Posts Tagged ‘history of civilization’

TORTURE QUESTIONED.

July 6, 2008

Abstract: We analyze torture by learning from history, and even animals. We use the most severe definition of torture, to shred the reigning, obscuring hypocrisy. By our definition, some forms of torture are unfortunately necessary, others should be totally discouraged. Some forms of torture are more “human” than other practices that have not been questioned as much (and debates about torture have been organized to hide much more troubling practices). The historical argument against torture-to-extract-information is valid: civilization has made extracting information by torture relatively inefficient and very counterproductive (that was known in the Middle Ages, and apparently in republican Rome!). This is particularly the case when fighting homicidal martyrs. They want to be tortured, so they can torture too. We should not extend to them that invitation, and give them that pleasure.

Torture so as to extract information, should stay completely unconstitutional, contrarily to the Bush administration’s practice. This official prohibition is a showcase of a general will to improve morality, that the top civilization should maintain as long as possible. But ticking time bomb scenarios will always occur, in urban counterinsurgency, and people should remember that secret services are secret for good reasons (one of them being that you do not want to know what they are doing).

Inflicting pain as a vengeance or to terrorize miscreants is another form of torture entirely. That sort of torture is still practiced massively, because civilization needs repression (many legal sanctions involve suffering, and, in this essay, we call that torture, by logical coherence). Pseudo naive occupiers like the USA should remember that occupying someone’s else country, per se, is mass torture. (Sometimes such torture can be justified, as the occupations of Germany and Japan in 1945 were; sometimes not, and then it is unjustifiable mass torture).

In general torture avoidance should be viewed as a challenge, one of the engines of improving civilization: how can we improve people by persuading and modifying behaviors rather than using brute force and horror, treating people as vicious beasts?
***

DEFINITION OF TORTURE:
There is no better illustration of the devolution of the USA than the attempt to make torture legal. A few years back, the Bush administration and its employee, UC Berkeley professor, John Yoo, bellowed that torture was necessary. In their stupidity, they tried to make it a new constitutional right, the Right to Torture. Never mind that torture is forbidden by international law.

We will thereafter use the most general definition of torture we can think of: TORTURE IS ANY SEVERE PAIN OR SUFFERING INTENTIONALLY INFLICTED ON A PERSON (this toughens up the UN definition). Our reason for being so general is that major infliction of pain and suffering is often allowed, on the ground that it is not torture (according to the United Nations). In our sense, carpet bombing of German cities by the RAF during WWII was torture. Similarly the demolition of terrorists’ houses by Israel is torture. But, from our point of view, torture does not have to be avoided at all and any cost. There are worse things than inflicting torture. For example one could inflict death. Or lose civilization outright.
***

NO POTENTIAL SEVERE PUNISHMENT, NO CIVILIZATION:
With our severe definition of torture, clearly torture has been central to civilization. Just as the threat of being shot may hold back some criminals, the threat of torture-as-punishment can work wonders to instill the respect of the law. All major civilizations used deliberate, severe punishment. The USA has several millions people deprived of freedom, many thousands on so called “death row” awaiting execution. China executed criminals with the method of the 1,000 cuts all the way into the twentieth century (photographic documentation of this activity exists). The Roman republic used torture extensively. Just as some firms specialized in the capture of escaped slaves, other Roman firms specialized in providing with private torture. In Rome torture was viewed as entertainment, and particularly ingeniously cruel methods of executions were devised. With sometimes a large proportion of the population in slavery, Rome had to maintain legal terror: “Dura lex, sed lex” (The law is hard, but it’s the law). On the positive side, under Roman terror, a quarter of mankind lived in a state of law. The enforcement of law is the core of what makes civilization possible.

The modern, “politically correct”, attitude, relative to such horrors as Roman crucifixion, is to disregard the Roman experience as irrelevant to our times. But such is not the case. It was torture that made Roman law tough. And thus effective. Oh, by the way, torture could not be used against Roman citizens. It was a terrible offense, very severely punished.

