Saturday, November 03, 2007

Guest List: Traits of Fascism

I haven't time to create anything new here, so I'll continue posting stored-up items. Here's one that is taken from Mark Anderson's Strategic News Service, a thought -provoking generalization that, like most generalizations, badly needs examination in the details.

Political scientist Dr. Lawrence Britt has examined the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia) and several Latin American regimes. Britt found 14 defining characteristics common to each: (disclosure needed here: I could find no mention of his methodology, but the thoughts are interesting and tie back to Bush suppressing scientific work).

The 14 Characteristics of Fascism Are:

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism -
Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights -
Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause -
The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

4. Supremacy of the Military -
Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

5. Rampant Sexism -
The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution.

6. Controlled Mass Media -
Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

7. Obsession with National Security -
Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

8. Religion and Government are Intertwined -
Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.

9. Corporate Power is Protected -
The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

10. Labor Power is Suppressed -
Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.

11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts -
Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked.

12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment -
Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.

13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption -
Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

14. Fraudulent Elections -
Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

-- Offered to SNS by David Obert [Hewlett-Packard]

anatomy-fascism-robert-o-paxton-paperback-cover-art

David Brin responds: While this list is thought provoking - and of course chilling in our present context - I believe it is also ahistorical and misleading at several points.

#4. Supremacy of the Military - "Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized."

This one is highly problematic. Not only because it is deeply flawed, historically. But also because it leads us toward a generalized hostility toward the military, which is not only undeserved in our present situation, but deeply unjust and counterproductive.

Sure, the military chiefs were supreme under Franco's version of fascism, but the same cannot be said for several other sub-brands. Under Hitler, a top priority was to keep the regular military class cowed and intimidated. Yes, there was militarism and the military was vastly expanded - and, indeed, the Wehrmacht was highly culpable for a myriad crimes. Nevertheless, the professional officer corps was not in itself supreme. It contributed almost no members to the Nazi inner circle. Hitler strove to build parallel forces answerable only to the Nazi Party.

Stalin's version of fascism took this trend much farther, all the way to a near-total evisceration of the Soviet officer corps, at the very threshold of WWII. This latter example is, in fact, a far closer parallel to what the Bushites have been doing to our American military. (Example: under Bill Clinton, we had thirty brigades ready - with high morale and training - to do their duty in some major surprise conflict. Under George W. Bush, that number has declined to two brigades. Just two.) It is vital to recognize that the United States armed forces -- especially the apolitical and highly intellectual Marshallian U.S. Officer Corps -- have been the neocons foremost victims. They have suffered, in part, because the Bushites know that our nation's professional castes must be squelched, starting with the military.

Moreover, how can demonizing these folks be as helpful as embracing them? Enlisting them as allies, in resisting an attempted fascist putsch? Indeed, anyone paying close attention can see clear signs of a growing, behind-the-scenes resistance, in which quiet back-pressure has been applied by our nation's flag officers. First the forced resignation of Donald Rumsfeld, followed by appointment of a non-Bushite Republican as Sec/Def, Robert Gates. Followed by the new Joint Chiefs Chairman, Admiral Michael Mullen, and Centcom Chief Admiral Fallon. All are clear signs of a military that's squirming out of neocon control. (Fast enough to do real good? That could depend on how much support they get.)

Keep your eyes open. Any time you see the Navy rise in influence, it will be a clear signal that this resistance continues. That elements in the military are pushing back on our behalf.

#9. Corporate Power is Protected - "The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite."

True, but simplistic. Yes, the Junkers and major industrialists installed Hitler as a counter to the Communists. But they were delusional. They thought their privately-owned newspapers could keep him in check, in an era of new media (radio and loudspeakers) in which Hitler was the master-hypnotist. (See point #8.)

Also remember, that the Nazi Party was the National Socialist Party. The aristos were protected, but they also found themselves straitjacketed. (For example, purely Aryan-Nazi labor unions gained partial control over the means of production. A little-known historical quirk. (See point#10.))

As to our present situation, yes, the rise of monopoly and a gilded age support point #9. But there are complexities. Far too little is being made of the rift WITHIN the corporate aristocracy, with the smarter half growing aware how the Golden Goose of Enlightenment American capitalism is being killed before their eyes. Will the smarter and more honest/creative half of the aristocracy actually start taking action, to help the people throw off the dismal/stupid/corrupt half? Stay tuned.

#12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment - "Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations."

This, too, oversimplifies. Yes, all these things come true under every fascist regime. But the Bushites face a steep climb before reaching such a plateau. In fact, during the interim, while a diversity of law enforcement agencies are still heavily stocked with skilled and honest professionals, the neocons' problem is quite the opposite... to squelch the effectiveness of law enforcement! The utterly central Bushite need, right now, is to distract and dissuade the professionals who are charged with uncovering crime, because so much outright crime has been perpetrated by the neocons themselves. Hence, should we be surprised that statistics show most crime rates on the rise? Especially drug-related, white collar, consumer fraud and street crime.

Yes, this kind of trend can serve the purpose of provoking citizens to want more police empowerment. But it is a dangerous game and we could organize our thoughts to helping it to backfire.

(A side irony. As I point out in The Ostrich Papers: How it will take all Decent Americans to Restore Decency to America, it is beginning to dawn on many old-style Republicans that nearly all of the basic tenets of old-style conservatism have been systematically reversed by the neocon proto-fascists. Prudence to recklessness. Cynical isolationism to faux-utopian imperialism. Punctilious lawfulness to flagrant illegality. A dedication to accountability has flipped to frantic secrecy and avoidance. Certainly the old GOP dedication to states rights has been trounced, thrashed and buried. That last item, of course, could be viewed as a precursor to the police state described by David Obert and by Lawrence Britt.)

In sum: I do not deny the relevance of the chilling list of Fascist traits offered by Lawrence Britt. But I believe it should be used with subtlety and care. If we are to avoid becoming the USSA (United Security States of America) we have to avoid cliches.

Especially those that might make us shun potential allies in this desperate fight.

46 comments:

brother doug said...

So Brin have you read Hitler’s Beneficiaries by Golz Aly? 60 years later we are only now finding all the lies and larceny that the Nazis hid. They got most of there money by borrowing and stealing it from occupied lands. But the really surprising thing about that book is how smart and politically astute in using the welfare state to aid their supporters. I wonder how long it will take for us to see the light. My family has been here since the founding of this nation and I have never seen this level of fraud and centralization of power.

Your point about the military is good because the German military tried to assassinate Hitler several times and even asked the British state department for approval to oust him before his first invasion.

David Brin said...

Among the many beneficiaries and collaborators, some got away scot free, concealed in veils of "legitimate" secrecy. Read EARTH and you will know who I am talking about.

BTW I posted a LONG vomment under the previous post. If it did NOT duplicate an earlier post, then it had some good stuff worth looking at.

I'd still be happy to get feedback /links oto suppoprt my "If Bil dun it" essay at:
http://www.davidbrin.com/ostrich2a.html

Pat said...

And how many of those "characteristics of fascism" are actually characteristics of a crisis era? As in The American Revolution, the Civil War, World War II - because when a nation feels is is threatened, they'll do just what the current leader of Pakistan most emotionally said he had to do. They'll do whatever is necessary to save the nation. Some will do it reasonably well; some, like Hitler and Stalin, will go whole hog.

Whether that's necessary now is anyone's guess. Al-qaeda seems to be lying very low except for stirring up trouble in Iraq. I'd say the current administration is fanning the flames big-time and pouring on gasoline where they can.
Last Act Urgency aka "I'm a lame or even a dead duck. If I['m going to go out with a bang, I'd better act now." aka Samson's Exit.

David Brin said...

Yes, some of these are traits of any tyrrany. But fascism is especially nasty because it has all 14, especially scapegoatism and a total lack of belief in actual law.

As for the mythology of Al Qaeda, it is one of the greatest mass psychoses imaginable. It makes all the other trumped up bogey-men seem pikers by comparison.

Think about it. A dozen guys pull a crazed stunt that should never have worked, had the government been run by anything but bozos. After six months in which our president ordered a hundred FBI agents OFF of duties protecting us, instead assigning them to a futile search for smoking guns on his predecessor.

