Posts Tagged ‘Rome’

Multibrain: Republic, Democracy

July 29, 2014

Some brainiacs such as the philosopher Michel Serres (of “France decapitated”), make a big deal that France is a “Republic”, and the USA a “Democracy”. It’s the sort of mock sophisticated distinction that those who want to look intellectual embrace. Serres has taught in plutocratic universities of the USA, he should know better. Or, maybe, he knows better how to serve his masters than yours truly. The distinction is without merit.

First it blows up the differences between France and the USA. In truth, both Republics are much more similar to each other than they are, to any other regime in the world (including the United Kingdom).

Differently from Rome and Athens, the USA and France were born as entangled republics. Both Republics have recent imitators, namely dozens of modern states.

Second, the main difference between “Republic” and “Democracy”, as it happened 25 centuries ago, was just a matter of language and esthetics. The beauty of how the concept sounded in Greek did not translate in Latin (‘Populus-Imperium” has six syllables).

Athens called itself a “demokratia”, because demokratia was a Greek word. Greek spoke Greek, Romans spoke Latin.

Too Big For Debate Killed Respublica

Too Big For Debate Killed Respublica

But democracy was not exclusively a Greek concept. It was as strong, if not stronger, in Rome.

Indeed, the “rule of the People” is how human societies have always worked best (except during war): distributed intelligence, creating the super-brain effect, from the many brains debating. TheMultibrain effect. Whereas, indeed, I do not believe in the “Multiverse”, the human brain, and, even better, any human society, is a multiverse onto itself.

Democracy allows to tap in this multiverse of the multibrain. Democracy is a multiverse. For real.

So the Romans spoke Latin. They had two words for “power” in the sense of “rule”. “Potestas” for lower magistrates, Imperium” for higher magistrates (Consuls, Proconsuls, Praetors; “Censors”, although higher magistrates, did not have the “Imperium”).

It would have been all too long, thus awkward to make a single word with “populus”, “potestas”, and “imperium”. Thus the romans instead used the Thing Public (Res Publica). Later the Demos-Kratos of the Greeks, Latinized into “democracia”, was used.

But that does not mean the Romans did not practice democracy. They did. Real democracy, that is, direct democracy. In practice, there was little difference between direct democracy as practiced in Athens, and that practiced in Rome.

(But for the fact that Athenian democracy lasted two centuries, and the Roman one, around five. Also, even under the Principate founded by Augustus, many Republican functions kept on going, and it was not clear that the Republic had stopped, as the weird transition between Augustus and Tiberius amply demonstrated.)

The various Roman “Magistrates” were masters of diverse functions, and represented those functions. They implemented People Power, they did not displace it. They did not represent people, just functions.

Rome, or at least the Roman Republic, which lasted five centuries, ignored that oxymoron, “Representative Democracy”. SPQR, the Senate and People of Rome, lasted so long, precisely because the Romans refused to be represented in some theater, by professional liars. (For those who don’t know, oxymoron is Greek for “sharply stupid”.)

Athens’ democracy failed, because, as Demosthenes pointed out, the Greek city-states refused to make the tremendous war that was required to get rid of the fascist plutocrats from Macedonia. In the end the war came to them, and Antipater, one of Philippe’s senior generals, took Greece over thanks to enough torture and execution to terrorize the Greeks into submission (130 years later, the Roman Republic freed Greece, and the legions were then withdrawn).

If it was so good, why did Rome quit Direct Democracy?

I have argued that it was because of the rise of plutocracy. That’s entirely correct, but then the question occurs of what allowed this rise.

I have written detailed essays pointing the finger at the Second Punic War, the rise of the war profiteers, the death, or dilution of the really noble Patrician families’ spirit (whose ancestors had conducted the Roman Revolution in the Sixth Century BCE). I also pointed out to the fact that the Roman Republic became, thanks to that war, around 200 BCE, a global power.

All too many rich, powerful families were then able to do what is now called “inversion”. Namely rule from abroad (where Roman Law did not apply). So they escaped confiscating taxation that was meant, precisely, to decapitate the plutocratic effect.

But there was another pernicious effect of the vastness of the Roman Imperium.

Athens had met it already. In the Athenian Assembly (of the People), important decisions needed a high quorum. That meant distant farmers had to travel to Athens for a few days. That was expensive, so the Athenian Republic paid for distant farmers to come to vote.

The situation was much worse in Rome.

The Athenian City-States ruled Attica, which is about 100 kilometers long. The Athenian Imperium extended at some point to the Black Sea (to insure the wehat supply). Moreover, all Athenain dependencies could be quickly reached by boat.

Not so with Rome. Cities such as Numance (Numentia) sat in the middle of Northern Spain, weeks of travel from the sea.

Rome was physically incapable of maintaining communications fast enough to maintain direct democracy (in any case the old democratic set-up in Rome depended of the detailed status of citizens within “tribes”, and would have had to be severely modified just to extend to Italia).

Very slow communications was the deep down root killer of Roman direct democracy.

We don’t have this excuse. Not anymore.

Quite the opposite. Whereas Rome experienced a loss of opportunity as the empire extended, modern technology, the Internet, offers us the ability to do as the Romans did under the Republic: vote all the time, about anything.

We don’t need no stinking representatives. Freedom is a mouse click away.

Patrice Ayme’

Demonic Empire & Bliss

June 27, 2014

Traditionally, there are those who are for empire, and those who are against it. Also there are those who distinguish good empires (the Athenian empire, the French “mission civilisatrice”; English Commonwealth) from the disgusting ones (say UK’s anti-Boer South Africa), to the very bad ones (plutocrat Leopold II’s Heart of Darkness Congo), or the outright demonic ones (the Kaiser’s holocaustic Namibia).

However, Manicheism goes only that far. I am going to suggest a completely different form of analysis, and approach, to the concept of empire.

An empire has subjects, just as a predator has preys. This is the conventional view. And, yet, it contains its own overcoming. Indeed, just as there is a mathematical entanglement between predator and prey, there is a philosophical entanglement between an empire and its subjects.

Good Empires Rest On Holy Wisdom; Ἁγία Σοφία, Constantinopolis

Good Empires Rest On Holy Wisdom; Ἁγία Σοφία, Constantinopolis

“Imperium” depicted initially the absolute, life-and-death ordering capability from top Roman generals. (Roman “emperors” inherited that capability, as they were always the commanders in chief, at least on paper.)

To this day, an empire is supposed to be all about a few ordering the many (thus, intrinsically “fascist”). Yet, even this Roman military root is endowed with subtlety: imperium does not reduce to fascism.

Why? The semiotics of fascism is, fundamentally, not just about the many being strong by tying up together. It’s about the law, and the law is absolute: Dura Lex, Sed Lex (Law Hard, But Law).  So the many are tied by an absolute.

Roman generals were obeyed absolutely, only when they inspired an aura of absolutism, that only vertiginous respect could confer them.

A professional special force killer was sent to assassinate Marius (seven times Consul, who triumphed in Africa over Jugurtha, and Gaul, Piedmont over invading Germans). He found the elder Marius in a room. Marius, unafraid, addressed the would be-assassin with his stentorian voice: ”Soldier, are you going to kill your general?”. Trembling, excusing himself, the assassin fled, and Marius’ enemies gave up on the notion of killing their all too respected foe.

In other words, imperium worked best when the soldiers loved their generals. After all, soldiers were armed to the teeth, trained to kill, and not to fear death. Generals need to be loved, the law does not. So imperium is an intrinsically milder notion than fascism.

Thus it’s not enough to say there are good empires, and bad ones. More generally, there are good empire-subject entanglements, and bad, unjust ones. It’s not all about just about the empire, it’s also about the subjects, and it’s also about the interactions of the one, with the others. Moreover those entanglements can be asymmetric.

Let me give an example. The Roman empire was the ultimate empire. Arguably, it’s going on, stronger than ever, 27 centuries after its founding (long story). For at least a millennium, the Romans interacted with the Celts, Jews, Egyptians, Greeks and Mesopotamians.

It was the same Roman empire, however, the outcomes were very different, and drastic differences are reflected to this day: the West became Rome, and Mesopotamia is still wrecked by war without end. By far the most complex interaction was with the Celto-Germans. It was pretty much antipodal to what happened with the Jews and the Mesopotamians, and, one can even claim, with the Greeks.

In Mesopotamia, and against the Iranians, Rome and its successor regime (“Constantinople”) struggled in vain for seven centuries. Nothing came out of it, except so much morbidity that, in the end, the Arabs overwhelmed both Persia and most of Rome.

The Jews, or rather, domineering Jewish fanatics, who made no sense whatsoever, in two formidably suicidal wars, rejected Rome. The first of these killed a million Jews, much of the population of Israel, then. It started by the cold blooded killing, inside Jerusalem, of 600 legionnaires of the Roman garrison. The strategic objective was unclear, and soon at least three Jewish factions were fighting each other, to death besides engaging the Romans.

The Romans had a sense of humor, and catapulted thousands of pig heads inside Jerusalem (I presume that they let them rot carefully first). On the less amusing side, the legions devastated forests throughout the region to build gigantic works for the siege of the holy city.

Egypt did not care about Rome one way or another. That mood of pragmatic indifference was contagious: while the titanic struggle of the Judaic War unfolded, just over the horizon, the hundreds of thousands of Jews in Alexandria did not raise the smallest protest.

Greece had been severely mistreated by the plutocratic Roman Senate, by 146 CE: Corinth was destroyed as a warning that republican independence of Greek City-States will not be tolerated. That was mass terrorism, and it marked Greece for centuries to come, as intended. Greek democracy did not recover, until the EU chased out the pro-Washington dictatorship, 21 centuries later.

And then there were the Celts and the Germans.  Those were not united, they relished their complicated world. They had adopted many traits of Greek civilization, even before the Romans showed up. Their metallurgy was second to none, and a major export to Rome. Ultimately, after 16 centuries of tragi-comedy, and all sorts of happenstance, the Celto-Germans became Rome (officially, in 800 CE).

It’s actually a curious thing: after a terrible war when Caesar intervened (Caesar was accused by some in the Senate and some historians, to have caused much of the problem), nothing anti-Roman ever happened again in Gallia. Even when the so called Gallic Empire ruled, later, it was not to reject Rome, but to improve it.

Differently from what had happened in Greece, the Romans did not rule Gaul through terror (although the war with Caesar had killed and enslaved millions, it had been a very complicated, messy affair, nothing like the cold blooded holocaust at Corinth) . Far from it. Even Latin was not imposed. In the Fifth Century the bishop of Lugdunum (= Lyon) preached in Celtic. Latin replaced Celtic completely, well after the legions were gone (that happened in 400 CE, a decision of Rome, taken when, for budgetary reasons, Rome put the Franks in charge of defending the two Germania and Gallia). Phasing out the three Celtic languages happened when the Franks, who came to rule Gaul completely in the early Sixth Century, completely gave up their own Low Countries German for Latin.

The Celto-Germano-Greco-Roman civilization became a symbiosis ruled by the Franks. Why a community of minds there, and not with Israel, or Mesopotamia? It’s obviously an explanation that involves many factors. The Celto-Germans and the Greco-Romans had a very long story, with fair intellectual trade, in both directions: by the time Caesar showed up, that intense trade was at least a millennium old. The Roman army was equipped with Celtic metal works for centuries.

Celts and Romans had important principles in common, like a quasi-religious dislike for kings, and, certainly, hatred of tyranny. This dislike was so strong that Armanius (Hermann) a once-Roman officer who treacherously annihilated Roman general Varus and his three legions (plus supporting troops, and fellow travellers), was later killed by fellow rebels for behaving, it was alleged, like a king.

Yet, as Rome became a fascist dictatorship, the Germans became more sympathetic to fascism, and kingship. Clovis, elected king of the Franks, his father, Roman imperator Childeric I, and his grandfather Merovius. Thus, Western Europe (or, at least, the elements if Western Europe which came to re-establish an empire) was pretty much evolving as one mental unit.

Such bliss of a common spirituality was not shared in the Middle East. The Jewish God symbolized tyranny made divine. Persians and Mesopotamians needed to kneel abjectly to all the plutocrats they could find. Lack of water had led the civilization of the Middle East to dictatorship. The hydraulic dictatorship (Fernand Braudel) implied “Oriental Despotism” (Karl Marx).  Fascism, cruel and demented, the “Right of Sword”.

Darius, who fought from Ethiopia to Ukraine, exhibited a clear case of the “Right of the Sword”. That existing mood was embraced 11 centuries later in the Qur’an. Unbelievably, the Sword is still festering today: arguing for the Right Of The Sword, Arab plutocrats are agitating, in 2014, to have Justinian’s Cathedral, Ἁγία Σοφία, “Holy Wisdom“,now a museum, been converted again to a mosque, so that the depiction of the real world represented therein be covered up again, as reality offends Islam.

This is an example of the persistence of moods and systems of ideas. Cynics will also point out that their genesis, namely the desert, only got worse.

Well, whatever: if we understand the situation, we can probably fix it. No empire, no law. Thus it remains to make the empire good.

Today the European Empire’s 28 heads of state approved Jean-Claude Junkers as head of the European Commission (the EU’s executive branch). The European Parliament is widely expected to elect Junkers next week. The 28 elected chiefs used the occasion to sign on the Free Trade and Association Treaty with Ukraine and Moldavia. Justly unsatisfied by this slap to Putin, they also sent Vlad the Impaler, back in Moscow, an ultimatum. Yes, an ultimatum. Electing the head of the EC is a furthering of democracy in the European empire. But democracy is naught, if it can’t bite.

The 28 EU leaders demanded that separatists return border checkpoints, release hostages and start talks to implement a peace plan drawn up by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko by June 30. Failure to do so will result in “further significant restrictive measures” against Russia.

Vlad The Invader has three days to obey. It may be time for him to remember what happened when his preceding supporter of minorities through annexations, Adolf Hitler, refused to obey. Unbelievably, France persuaded Britain to declare war.

Wisdom without doom is only gloom.

Patrice Aymé

Rome Did Not Fall

January 1, 2014

Happy New Year To All Those Worthy Of My Affection And, Or, Consideration. (Such as those kind enough to comment on this site!)

The tradition of celebrating the Winter Solstice as the start of the year, complete with cut fir trees and gift giving goes all the way back to Ancient Greece, and thus, by osmosis, to Rome (Zoroastrians, thus Iranians, celebrate the New Year in Spring). The Romans were a bunch of dung plastered peasants educated by the Etruscans to the north and the Greeks of Magna Grecia to the south. In the end, Rome got “renovated” by the Franks.

The Franks Renovated The Empire, Wiping Out Other Invaders.

The Franks Renovated The Empire, Wiping Out Other Invaders.

Early on, Roman peasants learned to learn. The first thing the Romans learned was that big time plutocrats such as Etruscan lords and Tarquinus Superbus, the last formidable king of Rome, were the ultimate enemy.

The Romans also learned that much less rich aristocrats (“the best who rule“) could be crucial to a revolutionary public-thing (res-publica). The natural conclusion was to make a “mixed” constitution, where the People would make the laws and the Senate (held by the aristocrats) would give “counsel” (“Senatus Consulte”). To avoid plutocracy, kings were strongly hated in Roman culture. Moreover, wealth was confined to the equivalent of a few millions dollars. Having more was, just, unlawful.

All this changed completely when, after the catastrophe of the Second Punic war, when much of the old ethical aristocracy was killed in combat, avaricious plutocrats broke down the anti-hyper wealth law, and took over. Under the Principate (=Early Roman empire, the weird contraption set-up by Augustus, officially a republic, but also a dictatorship), a Senator with a yearly income of only two million dollars, was viewed as poor.

In truth the Decline and Fall of Rome all started when the Gracchi tried to force the plutocrats to obey Rome’s anti-plutocracy laws from the Fabian era (around 380 BCE). Rome suffered horribly from plutocracy after more than 5,000 Gracchi and their supporters got killed. This was followed by Sulla’s dictatorship, two generations later.

