English language and a pinch of French.
There’s been a crack pandemic in Paris, France, these last years, with an area now known as Crack Hill (la colline du crack) in the North-Eastern parts of the city. Neighbors talking of “hell,” “nightmare” and other such words has become commonplace. Authorities are pouring millions of taxpayer money in a so-called crack plan doing nothing but distributing under police surveillance new crack pipes every Thursday to the 1.500 crackheads (they know the numbers!) roaming on Crack Hill, and paying for 400 hotel rooms for crackheads.
Thus the bureaucracy’s sole policy is to prevent the crackheads’ habit from turning them into blood felons, with the result that they will remain an endless source of unpunished misdemeanors, an everlasting nightmare for the neighborhood. – This in a country where the numbers of police officers per inhabitant are extremely high.
« Le Gilet jaune Jérôme Rodrigues relaxé » (Le Parisien 7/3/21) : une bonne nouvelle, bien que je ne comprenne pas le jugement. Rodrigues avait traité de « bande de nazis » des membres d’un syndicat policier et le ministre de l’intérieur avait saisi la justice pour injures. Le juge dit que les propos « visaient non l’ensemble des policiers mais les méthodes de certains d’entre eux » et que le syndicat « ne se confond pas avec l’administration publique qu’est la police nationale ». Oui et alors ? Rodrigues était poursuivi pour injures et non pour diffamation envers un corps constitué (la police nationale), donc le fait que les propos ne visaient pas le corps mais certains membres de ce corps ne disculpe pas en soi de l’injure.
La question est de savoir si traiter les gens de « nazis » est une injure. Or comment cela ne serait-il pas une injure alors que la loi française condamne pénalement l’idéologie nazie et que donc un nazi est un hors-la-loi ; si traiter quelqu’un de voleur est une injure, traiter quelqu’un de nazi est forcément une injure, qui doit être condamnée en tant que telle. Il est donc évident que le ministère public ou le ministre auteur de la plainte va faire appel et a bien des chances de gagner, suite à un jugement sans queue ni tête (du moins tel que rapporté par le journal). Le calvaire de Jérôme Rodrigues est loin d’être fini. « Allez en dictature »…
The ‘shield’ for ‘extremist’ views is the First Amendment
The Wikipedia page ‘Gab’ (the internet platform) says: “Gab claims that it promotes free speech and individual liberty, though these statements have been criticized as being a shield for its alt-right and extremist ecosystem.”
Under American law an “alt-right ecosystem” has no need of a shield, its shield is the law (First Amendment), so the critics alluded to are irrelevant unless the problem is the very shield American law offers alt-right ideas, that is, the problem is free speech.
The construction “Gab claims… though” is objectionable, there can be no “though” here, free speech is indeed what it is all about. When one creates a business for money laundering, as money laundering is illegal, then the business is a “shield.” Therefore, as alt-right views are shielded by the First Amendment, describing Gab as a “shield” is libelous.
It strikes one as odd, given the First Amendment law, that still some Americans, like the author(s) of this Wikipedia page, seem rather to have been raised in a European legal environment where freedom of speech exists only for what the powers that be allow, and everything they label extremist is doomed to endless persecution.
Finnish minister says sexist online comments about female politicians is a “threat to democracy.”
The utterance is even more ominous when one thinks that under Finnish democratic law derogatory comments on public figures such as elected officials might be prosecutable and severely punished. I’m not saying this is the case, as I don’t know Finnish law, but that wouldn’t surprise me given the state of the law in my and other continental European countries.
Pro-liberty Skidmore students blocked from creating a club after “cancel mob” organized against them.
Before cancel culture there’s the heckler’s veto, a cancel mob is a heckling mob. I don’t know how a “Student Government Association,” which blocked the club’s creation under pressure of a heckling mob, relates to government, if at all, in free speech law (any form of government support would suffice) but the doctrine about heckling is: “the core concern … is that allowing the suppression of speech because of the discontent of the opponents provides the perverse incentive for opponents to threaten violence rather than to meet ideas with more speech.” (mtsu.edu) Link
Instagram deletes post of President Biden falling up the stairs under its “violence and incitement” policy.
MSNBC analyst says Biden falling meme could incite violence.
They expect him to fall a lot…
Joe Biden has been would-be candidate for POTUS for 35 YEARS.
Here’s what Robert H. Bork wrote for year 1987: “Senator Biden’s presidential aspirations came to a sudden end, probably for all time. The campaign staff of Governor Michael Dukakis gave the press videotapes demonstrating that Biden had plagiarized speeches by other politicians such as Britain’s Neal Kinnock. In addition, the press learned that Biden had misrepresented his law school record. As the damaging facts began to pile up, Biden at first tried to explain and finally had to hold a press conference at which he withdrew as a candidate for his party’s nomination.” (The Tempting of America, 1990)
For a discussion of Robert Bork’s ideas, see Lesson 8.
‘It started with words’ so free speech is not okay?
Biden appointee Timothy Wu once questioned whether the First Amendment was “obsolete,” has questionable free speech views.
A fair statement is that all elected officials and their appointees have questionable free speech views, because a political class will always want to mutate into a political cartel, which requires speech control and suppression, so the condition for free speech is a truly independent judicial power and irremovable judges, something that apparently does not exist in this world except in the USA (God bless America). Do not make as if Republican majorities had no questionable free speech views: the many anti-BDS laws, which will be struck down one after the other, and the sooner the better, are a recent example of the tendency.
