Friday, November 13, 2015

Sci Fi Visons : Gloom vs Optimism

Some brilliant anthologies for your shopping list! These include one about war and one that’s free, one about Star Wars and one by me! 

Your best deal is a free download (thanks to corporate sponsorship) of Future Visions: Original Stories Inspired by Microsoft featuring tales that explore possible impacts of future technology, such as quantum computing, machine learning and other trends gathered from cutting edge research. (Authors were invited to talk to mavens at at Microsoft Labs, but free to tap all kinds of sources. Just released!

With contributions from top science fiction authors, including Greg Bear, Elizabeth Bear, Nancy Kress, Robert J. Sawyer, Ann Leckie, Seanan McGuire, Jack McDevitt and  — there's also one of my own best recent scribblings -- about the science of prediction. A topic which has long fascinated me.

War Stories of the Future is another sponsored anthology, this time from the Atlantic Council’s contest for fictional portrayals of how future combat might be transformed by rapidly changing technology. This volume is edited by August Cole, whose novel with Peter Singer, Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War, is now a best-seller. "The collection features stories from best-selling science-fiction writer David Brin (the nature of heroes and warriors) and Linda Nagata (linked ground combat overseen from afar), as well as entries by Ken Liu, Madeleine Ashby, Matthew Burrows and August Cole." I also helped judge the tales that were winners of a special contest exploring the future of defense and security.

Then there’s the the recent re-launch of Star Wars on Trial: The Force Awakens Edition. Your big chance - if you missed the earlier editions - to experience full-on combat between folks who are critical of the quantum-shallow Lucas universe and those unthinking zombies who actually swallow the faux-eastern “wisdom”-claptrap of that awful little green pixie-ovenmitt Yoda...

… but no, we’ll save that rant for this truly fun and pyrotechnic and intellectually stimulating volume!  

Oh, you can also vote on the various charges, like a jury. Innocent... or guilty as charged? And sure, we know many will vote acquittal out of reflex, without reading the arguments. But you won’t! There's also a book giveaway on Goodreads.

All three of these great volumes are coming out this  very month!  But want more?  Well, I saved the best for last. Coming in late winter — will be my long-awaited third short story collection Insistence of Vision, from Studio Digital and The Story Plant.  With a beautiful Patrick Farley cover and some of the best tales I ever wrote… and which you are very unlikely to have read, like “Chrysalis,” “The Logs,” “Transition Generation,” “Mars Opposition,” and “Insistence of Vision.”  Pre-order on Amazon.

== Gloom vs Optimism ==

See a cool story (from The Oatmeal) of courage and dedication that winds up having meaning to all of us… especially science fiction fans, pondering the sour excess of pessimism and reflex dystopianism that has taken over so much of our mythology.  You’ll understand when you learn who the hero of this story turns out to be.

Many of us have been trying to combat the gloom merchants, whose lesson is too-seldom “avoid this mistake” and too-often “give up hope.” I’ve addressed the surprising and infuriationg underlying reason why so many authors and film directors habitually preach hopelessness.  Neal Stephenson’s Hieroglyph Project with Arizona State’s Center for Science and Imagination is another effort to beckon sci fi back to a guardedly and caustiously optimistic, can-do spirit.

New Utopians: This article in the New Republic adds to the rebellion: Jeet Heer writes, “The prophets of doom are unusually loud in our time, and almost every vision of the future, whether by sober ecologists or wild-eyed science fiction writers, carries with it the stench of despair. The collapse of civilization has become its own narrative cliché.” It then goes on to profile my dear and respected colleague Kim Stanley Robinson, rightfully, as a central figure in the counter-attack of problem-solving tales of (tentative) utopia. (Though many reasers of Robinson's most recent novel, Aurora, would deem it a shift to the dour side.

 Sure, this essay leaves out the rest of us hope-peddlers and can-do pushers, and it implicitly assumes that socialism is the sole route to redemption. “Robinson’s attempt to keep the flame of Utopia alive in a despairing era has made him a lonely figure.”  Um, hello?  

In another move away from dystopian visions, a relatively new subgenre - Solarpunk - promises to offer more sustainable, optimistic  -- even inspirational -- visions of the near-future, one you might even want to live in. On the Hieroglyph website, Adam Flynn writes that "Solarpunk is a future with a human face and dirt behind its ears."

Getting down to specifics, this article from Big Think argues that: “All Space Colonies Will Begin as Dictatorships…” because the rough and tumble of democracy won’t work where one shattered window can kill everyone. Well… um… duh? Except the analogy of “dictatorship” is silly and harmful. A better parallel is the captaincy of a ship. On a ship, with death just meters away, there must be a captain whose orders are swiftly obeyed.

Yet that is not a 'dictatorship,' because the owners of the ship have sovereignty over who gets to be captain! The owners dictate policy, such as deciding the next destination, while the captain is a “dictator” regarding implementation. That is, unless and untill the owners (who might be a democracy of people aboard either a sea or space vessel or a Mars colony) decide to fire her and pick someone else.

We live in an era of such simplistic metaphors that few people grasp this distinction. That even under conditions that are stressful and dangerous, we can still be citizens and sovereign adults who – ultimately – share responsibility for the course we set.

73 comments:

Paul SB said...

Dear Dr. Brin,

While this is all cool stuff, it may be after what just happened in Paris there might not be a lot of people interested in participating here - bigger issues on their minds. But then, giving up our normal lives is in a small sense giving in to the terrorists, so I will offer a couple comments here (while crossing my fingers for our regular Gaul, Laurent).

The article that suggests that all space colonies will have to be dictatorships, is, I think, very misconstrued. Your point about treating such colonies like captaincies makes much more sense, but I have to add that there is a limit to how long people who have experienced the relative freedom of democratic life will tolerate even a captain's level of dictatorship. I have been reading over Machiavelli lately, research for a project of my daughter's, and I've found some very interesting thoughts in there. Machiavelli doesn't really live up to his eponymous adjective. He was a firm supporter of a republican system (in the original sense of the word, not today's) but the guy was a demigod of pragmatism. He saw the necessity of having a strong man to essentially knock heads and get everyone on the same page. Once stability is achieved, then the strong man can institute a more inclusive form of governance. In the case of a colony in a tin can surrounded by hard vacuum, I can see the need for a strong executive, but that does not mean that strong executive must have all governing authority. There would have to be a pretty careful balance of powers between the executive and any other governing councils or such bodies to ensure safety on the one hand but prevent something like the Emergency Powers of the Wiemar Republic.

On "SolarPunk" I have a somewhat different take on the 'punk' part of the title. A 'punk' might mean a surly, rude adolescent, from the viewpoint of the entrenched greybeards, but from another perspective a punk is someone who resists the system. The system we currently have is heavily geared toward raping and pillaging the planet, leaving little future for later generations. So maybe a "solar punk" would be someone who subverts the corrupt, extractive and polluting system we have today. That would sound pretty dystopian if it were presented as a 1 in a million brave but hopeless fight, but could take on much more optimistic airs if it showed real change in the works, and at multiple levels.

