Dark Age Watch

What is a dark age?

Sunday, November 19, 2006
Colleges offering majors in homeland security "More than 300 colleges (in America now) have some type of instruction in homeland security, a trend that started soon after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to the National Academic Consortium for Homeland Security, which started three years ago with just a handful of institutions....The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has a division dedicated to university programs and it is spending about $50 million this year on grants to colleges....Critics say that awarding degrees in homeland security is pointless because it's too generic. Students would be more successful if they majored in a specific aspect of national defense, like Middle Eastern studies or cyber-security" International disintegration-internal disorganisation coupling America is devoting resources to an essentially non productive internal security apparatus. This apparatus can be expected to become an increasingly influential economic interest group on its own, always searching for new ways and reasons to expand its funding and power thereby sapping economic strength from the more productive segments of society. Apart from whether it will actually protect anyone, a large "homeland security" bureaucracy may actually end up increasing a sense of personal insecurity among Americans in that businessmen, academics, as well as ordinary individuals will operate under a sense that they are being "observed" and will make the appearance of political orthodoxy a priority in their business activities as well as their interpersonal relations. In the Fourth Century, the Roman Empire maintained a huge and expensive internal security apparatus which was designed to monitor and enforce political and later religious orthodoxy among the imperial population. It contributed to the increasing economic disorganization of that time and, of course, did nothing to detect or prevent the barbarian incursions that contributed to the Empire's eventual collapse.***

Bush welcomes deal bringing Russia into WTO International organisation

Saturday, November 18, 2006
Widows sue to get Wiccan symbols on veterans' headstones** Internal discohesion An ascendant society has essentially one civic religion, in which participation is almost compulsory. A declining society fragments into multiple religions. It is all part of the discohesive, individualist theme of do-what-you-want rather than fit-in-with-the-community.

Population 1: the town that's been reclaimed by the prairie "As rural economies collapse, communities across America are being deserted. All over the Great Plains small towns are dying. The roll of decline is written on road signs on the road to Monowi. Obert: pop. 39, Maskell: pop. 54...Empty business parks, built with federal grants, dot the landscape...The landscape is gradually reverting to grassland and prairie...The newest concept is a 'rewilding' of the area with animals from Africa such as elephants and camels, returning the plains to the Pleistocene ecosystem before humans arrived. But the plains are taking matters into their own hands. Prairie wildlife is already returning as humans leave...deer were unheard of around Monowi. Now they are so common they are a pest. Wild elk have returned, too. And predators not seen for a century on the plains of Nebraska are back. A handful of mountain lions roam the state and are even spotted on the outskirts of Omaha, the biggest city."** Internal disorganisation Agri deserti (deserted fields) were much discussed as a problem in the late Roman empire. As the human race retrenches, nature moves back. (Suggesting, incidentally, the absurdity of the environmentalist view that nature is 'fragile' and requires humanity's protection.) See the archives for stories of wolves and bears returning to parts of Europe from which they had long been absent. We classify this as disorganisation since we see the shrinking human footprint on the planet as a sign of economic retreat.

Making Mercedes in Ghana "Ghanaian mechanic Frank Darko boasts that he can make any car...Few of Mr Darko's customers want Mercedes Benz and few want their cars built from scratch...But many bring cars, trucks, buses and trailers so badly damaged that in any other country they would be a write-off...In the hands of Mr Darko and others like him, life is breathed back into hulks of scrap metal and fashioned with heat and hammers into something, well almost new." African dark age Dark agers resourcefully scavenge among the relics of the decaying civilisation.

Bush reflects on 'Vietnam lesson' "President George W Bush has said a lesson from the Vietnam War for the US is that it must be patient in Iraq. "We'll succeed unless we quit," he said on a visit to Vietnam, where the US lost its bloody war against communists." Internal cohesion-international integration coupling This is a sensible remark. Rome was not built in a day. The question is whether the US can maintain the internal unity and resolve (cohesion) to overcome the difficulties. We can be sure that America's military and political leaders are continually learning from their mistakes and improving their techniques for the new kind of war they find themselves fighting.

Chad calls up troops as villages burn "They came on camels and horses; some came in cars. Armed with bazookas and rocket launchers, M14 and AK-47 rifles, up to 500 Arab men, most wearing Sudanese army uniform, surrounded Djorlo, a village of 1,000 people in eastern Chad. Many of the attackers were Sudanese, part of the Janjaweed militia who attacked black Africans in neighbouring Darfur. Now they had crossed the border and, along with Chadian Arabs, were bringing their scorched earth policy to Chad." African dark age Africa's failure is a also a failure of the hegemon. Dark age theory suggests that strongly integrated and weakly integrated entities cannot sustainably live alongside each other, because the strong will take over and supply integration to the weak. Disintegration in one part of a system implies disintegration everywhere. If Africa is in a dark age, we are all to some extent in a dark age. In the near to medium term, it seems more likely that the dark age will deepen elsewhere than that in Africa it will be reversed.

