Thursday, October 13, 2005

How to Get Something (in Fact, an Entire Universe) From Nothing

S. Kauffman gives us a set of equations that help us see the relationship between the number of types of parts of a system and the number of rules (strange attractors) generated by those parts, as well as the number of possible expressions a system can generate from those rules. Using these simple equations, we can get the level of complexity we find in the universe, starting from perfect symmetry (nothing).

Kauffman shows that for any system with a certain number of components (N), that system will have 2^(n/2) (or, 2 raised to the n/2 power) possible states within the system, but only N/e number of cycles, or possible basins of attraction, where e is the inverse natural logarithm (e=2.718281828449...)

Thus a system containing 200 elements would have only about 74 alternative asymptotic patterns of behavior. More strikingly, a system containing 10,000 elements and chaotic attractors with median lengths on the order of 25000 would harbor only about 3700 alternative attractors. This is already an interesting intimation of order even in extremely complex disordered systems (S. Kauffman, 194).

Kauffman then shows that such systems are even more organized, since for a complex system:
The expected median state cycle length is about pN. That is, the number of states on an attractor scales as the square root of the number of elements. A Boolean network with 10,000 elements which was utterly random within the constraint that each element is regulated by only two elements would therefore have a state space of 210,000 = 103000 but would settle down and cycle recurrently among a mere p10,000 = 100 states. . . . A system of 10,000 elements which localizes its dynamical behavior to 100 states has restricted itself to 10-2998 parts of its entire state space. Here is spontaneous order indeed. . . . The number of state cycle attractors is also about pN. Therefore, a random Boolean network with 10,000 elements would be expected to have on the order of 100 alternative attractors. A system with 100,000 elements, comparable to the human genome, would have about 317 alternative asymptotic attractors (201).

This is about how many kinds of cells one finds in the human body. More importantly, systems with very large numbers of elements can and do have a very small number of ways of organizing themselves, though the number of ways of expressing those rules may be astronomical. For a system with N=200, the median cycle length, or possible states per system, is 2100 –1030, "At a microsecond per state transition, it would require about a billion times the age of the universe to traverse the attractor" (Kauffman, 194). And that is for a tiny system with only 200 elements. Yet the actual different ways such a system would be expressed would be only 47. There would be 47 general forms, with 1030 specific forms. These strange attractors (though not the specific numbers I have used as examples, of course) are the different species of animals the "zoological system" can create; the median cycle length is the number of particular individuals that could be generated. But let us now use these equations as promised. If I am correct in identifying the universe and everything in the universe as complex fractal systems of these sorts, then Kauffman’s equations should be able to give us the complexity found in the universe, starting with nothing.

N = dimensions = elements of a system
2^(N/2) = median cycle length (MCL) = possible states per system
N/e = number of attractors
N^(1/2) = median state cycle (MSC) = local dynamic behavior

And, for each new emergent system, constituting all the elements of the previous system:
Nnext = MCL + number of attractors, as MCL and attractors constitute the combination of elements, both the physical components and the rules that made that system.

For systems that do not use all of the elements from a previous system, such as biology, which only uses certain kinds of chemicals (thought admittedly at least trace amount of most), and emergent human intelligence, which does not use all organisms, but only uses its own cells (and not all of them; though, like all organisms, it needs a full body in which to function, and the body needs a full ecosystem in which to live), N would necessarily be smaller than suggested above. Nnext would work starting from the big bang, up through the creation of strings, while N would have to be derived in other ways for life, human intelligence, and the arts and humanities. But let us see if we can get to either 10 or 11 dimensional strings from N = 0, at the big bang.

For N = 0,
MCL = 2^(0/2) = 1 = singularity of the big bang (so far so good)
# attractors = 0/e = 0

N= 1
MCL = 2^(1/2) = p2 =1.41
# attractors = 1/e =0.37 (a fraction, which we would expect in a fractal)
MSC = 1^(1/2) = 1

N = MCL + # attractors = 1.4 + 0.37 = 1.78
MCL = 2^(1.77/2) =1.85
# attractors = 1.78/e =0.65
MSC = 1.77^(1/2) =1.3

N = 1.85 + 0.65 =2.50
MCL = 2^(2.5/2) =2.38
# attractors = 2.5/e =0.92
MSC = 2.5^(1/2) =1.58

N =3.30
MCL = 2^(3.3/2) = 3.14
# attractors = 3.3/e =1.21
MSC = 3.3^(1/2) =1.82

N =4.35
MCL = 2^(4.35/2) = 4.52
# attractors = 4.35/e –1.61
MSC = 4.35^(1/2) =2.09

N =6.12 = 4-D space, time
MCL = 2^(6.12/2) =8.34
# attractors = 6/e =2.25
MSC = 6^(1/2) = 2.47

N =10.59 = fractal dimensions 10 and 11 dimensions for quantum strings
MCL = 2^10.59/2 =39.26 =number of potential string combinations (strange quarks, etc.)
# attractors = 10/e =3.9 =Bosons, or forces (graviton, gluon, photon, bosons)
MSC = 10^1/2 =3.16

By this point, not all possible states are realized – they become increasingly unstable at increasing distance from the stabilizing attractors. So we should expect, as we in fact find, that only some of the MCL of the last set of equations are stable -- electrons, electron neurtrinos, up and down quarks, gravitons, photons (electromagnetism), gluons (strong nuclear force), and the bosons (weak nuclear force), versus the unstable muon, muon neutrino, tau, tau neutrino, and charm, strange, top, and bottom quarks. Using only these simple equations, we get emergence all the way to strings having between ten and eleven dimensions. We can reconcile the 10-D and the 11-D theories, since these calculations give strings with fractal dimensions – which we would expect in a fractal universe. Theories that see dimensions as whole numbers would naturally give either ten or eleven dimensions. This latter aspect of strings created a great deal of trouble. But those dimensions arise naturally from these calculations, once one sees a dimension as being an interactive element of a system. A system with 100 different elements is a system with 100 dimensions. This suggests that one could see quantum strings as systems containing and creating around 43.5 elements – with these elements being such things as length, width, height, time, bosons, fermions, and various constants. And one might in fact include constants such as Planck’s constant (h=6.6 x 10-34 joule second = a constant action, making it a good candidate) and perhaps pi, since in quantum physics h-cross = h/2B. But these are details for the quantum physicists.

In Time, Conflict, and Human Values, J.T. Fraser proposes that there have been 10^1000 organisms through the history of life on earth (he also suggests we would get a complexity of 10 at the quantum level, which we have shown to be the case in the above calculations). This would mean the MCL for biology would be (to use these very rough numbers) 10^1000 = 2^3000. N =6000, which would be about the number of kinds of generic genes, giving rise to 6000/e patterns of behavior, or over 2000 different kinds of organism, which would itself be contained within MSC > 6000^(1/2) =80 different types. Naturally, at this point, we are being highly approximate. However, if we further use Fraser’s numbers, where the MCL for humans = 10^10,000, for the number of possible brain states, we get N = 60,000, # of strange attractors = 2200, which would include all the elements that constitute human behavior, including the number of emotions, universals of human behavior, etc., and MSC = 250, which appears to be approximately the number of human cultural universals.

Saturday, September 17, 2005


Recently I went to a talk at the Dallas Philosopher's Forum, and the speaker spoke about enemies -- why we make them, and why we keep them. I also recently finished reading Lee Harris' "Civilization and Its Enemies," which talks about the existence of enemies, and the consequences for a society that denies their existence (in short: they don't last long). The speaker at the DPF was a psychologist, and claimed that making enemies was learned, and had no biological context at all. This both ignores the fact that all social animals treat members of the same species, but different groups, as enemies, as well as ignores the fact that if the idea of having enemies is merely learned, then it begs the question of how such an idea could have come about in the first place. The only explanation could be that it just came out of nothing at all, or perhaps that it comes about when people got together into groups. Of course, this accepts the completely discredited anthropological theories of Rousseau -- but his ideas are unfortunately still believed by most liberals, either overtly or implicitly.

Enemies came about when the first creature defended its territory against another. This goes as far back at least to the lobe-finned fish, from which evolved all the land vertebrates -- amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. Modern-day male gobies are brightly colored in order to advertise to other gobies that they are healthy, in order to avoid a fight with other male gobies. But when you have two equally-mathced gobies, you will get a fight. But the bright colors -- and the dances of the gobies -- are much more often used in a ritualistic manner, to avoid violence. This prevents the gobies from getting hurt, while maintaining their territories. And when used with females, it allows the females access to the males so that breeding can occur. Thus, this ritual both avoids violence, and allows for breeding. It is no coincidence that the colors and the dances of the gobies are beautiful.

What we can learn from this is that enemies came first, and then the ability to deflect enemies through ritual came later. It also shows that the concept of an enemy has its origins in or most ancient of ancestors. But the ability to avoid violence among enemies also evolved only shortly after. Only when we acknowledge these facts will we be able to do something about the problem.

The ancient Greeks understood that ritual was needed in order to create great cities and cultures. How else can you get over 100,000 people to live together, except you create some sorts of bonds among them beyond those of the family? Thus, the Greeks creates athletics -- competition -- in order to maintain order. By deflecting the need to have an enemy onto a ritual scapegoat -- an opposing player or team from the one you are rooting for -- you both fulfill our need to have an enemy, while deflecting that need into something less destructive, and in fact downright productive. The Greeks too invented the Olympics, maintaining peaceful competition among the city-states.

