Defining Terrorism: Random Acts of Terror

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Mon, Oct 6 - 9:00 am EDT | 2 years ago by
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    Lines of Departure - Terrorism

    This is the start of a multi-part series on terror and counterterror, along with some other distasteful subjects. It’s a complex issue, or set of issues, both morally and practically, so I invite you all to, “Endeavor to persevere.”1

    So what is terrorism? Is there more than one type? How do we distinguish between the types? Is it always immoral? Is it ever moral? How do we wage war on a technique, as in “The Global War on Terror”? How do we easily keep a straight face when someone pretends to be waging war on a technique?

    (I confess; I haven’t the first clue about an answer to the last question. Really, I’ve been scratching my head on that one for thirteen years now. I did, at least, figure out how to keep a straight face while I had to, from 2001 to 2006, when I retired. But it was never easy.)

    Terrorism has all kinds of definitions, ranging from the practical to the legalistic, from the objective to the purely subjective. If we truncate the FBI’s definition2 to get rid of the unnecessary legalistic verbiage, we end up with something like this: Terrorism involves violent acts or acts dangerous to human life that are or appear to be intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping.

    There are at least three kinds of terrorism. There may be more versions, to the existence and nuances of which I am oblivious, but I am confident that these three, at least, exist. (It may be, too, that these are all there are or can be.) These are Random Terror, Specific Terror, and Genocidal (or Civilicidal) Terror.

    It may not be as obvious as the names I’ve given them imply, so, for definition’s sake, let’s go with random terror as acts of terror in which no particular person has any particular reason to think that he or anyone or anything else he particularly cares about is under any particular threat. Examples abound, from Guernica to Rotterdam to Hamburg and Dresden. I am not personally convinced that the moral fig leaf of attempting to bomb to destroy or disrupt industrial and economic targets covers much here. The doctrinal literature from before the war is clear, the statistics kept during it no less so; the intent was to terrorize a government and a civilian population into submission. In more modern days, we’ve got rocketing from Gaza and Lebanon, suicide bombing of Marines in Beirut… no need to continue, I think; we’ve all seen more than we care to of random terror over the last three quarters or so of a century.

    Specific terror is different. It is, in Sir Robert Thompson’s words, “The man in the night with a knife.” It has a target or set of targets, and it can always acquire more. The targets of specific terror, know that they are targets or are likely to become such, as may their families. Sometimes things that look like specific terror are not; they’re just random terror aimed at a smaller group.

    The other kind of terror is genocidal (or civilicidal). In effect, that says, “We’ll not only kill you and your family; we’ll kill everyone you ever cared about and destroy every physical trace and record of everything you ever cared about, too.” Of all the forms of terror, these are the hardest to pull off, but the most effective.

    With regard to the first, which is the subject of this column, Random Terror, there was a day, oh, indeed many days, right up until about mid-March, 2004, when I’d have said it was practically useless, that no western state of any significance had ever knuckled under to random terror. I mean, had Britain given in to the Blitz? No. Had Germany surrendered after one or two of its cities were reduced to charred ruins and floating ash? No; they didn’t surrender even after just about all of its cities were ruined, and an appreciable percentage of its civilian population killed. Indeed, the more we and the British bombed, the harder the Germans fought back and the harder their civilians worked for victory. And the Japanese looked ready to take whatever we dished out forever, and to fight us with spears if that’s all they had left.

    But then there was Madrid in 2004. That was a strike that killed about two hundred people and knocked out of the war not only a major ally, Spain, but with their withdrawal caused most of our allies from Central and South American to quit, too. We condemn, but let’s be honest here; had we been able to use a few bombs to kill two hundred Italian civilians in 1942, and thereby knock Italy, Bulgaria, and Finland out of their alliance with Nazi Germany, who would have hesitated?

    Okay, any decent man might have hesitated. I’d like to think I would have, myself. But then that decent man starts counting up likely civilian and military casualties, if he does not knock those three allies of Nazi Germany out of the war, and says, “Bombs away.”

    Or perhaps the “decent” man can’t, but let’s the war run its logical course, with hundreds of thousands of civilians needlessly killed, and a like number of soldiers. And he, all Pontius Pilate-like, can wash his hands and say, “Not my doing.” And history will, hopefully, spit at his memory because it is his doing, if he had it in his power to prevent or reduce that otherwise inevitable slaughter.

    So what’s the difference? What’s the moral difference? That we were the good guys and al Qaeda isn’t? Sure, I think we are and likely so do you. But AQ thinks they are and that we’re not, which distinguishes them from nobody. The SS guards at Auschwitz, for God’s sake, thought they were the good guys. Worse, we could someday be wrong. Moreover, when you start justifying actions by “the cause,” what’s the limit? Is there a limit? Human history suggests that there is no line past which people will not go if they think they’re the good guys, with a righteous cause, which they almost always do. Was Lenin right to ask that, “If the ends do not justify the means, then what do they justify?”

    Sorry, no, I don’t actually have answers here, not answers that cover a universe of bad possibilities, anyway.

    Next week, we’ll look more at random terror and how fruitless it normally is.

    __________
    1 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hRX6hSGeZs4

    2 http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/terrorism/terrorism-definition. Remember, I redacted the legalistic aspects. They’re no doubt important to the FBI, but not terribly useful to us, here and now.

    Don’t miss last week’s column: Why Climate Change is a Defense Issue.

    Tom Kratman is a retired infantry lieutenant colonel, recovering attorney, and science fiction and military fiction writer. His latest novel, The Rods and the Axe, is available from Amazon.com for $9.99 for the Kindle version, or $25 for the hardback. A political refugee and defector from the People’s Republic of Massachusetts, he makes his home in Blacksburg, Virginia. He holds the non-exclusive military and foreign affairs portfolio for EveryJoe. Tom’s books can be ordered through baen.com.

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      • http://www.simplesurvival.us/ Cincinnatus

        Random terror is only effective to the extent that the terrorized population is not willing to accept casualties. Your contrary examples of Blitz Britain and modern Spain prove the point. We can all blame the Tranzis for convincing the majority of Westerners that victory is not worth a single casualty, military or civilian. The belief that nothing is worth dying for is what will ultimately cause the West to go under.
        I console myself with the mental picture of Tranzis begging Achmed for their lives as he drags them off to be beheaded for their hedonistic lifestyle and beliefs that are contrary to Islam. In order to defeat Islamic terror, we are going to have to out terror the terrorists. I favor genocidal terror myself.

        • Tom Kratman

          I suspect there may be more to it than that, but I am not sure how much more.

        • Steven Schwartz

          “Random terror is only effective to the extent that the terrorized population is not willing to accept casualties.”

          Well, to the extent that it changes the calculus. It’s one thing to go “Oh, sure, go off and fight that war over there, we’re behind you, rah, rah, rah!” and another to realize the war might come to *you*.

          In dealing with Gulf War II, we already had a much shakier alliance than in Gulf War I — and thus, the calculation of cost was a much easier one to make. England during the Blitz knew that surrendering to Germany meant utter defeat; to Spain, leaving Gulf War II meant nothing of the sort. That will tend to tip the calculus.

          “The belief that nothing is worth dying for is what will ultimately cause the West to go under.”

          Where you get the idea that this notion is so overwhelming, I don’t know. But most of the West has not been under the kind of existential threat that brings that out in people. Heck — many Americans thought WWII wasn’t worth getting into, after all.

          ” In order to defeat Islamic terror, we are going to have to out terror the terrorists. I favor genocidal terror myself.”

          Fortunately for us all, I suspect you are not in a position to have much influence on sane foreign policy — because that kind of statement, and the escalation implied behind it, puts us *all* at much greater risk.

      • Jack Withrow

        Col, Why do you put the WW II bombing campaign down as random terror? I have always looked at it as specific terror, in that it was targeted on a specific group/nation, and that it had a readily defined goal.

        • Tom Kratman

          Nope, designating a country as a target, or killing civilians randomly when you bomb their cities, is not personal enough to be specific terror, nor does it work, as specific terror does.

        • Rick Randall

          IIRC, specific orders were given that bombs were not to be brought back to base, even if valid targets could not be accurately located. If I have the quote from “Bomber” Harris correctly, he said something on the close order of, “Drop them anywhere – they’re just Germans down there.”

