Posts Tagged ‘Torture’

Torture To Death: Christ’s Crux

January 24, 2016

Patrice Ayme’: The angry, cruel, somewhat demented, child murdering, jealous, holocaust-prone god of Judaism-Christianism-Islamism justifies bloody despots. (So does Literal Islam, and even much more so, but that’s besides the point here. What is interrogated here is the origin of Christianism’s, and thus Islamism’s, hyper-violence)

Chris Snuggs: “Christianism does not belong in the same basket as Islam. Disregard how men have perverted both; just compare what they ARE, what their fundamental message is.”

PA: Agreed… If one forget that they are not at the same stage of development, and if one uses a stochastic filter. Stochastic comes from the word for “aim” in Greek. It’s used to mean “probability theory”. So the idea is to look at the New Testament, and take, so to speak, the average statement, ignoring those where (the mythical) “Christ” speaks about swords and all that… Sword, as an instrument to foster faith. Force, the Sword, is what made Christianism seductive to Constantine. He was a forceful man. He steamed his wife, alive, killed his nephew, and had his meritorious, accomplished, most famous general and admiral of a son, executed.

Force & the Sword, Justified & Practiced by God, Is The Christian Mood Which Seduced Constantine, Because So Was His Calling

Force & the Sword, Justified & Practiced by God, Is The Christian Mood Which Seduced Constantine, Because So Was His Calling

[Roman Emperor Constantine’s statue at York Minster, Britannia, his birth place.]

Here is a sample I have often used:

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.

Some will play it down: ‘Oh, it’s just one sentence!’ Others turn this around, and sneer, when one criticizes Islam’s violence:’Oh, there are also violent statements in Christianism!’. Both COUNTER-IDEAS miss the point: just as one horrible scream can create a terrible mood, so can a horrible statement. PPP Torture Is Intrinsic To Christ’s Business Model [Final Judgment.]

And, by the way, there are actually multiple statements of the greatest of horror, and an insistence that horror was prescribed, ordered, glorified, organized, instituted by god himself. It’s not by accident that the very symbol of Christianism is the worse torture known to man. Even Christ could not figure it out. Well, my child, lonely nailed on your cross, I did: “VIOLENCE IS THE PRICE OF LOVE’. And it was fun to figure it out.

Judaism, its child, Christianism, and its grandchild, Islamism were all war religions. Judaism appears shortly before King David, the enlightened founder of the Greater Israel. (At least so says the Bible written by captives in Babylon, more than half a millennium later.) Christianism, or more exactly what he called “Orthodox Catholicism” (= “Orthodox Universalism”) was imposed by Roman emperor Constantine, who was one of the greatest warriors in history, second to none. As a teenager, the special force like, privileged youth Constantine already terrified the imperial court. Emperor Galerius, the “animalistic, semi-barbarian” persecutor of Christians, tried to get rid of Constantine with a number of dangerous challenges, including suicidal cavalry charge, and fighting a lion in single combat.

Constantine became the single emperor of the entire empire, after many decades of multiple emperors governing in a more or less collegial manner (there were up to 6 emperors at a time, mostly because of the problem of distance in the far-flung empire!).

Christianism is a system of thoughts. But it’s also a system of moods. Systems of thought can be subtle: Islam, for example comes equipped with two meta-principles: Taquiyah (lying to unbelievers as religious principle) and the Abrogation Principle.

Christianism did not have Taquiyah: early Christians obstinately refused to lie, and diminish their god, or their faith, in any way, to the bafflement and anger of other Romans. But Christianism definitively has the Abrogation Principle; when god feels it is good medicine to torture to death his own son, who did nothing wrong, definitively the message that it is good to torture to death people who have done nothing much.

Systems of moods are even more subtle than systems of ideas, because they do not say things directly and explicitly. The mood in Christianism is, basically, that it’s OK to kill, horribly, for no good reason: after all, man is created in the image of god.

Now is there anything more significant to torture to death the innocent? Should we call torturing to death the innocent the most prominent, the most significant, the most particular, the most peculiar, and marking art of the Christian god?

As I insisted, most human beings have known and practiced love. Human beings don’t need lessons on love, as if it were an alien planet never seen before.