***

HOW THE CHRISTIAN SUPPRESSION OF SEVERE PUNISHMENT CONTRIBUTED TO THE DARK AGES:
The Christian catastrophe called the “Dark Ages” demonstrated the importance of punishment. First, of course, the Christians burned all the books, killed all the intellectuals, and killed all the non “Catholic Orthodox”, except for a few Jews. But still some of the old order had resisted. So the Christians changed tactics. Maybe tired and bored after all of these exertions, they proclaimed loud and clear they did not want to live in the world anymore. According to Augustine’, there were two cities, one on the ground (bad), and one in the clouds (good). Eight hundred years earlier, Aristophane had used that imagery in a comedy to make fun of Athens’ colonization policies. But Augustine was not joking: Christians wanted the world destroyed in a process called the Apocalypse (then, and only then, their superhero, God and son of God, would come back). To destroy the world more thoroughly, the Christians decided to destroy law enforcement.

So super rich Christian bishops decided it was non Christian to torture or kill bandits and the like. This way they would make sure that whatever was left of society would crash and burn. Criminality became highly profitable and so high that the society of the later Roman empire totally broke down. For a while, the bishops, who formed a governing plutocracy, did not mind; they were living off their vast estates, fed by armies of slaves, protected by armies of mercenaries. But, in the end, it became unbearable, the hypocritical campaign of the bishops against torture and legal violence aggravated the collapse of civilization. Even the bishops understood that morality needed a sword. They found it in the double bladed giant battle ax of the Pagan Franks.
***

THE FRANKISH RENAISSANCE, OR THE FEROCITY OF CIVILIZATION:
When the Franks took power, they reestablished severe punishment, in other words, torture. An example: counterfeit currency had been a very severe problem of the later Roman empire (it created huge inflation and destruction of the respect for the state). Frankish justice solved this difficulty by instituting a standard punishment for this offense: slowly boiling the counterfeiters alive. The Franks were men of wealth and taste, so, sometimes, the boiling was in wine.

Interestingly, once the Muslims had been thrown out, and the frontiers pushed way back into Eastern Europe, the Imperium Francorum, the empire of the Francs, became very quiet (until the next waves of invasion). Severe punishment worked.

The European Middle Ages kept on going along those lines. Respect for the law was encouraged by imposing punishments as severe as those of Rome. This had nothing to do with “Dark Ages” and fascism, quite the opposite. The more ferocious the repression of the ultimate crimes, the more advanced the society. A few examples:

A fanatical Catholic (paid by the eminent fascist, the Spanish emperor Philip II) assassinated William (“The Silent”) of Orange, founder of the republic of the Netherlands. The assassin was executed by “execrable” tortures over several days (1584 CE). As the Dutch republic gained ascendency, the first powerful republic since Rome, it became ever more severe, following the republican Roman legal model, sometimes more ferociously. Corrupt Dutch officials were separated from their entire skin, before leaving this world, giving them time to fully recognize the disposable nature of their superficial ways. Something similar happened in 1610 CE, after the assassination of the good King Henri IV of France (a Protestant turned Catholic that had put an end to the religious wars, and instituted deep social reforms). The assassin, the giant Ravaillac, resisted quartering, the horses got exhausted, so the public came forth, and succeeded, all pulling together, where the animals had failed. (According to the contemporary UN, such examples do not constitute torture, since they were fully legal executions).

Thus LOCAL morally correct posturing is not necessarily GLOBALLY correct moral posturing. Many people, such as many Christian bishops around 400 CE, or people who take positions of principle against severe punishment, do not examine carefully enough the fact that “homo homini lupus est” (man is a wolf for man) as the Roman playwright Plautus put it shortly after the Second Punic War (~ 200 BCE).

***

TORTURE IS DOING WELL:
Let’s come back to the present for a moment. According to Amnesty International, 75% of states use torture. Now it is true that, in some circumstances, torture can be very effective, be it to extract information quick, or for punishment on the side.

