[Paleopsych] Meme 035: War on Terrorism: Blessing in Disguise
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Mon Oct 18 17:04:28 UTC 2004
Meme 035: War on Terrorism: Blessing in Disguise
The war on terrorism can never be won, but the amount of damage Moslem
terrorists can inflict on the United States is quite limited. The
attack on the World Trade Center doubled the death rate in the United
States for all of twelve hours. The real fear is the Chinese. They
are competent, while the attacks on the WTC could have been done by
the students in any engineering class in the United States. They
could have found out flight schedules, gotten training as pilots,
and so on. The 9/11 Commission said the total cost was $175,000.
What allowed the attacks was biological: an excess of high testosterone
males who do not lead satisfactory lives. They can and will turn anything
into a legitimate grievance. Here's what Sam Huntington stated in _The
Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order_ (NY: Simon &
Schuster, 1996) on pp. 117-119:
"The youth of Islam have been making their mark in the Islamic Resurgence.
As the resurgence got under way in the 1970s and picked up steam in the
1980s, the proportion of youth (that is, those fifteen to twenty-four
years of age) in major Muslim countries rose significantly and began to
exceed 20 percent of the total population. In many Muslim countries the
youth bulge peaked in the 1970s and 1980s; in others it will peak early in
the next century. The actual or projected peaks in all these countries,
with one exception, are above 20 percent: the estimated Saudi Arabian peak
in the first decade of the twenty-first century falls just short of that.
These youth provide the recruits for Islamist organizations and political
movements. It is not perhaps entirely coincidental that the proportion of
youth in the Iranian population rose dramatically in the 1970s, reaching
20 percent in the last half of that decade, and the Iranian revolution
occurred in 1979 or that this benchmark was reached in Algeria in the
early 1990s just as the Islamist FIS was winning popular support and
scoring electoral victories. Potentially significant regional variations
also occur in the Muslim youth bulge. While the data must be treated with
caution, the projections suggest that the Bosnian and Albanian youth
proportions will decline precipitously at the turn of the century. The
youth bulge will, on the other hand, remain high in the Gulf sates. In
1988 Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia said that the greatest threat
to his country was the rise of Islamic fundamentalism among its youth.
According to these projections, that threat will persist well into the
Maybe some of the grievances Moslems have against the United States are
legitimate. Maybe they are not. It does not matter. Frustrated, high
testosterone males will find grievances, renew old grievances from the
days of the Crusades, exaggerate grievances. It is a fact that Moslems
find grievances wherever they live and blow things up.
But they are a small threat, while the coming 30 million or so surplus
males in Red China, as a result of the one-child policy (as Sarah reminds
me), could be a major threat the United States. They are competent, and I
most fear that they could take down the Internet, possibly by flooding it
with denial of service attacks. Whether the National Infrastructre
Protection Center is more competent than the average Federal agency, I
don't know, but the design of its site, http://www.nipc.gov, suggests not.
What the United States should do is try to get these surplus Chinese to
join us in the war on terror by sending soldiers to the Middle East and
Central Asia. There are Moslems bordering China, and incidents could be
provoked or simulated. These things have been known to happen before, even
by Americans. If managed properly, the war on terror could be a blessing
in disguise, though everyone will count the running costs of the war on
terror, blame neo-cons for provoking or manufacturing incidents, and
descrying empire, while no one will notice the much worse war that was
Far less likely is heeding the report of Isaiah (1:18): "Come now, and let
us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they
shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be
Here's the part of Howard Bloom's book I remember best. Keeping it in the
back of my mind all these years, it is worth bringing forth to show how
easily it will be to rope the Chinese into the war on terror. (Howard
thanked me for keeping him and his group up on the news and for sending
thoughtful articles, since he was too busy trying to save the world. Well,
Howard, your job is to stimulate thought. It stimulated these thoughts,
and maybe this meme will save the world.
I append an earlier meme I wrote shortly after the 9/11 attacks that is
quite pertinent here, entitled "SCRUPPIES: Scripture-Pounding Yuppies."
