Wednesday 30 January 2008


If I put as much worry into something financially profitable as I do into Crushed, I'd be a millionaire, I'm sure.

Crushed is kind of a job, I suppose. I actually take him a lot more seriously than my actual job. I just do my actual job to get paid. It pays enough, and that's all that matters.

But Crushed is more than that. We all need a raison d'etre, otherwise we simply exist.

We all need a labour of love to change existence into life.

There have certainly been times when I could have saved myself huge amounts of stress by just giving up blogging.

But it's kind of a marriage, and I happen to be Catholic. I can't really conceive of life without Crushed anymore than I can life without my best mates.

He really has provided me with a satisfaction and contentment that nothing else could ever conceivably provide.

But now am I tired. REALLY tired. I need a clean break for a couple of days.
Why? Because blogging should be taken seriously, and I'm not doing that. It's not just about posting, it's about visiting, it's about fulfilling a positive function in the blogging community, whereas of late I have been a blogging hermit.

I need to recharge my blogging batteries and return full steam, full of excitement, full of a passion to visit old friends and find new blogs to visit.

In the meantime, I really recommend you read the series I'm half way through writing on human systems.
Writing stuff like that, is why I enjoy Crushed so.

It makes me feel I've done something constructive.

See you all Saturday, maybe?


Hell hath no limits, nor is circumscrib'd
In one self place; but where we are is hell,
And where hell is, there must we ever be.

Through Me Pass into the Painful City,
Through Me Pass into Eternal Grief
Through Me Pass among the Lost People.

Justice Moved My Master-Builder:
Heavenly Power First Fashioned Me
With Highest Wisdom and with Primal Love.

Before Me Nothing Was Created That
Was Not Eternal, and I Last Eternally.
All Hope Abandon, You Who Enter Here.

Hope springs ever eternal.

But then again, that's an expression of hope...

Circular reasoning?

Maybe. But for once, it doesn't matter. Abandon hope and you WILL enter your own personal Hell, for that is what Hell is, by definition.

Hope truly is our only defence against the triumph of evil.

Guard your hopes and dreams well.
You cannot afford to lose them.
They guard your soul.

Tuesday 29 January 2008

A Woman's Right

A woman has the right to walk away.

A woman has the right to turn round and say no.

No man has the right to stop her.

A woman has the right to say 'Don't contact me again'.

And a man must leave it at that. He must get over it.
He has no right to continue to hound her.

He has no right to try and destroy her, simply because she wanted to walk away from him.
He has no right to make her frightened of leaving by holding over her the fact he knows things about her past which could harm her reputation.

He has no right to make insinuations about her and follow round after her making her life a misery.

He must accept that people move on. That not all things are meant to be.
If he ever truly cared, he would understand. He would let her go and wish her well.

Some birds are not meant to be caged.

A woman may find comfort in spending time with a man and say things they later regret. She may find her life changes and now she no longer needs him, or wants him in her life. A bright future beckons, in which he has no part.

A man must accept that. He has no right to be bitter and spiteful about it.

And he would certainly have no right to destroy that future, simply because she chose not to spend it with him.

And there are men out there who do not see these points. There are men out there who are so blinded by what they think is love, they do not really get love.
Love means wanting what is best for the other person EVEN WHEN, what is best, is the other person never hearing from them again.

And a man who understands love, would not be bitter about that.

There are men who will not let a woman go. And we all understand that sometimes, a woman dare not tell a man she wants to go, because she is frightened of what he will do.
And she knows that the man will not let her go, because he cannot see that the situation they are in is destructive, that the two of them are poison to eachother.

She knows that he will assume there is someone else, his pride will refuse to accept that she has no hidden lover, that she just wants out. She cannot take it any more. She cannot take the pressure, the strain, the jealousy, the constant apprehension of how the other party is going to react.

She just wants to wake up one day and him not be there in her life.

We accept all that. We understand that women can feel intimidated by the man they are trapped with, that they dare not speak out.

And should she go, he will cry to the world that she is a whore, a manipulator, a liar, a deceiver.

He will follow her, lie about her to her friends. He will not accept her choice, she will pay for jilting him.

And we do not accept as an excuse for his behaviour that she broke his heart. We do not accept the fact that he is still in love with her as an excuse for his hounding of her.
Let her go, we say. Grow up, be a man.

Anything less is unacceptable.

'But I want answers' he cries. 'I want closure.'
But she doesn't want to talk to you, we say. We can understand why she just cannot face it.

She dreads every second she hears his voice, fears every e-mail from him.

And if we looked further and saw that the man was many years older than her, that she had only recently come out of a terrifying ordeal when they first met, and that really, she had been confused about her feelings in the first place, then we'd certainly say;

'Let her go. You were there at a certain time in her life. But she is not for you and you are not for her. It was an illusion you both got trapped in.'

And a man who truly loved her would understand. Broken hearted as he was, he would realise that her wounds were starting to heal, and now he must let her fly. He would sigh and remember her, maybe with a slight pang in his heart as he remembered the false dream he had of them growing old together, but then he would see her in a new light, a bird with a broken wing whom he nursed back to flight.

He would maybe watch her from afar and smile.

He certainly wouldn't want to draw back his sling and shoot her out of flight.

Such a man, would not have nursed her because he loved her, he would have nursed her simply to cage her.

A woman always the right to say 'Please leave me be. Let us now lead separate lives. I'd like you out of mine.'

And no matter much it might break a man's heart, he must just leave it that. He must make no attempt to contact her again. Once she asked for contact to end, it is up to her to decide whether or not to re-ignite it. He must retreat to the sidelines and accept her choice.

And it is not his business to follow her round, watching her relations with other men.
She has moved on, so must he.

We know all these things are true.

Now read the post again, but reverse the gender roles.

Men have rights too.

Monday 28 January 2008

Man Comes of Age- The Thought Revolution

This is the sixth post in the series on human systems, and possibly the most controversial so far.
Ultimately, we have now reached the period where our modern world was structured.

The nineteenth century was a truly amazing period of history.

It commences with much of the world still exotic and strange to the people of Europe.

It ends with the globe under it's control.

It ends with the telegraph and the railway linking every town, every country, every continent.
The world was linked by a common infrastructure.

The face of the world had changed. Man had conquered his environment. This century saw him fight disease, fight slavery, fight ignorance, it saw huge cities mushroom to become metropolises, with vast transport networks, factories, schools, universities.

Progress was the watchword of the century. People really did believe things could only get better. The future really was bright.

The true success of the Capitalist system was in its diffusion of knowledge. Now a miner's son could become a great scientist.
Ideas spread like wildfire and the advance in knowledge and comprehension was great.

At the start of the century, real knowledge was still pretty shaky. The answers to most of the fundamental questions were still unknown.

Where did all these different animals come from? Where did Man come from?
What drives the universe?

The only answer still, was God.

The nineteenth century changed that.

And suddenly, in the middle of the century, a thought revolution takes place. The universe is demystified.
And the new knowledge rippled through society, shaking its very foundations.
Some of the new knowledge, was very dangerous indeed.

The science of physics is the most notable nineteenth century success story. In 1800, much of it was still a mystery. Heat and light were both thought to be elements. There was no real concept of energy. That changed during the 1850s, as Electro-Magnetism began to be understood, as the laws of thermodynamics began to be appreciated.
Even matter itself, began to something tangible.

No more would inventors waste time trying to make perpetual motion machines. Energy was now something that man understood. There was no longer any mystery to how the universe worked.

Basically, we now understood how things happened.

And in the same decade too, we have Darwin outlining his theory of evolution by natural selection. Man's origins, and those of all life forms explained. Man is understood for what he is. The process of life is understood for what it is.

It encourages a new way of thinking.
Thinkers now the see the whole world as part of a dynamic process, that change is inevitable, the world and humanity are evolving, progressing.

Now, it's worth noting one important point here. The scientific community accepted Darwin's theory with very little resistance- as Huxley said, 'Of course,how very stupid not to have thought of it before'.
But it certainly scared some people. And many who privately must have realised it was correct, publicly abhorred it, because it threatened a whole belief system, where every body's place was determined by God.

But the period produced an even more challenging theory, one which made the establishment quake.

One which like Darwin's theory, is also pretty obvious when you actually look at the proposition. Like Darwin's theory, one is tempted to say 'Of course, how very stupid not to have thought of it before.'

It was a simple observation really. It was the realisation that this cycle would result in a huge transformation of the world, creating a vast infrastructure, with knowledge a premium, with highly developed methods of production and distribution.

That it's tendency would be to improve the material lot of all, but considerably widen the gap in terms of quality of life, from those at the top of the tree to those at the bottom.

