Monday, May 31, 2010

To All Those Vets Out There

...past, present, and future. I know there are a few of you guys who read here. Have a safe and happy Memorial Day. We owe it all to you.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Wapitimail: A Defender of the Mother Custody - Father Pays System

A drive-by commenter with the handle "PhD Chick" opines thusly about my year-old critique of the chilimony racket:

Phdchick said...

Maybe instead of complaining about poor me, you should take care of your children with out the juvinile fits. You should pay child support based on income. Dosen't your child deserve it?

And so what if your ex has a better quality of life than you. If you really made the same in VA you would only be responcible for the daycare expences. Frankly kids need more than just daycare. They eat, need transportation, books, school suplies, clothes, ect.

Get over your selfish self and take care of the needs of your child and grow up.

May 24, 2010 10:06 PM

Sheesh. If she's going to troll MRA blogs, at least she could do me the honor of spell and grammar checking her Code Silver, Green, and Blue shaming language and ad hominem attacks.

As for the content of her comment, well I'm not going to bother attempting to dismantle a factually ignorant argument that pivots on what children "deserve" materially. Particularly when what children need--i.e. a father and a mother in roughly equal measures--is obviously not part of her calculus.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Why The Majority Doesn't Care About Property Rights

...or, why Rand Paul is in such hot water with leftists and their client groups.

It's pretty simple, really.  Follow the money. To be concerned about property rights, you need to have property in the first place.  But if a goodly part of your livelihood depends on unearned entitlement largesse delivered by a politician who himself confiscated that property from those who produced it or earned it, well I suspect that you would take a dim view of any politician who threatens that gravy train.

Thus Paul's efforts to explain his opposition to some portions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 because they violated the property rights of private citizens fall on deaf ears and are a waste of time.

And if property rights aren't a touchstone of concern for the looting class, I don't imagine that the freedoms of association abridged by CRA64 (which VD eruditely critiqued here) are much of a concern either.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tuesday Tomfoolery

Monday, May 24, 2010

Book Review: Thomas Paine's Common Sense

The Book: Common Sense, by Thomas Paine.

The Gist: I had never read Paine's Common Sense before, so I was somewhat surprised to read what could best be summarized as the prelude, the forward, the laying of the foundation to the Declaration of Independence, which would be issued some four-odd months after Common Sense was published. In his manuscript, Paine lays out the case for American independence from the Crown: that a government several thousand miles away cannot hope to govern effectively, that the tyranny of distance and time had rendered the rule of law ineffective, that monarchy is both the cause of much oppression and suffering and of warfare and violence, that hereditary succession to such a monarchy is even worse, that the English claim that America is her child is farcical (as less than a third of Americans claimed English ancestry), and that our submission and/or allegiance to England draws America into European wars and squabbles and impoverishes America by diminishing trade. Moreover, Paine cites a British brutality that was so pervasive and ongoing, and that every peaceful means of peace had been tried and found ineffective, that he claimed that no reconciliation was possible from a population so aggrieved against Britain:
As well can the lover forgive the ravisher of his mistress, as the Continent forgives the murders of Britain
Or a despot so emboldened by petitions and pleas that nothing short of naked force will sway him
Nothing flatters vanity, or confirms obstinacy in kings more than repeated petitioning--and nothing hath contributed more than that very measure to make the kings of Europe absolute: Witness Denmark and Sweden. Wherefore since nothing but blows will do, for God's sake, let us come to a final separation and not leave the next generation to be cutting throats
Paine's final point of argument for separation from Britain was that America at that time was still in its youth, still an infant, and therefore the timing was right to split from the dominion of England and form for itself a new government and a new culture and good civic habits before another less ideal political culture had an opportunity to establish itself.

Common Sense also affords another peek into the minds of the Founders, this time in the look and feel of what the ruling body of a representative republic should look like. Paine suggests a model for American government eerily prefiguring the Constitution 14 years hence, a government consisting of a President, members drawn from each colony's legislature, and members drawn from each colony's people at large. Paine suggested that this legislative body should be sufficiently large (approximating 25 from each colony, numbering almost 400 when all assembled together) that no one colony or district would be able to rule the others. Of course, each body would be given powers in opposition to one another; the thought being that with all that infighting, the rulers would expend their energies fighting each other and not oppressing the people.

The last feature of Common Sense was a call for a manifesto to be drafted and dispatched to foreign governments. The purpose of this document would be to help the governments of the Old World better understand the full reasons for America's pending split from Britain and the miseries and oppression that Americans have endured, with an eye toward garnering political support among the the governments in Europe and be less likely to be considered in rebellion against their legitimate masters. Paine's call for such a manifesto would be realized a short four months later on July 4th, 1776.

One of Paine's most interesting points for me was the imperfections of monarchy, how monarchy inexorably led to violence, and how monarchies easily lend themselves to deprivation and warfare and oppression. In support of this point, Paine paraphrases scripture, and I will quote him at length here so that you dear reader can appreciate the weight of his disregard for monarchical government:
Government by kings was first introduced into the world by the Heathens, from whom the children of Israel copied the custom. It was the most prosperous invention the devil ever set on foot for the promotion of idolatry. The Heathens paid divine honors to their deceased kings, and the Christian world hath improved on the plan by by doing the same to their living ones.

Near three thousand years passed away from the Mosaic account of the creation, till the Jews under a national delusion requested a king. Till then their form of government (except in extraordinary cases, where the Almighty interposed) was a kind of republic administered by a judge and the elders of the tribes. Kings they had none, and it was held sinful to acknowledge any being under that title but the Lord of Hosts. Monarchy is ranked in scripture as one of the sins of the Jews, for which a curse in reserve is denounced against them.

