Posts Tagged ‘Direct democracy’

Counterbalance Representative Democracy By Direct Democracy

May 27, 2017

Representative Democracy” is a contradiction in adjecto. I propose to complement it by making direct democracy the overlord of the present system.

The seven leaders of the seven richest countries met in Sicily for the G7 Summit of 2017. Meanwhile several rescue ships rescued more than a thousand refugees from the sea. Each. That’s thousands of people a day. It looks as if much of Africa is a sinking ship, and the rats are leaving. But don’t worry: there is no colonialism in Africa (what there is now there is neocolonialism-plutocratic exploitation, without administrative interference, and that’s much more efficient as an extraction mechanism).

So here you seven individuals deciding for the world. What the world will do, what the world should do, what the world is capable of, what the world should learn, etc.

They were a bit discombobulated by Trump, who was described as “unpredictable”. And firmly committed to be uncommitted on “climate”. Whatever “climate” is.

G7 2017 Meeting In Taormina, Sicily, in a Greek Theater, 25 centuries old. The gigantic Etna volcano is erupting in the background, emitting copious amount of CO2. CO2 indigestion is how the super enormous mass extinction of 251 million years ago, between Permian and Trias worked: massive CO2 emissions by the Siberian Traps made two-third of the planet too hot for life. Yes two-third. And yes, we are heading straight for it, within a couple of generations. However, Trump didn’t get the message from Vulcan!

The disagreement with Trump on climate is a gigantic tale, on its own. Indeed, it’s not clear what “climate” means. Climate, done correctly, should mean, first, to curb carbon burning, thus, a carbon tax. However, what European leaders have meant by “climate” mitigation is not this.

As demonstrated by the extreme pollution problems in some European countries, including France! And the fact Europe let its car makers get away with extreme pollution for years (it’s the despised USA which found the diesel cheating trick of European car makers). Fighting the “climate”, for European leaders, has consisted in giving hand-outs, hush money to the poorest countries (maybe to pursue quietly the neocolonialism as described above?) Many of these poorest countries have the world’s highest indoor pollution, by a very long shot, due to carbon burning, indoors, precisely…

The low-level of understanding in these “climate” related problems is directly a consequence of the lack of debate. That, in turn, is a consequence of the lack of direct democracy. Why should people think hard about what is really going on, when it will make no difference, anyway?  

The seven brains we have to lead us all to extinction. World Think & Action Leaders. From Left to Right: Donald Tusk, President of the EU Council, Trudeau PM Canada, Angela Merkel Deutsch Kanzler, Donald Trump US Entertainer, PM Italy (one of many), 39 year old French President Emmanuel Macron, Shinto Abe PM Japan, Theresa May, British PM, and, far right, Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission (and advocate of sophisticated Tax havens) pose for a family photo during the G7 Summit in Taormina, Sicily, Italy, May 26, 2017. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

Macron, a smart cookie, but not a scientist, lectured Trump on climate, and the US made it known the great leader was happy to have learned so much.

Teresa May, the British so-far-unelected Prime Minister,  insisted that one should start watching what is going on in the Internet, and cut off Islamist propaganda. Indeed, it’s Western plutocrats who control access to TV and Internet (because they control fibers and satellites), as I have said many times. Facebook and company, but also the satellite operators should be viewed as objective accomplices of murderous propaganda: after all they are the ones transmitting it, and it would not be transmitted otherwise. At least that’s what I say, and I am happy to see our great leaders oozing in that general directions, as the mental slugs they are. 

As Reuters put it: “After lengthy deliberation, the (short, 6 pages) final G7 document included a separate threat, that was inserted into the 2016 G7 statement, to take additional action against Russia, if warranted, for its intervention in Ukraine.

But the more general question is this: why so much power in so few hands? Why are seven brains in charge of the imagination and learning of the planet?

It should be now obvious that elected politicians and the deep state have too much power. Their power should be counterbalanced by direct democracy! It can be done. Republican Constitutions should be tweaked.

This is what happened in Switzerland. The Swiss Constitution had a provision for direct vote on legislative proposition (also known as referenda, or plebiscites). However, that was not applied much until the last 30 years, when the practice blossomed. Any proposition compatible with the broader constitution having gathered 100,000 signatures,  can be presented to the direct vote of We The People.

Scaling that up for France would mean nearly 800,000 signatures, and for the USA, 4 million.

California has such a system.

I claim that the main reason for the wealth of Switzerland and California is this system of direct vote of We The People for propositions: it keep politicians more honest, financially and intellectually, than elsewhere.  

Direct vote makes We The People much more cognizant of the real problems. This is demonstrated by the fact that public opinion in general swings around when a proposition is proposed. Often people are 60% for it, and end up voting 60% against it, and reciprocally.

Some will object that a direct referendum brought us Brexit, a catastrophe. Well, what brought us Brexit was a devious media owned by plutocrats which drove people persistently into deliberate disinformation and misinformation, for decades. That should be completely unlawful, and I have advocated a ministry of truth (no, I am not kidding, and yes, I have read Orwell’s “1984”. Precisely!)

What happens when the popular vote passes a law contradicting existing laws, or simple rationality? Well, then a debate ensues. An example is the popular vote against free circulation which the Swiss people passed. (After an immigration of the order of 13% in ten years, mostly from the rest of Europe, explaining the vote!)

The European Union was furious and took sanctions within hours (by intelligently, I am ironical, cancelling the Erasmus program for Switzerland; Erasmus enables youth to go study in other European countries). The Swiss government was livid. Ever since the EU has been furious and the Swiss government livid. But nothing else much has happened (that reminds us of Brexit, present and future…)

In other words, when contradictions between We The People and  the elected government appear, the debate deepens. And that’s good.

Adding plebiscite to the existing elected representatives system is easy to do, there is no contradiction: elected Swiss legislators usually integrate the propositions in the laws of the country. 

G7 2017. In Attendance, A Slovenian Fashion Model Named Melania, Lower Extremities. These Stilettos Are made To Walk On You. Extravagant Wealth, Hence Power, Should Be Unlawful In Any Republic. And It was, In Republican Rome, For Centuries. Not Meant To Express A distaste For Melania, far From It. But To Express A Distaste for The Mood That It Is PC To Have Some Think It All, Do It All, Have it All, While 8 Billions Despondently Watch, Powerless In All Ways, And Those Stilettos Are Walking All Over Us. And the biosphere too.

By the way, the idea of real democracy is not new: “plebiscite” comes from the Latin “plebs”. The “plebs” was We The People of Rome. The “plebs” formed a national assembly, and practiced direct democracy within (demultiplying with a system of “tribes”). That part of the Roman political system was a direct democracy (Athens had a functional equivalent, more direct, but also more unstable).

The least we could do, as the biosphere is facing the greatest crisis in 65 million years now, and, soon enough, in 251 million years, is to mobilize all our mental energies. This is not accomplished by letting seven brains think it all. Or even seven thousand brains (the number of influential people, worldwide is less than that).

Giant Tower Woman With Shaggy Hairdo Overlords us insects With $51,000 jacket by Dolce & Gabbana. In a respectful show of humility for average losers, this is a few thousand dollars below the US median family income. Make no mistake, I love colors.

Mobilizing all our mental energy is not done by putting seven brains in command, however eager they are to dominate us all. Or, rather, precisely because they are so eager to dominate us all.

In other, yet related news, Donald Trump had to follow the other leaders, as they walked around the streets of Taormina, in a golf cart. The joke was that he got somewhat left behind, because the cart was not American made. OK, Trump is older than the rest (70, whereas Abe and Merkel are 62; May is 60). Age is a good thing for leadership. Healthy age.

Nevertheless, clearly, the great leader has abused golf carts. Trump claims he does not do drugs, including alcohol, inspired, as he was by his older brother’s alcohol addiction, which brought his early demise. However, golf cart addiction is also a life threatening addiction. In several ways. First it makes people impotent, as Trump himself demonstrated at Taormina. Second, by making them physically impotent, it also makes them mentally less potent than they would be if they learn to practice physical independence from technological hand-outs.

He came here to learn. He came here to get smart. His views are evolving which exactly as they should be,” Trump’s economic adviser Gary Cohn hopefully said on Friday. Well, Trump should learn from Angela Merkel (who is also overweight) that he is definitively not in good shape, at least physically speaking. And we are even worse, as most of us sincerely believe that this parody we are subjected to should be called democracy, lest we are found out-of-order.

Patrice Ayme’  

 

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Athens, Direct Democracy, Now.

February 2, 2017

To Rekindle The Fire Of Civilization, Direct Democracy Needs To Be Re-Activated. Besides, It’s A Question Of Survival:

In Eighteenth Century Great Britain, as in the European Middle Ages, seven years old was considered to be the “Age of Reason”. Thus, if an 18C English child was found to have caused a fire (a very dangerous thing then), the child would be tried, and, if found guilty, would be hanged (this really happened).

Nowadays, we are more civilized, and we protect childhood better. Human brains become mature only around 25 years old. There have been minimum ages for political offices since Republican Rome and Athens, 25 centuries ago.

The Economist, in an access, and excess of disinformation, suggests to lower the voting age to 16. That would motivate the youth, it disingenuously claims. I have a better idea. In its golden age, the Parthenon, other monuments, and all statues were covered with colors, sometimes realistic, sometimes spectacular:

At her greatest, Athens was colorful in all ways. The city tolerated radically opposed philosophies, and they debated each other.

At her greatest, Athens was colorful in all ways. The city tolerated radically opposed philosophies, and they debated each other.

