greek philosophy, and not the best, corrupted Rome in turn…

From examining history, it is clear to me that some individuals and even many political leaders, did evil on purpose. Either because they thought they were doing good, or also because they thought they were causing pain and suffering. When Charlemagne deported to South West France a substantial part of the Saxon population, he thought he was doing good, as the alternative was just to massacre them (something he also did…)

***

On the Haughtiness Of, and Redemption by, Advanced Thinking:

One can blame, one should blame, some reasons of some people, sometimes, I blame mine quite often, but that doesn’t mean that blaming some ideas impell to view others with hostility, or that I hate them, or view myself with undisguised hatred. Quite the opposite: viewing defects, mental errors, inappropriate emotions, for what they are, where they come from, deepens the love (including self-love). Explanation is, often redemption. The passions can be precise, clever, if one teaches them well.

By blaming blame into oblivion, emperor-philosopher Marcus Aurelius blamed the most advanced, most powerful weapon against mental lethargy and thus the most powerful tool for liberating reason into oblivion.

Impermanence of things and individuals, permanence of virtues. The fundamental error of old fashion “virtue ethics“: not putting ENOUGH intelligence first, foremost, and most fundamentally. Only most farsighted intelligence enables not to mitigate the paving of the road to hell with good intentions!

Enlightenment exists as a loud and clear superior notion since Ahura Mazda, 40 centuries ago. To oppose it as Marcus did, by opposing blame (something the Christians, rightly, brandished), or condemning “useless” thinking, Marcus condemned what Rome needed the most; the catharsis of Enlightenment. In particular, realizing Rome had become a dictatorship, where even new ideas not only couldn’t grow, but were condemned, just for being new. The enlightenment that new ideas bring is only forged by intense criticism.

In the strangest, most pregnant times we are. Lest we be careful, a monster will be born. But, if we do it right, paradise… History should be the most revered teacher, a cult worth having, never boring, always surprising.

Patrice Aymé

***

Note about Marcus Aurelius and change: Just as in physics one can “see” an object by its absence, in systems of thought one can see an idea, precisely because it’s avoided, as a “non-said” (“non-dit” in French philosophy). I accused Marcus to be against new ideas. This is demonstrated, in absentia, by the very way Marcus describes change. According to Marcus, change is about anything you can imagine, except the obvious:

“Is any man afraid of change? What can take place without change? What then is more pleasing or more suitable to the universal nature? And can you take a hot bath unless the wood for the fire undergoes a change? And can you be nourished unless the food undergoes a change? And can anything else that is useful be accomplished without change? Do you not see then that for yourself also to change is just the same, and equally necessary for the universal nature?” (Meditations, VII.18)

The most obvious, most profitable change there is, and should be, for a thinker, is the change of ideas. Marcus Aurelius doesn’t mention it.

***

Note from Massimo: “Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus, one the few philosopher-kings (well, okay, emperor) in the history of the world, is a fascinating figure. Despite being one of the most famous Stoics, he was not a philosopher and teacher like Zeno, Chrysippus, or Epictetus. Unlike Seneca, he wrote just one book, the Meditations, which was actually addressed to himself, meant as a personal diary of philosophical reflection, not to instruct others, let alone as a treatise on Stoic philosophy. He was by all accounts an extraordinary man, who tackled some of the greatest challenges the Roman empire had to face, including a war against the irreducible Parthians, another one against a coalition of German tribes led by the Marcomanni, an internal rebellion by one of his most trusted governors, and a plague that killed two or three million people. He … leaned on his philosophy to do the best job he could. And ended up in the disastrous choice of his son Commodus to take up the purple mantle (but see here for a nuanced analysis of that episode), a decision that ended the prosperous and relatively peaceful age of the five good emperors of the Nerva-Antonine dynasty.”

(Emperor Nerva had a short rule, but he adopted top general Trajan as his successor, and Trajan was the best of them; the adopted Hadrian succeeded, after Trajan’s sudden stroke, and it has been suspected Trajan’s wife modified Trajan’s will to do so. In turn, Hadrian adopted Antoninus Pius, making him adopt the teenage Marcus Aurelius; Marcus, instead of adopting a promising candidate, heaped impossible honors onto his son, starting as a child… Whereas the Roman Republic, when it was democratic, had draconian limits on mandates, and all representatives were elected, it was hard to duplicate these electoral means in a giant empire, where it took months to travel, away from the sea…)

INVICTUS We Should BE: Free Will, Determinism, Classical & Quantum Mechanics, Neurohormonal States

April 2, 2018

Conventional Wisdom sits back and whines: ’With Quantum Mechanics, we lost determinism. Is Free Will in truth just Quantum chaos?’