Force is the one thing we’re not allowed to advocate.
The First Amendment allows one to advocate force. “Advocacy of illegal conduct” is protected speech, what is not protected is “incitement to imminent lawless action” (Brandenburg v. Ohio), the word to emphasize here being “imminent.” Case law explains that, for speech to be unprotected, the lawless action it advocates must be not only imminent but also likely to follow from speech. I would argue that there is an intrinsic impossibility for online speech to be incitement to imminent action, the law is aimed at speech “brigaded with action,” that is, speech to and from among a mob prone to act, or, in the classic example, shouting fire in a crowded theater.
It’s legal, but it will still get you banned.
Being legal it depends on the carriers’ policies whether speech is suppressed and so far they have had quite discretionary powers.
Given what I just said about online speech I am surprised that a former shareowner of a platform, namely Parler, is raising funds for his legal counsel in view of a Congress hearing about the platform’s responsibility for the Capitol storming. It looks like rogue intimidation. I question the legality of any step by the legislator that compels private citizens to legal counsel expenses. The judiciary, not the legislative, is the power that examines particular responsibilities.
Is there rationality in the affirmation that as blacks make a disproportionate part of prison inmates in America the American society is racist? Looking at the figures of wealth beside the figures of prison inmates, one finds consistence across the two sets, that is, the less wealthy group is also the group with disproportionate numbers of prison inmates, which makes perfect sense on the merely economic and sociological level as poverty is ridden with deprivation and incentives to illegal conduct. As it is to be sociologically expected that crime be more rampant in poor neighborhoods than in wealthy ones, it is also to be expected that blacks have more prison inmates, as the figures show they are poorer in the main.
Therefore, although the affirmation according to which the society is racist can be inferred from prison inmates figures is hardly challenged because of the fear the challenge could be construed as a claim that blacks are intrinsically (like genetically) more criminal as a race, in fact there exists an entirely economic cause for penal figures.
This shifts attention to the cause of economic inequalities, as one might then ask if there is something intrinsic to racial groups that some thrive more and some thrive less in the economy? If inequalities in prison figures can be inferred from wealth group status, the latter cannot be inferred away, so to speak.
The anti-racist idea is that, given equal opportunities, all racial groups must and would equally thrive in the economy. So, as there are economic differences between racial groups, it must be that the society does not give equal opportunities to all and this because it is racist. Thus the American society is to be called racist as long as each racial group does not have the same proportions of wealth and poverty as the global average, that is, as long as they are not all the same in terms of wealth.
That this can and will result from the free market is, I am sure, what no one among Americans believes, so the fact that Americans keep talking of their economy as a free-market economy, having at the same time an anti-racist agenda, is questionable.
As you know, ex-post-facto legislation is expressly prohibited by the US constitution.
(On the eve of the sesquicentennial of Ohio’s Statehood in 1953 it was discovered that while the Ohio constitution had been ratified, the territory of Ohio was never formally admitted to the union. President Eisenhower made a joke about Ohio state officials drawing salaries under false pretenses and then had congress RETROACTIVELY ratify Ohio’s statehood.)
In its purity the principle holds in criminal law only, but such a construction may be argued to be unconstitutional indeed:
“Thomas Jefferson described them [ex post facto laws] as ‘equally unjust in civil as in criminal cases.’ Over the years, however, when deciding ex post facto cases, the United States Supreme Court has referred repeatedly to its ruling in Calder v. Bull, in which Justice Samuel Chase held that the prohibition applied only to criminal matters, not civil matters, and established four categories of unconstitutional ex post facto laws.” (Wikipedia)
Like Jefferson I see no reason why the principle should be limited to criminal law, because even if ignoring the principle must be particularly dramatic in criminal law it doesn’t mean such neglect is benign in other legal domains.
Multipartyism is a corrupt form of people’s government
Multipartyism is a corrupt form of people’s government. The point is to bring not more than two platforms to the electorate’s choice because that’s the only way to ensure that the elected majority will apply the electoral platform rather than coalition pacts bargained behind closed doors between various elected parties. The platform itself is the result of primaries so what Perot and others do as third parties could well be done in the frame of one or the other party.
In multipartyism parties run for platforms they know they will amend behind closed doors the very day after election day!
That is, if no party gets absolute majority (50 percent or more of the votes, that is, of the seats). With two parties competing one will get absolute majority, but with more than two parties competing absolute majorities are exceptional and coalition pacts must be reached between parties to form majority governments. Where absolute majorities are not exceptional one may talk of a de facto bipartisan system.
La différence entre un Français et un Américain, c’est que l’un chante « Aux armes » et que l’autre a le droit de porter des armes. « Vous chantiez, j’en suis fort aise… »
On Legalizing Polygamy
Polygamy is as good as nonexistent in the Arab Gulf states:
“Today, because of higher standards of education and additional leisure time to spend, compatible spouses are more desired. This issue also contributed to the almost complete eradication of polygamy in Gulf. Although permitted under Islam, the custom even in the past was rarely practiced. Often women include specific paragraphs in their marriage contract prohibiting the husband from taking a second wife.” (Article Marriage, in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Arab States Today: An Encyclopedia of Life in the Arab States, Maisel & Shoup ed., 2009)
The phrasing is ambiguous. “Eradication” would not make one expect the following sentence: “the custom even in the past was rarely practiced.” Because if it was rarely practiced in the past, then it was already “eradicated,” in the sense that it was rare already, and the conclusion is that the custom is as uncommon today as it was in the past, so there has been no change, and certainly no eradication. The situation was and is that only the wealthiest men, typically of the ruling families, had and have multiple wives. Besides, this “monopoly” must by necessity be consolidated by the rent economy, as one fails to see how individual males depending on the state for their income would be allowed several wives without the state correspondingly increasing their income, which would be perceived as unwarranted by the rest of males, whereas coming from the free market this kind of perception does not obtain.