Laurent Weppe said...

* "(while crossing my fingers for our regular Gaul, Laurent)."

I'm fine, physically speaking.
But I've lived for four years two blocks away from the Bataclan: it's my former neighborhood that has been slaughtered here.

And the local right-wing nutjobs haven't waited for even one minute before starting to claim that the current government's refusal to implement discriminatory policies that's responsible for the massacre.

I currently live in a city with a large (and mostly blue-collar) Muslim population: lots of people are going to try to make their lives as shitty as possible in the days to come.

Deuxglass said...

Laurent Weppe,

I am glad you are fine. I too live in Paris and I know the areas where the attacks occurred very very well. I believe this is France’s 9/11 moment where the French on the street realize that they are the target and not just Charlie Hebo, the Jewish population or the military. Virtually all experts knew this would happen sooner or later and it did. In prior posts I expressed my fear that the freedoms enjoyed by the French would be seriously reduced at some point and that too has happened. F. Hollande last night decreed “L’état d’urgence” over the whole country which suspends many civil liberties. The last time it was invoked over the whole territory was in 1961 when a group of army officers tried to launch a coup. This “L’état d’urgence lasted over two years. The police now can arrest anyone they want and hold them as long as they want without judicial oversight. The measure allows control of the press and many other measures. It is a form of martial law. The nation-wide municipal elections which were to take place soon are suspended till further notice. No laws had to be voted. It is just decreed and is done.

My sympathies go out to the murdered and their families. And yes I am extremely angry. That goes without saying and I do feel that extraordinary measure have to be taken for a while. Needless to say the “Front National” and similar fascist groups benefit enormously. I am too troubled to say more now.

Laurent Weppe said...

* "I believe this is France’s 9/11 moment where the French on the street realize that they are the target"

I'd say the subway attacks in 1995 were our 9/11. Besides, attacks in London and Madrid, as well as the Utoya massacre showed anyone with half a brain that
1. Everybody is a potential target
2. Brown skinned Quran reading people aren't the only ones who have murderous bastards in their midst.

The problem is that in the days to come the demagogues (who are fucking happy about the attack: the Bataclan is located in a left-leaning district: the terrorists did what the white fascists have dreamed to do for years) are going to use this attack to unapologetically indulge in their authoritarian fantasies (there's already been demands of pre-emptive imprisonment of everyone suspected of harboring sympathies toward Daesh: the fuckers are advocating arresting people for thought-crimes and are utterly shameless about it).

***

* "It is a form of martial law. The nation-wide municipal elections which were to take place soon are suspended till further notice. No laws had to be voted. It is just decreed and is done."

The state of emergency can be proclaimed by the President (who's so conflict averse that he's very unlikely to turn into a dictator), but it last only twelve days: every subsequent extension will have to be voted by the national assembly. There's little risk that the current government will go despotate on us.

Deuxglass said...

Laurent Weppe,

The “L’Etat d’Urgence” was officially declared last night by Hollande. See:

http://www.elysee.fr/communiques-de-presse/article/communique-a-l-issue-du-conseil-des-ministres/

So the law n°55-385 of April 3, 1955 is officially in effect. If you want to see what this law allows then take a look at:

http://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/affichTexte.do?cidTexte=JORFTEXT000000695350

The powers it confers are much wider than that of the Patriot Act in the United States. In 12 days the parliament must vote for its prolongation or for its termination and they will vote for its extension. Sarkozy on the Right has just came out for it 100% and most on the Left will vote the same. The Government and the Opposition have already gone despot on us.

Tacitus2 said...

Using this tragedy to point fingers at your ideological counterparts is at best not helpful. I will exempt our French friends from this edict, but the rest of us/you....not time for partisan politics.

Another addition to the too long list of places I have stood where terrorist attacks have occurred.

Tacitus

Paul SB said...

Laurent & Deuxglass, do you know if there's any truth to the rumors about the fire at the Callais refugee camp? Coincidence would be hard to believe. I guess the loonies of all nations are as loony as the ones in mine. The idea of blaming the very people who are running away from the terrorists is pretty sickening.

Laurent Weppe said...

* "Using this tragedy to point fingers at your ideological counterparts is at best not helpful. I will exempt our French friends from this edict, but the rest of us/you....not time for partisan politics."

It's rather impossible to ignore partisan politics in France right now given that the first thing the far-right did was shouting "Vote for us! Vote for us! WE will beat the Arabs into submission"

***

* "do you know if there's any truth to the rumors about the fire at the Callais refugee camp? Coincidence would be hard to believe."

Hard to believe, but so far it seems that the fire was in fact accidental: a portable stove caught fire in a tent, and everything spread from here. Frankly, given the appealing condition regarding hygiene and security in the camp -it's been named "The jungle" for a reason-, the most surprising thing about this fire is that it didn't happen sooner.

Tacitus2 said...

Laurent the views of somebody close to the situation are always important. Decisions being made in France now will potentially have great consequences.

But for Americans to weigh in now to score political points, well, I think what we can reasonably infer about the attackers and their motives suggests that they would happily kill Americans of any political perspective. ISIS seems to hold our Conservative and Liberal viewpoints in equal contempt. They would be just as happy to launch an attack in the bluest or reddest of places. They hate for so many reasons.

Tacitus

Paul SB said...

"Hard to believe, but so far it seems that the fire was in fact accidental: a portable stove caught fire in a tent, and everything spread from here."

In a sense that sounds like a good thing - the alternative being that the right-wing fascists did it. But I'm reserving my judgement here, as the explanation might be someone's disinformation. Coincidences do happen, but they draw suspicions.

Tacitus, whenever there are extreme events, we all have to try our best not to get our feathers too ruffled. The terrorists would like little better than to see our own factions destroy us from within. In fact, probably some of the smarter ones are counting on just that: Western civilization becoming so intractably factional that they destroy themselves in response to external attack.

But (and this is a big but), Laurent is also right that the reactions of some to blame the very people who are fleeing terrorism is exactly the wrong direction to go. Yes, we will need security, but if we take security to the point where we lose the Bill of Rights (or its equivalents in other democracies) we will have become our own enemies. Both sides are capable of going too far, but history has shown repeatedly that the most common - and egregious - mistake societies make when attacked is to start arresting, deporting and/or executing (in some cases lynching) random people who are only guilty of looking kind of like the actual attackers. Last summer I drove by Manzanar, a good reminder of that tendency.

