Well, if there isn’t one element in current events which more clearly shows up the double standard – not to mention the absolute uselessness of masks and so-called social distancing – it would have to be Barak Obama’s lavish party with six hundred of his closest and dearest friends, at his plush estate in that playground of the old-money wealth, Martha’s Vineyard. The Commie Crud virus obviously must know the difference between the enlightened, sensitive members of the elite, and would not dare afflict them, unlike those stupid, unenlightened and no doubt racist proles attending the Sturgis motorcycle rally.
No reward for resistance; no assistance, no applause.
— Neil Peart, “Lock and Key”
For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself.
— Paul of Tarsus, Epistle to the Romans
La merde a frappé le ventilateur; my earlier post became abruptly more topical on Wednesday the 7th, when we woke to the news of the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse. This follow-up will consider the implications of developments since late June and will specifically respond to commenters on Dilèm Aksyon Kolektif nan Matisan. Most of the structure of this post will follow the Deming process-workbench model, because history is, to a great extent, a series of contingent events, and because I am a giant process nerd.
Last week, I considered where we are to go, from here – what with an acting president down to his last mental quarter-marble, a VP afflicted with a notable lack of any professional skills save for those employed by ambitious tarts willing to bed their way up the career ladder, a corrupted FBI, and a national press corps remarkable for boot-licking sycophancy. This week, I consider defiance as a reaction; measured defiance, ridicule, strategic protest, declining to do business with companies who have gone offensively ‘woke’, declining to watch television shows or movies which have ostentatiously done the same or even just a sullen reluctance to join the baying throng.
We’re Americans – unruly, disobedient, irreverent – so ridicule ought to be the first resort. “The devil…the prowde spirite…cannot endure to be mocked.”
Generatim discite cultus
(Learn the culture proper to each after its kind)
— Virgil, Georgics II
Stephen Biddle, Nonstate Warfare: the Military Methods of Guerrillas, Warlords, and Militias (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2021)
By way of making this more than a merely armchair review, I will be discussing the developing situation of state failure in Haiti, which is providing a personally harrowing example of the phenomena theorized and studied in this book. NB: additional situation reports like the one I quote from below will appear at this OCHA webpage.
I. Increasingly Scale-Free Military Activity in the 21st Century
In this follow-up to 2004’s Military Power: Explaining Victory and Defeat in Modern Battle (also from Princeton), Stephen Biddle continues to elucidate the many ramifications of the one-to-many relationship which came to dominate the battlefield between the Napoleonic Wars and World War I. Over that century and in the decades that followed, individual-service weapons increased in rate of fire from a (very) few rounds per minute to ~10 rounds per second, in effective range from ~100 to >300 meters, and in accuracy from (optimistically) 10 to 1.5 milliradians. Say 2½ orders of magnitude improvement in RoF, half an order of magnitude in range, and one order of magnitude in accuracy; multiplying these together to create a sort of index of effectiveness, I get an overall change of 4 orders of magnitude, with stark implications for battlefield environments.
Peter Watson, The Great Divide: Nature and Human Nature in the Old World and the New (New York: Harper Perennial, 2013)
As my reviews tend to do, this one will highlight some negatives, but which I will get out of the way early on. Peter Watson is a highly successful author and journalist who has rather more than dabbled in archaeology along the way. I am … somewhat less of an authority. Nonetheless, The Great Divide is kind of a mess, but one that ends up being sufficiently thought-provoking to be worth the effort.
Fun stuff first—shout-out to Jim Bennett for recommending the book; and here are my ideas for relevant musical interludes while reading the following: