Posts Tagged ‘superstition’

Islam Versus Civilization?

February 12, 2012

WESTERN CIVILIZATION FOUNDED ON REASON, NOT SUPERSTITION.

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Abstract; Some drastic differences between the West and Islam are explored, and explained. That brings forth reflections on some differences between civilization and superstition.

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Strident screaming in France from the politically correct. Claude Gueant, one of the ministers of the discombobulated Sarkozy, observed that:

Contrary to what the left’s relativist ideology says, for us, all civilizations are not of equal value. Those which defend humanity seem to us to be more advanced than those that deny it. Those which defend liberty, equality and fraternity, seem to us superior to those which accept tyranny, the subservience of women, social and ethnic hatred.” Adding the need to “protect our civilization”, he insisted he had not targeted “one culture in particular”.

[Disclosure: I detest Claude Gueant’s immigration policy; but that does not mean I have to detest all his thoughts, especially when they happen to be philosophically correct.]

Islam de France asked Gueant to specify that he did not target Islam. A socialist (related) member of parliament amalgamated Gueant’s observations with Nazism. The French government walked out of the National Assembly, for the first time since 1898.

To progress in the elucidation of things, one has to get where one did not go before. And nothing is best for that than strong emotions. E-motions are called that way, precisely because they move people. Cold logic, per se, is a ship without motion. Logic does not move by itself.

So let me invenominate the debate a bit more. As a public service.

Islam is why the Middle East covered itself with fascist dictatorships.

(Islam is only a proximal cause, however, see below.) OK, let’s roll out Muhammad Himself, Peace Be On Him, He needs it!

“O YE WHO BELIEVE! Obey Allah, and obey the messenger and OBEY THOSE OF YOU WHO ARE IN POWER.” (Quran’s, Sura 4; verse 59).

In other words, obey power, not intelligence, virtue or democracy. I call that Islam’s fascist principle.

The truth can be outrageous. Nothing better than truth to bring rage out. OK, maybe I put the cart, religion, before the donkey, dictatorship. The water crisis in the Middle East forced the establishment of hydraulic dictatorships. As the drought increased, so did the ferocity: the Egyptian religious was softer than Christianism, itself more open minded than Islam.

True, Jesus Christ, a prophet of Islam, ordered to kill non believers. 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.”

However Christ’s robust self glorification was not the law in the Imperium Francorum. Probably impressed by what the mighty Franks had done in Occident, emperor Justinian, who reigned 40 years, and reconquered the Mediterranean, ordered to separate the secular and the religious in Roman law.

If a Christian wanted to become a Jew, or a Muslim, it was not a cause for execution.

But the Qur’an is more specific: “And if they break their oaths after their agreement and (openly) revile your religion, then fight the leaders of unbelief– surely their oaths are nothing– so that they may desist.” (Qur’an, S 9, v 12) Passages abound in the Hadith (the second sacred book of Islam, full of sayings attributed to Muhammad) of murderous narrow mindedness:

Allah’s Apostle [Muhammad] said, “The blood of a Muslim who confesses that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that I am His Apostle, cannot be shed except in three cases: In Qisas for murder, a married person who commits illegal sexual intercourse and the one who reverts from Islam (apostate) and leaves the Muslims.”—BukhariSahih al-Bukhari, 9:83:17

Some with leftist pretentions will erupt:”How dare you? Is not religion good? Do you have something against Islam? Are you an incredible racist?”

No, I am not an incredible racist. Just the opposite. It is precisely because I respect the victims of an all too fascist friendly religion that I intervene.

I spent the essential of my childhood in Muslim countries, and I nearly always respected the individuals I met, and loved the mosques, and the architecture. I even respect several injunctions of Islam: for example no alcohol whatsoever (I am silly enough already on my own to not need adjuvants). However Islam is a system of thought, and thinking is what I eat.

A particular problem with Islam is the way it treats women. As women educate small children, mentally underperforming women means mentally underperforming children, and thus mentally underperforming adults, hence mentally underperforming societies.

So Islam becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. There is no senility like senility, and stupidity is its prophet.

Some with leftist pretentions will hammer their war drums, the way they have been taught is supposed to be correct:”We don’t see you criticizing the West, the Christian civilization!”

Well, you should read me more. I enjoy dogfights with Christianism. My answer is that there is not such a thing as Christian civilization. “Christian civilization” is an oxymoron, except in the most primitive places. 

By definition of what a civilization is, civilization cannot be just a religion, especially not a superstitious religion. And, historically, the West was not founded by the Franks as a religion, but as a reaction against the superstitious organization of society by Catholic bishops.

Contrarily to a commonly accepted myth, the West, the synergetic civilizational aggregate imagined by the Franks, was not founded on a particular superstition, or even a particular nation or language. Quite the opposite. It was intrinsically omnirole, and even anti-plutocratic. (The multivaried nature of the empire of the Franks make it closer to the present European Union, than to a conventional empire; the Imperium Francorum was a sort of European Union in its time, but with the world’s mightiest army.)

In the Imperium Francorum, Christians could become Jews, and they did, and, no, they did not have fewer rights, and no, they did not have to wear signs on their clothing warning of their particular superstition.

Whereas in Islam, Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians, although had lived there for centuries, when not millennia, were discriminated against by the heavily armed newbies. Non-Muslims had to wear special clothing to warn of their presence, they did not have equal rights, and enjoyed special supplementary taxes. To this day it is forbidden for a Muslim woman to marry a non Muslim. 25% of Lebanese weddings happen in Cyprus, to turn around that interdiction.

According to the Qur’an believers are suppose to kill Pagans and Non Believers:

But when the forbidden months are past, then fight the pagans wherever you find them, and seize them and beleaguer them and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war). But if they repent and establish regular prayers and practice regular charity, then open the way for them, for Allah is oft-forgiving, most merciful.” [Qur’an, Surah al-Tawbah: verse 5]

Taken at face value in the short, 80,000 words Qur’an, this verse is as clear as it gets. Some Islamists try to wiggle out of it, see Islam Tomorrow.(I enjoy reading Islamists.)

So why such a huge difference between Christian Francia and the contemporaneous first Islamist Caliphate? At first sight, this is strange, because Christianism and Islamism are variants of the same religion of Abraham. (Maybe I should call that mother religion Abrahamism, to rhyme with Shamanism.)

Islam, by promoting jihad, interpreted by Muhammad Himself as a war effort against the West allowed to build the world’s largest empire in one generation. That immense succession of battles was launched from just one city, Medina (where Muhammad is buried).

Muhammad admonished Roman authorities to convert, while telling his followers that, for the first time in 1,000 years, the Greco-Romans and their successor regimes (such as the Persian Sassanids) were weak (from a terrible war between them, and the civil war of the Christians against the Pagans and Thinkers inside the Greco-Roman empire). And it was the time to attack.

In the Orient, jihadist rage, lots of luck, and tremendous overconfidence and incompetence in one major battle by the Roman army high command, led the Arabs to the gates of Constantinople. There they were defeated by a high tech weapon, Grecian fire. Grecian fire, secret to this day, was used successfully against Muslims for centuries. Even in Saint Tropez in the Tenth century when a combined effort of the Frankish army and the Roman navy threw the Islamist armies out of Francia.

Blocked by the enormous walls of Constantinople and its fire spitting navy, the Islamists conceived to go around, and catch Constantinople from behind.

After quickly overrunning Gothic Iberia, massacring 20% of its natives, the armies of Islam met the Franks, in Francia. Not only the franks had defeated the Goths, two centuries prior, but they had sent spies to figure out the Muslims, as soon as Islam swept Palestine and Egypt. The Franks represented legal Roman power, and applied Roman law, with an addition, Salic law, initially written in Latin by Roman jurists around 300CE (it was amended enormously in the following millennium). No religious law for the Franks. Zilcht.

In a succession of three terrible invasions (721-750 CE), the Arab and Berber armies and navies tried to break through Francia, and, instead, were the ones broken to smithereens. Not only were the obnoxious invaders thrown out, bones rotting in the sun, but, exhausted, the Caliphate in Damascus fell (750 CE).

Civilian Muslims left behind were left alone and not discriminated against. They reproduced in peace, as genetics studies on the French population have shown.

The Franks were not fighting in the name of Christianity. They viewed the Sarah-sin as a type of Christian, originating from the Bible’s Sarah. The Franks had a long tradition of fighting fanatical Christians. That is why the Franks organized a succession of coups, wars and elected several scholars as emperors, to break the Christian theocracy in Constantinople. They finally captured Francia in 476 CE (and Constantinople in 1204 CE, vengeance is best cold!)

The Franks viewed in Islam more of the same they knew all too well, and they had fought for five centuries, ever since they were the Free, the Franks.

The Frank Reich had always been multinational and multilingual. They spoke old Dutch, Latin, German…By the time the Islamists invaded, the Franks called themselves “EUROPEANS.

There was their fundamental religion, what bound them together again: Europe.

Thus, contrarily to the Islamist empire, the West was founded on tolerance and reason, and the secular law. The west of the Franks was not founded on the adoration of the would be child killer, adulator of his boss, Abraham his name. Just the opposite.

A demonstration of this occurred unwittingly when Christianism was unleashed to help reconquer the Middle East. What happened? Christianism soon re-engaged in what it does best, namely plutocratization. Plutocratization, the instauration of the Dark Side. In contrast to civilization.

Why are Christianism and Islam so prone to plutocratization? It is not an accident.

The myth of Abraham is the very foundation of Christianism and Islam. And what do we observe?

The religion of Abraham is founded on the most insane torturous obsession imaginable, the killing of the child by his parent, to please the boss. Worse than that cannot be found. Think about it. That’s what Islamist regimes are founded on.

The Aztec philosophers viewed their own superstition as more humane than Abraham’s pedophobic obsession, and contradicted the Christian theologians point by point.

Remark: the clueless Vatican wonders why so thousands of obsessed priests tortured children. May I remind them of Abraham? Torturing children is what their god does. See what happened to David’s son, according to their little book of horrors.

So what is civilization? The term appeared around 1600 CE in France, after seven religious civil wars in quick succession (instigated by the Catholic fanatic Spanish emperor, son of his French father, Charles V!).

Henri IV built on the tremendous work of his great predecessor Henri III (assassinated by a Catholic fanatic). He put his war marshal the duke of Sully in charge of the economy. The new society was a welfare state (“a chicken in every pot!”), a stimulus program, and a planification of the economy was introduced, with an accent on high tech.

When the protestant Henri de Navarre was told it would be better if he became catholic to sit on the throne of France, he scoffed:”Paris vaut bien une messe!” (“Paris is worth a mass!”)

Civilization is not religion. Civilization is a process, a progress towards a more civil society. Civilization lives in its time (that’s what “secular” means), and on the ground (it’s not standing-over, which is what super-stition means).

Religion is an old, wet rat clinging to an old branch sinking in the middle of the ocean. A superstitious religion is just a revelation. Some guy in the desert, way back, walking on the water, making fish out of wine, listening to archangels in his head, threatening to kill whoever he is unwilling to “believe” in him, and venerate those ready to kill a child, if the boss says so.