What you said about the ISIS people not really drawing a distinction between our factions brings up an important point. What you see as a distinction depends very much on where you are looking from. Many people here hear the word "Muslim" and assume that they are all exactly alike, while many people in the Middle East hear "Western" and make the same assumptions about us. This falls under the rubric of what E.E. Evans-Pritchard called "The Law of Segmentary Opposition." It is this kind of thinking that matters. If we act this way, we are no better than the terrorists. It is because our laws and institutions treat individuals as individuals (more often than not) that makes our civilization worth fighting for. There are people in both locales who fail to see this.

Laurent Weppe said...

"What you said about the ISIS people not really drawing a distinction between our factions brings up an important point"

Actually Daesh does draw distinctions: their decisions to target a far-left publication like Charlie Hebdo earlier this year as well as one of Paris' progressive bastions yesterday were very deliberate: it weakens and numb the progressives while emboldening the fascists.

As Nicolas Hénin, a french journalist who was taken hostage by Daesh and got to see the organization's underbelly up close, Daesh, especially its french members, Want Marine Le Pen to grab power, for two reasons:

1. They expect that she'll do what Assad did: exterminate the secular and progressive Muslims first (authoritarians always start by slaughtering the idealists when they are in charge), thus creating a vacuum they hope to exploit.

2. Since she's the head of an organization dedicated to disenfranchise the non-White population in order to bring back the "good old days" when rich white frenchmen could treat their arabic servants like beasts of burdens and fucktoys, they'll be able to then say to the French people of Muslim descent "It's either Us or the fascist bullies who want to enslave you and rape your kids with impunity"

Hence, Charlie and the Bataclan

Jumper said...

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/11/isil-claims-suicide-bombings-southern-beirut-151112193802793.html
The ISIL attack in Lebanon Friday went un-noted in the major US media.

Also, apologies to David for an anger issue I had yesterday regarding the Paris business. I abused your hospitality and regret it very much.

Deuxglass said...

If you want to know the reaction of the French people then let me tell you what I found today. My wife and I decided to go out to have dinner this evening and what I saw showed resilience. The cafés were full of men, women and families having a good time as always. French are not going to change their lives because of this and will continue. It is their way of spitting into eye of those who want to destroy them.

Unknown said...

I imagine a democratic like setup of space megastructures shaped like elongated spheroids, which would start off small but the would be able to grow and new sections can be snapped off, built by 3d printing robots using captured ice and interstellar dust, captured by a nano network of basic magnetic collectors.
Each spheroid would be like a state as far as how large, the sizes would be variable, the nanobots would continually repair the habitat when needed, simply with lasers and space mud(ice and interstellar dust).
They could circle the sun at the perfect Goldilocks zone and easily trade with other habitats, they could grow food or livestock, or anything.

Treebeard said...

Some of you guys are a hoot. French fascists? Where? These people look like bunnies caught in a pen with a hungry wolf. Their own leader looked terrified, and this was from 8 men with AK-47's; how would he deal with a real war? Isn't this the same guy who promised to wage a “merciless war” after the Hebdo attack; how did that work out?

I wonder how this scenario would have played out in America, among a well-armed population? Surely some of us would put up some resistance and go down shooting, instead of getting picked off like rats in our own streets. Progressives want to disarm Americans and make them more like the “civilized” and dying Europeans? No thanks. The West needs men and warriors to survive, but we have cultural engineers who want a civilization of disarmed, emasculated, non-breeding bunnies. If willingness to fight for your survival and secure your lands makes you a fascist, then I guess it's time to bring on the fascists!

Treebeard said...

"The idea of blaming the very people who are running away from the terrorists is pretty sickening."

Interesting point in the light of the fact that one of the mass murderers was a *fucking Syrian refugee*!

Surely Mad Merkel and the whole EU open-borders, post-nationalist, demographic replacement project is doomed now. The question is, will they have to wait until this happens in Berlin, or will it be toppled now?

Marino said...

I concur with Laurent. Daesh/ISIL wants the Euro far right to win, and I'd add up some other issues. First, the far Right (Le Pen or our own Salvini in Italy) proposes stuff (mass expulsion of citizens of Moslem religion, their internment like what was done to Japanese-Americans after Pearl Harbour or banning Islam as religion) that would be uncostitutional and they would create extreme, divisive political infighting even to the point of civil war. I saw our "years of lead"and "strategy of tension".
Second, in fact the same far Right hopes to paint all the leftists as useful idiots/accomplices/enablers/internal enemy in cahoots with the islamist external enemy
so they need the IS/Daesh as a tool for internal propaganda.
(by the way, on another Italian blog a fascist wrote that Europe deserves those death, being decadent and feminilized. I told him to go and replace Jihadi John, as they share the same attitude and mindset).
Last and final, the same far Right is utterly unable to manage anything (as S.M. Stirling put it, they're "not able to lead three horny sailors to a brothel").
Our Salvini proposed frex to launch Italian military operations against ISIL in Lybia. The simple fact that Lybian coastline is 2500 km. long and the logistics would be a nightmare shows what utter bull$hit they pour forth.

Marino, from Rome, crossing fingers as we're next in the ISIS target list.

Laurent Weppe said...

* "Their own leader looked terrified, and this was from 8 men with AK-47's; how would he deal with a real war?"

When the United States was attacked, Bush junior vowed to hunt down Usama Bin Laden.

Bin Laden was eventually found and killed, ten years later under Junior's more competent successor.

In January 2013, Hollande also vowed to hunt down a fundamentalist leader: Abdelhamid Abou Zeid.
Abou Zeid was killed by french forces 6 weeks later.

Hollande has already demonstrated that he's way more efficient in hunting down terrorists than all the bellicose, dick-waving demagogues.

You are henceforth kindly invited to fuck off.

***

* "I wonder how this scenario would have played out in America, among a well-armed population?"

this situation occurs daily in the US, the results are... uninspiring to say the least.

Once more you are, alongside your masturbatory fantasies about being one terrorist attack away from transforming into John McClane kindly invited to fuck off.

David Brin said...

I have my reasons for having one of the most permissive posting policies among public figures, on the web - in this one of the oldest communities. Heck in this case, I did not even grind my teeth. Nothing could serve the cause of progressivism than such starkly vicious and jibbering loony counter-examples.

Laurent, as a former resident (18 months) of Place Jussieu, my wife and I send our love and sincere respect for your nation's courage.

The inability to see how half ful the glass is, astounds me. The West overflows with soft targets. We fizz and pop and swarm with MILLIONS of soft targets. And yet, this sort of thing happens so, so seldom. Something is being done right. It may be that members of our protector caste have extremely good tools ("Person of Interest" level?) or methods (I suspect deep infiltration.) And that these groups regularly suffer defectors-of-conscience.

In fact though, despite cranky ents who haven't a clue, in fact, westerners would endure many times this level of trauma, and still remain what we are. Not jibbering-red panic-cowards. But calm, blue, determined, and moving forward.

Viv e la France.

David Brin said...

Marino, I respectfully disagree on one point. The Europeans need to bribe Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt to go in and clean up Libya. There is not excuse for this.

