Peace and Socialism

The purpose of Liah Greenfeld's Mind, Madness and Modernity (2013) is to make evident that

*culture is an empirical reality of the first order in human life, what makes us human and defines human experience.

*madness in its new form—the big three of contemporary psychiatry—schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression—was brought about by nationalism, the cultural framework of modernity, our secular, egalitarian, essentially humanistic and democratic world, insisting on the dignity and creativity of man and the value of human life. The other side of the coin, proof that benefits have costs.

Peter Turchin, End times: elites, counter-elites, and the path of political disintegration, 2023.

Turchin is one of the founders of the new 'science' of cliodynamics, a discipline which coalesced in the 1990s, statistical juggling 'facts' from the past, stitched together from bare bones (literally) of archeology, climate, geopolitics, crimes, arrests/ executions, wine imports, lots and lots of numbers. There's probably even a case for kitchen sinks. Think: weather forecasting. My favourite historian, Arnold Toynbee, when asked by a critic what the secret of history was, answered: Just one damned thing after another. Well, it seems Turchin has finally trumped the great master.

In Harnessing human nature Part I, we saw how natural selection takes place not only on the individual level, but on the group level. No man is an island. We are who we identify with, we make alliances, good and bad. The high point of any civilization is when its state, warrior groups conquer others, loot and occupy, and build monuments to glorify it all. In rare exception to this, sometimes civilizations just coast along under wise leadership. Andalusia under Muslim rule from the 8th to 15th cc was probably humanity's high point, though it came to a typically nasty end with the reconquista.

But what about the family? What role does it play in civilization, in shaping individuals, before they move on to their adult groups?

What ever happened to Locke, Pavlov, Skinner, Marx-Lenin -- man as a clean slate at birth, moldable into whatever you like, a society programmable, made up of these programmable Boy Scouts and Girl Guides? Walden Two, communism? Revolution and a shortcut to communism sounds great, but founders on a million years of human evolution, confusing ought with is.

Well, Locke et al get an F. We're back to Plato, Augustine, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Malthus, and Darwin.

Longer version of my Ames article, focusing also on Philip Agee, author of Inside the Company: CIA Diary (1975), founder of CovertAction, John Walker, even Bowe Bergdahl. Spying, traitors come in bizarre forms. 

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Canadian Eric Walberg is known worldwide as a journalist specializing in the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia. A graduate of University of Toronto and Cambridge in economics, he has been writing on East-West relations since the 1980s.

He has lived in both the Soviet Union and Russia, and then Uzbekistan, as a UN adviser, writer, translator and lecturer. Presently a writer for the foremost Cairo newspaper, Al Ahram, he is also a regular contributor to Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, Global Research, Al-Jazeerah and Turkish Weekly, and is a commentator on Voice of the Cape radio.

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