Are we on the verge of WWIII? Or has it already started? Who will be, or are, the belligerents? What are their victory conditions? What are their strategies and tactics? Who’s got the best chance of winning? And which will prove to be more decisive: magic, or faith?
The spiritual war aspect of this has some resonance for me. I'm not (very, conventionally) religious, but one thing that I've sort of kept faith in is the fundamental *lawfullness* of reality. Whatever the particulars of our circumstances are, they have some identity, and the moves we make within them have the consequences that they have. And ultimately, we are all playing with the same matter in the same world with the same rules.
The "magic" thing sort of touches on this. The real nightmare, for me, is sort of this: Is the world really just some dream-shifty plaything of "special" people that get to make shit up, change the entire nature of the world, and the rest of us just have to scramble to adapt? Their lies don't matter, because tHeY WiN, period, unconditionally, doesn't matter, full stop.
You can have people who do honorable, real, useful work (usually in the world of matter) that other people need, and they get crushed and dominated, bankrupted by assholes who just have infinite money in their bank acounts, while the balance in yours is whatever they need it to be to humiliate you. LOL, you should have been born special.
You can grind away for more than half of your life, piling up skills that attempt to address the world we find ourselves in - math, engineering, physics, etc. Only, LOL, the world doesn't need you anymore, it needs some enfant terrible from (whatever-connections) that can make shit up. They stand astride the world like a collossus, and you have to scramble for scraps.
You can develop artistic talents only to have someone train a neural network on your work and put you out of work, even though their stupid model has no comprehension of *objects in space*, much less the world the art was attempting to address. But suddenly your hard won skills are useless. The model's output is unusable garbage, a mockery of your style staring back at you, but it doesn't matter, ThEy WIN, yOU LoSe.
You can fight for a decent cause for a decent nation, only suddenly LOL, nope, it's an evil cause and a lunatic nation. You can go to bed in a country that reveres personal liberty, and wake up in 1984, where everyone is seeking to turn their neighbor in for failing to inject their kids with poison.
Their shameless stupid lies are more true than your knowledge. More true than the truth. What do they need morals or decency or creativity or intelligence for, the world simply bends to their will? Suddenly glitches to their will? What is the use of a mind in such a world? What is the point of existing in such a world? What do you do when *reality itself is a lie* and an affirmation of the glory of the liars?
There is this chess game though:
ChatGPT vs Stockfish. Stockfish is an actual chess AI. ChatGPT gets to make up the state of the world. It's insane. It doesn't need to be sane, it can cheat. And it still somehow loses, because it's insane. Stockfish just keeps grinding away, making whatever it can out of whatever situation it finds itself in.
I don't believe these spoiled monsters can actually rule the world with "magic". But clownworld is like a desert - a desert with scarecly a drop of reality to be found. But we exist - we exist as conscious beings with minds built to deal with a world that is *real*, that has ontological inertia, so reality has to be out there somewhere.
A very satisfying discussion which I found stimulating.
Mark Bisone's comments on unconventional weapons were spot on. The reliance on unconventional force is a function of American industrial weakness and the changing racial composition of the population (too few white boys to sacrifice en masse as was once traditional). Think Machiavelli's 'fox' strategy (cunning) taking priority over the 'lion' strategy (audacity). A regime with a weakening base of support cannot afford traditional mobilisation of the masses (either militarily or politically). So in warfare they opt for special forces, psy ops, info wars, wonder weapons. In politics they aim to demobilise the masses and keep them docile and demoralized.
The simultaneous application of these strategies on a planetary basis is now underway.
We are not on the verge of WWIII, we are now in the early, opening stages of WWIII. Regardless of what happens to Ukraine, the Western war against Russia goes on. If the Ukrainians somehow manage to recapture all their lost territory and force a Russian capitulation, then the war goes on until Russia is broken and divided into a hundred Kosovos. If the Ukrainians capitulate or cannot fight any more, then new proxies will be found to continue to wage war against Russia (maybe Poland-Lithuania).
Washington can never tolerate rival powers in the world. Never, never. So this war goes on until either Russia and China submit or the GAE collapses, whichever comes first.