Torture is much more ubiquitous than is generally believed. The advancement of technology has allowed for the advancement of torture. New forms of torture have appeared (not just electricity, but sleep deprivation, various forms of exposure, from cold to loud noises, to uncomfortable positions, all very delicately controlled). Using them allows modern torturers to claim they are not torturing because the new forms of torture are not on the official list of recognized historical tortures. Many states can now imprison people in an extra judicial way for more than a few days if they are suspected of terrorism (this assists the police, but sometimes suffering maybe the real objective).
***

GOOD TORTURE, COUNTERPRODUCTIVE POLITICS:
Terrorist networks have been dismantled by torture. Torture was used as an efficient counter insurrection technique by French paratroopers in the Battle of Algiers. With time very limited to find the next bomb maker, once one had been caught, and with very soft (non fanatical) culprits (who typically transported bomb elements), torture allowed to expose terrorist cells before senior terrorists could flee. This is a general observation; if police catches someone with a hidden ticking time bomb somewhere, and they know that the bomber will probably not resist to torture, they may be derelict not to use it. The police is indeed faced with a choice between violating one law protecting the criminal, and civilization, and an other law, somewhat opposite, protecting the innocent, and civilization. Not a nice choice, and a good reason for the legal systems to close their eyes SOMETIMES.

On the negative side, though, the usage of torture by the French military became an excuse by the general French opinion (that did not want to have anything to do with Algeria!) to turn against attempts of preserving some sort of French-Algerian commonwealth (although the Algerian population had voted massively for it in a referendum!).

So the public opinion struggle was lost by the very methods that won the military struggle. This case was thoroughly studied by the Pentagon and Israel. The Pentagon used torture lightly in Iraq, keeping the French example in mind. Israel uses a careful mix of scrupulous law abiding with extremely severe punishment akin to torture by association (such as the immediate demolition of terrorists’ houses). But the Israeli tactics make sense, to insure the survival of Israel. The family of the assassin of William of Orange was ennobled by the fascist Philippe II of Burgundy and Spain, and became instantaneously rich. Having the family dwelling demolished, probably makes the Qur’an theses about going to heavens by killing, significantly less attractive. Whereas the Dutch republic had an immensely powerful ally in France, also perpetually fighting Spain and Burgundy, Israel does not have anybody (sending weapons and money is one thing, sending soldiers, another).
***

WHY SHOULD TORTURE BE MADE ILLEGAL?
At first sight, it’s an argument that is hard to make. The present world is, globally, at peace, but in no small measure because of the IMPLICIT TERROR exerted by the five permanent member states of the United Nation Security Council. Each of them have the means of killing hundreds of millions of people, and have exhibited, as an alliance during WWII, their readiness to use the most severe methods to crush the enemy, without consideration for the squeamish side. So peace, quiet, and civilization are blossoming, but under the threat that any significant deviation will be corrected by Armageddon. The USA has declared it reserves for itself the right of first use of nuclear weapons. France has explicitly announced that, besides this, she reserves the right of replying to mass terrorism with nukes (so like the Israelis with the demolition of the houses, but on a somewhat more exalted scale). Iran took that French warning personally, for some reason. Russia, China and Israel don’t need to issue warnings (Israel is loudly deploying a second (nuclear) strike capability).

But of course the point is that, when fighting for survival, democracies will do whatever it takes (some French politicians called for a cease fire in June 1940, because France was fighting at the same time Nazi Germany, the USSR, and, basically, the USA; it was a bit too much, even for the French, so they decided to take a vacation from it all, while the USA figured out who it was that they wanted to be allied with). THE ULTIMATE MORALITY IS THAT OF SURVIVAL (Iran should contemplate this as it bellows for the destruction of Israel; Indeed, Israel may have noticed one of the lessons of Nazism: bellowing criminal idiots should be taken seriously in a timely manner).

So democracies or civilizations (China) fighting for survival NEED TO BE ATROCIOUS sometimes. But that means that if they are not fighting for survival, they do not need to be atrocious. Being more advanced in their human interactions than the (less democratic and less civilized) rest of the planet, they need to keep their moral superiority, so they have a good reason to eschew the unsophisticated tortures more primitive places have to use.
***

WHY THE EUROPEAN MIDDLE AGES WAS LESS TORTUROUS THAN ISLAM:
As we said there are two main types of governmental torture: torture to enforce the law, and torture to extract information. The first sort of torture can be more or less extensive, depending how demanding and twisted the law is. For example Allah encouraged slavery and torture (as confirmed by reading a non watered down version of the Qur’an). These are situations that are unnatural to animals, and the more unnatural, the more severe the violence. So there were laws in North Africa, up to the nineteenth century, to punish severely slaves who tried to escape. Impaling was standard. It’s severe torture: the condemned could survive days.

