“Homegrown” Dissidents

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

It’s a weird moment, Athrelon says, when you start noticing how much “homegrown” dissident movements are optimized for sparking sympathy from upper- and middle-class Americans, not their fellow countrymen:

It’s not only the English emphasis that’s unusual.  It’s also the clever cultural references chosen to resonate with Western audiences, with little resonance for a domestic population.

Of course the reasoning is clear: these protests were not peaceful expressions of the natural wishes of the majority of the country’s citizens, but rather an attempt to attract the use of force by Western powers.  It’s somewhat important to have some support from your fellow countrymen (hence there certainly are some signs written in Arabic), but the ultimate goal is to seize power by attracting sympathy of the West’s media organs, and using the West’s military and diplomatic capabilities in a proxy war against the current government.

This, too, is only a tool, and can be used for good or evil purposes.  But it’s sharply at odds with the conventional narrative around these protests being organic expressions of the will of the people.  Protesting is a game that favors Westernized classes — those that have educationally and ideologically assimilated into Western norms.  A small minority of malcontents — if it’s the right minority and plays its cards right — can protest and win, and be considered by the international community as representative of “the people.”

Martini-Henry Bullet Wounds

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

At Rorke’s Drift, where 150 British and colonial troops used their Martini-Henry rifles to hold off thousands of Zulus, some of the bullet wounds were very curious.

One man’s head was split open, exactly as if done with an axe. Another had been hit just between the eyes, the bullet carrying away the whole of the back of his head, leaving his face perfect, as though it were a mask, only disfigured by the small hole made by the bullet passing through. One of the wretches we found, one hand grasping a bench that had been dragged from the hospital, and sustained thus in the position we found him in, while in the other hand he still clutched the knife with which he had mutilated one of our poor fellows, over whom he was still leaning.

R.I.P. Richard Matheson

Monday, June 24th, 2013

Richard Matheson, author of I Am Legend, just passed away. You may also know his “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” from the original Twilight Zone TV show or the 1980s movie.

I didn’t realize that three of his children became screenwriters:

Ali Marie Matheson, Chris Matheson (BILL & TED’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE) and Richard Christian Matheson.

Richard Christian Matheson wrote the screenplay for the Showtime STEPHEN KING’S NIGHTMARES AND DREAMSCAPES episode “Battleground”, the one where the hitman is in the penthouse apartment full of little toy soldiers trying to kill him.

There’s a fun nod to his father in the episode: On the hitman’s shelf of mementos is a little Zuni Fetish Doll (From the Richard Matheson-written TV movie TRILOGY OF TERROR). On the theme of little dolls being alive that shouldn’t be!

The Search for a Better Remedy for Motion Sickness

Monday, June 24th, 2013

Experts don’t know exactly what causes motion sickness, but they suspect a sensory mismatch between the visual and vestibular systems:

In other words, our inner ear tells our brain that we are moving, but our eyes tell us we aren’t, or vice versa. “When one of these is telling you you’re in motion and the other one is telling you you’re sitting, the brain gets confused with the mixed signals, and it causes this sense of sickness,” says Abinash Virk, director of the travel and tropical medicine clinic at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

What remain unknown are the reasons why the mismatch causes some individuals to react adversely. One long-standing theory is that the reactions are triggered by the brain’s false identification of a toxin in the body, with nausea and vomiting a protective response to get rid of it.

Another theory is that body sway, or the change in a person’s movements over short time intervals, can explain a propensity to get motion sickness. In Tom Stoffregen’s lab at the University of Minnesota, the kinesiology professor measures each subject’s body sway over a short period. He has found that individuals who are more susceptible have a more-erratic sway during and even before they are exposed to any stimulation.

Dr. Stoffregen uses a force plate, a glorified bathroom scale with pressure sensors, to take measurements of body movement as often as 200 times a second. He studies people both in a lab simulator and on ships.

In a forthcoming study to be published in the online journal PLOS ONE, Dr. Stoffregen tested the body sway of 35 cruise passengers aboard a ship in the Caribbean before departure. Passengers then reported the intensity of their seasickness. He found a link: Those who reported getting more sea sickness had more body sway at the dock.

“There may be sort of a general classification that people who are susceptible to motion sickness have,” Dr. Stoffregen said. “Maybe they just move differently in general.”