Pericles directed the construction of the Parthenon and other fabulous monuments. Pericles was re-elected nearly 30 times over 30 years. He was the talking head to  a group of civilization-class philosophers, all them extremely close friends with whom he debated continually, including his own second wife, who wrote his most famous speech. (As historians of antiquity explained, the rise of the Athenian empire launched Sparta in an all-out war; Pericles’ passive way of fighting, using only fortress Athens and her fleet, backfired, when a plague appeared. “I had not anticipated that.” he bemoaned… The plague killed Pericles and two of his three sons; the war lasted 30 years, and Athens lost it, in a roll of the dice gone wrong.)

Lowering the voting age to 16 (why not 15?) is somewhat silly. That’s not the problem. Having more and more immature voters is not the solution.

Verily, the youth is disgusted by politics to the point of turning away from it. Being interested by politics at this point is like being interested by corruption. Financial, ethical, mental, intellectual, political corruption.

The problem is that representative democracy is intrinsically immoral, hopelessly satanic (or as is also said, plutocratic). Why? Because it elects people who are automatically tyrants. I suspect that youth is suspecting this, and thus finds politics ever more unpalatable.

Elections, as they are, give divine powers to a few people. Mitigate and discontinue that immoral madness. Debate and elect ideas instead. That will motivate people to mature and think. This is what happened in the greatest age of Athens, our present civilization owes so much to.

Instead, as it is now, even adults are treated like children. Whereas, if youth believes it can get to power, it will be interested by in democracy. As in Athens, where some offices were attributed by lot, so anyone could lead! So everyone learned much more as much as they could about everything (to be ready, just in case they would be promoted to leadership overnight).

A weakened, dispirited and unmotivated Athens was subjugated by the Macedonian tyrant Antipater in 322 BCE, with the help of another Macedonian general, Craterus. Antipater, personal friend, lover and executor of the will of Aristotle, was very smart and vicious (he may have assassinated Alexander through his youngest son). Whereas Alexander respected an exsanguinous Athens, Antipater, a typical uber-plutocrat, enforced plutocracy in Athens, and assassinated his highest intellectuals. Athens became free again in 1834 CE. For a while, the Parthenon had been turned into a mosque.

Athens was freed in a ferocious war against the (Turkish) Islamists The Islamists had turned the Parthenon into an explosive storage facility, during a war with Venice, and it had exploded: Islamists have a pattern of hatred to monuments (as anything that makes man a competitor to god).

All adults nowadays feel like children, all the more as they get led by the nose. Nassim Taleb points this out in ‘Trump makes sense to a grocery store owner’. He adds that, for years, the world was led by an “actor”, Obama. An actor who solved nothing, but for making the rich richer. I could not agree more, unfortunately.

There are not just pseudo-experts, as Taleb correctly says (pseudo-experts who pontificate about what the universe had for breakfast, 13.76 billion years ago… Or that only the economy they feast on serves We The People best, contrarily to evidence and mortality graphs…).

There are also pseudo-leftists, pseudo-thinkers, pseudo-intellectuals, pseudo-empaths (Bill Clinton an example of the latter). All thoroughly fake and fat. There are also pseudo-universities, even richer in their folds, which are real centers of plutocratic power (to attend many of them, one needs the median US family income).

We also have plenty of intellectual fascists, people who are led by just a few ideas, and refuse civilized debate with anyone not obeying those ideas. The paradigm there is “Islamophobia”, which is viewed as a form of racism, whereas it’s just the critique of a system of thought (Christianophobia is institutionalized in the West, thank god…).  

We need a debating society. Debates motivate human beings. Now we are suffering from so much intellectual fascism, that we cannot debate what is necessary for survival. This is what Trump and his tweets answer to. And every time one of my erstwhile, new-born pseudo-leftist friends smother me with insults and blocks me, it’s another proof of this evidence.

Reality shall proceed, the survivors will debate it, and will survive, probably because the debated it, the old fashion way, as Athens did it, in her greatest age.

Patrice Ayme’

Socrates A Poisonous, Unexamined Fascist?

September 22, 2016

The Pathos Of Truth Seeked & Violated. Unexamined Fascist, Unexamined Prostitute? Both. Why Was That Covered Up, So Long? For The Same Exact Cause Which Made Socrates Famous!

The death of Socrates keeps haunting philosophy. And that, per se, is a sad, yet very revealing tale. The old common wisdom was that Socrates died, as a martyr to truth (as Hypatia, Boetius, Giordano Bruno, and many others certainly were). You want a hero for philosophy? Celebrate Jean Cavaillès. In the presence of Cavaillès, Sartre nearly wetted his pants. We will see that the mood behind Socrates’ actions is significantly different. Socrates was rather on the side of those who killed Cavaillès.

Indeed, a casual look at the basic setup of Socrates’ trial contradicts the theme that Socrates was mostly a martyr for truth. Socrates was simply accused to be the mastermind of the young dictators who ruled Athens after her tremendous defeat, and half annihilation at the hands of Sparta, the tool of Persia. Socrates was also mentor, friend and lover (!) of the young Alcibiades who, deprived of a generalship by Athens, then betrayed her for her lethal enemy, fascist, ultra-racist, Persian financed Sparta.

Agreed, philosophy needs heroes, and has plenty. Here is one:

Jean Cavaillès. Here Is A Hero For Truth & Philosophy. Socrates Was Nearly The Exact Opposite.

Jean Cavaillès, Anti-Fascist Martyr. Here Is A Hero For Truth & Philosophy. Socrates Was Nearly The Exact Opposite.

[Jean Cavaillès was tortured and assassinated by the Gestapo in 1943-1944. He is buried in the crypt of the Sorbonne.]

Thus Socrates was a sort of Charlie Manson of serial traitors and killers, whose mental actions led, or accompanied, Athens’ near-death experience in losing a devastating war, and the resulting dictatorship by Socrates’ students. Temples of democracy such as Britain, France, and the USA have gaily executed traitors, or incompetents, for much less than that.

Socrates Used To Look At People As A bull Does. Ugly Inside Out? To Reveal the Truth, Some Will Say Torture Works Even Better

Socrates Used To Look At People As A bull Does. Ugly Inside Out? To Reveal the Truth, Some Will Say Torture Works Even Better

Stanford political science and classics professor, Josiah Ober opines in “The Civic Drama Of Socrates’ Trial” that:  “Conventional wisdom sees Socrates as a martyr for free speech, but he accepted his death sentence for a different cause… In his influential interpretation The Trial of Socrates (1988), the US journalist-turned-classicist I F Stone saw this trial as an embattled democracy defending itself. In Stone’s view, Socrates had helped to justify the junta’s savage programme of oligarchic misrule and was a traitor. More commonly, Socrates is seen as a victim of an opportunistic prosecutor and a wilfully ignorant citizenry. In truth, politics is indispensable to understanding the trial of Socrates, but in a slightly more sophisticated way.”

I love sophistication, philosophy is all about increased sophistication (so is science). Sophistication, translated, is wisdomization: sticking to reality ever better by ever more subtle, complex logic.

The point was not so much that Socrates justified the savage programme, but that he formed the minds who organized said programme, “corrupting the youth”. And he was at it again, even after being amnestied. Professor Ober describes the problem well (although he fails to fathom the enormity of what he describes).

Stanford’s Josiah: For what people today call ‘the wisdom of crowds’, Socrates had nothing but scorn. Athenian democrats who argued that the many, the group, were collectively more likely to get important matters right than any individual expert earned his antipathy. Whether or not anyone actually was expert in the art of politics, Socrates certainly supposed that there could be such an expert, and that the Athenians were deluded in thinking themselves collectively wise.”

The “experts” would have been naturally his rich, best (“aristos”) boyfriends. Professor Ober is led to the obvious question, but fail to recognize that he does not answer it:

“How did Socrates both scorn the idea of collective wisdom and yet maintain obedience to Athens’ laws, even when he disagreed with how they were interpreted? The rudimentary answer lay in the foundation that Athens (as opposed to, for example, Sparta) provided in its laws and political culture. Athens mandated liberty of public speech and tolerance for a wide range of private behaviour.”

Yes, but public incompetence could lead to trial (as happened to Pericles and many strategoi, generals and admirals). Anyway, that is not an answer. I will give a better answer: Socrates himself had no answer to his drastic self-contradictions, so hise self-delusion fatally committed him to self-destruction. Yet political science professor Ober sees the problem:

“By 399 BCE, however, four years after the end of the tyranny, and with Socrates doing the same things in public that had seemingly inspired the junta’s leaders, the Athenians regarded his speech very differently. In the eyes of the majority of his fellow citizens, Socrates was no longer an eccentric with potential for contributing to public life. He was now either a malevolent public enemy, or deluded and dangerously unable to recognise that his speech predictably produced seriously bad outcomes. And so the way was left open for Meletus to launch his prosecution.”

Right. What professor Ober fails to mention is that only the intervention of mighty Sparta prevented Athens’ annihilation after she surrendered, having lost already half of her population (other cities wanted to do to Athens what Athens did to Melos). Try to imagine this: the city-state half annihilated, democracy destroyed by Socrates’ students, and then? The strongest mood that Socrates had been instilling was to oppose democracy. And he was again at it, after the amnesty he had profited from. What could motivate such a rage?

Unsurprisingly, Socrates was put on trial for “corrupting the youth and impiety”. (The City was to some extent divinized, with Athena as her protecting goddess.)