Samuel told all the words of the Lord unto the people, that asked of him a king. And he said, This shall be the manner of the king that shall reign over you; he will take your sons and appoint them for himself for his chariots, and to be his horsemen, and some shall run before his chariots...he will take your fields and your olive yards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants; and he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give them to his officers and to his servants (by which we see that bribery, corruption, and favoritism are the standing vices of kings)...and ye shall be his servants, and ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen, AND THE LORD WILL NOT HEAR YOU IN THAT DAY.

And a man hath good reason to believe that there is as much of kingcraft, as priestcraft in withholding the scripture from the public in Popish countries. For monarchy in every instance is the Popery of government.
I found myself pondering the similarities between our own executive branch and the government of Britain at the time. In the latter, one man's word was law. In the former, today, a giant unelected regulatory bureaucracy's word is law and various law and code enforcement officers words are law. What's more, both are largely outside the influence and control of the legislative branch, and at the helm of this leviathan is one man, the president. I hope that I am not being too hyperbolic when I state that there is little appreciable difference between the two forms of government. For certain, whatever difference does exist is a matter of degree, not of type. Both forms are tyrannical, and both lack accountability to an elected body of the people.

Speaking of popery, an epithet used to describe a government or other institution where its leader is attributed divine properties, is worshipped by his acolytes, or is considered to be the 'right hand of God', another Paine quote is worthwhile here, as it speaks to the attitude which many of our rulers today consider themselves better and wiser than each of us:
Men who look upon themselves born to reign, and others to obey, soon grow insolent; selected from the rest of mankind their minds are early poisoned by importance; and the world they act in differs so materially from the world at large, that they have but little opportunity of knowing its true interests, and when they succeed to the government [they] are frequently the most ignorant and unfit of any throughout the dominions
While the quote above speaks specifically to hereditary succession, I contend that a great many of our political class has developed a similar attitude. They think they deserve to rule the rest of us because they see us as mere sheep that don't know any better. Moreover, the world they rotate in is materially different from that the rest of us live in, particularly since our rulers have exempted themselves from many of the laws they pass for us proles. Little wonder that they then consider themselves entitled to rule and the common man obliged to obey.

Another interesting quote from Common Sense has to deal with the Founding Fathers' attitude toward religion. They weren't as agnostic as some would have us believe, nor were they fundies either:
For myself I fully and consciously believe that it is the will of the Almighty, that there should be a diversity of religious opinions among us; it affords a larger field for our Christian kindness
I find this interesting in a couple of ways. First, that the Founders valued a plurality of interpretation of Scripture, the better to inform political decision making. That said, I strongly suspect that there would be limits to Paine's call for diversity. A little diversity is good, so long as it doesn't disturb the cohesion of the group as a whole. Too much, well, we all know what happens when there is too much diversity...the population fails to coalesce into a coherent identity. Where Paine would draw the demarcation line between what is helpful diversity and harmful diversity I do not know; I suspect that it would be drawn somewhere between the boundaries of the Protestant and Romish Churches (given his use of the word 'popery' which suggests a negative attitude toward the RCC). Mohammedeans would be right out, I suspect, as would anyone else that did not subscribe to a Jewish or Christian viewpoint.

The second way I found this quote interesting is in its overt religiosity. The Founders were quite clear that, while they thought the Church must be protected from the State at all costs (avoiding that Popery thing, again), they also were of the strongly held opinion that a free society was one where public officials as well as the populace as a whole recognized and submitted to the authority of the Christian God.

Paine also had this to say, regarding the size and scope of the powers of the king, which I think applies to our executive branch as well:
The nearer any government approaches a republic, the less business there is for a king
Of course, the corollary to this quote is that the further away a government is from a republican form of government, the more business there is for a king executive branch. And our executive branch has been increasingly busy busy busy these last 150 years.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

La Moralite de Wapiti

Via Φ at Delenda Est Cathargo, I stumbled across this site which contains several quizzes for various universities across the USA (requires registration to take the quizzes).

So I take all of the quizzes, and unsurprisingly,* I find that I am significantly more conservative than the average so-called conservative in the USA. At least according to these quizzes anyway, because I have some strongly held opinions that are usually classified as conservative ones but are instead liberal ones in both the modern and the Classical senses. If anything, the results of these quizzes highlight just how left-wing so-called conservatives really are, both here and abroad, and suggests how ineffectual they are in opposing the left-wing big-government agenda...because they themselves believe in big-government too. Just a little bit less so.

Here are the results:**
Trait Libs Cons EW
Harm/Care 3.7 3.0 2.5
Fairness/Reciprocity 3.8 3.1 3.2
Ingroup Loyalty 2.1 3.1 2.8
Authority/Respect 2.1 3.3 3.2
Purity 1.3 2.9 4.2
Eq of Outcome 3.7 2.3 2.2
Proportionality 3.2 3.9 4.7
Retribution 1.1 1.2 2.3
Responsibility 2.4 3.4 3.8
Universalism 3.5 2.1 1.8
Left-wing Purity 2.6 2.0 1.5
Authenticity 3.3 3.2 2.2
Waste 3.2 2.7 3.2
Self-Control 2.5 3.2 4.3
Attitude Peace 7.1 5.1 4.4
Attitude War 4.0 6.8 7.1

All this data makes for interesting grist. For instance, I don't consider myself all that radical, but either (a) I am indeed that radical (I'd like to think I've patterned my political philosophy after the Founding Fathers), or that the population called "conservatives" are much more leftist than they think they are. Maybe a combination of the two? Whatever the case, I wear my 'campus radical' badge with pride.

