Thursday, November 01, 2018

Talk of "a new civil war" goes mainstream

I despise notions of "cyclical history." But nations do often fall into traps that look similar. Twenty years ago, back when America was riding so high that folks spoke of an "end to history," I addressed folks at a DC agency - flush with victory in the Cold War - and splashed them with colder water by asking: 

"What would enemies do, in this new context, to bring down even a pre-eminent Pax Americana?"

Even in the 1990s, there were many desperately eager to find a way. Some deluded themselves with fantasies of a supposed weakness that  "Americans are all decadent, spoiled, pleasure-seeking cowards" the same canard that every U.S. generation had to disprove at great cost, since the 1770s. (On 9/11 it was easily refuted by 60 brave volunteers aboard flight UA 93.) Now that perennialy-loony nostrum is being repeated by modern confederates, claiming that educated citizens and city folk inherently have no guts. I'll get back to that slanderously stupid calumny, below.

But in the 90s I went deeper. "What clever and potentially lethal endeavors might serious - if weaker - enemies undertake, to bring down the United States?" 

Wearing my sci-fi hat, I answered: "You'd start by looking across history for mistakes that almost wrecked the American experiment. Two stand out. Foreign quagmires and civil war. If I were an enemy, I would use asymmetrical and skulldugerous methods to lure us into both."

How might an enemy accomplish this? Among the methods listed on my 1998 slide (and there are witnesses) were: 

"Incite divisions among our classes and castes," 

"Incite suspicion toward our professional protectors," 

"Suborn top levels of U.S. leadership."  

Although every one of these can be found across the annals of shattered empires, my warnings seemed far-fetched in the late 1990s. I got smirks back when I first showed that slide. 

I don't get smirks anymore. I get gasps. 

Indeed, just three years after that talk, we were mired in endless middle-eastern quagmires, in exactly the same locales where the USSR met its doom. And through innovations such as the Hastert Rule, seeds were lain for an end to all grownup political discourse within the United States -- the beginnings of phase eight of the American Civil War.

== Talk of Civil War goes Mainstream ==

Okay, what seemed far-out, back then, is now on everyone's lips. Read or listen to this NPR report about “a new civil war?” Some passages are chilling. For example: one anonymous “fake news hater" left a voicemail threat for the New York Times' Ken Vogel. 

"You are the enemy of the people. And although the pen might be mightier than the sword, the pen is not mightier than the AK-47. And just remember Ken, there's nothing civil about civil war."

Like all of the bright fools in mainstream journalism, this reporter seemed to think that just quoting such treasonous bile should be enough to put it in disrepute. In so doing, these journalists help make the right's point! That brains and knowledge do not always translate into wisdom! So let me put all of this into much harsher perspective. 

Sure, oh anonymous troll-caller, it all may go hot. Rash heads might tip us over into something as awful as sci fi author Sean Smith relates in his novel TEARS OF ABRAHAM. Indeed, nothing would make Vladimir Putin happier. 

Before our confederate neighbors leap for their AK’s, however, it might be worth remembering that:

1) The Union side is always under-rated. Educated and city folk are routinely derided as “un-manly” and lacking courage, as in 1778 and 1861 and 1941. This lazy reflex is always proved wrong. But if these twits knew any history, they would not be twits.

2) Question: why have most liberals shifted their gun control views from efforts at restricting gun ownership to simple sanities like background checks? Answer: because liberals have quietly been arming themselves since 2001. They don’t preen, or stockpile, or wave their pieces around in compensation for male performance anxiety. Still, you'd be really foolish to just assume they are unarmed.

This goes double since the Fox-Putin treason ramped up its open war against our “deep state” professionals in law, intel, and the U.S. military officer corps. The folks who fought Hitler and saved us from Stalin and Brezhnev are now being told they must spurn facts and science and ignore the threat from a blatant, world-wide mafia putsch. And they are not having it. 

Hundreds of thousands of “crewcut types” have been driven out of the GOP and (sometimes holding their noses, and sometimes running for office) into the Democratic Party. You may be surprised how many of them will stand by the Union, if push comes to shove.

3) It’s not just the Deep State. This neo-confederate cult has been waging war against every profession that deals in facts and knowledge, from science and teaching and law to civil service, journalism… name an exception! 

But let’s circle back to that first one. Science. I have to ask the guy who threatened Ken Vogel: 

“Um, sir. If the AK-47 is mightier than the pen, then is an atom bomb, or a genetic weapon, or a software worm mightier than an AK? Because your cult’s open, death-vendetta against people who know physics and biology and cybernetics and medicine and every other science does seem to… well, forgive me… fail a simple IQ test. 

"Who will treat your battle wounds, when you've told doctors they're satanic? 

“I mean seriously, you think all the folks who know stuff will be helpless, when you traitors and your oligarch-mafia masters turn this civil war hot? Seriously? You assume your penis compensating arsenal of assault rifles and McVeigh devices can stand up to what we’ll be able to throw together in days, if your klan comes at us with torches and AKs and death in your eyes?

“Seriously? We're talking millions of people, each of them dozens of times smarter than you. Slay a few dozen of them and watch them get mad. You won't like them when they get mad.

Here's a modest suggestion. Go visit Jim Wright’s Stonekettle Station blog. He comes from a good ol’ boy background and can beat any of you at blindfolded field-cleaning an M4. Only he also passes these IQ tests. And he can tell you what will happen if the New Plantation Lords send you into battle against “the north” again. 

Maybe, instead of obeying those masters and attacking all the folks who know stuff as a hated "elite," you should give another look at the real, conniving elite of casino moguls, slumlords, inheritance brats, Wall Street parasites, petro-sheiks, coal barons, KGB agents and mafia dons. They are “enemies of the people.” 

And if I'm not here to say it, then millions will step up to shout "j'accuse!"

== It's happened before ==

This is not the first all-out effort by paranoid dinosaurs to throttle our brave experiment in democratic-tolerant-scientific progress. The Dreyfus Affair crystallized a very similar turmoil in 1890s France, between liberal and reactionary forces that led ultimately to treason in 1940 — a  struggle that goes way back, in much the same way as the American Civil War has had recurring outbreaks, all the way to 1778: 

The Dreyfus affair was triggered in 1894, when a traitor was discovered in the French army: Somebody had been passing information to Germany, which had defeated France a quarter century earlier and occupied Alsace-Lorraine. French military intelligence blamed Captain Alfred Dreyfus - an Alsatian who spoke with a German accent, and was a Jew—and therefore, in the eyes of some, not a real Frenchman. As it would turn out, he was also innocent. But French army investigators created fake evidence and gave false testimony; as a result, Dreyfus was court-martialed, found guilty, and sent into solitary confinement on Devil’s Island."

From The Atlantic: “The ensuing controversy divided French society along now-familiar lines. Those who maintained Dreyfus’s guilt were the alt-right—or the Law and Justice Party, or the National Front—of their time. They pushed a conspiracy theory. They were backed up by screaming headlines in France’s right-wing yellow press, the 19th-century version of a far-right trolling operation. Their leaders lied ‘to uphold the honor of the army’; adherents clung to their belief in Dreyfus’s guilt—and their absolute loyalty to the nation—even when this fakery was revealed.”

 As comments Daniel Duffy: “The split still divides France. The Dreyfusards led France to victory in WW1. The anti-Dreyfusards (especially those on the French general staff) led France to defeat in WW2 and ruled the Vichy regime. In his "Collapse of the Third Republic", William Shirer (also famous for "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich") strongly implied that the anti-Dreyfusards of the French officer corp deliberately betrayed France and preferred Nazi anti-Antisemitism to "liberte, egaletre et fraternite". On paper, the French army was vastly superior to the Germans and it took more than just incompetence to cause defeat.”

Seriously. When our few experiments in a newer-better way than perpetual feudalism are so very successful, but then crushed by tsunamis of illogic and madness, you have to wonder if we are in Heinlein's "Crazy Years." 

You, yes you, might be able to make a difference during the coming week.

I hope you will.

99 comments:

A.F. Rey said...

Well, I'm proud to report that, while my lazy-behind has just been going to work and watching the boob-tube, my wife has volunteered twice now for the phone banks for Ammar Campa-Najjar campaign in the CA 50th district. If Duncan "my Christian opponent is helping Muslim terrorists because his father was Muslim" Hunter goes down, she will be partly responsible. I love that woman! :)

Treebeard said...