But human beings have not known, and, or, practiced, nor justified, excused and become familiar with, torture to death. Christianism not only justified torture to death of the innocent, but made it the crux of its entire system of mood. Torture to death is the clé de voûte, the keystone, the part without which the entire edifice of Christianism collapses.

Judgment And Torture Constitute Christ's Business Model

Judgment And Torture Constitute Christ’s Business Model

And indeed, the last executions and torture to death of Christianism in Western Europe happened during the Nineteenth Century. In the preceding century, Voltaire had railed against the execution by “slow fire” of quite a few people, from a senile Jesuit to an eighteen year old a Jewish girl. The People was upset because of the Lisbon quake cum tsunami, which caused massive, irreparable damage. The girl was burned slowly just because she was Jewish.

Literal Christianism set up the mood which Literal Islamism inherited. Both originated with the guy who steamed his wife (and is a saint of the Orthodox branch of Christianism. Yes, this had deep consequences, including economic.

In the preceding, torture to death was vilified as Christianism’s ugliest mood. However, it does not stop there. The mythical Jesus, a rabbi, approved of the entire Old Testament. And that includes the mood of being willing to kill one’s own child to please one’s boss (“god”).

Yet, it does not stop there. Just as the cross is an add-on not found in old Judaism, Christianism is full of would-be cannibalism (“drink, because this is my blood”, “eat, because this is my flesh”). Would be cannibalism? Well, no wonder the Crusaders roasted children when they got hungry. History is not just an exacting teacher. Like the Christian god, history has no qualms, it just is.

And history is not just about facts and ideas. It is also about moods. Christianism went hand in hand with plutocracy, because it was all the excuse plutocracy needed to reign by the sword. And love was the screen behind which it hid its vicious rule.

How and why Christianism became supreme, as Constantine’s Catholicism, goes a long way to explain, and excuse, Literal Islam. This is the main reason to consider this agonizing corpse.

Patrice Ayme’

Torture Denies Brotherhood, Reason: Plutocrats Love It

December 13, 2014

Rejecting Torture Is Torture To Those Who Refuse Civilization. Let’s Torture Them That Way:

The government of the USA, fully duplicitous:

The Bush administration decided that Middle-Ages tortures (such as immersing a face under water) were not torture, when ordered by the government of the USA. This official policy of the USA got a further twist under Obama. Obama pontificated that “Torture is contrary to what we are”.

Thus the Obama administration did not prosecute torture advocates and torture administrators: surely we cannot be prosecuted for the opposite of what we are. Leon Panetta, CIA head and Defense Secretary wrote in “Worthy Fights” that, summoned to the White House by Obama’s chief of staff (now the mayor of Chicago), Rahm Emanuel “got ugly”. Says Panetta: ‘The president wants to know who the f**k authorized this to the committees,’ Rahm said, slamming his hand down on the table. “I have a president with his hair on fire and I want to know what the f**k you did to f**k this up so bad.”

Obama Facing Torture, Dec. 10, 2014

Obama Facing Torture, Dec. 10, 2014

It’s “contrary to what we are”, said Big Brother. So it cannot possibly be. And that sure infuriates Him.

Hitler used to tell the highest Nazi Party officials, that exterminating the Jews was out of the question. When asked about that much-emphasized position of the “Guide” at the Wannsee Conference, SS General Reinhart Heydrich bluntly said that it was what Hitler would keep on saying, if asked: thus the necessity of the Wannsee conference to make explicit to the highest officials what the real policy of the Reich was.

So what’s the real policy of the USA?

Now that the Democratic Party is in the last few days of its control of the Senate of the USA, Senator Diane Feinstein released a heavily “redacted” (= censored) report of CIA torture (over objections from the apparently pro-torture Obama administration). Feinstein is apparently keen to leave a trace beyond her own personal greed for money. She is suddenly interested by truth.

An aside: another Senator, Mark Udall, a Democrat from Colorado, who is in office for another few weeks (he lost re-election), said on Thursday that: “The CIA unconstitutionally spied on Congress by hacking into Senate intelligence committee computers. This grave misconduct is not only illegal but it violates the US constitution’s requirement of separation of powers.”