The horror went on, until it turned into full degeneracy, civilization and population collapsing. Finally the Franks got control in the West, between 400 CE and 507 CE, and put an end to the collapse… Where it is more important to end it, that is, militarily. The Franks, being German, were much more equalitarian, so they stopped the plutocratic implosion of civilization.

However Frankish control was quintessentially Roman control. The Imperium Francorum was just a rebirth of the early principles of Rome. It’s not just that the Franks, or their law, spoke Latin. Or that  they were put in charge of the defense of a huge chunk of the empire in 400 CE. Quintessentially, the Franks lived like the early Romans, like farmers, albeit on a much larger area. This facilitated the anti-plutocratic spirit of the Imperium Francorum. To boost their numbers, the Franks showed even more tolerance than the Romans. By 600 CE, everybody was a Frank. A few decades later, slave trading was made unlawful.

By 800 CE, the Roman empire had officially been “renovated” (Renovatio Imperii Romanorum, and had just one emperor, from Northern Spain to Northern Germany, and Armorica to Constantinople: Carlus Magnus, Charlemagne (Constantinople was under a local regency at the time).

This is the simplest fact. Yet, for ideological reasons, it’s ignored. What are those reasons? They have to do with the exploitative spirit of the “West Country Men”. Admitting that the Franks reconstituted Republican Rome, complete with public government imbued with public service, and were astoundingly successful that way, is the exact opposite of what (Wall Street inspired) plutocrats want people to believe.

After being “renovated”, the empire fragmented. It became an empire of fragments. Yet, even in this highly fragmented state, the empire proved impossible to conquer (differently from say Ancient Rome, Oriental Rome (“Byzantium”), China, or India)… To this day.

Indeed, look for example at the Huns: they got to Orleans and Toulouse. However, in both cases, they were severely defeated for this insolence. Their descendants the Mongols got to Hungary, and even the Adriatic. However, they suffered heavy losses, and, by fear of the Franks, went no further. Tellingly, they made a long term alliance with said Franks.

By comparison, the Mongols conquered China, and established a durable dynasty, the Yuan, after toying with the idea of … eradicating China. Similarly the Manchus conquered China.

Observe the contrast between the Imperium Francorum and Late Rome: by 400 CE, the Franks were put in charge of defending the limes (= frontier) in the North West empire (Gallia, Germania Inferior, Germania Superior). However in 406 CE, a huge Germanic coalition galloped across the frozen (!) Rhine, surprising the Frankish army that had mauled them in years prior.

The consequence of that invasion was that the Western empire fell militarily, and, from there, demographically and economically (the Vandals cut off the Western Mediterranean, and Rome’s food, after conquering Africa).

The Franks though, had lost a battle, but not the war. By 507, at the battle of Vouille’, the Franks, army of Rome, destroyed the Goths, something the Romans had been unable to do for the previous 250 years. The same Goths that had humiliated conquered and devastated the city of Rome itself, 97 years earlier.

The regime that the Franks put in place reconstituted Rome fully by 800 CE (and more). By 1204, the Franks actually broke the “Oriental Roman empire”, by conquering Constantinople (that was the real fall of Constantinople: 1453 was just the final nail in the coffin).

By 1066 CE, the Franks had reconquered Britain. French (and thus, English), is little more than degenerated, simplified and Germanified Latin. The basic framework of law, in the West and at the UN, is technically Roman, but in the spirit of the Lex Salica of the Franks. So we can safely say this: the Greco-Romano-Franco-German imperium is still in power, and that power is worldwide.

What of the Hebrew god, in all this? I was reading a 2013 book by an American historian, who claimed that the Hebrews taught the West… equity, equality. Thus that clown demonstrated that some historians had paid for the grossest propaganda.

In truth, it’s the Greeks, the Romans and the Germans who came up with these concepts of equality and justice. Social policies, like welfare, were invented, and implemented, in Athens, and especially Rome.

Verily, it is rather the other way around: the Hebrew god’s monstrosity was a huge part of the Decline and Fall of Rome. Don’t look at me funny: I did not invent the idea. The Cathars (from the Greek catharos, pure: the original Puritans!), came up with the idea in the Twelfth Century (probably building up on the ideas of Abelard and his admirers and students). It was their main idea. The Cathars considered that the Hebrew god was, actually, the devil, and the Old Testament even worse than Hitler’s Mein Kampf (if you will forget the anachronism).

The Church of Jesus Christ and the latter days religious terrorists took that very badly, and killed millions of innocents to eradicate Protestantism (and Judaism too). So much for the Hebrew god.

Jesus was born sometimes in Spring, the early Christians believed. Yet, when the “Founding Fathers of the Church” a trio of fascists flourishing by 400 CE discovered that there was no way that they could eradicate the Greco-Roman Winter Solstice celebrations, they moved Jesus’ birth to the solstice. (In the same spirit, much of Christianity was just stolen from other religions). Now Christianity survives mostly in the religion of the Saracens (that Islam was a form of particularly dangerous Christian cult was the diagnostic of the Frankish intelligence in the Seventh Century, when the Franks got ready to stop the fanatical armies that had embraced that cult).

Rome never fell. Rome just metamorphosed into the most advanced form it needed to survive.

Patrice Ayme

***

Note: It is amazing how ignored the Franks are, because they are the direct junction between the Greco-Romans and us. There is no other junction. No just this, but the Franks surpassed Rome around 1,000 CE in some crucial ways (food production: heavy ploughs, better agriculture, beans, sustainable energy from wind and water mills, etc.).

The Franks (meaning free or ferocious) were actually a confederation, a sort of mini EU of the time, armed to the teeth, that appeared among Germans in a zone of heavy Roman influence. Unknown Romans(?) or other intellectuals had a heavy influence on them, as their Latin written law was much more advanced than the Roman one (more lenient). Initially they talked a sort of Old Dutch. Then switched to Latin.

The fact that the Franks are ignored by conventional historians is a testimony to their lack of scholarship, and servitude to a plutocratic agenda with a twisted mind of its own.

Equality, Innovation, Civilization Sustained

December 14, 2013

Civilization is technological, or is not. Civilization is progressive, or is not. Why? Because resources get exhausted: sustainability is always unsustainable.

Some will laugh, and point out at their new renewables: the sun, the wind, sea currents. However, all would die in a full run-away greenhouse we are pointing towards. (How that could be was exposed in some of my essays, long ago, and will be left as a question, to motivate the students! After all, that’s the way I used to teach math and, or, physics!)

We need bigger solutions. Or we will keep on sinking.

When God Humbled Plutocrats

When God Humbled Plutocrats

[Roman Emperor Henry IV left out in the cold on the left; head down on the right.]

Speaking of students, Krugman is progressing in his awareness of the socio-economic situation. So is Obama who made a confused discourse about inequality (in Obama befuddled brains, the solution to inequality is more free market, Obamacare style, as he reminds us in his incoherence… and then joins stupidity to insolence by asking us if we have a better solution; well all advanced countries, but for the USA, have a solution: public health care).

Obama is a piece of flotsam moved by the tsunami of plutocracy unchained. He mentioned innovation, correctly. However his administration has made strides against it. As always, in the name of the so-called tech giants (truly plotting monopolies). As nearly always, implemented reality is the opposite of Obama’s lenifying discourses.

Intellectual Property (IP) has been seriously gutted out for the little guys (aka the inventors) since 2008.

The Obama administration has engaged in a war against “trolls“, an ill-disguised campaign for the largest corporate actors (ignoring that IP is fungible, the very principle of patents and copyright).

The Federal Circuit came up with a weird decision, AGAINST “injunctive relief”.  Large corporations can infringe in peace.

Moreover the Supreme Court decided recently that large damages amounts are more difficult to prove. NOW, if a corporation infringes on a patent, “apportionment” has to be effected.

This is a three-pronged attack against innovation.

But the pawns march on. March of the drones, all lined up behind the drone-in-chief.

The best way to get to get to Greece or Zimbabwe, as a society, is through rising inequality. Because tremendous inequality is what characterizes these societies most. In turn, it generates other ills of an overwhelming nature.

Economic inequality, at some point transmogrifies and changes dimensions, becoming fiscal and then political inequality (as presently in the USA). In the next step, even the appearance of democracy erodes (see Bush versus Gore, when a correct recount in favor of the on with the most votes was… outlawed).

Aristocracy and fascism arose from economic inequality. This was known for 26 centuries, and acted up by the creators of Greek democracies and the Roman Republic, through redistribution of wealth, or out-lawing the rise of hyper wealth.

There was a law in Rome blocking great wealth; the non-respect of this law brought civil war between the People and the plutocrats; the plutocrats won… until the Franks took over, 650 years later.

If we go full paleolithic, we will worry about food on the table, and energy. Both are under threat. Human organizations have to rise to the challenge. The distinctions between public and private, when a crisis gets strong enough, are irrelevant (look at WWII when Britain and the USA adopted economic command and control).

As we are threatened by several crises, of never seen-before severity, which are already having an impact, the time may come to avoid the self-reflective reflector jargon about neo-Keynes, post counter-counter neo Hayekism, etc…

The economists have failed to understand that, inasmuch as too much central planning is bad, so is too little. Part of economic theory ought to address the part of the economy that is public, not just the “free”-market, for profit part.

We do need governmental projects, not just government money (especially not just money sent to private banks). If Inertia Confinement Thermonuclear Fusion could be made to work well enough, for example, all our energy problems would be solved.

Fusion break-even was just achieved at LLL national laboratory; the only other project that way, worldwide, is from the French government. That sort of huge project, with potential giant, civilization changing impact, is only made possible from the largest economic entities around, governments (or even union of governments, as with the LHC, and ITER; these are not just science projects, but economic enterprises of incalculable cost… literally). The stupid sequester had an impact on thermonuclear fusion: researchers were ordered not to even reveal the breakthrough they had achieved.

The fascist plutocratic Roman imperial government was adverse to real scientific innovation (as ideas threaten plutocracy).  However, its barbarians enemies caught up with Rome technologically on the battlefield. That resulted, not just into defeat on the battlefield, but in the permanent outright replacement of Roman Army by the Franks (after experimenting with the Goths, and even the Huns).

Contemplate the Chinese dictatorship trying the first soft landing on the Moon, Luna, in 37 years; contemplate the fact China can access space at this point… But the only way Americans or Europeans get to space is by paying mentally unstable KGB dictator Putin.

Another factor in the fall of the Greco-Roman world was the exhaustion of resources. This had started early on, when, for military reasons (building the Athenian anti-Persian War Navy), Athens had eradicated the forests of Attica (500 BCE). Seven centuries later, the crisis was major, and multi-dimensional.

By 1300 CE, a similar crisis was affecting Western Europe. Half of the population died in short order (even more did during the Dark Ages). Yet, this time, innovative solutions were enacted swiftly, and civilization barely missed a stride (although, soon, horrendous religious and plutocratic wars wrecked the West).

The powerful kept supporting the loftiest intellectual ventures (just the opposite of what happened in Rome, when fake, mediocre intellectuals were supported; mediocre intellectual advice is worse than none).

Innovation is not just a central to the economy, but to the survival of civilization. But to have innovation, one needs the People experience enough equality to push for it. Although it humbles me to admit this, the Christian Church, with its strong socialist tendency (thank you Jesus), limited plutocratization: after all, kings in good standing washed the feet of the poor.

Not just this, but the Church, whatever its insanities, was viewed as of unimpeachable advice, even by the mightiest.  That’s another safeguard that has ceased to exist. The rumor has it that Pope Francis, by taking strong positions against organized crime and hyper wealth, also known as plutocracy, is endangering his life.

Even in the darkest of the Middle Ages, this was inconceivable (forgetting the special case of Philippe Le Bel). Once a (German-Italian-) Roman emperor, Henry IV, was forced to humiliate himself on his knees waiting for three days and three nights, naked below a shirt, fasting, before the entrance gate of the Pope’s castle, while a blizzard raged in January 1077.

Nothing can humiliate our plutocrats as much nowadays. It’s in our hands.

Let’s make laws. Let’s make a worldwide register of all properties. Then we can tax the pirates and profiteers, let alone run of the mill, .01% plutocrats.

Representation without taxation is a bad joke plutocrats played not just on us, but on civilization itself.

Patrice Ayme

***

Note: China just made the first soft landing on the Moon in 37 years. Well, Obama is already there! OK, the Franco-American robot “Curiosity” on Mars is more sophisticated with its (French Thales) rock blasting laser. Yet, a warning: the Jade Rabbit is supposed to look for Helium 3 (a thermonuclear fuel).

ALL WE NEED IS TECH

September 30, 2013

REAL TECH, that is.

We Are TECHNOLOGICAL ANIMALS, THEREIN OUR REDEMPTION. Out With Financial “Products”.

Suppose we were gods: would we need to work? No. We would not even need an economic system; whatever we would want, it would be.

Indeed, what’s the difference between infinitely advanced technology and god like status? None.

So we see that technology primes economics. Technology also dominates not just the psychology of individuals, but the psychology of society itself. We are technological animals, and have been, ever since we depended upon tools and weapons for our survival: that’s several million years, all the way back to our distant ancestor species.

Without advancing technology, there would not even be a sustainable civilization, as resources get exhausted. Indeed, a given technology exploits given resources. Those are always finite.

Even Sol’s thermonuclear reactor has finite resources. The most recent observations show that the sun’s energy production is even somewhat erratic (some stars, such as the Cepheids, are extremely variable).  

For example, there is just enough lithium, on the whole planet, for a few million electric cars. Without much more advanced batteries, electric cars, a commendable goal, will stay an aborted dream.

The main technologies used nowadays, and by main, I mean those mostly contributing to Gross (“Domestic”) Product, are all unsustainable, because they rise the CO2 level at a rate that will turn the Earth into Venus within a few centuries.

Two or three centuries is very little time to switch COMPLETELY, and absolutely, to NON CO2 producing industries (as we will have to; skyscrapers may have to be built with wood, as present day concrete makes lots of CO2… although switching to much better Roman concrete will diminish CO2 emissions considerably!).   

The present economic stagnation has a lot to do with confusing the weapons of plutocracy with the technology we need to survive as a civilization, just as we mess up our spaceship. Finance supreme caused a brain drain down to hell, in the service of Pluto. A lot of ingenuity was spent on inventing new financial “products” or “technologies” that were just new ways of stealing people by skirting the letter of existing laws.

The transfer of most resources, including the brightest young minds and hopes, to “greed is all we need to make society right“, has caused this stagnation.

We saw the same exact thing happen to Rome under the plutocratic “Principate”… with the multidimensional collapse of the state, and even civilization, and population, as consequences…

Not only did resources, such as forest and metallic mines, got exhausted, but health care imploded, while the barbarians closed the military technological gap, allowing them to roam through the empire. All this because democracy had been displaced by plutocracy.

The collapse of civilization blossomed into the Dark Ages of the Fifth Century, with its many dramatic invasions (including by savages who came all the way from Mongolia, the Huns!).

However, in the original case of “Wacht Am Rhein“, the PAGAN Franks took complete command of the Roman forces by 486 CE, and acquired total military control of Gallia and Germania within 21 years. That neutralized the horrendous, civilization devouring, mind extinguishing Christian theocracy, that had caused the catastrophic collapse of everything (including of that of the population).

The ascent of the Franks had depended, for already two centuries, upon technological superiority, especially in metallic weapons (nothing new: the Roman army had purchased metallic armaments from the Celto-Germans for nearly a millennium). The civilizational bias favoring new technology had insured the ascent of the Greeks and the Romans. Yet, the mood of improving matters through technological solutions was undermined by slavery, and, more generally the mentality that all problems of man could be solved by exerting violence upon other men.

The overall mood enabled Macedonia, the Hellenistic kingdoms and the fascist Roman plutocracy, with its Principate, to take over the world from the republican poleis. Some historians will say: well, it was decided on the battlefield by, Philip Antipater, and Alexander of Macedonia. True. However it was not that simple: the mood of friendliness to fascism and plutocracy pervaded the works of Pluto, Aristotle, and those they influenced (top politicians, captains in the Athenian Navy).

