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Some Thoughts on Why USA Cannot Win Cold War 2.0: Part 1

September 18, 2017 2 comments

One of the major undercurrents running through a number of current standoffs and conflicts involving the USA (supported by its west European vassal states) and a number of other countries such as Iran, North Korea, Russia, China etc can be stated as follows: USA is acting as if it can “win” all these conflicts in a manner similar to how, it believes, it “won” Cold War 1.0.

To put it another way, the establishment in USA believes that it can win conflicts against other countries (small and large) through a combination of economic policy and propaganda. A corollary of that is the widespread belief among establishment-types in USA that those conflicts will never reach the point where are an existential threat to the survival of USA.

While I have previously touched on this topic in some previous posts such as why comparing income across countries in USD is detached from reality, the focus was mainly on socio-economic effects of this disconnect rather than its strategic implications. I also wrote another post about why Russian military capability was far stronger than its GDP as measured in USD would otherwise imply.

The gist of my argument was that comparing the GDP of countries in USD dollars is quite meaningless if the costs of functionally equivalent products and services, as measured in USD, was substantially different. Furthermore, the ability to produce certain products (such nuclear bombs and ICBMs) are far more valuable than their cost in resources or manpower- especially if both are almost completely indigenous.

Anyway, getting back to the topic of this post- you might have noticed that establishment in USA is devoting a lot of effort in an attempt to start another Cold War by actions such as implicating Russian journalistic ventures as devious propaganda outlets, endless blathering about Russian interference in the 2016 election, arming Ukraine against Russia, economic sanctions on Russia for taking back Crimea, defaming Russian sport starts and Olympic athletes through western regulatory bodies, targeting Russian companies selling products and services in USA and more.

You might also have noticed that these measures have not really affected the resurgence of Russia as country since Putin came to power in 2000. Such behavior has, however, done a wonderful job of convincing even otherwise skeptical Russian citizens that they can never have good relations with USA. We can see a similar, if less public, conflict developing between China and USA on a number of issues such as maritime boundaries in the south china sea, trade disputes and many others. Yet, they do not address the central issue linking these seemingly unrelated conflicts- which is the irreversible decline of economic and military power of USA versus China and, more generally, the rest of the world.

It is no secret that the USA, in its current form, is a nation and system in terminal decline. While there have been a few years (like the mid to late 1990s) when things looked good for USA, the overwhelming long-term trend is towards decline and this has been especially obvious since the financial crisis of 2008. As I frequently pointed out in my older posts, the inability of USA to win (or even appear to win) wars in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan have not helped its public image.. to put it mildly. In fact, the USA has not been able to decisively win a single war since the end of WW2- which is a bit over 70 years.

The current standoff between North Korea and USA is another example of the huge gap between the projected public image of USA and the reality as seen by the rest of the world. As an example, consider the bullshit and propaganda spewed by american mainstream media about the capabilities of their anti-ballistic missile (ABM) systems. Now ask yourself- if american ABM systems were as effective as claimed by the establishment, why would USA give a flying fuck about DPRK developing and deploying ICBMs?

The thing is, american ABM systems “seem” to only work under highly rigged test conditions and are probably worse than useless against even a small-scale attack by IRBMs and ICBMs. China or Russia, both of whom incidentally border DPRK, are unwilling (and unable) to do anything about DPRK’s nuclear and ICBM program. In fact, all those missile launches and nuclear tests by DPRK have helped them humiliate USA on the world stage and expose its real-life weaknesses.

And this brings me to the central idea of this series of posts, namely that USA is incapable of winning Cold War 2.0.

But before we go there, let us quickly recap the reasons why USA thought it “won” Cold War 1.0. As many of you know, the establishment in USA believes that it was largely responsible for the collapse of USSR in 1991, which marked the end of Cold War 1.0. While this belief might sound pleasing to jingoistic ears, the reality is rather different as the USSR started experiencing serious socio-economic problems because of the rigid and unresponsive nature of their version of state communism as early as the late 1960s. It was these systemic problems, rather than american pressure, which ultimately led to the collapse of USSR in 1991.

China, on the other hand, was able to avoid all those problems because of systematic socio-economic reform during the same time period. These reforms have been so successful that China, adjusted for PPP, is the largest economy in the world today. The point I am trying to make is that the apparent “victory” of USA in Cold War 1.0 had more to do with the failings and sclerosis of one particular version of state communism in Russia and eastern Europe than the american system “winning” anything.

This inconvenient fact has not stopped the american establishment and its lapdog “intellectuals” from proclaiming ‘the end of history’ and ‘beginning of a new world order’ in 1991. Of course, things did not go as “planned” especially after 2001, Iraq War 2.0, Afghanistan War and then the financial crisis of 2008. Such setbacks have, however, not dimmed the ardor of establishment types in Washington D.C to re-establish a ‘new world order’ centered around USA. As many of you are only too aware of, the ground reality in USA for the 99% simply does not support the establishment belief that USA will be able to maintain its current position in the world.

