Archive for March, 2016

Always Attack the Wrong Country

Chor Boogie

There are numerous tactics available to those who aim to make problems worse while pretending to solve them, but misdirection is always a favorite. The reason to want to make problems worse is that problems are profitable—for someone. And the reason to pretend to be solving them is that causing problems, then making them worse, makes those who profit from them look bad.

In the international arena, this type of misdirection tends to take on a farcical aspect. The ones profiting from the world\’s problems are the members of the US foreign policy and military establishments, the defense contractors and the politicians around the world, and especially in the EU, who have been bought off by them. Their tactic of misdirection is conditioned by a certain quirk of the American public, which is that it doesn\’t concern itself too much with the rest of the world. The average member of the American public has no idea where various countries are, can\’t tell Sweden from Switzerland, thinks that Iran is full of Arabs and can\’t distinguish any of the countries that end in -stan. And so a handy trick has evolved, which amounts to the following dictum: “Always attack the wrong country.”

Need some examples? After 9/11, which, according to the official story (which is probably nonsense) was carried out by “suicide bombers” (some of them, amusingly, still alive today) who were mostly from Saudi Arabia, the US chose to retaliate by attacking Saudi ArabiaAfghanistan and Iraq.

When Arab Spring erupted (because a heat wave in Russia drove up wheat prices) the obvious place to concentrate efforts, to avoid a seriously bad outcome for the region, was Egypt—the most populous Arab country and an anchor for the entire region. And so the US and NATO decided to attack EgyptLibya.

When things went south in the Ukraine, whose vacillating government couldn\’t make up its mind whether it wanted to remain within the Customs Union with Russia, its traditional trading partner, or to gamble on signing an agreement with the EU based on vague (and since then broken) promises of economic cooperation, the obvious place to go and try to fix things was the Ukraine. And so the US and the EU decided fix the UkraineRussia, even though Russia is not particularly broken. Russia was not amused; nor is it a country to be trifled with, and so in response the Russians inflicted some serious pain on the Washington establishmentfarmers within the EU.

Who was at fault became exceedingly clear once the Ukrainians that managed to get into power (including some very nasty neo-Nazis) started to violate the rights of Ukraine\’s Russian-speaking majority, including staging some massacres, in turn causing a large chunk of it to hold referendums and vote to secede. (Perhaps you didn\’t know this, but the majority of the people in the Ukraine are Russian-speakers, and there is just one city of any size—Lvov—that is mostly Ukrainian-speaking. Mind you, I find Ukrainian to be very cute and it makes me smile whenever I hear it. I don\’t bother speaking it, though, because any Ukrainian with an IQ above bathwater temperature understands Russian.) And so the US and the EU decided to fix things by continuing to put pressure on the UkraineRussia.

When Russia started insisting on a political rather than a military resolution to the crisis in the Ukraine, and helped negotiate the Minsk agreements together with the Ukraine, France and Germany, a similar thing happened. These agreements obligated the Ukrainian government to pass constitutional reforms to grant autonomy to its Russian regions in the east. The Ukrainian government refused to abide by these agreements. As a result, the US and the EU decided to put pressure on the UkrainianRussian government.

When a nasty terrorist group calling itself ISIS and composed of Islamic Salafi/Takfiri extremists started to seize power in large parts of Iraq, and then spread to Syria, something had to be done about it. These extremists were being financed by Turkey (which is still buying oil from them and sheltering them on its territory) and Saudi Arabia. And so the US and NATO decided to put some pressure on Turkey and Saudi ArabiaSyria.

In response to all this foolishness, Russia up and decided to actually go and fix something that was broken: Syria. And now Syria is on the mend, and members of the misdirectorate in Washington are left scratching their heads.

So far so good. But this method of pretending to be solving problems by making them worse has some definite downsides.

For one thing, eventually even the dimmest, most geographically challenged bulbs in the general population start to get a clue, and then they start refusing to vote for the establishment candidates. Then it becomes hard to continue with the misdirecting because the people doing the misdirecting are voted out, and (horror of horrors!) somebody who might actually try to fix a problem or two might get voted in.

For another, continually making problems worse by attacking the wrong country tends to eventually make the sheer number problems get completely out of hand. Take the recent massive terror attack in Brussels, down the road from NATO headquarters, for which ISIS took credit. Recently, Europe has been experiencing a large-scale influx of people from the Middle East and North Africa, who have been forced to flee their native lands because of all the previous acts of misdirection, and a fair number of these people are ISIS terrorists. And so, to protect itself, NATO is planning to fight ISIS in EuropeSyria. Also, it is well known that the influx into Europe has been orchestrated by Turkey. In response, the EU has decided to put pressure ongive billions of euros to Turkey and tell Turkey that it is welcome to join the EU.