“With unsettling metaphors and logical demonstrations, he made it clear that he [Socrates] opposed democracy… Xenophon implies that Socrates chose that sort of speech as a method of jury-assisted suicide: he was… tired of life and allowed the Athenians to end it for him.”

This is what I believe. And I go further than Xenophon, by explaining the cause of Socrates’ depression. Socrates may have been tired of his own contradictions.And may have been ravaged by regret. (Regret, I reckon, is a powerful human instinct.)

The Socrates’ worship interpretation is due to Plato. It poses Socrates as martyr to civic duty. But, as it turns out, “civic duty”, for Socrates, seems to be mostly blind obedience to “the Laws”, while viciously criticizing the Direct Democracy which gave birth to them.

That Socrates respected the laws of Athens while despising the Direct Democracy which had passed them is illogical in the extreme. Yes, I know Socrates said he respected “the Laws”, as if they were disembodied gods with a life of their own. But We The People passed said laws, and they lived only because We The People had created them, and We thge People could extinguish them just the same.

The “Laws” were nothing. We The People was everything. Socrates behaved as if he could not understand that.

Insisting that the Laws were everything reveals that the concept of blind obedience was more important to Socrates than arguing about the nature of what one should be obeying to, and why. Blind obedience is also the traditional ultimate value of standard fascism: law and order as supreme.

Blind obedience had been what the junta’s rule was all about. What the rule of Socrates’ young students and lovers had been all about. That’s also what fascism is all about. However, arguing, debating, fighting is how to get to the thorough examination necessary for the “examined life”.   

The contradiction was, and is, blatant. Socrates’ mental system was shorting out. Socrates had been shorting out for half a decade or more: he ambitiously wanted to “examine life”, but he could not even examine the minds of his followers, let alone his own, or why he was hanging around them. Why was he hanging around them? They were rich, he was not, but he lived off their backs and crumbs. And the feeling of power they provided with (after Obama got to power I saw some in his entourage becoming drunk with power).  

Arguably, Socrates was a martyr to fascism, a Jihadist without god. There is nothing remarkable about that. The very instinct of fascism is to give one’s life, just because fanatical combat is the ultimate value, when one gets in the fascist mood. In this case, the fanatical combat was against We The People.

Posing Socrates as a martyr for intellectual freedom is farfetched: fascism, blind obedience, passion for oligarchs are all opposed to the broad mind searching for wisdom requires.

Some will sneer: you accuse Socrates to be a fascist, why not a racist? Well, I will do this too. The golden youth Socrates loved so much and drank with were hereditary so. Socrates believed knowledge was innate (so an ignorant shepherd boy knew all of math: this is the example he rolled out!) If knowledge was innate, one can guess that the “aristos”, the best, were also innately superior. That is the essence of racism.

Logically enough, Socrates disliked science: nothing was truly new under the sun (as all knowledge was innate). So much for examining life.

It is more probable that Socrates was indeed, just a stinging insect buzzing around, stinging the idea of Direct Democracy. In exchange, his rich, young, plutocratic boyfriends would fete and feed him. Such was Socrates’ life, a rather sad state of affair, something that needed to be examined, indeed, by the head doctor.

Socrates may have been clever enough to feel that he was an ethical wreck. His suicidal submission may have been an attempt to redeem himself, or whatever was left of his honor (which he also tried to regain with his insolence to the jury).

Plato would pursue the fight for fascism (“kingship”). Aristotle, by teaching, mentoring, educating, befriending, advising a number of extremely close, family-like friends, the abominable Alexander, Craterus and Antipater, finally fulfilled Socrates’ wet dream: Athenian Direct Democracy was destroyed and replaced by an official plutocracy overlorded by Antipater (supremo dictator, and executor of Aristotle’s will, in more ways than one).

This trio of philosophical malefactors became the heroes 22 centuries of dictatorship (“monarchy”) needed as a justification. A justification where “civic duty” was defined as blind obedience to the “Laws” (whatever they were, even unjust “Laws”). This amplified Socrates’ hatred of Direct Democracy. So the works of the trio were preciously preserved, and elevated to the rank of the admirable.

It is rather a basket of deplorables. We owe them the destruction of Direct Democracy for 23 centuries, and counting.

And what Of Socrates’ regret for being so deplorable? (Which I alleged he had to experience.) A dying Socrates lying on a couch, uncovered his face and uttered— “Crito, I owe the sacrifice of a rooster to Asklepios; will you pay that debt and not neglect to do so?”  Asklepios cured disease, and provided with rebirth, symbolized by the singing of the rooster calling the new day. This has been traditionally interpreted (by Nietzsche) as meaning that (Socrates’?) death was a cure for (his?) life. Nietzsche accused Socrates to be culprit of the subsequent degeneracy of civilization (and I do agree with that thesis). Certainly, Socrates, a self-described “gadfly” was deprived of gravitas.

Wisdom needs to dance, but cannot be altogether deprived of gravitas, as it is, after all, the gravest thing.. Maybe Socrates felt this confusedly, besides having regrets for his status of thinking insect. Socrates could have easily escaped, and Crito had an evasion ready. By killing himself Socrates behaved like a serious Japanese Lord opening his belly to show his insides were clean, and its intent good. Well, many a scoundrel has committed seppuku, and hemlock is nothing like cutting the belly.

Human beings are endowed with the instinct of regret, because we are the thinking species. It is crucial that we find the truth, and when we have lived a lie, indulged in error, the best of use are haunted by the past, and revisit it to find what the truth really was. Regrets has many stages, like cancer. The most correct philosophical form of regret is to re-established the truth. The cheap way out is to flee from reality, as Socrates did.

How to explain Socrates’ insolence to the jury? There again, it was a desperate attempt at reaching the sensation of self-righteousness and trying to impart it to the jury (this is often seen  on the Internet, with the glib one-liners and vacuous logic which pass for depth nowadays).

The inexperienced democracy in Athens did not always behave well. Athens behaved terribly with Melos (see link above). But the case of Socrates is different. Ultimately, the train of thoughts and moods promoted by Socrates weakened those who wanted to defend the free republics of Greece against the fascist, exterminationist Macedonian plutocracy. Demosthenes and Athenian Direct Democracy was mortally poisoned by Socrates.

Thus, Socrates execution was not just tit for tat. It was not enough of tit for tat. It was a preventive measure, in defense of Direct Democracy, which failed, because it was too meek.

Democracy does not mean to turn the other cheek, to have the golden beast eat that one too. In ultimate circumstances, democracy has an ultimate weapon too, and that is fascism. This is why the Roman, French and American republics prominently brandish the fasces. Fascism is the ultimate war weapon. But fascism is not the ultimate society. Far from it: political fascism, just a few individuals leading entails intellectual fascism, namely just a few moods and ideas leading. Before one knows it, one is in plutocracy, where not only wealth rules, but so does the cortege of the worst ideas and moods which characterize it.

Socrates often talk the talk, contradicting completely the way he lived (for example he said one should never return an injury, but, as a hoplite, he killed at least four men in combat!)

Socrates spoke so well sometimes, that he can stay a symbol of truth persecuted. But, because it is a lie, replacing him by Hypatia, Boetius, Bruno and, or Cavaillès, and, or, others, is urgent. Indeed, the reality is that Socrates was not just inimical to democracy. The current of thought he floated by was inimical to science, mental progress, and the truth he claimed to be pining for.  And even him may have been so overwhelmed by these astounding contradictions, that, in the end, assisted suicide for his pathetic mental writhing was, indeed, the optimal outcome.

Patrice Ayme’

 

Is Oligarchy Intrinsically Evil?

January 28, 2016

Yes and no. Unjustifiable Oligarchy Is Intrinsically Evil. Unfortunately, be it in China, Russia, the USA, the EU, and nearly all states, this is what we are enjoying now. Here is a little recapitulation of why it’s deeply inhuman, and unfathomably stupid. Considering the mental crisis out there, it’s something to fix as a priority.

Oligarchy is the rule of the few (oligo in Greek). The fundamental problems of the concept of oligarchy are two:

First, the rule of the few is fundamentally anti-humanistic. Human beings evolved in smallish groups. Various experiments have shown people cannot know more than around 150 people. Beyond that human neurology cannot handle it.

Second, in these small human groups, brains were made to be used in parallel: everybody think, their thinking is considered more or less equally, and the best ideas blossom out of debates. One can see this, if one thinks carefully. Moreover, an experimental proof has recently surfaced. It has been discovered, last year, that the most important decision making in baboon societies, where to go, is made DEMOCRATICALLY.

The Problem Was Not Just With Hitler. All Present Regimes Have It, More Or Less. One People, One Kingdom, One Guide. However One Brain For Tens of Millions Proves, Unsurprisingly, Brainless

The Problem Was Not Just With Hitler. All Present Regimes Have It, More Or Less. One People, One Kingdom, One Guide. However One Brain For Tens of Millions Proves, Unsurprisingly, Brainless

Let me give a few details on research recently published. It was made possible by fitting all the 25 adults of a baboon troop with GPS receptors endowed with a precision of 30 centimeters (a “foot”), recorded every second. It is well known that alpha males often dominate the rest of the troop for acquiring food or mates (they are also prominent for defending the troop) . However, and that is stunning, the alpha males do not  monopolize the decision-making for the all-important function of determining where to go!

A new distinction has appeared in baboon society: the “INITIATORS”. Just as there are alpha males (and alpha females, often mothers of alpha males), there are baboons who specialize in showing the way.