Max Levine, an associate professor of psychology at Siena College, studies behavioral and alternative motion-sickness treatments. In a recent experiment on about 50 individuals, half received capsules with ginger root and the remainder got a placebo. Then the individuals were seated in a chamber and exposed to a rotating device called an optokinetic drum that induces motion sickness.

“The folks who got ginger beforehand ended up doing much better both in terms of the symptoms they developed and in terms of the physiological reaction that they had in the stomach,” he said.

Recent behavioral experiments have found that cool compresses or gel packs placed on the forehead are somewhat effective at controlling physiological changes, such as abnormal rhythmic stomach activity that generally accompanies nausea, but didn’t significantly reduce nausea. Listening to one’s favorite music as a distraction showed improvements in symptoms including nausea, as well as in physiological changes, Dr. Levine said. Now, Dr. Levine is studying how deep breathing and relaxation may aid in motion sickness.

Doctors say a common misperception is that traveling on an empty stomach helps. Wrong. It’s better to eat a light meal beforehand, especially one high in protein.

In a 2004 study in Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, 18 individuals completed three trials. In one, they had a protein drink before exposure to a device that induces motion sickness. In a second trial, they had a carbohydrate drink, and the third time they had nothing. They fared best after the protein drink. Protein “really tends to get the stomach into that slow normal rhythmic activity more so than fats and carbohydrates,” Dr. Levine said.

Children over age 2 seem more prone to motion sickness than adults. Some experts think children’s extra-sharp senses may make them aware of even a slight mismatch. Adults in their golden years seem to experience motion sickness less often—perhaps because of habituation.

Women have a greater tendency than men to get motion sickness. Some experts believe this is because women also are more prone to getting migraines, and migraine sufferers have a higher rate of motion sickness. Or women may simply report motion sickness symptoms more often.

Doctors say prescription drugs and over-the-counter options like Dramamine are the best treatment option, though some can cause side effects. Such drugs work by suppressing the central nervous system’s response to nausea-producing stimuli. They reduce symptoms for many people but aren’t universally effective.


NASA and the Navy are collaborating with pharmaceutical company Epiomed Therapeutics, of Irvine, Calif., to develop a nasal spray containing scopolamine, a drug currently used in a prescription-only patch for those prone to seasickness. Researchers say the drug’s strong possible side effects, such as drowsiness and dry mouth, would be significantly reduced with a nasal spray.

Wait, scopolamine? I suppose it makes more sense than digitalis

The Economic Consequences of the Peace

Monday, June 24th, 2013

John Maynard Keynes found himself temporarily attached to the British Treasury during the Great War and went on to attend the Paris Peace Conference. He resigned because of his strong objections to the Terms of Peace.

The liberal academic’s introduction to his Economic Consequences of the Peace sounds almost paleo-conservative today:

The power to become habituated to his surroundings is a marked characteristic of mankind. Very few of us realize with conviction the intensely unusual, unstable, complicated, unreliable, temporary nature of the economic organization by which Western Europe has lived for the last half century. We assume some of the most peculiar and temporary of our late advantages as natural, permanent, and to be depended on, and we lay our plans accordingly. On this sandy and false foundation we scheme for social improvement and dress our political platforms, pursue our animosities and particular ambitions, and feel ourselves with enough margin in hand to foster, not assuage, civil conflict in the European family. Moved by insane delusion and reckless self-regard, the German people overturned the foundations on which we all lived and built. But the spokesmen of the French and British peoples have run the risk of completing the ruin, which Germany began, by a Peace which, if it is carried into effect, must impair yet further, when it might have restored, the delicate, complicated organization, already shaken and broken by war, through which alone the European peoples can employ themselves and live.

In England the outward aspect of life does not yet teach us to feel or realize in the least that an age is over. We are busy picking up the threads of our life where we dropped them, with this difference only, that many of us seem a good deal richer than we were before. Where we spent millions before the war, we have now learnt that we can spend hundreds of millions and apparently not suffer for it. Evidently we did not exploit to the utmost the possibilities of our economic life. We look, therefore, not only to a return to the comforts of 1914, but to an immense broadening and intensification of them. All classes alike thus build their plans, the rich to spend more and save less, the poor to spend more and work less.

