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.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

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

"George R. R. Martin --

A Giant, Shackled By Dwarfs"

 © 2015

by

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.

END.