Henri III and Henri IV were both assassinated by religious fanatics (after several dozens attempts!). Their crime? Pushing forcefully for a more civil society. For civilization.

Let’s remember that, next time we are told that a religion can be a civilization.

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Patrice Ayme

AUTHORITY FALLACY: From Physics & History.

April 24, 2011

 

FANTASY & CREDULITY HELP AUTHORITY ESTABLISH FASCISM. Examples From Religion & POPULAR PHYSICS:

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Main ideas: Oligarchies control the vast multitudes they subjugate by disintegrating their minds. They use the principle of authority to do so.

The Principle Of Authority Says That The Powers That Be Determine The Truth. There Is No Truth But Authority, And Authority Is Its Prophet. 

Make the wrong drawing, say the wrong word, you die. (Riddle of the day: do you know a great superstition still that way nowadays?) 

Minds fragmented by non sense, conditioned by the authority of appearances, and power, lack ability for the sharp logic, keen observation and self confidence necessary for  subversion and revolution.

To extinguish all and any revolt, oligarchies train the public to accept authority, even when it makes no sense, especially if it makes no sense. The love and expectation of authority is perfectly honed by training to obey it, at its most absurd, just for the heck of it. The best dictatorships rule by aura.  Get on your knees five times a day for starters, and dig your forehead in the dirt. That serves your masters well.

When absurdities are presented as facts by some of the best physicists, absurdity is taught, and that comforts authority, and thus the oligarchy. And it is taugght from up high, so it is extolled as The Way.

The same critique can be made against the philosophy of the absurd: it was comforting for the oligarchies to see a philosopher such as Sartre defending the notion that life made no sense, and ultimately, embracing the absurdity of Maoism. An absurd would-be revolution does not worry authority. Authority rules with change you can believe. So it makes the rest unbelievable.

Christ’s ardent viciousness is also exhibited. But so great was the control by politico-religious authority, that Christ was made the definition of love, while the Bible provided with the roaring fires of hell below, for those harboring some doubts. I put that sort of lack of integrity in the context of control by oligarchies.

Fascism without intellectual fascism would ruin the plutocracy, authority is its savior.

Alpha baboons lead the troop, because they acquired Authority. Authority makes the minds of the many into the one, the mind of the Authority. This is best for the military operations baboons conduct at least twice a day. When they have to drink. However the instinctual awe for, and love of, Authority (“intellectual fascism“) occults the creativity of intelligence.

Military operations ought to be abated nowadays, while the dictators (“commanders in chief”) which go with them, ought to be phased out. Miraculously, the rise of the Internet arrives just in time to eschew Authority, and, maybe, to bring up enough intelligence for primates to survive the increasing power of Means of Mass Destruction. (CO2 poisoning being the number one MMD exhibit, followed by the WMD such as nuclear weapons…)

Authority owns not just the physical property of the world, but its intellectual property, which it has instrumentalized as the ultimate weapon. Authority owns the minds. The most infamous example is how plutocracy made the world pay for plutocracy in the recent 2008 plutocratic crisis. Twice. even George Orwell did not think of that one, because it was too absurd. Unsurprisingly plutocracy has made it into a world religion that the cult of Authority pervades the planet.

Science ought to demonstrate, not just what is, but how intelligence got to know what it knows (that’s the difference between physics and engineering). There is a meta-message attached to the reality science depicts. The same is true for philosophy.

Authority loves to practice hiding absurdities in plain view, and making the children chase hose eggs. Nothing like doing it in physics. If you can do it in physics, you can do it anywhere. You can do it in finance.

Naivety can be taught, as any other mood, or method. So it is no accident that some widely advertized pieces of today’s physics are made of clay. Most of the justification they have is Authority. Therein their meta-message and importance. Truly what they teach is Authority: love it, and understand. Don’t love it, and be condemned as ignorant. I will try to demonstrate all that below.

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Abstract: The dictators had it easy in the past. By controlling a few individuals, heading a few organizations, they controlled the Main Stream Media (MSM).

For decades, the Assad dictatorship in Syria easily controlled all radio, TV, and newspapers. But now the Internet is becoming the MSM, and the smallest phone shoots video, allowing us to see fascism live, and in full.

This system extended in a worldwide plutocracy, where all was entangled, from universities to energy, health, military and finance companies. Bush destroyed Hussein, because he knew too much, and was not a player. Gaddafi re-affirmed his plutocratic credential as a player in the worldwide system, and was re-instated by the same Bush. (Bush, by the way, was not just a servant of plutocracy, such as Clinton, or Reagan, but is a full member of it, as was his father, and the one before that,  a manager of the industrial system that Auschwitz served.)

Smart phones would have stopped Auschwitz in its tracks, as even common Germans would have had to face their personal responsibility. They would have been unable to keep on hiding behind their deliberate, intricately constructed, ignorance buttressed by mental rigidity.

Thus, the Chinese dictatorship makes herculean efforts to control the Internet, employing at least 35,000 to do that. Type “Sarkozy” there, and you find nothing: Sarkozy, viewed from China, is a dangerous revolutionary.

The Chinese dictatorship can’t hide its hiding. In the USA control is achieved by direct plutocratic ownership of mass media, would-be dissidents get bought of, or ignored, or put in the world’s most extensive prison system (fundamentally, that’s not very different with the Chinese system, that’s why they are friends). The nature of information provided to the masses, and the mood with which it is served, is a refined art. Often the mood imposed through the media is more important than the hard data.

However, the rise of the Internet is now allowing knowledge to circulate directly without Authority’s authorization.

The Authority Principle says that authority knows best. There is no Authority but Authority, and Authority is its prophet. 

Authority is its own main message. In authoritative societies, the Authority Principle reigns supreme, and is best embodied by the concept of “god”, a creature defined as the ultimate authority, and that everybody has to respect all day long, to stay in good standing… relative, to, well, the authorities. And don’t insult god: it’s a great religion. If you do insult that great religion, the authorities, or their faithful dogs, will have you burned, lapidated, torn to pieces…

“Authority” comes from the Latin “auctoritas”, from “auctor “master, leader, author. The author becomesthe master. If there is just one author, there is only one master.  therein how intellectual fascism works.

Instead of letting the Authority stay the main message, the Internet makes the message itself the main interlocutor.

This is a fundamental change in the way in which to apprehend information. Instead of depending upon Big Brother for knowledge, and its moods, we are back to the precivilizational stage, when there was no Big Brother. In prehistory, individuals talked directly to individuals, and pointed at facts themselves.

Much of the advancement of civilization consist into succeeding to re-create many traits, and environmental circumstances, that millions of years of prehistory have bequeathed to us.

The Internet allows civilization to recoup in a good way, a precivilizational trait it had lost, when small human groups formed giant cities. That trait is mind to mind communications about things themselves, without going through the censorship and manipulation of Big Brother. Rousseau would have been proud.

Those chains Rousseau spoke of, were, indeed, first, mental. They exploited the fascist instinct, the abject thrill found in surrendering to a leader and joining the masses in frantic adulation, becoming one giant monster that nothing and nobody can resist. Power at last!

 

Fascism is known to the Germans as the Führerprinzip (venerated in Gaddafi, even in 2011!). Hitler, an avid reader of the occult, may have found it in the Qur’an, where it is explicitly stated in one efficient sentence, as  Qur’an S 4, v59,

The madness in these religions (Nazism was a religion, with millions of martyrs!) originated with the hyper violent Jesus Christ,  Jesus did not just invent anti-Judaism.

The mythical originator of Christianity. Christ is the one who started the fashion of burning those who believed differently: see for example the Bible, New Testament. John: 15:6: “If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.”

 

Well, OK, not really. Christ had predecessors. The Celts burned non Celts with gusto, and it is said that do did the Carthaginian plutocracy with the eldest sons (in tough times). The Roman republic outlawed both religions. 310 years after the plutocratic theocracy of the Druids was finally snuffed out by the legions off the welsh coast, the dictators of Rome found Christ’s injunction to burn people most convenient, and it was applied to books first.

Burning miscreants was the ultimate moral authority of Christianity.

During the Crusades, the Franks, professional soldiers with a ragged sense of humor, interpreted that order of Christ as a call to the culinary arts, and, respectfully abiding by a literal reading of Christ to eat the flesh of man (or god, whatever), they roasted and ate the natives. For some reason, the Muslims, who view Christ as a prophet, came to resent that logical application of Christian authority. Maybe they should do like the Franks did, and make Christ and other prophets an object of derision.

The Carolingian Franks legislated mandatory secular education by the all and any religious establishments, to the great rage of the Church authorities back in Rome. The oversight of superstitious authority by secular authority was the huge difference between the Merovingian Franks and the late, degenerated Romans.

Five centuries after the imposition of mandatory secular schooling by the Church, the European university system grew out of the “Cathedral schools”. The states (including the Carolingian created Vatican) entangled  themselves with the universities, as the Church disentangled itself.

Thereafter the professors were agents of innovation, occasionally, but, mostly, agents of the state, hiding below a veneer of independence.

This is why most of the innovative great thinkers, in the following centuries, were not university professors, but amateurs (from the word “amor”).

Thanks to the Internet, we are back in a situation where great thinking go directly from people to people, without being filtered profitably by the Authority of the state.

The servants of the state know many pernicious ways: after all, they got up high because they had smarts (hereditary smarts in the case of the children of Assad or the children of Qaddafi, or the late Hussein).

Respect for Authority is why, when they evoke the Mideast and North Africa, the American authorities, those servants of American plutocracy, never fail to sing the praises of Islam (and that means implicitly the praises of Salafism, as found in the friendly Saudi Arabian, or Yemeni governments). If it’s such a great religion, why don’t they have it at home, in the USA, too, ruling things? (As Hitler wished would have happened in Germany!)

Science ought to be the celebration of the ultimate triumphs of reason. As science crushes the ignorance of the past, it exemplifies the rule of stupidity, how unjustified it was, and how good it is to throw it down. Thus progress in science is the enemy of authority, and intellectual fascism.

Thus science in full, just as philosophy in full, or thinking in full, is the enemy of the established order, oligarchies, and plutocracy. Science, philosophy and thinking are the friends of revolution, and mental explosions.

To bring reason down to manageable size, Authority loves to confuse the public about what is science, and what is fantasy.  If people conflate one with the other, they will not know how to reason correctly, and the authorities can coral their thoughts like sheep.

Here I focus on three examples given as hard core science, although they are nothing but.: “The First Three Minutes”, “Cosmic Inflation”, and the so called “Multiverse”, the latter previously known as the Many-Worlds Interpretation Of Quantum Mechanics are soft science fantasy.

When those pseudo scientific noises will be found to be false and naïve, the public will have less respect for science, than they otherwise would have. Authority and the attached plutocracy will love that.

A related tactic was followed to make the public believe that there was no problem with the rising levels of CO2 and CO2 equivalent gases. Agents of the fossil fuel industries made it so that scientist were believed to be manipulating liars.

In the case of “The First Three Minutes”, “Cosmic Inflation”, and the so called “Multiverse”, physicists do it to themselves. That, of course makes those big fables wildly popular with Authority.