But perhaps it is only in England (and America) that it is possible to be so unconscious. In continental Europe the earth heaves and no one but is aware of the rumblings. There it is not just a matter of extravagance or “labor troubles”; but of life and death, of starvation and existence, and of the fearful convulsions of a dying civilization.

For one who spent in Paris the greater part of the six months which succeeded the Armistice an occasional visit to London was a strange experience. England still stands outside Europe. Europe’s voiceless tremors do not reach her. Europe is apart and England is not of her flesh and body. But Europe is solid with herself. France, Germany, Italy, Austria and Holland, Russia and Roumania and Poland, throb together, and their structure and civilization are essentially one. They flourished together, they have rocked together in a war, which we, in spite of our enormous contributions and sacrifices (like though in a less degree than America), economically stood outside, and they may fall together. In this lies the destructive significance of the Peace of Paris. If the European Civil War is to end with France and Italy abusing their momentary victorious power to destroy Germany and Austria-Hungary now prostrate, they invite their own destruction also, being so deeply and inextricably intertwined with their victims by hidden psychic and economic bonds. At any rate an Englishman who took part in the Conference of Paris and was during those months a member of the Supreme Economic Council of the Allied Powers, was bound to become, for him a new experience, a European in his cares and outlook. There, at the nerve center of the European system, his British preoccupations must largely fall away and he must be haunted by other and more dreadful specters. Paris was a nightmare, and every one there was morbid. A sense of impending catastrophe overhung the frivolous scene; the futility and smallness of man before the great events confronting him; the mingled significance and unreality of the decisions; levity, blindness, insolence, confused cries from without,—all the elements of ancient tragedy were there. Seated indeed amid the theatrical trappings of the French Saloons of State, one could wonder if the extraordinary visages of Wilson and of Clemenceau, with their fixed hue and unchanging characterization, were really faces at all and not the tragi-comic masks of some strange drama or puppet-show.

The proceedings of Paris all had this air of extraordinary importance and unimportance at the same time. The decisions seemed charged with consequences to the future of human society; yet the air whispered that the word was not flesh, that it was futile, insignificant, of no effect, dissociated from events; and one felt most strongly the impression, described by Tolstoy in War and Peace or by Hardy in The Dynasts, of events marching on to their fated conclusion uninfluenced and unaffected by the cerebrations of Statesmen in Council.

The book was an influential bestseller:

It helped to consolidate American public opinion against the treaty and involvement in the League of Nations. The perception by much of the British public that Germany had been treated unfairly in turn was a crucial factor in public support for appeasement. The success of the book established Keynes’ reputation as a leading economist especially on the left. When Keynes was a key player in establishing the Bretton Woods system in 1944, he remembered the lessons from Versailles as well as the Great Depression. The Marshall Plan after Second World War is a similar system to that proposed by Keynes in The Economic Consequences of the Peace.

Ultra Violet Vision

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

When Alek Komarnitsky got Crystalens implants for his cataracts, he expected some color shifts in his vision. He didn’t expect to see into the ultraviolet spectrum:

My son has a very small prism that casts rainbow colors which are well highlighted on the kitchen wall.

I put a yellow sticky where I saw the violet color end, and then asked my wife and kids (age 13 & 10) to show me the “end of the rainbow” — which was less than I saw — and about the same as the camera sees.

UV Spectrum Vision

Jason and the Argonauts

Saturday, June 22nd, 2013

When Ray Harryhausen passed away, I was disappointed to find none of his works available on Netflix or Amazon Prime. I was able to DVR Jason and the Argonauts recently though, and confirmed that I’d never actually seen it.

The film is famous for a few of Harryhausen’s stop-motion creations. First, there’s Talos, the bronze giant:

Jason and the Argonauts Talos

D&D geeks should recognize Talos as the model for D&D’s iron golem:

Monster Manual Iron Golem

In fact, page 164 of the first-edition Dungeon Masters Guide lists possible destruction means for artifacts and relics, including this gem:

4. Cause it to be broken against/by or crushed by (1) Talos, a triple iron golem, (2) the Gates of Hell, (3) the Cornerstone of the World, (4) Artur’s Dolmen, (5) the Juggernaut of the Endless Labyrinth, (6) the heel of a god, (7) the Crashing Rocks, (8) the foot of a humble ant.