The philosopher Demosthenes was extremely conscious that the wrong mood reigned, and urged the Athenians to resist Antipater, as their ancestors had resisted Xerxes. The Athenians fought back. Indeed. But not with the ferocity they had deployed against Persian plutocracy. 

Plutocracy in friends is a terrible thing, all the more as it is harder to resist. 

But the Franks put technology on steroids by making all citizens free, and outlawing slavery. The technological stagnation that had characterized fascist, plutocratic Rome was over. (OK, the Franks were also plutocrats; but their plutocratic index was much lower than that of the aristo-religious families of around 400 CE.)  

Consequentially, major technological and intellectual advances blossomed.

First of all, a more sustainable, less energy intensive economy was built around wood There was no more slaves to dig underground for coal, or stones. Absolute Worth Energy per capita had to be augmented. Using wood massively in housing allowed to do this (whereas using wood for mines, as was done before, was not possible anymore, from lack of slaves and too much depth).  

To replace human slaves, while augmenting production, friendly species were bred, from giant draft horses to protein laden beans. Mechanization was extreme, with thousands of wind and water mills per province. Carolingian script and German were invented by 800 CE. Caroligian script actually augmented the AWE of writing (it was devised to minimize the effort of the scribes).

Considered on objective indicators (total population, military might, ecumenism, religious tolerance, inclusivity, energy per capita, AWE per capita), the Imperium Francorum (486 CE-800 CE) was clearly an upswing, and achieved higher than Rome at its apex in some very important dimensions. This culminated in the official re-establishment of the Roman empire in 800 CE (when Charlemagne was the one and only Augustus of the entire Roman empire, all the way to Constantinople!).

The important point: the fundamental renaissance, after the death of Antiquity under slavery, contradiction and superstition, was the Imperium Francorum. So I propose this date: 486 CE for the renaissance that counted (some French nationalists will start singing; however, the Franks themselves put the context of their renaissance in a world perspective, from Troy to Europe, and in these words; plus, they spoke Old Dutch). 

(Islam was a neglectable quantity, because it did not make the transition out of slavery, so was stuck in the same philosophical trap as the Greco-Romans, and even worse, because it did not have secular law, and, thus, free men. Still a problem today.)

This technological drive launched by the Romanized Celto-Germans-Franks did not abate.

Even after plutocracy came back big time by 1100 CE (First Crusade). And the technological drive actually protected against plutocracy.

Massive iron architecture appeared by 1150 CE in the cathedrals (in Frankish style, insulted as “Gothic in 16C). That was rendered possible by hydraulic presses, an example of the mechanical advantage that was used all over the European Middle Ages (allowing to run a society with a much higher AWE per capita than China: machines and animals were doing the work down by armies of men in China, as travelers related at the time). By 1200 CE, gravity clocks were developed (they embodied most of the mechanics of the 17C).  

By 1300 CE the considerable development, now ahead of what Rome had known, collided with the exhaustion of resources wall. Within 50 years, the population had been cut by more than half.

However, the collapse of civilization did not happen. Why? Because it’s intellectual fascism, and the stupidity it led to, that collapsed the Romans. When technology and minds are moving ahead, that cannot happen.  

Before 1350 CE, Buridan, a secular cleric, advisers to several kings, twice rector of the university of Paris, a philosopher (and not a theologian!), physicist, mathematician had invented the principle of inertia (now stupidly attributed to Newton… who was born three centuries later!!!!). Also graphs, the heliocentric system, etc. by the time the Plague struck…

So, when the Plague struck, the nobles knew what to do: few, if any, died! (governments took the ultimate measures to prevent the spreading of the Plague, such as shooting on sight).

So the Middle Ages did not renew the Roman catastrophe because the technological drive did not abate. That, in turn was rendered possible by the fact that the moral system of those in power, that of the aristocrats, was not that of Christianity (whereas in the Late Roman empire, the emperors themselves were Christian fanatics).

Nietzsche insisted upon that fact (but he does not seem to have noticed the effect on science, technology and thing in general).

The case of Buridan is illuminative that way: in 1471 CE (that was 113 years after Buridan’s death!) Louis XI and the terrorizing Vatican made the reading of Buridan unlawful (however, the university that Copernicus attended made the reading of Buridan mandatory! Something to do with Jan Hus’ martyrdom… another, but related story).

Copernicus, an abbot, parroted Buridan’s work, but it would take much more than a century for the most obscure corners of the plutocracy to accept that ideas could change… and thus, to admit to the changed mood that intellectual fascism was not perfect. The changed mood that thinking about things actually improved things. And that poor thinking led to poor things (watch the Obamacare debacle for poor thinking!).

So how do we make technology into god, full steam ahead, as we need and in our image again? And not into that financial disease that is presently devouring the planet? Well, we keep plutocracy under control. And how do we do that? Well, we do it the old fashion way, exactly as the Roman Republic did it!

We cap wealth!

***

Patrice Ayme

Plutocrats: Adulation A Must

September 27, 2013

PSYCHO PLUTOCRATS

Plutocrats are embodiments of psychopathology unchained. Plutocracy is in no way a recent phenomenon. The success of republics such as Sparta, Athens, Rome, was entirely caused by the ferocity with which they made plutocracy unconstitutional..

Similarly the beyond-Homeric war between the free poleis of Greece and fascist Persia, was fundamentally a war between democracy and plutocracy. The battle of Lepanto, between Western fleet of free men and the slaves of the Sultan, can also be viewed as a similar clash of civilization.

Democracy & Gracchi Murdered Together

Democracy & Gracchi Murdered Together

The Gracchi Brothers explained the problem thoroughly, and tried the radical remedies necessary against the fascist/plutocratic cancer that was devouring the Roman Republic. We have the same problem. And we have two major, civilization crushing examples of what will happen if we do not eliminate the criminality of hyper wealth: we will be poor, we will have to live on our knees, and our survival will be compromised.

Krugman ponders in Plutocrats Feeling Persecuted the psycho psychology of plutocrats. Well, as their name indicates,  if some ought to be psycho, that would be them, plutocrats. Let me quote Krugman’s conclusion:

“Well, I have a theory. When you have that much money, what is it you’re trying to buy by making even more? You already have the multiple big houses, the servants, the private jet. What you really want now is adulation; you want the world to bow before your success. And so the thought that people in the media, in Congress and even in the White House are saying critical things about people like you drives you wild.

It is, of course, incredibly petty. But money brings power, and thanks to surging inequality, these petty people have a lot of money. So their whining, their anger that they don’t receive universal deference, can have real political consequences. Fear the wrath of the .01 percent!”

Although I respectfully salute Krugman’s effort, and I do agree with what he relates, let me help with an abstract of my own, much more general theory.

Christ said rich individuals would find it harder to get to heavens, than a camel through the eye of a needle. Why? Plutocrats put greed, for money and power, above all other human values. Thus, they belong to hell.

Let’s be a bit more explicit: human beings, even those most reviled, and most abandoned, are born out of love. Indeed, so fragile they are that, for many years, they are completely dependent upon caregivers. If one gives care, one gives love. Thus love, not hatred, is the most basic instinct. Hence the remorse pulling plutocratic minds asunder.

The Greek “Pluto” depicted a 2,000 year old psychological complex elucidated in Mesopotamia in the religion of Ahura Mazda (later boosted by the most ancient philosopher known, Zarathustra). The ancients understood the vast entanglement of obscurity, the underground, riches, invisibility, lying and dissembling, with all other horrors of the Dark Side.

The antidote to this hell was truth and light. That, too was in the old philosophy of Zarathustra.

For plutocrats, to pose as victims is essential. They want to be adulated. Adulation allows not just to satisfy their greed, and also to increase their power (and be called “philanthropists” and thus pay no tax).

But there is more. Adulation goes beyond vanity and greed. Plutocrats do need adulation, if they just want to be.

Plutocrats know, deep inside, that they are very bad people. Once again, it has to do with the fact that the first interaction with the other is love. Even the worse plutocrats, some day, have been babies and their emotional system’s dawn was called love. Adulation allows them to rekindle vaguely that basic emotion. Love is the ultimate judge, the ultimate god.

The adulation of others, that fake love, compensate that lack of love plutocrats have for themselves, deep inside, as they know all too well that they are the bottom of the barrel of humanity.

Adulation thus allows plutocrats to feel good enough to go on with their abysmal lives. When that adulation is refused to them, only the Will to Power, greed, viciousness, the values they thrive by, are left to inhabit the universe they know. Everything is pain, torture, gloom, dissembling, impossible to ascertain.

No wonder plutocrats hate those who deprive them of it.

But their wrath goes beyond this. Plutocrats are motivated by one of humanity’s oldest instinct, that of man as the greatest enemy of… man. Where did that come from? So it has been for many million years, ever since hominids became the greatest predators.

Then, when too many men exhausted too small an ecology, the only solution was war, and extermination. Even chimpanzees live by that feeling: they go on the war path, to eliminate the chimps in the valley next door, just to make sure.

Typically plutocracy rises when a society becomes too prosperous, too numerous, too undemocratic, wealth concentrates, and fascism starts to peak. Hence the causes of its rise bring further excess, and the need to diminish all this humanity that smothers the ecology (it was no accident that the Nazis were so ecological, and so obsessed by the Lebensraum).

Hence the more power plutocrats have, the more they will use it to satisfy that instinct of destruction. It has happened many times in history.

The longevity of the Roman Republic’s democratic system is entirely attributable to its anti-plutocratic laws, which imposed a limit on the wealth of individuals. The failure of those laws brought the Republic down at the time of the Gracchi brothers. (That was known, and made explicit at the time; there was a direct shock between those, such as the Gracchi brothers, who wanted to impose the existing laws and their spirit, and the plutocrats, who wanted adulation and ever more control.)

Interestingly, the USA’s first billionaire, Carnegie, wanted taxation rates of at least 50% on the wealthiest, and close to 100% on inheritance. Thus, during the first century of its existence, the republic of the Union of the States of America had no real plutocrats. (At least none in the sense of using wealth to deflect the policy of the republic.)

Later, Theodore Roosevelt took direct measures to limit the power of the wealth of individuals on the economy (with his anti-monopoly law.)  American based plutocrats went around all this like their Roman predecessors, by going global (and Germany was the first, and most suitable, victim).

Reinstituting the Roman Republican laws limiting wealth would make the Republic viable again. And we would have to succeed where the Gracchi failed, by limiting wealth and power, globally.

Otherwise, it’s going to be all the way down, and, just as happened under the plutocracies that flourished under the Roman autocrats and in the Middle Ages. If we do not affect to love our oppressors, if we do not kneel and kiss their toes, we will feel their wrath.

Plutocracy, the rule of Pluto, is intrinsically, an insult. At some point, blossoming plutocracy makes it so that it comes to be called “aristocracy“, the rule of the best. Only then do plutocrats get the adulation they need.

There is plenty enough evidence of the sociopathy of adulation blossoming in the USA, and in Europe. The thriving austerity is not about prudent accounting: if we were truly prudent, we could easily avoid austerity by making the wealthy pay just part of the taxes they avoid.

Yet, that’s not even tried. Instead the poor and the public are made to pay for the crimes of the wealthy with austerity schemes. So what is austerity about? Unhinged hatred of the wealthy for commoners.

And this is just the beginning: in both Rome and the Middle Ages, extreme plutocracy ended with not just poverty and debasement, but also the death of most of the population, and direct causation can be demonstrated.

***

Patrice Ayme

PLUTOCRACY: NEW WORLD ORDER

May 4, 2013

Western Intelligence, Oriental Despotism; Redux? Democratic Occident, Fascist Orient, & Vice Versed?

Obama just  nominated Commerce Secretary the billionaire heiress who discovered him, and introduced him to the Rubin-Summers-Goldman-Sachs-Citigroup conspiracy. Penny Priztker was condemned to pay a 460 million dollar fine by the Federal government in 2001, for financial malfeasance. 460 million, that’s more than Mitt Romney’s fortune… a fortune which made small rank and file democrats huff and puff, in indignation, a few months ago, just like their mighty masters told them to do (plutocrats such as the Pritzkers are the real thing, and Obama, their boy, not to say, servant).

Now, if the 460 million dollars fine felon becomes chief of commerce, that’s fine, as long as the masters of the people don’t ask the People to huff and puff about the fine. The finer the fine, the finer the master, say the little People, and they bleat, satisfied. As a grateful, and hopeful, Obama put it:”Priztker is one of the most eminent personalities of our country“. When Pluto reigns, down is up.

When Common Decency Is A Hindrance

When Common Decency Is A Hindrance

Plutocracy is the New World Order. The New World Thinking. The New World Emoting.

To get some perspective on this, it’s good to have a retrospective look at the greatest plutocratic realms of the past, and ponder why extremely wealthy fascism rose, increasingly, in the Orient, while clever democracy rose, occasionally, in the West. And sometimes fell, disastrously, for reasons related.

It turns out that, when Rome became fascist and plutocratic, it turned to, and into, Oriental despotism, and criminals, indeed, came to command and control. Criminality became morality.

***

PERSIA REIGNED WITH ALL CRAFTS; YET NOT SMART ENOUGH:

Establishing  giant, metastatic empires in the Orient is nothing new: the Hittites tried it, they proceeded to invade Lebanon and the rich valleys behind, Egyptian territory. However young Pharaoh Ramses II, defeated them at Qadesh, next to present day Damascus. Through courageous combat in that battle which defined his long rule, Ramses rescued victory from the jaws of defeat, somewhat miraculously.

Ramses lost ground, though, and later made a loving peace with his enemies. Then, the Hittites having been destroyed by the mysterious coalition of the Peoples of the Sea, the Assyrians tried to impose their own giant metastatic empire, using the harshest methods. That brought them so many enemies that they got invaded from all quarters, annihilated as a nation first, and an army, later.

Then the union of Medes and Persians, thanks to three remarkable leaders, established a giant fascist empire, from Ethiopia to Central Asia, Libya to India. The third emperor, Darius, besides being excellent at sword-play in the dark, and a great general, proved capable of using a free market economy, switching to so called Keynesianism, and then a command and control economy, as needed. Darius established a giant “Royal” road network (ancestral to the one the Romans would build, four centuries later).

A Persian Pony Express, with posts every five miles, would bring news from distant corners of the empire in a week. Darius went on to invade the Scythians, land of the Amazons, present day Ukraine.

Darius’ Persia was the greatest empire, so far, larger than the present day continental USA. It became so, thanks to a great variety of methods of socio-economic governance. Some of these methods would later be used by the West, massively. Not just the communication network, the free market, the command and control, but also a crafty diplomacy of seduction, cooptation and local autonomy (that’s how the Ionian Greeks and Phoenicians became collaborators of Persia; whereas Alexander would annihilate Tyr).

However, unbelievably, tiny Athens broke the Persian empire, inaugurating the next great event, still on-going, the rise of the West. Again and again, minuscule Greek armies routed the juggernauts of professional giant armies. Again and again, small democracies proved superior to large fascist foes. I claimed that mental superiority entailed military superiority.

***

FREE IN THE WEST, SLAVES IN THE EAST:

Herodotus explained the Greeks’ military superiority: free men are more motivated in battle, as they fight for themselves, he said. But it’s not clear that elite Persian soldiers did not feel free. They no doubt felt rather free, but not as much.

I hold something slightly different, a new dimension of understanding: free men, living in an “open society” are not just more motivated, but, simply, more intelligent. Yes, intelligent.

Yet how come that the free men tended to be in the West, and the subjugated ones, in the East? And this for 4,000 years, defining the “West” as anything west of Mount Lebanon. Why did so much of the Mediterranean turn out propitious to freedom and individual initiative? What of the enormous Celto-German forests, from Spain to the Baltics?

Two factors played a role:

1) Trade, with the big man, the leader being the ship owner-captain (Tyr, Phoenicia, Crete, Athens, Carthage, etc.). This required to excel at technology and adaptative intelligence, confronting nature.

2) Small owner-peasants. The West’s agricultural system did better thanks to small, free owner-peasants.  The owner peasant was captain of his own plot of land, and found himself in a situation roughly similar to the ship captain. Such people worked hard, and thought hard about outwitting nature. All of Germany was this way, until the military encroachment of Rome in the beginning of its plutocratic phase, brought, by reaction, a militarization of German society (this is what archeology shows).