Here in the United States, sports manages to do the same thing. If you live in Dallas, you can support the Dallas sports teams. Thus, if Dallas plays, say, Pittsburg, in football, then the Dallas fan can ritualistically hate Pittsburg, the enemy. But when the game is over, the hatred is over too. The hatred occured in a safe play space, and is appropriate only within that play-space of the watching of the game. Before the game, or when the game is over, nobody from Dallas is hating Pittsburg, or fighting with people who are. Thus, a country of almost 300 million people is able to live together, cooperating and competing with each other. Now, this is still not a perfect system -- it works very well in the U.S., but it is not uncommon for English soccer fans as a game to yell to German soccer fans that it was they, the British, who won the war. And soccer fans are infamous for getting into fights with fans of the opposing team. This is a general breakdown of the ritual system, and needs to be repaired to make sure it continues to perform its proper function. But still, World Cup Soccer and the Olympics have helped to maintain a certain level of peace among nations. We may find that hard to believe, with what has happened in the West in the 20th Century, and even now with the War on Terror, but the fact of the matter is that as a percentage of deaths in the West by war, the West is a far, far less violent place than any tribal situation -- tribes in South America and New Guinea typically lose 40-60% of their young men a year to war. The West only lost 2% of the same population throughout the 20th century. This is in no small part due to the civilizing effects of athletics.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Katrina's Aftermath

I wrote the following on Wednesday, Sept. 7, but only publish it now:

One of the blessings of living in Dallas was that I got to volunteer to help those residents of New Orleans who have been brought to this city. I went to the Dallas Convention Center, and was directed quickly to where I needed to volunteer -- in this case, with the Salvation Army. Once I checked in, I was brought to where everyone was, so I could go to where the Salvation Army was getting ready to serve lunch.

It was a sea of people I walked through. The television is a liar -- it cannot show what it is really like. I am not typically an overly emotional person, but I fought back welling tears at seeing everyone there. What I felt was love -- the kind the ancient Greeks called "agape" -- and sympathy, another Greek word, that means "to suffer with." What I did not feel was partisan. What I did feel was outrage at the partisans. I was angry at those who complained that the President was on vacation -- as though he vacationed like everyone else, and didn't continue doing the work of the President, as any President ever does when he is on "vacation." I was angry at the incompetence of the director of FEMA -- appointing him is something we should justly blame Bush for. I was angry at the deep corruption of Louisiana politics and politicians, a system and people who created this situation because they are more interested in lining their pockets than in serving the people. This is a group of people who rob from the poor to feed the rich -- themselves. And in Louisiana, it's not a Democrat or a Republican thing -- they are all corrupt. And it is they who should have forced the evacuation of New Orleans. But they didn't. And it is they who had to request the aid of FEMA. But they didn't. And it was FEMA who had to request the help of the U.S. military. But they didn't. Everyone is trying to blame everyone else, when in fact every single one of them should be ashamed of their actions, and lack of actions.

I am angry too with the likes of Kanye West, who has chosen to turn a terrible situation into a platform for himself. When he should have been trying to help people, he chose to seize the situation and make the issue all about him. He did this under the guise of attacking the federal government for being "racist" -- but it is Kanye West who is guilty of racializing things. To racialize is to "To impose a racial character or context on," or to "perceive or experience in racial terms." This was a human calamity, and Kanye West chose to make it a racial one. But when I went to the Dallas Convention Center, I did not see races there -- I saw humans there. If racists are those who insist on seeing everything in racial terms, then Kanye West, and everyone else who echoes his sentiments, are avowedly racist. He should get out of his privileged position and actually try to help people -- when you see these people, if you are a human being at all, and not a racializer, then you will not see a sea of race, but a sea of people. A sea of people who, like people everywhere, need help in times of crisis.

All I did today was stand there and make sure everyone could find the exit to area where they were getting their lunch, but I was blessed nonetheless just because I was there. I cannot tell you how many times I was thanked and God-blessed. And I felt slightly ashamed. I had done nothing. I was standing there, showing these people the exit, and all so many wanted to do was thank me. The people there were so grateful, that when they asked if there was any mustard for the sandwiches, and I told them, no, the people who had brought the sandwiches had forgotten to bring the mustard, the people who had asked all apologized for even asking. And my heart broke all over again. Everyone who is trying to turn this to their political advantage should be terribly, terribly ashamed of themselves.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Happiness in Slavery

Slavery should be reintroduced in America. Perhaps the whole world. Now before you jump to conclusions, please be patient and hear me out. I am certain many will agree with me when I finish. Many already do.

The institution of slavery has been prevalent through most of human history. From that perspective, opposition to slavery is unnatural. Alexis de Tocqueville recognized in Democracy in America, "the most profound and capacious minds of Rome and Greece were never able to reach the idea, at once so general and so simple, of the common likeness of men and of the common birthright of each to freedom; they tried to prove that slavery was in the order of nature and that it would always exist. Nay, more, everything shows that those of the ancients who had been slaves before they became free, many of whom have left us excellent writings, themselves regarded servitude in no other light." So the ancient Greeks and Romans recognized, both freemen and slaves alike, that slavery was natural and should not be questioned. But we have arrogantly questioned it and foolishly disposed of it, despite the wisdom of the ancients. After all, who are we to question the wisdom of the ancient Greeks and Romans, whose ideas have been around much longer than the foolish notion that all men should be free? Do modern ideas hold up to such ancient wisdom? I think not. So let us do away with this silly notion that slavery is unnatural. Our ancient forefathers believed slavery was natural and so should we. The question then arrises as to why we ever got rid of such a wonderful system.

One reason we got rid of slavery is it did not work very well in the past. Ludwig von Mises claimed in Human Action that "Servile labor disappeared because it could not stand the competition of free labor; its unprofitability sealed its doom in the market economy." He then says slavery survived in the American South only because of laws restricting free labor. I would disagree. Obviously such a wonderful system is perfectly capable of surviving, regardless of the laws. It seems to me there are other reasons why slavery did not work. For one, slavery was obviously not tried by the right people. If slavery is to work, it must be carried out by the right people. These people clearly were not the American Southerners, who became too lazy. Nor apparently were the ancient Greeks or Romans, as slavery did not survive much past them. If the right people were to try slavery and be the slave masters, then slavery would work spectacularly well despite the objections of people such as Mises.

Then there is the possibility that we were simply not ready for slavery when we tried it. I do not know if we are ready for it even now. One can only dream we will be in the future. The problems we had with slavery were with the philosophical ideology and psychological conditions of both slaves and slavemasters. This was especially prevalent among slaves in the American South, but less of a problem with Greek and Roman slaves. We could look to them for many reasons and examples of how slavery worked for the slaves. But perhaps we do not have to look as far back as ancient Greece and Rome; especially when all we have to do is look back to the mid-1700's for a philosophy perfect for slaves, perfect in making them better slaves; and not only better slaves but even enjoy their slavery.

Immanuel Kant's moral system is perfect for the slave of the future to adopt and for the future slavemaster to reinforce among his slaves. Kant says an action can only be considered moral if one has absolutely no desire to do it, but does it anyway out of a sense of duty. Not only this, but he must derive absolutely no benefit from it whatsoever, either material or spiritual, since the benefit would destroy any moral value of the action. What could be a better moral philosophy for slaves? What action would a slave want to do as a slave? None. Therefore his actions would be moral. And what would be better to ensure the slave does his work than because he has a moral duty to do so? And what benefit does a slave garnish from his actions as a slave? Why none, of course. So a slave’s actions would be the epitome of morality! Once we convince our slaves to believe this, they will be happy and dutiful slaves, since they would believe their slavery to be the height of morality. Not only this, but they would see any desire to be free as at best nonmoral, and so would not desire freedom. Kant's suggestion that the only standard of virtue is duty, and that to receive any reward for doing something would erase the morality of the action would further strengthen the philosophical binds of the slave, since one of the distinctions of slavery is that there are no rewards, only punishment. The suffering of the slave would be seen as the ideal state by the slave when he adopted this morality, creating the ideal philosophical and psychological conditions for slavery. The use of reason is so disparaged by the condition of slavery that any ounce of freedom would be such a heavier burden on the new slave that he would greatly prefer his slavery to any suggestion of freedom. This further strengthens the perception that slavery is moral, which is used to ensure their slavery. Since they disparage reason, this view that morality lies outside reason would again be most beneficial. The less they use reason, the more moral they are. Thus, slaves would see themselves in the most moral position in their slavery. They would love their slavery and would never try to escape it.

But slaves cannot exist without slavemasters. For that reason, we would next have to ensure our slavemasters too have the right philosophy and psychological conditions. They must be prepared to be slavemasters, and so should not consider their slaves to be on any equal footing whatsoever. They must not only consider themselves superior, but must be prepared to take care of all their slaves' needs. The slavemasters would be, after all, more able to take care of the slaves than the slaves would be to take care of themselves by the very fact that they are the masters. They would take what the slaves produced and distribute it properly, making sure none of their slaves were without needs. Thus the slavemaster must believe that it is he who is morally superior, while being capable of convincing his slaves that they are.

But how can we determine what a slave needs if we do not first know exactly what a slave is. A slave is someone who does not have a right to exist for his own sake. He exists only for the slavemaster, and his work and life must belong to the master exclusively. He exists only for his master, who may do with him as he wishes. The essential characteristic of slavery is the complete denial of the slave's property rights. All property must belong to the master, from the slave's clothes to the house he lives in. Thus, the right to property (to its use and disposal) is vested in the slavemaster alone. Since all the slave's property belongs to the master, the slave himself belongs to the master, as he properly should. Since nothing the slave produces belongs to him, but to the master, his very life belongs to the master. Since a slave's property rights are denied, the slave is of course turned into property himself.