In the next part of this series, I will explore how rapid industrialization in the rest of the world within the previous two-three decades (in combination with simultaneous un-industrialization of USA and the ‘west’) has fundamentally shifted the real power balance and possible outcomes for any Cold War 2.0-type strategies deployed by establishment in USA. Spoiler alert: real-life outcomes of such conflicts are heavily rooted in real-life capabilities and abilities rather than impressive but empty posturing and bullshit.. I mean propaganda.

What do you think? Comments?

The Next Likely Escalation in USA vs North Korea Conflict: Sep 12, 2017

September 12, 2017 12 comments

As regular readers of this blog know, I have written a few posts about the ongoing ‘situation’ between USA and North Korea over the previous year. For those who are relatively new to this blog, here are a few examples: On the Inability of USA to Stop North Korean Nuclear Weapon Program; Reports of Cyberwar against N. Korean Ballistic Missiles are Likely False; A Quick Analysis of the First North Korean ICBM Test: July 5, 2017 and most recently Continued Inability of USA to Stop N.Korean Nuclear Missile Program.

I have also written a few posts about the factors behind the genesis and continuation of this particular confrontation: The West Has Always Lost Against Determined Adversaries Since WW2; Why was USA Unable to Win Korean War in the 1950s: Apr 22, 2017 and How Racism and Magical Thinking Could Lead to War with North Korea.

To make a long story short, it is my opinion that a mixture of american ego, hubris, racism and magical thinking have been the main factor which created and then sustained this conflict. Now this does not imply that the North Korean regime (especially the Kim Dynasty) are great human beings, to put it mildly. But it is quite clear that their behavior and actions over the previous seven decades have been consistently and highly rational.

I should also point out that USA never had any qualms being super friendly with despots, assholes and mass murderers such as the Saudi dynasty and other Gulf Emirs, Saddam Hussein (before 1989) and Bin Laden (before 1993). In other words, the idea that USA cannot get along with the Kim Dynasty and North Korean regime because of personality cultism and totalitarianism is utterly ridiculous since there is tons of evidence that USA has no problems with despotic regimes, as long as those relationships are profitable to american corporations.

But back to the topic at hand. As you might have heard, yesterday the USA has gotten the security council to approve one more in a seemingly endless series of economic sanctions against the North Korean regime. Of course, these sanctions which were not vetoed by China and Russia were significantly diluted from the first drafts. They do however pose an open challenge to Kim Jong-un and the NK regime, in the wake of their successful hydrogen bomb test.

Based on how things have unfolded till now, I think that North Korean regime will respond in a somewhat unique way. To be more specific, they will test an ICBM at almost-full range such that its warhead will land in the Pacific Ocean off the west coast of USA (or Mexico) just outside the Exclusive economic zone of either country. In other words, they will test an ICBM which will overfly Japan (something they have already done) to land about 250-300 miles of the west coast of USA- likely near its southern border with Mexico.

But it gets better.. I think there is a real chance that they will use a live nuclear warhead (likely a H-bomb instead of a A-bomb) and make it go off over the target area. Yes.. you heard that right. I think that there is a pretty good chance that North Korea will test a nuclear warhead tipped ICBM off the west coast of USA in a way such that it does not violate any of the maritime boundaries and zones of either USA or Mexico.

Here is why I think they will do it..

1] The North Korean regime understands that its survival is linked to the possession of a credible nuclear deterrent- specifically one that can wipe out at least a few large cities in USA. Perhaps more importantly, they know from their previous interactions during the Bill Clinton presidency that the USA cannot be trusted to honor any agreement, treaty or promise it makes with the North Korean regime. So far the USA has been able to bullshit and lie to its citizens that North Korean nukes cannot reach the mainland of USA.

A live nuke-ICBM test will show that all anti-ballistic missile systems deployed by USA are expensive boondoggles. Also, the american government and its “credentialed experts” will no longer be able to claim that North Korean ICBMs and Nukes are not technologically advanced enough to work reliably. After that, USA will not be able to hide behind “expert” techno-babble and other linguistic sophisms designed to minimize the nuclear capability of NK in the eyes of its citizens.

2] As long as the warhead explodes 50-100 km outside the exclusive economic zone of USA or Mexico, neither country can credibly claim that it was an act of war. A nuke going off over the ocean 50 km outside the economic zone of USA is legally no different from a failed satellite or spacecraft crashing into the same point on ocean. Also, the regime in NK has withdrawn from any international treaty which would limit its ability to conduct an atmospheric nuclear test. While the fallout from such a test might reveal some details about the nuclear device being used, it will only bolster previous claims made by North Korea about their nuclear capabilities.