Marino said...

Ah, Treebeard, well-met, and given your nick, long live Saruman, the forges of Isengard need fuel...

I've read often your rants. I'm happy you believe also in that Protocols of the Elders of Zion's stuff about "Mad Merkel's whole EU open-borders, post-nationalist, demographic replacement project". It's just icing on the top of the cake, with a cherry on it.

You prove my point. Rightists wants and need the Islamic threat to pose as the only true men and warriors. In Clint's word "go ahead, make my day".

Marino said...

Dr. Brin, one thing is "bribing " Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt to intervene in the Lybia mess (and it would be dangerous for those countries, expecially Tunisia, whose attempts at democracy would be jeopardized by exposure to retaliation by asymetrical warfare by ISIS, think Bardo museum attack again and again), another one is launchingan Italian-only boots-on-the-ground military intervention in Lybia.
Our military had to deal with that sad sandbox twice, first in the war with Turkey in 1912, up to and including the Fascist occupation in the '30s, and later during WW2. Unless it's a joint EU-NATO longterm operation, it would be a nasty trap, and the rightwingers waving that flag are worse than Shrub invading Iraq.

Jumper said...

Why do I have the strongest impression of treebeard as a guy living in his parents' basement, who never got in shape, never worked for more than a few days at a physical job, never did anything, but play video games and read fantasy? I really have that emanation, I'm not just trying to be mean or snarky. It just looks that way. If you want to "be a man" dude, that's not about being Johnny Pissoff, or angerball, or rapy guy, or any of that sociopathic bullshit.

LarryHart said...

Deuxglass:

French are not going to change their lives because of this and will continue. It is their way of spitting into eye of those who want to destroy them.


We Americans would have done better with that attitude after 9/11. I think we did after the Boston marathon bombing a few years back.

Despite the hard-on admiration our local fascisti have for the "real men" of ISIS, their brand of insanity cannot long survive. If the rest of the world doesn't join forces against them as they do against the fictional Holnists, they'll eventually eat their own as their definition of "purity" gets tighter and tighter. Our own Republican party is currently demonstrating this, as is the fact that ISIS and Hezbollah are at war with each other.


...non-breeding bunnies...

????? :)

David Brin said...

I hadn't thought of why these two fellows make me smile, instead of grind my teeth. Both clearly have some IQ. But locum is color blind at a very deep level to the concept of positive sum games and this makes him perpetually grumpy... but not actually hateful. His delusional strawmen would sting if they were ever landing near their targets, instead of waaay over there someplace of his own concocting. Still, at times they can be nicely expressed.

This other guy is a true negative-summer. He would do harm even without gaining benefit.

Laurent Weppe said...

* "First, the far Right (Le Pen or our own Salvini in Italy) proposes stuff (mass expulsion of citizens of Moslem religion, their internment like what was done to Japanese-Americans after Pearl Harbour or banning Islam as religion) that would be uncostitutional"

That's the point: the fascists' real endgame isn't the expulsion of minorities: it's the dismantlement of constitutional democracies and the eventual disenfranchisement of everybody who doesn't belong to their tiny cliques. Mistreating minorities is not the end: it's just an excuse: a way to justify getting these pesky constitutions and rule of law out of the way and to pander to the racist electorate.

***

* "Last and final, the same far Right is utterly unable to manage anything (as S.M. Stirling put it, they're "not able to lead three horny sailors to a brothel")."

Although it has become the butt of too many internet jokes, this infamous scene from Der Untergang is brilliant because it depicts with perfect clarity how childish Fascism's conception of power is:
For the fascists, Power is a guy in a fancy chair giving orders and being obeyed... And that's it. The realities on the ground, the complex vagaries of human nature, the laws of physics are irrelevant: Power is a guy in a fancy chair giving orders, and if the lackeys fail to implement said orders, because they lack the manpower to mount a counter offensive, or the resources to implement a logistically difficult endeavour, or because their leader shoddy understanding of complex social systems render the orders unimplementable, it's always the lackeys own damn fault.

And that's what frighten me the most about fascism: our complex, technology dependent societies cannot function for very long if petulant children (who nonetheless fancy themselves as towering intellects) take over: if this type of character is allowed to rule, it's only a matter of time before we all starve.

***

* "one thing is "bribing " Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt to intervene in the Lybia mess"

Frankly, neither Algeria nor Tunisia need any bribes: both are ruled by western-trained technocrats with an instinctive animosity toward fundies: they're not intervening right now because to join the current quagmire would hurt rather than serve their -fragily secular- countries.

***

* "Why do I have the strongest impression of treebeard as a guy living in his parents' basement, who never got in shape, never worked for more than a few days at a physical job, never did anything, but play video games and read fantasy?"

Don't be so mean to me: I willingly moved to the basement of my inherited riviera mansion (it's cooler down there in summer), used to be a 365 pounds heavy out of shape slob (before I went cold turkey on food), have always preferred intellectual to physical work, and enjoy playing video games, reading fantasy and playing fantasy video games.
Yet I never turned into a rapey douche with genocidal fantasies.

***

* "Despite the hard-on admiration our local fascisti have for the "real men" of ISIS, their brand of insanity cannot long survive"

Daesh is very similar to the Khmers Rouges: like them, their cruelty has shocked the world, like them, they are trying to violently purge society of all non-conforming elements, like them, they fascinate dissatisfied people eager to romanticize their revanchist impulses, and like them, they won't last as an established state for very long.

greg byshenk said...

I posted this to FB, but it may be relevant here, as well...

As a possible point of light in the darkness of Paris and Beirut, it is possible that ISIS may result in a "reformation" of Islam.

Today, de Volkskrant published an article including commentary by Imam Yassim Elforkani:

"The hard reality is that the attackers justifed their actions theologically. We cannot get around this. We cannot keep saying: 'this has nothing to do with Islam,'" he said. [...] "Because of the timing [...] and the result [...] as a Muslim you cannot ignore it any longer." Elforkani calls on the Muslim community "to fight against" the IS interpretation of the Koran. In his view, that must happen not only via imams and the leaders of mosques and schools. "But even more so within the community, when parents talk to the their children about their faith, or in conversation in cafes."

My translation; original article at de volkskrant.

TheMadLibrarian said...

Deuxglass:

French are not going to change their lives because of this and will continue. It is their way of spitting into eye of those who want to destroy them.

LarryHart:

We Americans would have done better with that attitude after 9/11. I think we did after the Boston marathon bombing a few years back.


The last time DH and I were in Europe (far too long ago!) was 2005, shortly after the London Underground bombings. People were surprised to see Americans out and about, and disconcerned about the possibility of running into terrorists. Furthermore, they were surprised to hear that we weren't all approving of our CinC's attitude towards international relations. All we could say is that allowing jackhole terrorists to dictate the terms of a long-planned vacation would be playing into their hands. Trying not to be Ugly Americans abroad is better for foreign relations than posturing and saber-rattling.