The problem then arises as to who should be slaves. There are many problems inherent in making any one race a slave race, so we should again look to the Greeks and Romans for the best way to institute slavery. They made it a practice to enslave all races, and so could relate to their slaves better, since technically anybody could be a slave. This would mean we would likely have the same percentage of black, white, and Oriental slavemasters as there would be slaves. But where would we get the slaves? Who would want to become a slave? That is easy enough. There are millions of people worldwide who would consider a state of slavery better than their current conditions, especially those who could have whatever pressing debts they had accumulated eliminated, and so would elect to become slaves. As previously stated, though, once they become slaves, the masters would have to be careful to ensure they were properly indoctrinated with the right philosophy so they would not desire their freedom in the future.

The voluntary choice to enslavement would answer the arguments against slavery because many past slaves were made so by force. I am certainly against that. No, if a person elects to make himself a slave, he certainly has the right to do so. I also believe that once everyone begins to see how much better the slave's life is, more and more people will want to become slaves. We could even have entire slave states, with a single master or a small group of masters working together to reside over their slaves. In these larger groups, the slaves would be even happier than their free counterparts, since they would not only see their slavery as moral, but would be happy in the knowledge that his fellow man's slavery makes them all equals. What could be a fairer social system than to have most of the population as slaves, where they would all be equal in their servitude?

Slavery has even more advantages other than equality among the slaves. Slavery would also greatly order peoples' lives, making it easier for them to be happier. It is after all the unknowns in life that make this world an unhappy place to live in. Under slavery, everyone would know their place, what time to wake, to eat, to sleep, and even when to have sex. Ridiculous emotional relationships would be unnecessary, so much psychological suffering would be alleviated. The masters would decide who breeds with whom, making emotions unnecessary and useless. Everything would be perfectly organized. It would be beautiful.

I hope I have convinced you that slavery is the ideal social system of the future. While slavery has had an unsavory past, that is no reason to do away with it outright. Not when so many good things could come about through it. Once we realize the problems we had were simply because the wrong people had tried it and because we were not ready for slavery, we can move on to reintroducing slavery and making it the ideal system it promises to be. I am certain if my outline were followed, this ideal system could be realized. It's a wonderful system that has gotten a bad name because the wrong people did it in the past. Why don't we give this system another chance? If you do not like it, you may certainly feel free to not participate. But let the rest of us who believe in the beauty of such a system go forward into the bright light slavery's future holds for humanity. Once we have shown how wonderful a system slavery is, I am certain you too will want to join it for the greater good of humanity.

HIV Cure Proposal

Those searching for a cure for HIV should perhaps take a look a current methods of transferring products into target cells. This approach is ideal for HIV, due to the way it infects CD4+ T-cells. I am of course refering to the fact that the surface proteins imbedded in the envelope attach to the CD4 and cause the envelope to fuse with the cell. Even more interesting is the fact that an infected cell with envelope proteins imbedded in the cell membrane can attach themselves to the CD4 of uninfected cells, causing the two cells to fuse. It was this that caused me to think this feature could be utilized against HIV-infected cells.

It seems that it would be simple to construct phosopholipid vesicles in which CD4 is imbedded, creating a CD4 proteoliposome, which would make it so when it came into contact with HIV+ T-cells, the vessicle would fuse with it and dump its contents into the cell. This vesicle could be used to package a weak cytotoxin that would kill the cell, but not be strong enough to kill any cells it was not directly injected into, or perhaps a ribozyme could be constructed that would destroy the RNA or perhaps even remove a section of the HIV cDNA, thus removing the problem entirely without causing any DNA damage, considering the extreme specificity of ribozymes.

Either way, the CD4+ vesicles would be a good way of transporting and drugs directly into the infected T-cells. Realisitically this may or may not be able to act as a cure, but it would be able to at least extend the lives of HIV+ patients and likely improve their quality of life, considering the likelihood of reduced side effects by first packaging the drug and sending it directly to the infected cells.

In Defense of Madness

Insanity, I think, has been given a bad rap. There is little difference between insanity and genius; indeed many great men have danced on the line their entire heroic, productive lives. New ideas, new theories, art, science, beauty are all the realms of the insane! Their greatest proponents, producers, heroes have all been utterly mad! The common man considers all the new to be the products of insanity. How utterly boring is the common man, the normal life. Give me my madness! Forever new, forever creative! Push out of your bindings of commonness, or repressive normalcy! If to be me is to be mad, give me my madness. Normalcy is drudgery; commonness is boredom; the average man will never create a single poem, compose a single symphony, paint a single picture, develop a single creative thought. Art and creativity require insanity as clearly we artists, philosophers, and theoreticians must have in copious amounts. To go against the current must require a madness, as any average, normal person will tell you. `We disagree! We do not understand!' they yell. `Stop what you are doing! I am not ready to go where you lead!' The madman of his time has always dragged humanity kicking and screaming into the future, only to be regarded by that future as a man of genius and progress. The great German philosopher Nietzsche eventually went completely insane; Mozart was almost completely mad; Van Gogh, the great Dutch artist, cut his ear off and sent it to a woman he was in love with; Einstein bordered on the edge of insanity all his life. Each were the great men of their times. Each is held in high esteem today. Today's genius was yesterday's madman. Today's insanity is tomorrow's genius. But why wait? Take a look around at your madmen! Do not disregard their genius as insanity simply because you do not understand it! Is genius to be understood by humanity? By the average, dull human being? Embrace insanity! Embrace your insanity! Poetry and science, music and philosophy, all creativity is impossible without it! No one understands you? Let them! Can they possibly understand your genius, your madness? The average man cannot, dare not! understand. You say you feel lonely in your genius? It cannot be helped. The genius and the madman are the ultimate individuals. Mediocrity is the same among all men, but each genius is brilliant in his own way; each madman is insane unlike any other. Genius is not a curse, but a blessing! Embrace your genius, embrace your insanity! Make, do, create! Be the man you know you are! Let everyone declare you mad! Pride yourself in your madness! They declare you mad because they do not understand; they cannot understand. Revel in it! They may not follow today, but it matters not at all, as you do not need followers, you do not need their approval, to produce, to be the greatness that you are. Madness is only temporary; genius is timeless. Embrace the madness within you. Harness it. Use it. Do not waste it because people may not approve. Of course they won't approve! Mediocrity has never approved of genius. Ignore the cult of mediocrity and indulge yourself in the madness of your genius. Be the great individual only you can be! Do not fear your genius! Do not hold back! To prevent the expression of your own genius; to allow others to prevent its expression - is the only true form of madness!

An Introduction to Frederick Feirstein

For those who have a just complaint against inaccessible, unpoetic, navel-gazing, hyper-academic l’art-pour-l’art postmodern poetry, I give you the poetry of Frederick Feirstein. Just knowing he edited the anthology Expansive Poetry: Essays on the New Narrative and the New Formalism gives one an idea of what kind of poet Feirstein is. His poems tend to be longer, more narrative in structure, always formal, and occasionally rhyme. He is strongest in his rhyming poetry, where he is more apt to give us something unexpected in the poem. In each poem we get a little story about people, characters we can recognize and relate to. These characters, always interesting, are heroic – most often in defeat, or despite defeat. A fine example of this can be seen in the last four lines of his poem "The Hero":

His business ventures always somehow failed
Either from moral niceties or luck.
Yet he died a hero when his train derailed.
His body cushioned someone when it struck.

Feirstein is Jewish and from New York, and his poems are very much reflective of these facts – but for that very reason are resonant even for those who are neither. His poems are the very image of being universal in the particular. Consider the following lines from "The Street":

We’d be so bored, we’d learn to talk to ducks
—And they would say we were a pair of schmucks
To leave Manhattan Island as we know it.
Island? Thank God the concrete doesn’t show it.

Could anyone other than a Jewish New Yorker write lines such as these? And yet, who has not felt such boredom? Who has not felt that, if there were someone else out there who could talk to us about what we, as humans, do, that we would be called foolish? And who has not felt glad that reality is sometimes masked? The grayness of the world comes through in his images of New York, the endless images of concrete in his poems, the gray images, the constant concern with aging and death. There is a concern with dirt and cleanliness – images of washing and water abound. And no one in these poems are resigned to their fate. They are always on the move, legs are always moving. The city, for Feirstein, indeed never sleeps. But this is not a city of unknown and unknowable people. This is a city of individual characters, who love and hate, give birth to and raise children, who have parents themselves who are aging and dying. These are not soulless New Yorkers – these are New Yorkers who go to Temple or Church, who seek the infinite in the quite finite lives they live. His city imagery, the choices he makes, his ability to see the city as he does in "Mark Stern Wakes Up":

My eye is like a child’s; the smog is pot.
Shining cratefuls of plum, peach, apricot
Are flung out of the fruit man’s tiny store.
Behind the supermarket glass next door:
Landslides of grapefruit, orange, tangerine,
Persimmon, boysenberry, nectarine.
The florist tilts his giant crayon box
Of yellow roses, daffodils, and phlox.
A Disney sun breaks through, makes toys of trucks
And waddling movers looks like Donald Ducks
And joke book captions out of storefront signs:
Café du Soir, Austrian Village, Wines.
Pedestrians in olive drabs and grays
Are startled by the sun’s kinetic rays,
Then mottled into pointillistic patches.
The light turns green, cars passing hurl out snatches
Of rock-and-roll and Mozart and the weather.

The light turns red. Why aren’t we together?
create a strong sense of New York that is nonetheless a new vision of the city. Yet it is also a city we all belong to, seen through the eyes of a narrator who is just like us.

