Posts Tagged ‘Tolerance’

Golden Rule Reassessed

August 14, 2016

The so-called “Golden Rule” is never to do to others what one would not like others to do to oneself. Or variation thereof. It implicitly, and naively, assumes people don’t like to suffer, or to inflict pain and extermination onto everybody. It also assumes that right and wrong are sharply defined, like night and day (that is literally the root of the religion known as Manichaeism) Thus the Golden Rule is inapplicable: history, Christianism, Islamism are full of people, or even a “God” who is a glutton for pain, punishment, suffering, even when applied to oneself, not just others.

Buddhism is different that way. It just as naively assumes that people want to avoid suffering at all cost. But if we did this, it’s not clear we could exist. Life is full of pains, and that’s alright, because that’s how we pay for it. Actually the best way would be to absorb a deadly dose of barbiturates, and be done, Marilyn Monroe style.

Thus, fundamentally, Buddhism is so irrelevant, as to be inhuman (whereas Christianism and Islamism are all too human!) Pain and suffering are intrinsically human. Pain and suffering are regulators of the human species. Regulation by pain and suffering is not a necessary consequence of the animal condition. Pain and suffering do not necessarily regulate all species. They do not regulate marmots. When marmots come out of hibernation, the head marmot considers her folk, and how many have died over winter. She wants a group of between 15 and 21 individuals. Say three have died: she asks her consort to make her three little ones. Then she turns on a pheromone to turn him off. 

Humans Are Not Marmots. Agent Of Evolution Such as Human Beings Are Made For Deception, And Destruction, Not Contraception

Humans Are Not Marmots. Agent Of Evolution Such as Human Beings Are Made For Deception, And Destruction, Not Contraception

The dominant female cannot bear more than two to four babies. If she is unable to replenish the colony, all by herself, she makes it so that her consort impregnates another female. Thus marmots are made for the Golden Rule: they regulate their population in a very gentle, specific way. Humans do not regulate their population through fancy birth control, but through mayhem, pain, suffering, deprivation, famine.

Reciprocal perversity, not just reciprocal altruism, is then intrinsic to the human species: this . Higher wisdom consists not in denying reality,  but in circumnavigating it, for the best. We have so much technology, nowadays, the fanciest moral principles can be brought to bear.     

Take an example. The cases of Mr. Assange (an Australian citizen) and Mr. Snowden (an US citizen). Assange and Snowden are the two most prominent whistle-blowers in the world (lanceurs d’alerte, alarm launchers, literally, in French).

Julian Assange revealed that US military forces, using an attack helicopter, had killed journalists, and then fired again and again, on would-be rescuers. One would think that US authorities, were they compatible with the Golden Rule as traditionally interpreted, and the Jesus god Obama talks about all the time, would have tanked Assange for this revelation. After all, a democracy should have armed forces beyond any suspicion. (The military forces of the UK, the US and France went through the Second World War without extremely blatant, shocking war crimes committed, although the Americans were ruthless, the French somewhat vengeful, and both the French and British suffered striking war crimes from Nazi forces in May-June 1940). 

Instead of lauding Assange, the Washington government has gone all out to capture Assange, and had an ex-CIA agent accusing him of unclear activities. The same violent treatment was extended to Edward Snowden, who had the presence of mind to escape to Russia (making Putin a force for the good!) Snowden’s crime was to reveal that the so-called “social networks” and “search engines” of the USA were actually spy networks searching for miscreants. That, in turn, brought many questions, including how much of world public opinion is fabricated deliberately by the US “Deep State”.

Philosophically, it means the Obama administration had it all wrong. At least all wrong, if, and only if, democracy is what it wants to preserve. In democracy, or justice, and democracy is about justice for all, as all, information is the prime ingredient. A really democratic state will never, ever pursue information providers. Whistle-blowers are among the saints of democracy. 

Assange and Snowden made precious gifts to US democracy. In answer, Obama offered We The People a poisoned dish: serving rabid nationalism the frantic fever of blind vengeance, forgetting that revealing crimes against democracy should be rewarded, not punished.

None of this is an accident, it’s a system, white as the driven snow, same as a polar bear on a rampage, and for the same reason. Ask the average democratic voters: they will telly you Hillary Clinton is more “Golden Rule” than her friend and rival, Donald Trump. As Bill Moyers put it, in his essay, “Anatomy of the Deep State“:

“Despite this apparent impotence, President Obama can liquidate American citizens without due processes, detain prisoners indefinitely without charge, conduct dragnet surveillance on the American people without judicial warrant and engage in unprecedented — at least since the McCarthy era — witch hunts against federal employees (the so-called “Insider Threat Program”). Within the United States, this power is characterized by massive displays of intimidating force by militarized federal, state and local law enforcement. Abroad, President Obama can start wars at will and engage in virtually any other activity whatsoever without so much as a by-your-leave from Congress, such as arranging the forced landing of a plane carrying a sovereign head of state over foreign territory.”