And that ultimately, it was a cycle dependant on continuous expansion to power it. It was driven entirely by interest. It worked, because year in, year out, more wealth was brought in, more consumers brought in.
But one day, the limits of the world would be reached.
At which point, the system would fail to deliver.

The theory was entirely dependant on the simple observation that social and political systems evolve and progress. Capitalism, was a phase in social evolution, it was not an end result, nor could it be.
The day would come, when it turned and ate itself.

But that day was a long way away.

And what would happen when it did?
The logical next step.

For now, with such highly developed communication networks, with mass education, with technology the originator of this theory knew that he himself could not even conceive of, it would be possible to have the best system that the species in such a state of development could conceive of. One where we no longer needed to exchange bits of metal to work out who was entitled to what.

It would a real democracy. Our communication systems would be that good, it could work. We would all together decide how to run the infrastructure, because we'd all have a say. No executives, no nations, no armies, no money.

Just a global community feeding itself, housing itself, living together in a state of enlightenment, continually improving its lot.

And that great human creation that the labours of millions throughout history had gone into creating, the mechanisms of production and distribution, the transport networks, the utilities, none would be owned, all would be administered, by the people who used them.

But there was a crucial bit to this theory a lot of people ignore. He wasn't encouraging a revolution. He just said- this will happen. Maybe in the 22nd century.
You couldn't bring it about UNTIL Capitalism failed of its own accord. Then it would come, because it is the logical next step.

Yes, this theory is the theory of Karl Marx.

But in the corridors of power, this theory was alarming.
I'm sure even then, intelligent people in high places realised it was true. I suspect those who run every major bank in the world have realised the theory is right.
The thing is, the people in the very positions to realise this theory is obviously correct have nothing to gain in promoting it.

Because the theory predicts the eventual demise of ALL power structures. It predicts a society WITHOUT a rigid power structure, a society which CANNOT act against the popular will.

So instead, the powers that be, plan ahead. They know why it is that Africa must be carved up. It really is about Livingstone's three Cs; Commerce, Civilisation, Christianity. It's about expanding the economy, bringing a continent into a system, so that the banks are happy, money gets pumped into huge country estates, landlords retain control of the homes and the livelihoods of the populace, and as a result, retain real political power.

So an attempt is made to fend off doomsday. When it comes, when the system does fail, the power structure will be defended. It will use the people themselves to defend it.

Democracy was a dirty word at the start of the nineteenth century. The reasons are obvious, if you think about it. Most people in Europe still live in hovels. If you give the whole population an equal control in deciding what policies governments pursue, then these policies may well involve mass expropriation.

A genuine democracy, by its very nature, will be egalitarian, will reflect what people actually think.

But new technology means that maybe, that can be avoided.
The printing press means that a nation of newspaper readers can be informed, and also instructed on the correct worldview.

Political parties change. Gone the loose alliances of similar thinking elected representatives.
The 1860s see political parties become mass organisations, designed to fight and win elections and keep them in the preserve of the powers that be. Conservative, Liberal, they both have Peers of the realm and wealthy industrialists at their helm.

And the working man? Well, the Labour party can join the club too, since the powers that be can't stop people voting for it, but only when it has basically accepted the rules of the game.

And the secret ballot? Makes it easier to rig elections, should you want to.

Federate the voters into thought camps, take away the thought from voting. Vote for Disraeli and his flag waving Jingoism, or vote for Gladstone and progressive thinking.

By the time universal manhood suffrage appears in 1885, the people are already streamlined, just as they had already been streamlined on the other side of the Atlantic.
You can control who they vote for, as long as you control their livelihoods. They will vote for whoever they thinks makes them as individuals most prosperous.

And the people saw no reason to wake up and see what had happened. They now genuinely thought that they truly were free. And life still continued to get better, because more wealth was continuously being brought in.

But a cloud is on the horizon.
Take a look at the map of the globe. It's not yet all developed, not all markets have yet been fully exploited. But the boundaries of that exploitation have been laid.

And in the corridors of power, the leaders of Europe look at what they have.

And in Berlin, there is a lot to worry about.

The German share of the world, just isn't enough.

Sunday 27 January 2008

A New Type of Empire

This is the fifth post in the series on human history, seen in terms of human systematics.
We have now come to a very difficult period to study. Difficult, because we are still in the cycle. We are looking at the last three hundred years, at the close of the cycle, watching as the seams of the society it created start to burst.

It has been an extraordinary cycle, it was the cycle in which the successful system triumphed over and eliminated all it's rivals, and even in it's death throes, it still marches roughshod over alternative viewpoints.
This system, is the strongest yet, even in its decay, it is almost invincible.

And we find it hard to stand back from. We find hard it to assess which really are progressive values, values which will usefully serve humanity, and which were necessary for THIS system.
We understand, for example, that certain moral codes made sense in the middle ages, but didn't once the Renaissance is reached.
So it is too, with many of our totems.

The system we live under, caused a revolution in people's morals when it came to power, it caused a sea change in the way people thought, as have all the systems before it.

So what is this system?
It usually called the Capitalist system by its critics and Western Liberal Democracy by its recent apologists, but the term democracy is misleading, as it is only a recent development of the system, and in any case, as I shall latter assert, isn't actually a democracy at all and never was (This will be explained in a subsequent post). Liberalism is slightly better, when given it's wider possible meaning, but neither Capitalism nor Liberalism fully explain the system.

To do so in one post, would be futile, so this post is really just going to look at the origins of the system.
Because our position in time, at the tale end of the system, often blinds us to the historically obvious fact, that the history of the Capitalist cycle, is the history of the British Empire. It is the history of globalisation, which to a large degree, has been anglicisation.

The Capitalist cycle starts in a little island that sits where the world was once thought to end.

It has often been said that only two Empires changed the face of the Earth. The statue of Boudicca on the Thames Embankment carries the inscription 'Regions Caesar never knew, thy posterity shall sway'

Both empires achieved something similar, they spread a culture and unified geographic regions under the strongest system of the day. But the British Empire did more. The system it spread was its own creation.

It was a bizarre phenomenon really, completely unlike any Empire that had happened before. It was not created by the power lusts of tyrants. It was created by practical people aiming to get rich.

How on earth did it happen?

Well, it started I guess, when the King of England found himself actually at war with his own legislature.
This is a pretty unusual thing, really.
I'm not one of those who blames Charles I for being a tyrant, I don't think he was. I think the reverse was a true, he was an indecisive ditherer who wasn't up to the job of being a divinely appointed King.

But eleven years without a King, made people a little tired of the alternatives. So we brought the King back.
It only took us thirty years to realise why it was we got rid of Kings before.

And so, with the glorious revolution in 1688, we invent a new system. It looks like a monarchy on the face of it, but it isn't really.

It's a republic with a hereditary president. The term we use for this, is constitutional monarchy. It satisfies everything. The King is still there for those who believe God wants us to have kings, but in practice, the country can be governed by Parliament.

Yes, Kings can sack governments. But so can the people, or the fraction of them represented in parliament. And it is a fraction. This isn't a democratic system. parliament represents interests, not people. There no MPs for Birmingham, or Manchester. But you can buy a rotten borough in Wiltshire and appoint two MPs.

However, there is some good in this. During the eighteenth century, parliament starts doing things that PEOPLE ask it do. It doesn't just pass legislation that kings want.

And it starts at Dudley Castle in 1709, with the first blast furnace.

The country has become a very practical one. The new rule is, do what works. The country isn't governed by divine laws, it is governed by practical ones. That is the name of the game.
And by the standard of the times, it is very liberal indeed. Religion isn't free, but at least pretty much everybody (except Catholics) is tolerated.
And for Jews, it's a very good country to come to.
As an aside, one of the reasons England lacks a large Jewish community, is due to a law passed by Edward I banishing all Jews and Gypsies from the country. Jews were allowed in by Cromwell, but the law on gypsies technically still stands, which is why genuine Romanies were always a rarity here.

The Jews were allowed to carry out their traditional trade of usury here, without prosecution. We needed their money. We needed it for our new ventures.

In the old systems, usury had been clamped down on as a social menace. If we think about it, in those earlier systems, it was.

If we all live in a village in Oxfordshire, and no one much comes and goes, then there is a finite amount of coins knocking round. All that happens, is they change hands, day in, day out.
If I borrow ten coins, and promise to repay twelve, I have to get the extra two somewhere.
So someone, somewhere, is going to lose out.

However, in this brave new world, the someone losing out is going to be some villagers in India.

If I can borrow fifty thousand gold coins and return from India with two hundred thousand, usury isn't such a bad thing.
Society can cope with interest, because it is continually increasing the amount of wealth in its possession.
And it continually incentivises the acquisition of fresh wealth.