Funny all these pseudo-progressives trying to wash their souls in their last few days of power…

***

Why not to engage in torture? The answer was found by the Roman Republic:

The Republic outlawed the torture of citizens. Why? Well, first, because it was not needed. In a coherent, cohesive society of peers, peers don’t torture peers, because peers never engage in some conspiracy so dastardly that only unbearable suffering is the only thing that will get them to confess.

So engaging in torture meant precisely that hatred, not fraternity, ruled.

France, the ex-Francia Occidentalis, had developed, by 1300 CE, the modern police state. (Proof? All Templars were arrested at the same time on the same day, all over; also the Pope was arrested in Rome by French Special forces headed by a lawyer, and died in custody.) By then torture was very scientific, and delivered results.

However, by 1600 CE, police methods were so advanced that torture was found to be counterproductive. The subtlety of having an informant networks was found much more efficient. During the famous “Affaires des Poisons”, a gigantic, mind boggling conspiracy of poisoners, greedy wives, sorcerers, plotting socialites, plutocrats, mistresses, duchesses, and the like, careful police work was more effective than torture to obtain (too much, said the King) information.

(That does not mean that burning alive some miscreants who had killed up to 2,000 children did not have a salutary effect on the public! Torture for punishment, and torture for intelligence are two different things… Observed a winged devil who passed by…)

So one can say that employing torture is a testimony to a non-cohesive social situation. Apparently, during the Battle of Algiers, French paratroops, confronted to amateur, but deadly bomb makers, were able to extract, through torture, crucial confessions under extreme time pressure, as bombs were literally ticking.

However what torture gains in military efficiency, is more than lost in the propaganda battle. To this day, the cogent reasons for paratroops to use torture in that very peculiar situation, are drowned by the jeers of those who wanted the Algerian society deconstructed.

Torture Is Contrary To The Brotherhood Of Reason Known As Direct Democracy, Our Ideal:

When the civilized West is confronted to barbaric fanatics, Muslim or not, it’s of its essence to not exchange nature: the West has to stay civilized. The West does not have to stay civilized at all and any cost, but close to it.

The aim of the war of civilization against barbarity is to establish a brotherhood of reason.

So we have to enforce both brotherhood, and reason.

It goes without saying that plutocrats like neither. That’s why they love torture: it contradicts both brotherhood, and reason. Instead it extolls the rule of cruelty, brute force, and extermination, it brandishes torture as an achievement, and gives it another name. (Just as Christianism did.)

Hence it was not a coincidence that torture became the official policy of the USA under Bush’s plutocratic government. Because it was not just the CIA. The CIA acted under order from the Bush government, and several torture lawyers such as Mr. Yoo (who made the mistake of inviting me to his home).

Now Obama is trying to hide all this, by saying that “true patriots” got panicked after 9/11. Says he:” “We did a whole lot of things that were right, but we tortured some folks. We did some things that were contrary to our values. I understand why it happened.”

We? Maybe you understand why it happened, but you are trying to say the CIA and others did it all, whereas they obeyed orders by plutocrats from above. And their obsequious servants down below, from the gutter.

Mr. John Yoo, the lawyer, is a Berkeley Law Professor of pure Asian genetics, and who saw an occasion to make a name for himself in plutocratic circles with deviant legal reasoning in his famous “TORTURE MEMO”. Yoo was Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the United States.

It was signed in August 2002 by Assistant Attorney General Bybee, now an all-powerful Federal Judge, also a denizen of Berkeley. The memo advised the CIA, the DOD, and Bush and his goons that torture was legal. (So probably is slavery if you call it something else!)

So Obama, once again, is covering-up for the forces of evil. And the message is: if you, little mongrels, get out of line, and rebel against the powers that be, remember torture is contrary to what we are, and we get away with it.

You can escape the judgment of today’s pundits. But not that of history.

Patrice Ayme’

Times Praises Mind Control

April 13, 2013

RULE THE MINDS, & YOU SHALL RULE THE WORLD.

Abstract: The New York Times deliberately avoids to call a duck a duck if it quacks inside the government. This strategy is revealed, explicitly, by the New York Times itself. The New York Times, by its own admission,  deliberately misinforms the public, as it judges what semantics to use, in the service of what it perceives as being the White House’s best legal strategy.