The “Crazy Years” is what we've been living through: a period when a few influential crazies sold people on the idea that humans are on the verge of becoming gods, heaven can be built on earth and history has nothing to teach us except how superior we are to everything that came before us. The “Sane Years” are what we may be returning to, as the crazies' predictions about the future fail on all fronts and people rediscover the wisdom of living as humble human beings, with very short, limited yet worthwhile lives and a sense of continuity with the past and future, like all our ancestors did before the crazies came on the scene.

Ed Seedhouse said...

Spider Robinson called the "Crazy Years" back around the turn of the millennium. He was right. Still is, alas.

Anonymous said...

Treebeard

"continuity with the past and future", yes, we must pass on the biosphere in all it's glorious diversity and the painstakingly accumulated knowledge of ten millennia. We must not be the ones to break the chain.

matthew said...

Oh go screw off, white nationalist ent.
I'm not interested in my children or children's children living short and limited lives.
I'm not interested in your bullshit and I will fight to keep your voice from mattering.

Treebeard said...

And yet matthew, your children and their children's lives will be short and limited just like yours, and it has nothing to do with how hard you fight my or anyone else's “voice”. In the Sane Years, this is everyday wisdom; in the Crazy Years, it's cause for hysteria and ad hominem attacks.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin quotes Daniel Duffy:

William Shirer (also famous for "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich") strongly implied that the anti-Dreyfusards of the French officer corp deliberately betrayed France and preferred Nazi anti-Antisemitism to "liberte, egaletre et fraternite".


I said this the first time this was posted, but it bears repeating. if the anti-Dreyfusards preferred German values to French ones, then what the f*** did they claim was Dreyfus's offense? They accuse him of helping Germany defeat France in a war, exactly what they themselves did. He should be their freakin' hero.

Larry Hart said...

Treebeard:

your children and their children's lives will be short and limited just like yours, and it has nothing to do with how hard you fight my or anyone else's “voice”.


I have a hard time believing you don't understand the that the fact that life always ends doesn't prevent the quality of that life from being significant. But by your own words, you obviously don't have a clue.

What I therefore don't understand is why anything matters to you. What's the difference whether this country is a haven for white Christians, or if it's overrun by mongrel hordes, or if Jews replace you? Will any of that matter in a billion years?

Larry Taylor said...

Very well said. Thanks for saying it.

scidata said...

I've always thought that Isaac Asimov saw America much like how Socrates saw Athens. Especially when I hear the word 'mob' thrown around.



"The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

Larry Hart said...

matthew to TB:

I'm not interested in your bullshit and I will fight to keep your voice from mattering.


In a billion years, it won't matter anyway.

Mel Baker said...

This congressman from Spokane, WA actually has a detailed plan on how the Dominionist Civil War will be fought.
https://news.vice.com/en_us/article/pa97wy/biblical-basis-for-war-washington-politicians-manifesto-suggests-supporters-of-abortion-and-gay-marriage-be-killed?utm_source=vicefbus&fbclid=IwAR3Yz5QiMua7fnCYOElHyCJwZAq4Bt-cxeydbXtavnYthIN7h0YuBafwj4c

David Brin said...

Good lord, this is why our ent never, ever, ever gets explicit describing what he wants, always amwaving at some rosy glow behind us… a glow from the hot torment of every single human across 99% of history. Even the kings like Ramses who lived to see all s7 of his sons die, many of them horribly. All lives were shorter and more limited than ours, long and filled with health and wonders, we who fly through the sky and ask genies for any morsel of knowledge won by science or any moment of art contrived by creative geniuses, anywhere.

I can instantly listen to the Violin Concerto in D, I am listening to it now, and it is like heaven. Do I appreciate each hearing less, because it comes so easily, than a rich Vienese of 1810, who might get to hear it three times in his life? Sure. And I answer - so? I can do it while clicking to look at magnificent images of fucking Pluto, knowing that my people got to name every crater and feature in this holy work, just as God asked Adam to name all the beasts. And knowing that I am striving hard to save the beasts that Adam named, from jibbering lunatics who yearn for all of this glorious wonder to end.

And I am doing all that while picking away remnants of a fine meal in some California blend of world cuisines, While posing mental images for people I respect across the globe.

Who the hell is demanding to suddenly “be a god”? That’s YOUR jibbering fantasy, oh Treebeard. I am an egotist who can easily recognize something more important than himself and who is willing to fight and live and die for it. That’s how beautiful and rare is our one chance to escape from the monstrous darkness of cruelty and relentless unfairness you extol.

Go live under the conditions you claim to admire! There are plenty of places on Earth where your paltry savings could set you up with servants. Go. Try it and report back to us, oh would be feudal lord. Go. Just go.

David Brin said...

Mel -- oof. Top reason NOT to impeach. Because the only life standing in the way of the White House being fully and completely owned by dominionist horrors like this is named Donald J. Trump. Clean house first, then ask him for the keys back.

David Brin said...

Ramses saw all 67 of his sons die.

David Brin said...

Now I'm listening to Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. Impudent! Innovative and utterly American. Optimistic and eager. (And maybe a little bit jazzy-black-jewish.) And nothing from the Dark Ages can compare... though countless ancestors sweated amid agony, striving to inch things forward so that we could happen...

... and so that we can engender more blindingly brilliant wonders.

Squinting ahead, I can't wait! Though (alas) I must.

Zepp Jamieson said...

I just wrote an essay about a possible Civil War II "The election of 1860, reducere" ( http://zeppscommentaries.online/?p=485 ) noting that Canadians are preparing for the possibility. It's not only possible, it's likely. Even if the Democrats win Tuesday, and perhaps even especially so.

Zepp Jamieson said...

On a brighter note: https://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/heres-why-these-harvard-astrophysicists-speculate-mysterious-interstellar-object
Here's Why These Harvard Astrophysicists Speculate that a Mysterious Interstellar Object Could Have Come from Aliens

When Oumuamua passed through the solar system, it showed a slight but inexplicable acceleration after it passed the sun. However, it had to mass far too much for the solar wind to have any affect. Unless it was hollow, and had a skin no more than about 2 mm thick. And no other mass.

Could it be Oumuamua is a discarded light sail? The article makes a good case for that.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"Spider Robinson called the "Crazy Years" back around the turn of the millennium. He was right. Still is, alas."
He got that from Heinlein, and makes no pretense otherwise.

David Brin said...

Zepp it's probably my doctoral thesis at work on Oumuamua. It took a while for the sun's heat to penetrate the covering dust/mantle layer till the sublimed volatiles worked their way out and provided a little bit of thrust.

"And nothing from the Dark Ages can compare... " Mind you, I've sung Gregorian chants, back in the caltech glee club. Good stuff.

Anonymous said...


Zepp Jamieson:
Interesting note about Oumuamua. In that scientific note, they suggest that Oumuamua is an extraterrestrial probe sent premeditatedly.
If the intention of the extraterrestrials is to hide their existence, that would explain the camouflage of the probe. After all, it is also logical that the aliens have decided only to observe. I suppose that one of the indispensable requisites for a civilization to join the galactic federation, is that this civilization manages to reach beyond the situations in which a civilization can disappear because they destroy themselves, in a classic struggle of feudal against slaves.
I suppose another requirement is to have left feudalism behind forever.
At present. Humanity is not solving very well that we say the two requirements.
It's funny ... I had not dreamed for months. Last night I dreamed the future. (I wish I dreamed about the lottery number. But it's never like that: )

Larry Hart:
Larry You once said that we should not communicate with extraterrestrials about extraterrestrial Berserkers.
Specifically, ¿what Berserkers think will they send us? ¿Convenants of Halo? ¿Nano-pests? ¿Masters of Heinlein puppets?

Winter7

yana said...


Zepp Jamieson thought:

"Could it be Oumuamua is a discarded light sail? The article makes a good case for that."

Fun to wonder, but no. We're the only ones who could make a light sail now, and it ain't one of ours. Likely got roasted good on an earlier orbit, a spongiform internal stratum just delayed outgassing.

As for actual battle between factions here, not likely. Eventually we'll get what they meant in 1787 by "well regulated" but even the turkeytip of the right knows the orange guy lies constantly. Nobody's going to fight for him. Real lesson from last week is the swift competence of law enforcement to end the crimes. That's how any incipient battle will end, with SWAT teams and FBI raids.

Anonymous said...

Humm The translation again is almost cryptic ... Sorry.

Winter7

Alfred Differ said...

Heh. "A few influential crazies sold people on the idea..."