          Likewise, it is difficult to characterize the delete berate destruction if Dresden (in such a manner *calculated* to kill the maximum amount of civilians in air raid shelters) and the firebombingd of Japan (which were great at destroying residential buildings, nearly ineffective at destroying heavy industry and military b targets beyond POL storage) as anything but terror strikes and likely war crimes.

          By contrast, the strikes on Hiroshima and Nagasaki more closely match the limits of proportionality, given how closely their damage corresponded to direct military advantage.

        • Tom Kratman

          Yes, damage to industry was mostly a moral fig leaf. It’s easier to see it early on, where the Brits were using tables to calculate damage to civilian morale based on homes destroyed and, IIRC, people killed.

        • http://www.simplesurvival.us/ Cincinnatus

          Just out of curiosity. How do you explain the mental gymnastics that have turned deliberate acts of war into war crimes in the last 100 years or so?
          Remember, this all really started in WWI when both sides tried to propagandize and paint the other as barbarians in order to mobilize their populations for the long struggle. It came to a head after WWII when instead of using the victors prerogative and shooting the perpetrators of the Holocaust out of had the Allies decided to assuage their consciences and commit judicial murder as revenge for the horrors of the Nazi Regime and then later did it again in Japan.
          This came full circle in the 90′s with the establishment of the Hague Tribunal and later ICC so that modern progressives could go after their own people for successfully prosecuting a war. There is a reason the US has never signed the ICC treaty.
          The whole notion of “War Crimes” is ridiculous on its face. What is war except mass murder to determine a winner and loser? With War Crimes we get to punish the losers that much more.

        • Tom Kratman

          One word, a neologism: Tranzis.

        • akulkis

          “IIRC, specific orders were given that bombs were not to be brought back to base, even if valid targets could not be accurately located.”

          Landing a WW2 bomber with live bombs on board after flying over Germany was a game of Russion Roullete.

          Harris prohibited the practice because it was a waste of good aircrew and repairable airframes, all of the sake of saving comparatively cheap bombs (to give you an idea…

          by 1945, the daily output of just ONE explosives plant was sufficient for the entire year’s worth of civilian use in 1946. There were approx 350 explosives plants in the U.S. at that time (source: Smithsonian Magazine). So, explosives were relatively cheap, and bomb-casings even cheaper (sheet-metal stampings plus a few minor castings).

        • Rick Randall

          “Not a good idea to bring them back to base,” and, “must therefore drop them at random,” do not automatically go together.

          Nor is it quite true that it was unthinkably unsafe to RTB with ordnance, so long as your aircraft wasn’t shot full of holes – the bombs didn’t *arm* until dropped. (Damaged bombs; different story. Damaged ordnance tends to be “unpredictable” unless it’s a nuke with a PAL.). Given the desperation with which ordnance production was approached (if nothing else, keep in mind the resources for other ordnance production tied up in bombs), basically ordering all ordnance used, whether there was a *useful* target to hit was insanity from a logistics standpoint.

          Nope, Harris regarded *any* German civilian a “useful” target.

        • Rick Randall

          US ordnance production figures in 1945 have to exactly ZERO relevance to orders issued in 1940, when *British* ordnance factories were being bombed, the US wasn’t supplying massive amounts of bombs to the UK, and the British military was scrounging for every piece of ordnance, ammunition, and even basic military equipment to replace what was lost inFrance.

      • Neil

        The rhetoric of the “War on Terror” is imprecise and confusing. In order to begin answering these questions, we first need to know if it is (1) “a war against groups that use terror” (presumably meaning Random and Civicidal terror in your formulation), or is it (2) “a war on organizations that use terror against American or Western civilization”.

        If it is (1), then it is very important that we not return terror for terror. You can’t fight a war against all groups that use terror if you are using terror yourself. Your victory conditions become…confused. The obsessive use of PGMs and strict ROE make sense in this context–and it is obviously a darned difficult war to fight.

        If it is (2), then the only metric is effectiveness against the target groups. Indiscriminate bombing becomes not only allowable but expected, even required.

        Whatever the choice, we’d be a lot better off if the Bush Administration had explained their objectives to the American people up front and gotten general agreement on what we were going to do.

        • Tom Kratman

          The proper answer is to go after blood lines.

        • Harry_the_Horrible

          I was thinking that we needed to go after beans and bullets (there are just too darn many bodies…).
          We need to find out who is financing them, kill them, and steal or destroy their assets.
          We need to find out who is handling their money, kil them, destroy their financial institutions and tie whatever is left up in legal knots.
          We need to find out who is supplying them with arms, ammo fuel and vehicles (where did all those Toyota pickups come from?), kill them and destroy their wares.
          Right now, the Daesh is offering a good package, pay, loot, sex slaves, and, if everything else goes wrong, glorious martyrdom,, and has a huge pool from which to recruit. If we can make impossible for them to keep their promises, they will decline.

        • Tom Kratman

          I would suggest to you that if, as I have read, 104 or so _billion_ dollars went into the sinkhole of corruption in Afghanistan – totally disappeared and unaccounted for – and a likely portion of that got skimmed off for Al Qaeda, that _we_ are the biggest funders of terrorism in history.

        • Harry_the_Horrible

          Yeah.
          I was thinking that we’d have to shoot a substantial portion of the US State Department.
          Not that that would be a bad thing…

        • akulkis

          Having talked with U.S. State Department personnel while in Iraq, they all seem to be under the idea that it’s their job to represent everyone EXCEPT the United States. So the foreign government’s people are representing their coutnry…and US State Dept. is representing the other country… so who’s representing us?

          Foggy Bottom needs to be fumigated down to the level of floor sweepers…and I’m not sure about them, either.

          Or perhaps, there should be a requirement that ALL State Department personnel have completed at least one enlistment of military service — this alone would weed out a significant number of the “Blame America for everything” crowd, and keep them from ever reinvading State.

        • Harry_the_Horrible

          During the 30′s,, 40′s, and 50′s, the State Department was probably the most heavily Communist infiltrated department of the US Government. The Commies might be gone, but their legacies in terms of policies, hires, etc., keep on giving.
          Then there are the Ivy Leagues from which the State Department likes to recruit…
          The US State Department simply is not on the side of the USA.

        • Tom Kratman

          There are some good people at State. A majority? Oh, hell no. But enough to save to rebuild something of use. Item 1 is to get rid of them. Item 2 is to recall the Diplomad to active duty and make him Sec State. He probably knows the olthers who can be trusted.

        • Steven Schwartz

          If I were ever to become Czar, the first decree I would promulgate is “No more Wars on Abstract Nouns”. Drugs, Poverty, Terror — it ends up not being worth it, because all it does is militarize one’s thinking and choke off whole swathes of solutions.

        • Tom Kratman

          No shit. For this be many, at least, of they sins forgiven.

          That said, just not calling it a war doesn’t mean it can be fixed.

        • Steven Schwartz

          Oh, I agree. Not all abstract nouns are curable. ;) But I think that one does have to be careful in one’s phrasing — and interpreting the phrasing of others.

          I wonder how much different things would have been if jihad had been translated (as I have been assured by many Muslims, across the political and religious spectrum) more broadly as “struggle” rather than as “war” — because one frames one’s reactions much differently to someone at war with you than someone struggling with something.

        • Tom Kratman

          Arabic’s an odd language. I used to speak it a _very_ little and it is…wild, just wild, to study and contemplate. But jihad, in any case, has multiple meanings which include both struggle and holy war.

        • Alex Shishkin

          “I wonder how much different things would have been if jihad had been translated…”

          You already have a perfect example: our current administration’s ‘translation’ of Major Nidal Hassan’s ‘religious war on infidels’ (as he meant it) as ‘workplace violence’ (as our DOJ chooses to interpret it).

          Just what did that ‘translation’ change, in your opinion?

        • Tom Kratman

          Well, it didn’t reduce my respect for the spinmeisters. But, then, that was at rock bottom already, so…

        • akulkis

          Oh, you mean like “My Struggle”… the translation of the title of Hitler’s book, “Mein Kampf”

          Jihad does NOT mean “inner struggle”… it is TOTALLY focussed on the external, material world, and to say that jihad does not mean war is to make a distinction without a difference.

