Dark Age Watch

What is a dark age?

Sunday, January 14, 2007
Married couples want divorce to be harder Pro-internal cohesion

Casual sex is a con: women just aren't like men "Whatever Greer and her ilk might say I’ve tried their philosophy — that a woman can shag like a man — and it doesn’t work. We’re not built like that. Women are built for bonding. We are vessels and we seek to be filled. For that reason, however much we try and convince ourselves that it isn’t so, sex will always leave us feeling empty unless we are certain that we are loved, that the act is part of a bigger picture that we are loved for our whole selves not just our bodies." Internal discohesion Two points: (1) not all women (or all men) are the same - one can only speak in terms of broad tendencies and what is true for one woman/man may not be true for another woman/man; (2) a long series of casual affairs, and no permanent partner, is ultimately not fulfilling for men either. Human sexual institutions arose for good reasons - i.e. that they balanced the somewhat competitive, somewhat complementary needs of men and women - and not simply because people of the past were stupidly sexist. It is true, though, that the war between the sexes is the one that will never reach a truce.

Morales to tackle Bolivia clashes "Bolivia's President, Evo Morales, has held an emergency cabinet meeting to try to tackle the violence that has rocked the city of Cochabamba...The city is calmer now, with the military guarding the airport, bridges and key buildings...The conflict in Cochabamba is a localised version of the divisions in the rest of Bolivia." Internal disintegration Social peace remains a fragile matter in South America.

China defends Iran gas deal talks "China has demanded that the US stop interfering in its trade affairs with Iran, after Washington raised concerns over a planned energy deal with Tehran." International discohesion

Saturday, January 13, 2007
U.S. to begin drone patrols on Canadian border "The propeller-driven drones, called Predators, will begin patrolling U.S. airspace along the border with Canada by September and will fly day and night, said Scott Baker, chief patrol agent of Customs and Border Protection, an arm of the Department of Homeland Security." Internal integration

China, Russia veto U.S. move on Myanmar "China and Russia on Friday vetoed a U.S. resolution calling on Myanmar's military junta to stop persecution of minority and opposition groups, killing the measure in the U.N. Security Council." International discohesion Myanmar borders on China and occupies a strategically important position as it could provide an outlet to the Indian Ocean for the Chinese.

China facing major gender imbalance "China will have 30 million more men of marriageable age than women in less than 15 years as a gender imbalance resulting from the country’s tough one-child policy becomes more pronounced, state media reported Friday." Internal discohesion ahead? Gunnar Heinsohn has drawn attention to the phenomenon of a youth bulge containing a sizeable excess of young men in developing countries in his book "Söhne und Weltmacht (2003)" (literal translation: sons and world power). Many social "time bombs" have been diagnosed over the decades and so one might be advised not to approach the modern phenomenon of "surplus men" in an alarmist fashion. After all, conflict has been a perennial feature of human history, with or without surplus (young) men. On the other hand, it appears fair to say that the continual presence of a sizeable number of angry young men won't contribute to societal cohesion.

Friday, January 12, 2007
"Why western values will win." International cohesion ahead? German futorologist Max Horx paints a rather upbeat picture of the future in his interview with a news magazine. Amongst other things, he estimates that in 60 years some 70 % of the world's population will enjoy the same levels of wealth which the West achieved in the 1960s. He also thinks the world will have a basic form of "world police" and that there will be a global jurisdiction: "Ich bin da sehr optimistisch. Wir leben im Zeitalter des neuen Moralismus." Questioned about the potential prospect of every third person in Germany being of foreign origin, Horx replies that the world is on its way towards a global culture of urbanity which will, together with a shrinking youth bulge in developing countries, contain radicalism. The problem of rising divorce rates and the increasingly common phenomenon of the patch work family appears of little concern to Horx, although he admits that the growing diversity of lifestyles will require and somehow generate new cultural values. Obviously, dark age theory radically differs from these predictions. Perhaps the most problematic aspect is that they fail to explain plausibly why western values should continue to be held in high regard while the basis of what was once Western dominance is rapidly melting away. A similar criticism could be levelled at Horx' analysis of international relations. From a dark age perspective, therefore, Horx may be "accused" of a static worldview, of self-deceit and of overconfidently extrapolating his own, western perceptions of reality and human altruism into the short-term future.