Take another example: tolerance. Many feel, rightly, that the Golden Rule should include tolerance. Tolerance is necessary to be nice to others. Tolerance goes beyond just being nice to others. It’s about being nice to oneself, be it only by becoming smarter.

Tolerance is, fundamentally, a neurobiological problem. Any brain is a set of neuroglial networks. Any seriously new idea, or new emotion, is a threat against one, or several elements of that set. To welcome the threat requires a deliberate effort. One needs to train oneself to such mental gymnastics, deconstructing, fusioning and rebuilding. Mind. Tolerance is necessary for adopting superior ideas, and feelings, discarding inferior ones.

How does one train for tolerance? One should not be proud of being a citizen of some predigested, mass mental system. Instead one should be ashamed. Instead of following the herd, bleating altogether, one should shout from rooftops: “I am a citizen of the mind“.

The Golden Rule is thus, in part, necessarily, just from the inclusion of tolerance, about building a better mind. And tolerance is not easy to foster (as shown by the local interdiction of “burkini” on some beaches in France. See #tolerance). Tolerance for intolerance is not tolerance, but, potentially, its exact opposite:collaborating with mental fascism. We can see that the traditional Golden Rule is not easy to apply.

The real Golden Rule of humanity is that deeper thinking always works best, in the long run. For all that is the most worth it.  

Patrice Ayme’

Survival Trumps Tolerance

February 1, 2015

Ideas give birth to moods, and moods lead to ideas, but ideas and moods are not interchangeable. If one wants to find out why people think the way they do, the distinction has to be kept in mind.

“Mike71” commenting on “No Taxation Without Decision” objects that: “Patrice, the one value, so little discussed above, is that of tolerance, allowing each individual to believe in any faith of their choice, or none at all… In the Libertarian ethic and tradition, becoming more widespread in the U.S., as well as abroad, the concept is that one should be able to do what they may, to the extent that it does not interfere with the rights of others.”

I have never said anything else. Moreover, making an ideology of “Liberty” (“Libertas” in Latin) is not new. Ever heard of: Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité?

National Motto of France: Liberty First.

National Motto of France: Liberty First.

Notice that Liberté comes first, indeed. Including the liberty to caricature.

The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of 1789 defined Liberty in Article 4 as follows:

“Liberty consists of being able to do anything that does not harm others: thus, the exercise of the natural rights of every man or woman has no bounds other than those that guarantee other members of society the enjoyment of these same rights.”

Discours sur l’organisation des gardes nationales, Article XVI.

“On their chests will be engraved these words: FRENCH PEOPLE, & below: LIBERTY, EQUALITY, FRATERNITY. The same words are inscribed on flags which bear the three colors of the nation.”

(French: XVI. Elles porteront sur leur poitrine ces mots gravés : LE PEUPLE FRANÇAIS, & au-dessous : LIBERTÉ, ÉGALITÉ, FRATERNITÉ. Les mêmes mots seront inscrits sur leurs drapeaux, qui porteront les trois couleurs de la nation.)

Liberty Or Death: Original Motto of France, 1793

Liberty Or Death: Original Motto of France, 1793

[In 1792 and 1793, all plutocrats of Europe, and that means all other regimes of Europe, had attacked The French Republic in a giant coalition; internally, it caused the “Terror”; so “Ou La Mort” was dropped later, as it reminded The People of the Terror.]

Rome, the Roman Republic, was more “libertarian” for centuries than any regime since (except for the slaves, oops; there were private companies catching slaves, as in the Nineteenth Century USA, but even some that tortured and executed slaves for those who had the means to purchase their services).

Actually the Franks took control, and re-founded the decaying Roman State, starting in 400CE. “Frank” means “Free”. The main ideological effort of the Franks was to augment Freedom. Freedom fries did not start in 2003. Under the theocratic, Christian fanatical, fascist and plutocratic late Roman empire, Libertas was getting squeezed in all ways: individuals, Catholics or not, could be killed legally relatively easily, if they committed “blasphemy” against “Catholicism”, professions and social status tended to be inherited very rigidly, local democracy had disappeared, banditry and terror ruled (in part because the Catholics who ruled had replaced Roman law by Christian law)

The Franks threw the whole thing overboard: it was freedom everything… Except in military matters, where Roman military law was imposed ferociously (replacing the German anything-goes, we are all partners in crime). This is embodied by the famous story of the Vase de Soissons.