TheMadLibrarian

Tim H. said...

I think the anathema that Daesh/ISIL unleashed in Paris is part of a recruiting drive, hoping for a right-wing backlash that would make the lives of ordinary muslims so unbearable that participating in the Daesh doomsday cult would seem preferable. Don't play into their hands.

David Brin said...

Laurent you have it right, re fascism… and let’s be honest… compulsion-based systems of the melft, as well. Their prescription boils down to command allocation via feudalism. And the vast number of tech empowered sons-and-daughters-of-Ben_Franklin would, in the west, swiftly make life hell for such tyrants.

I spent a month at the Hannah Arendt Center at Bard College and recalled that she sat next to my facther at the Eichmann trial, observing that evil can be so utterly… banal. That obedient functionaries are the core stuff of tyranny. And hence, our society’s almost instinctive immune response is to flock to theaters to reward films that preach Suspicion of Authority.

Oh, we saw Melissa McCarthy’s spoof SPY last night. Very entertaining! If a total remake of GET SMART.

Greg B. I fear that ISIS is under orders to seem outrageous so when the comparatively calm Saudi royal family steps up and says “Okay we’ll be Caliphs instead of them, the world will sigh and accept it.

Tony Fisk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tony Fisk said...

What Deuxglass noted on the streets of Paris today was also noted by ABC correspondent Lisa Miller:

I saw a group of five 20-somethings having coffee just a block from where people had been attacked and killed sitting in those same kinds of seats.

I said to them: "Do you not feel a bit exposed here?"

They replied: "We are sitting here deliberately. We have deliberately made the decision to come to this cafe and have our coffees and hot chocolates to show the terrorists they are not going to win and we will continue enjoying life as the French know how to do."


Caliph wannabes? The Saudi's contribution to aiding refugees in Germany: offer to build 200 mosques for them. An offer too good to refuse!

Jon S. said...

200 mosques? A pleasant gesture, to be sure. How about 200 apartment buildings instead, though? (Still not enough, but one must start somewhere.)

David Brin said...

And to staff them with Wahhabbi clerics.

Laurent Weppe said...

* "As a possible point of light in the darkness of Paris and Beirut, it is possible that ISIS may result in a "reformation" of Islam."

Daesh is already the result of a "reformation": its members are the violent, iconoclastic Calvinists of Islam.

It's also extremely westernized: not only because some of its members hail from western societies and because it's use modern technology to spread its propaganda, but also, and perhaps most importantly because its leaders have been heavily influenced by Abul A’la Maududi, the Pakistani founder of the Jamaat-e-Islami party (whose bangladeshi members are currently in a campaign of assassination against atheist & agnostic bloggers and writers): Maududi's political model wasn't the early Caliphate, but the Montagnard-Party-ruled revolutionary France: his "big idea" was to use Robespierre's methods to allow the establishment of a modern islamic empire. People often talk about Daesh's ruthless reign of terror and their taste for using beheadings as propaganda, but that should surprise no one: they are, after all, applying to the letter the rulebook that We unwittingly provided.

***

* "Caliph wannabes? The Saudi's contribution to aiding refugees in Germany: offer to build 200 mosques for them. An offer too good to refuse!"

That reminds me of what happened in Bosnia: for decades, Saudi Arabia offered brand new mosques to Bosniacs, who politely told the House of Saud to find other venues to waste their money...
Then the war came and nationalistic Serbs and Croats trashed as many mosques as they could... And after the war the Bosniacs finally accepted Saudi money as well as the strings attached.

The more the refugees are mistreated by the racists who dwell among the population (there's been 600 reported assaults against refugees in Germany this year), the more they'll perceive Mosques as refuges and circling the wagon among members of a same religious background as a valid defensive strategy, and the Saudi regimes quite obviously intends to exploit that.

Tony Fisk said...

And to staff them with Wahhabbi clerics.

Oh, No! No! No! No! No! No! No!
...yes.

Paul SB said...

Commentary from Treebeard included this little gem:

"Interesting point in the light of the fact that one of the mass murderers was a *fucking Syrian refugee*!"

One out of eight attackers, and more to the point, one out of tens of thousands of refugees. Any time you have a group of people that consists of thousands or millions of people, you will have both saints and sinners, and a majority that can be swayed either way depending on how they are treated. This is why you are nothing more than a sapling, and are unlikely to ever be anything more adult. If you can't see that groups are composed of individuals, you assume that they are all the same and can all be blamed for the acts of a few among them, you are a traitor to the democratic institutions that raised you and gave you the freedom to spread your poison at will. How are you different from those ISIS sickoes who would behead you in a heartbeat for not being a member of their little social club?

I second Laurent's invitation.

Paul SB said...

Laurent, American history has an interesting little parallel to Abul A’la Maududi, though not on quite the same scale. The native people here were often derided as vicious savages, and their use of torture, especially with fire, was given as a reason for their extermination. Yet there were those who pointed out that even in those days that the finer points of torture were taught to the natives by the French in the years leading up to the French and Indian War, which was really just the North American theater of the Seven Year's War. Of course, both that and the Reign of Terror were a long time ago, so it's not like anyone today can be blamed for the actions of their ancestors. Evil isn't inherited, but you point out an ironic twist on history. We tend to think of history as something worth preserving so we don't make the same mistakes. In the case of Abul A’la Maududi, history is being used as a manual to make a colossal mistake. But then, there are plenty of fools here in the West who aren't paying attention to history for its more conventional use.

LarryHart said...

Laurent Weppe:

The more the refugees are mistreated by the racists who dwell among the population (there's been 600 reported assaults against refugees in Germany this year), the more they'll perceive Mosques as refuges and circling the wagon among members of a same religious background as a valid defensive strategy, and the Saudi regimes quite obviously intends to exploit that.


So you're saying that even from a pragmatic point of view, "Bring on the fascists!" might not be a winning strategy?

Laurent Weppe said...

What do you mean by "Bring on the fascists"?

Paul SB said...

Dr. Brin, on intervention in Libya, doesn't the African Union have some responsibility here, and not just Libya's immediate neighbors? Given the trouble they are having with Boko Haram, I would think they would want to stem some of the radicalization coming from the northern end of the continent, and yet when I hear news about AU peacekeepers, they mostly seem to go sub-Saharan. I get the sense that they don't want to get too involved in the affairs of the North.

Jumper said...

I read the other day an article suggesting religious hypocrisy among former Baathists in ISIL and it reminded me of the American version. Those who go along with the nonsense, quit drinking and begin going to prayers, for power. Using the more naive impressionable types as expendable tools. Maybe even a little "self-hypnosis" or however you'd want to describe what it is men do internally to ease the sting of cognitive dissonance hypocrisy brings. Men who see themselves as realists deep inside.
All this sounds more believable than that all of them are starry-eyed mystics of murder. The truth is rarely simple, in other words.