These surveys will have serious issues with validity. The responding populations are self-selected from, I suspect, the student bodies of a narrow set of universities and departments within those universities. Thus the survey results attributed to "liberal" and "conservative" may not have predictive value for the country as a whole. Moreover, the way the questions were worded suggests a preconceived notion of what "conservatism" and "liberalism" are, and the questions themselves lack sufficient granularity to truly capture the gulf between wingnuts on the left and right. One example:
Property owners should be allowed to develop their land or build their homes in any way they choose, as long as they don't endanger their neighbors.
Danger is a pretty high bar, thus I imagine most if not all will answer affirmatively to this question. A better question to discriminate between the statists on the left and the minarchists on the right wrt attitudes toward property rights would be to replace "endanger their neighbors" with "infringe on their neighbor's rights".

I also noted that those with strong religious beliefs get some pretty bizarre results, such as my proportionality, retribution, and universalism scores. Apparently I have a dim attitude toward peace and a more open attitude toward warfare. Perhaps this is because I'm a firm believer that, sometimes, violence is the only way to solve a dispute and that, sometimes, some people you just can't reach and need killin.

One of the linked sites from the survey deck had this to say about where left and right wingers get their morality. It is an interesting take, one that suggests that conservative morality is much more well-rounded, more grounded, and less abstract than liberal morality:
The current American culture war, we have found, can be seen as arising from the fact that liberals try to create a morality relying almost exclusively on the Harm/Care and Fairness/Reciprocity foundations; conservatives, especially religious conservatives, use all five foundations, including Ingroup/Loyalty, Authority/Respect, and Purity/Sanctity
In other words, the researchers surmise that the left has little use for such pedestrian notions as patriotism, respect for hierarchies, and living life in a pure and noble way, preferring instead to construct their moralities on post-enlightenment notions of social justice, nurturing, and autonomy. That same source also had this to say, suggesting that researchers subscribe to a two-dimensional view of what it means to be liberal or conservative:
We are currently investigating other candidate foundations. The main contender for being a 6th foundation is Liberty/constraint, which includes both lifestyle liberty, and also negative liberty -- the freedom to be left alone by government. Liberals score higher on lifestyle liberty; conservatives on negative liberty
While I imagine that liberals do score higher on lifestyle liberty--which I suspect is defined as being able to have intercourse with whom- and whatever one wants--those same liberals would also score highly on positive rights. Conversely, those conservatives who would score high on negative liberty would also score low on lifestyle liberty. Unfortunately, these constructs assume an openness to government interference in the psyches of both libs and cons that I do not think is either accurate or fully captures the whole scope of the American population. Moreover, these constructs define independents and especially libertarians out of existence, further limiting the validity of whatever dataset they create.

* I suspect that even the denizens of FoxNews would find many of my views to be quite radically right wing

** Definitions:
-"Harm/Care" is defined as: related to our long evolution as mammals with attachment systems and an ability to feel (and dislike) the pain of others. This foundation underlies virtues of kindness, gentleness, and nurturance
-"Fairness/Reciprocity" is defined as: the evolutionary process of reciprocal altruism. This foundation generates ideas of justice, rights, and autonomy.
-"Ingroup Loyalty" is defined as: virtues of patriotism and self-sacrifice for the group
-"Authority/Respect" is defined as: virtues of leadership and followership, including deference to legitimate authority and respect for traditions
-"Purity" is shaped by the psychology of disgust and contamination. This foundation underlies religious notions of striving to live in an elevated, less carnal, more noble way
-"Equality of Outcome"--ideally, everyone would end up with the same amount of money
-"Proportionality"--people who work the hardest should be paid the most
-"Retribution"--an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth
-"(Personal) responsibility vs. freeloading"--whether or not everyone is pulling their own weight
-"Universalism"--e.g., "I wish the world did not have nations or borders and we were all part of one big group"
-"Left-Wing purity"--e.g., "Eating genetically modified foods pollutes the body"
-"Authenticity"--It is better to stay true to yourself than to follow the dictates of society
-"Waste"--It is morally wrong to let food go to waste unnecessarily
-"Self-control"--Self-control is more important than self-expression

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Iron Man 2: A Brief Interpretive Analysis

Went to see Iron Man 2 yesterday. Overall, it was an enjoyable movie, although not nearly as good as the first. What follows is a brief review and interpretive analysis of the movie.

Basic Review. I stand aside and let the pros at CSM have that honor.

Character development. Both movies are technologically excellent and technologically equivalent--the sequel doesn't wow with special effects that the first lacked. What distinguishes a sequel in this case, then, is the depth and development of its characters and their movement along the story arc. This, unfortunately, is the big weakness of the movie. Stark of course remains the sigma he was in the first, only this time around, his ego swells to such Rush Limbaugh, sun-eclipsing proportions that it is almost painful to watch. His buddy Rhodes (played this time by Don Cheadle) sinks from delta to near-gamma-dom (note: I am using Vox Day's game taxonomy here), as the pecking order that Rhodes works in forces him to do some things that he'd rather not do, right before he is converted into Samsonite--that is, baggage--trapped inside a hijacked super suit. The new villain Vanko is probably the character in this movie written and played with the most depth; in fact, Rourke's Vanko would have stolen many of the scenes had it not been for Downey's natural magnetism. The Potts character loses much of her mommy-girlfriend-secretary depth in a flat performance by Paltrow. I find myself wondering why Jackson's Nick Fury character is there at all, other than to confuse the viewer with a reprise of one of Jackson's many other 'bad mutha f*cka' roles as Jules Winnfield in Pulp Fiction. And the Rushman/Romanoff character, which, I'll be honest, is probably the single best reason why male IronMan fans will see this movie (other than the CGI graphics and the super suits, that is), is the stereotypical two dimensional super-woman that we are all have come to expect for female lead and/or supportive characters in action movies.

