Sunday, June 16, 2013

Annette Baker Fox : the survival of the avirulent state in a Virile Age

Bacteriologist (Martin) Henry Dawson and Political Scientist Annette Baker Fox doubtlessly never met, but both of their life's work was not as dissimilar as it might seem at first blush.

Monday, June 10, 2013

It was the very ORTHODOXY of their economic theories that doomed Hitler,Tojo and Mussolini

Devotedly orthodox economist Robert Solow won the 1987 Nobel Prize basically for just one very famous 1974 quote, taken a bit out of context:

"If it is very easy to substitute other things for natural resources, then there is, in principle, no problem. The world, in effect, can get along without natural resources."

But since he was born in 1924 and was only nine when Hitler came to power, he can hardly be blamed for acting as Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo's unofficial economic advisor.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Dawson's commensality supplies Modernity's "Missing Middle"

Seventy five years on, WWII (conventionally 1939-1945 but actually lasting much longer) looks like nothing more than two great grist stones, Reification and Reductionism, relentlessly grinding up all humanity between them .

For example, the Axis reified a scientific claim that humanity could be accurately divided into being either members or non-members of a concretely actual Aryan Race --- and then set out to eliminate all the non members.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Between PROGRESS and PROTONS : "The Missing Middle" , where we actually live

Thirties Reductionism said that once scientists knew the behavior of one of the Protons that made up Winston Churchill's body (and multiplied it by a trillion trillion trillion identical protons), they could then predict Churchill's behavior over the 1936 Abdication Crisis.

Thirties Reification said that Human Progress is real and concrete and since it was so clearly evident that Human Progress 'wants to get ever bigger and bigger',then dividing Human Progress up into the two billion individual people that existed in the world in 1939, would allow us to predict that particular individual Scott Nearing would also approve of things getting ever bigger.

But in fact he became famous for disagreeing bigger is better.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Modernity : CONCRETE Dams vs ABSTRACT Delusions ...

When was Chopin born, when did he die, where did Chopin end and his brother begin ?

All concrete questions we can definitively answer.

That's the terrible thing about individuals, the thing that made modernists from all camps hate them so : if forces one to take the coke out of one's nose and actually deal with hard facts and numbers and dates.

But imagined communities - those hallucinations shared by tenured professors and certified lunatics in the 1930s , now that was their preferred cup of tea.

Not from our war : "Second Front in the Soviet Far East , NOW !"

Dream on.

Shamefully, there was no public Western pressure put on Stalin to open any sort of Second Front on Japan from the North, during the desperate days of mid 1942 or ever after.

Ever after,  as in : no major postwar historical school has ever focused on this baneful fact.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Could "Small is Beautiful" have topped 1930s bestseller lists ?

He is a brilliant young economist, regarded as one of the best of his generation--- educated at Berlin and Bonn and at the London School of Economics, given a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford and Columbia University, where he is hired as a lecturer.

He also has real world experience as an international investment banker.

No wonder then that this wunderkind's  PhD, "Small is Beautiful", is quickly published in 1938 upon his graduation at age 27, and soon climbs the bestseller lists and is translated into many languages and is regarded as a timeless classic and an epoch-making book.

Because most historians credit it for ending the then real possibility of a world-wide European War.

Must Progress inevitably get mightier and wiser ?

During the truly horrible and nasty 1930s and early 1940s, at the apogee of Reductionist Modernity, this idea was the overall global "meta-ideology".

So powerful a meta-ideology that it actually dominated all the ideologies we then took to be widely apart in their worldviews.

Minor variant ideologies we still call fascist/nazi style nationalism , communism, and mixed socialist/capitalist liberal democracy.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Islands and WWII : did anything else important happen (yawn) ?

For hundreds of millions of avid newspaper readers during WWII, an atlas was essential to follow the conflict's global course.

Never more so because of the fact that most of the battles - yes, most of the battles - took place over, around and on islands - with some of the most heavily fought-over islands being almost incredibly tiny.

a Commensal history of WWII includes the small and the great, the hubristic and the nimble

To render the sprawling activities of WWII palatable to digestion (because even the most devoted of readers have their limits) the tendency of authors is to show the war as seen through the eyes of the Great Powers and the Great Men.

And as seen through the eyes of those wisest of Wise Men, the scientists.

A commensal history of 1939-1945 should also start with a war between a handful of Great Men and Great Powers, because that is the way it all began.

But, to be fully accurate, it should also end in a confused co-mingling of the actions of the decisive small as well as those of the chastened great.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Coalitions, not Combat, lost and won WWII

England and pre-1937 Germany definitely started and then attempted to direct World War Two throughout , but they certainly didn't win or lose this truly world-wide war,  not all on their tiny , tiny own.

Instead, two vast world-sized coalitions under their nominal direction - one truly commensal and the other just national imperialism by another name - won and lost the war.

Germany and Japan built far, far, far better fighting machines but lost out totally to the Anglo-led nations, simply because of the Axis inability to form genuine working partnerships with all the people worldwide who were initially willing to back Fascism back in 1939-1940.

In the beginning Japan and Germany seemed to have had 'Science' on their side : most of the educated world resignedly believed that Nature and Darwin had revealed that in the long run, bigger was always better, always beating down the small and the weak.

In other words, they had a baldly naive and a highly hubris-inflated sense of what the Science of Size actually told us.

If you don't know that there actually is a well founded Science of Size, then you won't be prepared for the upcoming mega-sized re-match of WWII, when popular Hubris again collides with unpopular Reality, this time over the question of climate.

Friday, May 24, 2013

WWII's the Mighty and the Wise "confounded" by bacteria and bazooka Resistance Movements

It is clear now that WWII's twin defeats of Sulfa drugs and Armoured tanks by the bacterial and bazooka "Resistance Movements" spelt the beginning of the end for prewar Reductionist cum Constructionist Modernity.

(Martin) Henry Dawson could publish endless articles on the commensality of reality till the end of time ,but they cut no ice with the Mighty and the Wise compared to the short sharp lessons they learned at the great university of real life that was WWII.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

WWII : Constructionists vs Commensalists

Reductionism, still the philosophy of today's Popular Science, has admittedly had a lot of glass-half-filled success in the last few centuries.

It has totally succeeded in burrowing down below the surface of reality to the tiny objects at the base of all energy and matter ; reducing big macro objects that we can directly see and touch down to zillions of incredibly tiny objects we can only assume exists by way of indirect evidence.

But while Reductionism can explain how these tiny objects interact, more or less, it has totally failed to fulfill the real purpose behind all of its efforts : to construct new , better-built, versions of macro reality based on what we have learned about the tiny building blocks that make it up.

It turns out, to use today's Net jargon, that the so called laws of physics do not actually 'scale up' ( or 'scale down') all that well.

WWII Brooklyn to be home to war's biggest killing machine or war's smallest life-saver ?

In the end, the Borough of Brooklyn (NYC) became home to both : the Iowa class of battleships and the home of most of the war's penicillin.

But it had been a near run thing ; this battle over the moral soul of Brooklyn.

After all, from the beginning of the war, the leaders of the Great Powers (Churchill, FDR,Tojo,Stalin and Hitler) were determined to show the world what the greatest entities on Earth could do, if they set their mind to it.

WWII is proof that they succeeded in spades .