Mystery spies use coins with hidden radios to track US defence experts: "The Pentagon report did not name any countries suspected of being behind the spying. But the reason many analysts suspect China is that it has become the leading espionage operator in the US. " International disintegration (Shifting balance of power)

Skull Provides Signs of When Humans Left Africa "From a new analysis of a human skull discovered in South Africa more than 50 years ago, scientists say they have obtained the first fossil evidence establishing the relatively recent time for the dispersal of modern Homo sapiens out of Africa. The migrants appeared to have arrived at their new homes in Asia and Europe with the distinct and unmodified heads of Africans....the South African skull, which they dated at about 36,000 years old, coincided with the age of and closely resembled the skulls of humans who were then living in Europe and the far eastern parts of Asia, even Australia....The timing, the scientists and other experts said, introduced independent evidence supporting archaeological finds and recent genetic studies showing that modern humans left sub-Saharan Africa for Eurasia between 65,000 and 25,000 years ago, probably closer to 45,000 to 35,000 years ago in Europe." Macrohistory Increasingly science is telling us that all present day humans arose from a relatively small group of East Africans, and that differentiation of humans into what are commonly referred to as races is, in the grand scheme of things, a relatively recent phenomenon. Thus, the striking uniformity of "human nature" despite the kaleidoscope of human cultures both past and present. Which is why we can we read, enjoy, and be instructed by, the great literature of the world - no matter the time or place - be it the plays of classical Greece, West African folk tales, the great Icelandic Sagas, the delicate and introspective poetry of Imperial China, the Coyote Tales of the Pueblo Peoples of the American Southwest, and so on, and always see the sameness of human motivation, emotion, and of course, wisdom. The relevance of this to DAT is, first, when examining the rise and fall of civilizations, racial explanations as opposed to cultural ones invariably lead to a dead end. And second, races and peoples, casually dismissed by the hegemonic people of the moment, have an inconvenient way of eventually emerging as cultural successors, in turn casting a downward eye upon those who formerly believed themselves to be supreme.**

Clues found for early Europeans "Until now, it appeared as though the earliest presence of modern humans in Europe was in south central Europe, in places like Bulgaria and Greece," explained John Hoffecker, author on the paper and a research scientist at the University of Colorado at Boulder, US. "This reflects an entry from the Levant (eastern shores of the Mediterranean) just before 44,000 years ago."

Call for faith-based NHS services: "The NHS should provide more faith-based care for Muslims, an expert says. Muslims are about twice as likely to report poor health and disability than the general population, says Edinburgh University's Professor Aziz Sheikh. Writing in the British Medical Journal, he called for male circumcision on the NHS and more details over alcohol derived drugs." Internal discohesion British society is changing and will not change back.

US House backs stem cell research Pro-innovation (pro-organisation)

Syphilis rates 'soaring in China' Internal discohesion Not sure about the classification, but more evidence of China's accelerated decadence (meaning it won't save the world from the coming dark age).

UK 'must continue to fight wars': "Tony Blair has said his foreign policy is 'controversial' but his approach of military intervention must continue. In a major speech, he said the 'war on terror' may last a generation but to retreat would be a 'catastrophe'. " Pro-international integration Of course, the results are a different matter. Political critics say that Mr Blair has harmed the country's reputation, but Britain once conquered India and other countries around the world, which did not do much harm for its reputation. There was a time when barbarian nations feared to damage British interests.

Al-Qaeda 'rebuilding' in Pakistan International disintegration

US senators attack Bush Iraq plan Internal discohesion Whether it leads to international disintegration remains to be seen.

Pentagon abandons active-duty time limit "The Pentagon has abandoned its limit on the time a citizen-soldier can be required to serve on active duty, officials said Thursday, a major change that reflects an Army stretched thin by longer-than-expected combat in Iraq." Imperial overstretch or wars coming soon? See also: US To Beef Up Army And Marines By 92,000

Thursday, January 11, 2007
Bush meets with troops as Iraq plan debated ""There is no doubt in my mind we will prevail" in Iraq, President Bush told troops at Fort Benning on Thursday. Bush met with the soldiers a day after he announced a new strategy for Iraq that includes more than 20,000 additional troops." Internal cohesion-international integration coupling (if Bush pulls it off). Imperialists have to have self-belief. Over-hasty capitulation in Iraq would only hasten America's decline and fall.