 

Respect for authority is in total contrast with the irreverent attitude of Richard Feynman. Feynman found ideas (“sum over histories”, “Feynman diagrams“) which have proven very deep (don’t let the fact that Feynman had to share his Nobel prize fool you).

Feynman carried with him a total lack of respect for Authority (in private conversation, Feynman did not take  “The First Three Minutes”, “Cosmic Inflation”, and the “Multiverse” seriously; he is not the only one that way: so did Zumino, a founder of SUSY, who marveled at the naivety of Weinberg and other Nobel level physicist writing books of fables). Irreverence is precisely why Feynman was able to be so deep.

Those who are truly for the advancement of thinking will rejoice that the Internet now allows to short circuit, and hopefully fry, Authority itself. Irreverence is not a luxury anymore, and only irreverence will save us all.

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THE AUTHORITY FALLACY, OR THE VALIDATION OF IDEAS BY POWER:

Some theories often brandished in the public eye as facts are truly deranged. And not just in finance and economics. At least. there, it is obvious that plutocracy has interest to make people believe in lies, so that they can be fleece. Careful propaganda has made all Europeans and Americans into sheep that way. They overlooked Iceland, though, and that may turn into their Achilles’ heel.

But why would plutocracy have interest to make propaganda for physics which is not truly physics? Because plutocracy  is more subtle than those it rules. It knows quite well that it is easier to rule over the stupid, and hard to overrule the intelligent.

So it is important to teach naivety and credulity, and the way to do that is to teach absurdities, and make people learn to take them for the truth. Now, of course, one can do so by unreal “reality shows”. But that is for the rabble. The case of the upper middle class has still to be addressed. Fables passing as physics is best for those.

Some will object that here I lend more credence to the intelligence of plutocracy than it has. Well, yes and no. Any conscious plot is preceded by conspiracies inside the mind itself, where parts of the mind talk to others through feelings, and that happens with groups of minds too (Carl Jung studied this sort of things).

Hence the popularity of absurdities. They go from deep idiocy, such as with the “Multiverse Theory“, a contradictio in adjecto, to milder forms such as the “First Three Minutes“, or “Cosmic Inflation“. Those theories are worse than selling the proverbial snake oil. After all, snakes exist. Whereas the preceding three concepts, generally presented as established facts, are as far removed from facts as can be. The “Multiverse Theory“, the “First Three Minutes“, and “Cosmic Inflation“, are blatant fantasies about things which not only do not exist, but are  of the self contradictory type, as I will show.

Science should be the high temple of reason, and conflating it with the great unwashed is pretty dirty.

The conflation of insanity and reality in physics is a particularly egregious abuse of the Authority Fallacy. The Authority Fallacy consists into accepting that the pedigree of those who present an idea, or the pedigree of an idea, is more important than the idea itself. (Pedigree comes from the French “pied de grue”, a long stem with a widespread branching at the foot.) For example, whatever Christ says, it’s got to be good and true. Because Christ said it, and Christ, by definition is the Authority in matters of good and true. Or whatever a Nobel prize says, it’s got to be true, because he got the Nobel. More subtly, this extends to behaviors, and ideas themselves. For example, because the wise is cool, an authoritative behavior, to be cool is wise. Thus the president of the USA stays cool while reactionary idiots walk all over him, and feels wisdom pervading.

The economic establishment has authority, except in Iceland, and thus Icelanders have seen that they should not pay for others. Whereas in cities where financiers show their expensive suits, the public has been so impressed by this exhibition of wealth, that they find normal to give money to the richest.

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MULTIVERSE & INFLATION:  SPONTANEOUS CREATION OF ALL, ALL THE TIME, EVERYWHERE:

The fundamental questions in physics are: what happened, what could happen? We have the same questions in many other fields of thought, such as history, economics, finance, politics, sociology, etc. Physics though concentrates on the most fundamental processes of nature, so it is foundations to the rest, in all sorts of ways. Get that one wrong, and one will tend to get the rest wrong. For example the multiverse theory says that, for any version of the universe, there is another one were the same is not the same. Accept this, and nothing is the matter.

The most fundamental theory of physics is Quantum Mechanics (QM). The foundations of QM have been a riddle ever since Max Planck got it started in 1900 CE. Planck was very cautious, Einstein, five years later, much bolder (see the note on Einstein and the Photon).

For a number of reasons, some of which are below, QM looked so much out of this world that desperate attempts have been made to make sense of it.

A proposed “solution” to the riddle of QM is the so called multiverse (aka multi-universe interpretation of QM). That was dreamed up by a student of Wheeler, Everett (Feynman was also a student of Wheeler).

The multiverse answer is that, whatever it is, it happened in one universe, and it did not happen, in another universe. Yes, that sounds crazy, and it is. You read that crazy sentence correctly: whatever it is, it is not too, somewhere else. Big advance. Sounds like American politics: nothing is real, anything goes.

And this non-existent existence is not always a matter of finite choice. In a 2 slit experiment, the most perplexing experiment in physics, an infinity of universes will be created, according to the multiverse mania, each time a photon, or any particle, goes through. As particles interfere all the time, all over the place, universes are created all the time, all over..

In other words, if one wants a proof of the insanity of some of today’s physicists, the multiverse is all we need. According to this spasm of the mind, during every single, smallest amount of time imaginable,  an uncountable infinity of universes appear. Creation of universes is all over, everywhere, all the time. Even at the height of the craziness of the craziest during the hallucinogenic 1960s, nobody lost it that bad, short of going to the slammer.

OK, the inflationary universe has the same problem, and thus is about as insane.  The idea of inflation is an ad hoc field (thus force) to reconcile the intuition of the “Big Bang” with observed facts (without inflation, the observed universe is too big, and too smooth, to have expanded in 14 billion years). The drawback is that, just as with the multiverse hypothesis, the inflation hypothesis makes universes appear out of nowhere, any time, anyhow. Like the Chinese and American plutocracies, that’s why these theories love each other.

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SILLINESS MASQUERADING AS SCIENCE

Science is inspirational, not just because it is knowledge, but because it also leads to new models of thought. That works best when it is real science (although science fiction, or history fiction can work a bit that way).

Conversely, the love of authority, naivety, credulity, and general lack of mental seriousness can be also be taught, by conditioning people to believe the unbelievable. It is no coincidence that a particular American sense of humor belittles reason, and the self as author (thus reinforcing Big Brother as author).

Some science fantasy masquerading as science emanates from some of the very best (Weinberg, Hawking, Guth, etc.) Worse: some “real” science rests on it!

That conflation of fantasy and reality was alien to the prolific writer Isaac Asimov, a university professor of chemist who was very careful to distinguish science from his (excellent) science-fiction.

Confusing fantasy and reality can only have a deleterious effect on the popular imagination, let alone common sense. The hysteria against nuclear energy while burning 450 million years of radioactive, heavy metal laced, atmosphere devouring coal is an effect of this inability to think in an organized manner (an hysteria that crafty nuclear and coal operators have abused).

***

IN THE BEGINNING, THERE COULD HAVE BEEN NO TIME:

A case in point is “The First Three Minutes”. Somehow, those “minutes” have become central to elementary particles physics, aka, Grand Unified Theory, aka Quantum Field Theory. The whole field will suffer a set-back in popular esteem when people realize that, after all, in the beginning, nobody could have been there to keep time. Indeed, how does one keep time, when there is no time keeper?

In the abstract, one keeps time with a light clock. This is the conceptual instant where space and time get mixed: one measures time by using light, and distance. Here is Special Relativity in its conceptual nutshell!

In a light clock, light bounces between two mirrors, and one counts the bounces. That time comes from light clocks is why time slows down in a high gravitational field: orient the clock so that light is parallel to the gravitational field: when light climbs up in the field, it will go ever more slowly as the gravitational field gets stronger (if the field is so strong that light cannot get up, you have got a black hole).

But of course to have a light clock, one needs mirrors, that is matter of some sort. But, early in the universe, that Big Bang theorists describe, there were no baryons, thus no walls. There were also no atoms and particles, so one cannot take refuge behind some spontaneous decay to measure time. 

As there was no way to measure time, I say there was no time. Exit “The First Three Minutes”.

***

AUTHORITATIVE PHYSICISTS, GOD, & PARTICLE?

A number of physics Nobel Prize winners wrote about a “God Particle”. Maybe  they take themselves for god. After all, that is what god is for (under Gaddafi, god reigns in Libya too).

There is only one problem: not only has nobody has seen god, but neither has anybody seen “his” particle. The gentlemen physicist were actually alluding to the so called “Higgs” particle, which is supposed to somehow confer mass to particles, sometimes after the Big Bang. OK, some Nobel guys were just trying to sell books.

In 2008, Professor Hawking suggested that it would be “more exciting” if the experiment at CERN did not find the “God particle”.

That will show something is wrong, and we will need to think again.”

Professor Higgs, one of six who postulated the existence of the particle 47 years ago, reacted with irritation. (hey, there would his Nobel go!): “I have to confess I haven’t read the paper in which Stephen Hawking makes this claim. But I have read one he wrote, which I think is the basis for the kind of calculation he does. And frankly I don’t think the way he does it is good enough… he puts together theories in particle physics with gravity . . . in a way which no theoretical particle physicist would believe is the correct theory. From a particle physics, quantum theory point of view, you have to put a lot more than just gravity into the theory to have a consistent theory and I don’t think Stephen has done that. I am very doubtful about his calculations.

The truth is that physicists are at sea. Nothing wrong with that, as long as they admit it. Many do. Feynman was good at admitting ignorance, especially if all shared it with him.

Those who don’t admit their ignorance, are only fooling the public (which finance them). They deliberately confuse fantasy, and, or, wild guesses with science, a serious ethical breach. In turn it implies a cognitive dissonance in the masses. If one has accepted that an infinity of universes is created in a split instant, then one is certainly ready to believe that the fractional private-public reserve system enriches the public.

Hawking’s fame is from one simple, strong idea nobody thought of before. That’s good, that’s the best (as the super mathematician David Hilbert pointed out in mathematics).

Here is Hawking’s main idea. Quantum Field Theory more or less knows experimentally to some extent, and then postulates generally, that the vacuum is teeming with particle-anti-particle pairs. Hawking observed that if one element of a pair fell into a Black Hole, the other would become a real particle and escape, and that would show up as radiation. So Black Holes would radiate (and small ones evaporate with a bang).

Simple ideas are strong. Over-complex ideas expose themselves to fallacy, because if one link in the logical chains they constitute fail, so do they.

Science is not just amazing, it is the essence of our society. Our society will grow, live, and die with our science. Science is harder to escape than a Black Hole. however, if we take good care of our science, it will go on forever, and so will intelligent life from Earth.

There is enough real science out there to not need to conflate it with fantasy. Abusing the public with non sense is no way to instill long term awe for reason.

***

ANY MULTIVERSE IS A UNIVERSE (oops):

The multiverse is particularly galling, as the ultimate outrage to the principle of not adding superfluous hypotheses (that principle is called “Occam’s Razor”, although Occam was far from the first to brandish it). Civilization class physicists such as Newton (“I don’t find hypotheses”) and Laplace (“I don’t need that hypothesis”… speaking of god), would have been baffled by the absurdity of the multiverse, and that proclaimed top thinkers worship it like others the Golden Calf.