        • Tom Kratman

          There may be a cult, the Sufis, who aspired to the inner struggle. I have it on pretty good authority that the Sufis of Egypt, at least, have changed and become a strong arm of the Muslim Brotherhood.

      • sconzey

        Mencius Moldbug holds forth at length on terrorism, of left-wing or right-wing flavours.

        The gist is that terrorism (what you call above ‘random terror’) is effective when used to attack the existing social order, or existing structures (which Moldbug categorises broadly as ‘left-wing), and ineffective when deployed to attempt to support or reinforce a social order (which he categorises as ‘right-wing’).

        Which makes sense: In order for terrorists to fly a jet airliner into a skyscraper, another civilisation had to build the aforementioned airliner and skyscraper (and flight simulators) so the terrorists could seize them and bash them together (the other civilisation also built an international mass media to broadcast the aforementioned collision to a large fraction of the worlds population in only a few hours).

        Because of this, Moldbug argues, terrorism is only effective when used to support left-wing causes (cf. Che Guevara) and is ineffective and nigh-on counterproductive when used to support right-wing causes (cf. the Organisation of the Secret Army or indeed Anders Behring Breivik).

        Because it’s ineffective at achieving right-wing military goals, it’s senseless massacre, and therefore immoral for right-wing political movements (although it is justifiable for left-wing political movements).

        • Tom Kratman

          That’s actually what will make this series of columns worthwhile. People see random terrorism – Caleb Carr wrote a book on it – and assume that’s all there is. But there is more to it.

          We have a tendency lately, and it preceded Jonah Goldberg’s “Liberal Fascism,” to group all totalitarians over on the left. Yes, I see the argument but I don’t think it works, except for annoying the left. Admittedly that’s worth doing, but it doesn’t really get us very far past that, and tends to mislead. One example, the Werhmacht was left wing? Don’t think so. Massacred Lidice in Czechoslovakia. The massacre was effective.

        • sconzey

          Firstly, I’ve done Moldbug a disservice– it’s a while since I read that essay and now I reread it I see he does make that point:

          Of course, there are plenty of historical contexts in which right-wing terrorism did work – for instance, Germany in the 1920s. In these contexts, it was legitimate. Conversely, left-wing terrorism was ineffective in the fascist nations, and hence illegitimate.

          The problem is that Left and Right are always relative. I think of them as ‘downhill’ and ‘uphill’ (going downhill –leftward– is always easier). Stalinist totalitarianism was an incredibly right-wing movement in an incredibly left-wing country. “Totalitarianism” is a region of this country of hills and valleys that can be reached from uphill or downhill directions.

        • Tom Kratman

          I tend to look at it somewhat differently. In the first place, though imperfect, the left-right spectrum describes how people actually act, how they see themselves, how they see others, and how they self organize in ways that X-Y and other similar diagrams do not, however intellectually tempting those other ways might be. If it doesn’t describe, doesn’t predict, if, indeed, it has little purpose beyond making something more complex than needed or letting people feel good about themselves over their own, ever-so-unique, wonderfulness, what good is it?

          In the second place, though, I think left and right are driven by a penultimate question, nature or nurture. Everything on the left is ultimately about changing people, perfecting them, via nurture. Lysenkoism could never have been a fantasy of the far right, but on the left it was a perfect fit. “We are Gods and everything can be manipulated by nurture to fulfill our god-like fantasies!” The far right is about the same thing, only via nature or breeding. Don’t be fooled by the intellectual slight of hand both engage in of claiming they’re not trying to change, but only to restore what has been decayed and degraded by society or outbreeding.

          (I say penultimate because I think there’s an unstated something underlaying all that. On the left it seems to be a kind of childish faith in a kind of magic. On the right I am not sure what it is.)

          One way to tell where you are on the spectrum is to look left and right for differences you cannot see but that others can. I can’t, for example, see much imprortant difference between a Menshevik and a Bolshevik, though others do. I can see a difference between and English Tory of the very old school and a Nazi.

          That all gets confused by movements that are little beyond an effort to harness emotion for greater unity and higher effort. Fascism, I think, falls into that category. It also gets confused by tactical accomodations; Stalin’s boy try (and I gather they really did try…shudder) to breed humans and guerillas to create super soldiers to defend the great experiment in perfecting man by education and trainingt. Nazis create worker holiday resorts, to defend the experiment in perfecting man through breeding. The tactics may be similar, but the ultimate goals differ radically.

        • sconzey

          If it doesn’t describe, doesn’t predict, if, indeed, it has little purpose beyond making something more complex than needed or letting people feel good about themselves over their own, ever-so-unique, wonderfulness, what good is it?

          Amen. There’s far too little ‘science’ in ‘political science’.

          In the second place, though, I think left and right are driven by a penultimate question, nature or nurture. Everything on the left is ultimately about changing people, perfecting them, via nurture.

          This is certainly part of it, but I don’t think the right is the ‘nature’ half of the equation. In the 1920s, if you were a leftist, you were a eugenicist. Many of the modern-day heroes of the left were prominent eugenicists: Marie Stopes, H.G. Wells, Churchill when he was part of the Liberal party, the entire Fabian movement who went on to found the London School of Economics (who’s graduates, funnily, are the best paid of all the UK Universities).

          If there’s anything that characterises the Right, it’s that they don’t believe in the perfectibility of man. Indeed, to the religious right, this is an article of faith. The inimitable Moldbug has traced back the ideological origins of modern Anglosphere progressivism to a four hundred year old religious schism between those who believed that the Second Coming of Christ would lead to judgement day, and the perfection of man — and those who believed the perfection of man had to come first, “till we have built Jerusalem in England’s green and pleasant land” indeed.

        • Tom Kratman

          And, see, I don’t think they were leftists, even if they liked to think of themselves that way.

          Conversely, I would say that “conservatives” don’t believe in the perfectability of man, or even the reliable mutabilty of the critter, though they accept that both nature and nurture have their effects, and that conservatives, rather than being rightists, are centrists. Now, me; I’m on the right edge of that middle third, conservative center., but still just conservative, not all that far right.

          I mentioned what you can see and can’t see, or can’t discern, above. That’s one of the elements of evidence, that people on the left frequently lump me in with, say, Nazis (never mind the ancestry, which would really be problematic to reconcile with Nazism). What’s happening is just the same as me not seeing the difference between a bolshie and a menshevik; it all blurs together if you’re far enough to the other side.

          It’s not in my brief for this column, but one day, perhaps, I’ll diverge a bit and do a column on the political optical illusions.

        • sconzey

          They considered themselves to be on the political Left, and so did most of their political contemporaries. It’s important that our terms are meaningful and allow us to make predictions, but it’s also important not to arbitrarily redefine terms against how they are popularly used.

          When people describe the eugenicist Marie Stopes as being on the Left, and the eugenicist Adolf Hitler as being on the Right, they are identifying some difference between them — what is it?

        • Tom Kratman

          I’m going to have to look into Marie Stopes before I can answer that. Never fear, I will.

        • Tom Kratman

          Okay, having looked, I think she was, like Margaret Sanger, a Nazi or proto-Nazi, whatever she wanted to call herself and whoever has taken her up as a totem.

        • Tom Kratman

          Took me a while to remember where I’d put this; it was on Baen’s bar, from about 6 months ago:

          “Just arguendo, accepting my left right spectrum as based on their ultimate _articulable_ article of faith, nature v nuture, there IS a way, if not to place Nazis on the left, to place a number of movements we’d think of as leftist on the right.
          Guys, the difference between my fellow Latin alum, Calypso Louis, and Julius Streicher is…??? Essentially nil, from a principled point of view. They’re both rabid racists, and only the race to be preferred differs. Or how about Susan – “The white race is the cancer of human history” – Sontag? She’s clearly a Nazi, just an anti-white Nazi. Sun people? Fucking _Sun_people_? That meme is Nazi! (Vinston Churchill, viz hiz Naaawzi zis and Naaawzi zat; vee vere not Naaawzis…vee vere Natzis…Natzis!”) So it’s not, I don’t think, that Nazism is a movement of the left. It’s that many seen to be on the left are not there at all; they’re over in their own little dark Nuremberg, awaiting the arrival of their own – Dark – Fuehrer.”