Notice the difference with today’s human society where the alpha males (those Obama, and not just Obama, calls the “leaders”), and the “initiators” are the same who lead the way to implementing new ideas.

In all of the world’s countries, politicians dominate. Even in the USA. The USA has the world’s largest government in money spent, as it spends more, than the entire GDP of Russia. It is actually about as large as Germany’s GDP. In fiscal year 2015, the federal budget is $3.8 trillion. These trillions of dollars make up about 21 percent of the U.S. economy. Much of them are distributed at the discretion of a handful of politicians, who, in turn decide who to finance (Elon Musk’s Space X, Tesla, and Sun City being examples of firms partly financed by the state) or who not to prosecute (the various technology monopolies being another example; in another times, under other governments, they would have been broken up).

Another way to think about it is that one fifth of the U.S. economy is directly controlled by the a few politicians. (Or maybe just one, the president!) That’s about 65 million people whose livelihood depends only upon the government of the USA, at the whim of just… one man.

Instead of going into detailed examples, as I often do, squeezed between bronchitis, antibiotics and a lack of time, I will just evoke fateful choices presidents of the USA made recently. To wit: deregulating finance (Clinton), invading Iraq, without, moreover, imposing order there (Bush), letting the derivative madness and banks run amok (Clinton-Bush), a liberal killer drones policy (early Obama), dropping fuel cell research (Obama), privatizing space (Obama), cutting down taxes on the hyper rich (Bush-first term Obama) etc. Obama did just one notable positive (besides following France on Libya): breaking the incredibly disgusting practice of American health insurance companies to insurance only healthy people… (OK, that was a tiny, but decisive step.)

Instead I will wax philosophical, going back to Socrates. The executed philosopher spent a lot of his philosophical time whining that Athenian Direct Democracy could not work. Socrates’ arguments were correct: if you want a good general, you should not elect him because somebody who talked well wanted to be a general.

The Roman Empire, followed by the European Middle Ages, and especially France, the successor state of Rome, found a solution. What I call “Democratic Institutions”. Those are meritocracies of expertise, organized as oligarchies. Guilds were examples in the Middle Ages. Medical Associations, for centuries, have decided who was a medical doctor in good standing, and who was not. Similarly for masons (free or not), architects, barbers, etc.

Philippe Le Bel arrested all the Templar at daybreak on Friday, 13 October 1307. It was a beautiful, and the first, example of a national police in action. The police of a state is another democratic institution.

Direct Democracy has to work hand in hand with Democratic Institutions. One cannot just decide what is the truth, just because it happens to be popular. Otherwise Kim Kardashian’s buns would be the only truth to be had.

But one has to keep in mind that Oligarchy is intrinsically anti-human. Not just anti-humanistic. It is deeply averse not just to our species, not just to our genus, but even to the order of primates.

And why is that? Because intelligence has been the evolutive strategy which has propelled the humanoids to supremacy over the biosphere, and now made us strong enough to be the main factor influencing it. Intelligence is higher, the higher, better, more subtle, richer, more powerful the ideas it produces are. Such ideas are born from the minds of the many, because they need debates, the equivalent of sex for ideas, to advance towards greater understanding.

Direct Democracy enables initiators all over, initiators of ideas, it’s the best enabler higher civilization ever had. And believing that oligarchy is better, the greatest enemy civilization has: not only it ends up promoting plutocracy, but, first of all, and worst of all, stupidity itself.

Notice this, though: most of the world society and economy is organized along oligarchic lines (although they are often hidden in suitably dark pools). It’s time to turn politics on its head.

Patrice Ayme’

Feynman Renormalized

December 20, 2015

In quantum field theory, the statistical mechanics of fundamental fields, and the theory of self-similar geometric structures, renormalization is a collection of techniques used to correct computations which otherwise blow up infinitely. Feynman was one of the pioneers of renormalization, and got the Nobel Prize for it.

That work was definitively made possible by a (philosophical) understanding of the “infinite” processes at hand, so Feynman was just not an “accidental philosopher”. Feynman made brutal, but amusing remarks about the uselessness of (some) philosophers in fundamental physics, something which made connoisseurs such as yours truly smile (I knew Feynman, he was complimentary, and kind, not at all putting philosophy down, differently from some recordings out there. Feynman accepted questioning the foundations maximally. His son became a philosophy major.)

The World Is Not As Simple As That, Nor Should It Be So Rough

The World Is Not As Simple As That, Nor Should It Be So Rough

I agree with the mood behind Feynman’s uttering, the spirit of what he wanted to say. However, the context of Feynman’s remarks needs to be… renormalized. (This is an example where the mood behind a precise theory in physics, namely Quantum Field Theory, can be carried over to bring the perspective of a new method to philosophy.)

As a physicist, I admire Feynman who wrote great lectures on physics, and is mostly famous for “Feynman Diagrams” a splendid, and perhaps deep way (Feynman himself was not too sure), to denote terms in the sort of power series expansion one has to consider in Quantum Field Theories.

Feynman’s statement  depends upon what one means by “government“, the type of government one is talking about. For clarity, I will consider that “government” here SHOULD mean “Direct Democracy“, the most perfect form of democracy, what democracy really means, where the People (Demos) exert Power (Kratos). That means, in particular, that We the People rules and legislates.

Feynman, who contributed to the Manhattan Project (the making of nuclear bombs crowned, for want of a better concept, with Hiroshima and Nagasaki) seems to naturally expect the sort of fascist war government he took part in.

If one expects something too much, to the point of forgetting about possible alternatives, or how grotesque and cruel that thing is, one condones it. Feynman expects government to be tyrannical. But tyranny is not ethologically human: it’s not natural, just natural in case of war. Feynman should have realized that the government he knew was not the one we should have looking forward.

Revolution begs for distanciation. Lack of distanciation is how too much tolerance can become a crime.

Thus Feynman’s statement was to some extent self-referential, and self-condemning. Indeed, in the government Feynman was used to, there was an abyss between government and citizens. Feynman witnessed the McCarthyism witch hunt (when his own career was fully launched; Feynman saw his Manhattan project superior, Robert Oppenheimer, go down in flames, just because Oppenheimer was “not trusted”).

In Direct Democracy, a government by the citizens, for the citizens, the distinction between government and citizens disappear. Abusive “representatives” (such as Richard Nixon,a Congressman, and Senator MacCarthy) altogether disappear, as We the People represents itself.

By expecting such aa abysmal distinction, between government and citizens, Feynman seems to expect that government will have to be, forever, the sort of government he played a role in. That government Feynman was involved in was a dictatorship of some sort, out there, and up there.

Government, in the most general sense, includes the legislative, judicial, and police processes and even the army, and the laws they built, enforce, and which created them. As such, the government is deeply involved in finding out what is true, and which philosophies are valid, and which are not, supported by a rather rigorous view of history.

So Feynman’s statement should be not just be reinterpreted as a warning to the citizenry to govern with an open mind. It also indicates a sort of naivety, a sort of Manichean view of the world out of physics.

Unfortunately, just as Quantum Field Theories themselves, our interpretation of the real world is self-referential, and non-linear. Our view of reality is constantly renormalized (in a way similar to what Quantum Field Theories do). We cannot separate government from truth, and especially not perfect government. And when truth is found, it has to be enforced.

No government nowadays tolerate a religion conducive to human sacrifices (wait…) Because it was found such religions were not optimal, in the context of more advanced socio-economies guided by more evolved philosophies. And that is so much the truth, it’s legislated that way, all over.

The more powerful we humans become, the more perfect our government has to be. Thus, the more We the Citizens have to be perfect. Thus, the keener we will have to be to find the truth, and impose it, when lives, or the future, are at stake.

Truth is obtained by debate, and by making mistakes. So the fact that “We The People” can err should not be condemned: after all, dictatorships and oligarchies (what we have) also err. Erring, if done in good faith, is part of the learning process. Tyrannies, oligarchies, plutocracies are, by definition, not in good faith: as they feel that the few should overlord the many, they are by definition vicious and idiotic.

So the Slovenian People, consulted in a referendum, just rejected same-sex marriage.  The vote was 63.4% against. Interestingly, the Slovenian Parliament had passed such a law, but a rather sad group appealed to the Slovenian top court, forcing the referendum. In Europe, Britain, France and Spain recognize same-sex marriages. But this is all part of the learning process: propose, reject, debate, accept. Better let the Slovenian gay inside come out of the closet willingly, after reflection. Instead of staying stuck inside in Putin’s all too warm loudly anti-homosexual embrace.

Truth, and the lack thereof, are not an innocent bystanders. If lies are allowed to grow too big, just one citizen, in a future soon to be, could condemn the “human race”.

Some truths, or lack thereof, cannot just be considered matters of state. A Cult of Death cannot be authorized as a legal religion, for example.

In Direct Democracy, truth will not just have to be a way of life, but the only way to have government, and that includes imposing it on We The People. This is exactly the main effect of the Climate Conference, COP 21, which happened in Paris. All the nations of the world united with one voice, one truth, and declared:”Earth, We have a problem!

We have to redefine “normal”. The best renormalization of society implies much more truth than ever before.

Earth is our home, but a home is something small, thus fragile.  A home cannot be inhabited by violent, potentially lethal lies.

Patrice Ayme’

Democracy Flouted: No Ridicule Is High Enough

August 20, 2015

Democracy by representation can work in a factory, school or a homeowner association: those communities are small enough, and have reduced opportunity of choice. Their leaders’ decisions will not destroy the planet.

