Posts Tagged ‘Homo’

Sexual Dimorphism: Small To Non-Existent In Humans, Due To Weaponry!

November 13, 2017

So many things to write about! I intended to consider sexual harassment, gender discrimination and that sex abuse which hides the more sinister pleasure sheer violence provides with. But then I realized I had to address natural gender differences first. We’ll get to the gender violence and subjugation, soon, but not now.

Species are more or less sexually dimorphic, that is, with more or less sex differences imputable to genetic expression. In some species females dominate in mass, or other ways (hyenas, some raptors, spiders, insects, etc.)  

In most primates mostly closely related to us, the sexual differences are significant: males are much bigger and ferocious It makes sense: females have to be numerous, to reproduce the species, and they can be numerous, if they have small mass. The males are in charge of defense, attack, and high quality meat procurement. To accomplish all this fighting, killing and threat thereof, they better big, nasty, and with great canines: the males themselves are a bit like nuclear bombs, weapons of assured destruction. This is clear with our homologues, baboons (not our closest relatives, but the closest in ancestral way of life).

In some parts of Africa, chimpanzees are known as “lion-killers”. Chimps don’t have just the fangs, but they know how to fight: they tear off the fragile stuff first. Chimp women can’t argue with them! However, a human female, much weaker than a chimp female, can kill a male chimp (and the male chimp knows this, in the wild! As a child, in the wild, I saw once a huge male chimp shake an entire tree, as if he had gone completely mad, in the hope of scaring me; when I came close to observe the lunacy, he fled, although he could have probably pulverized me in two seconds; but he knew human children were off limits)

Here is an imaginative proof: Gibbons, although not very distant relative can have no sexual dimorphism. Although gibbons defend their territory, males and females do it equally. Gibbons live in trees to a much greater extent than other relatives, so violence is less of a factor in the survival of the species (whereas chimpanzees not only fight man, but also lions and leopards; bonobos are much nicer than chimps, but their way of life is closer to gibbons than to chimpanzees: there are no lions where they live (south of the Congo river). Humans live in the exact opposite environment to gibbons: instead of swinging from branch to branch, as gibbons do, 30 meters above the deck, the genus Homo evolved in the most dangerous environment, the savannah-park, confronting giant monsters, most of whom it has exterminated since (in the latest news, when humans colonized the Caribbean, they eliminated the giant ground sloths there; in toto, humans eliminated no less than 19 genera of giant ground sloths in the Americas!).

Human species have small gender differences. Why? The reason for sexual dimorphism I just sketched is that females have to be as small as possible, so there will be more of them to reproduce, and the males with big bodies, high ferocity, will protect them by acting as live weapons for the group (many insects have such an organization, say soldier ants). However, humans have used weapons for at least three million years: stones. Moreover, humans are better at throwing stones than baboons, because of their anatomy (paleolithically speaking, the arms which enable us to hang from branches are also those which enable us to throw arms much further; arms arm our arms!).

Hence the main reason for much bigger males disappeared, long ago, when humans learned to throw stones. A human female armed with a stone axe is more dangerous than an even a much larger human male without a stone. The stone makes the difference, not the fangs. Let me pound on this: male baboons have been observed biting female baboons. One bite. The long, enormous baboon male canines can easily go through a rib cage, and, thus kill. With just one bite.

One may ponder why female raptors have roughly the same deadly talons and beaks as males, and similar masses (sometimes the females are a bit heavier). Why aren’t they smaller, to maximize the number of raptors, following the reasoning I proffered for primates? Simply because they would then have to kill different, smaller prey, and thus live totally differently, hence in different environments. Whereas primates live in the same environment, but, thanks to their omnivorous character, they can specialize: the males go after the meat, the violence, the killing. Females can concentrate more on the vegetarian aspect, and share the meat. (DNA stool studies have shown orangutans and gorillas eat meat; for chimps, that has always been known.)

The sexual dimorphism has been evaluated at roughly 10% in humans, on some objective measurements of some physiology. Mentally, it’s a fact that women, although severely hindered by sexism, have been capable of the highest performance: one of the most performing physicists, historically speaking, was a woman, Émilie du Châtelet. Her work on energy was a breakthrough rolling over Isaac Newton himself!

Thus we can assume that most of the observed difference between men and women in the mental realm is caused by sexism.

And then the question becomes: what are the causal relationships between sexism, sexualism, violence, will to power. And the non-optimal society? They involve the evolutionary metaphysics of the genus Homo.