        • Tom Kratman

          And, from the same place: “Actually leads to an interesting prospect for an Alt History if someone wanted to run with it. Nazis won. Nuremberg Rally, 1961: special guests of der Fuehrer, speaking to the crowds, Margaret Sanger – also receiving an Iron Cross for her contributions to racial purity and eugenics – and Elijah Muhammad, gauleiter for the Congo District of the province of Zentral Afrika, who is likewise decorated for his staunch support of racial purity and separation, as well as his assistance in getting rid of the jooooossss…”

        • Steven Schwartz

          “In the 1920s, if you were a leftist, you were a eugenecist.”

          Simply not true. I call your attention to Bertrand Russell, for example. Many people throughout the spectrum were eugenicists; it was, effectively, a different axis.

          “the inimitable Moldbug”

          If he is so, it is a good thing. The last thing we need is more people like that running around.

          “four hundred year old religious schism between those who believed that
          the Second Coming of Christ would lead to judgement day, and the
          perfection of man — and those who believed the perfection of man had to
          come first, “till we have built Jerusalem in England’s green and
          pleasant land” indeed.”

          And they were looking back to previous divisions, between Augustine and Pelagius. ;)

        • sconzey
          In the 1920s, if you were a leftist, you were a eugenecist.

          Simply not true. I call your attention to Bertrand Russell, for example.

          Quite. Although he later changed his mind, in the 1920s Russell was a eugenicist. In 1922, he was hanging out with Marie Stopes, and giving guest lectures to her society. In 1929 he published On Marriage and Morals where he wrote:

          In extreme cases there can be little doubt of the superiority of one race to another[...] It seems on the whole fair to regard Negroes as on the average inferior to white men, although for work in the tropics they are indispensable

        • akulkis

          ” I can’t, for example, see much imprortant difference between a Menshevik and a Bolshevik, though others do.”

          The Bolsheviks and Mensheviks sure could… The primary difference is: Bolshe = Large. Menshe = Small.

          Bolsheviks want to impose communism by changing society through large changes, usually involving social upheaval, and mass extermination of opponents == including Mensheviks (such as Trotsky).
          Bolshevism = Red Terror / Cultural Revolution / Great Leap Forward.

          Mensheviks want to impose communism by changing society through small changes, gradually (like what they’ve been doing to the U.S. for the last 120 years). They’re not big on executions, but they don’t have a problem with making an opponents’ a life such a living hell that the person is driven to suicide.

          Menshevism = New Deal / Great Society / Deviant privileges rights.

          Other than that, there’s no difference.

        • Steven Schwartz

          Ah — I should have read a bit further, clearly. His definitions are still *bizarre*, however.

        • Steven Schwartz

          “Because of this, Moldbug argues, terrorism is only effective when used
          to support left-wing causes (cf. Che Guevara) and is ineffective and
          nigh-on counterproductive when used to support right-wing causes (cf.
          the Organisation of the Secret Army or indeed Anders Behring Breivik).”

          Then Mencius Moldbug is an idiot.

          Some of the most effective uses of terror tactics have come from the right — I refer you to examples like the SA in Weimar Germany, the “strategy of tension” in Italy that managed to do a marvelous job of defanging the left, the terroristic attacks of the right-wing political forces in pre-WWII Japan, and so on. Indeed, calling the modern wave of Islamic terrorism “leftist” would be …a massive stretch, to put it *mildly*.

          While on the left? We have the very dramatic, but rather ineffectual Rote Armee Fraktion, Brigadi Rossi, etc. Great moviemaking, but not very good at achieving their actual goals. Indeed — the Weathermen and their ilk did a great job at helping *discredit* the far Left in this country.

          Oh — wait; I see that Mencius wants to define all non-hegemonic forces as “left-wing” and hegemonic ones as “right-wing”; of course, his point does not remain true, even despite his…idiosyncratic definition.

        • Tom Kratman

          I discussed this above, Steven; there’s a meme on the right that puts nazism in with the left. I think I understand it, but I do not agree with it.

        • Steven Schwartz

          Then we are in agreement. I admit I am also not at all fond of the entire “left-right” dichotomy, as it seems designed to marginalize swaths of the political discourse — and anything that cuts *down* our problem-solving options is probably not a good thing.

        • Tom Kratman

          I discussed that, too, above. Left right works to predict how people organize and how they act. It’s not perfect, but it works better than the other methods.

        • akulkis

          The left deliberately refers to the anarchist, the free-marketer, and the monarchist with the same moniker so as to deliberately sow the seeds of confusion, to muddy the debate, so as to keep most of the public from catching on to how anti-human the left actually is.

        • akulkis

          The only reason that the left doesn’t put Nazism in their camp is because by their definiton ANYONE who opposes Communism is “right wing”

          Among leftist leadership, the primary problem with allowing the Nazis to be classified as “left wing” is that instead of being an “Internationalist” movement with Jews at the levers of power in all aspects of society, it was a nationalist movment which not only removed Jews from positions of political, economic & social power but also actively sought them out and killed them.

          Their “perfectability of man” by emulating dog-breeding methodology is just as insane as the “New Soviet Man” pipedream.

        • Tom Kratman

          Depends. If you look at it as I have suggested, as a penultimate question of nature-nurture in a millenialist vein, then they’re obviously going to be opposed and obviously going to be as far apart as possible, leaving the moderate center to go, “Oh, hell, no, not this crap again.” Similar symptoms? Sure, but there are diseases, very different, with very similar symptoms – malaria and pneumonia (btdt), for example. They’re both totalitarian, yes, because millenialist and revolutionary. But that’s a symptom, a tactic. The goal, perfection or great improvement in Man, is the same. But the road to the goal is 180 degrees different, again, nature v. nurture.

        • Steven Schwartz

          “The only reason that the left doesn’t put Nazism in their camp is
          because by their definiton ANYONE who opposes Communism is “right wing”

          Given that “the left” consists of more than just Communists, the fallacy of your statement is pretty self-evident.

        • sconzey

          Do read the whole article. He’s a smart guy, even if I failed to adequately precis his essay. He also has this to say, which I think is apropos to what you put above:

          Why does left-wing terrorism work, and right-wing terrorism not? As Carl Schmitt explained in Theory of the Partisan, terrorist, guerrilla or partisan warfare is nevereffective on its own. While an effective military strategy, it is only effective as one fork of a pincer attack. The terrorist succeeds when, and only when, he is allied to what Schmitt called an interested third party – either a military or political force.

          Left-wing terrorism succeeds as the violent arm of a political assault that would probably be overwhelming in any case. In every case, the terrorist plays Mutt in a Mutt-and-Jeff act. Right-wing terrorism in the modern world is cargo-cult terrorism: Mutt without Jeff. Indeed, in historical cases where right-wing terrorism has been successful, in every case we see it aligned with powerful forces within the state. Right-wing terrorism worked in Weimar Germany, for instance, or prewar Japan, because it aligned with fascist conspiracies in the security forces.

          I’ll also note that former Weatherman Bill Ayers served for many years as a professor of Education at the University of Chicago, and held the titles ‘Distinguished Professor’ and ‘Senior Scholar’. Setting off bombs has certainly affected his career less than opposing gay marriage did to Brandon Eich. There’s probably an argument to be had about the extent to which the far-left has been discredited in America.

          Moldbug’s definitions of left and right are perhaps idiosyncratic, but I think they are both accurate, and useful. To say that all he classifies all hegemonic forces as right-wing would be an oversimplification. To Moldbug, the Right is in favour of traditional forms of social order, which match the grain of how the world works: parental authority over children, keeping contracts, heirarchy in the military. To Moldbug, freedom is not the opposite of order, but the ultimate form of order — thats why Rothbard called it ‘spontaneous order’.

          The Left on the other hand may want to build a new, all-encompassing order, but first they must tear apart the existing one! Mankind is perfectible, but only once all the enemies of progress have been crushed! The Leftist in 1700 favoured the abolition of monarchy in favour of the republic; in 1800 they favoured free trade and the destruction of the landed gentry in favour of the mercantile class; in 1900 they favoured the taxation of the mercantile-industrial class to support ‘the workers’; in 2000–

          Leftism is entropy for organisations. It is always and everywhere the policies and tactics which help the advocates thereof acquire money, women and power, even at the expense of society. Indeed, at the expense of society — leftism tears apart the bonds which naturally bind us: parent to child, husband to wife, employer to employee, releasing the ‘bond enthalpy’ to the benefit and profit of the Leftist but at the expense of society.