LarryHart said...

@Laurent Weppe:

What do you mean by "Bring on the fascists"?


Sorry, I was referring to an earlier comment in this thread.


If willingness to fight for your survival and secure your lands makes you a fascist, then I guess it's time to bring on the fascists!


The same comment suggested western feminized society was being made into "non-breeding bunnies", which (among other things) sounds oxymoronic to me.

Probably wasn't in the best taste to repeat the meme, for which I apologize.

Laurent Weppe said...

* "The same comment suggested western feminized society was being made into "non-breeding bunnies", which (among other things) sounds oxymoronic to me."

It's the poor man's version of "The plebs are outbreeding us! The Plebs are outbreeding us! Soon they'll raid the Palatine Hill and burn down our lavish villas!"

LarryHart said...

@Laurent Weppe

Although I think it's a mug's game in an overpopulated world, I get the "we must outbreed our enemies" thing. Comics writer/artist Dave Sim, whose philosophy was that marriage and children were (capitalized) Bad Things and distractions from productivity also preached that feminism was causing White America and Black America to lose the breeding arms race to Islam, and that our only hope was Hispanic America. So yeah, I get the idea.

But "non-breeding bunnies" in particular sounds like a bad metaphor to use. I mean, bunnies are more typically symbolic of over-breeding, no?

Laurent Weppe said...

* "One out of eight attackers, and more to the point, one out of tens of thousands of refugees"

As a matter of fact, the french police has confirmed that the kamikaze found near a refugee passport is NOT its original owner.

Jon S. said...

In fact, last I heard the Parisian police had determined that both of the Syrian passports found were forgeries, probably created in Turkey. So one point still stands - never trust initial reports, they're almost always flawed in several particulars.

I know, I know, it makes it so very hard to live via knee-jerk reaction. Personally, I find that more of a feature than a bug, but I understand there are those who disagree with me on that point...

Treebeard said...

Yeah, there's no problem at all letting millions of people from the Middle East and North Africa into Europe. What could possibly go wrong? Obviously anyone resisting the invasion of lands their people have inhabited for thousands of years by people from alien cultures are nothing but odious racists!

I don't know about your Protocols, Marino, but I do suspect and have seen some evidence to suggest that this Euro-debacle isn't an entirely spontaneous development, but is being abetted at a high level by people with dubious if not downright diabolical agendas.

I guess the progressive narrative is a slippery slope in either direction; either it looks like an ineluctable force that owns the future and is relegating everything before it to the dustbin of history, gaining more power with each culture it conquers, or it's a failing model that looks increasingly out of touch with reality and comes to resemble late Soviet propaganda, until the whole edifice finally crumbles. Which direction is the slope going now, I wonder? Does the EU project not look a lot like the Soviet Union at this point?

Deuxglass said...

Laurent Weppe,

Are you a follower of Jean-Luc Mélenchon? You sound exactly like him.

Laurent Weppe said...

* "Are you a follower of Jean-Luc Mélenchon?"

Mélenchon is a demagogic poser who got elected in the European Parliament and barely shows up here: he's like Palin: a lazy would-be rentier who tries to sound like a radical.

Deuxglass said...

I am glad you are not. I have the same opinion of him as you but I also note that you and he have similar views on some things.

LarryHart said...

Treebeard:

Yeah, there's no problem at all letting millions of people from the Middle East and North Africa into Europe. What could possibly go wrong?


What could possibly go wrong with leaving them to rot either? There's risk either way. Deal with it. There was risk in rescuing people from ISIS too, but doing nothing wasn't a good option either.


Obviously anyone resisting the invasion of lands their people have inhabited for thousands of years by people from alien cultures are nothing but odious racists!


The native Americans should never have let you white people in. Now look what came of it.


I don't know about your Protocols, Marino, but I do suspect and have seen some evidence to suggest that this Euro-debacle isn't an entirely spontaneous development, but is being abetted at a high level by people with dubious if not downright diabolical agendas.


What do the leaders of European nations have to gain by alienating their own people and catering to muslim refugees? I don't get it. Unless you're trying to say it's the fault of the Jews. That, argument, I understand all too well.

Marino said...

first, it's odd that someone interested in politics doesn't know what the Protocols of the Elders of Zion are. Anti-Semite forgery by Czarist Russian secret police, later a staple of anti-Semite and Nazi propaganda.

second, it's really odd to hear such nativist arguments from a citizen of a country estabilished and turned great by immigrants...once that we Europeans try to act a bit more like the US ("more perfect union", citizenship by birth and fealty to constitution instead of by bloodline, common currency and an attempt at uniform codes and uniform bill of rights), we become decadent feminized non breeding bunnies (btw: I'm married and I've got one son, my reproducitve duty has been done, something I suppose our Ent ot there hasn't)

Last and final: we had in charge "people of dubious if not downright diabolical agendas": a former Austrian painter, an Italian schoolteacher turned journalist, and a former Orthodox seminarist come to mind. For sure not Angela Merkel, who's the only decent, farsighted aand compassionate conservative leader in Europe (and I vote for the other side).

And that "wimpy unmanly scared pinko" president Hollande has just taught ISIS an harsh and deserved lesson: after just 24 hours French warplanes hit military targets in Raqqa, managing also to avoid civilian casualties: "freedom, dear freedom, may your dying enemies witness your triumph" (La Marseillaise.)

and the forges of Isengard still need wood to burn...

Laurent Weppe said...

* "I am glad you are not. I have the same opinion of him as you but I also note that you and he have similar views on some things."

If an asshole says the sky is blue and the water is wet, he's still an asshole and the water's still wet.

***

* "it's odd that someone interested in politics doesn't know what the Protocols of the Elders of Zion are. Anti-Semite forgery by Czarist Russian secret police, later a staple of anti-Semite and Nazi propaganda"

You know the most ridiculous thing about that book?
It didn't even began as antisemitic propaganda.
Originally it was a french satirical pamphlet written against Napoléon III: the czarist police took that book, translated it (badly) into Russian, and replaced all the "Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte" by "The Jews"
They didn't even have enough imagination to craft their own conspiracy theory: they had to plagiarize an unrelated author. It's a wonder the Romanov dynasty lasted that long given how lazy and incompetent the people tasked to protect it were.

***

* "And that "wimpy unmanly scared pinko" president Hollande has just taught ISIS an harsh and deserved lesson: after just 24 hours French warplanes hit military targets in Raqqa, managing also to avoid civilian casualties"

Well, these hits were already scheduled before the terrorist attacks: France has increased its bombing campaign since september, destroying several logistical centers in northern Iraq as well as several training camps and oil facilities in Eastern Syria and around Raqqa. For once the Rafales serve another purpose than enriching the Dassault household.

David Brin said...

