Archives for category: terrorism

We are often told that sometimes we must act as if the worst could happen, even if the worst is unlikely, because the worst is so bad.

This is the precautionary principle.

I am dubious about the usual applications of the principle, in part because of framing.

That is, the prophet of doom who delivers the extremist message of disaster has framed the imagined situation in such a way as to preclude other, equally valid scenarios in which the same principle works against his dire warning.

Take the current situation with the coronavirus.

We are being corralled like cattle with little or no respect for our rights. We are being told the government must do these things to stave off the worst outcomes.

There is a lot going on here. But consider another use of the same extremist imagining:

Conspiracy.

We were introduced to the contagion immediately along with the possibility that it was the product of human engineering leaked from a medical lab, perhaps by accident, perhaps by sabotage or worse.

Quickly the major news sources and political players and the usual academic upholders of Respectable Opinion worked to squelch such notions. Almost certainly, we were told, it was the inadvertent if predictable outcome of the Chinese practice of raising and selling cultivated wild animal meat in “wet markets.” The caging of farmed wild animals brought them too close together, allowing for a new virus to spring up and infect the world.

Plausible story. Likely story. But it is by no means certain.

As I argued with Emile Phaneuf on the last episode of the LocoFoco Netcast, if you were Doctor Evil and sought to engage in an international power play using a major contagion as a weapon, but wanted to hide your activity, you would release it in Wuhan.

That would be cover.

And, as David Icke notes, if you take note of the infection patterns in America’s Public Enemy No. 1, Iran, and do not at least suspect a weaponization, how stupid are you? Just how much of a mark, a sap, a willing victim do you have to be?

I say: you would be a stooge. The useful idiot of malign forces.

You don’t have to believe in the conspiracy conjecture. You don’t have the evidence.

But if you resist thinking about the possibility, you make yourself an easy mark for the worst of our species.

And we know that the worst of our species can be very bad indeed.

Belief is not the issue: it is suspicion and caution that the precautionary principle requires.

We do not KNOW if the coronavirus was deployed as an instrument of social control. But we do know it IS being used to rob us of freedoms and create a nation, indeed, a world, of servile sheep to be corralled and shorn and perhaps slaughtered for the benefit of an elite who likes being in charge.

That being the case, it would be a form of the precautionary principle to act as if the coronavirus had been deployed as a weapon, and therefore resist tyrannical paternalism and instead promote distributed responsibility as the way to increase the safety of the population.

Note what I’m saying here: if the precautionary principle seems to require a fixation on an extremely bad outcome of a contagion, just so it requires us to consider that it is being used as a means of suppressing freedom. That is, the bad outcome of a plot to take away our freedoms.

Belief in the face of the unknown is not relevant. Probability comes into play in cultivating wisdom, and so do other principles of prudence.

So, to those of you who reject “conspiracy theories” out of hand? I say: don’t be a stooge, either to a possible malign organization or to the tricky nature of a system spinning out of control, and into a new form of dangerous control.

Free people aren’t stooges.

twv

A few days ago I heard but had not bothered to confirm that only Chinese people were being killed by the coronavirus. Being a science fiction reader living in our stefnal age, my first thought was pretty obvious — and straight out of Heinlein: biowarfare.

And it is not as if biowarfare had not been rumored, for weeks now.

Yesterday, Scott Adams (on his Periscope vlog) drew out this line of conjecture explicitly, speculating on who might wish to kill millions, perhaps billions, of Chinese people, using bioweaponry, and why:

Scott Adams’s talk is important for several reasons. . . .

First, he figures the probability on the bioweapon angle as very low. One reason that he gives for a low probability rests on the commonplace that is coincidence. He says it is likely “just a coincidence” that an outbreak would occur near a viral research/bioweapons research laboratory. I suspect it is not. Near a bio-research laboratory is where you would expect accidental leaks to happen. Where viruses are bred, studied and stored is where they might break out into the general population. Since in research even non-weaponized viruses are studied, any could break out of the confines.

We do not need to go to conspiracy, though conspiracy is also a possibility — we’ve all read Greg Bear’s Blood Music, right?

So I would not relegate a non-conspiratorial outbreak of a contagion near a research facility as being just an example of a conspiracy. I would not even say it is more likely to be mere coincidence.

But also, were I a murderous conspirator unleashing a weaponized virus, I would also likely wish to let it out near someone else’s biolab, merely to confuse the targeted population.