A demographic core of owner-peasants was the core of the success of the Roman republic, and its successors, the Imperium Francorum, and France, or anything working along French lines (most of Europe). When enjoying this basic culture, of free, independent peasants, the West did very well. Why so? Because thinking by oneself, for oneself, makes one more intelligent.

***

WHY THE ORIENT IS DUMBER:

The Orient did better when the peasants could cultivate. That meant, when they had water. That was not obvious in the increasingly parched lands, from the Maghreb to India. First, there, one needed to bring water to agricultural lands. Whereas in the West, both water and arable land were in the same place, not so in the East. In the East water was on rocky mountains, arable lands in parts of plains at the bottom of said mountains. To bring the former to the latter, one needed great hydraulic works. Underground canalizations, sometimes fifty feet deep, could extend dozens of miles.

Such extensive works meant armies of workers and maintenance people. And also standing armies to establish and protect the necessary order. Plus a field army to roam around the empire, and keep the static defenses obedient.

In other words, food on the carpet in the parched, basin and range Orient meant a large fascist system to make it possible, and everybody enslaved to it, in a military organization (Christianity and Islam, both oriental religions, kept much of this essential psychological character: fascist god on top, giving absolute, even capricious  orders to its slaves below).

***

ALL TOGETHER NOW, DOWN THE ROMAN ROAD TO HELL?

What consequences today? Western countries do not depend upon small owner-peasants anymore, but upon giant farms, or agribusinesses, for food procurement. Even trade has become unbalanced: production on one end of the Earth, increasing unemployment, at the other end.

Giant agribusinesses, and unbalanced trade became facts of empire in Rome, and lasted centuries. It was a deliberate plot of Roman plutocracy. At some point, six senatorial families owned most of North Africa. Seneca, Nero’s tutor, the plutocratic philosopher of note, used to boast that he had no idea how many giant properties he owned on the various continents.

That delocalization and globalization made Rome, and Italy into an empty shell of its former self. As those who had the power, the senatorial families, wished. What they feared first, was a proud, potent, empowered People.

(Part of) Italy would resurrect as independent republics, more than a millennium later.

What’s the morality of the story? Men have a strong instinct for doing things right. In a plutocratic system, though, men who do things wrong get rewarded, and this goes on, until the situation exponentiates and breaks down. Thus plutocratic systems are intrinsically pathological: they reward criminals. Not just criminal according to the laws of men, but criminals according to the laws of nature.

In the Orient, life is harder, less natural, militarization exploits part of the Dark Side, because human beings, by living there, live in a less optimal situation. In the West, the rise of plutocracy did not have these excuses.

The Romans knew this well. The Roman republic was the product of a revolution against Tarquinus Superbus, the king of Rome, of Etruscan origin. So the founding act of five centuries of Roman republic was an anti-plutocratic revolt. Same for Athens (several times, during the same centuries).

The Romans passed a strong anti-plutocratic law. That law limited, by force the size of a family’s fortune; it fixed an upper bound on how much one could own. The Second Punic war saw the death, on the battlefield, of too many of the best leading Romans. Meanwhile the conspirators of wealth, back behind the walls of the fortified cities, as Hannibal was roaming the countryside, established a New World order of rents.

When Carthage got defeated, those men of greed kept on pushing, and tried to grab control of the state. After several wars of distraction against Macedonia, Carthage, Numantia, Corinth, etc. it became clear that was what was going on to thousands of the best Romans, led by top nobles (in mind and ancestry), the Gracchi.

The Gracchis mostly tried to impose the wealth limitation law. They also succeeded to impose a land redistribution (an unthinkable socialist measure in the post Thatcher-Reagan world!). Yet, the Gracchi and their supporters lost a civil war. All got killed, by the private armies of the plutocrats. By 100 BCE, when Caesar was born, the dice had long been thrown. Only extreme measures could address the situation (extreme measures that Caesar and Cicero, on the good side, would try).

Now what? Losing democracy, means, ultimately, that we will lose not just freedom, but intelligence itself. It is difficult to imagine how the Americans will pull out of their present death spiral into furthering the wealth of the .1%. When bandits are called “philanthropists”, all values have been inverted in a country: gangsters are in control, the mafia has got metastatic. It will go on, all inverted, until it explodes, or get trampled over. The commerce chief will be a certified felon.

The situation in Europe is not as desperate: conditions for a revolt exist. Although Goldman Sachs has its servants in place all over, the Italians threw out one of them, a Goldman Sachs partner, Mario Monti, at the first chance they got.

Some may sneer, as they notice that, once again I used “Orient” and “Occident” according to old Greco-Roman semantics. What of the true Orient, the far-out East, China and company? Well, I will hide behind my usual observation: it’s Western culture that conquered the world. Present day China’s ideology has very little that is specifically Chinese, besides what the West and China had in common, such as the more or less free market. The idea of “People” (Populus) and “Republic” (Respublica) are Roman. So the very title of China, the “People Republic of China” is, well, (Greco-)Roman.

The dangers threatening China, accordingly, like those threatening us, are those that devastated the Roman republic. For the reasons exposed above, the development in the West, of a more advanced civilization was first, thus why everybody adopted it later.  Rome was first to rise as high as it did. But, the greater the rise, the greater the fall. By 700 CE, the fall of Rome had been so great, that China had risen higher, on many indicators. The West, invaded by hordes of savages for more than six hundred years (beyond even 400 CE to 1000 CE) was fighting for survival.

Plutocracy as a New World Order is not just the end of many things. In the fullness of time, plutocracy is the end of everything.

Even the Will to Power. Slave masters are not so masterful. After all, they are enslaved to their slaves.

When Rome went down, Roman plutocrats whined that the “world was getting old“. By this they meant that resources were being exhausted. Unbeknownst to them, they were the cause of this aging, of this lack of renewal. Its stupidity plutocratic civilization could not find a way out of the box it had built. It needed really new technologies; it did not have the brains to discover them. And it could not have acquired these brains without losing control.

Right now, the world is not getting old, it’s getting killed. And that’s worst.

***

Patrice Ayme

Progress Kills Killer Religions

September 16, 2012

KILLING “UNBELIEVERS” IS PROFITABLE TO SOME.

Abstract: A religion is any set of ideas that again (re) binds (ligare) people together. Secularism, nationalism, superstitions form religions.

Some religions call for more blood than our civilization can give. The world has shrunk, we are all neighbors, mass destruction lurks in our midst.

Carthage was a superior, extremely innovative civilization. Carthage was annihilated because it indulged in too primitive a religion. Same for the Aztecs. If Carthage had not burned children, while playing music to cover their screams, Carthage would have survived, as Marseilles did.

550 BCE. Carthage, Magna Graecia & Massilia share the Western Med. Rome is an Etruscan dot. Celts all over the north.

Carthage, in red, has, by far, the largest empire. Not shown are her trading colonies, some several thousand kilometers off the map, down the African coast, or in Britain. Greek city states are in blue. Massilia, with her large empire along the north west Mediterranean coast, would be in conflict with Carthage for centuries. It resisted, helped by good relationships with the Celts. 

***

This perspective on religion from the point of view of survivability has direct applications to life threatening practices brandishing Fundamentalist Islam. In light of the ever easier access to weapons of mass destruction.

Contrarily to the mentally insipid and counterfactual legend, among all too numerous intellectual cowards in the West, who howl their simplicity in unison; the Qur’an is a book that, read literallyORDERS to kill people on the basis of beliefs that are purely spiritual.

Let say that you insinuate that an analphabet dead 13 centuries ago was deluded, or that god is dog, spelled the wrong way. Millions of so called Muslims will tell everybody that it’s their sacred religious duty to kill you. Can we tolerate this? Can we not denigrate this? Can we afford, not to denigrate this? Who can deny that denigration of such behavior is needed? Denial is at the limit insane: we have the quotes below, and a more extensive version.

Intellectuals cowards don’t need to read. Emoting is their reasoning, howling is their calling, a sort of religion of their own. The way out of the Islamist threat is absolute rigor, putting such people in jail, at every turn, because what they say is that jokes give them a right, a moral duty, to kill, flaunted for all to see. All they say is that joking, or just thinking differently are the worse imaginable acts, worthy of the death penalty. Respecting such terrorists and would be murderers is accepting to submit to their terror. It is to violate the fundamental nature of man, the only hope of man, that is, to think differently.

Around 400 CE, Christianism had transformed the Roman empire into a fascist homicidal theocracy (only the Jews survived, and barely so). Catholic god madness brought military disasters, and the near total military collapse of civilization (Rome was sacked, and the Frankish army on the Rhine could not hold the Vandals, Alans and their allies, with catastrophic consequences for the provisioning of Italy).

So tyrannical Christianism led to the swift destruction of the world’s richest polity. Yet, the fact that Christianism inspired Islam is no excuse. Tyrannical Christianism lasted a bit more than a century (from 363 CE, killing of Julian, until the imperium of the Franks, in 486 CE).

The vilipended movie “The Innocence of Muslims” charges that a professional Christian, the cousin of Muhammad’s wife, created Islam… This enrages Muslims to no end, but it is closer to official Muslim doctrine than to the opposite! Muslims in the streets were just ignorant of that fact. They should read more than just one book.

By 460 CE, the bishops of Gauls had understood that they were not military men, and that they needed military men to fight the Goths. They accepted that the last Roman army left, that of the Pagan Franks, would take over.

After the Franks took control in 486 CE, with the full back up of the imperial government in Constantinople, Christianism became little more than a façade. The Franks extolled the good sides of Christianism, made plenty of little fables with local saints to illustrate the new philosophy of altruism and care, and ignored the rest, the Dark Side of Christianism (although they resurrected it to beat into submission the Anglo-Saxons of northern Germany).

In the following three centuries, the Franks domesticated the Popes in Rome, and brought them back to a sustainable civilization, the effort crowned with the Pope crowning Carlus Magnus as Roman emperor… with the furious accord of Roman authorities in Constantinople, then in a regency!

By 800 CE Jews and Muslims had rights equal to those of Christians and Pagans in the Carolingian empire. The tolerance of Republican Rome was back, reinforced, and extended. Notice that this notion of religious tolerance, most Muslims, in their superstitious monomania, cannot yet get. They do not understand that they are the first victims of their quasi universal lack of tolerance for people, ideas and feelings.

Now, of course, the fundamental truth about the Franks was that they were secularists. They lived in their age, not inside a book of fables. (We know this from all the details; say, when the Viking showed up, the Franks, by then milder, negotiated settlements with them, driving the church crazy, as the church just wanted to exterminate the heathens right away; similarly, the Franks established a tradition of negotiation and co-existence with Muslim settlers.)

How has such a bloodthirsty book, obsessed by burning people, been in control of the minds of the multitude for so long? Well, just contemplate the dictators and theocrats where Islam reign. Where there is a profit, there is a way, such is the ambition of men. In the Middle East, that way to the profit of some was Islam. It fit well with meta traditions of subservience inherited from centuries of hydraulic dictatorships, made ever fiercer, as the area desiccated dramatically.

Some of the Dark operators in the USA believed that Islam could be made into a tool to get oil. It worked. So far. Yet, this is an entirely different subject. Plutocracy knows that theocracy is its most elegant tool. 9/11 was just a warning that such a policy brings drawbacks. Even to the USA.   

***

THE WEST AS THE BROADEST RELIGION:

When the Gauls were told their religion was outlawed, they shrugged. To the Gauls the Gallic shrug was a higher calling, a more important religion than the Celtic religion. Celtic civilization, with its many superior technologies, kept on going, unfazed.

This illustrates several important points:

1) civilization should not be identified with religion. “Civilization” allows the life of a city. Religion is any mental system interlaced with an emotional system tying (ligare) people together again (re). A religion can be anything, such as a mental scaffolding enabling cannibalism and mental sacrifices (the case of most passed religions). A civilization is much more constrained, because a city is a more complex machine than a cannibal band.

2) there are religions within religions. The Celtic religion was within greater themes which tied up the Gauls together, such as the Gallic shrug, and other characteristic behaviors that riled the Romans up (sometimes with admiration). The very word, “Gaul” comes from the Romans trying their best to ridicule the Celts by comparing them to roosters (Gallus Gallus), who are particularly noisy, colored and self assured volatile (Gallia). it’s fascinating that those traits traversed 30 centuries of history, and are still found in today’s French (who are glorifying in self mockery, as the rooster stays the French national symbol, a bit as if the Muslims took for symbol Muhammad with a bomb in his turban!).

The Roman civilization was a melting pot civilization. So was that of the Gauls. Together they united, making an even bigger melting pot, soon joined by a self conscious third melting pot, that of the Frankish confederation, a German melting pot.

The Franks themselves had proclaimed that they had a civilizational hyperlink to Troy.

The Catholic (“Universal” in Greek) religion was itself a melting pot (no choice, if it wanted to thrive under the roman umbrella).

Thus, by the time the Franks proclaimed the “Renovation” of the Roman empire, half a dozen melting pots were mixed together in a mighty brew. Inside that brew, ideas and emotions everywhere: let the best win!  

Human lives used to be brutish and short. They were put together by religions which were brutish and gross. Now lives are longer, sweeter and more complex. We have little choice: thermonuclear bombs, and other Damocles’ swords, keep us honest enough to not be at each others’ throat. Better being honest than dead.

Our religion is now secularism, truly listening to the gods within and the world outside. So what of yesterday’s fables? If they are brutish and gross, they have got to go. 99% of yesteryear’s religion had to go, because, typically, they called to kill people too readily (they also called to not kill them too much, be it only because one needs people to kill people.

***

ASTOUNDING CARTHAGE, AHEAD, IN SOME WAYS, BY 20 CENTURIES:

The Thera monster volcano exploded, flooding, burning and ruining the Minoan civilization centered on Crete. New civilizations arose to replace it. Foremost among them, the Phoenicians, based in Tyre. The Phoenicians put the efforts of Mesopotamians and Egyptians together, abstracting and simplifying them. The Phoenicians invented the alphabet. Variants (Tifinagh, Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Cyrillic, Arabic, Indic alphabets) constitute most scripts in use today. A Phoenician expedition commissioned by a Pharaoh to send an expedition around Africa (in 3 years, circa 650 BCE). Herodotus, who relates the fact, expresses some doubt, because he says that it is impossible that the sun would have been on the right of the Phoenicians ships… Little did the Greek historian understand that such was the case between Port Elizabeth and Cape town, when rounding Africa…  

Tyre founded a colony, Carthage. In some ways, Carthage was the new Crete, in other ways, it was terribly flawed, and died from it. An expedition led by Hanno, of no less than 60 ships, carrying 30,000 souls, passed an erupting Mount Cameron, and captured gorillas, further south. Africans exchanged gold, and other rare products, but also salted fish, against Carthaginian trinkets. Other expeditions went north.

Carthage set up colonies, all the way down the African coast. This trade organization lasted centuries, and influenced, no doubt, both west Black Africa, and the Mediterranean. Some democratic habits in West Africa may be traced to those mind opening times, in my opinion (such as the “Sufi” religion of Senegal, with its similarity to Carthaginian practice). Then the Carthaginians sold the goods throughout the Mediterranean. British and African tin, then a very important metal, was imported to the Med, allowing to make bronze (by mixing it with copper). The Carthaginian bred dogs in the Canary islands.

Rome would never fill such an extensive global role in Africa (although Rome traded with China). One had to wait after 1500 CE for enterprising Europeans to fill Carthage’s sails, using this time, Celtic ocean going technology.

Carthaginian ship technology was superb, the world’s best. Although the Celts had ocean going ships, the Carthaginian ships were much faster. Some Carthaginian coins struck in 350 BCE represents the entire Mediterranean, with a large land mass, far to the West in the Atlantic: America?

We know little about Carthage, because it shrouded its trading routes in secrecy and disinformation. But, mostly, we know little about Carthage, because her tormentor and assassin, Rome, did its best to even destroy her memory (memory destruction being a Roman specialty).