I do not wish to suggest that Feirstein only writes narrative poetry, or that it is exclusively, even if it is, more often than not, formalist. Consider his poem "Artificial Light":

Heavy rain
The wysteria.
I draw the blind
And with a flashlight
Show David
How God
Once amused his soul.
After a while
He scribbles
His reflections
On the ceiling.
On the other hand
My father
Who sold coal
And has no energy
Except, I pray,
His soul’s
Lies in the
Like a fossil.

Here we have a free verse poem that is more reflective than narrative. But whether the poem is the rare free verse or the more usual formalist poem, the emotional power, the ability to create strong moods, is there.

And Feirstein is a master of imagery. Consider, for a moment, Feirstein’s use of water imagery. He gives us "the wet sun, the bluejay / Splashing among the branches." (New and Selected Poems, 3) We get cold and yellow sweats, falling snow (lots of snow, apropos New York), sitting by the water’s edge, "The wind taking shape from my face / As water takes shape from a fish;" (12), "slush soaking his shoes" (15) – here, the alliteration creating the sound –, April rain, spraying water, swimming pools, water hoses, ponds, toy boats and rafts, etc. Water is exploded and made interesting and new throughout Feirstein’s collection of poems, as are the color gray, the images of the city, including concrete, and human relations, especially among family and lovers (past and present).

In his poems, Feirstein has brought new life to New York, to being Jewish, to family life, and to the art of poetry. By being a formalist poet, whether in blank verse or in rhyme, whether with his narrative or his lyric verse, Feirstein has renewed the art of poetry, given it back to the people by giving them something they can understand and relate to, without sacrificing in the least his intelligence. He does not insult his readers by being either too simplistic or too obtuse and hyper-academic. His poems have a beauty and depth to them that had been lost among the more well-known poets, whose poetry only leave you unsatisfied once you manage to figure out what simplistic ideas are hiding under the obscurity. Anybody can read and enjoy Feirstein’s poems. Those who do not typically study poetry can read and enjoy his poems and get a great deal out of them. And those who do study poetry can find an endless depth of meaning in the poems, rich as they are in imagery and connections.

Cultural Universals

Frederick Turner points out that the forty-seven cultural universals (to which he adds combat, gifts, mime, friendship, lying, love, storytelling, murder taboos, and poetic meter) make it "tempting to propose that a work of literary art can be fairly accurately gauged for greatness of quality by the number of these items it contains, embodies, and thematizes" (The Culture of Hope, 26), since "it is the function of [literature] to preserve, integrate and continually renew this deep syntax and lexicon [of cultural universals], while using it to construct coherent world-hypotheses" (26).

We have, according to Wilson (actually, George P. Murdock, who Wilson is quoting), sixty-seven cultural universals (On Human Nature, 160):

age-grading, athletic sports, bodily adornment, calendar, cleanliness training, community organization, cooking, cooperative labor, cosmology, courtship, dancing, decorative art, divination, division of labor, dream interpretation, education, eschatology, ethics, ethno-botany, etiquette, faith healing, family feasting, fire-making, folklore, food taboos, funeral rites, games, gestures, gift-giving, government, greetings, hair styles, hospitality, housing, hygiene, incest taboos, inheritance rules, joking, kin groups, kinship nomenclature, language, law, luck superstitions, magic, marriage, mealtimes, medicine, obstetrics, penal sanctions, personal names, population policy, postnatal care, pregnancy usages, property rights, propitiation of supernatural beings, puberty customs, religious ritual, residence rules, sexual restrictions, soul concepts, status differentiation, surgery, tool-making, trade, visiting, weather control, and weaving

Whereas I could identify in that list only twenty which chimpanzees share with humans: bodily adornment, cleanliness training (in some), community organization, cooperative labor (i.e., when they hunt), education (active teaching), family feasting (a true ritual in chimpanzees), games, gestures, gift-giving, greetings, hygiene (in cleaning each other of parasites), incest taboos (admittedly a questionable one, since it is clear the Westermarck effect is in effect, but not yet clear that it is also socially transmitted), kin groups, medicine (Frans de Waal, The Ape and the Sushi Master, 254-255), postnatal care, property rights (chimpanzees are very territorial), ritual (see family feasting, above), status differentiation, tool-making, and visiting. And this does not include the cultural differences found among chimpanzee troupes. I say there are only twenty, but look at those twenty. Are we really so much better because we have developed calendars when chimpanzees have managed to develop medicine (albeit far more primitive than human medicine, to say the least, but quite impressive all the same). Many of those uniquely human cultural traits can be traced logically from this pool of twenty we share with our closest relatives. I have already mentioned religion rising from power (status differentiation, above), which would then naturally lead to things like divination and religious ritual (combining power with feeding rituals could do this). Government too would naturally arise in a species that has status differentiation and the need for rules. I could go on and on, but I think we can see how much of what we consider uniquely human is either shared by chimpanzees and bonobos or could arise quite naturally from a specialist species like chimpanzees to become a variety of things in a generalist species like humans.

On the Evolutionary Origins of Property Rights

The recent Supreme Court decision that allows governments to seize private property for corporate use suggests not only that we need Supreme Court justices that won’t invent things that are clearly not intended in the Constitution (what was intended to restrict what government can do has been used to expand the government’s ability to take land), but that we need to renew our defenses of property rights as a whole.

We need a better defense of property rights than the ones we typically see. Many past defenses of property rights have come from the idea of Natural Law – an idea in no small part founded in a particular religious view. However, the fact that this particular religious view replaced an earlier religious view that denied the existence of property rights left it vulnerable not only to being replaced by a new religious world view, but to a completely new world view: the scientific world view.
In the early part of the Modern Era, the scientific world view was the Newtonian one. The world was deterministic, meaning that if we knew the position and velocity of all objects in the universe, we could know the future. When this idea was taken up by philosophers, we got reactions ranging from Kant’s division of the world into a deterministic phenomenal world and a free noumenal world to Marx’s deterministic history, with a world going inevitably toward world communism. Adam Smith gave us abstract notions like an "invisible hand," while socialists promised us a scientifically designed economy – one which was finally, fully just. If we could design better and more perfect machines, then we could design a better and more perfect economy. The fact that property rights were associated with Natural Law only put it in the category of non-scientific ideas.

One of the great contributions of Charles Darwin was his idea that randomness could contribute to order and complexity. This idea became much more solidified in the New Synthesis, when Darwinian natural selection was combined with genetics – we realized that the mechanism of evolution was in random mutations of the DNA, creating variations that could be selected for or against in nature, whether that selection was through natural selection or sexual selection, as Darwin suggested, or through such mechanisms such as punctuated equilibrium, as Gould suggested (and which has received a great deal of support from Walter Kauffman’s work). The notion of randomness as a part of nature that contributed to its order and complexity was developed even in physics in quantum mechanics at the beginning of the 20th century, and in the second half of the 20th century in the theories of chaos, complexity, emergence, information, and catastrophe. The simplistic view of increasing entropy as merely being order turning into randomness has been greatly modified, showing that there are kinds of randomness that actually result not only in order, but sometimes in more complex forms of order. Newton gave us the mechanistic view of the world – but Darwin gave us the much more accurate biological view of the world: a world of change and complexity.

All of this seems to be a strange path to property rights, but certain ideas must first be established. Property is not a physical property – it is a biological property. We find the idea of property rights deep in evolutionary history, in the first territorial fishes. The lobe-finned fishes, from which land vertebrates evolved, are territorial fishes, though certainly not all territorial fishes are lobe-finned fishes. An example is the brightly-colored gobies, which are very territorial. "For many vertebrates, a clearly defined territory for offspring rearing seems to be fundamental. This involves aggressive behavior of a great variety on the part of the male (and sometimes the female too), usually of a ritual nature, but effective in defending an area" (John T. Bonner The Evolution of Culture in Animals, 86). These fish establish territories where they live, feed, mate, and protect their eggs from predators. Schooling fish, like herring, are simple in both coloration and behavior. Why spend energy on dangerous bright colors to attract mates when everyone releases their eggs and sperm at once, collectively? And why develop complex behaviors if there is no reason to, if there is no conflict, since there is no need to defend territory if you are a schooling fish in the open ocean? A great deal of energy is spent on making literally millions or even billions of eggs, let alone sperm – and there is only a limited chance that it will be either your sperm or your egg that survives. But with territorial fishes, the energy is put into protecting the fewer numbers of eggs, but those eggs are more likely to survive. And, more importantly for the individual fish, the female knows her eggs are protected until they hatch, and the male knows the eggs were fertilized by his sperm. Thus, there is a certain advantage to protecting territory, since it ensures that any particular individual fish has passed on its DNA to future generations. Herring can never know for sure.

One of the consequences of the establishment of territory by some species of fish was that complex behaviors had to evolve as well. This is due to the conflict created by the creation and defense of territory. The conflict comes about between the needs to aggressively defend territory and sexually reproduce. If one just defends, one runs off potential mates. But passive gobies lose territory – and cannot attract mates. What develops from the conflict between the straightforward actions of defense and sex is the mating ritual, a nonlinear feedback behavior designed to allow members of the opposite sex to enter one’s private space. It is a dance. It is a dance wherein linear elements conflict to create nonlinear systems, which reorganize the chaos created by the conflict into a new order. Ritual is the emergent system created out of the conflicting elements. It is a safe space in which the participants play out the conflicts, to ensure mating can occur. One result is that gobies differentiate between individuals. Territoriality (notions of private property) created individuality through the need to ritualize sex. More, it resulted in the creation of ritual itself, which led to more and more complex behaviors as different species evolved, including art and religion in humans. When territorial lobe-finned fishes evolved into the first amphibians, territoriality was carried onto the land, and into every land vertebrate. All amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals are territorial. And this includes humans.