Perhaps even more iconic is the final battle against the animated skeletons:

Jason and the Argonauts Skeletons

It turns out that I vividly remembered Harryhausen’s animated skeleton from another film, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad — the one with a curved scimitar:

7th Voyage of Sinbad Skeleton

World War Z

Friday, June 21st, 2013

Wait, World War Z is good?

Liberty Under the Soviets

Friday, June 21st, 2013

Mencius Moldbug couldn’t think of a better way to demonstrate the profound and utter phoniness, the shameless and thoroughly criminal hypocrisy, of the American obsession with civil liberties, than to visit his friendly local library and request a copy of Liberty Under the Soviets (1927) — available nowhere online, apparently — by Roger N. Baldwin, founder of the ACLU. An excerpt:

My own prejudices are amply conveyed by the title of this book. Though over half of it is devoted to a description of the controls by the Soviet state, I have chosen to call it Liberty Under the Soviets because I see as far more significant the basic economic freedoms of workers and peasants and the abolition of privileged classes based on wealth; and only less important, the release of the non-Russian minorities to develop their national cultures, the new freedom of women, the revolution in education — and, if one counts it as significant, liberty for religion — and anti-religion.

Against all these liberties stand the facts of universal censorship of all means of communication and the complete suppression of any organized opposition to the dictatorship or its program. No civil liberty as we understand it in the West exists in Russia for opponents of the regime — no organized freedom of speech or assemblage, or of the press. No political liberty is permitted. The Communist Party enjoys an exclusive monopoly.

Nevertheless I emphasize by title and the arrangement of this book the outstanding relation, as I see it, between the dictatorship’s controls and the new liberties. For although I am an advocate of unrestricted civil liberty as a means to effecting even revolutionary changes in society with a minimum of violence, I know that such liberty is always dependent on the possession of economic power. Economic liberty underlies all others. In any society civil liberties are freely exercised only by classes with economic power — or if by other classes, only at times when the controlling class is too secure to fear opposition.

In Soviet Russia, despite the rigid controls and suppression of opposition, the regime is dominated by the economic needs of workers and peasants. Their economic power, even when unorganized, is the force behind it. Their liberties won by the Revolution are the ultimate dictators of Soviet policy. In this lies the chief justification for the hope that, with the increasing share by the masses in all activities of life, the rigors of centralized dictatorship will be lessened and the creative forces given free rein. Peasants and workers are keenly aware of their new liberties won by the Revolution. Anywhere you can hear voiced their belief that, whatever their criticism and discontent, that they are “free.” And they constitute over ninety percent of the Russian people.

Baldwin’s later, shorter piece, Freedom in the USA and the USSR, is online, and it’s quite brazenly pro-Communist. What’s shocking is how the ACLU maintained a reputation as merely liberal and not at all Communist.

Post-Apocalyptic, with Uplifted Animals

Friday, June 21st, 2013

So, Alastair Reynolds (@AquilaRift) is reading this debut fantasy novel, and it’s really good:

It’s post-apocalyptic, with uplifted animals living in the ruins of human civilisation. Steampunky.

Genetically Loaded Pupfish

Friday, June 21st, 2013

The Devils Hole pupfish is dying out, and the only solution is heresy:

West of Pahrump, Nevada, in a corner of the Mojave Desert a couple thousand feet above Death Valley, a warm aquifer provides a home for one of the world’s rarest animals. It’s a tiny silvery-blue fish, smaller than your pinkie toe, and in the past 50 years it has survived real-estate speculators, death threats, congressional battles, and human screwups. The Devils Hole pupfish — Cyprinodon diabolis — is nothing if not tenacious.

But the biggest existential threat to the pupfish comes from its own DNA. Once upon a time, pupfish lived in a sprawling lake. Around 20,000 years ago, water levels dropped, the landscape turned to desert, and the pupfish ended up in disconnected ponds. Today, nine different species are scattered across the Southwest, and half of them are endangered. Devils Hole is the worst case; as of September 2012, there were 75 fish left. Thousands of years of adaptation have left the Devils Hole pupfish able to live only in one very particular environment: It needs 90-degree water, low oxygen, and a shallow submerged ledge on which to spawn. It’s hard enough being endangered; being endangered and picky is a deadly combination.