***

How can large modern societies veer towards mass murder? Why did 80 million Germans goose-step behind the Kaiser, and then Hitler, to fight the world and achieve barbarian domination? I have the simplest explanation: mind control of the masses by cruel masters through carefully contrived emotional, semantic, logical and data input.

Germany 1938. Seeing What You See: Bad For Worship

Germany 1938. Seeing What You See: Bad For Worship

[“Bird Hell” detail; by German Max Beckman, 1938. Obviously A Parody Of Hitlerland.]

Hannah Arendt, a suspect thinker, came instead with a convoluted theory (in the second edition of her “Totalitarianism”  book, in 1958). She suggested that “individual isolation and loneliness” are preconditions for totalitarian domination. Speak about pop psychology.

Was Hannah saying that the several hundred million people who embraced totalitarianism, in Europe alone, were isolated and lonely? Is that why they gathered in vast herds? When 50,000 Brownshirts paraded together, were they isolated and lonely? Were the comrades of the Politburo standing with Stalin isolated and lonely? An obviously stupid theory. It’s the exact opposite that is true.

Arendt’s fancy was actually contradicted by an explicit study of Columbia University’s Theodore Abel, published in 1938. The study “Why Hitler Came In Power” showed that the characteristic 1931-1932 Nazi supporter was employed, but not educated. The supporter’s mentality, far from being isolated and lonely, was shared by the Nazi herd. Nazi supporters were enraged by the World War One defeat, the Versailles Treaty, and all and any revolutionary movements contesting the old plutocracy.

In other words, Nazi supporters had their minds programmed expertly by the very class that caused World War One, and their own suffering.

Arendt’s weird considerations sound like excuses (for herself, for her lover Heidegger?).

To find the truth, it’s better to read Nietzsche’s broadsides against the German herd, or Hitler’s detailed explanation on how to make the multitudes goosestep, spiritually speaking. Hitler explains that the way to lead the folk (“Volk”) where it does not want to go is by using “big lies“. Nietzsche explains that Germans were in love with the instincts of the herd, and cultivated them by choice first, a will to baseness, and then because they did not know any better, that’s what they became. That’s why Nietzsche broke with his (ex) friend and fellow musician, Richard Wagner.

Now fast forward to Twentieth First Century USA. The New York Times, the ‘newspaper of record’ practices, of its own gloating admission, semantic mind control.

***

LET’S CALL EVERYTHING EMBARASSING DIFFERENTLY:

Wonders Margaret Sullivan, the New York Times “Public Editor“, about her own paper: “If it’s torture, why call it a “harsh interrogation technique”? If it’s premeditated assassination, why call it a “targeted killing”? And if a suspected terrorist has been locked up at Guantánamo Bay for more than a decade, why call him a “detainee”?”

Funny she has to ask that. Recent leaks from inside the CIA showed that CIA officials therein were afraid of International Warrants of Arrest against them in the future. So they did what bandits have always done, when they don’t fear summary execution. They switched from torture to assassination (assassinated people don’t tell tales to the International Criminal Court).

Ms. Sullivan went to ask Mr. Shane, a national security reporter in the Washington NYT bureau, and Philip B. Corbett, the associate managing editor for standards of the New York Times, to respond to some of these issues.

Mr. Shane addressed the question on “targeted killings,” noting that editors and reporters have discussed it repeatedly. He wrote:

“Assassination” is banned by executive order, but for decades that has been interpreted by successive administrations as prohibiting the killing of political figures, not suspected terrorists. Certainly most of those killed are not political figures, though arguably some might be. Were we to use “assassination” routinely about drone shots, it would suggest that the administration is deliberately violating the executive order, which is not the case. This administration, like others, just doesn’t think the executive order applies…“Murder,” of course, is a specific crime described in United States law with a bunch of elements, including illegality, so it would certainly not be straight news reporting to say President Obama was “murdering” people.

So, basically “assassination” is banned by decree, so “is not the case” and murder is illegal, so it’s not “straight news“. Thus Mr. Shane opines that: 

“This leaves “targeted killing,” which I think is far from a euphemism. It denotes exactly what’s happening: American drone operators aim at people on the ground and fire missiles at them. I think it’s a pretty good term for what’s happening, if a bit clinical.”