Advanced Wisdom replies: ’Not so, just the opposite. Absolute determinacy from classical mechanics never existed, because it depended upon infinitely precise initial conditions. These couldn’t be. Now, given that small initial discrepancy, after an arbitrarily long time, one will get an arbitrarily large discrepancy. Exit your sacrosanct “classical determinacy”, which will always churn out arbitrarily large errors, given enough time.

Conventional Wisdom:’In any case our brains are ruled by Quantum Mechanics, and that’s nondeterministic’.

Advanced Wisdom:’The Quantum is not truly “nondeterministic“. The Quantum attributes probabilities to outcomes, the so-called “Quanta”, but the latter outcomes don’t change ever more with time… whereas wilder and wilder outcomes is what happens in Classical Mechanics, as time goes by!

Classical Wisdom sees Classical Mechanics as deterministic, whereas Quantum Mechanics is not. However, Quantum outcomes are determined at the outset (so-called “Quanta”), whereas all and any classical mechanical evolutions diverge indefinitely ever more… SO CM predicts whatever, in the long run, whereas QM is more regimented…

Conventional Wisdom:’Quantum Mechanics more deterministic than Classical Mechanics? The world is upside down with you! Whatever, you confuse me. Forget these abstractions, forget Quantum Mechanics, for the sake of the argument at hand, I don’t believe in Free Will. Let me tell you why. View the brain as a machine with programs. Given some circumstances, the brain will make just one computation, with just one solution. Presto, no more Free Will! We are just Turing machines! Nothing you can do, you will always get the same result.’

Advanced Wisdom:’I embrace BRAIN BUILDING, not just body building! I have a little experiment for you. Sit in a chair, think about a given Problem, call it P. Then go run half an hour on a mountain trail, an exercise of the muscles, the heart, and the brain processing thousands of data points per second. See what happens to what you thought P was. By the way, I stupidly miscomputed today the firmness of the snow while running, I should have recognized the tint of that particular patch of snow, crashed forward after by right leg went deep through the treacherous white substance, skidded on my left knee, careened off the snow bank, crash landing in stones on the side, making a small bloody gash in my left hand, it sure impacted my mindset a bit… But I digress… The point is this: try then to think of Problem P, while running for quite a while, brain concentrated on potential trajectories’ dangers. You will think of P, but it will turn out in a different context, with different details, different motivations (typically more macroscopic, bigger picture style), in a different mood, in other words, in a different neurohormonal and oxygen set-up. The computational paths offered inside the brain to solve P will be different than those which were apparent while sitting on that chair. Hence if one had a set C of solutions from the chair, one now has a set R, from running: the set of solutions is not C, but C + R!’

In other words, if you want to get out of Plato’s Cave, go running! Running, physical activity, or different neurohormonal set-up, will change your mind. Learn to change minds as if it were clothes. It beats just putting someone’s else shoes.

CW:’What does that have to do with Free Will?’

AW: ‘Classical Free Will is a choice between a number of solutions, hypotheses, emphases, etc. Call that set of choices and outcomes N. Conventional Wisdom assumes that N just is, like the Moon, a well-determined object, like in a category (category is here in the mathematical sense). However, I just demonstrated that N, the set of choices and outcomes presented to Free Will is, itself, a function of neurohormonal states. Changing the neurohormones changes the categories which make up that set N (something Aristotle didn’t think of when he invented categories in the non-math sense). Moreover the latter neurohormonal states can be controlled and chosen from, or selected… At will. When Socrates and his golden youth friends and lovers decided to go get drunk and party all night, chewing the fat, they decided to change their neurohormonal states from normal to wacko. That’s the whole idea of Dionysus, bringing a fresh re-think, and re-emote of the whole mindset. Nietzsche correctly deduced that was one of the causes of the Greeks’ superiority. Similarly, religions prohibiting nuttiness, foolishness, jokes and feasts, as Catholicism and Islamism, fabricate dull minds. So thinking can be controlled with meta controls upon the environments in which the thinking, and the feeling, are conducted, and produced. That’s why people read books and go the theater, among other fantasies.