I have a new theory. See if this rings true to you. Something that has contributed to the breakdown of civil society is the fact that more people than ever live alone.
Throughtout history, families have lived crowded together, with lots of children and grandparents sharing the same space. You learn civility to share that resource. We don't have it any more. Fewer children, bigger houses, fewer multigenerational households. A person that lives alone can please himself. And there are fewer interactions in the community too.
One issue that hasn't been canvassed (as of 32 minutes in) is what happens when there is a subset of the ruling class that gets richer WHETHER THEY WIN OR NOT (Fuck Substack with its inability to do simple emphasis).
Think about the East India Company. Their adventures in India were underwritten by the tax base - the EIC got all manner of monopoly privileges, including on distribution of TEA (getting a monopoly privilege is the same as gettign a subsidy).
The British ruling class - from the royals on down - got their snouts wet; some military men got knighthoods; politicians got peerages and country estates... and the bottom 85% of the population got FUCK ALL.
Wars are invariably like that - it doesn't matter what form of political arrangement is in force.
And it doesn't help if the information-scape has wall-to-wall bullshitters - people who make Don Lemon and Brian Stelter look honest.
The most democratic government in the history of democracy - which, for the record, was the #LiterallyHitler government elected in March 1933 - did not consider that the UK's ambassador would bare-faced lie when asked directly if the "mutual defence" agreement between England and Poland required England to go to war if Poland was invaded.
The Germans thought there was a secret codicil, so they asked straight-up. The UK Ambassador just lied to their faces: the codicil SPECIFICALLY imposed that obligation if Poland was invaded - but ONLY if it was invaded BY GERMANY.
If the UK Ambassador had been honest, the invasion of Poland (over Danzig) would have been further delayed.
So WWII happened. The UK impoverished its people during and after WWII - rationing continued until the mid-50s - but THE RULING CLASS DID JUST FINE.
Game-theoretically, there is a real problem when the decision-makers face overlapping payoffs (of which, more later).
Point is: the people who made the decision to blow up Nord Stream KNEW that it was an act of war (against GERMANY, for those playing along at home).
They simply didn't give a fuck: they were going to "bank fat stacks", and the media was always going to stymie any serious investigation of the event.
Another example: how many senior US political, bureaucratic, intelligence or military figures have faced a loss-of-paycheck because of the US humiliation in Afghanistan?
Another example: how many political or bureaucratic figures ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD have faced any consequences for the unmitigated disaster of the policy-responses to SARS-NCoV-2?
Another example: we have documents with John Yoo's signature on them, claiming that torture isn't illegal - so long as it doesn't result in the loss of a limb.Yoo isn't in prison.
Yoo knew that he faced no sanction; he was going to get rich.
I've said before: give me one day with Yoo tied to a chair, and a 6" piece of memory foam - and I would show Yoo the fundamental flaw in his reasoning. Yoo would finish with all his teeth; all his limbs and appendages, and no scars - but he would never be the same.
If I was given Albert Bourla tied to a chair though? That shit would be fucking mediaeval.
Maybe WW is no longer accurate. Network war. More like Hobbes state of Nature before Leviathan.
I loved this! You inspired this audio response (4 min)
John, your comments on the R&D situation were spot on. State sponsored science is a job programme with a heavily ideological aspect (diversity and equity uber alles).
The scientific-industrial complex also has a crucial theatrical function. It is being used to fortify the appearance of a technocratic civilisation, a Potemkin village version of Bacon's New Atlantis. Performative expertise is the ceremonial magic of Cthulhuland.
The argument you made about gold and iron touched a nerve. Traditionally iron commanded gold. Modernity changed this. The two entered into a complex relationship, a truly Girardian experience of mimetic exchange with complexities and ironies aplenty. The peak modern state (the UK) emerged from the union of war and trade that began to develop in Tudor England. The union took an extraordinary leap in late Stuart times when the state became trusted by financiers and the wider markets. Several of the ruling houses of Protestant Europe (essentially war-lords) developed close connections to very dispersed banking networks. Access to finance enabled further military success. Iron maintained priority over gold in one sense, but warfare became dependent upon sound finance. Psyops played a role too.