Clinical? The CIA is a hospital, and drones, presumably, scalpels? By that token whenever somebody shoots at children, it’s “targeted killing”, not murder! Indeed, an “operator” aims at children on the ground, and fires. Mr. Shane added that he had only one serious qualm about the term: it’s not “what’s happening”.  

Indeed, that, he said, was expressed by an administration official: “It’s not the targeted killings I object to — it’s the untargeted killings.” The official “was talking about so-called ‘signature strikes’ that target suspected militants based on their appearance, location, weapons and so on, not their identities, which are unknown; and also about mistaken strikes that kill civilians.”

“Mistaken strikes”? What’s mistaken about exploding a home one knows harbor women and children, in the alleged hope to get some potential terrorist, potentially inside?

In any case, Mr. Shane calls, from his own admission, “untargeted killings” and “signature strikes” by their opposites, “targeted killings”. In other words, black will be white, as long as it would be illegal, were it black.

Such are the standards at the New York Times. One can be barbarian because one is cruel. One can also be a barbarian, because one does not know how to use words. This is where the word barbarian comes from. The Greeks viewed those who could not talk well as saying: ba ba ba ba… (Notice I avoids any mention of the babama who wants to exponentiate Social Security out of existence, in an effort of remarkable restraint.)

Finally one can be a barbarian, because one views as valid a proposition and its negation. Mr. Shane seems affected by these three versions of barbarity: cruelty, at a loss for words, and self contradiction.

***

TORTURE HAS LEGAL RAMIFICATIONS, WE CAN’T TALK ABOUT IT:

On the matter of “detainee,” Mr. Corbett called it “a legitimate concern” and agreed that the term might not be ideal. He said that it, not prisoner, was used because those being held “are in such an unusual situation – they are not serving a prison term, they are in an unusual status of limbo.”

They are not serving a prison term, but they are in prison. This is the New York Times, thinking.

The debate over the word “torture,” he said, has similar implications to the one Mr. Shane described with assassination. “The word torture, aside from its common sense meaning, has specific legal meaning and ramifications,” Mr. Corbett said. “Part of the debate is on that very point.

Which point? What Mr. Corbett is saying is that the debate is about not torture per se, but about the “legal meaning and ramifications” of torture. Does that mean that the New York Times cannot talk about “torture“, because it has “legal ramifications” for its client?

The New York Times wants to “avoid making a legal judgment in the middle of a debate,” he added. The New York Times shall not judge before its time. We are not talking about “news” anymore, here. We are talking about judgment, once the debate, thus the news, are over.

***

NEW YORK TIMES AS A PROPAGANDA OUTFIT:

The most notorious failure of the media of the USA was when Nazi’s barbarity was not revealed to the public to the extent it deserved, in a timely manner. That’s how Hitler got on a joy ride for as long as he did.

The New York Times re-tweeted all the talking points of the Bush administration in the march to the Iraq war in 2002-2003. For years, if I sent a comment mentioning Mr. Bin Laden had been recruited and trained by the CIA and the SIA, my comment was immediately censored (I did this deliberately, just to experiment with the lemmings at the Times).  

What the authorities in Washington wanted, and it was amplified by the Main Stream media, is to make the folks believe that the Involvement of the USA in the Middle East started with a treacherous, mass murdering attack on 9/11. (My spouse worked for a firm that had offices in one of the collapsed towers, by the way, but moved just weeks before, so I’m not belittling 9/11, even on the personal level!)

In truth, 9/11 was a consequence of Washington’s policies more than that of some god crazed maniacs. And the consequences were highly predictable: after all the same trick of crashing a jumbo jet had been tried on Paris a few years earlier. Does that mean Washington never heard of Paris?

The first way to fight criminals, is to reveal, and then denounce their apparent, or suspected crimes. If there is a murder in the street, one does not call it a “targeted killing” especially if one knows that it is actually “untargeted” or a “signature strike”.

Also torture is the deliberate infliction of pain. It’s simple. Torture was stopped by European powers in the Middle Ages, because police techniques of interrogation had become more effective (and could be used legally, whereas torture could not… by law).

To stop barbarians in the modern world, the first thing to do is to uncover and denounce them. This is the job of journalism. The New York Times refuses to do this job. Instead it imagines it has another job, that of a legal authority. It also has the jobs of judge, and White House advocate. Not only it does all these things, which contradicts journalism, but it does it consciously, and deliberately.