We need a concept: let’s introduce the DEMOCRATIC INDEX. It has a simple definition: DI is the quotient of the number of representatives, R, over the total population, P. So: Democratic Index: DI = R/P.

In a Direct Democracy (such as Ancient Athens), DI is one, because each citizen represents herself, or himself.

In modern so-called “representative democracies”, the Democratic Index is basically zero. Athenian Direct Democracy has been replaced by a celebrity circus where oligarchy is presented as the one and only show of greatest interest.

Eva Longoria, An Actress Whom Obama Consults At 2AM In The White House, To “Map” The Future

Eva Longoria, An Actress Whom Obama Consults At 2AM In The White House, To “Map” The Future

In giant countries, government by (“elected“) representatives certainly does not work, and not just because it vests enormous powers in a handful of individuals. The Obama circus of continual fund-raising and frolicking with plutocrats whose business is only possible through government, has made plenty clear that those who took part in an election were the plutocrats, and only them, not “We The People”. (Plutocrats also elected, again and again, Putin to ever more authoritative positions… Until they discovered to their dismay, that he had elected himself to plutocrat in chief.)

At the scale of a country, government by representatives is the power of a few. In Greek: few-rule: oligo-arkhein: oligarchy. Thus:

Theorem: All and any nation claiming to be a representative democracy is, actually, an oligarchy.

That does not mean it’s a plutocracy. For an oligarchy to be a plutocracy, great wealth, and, or great diabolicity, needs to rule.  

How does one hide all this nastiness? One hides it as a kabuki theater, a dictatorship of celebrities.

The New York Times just gave a striking example of this. It wrote a long article relating what Obama views as one of the main functions of his presidency. Times is the “newspaper of report”: it’s striking it presents a movie star as part of Obama’s 2am braintrust.

In “With High-Profile Help, Obama Plots Life After Presidency

“President Obama… is privately mapping out a postpresidential infrastructure that could cost as much as $1 billion.

One is obviously very far from the mentality of president Harry Truman. After holding office, as Senator, VP, and President, Truman lived in modest circumstances. When he was asked why he did not cash on his aura, Truman replied that it would demean the office of the presidency. Now things have changed: the presidency is apparently viewed by the beholder as all about money:

WASHINGTON — The dinner in the private upstairs dining room of the White House went so late that Reid Hoffman, the LinkedIn billionaire, finally suggested around midnight that President Obama might like to go to bed.

“Feel free to kick us out,” Mr. Hoffman recalled telling the president.

But Mr. Obama was just getting started. “I’ll kick you out when it’s time,” he replied.

“Good manners in present higher American society, is all about who kicks whom, and timing is everything. If they spend their time kicking each other, and laughing about it, imagine what they really do the average losers, such as you and me. The vulgarity was just getting started, though:

[President Obama] then lingered with his wife, Michelle, and their 13 guests — among them the novelist Toni Morrison, the hedge fund manager Marc Lasry and the Silicon Valley venture capitalist John Doerr — well past 2 a.m.

Mr. Obama “seemed incredibly relaxed,” said another guest, the writer Malcolm Gladwell. He recalled how the group, which also included the actress Eva Longoria and Vinod Khosla, a founder of Sun Microsystems, tossed out ideas about what Mr. Obama should do after he leaves the White House.”

Khosla is the self-proclaimed ecologist who bought for himself part of the undeveloped Californian Coast, and then barred nature lovers to hike and swim there, just because he owned it. He fought in court for years to block access to the public (who, in theory, has the right to walk California’s beaches).

Whatever Obama’s future is, it’s something Internet billionaires, part NSA, part vulgar, and hedge fund conspirators, venture plotters, and actresses can profitably manage.

“So far, Mr. Obama has raised just over $5.4 million from 12 donors, with gifts ranging from $100,000 to $1 million. Michael J. Sacks, a Chicago businessman, gave $666,666. Fred Eychaner, the founder of Chicago-based Newsweb Corp., which owns community newspapers and radio stations, donated $1 million. Mark T. Gallogly, a private equity executive, and James H. Simons, a technology entrepreneur, each contributed $340,000 to a foundation set up to oversee development of the library.”

“666” is the “Mark of the Beast”:, some robber barons have an undeniable sense of humor. Lucky is a country where the wealthiest can make enormous gifts to the Great Leader. At least, so they say in North Korea. And the New York Times goes on:

“The heart of the postpresidential planning is Mr. Obama’s own outreach to eclectic, often extraordinarily rich groups of people. Several aides close to Mr. Obama said his extended conversations over the lengthy dinners — guests say his drink of choice at the gatherings is an extra-dry Grey Goose martini — reminded them of the private consultations Mr. Obama had with donors and business leaders as he sought to build a winning campaign.

The process started as early as the week after Mr. Obama’s re-election in 2012, when the director Steven Spielberg and the actor Daniel Day-Lewis went to a White House screening of the movie “Lincoln.” Mr. Spielberg held the president spellbound, guests said, when he spoke about the use of technology to tell stories. Mr. Obama has continued those conversations, most recently with Mr. Spielberg and the studio executive Jeffrey Katzenberg over dinner at a Beverly Hills hotel in California in June, according to some of Mr. Obama’s close advisers.

The advisers said Mr. Spielberg was focused on helping to develop a “narrative” for Mr. Obama in the years after he leaves office.”

Katzenberg, in case you would be so naïve that you would need to ask, is a billionaire, and his jobs is selling dreams (not really different from Putin, just much more modest). It’s all about ‘narrative”

“In response to a question from Mr. Doerr at the February White House dinner, the president told the group that he wanted to focus on civic engagement and opportunities for youths, pushing guests for ideas about how to make government work better, Mr. Hoffman recalled in an interview. The president asked if social networks could improve the way society confronted problems.”

Well, let me tell, you, Mr. President, how the Internet could improve the way society confronts problems: by doing away with you, your actresses, moguls, hedge fund conspirators, bankers, Silicon plotters, and various oligarchs and plutocrats. How? We don’t need you, and your fellow 2 am brains.

We can just vote on the issues, instead of having you and your lapdogs decided everything. Say all propositions gathering more than a million signatures, as long as they don’t violate the Constitution, would be submitted to a national plebiscite.

What would happen?

American Lawyer, the most respected law magazine, just pointed out that for banks:”Fined. But business as usual.”

Banks are mandated by so-called representative democracies to create money (by extending credit). Thus they should be under fierce democratic control. However, they don’t even have to respect the law, they can just bribe their way out of it. And they have no limit: official accusations against the huge world bank HSBC were, after the usual tax evasion, money laundering and drug trafficking that it financed terrorist networks. So what? HSBC distributed some cash around, as suggested.

A plebiscite proposing that, when a banker steals, say, a billion dollar, he goes to jail, would certainly pass. After all, California had passed “Three Strikes You Are Out”, a law imposing a mandatory life sentence on the third condemnation, even if it were about stealing a pizza slice (a plebiscite, Prop 36, modified the “3 strikes” law in California in 2012, to impose drastic punishment only if the third strike was violent).

We are governed by oligarchs and plutocrats. That they look amusing and distracting is part of their oppression. Dire oppression with a comic face. We need to elevate ourselves, and find immoral, to be thrilled by the politicians’ ridiculous antics.

It is illegal for politicians to accept significant gifts. So what are politicians doing at 2am, with those who can give the most significant gifts? And are given the most significant gifts, such as evading the law on a plutocratic scale? Why is that legal?

Patrice Ayme’

President “Finally” On His “Own”?

May 19, 2015

So the President Of The U.S. (“POTUS”) claims. Hope we can believe in.

Barack Obama just got his own Twitter account. Just like millions of teenagers out there! He is coming out on his “own”! Let me reproduce the exchange:

President Obama ‏@POTUS May 18

“Hello, Twitter! It’s Barack. Really! Six years in, they’re finally giving me my own account.”

Patrice Ayme ‏@Tyranosopher

@POTUS Welcome! A question: who is “they”? What else are “they” “finally giving”? In any case, nice to see you on your “own”.

Barack Obama committed a Freudian slip, on steroids. This time, and not for the first time, he admitted he is not on his own. Barack Obama, president of the USA, is even more grounded that the average American teenager.

Some will say that this is understandable: a president, like other top politicians, has to have “handlers”, people in the shadows, telling him what to do, what to say, where to go, writing his speeches, etc.

A president, some will say, has to “preside”, represent everybody, the nation itself, he, or she, cannot be just an individual, but a function, an institution.

However, who does he talk to?

When one visits Barack Obama, and pays attention to the surroundings, what is striking is the military deployment. Hundreds of superb professionals, trained to kill with heavy weapons are all around, hidden from public view. It has to be hidden, because it were not, the USA would start to look like a military dictatorship. We don’t want to feel that way, do we?

So who goes through this (peregrinating) military fortress? The best and the brightest. Access is denied to common folks. Serious scholarly studies have show that, in the matter of legislation, only the preoccupations of the elite go through.

(Since this is known, that only the elite legislates, the very knowledge of this anti-democratic horror may have change the behavior of the “Democratic Party” rank and file. Thus, I feel incline to believe, the resistance to the Trans Pacific Partnership, the TPP. That other scholarly studies, just published have shown that such “free trade” treaties are reduced quality employment in the USA, did not improve matters.)

Who is the best and brightest? The most powerful and wealthiest. Those who will feed and comfort all the critters of the present Obama administration, once that vaporizes in two years.

In other words, the president, and his collaborators, talk to the powers that be. The wealth, that is.