At this stage, the government in USA will be in a pretty odd situation where they cannot really go to war over a test which did not violate the legal boundaries of their country while having to simultaneously face the majority of their angry and scared citizenry. Perhaps more importantly, its vassal governments in South Korea and Japan will realize that any military action by USA will result in the destruction of at least a couple of their major metropolitan areas (example – Seoul Capital Area and Greater Tokyo Area) and the death of tens of millions of their own citizens.

3] While China and Russia have tried to play both sides of the conflict, their recent willingness to vote for economic sanctions against North Korea (even if they are watered down) has pissed off the regime in Pyongyang. Conducting a live Nuke-ICBM test puts both countries in a situation where they have to choose sides. As far as China is concerned, unwillingness to respond to any unprovoked military action or attempt to occupy North Korea would be perceived as extreme humiliation by a western imperialistic country- something that would seriously screw up the public image of the ruling party in that country. Also China has no interest in a refugee influx from North Korea in the event of a war or, even worse, having an american puppet regime on their borders.

Russia, too, has appeared a bit too willing to please the USA even after all the attempts by the later to humiliate it and besmirch its name. The risk of a nuclear conflict and a potential american puppet state on their eastern borders would force them to choose sides. Basically, they are put in a situation where they, like China, would have to side with North Korea to protect their own interests. All that talk about international solidarity, arms control treaties and reestablishing normal relations with USA will mean squat once the moment of truth arrives. In other words, North Korea can force China and Russia to side with it by conducting such a provocative but legally acceptable test.

The clincher, in my opinion, is that it closes off every time delaying option used by USA to prolong this conflict and hope to win by economic attrition. The only option available to USA after such a test are as follows: declare war against North Korea and expose tens of millions of people in South Korea, Japan and USA to almost certain death, in addition to drawing China and Russia into the resulting conflict OR accept that North Korea is a nuclear power and start negotiating with it. The stark and binary nature of choice in the aftermath of such a test is precisely why I think Kim Jong-un and the regime will go for it.

What do you think? Comments?

Continued Inability of USA to Stop N.Korean Nuclear Missile Program

September 3, 2017 7 comments

Almost a year ago, I wrote a post about the main reasons behind inability of USA to stop North Korea’s nuclear weapon and missile program. The main points made were as follows: a] The technology for nuclear weapons is pretty old and not especially complicated, regardless of what old white men with degrees from ivy league schools say; b] China had no interest in stopping North Korea’s nuclear program since the pros of that country possessing its own nukes outweighed the cons of that outcome; c] The North Korean regime was very pragmatic and their desire to posses nuclear weapons and missiles was about self-preservation than any future imperial ambitions.

Since then, I have written posts on developments in that area- from the self-delusions of USA being able to “hack” NK missile launches to the role played by racism and magical thinking in response of USA to North Korea nuclear and missile program. As all of you know by now- NK conducted their sixth, and to date most powerful, underground nuclear test yesterday. While we are still in the zone of incomplete, and often contradictory, information- its is reasonable to assume that yesterdays test, which registered as an earthquake of Richter 6.3 is at least 10 times more powerful than their previous test at Richter 5.2-5.3. In other words, the output of yesterday’s device was at least 150-200 kt.

You might also have seen a series of photos, released a few hours before that test, of Kim Jong-un inspecting a peanut shaped device which looks like the exterior of a thermonuclear device suitable for delivery by a missile. While many “credentialed western experts” are still trying to push the idea that device on display was not similar to the one detonated later that day, I think otherwise. Why should you believe “western experts” who have not been able to make correct, let alone accurate, predictions about the North Korean nuclear and missile program? In my opinion, it is reasonable to assume that NK possess multiple 100-300 kt ‘two-stage’ thermonuclear warheads as well as road-mobile ICBMs with a range sufficient to target large metropolitan areas on the west coast of USA, at the very least.

To put it another way, any attempt by USA to launch an attack (however limited) on North Korea is now as likely to end badly for people living in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco metro areas as it will for people living in Seoul and Tokyo metro areas. Of course, Trump and other american keyboard warriors can still attack North Korea and Kim Jong-un on Twitter by posting ‘spicy’ memes. The reality, however, is that North Korea has now exposed the hollowness of american bluffing about being able to attack it and ‘win’ any subsequent war. As it stands today, any serious war between the two sides will include many tens of millions of dead South Koreans, Japanese and Americans. Regardless of the outcome for North Korea, it is no longer possible for USA to ‘win’ a war against that country.

So will this new reality change the approach of USA in regards to North Korea? Well.. I am not sure that will happen any time soon. Here is why..

1] The vast majority of people occupying executive and administrative positions in the american government are racists who live in a make-believe world. They actually believe that they are an omnipotent and indispensable superpower, regardless of mountains of accumulating evidence to the contrary. It is very likely that they will find it hard to accept that North Korean nuclear warheads and ICBMs are real. Consequently, I expect the american administration to keep on acting as if all those nuclear and missile tests never occurred. We have seen other manifestations of this behavior in response to a number of severe setbacks such as the inevitability of defeat in Iraq, Afghanistan and in the past- Vietnam. Maybe, they will never accept the new reality until a North Korean nuke goes off above one, or more, of their large cities.