Nazism was made possible because enough journalists and editors in the Anglo-Saxon world refused to report what the Nazis were doing. If they had, public opinion in the Anglo-Saxon world would have turned, and the collaboration with Hitler would have been declared unlawful, and then German general would have made an anti-Nazi coup.

So this is serious stuff.

And it’s still serious today. Obama basically proposed to do away with Social Security, by exponentiating out of it (more on that in another essay). What does the New York Times really know, and think about this? How come the reactions in the media have been so mild? How come not seeing what’s plain to see?

***

CIVILIZATION WITHOUT BRAINS CAN’T BE CONCEIVED, LET ALONE DEFENDED:

And so it goes. People are programmed by their (mental) environment. A devious mental environment makes for devious people. A base mental environment makes for base people. A false mental environment makes for small people. A mental environment where people learn to be only excited by trivialities makes for trivial minds.

Nietzsche condemned Christianity as a slave religion, while pointing out that the European aristocracy, while outwardly breathing Christianism, actually practiced the opposite. Nietzsche also noted that the strength of Greece came from keeping a balance between two completely opposed mentalities, the Dionysian and the Apollonian.  

Vast minds with vast personalities are more powerful than those who know only a few. When man domesticated an animal, the animals’ behavior registry got sharply reduced. A wolf is capable of much more behaviors than a dog. Domesticated animals are tools.

Tyrants rule over people because they have turned those people into low dimension minds with fewer emotions, and fewer thoughts, and less ability to form them, just like dogs relative to wolves. Ruling over weak minds is not just easier, it’s the only way. It’s also why democracy, which is more clever, keeps on defeating fascism.

Indeed a mental universe where people demand that ducks be called ducks is more powerful than one where they are not named. Intelligence is about discernment. Thus, the proper labels.

Mental freedom without mental power is only illusion.

The New York Times grandly proclaims the slogan “All News That Are fit To Print” on its front page. As pointed out above, the New York Times does not like to talk about it “while a debate is going on“.

New York Times, tell me: if “torture”, “murder”, “assassination” are not fit to print, what is fit to print?

***

Patrice Ayme

TORTURE QUESTIONED.

July 6, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Torture is much more ubiquitous than is generally believed. The advancement of technology has allowed for the advancement of torture. New forms of torture have appeared (not just electricity, but sleep deprivation, various forms of exposure, from cold to loud noises, to uncomfortable positions, all very delicately controlled). Using them allows modern torturers to claim they are not torturing because the new forms of torture are not on the official list of recognized historical tortures. Many states can now imprison people in an extra judicial way for more than a few days if they are suspected of terrorism (this assists the police, but sometimes suffering maybe the real objective).
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GOOD TORTURE, COUNTERPRODUCTIVE POLITICS:
Terrorist networks have been dismantled by torture. Torture was used as an efficient counter insurrection technique by French paratroopers in the Battle of Algiers. With time very limited to find the next bomb maker, once one had been caught, and with very soft (non fanatical) culprits (who typically transported bomb elements), torture allowed to expose terrorist cells before senior terrorists could flee. This is a general observation; if police catches someone with a hidden ticking time bomb somewhere, and they know that the bomber will probably not resist to torture, they may be derelict not to use it. The police is indeed faced with a choice between violating one law protecting the criminal, and civilization, and an other law, somewhat opposite, protecting the innocent, and civilization. Not a nice choice, and a good reason for the legal systems to close their eyes SOMETIMES.