Patrice Ayme’

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Tech, Science, Thinking, Stalled By Plutocracy

May 26, 2015

TECH STALLED BECAUSE SO IS SCIENCE, & THINKING, AS OUR MASTERS DESIRE

Technology, Energy, Science, Economy all entangled, & Stalled:

Some have observed tech is bringing up more hype than progress: we did not get flying cars, but 140 characters. Productivity is stagnating. The Internet hype led a devolution of thinking, for all to see. Some sites seem popular, mostly because they induce a parody of thinking (even on “academic” sites).

Against the will to stupidity, genius roars in vain.

So much of the “high Tech” is not truly high tech, or at least new tech. It’s no big deal, indeed. The “high tech” monopolies, with their “big data” will allow to make with robots what our ancestors used to have with domesticated animals (an ass, horse, or an ox are clever, and respond to voice commands, like the day after tomorrow’s robots).

There is not enough financing of the possible avenues of futuristic research. Here is one:

Real high tech would mean progress in energy production: this is the core of what defines our species. An obvious possibility, indeed, is thermonuclear fusion. H-Bombs work splendidly, and are very small. Making a thermonuclear engine has been difficult, but propulsion in space could turn around a lot of the difficulty we presently have.

Krugman noticed some of this in “The Big Meh” [I sent wise comments, therefore all censored by the New York Times; the Times later sent me kindly an unsolicited letter to justify its censorship; there is no excuse: the New York Times should not censor serious and cogent comments, this is a misuse of technology].

Krugman: “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”… began with some technology snark, dismissing Earth as a planet whose life-forms “are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.”… Since then we’ve moved on to much more significant things, so much so that the big technology idea of 2015, so far, is a digital watch…

O.K., I’m snarking, too. But there is a real question here. Everyone knows that we live in an era of incredibly rapid technological change, which is changing everything. But what if what everyone knows is wrong? And I’m not being wildly contrarian here. A growing number of economists, looking at the data on productivity and incomes, are wondering if the technological revolution has been greatly overhyped — and some technologists share their concern.”

We evolved as a technological species: weapon and tool usage precedes the apparition of Homo:

Technology preceded the apparition of Homo Erectus, two million years ago. So we can only conclude that technology, and its attached science, and scientific method, created the ecological niche in which Homo, even homo Erectus, evolved.

The fundamental evolutionary niche our very distant ancestors, pre-Homo Erectus, chose was to improve the quantity and quality of energy at our disposal. They went to explore, far from trees and cliffs, armed with stone tools and weapons, with a bias towards a much more carnivorous diet.

Technology and science are us. This is as human as we get. That does not mean anything goes. Just, that’s how humanity gets going.

Thus, our very evolution is entangled with our mastery of energy. Neanderthals used coal (lignite!) already 80,000 years ago. When our ancestors learned to domesticate animals and then invented agriculture, we improved our mastery of energy considerably. In the last 2,000 years, wood was progressively replaced by fossil fuels.

However, fossil fuels have become unsustainable. It is not just that they have put so much CO2 in the lower atmosphere, warming it, melting the ice, rising the seas, and into the ocean, making it acid.

The Return On Investment (ROI) of fossil fuels is now terrible. Major oil companies do not make much profits on new fields: they cost too much to find and exploit. Fracking makes money, but only because the states, and others, pay the price. Remember: 5.3 trillion dollars of fossil fuel subsidies out there.

However progress in economic matters is all about ROI in energy. Without energy we have no food, no shelter, we die.

We don’t have flying cars because we did not improve our mastery of energy as much as that would require (the very first plane, part of a French military program, did not fly very far: it used a heavy steam plant; shortly after, the internal combustion engine allowed to take-off more clearly; right now Airbus sells an electric plane, and intents to develop that technology much further).

Fundamental progress in energy technology has been stalled by lack of advances in fission, fusion, and batteries. Only solar photovoltaics is making really spectacular progress.

This stalling of major technological progress where it counts, in energy management is why society, and the planet, are threatened. This stalling is directly related to a dearth of fundamental research funding, itself related to the rise of a non-tax paying plutocracy. We are in whirlpool of disaster, and the greed of an oligarchy is its nature.

Patrice Ayme’

P/S: Latest News: Amazon Inc. just announced it would stop hiding its European profits in Luxembourg, and would set-up tax paying subsidiaries in various countries: it was threatened by incoming British and French laws. However, skepticism is widespread about the fine print in Amazon’s proposal…

The future was not stalled in the past: Contrarily to what happened around the era from, say, 1900 to 1970, when many futuristic technologies were researched; the USA operated nuclear rocket engines, France flew a “statoreacteur” (“ramjet”) plane, etc.; the inception of motorized flight, from the French steam plane, all the way to jet engines, took around 50 years!

 

Human Minds: Absolute, Relative, Baboon-Like

December 19, 2014

The discovery of primate ancestors of mass up to 1.5 kilograms contemporary to dinosaurs was just announced. Our primate ethology is old, and made ready to handle big, ferocious things.