2] As many, including myself, have repeatedly pointed out- ‘elites’ in USA retain their positions despite repeated and very public failures. Consequently, a host of amazingly stupid ideas and policies keep on getting implemented and promoted as gospel. In the case of North Korea, we have seen this manifested in the form of repeated and endless talk about “more sanctions”, repeated appeals to China and other assorted ritual behavior. I mean.. if something has not worked for many decades, what makes you think it will work now? But why do all the “serious people” and “credentialed experts” keep on repeating the same talking points? Well.. it comes down to lack of imagination and ideological conformity- with a big dash of racism. The elite in USA, you see, are incapable of imagining a situation where they have to accept the reality of North Korea being a full-fledged nuclear power and negotiating with as an equal nation state.

3] You might have noticed that North Korea has stomped on every single ‘red line’ drawn by successive american administrations. It does not take a genius to figure out that this has not escaped notice by rest of the world. The inability of USA to contain North Korea as well as its defeats in Iraq and Afghanistan merely confirm what many people outside USA have noticed for over a decade now- which is that the USA is somewhere in between an old champion boxer and paper tiger. The inability of USA to slow, let alone stop, the North Korean nuclear weapon and ICBM program makes it look sclerotic and impotent (which it kinda is) to the rest of the world. While this might not be a big problem for other large countries, it is a big one for the USA since a lot of american global influence is based on others believing all the hype, bullshit and lies about american ‘power’ and ‘capabilities’.

4] On another note, it is highly unlikely that China or Russia are going to help USA in containing the NKorean nuclear and ICBM programs. As far as China is concerned, the Nkorean program are a safe and inexpensive way to keep the USA off-balance in that region. It also allows them to constantly humiliate South Korea and Japan by showing their vulnerability to such weapons in spite of american assurances of protection. Furthermore, the Chinese government fully understands that USA will not keep its end of any bargain or deal made to stop the NKorean programs. As far as Russia is concerned, the NKorean programs provide yet another way to publicly humiliate the american establishment. As many of you know, the american ‘deep state’ is itching for a conflict with Russia and had provoked it on numerous occasions in recent past. As far as Russia is concerned, a nuclear ICBM armed NKorea is another tool to make american government look stupid and impotent. While both countries might make some polite noises about containing NKorea, you can be assured that they have no interest in helping the USA.

Will probably write more about this topic in the future..

What do you think? Comments?

On the Rise of NeoLiberalism in West During the 1968-2008 Era: Part 1

August 31, 2017 8 comments

One of the more interesting questions about neoliberalism concerns its apparent popularity among the general population in western countries during the 1968-2008 era. I mean.. why did so many average people in western countries willingly support neoliberal ideas and policies during that era? Some of might say that a similar percentage of the population in 1930-era Germany also supported Nazism- and therefore most people are easily misled idiots. Except that is not really true..

The rise of public support for Nazism in 1930-era Germany was the culmination of widespread disgust with repeated catastrophic failures of mainstream political parties in governing the country. To put it another way, the supposedly “normal” political parties of that era had shown themselves to be incapable of maintaining a general acceptable level of governance- on more than one occasion. Things reached a climax in the early 1930s when global economic depression and ‘austerity’ driven economic policies cause mass unemployment and misery among the general population.

At that stage, the only two remaining alternatives were the Nazis or some coalition of communist parties. After the 1932 elections, the rich and petite bourgeoisie in Germany supported the “business friendly” Nazis over the communist parties. Hitler took full advantage of the situation and the rest, as they say, is history. In other words, the rise of popular support for the Nazi party in 1930-era era Germany looks far more rational once you consider the environment in which it occurred. They did also implement some fairly populist polices (at least for the majority) in the first few years of their rule.

The point I am trying to make is that public popularity of repugnant ideologies in certain historical eras should not be seen as evidence that people are stupid or easily misled. Instead, such popularity should be understood, if not celebrated, through the lens of prevailing socio-economic conditions and cultural mores. That is also why people like Mussolini, Stalin, Franco came into power and were able to hold onto it for so long. That is also how so many ‘muricans still see their country as one of good law and order when it was always about enslaving, exploiting and murdering black and other non-white people.

And this brings me to the main questions posed in the current post, which are as follows: Why did so many average people in western countries support neoliberal ideas and policies during the 1968-2008 era? Why did so many non-rich people cheer on an ideology which made their lives poorer, more precarious and generally more shittier than before? Was it just good propaganda or were the reasons for the public support for neoliberalism during that era more systemic than most critics are willing to admit? And why might the critics of neoliberalism not want to consider systemic factors behind its rise during that era?