***

CARTHAGO DELENDA EST [Carthage Is To Be Destroyed!]:

The plutocratic party in Rome finished its discourses, for years, about anything whatsoever with: ‘Ceterum censeo Carthaginem delendam esse’ (“Furthermore, (moreover) I consider that Carthage must be destroyed”). It went hand in hand with the nationalistic movement. Still, it does not explain the immense breach of ethics committed with Carthage. That was furnished by Carthage herself. In turn, the crime committed together, the holocaust of Carthage, annihilated by the fire she used to kill the innocent with, tied the Roman together again, in a sort of satanic religion, the triumph of the Dark Side, that devoured Rome itself.

Thus there is lots of morality and philosophy hidden in the sad story.

***

WHY & HOW DID ROME DESTROY CARTHAGE?

Carthage, like Rome, had a mixed constitution. Yet Carthage was destroyed by Rome.

Why, and how did that happen? Well, the traditional story is that the Romans were geniuses of engineering, and they copied Carthaginian tech massively and quasi-instantaneously (after they captured a Carthaginian ship, the Romans copied 120 ships in 2 months). In the end, the Romans won at sea, after losing several fleets with dozens of thousands on board of each.

But, mostly, the main reason for Carthage’s destruction was that Rome did not behave well with Carthage. The Romans hated Carthage. That hatred against Carthage was directed to no others, among the many nations Rome conquered.

The Romans stole from the Punic city Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica. The latter two in direct violation of a peace treaty. Such a breach of honor and treaty was rare with Rome. In their next act the Romans declared war, again, because they just did not like Carthage’s empire in Spain.

In the end, Rome made a holocaust (general burning), of Carthage (146 BCE). Destroying entirely an extremely advanced civilization, all the way down to one book, which the Romans preserved, because that solitary book was an agricultural treaty on how to grow food in Africa. That book fed Rome for six centuries. This is what one reads in history books: a litany of war and destruction.

Why so much hatred on Rome’s part? And how could Rome destroy the senior civilization?

There was a third power left in the Western Mediterranean when this drama started. Massilia. Marseilles, had her own (Greek) mini empire, and, although incorporated by Caesar, Massilia was not destroyed. Rome tolerated other big cities. An example is Alexandria, with its hundreds of thousands of Jews (let alone Greeks and Egyptians): it was pretty much left alone.

Why was Carthage annihilated?

***

CARTHAGE LOST BECAUSE ITS RELIGION HAD BEEN TOO BLOODTHIRSTY:

Carthage was much older than Rome, and a great power when Rome was nothing. Carthage drove the Greeks out of the Western Mediterranean (except for it enemy Massilia). Carthage was the head civilization of Africa, its trade network, with colonies extended along much of the west coast of Africa, probably to the Gold Coast and Ivory Coast. The relationships from Morocco to Senegal were extensive.

On the other side of Africa, the Phoenicians’ commerce reached beyond Somalia. However the giant fascist Persian empire more or less enslaved the Phoenicians (as it did the Ionian Greeks). At the battle of Salamis, most of the “Persian” fleet was actually Ionian and Phoenician. This led to some bad blood with the Greeks and gave a pretext for Alexander later to mistreat Tyre (crucifying 2,000, selling 30,000 women and children survivors into slavery).

Carthage lost because of its religion, such is my thesis. The religion gave a pretext and excuse for Rome’s hatred, and it made Carthaginian allies undependable (coerced by Carthaginian cruelty in peacetime, they bolted at the first occasion given by a less bloodthirsty Rome).

The religion of Carthage was so bloodthirsty, that Carthage lost the most important high ground, the moral high ground. So bloodthirsty that, later, many came to doubt the descriptions the victors, the Romans and their associates, made about Carthage’s bloodthirstiness.

However, recent, incontrovertible archeological discoveries, reveal sinister machines. Therein, partially burned remnants of children, up to four year old. The inscriptions below were unequivocal. Yes, Carthage’s religions sacrificed young children.

A wantonly bloody religion loses the high moral ground. Rare are the armies which can lose the high moral ground, real, or perceived, and still win. Even the Mongols, when they built their giant empire, were careful to occupy (what they perceived as) the high moral ground.

Bloody religions have diverse gradations. They are more or less bloody. The Aztecs were more bloody than any other religion of the Americas (there too, there were nuances; the Aztecs were horrified by Spanish torture; however North American Indians held torture in high esteem!).

How does one lose because of a superstitious religion? Three ways contribute:

a) Lost of prestige. In the Bible the Jewish god fulminates that Carthaginians are killing children, but, he acts equivocally “I never asked them to do that!“. Good to know, goddie boy. Killing children did not look good, 23 centuries ago. So Carthage did not look good.

Equivalently, in today’s world, when Muslim sects kill children of other Muslim sects children, a form of human sacrifice, they also lose prestige (see Syria for illustration). Would one want them for neighbors? So why would one help them?

b) Reputation for cruelty. A religion who ask to kill innocent people, just because they are determined to “not believe” is obviously cruel. That is why Christianism was enslaved, fettered, domesticated in Occident. Both the Bible and the Qur’an have calls to kill unbelievers. That sure helped Charlemagne in empire building, and was central to Islam building the greatest empire ever, in a few years.

c) Loss of allies. During Hannibal’s long invasion of Italy, the Latium allies of Rome did not defect. They were satisfied of their contract with Rome. But the Spanish allies of Carthage did defect. In truth what Rome and the Latium had was a secular religion in common, republicanism.

***

EPITAPH FOR CARTHAGE:

In the end Carthage reformed, and became more democratic than Rome. Carthage was not militarily dangerous; it controlled nearly nothing anymore, the might of Roma was absolute, and extended from Portugal to Asia. Carthage had just become an idea, and a city full of history, and thus wisdom. And thus an even deadlier enemy of Roman plutocracy.

The Roman Senate fabricated reasons to attack Carthage a third and final time, with the official aim of destroying it. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous quote is in Obama’s office: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

And it’s not true.

The arc of the moral universe is long, and, sometimes, with great efforts, it can be bent towards justice, and often, it’s too little, too late.

The crimes of Rome vis-à-vis Carthage started early on, when Rome grabbed Sardinia and Corsica, in violation of a Peace treaty.  They had to be bent back, but the moral universe has no more soul than the real one. all the soul it has, human beings put it there.

Those Roman crimes exacted a lethal price on Rome: they corrupted her soul, made her believe that Carthage was the problem, when the first problem of Rome was institutionalized inequality (plutocracy). That corruption, in the long run, led to the plutocratic phenomenon running amok, entangled in a fight with the headless military, soon to be appeased by the brainlessness of rabid theocracy.

Carthage’s bloodthirsty, child torturing religion gave Rome the excuse it needed to foster its Dark Side. Suppose a Pakistani made thermonuclear nuke exploded in New York’s harbor. What would happen to “democracy in America”? Dimwits would say:”What?” But, although Carthage existed for centuries before Rome was more than a village, ten miles south of the mighty Etruscan city of Veii, Pakistan, complete with nukes, and rabid Islamism, is pretty much an American creation, and the question is why?

And part of the answer is that assemblies of human minds have more mind that one can think.

***

WHEN SECULARISM OVERWHELMS RELIGION FOR ALL TO SEE:

The Spanish held in high esteem both torture and execution. Both concepts are united by the crucifix adorned with the squirming sadomasochist Jesus. Aztecs philosophers pointed out the contradiction: Christ’s was supposedly a religion of love, and human sacrifices were bad, and then the Spaniards  brandished torture to death during a human sacrifice, as if they were good things.  Spaniards could see the points, so they removed their squirming monkey and its nails, from the crucifix. Thereafter Christian crosses were bare in the New World.

Semites tend to be fanatical about religion, it’s a meta cultural trait (or maybe it’s due to the desert sun, as Camus had it, and a most recent scientific study asserts).

In any case, we see meta cultural Semitic fanaticism appear, when compared to others, say the Celts, and the ancient Greeks, Etruscans and republican Romans. The Romans did sacrifice four prisoners after the enormous defeat at Cannae (87,000 Roman elite soldiers, officers, senators, proconsuls and consuls  killed). They were ashamed of that human sacrifice later. Yet, in less desperate times, if Romans did not like what their superstitions told them, they would rough the silliness up.

Once sacred chicken refused to eat before a sea battle with Carthage. A very bad omen. The commanding admiral said: “if they will not eat, let them drink!” He ordered to throw the sacred volatiles overboard, in the sea. There were many such incidents, depicting a Roman pattern of scoffing at religion. Soon Rome was open to nearly all cults (compare with Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan or Pakistan).

After Rome took control of Gaul, the Celtic religion was purely, and simply, outlawed. An excellent occasion for the Gauls to flaunt a more important religious gesture, the bottom line of a deeper religion: the Gallic shrug. There was never a Celtic cult rebellion. Simply, after the Franks took military control of Gallia and Germania, all Pagan habits were declared to be everlasting Catholic traditions. (Even poor Jesus saw his birthday displaced six months to become part of the Winter Solstice feast, with their cut evergreens, and the Saturnials, with their gift exchange.)

By contrast, the Jews are still anal about their dubious fantasies (although Judaism was derivative, from Mesopotamian and Greek stories and more recent than the Celtic cult).

***

REALITIES OF CHRISTIANISM & RELATED ISLAMISM:

Thought crimes occur when texts presenting themselves as real, order to kill others for activities secular law does not recognize as criminal. (The notion of secular law is many millennia old, it goes back to antique Mesopotamia; more recently, it was made explicit by emperor Justinian when he ordered the refurbishing of Roman law, separating clearly the secular from the Christian considerations.)

Christ famously started the demand of killing unbelievers: ” Luke 19:27: But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.

Islamism was invented as a war machine against Rome, and was heavily influenced by Coptic Christianity, at the time in quasi-war with Constantinople (that is, “Rome”).

***

WAS MUHAMMAD MORAL BY WESTERN STANDARDS?

Six centuries later an analphabet prone to epilepsy had some hallucinations in the desert, and He asked is a relative what that could mean. The relative was a professional Christian, a monk. The cousin of Muhammad’s wife. The cousin revealed to Muhammad that it was Archangel Gabriel who had been speaking to Muhammad. Thus Islam was born.

I have mentioned this episode, many times, years ago. All learned Muslim should know it. It is recounted in the trailer of the film “Innocence of the Muslims“. Then that movie is depicted as “Islamophobic”, meaning Islamic history, as taught by Muslim scholars, is Islamophobic.

That movie has caused great fury. The film has been presented, to great indignation, as portraying Muhammad as a rapist of little girls, an homosexual, and an assassin.

This maybe allusions to facts known by learned Muslims, among them:

When an assassination attempt was conducted against Muhammad, his relative, and son in law, Ali, got dressed as if he were Muhammad, and laid in Muhammad’s bed (as a decoy).

Muhammad married the daughter of his associate Bakr, Aisha, when she was 6. The marriage was “consummated” when she was 9 years old (9, as in, less than 10).

Thus we can say for the child (pedo) love (philia) Muhammad went all the way. If that drives Muslims crazy, no wonder. They feel, intuitively, that it is hard to justify by modern, that means, secularist, standards. 

Muhammad annihilated, among others, an entire Jewish tribe, and was a warrior and raider. He was directly involved in the death of well above 1,000 individuals, sword in hand. Once again, any seriously knowledgeable Muslim has a command of these facts.

The ambassador of the USA, a young and enthusiastic Arab (and French) speaking friend of Libya, was killed by Muslims, for, they claim religious reason. You see, someone else had made a movie. Let me explain the logic therein with two quotes of the Qur’an, two of many, which may be viewed as relevant, even by the dimwitted:

“2:39. But they who disbelieve, and deny Our revelations, such are rightful Companions to the Fire. They will abide therein.” [Qur’an Sura 2, The Cow, Verse 39]

(The quote was copied from the most prominent Muslim website.) Statements such as these are all over the Qur’an, a very short book. Here is another verse, and a few are pasted later, so that readers can penetrate themselves with how much they should respect the Qur’an and those who abide by it.

“4: 89. Have no unbelieving friends. Kill the unbelievers wherever you find them.” [Qur’an S4: v89]

Now Bernard Henry Levy, the billionaire “New philosopher“, knew the US ambassador, and called the assassins “imbeciles”.

Two questions:

a) Are people acting according to the Qur’an, “imbeciles“? It seems to be what BHL is saying. The Qur’an is clearly saying that those who disbelieve and deny Islamist Revelations should be put in a fire. The ambassador of the USA may have been judged to be denying the Revelations, and so was put in a fire. What is wrong with that?

b) is it imbecilitic to kill people to become the boss? Are mafiosi imbeciles? Were Stalin, and countless successful tyrants throughout history imbeciles? Was Alexander the Great an imbecile, because he annihilated Thebes and Tyre?

For that matter, Muhammad himself killed well above 1,000 people as he became the Prophet, does that make him an “imbecile”, according to BHL?

Pseudo sophisticated people, and the USA State Department have widely condemned “inflammatory content on the Internet” about Islam, the religion of (eternal) peace. It is a testimony to the powers of ideas, that the State department would complain about virtual flames on the Internet, a few hours after its ambassador in Libya was set aflame by real Muslims firing real rocket propelled grenades. Or is just the government of the USA terrified of enraged Muslims? Many are afraid, so they want to agree desperately with those who terrorize them. They call that wise.

In the eighteenth Century Voltaire, wrote a play “Fanaticism, Or Mahomet  the Prophet“. The play was forbidden in Switzerland in 1993, more than two centuries after it was played there. Thus, in a sense religious fundamentalist terror reigns over Switzerland more in the Twenty-First Century than it did, even well before the French revolution.

And so it is, all over.

As to why the world may feel like denigrating the Qur’an, readers are welcome to read it. You read, you judge. You don’t read, you don’t judge. I have read the Qur’an, cover to cover, many times. And in my goodness, in an argument with Muslim Fundamentalists, I complied the violent orders in the Qur’an. They can be consulted at:

https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2009/06/22/some-violence-in-holy-quran/

That essay contains 7,300 words of verses calling to violence, much of it, lethal. And these 7,300 words are revered by Fundamentalist Muslims of the Wahabi type, as orders from god.

Some will say:”Well, that’s racist, you can’t just discriminate on the basis of what’s in a book.” Well, if it were truly a book, it could be burned, no? Truly, it is an embodied superstition.

Secondly criticizing a superstition is not racist. I have no racism against Mexicans, and celebrate the Aztecs, Toltecs, Mayas, and their great achievements. But civilized people, nowadays despise their religion… Although some understand its origins. Similarly, I adore Isfahan, a religious city of incomparable beauty.

We can condemn, on the basis of a book, the beliefs attached to that book. Anybody reasonably literate should. Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” is a book that enabled the killing of 80 millions, although it’s nowhere as explicitly violent as the Qur’an. In “Mein Kampf” Adolf mostly claim that all the problems of Germany come from the French and the Jews. And that the end, unified Germany, justifies the means. If it were,

The Mufti of Jerusalem, a sort of Muslim pope, was violently anti-Jewish, and pro-Nazi. Not only did he meet with Hitler, he gave him troops. Thousands were incorporated in the SS.

The Qur’an, with its unending violent ranting against the Jews, is clearly full of hate crime, and that’s a fact, not an opinion. I complied 7,300 words of hate quotes in the Qur’an, that’s about 10% of the entire book. And the hatred is not just about Jews and Christians. Here is a sample towards the end of it:

Those who consider the Qur’an to be “mere fables” will be branded on the nose. [Qur’an sura 68:verse 15-16.]

