Saturday, March 27, 2010

Tribesman, Barbarian, and Citizen

In the anthology "The Stars At War, Volume 1, Imperial Stars", assembled in 1986 by Jerry Pournelle, he included an original essay “Tribesman, Barbarian, and Citizen”. It can be read here and it includes some very useful concepts.

The essay's value as a piece of anthropology is as useful as the Social Contract written about by Hobbes and Locke, but just as with the Social Contract it is not in anthropology that it has uses. Like the Social Contract, it is a "useful myth" in which Mr. Pournelle describes three levels of social development that a people go through.

The first is the Tribesman:

The Tribal culture--in its never-actually-existent theoretical pure state--is a system of pure ritual and taboo. "Everything that is not forbidden is compulsory." The objectively observable system stems from an unstated philosophy--which is unstated because the Tribesman doesn't know philosophy exists, any more than a dog knows logic exists, or a fish knows that biochemistry exists. The philosophy is, essentially precisely that of the Absolute Totalitarian state . . . minus the familiar dictator. That is, in the Tribe, the individual exists for the service of the state. The individual has no value whatever, save as a replaceable plug-in unit in the immortal, ever-existent machinery-organism of the Tribe. No individual exists as an individual--neither Tribal king nor Tribal slave; each is a unit plugged in--temporarily, for all these units wear out and are discarded in a score or two of years--to the eternal Traditional System of the Tribe. The cells in a living organism wear out and are discarded; the organism is, relatively speaking, immortal. So, in the Tribe, the individual is nothing; the Tribe is eternal.

In return for a practically absolute loss of self-identity, the Tribesman is rewarded with security and peace of mind. The Tribal Traditions have The Answers to all possible real problems; nothing can happen that the Tribal Traditions, in their ancient and time-tested wisdom, have not already solved. There are no doubts; there are answers which involve "these tribesmen must die," but Death is not intolerable. Uncertainty--Doubt--these are the Terrors that live in the Unknown. And against those horrors, the ancient wisdom of the Tribal Traditions stand a strong, sure defense.

The Tribesman has an exact, clear-cut, and perfectly understandable definition of Evil. Evil is Change. Any Change whatever is Evil. The correlation is absolute--perfect one-to-one.

The next stage above Tribesman is Barbarian.

The Barbarian represents the Ultimate Horror from the viewpoint of the Tribesman; he is the Pure Individual. The Barbarian does not put his faith, his sense of security, in the ancient wisdom of the Traditions--but in the wisdom and strength of a Hero, a living demigod-man, a Leader who solves all problems.

Barbarism, in other words, is the Dictator, without the Totalitarian State. There is a Hero, who is a strong, and unusually clever leader--an individual who stands out above the men around him.

Tribalism is "a government of laws, not of men," with the minor change that "traditions" replace "laws."

Barbarism becomes a government of Men, not of traditions.

It is the first development of human culture which recognizes the value of the individual. It is not true that only civilized people respect the dignity of the individual; any Barbarian will assure you that Citizens have no dignity, that Civilization does not respect the individual. That only Barbarians understand what it means to be an individual.

The Barbarian, in essence, "has too much Ego in his Cosmos."

It's perfectly true that all men seek security--but necessarily, that means they seek what they believe is security. A superstitious Tribesman, fleeing a ghost, would happily climb a 100,000 volt power-line tower because he knows that ghosts can't climb.

The Tribesman's security is his conviction that the Tribal Traditions have sure answers to all real problems.

The Barbarian's security is in his absolute conviction that he can handle any problem--and if he can't, why, of course his Leader-Hero can, and will.


Barbarism is one of the great breakthroughs in cultural evolution; for the first time, it establishes that the individual has great value, that the individual must be respected.

He also describes the relationship between Barbarians and Tribesmen. Tribesmen, who view change as violating the traditions and therefore evil, see the Barbarian as evil. Barbarians, who view obeying orders with which one disagrees as spineless and sub-human, sees Tribesmen as being fit only for slavery as they are not human. A Barbarian thinks it pitiful is someone obeys an order with which he disagrees.