Actually, there's an interesting point buried in the ent's hate-fest (which was milder, this time. The point is which of two trends will dominate in forging a new world?

1. The Enlightenment revolution that teaches flattened social orders, individualism, science, positive sum processes, engaging adult calmness in flat-open-fair competition, moderated by sense of community, expanding horizons and future-orientation?

2. The older approach of mystically sanctioned hierarchy, punishment of eccentricity, superstition, zero-or-negative sum thinking, narrowing horizons and obsession with nostalgia?

#1 has been winning the worldwide meme war -- via aggressive means such as Hollywood films -- so thoroughly that the violent responses surprise me only in their relative mildness! Males whose childhood traumas make them unstable tend to want their womenfolk to stay below them. Above all, this 'war" is less about Islam etc than it is about their desperation not to let their women and girls become like ours.

And yes, the other side has had many victories. China is establishing a credible version of the old pyramidal-hierarchy state by adopting carefully chosen western methods. We'll see how that goes.

In the short term, our problem is a far more violent reaction in the macho best... augmented and subsidized by Saudi-financed Madrassas. But who is winning?

Our memes, hands down. For every Syrian "invader" to Europe who snarls ingratitude and connives to bite the hand that fed him, there will be thousands of girls and boys who become European in every way that actually counts.

Pain? Yes. As I said, I am actually amazed there have been so few soft target attacks. The reason is probably that young "recruits" almost always think twice, then go report the bastards who tried to get them to do heinous things. This just happens to have been the first such attempt that actually maintained security till the brutal end.

And they will pay.

Paul SB said...

Dr.Brin,

A third possibility would be the Malthusian collapse and subsequent descent into chaos that some of the more high-T monsters among us would prefer, under the false assumption that they would somehow end up as kings of the carrion mound. When I was more larval these people were called "survivalists" (Robin Williams & Walter Matthau did a funny movie together called "The Survivors") but the term they are using these days is "doomsday preppers." Either way, they are just as parasitical as the feudalists/futilists.

Something Machiavelli wrote got me thinking. He drew a distinction between countries that are easy to conquer but hard to hold and those that are hard to conquer but easy to hold. Countries that have an entrenched aristocracy are easy to conquer because there will always be nobles who don't think they are getting enough from the king and are willing to sell the country out for promises from the foreign invader. But these countries are very hard to hold for the same reason. Nobles feel they are superior to everyone and are entitled to pretty much anything they want, so they have no qualms about betraying whoever is in charge. On the other hand, countries in which there is no entrenched nobility, instead there is a hierarchy tied directly to the king (mainly meaning bureaucracy), these will fight hard to defend their country, but if they are defeated they are easy to hold on to.

It occurred to me that while Uncle Mach was writing in a time before there was anything much like our modern democracy, there does seem to be a parallel today. We have an equivalent of a nobility - a clade of hominids who arose in the Gilded Age as Robber Barons, who today see themselves as genetically superior to everyone else, entitled to pretty much anything they want (though based on supposed business acumen rather than distant noble ancestry, and they are deeply entrenched in society at the highest levels. The Shrub Clan would be among these, and you have enumerated their treacheries before.

David Brin said...

Indeed, Paul. I did address the survivalist Holnist thing in The Postman.

The irony being that the Doomsday Prepper show is a perfect advertisement "here be braggart fools who have squrreled away a whole bunch of stuff while letting everyone know where there's a nice nut with a tasty-soft center, if things ever get rough.

Most of those who dream of being top dogs after the Fall will be either bitches or kibble.

Laurent Weppe said...

* "A third possibility would be the Malthusian collapse and subsequent descent into chaos that some of the more high-T monsters among us would prefer, under the false assumption that they would somehow end up as kings of the carrion mound."

Frankly I don't see much difference between those who dream of a demagogic takeover, those who fantasy about a successfully pulling a violent coup and those wish for a complete social breakdown: every group hope to plunder societies in their eye guilty of not revolving around them.

Paul SB said...

"Most of those who dream of being top dogs after the Fall will be either bitches or kibble."

The key word here is /most/. The mentality they have is that most of them will be, but not them, oh no! Every one of them thinks they are special, smarter than the rest, more pious than the rest, less hypocritical, etc. It's a more extreme example of the kind of native innumeracy that leads so many people to buy lottery tickets on the way home from work every Friday night. Marino made the point that people who were raised in a free society seem like odd people to make the kind of arguments we regularly here from loci and our faux ent (when have those two ever disagreed on anything?). And to an extent I agree with Laurent that there is little difference between the Feudalists and the Preppers. Trying to turn democracies into backward into the failed feudal systems would likely bring on such a collapse, and eventually, after a period of bloody anarchy, society would likely return to feudalism, at least for a time.

The point I made about Machiavelli above is that feudal memes are still very much alive among us. There are huge numbers of people who still think they are more manly than everyone else (mistaking "femininity" for human decency) and that makes them entitled to have all the money, slaves, sex, power and privilege they fantasize. Ironically these are the very people who complain constantly about poor people feeling "entitled" to their scraps. They never seem to get past that tendency to project (in psychological terms) - to find their own faults in everyone else but themselves.

Jumper said...

It strikes me that the core goal of ISIL in Europe ought to be more publicly noted: the goal to incite harm and death to law abiding Muslims. That is without doubt the goal, is it not? The greater their "successes" the more that goal will occur, inevitably.
Perhaps my French comrades ought to point this out to the local people there, as I shall do on this side of the pond. I think this way of looking at things might make some law abiding Muslims think a bit more than they might otherwise about this view.

LarryHart said...

Laurent Weppe:

Frankly I don't see much difference between those who dream of a demagogic takeover, those who fantasy about a successfully pulling a violent coup and those wish for a complete social breakdown: every group hope to plunder societies in their eye guilty of not revolving around them.


I'm not entirely convinced that everyone who advocates for the feudalistic/macho resurgance necessarily believes they will personally be the top of the heap. I get the sense that some of them don't care whether they ultimately "win", but would simply prefer life under conditions where "men are men", short and brutish as that life may be, to what they consider the Hell on Earth of civilized, "feminized", politically-correct (i.e., polite) society.

I'm reminded of one of the few significant points I agreed with in Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged"--the horror of Dagny realizing that the villains weren't trying to take over industry in order to profit from it, but in order to destroy it.

I'm no fan of right-wing columnist Jonah Goldberg, but in today's column, post-Paris attacks, he makes a good case for accurately describing what we are at war with: not so much "terror" or even "Islam", but rather "medievalism".

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/426975/benjamin-netanyahu-radical-islam-terrorism-medievalism?target=author&tid=897


The Taliban, the Wahhabis, al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, and all the other Islamists share this same worldview to one extent or another. Not every Islamist believes in crucifying Christians or throwing acid in the face of little girls going to school. But they all reject modernity, pluralism, secularism, democracy, and, in many cases, even science. “Medievalism” isn’t a perfect word, but it’s a better word than “terrorism” or “Islamism.”