Those who do not believe in Allah will be chained up and cast into hell-fire where they will eat filth. 69:30-35

“Lo! it is the fire of hell Eager to roast.” 70:15

Doom is about to fall on all disbelievers. Only worshippers (Muslims) and those who preserve their chastity (except with their wives and slave girls) will be spared from “the fires of hell” that are “eager to roast.” 70:1-30

“Lo! the doom of their Lord is that before which none can feel secure” (except for maybe those who are fearful of it). 70:27-28

Disbelievers will enter hell with frantic with fear, knowing they will be tortured forever by Allah. 70:36, 44

Allah sent Noah to warn people about the painful doom he was planning to send. (It didn’t work out well; Allah sent it anyway.) 71:1

Those that Allah drowned in Noah’s flood were then tortured forever in the Fire. 71:25

Noah asked Allah to drown all the disbelievers. 71:26

The fires of hell will be fueled with the bodies of idolators and unbelievers. They will experience an ever-greater torment. 72:15-17

Those who disobey Allah and his messenger will dwell forever in the fire of hell. 72:23

Allah will take care of the deniers. He will tie them up, burn them in a raging fire, and feed them food that chokes them. 73:11-13

The last day will be a day of anguish for disbelievers. 74:9-10

Those who are stubborn to Allah’s revelations will face a fearful doom. 74:16-17

The fire of hell shrivels humans and spares nothing. 74:27-29

Allah has appointed angels to tend the Fire and has prepared stumbling blocks for those who disbelieve. He sends some people (whoever he wants) astray. 74:31

Those who pay attention to this life and ignore the Hereafter will suffer forever in hell. 75:20-29

The doom is coming soon. 75:35

Allah has prepared chains, manacles, and a raging fire for the disbelievers. 76:4

Non-Muslim who pretend to believe (so they won’t be killed by Muslims) are unclean and will go to hell. 9:95.

After agreeing to send down a table of food from heaven, Jesus warns his disciples that will catch holy hell if they ever stop believing. 5:115

Christians will be burned in the Fire. 5:72

Christians are wrong about the Trinity. For that they will have a painful doom. 5:73

Have no unbelieving friends. Kill the unbelievers wherever you find them. 4:89

“Disbelievers will be burned with fire.” [Koran, S. 2:39, v. 90]

Jews are the greediest of all humankind. They’d like to live 1000 years. But they are going to hell.” [Koran, s. 2: v.96]

Allah will leave the disbelievers alone for a while, but then he will compel them to the doom of Fire.” [Koran, s. 2:v. 126]

Kill disbelievers wherever you find them. If they attack you, then kill them. Such is the reward of disbelievers. (But if they desist in their unbelief, then don’t kill them.) [Qur’an s.2:v. 191-2]

So you see, unbelievers, if you die, that’s your fault, you did not “desist“.

***

Conclusions and recommendations:

MADNESS, IN GODS AND DOGS ALIKE, HAS NO TREATMENT, BUT ERADICATION:

I have made it clear that the United States has a profound respect for people of all faiths,” said Obama, September 15, 2012. Well, maybe the USA does, but the civilization does not. 99.99% of faiths have been annihilated, as understanding progressed. Who wants yesterday’s papers? Only people in the desert their minds try to inhabit. A desert of knowledge, perspectives, wisdom.

Faith can become not just suicidal, but as murderous as imaginable (hundreds of thousands of Nazis prefered deaths to life in a non Nazi world, the most famous example being Goebbels, who assassinated her 6 children; yes, Nazism was a religion!)

Group selection between tribes has driven evolution. Man is unique, becasuse he killed all species that ressembled him. Fascism is an instinct, that makes the tribe as one. And it’s driven by the activity that fascism provides to pleasure centers, in a mechanism honed by 50 million years.

Eradication of a religion, evolution of a civilization. That one treatment, was used so many times before, it’s how civilizations breathe. Christianism in Europe is arguably more alive today with its best values than in the Middle Ages. But the abject terror exerted by the Crucified during the times of the inquisition, and the Crusades, is now not just gone, but viewed as the highest crime.

It’s not because a particular job was not finished, that it can never be finished. Maybe the Middle East could finally imitate what Europe did. That’s what Ataturk did, in turkey, and also Pahlavi, in Iran (the father of the Pahlavi who became a CIA instrument).

Or, for that matter, Peter the Great in Russia. Peter the Great decided to decapitate the obscurantist, funadmentalist church that blocked his reforms and tried coups. Decapitation being too nice, he tore with pincers, and broke on wheels, some of the haughty men of god, pitching in some effort, as one of the excutioneers. Peter heard their pleas to let them live, even after they were all broken up. Sweet music to Peter’s ears. Funny how men of god, given the occasion to duplicate their Lord’s suffering and ascent, are not that keen… Is it all hogwash, even to them?

A few years later, having modernized Russia extensively, Peter the Great pulverized the Swedish army at the battle of Poltava.  he marched out of the fortified camp and led the crucial part of the combat himself.

If we want to survive the catastrophes we are heading towards imminently, men of such immense courage and determination s Peter the Great, battling in the name of progress, men who are not afraid of yesterday’s faiths will be needed. 

Whether some enjoy murder as they make a fortune that way, be they plutocrats, or theocrats, is irrelevant. The law ought to set society right, by force. Force for the good, is why law exists. law, secular law, ought to apply to theocrats, just as it ought to apply for plutocrats, and other mayhem obsessed sadists. That it does not apply to them too much of the problem nowadays. if larry elison, a californioa plutocrat decideds to save himself a few million of dollars in taxes, he gets away with it. If a local boy steals a pizza slice, he goes to the slammer, for life. And then some are surprised that there is a Greater Depression? Similarly, crazies of god can be seen on TV, threatening to kill people because, well, you read the quotes. Why are they not arrested? Or, at least, fined? Is not threatening to kill someone for no good reason a crime?

Secularism is the default religion. The word “superstition” should be used systematically for those religions which rest on obvious fables.

In the times of weapons of mass destruction, while the biosphere totters on the verge of mass evaporation, from other human activities, God madness ought to be treated more resolutely than madness in dogs. After all, Gods have nukes, dogs don’t.

The preceding ought not to be construed as Islamophobia. There is no fear, no phobia, of Islam, and the main criticism against Islam is made of materials found in the Qur’an. Those who have Islamophobia are those who are afraid to say there are ideas which are not kosher in the Qur’an. And those who are afraid that discussing a book of Islam is racist, as if discussing the dubious fables in the Bible was racist.

Saint Augustine (whom I detest) was aware of some of the critique above, the craziness, the bloodthirstiness in Christianism. Thus Saint Augustine said, wrote for the title of his Book III, Chapter 5 of his City of God: “— It Is A Wretched Slavery Which Takes The Figurative Expressions of Scripture in A Literal Sense. “

Thus, according to Augustine, writing 250 years before the invention of Islam, by some generals and dictators, the hysterical characters we see screaming on TV that they are going to save a prophet and his dog from insult, are living in “A Wretched Slavery”.

In other words, don’t take the sacred texts too seriously. Many Muslim thinkers have followed the same logical drift (but they are less followed, because they are not connected to oil and Wall $treet plutocracy).

The Qur’an was written decades after Muhammad’s death, when written Arabic was not even a complete language (so there is ambiguity about what was exactly meant, all too often). A fanatical war between some in the Prophet’s family and others started just then about whether the Qur’an faithfully respected what Muhammad believed. Aisha, whom Muhammad married at six years of age, and Ali, cousin and son in law, violently disagreed, and went to war. They sort-of-lost. But the hot war is still going on: look at, Syria, Bahrain…

Following the drift of Saint Augustine, many parts of the middle East and Africa “Sufi” variants of Islam were created, precisely to circumvent the fanaticism in the dominant Sunni cult, and the explicit contradictions of Islam with secularism. The Alawites, the Druze, the Assassins, the Ishmaelites, are examples (there are dozens of others). For their own safety most have historically refused to say what they exactly believed in… As the Qur’an has it that unbelievers ought to be killed. This is why one has to be very careful with the situation in Syria. Assad is no doubt terrible, just as there is no doubt much worse waiting in the wings. Just look at what’s in the book they brandish (see above).

The largest Sufi movement comprises the one created in Senegal, somewhat tweaked by the French Republic (after the French secularists and their military realized that those Muslims were precious for their side against racial fascism, the religion embraced by the Prussians). It has now much more than ten million followers, and I approve of it.

So here we are. Some reasonable and influential people, say in Israel, know much of what was written above, for the simple reason that it is the truth. At some point, if Iran persists in the same collision course, Israel will have to try to decapitate the nuclear bomb effort in Iran (as it did in Iraq, the French having had the great idea of embarking in the building a Plutonium reactor there!). It will not be easy, but it is inevitable. And Pakistan is next. That, too, is inevitable. Pakistan actually engaged in a mini war against India recently, while boasting that India would not globalize the conflict as India was afraid of Pakistani nukes (a dumb strategy is there ever was one!)

9/11 was a prick on an elephant, and the elephant got so furious, it gored Iraq, which was, actually… a secularist friend. If and when the tremendous light of man-made thermonuclear fusion is lighted in the name of whom the sacred texts tell us was a mass homicidal pedophile, billions will be enlightened; yes, some religions are not made to share the planet with survival, let alone, progress.

24 centuries ago, the Cynics funded a philosophical movement that assimilated humans to dogs. They would have been amazed by fanatics who claimed to know so much that they spend all the time, killing in the name of god, as if god needed defending, and protecting a long gone analphabetic epileptic (it is known lots of sun has an effect on such people, and that has been traced to genes). Want a better slogan?

There is no dog but dog, and stupidity is its prophet.

This being said dogs, when hungry, and in a pack, are very dangerous. Fighting in Tunisia started after the price of wheat, driven by Goldman Sachs (main instigator), Barclays, JP Morgan and the like, became unaffordable. Such trading, as it is presently done, trades hunger against extreme profits of the few. (There are ways to fix it, starting with lowering leverage and showing the names… As in the past.)

Inside all of us are simple primates who want simple things we need. Around those simple notions we should bind together again: re-ligare. As we can, today, in this age. Such is the wisdom of the ages. Secularism. Secularism: what even baboons understand. Per Omnia Secula Seculorum: for all ages of ages.

I was brought up in the desert, in a sacred city. My first memories are of the local oasis. The beauty of the sparkling stars in the desert as the red dusk sinks in the bluest night still seize my heart. I can never wait to go back.

The important traditions of the desert are deeper, older, and much more respectable than Islam. They do not normalize deviance (to use a NASA concept). Some are congealed into proverbs. Here is a famous one, that rocked my childhood: “Dogs bark, the caravan passes on through.” The crazed men of god are nothing more, and ought to be treated as nothing more, than barking dogs. Except when they bite. Of course. Then they should be disposed off. It seems Obama does this very well. Yet, dogs are not a case where the Dark Side is required. So don’t bomb the children, whatever you do. make no mistake: roasting the children, when there clearly was another way, is what did Carthage in.

***

Patrice Ayme

Great Extermination, Big Nation, Little Minds?

September 11, 2012

SUPERIOR MILITARY BIG EMPIRE MAKES, BUT NOT CIVILIZATION:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

WORLD LARGEST COUNTRIES BY LAND AREA:

1 Russia: 17 million square kilometers.

2 Canada: 10 million sq kms

3 USA: 9.6 sq kms

4 China: 9.6 sq kms

5 Brazil: 8.5 sq kms

6 Australia: 7.7 sq kms

7 European Union: 4.3 sq kms

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  Thanks to Monsieur. Becquerel’s innovation.

***

MENTAL FORCE IS THE GREATEST FORCE:

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

  A typical  pseudo progressive commented on my preceding essay:

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

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

***

USA AS INNOVATION GREATEST? THINK AGAIN!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GEOGRAPHY IS NOT JUST PHYSICAL, BUT HUMAN:

  As Kaplan puts is in the Wall $treet Journal:

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

  Error for the many, profits for the few.

***

MILITARY MEANS ARE ULTIMATE  TO DOMINATE GEOGRAPHY:

  Here is Kaplan again:

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

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

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

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

  Well, we are going over the brink.

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

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

***

Patrice Ayme

INFERNAL RETURN OF THE SAME

May 17, 2010

 

A FEW REFLECTIONS ON ROME VERSUS NOW

***

Abstract: A first paragraph on the clear and present plutocracy in the USA is followed by a paragraph explaining that Rome degenerated because plutocracy requires the people to be stupid, but stupid people can’t handle a world that is not exactly the same as it was before.

As Rome, a self proclaimed "developed world", stagnated, stupefied under the decerebrating plutocracy, the Barbarians caught up, technologically, and the ecology got exhausted, and the fascist leaders reacted with more fascism, and more mental terror, making the situation worse. That is how Rome "collapsed". The rest is details.

The next paragraph is a reader’s objection, which was made to me already several times. The reader reminds me of the thesis of Tainter, a professional historian who is often brandished these days by the plutocrats, to explain away the problems the West is having, and, in particular to claim that a notion such as plutocracy has nothing to do with them (this is total contradiction with the classical view that greed is THE explanation for decay, ever since Solon, the founder of the Athenian constitution, 26 centuries ago; Solon, a poet and philosopher, and a very courageous politician and revolutionary, took strong anti-plutocratic measures which allowed Athens to blossom into her golden age).

Tainter believes that societies become too complex, and that is too onerous, so they collapse. I try to show, with a few elements here and there, why this neo-conservative thesis is completely erroneous in the case of Rome (and also in other cases, including the present one).

Tainter’s thesis fits with the meta principle of the USA ever since Nixon: reduce government, turn everything to the private sector (Nixon created private Health Maintenance Organizations, on the public dime, hence massive for profit health care in the USA; later Reagan took Nixon’s torch, and set the government on fire, with his boy, Summers. Summers was allowed to continue his work of destruction under Clinton, and was of course chosen by the most brazen plutocrats as mentor for the naïve young Obama; the public financing of private banks has blossomed ever since).

Finally I fast forward in the last paragraphs to the situation now. It is getting quickly worse, philosophically speaking. Philosophical Rubicons are crossed, the abyss is near.

Although this is not the subject of this essay, civilization, to function, has to create its own strong morality, which is different, and opposed, to the natural morality of man, which is, in part, violent, evil, even "criminal" (by civilizational standards).

This tale of two moralities is complicated by the fact that, by definition, civilization brings together immense numbers of people, allowing the full power of the exponential function to come into play, for better or worse.

The exponential can grow the good in proportion to itself. It can also grow evil, proportionally to itself, and the power of greed, proportionally to itself. In other words, civilization’s exponential is Pluto’s best incubator (Rousseau vaguely guessed this).

Pluto is not just about money. The Greek philosophers condemned plutocracy, and City-states passed laws against it, and abuse of riches; even imperial Rome did this. My critique goes much further, though: it’s not just more and more money in fewer and fewer hands, it is also more and more evil in fewer and fewer hands, as the supine masses contemplate bovinely the gathering slaughter, sighing vaguely that it is not about them. (Yet.)

Thus the decay of civilization starts with the decay of morality, rotting from the top. Because civilization has let its guard down, as it stopped fighting actively the exponential growth of Pluto, that it itself generates.

And here we are: torture made official, predator robots hunting humans as in the Terminator movies, the president crowing about it, greedsters government supported, at the cost of nearly everything else, pirates crowing about using worldwide conspiracies to undermine countries and currencies, and now, last and not least, assassination of citizens, just because they do not think right, and talk too much.

Even in the Middle ages, European governments did not assassinate citizens for thought crime: a semblance of judicial process was maintained. It was felt then that the state of law required judicial executions, to maintain, at least, the appearance of justice. But now the government of the USA is trying to introduce a new custom: think bad, die fast. In Latin: new "mores", new morality. The abyss is here. (A telling detail: Republican Rome was neither torturing nor, a fortiori, arbitrarily executing citizens. It was against the law. A law the fascist Roman Principate violated, in the next five centuries.)

***

***

PLUTOCRACY BIG ENOUGH TO DROWN THE WEST:

A number of financial big shots have insisted that preventing individual banks to become Too Big To Fail would be enough of a reform. But this is completely insufficient, because what has become too big to fail is the entire financial industry. And the financial industry used that power in 2008, as I pointed out at the time. The top financiers said: give us money, to us personally, or we will close the ATMs, and cut off all the money economy. They were given the money personally, instead of yanking out the banks from them, and nationalizing them, with that same money (to be sold later at a profit, as Sweden did). As it is, even now the entire financial system is on life support from the public, as the plutocrats keep on splurging on the money flow that, unbelievably, they are still given the opportunity to control (control beats jail, any time).