One of the biggest contemporary myth about the rise of neoliberalism is that it was centrally planned by cabals of rich businessmen behind closed doors in smoke-filled rooms. While I do not doubt that many such meetings occurred, it can (at best) explain changes in some government policy changes in a few countries such as USA and UK. However as anybody who has lived during that era will remember, the public was also very enthusiastic about a number of neoliberal policies from cutting the social welfare net, privatization of public goods and services, financialization of the economy, increasing corporate profits and many other ridiculous ideas.

So how do you explain public enthusiasm during that era for so many neoliberal policies? What were they thinking, or not thinking, when supporting those ideas and policies? What drove them to support policies that were against their best long-term self interests?

Here is my theory..

1] General prosperity and economic growth in the west after WW2, coupled with the residual effects of pre-WW2 colonialism resulted in what is probably the largest gap in living standards between the west and the rest of the world during the 1950s-1980s. Of course, that gap in living standards has decreased ever since those years and could likely go in the other direction in the future. Nevertheless, your average white person who grew up in that era almost certainly saw this as “proof” of their inherent racial superiority. They interpreted something which occurred through a combination of circumstances and luck as the natural order of things.

It is therefore not surprising that con-artists such as Ayn Rand, Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman etc started gaining an ever larger popular audience. While support by the scheming rich certainly helped these con-artists attain social respectability, it was the general environment of western society during those three decades which made neoliberalism seem ‘right’ in the first place. Most contemporary critics of neoliberalism would prefer to believe it was clever propaganda and sinister brain-washing, rather than inherent racism and other popular delusions of white people in western countries, which made neoliberalism the default ideology of the 1968-2008 era.

2] Some of you might have noticed that I consider 1968, and not the early 1980s, to be the beginning of neoliberal era. But why 1968? Didn’t neoliberalism start in the early 1980s under Reagan and Thatcher? While it is true that overt policy implementation of neoliberalism started in the early 1980s, the ideology itself had been fashionable for over a decade before 1980. While the precise triggering event or events which made neoliberalism fashionable was different in each western country, in the case of USA it came down to passage of civil rights related legislation in the mid-to-late 1960s.

Yes, you heard that right. Neoliberalism, as an ideology, became mainstream in the USA only after it became obvious to the average white person that maintaining their relative superiority over non-whites through overt “legal” racism was no longer possible. It is also therefore not surprising the strongest popular support of neoliberal policies such as shredding the social safety net, job precarization, union busting etc have always been stronger in ex-slave owning southern states and those adjacent to them (Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Indiana) rather than those in the North East or the West Coast.

3] But why would a combination of racism and delusions of inherent superiority specifically enable the dominance of neoliberalism in the west? Why not fascism or some other form of majority totalitarianism? Well.. it comes down to the delusion of inherent racial superiority. In the post-WW2 era, almost nobody wanted to be seen as a fascist, nazi or overt racist. Those were crude and failed ideologies. Neoliberalism, on the other hand, appeared to offer average white people most of the benefits of racism and discrimination while appearing to be liberal and hip. Since even the most average and mediocre white person now saw himself or herself as insurmountably superior to non-whites, they deluded themselves into believing that neoliberalism would only further their dominance.

Of course, it is now obvious that things did not work that way. However, in the late 1980s to mid 1990s, it was very easy for the average white person in USA to believe that the rest of world would never catch up with them. Remember, the USSR had just collapsed and everyone and their dog was proclaiming the end of history. China and other Asian countries had not reached the level of industrialization we see today. It appeared the white americans supporting neoliberalism were set for their own 1000-year Reich. I should also mention that some of the most damaging neoliberal trends like job precarization and high stealth inflation (housing, medical, education) had still not hit white-collar workers.

It is therefore not surprising that many average white americans, blue and white-collar, thought that they would be the winners of a neoliberal order. I mean.. it appeared to work for them for the first 10-15 years. Also, it was far easier to explain away problems caused by neoliberalism when they affected non-whites and poorer white people. Furthermore, the initial large wave of indiscriminate financialization specifically the housing price bubble and easy access to credit allowed the majority to look past ugly emerging problems. All of this meant that average white americans were cheering on neoliberalism until the financial crisis of 2008. Of course, by then it was too late..

In a future post of this series, I will try to explore why neoliberalism became popular in other western countries- specifically those in western Europe. As you will see, american influence was only one of the factors that drove the rise of that ideology in those countries.

What do you think? Comments?

Censoring Speech on Internet is Always a Bad Idea: Aug 21, 2017

August 21, 2017 17 comments

Over the previous few days, many short-sighted idiots.. I mean people.. of varying fame on the internet and various social media platforms have been supporting attempts by various corporate monopolies and oligopolies to deplatform people and organisations with connections to the so-called ‘alt-right’. Let us, for a moment, ignore that the so-called ‘alt-right’ is actually a bunch of different groups with overlap in some parts of their individual ideologies but large (and often irreconcilable) differences in other parts. Let us, instead, focus on the far more important question which is as follows:

Should corporations, with or without state support, be allowed to censor speech on the internet?

