End Genocide

The year is 1500. The continent smells of death. The majority of the population is kept enslaved, though that term is used for only some of the victims. The common people, that ragged mass, work for nobles who either stole the land or had it granted to them from another thief. Food is not abundant. The average diet produces a form of walking starvation, allowing these “children of God” enough energy to labor in the farms and the mines, if not enough to reproduce. Indeed, somewhere around 80% of this population will leave no trace in our world, their genetic material snuffed out through violence, disease, pestilence, or the absence of conditions that would have allowed them to give birth to children who do not die in infancy.

In short, Europe sucked. The rest of the world did, too.

Of course, our goal is to prevent this from happening again. Mass death and work-based starvation are not appropriate fates for humans, whether Europeans or Amerinidans, whether in the 15th century or the 20th. What must be done, therefore, to prevent such genocides?

One tool, blunt but effective, is this: destroy genocidal cultures.

One objection, which must be dealt with straightaway, is to ask whether such self defense is itself genocide. After all, the definition of genocide presented by Moshman (2007) would appear to encompass cultural destruction, or at least transformation, as readily as biological death. This is true. But there can be no debate that the genocide that involves death is infinitely worse than one that does not.

At a first approximation, some form of social organization appear to be inherently genocidal. Take the Lakota Sioux, for instance. Lakota Sioux society was centered around the buffalo, an animal that existed in vast herds as a result to the Amerind die-off centuries earlier. Ignorant of either industry or agriculture, Lakota society forced tribes to follow buffalo herds that were otherwise impeded. Towns, farms, and other tribes that provided resource competition were exterminated or relocated, because no other organization of the means of production was possible as long as Lakota society relied on such wandering.

Following the end of the Sioux Wars, American forces recognized they had captured a Lakoa population in which every able body male was not just potentially a warrior, but actually a warrior. Every family was thus not just capable of harboring a potential genocidier, but actually was providing psycho-scoio-economic support to a warrior whose methods were inherently genocidal. Correctly distinguishing cultural continuity from democide, US forces set up a series of Indian schools with the explicit goal of killing the potential genocider within the child while providing the child a range of life-options, none of which included mass murder.

Off course, merely being settled does not make one peaceful. The examples of genocidal Germany, and merely shockingly inhumane Japan, provide proof of this. Once again, following victory, American forces were faced with thoroughly militarized populations. While the Germans and Japans had transcended the need for talking buffalo, their nightmare was all the more modern, including political institutions, religious organizations (including the National Reich Church and State Shinto), and civil societies focused on external wars of aggression. Once again, the US distinguished between cultural discontinuity and death. Membership in the NSDAP was outlawed, the National Reich Church and State Shinto faiths were persecuted more thoroughly than even the Romans might have dreamed, and core elements of social life (the national anthem in Germany, compulsory education in Japan) were banished.

Technologies advance, of course, and the prevention of genocide is now less kinetically intense, if no less thorough. Cultural folkways are often transmitted from mother to child, attempts to disrupt such transmission. To the extent that we wish to fundamentally alter these societies to reduce their militancy against us and their neighbors, both mother-son transmission and more fundamentally mother-daughter cultural transmission must be disrupted. That is, these cultures will continue to exist so long as mothers are able to train their daughters how to raise families. So, of course, we attack this weak link. Female literacy programs have the direct effect of ending an age-old method of matrilineal acculturation, replacing it with whatever current techniques such girls are introduced to in their texts. The details of those texts of course do not matter: it is not necessary that they become us: it is only critical that they cease being them.

Now, I am aware that the preceding anecdotes are narratives, not statistics. It’s possible that the Germans really would have “chilled ,” and there was no need for a two-strikes-and-your-out policy. Likewise, perhaps the Japanese were forced into war for structural reasons unrelated to State Shinto, and it may be that the nightmarish Ghost Dace Religion, a messianic cult looking forward to the death-by-fire of black and other foreigners in North America, was just another way of saying “I love you.” Maybe the conditions in all of the Islamic world are already above those that would require outside assistance in building female literacy.

Ultimately, the question of when to employ cultural discontinuity as a genocide prevention tool is part technical and part political. But it is an option, a human rights tool. And that is why definitions of genocide similar to “” are not necessarily incorrect but most definitely wrong: lumping the prevention with the disease merely hastens death.


Moshman, D. (2007). Us and them: Identity and genocide. Identity: An International Journal of Theory and Research, 7(2), 115-135.