The multiverse hypothesis adds universes, and even a continuum of superfluous universes, in each instance of the most fundamental process.  Basically the multiverse says that anything goes, that one keeps one’s cake intact, as long as one eats it. Thinkers of the Middle Ages would have sneered. The medieval thinkers used to worry a lot about general questions, of the type god was supposed to worry about. They would have had the following objection:

A moment of philosophical reflection shows how self contradicting this multiverse is. Indeed, the union of all multiverses itself constitute a universe. What the naïve partisans of the multiverse are then saying is that all and any fundamental process has all potential consequences, for real.

***

HOW QUANTUM MECHANICS MADE SOME PHYSICISTS SCHIZOPHRENIC:

Schizophrenia means “splitting of the mind”. The multiverse theory splits not just minds, but universe, as needed, and that is for each and any fundamental process. The multiverse is the ultimate schizophrenia.

So, if it is sheer insanity of the ultimate type, why are there partisans of the multiverse? And why are they so desperate? Out of hubris. Denied. Extreme hubris. Extremely denied. On the face of it, it is clear that Quantum mechanics is incomplete, as I am going to show. Instead of admitting that, and moving on modestly, conventional theoretical physicists have maintained that Quantum Mechanics is the one and only best Mechanics possible. Why? Because they are all-knowing. even rigorous mathematicians got ruined by the same madness: Von Neumann produced a bogus proof that: “Only QM is QM, and QM is its prophet.”  (Namely only QM could explain QM.) It should have been seen as obviously false, as de Broglie had a competitive theory, and as the EPR thought experiment showed that QM conflicted with locality. Instead it was seen as deep.

Why is Quantum mechanics incomplete?

1) Although Quantum Mechanics is the most precise theory, it seems observer dependent. This is embodied by the Schrodinger Cat thought experiment (truly an original idea of Einstein in correspondence with Schrodinger; a lot of De Broglie’s work was also attributed to Schrodinger).

From the point of view of an observer outside of the cat box, the Quantum mechanical description is a mixture of dead and live cat. Intuitively though, even an educated peasant from Middle Age Russia knows that cats are either dead or alive, and not a mix, so Quantum mechanics is incomplete. However, a moment’s reflection shows that, from outside the box, the cat is neither dead or alive. We just don’t know what it is. So the dependency of QM upon context is not that mysterious. That’s fine. But to claim that it is the best knowledge possible, as many QM specialists are wont to do, is absurd.

2) In truth, QM is geometrical-context dependent (the geometry being from functional analysis, not just the usual n-dimensional spaces the public is familiar with). Somehow, fundamental processes are able to apprehend the cosmic immensity at their disposal through space and time (that’s best depicted by Feynman’s “Sum Over Histories”).

How this happens is not under-stood. Not at all understood (although I have my own theory, glimpses of which are found in my various essays). Many physicists got ‘headaches’  from the situation (as a well known physicist told me once).

Quantum Computer engineers don’t have the luxury to indulge in headaches, and they are trying to master the subject. Standard physics was found way short of the needed precisions; suddenly the obscure, sometimes metaphysical debate on the nature of Quantum Mechanics held in 1920s and 1930s, have become very practical.

Quantum engineers had to re-label some of the classical terms: the “collapse of the wave packet” has became “decoherence”, for example. The notion of “Collapse” was all too attached to the foundational quarrels of the 1920s to 1950s, which ended with some name calling of Einstein and the like. Moreover, we “decoherence” is highly practical, and a more general notion than “collapse”. Stray photons have been found to be a major source of collapse.  Penrose and (now) Hawking have advertized a theory of a trio of Italians, that gravitation causes collapse. [In my own theory collapse can be caused by all the preceding, obviously, but also by entanglement collapse, of course, and stray matter fields. Moreover, the collapse is not instantaneous, but proceeds at an extremely high speed (more than ten billion times c).]

3) How fundamental processes go from the “in flight” Quantum Mechanical description of entangled time evolving probability waves to the end result of the process, a definite state (mathematically a “eigenstate”), is not part of Quantum Mechanics. This “collapse of the wave packet” is part of nothing at all. So here we have a physical theory which goes from something all over the place, to something else completely different in one (often tiny) locale, refusing to imagine anything in between, while claiming to be the final say. It leaves one queasy, all the more since theories such as De Broglie (-Bohm) or mine are readily imaginable.

Now remember many physicists want to be all-knowing. Therein the power.

The multiverse approach “solves” one problem of QM by saying there is no collapse, because all possibilities (“eigenstates”) occur in universes, one universe for all and each eigenstate. It sweeps the collapse under a countable or uncountable infinity of universes.

the absurdity of it all is colossal. Suppose you drive through town at 200 km/h. I doubt that the judge will be impressed if a physicist grandly declares that she was in a parallel universe. On the other hand, I must admit, high finance is definitively in a parallel universe, and all too many people accept that.

***

THE CREDIBILITY OF CREDULITY WITH AUTHORITY:

Much is made by Authority, and various oligarchies, with the credibility of credentials. Since it is Authority which attributes credentials, it is  tidy arrangement. For example the Federal Reserve bank is full of people with a high degree of credibility, and high credentials. That allows to give lend trillions to crooks, no questions asked. The survival of ATMs was at stake, they say, and people accepted that incredibly stupid statement, because big governments have big Authority.

In Iceland, the government is not big, and close to the 230,000 voters. So the (corrupt, as they all are) government was unable to hypnotize taxpayers into paying for plutocrats they have never met, never had any business with, and they owed absolutely nothing to. Remarkably this common sense has escaped most Europeans and Americans so far, and those serfs keep on serving plutocrats they have never met, never had any business with, and they owe absolutely nothing to, and are richer than ever. This apparently will go on, and people will work to make plutocrats ever more powerful. Until the plutocrats capture the last civil liberties.

Being sure that the universe was created out of nothing is an absurdity similar to being sure that the economy was created by plutocrats, and they have to be saved, and served, lest the economic universe collapses.

***

BIG BANG REASONING, PLAYING ALL TOO FAST WITH FACTS:

Here is an example of what I am talking about. I listened to the Hawking’s presentation as found in “Learning From Dogs”. (Hawking is admirable, be it only in the tenacity with which his indomitable spirit fights his terrible disease, a form of ALS; I met him a few times, long ago, and I was already awed by his courage… He has the world’s survival record for ALS. maybe the spirit of curiosity sustains him, a good lesson for those who claim that curiosity has no survival value!)

I agree with Hawking’s observations about life, and civilization, in the last two parts of that speech. It’s clear life started very fast on Earth, as he says. (It’s all the more remarkable because the collision which created the Moon happened after 50 million years or so, and would have melted the Earth. Because of this and the cooling from the outside, it seems likely, at this point, that Earth’s life started on… Mars. Ejecta can reach Earth, staying mild enough inside for even (some) bacterial survival.)

The first part of Hawking talk about the evolution of the universe is well done, and much of what he says is known to be correct. However, hidden inside Hawking’s authoritative delivery, are invented assertions presented as facts. The fact that they are commonly made does not excuse them.

Hawking claims that we know the laws of evolution of the universe, and he evokes Maxwell (that is electromagnetic theory, known to be 100% correct under known conditions, which include QED), and Einstein’s Theory of Gravitation (ETG, aka GR). The latter works splendidly in Low Earth Orbit (GPS). But that proves nothing, because its success in LEO is attributable to bits and pieces of GR, not the whole thing. Those bits and pieces have more to do with energy conservation, and are pretty certain, and not implied by the controversial parts, which they therefore do not prove in any sense.

The evolution of the universe is supposedly guided by the Einstein equation, gravitationally speaking. That is partly derived from first principles, such as “Newton’s” gravitational law (in turn deduced first in an analogy with light, by a French priest… As Newton himself declared).

A serious problem is that the Einstein equation is determined only up to the so called “Cosmological Constant”, which cannot be guessed from first principles (the Cosmological Constant drove Einstein a bit nuts; first he used it to make a static universe; then, as the universe was revealed non static by Hubble and his colleagues, Einstein called the CC his “greatest blunder“… And had he lived until recently, he would no doubt have changed his mind again!)

What invalidates Hawking’s certainty about the evolution of the universe is that the CC is turning out to be non zero. If we don’t know the evolution equation, how can we know the evolution? This is an argument that anybody can understand, as long as they are not paid to not understand it.

The speed of expansion of the universe is apparently increasing. Nobody knows why. This casts a doubt even on the 15 billion years universe: if the universe can accelerate, why could not it brake?  Just insinuating…

Another thing Hawking does not insist on is that it is QFT, Quantum Field Theory, or more exactly its specialization known as the “Standard Model“, which drives the theory of the early universe.

To say that it is only electromagnetism and gravitation which drive the universe is to hark back to the 1920s (by the 1930s, QED had appeared, and physicists decided Einstein was a pet dinosaur, as Einstein himself observed!) But the SM is clearly a work in progress, which may pretty well collapse soon if the LHC in Geneva does not find the so called “Higgs”, soon. Hawking knows well that there are huge problems with the SM (see above!) But “The Brief History of Time” depends upon ignoring these problems. Otherwise it would become the “Obscure History Of Time”, and it won’t sell as many books.

“Cosmic Inflation” rests on another imaginary particle, the inflaton”. That imaginary thing is why Hawking claims to be sure that the universe is created out of nothing. Sure to have made it up, I agree. I guess that, if the “Higgs” is not found, even standard physicists are going to have doubts about many of their certainties, and their cosmic cognition will deflate. They will acquire a negative cosmological constant of known origin…

Another point: Hawking claims that time acts like space in extreme conditions. As far as I know, that’s another fast one. QFT physicists make computations that way, and the results fit observation, but that does not prove that this mathematical artifice (“imaginary time”) rests on anything real. It is philosophically unacceptable: it forcefully turns spacetime, a Finsler manifold, into a Riemannian manifold, just because the mathematics of the former are unmanageable (it reminds me of drunks searching for keys only where they can see).

Hawking conflate what is known for sure (say about life) and the great unknown (all that Big bang stuff).

We know that life started very fast on Earth, but we do not know what was going on 15 billion years ago, or what drove it. We don’t even know if Newton’s law of gravitation is correct, in first order, at a large scale, right now (apparently, it’s not, since the CC seems non zero!)

In truth we know all too little to speak authoritatively about the Big Bang. We don’t even know the dimensionality of the universe. (A problem string theory has advertized, but which is all over fundamental physics; for all we know, the universe could have dynamic, irrational dimensions)

We don’t even know the TOPOLOGY of the universe! All of conventional mathematics rest on what is known as Hausdorff spaces, spaces where points are separated. Our real number system is like that. However, so far, Quantum Mechanics describes a dynamic NON Hausdorff universe (that is a way to interpret the EPR experiment, non locality).

Thus, Hawking certainty about space is, to say the least, premature. And he is not the only one. Thousands of Big Bangists out there are even more sure.