Thus, evolution established property rights as a fundamental way of ensuring reproductive fitness. In social mammals, this became partly socialized, since it was the tribe or family group as a whole that owned the territory they defended. And all humans groups have always believed that they owned the land – otherwise they would not have spent so much time, energy, and lives on protecting it from others. In social animals, including pair-bonding animals, this resulted in the development of personal relationships, including love. But none of this could be possible without a complex neural system to allow for the creation of such complex behavior.

Social mammals have strong social bonds even among those who are not mates. These bonds were generated through elaborating mating rituals into things like grooming rituals. Primates have strong grooming rituals, which have led to sexual pleasure, leading to recreational sex in humans and bonobos, and massage in humans. We can see this behavior in the fact that "the human neurotransmitter vasopressin, which is closely associated with aggression, is also deeply implicated in the drive to stay with and cherish one’s mate and protect one’s offspring. Without the resistance to strangers there could be no individuality and love" (Frederick Turner, The Culture of Hope, 170). The conflict is found even at the neurotransmitter level. Which should not surprise us, since we have already shown that it is the protection of territory that resulted in the kinds of rituals that created pair-bonds in the first place.

Animals that have territory not only protect that territory, but work to improve it. Gobies organize rocks in their territories, and keep the caves they create to live and hide in clean. Bower birds decorate their bowers to attract females. Often the male animal himself is decorated, or he creates a larger, more beautiful territory – or, oftentimes, both. Thus undoubtedly explains why human males feel the need to accumulate more and more property, and why we try to decorate ourselves with things ranging from nice clothes to tatoos. And it also explains why, when we own property, we have more of a tendency to take care of it than if we do not own it. When we use private property, we treat it like someone else will come along and clean up the mess we make, or that if we don’t take what is there, then someone else will. We do this because deep in our evolutionary past, in our deepest of instincts, we believe that not only do we have to keep our own territories in good shape to attract mates, but that if any competition’s territory is ruined, then potential mates will be discouraged from mating with our competition. This is the purpose of raids on the territory of other tribes, or exploiting commons – which results in the Tragedy of the Commons. So if we truly want to protect the world’s resources and keep the world clean, then all property must become privately owned, without danger of a government being able to come along and take that property. No amount of social engineering will be able to change this biological imperative to owning property.

And this is certainly best overall. For it is only on our own land where we can be free to be who we are. It is only on our land where we and our families – our tribes – can be safe. There, we can live and love and prosper and speak as we wish. All of our freedoms derive from property rights – and property rights are part of our evolutionary heritage. Thus, there is nothing less scientific than the idea of abolishing private property, as the socialists have wanted to do. More, this all implies that abolishing property rights is downright unnatural, from a mammalian, land vertebrate, and even fish-level point of view.

Monday, August 29, 2005

The Father of Lies and His Minions

If the devil is the father of lies, then a few observations need to be made.

1. It is not lying per se that is forbidden in the Ten Commandments, but "bearing false witness." This is a legal term, and means that you cannot lie to either harm an innocent or to help a guilty person. In other words, you cannot tell the kinds of likes that harm society. Thus, fictional stories are not covered by this commandment, as fictional stories not only do not harm society, but in fact benefit them by showing the truth and giving moral examples. It is for this reason that bans on works of fiction, especially novels, are often called for – because the people who call for such bans are afraid of the truth, and are acting immorally. Nietzsche says that "Art tells the truth in the general form of a lie." And Aristotle prefers fiction to history precisely because history says what did happen, while fiction says what could and ought to have happened.

2. God—Jesus—Satan form a legal system. God is the judge. "Satan" means "adversary" in Hebrew, and an adversary is the person who brings charges against the accused. In the Old Testament, this was the entire system, and we see this system at work in Job. The Adversary brings charges against Job, and God subsequently tries Job. Job is left with no recourse but to bear what happens to him, and even to challenge to God himself the justice of what God is doing. Job gets chastised by God because the error Job makes in questioning God is not in realizing, as Heraclitus did, that "to man some things are just, some unjust. But to God all things are just, good, and beautiful." Job also did not have the advantage of having a Defender – which is the role of Jesus, and why he came to earth. Now, when the Adversary brings charges, Jesus defends us.

3. If you support lies, or use lies, then you are in league with the devil – the father of lies. This puts most churches, especially in the United States, in league with the devil, as most churches preach and support lies of various kinds. It has been said that the greatest trick the devil ever performed was to convince the world he didn’t exist. I disagree. The greatest trick the devil ever performed was to convince people to believe in the "literal interpretation" of the Bible. He must have had a good belly laugh when people accepted this oxymoron. All texts require interpretation – and all texts have several interpretations. Scientific texts may be written so that they can have very few interpretations – but even this statement is not entirely accurate, since scientists often argue over the interpretation of data. But most other texts have many more interpretations – as many as there are people, and readings by each of those people. Which is not to say that those interpretations should not be in context or not have a family resemblance to each other, because they should (or else they will be bad readings). You know you have a bad reading of something if you have to ignore some other part of the overall text for that reading to work.

4. The word "myth" had taken on a negative meaning since the ascension of science as "the" way of knowing about the world. But science can only tell us about the world below the human level of reality. Myth, poetry, art, religion – these all speak of things above and including the human. We need to stop thinking that a "myth" does not have the same value as science – this is a prejudice of modern-day scientific thinking. Too many people think science is the only way of knowing about things – meaning, for them, if the Bible is of any value, it must be scientific as well. But science as we currently understand and use it was developed 1500 years after the last book of the Bible was written. And scientific history (history as we now understand and practice it) was developed at the same time. So, the Bible has been falsely attributed to being a work of science and history in the modern sense. But this takes away from the value and truth of the Bible, as we see from Aristotle’s distinction (Aristotle actually uses the word "myth" in his definition, not fiction – I too have been guilty here of modernizing things and causing confusion, since fiction too is a modern idea in the era of scientific thinking). Basically, we need to do away with our modern-day prejudices against ways of knowing about the world other than science. And equally, we need to stop using modern-day usages and understandings of words and ideas for texts outside that time-context. The Bible is not science, nor is it history in the modern sense of the term – though it certainly is history in the ancient sense, as well as mythology in the best sense of the term, meaning it is a source of truth. But truth is different from scientific fact.

5. I am concerned with the lie of the Bible being science and history in the modern sense precisely because this lie has alienated more people from Christianity than anything else. And it is a lie perpetuated and preached from pulpits everywhere. Anyone with the scientific evidence before them will realize that as a work of science, the Bible is one of the least accurate texts ever written. Now, if the Bible is scientifically unfactual (untrue), then its truth must be questioned in other areas – if scientific truth is how we measure all things. And many people do indeed do this, which is why they end up rejecting the Bible – and Christianity. And it does not help when defenders of the scientific facticity of the Bible use outright lies to support their position (like saying fossil ages are determined by the geological level they are in, and that geological levels’ ages are determined by the fossils they have – which is an outright lie). Those who knowingly use lies to support their positions both know their position is weak, and are bearing false witness. They are of the devil’s party, and are helping to drive more people from Christianity.

But if the Bible is myth, it is true – and it is also not at all in conflict with science, or the truths science uncovers. The devil trembles when I say this, for fear you might understand: there is no conflict between the truth of the Bible and the fact that the universe is 15 billions years old, born in a big bang that gave rise to an earth 4.5 billion years ago, on which life arose 3.5 billion years ago, and which evolved into all the living forms, including humans, through entirely natural means. The meaning and truth of the Bible is not lost if we reject the lies of the sciences of creationism or intelligent design, and accept rather the truth of evolution. In fact, too many people have already been lost to the truth of the Bible because of the lie of creationism. The proponents of creationism as science and intelligent design are very much of the devil’s party – perpetuating lies that drive people from the Bible’s truth and meaning. Their master would be proud.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

A Brief History of Western Ideas from an Emergent Complexity Perspective

I. Introduction

Complex systems theory shows that the more elements there are in a given system, the more complex the system’s behavior. New rules evolve that govern the behavior of the system, helping to coordinate activities and make the system work in a better and more complex manner. Further, when complex systems contain different hierarchical levels, such systems act in even more complex ways – fluid hierarchies increase complexity of behavior, while rigid hierarchies and flattened hierarchies decrease the complexity of a system’s behavior. This is true in quantum systems giving rise to chemical/Newtonian physical systems, to chemical systems giving rise to life, to neurons in the brain giving rise to thought and intelligence in animals, including humans, and even to the interactions of human societies.

Claire Graves, Don Beck, and Christopher Cowan theorize that both human thought and human societies develop in a particular way, and in a hierarchical fashion. If we start with animal survivalism, we move into tribalism, and from tribalism into a heroic culture (i.e. Achilles, and the Greek and Roman gods), from heroic culture into aristocratic/theocratic culture, from aristocratic culture to capitalist/scientific culture, from scientific culture into statist culture, and even now a move from all of these into ideas of world confederacy, and even into more complex, more holistic ideas. Thought also follows these patterns: mere survivalism leading to tribalistic thinking leading to conquering, heroic leaders leading to belief in order, law, regulations, and discipline to build character (typically "religious" thinking) leading to belief in the virtue of competition and progress and knowledge leading to egalitarian thinking leading to time-bound, hierarchical, pluralistic thinking leading to holistic thinking. The thinking always precedes the social development, but the thinking itself cannot jump levels any more than can societies, or than biology can leap suddenly out of quantum physics, skipping the chemical level. In other words, to move from tribalism to a culture led by heroic conquering leaders, we have to have people who begin to think in the new way while the culture itself remains in the old form of organization. It is this phenomenon I wish to investigate here, so we can understand why different thinkers were thinking as they were, and what value they have for the present day, and in the future.