Dozier Internet Law and the language of violence

Considering the pattern unethical, if sometimes hilarious, things to come out of Dozier Internet Law, references to killing shouldn’t surprise me. But they still do:

From John W. Dozier, Jr’s personal blog:

Dozier Internet Law continues to monitor and evaluate developments in the law of the web. Right now it looks like the laws and decisions are continuing to catch up with the “Wild West” mentality that is so prevalent among the “scofflaws” of the web. It’s good to remember that some pioneers get arrows in their backs, I guess.

I’ve previously analyzed Dozier’s nuisance lawsuits as a form of violence at Dreaming 5GW, which led to a reply by curtis at Phatic Communion, but I believe John’s words are the first that include reference to direct, life-altering bodily harm.

Weirdly, in an earlier piece, Dozier defined “sadists” bloggers as those who are the first to recommend physical violence. Granted, John didn’t recommend physical violence yet… “I guess.”

Graduate hours

My department has divides the 90 hours for a doctoral program into 11 sub-categories, and today I went through it, identifying the precise hours that were, are, or will be taken to fulfill the requirements for a Ph.D. Graduation is still 13-18 months away, but I’m definitely feeling closer to the end that the beginning. I remember walking to the country kitchen in Pierre with my first grad textbook, studying it over chicken salad and being excited…

Also had two conversations re: the OODA loop paper. I’m hearing the same thing from both professors, which is great: they come from different areas of the field, and the biggest fear is that they talk past each other. The dual-processing section will be expanded, to ease in readers who are substantially less familiar with Boyd than, say, the crew of this summer’s Boyd Seminar. I had hoped to be actually done with the paper this week, but it’s better to build it up now and rapidly convert it to part of the dissertation proposal later than the reverse.

Giuliani wrong on health care

Martin, J. (2007). Rudy: It’s time to unmask Romney. Politico. November 26, 2007. Available online: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1107/7029.html.

After months of provocation, Mayor Giuliani has finally responded to Governor Romney’s attacks. Sadly, one of his counter-attacks misses the mark, badly.

“The one thing he’s known for is health care,” Giuliani said, referring to Romney’s signature initiative aimed at insuring all Massachusetts citizens. “And the health care is the thing he’s now abandoned for the rest of the country. It contained a very big mistake, which he realizes is a very big mistake, the mandate.”

The Massachusetts health care plan compels citizens to sign up for their choice of coverage and levies what Giuliani deemed “a tax” on those who don’t. The health care proposal Romney has laid out in the presidential contest includes no such mandate.

“That’s not the way to expand health care,” Giuliani continued. “The way to expand health care is through the program that I’ve talked about, which Mitt Romney has now adopted.”

While I previously applauded Giuliani on health care, here Rudy misses the point of insurance: the pooling of risk. Better and better bioscience, however, will reveal more and more risk, either allowing health care companeis to discriminate against the riskier, or allowing the less risky to opt-out of the system all together, or both. While this has always happened, this will be happening with a far higher degree of precision in the future as the cost of genome sequencing falls to around a thousand dollars.

Dozier Theory Pants

As I reported on Jim River Report, Brendan has more on Dozier Internet Law’s use of spam advertising. Brendan’s post has screenshots of many of the more absorb attempts to increase their google pagerank. Here’s the best:

“Sponsored listings” include Dozier Internet Law (We protect online reputations and the intellectual property of business), Earn A Law Degree Online (Accredited Law Degree 100% Online. Bachelors Required. Apply Today!), NY Internet Law Lawyers (Internet law, media, technology, and licensing matters), and Domain Theft? (Don’t let someone steal your url. Experienced internet attorney).

Other “related” searches include theory pants, internet law, theory suits, theory jackets, law school, theory sweaters, technology law, law, theory skirts, and business law.

Thanksgiving Unities

Many thanks to Eddie of Hidden Unities for dropping by yesterday, on his way across the continent. Over coffee, hamburgers, tea, and the Border War (#2 Kansas 28, #4 Missouri 36), Eddie joined my family and myself for an amazing evening. Besides being incredibly knowledgeable on every subject under the sun, Eddie’s also hilarious. His combination of wit, timing, and impersonations had everyone laughing late into the night.

Fake State of Iraq v. Kurdistan

Karim, A. (2007). Iraq nullifies Kurdish oil deals. AFP. 24 November, 2007. Available online: http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20071124/wl_mideast_afp/iraqoilkurds (from Democratic Underground).

Even discounting the blood and treasure we spill, there are real costs to keeping the fake state of Iraq around. This is one of them:

Iraq’s oil ministry has declared all crude contracts signed by the Kurdish regional authorities with foreign companies null and void, a government official said on Saturday.