The plotters kill fewer people than a week's worth of traffic fatalities and destroy property we (as a nation) can shrug off in a day. Yes, horrific and meriting a huge counter-response...

... like toppling the ENTIRE national government that abetted the plotters. A dispropotion of attack and response that was profoundly more than enough to show the cost of assailing the US.

So? Was it enough of a response? Okay. Shall we follow Al Qaeda back to its sponsors? Not according to our government, who packed every single rich material witness from the sponsoring nation onto luxury flightshome, without even being interviewed by the FBI, while Americans were forbidden to fly.

Crock! I know the experts and they say that Al Qaeda is vastly over-rated. Yes, WE WILL TAKE MORE HITS! But:

1) the cross-hairs targets are all "blue" urban America. And Blue America overwhelmingly rejects the "state of war" and "state of emergency" bullshit that neo-fascists are using to take over our country.

The Al Quaeda psychosis is swallowed by Red America, which is NOT in the crosshairs, but wants blue america to keep paying most of the taxes and to feel the boot heel of "emergency" rule. Hypocrisy!

2) We NEVER experienced anything like this during the Cold War, when a relentless and brilliant KGB plotted against us and ONE Soviet missile could do more harm than a thousand 9/11s.

Have guys like you no sense of scale? No embarrassment?

3) So we're in danger? THEN WHY HAVE THEY BEEN TEARING THE US MILITARY AND INTELLIGENCE SERVICES DOWN?

I look you in the eye. If a dozen 9/11s happen tomorrow, none of the Bush Administration would be justified. Not a single thing they have done to eviscerate the greatest nation on Earth.

Anonymous said...

>Stalin's version of fascism took this trend much farther

Stalin didn't practice a form of fascism. In fact, the profoundly left-wing (worker party) behavior he displayed on a grand homicidal scale is much closer to the political dogma espoused by this blog.

The key differences:

1.) Nationalism, a central element of fascism, makes the alignment to communism (a stateless classless society) contradictory and illusive from the start.

2.) Nazism was an extremely selfish and inherently murderous ideology for a select race -- to the detriment of all other humans. Communism, however distorted in Stalinism, held open a universal promise of liberation. (A "universal promise of liberation," sound familiar to all you peacenik liberals out there?)

3.) Nazism's aim was to recast German society according to racial categories, not to restructure society by socializing the means of production.

4.) And finally, the totalitarianism approach mistakes the claims of the regimes -- to organize society totally and to totally represent it -- for in reality no total control of society ever really existed under either system.

Comparing communism under Stalin to Nazism was in vogue after WW2; during the Cold War. It was convenient politically at the time, but totally wrong. Many liberal comrades today try to lump the two political systems together, in a shameless and easily seen-through attempt to slight right-wing politics.

Pat said...

David's comment on my comment - Amen, brother! But what in the world is with the national hysteria we're seeing?

I noticed that both Mike Huckabee in his book and Pete Domenici (R-NM) is a letter to me, referred to "The terrorists in Guantanamo" as if they'd already been proven guilty and convicted, when in fact they haven't even been tried. I know this is the Republican party line. But when two otherwise nice guys - and they ARE both nice guys - can parrot and believe this without ever stopping to ask about the equation of "being arrested" with "being guilty" - well, what in the world is going on? We've had times of national hysteria and war fever before - are we approaching another one? (Or already in one?)

I'm scared.

David Brin said...

In fact, I have dwelled upon differences in plenty: e.g. Stalin believed in dominance of nurture, hence he'd kill you and then "re-educate" your kids. Hitler believed in genetic "nature" and hence would kill you and hunt down every kid.

Still, even this is disingenuous hairsplitting compared to their shared traits. Traits that we seem heading for.

"Comparing communism under Stalin to Nazism was in vogue after WW2; during the Cold War. It was convenient politically at the time, but totally wrong. Many liberal comrades today try to lump the two political systems together, in a shameless and easily seen-through attempt to slight right-wing politics."

Whaaaaaa? What does this even MEAN! What's your plaint? That liberals hate and despise both commies and Nazis? Geee! I am SOOOOO Sorry!

Liberals (even ones like me, a keynote speaker at a Libertarian Party convention and a fierce proponent of the military) long ago acknowledeged that "the left can go mad." Liberals have NEVER allowed lefty loons to control their party. So your taunts at "peacenik" fools are aimed at a desperate strawman. Not at anybody here.

(Clinton fought WAR far BETTER than Bush. Period.)

Liberals never let the flakey left have power. But you right wing dingbats HAVE let your mad wing take over! You have let them re-define "conservatism" away from every decent value. It is YOUR fault that the GOP is now led by madmen.

Shame on you.

Tony Fisk said...

I think that a number of these points are interdependent.

Especially #5 and #8: one 'top-down' system (church) dovetails with another (state), and introduces its own outlooks (patriarchism, homophobia)

And they all appear to be means of enforcing the 'Zeroth Commandment':

'Thou shalt think as I'

brother Doug said...

Hey Brin the goverment pulls a Katrina again in San Diego county. Turning away help but allowing blackwater to do what they want.

EAST SAN DIEGO COUNTY, CA (Nov. 1) – – Earlier this week, just a few miles from the US/Mexico border, nearly 350 residents of the small rural town of Potrero, near the proposed site of the Blackwater West training camp, were trapped by the Harris/Potrero Fire suffering from lack of power, fuel, food and relief supplies.

It was Blackwater VP Brian Bonfiglio, aided by local politicians, who was able to get through the sheriff’s blockade to enter area and hand out supplies and Blackwater-logo pins to hungry and newly homeless residents from the back of his white Hummer, all while community-based relief efforts were thwarted and delayed by local law enforcement.

David Brin said...

Do you have a URL reference for this?

jeb said...

Here's a link for it, Doc:

Blackwater Fire 'Relief'

ToddR said...

Same number, somewhat different content.

See Umberto Eco's "Eternal Fascism:
Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt" at:

http://www.themodernword.com/eco/eco_blackshirt.html

oceana_84 said...

Oh great, now we have corporate henchmen doing PR work. As if outsourcing our war crimes wasn't enough.

Mercenaries operating domestically is never a good sign, especially in a country were the corporate ruling class is paranoid, agressive, and tend to see things like the Constitution as mere obsticles to their rule... I mean our "security".

ColonelZen said...

The more correct phrase, and underlying economic "theory" is the truly gruesome distortion of political linguistics styled "Neoliberalism". In short form it means government doing everything they can to get everything out of the way (and getting inconvenient things, from groups of people and their civil rights to pesky accountability laws) of big corporations making another buck.

Thanks Autumn (my daughter studying anthropology) I didn't need yet another political nightmare to think about.

Evidently the powers that be have kept mum on this "socio-economic theory" and its roots here in the USA but it's been discussed worldwide for a while and the "intellgencia" are catching on around here. There seems to be an element of willful obfustication about what it really means in some of what I've read about it.

It maps better to Bush practice than Facism - where an authoritarian state controls the private means of production - as Neoliberalism implies that the state sells its authority as an asset to global plutocrats.

(My encounter with "neoliberalism" is only days old. Further enlightenment most welcome).

-- TWZ

ColonelZen said...

The more correct phrase, and underlying economic "theory" is the truly gruesome distortion of political linguistics styled "Neoliberalism". In short form it means government doing everything they can to get everything out of the way (and getting inconvenient things, from groups of people and their civil rights to pesky accountability laws) of big corporations making another buck.

Thanks Autumn (my daughter studying anthropology) I didn't need yet another political nightmare to think about.

Evidently the powers that be have kept mum on this "socio-economic theory" and its roots here in the USA but it's been discussed worldwide for a while and the "intellgencia" are catching on around here. There seems to be an element of willful obfustication in some of what I've read about it.

It maps better to Bush practice than Facism - where an authoritarian state controls the private means of production - as Neoliberalism implies that the state sells its authority as an asset to global plutocrats.

(My encounter with "neoliberalism" is only days old. Further enlightenment most welcome).

-- TWZ

Tony Fisk said...

... The title of Naomi Klein's Guardian article sums up the Blackwater response squad:

"Rapture rescue will airlift you to safety. If you can afford it"

Yes, indeedy! When the hellfires threaten, the best water is Blackwater.