US north Iraqi raid angers Iran "US forces have stormed a building in the northern Iraqi town of Irbil and seized six people said to be Iranians, prompting a diplomatic incident. Iranian and Iraqi officials said the building was an Iranian consulate and the detainees its employees." International discohesion

Fears stalk Somalia's capital once again: "Unknown gunmen have carried out four hit-and-run attacks against the government troops and their Ethiopian backers in the past two weeks. At least five people were killed and seven others wounded in the attacks. " African dark age Somalia's clan-based militias observe the law of the vendetta. They do not easily forget wrongs. Now that the Islamists have been beaten back, orderly, consensus-based rule in Somalia remains as far away as ever.

Bangladesh poll delay emergency "The Awami League party and its allies announced last week they were boycotting the vote because they said it was not going to be fair...It has led mass demonstrations which have at times brought the country to a standstill in recent months. There have been violent clashes between police and supporters of rival political groupings." Internal disintegration

Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Bush to call failure in Iraq unacceptable Not international disintegration If the Bush regime had followed the Iraq Study Group's advice to cut and run that would have been a hegemonic retreat and disintegrative. The question is whether this exhibition of determination will yield results, when it may take decades to pacify Iraq.

10 kidnapped at Nigeria oil base: "Militants armed with guns and dynamite invaded an oil services base in Bayelsa state in Nigeria's southern oil-producing Niger Delta on Wednesday and kidnapped nine South Korean workers and one Nigerian." Internal disintegration

Russia, Belarus 'settle oil row' International re-cohesion

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Unsigned band set to crash charts ""It's fantastic that a band like us can have an opportunity to put ourselves into the top 30 with Razorlight and U2," manager Gary Raymond told the BBC. Until 1 January, an artist needed to release singles on CD or another physical format - and therefore have a record deal - to qualify for the chart. But bands who sell songs themselves through approved download services are now eligible." Internal integration More power to the individual.

EU plans 'industrial revolution' "The European Commission has urged its members to sign up to an unprecedented common energy policy, unveiling a plan to diversify the bloc's energy sources. Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso said it was time for a "post-industrial revolution" which would see Europe slash greenhouse gases by 20% by 2020." Pro- or anti-organisation? It is not clear.

Germany may retain nuclear power "It follows concern that Germany has become too dependent on Russian fuel. A year ago it was supplies of Russian gas to Germany which were hit when the Russians turned off the gas taps to Ukraine. Now it is Russian oil which has stopped flowing because of a dispute between Moscow and Minsk." International disorganisation-internal organisation coupling An unusual one.

China admits fear of Muslim terror as police kill 18 in mountain battle "China revealed the depth of its fear of Islamic-linked violence yesterday when police disclosed that they had killed 18 terrorists and captured another 17 after a fierce battle at a secret training camp in a remote northwestern region." Internal (dis)integration

New Orleans plans checkpoints to fight crime "Police plan to set up checkpoints beginning Wednesday to help curb a crime wave that has claimed nine lives since the start of 2007, Mayor Ray Nagin said." Internal disintegration From the book: "We will see properties being more heavily defended, continued expansion of the private security industry and the proliferation of gated communities. During the final stages of the descent, towns and villages may start to defend their borders, for example with manned checkpoints across the roads leading in and out."

Nigeria loses oil cash billions "Nigeria has lost $4.4bn in oil revenue in the past year due to increasing violence in the Niger Delta region." Internal disintegraton-intern(ation)al disorganisation coupling While fears about "peak oil" seem rational, rising tensions within and between states threaten to seriously disrupt supplies long before the last drop of oil will have been exhausted. See also: Angry Merkel attacks Putin over latest pipeline closure, 10 kidnapped at Nigeria oil base

Tuesday, January 09, 2007
Baghdad fighting 'kills dozens' "US and Iraqi troops have waged fierce battles with Sunni fighters in Baghdad, reportedly killing 50 militants." Intern(ation)al disintegration

Row over 'faltering' Sudan peace "Sudan's president and vice-president have engaged in a public row during a ceremony to mark the second anniversary of a peace deal to end the civil war.
Southern leader Salva Kiir said there were "serious problems" with the deal and accused President Omar al-Bashir's party of backing militias." Internal discohesion