The rule of Liberty means the rule of tolerance. In particular, religious tolerance. The Franks re-established the rights of the Jews in the Sixth Century. In 1789 CE, 12 centuries later, the French Revolutionaries re-established again the rights of the Jews (which had been confiscated in the meantime by blood drenched monsters such as the fanatical “Saint” Louis).

Saint Louis was the first to claim he was tolerant, and good to the little guy. He just wanted to kill so bad miscreants such as Jews and the vaguely defined “Unbelievers” (“Incroyants”).

So, yes, of course, everybody worships “tolerance”, and “respect”. Actually that’s one of the preferred lines of Islamist fanatics, who always insist that Islam is all about “respect” and “tolerance” (they can find quotes to support that, in the Sacred texts, of course). But you see, “tolerance” is not a system of thoughts. It is a mood.

Systems of Thoughts, such as Christianism, Islamism, Stalinism, Maoism, erroneously named so-called “Liberalism”, “Capitalism” (whatever that means), Representative Democracy, etc. can all be criticized specifically.

In faulty systems of thoughts, one can point at specific lies. Lies by counterfactualism (outright lying), or by profound omission, or outright ignorance.

With system of moods, it’s a different matter entirely. How to criticize specifically an emotion? Take so-called “Islamophobia”: fear of Islam. How could such a mood be found to be faulty on a single statement? Moods are pretty impervious to logic. Phobias, when too acute, are just medical conditions.

Nobody, really is against “tolerance”. Nobody is against “democracy”, either. The Nazis used to joke they had “total democracy”. Don’t laugh: Hitler won referenda.

In the real world, there is force. Force is what rules reality. It’s a matter of physics, not history or wishful thinking. Physics is mostly about the description of forces in action.

Take an example: Israel. Israel and the context around it, is a ticking time bomb. A lot of potential energy is accumulated, getting ready to be unleashed with great force.

Israel knows well that some of its enemies will not hesitate to use nuclear weapons against Israel. Half a dozen thermonuclear warheads well targeted (one on Haifa, three on the greater Tel Aviv, one on Jerusalem) would annihilate Israel, killing more Jews than the Nazis did.

And guess what? The Israelis have to take this into account. What to do? Wait placidly like sheep for extermination? It was tried last time, with the Nazis. It did not work too well: most European Jews were exterminated.

So the Israelis may well strike first.

Potentially, one is talking about tens of million killed, if not hundreds of millions.

In light of such realities, the realities of force, “tolerance” is deeply irrelevant.

(This is how Putin has always reasoned, force, and it has worked for him, as far as he is concerned. Similarly Obama used the force of deception to get where he is, and, just like Putin, he is happy like a clam.)

A mood such as tolerance is little in comparison to the moods the survivalist instinct leads to.

Freedom in the service of survival means to be free to annihilate the enemy. And tolerance means, in that vital context, to be ready to tolerate the infliction of evil. On others.

Dream states and wishful thinking are refreshing. However, when in action in the defense of one’s dear life, the brain switches to a completely different mode.

I have been there.

Once I was crossing a near vertical ice gully in flimsy rock climbing shoes. The belay was in the gully itself, protected by a rock. The anchors were not good, but the best I could do. As I was past the middle of the pitch, digging steps cautiously, I saw a giant rock avalanche coming. I ran (first impossible feat).

The some rocks hit the ropes, I was yanked off, and started to fall down the kilometer high gully. It was certain death. However, unbelievably, I was able to wedge myself between rock and ice. If I were into superstition, I would believe god personally intervened.

More prosaically, I believe that all my motor neurons got simultaneously activated, and inhuman strength was deployed with inhuman precision.

The brain, pushed into survival mode, is capable of unbelievable feats. And the first unbelievable feat, is how easily conventional morality, so-called humanism, ceases to be a factor.

Humanity exists, because of love. Otherwise there would be no children. And humanity also exists, because of its Dark Side. That is why humanity is so special. Humanity’s violent, omnipotent side: the Jewish god is in its image.

Are we ready to fight Putin to death? Or are we ready to live under the system of thoughts and moods the Russian dictator is generating, day after day? This is the sort of question, and the answers it led to, that have shaped human ethology for millions of years.

Want Liberty? Sell weapons to Ukraine. Do not repeat what was done in 1936, when France promised weapons to the Spanish Republic, and then backed-of, under British and American pressure.

The rest of the story? Mayhem in Spain, millions assassinated. Mayhem in Europe, 70 millions killed, most of them assassinated.