(And, in the case of Potrero, it seems the *only* water is Blackwater! One wonders which appropriations bill supplies the linen shirts while they're at it)

Sorry, but this form of prioritisation is just plain *alien* to me.

Sam said...

I'm curious if you've seen Naomi Wolf's recent book, The End of America: A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot. In it, she also built a case that the United States has been sliding towards a fascist regime. She breaks down the process into ten steps; many are similar to Dr. Britt's. It's an interesting work, and I think many of her arguments are more developed than Dr. Britt's.

Tony Fisk said...

Ah well, here's one item that bucks the trend of rising secrecy:

Digital magnetic map goes global

"The first global map of magnetic peculiarities - or anomalies - on Earth has been assembled by an international team of researchers.

...Many years of negotiation were required to obtain confidential data from governments and institutes."

Marc said...

Brin,
Though Dr. Lawrence Britts book is timely and an important message -- by your comments, it seems to me that you should have been the one to write this book.

I pulled out a few comments that really struck me;
"
It is vital to recognize that the United States armed forces -- especially the apolitical and highly intellectual Marshallian U.S. Officer Corps -- have been the neocons foremost victims. They have suffered, in part, because the Bushites know that our nation's professional castes must be squelched, starting with the military.
"
>> Amongst the NeoCons themselves, there have to be some Uber-patriots. Can even these people see that a Kleptocracy which is about as much as the Bush group has accomplished, is no match for an efficient government? Russia, Germany and others that have tried these, have been successful only in so much as that they could keep taking from others. With a retooled Russia, and growing China and India, and a not-yet-NeoConned Europe -- how is a country like the USA going to prosper, much less compete?

I get that they are demoralizing the troops to stock up the contractors -- their private militia filled with people who will actually kill for money. But, you can never trust such a military, because someone else can bid more for them. Ultimately, all modern wars are economic, and the US is losing that one at a rapid pace.

So much of our historical perspective of Nazi germany was of these ultra-efficient and heartless regime. I'd say that also is a misconception. The Nazis were a Christian extremist organization. And much of their loyal followers were take from the dregs -- racially pure but frustrated Germans-- not the cream of the crop and this definitely fits the Fox News/Rush Limbaugh acolyte. Germany had great scientists and brilliant engineers -- but how many of those were educated by the Nazis system? They were already there. Perhaps propaganda, fear and ultra-nationalism don't really produce great minds. I certainly can't see the "No Child Left Behind" which trains kids for standardized tests as any way to excel as a country. The german culture itself, brought precision and hard work -- but does a poster about "It is our place to rule mankind" all of a sudden make a young boy grow up to be a genius?

I'd have to say that these fascist states are self-destructive. They are their own worst enemies and can only exist with perpetual war. In today's Capitalism and Advertising world, what kind of IP revenue can IBM recoup from China if we go to war? Will India keep buying Coca Cola if we go to war in Iran? There are so many more economic losers during war than winners.

Your point is very well made; "...Will the smarter and more honest/creative half of the aristocracy actually start taking action, to help the people throw off the dismal/stupid/corrupt half? Stay tuned." Does Google make more money when our tax dollars go to Halliburton? No. Those in bed with the state are the only winners, ultimately -- and eventually that will be a relative term.

Already, many of the Oil companies are buying up water supplies -- seeing the next great resource to control.

I have to wonder if this is more about an Elite mentality and not just about profit. I think that many of these NeoCons are really of the attitude; "It's better to rule in Hell than serve in Heaven." Perhaps they just want to be able to crush other people -- and like the excitement of desperate times.

Brother Doug said...

Jebs link is the entire article. I do not have the link to the original as it was emailed to me. From its format it looks to me like it was originally from the AP wire service but I can only find one online outlet that has published it. Hard to confirm since AP will not allow direct access to the story.

Marc said...

pat said...
"...
And how many of those "characteristics of fascism" are actually characteristics of a crisis era? As in The American Revolution, the Civil War, World War II - because when a nation feels is is threatened, they'll do just what the current leader of Pakistan most emotionally said he had to do. They'll do whatever is necessary to save the nation. Some will do it reasonably well; some, like Hitler and Stalin, will go whole hog.
"


>> That is a good point. I don't think there is a significant crisis from which the NeoCons have drawn power for Bush. Unless you consider the concept that an enemy might get more box-cutters, or that a planet of 6 billion people might be able to find 20 who would use them against America, is something that we have to drop everything for, I think we can both agree; America had no real threat in 2001.

Now, in 2007, I think we might have a collapsed economy, over-stretched Medicare (thank God they didn't privatize Social Security), dropped the ball on staying competitive/out of debt with other nations, and may be on the way to a rapid and changing global environment. Oh, and the infrastructure is crumbling, our education system is failing (what, making poor schools poorer isn't genius?), you probably could pick up the paper and find a new chunk of sky falling.

The US didn't shut down the Constitution for the Civil War or WW II -- those were big dangers. Both Lincoln and FDR went a little overboard in cracking down on civil liberties, and were both checked by other branches of Government (while the incarceration of Japanese Americans is still recognized as a stain upon the FDR administration). I'm sure some would have tried -- but they were too busy having to engage the population to join the war effort and defeat a military that had a good chance of defeating them. Sure, if they had spare money, they could have issued Amber Alerts and nice parking places to well-heeled members of the Homeland Security. I hear they secretly bury truck-loads of office supplies just to keep their budget up -- so extra post-it notes and hookers on the pay roll would probably be left off on any significant threat fighting patriots budget.

A cynical person might say; "It's all about the stealing and passing laws during a crisis."

...
Whether that's necessary now is anyone's guess.

>> I'll come out and vote NO on that. Our government was pervasively spying BEFORE 9/11. Tracking what shoes you buy is like adding more piles of hay to the search for a needle in a hay stack--as if you didn't have enough straw to sift through for the significant information. And can we all admit that, if someone is planning to do a terrorist act, that they might get their materials in such a way that leaves no record? I mean, kill a few thousand people -- what's the big deal about a robbery?

Scanning my shoes, while they sell the ports to Dubai -- well, that leaves me safer from a shoe-bomb perhaps, but not from anything that can be shipped in a freight truck without the benefit of even a neutrino detector.

>> There may be a situation so radically dangerous, that we need to address civil liberties -- but so far, no REAL threats like that. Turns out that weaponized anthrax and all the WMDs besides Nukes, are scarier when they aren't used than when they are. I used to worry about these things, but the experts I've read on the issue say that it's a lot harder to use these as effective weapons. They can hurt a few people -- but no more than we quietly tolerate dying from bad medicine, traffic accidents with all our large vehicles, and police RAIDs attempting to stop using drugs that MIGHT make them dead if they could ever afford enough. Being poor will kill you quicker in America than Bin Laden. There isn't anything so far made by desperadoes in the desert that is scarier than things we normally use in our arsenal like Cluster bombs, phosphorous bombs, or good 'ol Depleted Uranium. Could bad guys steal this stuff in Iraq? Sure. But they can also buy them because we were happily selling F-14s to Iran up until this past year. Scary enough to shut down the air ports -- yes. Scary enough to stop a campaign donation from GM? Not so much.

The real threat is briefcase nukes. Or perhaps, finding that one window of opportunity when the government decides to run 5 drills on the same day, where they leave no attack aircraft available, and make the NORAD radar unable to track aircraft not on transponder -- because you KNOW Russia has those on all their aircraft for our convenience. The real threat is what people in our own country are doing to us.

Marc said...

anonymous said...
>Stalin's version of fascism took this trend much farther

Stalin didn't practice a form of fascism. In fact, the profoundly left-wing (worker party) behavior he displayed on a grand homicidal scale is much closer to the political dogma espoused by this blog.


>> Wow. Are you guys everywhere? OR is there just one really over-worked think tank in Texas? Not much room on your political yard stick is there; "With us on one end -- pinko, commie on the other."

I thought you guys wouldn't make it on this obscure corner of the internet. Can we get to a point, rather than you telling people HERE what they are like. Who are you going to convince on a mostly Libertarian blog anyway?

I'm a Liberal, by the way. And I recognize Bush as being lot closer to Stalin than anyone I ever voted for.