A few lapidary answers to some recent comments.

Brodix, in an impressive conceptual salad, brandished Good and Bad. Are God and Evil relative or absolute? The answer is both.

Is Bad good because without bad there would not be good, and that would be bad? This is an old quandary, often used cynically by various brutes throughout history.

The oldest process is the fight for resources, as Putin pointed out yesterday, adding that is why Russia will be alright in the future, as the fight for resources will intensify, and Russia is resource-rich (so my dictatorship is OK).

Baboons Are Resourceful

Baboons Are Resourceful

Clearly Mr. Brodix is no physicist (Brodix believes “all the colors of the spectrum are between black and white”… whereas the colors are between ultraviolet and infrared…or deep red and deep violet).

However, Brodix touched on deep stuff.  Brodix pondered where do things start, where do they end? And suggested that “Form is the apex of that process.”

Believe it or not, Quantum Physics is in the process of answering a lot of this, it turns out, using non-locality, and entanglement. The Tunnel Effect means things do not start, or end, as we thought. And so on.

“Form” is indeed what drives Quantum processes. And the Quantum is certainly a driver of the sort of evolution Lamarck envisioned (no screaming: this is state of the art research…).

The fundamental property of life is adaptation.

Human ethology is also, like Baboon ethology, absolute. Morality, ultimately, is codified ethology, so morality, good and bad, are also absolute.

Another commenter, Brandholm “would consider us closer to super-Bonobos than super-Baboons. Regardless, I have a question regarding your claim that ancient Greeks didn’t know of them.”

The Greeks knew about baboons, indeed. They also learned mathematics from the Egyptians, including some theorems which now bear Greek names. However, no Greek school of philosophy took baboons as models for humans. I do. But well, I’m not Greek.

My point: Homo is a super-baboon because both species evolved in the same environment, and found the same neurological, and thus ethological, solutions.

There were giant baboons, and they came early on the the Homo Erectus extermination list, as they competed for the same resources.

It’s fashionable to laud Bonobos. Bonobos are the modern version of the good savage of Rousseau. A figment of the politically correct imagination.

However, it’s fashionable to admire what one does not know. Bonobos live south of the Congo River, in the deep, tall forest, in a gentle environment, free of lions, hyenas, gorillas, chimpanzees. Bonobos have few enemies: leopards fear them, and humans are few. They eat the world’s largest fruits, some of them fifty pounds or more. Bonobos have plenty of sex in captivity, and females are large and dominant. So cheap lovers of love proclaimed Bonobos to be lovers, and ideal primates.

Yet, it turns out, Bonobos still kill each other. However, not doing it with as much enthusiasm as normal chimps do, Bonobos could never compete with normal chimps, let alone kill the occasional lion (some chimpanzee races are called “lion killers”).

Normal chimps have evolved in a very competitive, lethal environment. I saw one once, in the savannah park, miles from any serious forest, where plenty of lions roam. He went up a ridiculously small tree, looking very threatening and hyper energetic. Then he ran off. How could that be, miles from any forest? Well, lions are not stupid: they avoid dangerous prey (they will generally leave if human children walk towards them, as I personally experienced).

 

Baboons roam the savannah, far from any forest. They are very much like human in a crucial way: to survive in the savannah, they are born soldiers. They form armies, they get militarily organized, with lethal discipline, they have fierce leaders. And they are experts of terror and make-belief: they depend upon both to drink everyday.

 

Predators fear baboons: although they sometimes sneak on them at night, they typically flee when a large baboon troop is on the move towards water. As baboons need to drink, nothing stop them. And their terror tactics are astounding. They also throw stones (from below, and that gave me some advantage, in mock fighting; yes, they are playful).

 

The quandary of the Baboon condition is that they need lethality, organized mass violence and terror, so that they can express the love that allows them to survive. No species does this to this extent, but for man.

If you want to understand, and, thus, predict, the Islamist State, you have to understand baboons.

Double entendre meant, of course! Differently from Sony pictures, which does not dare risk satire with the North Korean nuclear dictator, crazed baboons don’t scare me. Making scathing fun of the North Korean dictator is not just a question of freedom of speech, or thought. It is a question of survival.

North Korean goons have often threatened even pre-emptive nuclear strikes.

“If the U.S. imperialists threaten our sovereignty and survival … our troops will fire our nuclear-armed rockets at the White House and the Pentagon — the sources of all evil,” Hwang Pyong-So, the director of the North Korean military’s General Political Bureau, said in a televised speech 28 July 2014, according to Agence France-Presse.

Charlie Chaplin made a satire of Hitler. It was not enough to wake-up the supine public opinion of the USA. But it helped.

