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Iraq invasion

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  Messages 325-323 deleted by author 04-20-2006 09:52 AM
Tony Quirke
12:38 AM ET (US)
<i.As David Brin puts it, the worst case scenario is that the simulation argument is true, and we're living in an egocentric simulation that exists solely for the amusement of whatever entity is playing the role of George W. Bush.</i>

Well, hell, Charlie, now I'm really worried. The world has just about reached the point where I'd simply start again if this was Civ3 or Civ4.
Andrew Cummins
08:48 PM ET (US)
It surely is...the only good news about the Star Fraction
future is that you don't have to go very far for an
alternative government...

-- Andrew
Charlie StrossPerson was signed in when posted
02:50 PM ET (US)
Reality imitates "The Star Fraction": now that's a terrifying thought!
Ken MacLeod
12:43 PM ET (US)
In 1979 I was> a Trotskyist living on lentils in a squat. Well, near enough. That wasn't a big year for defections, real or pretended. And if there were any ex-Trots among the British libertarians or young conservatives I think I might have spotted them. The Brit pro-war left are all journailsts, professors or blogging stock-brokers, not crafty political activists.

The US ex-Shachtmanite neocons started out as Cold Warriors of the Left, a very easy move from Shachtmanism in my opinion. The whole of international Social Democracy were Cold Warriors of the Left.

The no-longer-Living-Marxism lot are a bit hard to figure out. My current theory is that they are still Marxists but are trying to save capitalism for the revolution rather than fuck it up. Post-1989 people are wimps. They are neither capable of sustaining a dynamic economy (if they're capitalists) or taking it over (if they're proles). Instead they cower before imaginary terrors, whether WMD in Iraq or holes in the sky. Hence there is no class struggle and no progress until the Western bourgeoisie gets its act together, whereupon normal service will be resumed. Or not, in which case we're all fucked anyway and Green barbarians will caper on our ruins.

In case you're wondering, yes that was the story in my Fall Revo books.
Lloyd Burchill
10:27 PM ET (US)
Cartoonist Tom Tomorrow proposes a similar conspiracy, but pins it on crypto-hippies.
Martyn Taylor
10:31 AM ET (US)
As a card carrying member of the CofE - at least, I would be if we had cards - I have serious problems understanding anyone who claims to be a fellow believer and thinks that - somehow - 'it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of the needle than it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven' doesn't apply to them. Sorry, all this 'riches are the reward for the devout' palavar is heresy and should be viewed as such.

The problem with the American fundamentalists is that they have bought the Francis Fukayama thesis wholesale - after all, it strokes them the way they like to be stroked - and don't begin to realise that it is - like so much populist American 'academic' theory - so much crap. History hasn't ended developing (how can it? If it had, it would be dead, like any other organism. Maybe it is, but I don't think that's what Francis meant) The Texan wing of the GOP is not the Krown of Kreation (to borrow a phrase from my flowerchild youth). In fact, they resemble none so much as the Bourbons (no, not the biscuits)

As for the fundamentalists of Riyadh, well, at last somebody has displaced Lord Home. If you looked at every trouble spot in the world from Munich to Zimbabwe you would have seen the grinning skull of Sir Alec, stirring it as though his name was Palmerstone. Since 1967, however, he has been usurped by some anonymous Wahabi cleric paid for by that friend of freedom and democracy everywhere, the theocratic Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. With friends like Fahd and his children, nobody has any need of enemies, but they'll be getting them.

As for your conspiracy theory, Charles, it is entertaining but - like all conspiracy theories, ultimately diverting (speaking of which, it look as though the IRA wasn't involved in the Bank of Ireland raid - at least, not the political wing (let's not get into that divide just now) - any more than there was an IRA spy ring at Stormont - all charges dropped.
George Carty
03:00 PM ET (US)
The Ayn Rand Institute are of course atheists - so what meaning but commercialism does Christmas have to them?
The Dumbass (Chris Heinz)
08:10 PM ET (US)
A truly warped conspiracy theory, very nice. The bottom line, tho, is that were're dealing with zealots/fanatics. With regard to the final outcome, Trotskyite or Neocon doesn't make much difference.
Re Pat Robertson, I think the final word is
Jonathan Vos Post
04:08 PM ET (US)
"Jesus wants people to spend money."

And Jesus Said, Give Only to Those Who Are Worthy

"... This attitude is exemplified by Kathy Shaidle, who writes that 'If poor people could be trusted with money, they wouldn't be poor in the first place...' I guess that's the new Catholic social consciousness: Blessed are the trustworthy poor, for they won't spend our charity irresponsibly... Blessed are the skeptically merciful, for they won't bestow mercy on those who don't deserve it...
Shaidle is Canadian, not American, but it appears that she has been infected with some pernicious thinking from south of the border...."

Down south here, I see the attitude as something like "I gave some poor person some money, in His name. Can I help it if the poor person gave me an iPod Nano and asked me if I wanted it gift-wrapped?"