Second, Adams goes through a Likely Suspect list, and he does a pretty good job. Yet he gets one thing very wrong, I think. He dismisses the idea that the U.S. could be a likely bioweaponry/genocide suspect. I do not dismiss the idea. “Our” Deep State is extremely rogue, and would do anything to maintain its advantage. China is horning in on a very important space-oriented arms race, and the Deep State might stop at nothing to nip that in the bud. Killing thousands or millions? Well, sure: look up Operation Northwoods. Deeply embedded statists could probably cook up a plausible, half-earnest rationale to justify almost any enormity.

They have in the past.

Third, “goodness” — Scott runs through possible justifications of biowarfare to test the possibility of warfare, using the “Never Again” mantra as the hook upon which he hangs his hat. He says that many, many people — including himself — would, if given the opportunity, use genocide to retaliate for someone else’s program of genocide . . . as well as to prevent further genocide. Yikes. Does he not see the trap here?

This reasoning rests upon the idea of democracy — a very low-level democracy, admittedly, since China isn’t one. As both Étienne de La Boétie and David Hume observed, the number of people who actually govern are smaller than the ranks of the governed, so even tyrannical government rests upon a kind of consent of the governed — an accommodation to governance, let’s say. And since the masses let their governments do outrageous things, they are, themselves, morally responsible. And if the crimes committed by the governors are worthy of the death penalty, then the people themselves are worthy of same.

People should carefully contemplate this line of thought. Adams’s speculations in the moral realm do more than suggest a justification of all kinds of horror on the dubious basis of preventing other outrageous moral horrors. Further, Adams’s line of reasoning is the common line of reasoning on such matters, and it completely demolishes our umbrage taken at terrorists and mass murderers. It is a prescription for never-ending war, dominance, and mass slaughter.

Everyone should pull the strings on his speculation, here.

To unravel the argument.

Fourth, take a breath. What he is talking about is something he breezes right through: mass murder as an apt revenge for other mass murder. But it is indeed more than that. His logic could also “morally justify” preëmptive mass murder.

Now, I’m not saying that he is not ably reflecting common-sense statism. Indeed, that is the reason his speculations are important. They are how humans often think and judge. But I am saying he perhaps (and without intending it) provides an apocalypse of statism itself — a revelation of its core character, its quiddity.

A robust common sense would have to reject statism to remain sane.

Thankfully, the odds for the Coronavirus As Bioweapon are likely as Scott Adams puts them: very unlikely. But we should consider the outside chance. And, alas, he appears to be correct: no fact we now possess falsifies a bioweapon possibility.

twv

A Facebook post.

I am glad I waited a few days to comment on the Christchurch shooting. It is apparent that one of the big takeaways from the atrocity is that center-left opinion makers are wildly mischaracterizing the opinons of the mass murderer. And, had I shot my mouth off early, I may have missed this, the biggest story.

John R. Lott, Jr., clarifies:

The shooter wrote: “The nation with the closest political and social values to my own is the People’s Republic of China.” And the political figure with whom he most closely identifies? England’s Sir Oswald Mosley, who self-identified as a member of the “left” and proponent of “European Socialism.”

Ever encountered a right-winger who pontificates about the need for minimum wage increases and “furthering the unionization of workers”? Or who denounces “the ever increasing wealth of the 1% that exploit the people for their own benefit.” He goes on to declare that “conservatism is dead” and “global capitalist markets are the enemy of racial autonomists.” He called himself an “Eco-fascist.”

Media Calls The New Zealand Shooter ‘Right-Wing,’” Townhall, March 18, 2019


The shooter was a self-declared leftist.

That being said, very few people are wholly left- or wholly right-wing in political bent. And I am very tempted to call murderous racism a rightist obsession. It is just inconvenient in this case, as in so many others, that the shooter was basically leftist . . . except in his racism.

But even that is not quite correct, for being against Islam and third-world immigration is not, in the shooter’s case, really racist: he opposed both because of population growth fears. Eminently a leftist canard.

He frequently uses the term invader, but his reason was an environmentalist one. “The environment is being destroyed by over population.” Did he hate minorities? He certainly did: “We Europeans are one of the groups that are not over populating the world. The invaders are the ones over populating the world. Kill the invaders, kill the overpopulation and by doing so save the environment.”

You certainly won’t find any of the media, including CNN, blaming environmentalists for the carnage at the mosques.

And it is worse: one reason for his rampage was to spur New Zealand and America to establish further degrees of gun control.

The media also conveniently ignores what the killer hoped to accomplish by his attack. He did it to help achieve “the removal of gun rights” for New Zealanders and Americans. And within a day, politicians in both countries were doing what he wanted. The New Zealand government has already promised a complete ban on semi-automatic guns. American gun control advocates such as Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, quickly applauded the move and suggested that it is a model for United States lawmakers. 