When the Turkish army marched into Europe, it was helped by impaling. After seeing victims squirm around a pole, the public was much more outwardly respectful of anything Turkish. This non sense stopped when Vlad (“the Impaler”) started to use impaling just as well, and various tortures, to discourage Turkish invaders and their collaborators. The Turkish army was thrown out by its own methods.

In eight century Spain (revered by bin Laden), many people who had converted to Islam by convenience tried to convert back to Catholicism, once they figured out that Islam was not nice (at the time Catholicism, broken by the Franks, was totally relax). Many were executed by horrible means, such as crucifixion upside down (the official line of some Islamist scholars, to this day, is that those Christians wanted to be tortured). In Islam, being an apostate (somebody one feels is renouncing Islam) is subject to the death penalty (the idea, as most things Islamist, comes from old Judaism). By contrast in Carolingian Francia, people could convert back and forth into whatever. Christians would become Jews, and thousands of Muslims were quietly left to do whatever (we know there were huge numbers of these, from blood and genetic analyses).
***

WHY THE EUROPEAN MIDDLE AGES QUIT TORTURE TO EXTRACT INFORMATION:
To understand what is wrong with using torture, for extracting information, one should look at what happened during the Middle Ages. By 1300 CE, the kingdom of France had the best torturers who ever were. The information they obtained were confirmed in excess of 90%.

Nevertheless, a suspect’s statements under torture could NOT be used in judicial discovery; any admission had to be reconfirmed in front of the judge, without torture being applied. Justice knew people would say whatever to get the torture to stop, and that whatever was useless in serious judicial proceedings. So, as far as justice was concerned, torture was a loss of time. Moreover it corrupted the image justice wanted to give of itself. When Joan of Arc was interrogated (1431), the judges decided to avoid using any torture to make the judicial process more believable.

By 1600 CE, though, the ratio of confirmation under judicial inquiry of facts admitted under torture had fallen close to zero. The tortures had become too nice to persuade hard core criminals to talk.

But what did torture in was that the judges did not need the hints torture would provide with. Why? Simply because, by 1300 CE, under Philippe IV, Le Bel, the modern police state had been created, with methods of inquiry and arrest much more advanced than the best imperial Rome ever had (examples: the Templar monks were arrested all over at the same exact time; when the French judicial system decided to arrest the Pope, it sent a commando to Rome). Torture-to-extract-information had become irrelevant.
***

DOES TORTURE WORK WITH MARTYRS?
Well, it sure does: few things real martyrs love as much as torture. That is why one has to laugh when the Bushmen thought torture would cure Islamist fascism. It is said all over the Qur’an that the best way to insure the good graces of Allah (the great fascist in the sky) is to kill and suffer in His name. So, when Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, “the main architect of 9/11”, was approached with a wet towel for his “water boarding”, if he was the genuine thing, all he probably regretted was the absence of something more spectacular, like red hot pincers. Ever since the  Bush administration had been busy to proclaim that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed talked really a lot after being “water boarded”, thus arguing torture worked.

That sounded strange: history is full of serious terrorists who resisted splendidly to terrible tortures (the assassin of William of Orange stayed calm over the days of terrible tortures he endured). As it turned out, this was more than strange, it was disinformation: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed succumbed not to torture, but to the sort of friendly interviewing methods already used during Joan of Arc’s trial.

Hard core terrorists have determined that their moral cause is so important that pain can be inflicted to the totally innocent (it’s the same moral reasoning that allowed carpet and nuclear bombings by the democratic allies over German and Japanese, or French cities during WWII). Terrorism overrides basic instincts. To make such people give valuable information, one has to taunt the moral gymnastics they have indulged in first. Those moral contortions are central to their cause, and they will defend, hence expose them, as they desperately try to justify themselves. That, in turn, is bound to reveal the mental networks behind them.
***

Conclusion: TO KILL TORTURE, LOOK AT IT IN THE FACE.