Marc said...

brother doug said...
Hey Brin the goverment pulls a Katrina again in San Diego county. Turning away help but allowing blackwater to do what they want.
...


My new "big concern" is with the Mercenaries coming home. Many have been recruited overseas, and it seems they have been happy to get people in Chile who worked for Pinochet, and others who worked for Milosovic.

Not-with-standing the lone pyromaniac kid who sets fires in multiple locations, but...

Blackwater was trying to set up digs around San Diego two weeks before the fires to massive protests. During a disaster like this -- it's much easier to get things through an empty and slightly scorched courthouse. Swazennegar -- as much as he seems to be playing the role of centrist Republican, has two former Blackwater goons now on his government payroll.

Take a look at how many areas are getting Blackwater and other training camps.

I've also heard that Halliburton is and more of these security groups, is getting no-bid contracts to help out with the "War on Drugs" in Mexico.

>> If you were sneaking up to create a police state in America, how would you go about it? Would it look much different from a series of "disasters" that were covered in the media as requiring more authoritarian power to solve? Doesn't putting people in charge of solving the problem by making huge profits while they donate to your campaign kind of foster the impression of corruption? Or the situations where they've been caught red-handed being corrupt tend to make a person not likely to give these people the benefit of the doubt?

All the people who are making huge profits from the problems of America, seem to be having a hand in creating the problems. Those who make us dependent on Oil, are the ones whipping the dogs of war. Someday I think I will compile an exhaustive list of who benefits from what -- and how they seem to have created the problem. I'd say at the top of that list is to connect the dots between all the Prison corporations who were lobbying for "Three strikes and you are out" and mandatory sentencing.

More laws and longer sentencing -- wow, such a thing MIGHT financially improve the bottom line of a Prison Corporation.

Marc said...

colonelzen said...
The more correct phrase, and underlying economic "theory" is the truly gruesome distortion of political linguistics styled "Neoliberalism". ...


>> Yeah, NeoLiberalism is what they call the NeoCons over here. It's the same thing.

But I don't use the term, because seeing as how "Al Qaeda" in Iraq seems to sell better than "Saudi Arabian Suni extremists in Iraq" -- the idea of getting beyond the bumper sticker with NeoLiberalism seems a bit daunting. For people who buy the book for the title and don't read it -- it is too close to "Liberalism" and will probably sit in their heads as the same thing.

You can get the same argument with people about America being founded as a Republic -- not a Democracy, when it was sort of interchangeable at the time and we've only separated one to be more representative and the other to be more like Greeks (never mind that only about one in ten could vote). There was actually a lot of influence by the Iriquis Indians (not sure if I spelled that right from memory) in the North East. They practiced the concept of putting a professional in a particular field by popular appeal -- you might as well call us a Populist Meritocracy, as that was a compromise between the folks who wanted to make everyone educated so that they could function in a Democracy, and those who thought the average man too busy to know what to do.

OK, now that I've alienated 95% of the public on that spiel -- i'd have to say that letting people know about NeoLiberalism will not improve the debate. You will be spending all your time defending Liberalism from what Bush has been doing to us. Note how often the press has been saying; "Islamo-fascist." It makes me picture Bin Laden in a pin stripe suit. You can tell that the press is totally under the thrall of the Corporate Elite when people use such a brain-dead term.

Anomalous said...

An interesting list of traits, but ignored is one of the defining characteristics of the "classic" fascist regimes mentioned: while the finances were supplied by corporations with interests vested in fascist regimes, the muscle was supplied by disaffected military veterans that were screwed over in financial crises and looking for a solution to their poverty.

As a historical footnote, this almost happened in the USA if you believe the tale of Smedley Butler. It certainly seems feasible in the wake of the Bonus March.

The Blackwater mercenaries that people seem to want to pigeonhole as our potential brownshirts in this scenario don't really fit the bill, in that they're not ideologically committed so much as they're profit-driven. How they've managed a status as "above the law" I think may be attributed to executive branch largess. They certainly don't represent any popular movement, even their supporters catagorize them as soulless mercenaries.

ColonelZen said...

Answering Marc ... actually I know it was percolating in the back of my brain but it just surfaced reading your remark.

Part of the reason I posted it here is that it is a two edged sword. "Liberal" is so despised among many of the die-hard multi-generational republicans that if we can call attention to the "Neoliberalism" label and make it stick, the cognitive dissonance may just, in a few cases, be enough to make some of Dr. Brin's ostriches look up and say WTF? ... maybe, just maybe then seeing that other things are a wee bit out of kilter from their world view.

-- TWZ

David Brin said...

I do not have enough data points to prove our worst fears of Blackwater. But there are a few and they all chart worrisome.

* Led by secretive and fanatical fundamentalist who expects his company to fight - soon - on the side of the righteous on judgment day.

* Pals enough of Bush to get no-bid crony contracts, delivering services vastly more inefficiently than the public sector does.

* Their behavior during Katrina, which should itself have resulted in their being disbanded into receivorship to pay out civil damages.

* Their outrageous behavior in Iraq, once making US soldiers on patrol disarm and lie on the ground, after a routine fender bender.

The crux, any of these things would have had the Right screeching in paranoia about "black helicopters." In other days. The double standard is appalling.

Naum said...

Neoliberalism is a term already in use, to denote Reagan/Thatcher global economic policy

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoliberalism
http://folk.uio.no/daget/What%20is%20Neo-Liberalism%20FINAL.pdf
http://web.inter.nl.net/users/Paul.Treanor/neoliberalism.html

David Brin said...

Alas, this was passed to me without attribution...

---

Zen Sarcasm

1. Do not walk behind me, for I may not lead. Do not walk ahead of me, for I may not follow. Do not walk beside me either. Just pretty much leave me alone.

2. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a broken fan belt and a leaky tire.

3. It's always darkest before dawn. So if you're going to steal your neighbor's newspaper, that's the time to do it.

5. Don't be irreplaceable. If you can't be replaced, you can't be promoted.

6. No one is listening until you fart.

7. Always remember that you're unique. Just like everyone else.

8. Never test the depth of the water with both feet.

9. If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of car payments.

10. Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

11. If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you.

12. Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish, and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day.

13. If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.

14. If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.

15. Some days you're the bug; some days you're the windshield.

16. Don't worry; it only seems kinky the first time.

17. Good judgment comes from bad experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.

18. The quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it back in your pocket.

19. A closed mouth gathers no foot.

20. Duct tape is like the Force. It has a light side and a dark side, and it holds the universe together.

21. There are two theories to arguing with women. Neither one works.

22. Generally speaking, you aren't learning much if your lips are moving. .

23. Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.

24. Never miss a good chance to shut up.

25. We are born naked, wet and hungry, and get slapped on our butt. Then things get worse.

26. Never, under any circumstances, take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night.

27. There is a fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness."

28. No matter what happens, somebody will find a way to take it too seriously.

29. There comes a time when you should stop expecting other people to make a big deal about your birthday...around age 11.

30. Everyone seems normal until you get to know them. 6. No one is listening until you fart.

7. Always remember that you're unique. Just like everyone else.

8. Never test the depth of the water with both feet.

9. If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of car payments.

10. Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

11. If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you.

12. Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish, and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day.

13. If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.

14. If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.

15. Some days you're the bug; some days you're the windshield.

16. Don't worry; it only seems kinky the first time.

17. Good judgment comes from bad experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.

18. The quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it back in your pocket.

19. A closed mouth gathers no foot.

20. Duct tape is like the Force. It has a light side and a dark side, and it holds the universe together.

21. There are two theories to arguing with women. Neither one works.

22. Generally speaking, you aren't learning much if your lips are moving. .

23. Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.

24. Never miss a good chance to shut up.

25. We are born naked, wet and hungry, and get slapped on our butt. Then things get worse.

26. Never, under any circumstances, take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night.

27. There is a fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness."

28. No matter what happens, somebody will find a way to take it too seriously.

29. There comes a time when you should stop expecting other people to make a big deal about your birthday...around age 11.

30. Everyone seems normal until you get to know them.

Anonymous said...

Anybody hear about this Kennebunkport Warning and how professional military and the web stopped it?



http://www.rense.com/general78/kene.htm

David Brin said...

