So far outside the box you can't even see the box from here.
Thursday, October 15, 2015
Civilization will rip your heart out
The Mayan civilization did it for real. Usually it's just a metaphor.
So what is it that got me thinking of public human sacrifice in service to the state? I don't know. It could be everything from the situation in the Middle East to presidential debates. We do love our circuses, just as the ancient Romans did.
Nothing demonstrates the power of the state like killing. It keeps the people in line. We cheer when our enemies are killed . . . and yet . . . it's also a warning to not become an enemy of the state.
It's all about control. It's been said that civilization rules by force. While that's true in the broadest sense, civilization prefers to rule by the threat of force. When a civilization is reduced to ruling completely by force it fails. There is no way to put a policeman in every home.
Or is there? Tyranny can be automated. At the simplest level we have things like stop lights. A simple electric device replaced the traffic cop waving his hands and blowing his whistle. Now we have organizations like DARPA doing their best to build robot warriors. Can the robot cop be far behind?
We already have spies on our smart phones. They are marvelous tracking and surveillance devices. The best part is that people pay for them themselves. We put up with it because the surveillance is mostly invisible. We rarely see the downside. That does cause a problem for the state. If they begin to overtly use cell phone data on a regular basis to persecute people, we'll reach a point where having a smart phone just isn't worth it.
I suspect that one of the major reasons civilizations die is that they reach a point where it's just not worth it. The Mayan civilization was dying before the Spaniards came. Cities had been abandoned. Maybe it was drought or some other problem, but I suspect at least part of the reason was that the cost of civilization was too high. Too many people were having their hearts cut out on the altars.
Sometimes it's too many young people dying in foreign wars. The cost becomes too high for the benefits. Then people run for the hills or fade into the jungle.
I don't see where having a computerized and automated tyranny will turn out any different. They best be careful or one day we'll all pull the plug. Game over.
I live in an area of NH known as the Great North Woods. I'm in my dome-i-cile out in the county with my lovely wife and a varying number of family and friends
-part red neck, part hippie but all country. Experimenting and enjoying the adventure of life.