So one point for allowing polygamy would be that it’d remain uncommon anyway, as it was and is in the Gulf states.
In an online summary of Edward Dutton’s book Why Islam Makes You Stupid… But Also Means You’ll Conquer the World (2020), I find Dutton includes among the reasons why Islam makes one stupid… and likely to conquer the world… polygamy. But on this he’s wanting on the side of sociological data, as polygamy is hardly more practiced by Muslims than by others.
I have already written on the issue on this blog (here), warning against assuming that the legality of polygamy translates into high degrees of polygyny, as the figures in fact show that polygyny is high in sub-Saharan countries (not all Muslim) and the Caribbeans (where polygamy is illegal).
Back to Dutton: How can Muslim polygamy, i.e., the legal acceptance/tolerance of it can be a factor of stupidity if it does not translate into major differences with countries where it is prohibited? That’s the same as saying that I would become dumber by tolerating my neighbor’s using intoxicants, without using them myself, as the dumbing effect (if there’s any) of intoxicants is limited to the user and does not extend to the one who tolerates it.
Therefore, when in the recent French bill against ‘separatism,’ commentators and, in the travaux préparatoires and debates, the legislators themselves conflate Islam with issues that are in fact connected with the culture of sub-Saharan migrants, be them from Muslim communities or not, namely polygamy and female genital cutting (same as with polygamy female circumcision predates Islam and has been maintained in whole communities, Islamic or not).
Of course it does not make sense to speak of an Islamic “tolerance” for polygamy, as the Prophet of Islam had several wives. Another word must be used to convey the idea that it is a good thing that some men at least have multiple wives even though almost all of them will have only one, as it probably turned out to be the case throughout the history of Islam in its main centers.
Polygyny can take many forms. No one really has to relinquish it in a state where polygamy is not allowed and only the legal institution of it does not exist; a polygynous man can adapt to any legal system, find arrangements within the law, for instance as to heirloom etc, and I fail to see what obstacles there are to de facto polygyny in the West. The French legislator thinks he has adopted measures just now (the bill I have been briefly discussing in ii) to prevent de facto polygyny in France but this will only serve to make the bureaucracy still more intolerably intrusive in all people’s lives. They can never think out of that box, it’s always more bureaucratic control, like readers of Tocqueville know.
The classic work of sociological literature, The Children of Sanchez, may be described as a case depiction of polygyny in Mexico. Sanchez, a restaurant waiter (I wouldn’t call that high status, although evolutionary psychology, EP, tends to associate polygyny with status), had several wives and children in various barrios of Mexico City, sharing his earnings between all of them, and all of them living in misery. – Polygyny is not legal in Mexico. Would Mexican authorities make it legal, they would adjust the legal system to the reality of their country. A migrant to Mexico from a country where polygyny is legal, would still think polygyny is permissible there, albeit not legal. By practising it, he would conform to a Mexican reality and couldn’t be accused to be a cause of disruption.
(In the U.S., what would be disruptive is the same migrant’s will to live in a nucleus family of single wife and children, as the de facto model is communal child-rearing under Amazons’ control. Wait and see.)
An alternative to consociationalism may be the American constitutional theory as exposed by Supreme Court judges:
“We are not an assimilative, homogeneous society, but a facilitative, pluralistic one, in which we must be willing to abide someone else’s unfamiliar or even repellant practice because the same tolerant impulse protects our own idiosyncracies. … In a community such as ours, ‘liberty’ must include the freedom not to conform. ” Justice Brennan, on Michael H. v. Gerald D. 1989
That may make America sound pretty much liberal but I still perceive it is more conservative than continental Europe (it is no accident, by the way, that of all European countries the UK left the EU), where they have got authoritarian liberalism whereas in the States it remains PC liberalism.
Kierkegaard Against ‘Christendom’
Isn’t it astonishing that one would need a “school of intelligence,” Epicureanism, to “contend” that we ought to look for pleasure? Is it something people need be told or rather they needn’t be told that they like and want pleasure more than displeasure? Kierkegaard is talking through me right now: He strongly objected to Christianity turning into a form of Epicureanism, with the indicting question: What is the point of making eternal bliss dependent upon what people want in this life? If the good life that leads to eternal bliss is what everybody wants without being told, namely a comfy pleasurable existence, then there was no need to warn them of eternal damnation. ‘Christendom,’ that is, Christianity as Epicureanism, is nonsense.
A call to a pleasurable life has no meaning except as opposition to the thought of an afterlife or a supernatural order of things, as ‘superstitious beliefs’ (in Epicurus’s words) can hinder one’s correct conduct on the way to a pleasurable life, leaving aside the question that the obstacles are also in the very craving for pleasure as it is more often than not self-contradictory and requires a method, a guidance which Epicurus proposed to delineate (with what success?) – Precisely because of Epicureanism’s rejection of superstition, the grounds are lacking for Christianity to be an Epicureanism, that is, to be of this world. This life is ultimately about winning the afterlife, not about making life comfy. For the latter one needs Epicureanism but for one who heeds the warning from beyond Epicureanism is miserable blindedness. One cannot reconcile both views, and this is the reason Christendom is anti-Christian. The idea that the routine observance of sacraments, received from priests, moreover, who are in nothing different from their herd except that they have a MORE pleasurable life than most of them (in terms of wealth –being high functionaries of the state in the Scandinavian Lutheran churches– and good name and family life and leisure and so on), is what a Christian life is about, is appalling when one thinks, like Kierkegaard, of it.