        • Steven Schwartz

          I’ve read his article.

          He uses his own warped definitions, inflammatory rhetoric, and sloppy thinking, to draw conclusions that only hold water if you accept all the aforementioned definitions and agree to rewrite history and political philosophy his way.

          He at least acknowledges the fact that right-wing terrorism did exist, and was effective — but that just means he can read a history book.

          “To Moldbug, the Right is in favour of traditional forms of social
          order, which match the grain of how the world works: parental authority over children, keeping contracts, heirarchy in the military.”

          Then, by his standard, reactionary anti-government movements seeking to re-establish said order, like Al Qaida, are *right-wing*, whether or not they “quote Chomsky”. He can’t even stay consistent within his definitions.

          Since he’s not here, I won’t waste any more of your time or mine responding to him-through-you. ;)

        • sconzey

          Incidentally, Sunni terrorist organisations like AQ, IS and Jabhat al Nusra are incredibly leftist. That’s why Osama bin Laden quotes Noam Chomsky and Mao Zedong. That’s why they oppose the (ordered) secular dictatorships of Assad and Hussain, and the (ordered) theocracy of the Shi’ite Iran, and why the Monarchies of Qatar and Saudi Arabia — former alleged sponsors of ISIS — are now defecating masonry and lining up behind the US to support intervention to limit and contain them. That’s why in the areas they control there’s no formal authority set-up, no central government, just an anarchy of courts and militias.

        • Steven Schwartz

          OK: You’re using “leftist” in a very specific sense here, that I gather Moldbug also uses, with that order/disorder line. That is a *tactical* distinction, rather than a *philosophical* one, and using the terms casually leads to …well, silly conclusions.

          The book on “how to fight a revolution against an entrenched power structure” was written by the left. That doesn’t mean only the Left reads it.

        • akulkis

          very dramatic, but rather ineffectual Rote Armee Fraktion,

          Considering that the Red Army Faktion consisted of 3 loons and a telephone, how effective do you think they would be?

          Same for the “Red Brigades”… That would imply a division worth of personnel.. but in actual fact, the ‘Red Brigades” consisted of 4 in-DUH-viduals. I guess that makes 2 men/brigade, and 1 man/battalion.

          The one thing to understand about leftists.. is that they ALWAYS try to make themselves appear more numerous than they are. The Committee for Science in the Public Interest… sounds likea huge organization, right? It’s actually literally some crank, his wife, their fax machine, and a bank account. The other is that one leftist is ofent a memeber of a dozen or more groups…

          So if you have 10 leftist groups, each with 100 members.. how many leftists do you have? Somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 people, most of them with severe personality disorders.

        • Tom Kratman

          There were probably a bit over 1000 RAF and active supporters, maybe as many as 1200. Actual “fighters,” though, probably rarely if ever numbered over 40 or 50.

        • Steven Schwartz

          “Considering that the Red Army Faktion consisted of 3 loons and a telephone, how effective do you think they would be?”

          Go read some history. Same for the Brigadi Rossi.

          Then come back and talk when you have a clue.

          (Quick hint: Saying the RAF was “3 loons and a telephone” is like saying the Mormon church consists of a few hundred loonies in the desert.)

      • sconzey

        With regards to Madrid, it may be that the Spanish elites (and I would not be surprised if it were both members of PP and PSOE who felt this way) wished to extricate themselves from the Iraq war, and the terrorist attacks presented a convenient opportunity to do so.

        This is another pattern Moldbug identifies: while Blue America does not actively conspire with Islamist insurgents against America, Islamist insurgents are usually far away, while their hated hereditary enemy, Red America is right there, breathing the same air, voting in the same elections, polluting the airwaves with their moralising censorship and God-bothering televangelists, the backwards rednecked hicks.

        Unscrupulous Blue Americans (visualise here Frank Underwood), whilst upset and decrying senseless Islamist atrocities, will not pass up on the opportunity to hurt their hated hereditary enemies: those cousin-marrying, potato-farming, gun-toting Red Americans.

        Islamist extremists note this pattern too, and tune their aggravations to target Red America. Both sides co-operate without communication by relying on predictable behaviour of the other. This behaviour is adaptively successful and so self-reinforces. In nature we call this symbiosis. In democracy we call this politics.

        And it’s tearing our nations apart.

        • Steven Schwartz

          Wow; I have not previously run across this “moldbug”‘s analysis, but it is impressively….something.

          “while their hated hereditary enemy, Red America” — Hm. Didn’t realize it was hereditary. Makes me wonder how we got the sudden huge population shifts in much less than a generation’s time. ;) Or how my slightly-to-the-right-of-Attilla-the-Hun and Rockefeller Republican parents produced an anarchosocialist like me. ;)

          And of *course* people on the Left are more concerned, on a day-to-day basis, with the people they’re right next to, who have a real, immediate effect upon their lives. (Though it is worth noting that all but the very, very far Left rallied to support President Bush post-9/11, until he decided to use that support to lie to the American people and start a war we didn’t need to fight.) For example, yes, I’m concerned about people like General Boykin, whose “crusade” rhetoric inflames further harm against the U.S.

          Why shouldn’t I be?

          There are unscrupulous Americans on all parts of the political spectrum; what we have to figure out how to do is keep them from damaging us too much, no matter which side we find ourselves on.

        • Tom Kratman

          What’s sane and what’s insane, Steven? I would suggest that wasting time and money on something that’s simply impossible is insane. Trying to bring, say, Afghanistan all the way into the 17th century was impossible, should have been seen as impossible, and anyone claiming it was possible should have been locked up for his own good and the good of the country. Given that, what other choices where there? Genocide was one. A punitive expedition, largish or smallish, was another. The key, though, it that doing anything that was not going to work was a waste.

          Horowtiz talks about “red diaper babies,” and they seem to exist. I agree, however, that it’s memetic, not genetic, at least mostly.

        • Steven Schwartz

          ” I would suggest that wasting time and money on something that’s simply impossible is insane.”

          I would agree with you.

          “Trying to bring, say, Afghanistan all the way into the 17th century was
          impossible, should have been seen as impossible, and anyone claiming it
          was possible should have been locked up for his own good and the good of
          the country.”

          Now, that’s a funny thing — because in a lot of ways, it’s well past the 17th century. Many of those are military ways, but…

          I think Afghanistan will be slowly drawn forward. But we cannot “civilize” them by force, it’s true — at least, not without producing an enormous resistance, as we have seen. Just as attempts to bring the Southern states out of the Jim Crow era showed a massive resistance — one that clearly hasn’t entirely been quelled.

          “Horowtiz talks about “red diaper babies,” and they seem to
          exist. I agree, however, that it’s memetic, not genetic, at least
          mostly.”

          How shall we put this; memes change much more quickly than genes, which is one of the reasons I raised the point; when you start talking about “hereditary enemies”, you raise the level of the confrontation, and make solution of it that much further out of reach.

        • Tom Kratman

          You think they do, that memes can change that quickly? I am very skeptical. Ask yourself, sometime, why, in the Great War, England, Germany, and France _all_ managed, when creating modern helmets, to base them on their own medieval designs. It’s not even clear that they went to museums and looked, but rather it was just something they immediately thought proper.

          I, on the other hand, do not think Afghanistan will change appreciably at all. Islam didn’t change it, except to graft itself onto an existing culture and reinforce that culture. Nothing will change it.

        • Steven Schwartz

          “You think they do, that memes can change that quickly?”

          Absolutely. Consider interracial marriage, for example; from illegal and highly taboo to “no big deal” to most people in less than half a century.

          As for the helmet question — I’m not at all surprised; they were *evolutions* of previous designs, after all — it’s not as if we ever had a significant period entirely without armor — heavy cavalry, if naught else — in the militaries you describe. There was no particular strong reason for them *to* change — so they didn’t.

          As to Afghanistan — we’ll see. If you had asked someone about the Ottomans in 1905, they might well have said the same thing. We’re not great at enforcing change — but change does happen.

