Cassandra wrote a new meandering post about this subject which I recommend.
Blogging is going to be light until I find some more free time and inspiration.
Cassandra wrote a new meandering post about this subject which I recommend.
Blogging is going to be light until I find some more free time and inspiration.
It is basic Pavlovian behavioral conditioning and human sociology if you ask me. I do not claim that the good old days were really all that good compared to today, just that whatever chaos or instabilities were created by people were also canceled out by harsh punishment and immediate corrective measures that didn’t have to wait on government bureaucrats and lawyers.
People tend to behave as part of a herd wherein the Alphas are the ones with the initiative to take risks and do things that the herd is afraid of doing.
Once the herd sees that their leader has succeeded in doing something, then it becomes a lot easier for the herd to emulate the action by following.
It is a “herd instinct” which you can see in any number of human sociological groups numbering more than a couple of strangers. In any human group that don’t know each other well, the first guy to speak up usually breaks the ice.
Bank robbers can hold hundreds hostage because the herd instinct won’t allow a mass rush of the robbers unless an individual starts it and looks like he is succeeding. Since an individual will have a very low chance of succeeding against bank robbers armed with firearms or with numbers more than 2, the “herd rush” never really activates even if an individual takes the initiative to do something proactive.
This is why leading from the front and setting an example is so important in improving military efficiency. Most people just won’t get up off their arse and do something unless they see somebody else doing it first. If the leadership doesn’t follow the rules and constantly violates it and takes kickbacks, then the rest of the unit sure as heck ain’t going to want to upset the status quo by holding themselves to higher or different standards.
All this applies to treason and traitors in a very simple fashion. Once you get a couple of traitors that are “leading the charge” and actually benefiting from their treason, then you get biggazillions of more traitors cropping up like Dragonteeth. Why? Because the herd instinct has been activated.
While killing the leader of a Brownian Motion mob that is gathering can disperse the mob, you need something else entirely once that mob starts moving in the herd stampede mode. Then killing individuals won’t do jack, cause the Brownian Motion of the mob has superseded any ‘individual’ initiative.
This is often similar to (a Germanic tribe) Sweboz barbarian horde that launches a berserk charge with no unit cohesion or discipline or chain of command. Killing leaders, nobles, or individuals selectively in that charge does absolutely nothing because often the nobles and leaders are the only ones that can call a halt to the blood frenzied charge.
To move a herd in a different direction, one must use sheepdogs or some kind of mass psychological weapon or deterrence. Killing single traitors is no longer all that effective any more once the mob has smelled the blood of treason prospering.
Using guilt to get money from guillible Westerners is probably a living industry in various second and third worlds, not just tourist spots either.
Nicky Jardine, 50, who has two adult daughters and runs her own headhunting business in Guildford, Surrey, goes on holidays with the intention of having sex with young foreigners.
“I see nothing wrong in being a sex tourist,” she says. “My working life is very stressful. Holidays are a time when I can have fun. I have dated men here, but men my age want younger women, and they are also boring. Compare them to a fit, tanned 20-year-old Egyptian!”
There are times that I wonder if there is a genetic timer on any civilization counting down to doomsday.
Wait, am I going to get fined by Cassandra’s Villainous Company for not saying “womyn”? Please say it ain‘t so.
I love figuring out the little messages George Lucas, the anti-Bush Leftist director, puts in his movies. But I love reading about how other people deconstructs his messages even more! I also like David Brin’s novels, so that doesn’t hurt the message about Lucas’ message.
By now it’s grown clear that George Lucas has an agenda, one that he takes very seriously. After four “Star Wars” films, alarm bells should have gone off, even among those who don’t look for morals in movies. When the chief feature distinguishing “good” from “evil” is how pretty the characters are, it’s a clue that maybe the whole saga deserves a second look.
Just what bill of goods are we being sold, between the frames?
* Elites have an inherent right to arbitrary rule; common citizens needn’t be consulted. They may only choose which elite to follow.
* “Good” elites should act on their subjective whims, without evidence, argument or accountability.
* Any amount of sin can be forgiven if you are important enough.
* True leaders are born. It’s genetic. The right to rule is inherited.
* Justified human emotions can turn a good person evil.