***

ROTTED BY THE HEAD:

There is plenty of room for fantasy and wild guesses in physics. Imagination is  necessary to progress. Simply, flights of fancy, and wishful thinking should be presented as such. One of the interests of studying science and broadcasting it, OUGHT TO BE teaching how to learn to discern the difference between fantasy and reality. This is a skill society needs to become much better at. it is the opposite of the authority principle.

How come those famous people can get away with presenting as facts somewhat insane ideas? We have a paradigm here: Some (previously) very respected physics Nobel prizes not only got their Nobel prizes well before Einstein, but they were member of the Nazi party before Hitler. Their top accreditations did not make their physics any less insane. (Lenard denounced “Jewish physics”.)

Egomania is not reserved to Donald Trump. Nor is it only profitable to him.

Ever since civilization exist, a priestly class has always tended to rule, in collaboration with the military and the wealthy.  (This observation was made earlier by Nietzsche, the French Revolution of 1789, Henry VIII, and the Franks themselves; the practice of state religion was enforced by Theodosius, and earlier, Constantine, following earlier, and just as fierce practices by the Roman republic, and Athens; Socrates was initially prosecuted on the charge of calumny against (the) god(s).) 

In India, the Brahmin class ruled for 35 centuries, knew how valuable the class system was, and imparted that notion on the rabble. (The much revered Gandhi himself embraced it, although he did not agree about the Untouchables.)

Who are the priests? Those who know. As knowledge has grown, the scientists themselves were drafted by the established order into the priesthood, as long as they thought correctly. By denaturing the harshness of the scientific inquiry, scientists, like the priests, teach submission. Let me give a few examples.

***

HELIOCENTRISM WAS OBVIOUS, THUS SUBVERSIVE:

Aristarchus of Samos suggested, around 300 BCE, that the sun turned around the earth. That’s what Archimedes said. Some objections were raised, but they would have been easy to overrule. The reasoning of Aristarchus was not preserved  (why would the fascists preserve revolutionary thoughts?)

However, it’s easy to guess what Aristarchus thought. The Greeks had computed the size of the Earth (very precisely). By the angles the sun made at noon in different places in Egypt and Greece. From this, observing the shadow of the earth on the moon, they computed the  distance of the moon. Then, observing the angle of the (terminus of the) sunlight on the moon, when the moon was at the same distance to the sun, as the earth, they got a lower bound of the distance of the sun. That angle is hard to observe, so they underestimated the distance of the sun. however, it was clear that the sun was enormous. one could then argue that it would make more sense that the Earth turned around itself at 1,000 miles an hour, than the sun around the Earth at 20 million miles an hour. (It’s known that rotation speeds were invoked.)

So how come the heliocentric theory was not developed? Well, around 320 BCE, freedom was collapsing: the Athenian plutocracy allied itself with the Macedonian dictatorship, while Rome took over Syracuse (killing Archimedes in passing).

After this, it was pretty much plutocracy uninterrupted until the USA became independent, and the Terror reigned over France. OK, there were times when the plutocracies got beaten back. And plutocracy was sometimes self consciously favorable to the advancement of knowledge (the Franks were this way, from the 6C onwards, through queen Bathilde, Charlemagne, king and emperor Charles The Bald.)  

Researching, debating and establishing the heliocentric theory would have been too revolutionary for the political powers that be, in Macedonia, Rome, Ptolemaic Egypt,  and, a fortiori fanatical Catholic Rome. Maybe some youth got the idea… But it was certainly not encouraged by their professors. In antiquity, professors were entangled with power. (That was even worse in China.)

By contrast, the empire of the Franks was deeply revolutionary. It imposed a lot of notions which became common place later: mandatory education, the secularly, state controlled Church, nationalization thereof, outlawing slavery. Moreover Roman notions such as universal citizenship, ethnic and religious tolerance were reinstated.

When the Church went for its second power grab, after the First Crusade, top intellectuals of the Franks’ works were outlawed (= “put at the index“)by the Vatican (=”Papal States”), and the dark conspiracy that extended it, the inquisition..  

***

 

REVOLUTIONARIES DO NOT GET SUBSIDIZED OFTEN:

Under the Franks, top intellectuals were brought from all over Europe (including Britain: Alcuin!), and paid by the court, in a desperate effort to relaunch civilization. In a way, Rome had started this, and so it was in China. The difference was that the thinkers at the center of empire of the Franks were revolutionary, whereas in rome and China, they just reinforced the authority of the state, or, more exactly, of the plutocracy.

(Although the leaders of the Franks were very wealthy, with properties all around Europe, the equalitarian succession laws of the Franks insured that the wealth was spread around; this has been misunderstood by historian as a state of degeneracy, because no strong man owned the whole thing. Even Charlemagne lived very modestly for a Roman emperor of nearly all of Europe. No emperor, ever, in the history of humanity, spent as much time at the head of his army, on the battlefield. even more than Genghis Khan!) 

Most top thinkers of the scientific revolution in the 17C were not respected tenured professors at the university (although Galileo and Newton were, not so for Kepler, Bruno, Descartes, Fermat, Pascal, Leibnitz…). The pattern was renewed in the 18 C, and 19C (although by then more were university professors, Nietzsche, judged too extreme, was asked to resigned).

Direct, or indirect patronage by enlightened plutocrats was often present. Thus Huyghens was financed by Louis XIV through the French Academy, Descartes by the Queen of Sweden, Voltaire by Frederik of Prussia (and Nietzsche by a wealthy widow).

We have no historical distanciation to judge what’s going on now, and find out if deep thought is thriving, or everybody is getting big banged, by superficial thinking where it matters most. Indeed, most of science, although progressing quickly, is on automatic, as the singularity approaches….

***

INTELLECTUAL AUTHORITY IN ROME:

Under the Antonine emperors, in the Second Century of the Roman Principate, which Gibbons saw, erroneously, as the summum of civilization, intellectuals of the right type stood on a pinnacle of money and power. The intellectual establishment, mostly Greek, had been captured by Greco-Roman plutocracy. Intellectuals could get immensely rich, and it would run in families. In exchange, when they gave their expensive talks, they exalted the strong medicine of Greco-Roman imperial plutocratic ideology. Their basic message was that Rome was the best of all possible worlds

Intellectuals then  were the equivalent of Bill Clinton today: immensely respected, corrupt to the core. Some will say: not so, where is the emperor? But a refined knowledge of the Roman empire showed that it was truly a plutocracy. The richest would meet, the emperors among them, and, generally, the atmosphere was collegial at dinner: the plutocrats would speak about “us”. And one of these “us” was the emperor, the “Princeps”, the “First”, the plutocracy’s president, so to speak. Seeing Rome in this light, it sounds like a prototype of the system we have today, complete with the daughter of the future Chinese dictator president at Harvard, protected by the secret services.

Aelius Aristides’s begged to differ discreetly, in front of the whole imperial court. he observed something felt wrong, but he could not tell what. By then the plutocracy was so strong that even the emperor, M. Aurelius, could not find enough funds to fight a war on the Danube which was a matter of survival for Rome. The rich was refusing taxation. It was a rotten situation, but intellectuals, instead of observing, and denouncing, were careful not to say much, and they milked the system like hedge fund managers, making billions.

The oligarchies are now entangled in such a manner that only Icelanders have not been properly vetted. Elsewhere, it’s all about credentials.

***

CREDENTIALS AS COMMAND AND CONTROL:

As far as accreditation system is concerned, I will refer to the PhDs of Qaddafi’s eight children, and the numerous professors at Harvard on Qaddafi’s payroll. Does that mean that Harvard was accredited by Qaddafi? And the London School of economics too? Where does it stop?

Speaking of Harvard, what about Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations”, of an incredibly low scholarly level? (In it, Huntington evokes the Sino-Muslim civilization, a grotesque concept for whom know either!)

 The movie “Ghostwriter” sums it well. There Harvard is presented as churning well programmed heads of states. Surely a joke, isn’t?

I am quite familiar with academia, and I think too much credit is given, quite often.

QM, however impressive, is no deal. Authority does not like this about QM. The multiverse theory is a desperate attempt to make Quantum mechanics into an authoritative, complete discourse, like the Bible, or the Qur’an. It is a scheme to eschew the mystery of the non existence of a detailed mechanism of wave packet collapse. [Ironically I was once punished on a “philosophy” site for saying that QM was a live subject of research; I never went back to that site, which has academic pretentions: they told me that they checked with physics professors that QM was a done deal, and therefore I was ignorant…]

***

CONCLUSION: AUTHORITY COMMANDS, HOWEVER,COMMANDING IS NOT THINKING:

The Authority Fallacy  is that thinking is validated by Authority. But Authority is no ersatz for the truth. In truth, thinking is only validated by the truth. The truth is what’s left, after the rest has been proven to be false.

The truth is only reached through debate. Truth is not god given, that is, authority given. Accepting authority as valid thinking is the essence of intellectual fascism; a few ideas lead, and all follows. No thought but repetition, and authority is its prophet. the analogy with some well known superstition is no coincidence.

Thinking creatively is fundamentally about disobedience, about breaking pre-existing order. Humans have to learn to expect thoughts to stand on their own, independently of Authority. Some rebels in Libya have hit on that idea:”Don’t try to define us, we do not know who we are!”

Science is knowledge, but science is also a set of methods to acquire knowledge, and that should include the admission of what we don’t know, also known as rational humility.

The history of science shows that the best minds come short, and we need more than them. We need the truth, and only the many, thinking deep, and vigorously, can bring that, thanks to withering critique.

Democracy is not just necessary to achieve fairness, but also to reach superior intelligence. And both will improve through the democratic debate (isegoria).

Indeed, full democracy is not just one man, one vote. Full democracy includes isegoria, the right to equal speech. for the first time since the Athenian national assembly, the Internet allows this, now for the billions out there.

For oligarchic, and technological reasons, civilization had lost isegoria in the last 24 centuries. But it can be regained now. thanks to the Internet.

Deep debates can now happen on a planetary basis, without the filtering of plutocratic authority. And not just in philosophy, politics, and economics, but also in engineering and, more generally, all over science.

A god example is the Fukushima nuclear disaster; a democratic debate could easily have avoided it. The natural question would have been: what would happen if a 42 meters tsunami hit it? Obvious answer: at the very least, evacuation of Tokyo. Forever. Fortunately the wave was only 15 meters at Fukushima, and 42 meters somewhere else.   (Looking forward one can question what would happen if oil got in the cooling system of a nuclear plant; just like at Fukushima, easy counter-measures can be taken, but have they?)

More generally dangers from technological choices ought to be vigorously debated: many vulnerable regions are awfully ill prepared for quakes. Looming over it all, the unparallel catastrophe of CO2 planetary engineering, has been completely turned off by the plutocracy in the USA (huge money was spent in creating fake authorities which imposed the view that there was no CO2 problem, and most Americans, and even Europeans, came to believe that in the last two years!)

Not only, most scientists are directly financed by the public, but, whether we like it or not, or civilization is a giant science experiment. And the only sure thing is that if we let it run its course unsupervised, it will blow up…

The time has definitively come to leave the way of life, and thought, of the baboons, well behind.