        • Tom Kratman

          Maybe the key word there is “can” as opposed to “certainly “will.” All things are possible with God,” after all.

          Nah, the thing with the helmets was that the designs had been out of use for centuries. To the extent metal helmets were still in use they resembled corinthian hoplite helmets, sometimes with odd projections in lieu of the crest. Yet in every case, once it became important, the nations making the helmets went back to the old design. I could see one doing it. But everyone?

          In any case, I think memes last a lot longer than people think. Germany’s peculiarities may well trace to the period 1618-1648; many people better versed in it than I have claimed so. Russia is still under the Tartar yoke, to a degree. We take a particular savagery to warfare that has few if any equals in the world, but seems to be to be an continuing expression of the Indian Wars.

        • Steven Schwartz

          How shall we put this: I will not deny that cultural markers can last a very long time. I will state simply that they *can* be changed much faster than genetic ones. The Germans, for example, were considered a warlike people for *centuries* — yet I have spent a lot of time there, and the revulsion to the prospect expressed there now is *stunning*. Amazing what two horrific defeats in short order, with a major side order of shame and war crimes, will do.

        • Tom Kratman

          That’s actually quite recent and seems largely a function of the 68ers taking power there. Until quite recently, it was very difficult to tell the difference between a German of, say, 1975, 1945, and 1915. I can recall rolling to the “front” on Reforger 76 and the Huns coming out in their old Feldmuetzen to heil us through the towns as we passed… One counters, “Well, old men, after all, but there were also the masses of German girls who seemed to think it their bounden futy to go to German Army dance centers for the benefit of the troops. They did not change, or appear to change, until the 68ers took power, and one doubts the changes will last past the 68ers’ passing from the scene.

          It is also possible that it is even now quite shallow, no more than a lot of verbalization of political fashions. The Germans were not really all that warlike – less so than us, if you compare years at war, 1871 to, 0h, 1990 – but were realistic about it. Their battle performance, moreover, has less of Generalstab and more of Gemuetlichkeit to it then most outside see. (IOW, it is their social cohesion that made them do effective in battle, and that has NOT changed.)

        • Steven Schwartz

          ” Their battle performance, moreover, has less of Generalstab and more of Gemuetlichkeit to it then most outside see”

          Given that the effectiveness of the General Staff in the period of its existence correlates quite well with the general success (given available resources) at war, I would tend to disagree. ;)

          However — stating that the change has been since the 68ers took power does make one wonder, again, how quickly things *can* change — because I was dealing with people born after that, whose worldview was very non-militaristic.

          Now, as to whether it’s shallow or not, time will have to tell — time, and (hopefully not) opportunity.

          (Also: given that Prussia+Germany effectively launched 4 aggressive wars between 1866 and 1990, and the U.S. acting alone launched…1? 2?, I think your description’s a tad off.)

        • Tom Kratman

          Actually, no. The General Staff was effective in 1866 and 1870 -71, under Motlke the Elder. It failed in the Great War, both in its appreciation of the situation – which is absoltuely unforgiveable, it’s planning, and its execution. And in WW II it really didn’t have either the quality of manpower or the training it had had, having spent 20 years either underground or trying to catch up from that. In addition, though unpopular to say so, Hitler’s military acumen was a lot better that we would prefer to think. The General Staff wanted a wider-swinging version of the Schlieffen Plan; Hitler was quite possibly the first, even before Manstein, to think of and deman the Sickelschnitt through the Ardennes. Eben Emael? You guessed it. His problems and failings were matters of character – dithering and panicking – not generally of judgment. You want to blame Kursk on somebody? Kursk that cost them the war? Hitler’s responsibility, clearly, but the general staff’s idea that he let them talk him into.

          There were possibly only two people with any power in Germany who also had any grasp of strategy, and neither of them were GeneralStab. (Hitler and Canaris.)

          We, in fact, or us and the Brits, are the class of the world at the most important thing a general staff is supposed to do, strategy. The Germans are wretched at it, they’re great operationalists and tacticians, and – hence Gemuetlichkeit – superb in their social cohesion on the battle line, but that’s it.

          I said war, not aggressive war. A zillion Indian wars, Spain, Phillipine Insurrection (“Underneath the starry flag, civilize ‘em with a Krag”), Incursions into Nicaragua, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Mexico, China for the Boxer Rebellion (the Germans get credit for that one, too), Great War, WW II, Korea, Indochina, air war for about 30-40 years over the Bering Strait, Desert Swarm, Iraq II, Afghanistan.. (Lots of those are aggressive, too, by the way.) .And if you want to go with the core German state, Prussia, from 1775 onward, we beat the hell out of their record, too.

        • Steven Schwartz

          I’m going to get back to this, because my reference library on the subject is in a box, but return to it I shall. ;)

          “We, in fact, or us and the Brits, are the class of the world
          at the most important thing a general staff is supposed to do, strategy.”

          We have been — whether we still are, is another question. (I might also put the Israeli General Staff up there as well, frankly.)

          (If you haven’t read it, I refer you, BTW, to a book I think you’ll enjoy: From the Jaws of Victory: On the Causes and Consequences of Military Stupidity from Crassus to Westmoreland.)

          ” A zillion Indian wars, Spain, Phillipine Insurrection (“Underneath the
          starry flag, civilize ‘em with a Krag”), Incursions into Nicaragua,
          Haiti, Dominican Republic, Mexico, China for the Boxer Rebellion (the
          Germans get credit for that one, too), Great War, WW II, Korea,
          Indochina, air war for about 30-40 years over the Bering Strait, Desert
          Swarm, Iraq II, Afghanistan.. (Lots of those are aggressive, too, by
          the way.)”

          Well, let’s see; I could probably drop a couple of East African “wars” to counterbalance the incursions. ;) But I think if you look at the militarization of the state — how deeply war and soldiering sunk into the psyche — you’d get a different picture.

          (It’s also not entirely fair to count wars post-WWII, given that Germany was, effectively, an occupied nation after that point, and barely had the *chance* to go about starting trouble. ;))

          I want to thank you, BTW: Our discussions here have been among the most civilized I’ve had on this site, and it’s a pleasure to discuss this stuff with you, no matter how different our backgrounds and opinions.

        • Tom Kratman

          Try finding a definition of strategy that is more than the ancient “art of the general,” and see if you can still consider Tzahal, operationalists and tacticians to a man, to be strategically…ept.

          Doubt it would counterbalance. The real difference was probably that in Germany’s position, one doesn’t start wars lightly, while we, safe behind oceans, could. Something for you to look into, though, is how Euros see us. When they look at us, they see an American love affair with the military that is so German we may as well goosestep.

          You’re welcome, thanks, and I am always polite to everyone who’s polite with me.

        • Steven Schwartz

          “and see if you can still consider Tzahal, operationalists and tacticians to a man, to be strategically…ept.”

          They’ve had less chance to prove it in the past few decades — but considering their position in 1948, and their position in 1980-something, I’d have to say “yes”.

          The U.S. has always been able to operate on the presumption of (eventual) superior firepower, from a strategic POV, as well as that of, as you point out, almost complete isolation from repercussion. Neither of these are exactly luxuries Israel possesses. ;)

          ” Something for you to look into, though, is how Euros see us. When
          they look at us, they see an American love affair with the military that
          is so German we may as well goosestep.”

          Yes, but what we *don’t* have built in is the enormous respect for uniform and a military oligarchic ruling class, as was the case in Prussia, then the German Empire.

          Of course, nowadays, we also have much less of the horrors of war looking at us from behind every new-built building.

        • Tom Kratman

          No, that’s not strategy. It’s not clear that Israel has ever had call to actually employ strategy.

        • Steven Schwartz

          I’m curious, then, as to how you define “strategy” — because if planning,preparing for, and executing, large-scale (for their national size) campaigns against multiple enemies at a time, resulting in fighting along almost every border they have, isn’t strategic thinking, then what, by your analysis, is?

        • Tom Kratman

          The integration of diplomatic suasion, intelligence, military power, and economic power, to advance the [presumptively] state’s interest. However, it is possible for a subnational or extranational player to employ strategy. Where Israel fails – though it is a failure or little significance, given their opposition – is that they don’t really have any diplomatic suasion, beyond American, largely Jewish and, more importantly, evangelicals, who vote Israeli interests for reasons having nothing to do with Israeli diplomacy, and their economic power has never really been felt because there isn’t much there.