From lack of satire, few in the USA know that their country is threatened by one of the most grotesque dictators in history, a crazed baboon who, Constantine-like, killed a large part of his family (and even his main sponsor).

Satire is not just about what we know for sure, it is also about what could very well be. Obama correctly irate, pointed out that: “We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship in the United States.”

The Baboons’ main weapons are make-belief, and terrorization. They are experts at moving an entire front of trees (by jumping on branches, hidden by leaves), or at looking completely crazed, and as if inflecting a terrible bite was the only thing in the universe which mattered to them, due to their astronomical hatred and derangement of all senses.

These extreme behaviors are actually careful computations. How do I know this? I have played with wild baboons who engaged in parodic versions of the more serious, really crazed stuff.

Patrice Ayme’

Violence Ends Worlds

December 22, 2012

PLUTOCRACY & MAN RUINED WORLDS BEFORE:
Mass destruction everywhere, all over, is how plutocracy makes the public violent and stupid, thus in synch with its rule.
Violence against people readily extends to violence against the environment, and reciprocally.
After all, one of the main reason to not hurt the environment is because, by doing so, people would be hurt. If one is willing to hurt people, one has one less reason to protect the environment. So ecologists should be concerned about the attitude to violence that people have.

VIOLENCE AGAINST THE ENVIRONMENT DID NOT START YESTERDAY, IT’S THE HUMAN THING TO DO. 50,000 years ago, Neanderthal applied the final solution to the Cave Bear problem. Cave bears and Neanderthals competed for the best real estate in Europe, caves. When Cave Bears had to do without caves, against their better instincts, they degenerated, and died off. There was even more a bear of a problem in North America.

Arctodus Simus: Guardian Of The Americas?

Arctodus Simus: Guardian Of The Americas?


The largest Polar Bear (Ursus Maritimus) ever was 1,002 kilograms (killed circa 1800). During the Pleistocene, which ended with the glaciation, 11,700 years ago, there were three gigantic bears: Arctotherium Angustidens in South America, Arctodus Simus in North America and the Cave Bear Ursus Spelaeus (the largest Ursus species) in Europe (that one was eliminated by 27,000 BCE). These bears are among the largest terrestrial mammalian carnivores that ever lived. The first two were dedicated meat eaters, and could reach up to two metric tons.

Arctodus Simus, long limbed, made for running, cruised as fast as 70 kilometers an hour. It could fight off Saber Tooth cats for the kills. Those giant bears specialized in terror supremacy. Those bears, and other terrible predators guarded the Americas (North America had more than half a dozen species of huge predators). That profusion of man eating monsters is why Australia, much harder to reach by sea, was invaded 40,000 years before the Americas. Those bears had only one thing to fear, man. They kept man off the Americas until man invented weapons advanced enough to kill them, and go south from Behringia, under the cover of climate change.

Why those ursine species did not invade Eurasia, whereas the European Brown Bears (“Grizzlies”) did invade the Americas seems rather mysterious, until one realizes that Neanderthals and their colleagues had long modified, and controlled, the Eurasiatic ecosystem. Grizzlies were compatible with man (and are delicious to eat), whereas the giant meat eating bears were not.
***

HUMAN INDUCED CLIMATE CHANGE: 11,700 YEAR OLD, EXPLODING NOW
After bioengineering many domestic animals, and creating new “cultivars”, or plant species (best example: corn), our ancestors had to cut trees… And kill lions. Studies have shown, and logic imposes, that lions and the like used to dominate the megafauna in total biomass, as a lion could survive on anything, from rabbit to elephant. American, and European lions were larger than the large North African lion (extinct for a century).

The end result was millions of cattle making methane, millions more than there would have been otherwise, and the climate warmed up relative to what it should have been (some specialists say that this Neolithic methane prevented a return of the glaciers to a great extent). More methane meant less glaciers, in turn more CO2 released through melting permafrost, etc.
This may explain why the CO2 density has been long out of control:

Homo Explodes CO2 Chart: We Are Now ~ 450 ppm!

Homo Explodes CO2 Chart: We Are Now ~ 450 ppm!