Only a few hundred million of us do the selling. We live the life and demonstrate it by example. Not just the 'really, really, really rich' types do it. Even the petite bourgeoisie does it. Compare them to peasant farmers scraping by and they are merely rich.

How many peasant (and slightly higher) farmers can see us living the example?
Take a peek at the secondary market for used cell phones and note how many of them are magic slabs of glass with computing power.
Billions.

Heh. Go ahead and claim it can't be sustained. That's probably true. That's utterly missing the point, though. We will hop, skip, and jump to the next way forward as we've been doing for the last dozen generations or more.

locumranch said...


David makes a category error when he assumes that the New Confederates have to become belligerent or 'take up arms' in order to upset & overturn his most glorious union for, if truth be told, the Blue Urban refuges are already so corrupted that they are just one Hurricane Irene and one San Andreas quiver away from total destruction.

Many thanks to David, btw, for providing (above) such a textbook definition of 'hubris' as he feverishly imagines (1) his confederate foes as ragtag collection of poorly armed stumble-bums, (2) his allies as "millions of people, each of them dozens of times smarter than you", and (3) his decrepit urban hovels as hardened citadels overflowing with stockpiled supplies & medical professionals.

I can only offer you the following information:

(1) The US Healthcare delivery system is on the verge of collapse, as are most of our critical (mostly urban) systems; and

(2) The New Confederates need not act all to precipitate said collapse, nor do they intend to.

We need only bide our time a little longer ...

You can't sleep at night
You can't dream your dream
Your fingerprints on file
Left clumsily at the scene
Your own worst enemy has come to town
Your own worst enemy has come to town


Your own worst enemy is YOU.


Best
____

It is called an 'Idea of Reference' when an individual references a historical incident like the Dreyfus Affair & concludes that it has strong personal significance, leading to the bizarre conclusion that Zola's anti-federal & anti-authoritarian sentiments support a pro-federal & pro-authoritarian you.

David Brin said...

Blah blah. Wake me when he stops yowling at his own reflection.

Darrell E said...

David Brin said...

"Zepp it's probably my doctoral thesis at work on Oumuamua. It took a while for the sun's heat to penetrate the covering dust/mantle layer till the sublimed volatiles worked their way out and provided a little bit of thrust."

Even from my amateur position your professional opinion does seem considerably more likely. But the authors made a couple of interesting points that weigh against that explanation. The most interesting one is that if it were out-gassing then the rotation characteristics would almost certainly have been changed to a degree that was observable. The chances of any out-gassing significant enough to have produced a detectable acceleration being symmetrical enough to have not affected the rotation of the object seems improbable. Of course their modeling and or their data could be wrong, but it does seem to be a plausible refutation of out-gassing.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

All lives were shorter and more limited than ours, long and filled with health and wonders, we who fly through the sky and ask genies for any morsel of knowledge won by science or any moment of art contrived by creative geniuses, anywhere.


And TB's point is, "So what?". You, and Ramses's horribly-dead sons, and some medieval peasant who died of the plague at age 25 will be exactly the same in a billion years. So why is your wonderful life any better than theirs?

I'm not advocating that point--just attempting to explain it.

Larry Hart said...

Paul Krugman tells us what we already know:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/01/opinion/republican-party-lies.html

...

The crucial thing to realize is that these aren’t just ugly, destructive lies. Beyond that, they shape the G.O.P.’s nature. It is now impossible to have intellectual integrity and a conscience while remaining a Republican in good standing. Some conservatives have these qualities; almost all of them have left the party, or are on the edge of excommunication.

Those who remain are either fanatics willing to do anything in pursuit of power, or cynics willing to go along with anything for a share of the spoils. And it’s foolish to imagine that there are any limits on how far a party of fanatics and cynics will be willing to go. Anyone who might have had a sticking point, some uncrossable red line of bad behavior, has already taken the offramp.

That’s why a Republican campaign built entirely on lies should itself be a political issue — a reason to vote Democratic even if you want tax cuts. For we’re not just talking about a party selling bad ideas on false pretenses. The addiction to lies has also — let’s be blunt — turned it into a party of bad people.

...

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Now I'm listening to Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue.


My daughter just played first trumpet on that one in her high school's orchestra concert last weekend.

"How much longer can I go on being an atheist?"

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Wake me when he stops yowling at his own reflection.


My wife's old roommate had a cat like that. He saw his own reflection and thought it was another cat. Tried to stare down the other cat, but of course, the "other cat" stared him down instead. After that, he was freaked out every time he saw a mirror. Never saw anything like it...until now.

Darrell E said...

Damn. Wish I could enunciate it as well as Krugman does. Clear, concise, accurate.

more weight said...

Zepp Jamieson

In 1861 Americans were not obese as they are now. I'm finding it hard to imagine all these fat people getting up and fighting physically instead of on the keyboard. Especially the kind of person who sulks about politics tends to be morbidly obese. They fantasize about revolution but they wouldn't be able to breathe.

locumranch said...


Even to a cat yowling at his own reflection, it comes as no surprise that the progressive collective zeitgeist is much more willing to foment a bloody civil war -- fought only with someone else's lives & property, no doubt -- than alter, compromise on or reform their respective pathologies in regard to urbanism, altruism, finance, healthcare, climate, gender, globalism, governance & race.

They can fix all of those pesky pressing problems on their own, without the assistance of the libertarian-minded deplorable, they say, since they apparently number in the "millions of people, each of them dozens of times smarter" and more capable than the typical rural yokel.

Good luck funding, feeding & maintaining your utopia, Gents, all by your competent lonesome, but feel free to stop by for a visit after you've done "healed the world", because the rest of us ingrates have better fish to fry & lazy irresponsible lives to live.


Best

Larry Hart said...

Winter7:

Larry You once said that we should not communicate with extraterrestrials about extraterrestrial Berserkers.
Specifically, ¿what Berserkers think will they send us? ¿Convenants of Halo? ¿Nano-pests? ¿Masters of Heinlein puppets?


I don't remember saying that, but if I did, I would have been thinking of the self-operating space weapons described in Dr Brin's novel Existence

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch | without the assistance of the libertarian-minded deplorable

You say that like you actually know what it means. I dare you to explain. 8)

Larry Hart said...

@Alfred,

loc seems to think that "libertarian" is the opposite of liberal/progressive. Since liberals want to force everyone to do what we want, then those we oppose are freedom=loving libertarians. So, for example, the guy who insists about black football players that "They have no choice. They have to stand respectfully" is exemplifying a libertarian philosophy.

It makes sense if you remember that words mean the exact opposite of what they actually mean.

David Brin said...

 more weight said…”In 1861 Americans were not obese as they are now. I'm finding it hard to imagine all these fat people getting up and fighting physically instead of on the keyboard

Of course MW’s screen name make the obesity comment… never mind that. Just remember that obesity rates are much higher in red states. But they’ll say “who needs to run when you have an AK47?”

BTW…confederate whores to plantation lords are not “libertarians.” ALFRED is one, who looks in all directions to recognize foes of freedom. *I* am one, having spoken at FIVE libertarian conferences including on party convention. Yes, many are Randroids, but many are also recognizing the ancient enemy of freedom is on the rise.

BTW also… “afford to”… what? Blue America carries the confederacy on our backs while paying for it all. We’ll feed and maintain utopia even better if you just be on your way. Do a land swap so blacks get Georgia and Mississippi and confeds get S Carolina and Alabama. DO IT! At long last. I’ll push a Constitutional Amendment letting those states build confed paradise without any federal interference OR assistance. Do… it… do the experiment.

Jon S. said...

Dr. Brin, for more modern artistry I would like to recommend the Emerson Lake & Palmer adaptation of Aaron Copland's "Hoedown" (a segment of the ballet Rodeo), as rescored for electric bass, drums, and synthesizer.

I can also highly recommend the Rush piece "Leave That Thing Alone", from the album Counterparts (really, I can recommend any of their instrumentals, but that and "Where's My Thing? (Part IV of the Gangster of Boats Trilogy)" on Roll the Bones are particular favorites).

Jon S. said...

And I went to listen to "Leave That Thing Alone" on YouTube, and was exposed to this 8-minute Neal Peart drum solo from the Snakes and Arrows tour:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ErOej1PJeW8

Zepp Jamieson said...