The clergyman in Christendom, when asked how to live the good life, might answer: “Be in my shoes.” Hinting not as much as to what is be done as a Christian, as to a collective situation where the good life is partly inherited (the bishop is the bishop’s son) and partly the result of worldly shrewdness that has nothing to do with Christian teachings and everything with an Epicurean quest for pleasure, including the pleasure to slit others’ throats (metaphorically speaking, at least, that is, as there are in the state church x or y bishop tenures then you’ll get x or y incumbents and the other candidates will be failures). Ultimately the guidance for Epicureanism is how to make this school of intelligence compatible with a state of things where people are not at each other’s throats all the time. We all know we want our pleasure and we all have some notions of how to get it (although our pleasures conflict with each other too), and yet it happens more often than not that our pleasure must depend on an object that we don’t own.
Last but not least, Epicurus wrote for a leisure class that doesn’t exist any longer. His thinking must be thus qualified that it answers the question of how to be happy with so much time on our hands, surrounded by slaves working for us, whereas in many cases we are not even able to secure the least bit of free time in our existence nowadays. So talking of Epicureanism to today’s public is like telling them “there were better days, you know.” Carpe diem, pluck the day, usually summarizes Epicureanism in a nutshell. Carpe diem makes sense if I can say the day is mine, if I am no floatsam, floating with the stream or winds of the workday from morning till night, with no direction but that of the steady flow. Floating is not what the vessel does but its wreck.
A few quotes from Kierkegaard’s Articles to The Fatherland and The Instant (from Attack Upon ‘Christendom’, translator Walter Lowrie, Princeton University Press, Tenth Printing 1991)
Articles in The Fatherland
28 the impudent fudge about Christianity being perfectible
35 in Protestantism, especially in Denmark, Christianity marches to a different melody, to the tune of «Merrily we roll along, roll along, roll along» – Christianity is enjoyment of life, tranquillized, as neither the Jew nor the pagan was, by the assurance that the thing about eternity is settled, settled precisely in order that we might find pleasure in enjoying this life, as well as any pagan or Jew.
37 I am not a Christian severity as opposed to a Christian leniency. By no means. I am neither leniency nor severity: I am… a human honesty.
38 as soon as the Christian requirement of poverty is brought to bear, family is a luxury
110 Imagine that a man with a loaded pistol stepped up to a person and said to him, «I’ll shoot you dead,» or imagine something still more terrible, that he were to say, «I’ll seize upon your person and torture you to death in the most dreadful manner, if you do not (now be on the watch, for here it comes)…make your own life here on earth as profitable and enjoyable as you possibly can.» This surely is the most comical speech; for to bring that about one really does not need to threaten with a loaded pistol and the most amazing kind of death; perhaps neither the loaded pistol nor the most agonizing kind of death would avail to prevent it. And so it is here: by the dread of eternal punishment (frightful menace!), by the hope of an eternal blessedness, to want to bring about…yes, to bring about what we are (…) that we may live as we most like to live–for to refrain from civil crimes is nothing but plain shrewdness.
165 If in the natural man there is any instinct so strong as the instinct of self-preservation, it is the instinct for the propagation of the race, which therefore Christianity tried to cool off, teaching that it is better not to marry, yet, if worse comes to worst, it is better to marry than to burn. But in «Christendom» the propagation of the race has become the serious business of life, together with Christianity; and the priest (this epitome of nonsense enveloped in long robes), the priest, the teacher of Christianity, of the Christianity of the New Testament, has even got his income fixed in proportion to his activity in promoting the propagation of the race, getting a definite amount for each child.
183 So there is a difference as wide as the earth, as wide as heaven, between the Mynsterish [Bishop Mynster’s] life-view (which properly is Epicureanism, enjoyment of life and the lust for life, belonging to this world) and the Christian view, which is that of suffering, of enthusiasm for death, belonging to the other world; yea, there is such a difference between these two life-views that the latter (if it were taken seriously, and not at the very most expressed rarely in a quiet hour) must appear to Bishop Mynster as a kind of madness.
185 By indifferentism one commonly understands having no religion at all. But resolutely and definitely to have no religion at all is something passionate, and so is not the most dangerous sort of indifferentism. Hence too it occurs rather rarely.
189 I am unable to endure this thought [«The situation is this: the more thou hast to do with God, and the more He loves thee, the more thou wilt become, humanly speaking, unhappy for this life, the more thou wilt have to suffer in this life»], and therefore merely investigate this true definition of what it is to become a Christian, whereas for my part I help myself to endure sufferings by a much easier thought, one which is Jewish, not in the highest sense Christian, the recognition that I suffer for my sins.
190 And only by the help of this canst thou see that the Christianity of the New Testament does not exist, that the little religiousness there is in the land is at the very most…Judaism.
205 [Christianity] that religion precisely which extols the single state.