Lastly, this pattern has an overall momentum that, over time, becomes harder and harder to break. It starts out as just one group of plutocrats doing incredibly vile, underhanded but profitable things; later on, an even bigger group of plutocrats is doing equally vile but now completely idiotic, self-defeating, embarrassing things; and right near the end a really huge group of plutocrats is doing things that are absolutely suicidal—but they can\’t stop themselves. You should be able to decide for yourselves when that point in time arrives, but I doubt that it is too far in the future.

The Color Counterrevolution Cometh

Alex Podesta

Had Sun Tsu co-authored a treatise on the art of sports with Capt. Obvious, a quote from that seminal work would probably read as follows:

If your team keeps playing an offensive game and keeps losing, eventually it will end up playing a defensive game, and will lose that too.

Stands to reason, doesn\’t it? The team I have in mind is the neocon-infested Washington régime, which is by now almost universally hated, both within the US and outside of its borders, and the offensive game is the game that has been played by the Color Revolution Syndicate, with George Soros writing the checks and calling the shots. Having lost ground around the world, it is now turning its attention to trying to hold on to its home turf, which is the US.

Behind the Washington régime stands a group of transnational oligarchs, including many of the richest people in the world, and the game they play is as follows:

1. Saddle countries around the world with unrepayable levels of debt, most of which is stolen as soon as it is disbursed, leaving a population perpetually saddled with onerous repayment terms. This used to be done by the US to countries around the world, and has most recently been done to the US itself.

2. This game often results in rebellion, and the well-bribed national leaders in the rebellious countries are expected to put down the rebellion using any means necessary. But if they fail to suppress the rebellion, or if they side with the rebels, then they need to be regime-changed and replaced with a more subservient leadership, and the Color Revolution Syndicate swings into action.

3. The first ploy is to organize young people into a “nonviolent” protest movement (“nonviolent” is in quotes because mobbing the streets, shutting down commerce and blocking access to public buildings are all acts of violence). Their goal is to erode the boundaries of what\’s allowed, until law and order break down and chaos and mayhem take over. At that point, the leadership that is to be regime-changed is supposed to jump on a plane never to be heard from again. But if they fail to do so, the next step in the program is…

4. Mass murder. Snipers are flown in and kill lots of people indiscriminately, while Western media blames the deaths on the soon-to-be-overthrown government. At this point most national leaders, sensing that their lives are at risk, choose to flee. This is what happened with the Ukraine\’s Yanukovich. But sometimes, as happened with Egypt\’s Hosni Mubarak, they simply retreat to a well-defended residence outside the capital and wait things out. And then a magic thing happens: the revolution chokes on itself. Local self-defense units form to protect neighborhoods; out of them emerges a partisan movement to thwart attempts by foreigners to further destabilize the country; and, after much bloodshed, law and order and a legitimate government return. This could have happened in Egypt, if it weren\’t for the efforts of traitors within Mubarak\’s own government. But then there is always…

5. Political assassination. If mass murder doesn\’t work, it\’s time to send in the assassins and physically eliminate the leadership. This has happened in Libya. As Hillary Clinton put it, paraphrasing Julius Caesar, “We came, we saw, he died!” Beware the Ides of March, Hillary!

By this time, it generally has to be conceded that the Color Revolution did not go according to plan, and the Washington régime starts doing its best to pretend that the sad country in question doesn\’t exist. If someone manages to make it past face control and has the temerity to point out that it does exist, then the point is made doesn\’t matter because it isn\’t a vital interest. As Obama just pointed out [paraphrased by Jeffrey Goldberg writing for The Atlantic]: “Ukraine is a core Russian interest but not an American one.” This caused one Zbigniew Brzezinski to spit up all over his shirt. To be sure, there is fine comedy to be had when things don\’t go according to plan for the Washington régime.

Recently, things have only been going downhill for the Color Revolution Syndicate. George Soros\’s NGOs, which have been used to organize Color Revolutions, have been kicked out of both Russia and China; the silly “Umbrella Revolution” in Hong-Kong went nowhere slowly; Russia used its military training budget to rescue the government in Syria and to thrash ISIS and friends, and then moved on to negotiating a political settlement. And when Soros, in a fit of pique, tried to attack the Chinese currency, the Chinese laughed in his face and beat him about the head and shoulders with a printing press until he retreated.

Not only that, but things haven\’t been going so well for the Washington régime either. The fake Democrat/Republican duopoly, which it has been using to simulate democracy and to disguise the fact that it\’s all made to order for the same bunch of transnational oligarchs, is in trouble: a barbarian is at the gates. His name is Donald Trump, and he\’s had the régime in his sights for many years. And now he is moving in for the kill.