" the sublimed volatiles worked their way out and provided a little bit of thrust."
That is far more likely, but doesn't fire the imagination in quite the same way.
Realistically, if it was a discarded light sail, we should have seen deceleration as it approached the sun, and we didn't. So your explanation much better fits the facts at hand.
Darn it.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Of course MW’s screen name make the obesity comment…


Heh. But "more weight" does not refer to obesity. It's a reference to an execution in the last act of The Crucible.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Blue America carries the confederacy on our backs while paying for it all. We’ll feed and maintain utopia even better if you just be on your way.


That's the secular version of my summer daydream/wish that the Rapture would go ahead and happen already, leaving us "left behinds" free to build a secular democratic society without always having to kiss the Christianists' behinds.

Zepp Jamieson said...

@ yana: The one point about Oumuamua that everyone agrees upon is that it's extrasolar in origin. Not part of our solar system. So if there were any intelligent agency involved with it, it wouldn't have been us. We're the only ones within 4.3 light years who can build solar sails.

A lot of Trump's supporters do think he's a liar and/or a fool but they rationalise it by saying "But he shares our thoughts and beliefs." Quite unconscious of the subtext in that stance, of course. Despite everything, he still has the support of 40% of voters.

Zepp Jamieson said...

@ Larry Hart. I recommend Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America by Nancy MacLean. Among other things, she does a stellar job of explaining how the libertarian movement, which did stand for individual rights and freedoms, was perverted in to fascism with a new coat of paint, standing foursquare for freedoms of corporations and plutocrats. (Not all libertarians, of course, as this blog demonstrates).

Zepp Jamieson said...

@ more weight

Nations always send their youngest and fittest to die. Usually sent by people who have never actually fought themselves.

BadTux said...

Apparently "Libertarian" today means "Republican who likes to smoke weed". It doesn't seem to have anything to do with liberty, considering that Libertarians cozy up to people who want to dictate who you can marry, dictate what forms of birth control you're allowed to use, dictate what bathroom you can use if you're transgender, etc. The only liberty they seem interested in is being liberated from taxes, because "taxation is tyranny". Unlike, apparently, kidnapping children from their parents and putting them into cages, which is fine and dandy with them as far as I can tell, at least, they never show up on my web site whining about how that's government tyranny whereas whenever I talk taxes they're on me like fleas on a hound dog.

Regarding civil wars, they are generally won by the organized. Most of the MAGA-hats have never organized anything bigger than a church potluck, and a lot of them couldn't even manage that. Meanwhile we here in the civilized states have organized some of the biggest corporations known to man, with world-wide supply chains and millions of employees. The MAGA-hats are expecting the police and military to enter the fray on their side as their margin of victory. That expectation is the only reason why they would even dare try to wage civil war. But that was true in the first American Civil War too, where most of the U.S. Army and its equipment and gear went to the South. In the end it didn't matter, the South proved unable to manage its economy to maximize its assets and was beset by inflexible leadership that chose generals based upon compatibility with Jefferson Davis rather than based upon competence (thus the sidelining of their best general, General Joseph Johnston, at multiple critical points because Jefferson Davis didn't like him). In the end guns win battles but logistics are what wins wars -- and we have the logistical expertise here in the civilized states.

Laurence said...

Captain Alfred Dreyfus - an Alsatian who spoke with a German accent
I never trusted those Alstatians, not since one bit me on the eye when I was ten

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

...explaining how the libertarian movement, which did stand for individual rights and freedoms, was perverted in to fascism with a new coat of paint, standing foursquare for freedoms of corporations and plutocrats.


That's exactly the perversion of the concept I've noticed for years now. "Liberty" doesn't mean freedom from coercion, but freedom of the coercers to exercise their trade. "Religious liberty" doesn't mean freedom to worship as one chooses, but freedom of religious institutions to impose their will upon individuals (as their deeply-held beliefs dictate they must). Everything is a different thing, in fact the opposite thing, from what it meant in 1776.

matthew said...

David and Alfred keep referring to a libertarianism that no longer exists. It seems each has a personal blindness that keeps them from seeing the rot at the heart of the movement. Face it gents, "Libertarian" means propertarian fascist now. Don't like it? Start your own party.

Zepp Jamieson said...

@Matthew

I suspect both our resident libertarians gravitate toward some some of leftist-libertarianism. Although both might be appalled at my use of the word 'leftist'. There are socialist libertians, who cover a gamut ranging from socially regulated free markets to flat out anarchism.

David Brin said...

Some Peart drum solo!

RFYork said...

This is one of your better columns. Accurate, succinct and terrifying.

I commend to you the following column from Andrew Sullivan today:

https://goo.gl/vDxeYz

David Brin said...

The Max Von Sydow creepy likable assassin in THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR was Alsatian.

BadTux there are many inaccuracies in your two paragraphs. Alas, though we agree overall.

There are many libertarians who have good instincts, but poor neck vertebra, inability to turn and see the real threats to freedom.

Unknown said...

First, thank you Dr. Brin for mentioning me in your post.

Second, if push comes to shove, the Confederacy will fall - and won't be able to get back up. Just like the seniors in the TV commercial. I mean that literally. These people are OLD, Fox news audience old.

Take a look this video of Trump supporters being interviewed before a rally who want to revoke the 14th amendment to eliminate birthright citizenship (or any other similar video)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WYAk-vyUzts

Try and spot one under age 60. The majority are over age 65 if a day. They literally are somebody's racist grandpa and grandma.

The one thing Trump said during the election that was factually honest was his claim that this was Red America's last chance to reclaim their country. And he was right. 2016 was more of a last gasp, like a dying fire that flares up one last time before it goes out. Or as they say down South, “Nothing kicks harder than a dying mule.” The 2018 election was that kick. Demographics ensure that it won't happen again.



Daniel Duffy said...

First, thank you Dr. Brin for mentioning me in your post.

Second, if push comes to shove, the Confederacy will fall - and won't be able to get back up. Just like the seniors in the TV commercial. I mean that literally. These people are OLD, Fox news audience old.

Take a look this video of Trump supporters being interviewed before a rally who want to revoke the 14th amendment to eliminate birthright citizenship (or any other similar video)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WYAk-vyUzts

Try and spot one under age 60. The majority are over age 65 if a day. They literally are somebody's racist grandpa and grandma.

The one thing Trump said during the election that was factually honest was his claim that this was Red America's last chance to reclaim their country. And he was right. 2016 was more of a last gasp, like a dying fire that flares up one last time before it goes out. Or as they say down South, “Nothing kicks harder than a dying mule.” The 2018 election was that kick. Demographics ensure that it won't happen again.

Daniel Duffy said...

Make no mistake, Red America is dying. Like the Slave States over 150 years ago, Red America is being left behind demographically, economically and demographically. Time is not on their side. The Red/Rural countryside is economically, technologically and demographically dying out.

Start with the age divide. A breakdown of the exit polls provides a simplifying clarity to the election results: Trump essentially won those over age 45 and Hillary won those under age 45. If 20-somethings voted at the same rate as retirees Hillary would have won in a landslide.

(see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Td5xFxiEuQQ)

All the other divides are explained by this.

White v. dark? the majority of older Americans are white, the majority of young Americans are multi-ethnic and multi-cultural. Urban v. rural? The majority of rural American are old white, either retired farmers or unemployed factory workers who can’t find a job at age 50+ while young yuppies are starting cool hip careers in high tech urban areas. Educated v. uneducated? Older Americans have less education on average than younger Americans. And so on…

If the situation weren't so dire we could wait them out:

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/06/the-graying-of-rural-america/485159/

"Over the past two decades, as cities have become job centers that attract diverse young people, rural America has become older, whiter, and less populated. Between 2010 and 2014, rural areas lost an average of 33,000 people a year. Today, just 19 percent of Americans live in areas the Census department classifies as rural, down from 44 percent in 1930. But roughly one-quarter of seniors live in rural communities, and 21 of the 25 oldest counties in the United States are rural."

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1997/06/slow-death-in-the-great-plains/376882/

"With fewer children, schools will be closed and consolidated. As the population drops, the Postal Service will close post offices. Government at all levels will reduce staff. Elks Clubs and American Legion posts will close, as will movie theaters and barber shops. Churches with dwindling memberships will be unable to support a pastor. In many towns the clinic or hospital will close, owing to a lack of patients and an inability to retain doctors. The effects of reduced economic input will ripple through the local economy -- particularly in rural areas, where people depend on one another. As the cutbacks continue, the value of real estate will plummet. Adding to the problem, in fifteen years Baby Boomers will begin to retire. Many will move to Omaha, Wichita, Denver, or even Texas. WOOFs (well-off older folks) will seek easier climes, and houses in many small towns will go begging. A similar fate awaits commercial property."