It is not going to be easy: group thinking is a deep instinct. The authority principle and intellectual, or group fascism are just aspects of it. So is hostility to those who do not belong.

Careful recent studies on monkeys exhibit the instinct of forming a group, and hating the rest. Don’t hate monkeys, our ancestors; their was no other way they could have been, that’s the Dark Side of natural selection. This aggressive group instinct was necessary because monkeys are so good, and would have been otherwise defenseless.

 

That violent and nasty group instinct is both the cause (with the mathematics of capital), and the mechanism which leads to plutocracy, and often to racism and war, as it is best implemented with its specialization, the fascist instinct  (the instinct to focus the mind of the many on combat as one).

We cannot just do like Chinese philosophers of old, and decree that man is good, or that man is bad, and that there is nothing to do, but obey Authority. Authority is not bright enough. And badness starts with thinking wrong.

In his latest book (2010), in a major change, Stephen Hawking recognizes tentatively that it does not make sense to speak of time in the early universe (so he diverged from his old, and still widely accepted official sing-song). He does not give detailed reasons as I do above, though.

Progress in intellectual honesty ought to be encouraged, so I congratulate him. Science has to show the way of basic integrity. Nothing else can do it as well, short of a parent’s love for a child

***

Patrice Ayme

***

Note on the photoelectric effect: Einstein, a non-authority before 1906, became a supreme authority after British scientists verified that the sun grazing light was deviated by twice what Newton’s theory predicted. Thus Einstein’s reasoning about the existence of the Photon is beyond any suspicion (all the more since Einstein got the Nobel Prize for the Photon in 1921).

Waxing lyrical on the photoelectric effect, Einstein had proclaimed “heuristically” the concept of “photon”, which became the paradigm of conceptual particle creation, thereafter. Einstein observed that it look as if electromagnetic energy was not just emitted in lumps, but also received in lumps, thus, travelled as a lump; beautiful logic, but Plank, who was Einstein’s door to fame, was unimpressed on that point. Einstein’s jumped to the implicit conclusion, that the photon is a lump. That authoritative opinion was repeated ever since, as there is no physics, but physics, and Einstein is its prophet. This is well in keeping with the opinion that physics is local, an opinion justified before QM, but false ever since. I am personally guessing that the Photon does not travel as a lump, but as what space is made of.

***

QM is the most precise theory we have, but it’s most certainly false or crazy as Newton basically said about his own theory of gravitation, and pretty much for the same reasons…

In any case QM got no traction with the Quantum computer, so far. To say the least, many questions have been found to not be answered… 

Heuristically yours.

Nationalism, Superstition, Greed: Violins Of Evil.

February 27, 2010

 

HEAPING SCORN ON NATIONALISM, SUPERSTITION AND GREED IS A MORAL ABSOLUTE.

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Abstract: Nationalism reinforces aggression, and thus fascism, which profits greedy elites. Mishandling reason is a must in the utilitarian perspective of the few on top. Superstition helps in that endeavor.

The USA would survive better, as a superpower, if it integrated the notion that unjustified nationalism is a disservice to the nation, although most helpful to the exploitative oligarchy. Europe has understood this the hard way: hunting down nationalistic behavior has become a moral absolute there. Time for the USA to follow.

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ISLES MUCH DESIRED:

A nationalistic issue is resurfacing in the South Atlantic. There are a number of islands and archipelagos there. Their history is a bit complicated, in the sense that it is not clear who saw what first. When the Europeans happened on them, the largest land mammal was a very special wolf, the warrah. There were no indigenes.

The Spanish name of the main archipelago, the Falklands, is Islas Malvinas. It is a translation of the French name, "Îles Malouines", thus named by Louis Antoine de Bougainville in 1764, after the first known settlers, mariners and fishermen from the port of Saint-Malo in France. Hence, just here, the islands ought to be French, and, therefore British, since, as the Queen of England, Isabelle de France, pointed out, circa 1320, she was France’s rightful sovereign.

For a while British and Spanish sovereignty was claimed. At the time, Argentina did not exist yet. Both Spain and Britain being now part of the European Union, it is one more reason for the natives of the Falklands to be European citizens.

When the United Nations was formed, in 1945, Argentina mysteriously claimed sovereignty on the Falklands. Great Britain coolly replied that it was a matter of the natives’ self determination. It is a general principle that, if a people wants to join the European Union, and the later agrees, it can.

Unsurprisingly, the Falklands natives opted to become European citizens rather than subjects to, what was, at the time, a banana republic dictatorship, albeit without any bananas. Moreover, it looks as if some in Argentina are made to eat bananas.

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ARGENTINEAN NATIONALISTIC OBSESSION:

Some Argentines claim those enchanted isles are next to South America, their continent, a mere 480 kilometers away. By that token, Alaska belongs to Russia, the USA to Canada, and Korea and Japan, separated by a much smaller 128 kilometers, have serious ownership problems. Also Spain should claim all of Africa, which is in direct sight.

Some Argentines observed that the Falklands were sitting on the same continental plate as they do. This does not explain why Argentina when it invaded the Falklands/Malouines in 1981, also invaded other islands not sitting on that plate (South Georgia, South Sandwiches).

In particular the large island of South Georgia (170 kilometers long) is about 2,000 kilometers away, thus, by that Argentinean reasoning of sort, since Antarctica is much closer to Argentina than South Georgia, the frozen continent also belongs to Argentina, and should be invaded. Come to think of it, the Antarctica peninsula is a geological extension of the Andes, also implying that Colorado belongs to Argentina, as confirmed by its Spanish name, and its discovery by conquistadores.

After the Argentinean dictators invaded the Falklands in 1981, Britain reacted and defeated Argentina in a small but ferocious war. More than 900 soldiers died, 255 of them British.

Why did the Argentinean dictators invade? Mostly to distract their people from the oppression they were submitted to, and to re-direct their anger as a nationalist frenzy towards the big bad British. After its ignominious defeat, the dictatorship fell.

Now an oil rig is off the Falklands, as oil reaches $80 a barrel again. Operating one of these devices is expensive – about 200,000 euros a day.

***

ALL YOU NEED IS OIL:

According to some geological surveys the Falkland Islands may have the equivalent of 60 billion barrels of oil in total.

By comparison, the USA has 21 billion barrels of reserve, enough for only…8 years. As another perspective, Venezuela’s reserve are 87 billion barrels. Iraq oil reserves are officially 115 billion barrels (3 rd largest in the world), and maybe as much as 350 billion barrels (first in the world, according to the latest estimates, a number I always held true and going a long way to explain why there are several hundred thousands American warriors in the Middle East, including 250,000 US soldiers…)

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[The exclusion zone is where Britain wants no Argentinean forces to show up again.]

Argentina said earlier this month that it strongly opposed energy exploration on "its" continental shelf (that extends all the way to Florida, remember, and please observe that "Florida" is another Spanish name).

"What they’re doing is illegitimate…it’s a violation of our sovereignty. We will do everything necessary to defend and preserve our rights," the Argentinean Foreign Minister opined. Venezuela’s Chavez addressed the queen of England, informing her that "imperialism was over". Since his oil reserves are four times that of the USA, and relatively increasing, Chavez is ever louder.

A resolute British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, an eye to his incoming elections in spring, said: "It is perfectly within our rights to be able to do this. I think the Argentineans actually understand that."

***

SUPRANATIONALISM: A WISDOM FOR THE AGE:

A good consequence of the European Union construction is that Europeans have annexed each other, making their empire much more considerable, without much pain or effort. No need to attack, as Argentina did. Europe looks forward annexing Siberia, someday. With smiles, and plenty of checks, and ideas.

This new method, of tolerance, understanding and inclusivity is irresistible. This has become the European way. But it is a re-acquaintance with the basic Roman method of integration: after the extreme violence of total war, the Romans were very inclusive, and tolerant (and introduced the notion, and realization, of universal citizenship, with full equal rights, a notion which escapes the USA to this day, since it officially discriminates against some categories of its citizens).

Maybe Europe should annex Argentina. It is not because of a continental shelf, or distance. It would solve neatly the problem of the Malouines (and not "Malvinas" please!). Saint Malo is in Bretagne (= Britannia = Britain… because the army from Britannia fled to Bretagne in the 6C, hence the name; before this flight, the Romans knew Bretagne as Armorica!)

After all, Argentina is a rebellious European colony, and, come to think of it, if Argentina is not going to recognize the self determination of Falkland islanders, why should Europe recognize the self determination of Argentines?

***

OUT WITH RESPECT FOR INFAMY:

Since God is dead, morality needs to be re-established on different principles, and an absolute basis. (Replacing the absolute God.)

Morality has been corrupted with "multiculturalism", a doctrine that says that, if they worship it, it is right. Whatever "it" is, and whoever "they" are. And absolute moral progress does not exist.

Indeed it can be argued that different cultures are different forms of mental achievements, and they all bring something. That way I am a fanatical multiculturalist too. But it is important to de-fang local cultures first, when global cultural progress has exposed their poison, if any. Because primitive cultures can be highly poisonous. After all, that’s how they survived.  

For example,  Maoris ate people, and other Polynesians were known to keep captives alive for days, as they devoured them piece by piece (salted and freeze dried meat technology having not being invented yet in these regions… although they had long been invented in other parts).

But there is no doubt that Maori culture brought something to the rest of the world (although Maori ways such as tattoos were found in the rest of Polynesia, the late and massive, well documented practice of cannibalism in New Zealand ought to provide the most advanced philosophers with an excellent counter example to many naive theories in multiculturalism and human nature!) 

Unexamined multiculturalism may make you not worth living. (In case the reader did not get it, this is a play on Socrates’ "The unexamined life is not worth living"). By the token of multiculturalism, the Nazis ought to have been revered for their deeply resented feelings. And the Aztecs would still exchange human limbs with a grateful president Chavez.

Multiculturalism’s modern prophets of evil were Herder and Rousseau.

***

NATIONALISM IS A VARIANT OF ABSOLUTE EVIL:

An example of intrinsic badness is nationalism. Nationalism is very bad, it is nearly always bad. Nationalism is discrimination on the basis of origins, gone official, and made into a religion.

There ought to be no excuse for nationalism, except as a defense (Iraq, Afghanistan). Aside from this, as a pure defense mechanism, it should never, ever, be tolerated. OK, when meeting an Afghan who does not know any better, and who has suffered a lot, by all means respect his nationalism and gently explain how, and why you beg to differ. But when nationalism happens between first world people, who ought to know better, it should be trashed.

Nationalism is not a violin making an harmonious sound. It is the screech of barbarity unchained. The "Na" in Nazi stood for Nationalism… This is no coincidence. Auschwitz is what nationalism and associated tribalism do, when they are fully allowed to express themselves. Nationalism and tribalism, and other discriminations posing as secular religions, always did such things, and always will.

Nationalism is a form of tribalism that poses as an emotional ultrafilter, an emotion that dominates all other emotions.

That ought not to be tolerated.