Of course, this isn’t the first time that mass public shooters have supported gun control. The Columbine school killers were also gun control advocates.

This armament regulation position is preëminently left-wing, in that socialism (and leftism in general) denies the individualist foundation of government legitimacy as expressed in Anglo-American liberalism, which rests on the very idea of self-defense. Government is said to gain its just powers from the rights and consent of the governed. To deny self-defense is to find a different source for government legitimacy. Which is far, far left — not liberal or conservative.

So, the murderous ideologue is a leftist, confessedly so. Anyone holding the leftist line that this massacre provides a good reason to confiscate guns is actually siding with the murderer in his own intent. Arguably, if you use this event to push for greater gun control, you have chosen a side: mass murder.

Propaganda by the deed, a century ago, was notoriously counter-productive. The anarchists who engaged in terrorism, way back then, miscalculated. They thought that by attacking the institutions of business and government — and, most specifically, the people who run them — that they would undermine general support for those institutions. But the opposite was the case. Anarchists, not surprisingly, did not understand human nature.

Nowadays, anyone with a lick of sense knows that committing acts of terrorism against individual persons will unite most people against either the murderer’s cause or the murderer’s weapons. Or both. Which is one reason why I expect to see more leftists engage in more shooting: they can count on leftist media and politicians to focus attention away from the cause and against the weaponry.

The only defense, really, is to arm ourselves with the weapons . . . and target the lies of the leftist media and political class, shooting them down one by one.

One of the odder works to bubble up out of the political landscape in the days of anarchist terrorism. More standard fare? Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent.

C101AD62-2830-4978-8F58-AF94D3EF73A6

Three decades ago, I was briefly involved in a campaign in Jefferson County, Washington State, to prevent nuclear warheads from being stored within its borders. I knew it was a hopeless endeavor — there seemed zero chance for local government, spurred by idealistic citizens, to prevent the U.S. Navy from using nearby Indian Island as a maximum security repository for missiles and warheads taken from submarines scheduled for maintenance at Bangor Trident Base — but it did introduce me to the leftist activists in the northern parts of the Olympic Peninsula.

The fit was not always comfortable. Among many interesting moments with these people, I remember most clearly my first encounter with an angry feminist. And with clueless feminists.

FD110687-98A7-4289-95AC-B972EE0200C6But the biggest difference may have regarded our different ethical approaches. I was not prone to the same sort of moralism that they were, for one thing. Or Utopianism. I also had become convinced that MAD was a successful policy, on the whole, and that the traitorous Rosenbergs may have inadvertently served as the saviors not only of America but also of humanity. So I occasionally said things more than a tad out of place amongst the activists.

One of the odder moments of mutual incomprehension concerned the reasons to oppose the bomb storage. I offered a NIMBY argument, and mention the threat of terrorism. “Indian Island is a target.” The activists looked at me blankly. They were uninterested in terrorism. Terrorism was not on their radar, except, I suppose, as a tactic that they could imagine themselves using, push come to shove.

I remember Bob the bookseller looking at me, puzzled, having caught the implication of my logic. “Where do you want the bombs stored?” he asked. “And how many do you think we need?”

“How many nuclear bombs would you like?” That last question was rather pointed.

I had no idea, of course, so I shrugged. I am generally not good at prescribing for an institution I am not in any way responsible for.

C431E517-A2BF-4990-A419-D3BF9FF48CFCHonestly, I thought terrorism was the wave of the future. A few years later, after Bush’s invasions of Panama and Iraq, I was more confident yet. Sure enough, my suspicion proved increasingly savvy over the years, constituting one of two sets of prophecies that showed me not a complete nutball. I felt satisfied, I confess: I understood some things about the way the world worked that most people did not seem to. At all.

Yup, terrorism and the price of gold. I was right, way back then.

Now, I have no idea what is going to happen next. My hunches are all over the place, between financial Armageddon and the Singularity!

twv

N.B. Pictured are three Google maps of the area in Jefferson County where I lived at the time. Circled in red are where the offices of Liberty magazine were listed with the Post Office (the Polk Street apartment building I lived in) and (at bottom) they were actually located, on top of the hill. One of my first jobs for Bill Bradford, Liberty’s publisher, in my first year or two working for him, was Community Plenipotentiary. That is, I would get involved in community activism so he would not have to! Yes, he paid me to do this sort of thing. Thankfully, it did not take up much of my time, and arguably I did it on my own time. I was not being paid by the hour.