In “The Hero With a Thousand Faces,” Joseph Campbell showed how a particular, rhythmic storytelling technique was used in almost every ancient and pre-modern culture, depicting protagonists and antagonists with certain consistent motives and character traits, a pattern that transcended boundaries of language and culture. In these classic tales, the hero begins reluctant, yet signs and portents foretell his pre-ordained greatness. He receives dire warnings and sage wisdom from a mentor, acquires quirky-but-faithful companions, faces a series of steepening crises, explores the pit of his own fears and emerges triumphant to bring some boon/talisman/victory home to his admiring tribe/people/nation.
By offering valuable insights into this revered storytelling tradition, Joseph Campbell did indeed shed light on common spiritual traits that seem shared by all human beings. And I’ll be the first to admit it’s a superb formula — one that I’ve used at times in my own stories and novels.
Alas, Campbell only highlighted positive traits, completely ignoring a much darker side — such as how easily this standard fable-template was co-opted by kings, priests and tyrants, extolling the all-importance of elites who tower over common women and men. Or the implication that we must always adhere to variations on a single story, a single theme, repeating the same prescribed plot outline over and over again. Those who praise Joseph Campbell seem to perceive this uniformity as cause for rejoicing — but it isn’t. Playing a large part in the tragic miring of our spirit, demigod myths helped reinforce sameness and changelessness for millennia, transfixing people in nearly every culture, from Gilgamesh all the way to comic book super heroes.
he could almost be talking about Obama and the myth of the super guerrilla/terrorist/freedom fighter.
Lucas defends his elitist view, telling the New York Times, “That’s sort of why I say a benevolent despot is the ideal ruler. He can actually get things done. The idea that power corrupts is very true and it’s a big human who can get past that.”
Definitely Obama. It does explain some Leftist quirks folks might have noticed about how they hate Bush and the Bushitler Nazis but revere their own little Fuhrers that are Democrats.
The thread I was replying to is here. Read this only if you want an elaboration on why I wrote what I wrote.
The problem with discarding entirely the previous template on which a person saw Iraq in 2005 due to whatever, is that the newly arisen philosophy and views are just as unproven and mistaken, potentially, as the 2005 view that said back up the military and the President without accepting any criticism as being valid.
Shifting from a fervent believer in one cause to another, does not make a fundamental basis for good judgment. I prefer for people who do change their views, to change their views while maintaining their basic philosophical axioms. People like Neo-Neocon and Bookworm have policy changes, but their fundamental classical liberal preferences never became diluted, in fact such preferences became even more reinforced after 9/11.
I’ve argued with a couple of people who made anti-war and negative criticisms of actions having to do with Iraq look very palatable, or at least more palatable than the usual Democrat rhetoric. That has never changed the difference between constructive criticism and destructive criticism. Constructive criticism has always followed the staff officer standard when it came to disagreeing with the senior commanding officer. The duty of a staff is to provide feedback, both negative and positive, in order to iron out the holes in strategies, tactics, and logistics so that their leader can get the most bullet proof plan it is humanely possible to get. The ultimate decision to go with such a thing or not, rests far above the pay level of a staff officer, however.
Destructive criticism may look oftentimes very much like constructive criticism. Except destructive criticism is designed to tear down a plan, not in order to benefit the leader by building that plan back up with less flaws, but breaking things down in order to benefit ulterior motives, factionalism, partisanship, or just because somebody had a pet theory and was willing to go past the point of insubordination in arguing for it.
The standards for a civilian+military world, as opposed to a purely military circumstance in a time of war, is a bit looser. A bit, but not that much looser.
Unfortunately for Bush and the half of America that had a wisdom co-efficient greater than a tribal member, most of the criticism pre 2006, with the exception of some few individuals like Yon who truly was loyal to the US in addition to the President’s intentions for Iraq, was destructive criticism and heavily destructive at that. Whether such complaints about Iraq was due to local partisan gain, alliance with foreign insurgents, selfish ambition to advance one’s career ala Plame and Wilson, or some other ulterior motive that conflicted with Team USA’s goals in Iraq, all could be characterized as destructive criticism.
Destructive criticism is not just harmful to the men, women, and children in Iraq in that it destroys people’s ability to fix the problems that will kill them if left unfixed, destructive criticism also takes away much needed energy and concentration from the very attempt to fix those problems. The people defending Bush from 2003-6 expended so much energy dealing with the partisan criticism of the Democrats, that the real problems and the introspection required to criticize the applied solutions to those problems, simply were lacking the manpower and attention needed.