Animals come equipped with ethics. Hungry monkeys, or even rats would refuse to eat (at least for a while) if another of their fellow got shocked with electricity, each time they went for a bite. Morality is not just human, it’s deeper than that. Monkeys don’t need the rewards of God to be good. So man is not THE moral animal. All social advanced animals are moral.

Animals actually come equipped with a hierarchy of ethical systems. In ultimate circumstances, they switch to the morality of survival. Not necessarily the survival of the individual; it’s often the survival of the group. Human beings are different in degree; their switch to the group survival mode is much more ferocious. When a human being is fully persuaded of total moral righteousness, NO PAIN IS HIGH ENOUGH (this comes from humans being the most carnivorous of primates, so they ally primate care with predatory ferocity). There are examples of Roman officers calmly putting one of their own fists in a brazier until it got totally consumed, to impress enemies with their moral superiority.

The ultimate human group is civilization itself. For its survival, it’s crucial to produce ever more gentle human beings, because the technology of mass destruction is getting ever better (the ultimate one at this point being the greenhouse weapon). In that sense, it would be better if everyone acted to completely avoid deliberately inflicting pain and suffering on people. This is not an option, though, so all what’s left, as usual, is to mitigate.

Carefully observing what one is doing, and the others are doing, is a first step.

It would seem that people who let practice carpet bombing on children in their name, to fill up their truck with oil, are in a difficult situation, arguing for the immorality of bothering a terrorist with pliers. Still, many people who did not object that much against the “shock and awe” destruction of Iraq, are shrill about torture. In other words, when it’s deemed advantageous to them to use lethal cruelty and massive mayhem on millions, it’s OK. Then, in a nice ethical pirouette, to proclaim to the world they are good people nevertheless, they squeal when, “the main architect of 9/11”, is approached with a wet towel. In other words, a lot of the left (including the democrats) are hiding behind words and carefully nurtured obsessions, what they are truly doing. As soon as they allowed the invasion of Iraq, and, unbelievably, its destruction, in violation of the Geneva Conventions, American people allowed mass torture to be used in their name, and for their wasteful way of life.

The torture question is difficult. Still, one wants civilization to progress. The police state replaced torture, but it cannot work with too primitive a population (that is why Rome allowed torture of the presumably more primitive slaves, but not of citizens). That goes inside countries, but also between countries. Civilization has to cling to the official line, and the practice, of doing as little torture as possible. It is unlawful for a pilot to crash a plane. Nevertheless, sometimes, a pilot, having encountered some technical difficulty, may have to crash it, because that’s the best option left.

Torture is sometimes unavoidable, but it should be officially discouraged always, and should not be allowed to hide in plain sight, by calling it by other names. If people deny that what is happening is happening, one cannot change it.

Posturing is fun, but it’s not moral.
***

Patrice Ayme.

www.patriceayme.com/

Technical Addenda:
1) According to the United Nations Convention Against Torture, torture is “any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person” to extract information. Torture, so defined, exclude lawful punishment (so slowly burning alive at the stake is OK, if decided by judicial process, according to the UN). The definition used by the UN also forgets that, people (are made to) love to hurt people (that happens in conflicts, but also out of the blue, from raw psychobiology unchained). That is why we used the more general definition above. It gives logical coherence.

2) Why did the USA revert to torture? Why such a reversion to the past? Because, in the last few years, the US mood has been to go back, clinging to the hope of reliving the past, the future slipping out of reach of the “American Dream” … As soon as the USA threatened to destroy Iraq, it was engaging in torture. Abu Graib and Guantanamo are just minuscule, but telling, details.

3) The American reversal to the past is general. In June 2008, the US Supreme Court found that US citizens had a Constitutional Right to shoot each other (guns are mostly used to kill family members). New York has had a ban on guns for nearly a century. But never mind, it’s morning in America. The Supreme Court decision was the first on the subject in seventy years. Reverting to the distant past has become fashionable in the USA, in a desperate attempt to believe that the “American Dream” and its associated benevolent plutocracy, make the world all it could be.  Thus California hopes to soon be the state with the lowest educational budget per child, of the entire 50 states (now it’s only 49th).