When people got to Australia, it was a massacre: the megafauna was quickly eliminated, leaving only kangaroos behind.
Conclusion: man has been violently modifying the environment for a very long time, we are in the Anthropocene.
***

WITHOUT PROGRESS, DELIBERATE, MEANINGFUL CHANGE, THE WORLD GETS OLD:
However, people did not get necessarily get away with it: in many places of the Middle Earth (Whatever can be reached from the Middle East within a few months of travel by Neolithic means, i.e. from Britain to India) cutting the trees accelerated, or even created desertification. Egypt is case in point (!). This was well known by the times of the Romans.
The Romans could see the mines getting exhausted, so they ran out of metals for their currency (currency crisis of the Third Century), and even for their weapons (metal crisis of the Seventh Century). After the Muslim attack, the Roman emperor came to Rome one summer to supervise the removal of metal from all the roofs of Rome to melt it, and make weapons of massive Muslim destruction.
Romanitas survived thanks to the metallic flame throwers of the Romans. Once, up to 2,000 Muslim ships were burned, as they sieged Constantinople. As late as the Tenth Century, a flame throwing Roman fleet coming from Constantinople, destroyed a Muslim fleet in the gulf of Saint Tropez, as a Frankish army, in a well coordinated pincer, eliminated the emirate Muslims had perfidiously established in Provence, so as to raid and ransom, all the way to Switzerland.

Meanwhile the Franks had invaded Eastern Europe, Rome’s unrealized dream. There the Franks got enough silver for making a currency again (China, having had drastic inflation & counterfeit from paper money would get silver for its own currency from Potosi, Bolivia, through the Philippines’ Spaniards, eight centuries later; paradoxically, by then the greatest European powers had reintroduced paper money for centuries, as their states were as strong as the 7C Tangs, who did use paper money!).

The cities of Sumer, at the root of (“Western”) civilization, were ecologically devastated. First there was salination (from too much sweet water usage), then deforestation in the Zagros and in the mountains around the Fertile Crescent caused an apocalyptic flood (the famous flood in the Bible). What had been civilization got covered by water, horizon to horizon.
Another famous (mostly) manmade disaster is the drought that put an end to the Mayan civilization. We now know that there was enormous environmental stress. The Mayans had run out of their preferred tree for construction: they used less and less mature specimen, until they had to switch to species that were not as good. The Mayans’ agricultural system depended upon the high technology of an enormous network of artificial lakes and canals. As the drought proceeded, that system failed, while war took over.
***

DARK FUTURE WITH COAL, THUS PERFECT FOR THE DARK SIDE:
Clearly a similar mechanism threatens us today: we need, desperately, more advanced technology. The only thing that can save the seven billions is more advanced technology, massively deployed. Thorium reactors are an obvious opportunity.
Right now, we do NOT have to proceed with coal. Anymore. British leaders were debating getting out of coal, exactly a century ago. Now leaders, everywhere, and especially the developing world, have decided to develop coal big time. In a few years, it will become, again, humanity ‘s main source of energy! Thus we will carry the sins of the Kyoto accord.
So what is going on? These leaders are actually plutocrats. They are not just leaders. They are rich, powerful, and nasty. They develop coal because they find natural to be nasty, as nastiness is the most distinctive quality that fostered their ascent. But it goes further than that. More nastiness deployed even makes them feel good about themselves, and the most developed quality they have, nastiness, showing them that nastiness is the force that moves the world.
***

THE DARK SIDE TOOK OVER ROME, PERFIDIOUSLY:
The fascist Roman empire imposed himself in a sneaky fashion. First there was a genocide against Carthage, one of the worst genocides known. It put an end to a civilization that was, in several ways, the world’s most advanced (in navigation and agriculture). Then the republican Greek city-states were exterminated (Corinth), or terrorized into abject obedience, after losing their independence. At that point, the plutocrats had to destroy the republic in Rome itself, and that is what happened in the following 130 years.
After this, the republic was not formally gone. Augustus did not make the mistake of his great Uncle Caesar, of violating tradition too far by making himself dictator for life (a notion all too close to the kings that Caesar had imposed all over Gaul, to the rage of the local Gallic Senates, causing in turn the great revolt against Caesar). Augustus called himself Princeps (First Man). First man in the Senate (and thus Rome).

Augustus’successors could only survive by augmenting the fascism, and the plutocratic index. The plutocrats around the emperor played a central role, and are always found in all tyrannies. Cultivating a small clique of “grands du royaume” buttressed the Princeps ( “grands”,as they were called in France: the Greats of the kingdom = plutocrats). These were of course the barons in England (with whom William conquered England, and their descendants) and the retinue of the “electors” in Germany (as the Frankish emperor was elected).