In my opinion, giving corporations (of any type) such power, whether implicitly or explicitly, is a very bad idea. Now some of you might say- but.. but they are trying to censor Nazis. What is wrong with bending rules to marginalize Nazis or people who profess to believe in that ideology? The short answer is that censorship of speech is always a bad idea, even if the groups or individuals you are trying to censor are vile and loathsome. Furthermore, censorship of free speech or similar instance of rules and regulations based on extreme cases are almost always counterproductive in the longer run in more ways than one.

The longer answer requires us to first consider the context and history of such demands and the almost certain negative and counterproductive consequences of such actions.

1] Many famous or credentialed morons.. I mean experts.. like to claim that free speech never “actually existed” are in the same ideological basket as those who defend slavery and Jim Crow because “that is how people used to do things”. I could show you the stupidity of that logic by asking them why those credentialed sophists why they prefer to use functional flush toilets and drink purified and treated water when neither of those have existed for most of human history. The nature of what is possible and justifiable has more to do with feasibility rather than selective interpretations of tradition. For example- the majority of people in USA are now OK with gay marriage largely because conservative opponents of gay marriage tried to couch their opposition in terms of appeals to thoroughly discredited traditional norms surrounding marriage.

2] Any half-decent analysis of history suggests that attempts to suppress ideas because they clash with dominant culture of the day often results in those ideas gaining more exposure and respectability. As some of you know, a number of ideologies from Christianity in the Roman Empire to Nazism in Wiemer-era Germany were able gain significant public interest because of persistent attempts by the prevailing establishment to shut them down and persecute their members. Sites such as the Daily Stormer, Rebel Media and many right-wing internet forums and social media recently gained tons of public attention because of the many attempts of internet oligopolies to shut them down. Moreover, trying to censor the content on such sites is problematic because it is quickly reproduced on many others.

3] Why would any person with basic critical thinking skills trust large corporations or government officials- both of whom have no worthwhile public accountability to make subjective decisions that are impartial? Why would they? What motivation do they have to be fair and reasonable? Do you really think that the legal precedent gained by censoring these neo-Nazis won’t be used to censor anybody else who they do not like? Do you think that social movements from such as BLM and various labor unions will somehow never be subject to high-handed censorship? Also do you trust the law enforcement apparatus in USA will not misuse such precedent to further their abuse of groups which they already like to murder and imprison? If you still trust large corporations, government officials and law enforcement to behave ethically, I have a bridge to sell you.

4] Laws criminalizing explicit violent threats and intentional libel have been around for a very long time. Therefore, we do not require new laws and regulations to prosecute those who commit such acts, either in real life or on the internet. What is most troubling about attempts by internet oligopolies to censor unpopular online speech by hiding behind the “Nazi exception” is that they are going after ideas and ideologies which by themselves are not innately violent or libelous. For example- a racist shitbag who opines that whites are the “master race” is just stating what he or she believes. As long as the person in question is not making an explicit violent threat, he or she is just being an asshole. And one person’s asshole could be an other person’s philosopher.

5] Right-wing ideologies such Nazism and similar ethno-nationalistic movements tend to gain most of their support from those who feel disenfranchised by the established socio-political system of that day. There is a very good why Mussolini became successful in the chaos of post-WW1 Italy or why Hitler rocketed in popularity after the great depression caused mass unemployment in 1930-era Germany. Similarly the rise of right-wing fascistic movements in west-European countries during the late 1920s-1930s was due to a combination of mass unemployment, unresolved nationalism and entrenched political establishments who did not want to change the unsustainable status quo.

In other words, the rise of neo-Nazis and similar right-wing movements in USA is a symptom of people losing their faith in the system and elites who are currently running them. You cannot treat a serious systemic disease by addressing a few of its minor symptoms. I would go so far as to say that the current interest in censoring unpopular free speech is basically an admission by the establishment that they are either unwilling or unable to fix the larger problems of socio-economic inequality. It is the policy equivalent of trying to patch up a banged up car with duct tape because you cannot afford to, or are unwilling to, repair it.

To summarize: Attempts to censor free speech (especially the unpopular kind) by large corporations and government officials are, at best, short-sighted and futile attempts to address minor symptoms of much larger socio-economic problems. At worst, they will make those assholes more popular and respectable while simultaneously abusing resultant legal precedents against a variety of relatively peaceful social movements and individuals. Therefore, in my opinion, it is far better for us a society to let a few assholes say what they want, even if they end up trying to test the boundaries of such freedoms. Large corporations, government officials, and “law enforcement” pose far larger risks and threats for the well-being and future of most people than a few idiots in office-cuck attires parading around some city with citronella-scented tiki torches.

Will write more on this topic in a future post, depending on your replies to this one.

What do you think? Comments?