Advancing beyond Barbarism, the third stage so far is Civilization.

When the Barbarian encounters Civilization, therefore, he is going to be enormously confused and baffled. The Barbarians of North Europe, meeting the Citizens of the Roman Republic, were meeting men who allowed others to order them about, to tell them what to do and when to do it. Who obeyed commands they didn't, themselves, agree with. Obviously, a pack of servile slaves!

But these cowardly Roman Legionnaires, for some incomprehensible reason, did not collapse in battle. These Legionnaires, who had no self-respect, who did not fight man-to-man, but used short swords so that no one of them could say, when he returned home, "I killed Urhtoth!" but only, "I am a member of the Fourth Legion,"--these Romans strangely didn't flee before the fiercest Barbarian charges.

To the Barbarians, the Citizen shows the symptoms of all the things the Barbarian rejects as vile and degrading--the essence of cowardice. The Citizen yields his will to the demands of others. He allows himself to be limited, and allows himself to be compelled against his own desires.

To the Barbarian, the Citizen shows the same loathsome abnegation that the Tribesman does.

Which makes it all the more incomprehensible that these sniveling Citizens win battle after battle. They who have sacrificed their Manhood, have given up their right to individual dignity, somehow prove able to fight like maddened demons!

He spends little time describing the Civil system, and given that it is the current system in the western world there should theoretically be little need to describe it. What he does describe is interactions between Barbarians and Citizens and between Tribesmen and Citizens. In both cases, as with Barbarian and Tribesmen, interaction between a later stage and an earlier stage dooms the earlier stage.

The key question then becomes what happens to a Barbarian who discovers he cannot beat a Civil System from the outside? Doing so from the outside turns the Barbarian into a criminal, as can be discovered from a cursory examination of most true criminals. At one point there was a belief that criminals had insufficient self esteem, but further examination found that many real criminals had excessive self esteem.

A smarter Barbarian would find the Civil system useful, to do from the inside what cannot be done from the outside, to use the system for looting by proxy. The first advantage of this is that it saves the Barbarian from the consequences of criminal activity. The second advantage is that Citizens are conditioned to have a basic respect for order, and thus are much less likely to defend themselves from crimes when committed by the government.

This actually solves one of the biggest riddles of the twentieth century: why did not the German people do more to assassinate Hitler or overthrow his regime? It is because the Germans were a civilized people, raised to have a basic respect for order. Even though they did not like it, the Barbarian Hitler achieved power working inside the system.

If faced with a Barbarian in an alley, a Citizen will fight back. If faced with a Barbarian with a government form, a Citizen is likely to give in and try to work within the system to stop the Barbarian. A stupid Barbarian becomes a criminal; a smart Barbarian becomes a politician.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Government Goods

One fact that makes things difficult for those who would argue against excessive interference by the state is that occasionally the state actually produces something that a sane person would actually pay for. This happens more often in first world nations, less often in the thug governments of third world countries, but it does happen.

After all, people do have a desire to get from point A to point B, and the government does produce roads. People do have a desire to educate the young, and the government does provide schools. People do have a desire for some basic security, and the government does provide some basic security with the military and the police.

The government provides these goods at twice the cost and half the quality, if one is feeling generous in the description of government provided goods, but they are produced. These good are provided in a very abusive and inept manner, but they are produced.

The fact that they are produced enables defenders of having an intrusive state to invoke the Statist Fallacy. This is an unfortunate, but deliberate, act on the part of the government, because in enables defenders of the state to accuse defenders of liberty of being against the production of those very goods.

It is, however, a sham. The point of providing those goods is to control those goods. By having the government provide education, the government controls the content of the education. By having the government provide the roads and provide security at the airports and the border, the government controls freedom of movement. By having the government guarantee the quality of medications taken through FDA approval, the politicians now have the ability to restrict the ability of the individual to choose which medications may work best for said individual.