Trump isn\’t even that good at it, but this is a super-easy job. As I said, the Washington régime is just as hated within the US as it is around the world, if not more. Trump\’s slogan of “Make America great again!” may sound overly ambitious, but what if his promise is to make America great again at exactly one thing—throwing members of the Washington régime on the ground and stomping on their heads until they pop? I am pretty sure that he can get this done.

Moreover, Trump doesn\’t even try to be that good, although he is certainly very good at causing people to lose their minds. I came across one commentator who bounced off Carl Jung\’s proto-new-age woo-woo on Hitler being a reincarnation of the Norse god Wotan and went on to claim that Trump is a reincarnation of Wotan\’s brother Loki the Trickster. But here is a much simpler idea: Trump is an epitome of Trump. He enjoys being himself, and the unwashed multitudes find this aspirational because they are sick and tired of being told how they should think and behave by a bunch of clueless puppets.

Lastly, Trump gets a lot of help—from his enemies. All they have to do for him to prevail is to carry on being themselves—saying politically and perhaps even factually correct things, toeing the party line, carefully distancing themselves from Trump, repeating the talking points fed to them by Washington think tanks and generally being as useless and boring as possible. Then all Trump has to do to win is to distinguish himself from them by being rude, crude, vulgar, crass, obnoxious and raucously fun. Can you figure out on your own which one the people will pick—useless and boring or raucously fun—or will I need to summon Capt. Obvious again?

The Washington régime, and the oligarchs that back it and profit from it, have finally groked all of this, which is why they have been huddling and trying to organize a Color Counterrevolution that can stop Trump in his tracks. Soros and the \’garchs started throwing around big bags of cash to get the counterrevolution on even before the actual Trump revolution happens. They were initially successful, shutting down a venue in Chicago with the help of Soros-owned But it seems doubtful that they will prevail in the end. Instead, it seems more likely that they will give rise to a partisan movement.

You see, in the US hatred of the Washington régime runs very deep, with millions of people sick and tired of being swindled by various hated bureaucracies—in government, law, medicine, education, the military, banking… They hate those who took away their jobs and gave them to foreigners and immigrants. They hate those who stole their retirement savings and ruined their children\’s futures. They hate the smug university types who keep telling them what to think and how to speak, making them feel inadequate simply for being who they are—salt of the earth Americans, racist, bigoted, small-minded, parochial, willfully ignorant, armed to the teeth and proud of it. There is very little that the régime can ask of these people, because the response to every possible ask is “no, because we hate you.”

And when these people, who are already seething with hatred, look at the political landscape, what do they see? They see the Democrats pushing the candidacy of the banker-crony-crook Clinton, and the only alternative is the full-socialistard “I am from the US government and I am here to help” Sanders who seems to be stuck in some sort of Great Society time warp. (There may be governments that get socialism right; the US government will never be one of them.)

They also see that the Republican establishment, previously so full of pseudorevolutionary puffery, is now so afraid of Trump that it would rather throw the election to the Democrats than support their own candidate, and this fills them with anger and disgust. Take all that seething hatred, mix in lots of anger and disgust, knead it, let it rise, and now you can bake a popular insurgency.

And a popular insurgency, or a partisan movement, is exactly what it takes to defeat the Color Revolution Syndicate. You see, the official authorities, be they the police, the army, the secret service or private security, are limited in the things they can do. In some ways, their hands are tied: if they violate law and order in order to defend law and order, they become mired in self-contradiction, and that just makes it more difficult for them to defend it the next time around.

But the partisans can do anything they want. They can infiltrate the protest movement and commit acts of violence in order to provoke the authorities into taking perfectly justifiable action. They can act to misdirect, demoralize and splinter protest groups. They can use social media to “out” the Color Revolution\’s leaders and those who finance them (who, to remain effective, must hide in the shadows). They can liaise with the official authorities and trade favors for information.

If the Color Revolution shows signs of proceeding to the point where the tactics of Massacre and Political Assassination are about to be tried, they can form commando units, to make sure that these tactics lead to some massive unintended consequences, preventing their productive use. And if all else fails, they can form a guerrilla movement which, in order to win, simply has to not lose.

If all goes well then, starting next year, tens of thousands of Washington operatives, along with their friends in various politically connected industries, such as banking, defense, medicine and education, will evacuate to a variety of nonextradition countries (which will no doubt respond by raising the prices of their passports) while thousands more will begin their lengthy sojourns at federal penitentiaries. And thus the crisis will be defused.

And if it doesn\’t go well, then we\’ll probably be looking at a “deteriorating security environment.” How far it will deteriorate is anyone\’s guess, but if you are one of the Washington régime\’s stooges then you may want to get yourself a second passport before the prices go up and get out ahead of time.

QUIDNON: Deck Arches


QUIDNON has a large, flush deck, unencumbered by cabin tops, hand rails, vents and various other features that often makes sailboat decks far less useful. It can be used for lounging around in a chaise-longue or a hammock, for stacking bales of hay or cords of firewood, or for mounting various bits of equipment, such as plastic incinerators, digesters that produce gas for cooking or for running the engine, and biochar kilns. It can even be used to keep a few cages of chickens (for eggs and meat) and some small livestock (goats, for milk) tethered to the foremast. It is covered with aluminum diamond plate, for good traction, excellent wear resistance and to keep the boat cool by reflecting most of the sunlight.

The large expanse of QUIDNON\’s deck (measuring close to 550 square feet) is interrupted by two masts stepped in mast tabernacles, a large hatch in the center of the deck, and the dodger and cockpit aft. These elements are quite traditional; but there are also two more elements that are somewhat peculiar: there are two deck arches. They bear resemblance to boom gallows, but they are much more than that. In keeping with QUIDNON\’s overall design philosophy, they fulfill as many different functions as possible, to save space and to minimize costs.

Read more…

The wrong kind of victory

John Hayes

One often hears of the fact that the US spends more on its military than most other nations combined. This is usually presented as evidence that the US is more powerful militarily—perhaps so powerful that it could take on the rest of the planet, and prevail. I find this attitude highly questionable. If we look at what sort of “defense” the US actually spends money on, and what it gets in return in terms of military capabilities, an entirely different picture emerges: of a corruption-riddled blundering leviathan that is thwarting its own purpose at every turn.

To start with, assessing relative military strength based on relative levels of military spending is a lot like betting on a race horse based on how much the horse eats. Sure, horses have to eat, but a horse that eats ten times more than all the other horses is probably not going to come out ahead because there is something seriously wrong with it.

Then consider the fact that a dollar spent on the US military in the US is not directly comparable to a dollar\’s worth of rubles or yuan spent on in Russia or China; in terms of purchasing parity, the ratios can be 5 to 1, or even 10 to 1. If Russia gets 10 times the bang for the buck, there goes the assumption of supposed US military superiority based on how much the US military eats.

Also, let\’s not lose track of the fact that the US military has different objectives from the rest of the world\’s militaries: its goal is primarily offensive rather than defensive. The US military strives to dominate and subjugate the entire planet; everyone else simply tries to defend their territory, while a few countries also try to thwart the US military in its ambition to dominate and subjugate the entire planet.

In general, if the objective is unrealistic, it doesn\’t matter how much money is wasted in trying to achieve it. More specifically, it\’s a lot cheaper to break something than to make something work, and the US military, no matter how much money is spent on it, remains quite cheap to neutralize. For instance, a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier costs somewhere around $5 billion, while a Russian Kaliber missile that can be launched from a fishing boat from 1200 km away and destroy it is competitively priced at $1.2 million apiece. To put these numbers in perspective, Russia can wipe out the entire US aircraft carrier fleet without exceeding its military training budget for the year.

But all of this matters only if the US actually spends money in trying to achieve some actual military objective. If the US military establishment mostly wastes its money on vanity projects and expensive technological albatrosses, then none of this matters at all, and this may very well be the case. Just look at what the US actually spends its defense dollars on:

• It spends it on military bases around the world—hundreds of them. What purpose do they serve? What does their presence achieve? Nobody knows. It\’s all part of US military “activity”: assessing and responding to “threats,” most of which are purely theoretical. It seems to have an irrational compulsion to not leave any spots on the planet without a US military base. This is mostly just a waste of resources.

• It spends it on a bunch of aircraft carrier groups. These are very useful for launching attacks on defenseless countries. But it is very important to keep these aircraft carriers outside of conflict zones that may involve China or Russia, or even Iran, because each of these countries has several cost-effective ways to destroy an aircraft carrier: ballistic missiles, supersonic cruise missiles and supersonic torpedoes. The entire aircraft carrier fleet is obsolete, and is another huge waste of money.

• It spends it on the Aegis integrated naval combat system, which is considered state-of-the-art and has been installed on a number of cruisers and destroyers. There is just one problem: it is trivial to shut down, as Russia has demonstrated. A jet fighter equipped with a basket of electronic countermeasures equipment called Khibiny was used to shut down Aegis. The jet (which was otherwise unarmed) then performed a dozen bombing runs on the defenseless US navy vessel.

• It spends it on disastrous development programs of various kinds. A classic example is Ronald Reagan\’s Strategic Defense Initiative, a.k.a. “Star Wars”: it never resulted in anything strategically useful. Another good example is the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which cost over a trillion dollars to develop. It is supposed to be useful for a lot of different missions, but has turned out to be ineffective for all of them.

This list can be continued virtually ad infinitum, but just these examples make clear a basic principle: spending money on things that don\’t work does not make the US any stronger militarily.

Next, look at the manner in which the US spends money on defense. It spends it by paying military contractors, which are public companies—highly profitable ones. These defense contractors are not primarily interested in delivering value in terms of defense spending; they are interested in generating profits for their shareholders. This is the stated prime directive of all public companies. Therefore, it is safe to write off a good third of all defense spending which goes toward profits: this money may feather a lot of nests, but none of that is military-related.

Also, keep in mind that much of the money is actually just pretty much stolen. The Pentagon has not been audited in decades, and sums unaccounted for run into the billions of dollars. A great deal of defense-related spending is recycled using a variety of schemes into campaign contributions for members of US Congress, whose members then unfailingly vote for increased defense spending. There is also the scheme where defense contractors pay exorbitant consulting fees to retired officers in what is really a form of deferred compensation: the officers work for the defense contractors throughout their careers, but are only paid after they retire. Nobody knows what fraction of defense spending gets siphoned off using these or any number of other corrupt schemes, but it seems likely that the US military establishment is the single largest den of corruption that this planet has ever seen.

The little bit of money that might eventually get spent on developing useful defense systems runs into a truly insurmountable problem: lack of brains. You see, for generations now the US has been falling behind in science and math, along with almost everything else. There are some excellent universities and institutes in the US that graduate top-notch technical specialists, but they mostly graduate foreigners. At the graduate level in science and engineering, US nationals are a small minority.

Now, this doesn\’t matter in many technical fields, where it is common practice in the US to hire foreign-born specialists. But defense is special: it requires native talent, or the allegiance, and the morale for doing superior work, simply isn\’t there. And so the defense contractors end up being staffed by native-born knuckle-draggers who couldn\’t get a job that wasn\’t defense-related. In turn, the Department of Defense is staffed by similarly dim bulbs: highly caffeinated fitness freaks who run around looking busy, waiting for their next promotion, never criticizing their superiors, never questioning their orders no matter how idiotic they are, and never thinking too hard. What can a system like that achieve? Disasters, that\’s what.

And so that\’s what we see: a long sequence of unmitigated military disasters. The US has been involved in a long series of military campaigns against very weak adversaries, in which it proved itself capable of destruction, with staggering levels of collateral damage, and some very impressive unintended consequences such as the emergence of ISIS/Daesh/Islamic Caliphate, but not much else.

Critically, it has turned out to be utterly incapable of winning the peace. The ultimate objective of all military missions is cessation of hostilities on favorable terms. If this objective cannot be achieved, then the military mission is worse than useless. Has the US military been able to achieve cessation of hostilities on favorable terms in any of the countries in which it intervened militarily—Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Syria, the Ukraine? No, it certainly hasn\’t.

The US defense establishment can be considered victorious in one sense only: it has conquered and subdued the people of the United States, and is extracting a plentiful tribute from them. It is a pure parasite, serving no useful purpose. It should be disbanded. As far as standing up to the neighbors, the Texas National Guard should be a good match to Mexico\’s Federales in case Mexico decides to stage a military-style reconquista, which is unlikely, since the de facto demographic reconquista is going so well. On the other hand, the northern border requires no protection it all, since it is inconceivable that Canada would ever pose any sort of military threat.

Of course, there is an alternative to voluntarily disbanding the US military: a resounding, humiliating military defeat at the hands of clever, cost-conscious adversaries. However, this plan is fraught with the danger of triggering a nuclear exchange, and highly placed Americans who are concerned that a nuclear explosion might interfere with their personal longevity plans should give the voluntary approach a good think.

P.S. Some people might find my criticism and suggestions “unpatriotic” because we should all “support our troops.” Rest assured, this has nothing to do with the troops: they do not get to make procurement decisions, and they do not get to choose their missions. As far as as patriotism is concerned, it is the sworn patriotic duty of the troops to serve and protect the people, not the other way around. But if you wish to be a patriot, then you too can serve and protect the people, the troops in particular (because, don\’t you forget, they are people too) by bringing them home and giving them civilian jobs doing something useful, or at least something that isn\’t harmful to the world at large or to the country\’s finances, environment, health, reputation or security.

Harm/Benefit Analysis


[Technologies : analyse préjudices / bénéfices]

According to Kaczynski, we need to reject organization-dependent technologies that tie us into the technosphere, and cultivate organization-independent ones:

Small-scale technology is technology that can be used by small-scale communities without outside assistance. Organization-dependent technology is technology that depends on large-scale social organization. We are aware of no significant cases of regression in small-scale technology. But organization-dependent technology does regress when the social organization on which it depends breaks down.