There are elements of the Kennebunkport story that have appeal... like the notion that Air Force personnel in Louisiana did a "push back" aided by elements of the intelligence community, to forestall a peremptory, secret and lunatic attack upon Iran. It is an enticing tale, tying in the scandal of a B52, laden with nuclear weapons, flying over heavily populated US territory.

Alas, later paragraphs of this site expose logical holes and lurid extremes of tendentious subjective bias, of the kind that subtracts from the strength of those opposing the Bush Putsch, rather than adding to it.

1) Um.... is it even remotely within reach of human reason, that Bush could order a NUCLEAR attack on Iran and not expect it to backfire in public opinion? Indeed, the only conceivable reasons to do such a thing would be "manchurian" ones.

2) Claims that the Israelis cannot have attacked a Syrian nuclear facility because nobody sensed nuclear debris downwind -- are explainable if you assume that (as happened in the Osirik attack,long agao) the facility were destroyed in the last stages of construction but before fueling.


And so on... no time for more. What's irksome, of course, is that some of this might be true. I sure hope the military/CIA "push back" is. And not the mysterious deaths that followed.

DemetriosX said...

I think it's pretty safe to dismiss the whole Kennebunk Warning as a hoax, at best, or lunatic ravings, at worst. (Or perhaps the other way round.) A very few minutes of research with Google and just looking at the higher levels of rense.com make a number of things clear.

This Rense fellow is the host of a radio show modelled along the lines of Coast to Coast, with fewer aliens and more conspiracies. Tarpley is a hard-core LaRouche-ite. That alone is really enough reason to dismiss the whole thing out of hand.

Poke around at Kos for Kennebunkport Warning and you'll find out a lot more. Apparently, a number of prominent anti-war an 911 activists were encouraged to sign a petition calling for the impeachment of Cheney. Their signatures then appeared on the Warning, claiming they had seen hard evidence of the planning for a false flag attack. They all denied it and Tarpley began a number of rather savage attacks, accusing them of cowardice and having been coerced. 'Nuff said, really.

On another front, but something that occurred to me while looking at this: has anyone stopped to think about what an unbelievably stupid idea a nuclear attack on Israel by a Muslim power would be? Geographically, Israel is tiny. Launch a medium-range missile at Tel Aviv (and face it, that's the only way, bombers wuoldn't stand a chance) and screw up your targting by not very much, and you run the risk of nuking Jerusalem. Even if you hit your intended target dead on, Jerusalem, the West Bank, The Gaza, and large chunks of Jordan are going to be severely impacted by fallout. Such an attack would very likely kill more Muslims than Jews. The initiator could possibly wind up the least popular person in Islam.

Anonymous said...

>>Liberals (even ones like me, a keynote speaker at a Libertarian Party convention and a fierce proponent of the military)... (Clinton fought WAR far BETTER than Bush. Period.)<<

Most people I know don't take the Libertarians seriously. But, like a lot of conservatives, I'm off the opinion that it's every American's God given right to shoot his or her mouth off. However kooky it might sound.

So, I'm just dying of curiosity about something: every Libertarian I've ever known just totally demonizes the Democratic Party. Calling them Nazis, Satanists, and sometimes even both. Apparently, the Democrats consider you guys some kind of orphaned misbegotten red-headed stepchildren or something like that.

So David, how come you keep kissing Bill Clinton's ass so much?

David Brin said...

You are assuming positive-sum or even zero-sum thinking. But the prevaiuling jihadist model of world value is negative sum. A willingness to see the self diminish in order to bring harm to the enemy other.

I assure you that wafting fallout from tel Aviv would be the least of Aram worries. Israel would use its own nuclear arsenal in response. Alas, even the elimination of forty cities would not set back the agenda of those whose negative-sum thinking says "our ancestors used camels and conquered the world, so can we."

Characteristic of such thinking is an inability to ask "What if we win? Then what?"

Elimination of Israel will produce "super-Palestinians" with even more wrath plus knowledge and access to the very top levels of physical and biological science. These are not people you want to turn into homeless and angry refugees.

David Brin said...

Note that I was replying to demetriosx, not the microcephalic twit.

reason said...

The "Zen Sarcasm" bit is WAY OT, but great. I did some googling and as best I can find a guy called John McElveen of fullonforward.blogspot.com claims it, but with 22 entries. Zen Sarcasm finds heeps in Google but with various numbers of entries.

Tony Fisk said...

'Negative sum thinking'

Also known as 'spite', described in a recent New Scientist article as 'a uniquely human emotion' and 'altruism's evil twin'.

Coincidentally (for the timing of this comment), an even more recent article discusses the evolutionary benefits of altruism (acts of altruism directly benefits the group more than it benefits the individual, but the individual gets the group benefits.)

In a nutshell: the jocks and microcephalic twits we will always have with us, but the nice will inherit the Earth.

reason said...

Did New Scientist really describe it as "uniquely human" along with altruism? I thought recent was demostrating how little really is uniquely human?

reason said...

Oops
Should say "recent research".

zorgon the malevolent said...

Umberto Eco has also written a well-known list of the alleged characteristics of fascism. Some of those traits overlap with the list here.
http://www.themodernword.com/eco/eco_blackshirt.html

At least Dr. Brin has gotten off that incomprehensible and pointlessly bizarre monomania with the U.S. military, which is a complete non-concern at the present time -- and for the foreseeable future. Currently the general officers of the U.S. military represent a form of cancer on the body politic, and our military-industrial complex is a kind of infection which threatens to kill our body politic. I'll let the arch-conservative William S. Lind, author of the current Marine Corps Manuals of Maneuver Warfare and along with Martin van Creveld one of the greatest living military historians, explain why.

The Quadrennial Defense Review is one of the most important products of the Pentagon planning process -- it tells America where its military thinks it is headed, where it should be headed, and what America should do about it, militarily speaking.

In "the opening lines of the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review:

The United States is a nation engaged in what will be a long war. Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, our Nation has fought a global war against violent extremists who use terrorism as their weapon of choice, and who seek to destroy our free way of life.

As usual in Washington, the names are changed to protect the guilty. Washington Post columnist Jim Hoagland wrote on October 21,

Pentagon leaders have, in fact, shifted to talking of "an era of persistent conflict" rather than "the long war," a phrase that implied a military-dominated struggle with distinct battlefields and a clearly defined end. Today that sounds downright optimistic.


"Persistent conflict"…is "the new normal," General George Casey, the Army's chief of staff, told the House Armed Services Committee last month. The Army must remake itself with that in mind, he added.

What' s wrong with this picture? Sun Tzu said it succinctly: "There is no instance of a nation benefiting from prolonged warfare." Acceptance by any Presidential candidate of a "long war" or "persistent conflict" is an admission of grand strategic imbecility. Which, just possibly, ought not be the highest qualification for public office, all appearances notwithstanding.

Our first, recently concluded long war should serve as a caution. Philip Bobbit said,
The "Long War" is a term for the conflict that began in 1914 with the First World War and concluded in 1990 with the end of the Cold War. The Long War embraces the First World War, the Bolshevik Revolution, the Spanish Civil War, the Second World War, the Korean War, the War in Vietnam and the Cold War.

In 1914, America was a republic with a small federal government, a self-reliant citizenry, growing industry, an expanding middle class, an uplifting culture and exemplary morals. By 1990 and the end of that long war, we had become a tawdry and increasingly resented world empire with a vast, endlessly intrusive federal government, a population of willingly manipulated consumers, shrinking industry, a vanishing middle class, a debauched culture and morals that would shame a self-respecting stoat.

Where will another long war leave us? We need not speculate at random. The Newspeak "Patriot Act," a plunging dollar, $2 trillion for one lost war and the devil knows how much for a second, a flood of Third World immigrants and cultural Marxism rampant in the highest places all point to the answer. What's left of America won't be worth a bucket of warm spit, or however you say that in Spanish.

A long war, or "persistent conflict," is not inevitable. It is ours only if we choose it. There are alternatives. A defensive, rather than an offensive, grand strategy is one. Closing our borders and minding our own goddam business is another. Iraq,Afghanistan, the Sudan, wherever can stew in their own heathen juice.