The Argentine president talks nationalism, because her economy is lousy, and her people need some distraction, so she treats them as crocodiles, throw them some meat, in the hope, that, indeed, they will revert to the saurian condition, characterized by immense stupidity, carnivorous greed, and easy herding in some swampy pen. Too bad, I like her otherwise. But she may have little choice, as many are the dogs of nationalism howling to the sky…

Kanzler Merkel with the President of Argentina, Christina Kirchner, before the EU-Latin America summit.
[Photo: Regierungonline/Bergmann]

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WHY TO CONDEMN NATIONALISM WITH SUCH ELAN?

As I said, the evidence of the extreme mass lethality of nationalism and affiliated feelings was plain by 1700 CE.

Weirdly, though, nationalism became ever more popular during the next 245 years in Europe. Nationalism festered already in the philosophy of Herder in the eighteenth century. Far from being repelled by the horror nationalism and its ilk brought in the late Middle Ages, under provincial and religious forms, Herder extolled the beauty of tribalism, singing its praises as an end in itself, a teleology he deprived the concept of progress from. Herder was the anti-enlightenment philosopher par excellence.

What had happened prior to Herder? Centuries of mayhem all over Europe, animated by petty misunderstandings of the sort people learn with mothers’ milk.

The civil war between France and England started comically with a feast of the Franco-English aristocracy, a big family, where each side insisted to eat its own food (roasted versus boiled, etc.), and drink its own beverages (wine versus beer, etc.). And sit at different tables. In the following generations, this comic posing ended with the durable devastation of France, and acts of war for more than 5 centuries.

Nowadays, the seven French religious wars, the century long war between France, the Netherlands, and Spain, the 30 year war in Germany, the war between France and… Savoy have all been forgotten, and so are the tribalisms that animated them. Those wars, plus the Crusades, durably transformed Europe into a battlefield for half a millennium. All very good, according to Herder, but his student, Goethe, disagreed.

Goethe was a universalist, he loved the (French) revolution: all men are brothers, as Ludwig van put it.

Herder thought it was his sacred duty to hate French universalism, and kneel at the altar of tribal difference. Herder founded multiculturalism (aka cultural relativism).

Multiculturalism, in Herder’s time, led straight to terrible wars: the Pitts Prime Ministers of Great Britain took it onto themselves to rabidly oppose the (French) Revolution, and the revolutionary reaction was terrible, as France fought all of Europe’s Ancient Regime.

In the end, after the terrible dictatorship of that spiritual dwarf, Napoleon (a direct consequence of British meddling, as PM Lloyd George would point out a century later), France was defeated, many millions died all over Europe, Belgium was born…

But the French revolution won the war: the ideals of the revolution now rules the European Union (including increasingly Great Britain, in an ironical twist). And even the United Nations (although the UN self contradicts its charter of human Rights by some mumbling on multiculturalism).

In any case Herder, plus Rousseau’s hatred for civilization, led directly to Hitler (the Prussian educational system, using these worthies and their philosophical clique formed generations after generations of Germans according to these erroneous doctrines of violence, race, savagery celebrated as PURITY OF ESSENCE).

I am not claiming here that Herder and Rousseau were worthless in all ways. But they were worse than bad in some most important ways (and Goethe, Voltaire and Sade were vociferous in their opposition at the time).

Why is nationalism so intrinsically bad? Because nationalism is tribalism on steroids. And TRIBALISM MEANS THE MAINTENANCE OF GLOBAL ECOLOGICAL BALANCE BY THE MASSIVE KILLING OF OTHERS.

That art of balancing the ecology through war is already practiced in chimpanzees (as documented first by the very Christian Jane Goodall, good-all around).

With weapons of mass destruction, and an enormous human population with its own delicate technological ecology, tribalism reborn would mean humankind dead, and no rebirth. Far from bringing the spice of originality, TRIBALISM CAN ONLY BE NOW THE END ALL OF BE ALL.

The Argentinean howling towards the Falklands would be funny, if seeing human beings reduced to the lupine condition by their cult of the primitive was funny. But it is less funny than French and English lords from the same families arguing about the merits of beer versus wine in the twelfth century. And that did not end well.

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NATIONALISM KILLS PEOPLE, SUPERSTITION KILLS REASON:

Another emotional ultrafilter, that ought to be viewed as always bad, is superstition. Whereas nationalism means the gathering of evil feelings and ideas to promote the mass extermination of other human beings, SUPERSTITION EXTERMINATES FIRST REALITY ITSELF.

Superstition is also known, by abuse of language, as "faith". Faith is an excellent behavior, the milk of hope. Superstition is what pigeons do. Superstition hides behind faith, like a murderer behind a grandmother’s smile.

After killing reason, or torturing it, or making seriously fun of it, unsurprisingly, anything goes. Then an elite can kill whoever they do not like. Emperor Justinian used Christianism that way, during four long decades, and Stalin used Marxism-Leninism that way.

That is why superstitious religions can be tolerated only when their superstitions make themselves very discrete (Rome was very tolerant with any superstitious religion, as long as practical bounds were not breached).

Superstition is a natural abuse of the metaprinciple of causation that intelligent animals discover early on in their mental development. As the famous American psychologist Skinner observed, pigeons kept associating in their minds facts which are truly unrelated if they had happened together first in their experience. "Some pigeons responded up to 10,000 times without reinforcement when they had originally been conditioned on an intermittent reinforcement basis."

Tell children that God wants this, that and the other thing, plus a few murders besides, if need be, and they will believe it all their lives. Advantage, if you are an oligarch; once your subjects believe this, they are ready to kill, and get killed, and you will stay on top, as the masses murder each other.

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GREED, REAGAN’S ENGINE, LEADS WHERE HUMANKIND CANNOT GO:

Greed is called the "profit motive", in the present USA, and now, undeterred by the weak and scared Obama, the private health, military and banking industries of the USA are running away with greed, pushing around the naïve and overwhelmed young president.

Some health insurance jumped by 39% (now delayed by weeks, to Obama’s naïve satisfaction), and the number of American soldiers killed in Afghanistan tripled in the first year of Obama’s naivety, now having passed 1,000. The military budget of the USA, also augmented enormously, bigger than the rest of the world combined, has jumped up, in a country with 10% deficit. And bankers own the place, now that all taxpayer money, and more (borrowed from China), was sent to them to lose again.

Greed is another bad emotional ultrafilter, and it is related to nationalism and superstition. Greed basically asserts that having power on others is the emotion that matters most. In a sense greed stands above nationalism and superstition, because it is conducive to them both.

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NATIONALISM, SUPERSTITION AND GREED ARE INSTRUMENTS OF RULING OLIGARCHIES:

When one has removed such bad emotional ultrafilters, as nationalism, superstition and greed, what are we left with?

Well, with those emotional ultrafilters resting and encouraging reason, and love, pure and simple.

Reason resting on animal and human nature, as they profit to individuals, and the masses. What is there not to like?

Why are such bad emotions, such as nationalism, superstition, and greed, fostered, instead, with such enthusiasm? Of course, ecological constraints can lead to the necessity of reducing considerably a human population, the hard way.

But sometimes the natural ecology is not to blame. What else is there? Well, the ecology of elites.

Oligarchies. Oligarchies are those mostly exploiting bad emotional ultrafilters. Why? Because they are bad, precisely, meaning bad emotions lead to mega death, thus activating the main defense mechanism in the collective psyche, in other words, fascism.

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OLIGARCHIES LOVE ANYTHING CONDUCIVE TO STRIFE, HENCE FASCISM, AS LONG AS THEY STAY ON TOP:

Fascism is first an intellectual reflex, that of allowing a mass of individuals to operate as one: "E Pluribus Unum". Thus the mass of individuals is made by the fascist instinct into one super-organism, fighting as one: discipline is the strength of armies, because of this, precisely (and chimps on the war path behave very differently, as one silent well coordinated mega individual, and so do fighting baboon troops, fighting, or the threat thereof, being something that happens to baboon troops many times a day).

So oligarchies, be they the power elite in Argentina, or some religious-superstitious order, or the American financial military oligarchy have interest to activate those bad emotional complexes. Because that single mind at the top, it’s precisely them.

This could be viewed in the financial crisis of 2008: it was an economic and financial assault, and fascism, economic fascism, was activated. It was decided that the People would give all and support, as one man, its leader, and that leader was the same as the one that precipitated the crisis, namely the exact same group of corrupt financiers. The crisis augmented the economic fascism, because it reinforced the leader, as all crises do, if one is not careful.

This is why, as the disasters they provoked unfolded, Napoleon and Hitler and Stalin, and countless other demented leaders, got ever more support; disaster activates mental support for the one who leads the fight, whatever the fight is, and even if he started it. All independent thinking on the big stuff is shut down, and left to the leader. The mass just follows.

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WHY THE USA IS MORE NATIONALISTIC, & EUROPE LESS SO NOW:

Bad emotional ultrafilters favor the exploitative leadership of the few, hence the great deference of the American power elite for bad emotional ultrafilters such as superstition (Christianity or Islam), greed or nationalism (remember Obama in the "State of the Union", telling us America invented the automobile, whereas the USA invented none of automobile technologies, at least in the first 150 years of the history of the automobile; but American oligarchs love this sort of national glorifications, to use them as emotional red herrings)…

The final enlightening step is to realize that greed, nationalism and superstition introduce themselves humbly always, in the small, and that is in the small that they shall be crushed most readily.

Here are concrete examples of nationalism light: When some Americans claim that the USA invented things they did not invent (the car, the plane, the transistor), that’s nationalism. When Americans claim that French cars are "crappy", that’s nationalism, or that France is basically a communist country, an American protectorate, where nothing gets done except wine, cheese, and welfare, that’s nationalism too. When Americans claim the USA is the land of the free (implying thus that other lands are not), that’s nationalism. When Europeans claim that all is bad in the USA, or that the USA is all about money, and private enterprise that’s also nationalism (but a mistake Americans themselves make: in some ways the USA is more public than the EU! Say about water…).

There are subtler forms of nationalism. Say, just from ignoring other people’s cultures, thus weakening one’s reflection on the very existence of one’s nationalism. An example of this is the USA’s discrimination against those of its own citizens not born there. No other country does that. It is a screaming example of natio-nalism: only those born there, in the USA, are fully human. Others, less so, with fewer rights. Thus establishing that principle that there are several types of human beings, even inside the nation.

Such screaming tribalism is rendered possible by being blind to American exceptionalism, through the ignorance of other countries. No other country has two kinds of citizens (but it is nothing new: think of the slaves). [After I wrote this, Roger Henry kindly observed out that this was not quite true, and he pointed at Germany. Although Germany had a multi track citizenship under Hitler, not so before, or since. The question of naturalization in Germany, although scandalous, was different, and has been addressed; for more details, see the comments. Muslim states DO have multi track citizenship, just like the USA.]

Being blind to one’s country’s major defects is a form of nationalism, unwittingly, or not.

The last infiltration of greed in USA society is charging ($300) for emergency calls: soon you will be asked for your credit card number if you want to live another day. Greed. Then, again, no other country does this, but for the USA (or, more exactly the great city of Tracy, California!). But a consequence of nationalism is that Americans do not know this.