Easier said than done! It implies eliminating just about everything that makes it possible for people to survive. It implies living without electricity—not even off-grid systems that use batteries, photovoltaic cells and small-scale wind generators. It means living without pumped water, because demand pumps, pipes and valves are all manufactured products. It means living without electronics of any kind, since the electronics industry is globally integrated. No internet; no vaccinations; no cosmetic dentistry; no eyeglasses; no antibiotics or painkillers… Nothing that\’s mass-produced… It means living off the land using crude tools you can fashion yourself in a primitive smithy using salvaged metal. Very few people would ever settle for that!

Sorry, Ted, but we need a better metric on which to base our decisions than simply sorting technologies into organization-dependent and organization-independent, and depriving ourselves of all the organization-dependent ones. So how about we do this instead: define a reasonably complete list of positive and negative aspects of technology, and then select which technologies we do use in order to maximize the benefit while minimizing the harm?

Calculating the harm/benefit ratio

Unlike the primitivist, extremist approach outlined above, this is a perfectly copacetic, constructive initiative, but I believe that the end result will be exactly the same, although achieved more gradually. You see, the harm/benefit analysis maximizes technology\’s benefit to us while minimizing technology\’s harm to us—not the technosphere. And I would conjecture that, based on which aspects of technology we regard as positive or negative, we can structure the process so that whatever helps us also shrinks the technosphere, and vice versa.

Here are 30 aspects of technology, in no particular order, which, for each technology, take a value somewhere between harmful and beneficial:

limited useful life
unlimited useful life
fosters dependence
fosters autonomy
depletes resources
conserves resources
limits options
opens up possibilities
requires specialists
requires generalists
individual use
community use
consumer grade
commercial grade
rarely used
frequently used
requires access
requires skill
individual effort
team effort

To analyze a particular technology, add up its harm h and its benefit b. To determine its Harm/Benefit Ratio (HBR) divide one by the other:

[Click here to download a Harm/Benefit Calculator in spreadsheet format.]

Note that there is nothing magical about the 30 aspects of technology listed above, and you can modify this list or come up with one entirely your own. It is just a way of evaluating the pros and cons of technology, but with a particular view in mind: what is considered beneficial is that which is beneficial to you, within your local environment, human or natural, which makes you autonomous, self-sufficient and free. And what is considered harmful is what disrupts the natural environment while depriving you of autonomy, self-sufficiency and freedom, forcing you to relinquish control to impersonal, remote, nonhuman entities.

Technology is neither good nor bad, and it is essential for survival. Our job is to pick and choose carefully, to embrace technologies that liberate and empower us, and to look for ways to avoid or eliminate the ones that weaken us, make us dependent on outside interests and forces, and can even result in our extinction as a species along with all the rest (yes, there are a few such technologies).

If we do this job well, then we will shrink the technosphere—the oppressive, totalitarian, malignant, global entity into which technology has been allowed to coalesce. The mechanism by which the technosphere will shrink is a simple one to describe but rather difficult to evaluate in a quantifiable fashion. But sometimes such quantifiable evaluation isn\’t necessary; all that\’s needed is the ability to predict with confidence that the required result will be obtained through some finite, physically possible amount of effort. For example, there is no need for precise mathematical models to estimate how many whacks with a stick it will take to break a piñata; it sufficient to know that some reasonable number of whacks is enough to get at the candy inside it. And so it is here: some amount of effort, of which we humans, being adaptable and resourceful, are most certainly capable, provided we are sufficiently incentivized and motivated, will produce the result we are looking for.

The technosphere expands when it gains efficiency. The efficiency in question is not some relative measure of the amount of useful output for a certain amount of input. Rather, it is the systemic efficiency of the technosphere as a whole: does it, all other things being equal, gain a greater measure of control over us? If we select technologies that cause us to relinquish control to the technosphere, then we are doing its work for it, making it more efficient. Conversely, if we select technologies that specifically deprive the technosphere of control or make the exercise of control more expensive in terms of time, resources and energy, then we reduce its efficiency and its scope.

And this will cause it to shrink. This effect is automatic. The technosphere\’s emergent intelligence is the intelligence of a machine. Its internal programming is such that it always acts rationally in its own internal self-interest. For the technosphere, the ends always justify the means, to the exclusion of every other consideration. These ends are: limitless growth and expansion; complete domination of the biosphere; and complete control over us humans. If we succeed in thwarting it to a point where increased effort leads to decreased results, then, being rational, it will have no choice but to decrease effort… and shrink. This process, if taken far enough, will reduce it to a set of mere instrumentalities, from which we can choose à la carte—no longer able to pursue its own agenda but pressed into service if needed and allowed to dwindle and disappear if not.

