Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Wishful Thinking About Matriarchy, Compared to Technology as a Source of Freedom

There is a notion that in the past, there was a Matriarchy or Matriarchies, and that in it women were treated better.  They were not limited to the roles of wives, mothers caretakers and so on that they are seen occupying (if they are lucky) in every historic culture.

However, there is no actual historic evidence of the existence of this Matriarchy in the past.  There is, at best, evidence that past cultures worshipped Mother Goddesses and accorded women some rights in their children, which is manifestly not the same thing.  It is manifestly not the same thing because almost all historic cultures also have worshipped Mother Goddesses (yes, even Medieval Christendom -- think of the cult of Mary Mother of God) and have accorded women some rights in their children (indeed, promoting or restricting these rights has been fertile ground for legislators since the first written legal codes).

Here's what lies at the nub of the wishful thinking.

In most, perhaps all, pre-industrial cultures, the vast majority of people of any particular class and role only got to play their role, which was narrowly-defined compared to the equivalent roles in the modern world.  This is because pre-industrial cultures are poor and survival to adulthood, let alone old age, was uncertain compared to industrial and information age cultures.  You were doing well if you were merely living another day, another month, another year.

A woman who was getting to be a wife, mother and caretaker was doing well.  She wasn't being a whore, a spinster or a beggar, which were some of the other obvious alternatives (and ones which left her far more miserable and less powerful).  Lest we imagine that this was because of he Evil Patriarchy, take a look at the way that most men lived in those cultures.  They weren't exactly swimming in gravy either.  The truth is that living in pre-industrial cultures sucked -- by modern standards.

Why was this?  Because when survival is uncertain, most of what one does has to promote one's own survival and that of one's offspring.  Families have to be strong -- weak families fail to provide one with survival-support during bad times (wars, famines, plagues) and their members tend to die; it is from among the stronger families that the survivors are found.  People play whatever roles advance the interests of their families, even if this means a woman marrying someone she doesn't love, or a man risking his life in a war about which he doesn't care and for which he is inadequately-equipped and poorly-trained.  In return, their families help them out when they're in trouble.

The world of today, in which we pursue our own happiness even if our paths don't suit our families, is made possible only by our tremendous wealth, which in turn is made possible only by our advanced technology.  We take this for granted because we grow up rich (compared to Humans of most times and places); we are exactly like the spoiled children of the aristocracies of previous cultures save in that we mostly live better than they did (the richest and most powerful king of the 18th century died in agony if he got seriously ill, and all his wealth and power couldn't save him, because the doctors had no idea what to do for him).

Before we feel so superior, consider this -- a half-millennium from now (assuming that we don't manage to stop technological progress in its tracks, or freeze society back into some rigid class structure) humans will be immortal and free of any diseases save those we invent to war upon one another.  We will pretty much all have tremendous amounts of energy at our command and live better than the wealthy do today.  The humans of that time will pursue life choices impossible to us today.

What the wishful thinkers don't want to admit is that the Whigs had the right of it.  It is technological progress that improves the world, and technological progress is facilitated by Classical Liberal ideas.  The "Progressive" (absurd term, in this context!) fantasy of going back to a "sustainable" lower-energy, lower-tech civilization would just throw us back into the Dark Ages.  (Perhaps literally, as many of these fantasies have us giving up "unnecessary" lighting).  And then, everyone would suffer.

And what the feminists don't want to admit is that they are wrong about patriarchy being some sort of giant conspiracy which (somehow, don't think too hard about how) displaced a previous matriarchal or egalitarian culture (all over the world, which logically implies that this imaginary matriarchy was inferior in cultural-evolutionary terms, but this though most especially must not contaminate the virgin minds of the feminists).  And they are wrong about industrial technology disempowering women; on the contrary, it was the development of industrial technology (and, in particular, scientific medicine) which empowered women.

The historical evidence is overwhelming.  Politically male-dominated societies are the Human norm for pre-industrial cultures.  They outcompete sexually-egalitarian or matriarchal societies at those tech levels.  It is industrial and informational technology which change the rules of the game and make possible the sexually-egalitarian Western cultures of today.