William S. Lind, "A Question for Would-Be Presidents," 29 October, 2007.
http://www.d-n-i.net/lind/lind_archive.htm

It becomes pellucidly clear from reading the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review that America's general officer corps is guilty of dereliction of duty virtually amounting to treason, along with gross incompetence so vast it practically blots out the sun.

Anyone with a lick of common sense understands that "eternal war for eternal security" is the royal road to ruin. It nearly destroyed Europe during the Thirty Years War, and now the Pentagon and its geniuses seem primed to carry us right on over the selfsame cliff. You liked the depopulated smouldering towns and collapse of the economy in Europe after the Thirty Years War? Wait till you see America after the Pentagon's next glorious fifty years of "persistent conflict."

Colonel John Boyd, America's greatest military theorist, had an answer when faced with an intractable enemy -- an answer which he gave in every one of his legendary "Patterns Of Conflict" briefings throughout the Pentagon. When faced with an intractable enemy, work to isolate the enemy by separating him from his sources of supply and from potential allies, and at the same time work to enhance international connections between your allies. In short, quarantine the infection and strengthen your own immune system.
www.d-n-i.net/boyd/patterns.ppt

The fact that America's general officer corps has accepted as a rational (or even practicable) grand strategy the insane concept of "persistent conflict" speaks volumes about the gross ineptitude of America's military leaders. If any further proof be needed, I would cite General Pace's insanely foolish advice that American armed forces from now on need to prepare for "operations other than war" (OOTW).

This is crazy. The notion that the army can or should carry out this kind of operation is just plain nuts. This is job for a constabulary or a bunch of mediators...not an army!

"Operations other than war" is code for a police force. But cops are completely different animals from soldiers.

Cops are trained to defuse conflicts -- soldiers are trained to rain hell on the enemy. Cops are trained to mediate and calm things down -- an army is trained to escalate and blow sh*t up. Cops rely on interpersonal body language, with force as a last resort -- an army relies on force, with fuel-air munitions as a last resort. Cops don't leave until the situation is under control. An army doesn't leave until the objective is a smoldering ruin in a state of maximum chaos.

So it's entirely clear that America's current crop of military general officers just don't get it. They don't get it in any way, shape or form. They don't realize that the military-industrial complex is out of control and gobbling our entire budget and even worse, creating wars in order to sustain its own budget. America's military leaders don't get the fact that our Soviet-tank-battle land-warfare-army is completely obsolete, and that OOTW will require FOTAA (Forces Other Than An Army). The U.S. Navy is a bad joke, a masterpiece of seagoing armory perfectly designed to defeat the Hiryu and the Soryu in the Sea of Japan. Alas, those Japanese carriers lie rusting at the bottom of the ocean, and they will not magically rise to threaten us again. In fact, no other naval force in the world comes close to threatening us -- and if they did, supersonic cruise missiles of the kind currently being sold by the Russians would make short work of every one of our useless bloated pointless worthless aircraft carriers.
www.exile.ru/articles/detail.php?ARTICLE_ID=6779&IBLOCK_ID=35

Add to this the fact that the current stealth fighter is a hugely underperforming overpriced hunk 'o junk far inferior to the superb F-16 designed by Col. Boyd, and you've got a trifecta. An American military totally ill-designed for current conflicts, wildly out of budgetary control and gobbling trillions like a cocaine freak sucking on a crack pipe, and headed by a group of clueless louts who think the most marvellous grand strategy American can devise for the next fifty years is...to bankrupt ourselves in eternal war, destroying our international rep, wrecking our army, and trashing our economy to no avail against a bunch of 4GW insurgent fifteen-year-old kids carrying bolt-action WW I rifles and a bunch of old men strapped into suicide-bomb cars with sacks of Miracle Gro and some fuel oil in the trunk.

What do we need to do to defeat radical Islamic fundamentalism?

Nothing.

Yes, that's right. Nothing.

We just sit back. And they will collapse.

Radical Islamic fundamentalism doesn't work. Science does work. Our GDP is skyrocketing, the 2005 Arab Development Report shows that the entire GDP of the middle east (once you subtract oil) has stagnated. In every measure, from education, to basic research, to engineering, to infant mortality, the middle east is falling farther and farther behind the West.

To put it with brutal bluntness, our civilization is destroying their civilization. Not by bombing them or killing them, but by leaving Islamic fundamentalist countries so far behind the technology curve and the information curve and the science curve and the engineering curve and the GDP curve and every other measure of civilzed life, that we might as well bomb the Islamic fundamentalist countries back into the stone age...because when their population watches our civilization on TV, they feel like they're in the stone age.
http://arabist.net/archives/2005/04/05/arab-human-development-report-is-out/

This is positive-sum wealth creation with a vengeance. We're headed straight for the stars, while the Islamic fundamentalist nations are stuck in the gutter, economically, technologically, in terms of women's rights, in every possible measure that counts.

We don't have to do a thing. We just have to wait it out, and their civilization will cave in. Radical religious fundamentalism just doesn't work. You cannot create any new vaccines with religious fundamentalism -- but you can with science. You can't build newer faster computers using the tenets on some religious text written thousands of years gao -- but you can using the scientific method. You can't jack up your GDP on overdrive by praying at the mosque -- but you can if you empower women and educate 'em and set 'em loose in the workforce.

In fact, this is exactly why we're seeing suicide bombers and jihadis right now. They realize our civilization is destroying their civilzation, adn this is their last frantically desperate attempt to stop it. Sadly for them, it's futile. The only way the Islamic fundamentalists can catch up to the West is by embracing liberal democracy, women's rights, the scientific method...all the things that would destroy their culture as it now exists. So they're trapped in a lose-lose situation. If they change to combat us effectively, they lose their fundamentalism because they become secular and humanistic and liberal and democratic. If they don't change to catch up to us, they also lose, since they fall ever farther behind us economically and technologically.

Young people are abandoning fundamentalist Islam in droves. Iran suffers from a massive brain drain of young people leaving the country for a better life in the liberal secular West. Their civilization is doomed. All we need to do is sit back and keep making commercials for Manolo Blahnik womens shoes and Armani mens suits and let 'em fall apart.
www.mideastyouth.com/2007/08/22/brain-drain-in-iran/

Instead, what do our grand strategic geniuses in the Pentagon suggest in their masterful 2006 QDR? Put a shotgon to our own heads and pull the trigger with another fifty years of "persisntent conflict"!

Idiots! We don't need to fire a single shot. Islamic fundamentalism is doomed. All we need do is wait for it to collapse. And the wait won't be long.

"Insane" and "half-witted" hardly does justice to such a "grand strategy" by the gibbering idiots misnamed "general officers" in America's armed forces.

So let's dispense immediately with the delusion that America's general officer corps has even the remotest clue about what America faces in the next 50 years, what our military response ought to be, and how our grand strategy ought to be mapped out.
After reading the 2006 Quadrenniel Defense Review, I find myself asking only one question:

Are the Joint Chiefs of Staff drunk, brain-damaged, or wacked out of their minds on hard drugs?

We can begin to dissect the magnitude of the folly involved in our current military leaders' thinking (forget Iraq, that's small potatoes, just look at the 2006 QDR!) by observing the following fact: at current growth rates, entitlement spending will squeeze out U.S. military spending within 30 years.

So the hard cold fact remains that the U.S. military is going away. And it's going away within the next generation.

There is no sign that the over-50 generational cohort, which votes in disproportionate percentages, will voluntarily give up their medicare and renounce all their social security benefits. This means that within 20 years, if we maintain current levels of military spending, we'll be dumping well over 110% over the U.S. budget into just 2 line items -- military spending and medicare + social seucrity (i.e., entitlements).
www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10609044/

Guess what, folks? We don't have 110% of our budget to spend. America is sucking the international loan teat dry right now to the tune of 2 billion a day from other countries, and that's unsustainable as is. We certainly can't expect more investment in our rapidly devaluing currency in order to prosecute another fifty or sixty or seventy years of pointless wars in more third world dirtholes.
That's obviously not going to happen, so something will have to give. What will give is military spending. The U.S. military will be drasticaly downsized. I'm betting on a 90% reduction, but it could well be greater after the fiscal wreckage clears and the demographics hit their stride.