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

So the public opinion struggle was lost by the very methods that won the military struggle. This case was thoroughly studied by the Pentagon and Israel. The Pentagon used torture lightly in Iraq, keeping the French example in mind. Israel uses a careful mix of scrupulous law abiding with extremely severe punishment akin to torture by association (such as the immediate demolition of terrorists’ houses). But the Israeli tactics make sense, to insure the survival of Israel. The family of the assassin of William of Orange was ennobled by the fascist Philippe II of Burgundy and Spain, and became instantaneously rich. Having the family dwelling demolished, probably makes the Qur’an theses about going to heavens by killing, significantly less attractive. Whereas the Dutch republic had an immensely powerful ally in France, also perpetually fighting Spain and Burgundy, Israel does not have anybody (sending weapons and money is one thing, sending soldiers, another).
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WHY SHOULD TORTURE BE MADE ILLEGAL?
At first sight, it’s an argument that is hard to make. The present world is, globally, at peace, but in no small measure because of the IMPLICIT TERROR exerted by the five permanent member states of the United Nation Security Council. Each of them have the means of killing hundreds of millions of people, and have exhibited, as an alliance during WWII, their readiness to use the most severe methods to crush the enemy, without consideration for the squeamish side. So peace, quiet, and civilization are blossoming, but under the threat that any significant deviation will be corrected by Armageddon. The USA has declared it reserves for itself the right of first use of nuclear weapons. France has explicitly announced that, besides this, she reserves the right of replying to mass terrorism with nukes (so like the Israelis with the demolition of the houses, but on a somewhat more exalted scale). Iran took that French warning personally, for some reason. Russia, China and Israel don’t need to issue warnings (Israel is loudly deploying a second (nuclear) strike capability).

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

So democracies or civilizations (China) fighting for survival NEED TO BE ATROCIOUS sometimes. But that means that if they are not fighting for survival, they do not need to be atrocious. Being more advanced in their human interactions than the (less democratic and less civilized) rest of the planet, they need to keep their moral superiority, so they have a good reason to eschew the unsophisticated tortures more primitive places have to use.
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WHY THE EUROPEAN MIDDLE AGES WAS LESS TORTUROUS THAN ISLAM:
As we said there are two main types of governmental torture: torture to enforce the law, and torture to extract information. The first sort of torture can be more or less extensive, depending how demanding and twisted the law is. For example Allah encouraged slavery and torture (as confirmed by reading a non watered down version of the Qur’an). These are situations that are unnatural to animals, and the more unnatural, the more severe the violence. So there were laws in North Africa, up to the nineteenth century, to punish severely slaves who tried to escape. Impaling was standard. It’s severe torture: the condemned could survive days.

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

In eight century Spain (revered by bin Laden), many people who had converted to Islam by convenience tried to convert back to Catholicism, once they figured out that Islam was not nice (at the time Catholicism, broken by the Franks, was totally relax). Many were executed by horrible means, such as crucifixion upside down (the official line of some Islamist scholars, to this day, is that those Christians wanted to be tortured). In Islam, being an apostate (somebody one feels is renouncing Islam) is subject to the death penalty (the idea, as most things Islamist, comes from old Judaism). By contrast in Carolingian Francia, people could convert back and forth into whatever. Christians would become Jews, and thousands of Muslims were quietly left to do whatever (we know there were huge numbers of these, from blood and genetic analyses).
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WHY THE EUROPEAN MIDDLE AGES QUIT TORTURE TO EXTRACT INFORMATION:
To understand what is wrong with using torture, for extracting information, one should look at what happened during the Middle Ages. By 1300 CE, the kingdom of France had the best torturers who ever were. The information they obtained were confirmed in excess of 90%.

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

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

But what did torture in was that the judges did not need the hints torture would provide with. Why? Simply because, by 1300 CE, under Philippe IV, Le Bel, the modern police state had been created, with methods of inquiry and arrest much more advanced than the best imperial Rome ever had (examples: the Templar monks were arrested all over at the same exact time; when the French judicial system decided to arrest the Pope, it sent a commando to Rome). Torture-to-extract-information had become irrelevant.
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DOES TORTURE WORK WITH MARTYRS?
Well, it sure does: few things real martyrs love as much as torture. That is why one has to laugh when the Bushmen thought torture would cure Islamist fascism. It is said all over the Qur’an that the best way to insure the good graces of Allah (the great fascist in the sky) is to kill and suffer in His name. So, when Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, “the main architect of 9/11”, was approached with a wet towel for his “water boarding”, if he was the genuine thing, all he probably regretted was the absence of something more spectacular, like red hot pincers. Ever since the  Bush administration had been busy to proclaim that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed talked really a lot after being “water boarded”, thus arguing torture worked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posturing is fun, but it’s not moral.
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Patrice Ayme.

www.patriceayme.com/

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

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

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