215 man is reduced to insignificance by marriage
223 Christianly it is egoism in the highest degree that because a man and a woman cannot control their lust another being must therefore sigh, perhaps for seventy years, in this prisonhouse and vale of tears, and perhaps be lost eternally.
263 And inflexibly as the human race stands up for its will to punish, to punish even by death, those who are not willing to be like the others, just so firmly does eternity stick to its purpose of punishing with eternal perdition those who are tranquillized by being like the others.
281 Worldly shrewdness is eternally excluded, despised and abhorred, as things are in heaven, more than all vices and crimes, because in its nature it of all things most belongs to this wretched world, and most of all is remote from having anything to do with heaven and the eternal. [Shrewdness=Klugheit (Kant)]
This is a sequel to xxxvi.
Suicide For Sex
The essay on the evolutionary dimensions of civilizations (xxxvi) started by recalling the hot discussion on the relationship between Islam and the West. Regarding this relationship, evolutionary psychology book Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters (2007) by Alan S. Miller and Satoshi Kanazawa attempts to provide an explanation of Muslim suicide bombings that I wish to discuss presently.
According to Miller and Kanazawa, suicide bombers are 1/ always Muslims, because 2/ Muslim societies are polygynous, which means that some men remain without mates throughout their lives, and 3/ Islam promises virgin mates to the martyrs in the afterlife, which is bound to be appealing to men without mates.
1/ “While suicide missions are not always religiously motivated, when religion is involved, it is always Islam.” (p. 165).
The emphasis on the word “always” is the authors’; they seem to be confident there is no exception. Yet, the statement is incorrect. Even if we dismiss WW2 Japanese kamikazes as a religious phenomenon, although the Japanese government of the time was implementing a policy of State Shintoism that emphasized the divine descent of the Emperor of Japan and thus infused patriotism with a sense of the divine, so much so that one of the first moves made by the Americans after Japanese surrender was to demand that the Emperor publicly declares to his people he was no god, we find “militant” suicides in other religions too.
Albeit the following examples, from Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism, are not strictly speaking suicide missions, that is, acts aimed at provoking casualties to an enemy while sacrificing one’s own life in the very act (of which I see no other historical example beside Japanese kamikazes and Muslim Jihadists), those other suicides are similarly intended to promote the cause and interests of a religion in a confrontational context, and nothing in the evolutionary interpretation of suicide missions by Miller and Kanazawa explains per se why the suicide takes the form of a military mission rather than of something else. The promise of haur uljanati, the houris of paradise, is actually made to all male believers and not specifically to human bombs.
Martyrs are well-known characters of the earlier times of Christianity, especially the Roman times, and the suicide-like indifference to death displayed by these people during their ordeals became propaganda for the nascent religion, which certainly contributed to its success. That these martyrs did not die with weapon in hand while Muslim martyrs die with weapon in hand or rather being themselves the weapon (human bombs) is not to account for by polygyny and/or by the promise of houris but rather by the warrior ethics contained in the Quran and Islamic tradition.
This being said, Muslims can also be martyrs in the Christian sense, that is, allowing enemies of the faith to take their lives without resistance rather than in the act of fighting. Some hadiths tell how idolaters used to submit Muslims to the test trying to force them to pay homage to idols, which is against the will of Allah, and that the Muslims who, being firm believers, refused were put to the sword. This is the same as the Biblical (Catholic and Orthodox) story of the Maccabees.
Fundamentally, contemporary suicide missions are only a variant of such past acts of martyrdom. Knowing that allegiance to one’s God will be, with more or less certitude, cause of one’s death at the hands of God’s enemies and accepting it, is a form of suicide that the history of several or all religions can attest. Again, that this allegiance takes the form of a suicide commando mission rather than more passive or acquiescent forms of suicide is accounted for by the warrior ethics that is present in the Quran and Muhammad’s exemple, whereas it is absent from the Gospels and the life of Jesus.
In Hinduism, the jauhar was a form of collective suicide sanctioned by Brahmans; it was especially frequent among Rajputs during their wars with Muslim conquerors. When all chances of victory had vanished, the women first took their own lives, slaughtering their children on the occasion, and the men then went to fight to death on their last battlefield. The custom insured that no prisoner was taken by the enemy. We find a similar episode in the siege of Masada during the first Jewish-Roman war (73-74 AD): According to classical accounts, the besieged Jews eventually committed mass suicide rather than surrendering to the Romans.
Finally, there is the practice of self-immolation in Buddhism, of which recent history provides a few examples, the best-known being the self-immolation through fire by the Vietnamese monk Thich Quang Duc in 1963, in protest against the religious policy of the American-supported South-Vietnamese government. The legend says the monk’s heart did not burn and is now kept as a holy relic in the vaults of the Vietnamese National Bank.
So, although suicide missions as such are only found in current Muslim Jihadism and WW2 Japanese kamikazes (who could well have been performing a religious act), the will to sacrifice one’s life for one’s faith is a feature common to the history of many and perhaps all religions.
2/ “Across all societies, polygyny increases violent crimes, such as murder and rape, even after controlling for such obvious factors like economic development, economic inequality, population density, the level of democracy [“obvious factor”?], and world regions. (…) The first unique feature of Islam, which partially contributes to the prevalence of suicide bombings among its followers, is polygyny, which makes young men violent everywhere.” (p. 166)
The reason polygyny increases violent crime is that it exacerbates male competition for females. As the sex ratio is roughly 50-50, by allowing some men to mate with several women to the exclusion of competitors, polygyny forces some other men to remain without mates.