Liberty, or Death: that is not just the lesson of 1789, but also the lesson of Auschwitz.

Patrice Ayme’

Dying Of Laughter. Not Dying Of Fright

January 11, 2015

MORTS DE RIRE, PAS MORTS DE PEUR

Fanatics kill those who laugh. Their crime? They did not die of fright, first.

Huge demonstrations in France to protest the killing of famous humorists, authors, and even of an important progressive Bank of France economist (Maris). And also Jews, just because they were Jews, and police officers, just because they were police officers.

Four million people marched in  the streets to demonstrate their support for Freedom of Expression, and the LAIC Republic (with more than 80% approval rating). Forty-seven heads of states and governments joined, including Merkel, British PM Cameron (his first demonstration, ever), and all the important politicians in Europe.

The Marseillaise was sung, again and again, for Charlie Hebdo humorists, some of the fiercest anti-nationalists, ever.

"Je Suis Charlie" Demonstration in Nice

“Je Suis Charlie” Demonstration in Nice

The bells of Notre Dame rang for some of the most Atheist and Pagan thinkers, ever. This is perfectly appropriate: after all, the philosopher Pierre Abélard taught at the Cathedral which stood where Notre Dame now is. Abélard exposed the contradictions of theology, publishing the “Sic Et Non”, the “Yes And No” in 1121 CE. Abélard founded general semantics, among others things, and was famous throughout Europe for his songs.

The attack against Charlie Hebdo was the most severe such attack ever since Francia was founded by the Franks, more than 15 centuries ago. A fact that is striking and true: even the Nazis did not stoop that low (instead they affected a respect for French culture, and that’s how Sartre and company got started).

The Franks clamped down on ”Orthodox Catholic” Christianism, which had devastated the Roman State they were then in charge of saving. The Franks re-established the laic state that ruled before the Emperor Cult and the associated Christian State emperors imposed.

The Franks created their own bishops, and their own saints. This is well documented in bishop Gregory of Tours’ “History of the Franks”. Gregorius was leading prelate of Gaul (Gallia). The Christians fanatics, led by the Pope, would brandish death threats for generations. Ultimately they had to come on their knees, and beg the Franks to chase the Lombards (Long Beards) from Italy. That was 300 years after Clovis imposed a tolerant, laic Christianism.

Laic Christianism? Yes. Actually laic versions of Islam, especially Sufi (such as the one centered on Senegal) already exist. They have been submerged by fanatical version promoted by Saudi Arabia plutocrats, in the last few decades.

France became the “Eldest Daughter” of the senile, murderous Christian Church that had ravaged the Roman mind, Romanitas. So doing, Francia rebuilt Christianism.

(Three centuries after Clovis, Charlemagne attributed land to the Papacy, creating the so-called Papal States; it was well understood that the Pope took his orders from the “Renovated” Roman Empire).

Laicity translates the French laïcité, from Late Latin laicus + French -ité –ity. “Laicus” comes from the Greek “laikos”, meaning, of the people. I am not going to dissert on this now, but “Laikos” stands for “Human Ethology” (to describe it in the contemporary scientific semantics). Our common humanity, in other words.

When an ideology tries to devastate human ethology, Laicity, it should be repressed. Repression is civilization.

Indomitable Spirit, Crushing Infamy

Indomitable Spirit, Crushing Infamy

France has lost many battle, but is winning the war. This is exactly why Al Qaeda targeted her at her heart, Freedom of Expression. “Frank” means “Free”. The Franks gave their name to the Roman “Francia” they led.

Even the New York Times, in an excellent article by Douthat recognizes that “France is the Crucible of Europe”: “notwithstanding these declinist fears, France isn’t actually irrelevant or spent. Instead, it’s arguably becoming more important, more central to the fate of Europe and the West.

… politically, culturally, even intellectually, events in France over the next half-century could matter more than at any point since before the two world wars. Indeed, more than Germany or Greece or Britain or any other actor, it’s in France that the fate of 21st-century Europe could ultimately be decided…”

Why and How Did France Become So Central To Civilization?

Present day France, at the crossroads of the three main trade routes of Europe, has been continually at war for millennia, and whoever happen to reside there lost many battles. However this central position has fostered tolerance and understanding. Already 16 centuries ago, Celto-Germans, Romans, Jews, Franks, Goths and Burgunds had built a melting pot: many languages were spoken (three Celtic languages, Latin, Frankish, and various Germanic languages), and many religions were practiced (Francia did not have.

By 600 CE all citizens of what is now most of France, Germany and surrounding lands had become “Franks” (following the Constitutio Antoniniana of 212 CE).