Fortunately, we've entered a world in which that's a good idea.
OOTW obviously requires a force other than a army, so something like an international peace corps with some guns and lot more tech is what will wind up replacing most of our army. We'll still probably maintain a small rapid response force, something like what Vernor Vinge describes in his novel Rainbows End, but with near-future weaponry and given the nature of near-future fourth-generation warfare conflicts, that should prove more than sufficient to take care of any serious threats.

Above all, it's clear that we're entering into a world in which warfare itself is rapidly becoming obsolete. John Horgan touched on this in his recent excellent talk at the Barcelona conference "Is Science Reaching Its LImits?" but I'd like to dilate on that a bit because it's so important, and because (as uaual) our U.S. general officer corps lacks even a ghost of a clue about what's rapidly overtaking them.

Traditionally, wars paid because they were the main way you got rich. Go in, kill a bunch of people, take a bunch of slaves, grab the tin or silver or gold, and get out. The slaves were non-trivial. Taking slaves represented one of the most valuable forms of wealth accrued from war.

With the advent of the Industrial Revolution, we moved to positive-sum situation, and wars for natural resources became fashionable. Hitler's strike into Russia makes sense when you realize that Germany had no oil at all (all German oil came from synfuels and from North Africa) and after Rommel got driven out of Africa, the Baiku oil fields in Russia presented Hit3er's last gamble. The game in modern warfare involved capturing enough resources (Japanese invasion of Dutch East Indies for oil) to crank up your industrial growth rate beyond that of your opponent. Alas, even in the modern era, resources began to take a back seat to brains -- working smarter, it turns out, will boost your GDP even better than raping and torturing and murdering a few million innocent men and women and children in Nanking, as America showed the Japanese in WW II.

With the advent of post VIetnam warfare, however, using fabulously hi-tech weapons costing millions apiece and able to destroy a entire cruiser with a single missile, the lessons of the Falklands War began to come home. Here was a war from which both participants gained nothing of value, and which crippled both their economies.
The aftermath of the Balkans bombing campaign in 1999 is estimated to require some 20 years to rebuild Serbia's infrastructure. And as for the Iraq war...with going on two trillion dollars pissed away and generations required just to rebuild Iraq, the mind boggles at the sheer scale of pointless waste.

The point John Horgan was making is that wealth today comes not primarily from natural resources, but from infrastructure and communcations and collaboration. THe wisdom of the crowd and the Long Tail. The single largest industry in India, Tata Consulting, is an outsourcing firm. It hires Indian computer techs to do programming at night while people sleep in the West, and then transmit the work product over the internet.
This is increasingly the way wealth gets created in the radically positive-sum 21st century -- crowdsourcing, international collaboration over the net, emergent NGOs that work together, microloans like www.zopa.com.

In such a world, a war that wrecks the infrastructure that lets people build wealth this way is uneconomic. As a result, war no longer benefits anyone, even dictators -- because the dictators need international aid and cooperation just to survive today. Everybody is linked now, nobody can get along on their own -- not even the tyrants. Because the tyrants can't fix the broken software in their computer surveillance systems or manufacture the microchips for their hi-tech weapons. In the 21st century, everybody needs everybody. The name fo the game today is third party peer production, it's why linux is eating Microsoft alive and it's why Wikipedia is kicking Britannica's ass and it's why the grameen bank is the biggest and most influential bank in all of India. We're all connected now. Wars no longer serve any useful purpose, even the minor purpose of increasing wealth.
Case in point: Kim Jong Il, one of the scariest tyrants on the planet, who has basically agreed to give up nuclear weapons in order to get...food.
Burger King 1, nuclear weapons 0. This is a radically new world we're entering, folks.

With a U.S. military doomed to shrink drastically by entitlement spending pressures and the boomer generation's demographic onslaught, and in a world where war itself is going away, the entire mission statement of the U.S. military is rapidly becoming obsolete.

Soon, I predict that the most devastatingly effective weapon against international aggresison will be pulling the plug -- isolating the aggressor nation from all communcations. No more peer production, no more microloans, no more outsourced brainpower to fuel its GDP. Its economy will plummet like a rock.

So for Dr. Brin to waste time and energy on the members of the U.S. miltiary, who have in any case proven themselves grossly clueless and inept with the 2006 QDR, is beyond baffling. It's like entering the Bizarro World.
Dr. Brin has tried to defend this indefensible monomania with our incompetent U.S. military "elite" by describing them as "the greatest soure of raw power" in our society. An absurd characterization, unless you believe that the U.S. military current determines the outcome of American elections?

Whoops. Nope. They don't.

Or perhaps the U.S. military determines current interest rates?

Whoops. Nope. They don't.

Or perhaps the U.S. military is currently responsible for 40% of the deaths in the third world?

Whoops. No, toxic waste from gigantic multinational corporations are responsible for that.

Or perhaps you think the U.S. military is responsible to killing millions of people in third world countries who find themslves priced out of life-saving pharmceuticals?

Whoops. Nope, big pharma companies do that, not our military.

So any way you slice it, the U.S. military is a very small player in every way in American society -- unless you believe that the Joint Chiefs are about to order their tanks and troops into the strets to kill Americans.

Here's the problem: if you believe our military leaders are that far gone (which is frankly absurd, even at this late date, as gone as we are in the direction of fascism), then what's the point of trying to reach out to 'em? Any Army general would would order a tank to fire on apartment buildings full of American in, say, downtown Seattle, is not a guy you can reason with. I should think that would be so obvious you wouldn't need it pointed out.

But apparently this doesn't seem to have occurred to Dr. Brin.

Clueless our military leaders may be, but even they won't stand for something as demented as attacking Iran. See Admiral Fallon's stand against that insanity:
http://thinkprogress.org/2007/05/16/fallon-carrier/

Which brings us, conveniently, to the issue Dr. Brin raised with his current post -- namely, creeping fascism. Clearly we're not at the point yet (or anywhere close) where U.S. genrals would order American troops and tanks to start raking U.S. crowds with 20 mm canon fire. No matter how bad things are right now, I think it's fairly safe to say that if any Air Force general received an order from the White House to napalm-bomb antiwar demonstrators in downtown Boston, that order would (let us say) "be garbled in transmission and indecipherable."

So thank God Dr. Brin has finally gotten back to reality and common sense, with the recognition that the soon-to-vanish U.S. military is utterly unimportant compared to the real threat that faces us -- namely, creeping fascism.

It's not clear what Umberto Eco or Namoi Wolf or the others actually mean by "fascism." Dr. Brin makes an excellent point in crticizing number 4 -- even under the Nazis, the Wehrmacht found itself playing second banana to the S.S., which was a political corps. In fact, this created endless resentment among the Wehrmacht officer corps, since they often found themselves being bossed around by inept uninformed inexperienced political pets who had just happened to get themselves promoted into a position of power in the S.S.

Can we really say that Stalin was a fascist? I doubt it. Dialectical materialism was always very big on science, since it saw history as a science -- in fact, Stalin studied Pavolv's experiments carefully. Indeed, it was arguably the overuse of science in attempting to create the "new Soviet man" by pure operant conditioning (disregarding nature entirely, and ignoring built-in human drives such as family bonds, the desire to acquire materials goods, basic sexual needs, etc.) that created the most chaos in Soviet Society.
Soviet children were taught to inform on parents, Soviet husbands were split up from their wives and sent for decades into remote Siberian "science towns," all in the name of creating a glorious new scientifically-based paradise. Very different from the Nazis' occultist anti-sicence mentality. If you doubt this, check out the excellent 1999 documentary "Hitler's Search for the Holy Grail." More craplisious pseudoseince than you can shake a dowsing stick at, complete with the Annenerbe mounting expeditions to the Antarctic to search for the remains of the lost Aryans of Atlantis (!)
The single best illustration, of course, is the incredibly foolish purging of the Jewish scientists -- many of whom ironically wound up in America, working on the atomic bomb.

I think we would have to recognize that Soviet totalitarianism represents something fundamentally different from Nazi tyranny. The emphasis on science in the UUSR, and the very real achivements in mathematics and especially enginering and the space program, contrast wildly with the Nazi failure at basic science. The Nazis, like the Romans, excelled as engineers, but failed completely at basic science. By contrast, note that American radar stealth technology came from math originally published by Soviet scientists in the 1970s!