And the best way to do that, is not to pillage, because that soon runs out.
The best way, is set up a lasting trade network, that continually expands.

It is about increasing the coinage free to invest in expanding your trade network.

A major start on this front, is to rationalise production. For most ordinary people, life is hard. It is about making ends meet. So a deal is offered to the poor. They are offered security. Instead of selling the cotton they have woven, they can sell their labour for the same price. They will now all work together weaving cotton. It is the economy of scale that makes the difference. More cotton is produced than would be produced by each worker working on his own.

Of course, the worker doesn't benefit from this, because he is now no longer selling his cotton, he is selling his labour. His labour now generates considerably more cotton, but he is paid at the same value as before. Labour has been given a price, and the price is cheap. The reason is simple. If labour is simply treated as just another commodity, then it is a cheap one, by the laws of supply and demand. The labourer at least has security now. He has a job for life. There will be no hard times for his family. Everybody is a little better off, or at least not much worse off, but some are now considerably better off.

It has become a thinking country. With no paper tax, the middle classes read. Not only the new form of literature, the novel, but also knowledge for its own sake. We now have the Encyclopedia Britannica.

People are continually busy finding better ways to do things. If a better way can be found, lives can be made better, people will have more coins to spend.
Coins breed coins.

And finding better ways to do things, means finding out how things work.
Things burn because they have a burning principle, is no longer a good enough explanation.

And there is a new way of seeing their eminently practical government. It isn't there to protect royal monopolies, it is there to provide a framework for people to live comfortable lives and not be harassed.

It isn't there to tell people how to worship God, it is there to grant permission to build canals, to enclose land, to find markets for cotton, for chains, for nails, for the huge volume of produce the industrious people of this little island are generating.

And Colonialism develops a fresh edge. It is driven now by the need to gain fresh markets. If our traders in India fall foul of the local Nawabs of the decaying Mogul Empire, they need troops to protect them.

The British Empire and the Capitalist system are truly ushered in, with that forgotten but crucial war, the seven years war.

The seven years war of 1756 to 1763, is really the first global conflict.

It is the war between systems. In retrospect, the outcome was inevitable.

It was the war that decided what language became the global language. It was the war that saw the world turn red, not blue.

It took place between the country that saw itself as the most civilised in the globe, whose ruler lived in the biggest palace in the world, and the country that saw itself as the happiest, whose middle classes were living in the cosiest houses in the world.
It was fought between troops who fought for their King, and troops who fought for their country- or in North America, to preserve an English way of life in their colonies. The French didn't have that to the same level. The English colonies already had between them half the population of the mother country. The French depended largely on alliances with the natives.

The difference was everything.

And none of it was fought in Europe.

It was fought in Canada and in India.

And the victors took everything.

North America and India became the British sphere.

Of course, one could say that in North America, it was a pyrrhic victory. Without the French to worry about, the colonies had no one to fear and began to feel that they could quite happily preserve their English way of life now, without standing armies of redcoats.

Did the Americans fight a war of independence?
Maybe, but only a political sense. They fought against Kings and Tyranny, against commercial exploitation. They were demanding the rights of Englishman, the right to be consulted about how they were governed.
The term American Revolution is probably more apt, but it is a very English revolution. It is founded on pragmatism, not slogans.

Is there not something very ENGLISH about the patriot who signed his name and said 'I hope that is large enough for King George to see it?

The American Constitution is a very English document. It is practical, it is sensible, it is workable. And look how it has worked. America is a success story, because it began with solid values. America didn't have to execute it's entire ruling class to become a beacon of hope for liberty.

The American Dream, is the dream of John Locke. It is the American Ideal that 'Each man knows best the route to his own happiness.'
Only a country born with such solid values, could have marched across a wilderness and turned deserts into flourishing states in the space of a century, in spite of a bloody civil war that threatened to tear it apart.

We look at British and American history as having diverged, but did they really?
Have our histories not always marched side by side?
Have our cultures really not stayed mysteriously linked?

Throughout the nineteenth century some kind of re-union between these two proud brothers remained an ideal on both sides of the Atlantic to many.

It's always been a special relationship. It's the same values that were being propagated.

We'd found a better way to live. Freer, richer, happier. Our system worked. Our system could change the world.

God Save the Queen, God Bless America.

We only had to look over at Europe to see people fighting for liberty, and not knowing what to do with it when they had it.

And it was all about trade. We were bringing progress to the world at the end of bayonets.
If local rulers got in our way, we just got rid of them and took over the government ourselves. Most of the time, we didn't want to. The history of the Empire is full of annexations made on the ground, that were repudiated by the Government in London.

Generally, most colonies were acquired because the government had no choice. The lives and investments of too many of it's citizens were enmeshed in these places, railroads were being built with British Money, resources were needed to be shipped home.
It really is true, we acquired most of that vast Empire by accident. It was a byproduct of rampant Capitalism.

And in 1851, we showcased that to the world in the Crystal Palace.
Britain, the workshop of the world.
Britain the force of enlightenment.

And the rest of the world had already decided, if you can't beat them, join them.

But the thing was, in this new practical world, people had really had become a lot more philosophical. People now had a sense of history. The pace of change had forced people to look at change, to look at history as a dynamic process.

And in the next twenty years, the process was finally understood.

And that certainly caused some consternation amongst the thinking elites.

For here is a genuine thought revolution taking place AT THE HEIGHT OF THE SYSTEM.
Here is when man finally figures out how everything works.

And the problem becomes, what to do with that knowledge.

And now we come to the history of mass confidence tricks, to the era of mass manipulation, where black is deliberately disguised as white, and blatant falsehoods are repeated so many times, that even intelligent people miss the flaws.

Welcome to the era of 'democracy'.
Welcome to rise of INGSOC

Friday 25 January 2008

One Year Old Today

Today Crushed is one year old.

That's pretty impressive.
Is my baby all growed up?

Has he surpassed my wildest dreams?
Not yet he hasn't. But he's still a baby.

I'm proud of him. Of course I am.
He is the product of a lifetime's thought.

I suppose I'd better let you all into a secret. Crushed really has become my life's work. That may sound way over the top, so I really had better explain, or you'll all think I'm nuts.

I happen to believe very strongly that the conclusions I have come up with on how the universe works, how that affects biology, and how that in turn affects the species is worth writing about.

For the last couple of years, actually writing a book outlining the the thermodyamic theory of evolution, history in systematic terms, and my theories on how best to move forward as a species, has dominated my mind.

The only problem was, I knew I'd never write it, because all previous efforts at writing anything have failed. The reason is simple. I need continuous feedback, otherwise I get disheartened. My novel remains unwritten because no matter how many copies I hand out of the first five chapters, no one can be bothered to read a fraction of a novel.

And even if I wrote my book- 'Human Society- How it Came About, How it Works and Where it's Going', who would publish it? Where's my credibility to write such a work?

I started this blog by accident. I happened on this particular blog, purely by accident, and ended up commenting.
To my surprise I ended up in a long comment debate regarding Racism.

It fuelled my interest, and I started reading other blogs.
But you had to get a blogger ID to comment at many of them.

Well, I went to register, end ended up with a blog template.
So on January 25th 2007, I ended up writing a post.
Slowly, more followed.

Slowly, I became more confident actually saying the things that I say in real life. And over time, Crushed began to develop an existence.

And as the summer arrived, I began to see that Crushed really could serve a purpose.
I didn't need a publisher. I could write the book bit by bit. It didn't have to be in order. And not every post I did, needed to be FOR the book. Sometimes, just an insight into me, would suffice.

I COULD actually carry out the one thing I really wanted to do. To outline for all time, the sum total of the worldview I had spent my life developing.
And when I've done, I just put it in order, and leave it online.

Finally completing, and putting this (eventual) Magnum Opus in order, really is my life's work. I suspect that within another three-four years, it will be finished, and then- well, we'll cross that bridge, when and if we come to it.

I hope we do. It will be how I judge my life on my deathbed. Whether or not I completed it.

And I guess this is why every commentor counts, and why variation is important. Be you Far Right, Far Left, Liberal, Feminist, Born again Christian, I want your point of view.

I want the viewpoint of the 22 year old student, and the 50 year old poet.
I want my views critically examined, so I can re-analyse them and see where I'm wrong.

Each commentor counts and is special in their own way. Many commentors here really have inspired me to go off and think about what they have said, and provided thought for fresh posts. Many have provided inspiration in posts they themselves have done.

Somebody was shocked once when I told them that each and every comment here, is more rewarding than sex.
Of course. It's stimulation of the mind. And that comes over and above stimulation of the body any day.

Well, I guess we had some good times and bad times, but I think the only way now is forward.
Time to shake the dust out of the boots and start a new chapter.