Endangered, picky, and unlucky? Even worse. Beginning in the 1970s, government scientists built three pools to contain backup populations of Devils Hole pupfish as a final hedge against extinction. At two of these refuges, pumps, valves, and other mechanical bits malfunctioned repeatedly, killing most of the fish. In one case, lightning struck a transformer. But at the third site, called Point of Rocks, something more interesting happened. Somehow a few pupfish of a different species managed to infiltrate the refuge and — to put it politely — their DNA quickly spread through the population. After about half a decade, every fish in the pool was descended from the invaders, who gave their offspring telltale genes and an extra set of fins. Wildlife officials moved all the hybrids to a hatchery, where, unlike captive Devils Hole pupfish, they couldn’t stop making babies. “There were floor-to-ceiling tanks of these hybrid fish,” says Andy Martin, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Colorado at Boulder who led the research into the hybrids’ DNA. “This was a population that had been sputtering away, and now it was going like mad.”

To Martin, the fact that an influx of new genes caused a population explosion suggested what was wrong: “genetic load,” a glut of defective DNA that accumulates in a small population. On the upside, that diagnosis suggests a cure — a way to save the species. Martin has a plan to bring the fish back from the brink. But to the kind of people who have battled extinctions in the past, his solution is heresy.

Apple and Netflix Dominate Online Video

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Apple and Netflix dominate online video:

Apple on Wednesday released new statistics on the videos it provides in the iTunes Store. The company said customers were downloading 800,000 television episodes and 350,000 movies a day.

In a recent study, the NPD Group, a research firm, said Apple was by and large the leader for home video downloads. For television shows, iTunes accounted for 67 percent of this market in 2012, and Microsoft’s Xbox video service was a distant second with 14 percent of the market, NPD said. For movies, iTunes had a 65 percent share of the market, with Amazon and Microsoft far behind at 10 percent each, it said.

Another popular method for watching movies and TV online is paying a subscription and streaming as many as you want. In the subscriptions-based video streaming market, Netflix is dominant, with a 90 percent share, and Hulu Plus and Amazon are still hardly relevant.

To put things in perspective, subscription-based streaming is the most popular method for watching online video. For all the movies watched at home in the first quarter of 2013, 19 percent of consumers watched a movie using a subscription-based service like Netflix, and 5 percent downloaded a movie rental from an on-demand service like iTunes, according to Russ Crupnick, an NPD analyst who follows the online video industry. About 74 percent of consumers watched a movie on a DVD or Blu-ray disc they bought or rented, he said. (The numbers are not mutually exclusive; some people watch movies on Blu-ray, Netflix and iTunes.)

AppleTV just added HBO GO and WatchESPN apps.

Female Rangers and SEALs

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Women could start training as Army Rangers by mid-2015 and as Navy SEALs a year later — with predictable consequences:

The military services have mapped out a schedule that also will include reviewing and possibly changing the physical and mental standards that men and women will have to meet in order to quality for certain infantry, armor, commando and other front-line positions across the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. Under the plans to be introduced Tuesday, there would be one common standard for men and women for each job.


The proposals leave the door open for continued exclusion of women from some jobs if research and testing find that women could not be successful in sufficient numbers. But the services would have to defend such decisions to top Pentagon leaders.

Army officials plan to complete gender-neutral standards for the Ranger course by July 2015.


The order Panetta and Dempsey signed prohibits physical standards from being lowered simply to allow women to qualify for jobs closer to the battlefront. But the services are methodically reviewing and revising the standards for many jobs, including strength and stamina, in order to set minimum requirements for troops to meet regardless of their sex.

The military services are also working to determine the cost of opening certain jobs to women, particularly aboard a variety of Navy ships, including certain submarines, frigates, mine warfare and other smaller warships. Dozens of ships do not have adequate berthing or facilities for women to meet privacy needs, and would require design and construction changes.

The order prohibits physical standards from being lowered simply to allow women to qualify for jobs closer to the battlefront. Yeah. Good luck with that.

Silver makes antibiotics thousands of times more effective

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Silver makes antibiotics thousands of times more effective:

Many antibiotics are thought to kill their targets by producing reactive oxygen compounds, and Collins and his team showed that when boosted with a small amount of silver these drugs could kill between 10 and 1,000 times as many bacteria. The increased membrane permeability also allows more antibiotics to enter the bacterial cells, which may overwhelm the resistance mechanisms that rely on shuttling the drug back out.