Themes. I'm really waiting for Hollywood to come up with some new tropes, for the standard bad/neglectful father meme (both the protagonist Stark and the antagonist Vanko have an absent father and an abusive/acoholic father, respectively), the evil corporatist, and the ass-kicker-yet-looks-great-in-heels female lead are getting rather threadbare.

Interestingly, and as the counterpart to the bad-dad meme, the mothers of the two leading male characters figure into the story not at all, leaving this viewer to wonder to what deficit are we to attribute the defects in the Stark and Vanko ill- or malfunctioning fathers, or to mothers so ineffectual as to be absent from the narrative entirely? Continuing the curious slight against female characters, women are by and large a fashion accessory in this movie--particularly on Stark's arm where they appear happy to be, in a nod to hidden-in-plain-sight female hypergamy and giving lie to womankind's loudmouthed agitations for equality. However, one notable exception to this fashion accessory rule is the Potts character who, while still donning somewhat conservative knee-length dresses and shoulder-baring garb, manages to perform a useful economic function other than eye candy. Unfortunately for Potts, this movie reveals her character to be quite out of her depth as anything other than a combination executive assistant and a nagging mommy/love interest.

Then we have Rushman/Romanoff, the petite yet unrealistically large breasted, ass-kicking, smart-chick Lara Croft archetype so common to mainstream action-oriented entertainment marketed to priapic adolescent males. We see this archetype quite often, which is a shame because, in the absence of any other model for women, this movie joins the chorus of countless others singing one single, three-pronged tune to the boys and girls who happen to view it: that (a) it is quite okay for a girl/woman to spam the environment with her sexuality via provocative dress (more on that later), (b) that a female can wear high heels and defeat nearly a dozen men twice her size in hand-to-hand-combat, and (c) that given sufficient training, a woman can reasonably expect to best men in physical hand-to-hand combat. None are realistic expectations, and any sane woman would eschew attempting to do lest serious, even fatal consequences result. Yet this movie propagates this theme to an audience of girls and young women who haven't been told much different their entire life. And therein lays the problem.

Social Commentary. This movie is chock full of social commentary if one bothers to look. One of the more obvious editorials is against slimy corporatists personified by Justin Hammer, played quite well in all its disgusting glory by Sam Rockwell. The viewer is invited to hate on evil corporations and the amoral suits that lead them. However, a point that would be easy to miss in this movie is this one: the slimy corporatist defense contractor requires an equally slimy military-industrial complex to survive, thus illustrating the seamy symbiotic relationship between government agencies and the companies they fund. Keep that in mind the next time you, dear reader, are tempted to voice support for government 'regulation' of the private sector of any kind...calls for more regulation are merely a smokescreen for government agents colluding with big corporations to force out smaller competitors, and/or enhancing their power by blurring the line between public and private.

Another sly commentary offered up by the movie, again if one bothers to look beneath the surface, regards women in the workplace. In one scene, after catching Stark repeatedly eyeballing a provocatively dressed Rushman, Potts chides him for ogling her and for thereby exposing himself and the company to a sexual harassment lawsuit. Particularly since the Rushman character works in the legal department. The surface message here is that men are to be rightly punished for noticing that an attractive woman in their midst is wearing a skin-tight sheath to the office and that her battleship guns are slewed prominently forward for everyone's ocular enjoyment. But that was the surface message...the first underlying message for me however, is how retrograde women can be in the workplace, how much potential they have to rob a male office environment of its natural efficiency, and how hazardous it it to employ women in this day and age. Of course, said sexual harassment suit would never be forthcoming because Stark is a sigma; lesser men, say deltas or lower, well I have no doubt had they gazed upon Rushman's platter, they would have been roundly punished. For we all know that sexual harassment is one of the only crimes that is dependent on the feelings of the woman receiving the attention. If she likes it--i.e., the man is within her erotic field of regard, all is well. If she doesn't like it, i.e., the man is a 'loser' or a 'creep' or any other appellation given to a fellow not within her erotic field of regard, well he's about to be on the receiving end of our society's control of errant male sexuality.

This brings me to the second sub-surface message embedded in the Stark-Potts-Rushman ogling scene--the contrast between the libertine permissiveness granted to expressions of women's sexuality in the culture and the legally enforced restraints upon expressions of male sexuality. Call it Victorianism in reverse...whereas female sexuality was limited and restricted in the Victorian era, in the feminist era, male sexuality is suppressed, punished, branded with the proverbial scarlet letter whenever it surfaces. Women can flaunt, but men dare not leer. Women can brazenly tease, but men dare not react. Riddle me this, Black Widow: which sex is oppressed and which sex is the oppressor in the new sexual calculus?