In theory, finance is supposed to be like an oil, allowing the friction-less transmission of savings to valuable investments. Right now it has become instead a metastatic oil spill engulfing civilization. This is entirely due to the fact that politicians have been bought by that financial cancer they helped create stealthily. The system keeps on growing, because the public does not understand how the labor, saving and taxes of common people is used to make an oligarchy very rich. It is not so much that it is too technical, and people do not have enough mathematics, nor moral fiber left to appreciate how revolting that exploitation has become. No, more simply, a careful propaganda machine disguises the tricks used by the financial oligarchy.

Just thirty hedge funds control, together, more than one trillion dollars (that is 2/3 of the normal USA federal budget). Now, of course, the largest banks are behaving like hedge funds. This is actually by behaving as hedge funds that the bank holding companies collapsed in 2008: 300 billion dollars of mortgage defaults were transformed into 24,000 billion dollars of potential losses, in the USA alone, as the hedge funds like bets of bank holding companies backfired.

The financial crash was purely a hedge fund phenomenon. Had the Banking Act of 1933 still been in force, this could never have happened. (But the plutocratic boy, Summers, had demolished the Act under puppet-in-chief Bill Clinton.)

So here, when I say 30 hedge funds control as much as two third of the federal budget, by "hedge funds" I meant pure hedge funds, the ones reserved to the hyper wealthy (by the way, to open an account at the so called "bank" Goldman Sachs, you will need ten million dollars, although every US taxpayer gave vast amounts of money to Goldman Sachs, by paying taxes, they can’t enter that temple of wealth). Oh, by the way, there are not just 30 hedge funds: there are about 10,000 of them in the USA, and as many in Europe.

Hedge funds use strategies such as "butterfly" trading. They consist in taking huge leveraged and opposite positions. One side will always lose, but the other will win so big, that it does not matter. All what is needed is markets that move big (so that there is a big loss, or a big win). So the question about the monstrosity of finance becomes: can an "industry" that controls around 15 times WORLD GDP move markets?

There are other lightly regulated pools of capital, and tax heavens are part of the shadow financial empire which tries to control the planet. The tax system of the USA is entangled with US corporations and tax heavens, so this plutocratic system functions as an integrated whole: the USA’s political structure has been captured by plutocracy.

In 1998, one hedge fund, Long Term Capital Management failed, and the US Federal Reserve intervened on the most gigantic scale to save a number of investors who were friends. It’s all about friendship among the rich and famous. The Fed, the supposedly independent central bank of the USA, is part of that system, and fears to be exposed to the light of the day, as all good vampires do (that is why it does not want to be audited by the US Congress, lest all the gifts to friends would be exposed to the light of the day).

Quantitative and high frequency trading increases the complexity, opaqueness, and self fulfilling prophetization of financial markets, allowing plutocrats to become ever bigger relative to the political and economic systems. Market shut-downs such as the one of May 6 (market down 10% in a few minutes for no reason whatsoever, except huge sell orders from giant plutocratic organizations: Citi, etc.) will increasingly happen. US Senators were just engaging in a vote to curb the banking industry at the time. When asking for explanations, we were told that a trader confused the letter m, and the letter b. So he sold billions, in a fraction of a second, when he should have sold millions. It reminds me of fairy tales for children. Panicked, the senators did as they were told, implicitly, and voted down a pesky law, that would have bothered the banks.

***

ROME CRASHED BECAUSE PLUTOCRACY SUSPENDS EVEN INDISPENSABLE PROGRESS:

In Rome, the richest of the rich became so rich that they ended up owning the country. This is happening now, again, and foremost, in the USA.

The universes of derivatives, shadow banking, tax heavens are the ultimate too big to fail that sucks up nearly all capital, depriving the rest of civilization of sufficient economic activity (capital is potential power; no capital, no power).

The hundreds of trillions of derivatives, many times world GDP, are as much capital which is not available for the real economy. This is why important technologies either very different and practical, or futuristic and indispensable, are not developed. And why there is not enough money for education, and any other activity that could make the masses more clever, and see through the system (seeing through is good for technology, but very bad for plutocracy, which thrive on the unseen).

Plutocracy blocks technology.

Why? Because technological progress depends upon intellectual progress. Plutocracy wants the population to be stupid and impotent. Blocking intellectual progress, and thus controlling the learning and thinking institutions that allow progress is foremost. The Roman emperors deconstructed the educational system, burned the libraries (starting with emperor Jovian, 363 CE), and transferred books and the knowledge from independent individuals and institutions, to "Catholic-Orthodox" monasteries. The emperor, as Christian-in-chief, or "thirteenth apostle", controlled the monasteries, not the libraries and academies.

We also have explicit declarations from Roman emperors, centuries before the imperial imposition of Christianity, that new inventions may destabilize society, and thus emperors paid inventors to keep their inventions secret. It is not a coincidence that the time of great technological and industrial progress in Europe, later, would see so many revolutions. Progress is one whole.

Progress in Medieval Europe started as early as 1100 CE, when professor Abelard and his partisans confronted the religious fascists led by Saint Bernard. At the time the revolution had to do with the immense popularity of the cathedral schools, and their transmogrification into universities, and architecture had gone beyond Roman science (as demonstrated by Gothic cathedrals, which replaced Roman cathedrals, with the invention of flying buttresses, which embodied the forces, in particular wind loads, that the buildings were submitted to).

One could look at an even earlier renaissance: the Franks made a revolution in education, even before Charlemagne, by trying to make schooling mandatory and universal. This was the exact opposite direction from the late Roman empire. It was followed with an advancement of technology; the tenth century is “full of beans” (which Frankish biotechnology had just evolved).

Roman plutocrats blocked the evolution of society, of all of society. When they made changes it was mostly out of dire necessity and fascist control. This excluded really new methodology. So, for example, Christianism, an old style superstition was imposed, to help establish a stronger fascism than the one used by prior emperors, in the first three centuries of the Principate.

This drift towards fascist superstition was so deep that it was emperor Diocletian that established this, the emperor as sun-god, to be called "Dominus". Constantine just switched to using the Catholic church, which had an already existing paramilitary structure in place, and which rested on a cult of personality of a tyrannical father and a chosen son that could be easily translated into the imperial cult (whereas worshipping the sun was all too natural, and all too real).

Gibbons focused on Christianism, as the cause of the collapse of Rome: I explain how this superstition came about, the last nail in the fascist-plutocratic coffin. For Gibbons, Rome reached apogee under the Antonine emperors. For me, Rome started to decay when the plutocracy took control of the Senate, under the republic, three centuries earlier than the period Gibbons admired so much.

***

A FEW MEN AGAINST PLUTOCRACY: NOT ENOUGH.

One man or two could have changed everything; Caesar and Cicero knew it, and so did the plutocrats at the time. That is why Caesar and Cicero, long opposed to each other, became allies. And that is why the plutocrats were in such a rush to assassinate Caesar, who, although himself the top plutocrat (and "dictator for life"), was also the leader of the Populares, and had shown the capacity to change everything.

Correctly, Caesar decided to use the most formidable army the world had ever seen to destroy all of Rome’s external enemies, in one blow. We will never known what could have been. But, just as with the assassination of the Gracchi, and thousands of their supporters, the enormous mental force of plutocracy is not to be neglected: for one Caesar, and one Cicero, how many were ready to die for plutocracy, so much they believed in it?

When the Gracchi were confronted by armies of thugs paid by plutocrats, the later had succeeded to leverage themselves, thanks to their wealth, in controlling the republic. This control was not total, as 110 years of near constant civil war and dictatorship (such as the one of Lucius Cornelius Sulla) followed.

Verily this is how the Greco-Roman empire crashed: THE INDISPENSABLE BRAINY IMPROVEMENTS WERE NOT MADE IN A TIMELY MANNER (the same scheme happened in most other collapses of civilizations).

This would befall any civilization, lest it continually reinvents itself. Indeed, any given technology is always unsustainable, in the fullness of time. So new is always needed. That means new brainwork. That means progress, the opposite of conservatism.

***

COMPLEXITY MUMBO-JUMBO:

An Internet interlocutor called "George" replied to a version of the preceding, exhuming an historian plutocrats have been using to claim they are innocent: "Patrice, some authors (Tainter in particular) have a theory for “most collapses of civilizations”, which basically boils down to diminishing/decreasing returns on complexity.

Thus, the reason that “indispensable improvements were not made in a timely manner”, according to Tainter, is that because of the diminishing returns rule, society ran out of the ability (or willingness) to cope with the need to add on more complexity to deal with the problems caused by the accumulation of complexity.

In a sense, the ever increasing supply of energy-dense fossil fuels since the dawn of the industrial era has enabled our current civilization to more than offset the consequences of the diminishing returns to complexity – so far. But, as in the Merchant of Venice, the pound of flesh will have to be paid in the end.

George."

***

Reply: TAINTER BARKS UP THE WRONG TREE. IT IS NOT COMPLEXITY THAT WENT UP, BUT STUPIDITY:

A complexity theory of collapse has something for itself in the sense that, as old technologies exhaust themselves by exploiting what was there before, until it is no more, it is necessary to develop new technologies to replace them. So complexity rises, and always has, ever since there are men, and they think. Failure to follow that natural trend results in a crash.

But it does not seem to be the argument Tainter is making.

Tainter argues that sustainability or collapse follow from the success or failure of problem-solving institutions and that societies collapse when their investments in social complexity and their "energy subsidies" reach a point of diminishing returns. Tainter recognizes collapse when a society rapidly sheds a significant portion of its complexity.

For me, this argument of Tainter is neither here, nor there, in the real world. Viewing invasions by Germans, Huns or Mongols as "shedding complexity" is silly, although, of course factually true, since everything burned down. Sheer terror is more like it. The Mongols actually debated whether to eradicate China and change its ecology into a steppe.

Tainter’s mishmash of ideas and observations is generally viewed as meaning that: investment in social complexity are characterized with diminishing returns. In other words, Roman welfare ruined Rome. And Reagan made the sun rise over America, by dismantling the state (except the army, so Reagan could go and ruin other states too).

Tainter’s basic thesis, is a rather curious one for an historian to make. It is beyond a doubt that, by the late Middle Ages, social complexity in Europe was far above that of imperial Rome, and "returns", far from diminishing, as Tainter would have it, were well above those of Rome, and increasing. It had been so since 1000 CE.

Tainter’s picture is so simplistic that it ends up being completely inappropriate. To rehash the most well known facts is rather superficial, while invoking "diminishing returns" here and there, is an incantation which can only satisfy plutocrats. for plutocrats, it’s all about returns. The conceptual category tied to the notion of “returns”: it is that of finance, the realm of the plutocrat. Thus Tainter conveys at the outset the notion that confinement to the plutocratic realm is all we need to explain the world.

To brandish imperial overextension as a cause of decay is nothing new. Emperor Hadrian was so familiar with it, that he pulled the Roman empire out of Mesopotamia, and other places, with catastrophic military consequences, as the pressures of enemies nearly broke the empire under Marcus Aurelius. Hadrian’s unfortunate retreat would haunt Rome forever, and thereafter. It may be why the American legions are in Mesopotamia now, still trying to reestablish order, and progress, in rather pathetic way, 1,900 years later.

Complexity has to do with collapse, but not the way Tainter has it. I believe that it is the other way around from how Tainter has it. It is the incapacity to handle complexity that went up drastically, not the complexity itself (complexity always trends up, at a pulsating, but overall steady pace).

As I keep on repeating, the increasing incapacity for thinking is blatant in the Greco-Roman empire: most of the creative thinking is at the beginning, or under the republic, or even earlier in the free Greek city-states.

After a while, under the Principate, thinking completely vanishes. Centuries go on and on, and no thinking of any value is created, let alone any major new idea implemented. Rome reigned, on an intellectual desert the plutocracy had created. Far from becoming ever more sophisticated, the empire was getting always less complex, mentally speaking.

Anti-intellectual terror, though, was in full evidence: the pope Gregory the Great threatened to burn his own bishops if they taught "grammar’ to the people (the Franks shrugged, and protected the bishop of Die, who kept on teaching "Grammar", to the People).

Mental malfunctioning is how empires go down.

The Mayas depended crucially upon some particular tree species for construction, and kept exploiting them for many centuries, if not millennia. Yucatan became a vast technological garden, with a huge hydraulic network. But, in the end, the Mayas suddenly overexploited the trees they depended upon. Far from getting into too much complexity, the Mayas had forgotten the old subtleties. They had forgotten the old ways, where morality comes from, the customs, the time honored ways, the "mores". It is not so much complexity that had increased (OK, the intense drought at the time may have complicated matters), rather than the incapacity of the Mayas to handle it. The balance of power between the City-states of Tikal and Calakmul may have been disturbed by an arriviste queen from another city, around the time when the calamitous, centuries long drought struck (would I add). But it remains that the Mayas were suddenly unable to cope, because they had created a mess, instead of creating solutions.

***

DECEREBRATED BY PLUTOCRACY, ROME HAD BECOME A SITTING DUCK:

Basically, by the year 700 of its founding (0 CE), under "Augustus", the "One-Who-Augments", Rome became increasingly idiotic, and, although the situation of the empire was much simpler, it was incapable to deal with it. Rome had become idiotic because it was controlled by Roman plutocracy, and it was in the interest of Roman plutocracy to make the People of Rome (Populus Romanus) completely idiotic, thus to make Rome completely idiotic, overall.

One can control, imprison and fleece sheep, not philosophers, engineers, and poets. One of Augustus’ first moves was to throw out much of the old Senate, and replace it by one of his own plutocratic liking.

So, when NEW technological challenges appeared, confronting Rome, the NEWLY idiotic Rome was unable to deal with them. Instead, Roman technology stagnated, and society degenerated into a plutocratic theocracy… Although, recent archeology shows, the economy kept on improving (contrarily to what Tainter is claiming).

Meanwhile the Barbarians caught up with Roman technology, especially military technology: the Franks became the shock troops of the Roman empire (the Franks became the elite of the army under Constantine, 310 CE, a fact confirmed under Julian (356 CE) who was voted Augustus by the Franks, after the emperor Constantius II tried to order them to the Orient to fight the Persian Sassanids. This was a full 150 years before the Franks took control of Gallia and Germania…in the name of Rome).

After the collapse of the Roman state (not of the Roman civilization or language, but of the Roman state), technology would start advancing again, under the Franks (inventing from beans to stirrups, to horses’ collars, to massive labor horses, to sophisticate agriculture and deep plows turning the ground, to Gothic cathedrals to wind and water power everywhere; by 1000 CE, the energy Frankish citizens had at their command was the highest in the world).

In the case of Rome, it is pretty clear that the bizarre evolution of Roman society had nothing to do with increasingly complex problems.

For its first seven centuries or so, Rome was confronted to enormous, extremely complex problems, of the most extreme lethality, which looked hopeless to solve.

From the Etruscans’ colonization, to the war with the Sabines, to the invading Gauls, who captured Rome, and asked for ransom, to the brazen Carthaginian plutocratic empire, and its high tech Navy, to Hellenistic dictatorships, complete with charging elephants, to violent marauding hyper powerful German warrior nations, complete with deadly fighting women, destroying all Roman armies, but one, to the problem of getting rid of kings, and giving increasing powers to the People, to the status of the Allies, to the very complex, evolving constitution and voting systems, Rome, the Roman republic, had giant problems everywhere, and responded to them by enormously complex solutions, which were moving all over the place, as the centuries went by.

Towards the end of the republic, the situation had become much simpler: Rome was master of the world. Rome could not be killed, and actually was not killed: the Merovingian empire of the Franks (“Imperium Francorum”) replaced progressively the Greco-Roman empire (from the defeat of the last non Frankish Roman army in 486 CE, to the capture of Constantinople in 1204 CE). But the queens of the Franks spoke Latin, and did so imperially, thinking of themselves as Roman (we have some of their letters!)