So much for politics…


[Voilà pour la politique…]

During the past week, since I had published the excerpt from the manuscript for my next book, Shrinking the Technosphere, I received a number of responses that were somewhat disconcerting. Some people couldn\’t approach the concept of the technosphere without having a dictionary definition at their disposal. Others thought that I was just presenting some warmed-over version of a concept that\’s already been fully expounded by Jacques Ellul, Teilhard de Chardin and others. A few more thought my task hopeless because hardly anyone would be capable of grasping the concept.

I think I can guess the reason for this negative attitude. It has two main causes: intellectualism and denial.

Intellectualism is a sort of psychological disorder whose main symptom is an inability to combine one\’s intellectualizing with the work of one\’s emotional and physical centers. The result is a hollow being who uses big words and fancy concepts to camouflage a profound fecklessness. We can only be whole beings if we find ways to combine the work of our three centers—intellectual, emotional and physical—in a harmonious way. Ignore any one of them, and what you have is a slightly crippled being; ignore two, and what you have is an invalid.

Denial is easier to explain. People who are well and fully trapped within the technosphere and cannot imagine life outside of it are not likely to be receptive to the idea of it going away. It may be possible to convince them, using rational argument, that the technosphere\’s days are numbered, and that they need to get themselves clear of it if they wish the human experiment to continue. But even when convinced on a purely intellectual level, without the emotional resilience or the physical stamina to transform their personalities and to drastically alter their habits all they can do is sit there and blink. As to why that is, see the previous paragraph.

Of the previous generations of thinkers, Jacques Ellul came the closest to comprehending the nature and scope of the technosphere as a parasitic emergent intelligence that is infesting and destroying the biosphere. But as far as recommendations for what to do about this problem, Ellul pretty much assumed the fetal position and sucked his thumb. He was a devout Catholic, and I suppose he sort of assumed that the Kingdom of Heaven will arrive one day, technosphere or no technosphere, so let\’s just scribble about it while awaiting salvation. Apparently, he couldn\’t conceive of the fact that organized monotheistic religion is a social machine par excellence, and as such is merely an aspect of the very technosphere he was critiquing. Such an intellectual!

The person who first nailed the technosphere for what it is was Ted Kaczynski, a.k.a. The Unabomber, who is serving out eight consecutive life sentences in the Florence, Colorado, Supermax Penitentiary. In his most recent profile update, which he submitted to the Harvard alumni association a few years back, he lists his eight life sentences as his achievements and his current occupation as “prisoner.” If you want to send him a postcard for his birthday (he is turning 74 on May 22) his address is “No. 04475-046, US Penitentiary—Max, P.O. Box 8500, Florence, CO 81226-8500.”

Ted\’s discovery of the technosphere was accidental. He was a mathematical child prodigy who was admitted to Harvard at age 15 and earned his Ph.D. and became an assistant professor at Berkeley ten years later. While he was at Harvard, starting at age 16, he was made the subject of the MKULTRA mind control experiment. In it, gifted students who volunteered for the program were taken into a room and connected to electrodes that monitored their physiological reactions while facing bright lights and a one-way mirror. Then they were brutally confronted with their inner demons which they had divulged to their interrogators during screening tests, all the while being dosed with LSD and other mind-altering drugs.

This, I believe, was the formative experience which allowed Ted to see the technosphere for what it is. He was victimized by the bit of the technosphere that is by far the nastiest: the part that seeks to make humans one hundred percent controllable, as if they were robots, by breaking down everything about them that makes them human. I am certain that he caught a glimpse of what it is: a single, unified, global, controlling, growing, destructive entity, existing beyond human reason or morality, which must be stopped no matter the cost.

Thus, Ted is not just an intellectual scribbler: he is someone who actually spent three days and three nights in the belly of the beast. He wrote:

As I see it, I don\’t think there is any controlled or planned way in which we can dismantle the industrial system. I think that the only way we will get rid of it is if it breaks down and collapses.

The way he chose to live his life was not the path of the intellectual who is able to completely ignore the problem in his daily life while timidly scribbling about it in some dusty corner. He quit his position at Berkeley, built his cabin in Montana and moved in. He lived there without telephone, electricity or running water, on very little money, and studied tracking, edible plant identification and primitive skills. He chose to not be part of the problem; if everyone lived like Ted, then there would be no technosphere for me to write about.

But that all changed when one day he discovered that the Forest Service destroyed one of his favorite wild spots and replaced it with a service road. That\’s when he switched to studying bomb-making. He was never very good at it, and his tally of a paltry three dead and 23 injured attests to this fact. But then his aims were limited to achieving notoriety:

In order to get our message before the public with some chance of making a lasting impression, we’ve had to kill people.