This was particularly obvious in the case of emperor Domitian (circa 80 CE), when we have actually reports of major conversations of the plutocrats around a dinner table, one of them the emperor, and they waxed lyrically that any of them could be the ultimate boss, and that those of their colleagues they had killed before, due to some conspiracies, had they not killed them, would naturally find their place again, and enjoy that meal with them.
The philosopher in chief, under Domitian, was Domitian himself, though. Those who disagreed with him, were, obviously, very bad, even dangerous, philosophers, and the sanction was death. Domitian exaggerated a bit, though. He rewarded some for their philosophy, and then eliminated them. Domitian progressively lost touch with his fellow plutocrats, so they send a professional assassin to have a picturesque fight to death with him in his bedroom.
Under the Antonine emperors that Gibbon admired so much, philosophers reached a pinnacle of power never seen before, or since. Most of them were Greek, some were billionaires, all said what the emperors, and the fascist-plutocratic structure supporting them, wanted to hear.
***

ROME & ATHENS CONTRADICTED THEIR RISE’S PHILOSOPHY, SO CRASHED:
A central tenet of the philosophy of fascist-imperial Rome was the exact opposite of what had allowed Rome to rise.
The rise of Rome was technological. Rome was first a melting pot, founded on equal opportunity. that equal opportunity made it an irresistible army, of citizens-soldiers, and that army, in turn, very pragmatically, favored technological innovation, by whatever means.
An example: Rome found itself at war with the greatest power in the western Mediterranean, Carthage. Carthage ruled the sea, her navigators had gone around Africa, and she brought, by sea all kinds of goods, from Black Africa, Gaul, Britain. Carthage ruled the seas, with the world’s most advanced ships.
The Romans captured one of them, and copied it . Within a few months, unbelievably, they built a fleet. The sailors were trained on the rocky soil, in fake triremes. They were declared sailors, and the Consul who had built the fleet, was declared to be an admiral. They sailed away. A Carthaginian fleet sank them all.
Never mind. The Romans built another fleet, paying more attention to detail. Soon they invented a device, the Corvus (=Crow), that could rotate around, and allowed to disgorge the redoubtable, hyper trained legionaries on the decks of the enemy. Carthage sank.
Amusing exploits. Demosthenes had incited Athens to engage in a private-public program to build a war fleet to fight Persia. That was done, and brought the tremendous victory of Salamis, just off the shore in Athens that ended up the efforts of the savage orient to conquer the West for 2,000 years. However, doing so, all the magnificent primary forest of Attica was razed, and never grew back, modifying irreversibly the climate, and making Athens even more vulnerably dependent upon Black Sea wheat. That is, Athenian food supply came from a very great distance, the kind of vulnerability many countries have nowadays. It forced Athens to conduct an aggressive military policy, constructing an empire that extended from Egypt to Byzantium and beyond.
In turn, that empire made Athens increasingly nasty. Within two generations, that nasty spirit, and its fragile far flung extent, became Athens undoing. Athens collapsed morally first, as she engaged in a pattern of war crimes (among them: attacking Syracuse out of the blue, annihilating an island’s population, etc.).
Here to define war crimes, I use Nuremberg, 1945. Some will say that I make an anachronism. However, not so. The roots of Nuremberg 1945 were planted 2,550 years earlier. Reading many texts of the period, and a century earlier, when republican, democratic Athens was created, is revealing. The Nazi like mood that seized Athens around 450 BCE, would have looked horrendous to some of the creators of its democracy (such as Solon), a century earlier, around 550 BCE (Solon was so disgusted by Athens after installing its democracy that he left for ten years to get better ideas, and visited Egypt, among other places).
Thus we see that, not paying attention to the ecology, even for the best reason (wasting Attica to build a war fleet to defend against fascist Persia), can lead to ill conceived, unsustainable empire (the Athenian empire rested on too small a population of Athenians), and then survived just by amplification of nastiness. When a besieged, starving Athens had to surrender to the coalition of Greek city-states, it’s (Persian financed) Sparta that saved it from the vengeance the other cities wanted to visit it with; some of its own medicine, annihilation.
That is why the moral drift in the USA leadership, ever since navy brass, and the dying Roosevelt became best friend with Ibn Saud, or blatant even earlier, when the USA declared Britain and France to be “belligerent” in 1939, and sanctioned them, is so dangerous. That’s how civilization dies.
Athens recovered, but not enough before the goons from the north, the Macedonians, the lovers of horse, Philippe and his son, with their own retinue of major plutocrats (Antipater, for example) could take over all of Greece.
Athens, and the other Greek city-states, ultimately rose successfully against Macedonia. But that was the help of Roman legions. By then the plutocrats were too powerful in the Roman Senate, and they made sure that the Social Revolution in Corinth was crushed. The new philosophy was sustainable fascism, plutocracy desired.
***