Miller and Kanazawa go on: “However, polygyny by itself, while it increases violence, is not sufficient to cause suicide bombings. Societies in sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean are much more polygynous than the Muslim nations in the Middle East and Northern Africa (…) Accordingly, nations in these regions have very high levels of violence, and sub-Saharan Africa suffers from a long history of continuous civil wars, but not suicide bombings. So polygyny itself is not a sufficient cause of suicide bombings.” (p. 166).
The authors are not dealing with institutional polygyny but with what I call (see xxxvi) cryptic polygyny, that is, the practice of polygyny no matter what legal arrangements regarding matrimonial bonds are. Among the most polygynous nations in the world, as they appear listed in note 31, p. 210, we find, for instance, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Haiti (all these with the “maximum polygyny score of 3.000”). These are countries which populations are largely Christian and where the institutional form of pair-bonding is monogamous marriage and institutional polygamy is outlawed and criminalized. So bear in mind that, although the authors do not make it explicit, it is not institutional polygyny that is at stake. Other forms of polygynous practice, that is, cryptic polygyny is not in the least “unique” to Muslim countries; as Miller and Kanazawa write, “All Humans Societies Are Polygynous” (subtitle p. 91).
The violence alleged to be caused by polygyny relates to a “polygyny score” that has nothing to do with institutions and legal systems. Were we to examine these polygyny scores by country, we might find that Muslim countries do not stand particularly high. Among the twenty most polygynous countries listed page 210, I find the following to be predominantly or significantly Muslim: Morocco, Nigeria, Niger, Chad (53%). That makes four countries out of twenty.
Besides, Miller and Kanazawa overlook the fact that a good deal of Jihadists do not come from Muslim countries at all. Some of them come from Muslim communities in Western countries; many of these communities have been secularized in the course of acculturation, and the Jihadists had to undergo a sort of reconversion process from a materialist, secularized lifestyle to radicalism. Some others are even autochthonous converts from these Western countries with no previous family or any other links with Islamic traditions. The number of foreign fighters combatting today in the ranks of Daesh would be about 30,000.
Before conversion or radicalization, these people had the same access to women as other men, that is, in an evolutionary perspective, the same access as other men at the same status level. (Given that a lot of Jihadists had a delinquent career, it may even be argued that their access to mates was in fact greater than that of other men from the same city parts, thanks to the fast money such careers allow.) If the number of people from Western countries willing to resort to terrorist violence is great, then, following Miller and Kanazawa’s idea, polygyny in Western countries – by which more men are prevented from mating – must be high. By stressing polygyny as a factor in violence in general and in terrorism in particular, the authors, again, are not saying that institutional polygyny is the cause.
Institutional polygyny might in fact contribute to reduce the prevalence of actual polygyny in a society. The idea has been broached in xxxvi using the concept of reproductive climate along A.S. Amin’s lines. Institutional polygyny is a long-term institution that promotes men’s commitment to their mates and children. So is institutional monogamy, albeit the data (current divorce rates in the West, polygyny scores in Christian Caribbean and African countries) seems to indicate it fails to curb short-term strategies in some regions.
3/ “The other key ingredient is the promise of seventy-two virgins waiting in heaven for any martyr in Islam. This creates a strong motive for any young Muslim men who are excluded from reproductive opportunities on earth to get to heaven as martyrs.” (p. 166).
There is no denying that such a belief can serve as motivation. Even more than the warrior ethics I have invoked in (1/), belief in houris is doctrinal. Hence, whereas polygyny as such is not associated uniquely to Islam (see 2/), the belief in question clearly is, because you cannot rewrite the Quran, can you? Yet, houris, unless I’m mistaken, are no privilege of the martyrs but are promised to all believers, so the reason some Muslims choose death and others acquire sex slaves as war spoils, as allowed, I am told, by Daesh, remains to be explained. Suicide missions suggest that obedience is extreme in these movements, but so it is in any fanatical group.
Religions promising afterlife describe it as everlasting bliss, and although this bliss does not always explicitly entail incarnated virgins available for sexual acts, it can be appealing enough to induce the sacrifice of one’s life for one’s belief.
As far as Hinduism and Buddhism are concerned, the varied existing heavenly abodes where souls may spend some time during the course of their transmigrations are described in picturesque details, some of them being quite erotic, a fact that suggests the existence of a similar motivation in these religions. The way Apsaras, or celestial dancers, for instance, are depicted in ancient art is unmistakable (picture: Curvaceous Apsaras from the well-known Khajuraho temple). They are spouses of the celestial musicians Gandharvas, and it is possible to reincarnate as a Gandharva or as any other minor deity.
Not only these heavenly abodes entail sexual representations, but the very idea of reincarnation may serve sexual motivations. A Buddhist might be willing to commit a suicide attack in order to be reincarnated as a playboy; what would prevent him, as a playboy, from mating with 72 virgins or more? For the time being, Buddhist clerics do not promise next life in the incarnation of a womanizer in exchange of a suicide mission, although they could do so, inside the very frame of their creed, and the reason why it is only Muslim clerics who promise afterlife sexual gratifications as a reward to suicide attacks is not explained by our authors here.
Buddhists are not known to play this card, although some believers certainly aspire to a more gratifying sexual life after their next birth, as some are wearing so-called charm amulets to improve their sex life in the present already. In Thailand these amulets often depict the legendary character Kun Paen in the company of multiple nude women; other charm amulets represent women in acts of bestiality, some others are in the shape of a penis, at times anthropomorphized (penis man). Thai monks routinely bless such talismans.