        • Steven Schwartz

          Ah — you’re looking at right now.

          “is that they don’t really have any diplomatic suasion”

          They did — and they used it when they needed to. They got weapons supplies from Germany, the UK, and France, for example, in the 1948-1967 period — during a time when there was considerable diplomatic pressure *against* selling them those weapons, for example.

          Remember that, for the first quarter-century of Israel’s existence, simply maintaining that existence was the goal — and not an easy one at all.

          We can look back and say “Oh, Jordan, Syria and Egypt were paper tigers” – but that was not the assessment at the time, nor is it clear that they were, in comparison to whom they were fighting.

          Given the situation the U.S. has found itself in, I am not sure that they have been, given the same *baseline*, more successful over that time period.

          (I will also note we started with the discussion of “strategy” as a comparison of General Staffs — who usually do not have a huge say in economic policy, and whose say in diplomatic issues can vary drastically depending on the nation and the issue. From a purely *military* POV, the Israeli strategic thinking has been significantly superior in result to that of, say, the U.S., during the time both states existed.)

        • Tom Kratman

          Umm…check into Industrial College of the Armed Forces, and the control over the economy exercised by the Armed Forces for major wars, and planned for prior to those wars. We do it. The Brits do it. The USSR used to do it. Pretty much nobody else.

          They had the ability to make people feel guilty and extract goodies from that. I have a hard time thinking of that as strategy. Really. Israel, among other things inherited from the Germans, is a tendency to overrate their opposite. This ties in with the snivel factor, mentioned above. But never since 1948 has Israel’s existence been in question, and even then, it was obvious very early on that, barring the Jaysh al Arabi, under Glubb Pasha (John Bagot Glubb), the Arabs simply stank. Worthless. Wretched. No contest at all.

          (Actually we started this part of the thread with a discussion of memes andf genes. That went to Germans, to Generalstab, to Gemuetlichkeit, etc.)

        • akulkis

          The first defeat did nothing, because their cities were left standing. The second defeat is the one which broke their will — in all of Berlin, the only building left standing was the Reichstag (thanks to methodical advancement of impacts by Red Army artillery). The British took out the Ruhr valley’s hydroelectric infrastructure, and American daylight bombing was so pernicious that they had to resort to moving factories underground…

          And all in all (re themem set by the indian Wars) the American Indians still would have considered themselves lucky to have received such treatment.

        • Steven Schwartz

          “The first defeat did nothing” — nonsense. The first defeat didn’t do *enough*, but that is vastly different from “nothing”.

          To claim it did nothing is to ignore the entire history of Weimar Germany.

          “the American Indians still would have considered themselves lucky to have received such treatment.”

          I’m not sure what your point is here.

        • Tom Kratman

          That we treated the Indians worse, I think he means. I’m no longer sure where I read this – Fehrenbach, maybe – we pursued “until his women sickened and his children died.”

        • akulkis

          “Russia is still under the Tartar yoke…”

          And Ukraine even moreso than Russia (Kiev was the Tartars power base among the Rus’… What is now western Russia is populated moslty by people who were fleeing Kiev to get away from the Tartars. And Belorussia is a basket case politically — they’re looking for the return of Stalin.

        • Steven Schwartz

          As a minor note, the pickelhaube has a fairly clear line of descent back past the Napoleonic era. ;)

        • Tom Kratman

          That wasn’t the helmet design re-adopted; that was the design cast off after they got serious about needing a metal helmet.

        • sconzey

          Actually, there’s substantial evidence that political allegiance is hereditary, see Fowler et al. or Hatemi et al.

          And you, a Leftie coming from a Right-wing family are the exception that proves the rule. America’s elites are far to the left of your parents, as is the school system which had you for 7 hours a day during a key period of your life — as the Jesuits used to say: “Give me a child until the age of seven and I will show you the man”.

          If you went to college — you attended one of the Leftiest institutions on the planet. It’s not fair to call them seminaries of a secular religion, but it is justifiable.

        • Steven Schwartz

          “as is the school system which had you for 7 hours a day during a key period of your life”

          Actually, for many people, it isn’t. It certainly wasn’t “far to the left” of my Rockefeller Republican mother.

          And if a belief system can’t survive encounters outside its own nest, what does that say about said belief system? If you need to protect your beliefs through isolation — “Don’t go to college, you’ll meet/be converted by Lefties!” — then your beliefs have a serious problem.

          As it happens, BTW, I went to a school with a Great Books curriculum — so I got quite enough of many conservative viewpoints that, had they been sufficiently persuasive, I would have stuck with them. ;)

          (I also find it interesting that the second article you linked essentially boils down to “people’s reaction to changing ideas in the face of changing conditions may be inheritable.” — and I admit that I would be glad to have a more flexible brain, in a world that is constantly changing.)

        • Tom Kratman

          “And if a belief system can’t survive encounters outside its own nest, what does that say about said belief system?”

          An interesting point and, intentionally or otherwise, a serious condemnation of the social justice warriors trying to control the printed and spoken word, of dark skin only “safe spaces” at science fiction conventions, of the recent 4chan coup, etc., etc.

          I rather like the way Steyn put it: “Intellectual diversity on the left has become increasingly indistinguishable from Tupperware night with the Stepford Wives.”

        • Steven Schwartz

          Here’s an interesting thing — the difference between protecting “belief systems” and protecting *people*.

          The fact that you compare the two so blithely makes me strongly suspect any of your analyses of power, outside of the military realm.

          I happen to be a strong anti-censorship person, as are many of my fellows on the left; but there is a significant difference between “We want this space, this small space, to ourselves” and “We do not want our worldview questioned/threatened/etc, so you have to be quiet!”

          The former is the model of safer space. The latter is the model behind complaints about the terrors of Liberal Academe — and it is the students often speaking in that quote.

          That is the voice of the “You need to accept our Biblical answers to your biology questions”, of “OUr textbooks need to show the best about America — why are you challenging that”, etc.

          To use a particularly vehement example: It’s the difference between safe space for people to be able to talk about coming out as GLBT, away from potential harassers, and people going “Hey! I shouldn’t have to see that on the street! Keep it indoors!”

          See the difference?

        • Tom Kratman

          Steven, when a person is so wrapped up in a belief system, as the SJWs are, there is no difference between protecting the one and protecting the other; they are the same.

          They’re aso idiots, because the difference between “we want this safe space free of whitey” and “colored only fountains” and “get to the back of the bus” is not one of principle, but of who holds the whip.

        • Steven Schwartz

          “Steven, when a person is so wrapped up in a belief system, as the SJWs
          are, there is no difference between protecting the one and protecting
          the other; they are the same.”

          Perhaps you know very different SJWs than I do. I can tell you that there is a significant difference between a belief system and, say, a “race”. Or a sexual orientation. Or a gender orientation.

          I notice you carefully elided my observation about safe space for GLBT folk.

          “They’re aso idiots, because the difference between “we want this safe
          space free of whitey” and “colored only fountains” and “get to the back
          of the bus” is not one of principle, but of who holds the whip.”

          And you know what? The “SJW”, as you dismiss them, are aware that, indeed, power makes a difference. It’s why I said I was suspect of your analyses of power. Part, in fact, of the work that people do towards social justice is identifying where the power lies, and helping those in *whichever* dynamic to cope with the power inequalities.

          Part of the purpose of most social justice movements is to try, insofar as possible, to weaken or remove the whip — but never to forget that it is there while it is.

        • Tom Kratman

          Okay, now step back and think about that. I didn’t address color or gender or orientation when I said they’re so wrapped up in their belief system that their indisinguishable. Why did you interpret it that way?

        • Steven Schwartz

          Perhaps I misunderstood what your point was; I took it as “The SJWs do not see the difference between protecting a belief system and protecting a person”, which is a statement I do not accept; to pick but one small example, I know many anti-racist activists who do *not* support the socially conservative nature of many African-american churches — but that doesn’t stop them supporting the rights and safety of the churchgoers, because their characteristic is separate from their belief system.

          Do you see why I went where I did? We had been discussing race/gender/orientation — or at least, I had brought it up, and I thought you were responding there.