ROME COLLAPSED MORALLY FIRST, ECOLOGY FOLLOWED LATER:
So what happened under the Antonine emperors? The philosophers, and other Romans observed, as they said, that “the world was getting old”. Namely there were ecological disasters all over. The economy was becoming more difficult to operate, and command and control would be imposed within 150 years, as precious metals ran out. 300 years later, after the Franks had been unable to stop them, the vandals would seized North Africa, and so doing, starved all of Italy.
Could have Rome been spared that ominous fate? Well, yes, by more advanced technology, which could have been deployed (primitive steam engines existed, and Papin made a steam engine boat, in the 17th Century, using roughly the same metallurgical expertise; there is no doubt that the Romans could have made the same). But the Roman emperors deliberately blocked advanced tech.
The emperors, ill advised, thought that higher technology would increase unemployment.
That myth is entertained to this day. See Krugman’s December 9, 2012, editorial in The New York Times: Robots and Robber Barons. technology has taken a turn that places labor at a disadvantage… About the robots: there’s no question that in some high-profile industries, technology is displacing workers of all, or almost all, kinds. can innovation and progress really hurt large numbers of workers, maybe even workers in general? I often encounter assertions that this can’t happen. But the truth is that it can, and serious economists have been aware of this possibility for almost two centuries. The early-19th-century economist David Ricardo is best known for the theory of comparative advantage, which makes the case for free trade; but the same 1817 book in which he presented that theory also included a chapter on how the new, capital-intensive technologies of the Industrial Revolution could actually make workers worse off, at least for a while — which modern scholarship suggests may indeed have happened for several decades.
The debate is nothing new: Aristotle argued that, having no robots, civilization needed slaves, to do the work. The entire Greco-Roman civilization operated upon the bedrock of this completely idiotic assumption. And died from it.
So the emperors argued that, unemployment being a chronic Roman catastrophe, and people needing to work, the machines had could have alleviated work should not be constructed. That sorts of logic looks good, but it’s wrong at every turn. Unfortunately variants thereof presided to the making of the Kyoto Treaty.
All what happened was that Parthian arrows, fired from powerful double curvature composite Mongol bows, started to go through Roman armor, and that cataphracts terrorized the Roman army. Pathetically, in the end, the Romans adopted those military techniques… more than five centuries after suffering the devastating defeat of Carrhae from them.
What was the truth?
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UNEMPLOYMENT AS A PLUTOCRATIC DEVICE:
In truth, unemployment was caused directly by the plutocracy that ruled Rome, it was a deliberate strategy. Unemployment empowers plutocracy. An unemployed man is impotent, and feels completely unworthy: after all, he is no use whatsoever. How could he be trusted to make a revolution? Let alone to vote? Another advantage is that unemployment means that the plutocracy lives off globalization, distant workers, who do the job, but can be cut off anytime, and replaced by others safely. That is why Rome, and then Italy got increasingly deprived of employment and even army under the fascist empire, culminating with the removal of the capital to Byzantium, by Constantine, to make Constantine-polis, Constantinople. To make sure, Constantine also removed the entire Roman metaphysics and tradition, by imposing Christianity.
When the Franks took control, they decreased the fascist index (the kings were elected, and the function was not hereditary, and women could reign), and they decreased the plutocratic index (sons were supposed to inherit equally and daughters would do, if there were no sons). Then the Franks formally outlawed slavery (~650 CE).
Outlawing slavery, that is, cheap labor, meant technology and science had to advance. It did. Countless tech advances occurred within a few centuries: heavy draught horse, bioengineered protein rich beans, water and wind mills all over. Frankish architecture (now known as “Gothic”), hydraulic presses, gravitational and spring clocks soon followed.
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PLUTOCRACY IS BACK! IT HAPPENS ALL THE TIME:
We are in a very similar situation nowadays, to the decay that corrupted Rome.
The plutocratic phenomenon has blossomed again. The banking sector has been taken over by bandits. This is very grave: in the Roman, Frankish, Tang, and other various Chinese empires, it was the state that created money. In the modern state, starting with the Italian republics of the Middle Ages, it has been the bankers that the state mandated to create money, through credit. So now the money creating system is corrupt, and the political, and even judicial class attached to them, is also corrupt.
Proof? All over the papers, everyday. Even inside the Wall Street Journal, December 20, 2012, the most incredible dialogues among plutocrats and crooks, about manipulating interest rates, and meeting back on their yachts to laugh it off, while exchanging 6 figures gifts.
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LARGEST PLUTO CRACTY EVER, LARGEST CRIME SYNDICATE, EVER:
Then there was the case of drug laundering by HSBC, a British based world bank. It showed the drug war is a very bad joke played upon the gullible public. Assistant Attorney General and longtime Bill Clinton pal Breuer is another of these plutocratic enabler who obviously expect to be well rewarded some more.
