Saturday, 11 October 2014


Uni is a of work and I don't really have a one comprehensive topic to talk about. This just a lot of ideas I want to get down.

Been reading a variety of things (note read =/ agree with). The Prussian, slate star codex, poor economics, The better angels of our nature, Noahpinion, a book on Socrates (interesting guy) + others (like the war nerd). If you want to understand the current middle-east situation read the war nerd.

And I have to say there is a lot of stuff which as far as I can see in the overshoot sphere is completely ignored. Very important parts about the nature of warfare, why materialism + individualism and similar values systems are really good for societies such as ours (there is very rational and logical reason why). The reason being that for a highly diverse society (which all modern societies are), everyone can easily agree on it and understand everyone easily. Considering the normal the strife that would otherwise happen, this is a reasonable choice. None of the value systems or ideas I've seen have actually addressed this point.

A lot of problems arise as far as I can tell from (so I may be wrong about the origins) the overshoot sphere being politically and ideologically from the left more than the right while not being able to notice that some ideas are incredibly modern and the consequences of that.

To explain here is a woodcut of a Medieval execution/entertainment.

Other thoroughly modern ideas (largely enlightenment, but not completely) include our ethical treatment of animals, not physically torturing kids (tying them to hot stoves and such) and seeing war as evil/unnecessary + caused by human action. E.g towns would buy condemned criminals off each other so they'd have could entertain the citizens with some gruesome display. Besides the traditional animal sports such as cock fights and bear baiting, slowly lowering a cat into a fire was a common Parisian pastime. And so on, some animals (pigs and some special lamb) were kept in factory farming like conditions well before industrial civilization came around. Hunter-gatherers aren't much better in that regard, except they generally don't have domesticated populations (I remember an account of a tribal kid torturing a bird to death and the elders only scowling at him).

Wars were seen more as an act of the gods and an inevitable fact of life. In fact, the majority of the time war was the default diplomatic state and peace was the exemption and explicitly negotiated. This doesn't mean that the two sides were clashing with armies, more often it was just border skirmishes and raids (specifically targeting civilians). Also an important point; a lot of violence in the past was a) not recorded (especially genocides) b) fell in the space between criminal activity and wars that people pay attention to. Based on those 2 point, our view of the past is heavily biased in seeing it as peaceful  before we even get to cognitive biases (bad events are more forgotten than good). E.g the 20th century is sometimes called the genocide century, because it was perceived as a time when lots of genocide was carried out. What actually happened is that the genocides were recorded and publicized to societies that condemn genocide (not an automatic human reaction). Every recorded type of human societies has committed genocide at some point, from industrial civilizations all the way to hunter-gatherers.

Then there's the targeting of civilians in war. The majority of conflicts, civilians are targeted far more than military or other strategic targets. When they get the opportunity tribal societies will wipe out the opposing sides women and children (or kidnap) or unarmed men. Raids (whether carried out by barbarians or the knights Templar) are often ways of gaining loot and slaves, you hit civilians to get that. In a the private wars of feudalism, often the peasants would be targeted in basic economic warfare.

Put it like this, if the Israeli's were acting like most pre-modern societies "and mowing the grass", a lot more than a few thousand. They'd have killed somewhere in the range 1/2 a million or so. Honestly, if they were acting with those morals and still had the ridiculous military advantage Israel has over Gaza, everyone in Gaza would have been killed or enslave long ago. This can also be applied to the US, I mean was the last time they burnt a city to the ground and massacred (killing 50-80%) the population. Or just gone through the country side and stolen all the food to feed themselves and left the locals to starve, along with the standard looting and raping. The British were a nasty, brutal, bloodthirsty empire. They once kill 1/100 Sinhalese in response to a rebellion, along with some very oppressive laws. If the Americas approached Iraq or Afghanistan with the British ruthlessness and their incredible military capabilities, well lets just say that overpopulation wouldn't ever come up in those countries.

There is a lot of historical blindness built into the overshoot sphere. Some of it is ignoring the points above about warfare (there a lot more, but there more technical). Another is ignoring how completely the enlightenment won, along with a huge range of proposed solutions being fairly old (anarchist communes have been around since the medieval times) and not likely to work any better now.

Coupled with an infection of apocalypic-ism. An example (quoting Dimitri Orlov) "And there are two such rocks flying for it right now: one is rapid nonlinear climate change; the other is natural resource depletion." An interesting point, rapid nonlinear climate change is actually not that scientifically supported. Note the Prussian talks about it, but I've seen discussion on it, but I've seen discussions on it before. It is a possibility, but one among many and not the most likely. Also as the graph on the right shows, we're coming out of a cool period. Climate science is not the most cut and dry science and we just don't know enough.

Put it like this even through quite a bit doesn't get included (on both climate change is worse and climate change isn't that bad sides), the IPCC is the best guess around.

Another issue, minor really, is using proxies for civilization decline and such that don't actually make much sense. The most blatant example I can remember is someone saying we are obviously declining because crime, drugs, alcohol and so on exists (note not increasing, just in use). These are things that exist in every human group that has the option of engaging in them. All societies have murder, and the only reason hunter gatherers don't often steal is that stealing physical goods can be pointless to them (women are the more traditional targets). Use measurements that are a bit more complex and valid than generic age old moralistic concerns (just saying decadence is not enough, you could mean a lot) or the almost universal human trait of thinking young people are up to no good and don't display enough respect. Seriously, there are Egyptian scribbling complaining about young people drinking to much and not respecting their elders + gods, a Roman poem adds going to fast on their chariots.

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