Mr. Stross, I mentioned your position on the "War on Christmas" at a party Saturday night, and a JPL scientist suggested that we sneakily convince some smarmy televangelists to launch a "War on Xmas" and hope that they don't examine the 2K-year-old pun on the X.

See also the Ayn Rand Institute position:
Why Christmas Should Be More Commercial
Wednesday, December 24, 2003
By: Leonard Peikoff
Charles Dodgson
02:20 PM ET (US)
Well, if you wanted to make it a sequel to "The Da Vinci Code", you'd have to put your satanists in the Vatican... at which point, someone might tell you that an erstwhile Jesuit named Malachi Martin already wrote that novel, and claimed while alive that there was a basis for it in fact. There have also been fictional U.S.-based treatments of the theme of "immanentizing the eschaton" in Illuminatus! (of course), and Carrion Comfort by Dan Simmons, at least.

As to America in "real life", or the simulation thereof we may be inhabiting... well, I'm no expert on either christian or satanist doctrine, but the teachings of "The Family", as described in Jesus plus Nothing, strike me as having more in common with what little satanic writing I've read than they have with, say, the Sermon on the Mount.

Two more pieces of food for thought, btw:

*) The minister saying on national TV that we need to defend Christmas (whatever that means) because "Jesus wants people to spend money".

*) The hints of ritual aspects to torture of Iraqi prisoners.

Your hypothesis is hard to test, but I'm not aware of any evidence convincingly refuting it...

Late edit: One more note: one of the creepier bits about "the family" is how they actually shy away from the label "Christian". What they say about that, at least to low-level initiates, is that it's just not inclusive enough...
Edited 12-05-2005 03:09 PM
Charlie StrossPerson was signed in when posted
12:54 PM ET (US)
Hypothesis: when Pat Robertson and Jack Chick et al rail against "Satanists" and "satanic cults", what if they know whereof they speak?

Any such cult would of course be (a) biblical fundamentalists (they just believe the other side is going to win), (b) very secretive and therefore -- presumably -- tightly disciplined, and (c) due to their small size (implicit, or we'd know about them by now) working to achieve their goals through infiltration and subversion rather than evangelism.

If you're already a biblical fundamentalist (of the wrong type) what would be a better target than to take over the leadership of the opposition and preach a perverted version of their creed that has more in common with your satanic master's desires than with the guy who was into turning the other cheek and helping out lepers and prostitutes? Killing homosexuals, dissidents, uppity women, and anyone who doesn't adhere to your particularly nasty dualist world-view: that's a cap that fits. Making out like a bandit anywhere you can get away with it in private: that fits, too.

Oh, and much as closeted homosexuals in homophobic cultures tend to go after their own (J. Edgar Hoover springs to mind), so might such a covert satanist-fundamentalist group go after other satanists who aren't part of their organization.

Yeesh, there's probably a sequel to "The Da Vinci Code" here.
Charles Dodgson
12:33 PM ET (US)
No. I've been reading something a great deal more otherworldly and frightening: American newspapers. Though if you're considering fiction with that as a theme, I'd recommend a few other articles from Harpers, like this one to help trying to get the atmosphere right.

(FWIW, for self-professed christians, they are remarkably shy of moral scruples --- witness, among other things, Pat Robertson's pecuniary ties to the demi-genocidal Liberian government. Frankly, for this crowd, associating with Lovecraftian ancient horrors might be a step up...)
Charlie StrossPerson was signed in when posted
09:31 AM ET (US)
CD: "think, perhaps, of a Christian-tinged Aum Shin-Rikyo seeking to do the lord's work by bringing about the apocalypse". You haven't been reading my notes towards the third Laundry novel, have you?
Charles Dodgson
10:18 AM ET (US)
wkwillis: The major foreign holders of American debt aren't rich foreign individuals; they're (central banks of) foreign governments, most notably China. And they keep buying more, even knowing that the value of those holdings, in Chinese currency, is foredoomed to drop. As long as we're talking conspiracy theories, is it all that far-fetched to argue that the Chinese know all this, and are explicitly gambling that a calamitous decline in the value of the dollar, at a time which they can effectively choose themselves, can be arranged to hurt us more than the decline in the value of their American bond holdings will hurt them?

All: as long as we're looking for a conspiracy behind the behavior of the folks currently in power in America, don't overlook straight-up religious fanaticism --- think, perhaps, of a Christian-tinged Aum Shin-Rikyo seeking to do the lord's work by bringing about the apocalypse. Or of the group described in Jesus plus Nothing, who see Hitler and Stalin as role models, and one of whose leaders says at one point, in effect, that raping little girls is just peachy so long as you're doing it with Jesus in your heart. (This is non-fiction, names several real U.S. Senators and Congressmen as being tied to the group, and did not lead to a libel suit; fictional variations on the theme are probably too numerous to easily list).

Of course, it's entirely likely that these guys and Charlie's Trots could each see the other as useful idiots...
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