“Breuer this week signed off on a settlement deal with the British banking giant HSBC that is the ultimate insult to every ordinary person who’s ever had his life altered by a narcotics charge. Despite the fact that HSBC admitted to laundering billions of dollars for Colombian and Mexican drug cartels (among others) and violating a host of important banking laws (from the Bank Secrecy Act to the Trading With the Enemy Act), Breuer and his Justice Department elected not to pursue criminal prosecutions of the bank…”
This is another case of international plutocracy at work, the largest criminal enterprise ever.
I say this after considering very carefully the involvement of JP Morgan, Henry Ford and company with various fascist movements, some of them genocidal, in the period 1920 to 1945; although the extent of genocide is lower, by an order of magnitude, so far, with WWII, with only a bit more than six millions or so assassinated in Africa, the intricacy, extent and penetration of world financial, economic, political and informational systems is unprecedented. (I have said this long ago.)
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IGNORING NUCLEAR ENERGY IS BEYOND GROTESQUE:
Nuclear energy is around one million times more energetic than any other energy source. So it’s the future, and it will allow to conquer the solar system, and go the stars.
Nuclear energy is intrinsically clean. It exploits decay, so its waste disappear quickly: nuclear waste becomes less radioactive over time. After 50 years, 99.1% of radiation is gone. This is in sharp contrast with coal. Arsenic, mercury and other chemicals that are stable, forever poisonous are released burning coal: under our eyes, the oceans and the Arctic are made too poisonous for life, and all what idiotic environmental NGOs can talk about is how bad nuclear is!
Well, if the Plutonium based 1950s nuclear tech is so bad, push for other nuclear technologies! Thorium comes to mind. But the first giant Thorium reactor will be ready in a decade or so. it will be made in China, of course.
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KYOTO, AN ERROR IGNORING THE MIGHTIEST ENERGY SOURCE:
The Kyoto accord decided that emissions of CO2 would be reduced after a while to 1990 levels. So far, so good. But then it was decided that the most developed countries, in other words, the West, would bear the burden, all the burden. On the ground that they caused the mess. In other words, those who set the fire would extinguish it, while those who did not could go right ahead with a new conflagration. The USA refused to ratify that unwise injustice. The Europeans, who have a long history of self flagellation, ever since they roasted most of the Jews, signed on greedily, and, glutton for punishment as they are, are suffering indigestion ever since. Now China emits three times more CO2 than all of Europe. And many times that in arsenic, mercury, etc.
Denmark gives renewable lessons to all, and depends more crucially on burning carbon than basically any other country. New burn factories are under construction. (On the positive side, this is self limiting, as most of Denmark will soon go below water, including all the Do-goodism.)
Why all the burning fires? Because of Kyoto’s most vicious flaw. Kyoto, and a later annex, Marrakesh, held that nuclear energy was an enemy. The Marrakesh Accords state:”Recognizing that Parties included in Annex I are to refrain from using credits…generated from nuclear facilities to meet their commitments under Article 3, paragraph 1″ .
However, this all hogwash. Out of say 100 different potential nuclear energy methods, the only one used is the military one, the U235-Plutonium cycle.
Conclusion? The do-gooders fanatically anti-nuclear ecologists are bringing back coal. Within a few years, after an eclipse of a 100 years, COAL WILL AGAIN BE the world’s main energy source. Most of the ecologists who were influential in the last quarter century should get their heads examined, because the return of coal is their work.
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NO PROGRESS, NO LIFE:
Fascist imperial Rome refuted technology. Thus progress. However any human society, since the Pleistocene is as if on a bike: it cannot stand still without crashing. Why? Because resources get exhausted, they always have, they always will (Malthus wrote nearly 5,000 years after Sumer flooded, from deforestation, so Malthus was right, but his were old news).
Technological progress is an ecological stabilizer.
Intelligence evolved because it enables to manipulate the world in a self serving way. In the war against the plutocratic phenomenon, what is in play is the meaning of self. And intelligence itself: the selfishness of the plutocrats is not just self serving, is afflicted with lethal shortermism. Why? because more is different.
Plutocracy is related to fascism, in particular intellectual fascism, where only a few ideas, a few moods, and a few people lead. That’s why Rome got increasingly stupid: any new intelligent discourse is specialized, it’s a techno (special)- logy (discourse). By refuting technology, Rome did not just refute progress, it refuted intelligence.
Nietzsche famously founded his philosophy on the “eternal return of the same”. Nothing could be more false; everywhere we look, however far in the past, long ago, in galaxies further than we can see, there is change, tremendous dynamics at works. We cannot go back to the past, we can only forge a sustainable future. And that means using force, and we have more force at our disposal than ever before, but, paradoxically, not enough yet to put the world on the right track.
Shooting at each other all day long to see who the good guys are, as the NRA and its fellow plutocrats are suggesting, is certainly not the way. Nor is the return to coal, more devastating than anything but outright thermonuclear war.
We are facing the greatest ecological and energy crisis ever, just when plutocracy is heating up. What to do? Full speed ahead with new technology, based in the deepest new science, and that goes all the way to throttle up in more advanced philosophy.
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Patrice Ayme