Daniel Duffy said...

Dr. Brin, I know you don't like historical model, but this one might interest you.

Like many people, I have been trying to figure out what happened this election. Why did America elect someone like Trump as president? I've gone through all of the explanations from economic insecurity of the white working class to racism and misogyny. Then I came across this:

https://www.inverse.com/article/23750-cliodynamics-america-cycle-of-violence-donald-trump

Turns out that there is a very simple explanation: America goes insane every 50 years or so. From the article:

"The country experienced a wave of racial and political tensions in the wake of the American Civil War, and Turchin says everything peaked in 1870. In 1920, 50 years later, things got dicey again as anti-Communist fears, race riots, and workers strikes plagued the States. The most recent “cycle of violence,” as he calls them, was in 1970 during the civil rights movement, though this period wasn’t as extreme as its predecessors, according to Turchin’s data. Turchin predicts that the next peak will come in 2020. As a reminder, Donald Trump won the presidency while losing the popular vote last week, so things in America are already pretty tense here in 2016."

Each 50-year cycle culminates in a wave of insanity that includes several patterns that repeat themselves over and over again with progress followed by backlash:

• Economically - Rural vs. Urban in a fight over economic growth and opportunity.
• Demographically - Natives vs. Immigrants, with a backlash against intrusive foreigners.
• Culturally - Traditionalists v. Progressives, with expanded rights pitted against eroded privileges.
• Politically - Liberals v. Conservatives, with a liberal president followed by a reactionary or corrupt president.

Examining every 50 year cycle we see the following:

2010s and 20s - Our recent election.

• Collapse of economic growth in rural heartland Red America compared to booming economies in urban bicoastal Blue America triggering a backlash against globalism.
• Hispanic and Asian immigrants triggering a nativist response from rural Whites over jobs and cultural identity.
• Marriage rights for Gays triggering a response from the Religious Right starting with Nan Davis in Kentucky 2 years ago.
• Liberal Obama followed by racist/corrupt Trump.

1960s and 70s - The Groovy Sixties.

• Cities from Watts to Detroit to Newark burning. Rural “Mayberry” golden age.
• Black "immigrants" moving into cities followed by White flight to the suburbs.
• Sex, drugs and rock and roll (along with Civil Rights, Women's Lib, etc.) v. traditional family values.
• Liberal Kennedy/Johnson followed by corrupt Nixon.

1910s to 20s - The Roaring Twenties.

• Rural America faces economic hard time, effectively experiencing the depression a decade before the rest of the country.
• Massive influx of Catholic and Jewish immigrants from southern and eastern Europe, and Black migration to northern cities triggers a rebirth of the KKK (which had all but disappeared in the late 19th century).
• Flappers, jazz and bathtub gin v. prohibitionists.
• Progressive Teddy Roosevelt followed by racist Woodrow Wilson and corrupt Warren Harding.

Daniel Duffy said...

(cont.)

1860s to 70s - Civil War and Reconstruction.

• Agrarian rural South fighting industrialized urban North.
• Influx of Irish Catholics and emancipation leads to birth of KKK.
• Reconstruction v. traditional Southern society.
• Lincoln followed by corrupt Grant administration.

1820s to 30s - Young America.

• Birth of urban industrialism begins to erode the dominance of slave/rural Sothern states.
• Know Nothings oppose immigration, especially Catholics.
• Abolitionists v slave owners and Jacksonian populism v. aristocratic government.
• The intellectual John Quincy Adams followed by Andrew Jackson (the Trump of early America).

In every case, economic, demographic, cultural, and political progress/change of the previous decades is partial undone by a backlash. It's a two steps forward and one step back rhythm, but with the net movement being forward. Judging from history Trump and delay or partially reverse social change.

But he can't stop it.

Daniel Duffy said...

One thing from the history of France and le'affair Dreyfus is the description of the splitting of the French people into Idealists who think of France in terms of the ideals of "liberte', egalitre et fraternity", and the Tribalists who think of France in terms of blood and soil.

The same split describes America today.

But only one of them has a future.

What the Tribalists don't understand is that "pure" societies like "pure" bloodlines (God how I hate that trope in medieval fantasy literature - as pure as Aragon's bloodline was he should have resembled the banjo playing kid in "Deliverance") or even pure dog breeds, tend to be stagnant, inbred and jacked on many levels.

A pure Tribalist community is the cultural equivalent of marrying your sister.

Healthy societies OTOH require the stimulus and ferment of multi-ethnicity, multi-religions/philosophies and multi-culture. Society needs diversity to be healthy just like nature needs biodiversity or investments need a diverse portfolio. Its why cosmopolitan urban area (aka Blue America) are culturally and economically vibrant and why isolated backwoods areas (aka Red America) tend to be backward and moribund both creatively and economically.

You want to see how beautiful and successful a future multi-ethnic/multi-cultural America will be? Read Ben Wattenberg's "The First Universal Nation".

In the meantime I leave you with Bill Murray's inspiring speech from "Stripes":

"We're all very different people. We're not Watusi. We're not Spartans. We're Americans, with a capital 'A', huh? You know what that means? Do ya? That means that our forefathers were kicked out of every decent country in the world. We are the wretched refuse. We're the underdog. We're mutts! Here's proof: his nose is cold! But there's no animal that's more faithful, that's more loyal, more loveable than the mutt. Who saw "Old Yeller?" Who cried when Old Yeller got shot at the end?"

We multi-culti Idealist mutts will advance boldly into the future.

The purebred Tribalists will sit on the porch playing the banjo.

Anonymous said...

more weight:
“In 1861 Americans were not obese as they are now. I'm finding it hard to imagine all these fat people getting up and fighting physically instead of on the keyboard. Especially the kind of person who sulks about politics tends to be morbidly obese. They fantasize about revolution but they wouldn't be able to breathe.”

If both armies are overweight, that can be solved with four months of intense training.
But Nazis across the continent have a huge and irremediable disadvantage: The Nazis are irrational sheep, eager to earn more Pedigree croquettes.

Overweight is eliminated with exercise. Stupidity is not eliminated with anything.
The oligarchs fight for their feudal masters. The free men of the world and the professionals with ethics, fight for their families.

Who fight for depraved and feudal leaders, will escape the battle when the situation becomes difficult. But whoever fights for his family will never stop fighting.

Winter7

Larry Hart said...

Radio host Norman Goldman quoted DNC chair Tom Perez:

"When they go low, we go vote!"

David Brin said...

DD: interesting pattern-seeking stuff!

locumranch said...


Matthew & Zepp are quite correct when they liken Libertarianism to Propertarian Fascism -- which is most certainly true in the case of the Heinlein variant -- but they err when they conclude that Fascism, as practiced by the likes of FDR & JFK, was uniformly 'bad', even though they support progressive government policies that subsume "everything within the state, leave "nothing outside the state" and allow "nothing against the state".

Likewise, D_Duffy correctly identifies Fox News viewers as an elderly demographic -- they most certainly are -- but he errs when assumes that MSNBC & CNN viewers are more youthful when they are not. The sad truth is that network news viewers are uniformly old & decrepit, as evidenced by the never-ending barrage of medication, adult diaper & reverse mortgage adverts run by all major network news channels.

D_Trump (age 72) & H_Clinton (age 71) are practically the same age, for heaven's sake, so it is ridiculous to argue that one appeals to a more youthful demographic than the other!!

And, finally, Deadbeat David & Larry_H abandon their Unionist pretensions & reveal themselves as willing confederates who now desire an amicable separation & divorce. Good luck with that. For this privilege, they must relinquish all property, resource & travel rights to > 90% of the continental USA -- aka those geographical areas marked in red -- plus they must fly AROUND our airspace instead of flying over it, and they must pay & pay in perpetuity in accordance with Family Court precedent.

http://politicalmaps.org/2016-house-of-representatives-map/



Best

Alfred Differ said...

https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/2018-midterm-election-forecast/house/

If you want an updated map of what appears to be likely for those fly-over regions... 8)

Alfred Differ said...

@Zepp Jamieson | The more appalling term is 'socialist libertarian'. 8)

On those two axis political quizzes, I usually score slightly right of center largely because of my attitude about people helping themselves being better than government helping them. I worry about Big Brother being Big Provider. Way too easy to get used to that and then we all might as well chose a King and get it over with. That doesn't mean I'm insensitive to when people actually need help. It means I'm biased toward helping them learn to fish. If that doesn't work, have private groups provide the fish. Something like that.