“The ministry has nullified all contracts signed by the Kurdistan Regional Government,” the official told AFP, asking not to be named. “They will not be recognised.”

The government in Iraq’s northern autonomous Kurdish region has signed 15 exploration and exportation contracts with 20 international companies since it passed its own oil law in August, infuriating the Baghdad government.

Oil Minister Hussein Shahristani has in recent weeks angrily denounced the Kurdish authorities for signing the contracts before the national parliament approves a new oil and gas law, declaring them “illegal”

Keeping Iraq as a unified state means the functioning Kurdish north is yoked to the Gappish Shia south, and the Gappish Shia south is tied to the Tony Soprano v. Osama bin Laden funland of the Sunni Arab west.

Iraq should be broken apart as quickly as practical, allowing three very different nations to speed ahead, or fall back, at the rate that is natural for them in this world.

John Robb in IEEE / Slashdot!

John Robb, who has both personal and theoretical blogs, was mentioned in a recent article in IEEE Spectrum that was picked up by Slashdot:

“What we are seeing is the empowerment of the individual to conduct war,” says John Robb, a counterterrorism expert and author of the book Brave New War (John Wiley & Sons), which came out in April. While the concept of asymmetric warfare dates back at least 2000 years, to the Chinese military strategist Sun-tzu, the conflict in Iraq has redefined the nature of such struggles [see photo, “Road to Perdition”]. As events are making painfully clear, Robb says, warfare is being transformed from a closed, state-sponsored affair to one where the means and the know-how to do battle are readily found on the Internet and at your local RadioShack. This open global access to increasingly powerful technological tools, he says, is in effect allowing “small groups to…declare war on nations.”

Need a missile-guidance system? Buy yourself a Sony PlayStation 2. Need more capability? Just upgrade to a PS3. Need satellite photos? Download them from Google Earth or Microsoft’s Virtual Earth. Need to know the current thinking on IED attacks? Watch the latest videos created by insurgents and posted on any one of hundreds of Web sites or log on to chat rooms where you can exchange technical details with like-minded folks.

Robb calls this new type of conflict “open-source warfare,” because the manner in which insurgent groups are organizing themselves, sharing information, and adapting their strategies bears a strong resemblance to the open-source movement in software development. Insurgent groups, like open-source software hackers, tend to form loose and nonhierarchical networks to pursue a common vision, Robb says. United by that vision, they exchange information and work collaboratively on tasks of mutual interest.


(The comments in the Slashdot article are exceptionally good.)

A weird experience

Received a letter in my mailbox to someone today. The return address was

Portfolio Recovery Associates LLC
PO Box 12914
Norfolk, VA 23541

The letter was clearly written to someone with a very similar name who also studies at the University of Nebraska. The address on the enelope was a combination of his address and mine (I’ve received junk mail for him before) and, being a good guy, I called up the kind people are PRA at 1-800-772-1413 at about 10:30 AM today (Portfolio Recovery Associates, so I am informed, is affiliated to Anchor Receivables Management by common ownership). I believe they were contracted by HSBC / Ameritech.

The first person I talked to, Curtis, was rude, hostile, and threatening. He asked me if it was a crime to receive someone else’s mail (?), and demanded to know my Social Security number. I asked to talk to his “supervisor,” who I assume is another worker on the floor. The second person was more straight forward. He asked to know the last four digits of my SSN, which I refused to give (?). He then read me the addressee’s last four digits, and asked if I that was my number (I responded “no”). I informed him of the error, and how Nebraska has sorted mail wrong in the past, and he thanked me for his time.

The Subtleties of Inheritance

Half Sigma discovers “epigenetics,” which is a general term for heritable elements that are not DNA. Maternal cytoplasm is an example of an epigenetic factor, though there probably are more. I assume that epigenetics probably works to exaggerate genetic differences. For instance, if two lands are otherwise equal, except one population is “genetically” higher in intelligence, that population is less likely to experience a famine, and so less likely to be epigenetically stunted.

At the same time, (courtesy of Crooked Timber) Eric Turkheimer of CATO speaks carefully about “innate” differences. Eric post essentially boils down to the fact that genes are expressed differently in different environments. Thus, it’s possible to imagine a world, with the same DNA distribution, where sub-Saharan Africans outscore Jews on intelligence tests. And it’s even easier to imagine a system where the general factor of intelligence does not correlate with verbal skill, spatial skill, height, etc. Of course, those worlds are not our worlds.

Adam of The Metropolis Times emphasizes that, whatever average group differences are, and whatever their origins, people should be judged as individuals. And human rights belong to all humans, not just who score well on tests.