          If not, and you were making a different point, perhaps I need some clarification before we can go on with this discussion.

        • Tom Kratman

          No, SJWs seem to barely exist as people outside of their belief systems.

        • Steven Schwartz

          Then you’ve clearly met different SJWs than I have. All the people I know who’d wear that moniker have their friends, their hobbies, their outside interests — of course, I move in much closer circles to them, so it’s easier to see that.

          But now do you understand why I went where I did with that remark?

        • Alex Shishkin

          “And if a belief system can’t survive encounters outside its own nest, what does that say about said belief system?”

          False premise. This belief system did not survive in _you_. Ever consider that it may say more about your personal (in)ability to accurately evaluate belief systems than about the merits of a belief system in question?

          I mean, ‘anarcho-socialist’? Really? And you – if you actually _do_ subscribe to a set of beliefs normally associated with anarcho-socialism – seriously imagine yourself in a position to evaluate belief systems? Hilarity ensues…

          Some people can learn only from a personal experience of being dragged away into re-education camp. And some – not even from that. I’ve known both types. Says nothing about the belief systems that these people discarded in favor of their mental disorder, though.

        • Steven Schwartz

          “False premise. This belief system did not survive in _you_. Ever
          consider that it may say more about your personal (in)ability to
          accurately evaluate belief systems than about the merits of a belief
          system in question?”

          But that’s the very fear that the whole “College is a hotbed of liberalism” is addressing — it’s not just me, it’s lots of people who are supposedly being led away from the Right and the Truth by those evil left-wing indoctrinating professors.

          So, no, I don’t think this large-scale political/social complaint has anythign to do with my personal ability to evaluate belief systems, thank you.

        • Tom Kratman

          I am not as worried about that as many. College tries to do exactly what Alex said, for the reasons implied by him. It fails, ultimately, because the left wing fantasy, changing Man profoundly, for the “better,” via social engineerig, training, education, and relentless bloody nagging simply doesn’t work. You get the appearance for the while, and then the kids grow up and grow out of it.

        • Steven Schwartz

          “I am not as worried about that as many. College tries to do exactly what Alex said, for the reasons implied by him.”

          Somehow I find it highly unlikely that an entire swath of schools, from Cal to Oberlin to St. John’s to Patrick Henry to Oral Roberts, are all trying to do “the same thing” — unless that thing is “educate”.

          ” It fails, ultimately, because the left wing fantasy, changing Man profoundly, for the “better,”"

          Unlike most Christians (or many religious groups), who try and….do what, exactly? Not perfect man, but change them for the better, through training, preaching, nagging, and shame, and that *does* work?

          i was lucky — I went to a school with extremists on both sides and a lot of dedicated-to-their-subjects people in the middle, and came out of it asking a lot of questions and not accepting *any* of my teachers’ political positions wholesale. Which seems to me the best outcome of the experience — but I’m biased. ;)

        • Tom Kratman

          Well, at least you avoided attributing to me a conspiracy theory. This is good because, in my experience of people, to include highly capable people, which experience is not small, they generally lack the ability to conspire at the level required.

          Try this though: something I sometimes call “consensus theory.” This is when similar people, generally with similar backgrounds, almost always with similar educations, see similar problems, similarly, and come up with similar solutions. That whole gamut of things we call “Victorian”? Consensus. Civilization? Conensus. Barbarism? Consensus or, at least, lack of consensus for civilization.

          Funny you should mention religion. If not our most liberal state Massachusetts is certainly in the top 3 or so. And, go back a few hundred years, oh, to a decade and a half or so before the founding of my high school, and you will find highly religious Puritans doing what? Trying to perfect man through training, education, social engineering, and relentless bloody nagging, along with some physical punishments here and there for spice. I would suggest to you that that is not coincidental, and Massachusetts has been or has at least had a strong element of liberalism ab initio.

          In any case, “education” seems to be precisely what they have stopped doing, wherever they could get away with it. They do not seem to be trying to teach people how to think anymore, but rather what to think.

        • Steven Schwartz

          “generally lack the ability to conspire at the level required”

          I will never forget the day I managed to convince a 9/11 truther that a small group of non-Americans, whose power had been significant, and spanned the globe, but which was clearly waning, but whose post-9/11 power skyrocketed to new heights economically and politically should be investigated for their connection.

          He agreedw ith me. I said I was talking about the band U2. He said “Well, you still might have a point there….”

          Sheesh.

          And there is a consensus model — indeed, you’ll find me in agreement with that; I suspect we just disagree on what those consensuses are or where they’re coming from. The devil’s in the details.

          ” I would suggest to you that that is not coincidental, and
          Massachusetts has been or has at least had a strong element of
          liberalism ab initio.”

          How shall we put this: we appear to be talking at cross purposes.
          The only places I see an absence of that same attempt to *improve* — note, not perfect, but improve — people through these techniques are those where a large percentage of the population are written off as not-really-human, not worth trying to improve. I do not consider that better than what we have.

          I guess by the standard you describe, everywhere appears to be either liberal or headed down the road to serfdom/slavery. Clearly, I’m missing something here, since I don’t think you prefer the second, yet I doubt you’d describe yourself as “liberal”.

          ” They do not seem to be trying to teach people how to think anymore, but rather what to think.”

          While I have a very different perception — except that i think we’re headed in the wrong direction with our increasingly test-oriented schools, for precisely that reason. Of course, many of the drives towards that sort of orientation come from the “we’re not getting value from our money from public education!” sorts, who tend to be on the right. ;)

        • Tom Kratman

          I really do need to do that political optical illusions column.

          Speaking of cross purposes, we’re also, you and I, confusing / conflating higher education and elementary and secondary education. The teach the test nonsense (and, for various reasons, I am skeptical of IQ testing or any standardized mental or academic testing, really) is an elementary and HS function. And, you’re right, I think, that it emanates from the right. However, the trend in higher education, of teaching people what to think, rather than how to think, of trying to control speech, of propagandzing a single viewpoint…those are acts of the left, and the viewpoint is invariably leftish if not outright leftist. It has also, since teachers passed through that higher educational system, begun long since to seep down into HS and Elementary school, exacerbated, I think, by the tendency of people of leftish persuasion to want to go into education, to mold that better being. It’s not an unworthy motive – or at least not necessarily – but it doesn’t seem to really work in practice. The last time I can think of where something like this took place was France after the Great War, where they basically educated themselves out of the ability to defend their country and way of life.

          _We’re_ heading down that road, more or less, but we’re also heading down the road to balkanization, barbarization, secession, civil war (think Beirut in the 1980s, not Gettysburg in 1863) because we _can’t_ separate. I’m not sure what’s going to happen first.

        • Soft_water

          “consensus theory” is explored and defined almost the same way in a book called umm… “the crowd” by Gustave Noble. Funny how u guys come up with the same definitions 120 years apart.

        • Tom Kratman

          I’m a little odd. I get a kick out of having figured something out on my own, then discovering it is NOT new.

      • http://www.theannoyeddroid.com Joey Calvey

        back right after Desert Storm the army sent me to a series of college courses about Terror. The why, the how, and the who. Those three things are compounded by the fact that if you subtract rationalism, which is “I hate the english and I want Ireland to be Independent” and you add religion (which is there, obvously, just not as extreme, and get the Islamics going, who seem to have a hatred for everyone including Islamics that aren’t the exact same type of Islamics…
        The only policy that has worked in the past is eradication.
        We don’t negotiate with terrorists… Oh but we do, see lookee, Bowe Bergdahl. Giving tons of military equipment to the Egyptians after the coup…
        To fight terror, you have to be more scary than the terrorists. Shoot at us from a village? Bulldoze it. Aid and abet the enemy? Lose your home.
        When did we become a nation of pussies?

        • Tom Kratman

          Future column.

      • Soft_water

        All this left/right, right/left, once was left now is right and vice versa is very confusing for those of us who are not trained debaters. :-P l would like to draw your attention to a definition that might help at http://www.baen.com/chapters/axes.htm

        • Tom Kratman

          That’s Jerry Pournelle’s XY. If you nose around the afterwords for my books, you can see why I think, though it is tempting, that it just doesn’t work. Elsewhere, here, too, I’ve given some reason for doubting it.

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