How Racism and Magical Thinking Could Lead to War with North Korea

August 14, 2017 11 comments

In my previous post on this topic, I pointed out how a combination of factors ranging from the nature of the North Korean regime and institutional attitudes in USA towards that country to human behavior under conditions of less-than-perfect information could start a war between North Korea and USA. Exploring this topic does, however, require us to confront some obvious, but rarely talked about, issues surrounding how the USA (as a country) views itself and interacts with the rest of the world.

Have you ever considered the possibility that most interactions of the USA (as a nation) with other countries are driven by some combination of racism and magical thinking? Well.. if you haven’t, you should consider that possibility.

Now that we have let the proverbial cat out of the bag, let us talk about why things ended up that way. The major reasons behind why the USA (as a nation) sees itself in a certain way come down to accidents of geography and history. Firstly, the outlook of the nation and its institutions was powerfully influenced by a historically long period of relative geographical isolation- both from overt influence by other countries and from the consequences of their own actions.

Simply put, the combination of relative geographical isolation until after WW2 and weak neighbors made it possible for successive governments in USA to do pretty much what they wanted in their country and immediate geographical neighborhood without having to worry about consequences of their actions. The effect of having weak geographical neighbors for most of american history gave american institutions (and the people within them) a belief that they were somehow the ‘chosen’ supermen destined to rule the world.

Perhaps most importantly, other countries in the last two hundred years which could have kicked american ass in military conflicts lay across the atlantic ocean- in an era where it took weeks to days to reach american shores. This state of affairs persisted until ICBMs and nuclear weapons were developed. In other words, the american psyche (institutional and individual) are largely the product of an era where they lacked serious or existential threats.

And this brings us to the second, and somewhat related reason for the mindset of american institutions and its ruling class. The lack of militarily strong neighbors, relative geographical isolation and the effects of various industrial revolutions resulted in a fairly prosperous country with only one significant military conflict (aka the Civil war) prior the modern era. It is also worth noting that the USA was largely an isolationist country until after it got involved in WW2.

To put it in other words, the lack of large-scale deaths due to wars on american soil is seen by many in that country as the normal state of affairs. Even supposedly “intelligent” people in various american governments throughout history have never been able to fully comprehend what such levels of casualties do to nations and societies. For example- you cannot really understand a lot of post-WW2 west European history without considering the effects of the many tens of millions killed in WW1 and WW2.

To make matters more complicated, the american empire as we know it today is almost exclusively a post-WW2 phenomena. During that time it has fought many wars (Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan) without winning against anyone larger than a Caribbean island. Of course, many millions in those countries (and tens of thousands of Americans) were killed due to those wars gave american military and policy elite the spurious belief that they could kill tons of non-white people in other parts of the world without any consequences.

That lasted till Sep 11, 2001 when it became obvious that a ragtag bunch of people with limited financial and military resources could cause hundreds of billions of immediate damage to the USA- not to mention the trillions spent on subsequent wars which the USA has since lost, even if it can cannot admit it publicly. Maybe that is why that particular day has attained so much symbolic importance in the american psyche.

And this brings me to the question of what will happen when North Korea performs further missile and nuclear tests.

As many of you must have heard by now- a few days ago, Kim Jong-Un has threatened to test a few IRBMs such that their dummy warheads would hit the waters off Guam. The american government reacted by threatening everything from preemptive strikes to full-scale war, including the use of nuclear weapons. They have also tried to pacify the american public by telling them fairy tales such as THAAD and other ABM systems being able to intercept all those missiles before their dummy warheads reach Guam.

But what happens if NK actually fires those missiles and THAAD and other ABM fail to prevent those dummy warheads from landing in the waters off Guam? As it stands right now, there are about 200k american citizens in South Korea- most of them in and around Seoul. A similar or larger number also reside in the greater Tokyo area- which is within the reach of even the oldest and most numerous North Korean missiles.

It would be foolish to believe that the NK regime would not use some of their 30-60 nukes against both those targets if they felt that they were going down. I mean, what do they have to lose in that scenario? Also, they are more likely to use them first if they believe that USA will use them. We cannot also discount the possibility that any interruption in communication between the regime and its missile forces might result in lower level commanders deciding to use them.

I wonder if enough people in current american administration have thought about consequences of even a limited nuclear exchange between the three east-Asian countries involved in this bizarre game of chicken. Do they fully comprehend the results of the South Korean and Japanese governments, which have been aligned with USA since end of WW2, being unable to stop millions of their citizens from dying or getting injured with nuclear weapons? Do they think that any defense arrangements they have with those and other governments will stand after such an outcome?

An even more unpleasant outcome is possible if even a couple nuke tipped ICBMs land on large metropolitan areas on the west coast. Do you realize the long-term psychological and financial effects of even 2-3 nukes with a 20-50 kiloton output going off over those metropolitan areas. Apart from a couple of hundred thousand deaths and injuries, such strikes will have large and irreversible negative effects on the american economy- not to mention politics, psyche and national cohesion. Sure.. you can nuke NK all you want after they hit you first (which they are very likely to), but the damage is already done.