We have to recognize, too, that each culture contains elements of the levels below, including people who continue to think this way. The first thing that we should note is that to say a culture or a person is in one of the lower levels is not to say that it or they are inferior to a higher level. We need the lower levels to help hold up the higher levels – this is how nested hierarchies such as emergent reality and evolving cultures can exist at all. If we take capitalist, scientific culture, for example, we can see that it can and should continue to have religious elements to it, that it will continue to have heroic people, such as athletes, in it, and that it will continue to have tribalistic elements in it – primarily as families, friends and clubs. This is most important to point out to those levels that most tend toward communitarian thinking, including tribalism, religious thinking, and secular egalitarian statism, which evolve in reaction to the more individualistic levels (heroic, capitalist/scientific), since the heroic and the capitalist levels consider the communitarian levels below them to still be important. Further, higher level communitarian thinking also tends to reject lower level communitarian thinking – secular egalitarian thinking tends to consider religious thinking as ignorant and something that is best done away with (consider the French attitude toward religion now, starting with the French Revolution). In the worst cases, communitarian thinking is racist and exclusionary – tribes exclude other tribes, religions exclude other religions, communists must eliminate all non-communists or anyone else who does not fit into the world they are trying to create. So it is important that we be aware of this danger, and do what we can to avoid and prevent it.

Overall, the communitarian forms of thinking and social organization tend to be, regardless of the level of complexity, community-minded and, thus, order-oriented, interested in stability, ethics, faith and truth, are fundamentally religious in outlook, centralized and rigidly hierarchical (today, bureaucratic), and have a belief that time is circular, or eternal, and that it will become this way at the end of history, where all progress will end. The individualistic forms of thinking and social organization tend to be, regardless of the level of complexity, individualistic, libertarian, able to deal with change and chaos, pragmatic, fact- and science-oriented, decentralized, and embracing of time and change, having a fundamental belief in some sort of continual progress. As stated above, the communitarians tend to dislike the individualists, but the individualists tend to work to protect the immediately lower level of communitarian thinking and society, while seeing emergent levels of communitarianism as a threat.

We need to move beyond this way of thinking, and into more complex ways of thinking. The way to do this is to understand all the levels, what their values are, and integrate them. That will get us into the next level of thinking and social organization. And from there, we must next understand everything as being part of a single, dynamic system – more than just pluralist, but unified as well, with unity in its variety. In doing so, we must not forget that lower levels simply cannot understand the ideas of higher levels – for example, someone who is a religious thinker would find egalitarian thinking, especially late egalitarian thinking, like postmodernism, to be completely incomprehensible – confusing nonsense in the extreme. To get such a person to the level of the postmoderns, one would have to get that person to first be thinking as a capitalist/scientific thinker, and then move the person into early egalitarian thinking before moving them into postmodernism. Part of the role of the integrationist and holistic thinkers is to help to move all people and cultures into more complex levels, and to integrate the elements of lower complexity into an even more complex whole.

II. The Levels and their Thinkers

All of this is necessary in order to understand the evolution of thought and the history of ideas in their proper context – past and present. It seems that tribalism is associated with pre-literate times, and that the first writing evolved during heroic culture – the oldest story we have is Gilgamesh, and it is a story of heroism. With Homer, we have a heroic thinker in a heroic time. Achilles is an archetypical hero of this sort.

The movement from heroic culture into the next level begins in the Greek culture with the pre-Socratics, who are beginning to think in more orderly, purposeful ways while living in heroic culture – this is typically seen as the beginnings of the movement from archaic into median culture. We have with the Greek tragedies an art form designed to move Greek culture safely and non-violently into the next level – each tragedy starts with a heroic individual who must be destroyed in order for a new level of organization to come into being. The Greek tragedies are art forms that indicate that the culture is going through an emergence into a new level of complexity. Tragedies are how a culture gets safely initiated into a new level of complexity. This is why Nietzsche identified tragedy as being simultaneously Dionysian and Apollonian – Socrates in Plato’s Phaedrus identifies Dionysus as the god associated with the madness of initiation and Apollo as the god associated with the madness of prophesy – and Greek tragedies aided in the initiation ritual into a new level of complexity of thinking while prophesying what that new level would be like. Sophocles prophesies the emergence of the emergent median way of Greek thinking, while Shakespeare prophesies the emergence of the scientific/capitalist age to come, though he was writing during a time when Medieval/religious thinking was still going strong. After the initiation into the new level of thinking in ancient Greece, we get both Plato and Aristotle arising as the greatest thinkers within this level of complexity.

But emergence into new levels of complexity is not certain. In the West, we get a backward movement with the rise of the Romans – the Roman Republic and Empire was a heroic culture, and was exemplified by people such as Julius Caesar (consider how similar in character he is to Achilles). With the rise of Christianity, we see the Roman Empire moving into the next level – Jesus was a religious thinker during a heroic time. The Christian Romans and Christian medieval Europe was clearly organized in a rigid religious hierarchy, with the hierarchical Catholic Church and the hierarchical forms of government in serfdom, monarchy, and aristocracy, all supported by the Church. The Christian thinkers St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas found such a strong connection with Plato and Aristotle, respectively, because they recognized in them thinkers on the same level of complexity.

The Renaissance helped move Europe into the next level of complexity – the capitalist/scientific level. We see in Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo some of the first, transitionary scientific thinkers. And the work of Machiavelli and Shakespeare both helped set the stage for capitalism and science. Newton and Descartes moved the West even more into this realm of complexity – and the height of such thinking occurs in people such as Voltaire, John Locke, Adam Smith, David Hume, Immanuel Kant, G. W. F. Hegel, and the American Transcendentalists such as Emerson and Thoreau. All material and scientific progress occurred precisely because this level of thinking and social organization arose. We also see the abolition of slavery for the first time in human history precisely during this time (it is no coincidence that slavery still exists in regions of the world that have yet to enter this level of complexity). The United States’ form of government is the exemplary of the form of government that arises in and through this way of thinking – which makes it all the more ironic that it was the last of the Western countries to abolish slavery. That is, until you realize that the American South was one of the last places in the West where religious/authority thinking remained (and still remains) strongest. Because the next level was forced on them, the South has taken over a century to recover and get caught up with the rest of the United States – becoming scientific/capitalist just as the Northeast has become egalitarian in its world view. But the religious way of thinking is still strong – which is why the creationism-evolution (and its latest variant, Intelligent Deisgn) debate still goes strong in the United States, particularly in Southern and Midwestern states.

With Rousseau, we get the first of the egalitarian thinkers – and it is his ideas that led, more than anyone else’s, to the French Revolution, which was the first example of the modern State (while it is true that the idea of independent nations arose with the Enlightenment, after the Renaissance, the peculiar institution of the modern State as typically found in Europe arose with the French Revolution). It was based on secularism and egalitarianism, and this example, along with the ideas of Marx, led to the rise of the Soviet Union and other communist states, which combined this way of thinking with religious/authority thinking, while tending to throw in a heroic leader for good measure. Nazi Germany was yet another example of this kind of state, though they combined it with tribalist ideas, leading to the atrocities of WWII. Of course, the Soviet Union’s avoidance of tribalism did not prevent them from killing even more people – the difference simply being that the U.S.S.R was more personal in its murders, while the Nazis liked to kill people in groups. But both are based on the same way of thinking, and were reactions against Enlightenment thinking. This helps us to understand why people who think this way tend to support communist and fascist dictatorships, and cannot see the difference between them and democratic republics (in an egalitarian world, all forms of government are equal – equally bad, and equally good). Further, the tendency to see people of lower levels – especially those still stuck in tribal or heroic thinking and societies – as victims, and modern-day environmentalism are also based on this way of thinking, and the latter is distinguished by the idea of nature as unchanging – notions of the eternal, the end of history, etc. being part of communitarian thinking, both religious and secular. This is why much secular communitarian thinking, like environmentalism and communism, closely resemble religious thinking. But these are not the only forms of egalitarian thinking. Darwin introduced an even more fundamental form of egalitarianism when he suggested that humans evolved from apes, and that all animals were fundamentally related to one another. Thus, humans and animals were put on the same plane of existence – and it is this that creationists object to. The hierarchy between humans and animals, placing humans in a place definitively above animals, was flattened by Darwin’s theory of evolution.

Among the more recent thinkers in this more recent egalitarian tradition include Heidegger (who was, not coincidentally, a Nazi), Sartre (a communist), and various Marxist and postmodern thinkers, including Derrida. Some of these latter, the postmoderns, have come in toward the end of egalitarian, statist thinking, and have thus begun the move into the next level of thinking. This is perhaps because they claim a great deal of influence from Nietzsche, who was perhaps the first thinker in this tradition, in reaction to the German State and socialism. Since most of the philosophers and theorists influenced by Nietzsche have in fact been egalitarian, statist thinkers, they have mostly misunderstood Nietzsche’s ideas. One can understand clearly levels below oneself, but there is difficulty in understanding levels above oneself, unless one is trying to move into that next level oneself. As for societal organization, since this next level of thinking is new, there seems to be but a few societies based on this thinking, including the present-day United States and Great Britain, having gone through a lot of statist thinking, while retaining the essential form of the previous level, making it possible to be more pluralistic and hierarchical and inclusive), with organizations like the U.N., the W.T.O., and the World Bank acting to coordinate the world’s governments in a very loose confederacy. Perhaps because the U.S. and Britain were more solidly democratic republics than other Western countries, which attempted to create egalitarian States, this new form of more complex thinking appears to be most common in these two places, and less so in continental Europe. It is all-inclusive, and considers all the lower levels to be important constituents of society as a whole. It believes that there is a basic human nature, and that humans can nonetheless adapt and evolve in extremely complex ways – that we have instincts, but also highly plastic brains, which allow us to have highly complex ways of thinking. Further, this new level of thinking has so far occurred less often among philosophers, and more often among scientists, such as Victor Turner, E.O. Wilson, Steven Pinker, Jeff Hawkins, Benoit Mandelbrot, and Ilya Prigogine.