Further to your comments on Nazi science and high tech, you may, or may not, have heard of him, but this guy may be of interest.
Excluding the contribution by Black Bear (below), which reveals a disciplined and objective view of the real world, I heard nothing in this discussion that comes close to this.
On this world stage, we need to see all players for who they are and what they are and this element is absent. I have concluded that few Americans even qualify to discuss WWIII because they have no idea who America is, and what it is.
Pretty much every American believes it is the product of a revolution against monarchy and colonial tyranny; that the Constitution is a wonderful document, that constitutions have a valid function, that the Founding Fathers supported democracy, that the US of A is a democracy, and that America has generally been a force for good in the world. Not one of these beliefs are true.
The US has been a monarchy disguised as a republic, since day one. There has never been a spiritual or moral element of either home affairs or foreign policy. The original owners of the land were butchered and the survivors dispersed into concentration camps, euphemistically titled Reserves.
Part of Mexico was invaded and occupied and the remainder exploited and abused. The rest of Central and South America has all but been occupied ever since. Sometimes occupied too, directly or by proxy.
In 1901, for no apparent reason, the US invaded and occupied the Philippines and massacred with machine guns, the unarmed and helpless people of Samar Island: 8294 children, 2714 women, and 420 (old) men; 1428 in all. This is called "Bringing them Freedom and Democracy". Philippines has never recovered and is still an occupied country, locked into permanent poverty.
This butchery has been repeated consistently around the world ever since. Eisenhower rounded up 30,000 German POWs, most of them young boys, locked them in a fenced compound without shelter, food or water, and in th emiddle of bitter winter, let them freeze to death. He was a psychopath, one of many who have become President of the United States.
The UN was created by Nelson Rockefeller to shape his New World order. North Korea, for the heinous crime of harbouring village committees, which the Pentagon said is close enough to Communism, was then fire-bombed into oblivion, one third of the civilian population being burned to death. NK has been intimidated by nuclear flyovers and battleship drive-bys ever since, with 40,000 hostile troops on its borders. Wanting to defend itself makes NK a "rogue government".
Vietnam was invaded to prevent free democratic elections which, Eisenhower believed, would be unacceptably won by a Communist, Ho Chi Min, who in fact was anti-Communist and a hero nationlist. That war forced him to join Giap, who was indeed a Communist, and the greatest general of the 20th century. Stupid move. Another five million dead and around 50,000 deformed children.
Iraq and Afghanistan we all know about. In all, 60 nations invaded and occupied by the US in the name of "Freedom and Democracy", coming from a government that practiced neither.
Black Bear gets it. Ukraine is about the maintenance of the American Military Empire, now in its death throes. But how many of you know that even your allies are enemies. Since the US coup d' etat of Australia in 1975, our government has been run by Wall Street. Our Defence Force is run, literally, by the Pentagon. Where I live (NT) there are 12 US military installations, one of them a US missile launching platform that will be wiped out by China before its futile tragectory has even begun. The resultant explosion of solid fuel and war head will wipe out our city and also the 10,000 Indigenous who have lived peacefully here for 20,000 years.
And you speak of a spiritual element.
WWIII commenced in 1776. This is what happens when you are led by belief rather then evidence.
Not WWIII. World War as a concept is outmoded and almost impossible in a rational self interest, objectivist and rational choice-based global capitalist world; the real rulers stand to lose more than they gain by fomenting too large a conflict or a real war. "All wars are wars of extinction" after all, and be at risk themselves as in the previous World Wars and the Cold War (since nuclear weapons and fallout doesn't discriminate) is unthinkable.
So, small controllable profitable wars against [insert issue here] plus small wars in the classical sense, where materiel can be off-set at a profit.
The new concept is not World War, war for resources or territory or anything real like that. No, it is instead this:
Super post...taa...alas, Prof John...bottom line is, ya can't fix that what's FUBAR...'Fcked/Fouled Up Beyond All Recognition."