You don't have to stretch the words to describe me, though. I'm a 'liberal' in the old sense of the term, so today I self-identify as a classical liberal. That confuses pretty much everyone who isn't one, of course. Progressives think that means I'm a heartless laissez-faire type or one of those oxymoronic selfish Smithians. Conservatives hear 'liberal', see me encourage fiscal sensibility, and figure I'm lying about something. Next thing up (in my case) is they hear I'm an atheists and figure I eat babies.

Matthew is mistaken. I respect his deep knowledge on the movement (this time around anyway), but I know the people around me. If you follow anything I say on FB, you'll find me debating with some of the people he describes and one of them is the actual 'voice' of our county party. That means he's not completely mistaken, but he's not on the ground here. I know the local numbers and have had a few months know to figure them out in a deeper sense. We've managed to get a couple of our more sensible ones elected and one of us is running for mayor in the city nearby. The more sensible ones are NOT the people Matthew is likely to see right now and they certainly are NOT fascists. The county vice-chair IS a fan of Austrian economics (as am I), but that's not enough to be an actual propertarian let alone a fascist.

There certainly is a range of Libertarians. There are enough official caucus' identified that it's pretty obvious we are as much an umbrella organization as any other party. Some of us quietly advocate sensible economics. Others advocate more tolerance of diversity, thus less law enforcement options regarding 'odd' behaviors. Some of us like to run naked and partake. Some like to throw cream pies in your face if you are less than pure... by their definition. Sigh. Not exactly the stuff of legend and not even remotely the stuff likely to inspire people to vote us into leadership positions. (It's no wonder our folks who are actually electable keep a low profile sometimes.) However, it's not the stuff of fascism either.

David Brin said...

I have always avowed many virtues to our red-confed neighbors... a willingness that many of them never give to the urban-educated fellow citizens whose tax flows from blue-to-red have ranged from generous gushers to naive tsunamis. Not to mention all the inventions and medicine and protection from commies. Oh, no. We're the spouses who've been parasitized, son. But I guess we'll see who appeals to the young. The demographic winds are a blowin....

Alfred Differ said...

@Daniel Duffy | as pure as Aragon's bloodline was he should have resembled the banjo playing kid in "Deliverance"

Okay. Took me a while to read all that, but I doubly appreciate your connection to the banjo playing kid. I know Tolkien dealt with that issue in the line of Kings for Men (long lived, special powers, and all that demi-god stuff). I know he described pretty much all other men as corrupted and corrupt-able. Still. His mythology strongly conflicts with human biology as you point out. My read on it leaves me thinking it is all the kind of wishful thinking royalists have when confronted by the human-ness of their royals. Our King is inept... the world has failed us... or we have failed the Gods. Hmpf.

Aragon still had the power to heal with a touch, so now I have to wonder what the analogous power would be for the banjo playing kid. Not sure I can sit through the movie again to ponder the options. 8)

yana said...


Zepp Jamieson thought:

"@ yana: The one point about Oumuamua that everyone agrees upon is that it's extrasolar in origin. Not part of our solar system. So if there were any intelligent agency involved with it, it wouldn't have been us. We're the only ones within 4.3 light years who can build solar sails."

Not just the only ones in the neighborhood, we are simply the only ones around. If there is a multistellar civilization later on, they'll call humans the "progenitors".

yana said...


BadTux thought:

"the South proved unable to manage its economy to maximize its assets ... guns win battles but logistics are what wins wars"

They just didn't urbanize beyond NOrleans, which was inherited, and railroads were undercut by easy river portage. Above, lowsemenherder sniffles about "urban" like it's a bad thing. Heh, congealed and congested though they may be, cities are wildly successful at innovating.

Daniel Duffy thought:

"Try and spot one under age 60. They literally are somebody's racist grandpa and grandma."

Sibling of my grand not a fan of "the blacks" but also told me "the weather hasn't been the same since they started shooting those rockets into space." The age divide is nothing new, it's the essence of conservatism in the most literal sense.

In the future, conservatives will glow fondly at reminiscences of how Obama didn't take the bait in Syria and tried to get the Wall Street Casino under control.

In 2016, as i've said here before, the tolerant majority of young'uns were relieved that Hilly was "sure to win" so they didn't have to do anything, which is their preferred path: "chill." Very different in only 21 months. That number 2,864,974 is still a WTF factoid, and every single day lessons are driven home about what happens if you let someone else do your work for you.

Anyone scared of the future should go out of their way to mix with millennials and minorities. They'll look you askance if you don't have a valid excuse to sidle up to them, so try getting a job in the service sector. Even if you don't need the money, you need the education. It's why i'm not worried about the future at all.

brian t said...

If I look a company like Google today, based in the Bay Area where living costs are high, I think it's only a matter of time before they start expanding what they do for their employees in to areas that we would normally consider outside work. What if Google built dormitories for single employees closer to their offices, for example? That would save the employees a lot of money, but blur the line between work and private life. A worker there would have not have to deal with traffic, and they could be available for work at any hour, day or night (subject to applicable laws). Google would be able to pay people less if full room and board was included. Employees would rely on Google for most things, and they would be insulated from the rest of society. They could even be moved around to different parts of the country - or the world - to save more on costs, and to escape such technicalities as limits on working hours. I don't find this hard to imagine, and that would look like the start of a new Feudalism, with Google looking after its employees from the cradle to the grave, and its facilities the new castles.

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

If there is a multistellar civilization later on, they'll call humans the "progenitors".


I always had a sneaking suspicion that Dr Brin's private only-in-his-own-head backstory for the Uplift series had something like that in it. It just doesn't literally work as a timeline.

Tim Wolter said...

For a topic header that is so awful - Civil War - a generally civilized discussion. But first, Dreyfuss.

There are lots of reasons why France in 1940 failed the test. For one thing they had already attained their heartfelt desire, the reclamation of Alsace/Lorraine...but at such a horrific price that doing it again became unthinkable. In a war full of brave folly the French infantry of 1914 charging the German lines in bright red trousers occupies a special chapter in the Encyclopedia of bad ideas. Yes, they proved redoubtable on the defense at Verdun, but the cumulative weight of their losses earlier in the war eventually led to wide spread Mutiny in 1917. They don't like to talk about it but a large part of the French Army simply refused to go over the top. Significant numbers of ringleaders were executed. One unfortunate unit of Russians fighting in the French cause was so recalcitrant that they were supposedly surrounded by artillery (their own) and obliterated.

I'm not saying they drew entirely wrong lessons from The Great War, but they became complacent and fearful at the same time.

Also in the final critical run up to hostilities the French Left became turncoats. Sorry, but that's the word for it. After correctly condemning Hitler for years the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact suddenly made Russia and Germany pals. And the French left quickly became stridently antiwar. There was a lot of critical sabotage in defense plants to give one example.

Tacitus

Larry Hart said...

brian t:

that would look like the start of a new Feudalism, with Google looking after its employees from the cradle to the grave, and its facilities the new castles.


Except that it wouldn't be cradle to grave. It'd be the old "company town" again, and if you lost your job, you'd lose everything because none of it is actually yours.

The scenario you describe is exactly what happened in a pre-1984 (pre-WWI even) novel I never knew about until it was mentioned on this blog--Jack London's The Iron Heel.

Tim Wolter said...

Regards Civil War in America, I don't see this happening or even coming close to happening.

We just don't hate each other that much.

Look at stats from actual war time. Yes, they have been hotly debated but even if the initial version that said only about 20% of trained soldiers actually shoot to kill are off a bunch I think it speaks well of normal people that they won't even actively seek the lives of enemies. And their neighbors? Their friends with whom they have friendly or even heated arguments? Nah.

Of course there have always been individuals who for reasons of fanaticism or mental illness (exact mix hard to call) have tried to stir up passions and trigger internecine conflict. John Brown. Charles Manson. More recent curs who I will not recognize by name. They fail. They will continue to fail.

Oh, perhaps the demographic trend also provides a moderating force. Progressives figure they just have to bide their time. They might be right. But even we Conservatives recognize that things change. Slowly, which is as should be, but inexorably. The picture of cranky older individuals of one pigmentation or another pining for a return to the 1950s is a caricature.

(Can we have 1950's levels of intact families AND the internet? Please?).

T.Wolter/Tacitus

Larry Hart said...

Tim Wolter:

Also in the final critical run up to hostilities the French Left became turncoats. Sorry, but that's the word for it. After correctly condemning Hitler for years the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact suddenly made Russia and Germany pals. And the French left quickly became stridently antiwar.