I hope those good friends who have joined this journey will continue to share the road from time to time, and as for those who don't care to journey with us, at least don't come charging out of the forest to rob us.

The series on the history of human systems continues tomorrow (Or Sunday- I just had a phonecall from The Baker saying he is coming over for the weekend)

And I'm going to end by being a stat bore.
I think just for one day, I'm allowed to. I've never bored you before by publishing my stats, because they're;
a. Not remotely impressive.
b. Not in any sense accurate, I think. They are a bit like opinion polls. The data they pick up is patchy.
c. Stemeter was installed in June and Clustrmaps in July.

But so far we have had (according to these devices) 2,997 profile views, 13,283 visitors according to sitemeter, with 37,059 page views. Clustrmaps, which seems to be more accurate in showing readers, as it works on IP addresses, registered 18,708 visitors.

That's not so bad really.

Positive thinking Crushed is back.

Wednesday 23 January 2008

Depressed Crushed

I think it's true to say I think I'm possibly falling apart slowly.

I guess I'm sick of pretending I have even any slight interest in anything at all.

I'm not even sure I can be bothered to get out of bed tomorrow.

I'm tired, tired in a way you cannot understand.

I'm thirty in forty three days.
And I've played my last hand.

I wonder. Thirty years from now, will I be staggering out of the pub back to this flat on a Saturday afternoon and lieing in a stupour on the sofa watching the football results come in?

Will the microwave ping to let me know my Rustler Burger is ready?
And will a half forgotten memory stir in my head that once upon a time I actually did something constructive with my life?

Something to do with a red V sign.

And will my addled brain remember that one at time it could process more complex things than betting slips?

Will I remember that at one time I looked good in a suit?
That I was a petite little pretty boy, with specially cultivated curls which I could chew on if I pulled them straight?

I've spent all day brooding on this. Most of last week in fact.

I didn't do very well with the living fast, dieing young and leaving a good looking corpse. Too late for that.

I guess there's a time for everything.

And sometimes there's a time for realising that your life is just screwed up beyond repair and you might as well just anaethetise yourself any free moment you have, to get through the bloody thing as quickly as possible.

Man cannot live by bread alone.

Hope. Or plenty of Alcohol. You need one of the two.

Am I being depressing?

Yes, OK. I'm depressed.

The flat is spotless. That's usually a HUGE giveaway that I'm in a state of nervous tension. I haven't got the measuring tape out yet and started measuring the positions of the chairs to check they are flush, but I can see it coming (Yes, I DO do this when I'm really wound up. I'm not a cleanliness freak, but I am a symmetry freak. I do have a slight OCD about symmetry and when I'm wound up, it drives me mad. As an aside I'm going to tell you all something that people who know me well will make sure to remember, or deliberately forget, because they know it really annoys me. Embassy cigarettes, have a diagonal red band on them, pretty much the same width as a cigarette lighter. When I put my cigarettes down, I always put the lighter flush with the band. If people use the lighter and then put it back not flush, I will immediately position it correctly.

Put bluntly, this living on your own business sucks. I can't even concentrate to write a post and it takes me three times as long to read other people's posts.

I can't be bothered to cook and have had burgers and onion rings alternately with sausage and bacon sandwiches for a fortnight.

I'm really trying to summon up the will to carry on with the posts on the history of human systems, and the series of posts which is supposed to follow, but I just feel as if the life has been sucked out of me.

I was talking to Dizzy today. Here is the conversation;
Dizzy: Oh, look at your sad little face! What's wrong, you're not yourself.
Me: Oh, nothing. I'm OK.
Dizzy: It's not this being thirty thing is it?
Me: Partly, I guess.
Dizzy: That man on the internet isn't calling you Charles Manson again is he? (I did show her that, not that she understands any of it)
Me: No, no. Though that's partly it as well I guess. He doesn't let up. He believes it as well, you know.
Me: Dizzy, do you fancy coming to Brighton?
Dizzy: Who else is going?
Me: No, just me and you. For the weekend.
Dizzy: Oh, Crushed, we've been through this. I'm WITH SOMEONE.
Me: Yes, but no one need know. And it's not like that. I just really want to go to Brighton with you. I like you, Dizzy. A lot.'

And it's not about sex, I don't want sex with her. She's just really nice and I really want to be close to someone right now. Just for the weekend.

I may be turning thirty but I feel like I've returned to adolescence.

Tuesday 22 January 2008

Power- The Strange Engine of The Species

The dominant ape. The pack leader.

Each and every male strives for it.

I suppose this is as a good a place to explain it, before we return to human systematic history.

We cannot fail to understand it. We have failed to do so before. It CANNOT be elimated. Because ultimately, it really does drive the species. IT IS FAVOURED BY EVOLUTION.

It is, as I shall discuss in later posts, a crucial part of any successful system. Successful systems are those which arrange themselves to most completely facilitate the dominance game.
It is a sign of systematic decline when the system fails to follow laws of natural selection.

Why it is failing to do so, will become apparent in later posts.

In our species, there is a genetic bonus for becoming the dominant ape. Put simply, you get to breed more.
It is the genes of the dominant ape which flood the gene pool.

We all carry in us the genes of leaders. The genes of followers, have to a greater degree fallen by the wayside.

It doesn't take long for ALL your genes to die out. Your children will each carry half of your genes. If you have three children, there is a good chance MOST, but not all your genes will be passed on.
But, a million years from now, it is LIKELY, that not one of the genes you possess, will exist on the face of the globe.

It is ALSO true, that if ANY of your genes HAVE survived, they WILL be carried by EVERY SINGLE MEMBER OF THE SPECIES.

Long term, passing your genes on is an all or nothing game.

A striking example of this. If you see a figure in the Anglo-Saxon Royal family that is a direct ancestor of the Queen, it is STATISTICALLY true, that there is a high chance they are ALSO YOUR ancestor. Remember, there are about 500 people already who claim descent from Queen Victoria. Go back a thousand years.

Dominant apes passed on dominant genes.

There's a huge genetic payload for your genes in being in bodies of those members of a collective species who use dominance as a survival tactic.

Evolution dictates that that urge will increase. Bigger cultures create greater stamping grounds, evolution fast favours those who are really good at the game.
It favours the intelligent, the charming, the forceful, it favours those who sieze centre stage.

These people will always be with us, because they will always breed more, leaving behind a generation who's members wll strive just that little bit harder to sieze the great prize of controlling those around them.

It is the striving of these few, for that little bit more, for more power, for more mastery that has driven every system upwards, and clogged it's decline.

And this is why the key to the whole thing, to life, the universe, EVERYTHING, is power.

Because it really is what drives us.

And it really is man's desire for power which will lead us to sieze the stars, or blow ourselves up in the next few years.
It is the eternal conundrum. It is the fire of Prometheus.

And this really is the whole point about human systems. How to use that dynamic.

Is it being used to blast a way forward, or hold us back?

Note: My genes are really annoying me right now for some reason. I'm going through one of those interludes where they get fixated on a particular individual. And I really am trying to get some work done, but these genes have their own ideas. I'm looking at this as a kind of endurance test. But it's definitely become a thing. Hmmm. Maybe it's because I'm about to become Middle Aged.

Monday 21 January 2008

Todays Riddle- Am I SUCH a Bad Person?

It is a strange fact indeed, but it really is true that I am probably the most important person in my grandmother's life.
By her own admission, what keeps her alive every day is some dream that somehow, my life will become everything she wants it to be.

There is a strage in which her dreams for her son got translated to me. It is funny, her memory truly is amazing, but there is a sense in which her memories of my childhood, also include her momories of my fathers. He and I are separate identities now, but in her head, we were the same child.

She cannot see anymore, really, and from the way she speaks, I guess she still sees me as I was at twenty.
She asked me recently if I had intention of getting re-involved in party politics. I smiled.

Otherwise, I go to visit very couple of months. If you knew how near she lived, you would be appalled. It's having time but it's also something more.

It's a mental effort, a vast evasion operation.

Gran: So where is it you work now?
Me: Hagley Road.
Gran: Doing what?
Me: Same old stuff I always do.
Gran: How much does it pay?
Me: Enough. And that's also enough of this topic.
Gran: You should give me your phone number.
Me: You don't need it. I'm sure if there's an emergency Tuba Man (the name me and my brother use for my revered father) will let me know.
Gran: Why won't you give me it?
Me: Because then you'll ring it. I get enough phone calls wasting my evening as it is. It's better as it is. I can ring when I get a chance, but you know, I don't really get much free time.

Then we'll digress onto Irish Politics and the current state of Fianna Fail, all of which I'm quite comfortable talking about with her.