TEACHING CHINA WELL.

April 10, 2008

TIBETAN AUTONOMY AS AN OCCASION TO GROW CIVILIZATIONALLY, AND TO FOCUS ON WHAT NOT TO EMULATE.

The People Republic of China learned its modern ways from Western Europe, and most particularly the French revolutionary models (several top leaders of the PRC were formed in Paris with the help of French leftists: Zhou Enlai, Deng Xiaoping…)

Very good, but also pretty dangerous. Leaders of Cambodia were also instructed by the French Communist party. But they did not take to croissants as much as Deng Xiaoping did: French theoretical extremism has always been somewhat mitigated, within France, by benign hedonism, and the love of placid happiness. Absent enough of the later, Armageddon is at hand (the Terror under the French revolution has elements in common with the Chinese Cultural Revolution).

Ominously, we have seen that story before, with Germany. And Japan. A military elite, drunk on technological and economic success, pulled too hard the strings of fascism (that had favored this particular form of success), and disaster ensued in a lethal clash with democracies.

Germany used to be broken up in a few hundred states (nominally united as a rather benign empire inherited from the Franks). Then Britain and France, busy with their own civil war with each other, messed up with it (Britain financed and excited Prussia in the Seven Year World War of the 18C, then France united all of Germany as one state under Napoleon, who raised a giant German army to go vanquish Russia). Next Prussia came out of the whole interference like a roaring economic and military colossus, eager to show to her creators and competitors, Britain and France, that she was even bigger and stronger. Nationalism and fascism rose to a fevered pitch, disgusting Nietzsche, who could not find enough bad things to say about the way Homo Germanicus was evolving.

Soon the German empire, led by Prussian military men, and having integrated some democratic structures, such as a parliament (which had all secondary powers), reached achievements far ahead of the rest of the world: best literacy in the world, best health care in the world (with the first single payer system, still going on today). Besides in technology the Second German empire often reigned supreme, and had the world’s strongest military.

 Germany had a single Achilles’ heel though, FASCISM. It was mild fascism, all right, and for many Germans it looked just as if they were in democracy. Economic well being was going straight up, and so was pride, and creations everywhere.

Some revolutionary events occurred in Russia, and the fascist system there was replaced by a constitutional, democratic monarchy. Next French capital flooded Russia, and that new democracy started to develop like crazy.

The top Prussian generals took fright. Initially Bismarck had wanted to destroy France, and started the job in 1870-71. By 1890, Bismarck himself, maybe having read Nietzsche, realized that German fascism was getting out of control, and was heading towards the ditch. The young, brash, vainglorious and deformed Kaiser, a grand son of Queen Victoria, sacked him. The top Prussian generals, by 1912, had become very anxious with the enormous rise of the republican, democratic French empire in the west, and the giant democratic Russian empire in the east. The fact that France and Britain had got sort of married very officially was not reassuring in the least (”Entente Cordiale”, 1908, now transformed in “Entente Formidable”, 2008).

The last big time fascists in Europe felt surrounded. In December 1912, the top Prussian generals explained to the Kaiser that time was working against the fascist German empire: the future was to democracy, to survive, fascism had to strike now. It was convened an attack should be mounted within 18 months. Preceding attacks, against Denmark, Austro-Hungary, and France had been crowned with success, so why not again? An envoy of the US president visited, and to appease tensions, offered to overlord the world with a British-Americano-German triumvirate. On August 1, 1914, the German empire attacked four countries by total surprise, including France and Russia, and pushed a fifth one, Austro-Hungary, to declare war too. An astounded, but courageous Britain, having her closest democratic allies invaded, declared war within two days, although she had no army. This little adventure finished on May 8, 1945, with more than 100 million Europeans dead, and Europe devastated. A gang of five criminals had started it, all by themselves.

Japan’s case maybe even clearer; a society of sheep was railroaded into attacking the world by military leaders, after similarly getting drunk on spectacular technological and economic progress, in two generations. It helped also to have crushed Tsarist Russia (when it was still fascist). An attempted coup by younger Japanese officers, anxious for action, accelerated the movement towards militarism, and full fascism was imposed, crowned by the Second War against China (1936-37).