The question then becomes; are those invoking the statist fallacy "useful fools" or are they the ones who actually aspire to control others? Or are they the final type of statist described in The Authoritarian Mindset, someone who actually desires to be a slave?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

And the TSA actually reponds

In the blog entry The TSA Wants you Dead, strong accusations were made against the TSA based upon this blog entry at the TSA blog. The accusations were quite harsh, and quickly picked up on by critics of the TSA in the comments section of that entry of the TSA blog as well as on the Flyer Talk Forums Travel Safety and Security forum. The general harshness of the response has prompted a rapid response by the TSA.

The argument made by the TSA is that the dosage of X-Ray in an X-Ray backscatter is so low that it is safe. This ignores a couple of scientific facts: first, no level of ionizing radiation is actually safe, merely that some doses are safer than others, and also that ionizing radiation is cumulative so even safe doses contribute to a lifetime unsafe level.

The TSA spokesperson Blogger Bob tried to make this argument by referencing many experts who argued that the dosage was relatively safe if it provides a definite benefit. There are constitutional and practical arguments about the security benefits of backscatter X-Ray, but the most telling is that all the arguments are based on the option being the choice between not having the security at all or having backscatter X-Ray along with the risks. That is not a true choice.

Putting aside the constitutional arguments (it doesn't), putting aside the argument over whether this device actually increases security in the first place (it doesn't) there’s still one safety argument not made.

All of the supporting information that was made available, on the links that worked and didn’t require a fee to access, said that the dosage was relatively safe, but didn’t say it was absolutely safe. The supporting information didn’t comment on the safety of Backscatter X-Ray as compared to Millimeters Wave. It appears that the TSA, when seeking supporting information, presented the choice of "backscatter or no security" when the choice is actually "backscatter or mmw or no security".

With millimeter wave technology, the only problems are that it is unconstitutional and that it provides minimal security in exchange for the cost of implementation. In terms of the health of the traveler, millimeter wave technology is completely safe at the dosages required.

So given that a completely safe equivalent alternative exists why then is the TSA going ahead with backscatter instead of millimeter wave?

It has been a suggested that the choice to use backscatter has to do with greasing the right palms, that it has something to do with who currently employs Chertoff. Is simple corruption the reason the TSA is using hazardous procedures and putting the health of the traveling public at risk?

Friday, March 05, 2010

The TSA wants you dead

When the TSA first introduced the concept of Whole Body Imaging, since renamed Advanced Imaging Technology, there were many complaints. Many moral, legal, and constitutional issues were raised as to why Whole Body Imaging was a very bad idea. There were also safety concerns, but it was pointed out that if the topic is confined to milimeter waves then they are actually safe.

It was also pointed out that said explanation does not apply to backscatter x-ray technology.

It was explained that one of them was non-ionizing radiation, heat radiation. The other is ionizing radiation, cumulative radiation. One of them is safe because the only danger is in dosage and the moment the source is removed the exposure is over. The other is unsafe because each exposure adds to previous exposures, which is why doctors try to be sparing in the use of x-rays.

So what does the TSA do in response? The TSA is expanding the use of backscatter. Not mmw, but backscatter.

It is bad enough that the TSA has a perverted desire to strip search all passengers, on the premise that we are all criminals who have not yet been caught. It is bad enough that the TSA is going to use this same technology on children in violation of child pornography laws. But now the TSA has decided that in addition to violating our own fourth and fifth amendment rights that THEY WANT TO GIVE EVERYONE CANCER.

And the ironic point is that these security measures aren't effective to anyone wearing leather.

These questions were posted on the TSA blog, but the primary blogger - Blogger Bob - has not been willing to answer any questions on this subject.

How long until this abomination of an agency is dismantled and the employees are put on trial for treason? The Nuremberg defense is not supposed to be admissible in any court, and whatever constitutional basis there may have been in theory for this agency has long ago eroded by the TSA's unconstitutional terrorist activities in practice.