If you love sexual equality, then love industrial Science and Technology.  Because if we go back to the "good old days" and eschew such knowledge, we will be going right back to the Patriarchy, in its most powerful and unapologetic forms.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Millennials in the History of the Mandate

(the following refers to the worldlines of the American Mandate)

The Millennials                          born 1983-2005                                Civic-Adaptive

Like the generation that fought the First American Civil War, their crisis came too soon and was resolved ambiguously, whipsawing between the First Terrorist War under George W. Bush, the feckless delusions of the Barack Hussein Obama Administration, and the return to battle in the Second Terrorist War. In their youth, they fought hard but were frequently betrayed, as their Boomer and Slacker leaders repeatedly shifted direction, and initially failed to take the Terrorist threat with sufficient seriousness.

In their prime (2005-2047) they built greatly and enduringly.  This is the generation that returned to Luna and colonized Mars, restored the economy after the Second Great Depression, and led the conquest of the Carribean Basin in the Third Terrorist War. But here too they suffered repeated betrayal: their hero President John Garcia failed to prevent the San Antonio Massacre, in which the Narcoterrorist government of Mexico executed a partially-successful nuclear strike against Texas.

Their next hero, President AnthonyPowers, staged a coup from above and made himself the first President to rule the United States of America as a dictatorship, bringing about the fall of the First American Republic in 2040.  He completed the conquest of Mexico, winning the Fourth Terrorist War and completely securing American control of the Carribean.   By the time that President Biggs restored the Republic in 2045, they had become more than a little cynical of their political leadership.

They were also quite divided, which became obvious once they started moving into leadership positions (2025-2069).  They ran the cuntry under Powers and Biggs and the Crazy Fifties.  When they advanced into high leadership positions their generalship was largely ineffective in the Second Pacific War.  They were saved from the consequences of their indecision by General Randall O'Hare, himself a late Millennial (born 2001).  They then led on both sides in the Second (2067-69) and Third (2076-77) American Civil Wars, which ended with the victory of President George Custis Lee.

As elders, many saw their lives blighted by these wars, and they were only too happy to surrender their freedom to George C. Lee when he assumedthe title of Commander Lee the First in 2080.  Only the oldest Millennials (such as Jeanne Delarue) remembered a time when the American government did not rule unconstitutionally, save for the brief golden age under Garcia. They had decided to put their trust in princes rather than principles; by and large Commander Lee I did not betray them.  Most Millennials died before the suppression of the Omeganists or the Belt Rebellion.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Retro Review of The Collapsium (2000)

"Retro Review of  

The Collapsium

© 2000 by Wil McCarthy


© 2015 by Jordan S. Bassior 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

George R. R. Martin -- A Giant, Shackled By Dwarfs

"George R. R. Martin --

A Giant, Shackled By Dwarfs"

 © 2015


Jordan S. Bassior

Some people were surprised and others saddened when George R. R. Martin came out against the Sad Puppies 3 campaign to restore control of the Hugos to the fans, and expressed (some) support for the Scalzi cabal which is currently trying to control the nominations and voting.  I was not surprised, though I am still saddened, because George R. R. Martin is a great author, the sort who could succeed in the field even if the Haydens of Tor opposed him.

ASoIaF is an extremely good series, the sort of thing that will be read for pleasure a century or more later. It’s notable for the author’s grasp of the premises that (1) not all enmities can be neatly divided into good vs.evil, and also (2) nevertheless, some enemies truly are evil.

However, George R R Martin has problems being even remotely objective about anything more recent than the War of the Roses. He came into his writing career trying to avoid service in Vietnam (literally, he wrote a story, "The Hero" (1971) in part to convince his draft board that he was anti-American) and thus cast his own personal honor with the Left of that time and the political vagaries of its future.

Its future has now led him to a place where they hate his masterwork in a way which he could not have predicted, because of the shifts in the politics of the feminists which now make him “evil” for having rape in his stories (even though not having it would be to absurdly whitewash medieval warfare and undercut one of the main themes of his story, “war is hell”) and furthermore makes him automatically suspect for his race, sex and sexual orientation.

And, because he started his career with an act of semi-betrayal of his own country, one which only became okay because the Left won in the 1970’s, he can’t detach himself. I think he lives in fear that the Left will turn on him, which is sad, because he’s a giant of writing and world-building talents. Dwarfs such as Jemsin and Bradford should be in fear that he will turn on them, rather than the other way round.