The most important question, then, should be: Is escalating this stupid conflict really worth all the potential risks and downsides?

What do you think? Comments?

My Thoughts on the “Google Memo” and James Damore: Aug 9, 2017

August 9, 2017 4 comments

It appears that many of you want to hear my opinions about that now infamous “Google Memo” and its author- who has now been identified as James Damore. Well.. I had considered writing about this issue a couple of days ago, but thought it was best to wait until the guy at the center of this latest culture war controversy represented himself though an interview or two and maybe a detailed blog post. As it stands today, he seems to have given interviews to two people in what many would consider the ‘alt-right’.

In my opinion, who he gives an interview to at this time is not particularly relevant- since the Mass Media and SJWs of all persuasions are going out of their way to demonize and shut him out. This is not to say that I agree with every single word in his memo. However, the right to free speech (which I strongly support) is more important than the right of SJWs and other morons to feel “safe” from speech which they might find “offensive”. As long-time readers of my blog know, I am not fond of SJWs or the underlying motivations of their behavior.

As I have said in previous posts, SJW-ism is largely driven by the desire to show moral superiority (and perhaps make a quick buck) under neoliberalism. The current “intellectual” underpinnings of the slowly imploding neoliberal order do not allow real large-scale social problems to be addressed, and therefore activists and scammers spend their energy at promoting really small-scale causes such as transgender rights and the right for muslim women to wear a hijab while simultaneously ignoring endemic poverty, joblessness and overall misery seen in western neoliberal countries- especially the USA.

To put it another way, SJWs and their boosters in Mass Media are more interested in trying to make you feel ashamed about some video game you enjoy than push for universal healthcare. They would rather spend their efforts on trying to make you say that certain women comedians are talented and “beautiful” than lead a campaign for fully tax-funded university education. It is also no secret that many supposedly “liberal” TV personalities who pretend to care about social issues are just scammers making money out of misdirected outrage that is safe for their corporate backers.

So now you know where I stand on the issue of free speech, SJWs and Corporate Mass Media. But what about the actual contents of that memo or James Damore? Well.. this is the part that some of you might not like, because what I think about both of them is a bit more nuanced than my views on SJWs and Corporate Mass Media.

Firstly, the basic idea proposed in that memo- namely that women and men’s brains are not “wired” the same way is essentially correct. Now this does not mean that there is no overlap between the “wiring” of the two groups. In fact, there is far more overlap than many would be willing to accept. Having said that, you can make the claim that women as a group will perform better at some tasks than men as a group and vice versa.

This does not however translate into differences in gross intelligence or other large-scale abilities. As many of you know, women now make up almost half of doctors, lawyers and (in many countries) engineers and they seem to do as well as their male counterparts in these vocations. You might also recall that even 50 years, it was rare for women to be admitted in these field because of their supposed lack of intellectual ability. So clearly, all the beliefs which kept women out of intellectually demanding fields in previous eras were wrong.

Furthermore, psychological studies (which is largely made up bullshit) was once used as a justification to treat non-whites as subhuman. Today we are largely accept the idea that asians (both east- and south-) are very good at math and other STEM subjects and account for a disproportionate number of employees of technology heavy corporations and institutions. However as late as the 1960s, many prominent white scientists still believed that Asians were “low IQ” without any worthwhile ability for scientific or original thinking. How the tables have turned now..

And this brings me to what I think about the most significant, but overlooked, part of that memo. Though the document has been blasted for being overtly sexist, it is more about the corporate and office culture at Google in particular and corporate america in general. The guy is complaining about how the managerial and HR types at Google has basically stopped listening to opinions which diverge ever so slightly from their fashionable and “naturally correct” consensus. He is describing an organisation where the loudest and most manipulative faddists carry the day.

In short, he is describing an organisational culture which has more in common with royal courts, politburos and other large corporations that are dominated by clever and sociopathic power seekers than those who make the system function properly. I, for one, am not surprised that a large and unwieldy corporation such as Google has now more in common with other corporations and institutions with a similar head count and complex hierarchies than what it was a decade ago.

The fact that institutional bias at Google seems to be based in one fashionable type interpretation of the social “sciences” is just a quirk of the times we live in. Some of you might recall that many large corporations of yesteryears- such as Kodak, IBM, HP, Ford, GM, Merck too used have their own and equally well-known institutional biases based in conservative values or whatever corporate bullshit was fashionable at that moment. In fact, I wrote about inevitable emergence of such dysfunction in large institutions about six years ago.

Anyway, to summarize this post- what James Damore wrote in that memo has more to do with emergent dysfunction in large impersonal institutions than sexism. I would go far as to say that there is little, if any, sexism in that document. The very fact that he is being attacked for the basically nonexistent sexism in his memo says a lot about our contemporary media culture and society. Also, it says a lot about where Google is going.. or not going.

Might write more about this story depending on comments and future developments.

What do you think? Comments?