At the end of the Roman republic, only three military powers could be distinguished, in the far distance. Caesar intended to solve the military situation once and for all, with one giant military expedition that would submit Persia, Sarmatia and Germania in one shot, coming from behind. Unfortunately he was assassinated by plutocrats masquerading as republicans, the day before he was going to take his leave. That assassination was a drastic collapse of the ethics of survival of the republic (since when would good Roman republicans assassinate the commander in chief, the "dictator", as he was going to war against terrible threats?)

In a few months, Rome lost it all. Marcus Antonius, "Marc Anthony", soon boyfriend of Cleopatra, nailed the hands of Cicero, lately allied to his master, Caesar, on the doors of the Senate, an unimaginable gesture, prior, when Rome was a republic.

What had collapsed was ETHICS and morality (mores = customs in Latin). After that, the ruin of the empire was just a matter of time. The situation was simple in all ways, EXCEPT in the ethical realm, where plutocracy reigned on minds and society alike.

***

WHEN DID ROME COLLAPSE?

It seems to me that Tainter does not know Roman history as well as his ambition demands.

A first problem is when did the “Roman collapse” occur? Collapse of what? The Roman republic? Was the collapse when Octavian ("Augustus") became Prince ("Princeps"), or half a millennium later, when the last Western Roman emperor reigned in Rome, or in the Seventh century, when the Roman Senate disappears, or when, in 846 CE, the Muslims sieged Rome and occupied the future Vatican? A Frankish army chased the Muslims away.

Tainter, of course, gives the conventional answer: Rome collapsed when the last emperor was deposed in the West. But that was just a detail: Theodoric would soon be Roman emperor there, in all but title, and the Roman Senate would go on for more than a century. The last certified Roman emperor visited Rome in Meanwhile, in Gallia, Clovis, son of his Roman imperator of a father , was made Consul. Roman Consul. As far as the Franks were concerned, they were Rome. They never collapsed. And Roman emperor Justinian did not attack them, when he retook control of the entire Mediterranean (but for the shores that the Imperium Francorum controlled). This was in 554 CE.

The collapse of Rome is a very mysterious subject, because the more one looks at it, the less one sees it. Just another example: Otto III, crowned in Rome in 996 CE, as “Holly” Roman emperor, made Rome the administrative centre of his empire and revived elaborate Roman customs.

Otto III was a successor of Carlus Magnus, "Imperator Romanorum". A bit earlier, in a joint land-sea operation, the Frankish army and the Byzantine (= Roman) Navy had crushed the Muslims in Provence, with a final sea battle in the Gulf of Saint Tropez, where the Gregian fire was used, with its usual success.

That is why I go back to the point when the ethical collapse of the republic started, when the plutocrats of the Roman senate had enough clout to impose their destruction of (by then) democratic Carthage and the free Greek City-states (including Athens).

***

COMPLEXITY SOLVES PROBLEMS, STUPIDITY DOES NOT:

Much earlier, when confronted with intractable military problems, the Roman republic invented new military technology: Spanish short sword, to make short work of the phalanx, from the side, javelins that one could not be thrown back, sure to stay stuck in the enemy’s shields, advanced metallic armor, ballistics, and so on. Carthaginian ships were captured, and duplicated, etc. Confronted to huge ocean going Gallic sailing ships, the Romans invented a way to seize their sails. Having to feed the cities, they built a giant trading system, with aqueducts using waterproof cements of their own making. And so on. Republican Rome was a plethora of new high technology.

Under the empire, although it became obvious that further technological progress was needed, economically, energetically and militarily, the emperors deliberately made an anti-invention policy, paying inventors to NOT invent. Because, they said, inventions would increase unemployment (meaning: make plutocracy unstable). Interestingly the first industrial uses of water power occurred in Roman Gaul (where technology would soon blossom under the Franks, because the Franks had not enough slaves, having outlawed slavery for Christians and Jews).

The mind solves problems by augmenting complexity. Just look at physics, mathematics, and biology. Our present theories are certainly more complex, and more powerful, than ever before. Our present societies are also more complex, and that very complexity allows them to solve more. Where has Tainter been?

***

IS ARROGANCE, OVER EXTENSION, AND "DIMINISHING RETURNS" THE PROBLEM?

Another observation from a reader was this: "@ Patrice Ayme: The Greco-Roman Empire crashed from their over indulgence of arrogance. They partied hardy on the laurels of the past. Sounds familiar? Technology had nothing to do with it, but the over extension of Roman armies into lands that were plunder-less from past plundering. They killed the “Golden Goose”, period! This parallels the United States too… with our perennial Viet Nam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Iran… if the Military Complex War-Mongers can get their way… wars accomplishing nothing, but moving us closer to the precipice of financial ruin! I ask you to question yourself – have America’s leaders become arrogant, and drunk with hubris?

Earle, Florida"

***

To which I reply: FACTS ARE HARD, PLUTOCRACY IS HARDER:

It is true that the present day USA is insufferably arrogant. Even criminally so. And it is true that insufferable arrogance, obvious in the speeches of Pericles, led to the downfall of Athens.

The "plunder-less" theory comes straight from Tainter. It is central to its "diminishing returns" concept. Many provinces of the empire thrived for centuries, as long as the Barbarians did not show up. Thus, that the empire stalled from lack of plunder is not supported by detailed evidence of the history of Rome.

Instead, Imperial Rome was imperially incoherent, because it was led by mentally small people, preying on each other. The plutocratic leadership worried more about other plutocrats rather than about Barbarians, or the grandeur and future of Rome.

Having suffered a severe defeat there, Augustus told his successors to leave most of Germania alone. But that left a frontier with a high fractal dimension, impossible to defend, precisely what Caesar wanted to fix. Finally emperor Carlus Magnus, ‘Charlemagne", completed that conquest, doing part of what Caesar wanted to do, a short frontier on the other side of Eastern Europe. Thus Charlemagne, following Caesar, created Europe, and the Romans did not. Although, of course the Roman army, was gigantic, getting to as much as 800,000 men in the Late Empire. But it was going nowhere. It was a sitting duck, with rusting technology.

Arrogance is not very much in evidence in the last few centuries of the Roman empire. However, the Romans were extremely arrogant, wrapped as they were in a strong legal and ethical system under the republic, and it worked well for the republic. It was the arrogance of superior morality. Generals who could put their hand in the fire, and stayed unmoved. By contrast, Rome became a mess under the empire, and moral arrogance went down as confusion went up.(This seems to support Tainter’s thesis, but not really, once one looks in the details).

There are other character flaws besides arrogance, and the Romans , or more exactly the Roman plutocracy that ruled Rome during the empire/principate, accumulated plenty of these. Cupidity and greed were foremost. The empire was not only ruled by the richest, but its soul was guided by Pluto. This is the crucial point: it’s not just about wealth, but the nastiness to enforce it.

Technology, or rather the lack of drastically new, adapted technology, played a huge role in the down-going of the Greco-Roman empire.

First of all, of course the technology of political organizations (“political science, economics”) became simplistic in the empire/principate: an emperor seized power, and the army vowed to obey him. Or the army would chose an emperor, and then try to impose him. That was ridiculous simple, politically speaking, relative to the enormous complexity of the republic (with its various chambers, assemblies, responsibilities, duties, voting system by "tribes", balance of powers, powerful judiciary).

Plutocracy also voided Rome, and Italy, of all and any control on its destiny (putting millions on the dole, and making them impotent economically and militarily, before outright switching the capital out of reach, all the way to the way to Asia; Romans, and later Italians, were forbidden to serve in the army).

More important for the loss of military control, was the disappearance of a technological edge in armaments. Instead, the Barbarians acquired the edge. Composite bows used by the Parthians, and then the Huns, threw arrows that could pierce Roman armor. The economic technology also faltered: unexploited land grew (from the end of small farming by independent owners, another device deliberately imposed by plutocracy, because small land ownerships had been given backmany times in the republic, with land redistributions). The mines with their indispensable metallic ores became unprofitable, from a dearth of slaves and difficulty of extraction.

***

AMERICAN INSANE SLIDE IN THE MORAL ABYSS, WHERE PLUTOCRACY WANTS IT:

Where does the West stands as a comparison to Rome’s slide into the abyss? Well recently, the leader of the USA, in perfect tuxedo, joked, as a stand-in comedian, to great laughter among the worthies of the main stream media of the USA, about "predator drones".

"Predator drones" bomb people, far from battlefields. Hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent civilians have been killed in these strikes (the military of the USA is now careful to hide that tragedy, at least from the public of the USA). Also we learn that orders have been given to kill an American born citizen who is a Muslim cleric, who just speaks with a bad tone of voice. Now, it’s not in my habits to defend Muslim clerics (see P/S).

Inasmuch as I detest Muslim radical literalist fundamentalism, I do not believe that it necessitates to throw out the foundation of Western civilization. Indeed we are in a state of law, not in a state of assassination. Supposedly, the government of the USA has decided that this cleric, apparently hidden in Yemen, was putting out too effective of an anti-American discourse. So what the government of the USA is now saying is that American born citizens can get killed purely for their ideas. And with no more due process than some administrative decision.

As the New York Times puts it all too soberly: "The notion that the government can, in effect, execute one of its own citizens far from a combat zone, with no judicial process and based on secret intelligence, makes some legal authorities deeply uneasy."

Now I am not naïve, and I do believe that assassinations have their place, and that secret services (under the threat of prosecution), should have some latitude to do so, after presidential approval, as needed (under Mitterrand, in France, a few foreign agents were selected for assassination, each year).

But the mental process that is going right now in the USA is completely different. Declaring that American born citizens can be killed, just because of what they say is going back to the sort of morality the plutocrats who opposed the Gracchi displayed in Rome: WE KILL YOU, BECAUSE, YES, WE CAN.

This criminal arrogance is moral collapse, hence collapse of the republic. Of the American republic. This is exactly how Athens collapsed; it exterminated a City-State, for no good reason, but sheer hubris. Of course, the other 200 Greek City-States felt immediately more inclined towards Sparta. Similarly, moral collapse, of a less brutal type, happened also in Rome.

More than five centuries before the Visigoths seized the eternal city (410 CE), Roman morality had started to collapse. And then progress was set in reverse. Similarly, indications of American moral collapse are everywhere. The hypocrisy has got so colossal that it is obviously there to produce giant red herrings behind which to hide reality, not just the truth.

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GIVE ME RED HERRINGS, AND I WILL SEE PINK:

An example of the distortion of reality is the contrast between the treatment given to Polanski, and that of the torturers of the USA. Polanski is an Auschwitz survivor whose life was broken in Los Angeles when his eight and a half month pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, was tortured to death by the Charlie Manson gang, having pieces of her body removed while alive. Polanski’s child also died. Polanski has spent many months in prison for a sex charge, consensual "unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor" (her own mother had sent her unsupervised daughter to Polanski for a second photographic session in Jack Nicholson’s home, 34 years ago; see P/S).

In the USA the obsession with Polanski is sky high, all devouring. If you get indignant about Polanski, you are a citizen in good moral standing. If not you do not, you have got to be, well, French, like Polanski, or Bernard Henri Levy (Polanski’s philosopher friend). It will remind Europeans of the old American obsessions with "sodomy", and inter-racial sex. Both used to be unlawful, both allowed to perform very nice lynchings. Not that I approve of Polanski’s deranged act, but neither do I obsess about it, in these times of unlawful wars, predator drones, official torture, and citizens’ assassination for speech crime. The obsessors want to obsess, though, because it allows them to forget about the rest.

Ominously, prosecution against Polanski heated up while he finished his excellent latest movie, "Ghost Writer". "Ghost Writer" accuses the USA to be a giant conspiracy of quasi infinitely malevolent hypocritical lowest of the lows, shrouded in American academia.

In that movie, the ex-British Prime Minister has fled arrest for war crimes by European justice in one of these islands for the rich off Massachusetts. The ex-British PM has lived his life as a puppet of a murderous plutocratic world plot centered on Harvard University, and American secret services, serving, well, the plutocracy. As the Harvard/US Secret Service conspiracy gets revealed, inquiring minds get killed, and nothing is left of them in the end, but papers in the street, torn by the wind.

While Polanski get prosecuted and imprisoned, the advocates, theoreticians and implementers of torture in the USA are honored and empowered. One is a university professor (at UC Berkeley) and the other is a Federal judge (in San Francisco, an extremely powerful job). They are both based in the San Francisco Bay Area, supposedly the most liberal place in the USA (imagine what would happen to Polanski in Los Angeles: torture, execution?). In other words, in the most liberal place in the USA, the theoreticians and enforcers of government torture thrive. (Code Pink is trying to change that, but not yet.)

"Ghost writer" is not just on the screen. It’s on main street. It’s in Wall Street. And, say Polanski, it’s in US academia. I have myself long attacked Harvard as a center of an immense plot, an erroneous vision of subjugation. Many things thought to be archetypes of Nazism were directly adapted from Harvard, including songs, because at least one of the most important leaders of the Nazi party was from Harvard. Lawrence Summers, the dismantler of Franklin Roosevelt’s Banking Act of 1933, the main creator of metastatic finance, was president of Harvard, until his grotesque sexism drove him out.

Another growing obsession has been the "Tea Party". Those people consider Obama a "socialist", because of his health plan (which is very friendly to the hyper rich… although much less friendly than the status quo). The Tea Party claims to represent the People, but the situation is reminiscent of what happened with the Nazi Party; People’s rage, plutocratic service.

Meanwhile the worst financial manipulators who ever were (most of the top of the American financial system), some demolishing currencies (after a plot: George Soros), some demolishing countries (Goldman Sachs and its paid prostitutes, the rating agencies), are left free to keep on with their self serving, world destroying conspiracies, while using fresh public money to do so, offered to them by their generous accomplices in government.

We have seen decay and rot, it starts with the head.

Fortunately, the USA is not in the situation of Rome. The People of USA is not alone, facing a mad plutocracy, as the People of Rome was.

Europe, differently from Greece when Rome attacked it, is strong, and not just militarily. Moreover, Europe was brutalized by fascism and all Europeans know that fascism was related to wealthy manipulators, and have stayed vigilant. Hence the brutish stupidity of the attacks by the plutocracy against the European Union. This time, though, there is no Mussolini, Hitler and Stalin to help. And fortunately, the president of the USA, Obama, played a positive role, telling Chancellor Merkel to do the right thing (Franklin Delano Roosevelt had not played enough of a positive role during the powering-up of Hitler). Obama apparently knows that the USA is better with a strong EU than without it. Progress of one, but progress of the most important one. So there is hope. But it’s going to be a jolly fight.

PA

https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/

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P/S 1: KILL THEIR IDEAS, DON’T KILL THE THINKERS:

I view literal fundamentalist Islam as a personal enemy, although I do understand its usage by freedom fighters, and although I am quick to point out, that, for decades, it is American secret services, and the imperial machines of the USA, which have been the greatest promoters of this extreme superstition, which enfeebles the minds, just what plutocracy is always looking for in its enemies. This is so true, that it is starting to be known. Some people in the Middle East and Pakistan even believe that bin laden, in full accord with his ex-employer, the CIA, set-up the 9/11 attack, to give a reason for the USA to invade the Middle East. Although I am more than willing to attack the superstition, and I recognize the necessity of combat against armed enemies to neutralize them, I draw the lines at people who just think, or just talk. Those should not be touched.

What of fighting words? Well, they can be prosecuted, but first they should be denounced and interdicted. This applies to covering women under a tent on account of their gender, a form of threatening, fighting communication.

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P/S 2: WHO IS THE MOST SEX CRAZED?

Following his indictment on one sex charge, Polanski agreed to a plea deal that spared him prison time (he had spent about 45 days in jail during a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation, halved for good behavior). But when it seemed that a Superior Court judge might not honor the deal–and sentence Polanski to prison–the director fled the country. After "Ghost Writer" loomed in the distance, and the thoroughness and independence of American justice came into question, in matters such as unlawful war, torture, and the subjugation to financial criminals, it was time to beat the sex drum. As if one old guy having had some sort of sex with a minor, compared with the death, pain and suffering of 250 million people in fear of "predator drones” throughout Iraq-Afghanistan-Pakistan-Yemen. But in the USA, it does.

PA