Such is the way in which the crimes of one’s past may shackle one decades later, even if one apparently escaped scot-free. And the sad thing? I think the reason this shackles George R. R. Martin is that he is a good man — he understands honor, which is why he can be restrained by the awareness that if he breaks free, he will have to accept that he did something dishonorable.

The worst of it? A draft is itself against Natural Law, it was one of the ways in which America let what it to be imagined military necessity harm its own core principles. This is a delayed price we are paying for the way our own government abused the rights of Americans from 1939 through 1975, albeit in a very indirect fashion.


Thursday, February 5, 2015

A Portion of the Biblos Eissnos relating to the Great G'marr, With Notes

"A Portion of the

Biblos Eissnos

Relating to the Great G'marr,

With Notes"

© 2013


Jordan S. Bassior 

[From the commentary to the Book of Eibon called the Biblos Eissnos, believed to have been first penned in Atlantis and brought over to Hyborea, and referring to events in the even more ancient land of Hyperborea]  (1)

After the victory of the adherents of Zoth-Aqua (2) those  Old Voormis who had turned to the worship of Adukwu (3) were cast out into the frozen mountains of northwestern Hyperborea (4), many of them drifting southwest into northern Brasilos (5) or perhaps even further around the world into Farthest Khitai (6), and thence even into the mountains around Kadath in the Cold Waste (7).  There, the worshippers of Adukwu grew savage, great and hairy, and became increasingly bestial.

In contrast, the worshippers of Zoth-Aqua continued to dwell in cities in the fertile plains, and they rose higher and higher, and hence are known to history as the High Voormis.  In ancient Hyperborea, long before the coming of the first Eldren (8), they learned the arts of writing and mathematics, of construction and metallurgy, of astronomy and navigation.  Far from being mere half-beasts, as Eibon claimed (9), they had before too long developed a civilization of almost our own capabilities (10).

The High Voormis spread to many lands and formed many realms.  The greatest of these realms was G'marr, which lay in the southern and easterly parts of Hyperborea itself.  G'marr had once been a kingdom, but over time the aristocratic and mercantile interests dominated, and eventually the Kings and Queens of G'marr came to heed well to their own High Council.  The laws were fair, and justly enforced, and the wealth and power of G'marr grew greater than those of all other kingdoms, until in the fulness of time G'marr ruled directly or directly all the High Voormis, and became known as "Great" G'marr (11).

During all this time the G'marr had faithfully worshipped Zoth-Aqua.  But as the G'marr grew Great, they chafed at the restrictions placed upon them by the Priesthood of that somnolent deity, for the Church demanded its tithes and furthermore fettered free philosophical inquiry.  A sentiment grew of atheism.  In the end there came a civil war.  Though the Faithful prayed mightily to their god, Zoth-Aqua did not awake to aid them, which is one reason he is reputed to be sleepy (12).

In consequence, the Faithful were shorn of their tithes and their powers, and fled into the wilderness.  There they were unable to maintain the high civlization of G'marr, which they rejected in any case as impious.  The faithful however retained metalworking and farming, and hence were greatly superior to the surviving Low Voormis, whose lands the Faithful G'marr now coveted.  The Low Voormis had lost the use even of copper, and degenerated to the use only of stone, wood and bone weapons.  Hence it was that though no-god had been favored over Zoth-Aqua by Destiny, Zoth-Aqua was favored over Adukwu by that same cosmic force, and the Low Voormis now lost any lands good enough for even subsistence farming, and were reduced to hunting and gathering in the wastelands (13).

Free of the Faithful, the Great G'marr progressed still more rapidly.  They developed great machines (14), some powered by water, some by steam, and some by the Earth-currents (15).  They learned to reduce friction, locally reverse entropy and even twist time itself (16).  Thus the G'marr machines used their energies with great efficiency, could sometimes even employ […?…] to achieve perpetual motion (17).  With these arts the G’marr built great ships which bent the winds to serve them (18), and other ships which sailed the air using gasses of an efficiency greater than that of the lightest occurring in nature (19).  The cities of the Great G’marr were lighted through perfect-conversion photo-alchemicals; water and power derived from hydro-mechanical systems of supernal design and reliability; and travel between them made easy by means of nearly-frictionless tunnels through which the G’marr rode with rapidity in cars equipped with regenerative gravitic braking systems (20).