As to the idea that Jihadists, on the Iraqi theater of operations, kill more Iraqis than they kill Americans because they are “unconsciously trying to eliminate as many of their male sexual rivals (fellow Iraqi men) as possible,” it is far-fetched. As stated above, Daesh counts some 30,000 foreign fighters, for whom Iraqis are no more fellow men than Americans, and that would be half of Daesh’s army. A simpler explanation is that it is more difficult to kill an American than an Iraqi in Iraq – not only because of numbers, but also because American soldiers are certainly better trained and better equipped, and they probably station their Iraqi allies on the most “strategic” positions.
All these elements suggest that Miller and Kanazawa’s explanation is somewhat shallow.
Jihad vs Panda Express
As explained in xxxvi, Jihad is not parochialism but globalism. I define it “Islam as globalism.” If you want to give Barber a better example of parochialism, I suggest you name France to him. He could have titled his book “La France vs McWorld” or “La France vs Jihad,” and that for sure would have been a better illustration of the opposition he makes between parochialism and globalism. Need I expatiate?
Islam is a global power. Some people deny the existence of “Panislamism,” arguing Islam’s diversity. They do not seem to notice the current movement toward homogenization at work throughout the Muslim world, albeit they know the movement’s name as they appropriately call it Wahhabism or Salafism or fundamentalism.
Islam is a global power. They’ve got human bombs. They’ve got petrodollars and sovereign funds. They’ve got migrant communities throughout the Western world and beyond. They’ve got sympathy among scholars and intellectuals round the world. About this last point, let me tell you the story of Professor Subramanian Swamy from Harvard Summer School.
Prof. Subramanian Swamy taught Quantitative Methods in Economics and Business at Harvard Summer School from 2001 to 2011. As an economist he wrote papers together with Nobel Prize Paul Samuelson. He is also involved in Indian politics and was India’s minister of commerce and industry from 1990 to 1991. He was president of the Janata Party from 1990 to 2013, until the party merged on with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The party is labelled Hindu nationalist.
After the 2011 Jihadist bombings in Mumbai, Swamy wrote an article in an Indian paper that was deemed Islamophobic by a few readers. After a campaign of denigration, he was dismissed from Harvard Summer School, in America, the same year. It turns out I took his class in Summer 2004. I did not know his credentials at the time and I can testify that, as a professor, he never talked about these issues, so I would never have guessed the truth about him had I not discovered it by chance years later on the Web. I disapprove of his dismissal.
Swamy and other Indian politicians are for example accused, including in the West, of demonizing Mughal rule. There is one funny argument in the views of those who defend the Mughals as tolerant rulers. They say Mughals promoted intercommunity marriages, but Hindus claim these marriages amounted to sequestering Hindu women, their war booty, inside Muslim harems. If the latter are correct, then Mughals’ defenders would be praising as enlightened tolerance and benevolent wisdom the age-old practice of all ruthless conquerors throughout history.
Here is how Swamy envisions India’s relationship with the country having the largest Muslim population in the world, namely Indonesia: “Over 90 per cent of the economic world powers’ commercial sea-traffic passes through the narrow (90 miles) Malacca Strait. If we can develop naval power to the point where we can police this strait, it will give India enormous power and leverage to influence international events. This has diplomatic implications. It is obvious, for example, that we cannot control the Malacca strait without the active cooperation of Indonesia. However through proper diplomatic moves we can obtain Indonesia’s cooperation and forge a strategic relationship with that country because we have long historical links with these islands through our cultural links of the past.” (Hindus Under Siege: The Way Out, 2007, p. 97).
Swamy is perhaps overconfident, because Indonesia, albeit often advertised as a model of tolerant Islam (Islam warna-warni, or “multicolored Islam,” as the phrase goes), is undergoing the same process of homogenization through radicalization at work round the Muslim world. One example will suffice to buttress this contention.
The following passage deals with the current situation in Thailand’s three southernmost provinces, whose population is prominently Muslim (>80%), in an otherwise overwhelmingly Buddhist country (92%). “As of September 10, 2008, there were forty-one beheadings according to the Bangkok Post. Terrorism experts argue that the style of many of these southern Thai beheadings is influenced by Muslim militant actions in the Middle East. However, there is more evidence to suggest that Thais are being trained in Indonesia or that the expertise comes from Indonesian-trained Thais who have stronger regional and local connections than countries in the Middle East. According to the Thai newspaper Isrā, in one instance a Thai ustaz (Islamic teacher) who teaches Islam in Yala Province had trained as a commando and studied Islam in Aceh, Indonesia. Among the Thai ustaz’s commando training were techniques for beheading people.” (M.K. Jerryson, Buddhist Fury: Religion and Violence in Southern Thailand, 2011, p. 92).
What is striking in this piece of information, besides the gruesome facts and the trial for incompetence the author is making against “terrorism experts,” is that Thai Jihadists do not train in Malaysia but in Indonesia, although (i) Malaysia is the closest neighboring Muslim country, (ii) whose policy is more Islam-oriented than Indonesia’s. It seems Jihadists find a safer shelter and/or better logistic support in Indonesia, which hints at the latter truly being the soft underbelly of the region with respect to fundamentalist plans, in spite of the showcase of Muslim tolerance. Indonesia is a poor country, ranking 100th as to GDP per capita (at purchasing power parity) (10,517 INT$), compared to 44th for Malaysia (25,639 INT$) (World Bank 2014). In 2002 Indonesian government allowed Aceh province to enforce Sharia law and is now under pressure from other provinces to extend this policy. To summarize, it is in tolerant Indonesia that Thai (Patani) Jihadists learn beheading techniques.