The next level, the holistic level, is very new, and includes very few thinkers in it – the only one I know of being the poet-philosopher Frederick Turner. We have yet to see what possible form of social organization will come out of such thinking. Even though we have learned that other communitarian forms of social and government organization have been dictatorial every time, it seems likely, since this is a much more complex level of thinking, that it will be some sort of world federalist democratic republican form of government, where individuals are encouraged to be communitarian thinkers, while the government does not get in the way of people self-organizing into communities of their choice.

III. Implications for Understanding Philosophy and Philosophers

As we can see, there can end up some overlap in thinkers. Just because an egalitarian, communitarian thinker comes along, that does not mean that capitalist/scientific thinkers go away – and most scientists and businesspeople are in fact still thinking this way. And not just the average person, but philosophers and scholars as well. Most of the clergy of the Catholic Church are clearly thinkers in the religious tradition – as well they should be. The Pope should only be a religious thinker, and should not have moved into the capitalist/scientific way of thinking (even if his thinking begins to play on the borderlands, his thinking should mostly be firmly rooted in religious thinking). Do we really want a Pope who is interested in profit? And certainly we should not have a Pope who is a secular humanist. Yet, it has profited the Church considerably to integrate in scientific understandings of the universe, rather than continuing to oppose them. Thus, the Church performs its proper role in maintaining truly religious thinking – and in maintaining it in its best traditions, rather than its worst (which we should have learned from, and learned to avoid, by now).

I am certain, in making these identifications, that I have stepped on some toes regarding peoples’ favorite thinkers and philosophers. We do not like to think that Plato and Aristotle are less complex thinkers than some people are nowadays – or even are less complex thinkers than, say, Machiavelli. Such objections will undoubtedly be made, but they are made precisely because of two errors in thinking: 1) we project our own thinking on the thinkers of the past, and read our own complexities into those past thinkers, and 2) there are inevitably those who themselves think at the level of, say, Plato and Aristotle, and thus consider, say, Machiavelli, to be a highly complex thinker, precisely because their own thinking is only just now becoming as complex as Machiavelli’s was. For these people, someone like Derrida is for all intents and purposes incomprehensible in what they are trying to communicate.

The important thing we must remember is this: Plato is not a thinker. Aristotle is not a thinker. Machiavelli is not a thinker. They were thinkers. They were thinkers of their time, place, and complexity. This does not mean they do not have their values now, in our more complex times, because those levels of thinking still exist, are still relevant, are the base on which higher levels of complexity are built. Machiavelli could not have thought what he thought had Plato and Aristotle not thought what they thought. Machiavelli could not have moved us into a culture and society of capitalism and science from the Platonic/Aristotlean world view without this world view to move from. And each of these thinkers provide excellent basic models from which to build new, more complex self-similar levels. But we must not mistake any of these thinkers from the past for who they are not. They are not present-day thinkers, thinking in present-day complexities – they are thinkers from the past, thinking in their own levels of complexity. Oftentimes we forget this when we talk about them or read them. When we read them, we must remember that, and we must remember that we read into them, we don’t read them for what they meant at the times when they were writing. We interpret them over and over (individually and socially) into the present, making and keeping them relevant for today and the future. The same must be remembered of present-day thinkers. Should I be read in the future, you must remember not to mistake me for someone else. I am a thinker now; I will have been a thinker at some future time. And my thoughts will be relevant for the hierarchical level of thinking I am presently in, which will exist as a lower level in the nested hierarchy of some future level of complexity. I will seem relevant to future scholars who think at my present level of complexity; a mere source and spur of thinking for future thinkers, who will recognize too the relative simplicity of my thoughts compared to theirs, though it occurs as a spur to each higher level that is self-similar to my own.

There are a few things we must remember when considering the history of ideas in this way: 1) each higher level of complexity necessarily needs the lower levels on which to build and rest, while the lower levels do not need the higher levels in the least (this does not mean, however, that within a person, the lower levels are not affected by their own higher levels – family for a tribal thinker is different than family for religious thinker, which is different than family for a capitalist/scientific thinker, or even an egalitarian thinker, though the family unit remains at the same level of complexity-thinking for each) , 2) each level has its own values, benefits, and shortcomings, and 3) there is no upper limit of complexity. Let us consider these in order.
In this model, each of the levels must be traversed in order to reach upper levels. In this, Marx was correct in identifying different levels societies go through, and in realizing one must necessarily go through each lower level to reach upper levels. For example, countries like Germany and France have extensive welfare states that are based on the egalitarian world view. Since these welfare states were built on a solid foundation of capitalism, they have lasted quite a long time without extensive or severe human rights violations (though when Germany adopted a different version of this level in Nazism, they clearly did commit severe human rights violations, as has egalitarian France in is former colonies). If those welfare states are currently on the decline, as they indeed are, it is because those societies have for the most part rejected the levels below them – they are knocking the foundation out from under themselves. But this is a different problem from level-jumping. When the egalitarian/communitarian world view was imposed on an aristocratic society in Russia, we got Soviet-style communism, and thus a mixture of aristocracy and communitarianism, without a capitalist/scientific level (the Soviet rejection of science can be most clearly seen in their acceptance of Lysenko’s biological theories). Thus, a true egalitarian/communitarian society was not reached, while places like France and Germany came closest to accomplishing such a goal. However, one of the problems with each of these levels up to the egalitarian world view is that each also tries to reject the other levels, and the egalitarian world view seems most keen on getting rid of both the capitalist/scientific and religious world views (mostly just capitalism and religion, since it does have its own brand of science in systems science, relativism and probablistic science). When lower levels are rejected, the effect is, as said above, to try to kick the foundation out from under oneself. One of the benefits of those levels above the communitarian level is the recognition of the value of each of the levels, and even the holistic integration of them all. The reason we need the lower levels is the same reason we need lower levels of reality. Atoms give rise to chemicals which give rise to cells which give rise to complex organisms, one of which is humans, with our complex thinking. We can destroy cells without destroying chemicals, and we can destroy chemicals without destroying atoms, but we cannot destroy an atom while keeping the chemical around. The atom, though at the lowest level of complexity, is the vital foundation of each of the emergent levels above it. In the same way, the noosphere, the sphere of emergent human thought, contains the biosphere within it, since the biosphere can get along just fine without humans or human thought, while humans cannot get along without the biosphere (this idea is Ken Wilbur’s, from A Theory of Everything, 98). The relationship may in fact be a more complex feedback loop than even Wilbur admits, since one could also point out that other organisms that are clearly less complex than the biosphere as a whole could also be wiped out, without any real effect on the biosphere as a whole. The important thing here is that human thought is more complex than biology, including the entire biosphere. And more complex levels contain less complex levels, not vice versa. Thus, nature is a part of us even more than we are a part of nature. But I have gone through this to point out that levels of human complexity are also nested hierarchies, self-similar to the nested hierarchies of nature itself. Like atoms to molecules, the higher levels require the lower levels to exist at all.

Thus, we have to remember too that each level has its benefits – as well as its shortcomings. The lowest level is the level of pure existence. We cannot deny our needs for food, drink, sleep, and sex if we are to survive as a species. But this is what animals do, and we are more than mere animals in our cognitive abilities and social organization. Thus, the first fully human level is tribal. This is the level of family and family ritual and, in the present day West, athletic teams. However, this level is fundamentally racist – anything non-self is considered bad by those who stay in this level. The next level, the heroic, is associated with Homer’s heroes, the Greek and Roman gods, and Roman emperors. Here we also find athletic superstars. However, this level is extremely egocentric and can be very destructive (again, consider our athletic superstars). The next level is authoritarian and theocratic. What we now think of as religion – exemplified by Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, etc. – with its emphasis on giving life meaning, direction, and purpose, and a world that is well-ordered by God. However, these codes are so strictly enforced that they result in things like the Inquisition and the Salem Witch Trials. The backlash to such extreme measures gave rise to the next level, the capitalist/scientific level, which "seeks truth and meaning in individualistic terms" (Wilbur, 10), is rational, believes that the world is knowable through science, gave rise to immense material gains through capitalism, abolished slavery, and developed ideas of human rights. However, due to the fact that this level needed lots of resources, there was perceived exploitation of lower classes both within and without capitalist societies, and Newtonian physics was coming up against quite a few contradictions, both of which led to the next level. The egalitarian/communitarian level insists on the equality of all people, sees the world as a system, and encourages ecological thinking and pluralism. However, this level, even more than the rest, seems determined to destroy every level below it. This is in part due to its opposition to hierarchy and its extreme form of equality. As we can see, each of these levels comes with its own set of benefits – benefits which we need to both acknowledge and embrace. We need stronger families, a healthy sense of self, lives with meaning, direction, and purpose, but with material well-being and a scientific understanding of the world and how its works, and respect for all people regardless of religion, race, or color. Family, heroism, religion, science, economic and ecological thinking, and pluralism all have their place. And should.