The third piece of commentary that Iron Man 2 offers pertains to the permissible roles of women in the feminist era. Once again, we are treated to yet another installment of woman in film as either the sexpot or the strong, hot, smart, capable Superwoman. What does that say about modern feminism's allowable roles for women when they should aspire to be an unattainable Lara Croft or, failing that, to be arm candy for some polygynous alpha? Where is the role for the old-school woman who built this culture and this society right alongside her man, bearing his children along the way? Where is the archetype of the frontier woman, who worked hard, had grit, helped her husband provide for the family, and was undeniably strong, yet feminine? Nowhere to be found in this movie or in the culture at large is this archetype...the strong woman who shovels the f*cking gravel with dignity, grace, and anonymity. Instead, we are treated to images of blustery paper tigers who are pussies underneath all the sturm und drang. That is what our daughters are to aspire to, I suppose, which is too bad. No thanks, says daughter(s), should I be blessed with any, will not be limited in this fashion and instead be taught to be the full woman, the complement to man, that God intended her(them) to be.

Bottom line: Iron Man 2 was entertaining and technologically competent, but the character development was flat and the plot was recycled and unimaginative. A bit of subterranean social commentary in there for those willing to do the spade work to find it.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Hero Dad Saves Infant Son

Via Glenn Sacks, I came across this video of an Aussie father who literally snatched his infant son from certain death, when an elderly woman lost control of her car and crashed into the father and his family. Watch:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Perhaps this is just the sexist neanderthal in me, but I have difficulty imagining that a woman, even one of Palin's "mama bear" mothers, would or even could react this way and save her child's life. Especially if they know that, like a wide receiver jumping for a hail-mary pass, a big hit is coming, a big hit about to be delivered by a two-ton missile piloted by an aged cotton top.

Nope, when disaster strikes and life-saving needs to be done, those doing the rescuing or spade work/heavy lifting are almost always exclusively men. Thank God this is the case too...imagine how much worse our lives would be were it not for the residual protective instincts of men, instincts that the feminists and their matriarchal utopia is doing its level best to beat out of them.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Book Review: The Sling and the Stone

The Book: The Sling and the Stone, by Thomas X. Hammes, Colonel, USMC. 291 pages.

The Gist: Hammes' book postulates that what is termed "4GW", or fourth generation warfare, is merely the evolution of warfare to keep pace with the parallel political, technological, social, and economic evolution of the world in general. Just like a living organism, warfare changes with its environment; thus, as the world becomes more and more networked, more and more flat, more and more fragmented with more and more non-state actors on the international scene, and with the rising power of multinational corporations and mega-markets, warfare itself also changes to make the most advantage of this new environment.

Hammes begins his book by introducing Toffler's wave theory, which posits that human society is characterized by great waves of technological progress that propagate through societies and change the society's structure, values, and moral codes. The first such wave was the shift from hunter-gatherer to organized agriculture. This gave rise to complex, hierarchical societies, a professional warrior class unencumbered with concerns about growing food and, more importantly, where the additional riches generated by organized agriculture gravitated to landowners.

The second Toffler wave was industrialization, where wealth again shifted hands, this time from landowners to captains of industry. The professional warrior classes made possible by organized agriculture now became mechanized, and those societies that were not industrialized could not withstand the onslaught of new wealth and more lethal weaponry and tactics.

The third Toffler wave is information, where "intellectual property" is the new widget, and with this change, the stuff that used to indicate power and wealth can now be 'stolen' without any physical change in possession. Moreover, the democratization (for lack of a better word) of information means that states no longer have a monopoly on information. In fact, information technology takes power away from governments and other hierarchical institutions and gives it back to individuals and loose confederacies of individuals, bound together based on blood, language, creed, skin color, political wedge issues, or other common trait or interest or affinity. Worse still (for government, that is), governments can no longer take for granted the loyalty of the people residing within the State's borders...they have to compete for that loyalty, an important change that is crucial to 4GW. In other words, the new way of social organization is a return to a more tribal way of existing, and 4GW warriors leverage those ties and interests to mass lethal force in battle against their foes faster and more robustly than 3GW forces.

In short, with each successive wave, how humanity associates, how humanity interacts, what constitutes wealth and how that wealth is acquired and defended, changes with each wave that passes through society. Thus, as the information wave enhances the ability of individuals to communicate and associate with one another on an unprecedented scale, so too does the nature of warfare change to reflect this environment.

Hammes briefly describes 1GW, 2GW, and 3GW as follows: 1GW featured the tactics of line and column that massed men at the point of effort. 1GW was characterized by the advent of gunpowder, and technological improvements in agriculture and transportation that increased societal wealth and the size of excess manpower that could be used for fighting. The technology of nationalism was developed to politically mobilize a citizenry into a levee en masse ready to fight and die for the State, a population that may otherwise have little connection to the State. 1GW peaked with the Napoleonic war.

2GW sought advantage over massed manpower through the massing of firepower. 2GW was characterized by the technologies of the rifled musket, breechloading firearms, the machine gun, "king of battle" artillery, improved transport, the telegraph, and the development of the general staff (which enabled the effective control progressively larger and larger armies). The advent of industrialization increased societal wealth even more, and shifted wealth from landowners (the locus of wealth for milennia ever since the transition from hunter-gatherer societies) and concentrated it in the hands of the captains of industry. The defense, always the strongest form of warfare, became predominant, as more lethal firepower made foot-borne assaults on fixed fortifications suicidal.

3GW restored maneuver to the battlefield with the mechanization of armies via tanks, personnel carriers, mobilized artillery, and aviation. 3GW could be viewed as the maturation of industrial-era warfare.