Not arguing with you, but as far as relevance goes, "the left" of the 1930s and 40s is as different from today's Democrats and European Social Democrats as the Party of Lincoln is from the Trump Party.

Larry Hart said...

Tim Wolter:

The picture of cranky older individuals of one pigmentation or another pining for a return to the 1950s is a caricature.


So is the meme of the helicopter parents and what Bill Maher calls the "Fuck you, Mom!" kids. I think too many people confuse anecdotes about celebrities and one-off sensational news items with everyday reality, which makes some sense considering that we spend more time in our day with celebrities and sensational news items than we do with other normal people.


(Can we have 1950's levels of intact families AND the internet? Please?).


My family would fit that. And I don't think we're the only ones. The true "silent majority" is probably very much in line with what you're pining for. We just don't make the news.

Tim Wolter said...

"Not arguing with you, but as far as relevance goes, "the left" of the 1930s and 40s is as different from today's Democrats and European Social Democrats as the Party of Lincoln is from the Trump Party."

Quite true. But perhaps there is a tenuous bridge. The image Lincoln wove of "A House Divided" applies quite well. And many of the French Left, suddenly turning their coats again with Operation Barbarossa, became the very Resistance that current Progressives seem to find fascinating.

Most of course just as symbolic Re-enactors. Berets, not kepis.

TW/Tac

Zepp Jamieson said...

Larry: "I always had a sneaking suspicion that Dr Brin's private only-in-his-own-head backstory for the Uplift series had something like that in it. It just doesn't literally work as a timeline."

I'll leave that to the Doctor, but in his series he avoids the trope that humans are truly the dominant race in the galaxy (or five of them). And, as you say, timeline. Although you could probably have fun with a story where galactic humans seeded Earth with life some 1.5 billion years ago, using their own DNA fragments, and being recursive, the DNA eventually evolved into...Earth humans.

In Farscape, it turned out that humans were the progenitor race for the Peacekeepers and several other species that didn't require a great deal of time in makeup for the actors. Given that these species, most of which were physically superior to humans, regarded us as somewhat housebroken monkeys, the revelation was not greeted warmly.

Zepp Jamieson said...

@yana: "Not just the only ones in the neighborhood, we are simply the only ones around. If there is a multistellar civilization later on, they'll call humans the "progenitors"."
Verily and yea, we are like unto gods. An attractive thought, but not one I consider very likely. Just the topic of this thread suggest that we are a bit lacking in progenitor-type attributes.

Zepp Jamieson said...

@Alfred
I do know you're no Randroid or fascist. We probably agree on most social issues, including limiting the ability of the powerful to exploit the powerless.
Were we probably disagree is on the ability of capitalism to address social needs, such as pensions, education, research, medical care and to a degree, infrastructure. Capitalism does great at addressing economic needs, but is deficient in the ability to adequately address the other items. We've seen how horrible a for-profit medical system is, and we're rapidly making the same mistake with higher education, entrapping people in a plutocratic cash cow. Just because you can profit off someone's need doesn't mean you should.
On a slightly different axis, and one where we are more likely to agree, I believe that the economy should serve the needs of the society, and not the other way around.

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

I'll leave that to the Doctor, but in his series he avoids the trope that humans are truly the dominant race in the galaxy (or five of them). And, as you say, timeline.


I don't expect our host was going for humanity being the dominant race, imposing our will on others with force. What I did imagine was his unspoken idea of the character of the progenitors--a race which must have self-uplifted and then used their powers and intelligence to uplift others--as being something that humans might do in the real universe.

I was actually afraid he might invoke time-travel and somehow really make earth humanity into the progenitors, which I didn't think would "work" in context.


Although you could probably have fun with a story where galactic humans seeded Earth with life some 1.5 billion years ago, using their own DNA fragments, and being recursive, the DNA eventually evolved into...Earth humans.


That might be a way of squaring the circle and getting around my objections. Not that it's all about me or anything. :)

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

I believe that the economy should serve the needs of the society, and not the other way around.


Before Trump made nativism and bigotry into their core values, I think you describe what was the essential difference between Republicans and Democrats. Democrats believe the economy should serve society, and Republicans believe the opposite.

Larry Hart said...

Personal story...

Ok, now that I'm settled in a new job with a regular car commute that only slightly overlaps with Norman Goldman's radio show, I've been finding a lot of old CDs at my local library and catching up on obsucre-but-significant (to me) songs from my formative years, some of which I haven't heard in decades. One such is an obscure song by "The Dead Milkmen". Most of their songs are nothing more than juvenile irreverence, but there are some diamonds among the lyrics which resonate more at an age when 60 is visible on the horizon than they did in my twenties.

And when my friend and I were done, we
Went to rest upon the sun, because
Life takes away the things we love, and it
Robs us of the special ones, and it
Puts them high where we can't climb, and we
Only miss them...all...the...time!


I told you we just attended my wife's high school reunion, which got me thinking about how I've never cared to attend my own because that life seems so distant and alien from my own now. I was an anti-social nerd in high school (long before nerds were fashionable), and there weren't a lot of people there I was comfortable enough to be close to. And yet, I did feel quite strongly in those days, and the wants and desires and ambitions of the time made up a large part of my character--a part I've lost a connection to after escaping from it. I've been thinking lately that my life with the woman I married and with the child we produced--a life that's been mine for almost 25 years now--really is akin to the early-20th Century immigrant experience. My wife, God bless her, loves me and accepts me and validates me, but she's not really a part of the thread of my life that occurred before we met. It's more like I left the old life behind and came to a new shore, where I was welcomed and found a place, but am always conscious that my place here is tentative, and subject to the approval of those whose world it really is. And when something stirs me to remember a fond or bitter memory of the before years, she really doesn't have a connection to those feelings.

A wry line from Major Hoolihan to Frank Burns on M*A*S*H really is appropriate--"I'll just be a smile on your face that your wife won't understand." Except in my case, I'm not talking about romantic affairs, but just simple, strong emotions that manage to come to the foreground after decades of not thinking about them. Reminding me that for all the good life I have, and that I really can't complain, I'm still a stranger in a strange land.

No political point, just sharing.

Larry Hart said...

What brought that above story/rant to mind? The realization that there were several people I always thought/hoped I'd reconnect with 10 or 20 or 30 years later, and that a not-insignificant number of those people are no longer among the living.

more weight said...

Zepp Jamieson
Absolutely. But in 1861 the young and fit were a much bigger proportion of the population. Hordes of young men fit enough to fight while hungry/disadvantaged/desperate enough to be angry. Also no state had universal suffrage. Few men and no women were consulted regarding war. Perhaps I am being over optimistic.

more weight said...

Dr Brin

As a fatty myself I can tell you we can be vicious but violence requires exercise.

Anonymous said...

Certainly, immigrants do not know how to organize in mass caravans. Immigrants have always moved in isolation.
Someone is organizing them.
Does not anyone realize that it is a huge coincidence that this happens a few days before the elections begin? The purpose of the caravan is to scare the voters. Donald Trump thinks that if Americans are scared enough by a false invasion, voters will come to him and beg him to save them. And after the elections, a totally republican congress will allow Donald to get the money to build the wall; not because the wall is necessary, but because that way Donald can boast that he did what he promised his most radical followers.
But the wall is not important. The problem is that Donald continues to plunder the treasures and secrets of the nation, enriching his partners in Russia, irreparably damaging national security every day.
Donald Trump said the soldiers would shoot the caravan as if it were a fact. That's because, in Donald's mind, that's the plan. He organized the caravan to scare the American voters and without a doubt, when the caravan arrives at the border, some gangsters in Donald's salary will initiate provocations against the soldiers, to provoke a shooting. That trick was already used by the extreme right in Mexico, during the massacre of Tlatelolco, on October 2, 1968; when the government sent soldiers against the demonstrators and used snipers from the far right to justify the massacre, which extended beyond that day.
Donald talks about going to shoot the caravan because that's part of his plan. Donald needs violence to be unleashed, in order to scare everyone, subjecting them to his will.
We are able to see beyond the obvious.

Winter7

locumranch said...


As exemplified by the phrase "United we stand, divided we fall" and Aesop's parable of 'The Bundle of Sticks', all Federalists, Unionists & Blue Urban activists are (by definition) Fascists who endorse Fascism.

This is what your Blue Union Kepi represents: The Fascism of the individual bound in servitude to the collective.