"THE CHINESE CULTURAL REVOLUTION,"
chapter 4 (pp. 12-20) from _The Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Expedition
into the Forces of History_ by Howard Bloom (NY: Atlantic Monthly Press,
"The men who are the most honored are the greatest killers. They believe
that they are serving their fellow men." Henry Miller
"It's getting uncommonly easy to kill people in large numbers, and the
first thing a principle does-if it really is a principle-is to kill some
body." Dorothy L. Savers
In the mid-sixties, Mao Tse-tung tore the fabric of Chinese society apart.
In doing so, he unleashed emotions of the most primitive kind, the true
demons of the human mind. These primordial motivators ripped across the
face of China, bringing death, destruction, and pain. But the frenzy Mao
had freed was not some freak child of Mao's philosophies; it was the
simple product of passions that squirm every day inside you and me.
In 1958, Mao had decided to throw China violently into the future. His
catapult was the Great Leap Forward, an economic plan designed to harness
China's manpower in a massive modernization program. Billboards carried
pictures of a Chinese worker astride a rocket. The slogan read, SURPASS
ENGLAND IN FIFTEEN YEARS! Students, senior citizens, intellectuals, and
farmers labored ceaselessly to build steel furnaces. They collected iron
pots and tore brass fittings off the ancient doors of their houses to
provide the scrap metal required for the construction of those furnaces.
Peasants left their homes in mass mobilizations, slogged to communal
dining halls, and threw themselves into their work with tremendous
enthusiasm. After all, says Gao Yuan, one Chinese schoolboy who lived
through it, "people were saying that true communism was just around the
Unfortunately, somewhere along the line the Great Leap Forward stumbled
and fell on its face. The communal dining halls closed. House holders who
had taken their pots to the furnaces were forced to find new ones. Ration
coupons appeared for grain, oil, cloth, and even matches. The little boys
who had thrown themselves so enthusiastically into making an economic
miracle grew faint from hunger as they sat in school. They learned to
catch cicadas on poles with glue-coated tips, then forced themselves to
swallow the still-squirming insects. They scoured the hills for edible
grass and weeds. Their mothers baked bread with flour augmented by willow
and poplar leaves. During three long years of heroic "prog-ress," millions
died of starvation. The Great Leap Forward had crippled the economy,
throttling the production of even the simplest things. And the architect
of the brave blunder-Mao himself-lost power. He retired into ideological
matters, leaving the day-to-day running of the state to a bureaucratic
nest of lesser officials. Those officials looked at a citizenry racked
with malnutrition and quickly changed gears. They abandoned theoretical
rigor and worked to boost production of the household necessities that had
all but disappeared. Highest on the priority list was raising food - lots
Doctrine took a back seat to the simple task of putting meals on Chinese
tables. The further the new policy proceeded, the more the officials
responsible for implementing it felt that they were the real powers
controlling China. Their swelling pride told them that they were the new
bosses, the men who had taken over the helm of history. Mao was a relic,
an antique, a figurehead. When Mao tried to issue orders, his underlings
treated him politely but shrugged him off. The commands of China's Great
Leader went unheeded. Mao Tse-tung did not enjoy being led to pasture. And
he wasn't the sort of man to take forced retirement lying down. So this
demigod of the Revolution contrived a plan to reassert authority, a plan
that would be even more devastating to China than the Great Leap Forward.
His scheme would not just starve people, it would torture them, beat them
to death, and force them into suicide. It was the Cultural Revolution.
Mao took advantage of a simple peculiarity of human nature: the
rebelliousness of adolescents. The defiant attitude of teenage punk
rockers and heavy metal head bangers may seem like a rage spawned by the
unique disorders of Western culture, but it is not. Adolescence awakens
defiant urges in nearly all primates. In chimpanzees, it inspires a
wanderlust that forces some young females to leave the cozy family they've
always known and go off to make a new life for themselves among strangers.
In langur monkeys, it triggers a restlessness that's much more to the
point. Adolescent langur males kick loose the bonds of their childhood
family life and cluster in unruly, threatening gangs. Then they go on the
prowl, looking for some older, well-established male they can attack.
The adolescents' goal is to dislodge the respectable elder from his cushy
home and take over everything he owns - his power, his prestige, and his
wives. As we'll see later, humans are driven by many of the same instincts
as our primate relatives. Consequently, many adolescents of our species
also resent the authority of the adults over their heads. Their hormones
have suddenly told them that it is time to assert their individuality and
to challenge the prerogatives of the older generation. Mao didn't address
himself to the adults of China. Those comrades saw the good sense of the
officials who had shuffled Mao to the side and focused on producing food
to fill the stomachs that had ached with emptiness ness for three long years.