Barack Obama was explicitly told, before he became President, that he had to leave his friends behind. “They only cause problems.” So he was told by a plutocrat who used to be Bill Clinton’s Chief of Staff, Erskine Bowles.

Those are the ones who control Barack Obama as if he were an unruly teenager. After six years of good behavior, those worthies are happy to let little boy Barack get his own Twitter account. Little Barack is now a big boy. A boy who served the big white masters very well. They are grateful, and impressed.

So what we see is that, having just one, or a few people in charge, cannot work: unavoidably, they will come under the spell of the pre-existing class of owners.

That was a well-known problem. So Robespierre, Saint-Just and company decided to exterminate the pre-existing owners and controllers (the famous “Terreur” of the French Revolution). Earlier in England, Cromwell, the “Lord Protector” had instituted a similar system which dissipated quickly after his death (which happened within 5 years). The Terreur lasted roughly a year, before its perpetrators got cut down to size.

However Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and the Khmers Rouges were more successful: they eradicated the pre-existing class, ruthlessly. In retrospect, everybody agrees that was a mistake (and the present “Princelings” in command in China’s “People Republic” will be the first to tell you so, thus they reconstituted an elite composed mostly of themselves!)

The solution?

Get out of the class problem entirely. How? Make an increasing number of drastic decisions subject to the vote of the People.

For example, our newly liberated boy Barack wants to get “trade authority” to negotiate the TPP (and a similar Transatlantic Treaty). Then he will talk to the adults, the very wealthy and powerful adults who control his Twitter accounts and all what he is supposed to feel and think about, and how.

Why not to submit the TPP to a referendum?

Because most of the individuals negotiating the TPP right now are employees of giant corporations? Whereas government representatives are few; the TPP will give corporations right they don’t have now, such as modifying laws, and suing states. Although that was hidden below thick layers of lies.

That the boy who could only get his Twitter account after six years wants to represent, all by his little self, nearly a billion people in the West, is surrealistic.

We used to have representatives and officials and ministers, out of necessity. In countries such as France, or, a fortiori, the USA, it would take weeks to travel across. In the Middle-Ages, only the cardinals living around Rome, no more than 20 of them, would elect the Popes. A cardinal in England, or Spain, or Germany, would not take part in these elections.

But now we have the Internet.

The root of the word “minister”, as in “Prime Minister”, is the Latin ministrare “to serve, attend, wait upon”. In the Middle-Ages, it was closely related to servitude (or ministrels, the musicians who attended to courts). We don’t need those servants anymore: they have other masters, they do not obey us anymore.

Thanks to the Internet, we can give our own opinions, and debate them. Switzerland is increasingly using these “votations”. The system works splendidly. Most controversial measures lead to fierce debates, and public opinion varies accordingly.

Debates do not have to replace democratic institutions (army, police, justice, the orders of MDs, etc.). These institutions, which are meritocratic, are the answer to Socrates’ objection to electing generals and the like (as was done in Athens).

However Socrates did not object to Athens National Assembly, which often necessitated a quorum of 6,000. That meant that farmers of Attica, if they wanted to vote, had to leave their farms for many days. Nowadays, with the Internet, they could vote while having breakfast.

Debates allow good ideas to exterminate bad ideas. That’s what we need.

We don’t need to be led by people who need six years of good behavior to be authorized to have their own account.

Patrice Ayme’

Antarctica Heat Records. A Consequence Of Hubris?

April 1, 2015

WE KNEW OF NUCLEAR MELT-DOWNS. WHAT ABOUT HUBRIS MELT-DOWNS?

Hubris melting down world security, including Antarctica. Five national heat records were beaten since the start of 2015.

Including the one in Antarctica, last week.

The poles are where heat records are going to be achieved the most.

Why?

Planetary warming is concentrated there. If the temperature goes up two degrees Celsius overall, it will get up TEN degrees Celsius at the Poles. Or so I claim. (Right now we are up officially only .8 degree Celsius, in the global average.)

NASA explains why climate change is warming the poles of our planet faster than the rest this way: “energy in the atmosphere that is carried to the poles through large weather systems.”

That is true, but does not explain the big picture.

500 Kilometers South Of Esperanza Base, Lemaire Channel.

500 Kilometers South Of Esperanza Base, Lemaire Channel.

[Antarctica has 70% of the World’s sweet water.]

The big picture of why the poles are warming up so fast is proven by history, and explained by simple physics. The history of the last five million years, basic thermodynamics, biology and celestial mechanics. It’s etched in stone.

Five millions years ago, the planet was warm. The global CO2 level was the same as now. The global sea level was much higher (30 to 40 meters higher). Then the Central America isthmus closed down, thanks to all its volcanoes. This modified currents worldwide. Or, at least, so went the theory that reigned for thirty years. But now doubts have surfaced; the isthmus between the Americas may be much older than previously thought.

In any case, a few million years ago, Earth’s orbital parameters changed: the inclination of the Earth on the ecliptic (the plane in which its rotation occurs) diminished. That implied colder summers, hence the persistence, thus built-up, of ice at the poles.

Glaciations are all about the peak temperatures, in summer (the rest of the year does not count: ice melts mostly in the warmest two months).

The Arctic became colder, as it got colder in summer. Ice gained, shutting down the CO2 within the ocean with a cold water lid. So CO2 levels in the lower atmosphere collapsed… Down to about 280 ppm. That increased the cooling down. The ice gained further… Until it went so south that it melted in summer.

The planet ended up with two very white, snowy and icy poles, reflecting a lot of light back to space. Earth got equipped with two immense refrigerators. This is the environment in which our species evolved (although there were a few transient spikes even warmer than today, for as inclination over the ecliptic became momentarily pronounced, with torrid summers that made ice melt; the present warming is different, as it is Anthropogenic Green House Gases driven; particularly nasty volcanism could drive the CO2 up, but did not happen in the last five million years.)

Now we are back to Pliocene CO2 levels, 5 million years ago. With these levels of CO2, so much infrared radiation gets trapped close the ground, that the refrigerators are bound to melt. Another reason is that the warm CO2 blanket tends to unify the temperature.

Another way to look at it is that the temperature of the equatorial regions is an average of 25C. The average temperature of the planet is 15C. The average temperature within Antarctica goes from -10C (Coast) to -60C (Interior). Say it’s minus 45C (the official estimate).

If the CO2 blanket is thick enough, the poles will roughly get as warm as the rest.

There will be a lot of inertia: when an ice cube melts in water, the water stays around freezing during the process.

The warmest temperature recorded on the continent of Antarctica occurred on Tuesday, March 24, 2015, when the mercury shot up to 63.5°F (17.5°C) at Argentina’s Esperanza Base on the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. Shown below:

Esperanza Base, Antarctica: the Glaciers Even Appear To Be Melting

Esperanza Base, Antarctica: the Glaciers Even Appear To Be Melting

[Glaciers that are melting are thin at the margins, and convex… Just as above on the left and center.]

The previous record was 63.3°F (17.4°C) set just one day previously at Argentina’s Marambio Base, an island just off the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula.

I am warming up to this subject. (And I did not even mention the relationship between obesity and rising CO2 that some researchers have recently suggested. C02 rose around 30% in 60 years…)

According to satellite data, researchers from the University of Southampton in the UK, found that sea level rise around the coast of Antarctica over the past 19 years was 8 centimeters (3.15 inches).

Average sea level rise was 6 centimeters (2.36 inches).

Why the difference?

Last summer, in Nature Geoscience, the specialists explained that melting glaciers create an outflow of sweet water. As it is less dense, it floats above the salted water, according to Archimedes Principle.

This will only accelerate melting.

Up north, on February 25, 2015, Arctic sea ice extent reached its annual maximum extent. It was the lowest, and earliest, ever.

Humanity would seem to be in a fascinating state of denial. But not really. After all, maybe only 2,000 individuals lead the world.

Those individuals, who Obama calls the “leaders” (what else?) can only adopt Louis XV of France’s utterance: ”Après moi, le déluge”. (After me, the flood.)

Indeed those leaders are different creatures. Those who are so much greedier for personal power that they end up dominating billions, can only be blinded by it. They have more power than anybody before. More power than any tyrant ever had before.

Contemplate Benjamin Netanyahu: he could fry Iran, with Israeli H bombs. That has got to make him dizzy. And he leads only six million Israeli Jews (who make 75% of Israel’s 8 million).

Now think of Putin, with 24 times more subjects, and more than 8,000 nukes.

Then contemplate the senseless wars the Greek city-states were making to each other. Everybody was allied, and enemy, of everybody else, and often in very short order (weeks). Meanwhile the “King”, namely the emperor of Persia, was busy making the mess messier, with the tremendous money, power and influence at his disposal.

This fibrillating, bellicose frenzy went on and on. Until the plutocrats from the north, the Macedonians, whose wealth rested on horses and gold mines, swooped down.

We could easily fall back in a similar state.

It was the inability of Athens to impose a sustainable empire that caused the war panic in Greece. The war itself was launched by Sparta’s anxiety for the rise of Athenian power (said Thucydides, 24 centuries ago). Sparta’s socio-economic model, ferocious racist exploitation (of the Helots) was failing. Athens’ global trade was winning.

But, too sure of her strength, Athens mismanaged the war (in several dimensions: ethically, strategically, tactically, diplomatically, epidemiologically, etc.).

Result? 23 centuries of eclipse of direct democracy. And counting. Direct Democracy has been re-installed only in Switzerland. Now the stakes are higher. Western Europe is at peace… All too much.