Both in Germany and Japan, fascist militaries ran the show, flushed with technological illusion, drunk on their power.

Fast forward to the 21C. China is in many ways on a trajectory similar to imperial Germany. It has the same arrogance of recent success. It loudly proclaims its difference, and its fascism with a human face (fascism is not an insult, it’s a technical term depicting the default psychological governance of baboons under attack). The Chinese military pulled all the strings until very recently, and a militaro-plutocratic elite has run the show, resting on the 5% of the Chinese population who are in the (“Communist”) Party. China claims to be ready to engage in a war about a small island. That, in the case that particular words would be uttered (to risk a world war about a relatively small place, a de facto independent democracy with 2% of the population of the PRC, is a psychological imbalance characteristic of hypernationalistic minds).

China has imported many elements of the Western European civilization. Among them is the right of “Just War” by “We The People” against its enemies (that right was central to Rome, and the Christians (St. Augustine) themselves approved of it. In this case, “We the People” is dubiously reduced to the elite of the “communist”-military machine, the small brain heading the PRC.

But China is missing many crucial elements of Western European civilization. In particular, that democracy’s most fundamental reason is that it allows to tap the big brain of the many, and not to stay stuck with the small brain of the few. China, as Japan and Germany long ago, seems to confuse the many movers and shakers of its techno-economico-capitalist-military complex, with the few who are taking, all by their little selves, the really most crucial decisions, such as going to war. China demonstrates this by its hard edges on Tibet and Taiwan, let alone the South “China” Sea.

Remember: only five “Prussian” generals took all the fascist decisions that threw the world into war for the next 31 years. The situation in Japan was similar: even the top of the Japanese Navy, admiral Yamamoto, who had deep and excellent reasons to oppose the war, and voiced them loudly, was forced into war by his superiors (he was one of many in the top Japanese brass in that situation: one can imagine how little the average Japanese’s opinion counted!). 

Confronted to all these facts, well trained sophists on the Chinese government payroll insist that China is different, that it is secular, and has never known Christianism. This is a red herring: Confucianism is a religion (the reigning native religion of China for 26 centuries; Buddhism was imported). Christianism became just one of many convenient excuses for European civilization (after having nearly succeeded to destroy it). Not, either, that Confucianism was successful in smothering war: the Warring States period lasted centuries, and only the particularly strong, book burning fascism of Qin ended it (221 BCE).

Confronted to Tibetan protests, China applied censorship methods akin to that of Nazi Germany. Massive protests in Paris by all segments of French society were ignored on Chinese TV (Paris was only depicted as “very pretty”, that Paris City Hall was decorated by a giant banner, put by the mayor, was ignored. So were the banners on the Eiffel Towewr, and Notre Dame, so were the demonstrating MPs, and the president of the Region Ile de France, momentarily stopped because she was rushing the flame with a fire extinguisher. Finally the Olympic flamme got extinguished twice, once for twenty minutes. None of the this Chinese TV viewers saw. And we are not talking about neglectable events: the Region ile de France has 16 million people, and the largest GDP between New York and Tokyo (and it’s headed by a woman: where are the women in the Chinese Communist party?).

The West has to teach China that these manipulations of information are not acceptable. Democracy means first that the people (demos) has the power (kratos) of INFORMATION. During Germany’s three generations of fascism, information was frantically controlled, starting in primary school (that’s why both Nietzsche and Einstein fled, among others). Literacy was the highest, true, but it was more to make the monkeys 

China is huge and potentially very dangerous, if its fascism gets out of control and metastatic. There is something to the fact that democracies do not attack democracies: the oldest and fullest democracies around, France and the USA, never had a war (Britain and the USA in 1812, the last time when they fought, were far from being full democracies). A quick span of history shows that democracies were typically at war with fascism (although democratic Athens attacked other democracies [5C BCE], it was part of a larger war initiated by fascist Sparta, financed and instigated by ultra fascist Persia).

China has to become more democratic in an orderly fashion, as soon as possible, under the Communist party guidance. The argument that this is impossible is ludicrous, considering the Indian example (the only threats to India are from other countries with rather fascist systems; internal instability is not a problem, the “millions of little mutinies” that animate it are like butterflies on an elephant).