Mao turned elsewhere for help in recapturing authority. He turned to the
Mao started his campaign to regain the reins of China innocently enough.
Under his orders, the major papers began a literary debate. They attacked
a group of authors who called themselves the "Three Family Village." These
essayists were government officials, key figures in the phalanx of
bureaucrats resisting Mao's orders. One was vice-mayor of Beijing.
Another, the editor of the Beijing Evening News, was propaganda director
for Beijing's Party Committee. A third was a propagandist for the Beijing
city government. Over the years, the articles of these three had been
regarded as entertaining diversions, models of witty style. Now official
editorial writers "discovered" that the writings of the Three Family
Village were hidden cesspools of secret meanings. And what did those
meanings amount to? An assault on the sacred precepts of the party.
The attack on the Three Family Village quickly moved from the papers to
the schools. Students were encouraged to pen their own excoriations of the
traitors, as one newspaper put it, opening "Fire at the Anti-Party Black
Line!" Pupils made posters vilifying the scoundrels' names and plastered
them over every available wall. Thus they carried out their duty to "hold
high the great banner of Mao Tse-tung thought!" The banner of Mao's
thought soon wrapped itself around the necks of more than just the Three
Family Village. School children were encouraged to find other literary
works rotting with revisionism and antirevolutionary notions. The children
leapt avidly to their homework assignment. But they became even more
enthusiastic a few months later when a new directive came from above:
ferret out bourgeois tendencies and reactionary revisionism among your
The new task was one to which any youngster could apply himself with
gusto. That teacher who gave you a poor mark on your last paper? He's a
bourgeois revisionist! Humiliate him. The pedagogue who bawled you out for
being late for class? A capitalist rotter! Make her feel your wrath.
Revenge had nothing to do with it. This was simply an issue of ideological
purity. Students examined everything their teachers had ever written. In
the subtlest turns of innocent phrasing, they uncovered the signs of
reactionary villainy. At first, they simply tacked up posters reviling the
teachers as monsters and demons. Then all classes were suspended so that
pupils could work on sniffing out traitors full-time. Instructors who had
fought faithfully with Mao's revolutionary forces were suddenly reviled.
Others who considered themselves zealots of Maoist thought were pilloried
as loathsome rightists.
Some couldn't take the humiliation. Gao Yuan, son of a party official in a
small town, was a boarding student at Democracy Street Primary School in
Yizhen at the time. At Gao Yuan's school, one teacher attempted to slit
his throat. Other pedagogues tried to placate the students. They "exposed"
their colleagues and wrote confessions, hoping to get off the hook. It
didn't work. The students at Democracy Street Primary School created a new
form of school assembly. Its star attraction was ' 'the jet plane.'' A
teacher was interrogated at great length in private and forced to "admit"
his crimes Then he was taken onstage before a student audience and kicked
in the back of the knees until he fell down. One student grabbed him by
his hair and pulled back his head. Others lifted his arms and yanked them
behind him. Then they held the hapless instructor in this contorted
position for hours. When it was over, most teachers couldn't walk.
To make the humiliation a bit more lasting, students shaved their erring
teachers' heads. Among their teachers, the diligent students "discovered"
the vilest of the vile. Gao Yuan says that they uncovered "hooligans and
bad eggs, filthy rich peasants and son-of-a-bitch landlords, bloodsucking
capitalists and neo-bourgeoisie, historical counterrevolutionaries and
active counter- revolutionaries, rightists and ultrarightists, alien class
elements and degenerate elements, reactionaries and opportunists,
counterrevolutionary revisionists, imperialist running dogs, and spies."
The students armed themselves with wooden swords and hardware. At night,
they imprisoned their teachers in their bedrooms. Another instructor at
the Democracy Street Primary School was driven past endurance and hung
himself. Now that they had practiced on their teachers, the students were
urged to take their cultural cleansing further and form organized units,
Red Guards, to root out revisionism in the towns. Like young monkeys
raiding an elder's domain, ten- and fifteen-year-olds rampaged into the
cities looking for officials who had strayed from the strict Maoist line.