As mentioned previously, the key thread running through Hammes' book is that changes in society drive changes in warfare, and that recent changes in global human society as a result of social evolution are key to 4GW. One factor that Hammes identifies as crucial to 4GW warfare is the proliferation of international actors, such as the UN, IAEA, and WTO, regional actors such as NAFTA and OAS, and NGOs, such as Amnesty International, Hamas, and the Red Cross. Whether benevolent or not, one thing is certain: each non-state actor usurps, erodes, and/or bypasses the sovereignty of the nation-state. Another factor is the rise of influential nations in their own right that lack defined political states, such as the Palestinians and Amerindian tribes in the United States. A third factor is the proliferation of states cause by the break up of great colonial empires and subsequent wars of independence. The fourth and final factor that Hammes identifies is the rise of multi-national corporation and the increasingly significant influence of large marketplaces and electronic trading exchanges. Taken together, these last two developments greatly constrain the power of traditional hierarchical institutions like the nation-state, either from fear of economic pain inflicted by the marketplace for unpopular actions, or from multi-nationals that ignore the diktats of a government or, if unable to do so, simply moves their wealth-generating (and tax-generating) activities elsewhere.

Hammes traces the beginning of 4GW to the end of WWII, to the dawn of the information age. IT is what catalyzed 4GW...information technology permits the easy flow of information across national boundaries through communication nodes (people and organizations, as well as hardware), the connections between which can be viewed as networks. Through these military/political/economic/social networks, 4GW aims to convince the enemy's decision makers that their strategic goals are either unachievable or too costly for the perceived benefit. This is a radical departure from previous 'GWs', all three of which are more or less characterized by how they go about targeting the enemy's fielded forces, and is a return to a more classical way of war. A way of war that is more Sun Tzu than Clausewitz and Jomini, more anything goes than Augustinian 'just war' theory, more Eastern than Western. In a way, 4GW is a "back to the future" of sorts where the polite, ordered, rule-based Western way of war--warfare which requires both sides to play along by a pre-agreed set of rules--is rejected in favor of a more total, anarchic, all's-fair attack not on the opponent's warrior class but on the society's political will. 4GW warriors have no truck with attacking targets considered to be off limits, 'protected', or 'non-combatants'. They may, in fact, prefer to attack these non-traditional target sets because of the asymmetric impact those attacks may have on the 3GW enemy's will to carry on the fight.

Hammes spends about half of the book painstakingly chronicling the evolution of 4GW, starting first with an in-depth evaluation of Chairman Mao's employment of early 4GW (characterized by the 'political mobilization' of peasants against the government and by network-building with outside constituencies to bring international pressure upon Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalists) and incrementally examining, in series, the application of and incremental improvements upon 4GW by Ho (who perfected Maoist insurgency and internationalized his conflict to degrade the political will of the French and American populations, bolster the political will of their international left-wing allies, and erode the legitimacy and credibility of the French and American governments), the Sandinistas (who transitioned 4GW from Mao's/Ho's peasant-based insurgency to urbane urban insurgencies, and added a religious liberation theology to what was previously an atheistic doctrine), by the Palestinians in their first Intifada (who used the media to devastating effect), and finally by UBL and al Qaeda (which turned insurgency into an endeavor not unlike a venture capital firm).

Hammes finishes his book by analyzing the current conflicts in Iraq (which he uses as a case study to argue the fecklessness of technological solutions to 4GW warfare) and Afghanistan (where we are fighting a 4GW tribal network with a modern hierarchical 3GW military), characterizing 4GW in depth, and by suggesting ways in which modern technological societies can address and combat this existential threat to their existence. Hammes offers several ways in which our miiltary can better handle the 4GW threat, starting first with organization. Hammes contends that our military is organized, trained, and equipped, and has an entire culture, an entire personnel system, and entire military-industrial complex built around 2GW and 3GW warfare. In addition, the military is a hierarchical institution structured very much like the 2GW and 3GW societies that birthed it. It is centralized, cumbersome, slow to react, and consensus-driven at the top, where our foes are decentralized and agile and quick to respond to opportunities...their networked organization more effectively transmits information and decides on courses of action where analysts in our structure are still staffing their information through the hierarchy. Changing these structures will be difficult, as doing so will dislocate many workers, each of whom are Congressional constituents. But Hammes argues that changed it must be.

In short, a 4GW adversary will not find it difficult to get inside our OODA loop, particularly so when commercial imagery is readily available and the whole of the MSM--broadcasters of leaked information to the world, they are--is a sensor for them. Furthermore, DoD is continuing to centralize and become more top-heavy, where the dominant forces in society and in business is decentralize and flatten, making DoD that much less able to respond or to be able to leverage techniques and lessons learned from industry.


One thing I noted early on was the Euro-centric naming convention about the "generations of warfare". In 1GW, the armies raised by nation-states clashed in a contest of men and materiel, thereby isolating populations weary of decades of total war and eager to have someone else (a) do the fighting by proxy for them, and (b) ease human suffering from war, and (c) lessen the impact to the fabric of society from losing a fight. One could argue that 1GW is a more "Christian" way of war. 2GW and 3GW followed in this same suit, making warfare more and more lethal yet still more or less confining that deadly force to uniformed personnel. In fact, it is quite interesting to consider just how artificial the Western way of war really is when compared to the Eastern way, particularly in the way it depends on both actors adhering to a set of rules about how each side conducts itself. The Geneva conventions and the 'laws of war' can be seen as extensions of this Western way of war, extensions of the Westphalian nation-state, ways to limit the suffering and adverse effects of such an inherently violent and worldly act.