My grandmother is my closest family member, without a doubt, but the thought of personal conversation with her scares me livid. When I visit family members, my barriers are not only up, they are fully reinforced.

I can't handle them. It's the probing, the wanting to know about your life, attempts to show they care, offer advice, when they really have no idea how you see things. In their world settling down, marrying and having children is the normal course of events. How do you explain how much more complicated life is?

Women. They have always been my ruination one way or another. They are just another of my bad habits, bordering on addiction. Only they aren't even an addiction I get much pleasure out of. It's a bit like tobacco, only much stronger. It's partly you enjoy it, but more importantly you REALLY don't like going without it.
I smoke twenty to thirty a day, so see how addicted I can become to something.

Women truly are amazing creatures. They are lovely, soft, smell good, their hair is nice and their breath on your chest whilst they sleeping is perfume from God.

The allure is huge.
It's the price tag.

Somtimes I wonder if maybe I'm just unrealistic.

I always look back to my first (and only) love Joanna. I'm actually wondering if I even loved her. I did, but mainly because there wasn't much reason not to. It was never really put to any huge tests.
OK, I'm nineteen, she's twenty.

The vast majority of the time we spend together is spent in bed. We spend large parts of the weekend in it. So yes, we DO do a lot of talking and all that sort of stuff, but healthily interspersed with other things. Occasionally, we may watch a film together.
But we don't go out together and we don't go to the pub together. We have our own friends to do that with. We hardly see eachother during weekday daytimes. We never even eat together.

And it was perfect. That to me, really was how a relationship should be. Why would you want to see more of them than that?

One thing always stands in my mind as to why she was the perfect girlfriend.

I remember me and my mates were watching an adult video once. I went to change the tape and couldn't find the other one, so we all looked round the floor. When we found it, we noticed that Joanna had just silently crept in, got into the bed, and pulled the cover over her eyes.
She wasn't going to intrude on a lad's occasion. She was just going to lie there and wait for me.
She really didn't care what I did. She didn't need to know, or want to know. She would be there when I wanted her, and not when I didn't.

And it's funny really, because as a result, she's one of the few women I've ever really trusted.

I think I did love her, you know.
Back then, anyway.

I suppose she defined my life. I never got over her, and losing her made me very bitter indeed.
At this point I made the decision that paying money to feel loved up was wiser. You don't get hurt that way.
And so I fell in love with Ecstasy.

I settled down (of a sort) at twenty-two. It was a mistake, I guess. I've worked out I have a bit of a flaw here, which keeps me making the same mistake over and over again. I really cannot help it, and I will continue to make the same mistake, I guess.

The mistake is this. By the time I was twenty-two, I was pretty much the person I stayed.
I have realised that it is true that I just randomly flirt with everybody. Half the time, I'm not really conscious of it. I'm just checking the territory. The problem with this, is that someone isn't the target of my flirting, interprets this as interest.

Now comes the problem. If they then respond in a manner which betrays reciprocal interest, I then direct my attention that way, purely instinctively. I'm still not really thinking. It's just a gut instinct.

It then reaches the point when I start to get flattered and play up to it.

Now. With Claire it is certainly true I had been flirting a bit with her, even gone for a few drinks, but at the time she wasn't my prime focus.

When she hit me with the blunt statement that she thought she was falling in love with me, I didn't really know what to do.

So I thought, hell, it's a good start. If she loves me, I can probably love her. It could work.

So I thought.

Yes, we ended up living together.
Yes, we got engaged.
Yes, we fought a lot.
No, I was too cowardly to end it. I couldn't see how.

She had an abortion.

It was Hell. The whole couple thing. The whole having to spend every minute of your free time watched over by the same person.

'What's this in your jacket pocket?'
'What are you doing in my jacket pocket?'
'I was going to wash it.'

Not much you can say really, but it's awful. The great thing about being an adult was you didn't have to worry about this stuff anymore. You only need answer to yourself.

You are no longer you, you are part of Crushedandclaire.

Is the price for sharing a bed sharing your life?

'They are fags I bought today because I haven't actually given up smoking. I don't want to give up smoking, I only pretended to so as to please you, and I don't keep going out to the shop JUST to get phone vouchers, Mars bars and Quavers.'

No, I never told her that. What excuse I came up with, I'm not sure.

The thing is, there is a pattern.
Claire was needy, I always felt very protective towards her, even in during her rages. But over time I realised, I couldn't give her what she wanted. Over time I think I became very resentful towards her, her continual jealousy, her fear of letting me out of her sight.

And I know she felt I didn't love her.

And I didn't, not in the way she wanted. Two quotes of hers that always stick out, because I guess they are true 'You're a brilliant friend, but the worst boyfriend in the world.' and 'To know what it's like to feel love from you, I'd have to be a dog'.

And I guess that's where I am. Finding women has never been the problem. I just really have no idea what to do with them when I've got them.

I couldn't endure another Claire situation. I just want a Second Joanna. No hassle, no jealousy, no wanting to be able to dictate my life, just there, there to lie with on a Saturday morning as we make love and discuss the children's progammes we remember before Football Focus.

And then I want to go out in the evening with my friends.

Isn't that love?

Well, if it isn't, then I don't much want it.

It's supposed to be a pleasure not a burden.

It should be an extra bonus in my life, not the dominating feature of it.

And yet.

How much trouble it has caused in my life.

Myself and The Chimney Sweep were discussing a while back about leading good lives.
I basically said, I didn't feel I'd ever hurt anybody and had led a good life.
Old Chimney Sweep through a spanner into the works by pointing out that I had hurt a few women on the way.
Not intentionally, I pointed out.

I'm looking for Joannas, but keep turning up Claires.

And I'm really not good at dealing with these situations.

Bottom line is, you either make me feel good, or you don't.
If you start arguing with me, trying to get me to alter my actions, involve yourself in an area of my life which I don't want you near (the majority, in fact), then, by definition, you are NOT making me feel good.

And I will take steps to completely terminate contact.

Easily done in RL. It's never taken more than a five minute telephone call.

And I really don't see what all the fuss is about. Far better it's done cleanly, before emotions become too entrenched, for yourself as much as them. You cannot risk getting emotional, when you have made a decision on rational grounds, that they are endangering the security of your existence.

How often have I had to make this decision? Fortunately, not that often. Twice in the last two years. The first posed no problem at all, and to be honest, I did feel a little sorry for her, but at the time I thought I was in love with someone else (which I probably wasn't, more an obsession). The second did a get a bit nasty. In this instance, the circumstances were a bit different. She had started telling me things about her past, which I felt were highly intimate and created a conflict of interests, in that it made it unethical for me to engage in intercourse with her.

This sexless relationship was not something she could accept, so we decided to call it a day, but she did get pretty abusive about it.

Maybe I'm missing something.

Maybe I really am a complete bastard.

But, there we are.
None of this would really matter, except I'm knocking on thirty and in the last year I did find something I wasn't looking for.


Life, as of last August had every ingredient in it, to be perfect, a life I could be happy in, perhaps, till my dieing day.

The club scene had filled the void Joanna left, now career and blog together, could replace the club scene.

Was it a dream?

I guess I don't know.

But it is the nearest I have ever got.

It really was true. August last year, I had never been so content in all my life.

I look back and wonder what I could have done differently.
I really don't see what I COULD have done differently.

The Problem; You have arranged, due to your stupid ability to get yourself in stupid situations without thinking ahead, to meet another blogger. You two speak regularly. A lot of stuff has been said.

Life changes. There is a revolution in your life. Due to a successful career move, it is hard to cram writing a decent post, talking to this person on the phone AND going to the pub, plus the fact that the other person is interfering with your relationship with other bloggers and doesn't realise you find her public statements degrade you, you must end contact as soon as possible.

Further urgency to this problem arises, when they ring your flatmate whilst you are out, making her boyfriend (your best friend)VERY ANGRY.

Extra problem: The blogger you need to completely end contact with, knows a lot of stuff about you that you don't want anyone to know. Stuff you think could damage your blog.

Your happiness is in the balance here.
Your long term happiness really is in the balance here.

Your long term happiness starts the day you never hear anything from her again, but are also comfortable that she will do nothing to harm your blog.


How would you have set about it?

Remember, I'm not a vindictive person. I wanted no bad feeling. I wanted her to understand, that it just wasn't sense for us to remain in communication. It could serve no positive purpose. It just wasted valuable time.

Because I really don't know how I could have done anything differently.
And it may still have ruined my life.
Trust me, I've wracked my brains over this.

I don't think I've ever invested so much emotion or stress into anything. I know how my Dad felt when he set up his own business.

That was his shot.
That was the moment he'd been waiting for, that was it. And his client base grew, the firm grew. But I guess he worried that first year.
In a way, I know now how he felt.