They sniffed out "ox ghosts and snake spirits" among the municipal
authorities; subjected magistrates, mayors, and local party heads to
interrogations, beatings, and head-shavings; and marched miscreants
through the streets wearing dunce caps that were sometimes thirty feet
Needless to say, the officials under attack had provided the foundation of
support for the bureaucratic powers who had ignored Chairman Mao not long
ago. The more the Red Guards attacked that foundation, the more the
bureaucratic resistance to the Glorious Chairman crumbled. The Red Guards
did not let their enthusiasm stop there. Urged on by Mao's speeches, they
went on a campaign against "The Four Olds"- the remnants of
pre-Revolutionary style. The students pulled down store signs, renamed
streets, slit the trouser legs of anyone wearing tight pants, stopped
women entering the town gates to cut off their braids, pulled down ancient
monuments, broke into homes, and smashed everything that carried the hated
aura of tradition. Then the Red Guards turned on each other in what
started as a debate over the true Maoist line.
Behind the argument about Mao's thought, however, was another issue. Class
warfare is a central concept of Maoism. As a result, each citizen of Mao's
China was categorized according to the class from which his parents or
grandparents came. If your family in the distant past had belonged to an
unacceptable social category, you were a pariah. What was acceptable? The
poor peasants and soldiers. Middle peasants and intellectuals were beneath
contempt. Upper peasants, capitalists, or landlords were beyond the pale.
just to keep things straight, the descendants of these hated social strata
were sometimes forced to wear black armbands with white letters
broadcasting their status.
In Gao Yuan's school, one student declared categorically that only those
whose class background was "pure," those whose parents had come from the
Red categories-poor peasants and soldiers-should be allowed in the Red
Guard. And what of the children whose parents came from the Black
categories-middle-class peasants, wealthy peasants, landlords, and
capitalists? Keep them out, said the snobbish student. A parent's class
has nothing to do with children, protested Gao Yuan. "All our classmates
were born and brought up under the five-star red flag. We all have a
socialist education." Not true, snarled the boy determined to keep the Red
Guard an exclusive club, "a dragon begets dragons, a phoenix begets
phoenixes, and a mouse's children can only dig holes."
In the coming months, belonging to the Red Guard would be a matter of
vital importance. The Red Guard would take over the administration of the
cities and the schools. If you belonged, you'd have power. If you didn't,
every petty grudge against you could be turned into a political charge.
And the slightest accusation of ideological sin could be used to make your
days worse than your most appalling nightmare. The debate over who should
be allowed in and who should be kept out was not an innocent children's
Eventually, there would be two different Red Guards in Gao Yuan's school.
One would embrace the children of the favored classes. The other would
harbor the rejects-the children of the forbidden castes. At first, the two
factions were content to squabble over which one upheld Mao's true line.
Each accused the other of right-wing revisionism. Both shouted torrents of
Mao's quotations, determined to prove the rival faction wrong. Soon, they
turned from citations to taunts and insults. Then they graduated to
throwing rocks. The two sides armed themselves. They made slingshots and
clubs, then wove helmets from willow twigs soaked in water. The helmets
were so hard you could smash them with a hammer and barely make a dent. A
few lucky kids found old swords. Others made sabres and daggers out of
scrap metal. Everyone in Gao Yuan's town had grown up knowing how to mix
gunpowder from scratch, since children traditionally crafted their own
firecrackers for annual holidays. Now, the students of Democracy Street
Primary School put that skill to a new use: they built arsenals of
homemade hand grenades. Some even found ways to get guns. It wasn't long
before the two rival gangs of Red Guards at Gao Yuan's school were engaged
in full-scale warfare.
Each occupied a separate group of buildings on the campus. And each began
a series of raids to unseat the other from its newly established
headquarters. In those armed forays, students were wounded with stones,
blades, and explosives. The more the blood flowed, the angrier each side
became. One Red Guard faction came across a lone member of the rival gang
on campus, dragged him to an empty dormitory room, tied him up, and
interrogated him, searching for secrets to their adversaries' weak points.
The captured student at first refused to talk. The interrogators beat him
with a chair leg. They snared another student and hung him from the
ceiling of the room for days, and bludgeoned yet another with a poker.
This time, they made a mistake. The poker had a sharp projection at the
end that punctured their prisoner's skin every time it struck. When the
questioning session was over, the victim's legs were bleeding profusely.