It is this nation-state model, and the powerful 2GW and 3GW armies that such societies are able to field, that 4GW evolved to attack. While agrarian society made equalitarian hunter-gatherer societies hierarchical, and while industrialization made them more hierarchical still (as well as ever more specialized), informationalization tends to undermine hierarchical societies and the vertically integrated institutions that comprise them. Moreover, informationalization introduces a new social contract that challenges the power base of a centralized state--loyalty based not on nationalistic pride or duty-honor-country, but loyalty based on affinity or on a rational cost-benefit analysis. This affinity or "what's in it for me" attitude contrasts significantly with the sort of patriotic loyalty that the nation-state model demands, a loyalty demanded of an (ideally relatively homogenous) citizenry solidified and maintained via tight control of information, political or otherwise. Another feature of the nation-state's control over its citizens is its monopoly on violence, applied politically against those who rebelled against the state's assertion of authority.

Indeed, 4GW seems to drive at the very root of what makes a government legitimate, what gives a government its right to rule. It thus raises a critical the right to rule determined by who has the most guns or a monopoly on deadly force? Or is the right to rule the choice of the people, who themselves decide which group does best by them and therefore gains their (fickle) allegiance? Thus while the reductionist view of government as simply a glorified protection racket still retains its validity in a 2GW or 3GW society, 4GW seems to exploit the modern notion that a people's rulers are chosen by the consent of the governed, and the government that wishes to remain in power must cater to the needs and desires and wants of the people. In a way, 4GW appears to simply be the methods of warfare catching up to the radical concepts of America's Founding Fathers--that the legitimacy of a government is determined by the strength of its support among the polis, and in this way is government assured to be the people's servant, not the people's master.

A related thought I had while reading this book was that I more clearly see now the folly of our nation's refusal in the 1990s to "do" nation building, to refuse to consider the need to secure the loyalty of the people when engaging in overseas empire-building. It goes beyond 4GW, all the way back to at least the Romans, who recognized that if one is to have an empire, one must convince your subjects that you have the right to rule, that your way is best for them. The ruler must provide law and basic civil institutions. And this 'convincing' must go on in the face of competing visions, for throughout Hammes' book, I noted a pattern repeated time and again...the insurgents undermined the legitimacy of the host government before moving in with their surrogate. They did so by propoganda (Mao's "political mobilization") and, when necessary, false-flag operations that cast the government as much a problem as the criminals themselves. They also did so by sowing fear caused by a climate of fear of crime and violence that the insurgents themselves generated. Then, as the 'last man standing', they filled the power and civil services vacuum, better serving the needs of the populace than the legitimate government. Perversely, and host government efforts to crack down on the insurgents often radicalized the citizenry even more, sometimes pushing them even further toward the insurgents.

This brings me to my next point, one that Hammes himself brought up: we must know what sort of fight we are about to engage in before we decide to get involved. That dictum appears to apply in spades to the United States' current fights in both Iraq and in Afghanistan...that we are approaching that conflict from the classic Western/American/3GW perspective, one that seeks technological advantage in an arena where technology yields victory. Unfortunately, 4GW is a war more about ideas than about whose technologies are superior. Hammes states in his book that the political power an idea generates was crucial to the 4GW warrior. Thus the center of gravity of a 4GW opponent is not how many guns or muj fighters he has; instead, his center of gravity is the idea(s) that rallies more fighters to the 4GW opponent's cause. It is this idea that must be countered, discredited, or subverted, and our current approach of seeking technological military advantage is as wasteful as it is beside the point. It may be worse than that, as Hammes contends that technological advancements, in particular our focus on 3GW technology, have actually eroded our capability to fight potential 4GW opponents. Worse, such technological superiority may in fact may entice us to become involved in situations we do not fully understand nor are prepared to fight in...a sort of technological hubris...because we think our superior (fill in the blank) technology will assure actual combat superiority on the ground.

In addition, I think it isn't enough to fight the insurgent's messages defensively, responding tit-for-tat when presented with a new message attempting to gain the loyalty of the people. So long as the insurgents retain the propoganda offense, the government will always be at a disadvantage. Instead, the government must seize the propoganda offense, to find its own message that appeals to the citizenry both at home and abroad and play on that.

Hammes' work appears to dovetail nicely into the theories of futurists such as David Ronfeldt and John Robb, who have postulated that society in general is on the cusp of transitioning from an institutional market-based society (I+M society) into a networked society (I+M+N). While I have posted on these theories here, I see the social fabric regressing toward a less ordered, more tribal-like existence, facilitated by the presence of information technology and catalyzed by the disintegrative influence of aggressively atheistic Marxism. 4GW exploits this lack of cohesion in Western countries and turns our weakness into one of their primary strengths. Moreover, this disintegration portends badly for governments struggling to maintain their hold on power...the trends favor the 4GW warriors.

Lastly, I found myself wondering what a 4GW military would look like. How does a country stuck in 3GW thinking recruit, indoctrinate, train, organize, and equip forces in a 4GW or 5GW manner to fight a 4GW foe? One thing appears certain...a tall, risk-averse hierarchy where decision-making power and authority is concentrated at the middle cannot innovate fast enough to keep pace with a thinking enemy that wants to win too.

Overall, this was a good book that well illustrates the challenges we face when fighting a global fourth-generation enemy. Well recommended for anyone who wishes to understand the nature of what we as a society are up against in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Homeschool Or Die

The Cruelty Artist better known as Vox Day posted "A Bitter Homeschooler's Wish List" recently. Take a gander, much on it will sound quite familiar to those of us who are tired of defending our choices to homeschool our kids rather than feed them to Molech.