He even gives grudging recognition that liberalism is in the right side of this divide:


At the core of progressive ideology is the Whiggish idea that modernity is preferable to the customs of the past. As a conservative, I think progressives often go too far — way too far — in applying and misapplying this thinking. But they are right on the big picture. Modernity — by which I mean tolerance, pluralism, equality, democracy — is preferable to absolutism.


But for all that, he misses the important point illustrated by the "neo-reo" commentators on this blog and elsewhere: that medievalism itself is not restricted to Islam, and that many on his own conservative side of the aisle actively advocate a policy of medievalism of our own as the preferred--indeed the only--legitimate response to their medievalism.


LarryHart said...

PaulSB:

There are huge numbers of people who still think they are more manly than everyone else (mistaking "femininity" for human decency) ...


Likewise, when they denigrate "political correctness", what they are really denigrating is politeness.

And the Rush Limbaugh/Ann Coulter/Donald Trump strategy of unapologetic outrageousness ultimately leads to ISIS and Boku Haram, who have taken it exponentially to the next level. Those terror groups benefit from acting as real life comic-book supervillains, and the more they generate real outrage from civilized society, the more their "base" approves and supports them.


They never seem to get past that tendency to project (in psychological terms) - to find their own faults in everyone else but themselves

Amen.

Deuxglass said...

An anecdote.

Today I was visiting a friend who lives just outside Paris where the suburbs blend into the countryside. It’s only about twelve miles from the Eiffel Tower as the crow flies so it is close in. Walking in his garden I was hearing gunshots every few seconds from the west, the east and all around so I asked him what’s going on? He told me that the hunting season was still open but generally there is not much hunting in his area but now the farmers around were using the opportunity to target shoot and doing it a lot. I am not sure whether I should be worried, comforted or what. Government statistics record that there are over three million guns owned by individuals in France and this does not include handguns handed down within families. Reputable sources place this at an additional three million more at the very least. It is the European country with the most registered hunters by a good amount and hunting and guns are very deep in the rural tradition. Only Finland has more guns per capita than France. In 2005 there were 2,105 deaths by guns but of that 1,653 were suicides, 36 were accidents, 292 were undetermined and only 124 were confirmed murders. I am not an advocate of gun ownership for all and all that but I think if we want to talk about guns and death then we should recognize the role of cultural norms in the discussion and not just availability.

Jerry Emanuelson said...

PaulSB, your characterization of survivalists and preppers is accurate for many, but certainly not for most. Former ABC news anchor Ted Koppel has essentially admitted to be a prepper, and he is certainly not a feudalist.

I frequently read some of the survivalist/prepper forums just because I consider them to be an interesting lot. They are almost universally offended by the National Geographic television show "Doomsday Preppers." Most of them regard the term "doomsday prepper" as offensive to them as racial minorities regard racial slurs. They also universally regard those few people who went on the National Geographic show to be absolute and completely insane fools.

The most worrisome aspect of the survivalist/prepper community is that perhaps 5 to 10 percent of them actually seem to look forward eagerly to the collapse of civilization. Many others believe that modern civilization will collapse, but sincerely dread such an event. The vast majority, though, simply believe that modern infrastructures and monetary systems are so fragile that they feel the necessity to be prepared for anything, although they hope that it never happens within their lifetime. They would rather just ignore the fragility of modern civilization like everybody else does, but they just don't think that ignoring that fragility is very prudent.

David Brin said...

Jerry by your definition I suppose I am one, as well. I have spoken here of my membership in CERT - Community Emergency Response Teams that are what's left of Civil Defense in the US. I went beyond and trained for California's Disaster Corps, and hence I am on-call to go anywhere in the state if I am needed... with the understanding that my family must first be safe. AT my age, with my skills, I'd probably be in the press & public affairs tent, but so? I'm still trained.

Our sons are Eagle scouts. And we maintain equipment and supplies. Not like Mormons do, but above average.

Fact is, though, that our only real hope is civilization. When I talk to members of the Protector Caste I emphasize more should be spent on citizen resilience. Much more.

Deuxglass said...

The problem with survivalists is that they get some important things wrong. Unless there is a total collapse of civilization then living isolated in the countryside is the worst place to be. We have seen partial collapses and they all show certain characteristics. The first thing the authorities let go is the countryside and they concentrate on the cities because that’s where most people live. They concentrate their limited resources there and try to keep services such as police and hospitals open as well as securing deliveries of food. If you are in the countryside you are on your own with no ambulances, no police, and no food or fuel delivery. The road in front of your house will not get plowed stranding you till springtime at which time you would probably be eating the leaves off of the trees. Look at what happens when countries go through troubles. The rural population moves to the cities in mass because it may not be great but at least they can get some food and medicine and some protection. If things get really tough then the last place you should be is in the countryside.

Jumper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jumper said...

I don't know, it depends on which science fiction scenario or actual war is going on. I think a collapse of the banking system could be repaired so fast it wouldn't matter. Regional banks would open even if a sheriff had to get it staffed, and "credit" would be developed, and gasoline and food delivered by the National Guard if necessary, fuel rationed to use for farm equipment, etc. Things have to get pretty bad for total extended collapse. Worldwide crop failure is a possibility (that's why I mentioned science fiction) but not very likely now. I think sailing ships would help...
I bought some corn to experiment with as fireplace fuel a few years ago. I also made some tortillas out of it just to see how that went. (I've done this before with gleanings I found in a cornfield post harvest and the masa (corn flour) was delicious.) In the latter case, using "deer corn" I learned what "poor quality corn" was. LOL I still could survive many months just on the corn. I wouldn't enjoy it but I'd live. I do have squash that grows up by itself every year from compost. And tomatoes. I live in the city.
I got to know a Mormon where I worked once at Texas Instruments. She was a good cook and she and her family kept the prescribed year's supply of food. There's nothing nutty about that. Keep in mind, she knew more about the old knowledge of how poor people eat, and how to make do on less, and how to cook, than a whole lot of the newer breed of survivalists, or at least that's what it seems looking at some of the newer survivalist websites, which are filled with idiocy like "stock up on candy for the kids because there won't be any!"

Jumper said...

One more comment and I'll go back to work: my grandfather could feed a family on a half acre of ground and eat well. So could my father although it was a hobby for him. I will say my grandfather had an old man with a mule who came around and turned his soil in the spring. My father used a shovel; no mules in the Chicago suburbs.

David Brin said...

Jumper I garden. Alas, my production is not that good. My artichokes do well. Can't grow corn or potatoes worth a damn. OTOH, civilization provides me with those very very very cheap. Yay civilization.

David Brin said...

onward



onward

Duncan Ocel said...

Is there a plain-ol' PDF format of Future Visions out there somewhere? I'm excited but lacking a kindle or what-have-you.

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