Mine was, mine is, here and now.
And to have that one shot ruined over something so trivial, is something I really don't get.

Took me a long time to find it.

Sunday 20 January 2008

Cult Update

It's been a while since I updated you all on the evil plot.

I visited my underground city this weekend. Sadly, work on the illuminated map of the world dome with flashing bulbs for my office has been delayed.

The temple is fully constructed, as you can see in the above clip.

Recruitment goes on fullscale, 3,279 maidens having been recruited so far.
Part of the induction is shown in the clip below.

The Nuclear missiles are in place, but I'm having distinct trouble finding blokes with metal teeth or bladed hats to fill the position of evil henchman.

This being an evil cult leader business isn't all it's cracked up to be you know.
You try getting a decent pint of Tetleys in Burkina Faso!

Also I'm finding these brainwished devotees a little dull in conversation. Everything I say, they just intone 'Crushed is our master'.
It's a little disconcerting to say the least.

Still, nothing to fear but Mr Bond himself.
(I'm doing an evil cackle now, just so you all know)

I've not quite got the hang of it yet.

Saturday 19 January 2008

Why the West Siezed The World- And How

This post is the fourth part of the sequence of posts on the history of human systematic development. As with previous posts, the aim is analyse events candidly, and see them in overall terms of systematic development.

I have already redivided human history in to series of systems. I have replaced the Neolithic agricultural phase of development with a term 'Primitive system of the phase one type, and early civilisations of the Egyptian/Babylonian/Early Chinese/Central American/Andean type with the term 'Primitive systems of the phase two type.

I have lumped their period commencing with the knowledge interchange of 600-300 BC and ending with the political re-alignment and economic revolution that occurs between the Islamic conquests of 600- to the rise of the Carolingian dynasty in 750.

This we may call the Classical system.

I have then started the next historical period, which we might as well call the Medieval system, so as to use a term we are all familiar with.

Now I'm going to look at how and why that system declined and was replaced. I'm going at what it replaced it, and why.

Let's start by looking at the Medieval at it's peak.

And for that time, we are lucky.
It is encapsulated in literature.

Anyone who chooses to believe in the dark, uneducated misery of the middle ages, should read The Divine Comedy, by Dante Aligheri.

Not only is it one the finest literary creations of all time, being written when it was, it is the pinnacle of medieval theology (reading it tells you in theological terms EXACTLY HOW intelligent men and women of that time thought).

More people lived in greater prosperity in the continent of Europe than had ever lived there. It was already one of the closest populated regions of the globe. It's surface was the most HUMANIZED.

It had removed almost all it's dangerous animals, a huge portion of it's surface was cultivated, laws more clearly codified, it had a complex social system.

More knowledge was concentrated and understood in the continent of Europe of 1300, than had ever been concentrated and understood anywhere.
Admittedly, it was concentrated mainly in the church, but also increasingly in that class of leisure, the upper elites of the continent, who lived such a high quality of life, that they, and they alone of all the upper elites of the world, didn't ALL have to spend ALL their lives fighting and administering.

Basically, the amount of people FREE just to involve their lives in the pursuit of knowledge, was high.

This was, a more successful, more vigorous culture than the Roman Empire. It just didn't have a single SECULAR ruler. It's bonds, which could federate it against common foes as efficiently as an Emperor could, were religious.
The secular disunity belies the interconnected nature of the culture.

Rome had had no rivals as advanced as it.

But Christendom always did, and whilst it never overthrow it's ideological rival to the East, it did ultimately triumph over it, by giving birth to the system which laid claim to the globe.

It's worth having a quick look at the differences between Christendom and Islam.
Again, a notes to Muslim readers. I'm not alluding here to theological differences, but the actual systems used by the differing religious blocks, to explain the reasons behind historical events.

Islam certainly did not adopt primitive systems.
Islam was an advanced culture.
But it WAS one step behind.

And we need to look at what Islam WAS.

We acknowledge that Christianity was a religion of the Roman Empire.
But so was Islam.

Mohamed might have preached at Mecca and Medina, but within twenty years of his death, Islam had seized the Eastern and southern provinces of the Byzantine Empire.

Islam took over the administration and carried it on as normal.

Islam largely took over Roman ways of thought and doing things in what were to become the key provinces of Islam.

The System in operation in the Islamic world WAS one of the most efficient the world had seen. The Romans had proved that.

But it was no longer THE best.

And so Islam was a knowledge based system too. The Classical one.

And thus it was that when the Medieval system came upon Islamic improvements in Knowledge (that huge influx of words gained from Islamic knowledge (Al-chemy, Al-gebra, Al-gorithm, Al-cohol, Al-embic, Zenith), etc, it was better able to assimilate the knowledge of its rivals, than happened the other way.

But, like all systems, it became the victim of its own success.

By creating cultural advance, it became not advanced enough for the culture it had created.
This is of course, a fact inherent in all systems. A successful system will always make itself obsolete.

What happened was twofold.
Firstly, in political terms the central authority of the church had become highly politicised. With the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor in Open war, men had to choose between the right of spiritual and secular authority.

Kings and Princes had become rich. The material wealth of Europe, due to the efficiency of its agricultural and trade systems (production and distribution) had ensured that Kings and princes had strength.

The fourteenth century sees their power start to rise. The suppression of the Templars by Phillipe IV in 1304 is a sign of things to come.
The Great schism of 1378 to 1413, is a sign too, that the church is not the central authority it once was.

Secondly, a revolution has begun, in real terms.

Society has got too developed. Western maps show real journeys made by westerners to China, to India, to Zanzibar.
New inventions are coming, a technological revolution. The data banks of Christendom have done their job. Spectacles, cannons and the printing press are coming.

Knowledge has now left the data banks and is in the hands if the Italian nobility and their large retinues of paid intellectuals.

The Middle Ages do not end in 1492, or earlier, at the fall of Constantinople in 1451.

They end with the commencement of the renaissance, not a revival, but a leap forward.

When the merchants of the towns of Europe started to demand rights in return for their lavish contributions to royal treasuries.

When Kings blew down the cities walls of their enemies with projectiles.

And when European ships started sailing out a little further, to the Canaries and to Guinea.

Europe was getting wealthy and now it was finding ways to gain more materials to add to its infrastructure.

Kings and nobility have two balancing considerations to worry about.
The weakened church can not defend them against the anger of their own people if they fail to bring their own part of Europe an adequate share of this potential new prosperity.
Their wealth, their ability to pay for armies and cannons, depends on a wealthy merchant class, who increasingly demand royal protection.

Once it becomes possible to reach far off lands, the name of the game is getting control of these new economies.

When Pope Alexander VI handed the Americas to Spain, and the East to Portugal, he left no real reason for the other Kings Of Europe to see the Church as protecting their interests.

And the coming of the Church's critics in the sixteenth century provided a handy screen for the monarchs of Northern Europe to stick two fingers up to the central authority of the church.

The religious wars that resulted are important, in terms of understanding Seventeenth century mindsets, but we must remember neither side won. The winner was secularism and an increased distaste long term for all rigid, centralised systems of thought.

But short term, the winners were Princes.

The New Europe was united by loose Christianity, but more importantly by actually not needing any longer to unite against common foes. Charles V proved that one prince on his own could see the Turks off.

Europe was a new oligarchy, it's princes and nobility a highly educated elite.

Spain and Portugal became entirely dependant on their overseas possessions and the plunder ships that crossed the seas.

As did England and France too.
Dependant on plantations, on illicit piracy, on setting up simple production and distribution systems.

Merchants protected by the crown, bought slaves in Guinea, took them to the New World Plantations and sold them, buying the produce of the slaves, sugar, cotton, tobacco, and brought them home.

Religion was important to Kings, it gave them moral authority to govern, but in practical terms, their thrones depended on enriching the nobility and the merchant classes.

And of course, the weaknesses of this system are inherent within it. One can perhaps, look at this whole phase as being highly unstable, which indeed it was. It was a kind of adolescence in many ways. What emerges at the end, is no way evident from the beginning.
Because by the time it finally settles itself after it's revolutionary origins, once it has succeeded in bringing the New World into the Old World economy, once it has succeeded in bringing religious authority under secular authority, the very nature of secular authority is already the new topic of thought.

And thought is changing. New communication methods mean that now thinking is something ordinary people do. Merchants and Ploughmen read Bibles, but Milton too.

There is now at least consensus that there has to be some justification for telling people what to do.