China can start by reporting events as they happen, and not as it wishes them to happen. This goes for Chinese TV, and giving free access to journalists. When French TV wants access to the US armies in combat in Iraq or Afghanistan, it gets it (and then shows pictures not shown on the main US outlets). China has to watch and imitate. Refering to Confucius will not help, because we can refer, in turn, to the Warring States and the fascism that succeeded him. Confucius was just one man with a restricted philosophy not really transcended by his successors. Western information gathering capability is not restricted to the the West, and to the now.

China cannot just use a few pieces here and there of particularly aggressive and uncritical pieces of Western philosophy, and run away with them. It needs the whole thing, and that means democracy. In all ways.

Patrice Ayme.
http://www.patriceayme.com/index.html
https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/

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because all (Western) philosophy consists of a series of footnotes to Plato

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Striving For Ever Better Thinking. Humanism Is Intelligence Unleashed. From Intelligence All Ways, Instincts & Values Flow, Even Happiness. History and Science Teach Us Not Just Humility, But Power, Smarts, And The Ways We Should Embrace. Naturam Primum Cognoscere Rerum

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ianmillerblog

Smile! You’re at the best WordPress.com site ever

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Writer, Editor, Berliner

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SoundEagle 🦅ೋღஜஇ

Where The Eagles Fly . . . . Art Science Poetry Music & Ideas

Artificial Turf At French Bilingual School Berkeley

Artificial Turf At French Bilingual School Berkeley

Patterns of Meaning

Exploring the patterns of meaning that shape our world

Sean Carroll

in truth, only atoms and the void

West Hunter

Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat

GrrrGraphics on WordPress

www.grrrgraphics.com

Skulls in the Stars

The intersection of physics, optics, history and pulp fiction

Footnotes to Plato

because all (Western) philosophy consists of a series of footnotes to Plato

Patrice Ayme's Thoughts

Striving For Ever Better Thinking. Humanism Is Intelligence Unleashed. From Intelligence All Ways, Instincts & Values Flow, Even Happiness. History and Science Teach Us Not Just Humility, But Power, Smarts, And The Ways We Should Embrace. Naturam Primum Cognoscere Rerum

Learning from Dogs

Dogs are animals of integrity. We have much to learn from them.

ianmillerblog

Smile! You’re at the best WordPress.com site ever

Defense Issues

Military and general security

RobertLovesPi.net

Polyhedra, tessellations, and more.

How to Be a Stoic

an evolving guide to practical Stoicism for the 21st century

Donna Swarthout

Writer, Editor, Berliner

Rise, Republic, Plutocracy, Degeneracy, Fall And Transmutation Of Rome

Power Exponentiation By A Few Destroyed Greco-Roman Civilization. Are We Next?

SoundEagle 🦅ೋღஜஇ

Where The Eagles Fly . . . . Art Science Poetry Music & Ideas

Artificial Turf At French Bilingual School Berkeley

Artificial Turf At French Bilingual School Berkeley

Patterns of Meaning

Exploring the patterns of meaning that shape our world

Sean Carroll

in truth, only atoms and the void

West Hunter

Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat

GrrrGraphics on WordPress

www.grrrgraphics.com

Skulls in the Stars

The intersection of physics, optics, history and pulp fiction

Footnotes to Plato

because all (Western) philosophy consists of a series of footnotes to Plato

Patrice Ayme's Thoughts

Striving For Ever Better Thinking. Humanism Is Intelligence Unleashed. From Intelligence All Ways, Instincts & Values Flow, Even Happiness. History and Science Teach Us Not Just Humility, But Power, Smarts, And The Ways We Should Embrace. Naturam Primum Cognoscere Rerum

Learning from Dogs

Dogs are animals of integrity. We have much to learn from them.

ianmillerblog

Smile! You’re at the best WordPress.com site ever

Defense Issues

Military and general security

RobertLovesPi.net

Polyhedra, tessellations, and more.

How to Be a Stoic

an evolving guide to practical Stoicism for the 21st century

Donna Swarthout

Writer, Editor, Berliner