Though I tend to see it in this case as an abject lesson in being far more humble about our ability and “right” to engineer other societies how we see fit, and far more skeptical of anything the government and/or military says about its successes, failures, and internal expectations of both
I don’t agree with Josh and that’s pretty obvious. What isn’t obvious is that it just isn’t a knee jerk reaction to some stranger on the net, either. The more I read about Josh’s views or the way he came about them, the less I respect such views. Assuming I had any respect for those views to begin with, which is an entirely different topic for discussion given that I was against the Democrat plan to put more troops in Iraq because the Democrats could never justify their plan except as something used to feed their local political ambition at the expense of sending men and women into the meat grinder of war with all the harshness and sacrifice that such would entail.
I am not, though, sympathetic to Josh’s views that, now all of a sudden, we should be worrying about the sacrifices the military has to take on itself for this war. It is not a policy disagreement so much as it is a philosophical disagreement, since I have done the same kind of switch on policies, although different policies.
I would never agree to send more troops and put more burdens on the military solely to benefit Democrats or the destructive criticism that “things aren’t working, so let’s just pick something at random that appeals to people and do it”.
Petraeus’ surge and the little group of staff officers and subordinates that Petraeus has wielded to his strategic vision, however, is far far away from the destructive criticism and ulterior motives I encountered from 2002 to 2006 and even 07 from war critics.
Like Neo-Neocon and Bookworm, I have never discarded my fundamental philosophical views concerning Iraq or humanity in general. What has changed is simply the people making the criticisms, the criticisms themselves, and the progress and events on the ground in Iraq. I was against burdening the military when there was no sign that it would gain us something tangible, and I am against people now telling us Iraq is a waste, because it is wasting military manpower, now that tangible benefits are appearing from the military sacrifices of 2003-8.
Before the surge in 2006-7, around the time of the Democrat won elections, the sentiment from military blogs and commentators that I got was that we knew that something fundamental was wrong with the war but we also knew that the solution to it didn’t and wouldn’t be coming from the Democrats or the usual war critics. Or rather, we could not accept that the solution to America and Iraq’s problems would come from traitors and selfish greed merchants. Similar to how the Left sees Republican efforts to ‘free” people. Since few comprehended the situation in Iraq in its entirety and also had the power to do something about it, there was no pole of power from which to attach for better results in the war, except slogging along it with Bush while complaining about Bush’s lack of initiative in stamping down on Democrat destructive criticisms and leaks and what not. Even Yon either could not or would not explain the difference between a Casey strategy vs a Rumsfeld Afghanistan SF strategy, to a SF Counter-insurgency strategy, to a “New Strategy” for Iraq. Yon recommended certain things, but it never had the detail of what Petraeus and his officers did when they wrote the new COIN manual and doctrine material. Obviously Yon did not have much free time to do such things, and that is not his fault because he had devoted his time and life to something else that was helping us.
I did not agree with Yon’s characterization of Iraq as a Civil War, not because it would mean saying the Democrats might have something valid in their criticism, but because Yon did not provide a suggestion on how to solve this problem other than with more troops. Under Casey’s light foot print and off hands strategy with Iraqis, I didn’t really see how more troops would do anything to stop a war between Sunnis and Shia, especially given mosque ROEs and various other ROE limitations. And I’m not even sure Yon back then knew how either, except that he trusted the strategic corporals to figure something out. Unfortunately, the strategic corporals can’t do jack if High Command doesn’t let them. Given the Rules of Engagement and encroaching lawfare in the US military, I was never really sure enough in High Command’s wisdom to support an increase in troops pre 2006 elections. Democrat use of retired generals to destroy the support for the war via advocating a 24/7 hindsight view of “more troops”, didn’t help either.
Nor do I automatically agree with Yon’s statement that we should surge more troops now, I simply hold the position that it should not be discounted if it is needed. And certainly, we should not withdraw troops, even if Yon’s demands are unrealistic or unfavorable.
I want to deal with something Josh said here that I felt was rather important.
far more skeptical of anything the government and/or military says about its successes, failures, and internal expectations of both
Philosophically, I don’t agree that just because a person was not skeptical of government/military claims pre 2005, that they should suddenly now be “very skeptical” of government/military claims post 2006 elections.