Somalia on brink of major war "The rise of the Islamists, who took control of the capital, Mogadishu, in June and since have seized most of southern Somalia, already was a setback for U.S. counterterrorism efforts in the region...A full-scale war would be a major test for Bush administration policy in a place that Osama bin Laden has called a battlefield in his war against the West. Iran, Syria, Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Djibouti and Eritrea are backing the Islamists with a dizzying influx of weapons, supplies and military personnel, according to a new United Nations report." African dark age

Friday, November 17, 2006
Dutch government backs burqa ban "The Dutch cabinet has backed a proposal by the country's immigration minister to ban Muslim women from wearing the burqa in public places." Internal re-cohesion One could argue that the fact that such questions need to be discussed in the first place shows that considerable "damage" has already been done.

Thursday, November 16, 2006
Italian gangs take a shine to stealing copper goods "At least 22 people, mostly Romanian immigrants, have been arrested since mid-October in an effort to stop thefts of copper cables that have disrupted rail services for tens of thousands of commuters in the Turin area of northern Italy. Similar crimes have been reported in Belgium, France and Switzerland in what appears to be a direct response to a surge in demand that caused world copper prices to increase sixfold between November 2001 and May 2006." Internal disintegration-disorganisation coupling

Berlin: angry mob stops ambulance According to the article in the German news magazine "Der Spiegel", police and an ambulance have been prevented from carrying out their missions twice within a short span of time. When an ambulance tried to rescue a injured five-year old yesterday in the immigrant neighbourhood of Kreuzberg yesterday evening, 50 to 80 people surrounded the vehicle. On Tuesday, two police officers, who were attempting to arrest two 12-year olds suspected of robbery, were attacked by some 80 to 100 youths. Internal discohesion-disintegration coupling At some point, we might see a serious escalation of violence, as civil defence committees and paramilitary groups will emerge within certain communities of the ethnic majority. The state in turn will try to anticipate such developments and limit gun-ownership as thoroughly as possible.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Lebanon on the brink of disaster "LEBANON'S political crisis deepened dramatically yesterday as a depleted cabinet approved draft United Nations plans for a tribunal to try suspects in the killing of the former prime minister, Rafik al-Hariri. " Intern(ation)al disintegration

Blessed are the peacekeepers "It's not perfect, and it's certainly not glamorous, but the UN is still the best hope we have of settling conflicts such as the one in Darfur." International cohesion An optimistic view, from one who has been on the spot.

Venezuela inaugurates $1bn bridge "The presidents of Venezuela and Brazil have inaugurated a $1.2bn (£0.63bn) bridge over Venezuela's Orinoco River...The 3km (1.8-mile) bridge will make it quicker for Brazilian goods to reach Venezuela's Caribbean sea ports." International organisation Not only does such an ambitious project show an innovative society, but also it will facilitate economic exchanges.

China sub stalked U.S. fleet "A Chinese submarine stalked a U.S. aircraft carrier battle group in the Pacific last month and surfaced within firing range of its torpedoes and missiles before being detected...." And further: "...the Pentagon's latest annual report on Chinese military power stated that China is investing heavily in weapons designed "to interdict, at long ranges, aircraft carrier and expeditionary strike groups that might deploy to the western Pacific." International disintegration A future war with China may not be the "cakewalk" the Americans have so far experienced in Iraq.

Hundreds of thousands raped in Congo wars | Special reports | Guardian Unlimited: "While rape has been a product of many conflicts, its scale and systematic nature in eastern Congo has led some human rights groups to describe it as a 'weapon of war' used to punish communities for their political loyalties or as a form of ethnic cleansing. On occasions men and boys have also been raped." African dark age Sadly, this phenomenon is nothing new. A war correspondent of the 60s and 70s published a book about his news-gathering experiences entitled "Anyone here been raped and speaks English?"

Monday, November 13, 2006
Retired soldier, 75, jailed for refusing to pay council tax Internal disorganisation-discohesion coupling Another in a run of such stories. When retired vicars and old soldiers are being sent to prison over the council tax, it suggests that something is wrong with your social contract.

Call to bridge West-Muslim divide A cross-cultural group of 20 prominent world figures has called for urgent efforts to heal the growing divide between Muslim and Western societies." International cohesion? Or just a sign of the discohesion that already exists?

Payments for prison 'cold turkey' "Nearly 200 prisoners and former inmates forced to stop taking drugs by going "cold turkey" are to receive payments." Internal cohesion-disorganisation coupling As one commentator said, give £10,000 of taxpayers' money in compensation to a junky, what is he going to spend it on?

A New Al Jazeera With a Global Focus "Al Jazeera, the Arab news channel that began a decade ago as an upstart, has became a thorn in the side of every dictator in the region as well as of the Bush administration." International disintegration How much more difficult would Marcus Auelius' job have been if the Marcomanni (along with the rest of the Germanic tribes) had been able to broadcast to the Greco-Roman population, 24/7, the political opinions of the peoples living north of the Danube, along with sympathetic coverage of their daily lives, their hopes, fears, dreams, plus coverage of their religious beliefs, folk life, seasonal festivals, etc, all done in a way that would "humanize" them to the Imperial population, and create understanding, sympathy and appeal?**

Africa's entrepreneurs "Despite all the obstacles, growth rates across much of Africa are rising and there are successful ventures to be found everywhere from Mogadishu to Dakar. It is one of those seldom told stories - the success now being notched up by men and women doing business across Africa. Economic growth has been running at a very respectable 4% in at least 15 African countries for the last decade." African dark age - internal organisation These are the people who will turn Africa around. Not the Bob Geldofs of this world with their sickeningly patronising and outmoded charities, which breed corruption and undermine local economies.