Sunday, July 27, 2008

All generalizations are bad...

and all fanatics should be killed!

OK... just kidding. WEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!

But seriously, I think we may have messed up big time here. Let me explain:

After hanging out in the heart of the former Soviet Union, using their technology, studying their tactics, and getting to know the guys that grew up under the red star... I don't think the USSR and USA are all that different. Granted some cultural differences, but nothing to major. At least, they are certainly not some evil empire that they were portrayed to be when I was a kid.

Playing devils advocate here: Lets say back in the day, instead of the US aiding all the fractured mujahadeen forces and religious wacko groups to help kick out the Soviets, we had left them alone. Maybe the USSR would have still left Afghanistan, maybe not... Maybe the USSR wouldn't have fallen apart. For the purposes of this discussion, lets say that we helped the folks that kicked out the Soviets... Ironically we now we find ourselves fighting in the same freaking country. Maybe if we had left things alone, the USSR would be here instead of us. Maybe the USSR would have gotten the insurgents under control and now in this country people would be studying russian in high school and eating delicious domestic apricots... instead of begging for rebuilt elementary schools and fighting skirmishes to get rice in from Pakistan. (I know a lot of maybes... but bear with me)

Now a short discussion about if people are inherently good or bad... I say neither. All you can do is trust people to act in what they perceive is their own best interests. Weather it is doing homework, dating a guy just to piss off your mother, speeding/not speeding, cleaning the bathroom, having premarital sex, going on the Jerry Springer show, and going church... all these actions are based purely on what one perceives is in their best interests.

What is Civilization? It is not a mater of technology, roads, and indoor plumbing... it really comes down to the scale one sees his own being as. Remember my discussion on organisms... what is the difference between you and your cells verses your country and you? Civilization seems really just to be the scale and cohesiveness of that larger organism. You can't have a civilization if people don't act at least somewhat in a with each other. Civilization doesn't exist because the people build indoor plumbing and roads... the roads exist because the people in the civilization work together to improve everyone's situation.

So, how does this all fit together? Lets go back to the current situation here. Almost undoubtably the average person would be better off here if the Soviet Union was still around and running this place. As it turns out, the average soviet is a fairly reasonable person... were as your average taliban or mujahadeen is not. So who the hell did we help when we were assisting the "Freedom Fighters?"

Maybe what we should have done when the US and USSR were the two biggest supper powers, is worked together. Imagine if the US and USSR had joined forces in the 70's and 80's. I am not saying become one country, but lets say they had stopped fucking with each other's shit. Each let the other run their sphere of influence how ever they wanted...

The civilizing influence of the super powers is not so much in that it directs the people to do as they say... the civilizing influence is that it changes what people perceive is in their own best interests. Though at first that might start out as making the consequences of a particular action negative... like if you shoot your neighbor and take his land you will get sent to jail. Eventually everyone ends up with a stake in the civilization and the self interest is expanded to include the larger group. As in, I don't want shoot outs on my block because I have a shoe store to run... or I don't want to start a tribal squabble with the valley over because all my workers will be fighting and I need them here to work on my farm... The immediate self interest is not worth the disruption of the larger society, thus the self interest becomes supporting the cohesion of the civilization.

Civilization isn't about the big super power telling people what to do, it is about changing what people believe is in their own best interests. The more civilized a person or group of people are is dependent on how large a view they take in what they consider their own best interests.

So, we should have worked with the USSR, divided up the world, made it in people's best interests to improve and strengthen the larger organisms/civilizations they were apart of, then worked together to improve the human condition as a whole.

(My opinion only... sometimes I am not even coherent to my self!)


kodjo said...

So do you think the space race would have been faster had we collaborated with the USSR and combined all the great minds? Or did the competition provide better fuel?

And as to changing what people perceive to be in their own best interests, I say this: "Never let fire break out in your tent. Because once fire breaks out, it's already too late." Oh yeah, and girls don't date boys who dip.

amateur.sophist said...

These types of scenarios are best sorted out by applying the hippy-dippy-tie-die-shirt-commune test.

You're last couple of posts are getting dangerously close.

just saying.

Chestocrates said...

But... if there had been no cold war, what motivation would Rambo have had to kick ass in Rambos 2 and 3?

There is only one historically proven method (that I know of) of eliminating deeply entrenched tribalism. Of course, you then become the bad guys.

Sophist, I'd say that a motherfucker dodging RPGs, kites, and golden bb's on a daily basis could be allowed a little bit of slack. (of course, that could just be the commie pinko stinko in me talking)

I no longer think that there is anything approaching self interest. All of these humans are fucking insane, playing their assorted games to keep themselves occupied until death arrives.

Notorious said...

Hippy-dippy-tie-die-shirt-commune test? What is that exactly? That sounds fine to me... After I get out, I plan to become a hippy! ...or a mercenary. I don't know which yet.

As for dodging all that stuff, I follow Mr. Miagi's sage advice.

Daniel-san: "How do you avoid a punch?"

Mr Miagi: "Best way avoid punch, don't be there when punch thrown, Ha ha ha ha!"

So in my barely to unarmed and often unescorted helicopters... I do my best to avoid the punches. Either be where the bad guys aren't, or if you have to be where they are, fly in a way they can't hit you! I am totally uninterested in taking a punch...

I don't know if I can be considered hippy dippy if I am advocating two axis world domination... (to improve the human condition of course though.)

Kodjo is right... Technology is probably more advanced because of the way things worked out, and it is hard to imagine the space program without that competition. I don't have a good answer to that, except if we were working together think of all the freed up resources that could have been used for that sort of project...

Amanda said...

The hell with the USA and USSR -- we'd be much better off if the Borg were in charge. Resistance is futile, whereas assimilation is ... comforting. Ask any suburbanite.