That disruption to the cell membrane also increased the effectiveness of vancomycin, a large-molecule antibiotic, on Gram-negative bacteria — which have a protective outer coating. Gram-negative bacterial cells can often be impenetrable to antibiotics made of larger molecules.

The Paradox of Imperialism

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Historically, most states have been monarchies, headed by absolute or constitutional kings or princes, Hans-Hermann Hoppe notes, and democratic states, including so-called parliamentary monarchies, headed by presidents or prime-ministers, were rare until the French Revolution and have assumed world-historic importance only after World War I:

While all states must be expected to have aggressive inclinations, the incentive structure faced by traditional kings on the one hand and modern presidents on the other is different enough to account for different kinds of war. Whereas kings viewed themselves as the private owner of the territory under their control, presidents consider themselves as temporary caretakers. The owner of a resource is concerned about the current income to be derived from the resource and the capital value embodied in it (as a reflection of expected future income). His interests are long-run, with a concern for the preservation and enhancement of the capital values embodied in “his” country. In contrast, the caretaker of a resource (viewed as public rather than private property) is concerned primarily about his current income and pays little or no attention to capital values.

The empirical upshot of this different incentive structure is that monarchical wars tended to be “moderate” and “conservative” as compared to democratic warfare.

Monarchical wars typically arose out of inheritance disputes brought on by a complex network of inter-dynastic marriages. They were characterized by tangible territorial objectives. They were not ideologically motivated quarrels. The public considered war the king’s private affair, to be financed and executed with his own money and military forces. Moreover, as conflicts between different ruling families, kings felt compelled to recognize a clear distinction between combatants and noncombatants and target their war efforts exclusively against each other and their family estates. Thus military historian Michael Howard noted about 18th-century monarchical warfare:

On the [European] continent commerce, travel, cultural and learned intercourse went on in wartime almost unhindered. The wars were the king’s wars. The role of the good citizen was to pay his taxes, and sound political economy dictated that he should be left alone to make the money out of which to pay those taxes. He was required to participate neither in the decision out of which wars arose nor to take part in them once they broke out, unless prompted by a spirit of youthful adventure. These matters were arcane regni, the concern of the sovereign alone. [War in European History, 73]

Similarly Ludwig von Mises observed about the wars of armies:

In wars of armies, the army does the fighting while the citizens who are not members of the army pursue their normal lives. The citizens pay the costs of warfare; they pay for the maintenance and equipment of the army, but otherwise they remain outside of the war events. It may happen that the war actions raze their houses, devastate their land, and destroy their other property; but this, too, is part of the war costs which they have to bear. It may also happen that they are looted and incidentally killed by the warriors — even by those of their “own” army. But these are events which are not inherent in warfare as such; they hinder rather than help the operations of the army leaders and are not tolerated if those in command have full control over their troops. The warring state which has formed, equipped, and maintained the army considers looting by the soldiers an offense; they were hired to fight, not to loot on their own. The state wants to keep civil life as usual because it wants to preserve the tax-paying ability of its citizens; conquered territories are regarded as its own domain. The system of the market economy is to be maintained during the war to serve the requirement of warfare. [Nationalökonomie, 725–26]

In contrast to the limited warfare of the ancien regime, the era of democratic warfare — which began with the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, continued during the 19th century with the American War of Southern Independence, and reached its apex during the 20th century with World War I and World War II — has been the era of total war.

In blurring the distinction between the rulers and the ruled (“we all rule ourselves”), democracy strengthened the identification of the public with a particular state. Rather than dynastic property disputes which could be resolved through conquest and occupation, democratic wars became ideological battles: clashes of civilizations, which could only be resolved through cultural, linguistic, or religious domination, subjugation and, if necessary, extermination. It became increasingly difficult for members of the public to extricate themselves from personal involvement in war. Resistance against higher taxes to fund a war was considered treasonous. Because the democratic state, unlike a monarchy, was “owned” by all, conscription became the rule rather than the exception. And with mass armies of cheap and hence easily disposable conscripts fighting for national goals and ideals, backed by the economic resources of the entire nation, all distinctions between combatants and noncombatants fell by the wayside. Collateral damage was no longer an unintended side-effect but became an integral part of warfare. “Once the state ceased to be regarded as ‘property’ of dynastic princes,” Michael Howard noted,

and became instead the instrument of powerful forces dedicated to such abstract concepts as Liberty, or Nationality, or Revolution, which enabled large numbers of the population to see in that state the embodiment of some absolute Good for which no price was too high, no sacrifice too great to pay; then the ‘temperate and indecisive contests’ of the rococo age appeared as absurd anachronisms. [ibid. 75–76]

Similar observations have been made by the military historian and major-general J.F.C. Fuller:

The influence of the spirit of nationality, that is of democracy, on war was profound, … [it] emotionalized war and, consequently, brutalized it; …. National armies fight nations, royal armies fight their like, the first obey a mob — always demented, the second a king, generally sane. … All this developed out of the French Revolution, which also gave to the world conscription — herd warfare, and the herd coupling with finance and commerce has begotten new realms of war. For when once the whole nation fights, then is the whole national credit available for the purpose of war. [War and Western Civilization, 26–27]

And William A. Orton thus summarized matters:

Nineteenth-century wars were kept within bounds by the tradition, well recognized in international law, that civilian property and business were outside the sphere of combat. Civilian assets were not exposed to arbitrary distraint or permanent seizure, and apart from such territorial and financial stipulations as one state might impose on another, the economic and cultural life of the belligerents was generally allowed to continue pretty much as it had been. Twentieth-century practice has changed all that. During both World Wars limitless lists of contraband coupled with unilateral declarations of maritime law put every sort of commerce in jeopardy, and made waste paper of all precedents. The close of the first war was marked by a determined and successful effort to impair the economic recovery of the principal losers, and to retain certain civilian properties. The second war has seen the extension of that policy to a point at which international law in war has ceased to exist. For years the Government of Germany, so far as its arms could reach, had based a policy of confiscation on a racial theory that had no standing in civil law, international law, nor Christian ethics; and when the war began, that violation of the comity of nations proved contagious. Anglo-American leadership, in both speech and action, launched a crusade that admitted of neither legal nor territorial limits to the exercise of coercion. The concept of neutrality was denounced in both theory and practice. Not only enemy assets and interests, but the assets and interests of any parties whatsoever, even in neutral countries, were exposed to every constraint the belligerent powers could make effective; and the assets and interests of neutral states and their civilians, lodged in belligerent territories or under belligerent control, were subjected to practically the same sort of coercion as those of enemy nationals. Thus “total war” became a sort of war that no civilian community could hope to escape; and “peace loving nations” will draw the obvious inference. [The Liberal Tradition: A Study of the Social and Spiritual Conditions of Freedom, 251–52]

The doctrine of democratic peace claims that democracies do not go to war against each other, and thus, to create lasting peace, the entire world must be made democratic:

With the end of World War II, essentially all of — by now: democratic — Western Europe (and democratic Japan and South Korea in the Pacific region) has become part of the US Empire, as indicated by the presence of US troops in practically all of these countries. What the post World War II period of peace then “proves” is not that democracies do not go to war against each other but that a hegemonic, imperialist power such as the United States did not let its various colonial parts go to war against each other (and, of course, that the hegemon itself did not see any need to go to war against its satellites — because they obeyed — and they did not see the need or did not dare to disobey their master).

Moreover, if matters are thus perceived — based on an understanding of history rather than the naïve belief that because one entity has a different name than another their behavior must be independent from one another — it becomes clear that the evidence presented has nothing to do with democracy and everything with hegemony. For instance, no war broke out between the end of World War II and the end of the 1980s, i.e., during the hegemonic reign of the Soviet Union, between East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Estonia, Hungary, etc. Was this because these were communist dictatorships and communist dictatorships do not go to war against each other? That would have to be the conclusion of “scientists” of the caliber of democratic-peace theorists! But surely this conclusion is wrong. No war broke out because the Soviet Union did not permit this to happen — just as no war between Western democracies broke out because the United States did not permit this to happen in its dominion. To be sure, the Soviet Union intervened in Hungary and Czechoslovakia, but so did the United States at various occasions in Middle-America such as in Guatemala, for instance. (Incidentally: How about the wars between Israel and Palestine and Lebanon? Are not all these democracies? Or are Arab countries ruled out by definition as undemocratic?)