The biggest danger facing American society right now is the slide toward barbarism represented by torture.

Torture acts like ebola virus on the body politic, as I've pointed out with ever-increasing urgency, because it spreads like wildfire. The Israelis tried it and they had to stop. They discovered that once they started torturing a few palestinian terorists in one prison, soon, every prisoner was getting totured.

As soon as you traduce a basic moral boundary like that, anything becomes possible, and it gets harder and harder to justify not torturing a suspect -- maybe he's a kiddy raper, so let's torture him. He might have started that arson fire, let's torture hium and make sure. This guy has a history of rape convictions, let's torture him until he tells us where he hid the body of his latest rape victim. And so on. Pretty soon every police station has a torture chamber and every cop becomes a torturer.

We're seeing this now, today, in America.

Have you noticed the explosion of "cop tasers innocent civilian" stories in the news? This isn't coincidence.
As soon as our White House justifies torture and our military justifies torture and our Attorney General defends torture, the cop on the street figures, "Hey, if it's good enough for the military and the Department of Justice, why not for me?"

So the taser becomes a torture device.
We need to stop calling it a "taser" and call it what it really is -- an "agonizer." Remember the Star Trek episode "Mirror, Mirror" where everyone carries around an agonizer on the evil alternate-universe Enterprise? Get out of line, and you're tortured publicly with the agonizer.

That's where we are in Amierca right now, today. Protest the government's policies and a cop tortures you publicly with a agonizer. Speak up against a violation of your civil rights in an airport, and a TSA goon tortures you to death publicly with an agonizer.

This is the real danger we're facing.
Our military is totally unimportant, since it will be gone within a generation. Given a choice between continuing their life-saving medicare treatments, or paying for some pointless useless war against 15-year-old kids 8000 miles away, I guaran-freaking'-tee you the American public will choose the life-saving medicare procedures. So our military is going away, and soon.

However, we'll always need a police force.
And in fact the same demographic trends that will magically shrink our military down to (oh, say) 30,000 men in rapid-response units over the next generation are also likely to crank up the number of cops on the street.
In particular, those same demographic forces are likely to create an explosion of new paramilitary private police -- a problem already growing serious in gated communities and private shopping malls around the country, where private cops are increasingly (and alarmingly) being given weapons and granted the same powers police have. Up to and including arrest, and use of deadly force.
http://mediafilter.org/caq/CAQ54p.police.html
http://www.salon.com/news/1998/09/24news.html
www.associatedcontent.com/article/64416/arrest_power_of_private_security_guards.html
When you realize that most of these rent-a-cops wound up in private security firms because they washed out of a police academy or couldn't even get considered for a job as a cop, you've got a very serious problem looming on the horizon.

Note, also, that private security forces are not subject to the limitations which apply to police. They don't have to Mirandize you. They don't need to abide by the fourth amendment -- and if they break down your door and search your home without a warrant, evidence they find cannot be thrown out of court.
Combine the proclivity to torture we're now seeing with police (who are, after all, the professionals in law enforcement) with the burgeoning numbers of poorly-trained rent-a-cop private security guards armed with automatic weapons, shotguns, tasers, and all manner of implements of torture like chemical mace and stun guns, and the near future looks very scary indeed.

Just imagine a private rent-a-cop armed with an M-16, a taser, and a handheld millimeter-wave microwave pain ray, and you've got someone who makes a storm trooper look like Mister Rogers. That's the real threat to America...not some silly fantasy of our military going berserk and calling in a napalm air strike against Brentwood or Century City or the Inland Empire.

Bla said...

This is the longest comment I've ever seen.

David Brin said...

Zorgon’s long missive was frustrating on many levels, foremost of course in its daunting length. Which would have simply led to easy dismissal with a shrug and a click, if he were not certainly bright and erudite and worth some effort.

Thus, with a sigh of despair over lost lifespan, I weighed in. (Oh Zorgon! Seek brevity! Preaches the loggahreac.)

While there is much of interest, the people he quotes boil down to erudite fools. For example, for anyone to claim that America of 1914 was more “moral” than today’s USA qualifies that person as a sheer maniac. Even when it came to superficialities like sex, that brothel-ridden era of hypocritical double standards and on-off destroyed female reputations had little to teach us. But ask an ambitious woman, or a Jew or Catholic, or ANY colored minority, about the “morals’” of that age.

Under Franco-British leadership, the world fell into hell... and then applied vicious “peace” terms in 1919 that guaranteed more war, ignoring wise American advice about kindness to fallen foes... advice which the US imposed as law, in 1945, to the betterment of all. That Marshallian doctrine created such vast stores of goodwill toward America that it has taken every effort of the Bushites to drive our reputation into negative figures, at long last.

ASK the people of Poland and Romania and Estonia if they think the US should not have maintained Marshall’s strategy of patient strength, during the Cold War. Ask them. I’ll wait. Nowhere on Earth are we more popular, than where that long struggle finally reversed their enslavement. To a genuine “evil empire.”

My hatred of the Vietnam and Iraq Wars does not translate into trust for Communism or Saddam Hussein, but rather a belief that empires do stupid things and getting snared into attrition wars in Asia is one of the stupidest things imaginable. Moreover, the US officer corps knows this. They hate the present political leadership of this country more than anybody.
Moreover, if you and other libs could get this fact through your bigotries... that we need these people... then we might restore an open society where policy issues are debated among decent people again. And you can go back to quoting erudite fools in open fora, with some hope of changing some minds.

Oh, btw, reports puiblished by the DoD do not reflect the consensus of the Officer Corps. They reflect what the Bushites WANT to allow to be published.

Tony Fisk said...

Reason,
Yes, NS did use the 'uniquely human' tag, although I'd put that down to hype.

They also described spite as altruism's evil twin (ie a necessary consequence). Now, while the experiments described indicate that chimps don't indulge in negative summing, nothing was said about altruistic behaviour. Yet, I have heard of several cases of animals showing behaviour that could be considered altruistic (a kangaroo going for help when a farmer got injured in the back paddock, a baby gorilla at a zoo returning a doll that got dropped into its enclosure). So, if altruism requires a capacity for spite... well, go figure!

---

Pascal once wrote to a friend apologising for the length of his note because he lacked the time for a short one. He knew what he was talking about: editting takes time.

Suggestion, Zorgon: write your long missives in your own blog, then review and post your summaries (with link) here.

---

Meanwhile, congress has (finally!) vetoed Bush

Michael said...

Item: The military has far more power than Zorgon wishes to attribute to it, because there is a significant portion of the population who are prone to see attacks on the military - and who view such "attacks" as very very bad.

Item: Zorgon is right when he notes that the way to win the war against radical fundamentalism (in general, not just islamic fundamentalism!) is to ignore it.

You need to win battles, too - but in the war against fundamentalism, the battles are hardly military. They're social. Give people the products of science. That's how you win those battles - give people facts, and benefits.

It's an extension of the Transparent Society's justifications; The only true threat to a democratic society is the society itself. No outside force can threaten it for an extended period of time. The only threat is to weaken democracy and compete down at the level of others - instead of forcing them to give up any hope of beating you as they are, and thus being compelled to join you.

The US can never conquer the world, but there's no need for a country to do so - only for democracy, which is virtually certain to succeed, all in all. Those of us who support democracy will, in the long run, win. But doing what we can to support it where we live will speed that victory, which is a clearly desirable outcome. Furthermore, simply doing what we can to improve our lives and the lives of those around us will help democracy 'win'.

Zechariah said...

"Torture acts like ebola virus on the body politic, as I've pointed out with ever-increasing urgency, because it spreads like wildfire."

Wow. I don't think that I've ever seen a simile used to elaborate another simile in one sentence before.

reason said...

Tony Fisk,
cats (in particular) but also dogs are known to damage things (knowing they will punished) or defecate in inconvenient places when they feel neglected. Isn't that spite?
And isn't there a perfectly logical evolutionary explaination for spite. To do something to something that ALSO has a negative cost is clearly signally anger rather than just competition. This sort of signalling is important as punishment that also reduces the chance of escalation.