Thursday 17 January 2008

The First Ideologies

WARNING: This post touches on an analysis of religious beliefs and religious systems in terms of overall social effects. This post is NOT about matters of theology. It is an attempt to analyse the roles religions played in our systematic development. It also explains my own continued membership of the Roman Catholic faith. Remember that these aspects of the post should be considered as the personal reasons why the author remains Roman Catholic, and not as a statement on the current position of the Roman Catholic faith on matters theological. I feel that statement pre-empts any attempts to suggest this post says anything other than what it actually says.

I'm not a lapsed Catholic, but nor am I devout.
I go about twenty times a year.
I go when getting out of bed on a Sunday morning seems a sacrifice worth making.
So often, bed wins.

I don't believe that God is a PERSONAL entity. I believe the universe to be conscious. I'm not going to swear blind to Christ being the actual son of God, but the greatest philosopher of all time, the man who pointed us in the right direction, who first showed us the worldview needed to shine a way beyond an animal to a creature of mind, yes, that's the Christ that I think is worth talking about. We have intelligent discussions about Marx and analyse, interpret and evaluate his philosophy.
We do the same with Jesus.

Or I do. I believe a lot of what he said was right, a bit of it was marketing, like the whole afterlife business, but it's a good way to live.
It's a philosophy. One that, in social terms, has been proved to be a successful outlook for societies that took it up.

So, you have to say, the man was one of the philosophical greats.

So on that basis, I take parts every so often in rituals designed to honour his memory.
First of the Martyrs for the cause of Man.

This is the sense in which I define myself as Christian- and Catholic- in an intellectual sense. It's not a matter of faith for me, so much as believing it to be the greatest component, in terms of providing an ethical framework, for the roots of human civilisation to blossom out into the tree it has.

It was only through studying history with the hopeful optimism of the Catholic apologist, that I learned how Catholicism, when one ACTUALLY studied human history free of the prism of post-reformation history, one saw a different story to the jaded worldview we so often have of the middle ages.

It's a myth.
The Middle Ages were a BETTER time to live than Classical times.
More people lived happier, freer lives in the continent of Europe, than did in the days of the Roman empire.

Life generally was better, nicer, in fact, better organised.
Thought flourished, science advanced, slavery (of Europeans) pretty much died out and was replaced by the softer ties of serfdom.

Quality of life was BETTER.

And the Dark ages?
Never happened. It's a view skewed by us Brits, the writers of the Winner's history.
This island dropped out of history for a bit.
Otherwise, no Dark age anywhere else.

Scandinavia and Germany were dark before, as was the East of Europe.

And the Frankish Kingdoms, Spain, Italy, the Byzantine sphere never stopped being light.

The real change of phase doesn't occur with the fall of Rome in 486, and Britain, that distance province becoming a land of mystery again.

It ends with the rise of Islam, the cutting up of the Roman sphere.

Islam, controlling the Mediterranean, broke the Roman sphere in two.

This is the REAL end of the Age which began with the Knowledge interchange of the First Persian Empire.

But first we need to have a look at the rise of the Christian Philosophy, and how it was that it now took over government of Europe.

Catholic Christianity is not quite what it appears. It is in, many ways (in origin) EXACTLY what its early Protestant critics accuse it off.

It is a Greek (and therefore ultimately Pagan) philosophy that happened to originate in the teachings of a Jew.
The Old Testament is a coincidental bit of baggage that a lot of Catholic theologians tend to ignore.

The success of Christianity in it's early days was mainly due to it's being espoused by INTELLECTUAL elites.
It accorded with Socrates and Plato.
Christianity, was a religion of WISDOM, a philosophy, as much about this life, as the next.
It's martyrs died for the next life for them, but THIS life for others.

We need to remember how the Romans initially saw Christianity.

It was a plague. At this time Rome really was, the best thing on this planet. And here are these social dissidents saying there is a better life than Rome, some airy fairy King in the Sky bigger than Caesar.

Dangerous stuff. To the Romans, they were Hippies, Druggies, however new movements are seen by a social order fearful of new ideas and movements outside it's narrow focus of thought.

And the public agreed. What dangerous ideas. Rome was the will of whatever god or gods there were.
This Jesus business had to be clamped down on. Feed them to the lions.

But society changed. More and more people 'came out'.

Till one day, there were just too many closet Christians. With the empire weakening, it was time this division was stopped. Easiest way was to acknowledge the philosophy had won the battle.

And thus the later Roman Empire dissolves, but it's structure largely remains.

A culture, not united by a common ruler, but a common faith.

The Roman Empire becomes Christendom.

And after the rise of Islam breaks the Mediterranean communication channels, whilst creating a comparable ideological block to the South and East, the Church assumes a position of headship over the secular authorities.

It now, is the sole unifying forces holding one side of this iron curtain together, against the forces of the Caliph.

Fortunately, it's a good ruler. It's a good system.

It rules by maintaining and perfecting knowledge.
That's how it fights Satan.

It learns how the world and the universe works, so as it can find out the answers and defeat evil.

To do that, it creates vast data banks, where literally millions of devotees copy parchments, add their own commentaries, collate works of science and compare notes, take care of and study the sick, learn about disease, carry out agricultural experiments, in short, become the primitive brain, the protector of the cultural genes of knowledge.

The monasteries.

The Church REALLY learned a lot.

We see these as austere times, but they weren't.

With the invention of the horse drawn plough, huge populations were able to flourish in the once sparse realms of Germany, Scandinavia and England.

The sick were sometimes cured- the Roman doctors only dealt with injuries.
Medicine really advances in this period. As does meteorology, astronomy, chemistry, pretty much most fields. But gradually. It was a combined effort of the real devotees, people like William of Occam, Roger Bacon, Alberus Magnus and Nicholas of Cusa.

For these men, as for probably most Popes and Bishops, it was the philosophical stance and the knowledge of man that the Church was there to guard.

Now I expect to get howls of derision for the next bit, but think about it logically.

Communication is the key. In a society such as this, a certain amount of ruthless control of the ethical framework is necessary.

This IS a weakness of the system.
Because whilst it will probably generally be true that the dangerous thoughts you clamp down on, do NOT lead to improvements, what happens when one comes along that does?

Of course, this has been a weakness of ALL previous systems too. And in a very real sense, this system IS actually more liberal in social terms.

The atrocities carried out in it's name are not justifiable to us, but can be explained by a systematic necessity to prevent a system proving to be successful, being endangered by untested social ideas.

Brutal as the Inquisition was, we must remember that those who carried it out, really thought they had no choice.
It was necessity.

Of course, this how all tyrannies start. Expediency.
This is why their appearance at the close of ALL systems, is an inevitable phase of all the cyclical systems we have seen. They are part of it's death throes.

It's a sign of health. The healthy system has no need to fight disease- none arise. The sickening system has to fight disease ruthlessly, but eventually, like cancer, it also turns on the good ideas incipient within it.

On the whole Catholicism was always fairly liberal in the main, it was the religion of every man, not just the Chosen, but the penitent sinner too.

Protestantism, the reaction of moral conservatives shocked by renaissance attitude changes, and disgusted by the rather more theistic outlook seizing Catholic thought in the this time, was not a replacement.

It was an attempt to rebrand Christianity in a new way, a way solely based on Scriptures.
It was not a movement that advanced any earthly causes, except by accident.

Through the ideological turmoil of the reformation, the Thirty years war, and the English civil war, religion as a whole dropped away from political power.

A New system had arisen.

And yet, ALREADY, at it's seizure of power, it had hidden in it the acorns of the ideas that would the create the following system. As of course, does that system.

This system? This is a decentralised system. For once, there is a culture with NO CENTRAL AUTHORITY. There is an interlinking Oligarchy of world power.

We have a pyramid in which the very top place is now simply a God who everyone can claim to act in the name of.

It is the age of Western expansion.

Wednesday 16 January 2008

Hellenes, Helots and Horses; A Knowledge Based System

This post is written as a sequel to The First Systems- Why Man Invented Tyranny, but can easily be read as it stands.

To summarise it, the world threw up many civilisations, but their contribution to Civilisation, has been unequal. Some vanished without a trace, others fell gradually to the victors.

Something very special happened between 600 and 300 BC, which saw the birth of Civilisation as we know it.
From this point on, no system could better it, except it's own children.

To understand how it was born, we need to look first to geography. And then we have a surprise entrance from non-systems man, with a very special contribution indeed.

Sometimes answers really are outside the box.

If we look at the Americas, we have the Incas and the Aztecs, both highly developed at the same time, but too remote from eachother to culturally cross pollinate.

The Old world of 600BC was a bit like that. Systems man occupies most of Europe, the southern half of Asia, about half of Africa, but Systems of the phase 2 type are isolated. We have fully fledged versions on the Nile, on the Tigris and the Yangtze and a series of smaller, less developed transition zones and peripheries scattered about.
In Greece, Phoenicia and the Holy Land, and along the Indus valley, a number of small states blossomed at the same time and are kind of federal cultures, a power balance between city states.