The Main Stream Media have put everybody to sleep. Regularly the media, in turn, publish articles of Matt Ridley. An excellent writer, with a PhD in biology, author of many best sellers in life sciences, Matt Ridley returns to the Wall Street Journal to to argue against clean energy rapidly scaling up, and the science linking the year 2014’s record heat, widespread extreme weather with carbon pollution.

Lord Ridley is a parody of plutocrat. Not only he sieges at the Chamber of Lords, he is a “coal baron” with a revenue from a coal mine on his family estate of six million dollars a year. Yes, he is a major corrupt banker too.

Such people mold world public opinion, as their friends in the MSM give them the means for propaganda. See Lord Ridley’s Rule.

Because they did not have even enough elements to get angry, let alone fight our corrupt leaders, and take over their so-called leadership, our supine populations will soon have to fight the flood. And a real one.

And that will come with a Greek situation, the war of all against all (whom Xenophon related in his Hellenica, the primary source for Greek history from 411 BCE to 362 BCE, the explicit continuation of the History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides).

The war of all against all may have already started. See Obama desperate to strike a deal with his friends of the instant, in Iran and Russia, while others (notably France) want an exemplary accord, and hang tough. Well, France is right. The last thing we need is nuclear weapons all over, while the global flooding accelerates.

Patrice Ayme’

No Taxation Without Decision

January 31, 2015

Responsibility, Greeks, Jews, Nazis, Decision Making, Trans Pacific Partnership, Big Pharmaceuticals… Or All the Evil The Lack of Direct Democracy Fostered:

Eugen Lowy”: Dear Patrice… The Greek economic problem is more a moral problem than an economic problem. The moral question is what responsibilities has an individual to take regarding the decisions of leading elites of community they belong to.”

I have thought of this problem deeply and forever, in light of the Nazi problem. When I was around the age of 6 (!), a cousin told me that Nazism was not the fault of the Germans, but of the crooks who had led the Germans. I did not believe it at the time, and I spent a lot of time demonstrating to my satisfaction that this was not true.

I do believe in collective responsibility. We are collectively culprit to let ourselves being abused by plutocrats and their giant corporations:

Banks: Mandated to Create  Money. Money Farmers. Pharmaceuticals: Mandated to Create Health. Health Farmers. Media: Mandated to Create Minds. Mind Farmers.

Banks: Mandated to Create Money. Money Farmers. Pharmaceuticals: Mandated to Create Health. Health Farmers. Media: Mandated to Create Minds. Mind Farmers.

The State and the Government is not just who We the People elect to be represented by. De facto.

I believe in the collective responsibility of those who accept wholeheartedly criminal systems of thoughts and moods.

To say: ”My leader was a liar and a crook, I disavow him (her)” is acceptable, and honorable. However, it loses all credibility if one still espouses the moods and ideas that made the leader what he (she) became.

There is plenty of evidence that, after the Nazis had been militarily extinguished, Nazi moods and thoughts survived in Germany for decades. In particular, Germans who had resisted, or fought the Nazis were viewed, then, as traitors. It took decades to honor those who had attempted to kill Hitler.

Young officers of the best lineage (Prussian aristocrats) who planned to kill Hitler, and survived the post-coup bloodbath of Hitler against his own officer corps (around 5,000 assassinated), were then blocked by top Nazis such as the famous Von Manstein, to have any influence on the Bundeswehr.

This only happened because tens of millions of Germans were still Nazis, for want of a better word. When the Nazi ringleaders (for example Von Manstein) died, moods and ideas changed: today’s Germany is much closer, in moods and ideas, to present day France than to the Germany of 1945.

Today Richard Von Weisacker died. He had been German president. His father, one of the top Nazis, got seven years imprisonment at Nuremberg. The president himself had served in Hitler’s army. Such people recognized their crimes, all the way to Jerusalem. However, only their deaths turn the page.

Here is another example: I was in the USA during the ramp-up and unleashing of the Iraq war. I saw “friends” and “family” lay on sofas, watching hours of American “Football” and basketball. They could not care less. They had no inclination to find what was going-on. It was all the way like that, throughout the media. The slightest murmur or comment against plutocrat Bush was viewed as an unpatriotic act.

That made them all, as individuals, accomplices of the killing of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis.

As far as the Greeks are concerned, it is obvious that the average Greek did not partake in the erroneous and criminal decisions taken by the Greek and European elites.

Eugen: “So the moral question is, who has to take responsibilities for promiscuous behavior? Should it be the Greek leading elites? The Greek people? Maybe the German and French banksters and their servants? Or maybe the moral responsibility lays on the shoulders of the descendants of the German Nazis? And then if the one responsible to be blamed will be finally found, what will be the right punishment for them?”

To determine responsibilities, one has FIRST to determine causalities. Most people do not have the faintest idea about how money is created. Bankers create money (through credit). Thus bankers have extraordinary, unworldly, undemocratic powers.

This fact, in turn, is carefully hidden by systems of moods and thoughts whose main role is to hide what bankers really do.

Eugen: “Then the other moral-political question is, what responsibilities shout carry the leading elites, who implemented, short sighted policy of greed, personal enrichment and deception and if they are punishable for their crimes.”

Before they can be punished, the crimes they committed have to be understood, and viewed as crimes.

An example is the Jewish problem.

Eugen: “For 2000 years the Jews were an easy target for persecution. They were pushed to the edge of the societies, dehumanized, marginalized, humiliated, closed to their ghettoes. Too many times the Catholic Church initiated their annihilation.”

This is case where the crimes committed have not been understood. Not only that, but the very semantics used is criminal. Anti-Judaism is described as “anti-Semitism”. That confusion, per se, is a crime. A crime against reason.

Judaism is the mother religion of Christianism, and, thus Islam (although there is also a direct filiation, dues to the Yattrib/Medina stay of Muhammad). Judaism became, at some point, more than 2,000 years ago, a religion, not just an ethnic group (one can argue this happened more than 25 centuries ago, because of the Babylonian captivity of some Israelis). Thus “anti-Semitism” is not an appropriate term.

After the demented theocracy that smothered the Roman empire, Franks re-established Pagans, Atheists and Jews to their rights. Charlemagne took himself for Israel’s King David (somebody famous for disobeying god’s criminally insane orders).

Christianism (= Catholicism for 15 centuries) eradicated, or try to eradicate, using methods that made the Nazis look like choir boys, all religions for 15 centuries. Then those rabid dogs had a go at each other, logically enough.

In particular, in the case of France, seven religious wars occurred, in short order at the end of the Sixteenth Century (meanwhile the Church was busy burning alive philosophers). Then, in the following century the Sun-Tyrant, Louis XIV, threw the Protestants out of France (as a result France started to lose wars and territory, surprise, surprise).

Jews had been living in France for 16 centuries, and Protestantism was around five centuries old (I consider the Cathars to be the most radical Protestants, ever).

Eugen: “In your essay you attack the multinational corporations and their unscrupulous tendency not to pay taxes. The problem of paying or not paying taxes is not a question of morality… but a question, who is better to allocate resources to create maximal well-being for the people of the states. I personally have difficulty to believe, that the government is the best tool to do it. I rather believe, that decentralization of resource allocation decision process, could be more effective than its monopolization in hands of the government. “No taxation without representation”, is a very relevant slogan in these days, when the political elites can do any kind of unscrupulous decisions without a need to pay for its to many times disastrous consequences. ( viz Greece above ).”

Part of this argument has been made by Bill Gates. And it’s as old as plutocracy.

No taxation without representation” is itself a slogan that creates its own poisonous context. The context being “representation”. In the USA, as it is, around 600,000 people are “represented” by one person. The Greeks would have called that tyranny.

I propose instead: “No personal taxation without personal decision”.

In the 1790s, De Sade, eminent deputy of the far-left at the Constitutional Assembly, proposed not just that women vote, but that direct democracy be established. That was very sadistic of him.

Our leaders are ignorant little twerps. What they know best, is how to lie. Beyond that, they are at a loss. This is not surprising: the People is ignorant, ill-informed, and infantilized. An elite, mostly made of people with the worst motivations, takes all the decisions, and claims to have all the knowledge, and the wisdom.

In truth, they know naught.

The way to expose that is to establish a debate, that is, direct democracy. Out of the debate will come the intelligence.

Imagine the Nazis debating in public, with input from everybody, their “Final Solution” for the “Jewish Problem”. Imagine Putin having to explain in detail, in a debate, how the “volunteers” who stream into Ukraine are paid and equipped. Imagine having General Powel having to explain what exactly he meant with, and how he obtained, his little drawings of trucks converted into biological weapons labs. Powell, representing the USA, used these lies at the UN, but nobody was empowered to contradict him.

Entire nations ought not to be represented by real, or even potential, liars. It is high time for people to be fully informed, and fully enabled to take the fundamental decisions.

Are we getting more direct democratic? The decision of displacing a TGV (High Speed Train) in Eastern France’s Loraine is submitted to direct vote: very good. Meanwhile the TPP, the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations are pursued secretly among plutocrats.

Don’t Trade Away Our Health” whines the New York Times (where were you during the negotiations of “Obamacare”?)

Actually, I should not make fun of the author, Joseph Stiglitz, a good guy:

“A secretive group met behind closed doors in New York this week. What they decided may lead to higher drug prices for you and hundreds of millions around the world.