The Franks, attached to freedom, as all Germans, outlawed slavery over all of Europe… Except in the part of Iberia the Islamists controlled. After the Franks invaded Britain in 1066 CE, not only did they outlaw slavery, but the franks established the basis of a more democratic state.

This made France a natural place for Protestantism: Cathars and Protestants appeared there, centuries before Luther. And for the Enlightenment.

The Enlightenment brought not only the republic of the United States of America (with a 5 trillion dollars world war to defeat Britain and give birth to the USA), but also the French Constitution of 1789, which proclaimed all men equal and gave them equal rights, independently of property, race, ethnicity, religion.

The Revolution of 1789 gave rise to the United Nations’ Charter, the very core of today’s civilization. 1789 also gave rise to the present European Union. France originated, and is the natural soul of both enterprises (and not just of the USA).

Let’s go back to Douhat (who embraced several themes I embraced for a decade):

“Then amid these political and economic patterns there’s an important intellectual possibility — namely, that if there’s something beyond the West’s current end-of-history torpor, some new ideological conflict or synthesis, it might emerge first in the place where so many revolutions had their birth.

France has always been a country of extremes — absolutist and republican, Catholic and anticlerical, Communist and fascist. Now it’s once again the place where strong forces are colliding, and where the culture’s uncertainties — about Islam, secularism, nationalism, Europe; about modernity itself — suggest that new ones might soon be born.

The decline has been real, but the future is unwritten. If there is real history yet to be made in Europe, for good or ill, it might be made first in la belle France.”

Not just Europe, the world.

Far from being struck by blind awe, evoking France, and its intellectuals. Actually the devastating notion of “multiculturalism” was born there. Some secondary French intellectuals breathed heavily on the United Nations, in a dumb tradition Rousseau inaugurated, to suggest that any culture, as long as it was different was glorious and to be allowed free reign.

This was Rousseau’s grave error, and it’s not at all what the history of Western Europe suggests. Far from it.

It is the Franks who grabbed and brandished the word “Europe”, when the Islamists launched three furious, massive land and sea invasions of Francia, in the period 721 CE-749 CE. They failed, their armies were totally destroyed, the Arab Caliphate fell (750 CE).

The history of Europe is the history of the progression of ever better ideas (and the annihilation of very bad ones). The Romans outlawed any religions founded on human sacrifices, and tried to make work a universal republic (their failure was due to a global fiscal failure, allowing the rise of plutocracy; so the problem is very contemporary). The Franks threw out religious fanaticism, and outlawed slavery.

None of this would have happened without creative brainwork. Those who don’t understand satire, don’t understand creative thinking. Satire is an old Greco-Roman tradition: consider the Satyricon (Book of Satyr-like thinking”; or consider satire from Horace, Juvenal, Apuleius…). Dionysian thinking and practice was all about satyrs, and satire (Nietzsche recognized its use around 1870, but Dante, Rabelais, Erasmus, Voltaire, etc. are all about it).

France is the country of intellectual extremes because it is the country of debate: one cannot debate persons who are in full agreement. Many French, when launched in a conversation, love to start their sentences with :”Non!”. It’s not that they dislike their interlocutor, but they need to stand, and be opposed (they will often defend the opposite point of view in the next debate).

And that is why Al Qaeda targeted the core of what makes debate possible, Freedom of Expression. Satire, and especially blasphemy, is not just a right super intelligence has. It is not just a duty.

Satire and blasphemy is how super intelligence is born. Imitations never qualified.

Patrice Ayme’

Vignettes on the massacre: 1) One the heavily armed thugs took over a Jewish supermarket, on the ground that all Jews should die (that’s more or less implied in the Qur’an, and certainly very explicit in the Haddith: I will roll out the quotes in another essay). The terrorists commandeered one of the cashiers to close the iron curtain. A 21 young Tunisian grabbed the terrorist’s machine gun, armed, aimed, and pulled the trigger. But the gun jammed, and the murderer tore him apart with his AK47 (the terrorist had already killed a “black” policewoman, shooting her in the back, and grievously wounded other people, the day before).

2) An African immigrant introduced many shoppers in the congelation room  of the Jewish supermarket, told them to stay silent, locked the door, and cut the power. They were not detected by the terrorist, and all saved. The African succeeded to flee, and informed the police.

3) Some hostages informed the police through Smart Phones. After a hostage told the police that the terrorist was making his prayers, the RAID force decided to attack immediately. After a furious exchange of gunfire, the madman charged the officers, and was riddled with bullets, so that he could not activate explosives. Casualties: 4 officers were lightly wounded, terrorist killed, no hostage hurt (those killed had been killed by the terrorist earlier).