Philosophically speaking, I also don’t think that people who fervently believed in the war and are now bailing when it is fundamentally improving and changing strategically and tactically on the ground, were ever fervent believers in what President Bush, Michael Yon, Michael Totten, Petraeus, Grim Beorn, Matt of Blackfive, or various other classical liberals saw as the potential rewards of a successful Iraq. The mind is a hard thing to change, since classical liberals that were once Leftists and Democrats are still classical liberals in the Republican party, even though they switched parties. I find it difficult to believe that support for the war in Iraq was ever based upon a fundamental premise in alignment with classical liberal beliefs, if individuals, Josh included, can switch their views on Iraq so easily and drastically.
I could be wrong in some of the details concerning which beliefs were switched around by people, Josh included, but that’s probably due to a lack of knowledge concerning the beliefs of everyone involved who became disillusioned with the war rather than a fundamental mistake in my logic or philosophical axiom.
There were many conservatives or neo-cons as they were called, who the Democrats used to bludgeon and fragment war support with the argument that “look at all these chickenhawks that once supported the war now bailing when we have succeeded in making the war unpopular”. I mention this because I don’t necessarily relate these people to Josh, because every individual may have their own personal motivations as to why they have become disillusioned with the war, assuming they ever supported the war in the first place.
To get back to the main topic for the conclusion, I far prefer constructive criticism to destructive criticism. When people say that it is better to have criticism than to not have it, they should really include the dangers of destructive criticism with that risk-rewards statement. It is already there, after all. It is worth it to have constructive criticism or some chance of improving your plan and finishing your goals, even at the cost of having destructive criticism since constructive will always in the long term be recognized as better than destructive. Petraeus winning over of Bush on troop increases when the Democrats failed to, is one potential example for why my statement is true. The thing is, you can’t have constructive criticism if you want Iraq to fail because if it was successful, it would make this statement wholly wrong and unjustified.
Though I tend to see it in this case as an abject lesson in being far more humble about our ability and “right” to engineer other societies how we see fit, and far more skeptical of anything the government and/or military says about its successes, failures, and internal expectations of both.
How does being humble translate to “giving up”? I, personally, don’t know how. So I can’t say. Most classical liberals owe some kind of duty to humanity to use whatever power they have in their possession to improve the government and security of other human beings. MacArthur did a very good job re-engineering Japanese government and laws. The basic philosophical foundation of societal re-engineering, when connected with classical liberalism, is sound and just.
How does a staff officer, to use that analogy, work to better the Admiral’s plans and goals by telling the Admiral he should just quit because his government, his advisers, his staff, except for that specific staff officer, are all not telling the truth about the war progress and benefits? If you aren’t willing to obey or accept the leadership’s decisions, then any criticism you create will be destructive. Since it is now no longer a team environment in which the staff works with the admiral, but a destructively competitive war environment in which the staff officer must now win against the Admiral in order to be proven right.
That’s the difference in the end. Even when people like me didn’t like Bush’s actions, we wouldn’t agree to destroy his plans simply because we disagreed. Nor would we tell Bush to do things that are counter to his goals and the goals of the Presidency’s mission in Iraq. We, or I, are not the President, he is. Even though some of his actions are stuck on stubborn and pretty naive, there’s nothing to be done about it except to try to give him a better alternative. The “Loyal Opposition”, which only ever really included Republicans, were supposed to adopt a similar view of the President’s policies in war. Obviously “supposed to” and “in reality” are two different things.
Destructive criticism doesn’t give a better alternative. What it does is say “my way or the highway”. That’s not conducive to teamwork and it sure as heck won’t increase the chances for success in Iraq.
I never particularly liked the idea of pre-emptive invasion since it seemed to me like a great way to create eternal warfare and a cycle of violence. Since winning in Iraq will prevent future generations of human beings, Americans included, from needing to fight a cycle of violence there, I support it. Thus, for me, I never really bought into the “we have to stop cause we’re getting tired” rhetoric about warfare. Stopping just means the enemy comes in and starts up a cycle of violence on you. With the cycle being, you taking the violence and him giving it. I don’t like cycles of violence, so if pre-emptive war is going to cause it, I’m against it, but if pre-emptive war and continued reconstruction of Iraq will prevent cycles of violence, then I am not for giving up just cause some people feel tired.