But the proudest achievements of the Great G'marr lay in biomancy.  They learned the twisting ladders of life's most fundamental matter, and then the time-linked and spirit-linked webwork that bound them to the generations before and after, and explored the workings of Destiny bound into that life (21).  And, not content with learning these secrets, they used them to change the nature of life forms, rendering them more useful to G'marr purposes.  They made crops that could not be blighted, and yielded in abundance even in time of frost or drought, or were fruitful with substances of great alchemical virtue (22).

And in time they went beyond even this.  Duplicating and even surpassing the science of the Serpent Men who had created the Voormis themselves, they took lesser life forms and uplifted them to sapience, making for themselves servitors for divers purposes.  This was the origin of many strange creatures known to the Hyperborean bestiaries, such as the ogres and gnoph-keh (23).

Finally, daring still more, the Great G'marr changed themselves.  There had always been amongst the Voormis a tendency to become smaller and more compact as they became more civilized, or larger and more bestial as they became less civilized, due both to the effects of selection and destiny.  Even before modification the Great G'marr had been smaller than men, though as powerfully-built as apes.  After modification the Great G'marr became physically even shorter, averaging about three feet, yet retaining most of their physical strength and acquiring an extreme tenacity upon life, so that they were very hard to slay by violence, and naturally lived for several centuries even without advanced medicaments.  Many small animucles swarmed in their blood, protecting and aiding them, thus enabling them to resist most illness and rapidly recover from wounds; and their wyrds were bound to the future so that they were exceedingly fortunate in all things, so they seldom died by accident (24).


(1) - Hyperborea is identified with Late Pliocene to Late Pleistocene Greenland, Hyborea with Late Pleistocene Europe.  The Atlantis referred to here is not the Early Holocene Kallistos (aka Thera), but rather a small subcontinent, probably located somewhere on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, created by the vulcanism and submerged by violent rifting in that great fault between oceanic plates.

(2) - Better known as "Tsathoggua," in the writings of Klarkash-Ton of Atlantis and Luvah-Keraph of ancient Khem.

(3) - Now generally called "Ithaqua," the Wind-Walker, as detailed in Cultes des Goules (Comte d'Erlette).

(4) - Around 1.7 MYA, which is to say the early part of the Calabrian, today considered the early part of the Late Pleistocene.

(5) -  Renamed "America" in the 16th century CE.

(6) - Modern northeastern Siberia.  The Bering land bridge was periodically available, and of course at the beginning the Low Voormis would have been able to build boats.

(7) - Eissnos here refers to the Himalayas and other mountains around Tibet, in Asia, rather than to the Miskatonic Mountains of Antarctica.  The Atlanteans who first discovered Antarctica seem to have imagined that it was a continuation of Asia through Lemuria, leading to a mistake analogous to that Columbus made when he confused the Carribean with the Southwestern Pacific, which has led to great confusion regarding the Earthly location of "Leng."  It does not help to clarify matters that there is yet a third Leng, in Earth's Dreamlands.

(8) - Eissnos consistently uses a word which I have here translated as "Eldren" or a phrase which literally translates as "the Elder Race of Man" for the species of human which is generally termed "Hyperboreans" in most sources.  As future articles may detail, I consider them to be identical to the race which has passed into Western European folklore and even more Western fantasy literature as the "Elves," though the unfortunate connotations of that word has led me to choose "Eldren" instead.  They were very much like Homo sapiens, at least in the beginning:  they may even have been of our own genus.  Eibon himself was one of them.

(9) - For all his broad-mindedness, we must remember that even great Eibon was of the same kind who had displaced the Voormis, and he had learned in his cradle the same myth of Voormis inferiority which the Eldren used to justify their rape of the Voormis lands:  that they were but bestial savages and the land thus deserved to be in human hands.

(10) - In other words, by around 1.5 MYA, the Voormis had developed what we would term a Renaissance level of technology, roughly equivalent to that of Europe, Islam or China around the 15th Century A.D.  This would have been from a base of the Chalcolithic around 1.7 MYA, roughly equivalent to that of Egypt or Sumer around the 30th century BCE.  This means that they took around 200,000 years to make advances which took us around 4,500 years.  This was however a lightning rate of progress by the standards of any pre-human race, and said much for High Voormis intelligence and imagination.