Teleological thinking is something humans commonly engage in. In fact, one could go so far as to identify it as one of the human universals. Thus, we should not be surprised if and when people use it with a model such as this. There is no highest level in this model. The holistic level, the highest level of thinking we currently have, is not the highest. Whatever the next level will look like will have to wait until the integrative and even the holistic levels become realized more in social organization. We cannot know exactly what it will look like, only that it will have a family resemblance to the other individualistic levels, since it comes after the communitarian level of holism. And there will be a communitarian level after it, etc. This is another reason why we should not mistake thinkers from the past for being more complex thinkers than they were. It is unlikely that a higher-level thinker will in fact mistake a lower-level thinker for thinking as he or she does, but there are those who may be on the same level as a past thinker, who may mistakenly think, just because he is in a more complex culture, that his thinking is also necessarily of the most complex form, and therefore think that a past thinker – say, Plato, who is an aristocratic thinker – is, say, a holistic thinker. This is particularly true among those who think that holism is necessarily the highest form of thinking possible (it is not – it is only one more rung on the emergent ladder).

Thus, if we take the integrative and holistic approaches, we can begin to see the importance of knowing thinkers from each of the levels of complexity. Plato and Aristotle have their places in helping to give our lives meaning and direction, and to provide an ethical basis for action. They can inform the way we think these issues even today – since it is a level that is necessary for us to live meaningful, ethical lives. The next level, the capitalist/scientific level, allowed us to individualize those ethics, to consider the origins of ethics and the justification for them, and develop ideas of individual rights and personal responsibility. At the same time, the pluralism of the egalitarian level allows us to apply those ethics to more and more people in our ever-expanding tribe. This is admittedly a utilitarian approach to understanding the great thinkers of the past – but if we are honest with ourselves, we are already utilitarian with them, studying them to write essays and to develop our own philosophies for our own times. In the latter case, we have to know where we’ve been in order to know what’s already been done, and what still needs to be done. And for the integrationist and holistic world views, knowing each level is vital to understanding how each level should relate to each other, and be used to develop more complex levels of thinking and social organization. As we become more and more self-aware (the dictum to "know yourself" applied in a larger and larger sense), we will come to understand how important it is to integrate the levels and to appreciate and affirm each level for the benefits they bestow – for both the development of new levels, and scholarship to understand each of the levels, particularly in how they relate to one another, and lead into new levels.

Another way we can come to understand these levels is suggested by Ken Wilbur: I-we-it-its. He talks about how we need to integrate all these aspects together – but we can also come to understand each of the levels through these four aspects. The tribalist level contains none of these in any real sense. There is not yet a real sense of individual identity, or the difference between individual and group – and technology is very primitive, and is not seen as really separate from the tribe. With the development of heroic culture, we get "I" culture. With the development of the authoritarian culture of Plato and Aristotle, Christianity and Islam, we get "we" culture. With the development of capitalist/scientific culture, we get "it" culture. And with the development of egalitarian culture, we get "its" culture (with systems theory, etc.). Wilbur argues that I-we-it also corresponds to beauty(aesthetics)-ethics-truth. Thus we can begin to understand what is happening when Aristotle says ethics aims at to kalon, which can be translated as either "the beautiful" or "the good," since Aristotle has an ethical "we" philosophy that is also strongly "I". Also, we can begin to understand John Keats’ equation: "beauty is truth – truth, beauty," since Keats is an individualist living in scientific culture (romanticism was an attempt to recover aspects of heroic culture). And we can also begin, with more integrationist thinking, to understand that beauty, the good, and truth are all one and the same thing – and with the systems science of "its," we can also begin to really understand for the first time how deeply embedded all of these are in time. And if we include the idea developed by J. T. Fraser of time as a nested hierarchy, we can begin to understand more and more deeply how everything is related.

IV. Conclusion

Obviously these ideas need to be further expanded – but that is the topic of a full-length book, not an essay introducing the idea. With the idea of emergent complexity that contains the lower levels in a nested hierarchy, we can include too the I-we-it-its as well. We get a new idea of "I" when we move into the "we" of the authoritarian level, and a new idea of each as we move into both the "it" and "its" levels as well. And each of these aspects will change as we move into the intregrationist and holistic levels – change, while at the same time containing their original meanings. The "I" investigated by Homer and Socrates influenced Freud, but the "I" developed by Freud is clearly of a different kind, emergent and more complex. And the "we" developed by Plato and Aristotle influenced Heidegger, but the "we" of Heidegger is clearly of a different kind as well – influencing the "we" of postmodernism, including its worst aspects, such as political correctness. And while the ancient Greeks did have science and technology, it is clear that the science and technology of the scientific culture is of a different kind, emergent and more complex. And the highly complex systems science that has since developed and become more dominant had its origins in some of the thoughts of Goethe, and even Aristotle.

One might ask, "If Aristotle were alive today, would he still be an authority thinker?" Naturally, this is impossible to say. That may have been his natural disposition to such an extent that it would still be his disposition today. However, it is also just as likely that Aristotle, being the genius he was, and the most complex thinker of his day, would be among the most complex thinkers of today. There is nothing in Aristotle that makes him inherently incapable of our level of complex thinking – what made him incapable of it was his living and thinking in the time and culture in which he actually lived. In fact, every person living today, no matter what level they may currently be in, can also think in each of these levels – though if they are at a lower level, they would of course have to move through each level, in order. Level jumps in complexity of thought are just as impossible as atoms skipping molecules to create life.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Dissertation Online

For those who are interested, my dissertation, "Evolutionary Aesthetics," which is really about the emergence of everything, with specific focus on literature, can be found in its entirety online at:

Many of the ideas on this blog can be found in it in much more detail, and the origins of some other ideas found here have their seeds in this dissertation.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Constitutional Carnage

So apparently the Supreme Court has decided that the intent of the Founding Fathers (one of the most important considerations in things Constitutional to date) is no longer relevant. I am refering to the recent Supreme Court decision that essentially allows the government to seize anybody's property for anything they want to do -- including for corporate interests. Not surprising (to me, at least) is that it was all the liberal judges (and a few conservatives who are just as villanous here) who supported government being able to take land to hand over to corporations. It does not matter if the government forces you to sell to build a stadium or to build an industrial park -- these are corporate interests, and are typically used only so that the government can get more tax revenues. Who cares if poor or middle classed people are thrown off their land?

The Constitution allows for Immanent Domain, which means that the government can use any land it needs to for public works -- though they do have to pay fair market price for it. Of course, that "fair market price" is typically below what you could actually get for a given piece of land. The Founding Fathers did this to ensure that the government could not just seize land whenever it wanted to -- that it had to have very pressing reasons to do so, and that there was no other option but to do it. This was meant to ensure that property rights were secured against the government. But now, with this ruling, the government is essentially allowed to take any land it wants at any time for any reason -- and business can now threaten people with going the government route in order to get any land they want at low, low prices. Quite a discount the Supreme Court is giving corporations! Of course, this ruling is in the fine tradition of interpreting the Interstate Commerce clause, which was intended to prevent states from erecting trade barriers against other states and thus to create a free trade zone within the country, to say that the federal government had control over the national economy and all trade between states. Now, they not only have control over commerce between states (meaning, the entire economy for all intents and purposes), but they can just take your land whenever they want, and hand it over to their corporate buddies. This should make things even more corrupt. It was bad enough that elitist liberals have been moving the poor out of their neighborhoods and into public housing, where they can finally be culturally and morally destroyed (all in order for those same elites to have a more pleasant city-living experience), and have a tendency to decide to build roads through poor neighborhoods (this is happening in a town in Maine) just to get rid of the neighborhoods (the road could be built around the neighborhood). But now, they can take poor people's land and give it to corporations. True, this will result in more tax money, meaning these same liberals will now have more money to help the poor they have displaced -- but the poor will still be far worse off than they were before the liberals had them kicked off their land. But of course, poor people with land clearly don't need help, so it is necessary to put them in a situation where they will need help.

And beyond all this, this is a situation that is ripe for corrpution. If people have a problem with corporations giving money to politicians now, just wait. What could be a bigger favor than taking land away from people for "the public good" -- in this case, meaning, for corporate interests? I've had several people tell me that the United States is doe for a hard fall. They have typically been talking about our foreign policy -- but with this ruling by the Supreme Court, I know they are right, if for the wrong reasons. This is a move into fascism -- something liberals have been trying to do for years, with their economic policies and political correctness codes. And it is something the American people should not put up with. Several years ago, Milton Friedman came up with an Economic Bill of Rights for the Constitution. I think it is now time we adopted it, before the Supreme Court decides to interpret more or the Constitution in the opposite way it was intended by the Founding Fathers. Unless we do, we will continue to lose our freedoms. Because unless we have the right to own property and have that property protected from seizure from others, including the government, then we have no rights at all. Because then if the government does not like what we say or do, they can just take our homes under the auspices of "public use," and pay us next to nothing for it. And with things like property taxes, they can raise them so much, that they can run us off our property anyway, seizing it without paying because we could not pay our taxes. Quite the corrupt system we are developing here. Soon, the only ones with any rights will be those who could pay off the right politicians. And of course, all of this "campaign finance reform" has done nothing more than ensure that corruption get worse and worse (we need to return to the old system of anyone being able to donate anything they want -- but it is all open and transparent who is donating to whom).

Either way, we need to stop the Supreme Court from making these kinds of decisions. IF that takes some Amendments to make it clear what the Constitution actually means, then that's what we should do. Unfortunately, I wouldn't hold my breath on the government trying to restrict any power it's given. Every other government in the world stopped gaining power over the people only after a war or a revolution. It is too much to hope that we can do it more peacefully than that?