Savanna Park Virtual
As my friend X says, “A life among people who fancy themselves in the savanna is not worth living.” He means that people live in a virtual savanna; they believe in the reality of an environment of evolutionary adaptedness (EEA) that is no more. To discuss the present point, let us return to Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters by Miller and Kanazawa.
“Since the advent of agriculture about ten thousand years ago and the birth of human civilization which followed, humans have not had a stable environment against which natural selection can operate.” (p. 26). This is why intelligence, that is, as the same Kanazawa defines it in his book The Intelligence Paradox (2012) (discussed in xxxv), the capacity to deal with “novel and nonrecurrent adaptive problems,” has become important in human societies: Human civilization, our man-made environment is unstable and requires dealing with novel problems on a much more frequent basis, almost on a daily basis. Yet, our instincts often stand in the way and prevent us (the less intelligent of us) from dealing adequately with our current environment. For instance, abusing one’s mate is an instinctually adequate behavior to intimidate her into complying and shying away from close contacts with other men that would jeopardize the man’s position; yet, this behavior is criminal and may result in incarceration, ruining entirely the position that the man intended to secure (p. 24).
Therefore, intelligence can be construed as a non-emotional path to knowledge, because our emotions have been shaped in the stable environment of the ancestral savanna in order to make us behave in the ways adaptive to that environment. In spite of some scholarly attempts to discard the dichotomy reason-emotion, no matter how you take it emotions are in the way when you try to solve an equation. This is why for all abstract problems machines will do a better job than humans in the future.
Machines would already have replaced human toil and work if humans were not intent on preventing this evolution as much as they can, out of emotions designed in the vanished savanna. In 1941 already, James Burnham contended: “Using the inventions and methods available would, it is correctly understood, smash up the capitalist venture. ‘Technological unemployment’ is present in recent capitalism; but it is hardly anything compared to what technological unemployment would be if capitalism made use of its available technology.” (The Managerial Revolution). Given the pronounced tendencies toward crime attested by the current, already massive, permanently unemployed “underclass,” decision-makers are doing their best to have low-productivity industries and services subsidized in exchange of the latter maintaining the highest possible figures of human toil, which, from the advent of division of labor through the assembly line and bureaucratic procedure in organizations on, has become unbearably monotonous and machinelike.
It would be unbearable too, in the service sector, to interact as customers with humans playing the role of machines if that would not satisfy some inner savagery and cruelty keen on seeing other people degraded and at one’s mercy – a savanna emotion. The usual person, placed in such a situation as a waiter or shopkeeper, talks back to customers, whereas machines are always well-behaved. Do not bring savanna apes to confrontation when you can have these functional operations processed by machines.
The managerial revolution that has taken place and is the real engine of our affluence has nothing to do with old-days capitalism. Entrepreneurs are gone or they stand in the way. For aught I know, the entrepreneur today is the cleaning lady I pay. The engine of economy is elsewhere, amidst organizations contracting with the state, organizations offered foreign contracts through diplomats’ bargaining, oligopolistic markets, contractors entirely dependent on organizations, organizations that are shareholders, organizations filled with interchangeable organization men whose personal value is nil as measured by their departure or removal or passing away having no effect whatsoever on the company’s market value… The human factor there is the problem – what can make the machine go awry some day or the other. So-called experts sustain the myths of capitalism, but that is spin.
Spin is the word for politics too. The spoils system is over, ended by the Civil Service Reform (USA) and the “rise of the technician bureaucracy” (Aufstieg des fachgeschulten Beamtentums) (Max Weber). Recalling the so-called “Monicagate” in their light-hearted fashion, Miller and Kanazawa explain that other politicians (men) have affairs too. Do they? “It would be a Darwinian puzzle if they did not.” (p. 144). I suggest another “Darwinian puzzle”: Why does not “the most powerful man in the world” (p. 143), as some journalists, and a few light-hearted scholars, like to call the president of the United States, have the largest harem on earth? It looks like the most powerful man is a nice and decent functionary who’s doing as he’s told. He’s there for the cameras, making believe, by his presence, in the savanna tribe. This is monkey dance. Entertainment for the savanna brain.
The profound meaning of democracy, as most high civil servants do not come and go with elections (which is spoils system) but serve any elected person and apply, each in his or her sphere of competence, any program that comes out of the ballot box, is either that bureaucrats, because they put themselves at the service of others’ ideas, live an ignoble life (construing living for one’s ideas as noble), or that ideas don’t matter in the least and our societies follow an inevitable course.
When the once most powerful man in the world named Bill was faced with impeachment proceedings for his whoopees in the White House and his lies, he said please not to make him waste his time, ‘cause he’s got a job to do. May I ask who appointed him to the job? It’s no job at all. At most we’ll have to call it an office, and one is not appointed there by competent persons for one’s competence but by the people as a good monkey dancer or a good person, depending on how you see things.
Do journalists investigate politicians’ private lives or not? If they do, do our authors mean that most affairs escape these investigators’ attention? Well, well… Why not assume that journalists are good investigators, when this assumption, precisely, is made about them in other fields? Because the scarcity of affairs would be a Darwinian puzzle…