Conventional Wisdom: ‘Are you getting meta on me, once again?’

AW: ‘Yes, Free Will is not free of neurohormonal or other mental states, thus we are free to control Free Will by selecting for oneself one’s environmentsA form of meta control. For example, when the wrongfully revered philosopher Heidegger decided to become a Seminarist, or a Nazi, he made meta choices which impacted his freedom of thought or, of will, looking forward. Same when doctor Asperger decided to help support the Nazis’ first extermination program, a context which led him to invent the pseudo-disease named after him (and which was used as a reason to assassinate thousands of German children).’    

While in captivity, Nelson Mandela recited that poem by William Henley to fellow prisoners, and they felt empowered. The myth of “Sol Invictus” was imposed by Roman Emperor Aurelian, around 250 CE, it was a first run of the fascist Catholicism Constantine would impose in 325 CE, 75 years later…

CW:’Are you saying that I can act to steer my own Free Will, by controlling my mental context?’

AW:’Yes. And you are deeper than you think: the notion of “steering” was introduced by Schrodinger, in connection with Quantum Entanglement. Steering of mental state and Free Will is closely related. Indeed, changing context is pretty much how Quantum Steering shows up! Hence the Schrodinger cat conundrum…

CW:’Enough, my head is exploding in cats!’

AW:’Take hold of yourself, remember the honor of the human spirit! When talking about Free Will remember that, as in Quantum Mechanics, you can’t control the solutions, but you can control the spaces which make them appear!

CW: ‘Can we get practical here?

AW: ‘It’s very practical! I just said there was Free Will, and how to create more of it!”

CW: ‘You want to create Free Will by acting on the mental contexts, by making it so that they will offer, or create, more solutions?

AW: ‘Exactly! The idea is not exactly new. Forcefully changing neurohormonal states is why Socrates and his ilk got drunk, and Indian Swamis, and countless Shamans around the world experimented with mind altering drugs! Or why we dream, for that matter!’

CW:’Do you do drugs?’

AW:’No need, I just plug-in my brain, it’s foolish and creative enough on its own, no need to reduce performance with junk, no alcohol, nicotine, pot, or hallucinogens for me, I hallucinate in a controlled fashion, so to speak. Indeed, I do mind altering activities like mountain running in snow, hence yesterday’s amusing crash.’  

Conventional Wisdom: Alright, you, you and you. Kudos to you, oh great youyou. What is the point of Free Will anyway? Why should we worry about it?

AW: Because if we don’t we don’t do anything about it, we just wait for nuclear war, and the rising of oceans by 70 meters, whatever comes first.

CW:’You worry about big stuff. What’s in it for small people with small preoccupations?’

AW: ‘Very simple. If one doesn’t believe in Free Will, one is a slave to destiny. However, human beings aren’t made to be slave to destiny. Human beings, as they evolved, over millions of years, could check, every day, that they were actors of change. Profitable change, life saving change. Thus, lack of belief in Free Will is fundamentally inhuman. Lack of belief in Free Will corresponds to not behaving according to the owner’s manual. And it has to be discouraged, thought evolution. Therefore, lack of belief in Free Will makes individuals lugubrious, sinister, unhappy, and a danger to their human environment. Let alone the entire biosphere. Amen.

CW: Being happy is a moral duty?

AW: Being happy and willful is a moral duty, in the sense of the morality evolution itself created us with. We were evolutionary made to be Lords, not slaves! Embracing such an attitude, embracing happiness and wilfulness, has practical consequences, such as an unwillingness to confer our decisional powers to representatives whose powers corrupt them absolutely!

CW: What is the overall metaprinciple, to use your semantics, at work here?

AW: The honor of the human spirit is the ultimate principle. What evolution created us into, it did, because it enhanced our mental performances. We are naturally evolved artificial intelligence. It’s our mental superiority which drove us, as a species. Insinuating that we are not free to be happy, free to become captains, and even architects, and engineers, of our own souls, is to undermine the human spirit, our core principle, it is to subscribe to the principle of slavery.

Patrice Aymé