As Barak Obama, who destroyed four entire countries (Libya, Syria, Yemen and the Ukraine) would perhaps have put it, “We had to kill some folks.” (His predecessor, Bush Jr., only destroyed 1.5 countries—Iraq and the remaining half of Afghanistan; I wonder if this qualifies as “progress.”) Yes, Ted broke the commandment that “Thou shalt not kill,” but perhaps you\’ve noticed that it was changed to “Thou shalt not kill unless so ordered” quite a long time ago. Ted\’s crime is not that he killed some folks (lots of people get medals, promotions and pensions for committing acts of murder) but that he didn\’t kill as a servant of the technosphere.

The most severe criticism that can be leveled at Ted is that his methods were unsound: there are other, more efficient ways of achieving notoriety. As a genius, he could have written a best-seller. But then that\’s just second-guessing. He saw a pressing need—to destroy the technosphere before it finishes destroying the biosphere, and us with it—and he didn\’t want to take any chances on methods that might not work. The problem of finding a method that would work is nontrivial. Ted clearly saw that what was needed was some sort of revolution, but he couldn\’t see very far past that:

We therefore advocate a revolution against the industrial system. This revolution may or may not make use of violence; it may be sudden or it may be a relatively gradual process spanning a few decades. We can’t predict any of that.

He was extremely clear on one point: that the needed change could not possibly come from any place on the existing political spectrum. He was quite withering in his critique of the liberal left which, he thought, excelled in the extreme hypocrisy of championing the cause of groups it thought to be inferior in order to oppress all of society through oversocialization, feminization and the imposition of political correctness. This was mostly the work of heterosexual white males, for nothing much can happen without their approval and support:

The guardians of political correctness (mostly white, uppper-middle-class heterosexuals) identify with groups of people they see as weak or inferior while denying (even to themselves) that they consider them to be such.

Among “leftist issues,” Kaczynski counts “racial equality, equality of the sexes, helping poor people, peace as opposed to war, nonviolence generally, freedom of expression, kindness to animals.” Please note that “destroying the technosphere before it destroys what\’s left of the biosphere and us with it” is nowhere on this list.

So much for the liberals. As far as the conservatives, he skewers them with a single remark:

The conservatives are fools: they whine about the decay of traditional values, yet they enthusiastically support technological progress and economic growth. Apparently it never occurs to them that you can’t make rapid, drastic changes in the technology and the economy of a society without causing rapid changes in all other aspects of the society as well, and that such rapid changes inevitably break down traditional values.

Ted didn\’t say it, but I will: both ends of the political spectrum, and all points in between, are merely projections of the technosphere. The political parties are social machines, and different mechanized political tasks call for different kinds of machinery. The conservative machine excels at direct, undisguised brutality, which works just fine but is rather expensive. The liberal machine achieves its goals, such as political domination, bureaucratic control, fostering dependency, suppression of social separatism, rendering populations defenseless by advocating nonviolence, imposition of inflated standards, destruction of local cultures through enforced cultural heterogeneity (to name a few)—and it achieves these goals through hypocrisy, which, consisting of mere disingenuous words, is quite cheap. But the moment hypocrisy stops working, there is always the conservative Plan B: march in the goon squad and bust some heads. If you want a brilliant contemporary example of this mechanism at work, look no further than the current presidential contest in the US: on the liberal side we have the congenital liar, hypocrite and crook Clinton vs. the reincarnation of Benito Mussolini, thuggish goon extraordinaire Trump.

So much for politics… But what of the revolution? Somebody has to carry it off, or we all die. Well, I have an idea. It is very simple in concept, and rather involved in its details. The idea is that we can abscond with the few bits of the technosphere we need while causing the rest of it to crash and burn prematurely merely through carefully thought-out technology selection. It doesn\’t have to be an organized movement: when people see the system failing them, their minds naturally turn to finding ways of providing for their autonomy, self-sufficiency and freedom. I have no intention of telling people what technologies to select; I only seek to provide them with a sound process for making the selections. As far as learning all the details, you\’ll just have to wait until the book comes out.

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P.S. I haven\’t been as thorough in repudiating technology as Ted, but I am no pure intellectual either. In fact, I haven\’t repudiated technology at all; I have merely become very careful in selecting it. I do own a cell phone, a laptop, a bicycle and a few other bits of carefully selected technology. Nor am I any fan of gaining notoriety by killing and maiming and other such unsound methods; merely typing on a laptop is working just fine for me. And I didn\’t move to a cabin in Montana; instead, I sold the house and the car, quit the job and went sailing.