Each culture is isolated, each has it's own values. Each knows little or nothing of the Gods, the knowledge, or the customs of the others.

They are worlds in isolation.

But outside the world of systems man, something happens.

As I said in the previous post, the first systems were the result of adopting a sedentary life.
To adopt a sedentary life, you have to able to grow enough on the land to feed enough men to defend that land.
If the land is not fertile enough, it isn't an option.

So the First Nations people of the North American plains, the Australian Aboriginals and the Bushmen cannot be accused of being too stupid to build great civilisations.
They didn't live in the sorts of places civilisations are born.

Geography, not racial factors determined which men and women settled to till the land.

And the Eurasian steppe was not one of those places.

But the tribes of the steppe were not stupider, nor less resourceful than their city dwelling fellow man.
They too, possessed his talent, his mastery of his environment.

And they tamed an (at that point) ALMOST extinct Perrisodacytl of the steppe.

This made them fearsome raiders indeed.

At first these raiders terrified. They were not seen as human, they were half man, half animal, that is how well they mastered the beasts they rode.
Centaurs, they were to the early Greeks.
Scythians, they become to the later writers.

And no infantry army of the great empires of the Near East, could defend it's cities against a cavalry swarm from the steppe. They could only buy them off.

And one tribe earned a special place in history. So special, that nineteenth century Germans believed that these MUST be Germans.
They weren't, of course. In fact their closest European relatives are the Magyars.

These were the Aryans, the original speakers of Sanskrit and Iranian.

At some point they split in to two groups. One moved west and settled down east of the great Empire of Babylon, bought off, but comfortable.

The other flank moved down upon the culture of the Indus valley.

Now it's worth looking at a crucial difference between systems man and these non systems raiders.

Systems man has a system. I make spears, you make pottery, he makes shields, he tells us what to do.
Everyone has their function.

The world must have been so much more complex to make and amazing beings must run it.
And each of them must have a function.
One tells them all what to do, one manages the underworld, one makes rain, another runs the sea.

Not so on the steppe. Here it's simpler. Someone stocks the larder of the world and someone looks after us. He may be a bit like us, this creator.
But beyond that, who can say?

The Aryans were staunch monotheists.
And this was crucial.

The Aryans who invaded simply found a system in place. They simply took it over. And made it subject to them. They became the ruling caste, the Brahmins. And everyone else was below them. A pyramid system, created by conquerors.

And they brought everyone in and united them by a clever trick. Every state would have it's own Gods. So the Aryans/Brahmins decided that all these gods were real, but at the same time, they were all in fact, just aspects of ONE god. Their god.
And this is Hinduism.

And this was the unique strength of Indian culture. It was founded on tolerance. Live and let live. Any idea is worth trying to bring in to the framework.
It was a system capable of adapting, of being added to, of exploring life.

And as a result, it gave birth to philosophers.
It was a thought based system, and thus it was an improvement on the primitive systems mentioned before.
What it wasn't, was a knowledge based system. It never developed in quite the same way as was to happen further westwards. It never learnt how to accumulate, analyse and store crucial knowledge, in such a way as to give birth to fresh knowledge.

It was a system that could give birth to fresh philosophies, that could provide stable society that could continue indefinitely, but ultimately, when it faced the systems that developed to the west, it lost.

So what happened to the west?

The western Aryans, with their horses.
The Persians.

For one day, the Persians had enough of being paid off. They went on the rampage.
And every culture in their vicinity fell to their horsemen.

The Aryans weren't Germans, and the Germans weren't Aryans, but the Persians were the Nazis of their day.
They never built civilisations, they stole them.

But the result was earthshattering.

The Persian Empire.
The cultures of the Tigris and the Nile, of Asia Minor (where money was first invented), under one roof, stretching even to the Greeks.

The horse had made the world smaller.

And the Greeks sometimes fought, sometimes paid the Persians off, but either way, they took advantage.

In three hundred years, a knowledge revolution took place.
The Greeks compared and contrasted. In this new world where horse drawn chariots made Babylon not so very far from Thebes, knowledge could be accumulated, the dross sifted from the gems.

The Egyptians understood quantitative relationships, the Babylonians understood the stars, the Lydians understood trade, the Greeks knew how to think.

Goodbye Flat World, Goodbye rainmaking Gods.

Solon, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle.

Compare the knowledge, accumulate what people know.

And soon it is agreed we line on a globe, 25,000 miles in circumference, that the world is governed by physical processes.

The square on the hypotenuse will always equal the sum of the squares of the other two sides.

But it is more.
Systems themselves can be studied in relative terms.
And what do we learn?
That responsibility is the key.

Monarchy is responsible, Tyranny is not.
Aristocracy is responsible, Oligarchy is not.
Democracy is responsible, Anarchy is not.

So which is best?

Sparta or Athens?

We look back now and say Athens, but the truth is different.

It was the blended models that won the day.
It was the Greek periphery state of Macedon that took the Persians on at their own game- cavalry- and overthrew them.

And whilst Alexander's Empire fell apart, he made a large portion of the world Greek.

In Alexandria, a city built by Greeks, Greek Kings ruled over Egypt.
And treasured a GREEK translation of HEBREW texts.

Knowledge is power.
Mankind had learned a valuable lesson.
Never let knowledge die. Preserve it and pass it on.

Mankind had defined it's existence in a new way.

Life exists, by the passing on of genetic information.

Now a species existed which lived by carrying that rule further.
It had ensured that it's knowledge would never die.
And once that is done, the future becomes secure.

Did they know very much?
Compared to us, No.
Even Aristotle was wrong about most of what he said.

But we'd started to think.

And we knew the value of knowledge.

Thoughts were preserved.
It was a system which had within it the chance to develop.

And its pinnacle was Rome.

And yes, in some ways, Rome is no improvement.

It's economy is built on plunder and slavery.

It is an Empire that exists to serve but one city.
Life gets better for those under it's rule, as a fortunate byproduct.

But a Million people living together, in a city that WORKS, and not only works, rules the most fertile portion of the globe. Here, the best of Athens AND Sparta, form a system of values, that even in it's decline, are based on sound principles of delivering, as far as is possible, a good quality of life for as many as possible.

This is no primitive system.
It uses the knowledge it has acquired to physically change the world.

Compare the Odyssey to the Aeneid. Reading the Odyssey, you might think Odysseus went on a vast voyage. No. He sails round the Eastern Mediterranean.

The Aeneid is set at the same time, but to the Romans, these places were all BETWEEN themselves and Greece. Aeneas' voyages seem less impressive, though he travels further.

It is a system built on genuine knowledge. And the most important point is, it PARTLY understands ITSELF.
Republic, or Empire?

It sees the point. Too much power concentrated in too few hands is bad. But how else do you make quick decisions which affect the lives and prosperity of millions?
There is dim conceptual understanding of the issues that need to be addressed in perfecting the way of live of the species.

But as yet, no real understanding of how to take that forward.

It stores the knowledge of the great knowledge interchange, it adds what it discovers from it's conquests, but it does not analyse it and generate fresh thought.
If Aristotle said that anvils fall quicker than sticks, why check it?
If Galen says there is a network of blood vessels in the back of the neck, why check it?
The system acquires knowledge and stores it. It is poor at experimenting and developing knowledge FROM knowledge.

But look at Rome. And not just Rome, look at the cities it has enslaved.
Better, in material terms, to live as Roman subjects, than free Britons.

And so, the prosperity of Rome is worth the odd Caligula.

At least, it is if you are a Patrician of Rome.
Because nobody is asking Slaves, Gauls, Britons or Jews.

But the great thing about this system, is that one day it ceases to matter if anyone is asking.

This system is still doomed to decay, but fortunately, it will not decay until something better is already in the ascendant.
It decays, because it is a core-periphery system. It depends on the will of the core, and the resources of the periphery.

It remains fragile, once the core starts to ossify.
And when the tob job is a commodity to be bought and sold by the Praetorian guard, the necassary vigour neeeded to maintain the greatest infrastructure that had ever happened, had gone.
But it left a legacy. It left an infrastructure of amazing proportions, a legacy to it's heirs which kept society alive, largely unchanged once Rome had fallen.

And the new guardians of society knew what a treasure they were taking on.

And who were they? The products of a new outlook. An outlook that started with a man being nailed to a cross, but ultimately resulted in a movement whose primary aim was the Kingdom of the Creator of the Universe himself.
But who also founded a system based entirely on the storage and development of knowledge.

Preserving the knowledge now becomes priority number one.
And with the collapse of Rome comes the Religion based system.
Where knowledge truly is power.

From now on, things can only get better.