Iraq war could cost US over $2 trillion, says Nobel prize-winning economist "The real cost to the US of the Iraq war is likely to be between $1 trillion and $2 trillion (£1.1 trillion), up to 10 times more than previously thought, according to a report written by a Nobel prize-winning economist and a Harvard budget expert." Imperial overstretch That's a lot of cash even by Washington standards, and the possible Bush-Blair escalation hasn't even begun. The final price America has to pay and what, if anything, it gets for it, plus the geopolitical configuration of the middle east and the world at large once the dust settles, will ultimately determine the wisdom of its policy. It would be ironic if, after expending tremendous military, economic, and political resources - essentially bankrupting itself materially and politically - to seize and hold Iraq's oil fields, other societies in the meanwhile achieve technological breakthroughs in nuclear and other advanced energy technologies, leaving America the proud owner of an obsolete resource. **

Soldiers hunt for rebels in Assam "Thousands of soldiers have fanned out across the Indian state of Assam, looking for rebels who have killed at least 70 people since the weekend. " Internal disintegration

Afghanistan going to plan - Hoon Non-imperial overstretch

Scientist: NASA found life on Mars -- and killed it "In the 1970s, the Viking mission found no signs of life. But it was looking for Earth-like life, in which salt water is the internal liquid of living cells." James Lovelock, author of The Gaia Hypothesis, has said he is convinced that Mars is lifeless because "if there were life on Mars, there would be life all over Mars". This is what life is like. Once it is there, it not only expands but actually modifies the environment to become more hospitable to life. The earth's atmosphere is far away from chemical equilibrium, and is maintained in that position by the effects of life on earth. The relevance to DAT is perhaps that the biosphere is a lot more robust than environmentalists tend to give it credit for. Environmentalism is not really scientific but reflects a "back to nature" sentiment that is as old as technology itself. Its triumph in our time is the triumph of innovation failure.

US launches air strike in Somalia Perpetuating the African dark age. We may not like the Islamist militias, but they were tentatively restoring order to a region that has lacked it since 1990. Give them another 200 years and they might have mellowed into a decent polity. See also The defeat of the Islamist militias fuels fears of instability.

Monday, January 08, 2007
Hawking: I'm planning space flight: "Hawking, 65, has said he hopes to travel on British businessman Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic service, which is scheduled to launch in 2009. The service will charge space tourists about $200,000 (about £100,000) for a two-hour suborbital trip some 87 miles (140 kilometers) above the Earth." Innovation (pro-organisation)

Russia oil row hits Europe supply "Warning signs point to a slowdown "Russia has cut oil supplies to Poland, Germany and Ukraine amid a trade row with its neighbour Belarus." International discohesion-disorganisation coupling

Warning signs point to a slowdown "The Goldman Sachs gauge of momentum in the global economy has turned negative for the first time in more than four years, raising concerns that America's slowdown is spreading to Europe and Asia." International disorganisation

Is Bush's War Winding Down or Heating Up? "Many commentators believe that the failure of the neoconservatives? "cakewalk war" has destroyed their influence. This is a mistaken conclusion. The neoconservatives are long time allies of Israel?s right-wing Likud Party and are part of the Israel Lobby in the US. The Israel Lobby represents the views of only a minority of American Jews but nevertheless essentially owns both political parties and most of the US media. As the neoconservatives are an important part of this powerful lobby, they remain extremely influential." Wars coming soon

Iraqi Prime Minister Reveals US Crackdown "Bush's apparent determination to send extra troops, rather than set a timetable for withdrawal, represents a rejection of the Iraq Study Group report, which said US policy was not working and urged talks with two of Iraq's neighbours, Iran and Syria. In the strongest indication of Bush's preferred strategy, Iraq's Shia Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki pre-empted Bush's statement by announcing that Iraqi security forces, backed by Americans, were about to implement a major crackdown on illegal armed groups from all sectarian factions in Baghdad. Maliki's speech was a US condition for deploying extra troops, insisted on by Bush in a two-hour teleconference with Maliki last Thursday." International integration? The Iraq Study Group's proposal represented a capitulation to dark age forces. The Neocons still believe that the dark age can be averted. It is far too early to judge.

An unholy alliance threatening catastrophe "Most people think that the bungled invasion of Iraq, climaxing last week with the bungled execution-assassination of Saddam Hussein, will go down in history as the ultimate symbol of the Bush Administration’s hubris and incompetence. They should think again. With the dawning of a new year, the Bush-Blair partnership is working on an even more horrendous foreign policy disaster. What now seems to be in preparation at the White House, with the usual unquestioning support from Downing Street, is a Middle Eastern equivalent of the Second World War. The trigger for this all-embracing war would be the formation of a previously unthinkable alliance between America, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Britain, to confront Iran and the rise of the power of Shia Islam." Wars coming soon