(11) - This seems to have happened by 1.4 MYA, and involved further technological progress to around the level of the Europe of the late 18th century.  The G'marr thus advanced our equivalent of around 3 centuries in around 1000 centuries, which means that their rate of progress was actually slowing.  The reason will become apparent.

(12) - Eissnos, despite his fascination with the work of Eibon, was not a worshipper of Tsathoggua, whom he considered a dark inhuman abomination.  The Atlanteans were instead worshippers of the gods of Earth, who in their day had greater influence there.  These gods of Earth were themselves descended from the main stream of Eldren civilization, and we must remember that Eibon was a heretic in the eyes of his fellow Eldren.

(13) - This is so profoundly cynical a statement, as are others Eissnos makes in other part of his book, that one wonders if Eissnos' professed devotion to the Gods of Atlantis was merely made for the sake of apparent decency.  In other words, Eissnos may have also been an atheist in our meaning of the word.

(14) - An industrial civilzation, and they seem to have made the jump which took us 50 years in 500, which is a remarkable increase in pace over either the High Voormis or the Little G'marrean eras.  Evidently the restraints imposed by the Faithful had indeed constriced G'marrean culture.

(15) - Water and steam are easy to understand, but what are the "Earth-currents?"  Geomagnetism, ley lines, or something less comprehensible?  Is this the same force said to be tapped in the possible future Great Redoubt, the last city of Man on Earth?  From this point on, the technology of the Great G'marr progresses along paths our own science has not yet taken, while never taking some we found long ago, and comprehension of their achievements becomes more difficult.

(16) - The first sounds like nanotechnologically tailored surfaces, the second and third are achievements far enough beyond our own that I cannot say with certainity just what forces the G'marr had discovered.

(17) – The Atlantean phrase, a translation of a Hyperborean translation of a G’marrean scientific concept, is incomprehensible in our terms, something about “applying inter-Azathoth constant through temporal consumption.”  I have absolutely no idea what this means, even in terms of the Mythos.

(18) – The Atlanteans were perfectly familiar with multi-masted square and lateen rigs, keels, centerboards, and both wearing and tacking. Eissnos is thus here talking about something very different, possibly the psychic control of the Aristotlean element of air, perhaps something even stranger.

(19) – Did the Great G’marr have the Fleach Formula, or something of that sort?  The very chemistry which makes Fleach Gas even possible has only been explained within the last decade, and the harmonic interaction it employs between the electromagnetic and strong nuclear forces is still but obscurely understood.  There may be a whole family of Fleach Gas like compounds still awaiting discovery, which were known to the Great G’marr.

(20) – The legendary “quick-tunnels,” referred to in the better-known works of Eisnoss, are here explained.  The translation "regenerative gravitic braking systems" is highly-conjectural, and involves an Atlantean speculation as to just how the system worked.  Based on other evidence, the quick-tunnels seem to have operated at speeds from around 30 to 240 mph:  slower than our own intercity aircraft, but much more inexpensive to the users.

(21) -  The first accomplishment was of course to understand the structure of DNA; the second and third things which our own study of genetics have not yet discovered. 

(22) - In other words, Genetic Modification.  This explains the statement in some primal Hyperborean legends that there was a sort of fruit of peculiar alchemical virtues called a G'marr-berry, from which through complex formulas could be distilled various juices with beneficial magical properties.  According to the legend, the bushes which bore these berries were rare, and tended to grow on sites which had been sacred to the Voormis.

(23) - The horned bestial gnoph-keh, rather than the later tribe of human cannibals, usually termed "gnophkeh" (without the hyphen) who adopted that animal as a totem.  Though it's certainly possible that the Great G'marr might have been responsible for both, especially in light of the reference to ogres.

(24) - To state in simpler terms, the Great G'marr modified themselves to be shorter while retaining most of their strength, with thick bones and other tissues enabling them to resist physical injury, and some sort of nano-technological symbiotes which acted as phagocytes and damage control machines.  The mysterious part is again the reference to "wyrd," which is another term for "destiny."  Eissnos here takes for granted that the Great G'marr could scientifically alter an individual or even lineage so that the effects of probability upon it were altered, which is a concept utterly-alien to our own understanding of quantum mechanics -- especially at the macroscopic level!  This is something which the Atlanteans believed, but which was considerably beyond their own power -- but apparently not beyond that of the Great G'marr.