Representatives from the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim countries convened to decide the future of their trade relations in the so-called Trans-Pacific Partnership (T.P.P.). Powerful companies appear to have been given influence over the proceedings, even as full access is withheld from many government officials from the partnership countries.”

Compare with the Wansee conference, where the Final Solution for the Jews was elaborated: ”a secretive group…” Abomination and infamy always entail secretive groups, as De Sade pointed out.

Stiglitz points out that the bad guy there is the USA Trade Representative, who wants to increase Big Pharma’s” profits.

If Big Pharma spent its money on research, that would be OK, but it’s not the case, most of the money goes to corruption: advertising, so-called marketing, and extravagant salaries for the Plutos and CEO class at the top.

The USA Trade Representative will soon be rewarded, as a good pet, with extraordinary salary and compensation (as Obama comes and goes). Stiglitz:

“Historically, though, the trade representative’s office has aligned itself with corporate interests. If big pharmaceutical companies hold sway — as the leaked documents indicate they do — the T.P.P. could block cheaper generic drugs from the market. Big Pharma’s profits would rise, at the expense of the health of patients and the budgets of consumers and governments… If the United States Trade Representative gets its way, the T.P.P. will limit the ability of partner countries to restrict prices. And the pharmaceutical companies surely hope the “standard” they help set in this agreement will become global — for example, by becoming the starting point for United States negotiations with the European Union over the same issues. ”

Let me have Stiglitz say what I did for years. But it’s good to have a Nobel in Economics saying it:

“Of course, pharmaceutical companies claim they need to charge high prices to fund their research and development. This just isn’t so. For one thing, drug companies spend more on marketing and advertising than on new ideas. Overly restrictive intellectual property rights actually slow new discoveries, by making it more difficult for scientists to build on the research of others and by choking off the exchange of ideas that is critical to innovation. As it is, most of the important innovations come out of our universities and research centers, like the National Institutes of Health, funded by government and foundations.

The efforts to raise drug prices in the T.P.P. take us in the wrong direction. The whole world may come to pay a price in the form of worse health and unnecessary deaths.”

In 2013, 100 leading oncologists from around the world wrote an open letter in the journal Blood calling for a reduction in the price of cancer drugs.

Dr. Brian Druker, director of the Knight Cancer Institute, one of the signatories, asked: “If you are making $3billion a year on [cancer drug] Gleevec, could you get by with $2billion? When do you cross the line from essential profits to profiteering?”

None of this would happen without secrecy, and the very respect which is extended to the creeps who lord over us. Time for some audacity from those who ought to govern, us: We The People, not them the bosses.

All this evil is made possible by the concentration of decision making in a few hands. That is intrinsically plutocratic.

Absolute power corrupts and pollutes absolutely: when watching our dear leaders, remember, you are watching people who are absolutely corrupt. If they were not so before they got power, they sure are it, now. The very notion that a few are only habilitated to know all, and decide all, is sick.

No taxation without decision.

Patrice Ayme’

World’s largest pharmaceutical firms
Company Total revenue ($bn) R&D spend ($bn) Sales and marketing spend ($bn) Profit ($bn) Profit margin (%)
Johnson & Johnson (US) 71.3 8.2 17.5 13.8 19
Novartis (Swiss) 58.8 9.9 14.6 9.2 16
Pfizer (US) 51.6 6.6 11.4 22.0 43
Hoffmann-La Roche (Swiss) 50.3 9.3 9.0 12.0 24
Sanofi (France) 44.4 6.3 9.1 8.5 11
Merck (US) 44.0 7.5 9.5 4.4 10
GSK (UK) 41.4 5.3 9.9 8.5 21
Astra Zeneca (UK) 25.7 4.3 7.3 2.6 10
Eli Lilly (US) 23.1 5.5 5.7 4.7 20
AbbVie (US) 18.8 2.9 4.3 4.1 22
Source: GlobalData

Tax Power Absolutely

December 9, 2014

The following reflections were inspired by recent meditations from Bill Gates (‘Good guys like me should not be taxed, because we are so good), Vlad Putin (‘I will not say I will be president for life, because I may not want it, when the time comes’). Paul Krugman will be spared today, as he just declared: “Just to be clear, I’m not calling the Obama-era economy a success story.

Light is finally reaching the long winter which has been Krugman’s mind.

And the good professor to explain: “We needed faster job growth this time around than under Mr. Bush, because the recession was deeper, and unemployment stayed far too high for far too long. But we can now say with confidence that the recovery’s weakness had nothing to do with Mr. Obama’s (falsely) alleged anti-business slant. What it reflected, instead, was the damage done by government paralysis — paralysis that has, alas, richly rewarded the very politicians who caused it.”

And first among those were, with all due respect, Mr. Obama, Pelosi, and company. They were actually consulted, and decided, upon the measures to be taken, even before Obama became president (Bush had washed his hands of the whole thing: although the crash happened below his watch, the real decisions which had led to it, were taken under Clinton, thanks to massive deregulation).

So the economy may be improving, but for whom?

Having more slaves employed makes a better economy for plutocrats, but not necessarily for common folks. Similarly, greater riches, if they only go to the .1%, may boost GDP, but not the average family.

Actually, the more powerful the plutocrats, the worse the society. Thus one has to look not just to the employment rate, but also to how much common folks earn. The employment rate stays deeply depressed, and so does median income.

Economics without the correct social indicators, is only ruin of the soul.

Bill Gates believes he uses power better than others. In: Wealth and Capital. Why Inequality Matters, Bill explains why he should be taxed less:

“But rather than move to a progressive tax on capital, as Piketty would like, I think we’d be best off with a progressive tax on consumption. Think about the three wealthy people I described earlier: One investing in companies, one in philanthropy, and one in a lavish lifestyle. There’s nothing wrong with the last guy, but I think he should pay more taxes than the others.”

I propose, instead, a more general sort of tax. And a much more powerful one:

Tax power directly, and absolutely.

Bill Gates has much power than his wealth simply suggest. By heading a giant foundation, the Bill and Melinda, Gates doubles what the money he controls can buy. Plus, he gets to meet with whichever leader he wants to meet. If he wants to meet with Obama, Xi, or Putin, he just can hit Skype any time he wants.

Money buys power. Even political power.

When asked whether the president’s chair was with him “forever,” Putin told TASS: “No,” adding: “This is not good and detrimental for the country and I do not need it as well.” Apparently, too much criticism causes even Putin to melt…

Yet, even after Putin steps down, will his wealth (at least 40 billion), and his network of plutocrats and secret service types step down? Not a chance.

And what about Bill Gates’ control of immense wealth and networks? Will they step down, those wealth, networks, and power structures? Not a chance. Here is Bill again, deploying his stem argument:

I fully agree that we don’t want to live in an aristocratic society in which already-wealthy families get richer simply by sitting on their laurels and collecting what Piketty calls “rentier income”—that is, the returns people earn when they let others use their money, land, or other property. But I don’t think America is anything close to that.

Take a look at the Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest Americans. About half the people on the list are entrepreneurs whose companies did very well (thanks to hard work as well as a lot of luck). Contrary to Piketty’s rentier hypothesis, I don’t see anyone on the list whose ancestors bought a great parcel of land in 1780 and have been accumulating family wealth by collecting rents ever since. In America, that old money is long gone—through instability, inflation, taxes, philanthropy, and spending.”

Bill is (deliberately?) naïve. Or even downright silly. Look at the Congress of the USA. Many among the richest inherited their wealth. Actually the richest Senator is Jay Rockefeller, and he is an heir of the oil tycoon by the same name. If one added all the wealth and influence of the Rockefellers heirs, one would get astonishing numbers: there are lots of heirs.

The Roman Republic had an absolute cap on the wealth a family could own. It also had varied caps on absolute power. So it lasted 5 centuries, the absolute record for a Republic, so far.

What we have to limit is power. Gates has too much power, Putin has too much power. He seems to understand this. Power sucks in, it’s a disease of the soul. In general, plutocrats are too much power.

Even Paul Krugman has too much power. He talks, he talks, and then the New York Times makes readers believe comments have been allowed. But actually all my comments are severely inspected, many are censored (be it only because they don’t fit the mood that the New York Times wants to impart; say, a few years ago, that Obamacare was perfect). Most are delayed until noon the next day (so nobody reads them).

Krugman and the New York Times are just a tiny part of a gigantic problem: if we want truth to be blossom, the right of answer has to be systematic against any authority whatsoever. The enormous computing power we have at our disposal would allow to classify objections by categories and dimensions, bringing forth the most substantive critiques. Then those ought to be debated.

Elect ideas, not people. And use the right of answer to do so. That right of answer, by any citizen, was viewed as fundamental for Athenian democracy, in the National Assemblies. It even had its own name.

That was 25 centuries ago. Some progress is in order. The Christian Apostle Luke sniffed with disapproval that “the Athenians spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.“(So Luke hated novelty, thus secularism, no surprise there.)

Well, we are heading in an ever newer world every day, we need to debate it ever more, and in novel ways. And a few minds, be they Bill, Paul, or Vladimir Vladimirovich, are just not smart enough to replace the massive debates which are needed.

The most important product is not oil, or money, but truth. We cannot get to it, without limiting individuals’ power, when it extends beyond truth.

We have to limit power, and that means to limit how much power a single mind, physical or moral, can express without democratic challenge.

Patrice Ayme’

Even Vladimir Vladimirovich seems to come to realize that he has been collapsing under his own enthusiastic self-admiration, and metastatic power: he would have cut at the last moment some blistering criticism of the Ukrainian Republic, in a recent speech.