One will have noticed that examples of nationalism gone mad abound in the USA. Am I exhibiting anti-American bias? Some will excitingly clamor that this is so. And they would be right, if I were wrong, but I am right. To deny the truth in national matters is also nationalism.

Some will say that this is my opinion. Yes, sure, but not just my opinion. My opinion is not coming naked and screaming. It is coming armored, intelligent, knowledgeable, and well escorted by facts.

The fact that the USA has a scandalous two-tracks citizenship, is hard, harsh, cold reality. The fact that the USA has the lousiest health care system in the developed world is also a fact, and the fact Americans mostly ignore this, and never miss an occasion to sing the praises of the USA health care system is a nationalistic fact. The fact the USA spends so with a "defense" system that girdles the world is undeniable too. In Europe, people would know what it means: nationalism out of control, foaming at the mouth. In the USA, American hyper militarism is nationalistically interpreted as American goodness, next to sainthood, as militarism used to experienced in Imperial Germany.

Europe learned that nationalism was conducive to the deadliest things around, the hard way. Whereas in the USA exhibiting strident nationalism is viewed as an indispensable part of the mien of a citizen in good standing, in countries such as France, nationalism is viewed as in poor taste. This, to look down on nationalism, the Europeans, and, in particular the Germans, have learned the hard way. Things have really gone a long way, because the Germans and the French used to be extremely nationalistic a few generations ago, much more than the citizens of the USA used to be.

After 1945, top intellectuals in Europe understood that nationalism ought to be abated. That ought to be a primary mission. A change people ought to believe in. And abated it was. It was even mutilated. a point was made that European superpowers ought to have no more rights than others (starting, of course, with Germany and its insufferable past tendencies). Malta (population: 400,000) and Slovenia (population, 2 millions) have, on paper, the same rights as France (population close to 70 millions). By 1945, Europe had learned something important: nationalism pays back, big time. But only in blood, sweat, and tears.

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ENOUGH EVIL AROUND ALREADY!

Nietzsche famously pointed out that: "Verily, there is a future, even for evil." Well, there is plenty enough of a future for evil. New technologies open new avenues to evil all the time. So we have to be busy closing those we have identified, already. Nationalism is one of those.

The savage wars that wrecked Europe for seven centuries (1250 to 1945… after many centuries of quasi peace…) have been a lesson for Europeans in the dangers of nationalism. Nearly all nations on earth existing today are of recent vintage (even China ought to be viewed as recent, just as the Kaiser’s Germany in 1914 was only 44 years old, China is about 60 years old in its present philosophical nature). Fresh nations have learned nothing much yet.

It is hilarious to see the Americans furiously reproaching the Chinese the under-evaluation of, well, the Sino-American currency: talk about blind nationalism.

The fundamental reason for nationalism is the same fundamental reason for evil: too many people do not a world make. So, shall we rise above fatality and the weight of natural evolution? And impose man above fate?

As Voltaire said:"One must crush infamy"… And one should not miss a single occasion to do so. There is not just morality in crushing infamy, but the prospect of sheer survival for all concerned. Blind and unexamined nationalism is the most dangerous infamy. Let’s crush it, it’s good exercise.

PA

P/S 1: The notion of ultrafilter comes from topology, and has a precise meaning there, as a maximal element for inclusion. It basically corresponds to (being perceived as) ultimate concept.

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P/S 2: I said nationalism was justified if and only if ("iff") a defense mechanism. Critiques will point out that offenders always claim to be defending themselves under some sort of perceived aggression. The wolf had to kill the sheep becomes the latter’s brother polluted the canine’s water last year.

For example, NATO claims to be defending itself during its occupation of Afghanistan, already much longer than WWII, and still killing completely innocent civilians there with wild abandon. Indeed, one has to be careful with the concept of defense. NATO is clearly under attack from hard core Islamism (just as the West used to be under attack under the extremely similar hard core Christianism) , but NATO is not under attack by Afghanistan… And never was. (Bin Laden and friends were put in Afghanistan by the USA, and equipped with fancy weapons.) Thus, differently from the WWII started by Franco-Britannia on September 3, 1939, it is not clear that the Afghan war is a just war. It will be just, only if well done. Which is not presently the case.

As far as the Afghans are concerned, though, their war against NATO is a just war of national defense. Thus, the real enemy of NATO is not just that reality, but also that perception.

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P/S 3: The Chinese have pegged their currency to the US dollar. So, as the USA proceeded to lower its currency to gain unfair economic advantage (although the USA has 25% of the world’s industrial production, 2010). The Chinese peg meant that the Chinese currency went down with the American dollar, ruining the little American plot for gaining…unfair advantage. This is now over, as the European Union had enough, and found a way to ruin that unfair little plot. These could become tragic games, if people stopped seeing the humor hidden in them…

CORRELATION DOES NOT CAUSE CAUSATION.

April 13, 2008

CHRISTIANITY BURNED WITCHES, BURNING FOOD AS FUEL CAUSES RIOTS, PLANETARY HEATING RISES THE SEAS, BUT CORRELATION DOES NOT CAUSE CAUSATION.

 N. Kristoff quotes with approval the theory that Planetary Heating will augment mayhem, because disruptions of climate caused problems in the past (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/13/opinion/13kristof.html). No doubt. The Little Ice Age is a plausible example, because a lot of social turbulence and wars occured then, after the relative calm of the earlier Middle Ages (see the P/S below though for a more refined chronology). And sure the eruption of a volcano in Iceland played a role in the budget problems of the French government that led proximally to the French revolution.

 However, Kristoff sinks in moral error when he claims that “Europe’s “Little Ice Age” led to a sharp cooling in the late 1500s, and that corresponds to a renewal in witchcraft trials after a long lull.” His dates for the Little Ice Age are roughly correct: the LIA was apparently caused by the “Maunder Minimum”, when 99.9% of sunspots disappeared, probably because the sun cooled a bit (sun spots are convection cells, like in a boiling soup in a pot). But the first minimum was in 1674, at a time when laws against withcraft had been outlawed, and maximal religious violence was clearly a century earlier.

 It’s important to find out what causes religious violence (it’s a question of planetary survival). Kristoff implicitly claims that climate change is the most prominent factor. But the evidence is otherwise. By presenting a plausible correlation as a direct causation, one creates a red herring, and one does not get to the proximal cause, the detection of which is necessary for prevention. So let’s set the record straight.

 Witch burning was taught by the Bible, Christianity, and, to a great extent Saint Paul and Christ themselves (alltogether, they insisted that bad people, and in particular bad women, should be thrown in everlasting fire). To claim religious persecution was -literally- in the air, is to let murderous superstition off the hook. When the sacred founding texts celebrate mayhem, their followers practice mayhem, it’s as simple as that. Whether the air was fresh or not, has nothing to do with it.

 Witch burning appeared during the late Middle Ages because, for the preceding millennium, Frankish and (Eastern) Roman power had kept Christianity under control. Leaders, especially the Franks in the West, had cracked down on Christian supersition because they were alarmed after the disastrous collapse of civilization of the Dark Ages (4C & 5C), which had been caused directly by Christian book burning and rage against anything having to do with freedom of thought.

 As early as the 6C, Pope Gregory the Great insisted that Frankish bishops allowing the teaching of grammar to people should be burned (the Franks ignored him). A millennium later, though, the Pope had Papal states, on which his law and terror of Christ could be extended, something he did not have in the 6C; similarly, Calvin, who enjoyed to see heretics burn slowly, close and personal, controlled Geneva in the 16C, but no religious maniac had any control in the High Middle Ages, a millenium earlier, at least, under the Franks.

 The same holds for anti-Judaism and religious wars: they both thrived in the Fourth and Fifth Century, and were then suppressed by the Franks, and much later resurrected from the dead in the late Middle Ages. The reason was the weakening of Frankish power (which had a strong centralizing theme around Pagan and Secular values) and later political opportunism of local potentates. In the late Middle Ages, nationalizing centers of power played with religious passions as instruments of power amplification (the momentary kicking out of Jews from various places, including Britain and France (13C), being an example).

 To some extent the invasion of Iraq for oil used Christianity in a similar fashion: G. W. Bush told us that “his Higher Father” had told him to invade. A magnificent case of what Sartre called “Bad Faith” (as in his famous garçon de café example). The proximal cause of the invasion of Iraq was the US domination by oil men and a national thirst for oil (Bush called it an “addiction”).

 The proximal causative reason of witch burning was letting Christianity run amok. Climate change was, at best, only weakly correlated to it. It was not directly causative. If it had been, it would have happened everywhere equally, in places equally climate affected, but it did not. By causative contrast, Christianity was directly causative in witch burning. The best proof of this is that witch burning became insignificant and then was made unlawful in the later 17C, although the Little Ice Age was reaching its maximum. Places such as Chamonix in the Alps (invaded by “horrible” glaciers in the 17C), did not burn any witches (although they asked the state to be freed from taxation).

 In Iraq, right now, the proximal causes of murderous violence are the foreign invasion by the self righteous, culturally challenged aliens from the other side of the planet, and a mix of ethnic oppression and Islam run amok. If one climbs high enough in the causation chains, one could of course say that the USA invaded because of energy, and that, along another causation chain, the energy and food crises, by throwing up in the air enormous quantities of greenhouse gases, cause climate change, and thus that, somehow climate change correlates to violence in Iraq. There is something to this kind of murky logics, but not much.

 Direct causation is better. For example, it should have been pretty obvious that, by allowing to use public subsidies and regulations to transmogrify food into fuel, one would get an immediate world food crisis. But never mind: to seduce farmers with a newer, stealthier subsidy, politicians in places such as France and the USA supported ethanol production from food, and the self righteous billionaire Branson fueled a plane with food. Now there are riots around the world caused by food inflation, itself caused by food burning, real and anticipated. And the causation is direct.

***
Patrice Ayme

 P/S: On the Late Middle Ages disturbances. Europe had a huge population by 1,200 CE, with the highest energy usage per inhabitant on the planet (hence the highest wealth per person). People were well fed, many indicators of power and economy were well ahead of the best Rome had provided with, and modern physics and engineering were pushing ahead of the best Antiquity had done. Favored by a peak of warmth around 1,000 CE, the Vikings had reached Greenland and North America (where conflict with the natives, and the moving south of the ice pack made everlasting colonies impossible). Then a number of things went very wrong: first massive ecological problems (due to overpopulation, deforestation and lack of ecological laws), then increasing tensions inside the Franco-British realm, then outright civil war, and the “Black Plague”.

 The Little Ice Age became maximum around 1,650 CE, at a time when religious wars and persecutions and witch burnings were on their way out, and clearly well past their apex (that was sometimes in the 15C). The first Thames frost fair was in 1607; the last in 1814. Amusingly, all sorts of evidence points out that the LIA centered around the century of the Enlightenment, rather than around witch burning! So maybe climate change renders people more intelligent (as it should!)?

 And what of the continual wars during the LIA? Clearly the LIA may have been an aggravating factor, but the proximal cause was the rise of large nationalist states fighting each other: the LIA was essentially a coincidence (England and various French regions had tried to become independent from each other for centuries, before they came to blows).

 

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