Well, below is another addition to the steaming pile of evidence that my chilluns don't need no publik skool socialization:

Two observations:

(1) What are families doing sending their sons to an institution staffed almost entirely by women, with hardly a man in sight, and where they spend their entire day under the authority of women? Is this the 'socialization' that little boys need?

(2) Alesha Johnson is likely a choice mommy, since none of the news stories reporting on this incident mention a resident bio dad. So: boy with no male figure in his life is committed to a government institution where he is mixed with other boys of his age cohort who themselves have no male figures in their lives. Lord of the Flies anyone? And as discussed in (1) above, the school itself likely has scant male figures as well. So a male child would grow up in this environment with few, if any, positive male figures in his life whatsoever.

Folks, if you want to turn this country around, if you want to save your kids from bullying, mind-numbing busywork, and temperamentalcriminal teachers, if you want to have a child that can think for himself and can compete globally, homeschool your children. Especially your male children, since the schools are designed of, by, and for girls.

If not, if you want your child exposed to all that crap, if you want a mindless automaton who can't/won't think for himself (but does know how to put a rubber on a banana at age 8), then by all means ship them off to the government indoctrination center and mixed together with other kids whose parents think just like you do.

The choice is clear: homeschool your kids, else the tree of liberty (and maybe even your children themselves) will die.

UPDATE: This just keeps getting better. The teacher in question below had an outstanding warrant for her arrest for criminal mischief. And you lemmings want your children 'socialized' by this?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tuesday Tomfoolery

Commenter tweel shows us that Cameron, the fellow that directed Avatar, is either a plagiarist or simply unimaginative. Or both. Either way, H-wood needs to get some new material already. The whole white man bad, technologically backward native good trope is wearing a bit thin:

(Source here)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Never Been More Proud of Arizona

Word. That's all I gotta say about this. Besides "call AG Holder's bluff", that is.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Spearhead Column Is Up

Go thither and peruse.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tuesday Tomfoolery

From those who gave us low-flow toilets, CAFE standards, market "regulation", euthanasia laws, and "assault weapons" bans, I give you the Smith and Wesson 1800-44L!

This 'final solution' will be marketed exclusively to tea-bagging racist rednecks clinging to their guns and Bibles and not getting with the Administration's liberal pogroms.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Thoughts About AVTR

Mrs. Wapiti and I finally viewed Avatar last night...purchased it on sale at the local Kroger in conjunction with a 2L Coke and a box of popcorn. I give the movie 2 1/2 bugles out of 5.

1. Awesome CG effort--other than the modeling of water and fire, it looked totally real.

2. We've seen this plot before, Part 1. Technologically advanced evil White mercantilists invade a lush rain forest and displace the primitive utopian society that lives there. Gee, sounds a lot like the plot of Emerald Forest. And, in a case of life imitating art, was not far from the truth.

3. We've seen this plot before, Part 2. Soldier working in the employ of the evil White mercantilists looking for 'unobtainium'...making one wonder, is the name of the metal a joke?...goes native a la Dances With Wolves and The Last Samurai. This of course happens after we are invited to consider how our own modern technological society is somehow disconnected from Gaia/Eywa, and how inharmonious the modern life is with our All Mother. In short, Western civilization and religion is rejected in favor of a pagan Eastern and/or Gaia philosophy.

4. The portrayal of the Na'vi society rang fairly credible, except that the egalitarianism typical of such a hunter-gatherer society was inconsistently so. For instance, the temporal leader of the tribe was male, and the spiritual head was female. Fair enough. But that is where the division of labor stops. Nowhere else do we see a sexual division of labor in the society. Both sexes perform typically male roles as hunters, for instance, and no portrayals of domesticity--typically female roles--are to be found in the movie. One would think that a bi-modal division of social roles at the top would be the result of a bubbling-up of a sexual division of labor at the bottom. Perhaps this was on purpose, so as to not rile the feminists with portrayals of females performing domestic drudgery as is so common among human hunter-gatherer societies. We'll never know. However, I found the portrayal of the Na'vi society unbalanced.

5. The racism inherent in the movie was obvious and so typical of the Hollywood left as to make it nearly unremarkable. But I'll remark on it because it is my duty to point out anti-white racism when I see it. In this case, (almost) all of the invading, soulless mercantilists were white. The Na'vi were voiced exclusively by non-whites (Zoe Saldana, Wes Studi, CCH Pounder, Laz Alonso). White bad, black (or in Studi's case--red) good. 'Nuff said.

6. Michelle Rodriguez plays the helicopter pilot that switches sides in this movie. Still being typecast as a butch she-man, as she was in The Fast and the Furious and SWAT. She's looking better in this movie than in previous ones, as she evidently has gained a little weight which softens her features a little bit.

7. At least they have jobs for helicopter pilots in the future. That's good to know. Job security and all that.

8. Sigourney Weaver seems synonymous with the term 'hypersleep' in sci-fi movies.

9. Switching bodies would be a mind job. How would you keep separate your human identity and your Na'vi identity? And in Sam Worthington's character's case, he wouldn't want to come back at all. For he had much more fun as 'Jakesully' than as a parapalegic former Marine IRL.

All told, not a bad movie, I just found some of the recycled cultural tropes in it to be a bit tiresome. The movie's biggest achievement is technological, and it is worth viewing on that basis alone.