So, pretty please, tell us again how Fascism is always 'bad'.

Finally, when it comes to the pending nationwide (and perhaps worldwide) divorce, we have the productive blue-urbans portray themselves as the strong & capable provider who has been 'wronged' by red-confed dependency & parasitism.

This is a losing strategy, son, as (1) it is the strong & capable provider who is condemned to a lifetime of uncompensated servitude and (2) it is the dependent partner who always wins big in the bizarro world that is Family Divorce Court.

This is the world that 'fairness' has wrought:

The strong must be divided and the weak must be unified for the weak to enslave the strong, but this an unstable & transitory state as the tipping point fast approaches.


Best

Anonymous said...


Locumranch:
The scenario you draw is just one of the possible scenarios. The struggle for power is actually a more complicated issue that you must try to understand for yourself. However, you will not be able; Because the problem is not the slaves, the problem is that you and the feudal people do not want to change the system of neo-slavery and devastation of the planet. They will not change because they fear the wrath of the slaves. But they would not have to live with that fear if they kept their profits, and would not continue to do the same abuses as always. But if the vices of feudalism are difficult to eradicate in a person, especially in a whole group of feudal vicious.
¿Por qué desean seguir destruyendo el planeta?
If the Earth dies, the feudal die. If the feudal die, the Earth survives. There are only a handful of planets in the cosmos that are capable of supporting complex life...
Your problem is not technology. The problem is you (the feudal). You lack the will to change.
I cannot change your nature. You treat the world as you treat each other.

Winter7

Jon S. said...

"Although you could probably have fun with a story where galactic humans seeded Earth with life some 1.5 billion years ago, using their own DNA fragments, and being recursive, the DNA eventually evolved into...Earth humans."

That's basically the plot of the Star Trek: the Next Generation episode "The Chase". Except that, because "junk DNA" was nearly completely a mystery at the time, the Progenitors had also encoded fragments of a holographic message in those DNA segments, a message that could only be assembled when enough sapient species from differing worlds cooperated. (In this particular instance, the Humans were curious, the Klingons were convinced it would be the blueprints for a weapon, the Romulans wanted to make sure that whatever it was wouldn't threaten them, and the Cardassians were pretty much just along for the ride.)

It's used in Trek lore to explain why almost every sapient species in the galaxy is humanoid (because "animating nonhuman actors in the '60s and the '80s was too expensive" just doesn't make sense in-universe).

Anonymous said...

En poco tiempo, la humanidad ha logrado exterminar a más de la mitad de las especies no humanas del planeta.
Link:

https://phys.org/news/2018-11-capitalism-world-wildlife-populations-humanity.html


Winter7

locumranch said...


For all their good intentions, both Winter7 & David commit logical fallacy when they argue that equality (the worship of the Golden Mean) can coexist with either merit or excellence.

The strong must be divided and the weak must be unified for the weak to enslave the strong, but this an unstable & transitory state as the tipping point fast approaches.

In effect, Globalism is the same 'fairness' doctrine (quoted above) writ large as it advocates the subjugation of the strong so the weak may appear strong by comparison.

This is why Nationalism (an ideology that supports strong but not necessarily equal nations) is such a huge threat to Globalism (an ideology that seeks to keep all nations weak, harmless & therefore equal).

Nationalism is analogous to a single well-armed strong individual with a gun who represents a decisive threat to other weak, unarmed & vulnerable individuals.

Globalism is analogous to a doctrine of universal disarmament in which the unarmed weak individual & the newly disarmed strong individual are placed into an artificial state of fair-equal-level parity.

Nationalism & Globalism are both unsustainable non-equilibrium states that cannot tolerate inequality or imbalance.

This is why I much prefer Libertarianism, a MAD doctrine wherein previously weak individuals are encouraged to arm themselves in order to achieve a SUSTAINABLE position of fair-equal-level parity with individuals who already possess strength through arms.

Other weaknesses like stupidity can be partially ameliorated (but not eliminated) through education, giving rise to the 'Intellectual Yet Idiot' class much described by Nassim Taleb.



Best

Larry Hart said...

locumranch:

equality (the worship of the Golden Mean)


That term doesn't mean what you think it does.

BadTux said...

Locum, have you ever dealt with Really Bad People? I'm not talking high school bullies or something like that. I'm talking *REALLY* bad people, the kind who rule drug territories, murder rival gang members without flinching, etc. I.e., uncontrolled sociopaths whose sociopathy hasn't been redirected into avenues like business or politics.

I have. What I will tell you is this: a gunfight between an ordinary armed person and a Really Bad Person ends up with the ordinary armed person dead. Because sociopaths don't flinch. They don't pause to evaluate the situation to see whether armed force is necessary or not. If they perceive you as even a little bit of a threat they just kill, immediately, without remorse, without hesitation. They escalate to violence before ordinary people even know they're in a situation where violence is warranted. They're inside the OODA loop of ordinary people so hard that the ordinary person is dead before he knows he's in a gunfight.

The only thing that keeps violent sociopaths in check in the long term is other violent people. In the olden days, this was the whole basis of feudalism -- you pledged fealty to one gang of violent sociopaths (called "knights" and "lords" and so forth) in exchange for them protecting you from other gangs of violent sociopaths, and in exchange you gave them much of your economic output so they could devote the majority of their time to doing so. That was not an ideal situation, but was the norm in Europe for over a thousand years after the collapse of the Roman Empire. Modern economics made it possible to support violent people to protect us from other violent people with a much smaller toll in terms of liberty and percentage of economic output. Thus today's police forces.

So what's the problem with simply organizing a militia of ordinary people to handle all of this? Well, we've certainly done this, they're called the National Guard in today's United States. It turns out that we can train people into being situational sociopaths under certain circumstances. But they are not a substitute for law enforcement except in very limited circumstances. They can prevent or end widespread looting or rioting by other ordinary citizens, but citizen soldiers have not been effective at ending crime whenever it has been tried. Go examine the U.S. Presidential election of 1876 and why the Hayes-Tilden Compromise became necessary, and get back with us.

Democracy in the end has proven the system most capable of managing the gangs of violent people needed to keep other gangs of violent people from depriving ordinary people of their liberty and economic output with the least sacrifice of liberty and coin. It's not perfect, but every time we've seen a Libertopian-type situation, it swiftly devolved into either feudalism, dictatorship (where all the violent thugs get together and take over the place), or democracy. In the real world, as versus wishful hand waving, Libertopia just doesn't appear to be a stable system. Just as Communism isn't. For the same reason. Because each makes assumptions of human nature that just don't correspond with reality.

So it goes.

David Brin said...

Tim we love you here. And we sincerely with that most, or even a large minority of today’s conservatives were like you. I am called a fool for believing that your small-but-appreciable minority is desperately important and worth reaching out to. (I had lunch with one of my RASR friends yesterday. The mountain of loony Fox-rationalizations he could recite was daunting! Yet, he could be reasoned with re each individual point. Fundamentally sane… but so coated in rationalizations that scraping them off would take years.)

Which renders your soothing reassurance wrong, my friend. Those sane-conservatives who aren’t guarded by an army of rationalizations have probably already ditched the plague ship. I’ll be voting for one of them on Tuesday. And one libertarian. And a buncha dems.

BTW the millennials seem to be more successful at marriage – so far. Let’s have families that aren’t “intact” because the wife will surrender to despair.

LH: The lyrics to the Beatles’ “In My Life.”

L: I know libertarianism. I speak often at libertarian events. You are no libertarian.

Zepp Jamieson said...

@ more weight
Young, definitely. Fit? Not so much. The average life expectancy in the US around 1850 was 36 for men, 38 for women. Tooth decay, anaemia, malnutrition, TB, dysentary, and a host of other ails left most Americans in what we would consider appalling health.
And of course, the proverbial 400 pound guy sitting on his bed could nip down to his local gun store and have a arsenal capable of taking out an entire company at little or no risk to himself.
Only a mad man would want a second civil war. It would probably be shorter than the first one, but casualties would be in the tens of millions.

more weight said...

Larry Hart

""more weight" does not refer to obesity. It's a reference to an execution in the last act of The Crucible."

I only realized recently that Giles Cory actually said that: https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=more+weight&oq=moreweight&aqs=chrome.1.69i57j0l5.7601j0j8&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8 And he was eighty years old! ( I know he'd beaten a man to death in a rage at the age of sixty-five. To me that makes the story even better: it is *never* too late for any of us, and we *never* know who will rise to the occasion.

David Brin said...

onward

onward