He died a few hours later.
Why had the tormentors used so much force? Their captive was a traitor to
the precepts of Chairman Mao. The Chairman himself had said that
revolution is not a dinner party. Sometimes it was hard to remember that
the person hanging from the rafters had sat three chairs away from you in
homeroom since the two of you were little kids. The commitment of students
on both sides to the words of Mao was passionate. They spat phrases from
the Great Leader like machine-gun bullets, ferocious in their devotion to
"dialectic truth." But, in reality, the Maoist ideology, with its noble
goal of liberating humanity, was being used by one Red Guard faction to
seize power from another. Idealism's rationalizations transformed the
rapacity of the students into a sense of selfless zeal. The Cultural
Revolution threw China into chaos. Finally, the military took control of
the country and restored order. The Red Guard members were drafted as they
came of age. The teenagers who had fought each other went their separate
ways. Gao Yuan entered military service, then studied in Beijing. He met
an American girl, moved to the United States, and wrote a book about his
experience, Born Red.
Not long after, others who had suffered through the Cultural Revolution
would pen memoirs revealing even greater horrors. Meanwhile, the head of
the class-purity-oriented group that had systematically tortured Gao Yuan
and his friends for over a year became a member of a trucking company. The
leader of Gao Yuan's more liberal Red Guard brigade disappeared fur many
years. He resurfaced only when China began the modern economic reform that
allows a measure of entrepreneurial freedom. Today, the former Red Guard
leader once again uses the ability to organize others that helped him
marshal his fierce young army of students: he founds successful capitalist
enterprises. Only one person really got what he wanted from the Chinese
Cultural Revolution: Mao Tse-tung.
When it was all over, he had driven his opponents from their roosts and
regained control of China. But the Chinese Cultural Revolution had
unleashed the most primitive and appalling human instincts, providing a
clue to the biological machinery that leads us into war and violence. The
formerly shy and well-behaved teenagers caught up in the Chinese Cultural
Revolution pulled together in tight clusters. The signal that drew them
together was the altruism of ideology. Once their groups had been formed,
ideology served a second purpose. It became a weapon, an excuse for
lashing out at rival groups, a justification for murder, torture, and
humiliation. Within their tight gangs, the Chinese teenagers loved each
other. Their loyalty to their comrades and to their master, Chairman Mao,
was ferocious. But when they turned their attention to outsiders, the
folks they labeled as counterrevolutionaries, their feelings were
different. Toward those beyond their tiny circle, they radiated only
hatred. And they treated those they despised with remorseless brutality.
The Chinese Cultural Revolution was a microcosm of the forces that
manipulate human history. It showed how the insubstantial things we call
ideas can trigger the loftiest idealism and the basest cruelty. And it
demonstrated how under the urge to heroism and the commitment to the
elevation of all mankind there often ties something truly grotesque-the
impulse to destroy our fellow human beings. How do mere fragments ot
thought turn to concepts that kill? Why do groups so readily congeal, face
off, and fight? To answer these questions, we have to look at the forces
that gave us birth.
Meme 019: SCRUPPIES: Scripture-Pounding Yuppies
Fundamentalism is characteristic, not of aging
conservatives so much as young, urbanizing populations
undergoing great change. Fundamentalism eases their road
to modernization. What they do is find a high-price faith
that demands strict adherence and commitment and then go
through their scripture and carefully select passages
that emphasize clean living, strict obedience, and
*making money*. They then insist on taking these passages
infallibly and literally (and ignoring the rest).
They are scripture-pounding Yuppies, and I call the
Scruppies. This is described, in the case of the Moslems,
in Samuel Huntington's _Clash of Civilizations_, where he
notes that fundamentalist beliefs are highest in medical
and professional schools. Scruppies are also
characteristic of Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam
(http://www.finalcall.com), and it was true of the first
Protestant Ethic described by Max Weber in 1904/5.
The terrorists are *failed* Scruppies. Get too many
failed males of the high testosterone years, fill *them*
up with fundamentalism and they emphasize, not the money-
making elements but the strict adherence. Huntington
shows how the fine correlation between peak of 15-24 year
old youth bulge in Moslem countries and fundamentalist
[I am sending forth these memes, not because I agree wholeheartedly with
all of them, but to impregnate females of both sexes. Ponder them and
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