Thursday, October 3, 2019

Why Empires Fall ..Capital Suction

I'm being a little cheeky here. Obviously there are myriad explanations as to why empires fall. I'm just using this post to highlight one particular problem that will doom all empires sooner or later.

(This post follows on from a post I did earlier this year titled; An Island. An Example, which is worth reading in relation to this. That in turn followed up on my post; EU Discussion: Limits on the Sizes of Democracies. So it's essentially all part of a series really.)

Why Empires Fall...

Anyway, if we imagine a continent. Let's say this one that I knocked up earlier.


If an empire or country conquers all this territory, and rules from its capital, as depicted below. Then that capital will funnel money, power and people towards it. Almost like a black hole. All the tribute or taxes flow towards this capital. All the big decisions are made here. Meaning in turn that successful and ambitious people will also head in its direction. Further concentrating this power.


Of course, all these numerous people in the capital will need feeding too. Meaning food will also be funnelled in its direction. Provided, like the taxes, by people living further afield.

This process is something that can easily be seen in all countries and empires. With the capital city always having this same gravitational effect. An easy example is Britain. Where huge amounts of wealth and people are concentrated in and around London. Completely disproportionate to the rest of the country.

Anyhow, the further one gets from the capital the more distant one gets from political power and influence. Meaning that people further away will be represented or ruled by people that have little idea what's going on where they live, and no doubt less care or concern for what's going on there as well.

Again, this can easily be seen in most modern countries. For instance, people in the north of England or Scotland complaining that Westminster politicians have no idea what life is like where they live.

..And the bigger the country or geographical region the bigger the problem. Likewise the greater the power that gets concentrated at its centre.

It's also worth noting here that even good, well-intentioned rulers will struggle to represent truly far flung places. As the distances involved and the sheer number of people place practical limitations. There are only 24 hours in a day. So there's a limit to how many problems a person or government can deal with in that time. No matter how sincerely they may try. (I touch upon this in the two articles mentioned above).


So in my little cartoonish example you can see that the further away from the capital the people are the less happy they are with their situation (and the harder they are to control). Or rather, the bigger the area governed the bigger the imbalance.

This is all pretty obvious stuff of course, and it shouldn't really require a little break down like this to point it all out. However, people often fail to grasp these simple concepts when they're dreaming of their unions, empires and other grand schemes. You can build your empire at great cost, but once you do sooner or later the bits at the extremities will begin falling off. This is no doubt why we see the same pattern of expanding and retracting empires throughout history.

So what's the alternative to empires? In the 'An Island. An example' article linked to previously I try to explain how "countries" form due to natural organic processes. In my opinion the best way to proceed is to respect these natural processes by respecting democratic choices.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

"Somewheres" and "Anywheres" Through The CJ Lens

As you can see from the last post I've finally finished publishing my book Civilisation Judas. This is quite a relief as it felt like quite a big project, and took a lot of time and effort. So it'll be nice to let it leave the nest and fly off on its own. However, there's one final thing I'd like to touch upon which relates to the themes contained within it.

In the book I proposed a new notion. What I labelled the "city aristocracy" - a class of people similar to the more familiar landed aristocracy, but that draw their status and influence from processes which occur in towns and cities.

In the first chapter I explained this distinction as follows;
The landed aristocracy are tied to their land and derive their wealth and status from it. With their power resting largely on tradition and force (the force needed to defend their territory, raise militias, maintain law and order, etc). 
However, the city aristocracy don't have vast areas of land, what they have is transferable wealth - money, gold, trade links, etc. Their power largely rests on innovation and intelligence. Unlike the landed aristocracy they are not tied to the land, but are in a position to move, and to move their wealth as well.
In the book I suggest that historically "Jewishness" was something that emerged from wider society as a consequence of this distinction. Essentially stating that the word "Jew" originally simply signified a member of this city-based social class. As opposed to a member of a separate religious or ethnic class. And that the modern distinctions, be they religious, ethnic, cultural, etc, all originally stem from this social division that naturally occurs in societies.

(This is obviously quite a novel idea which will seem strange to many people when it's first presented. However, I explain it further in the book.)

Somewheres and Anywheres

Anyway, something that would suggest that I've correctly identified a very real historic and social phenomena is the modern, and seemingly very new distinction made between "Somewheres" and "Anywheres".

These are labels that have came about as an attempt to explain the difference between "leavers" and "remainers" in the current Brexit divide. A division that doesn't seem to follow the classic left/right political divide, and that has forced pundits and writers to analyse and search for markers to distinguish each group.

The "somewhere" and "anywhere" labels seem to do this quite effectively. Which has led to their usage becoming common parlance in political debates about Brexit. (They also seem quite apt in describing the divide between Trump and anti-Trump in America, and other such modern political divisions.)

The most noted proponent of these labels is the author David Goodhart, who explains the division quite succinctly in this following Newsnight feature.

(David Goodhart;
Anywheres vs Somewheres)

It essentially states that "remainers" or open-border advocates tend to be more mobile and well educated, and lack any strong connection to a particular place - hence they are anywheres. Whereas the "leavers" or nationalists tend to be less well educated, more group-focused and more rooted to a particular place - the somewheres.

It parallels my above division of city and land quite neatly and again suggests we're dealing with a social phenomena. A divide that naturally occurs in societies due to social and economic factors. With the historical Jewish/Gentile divide, and the current leaver/remain divide, being similar manifestations of the same natural societal tendencies.

Of course, this division in reality is more of a spectrum than a hard line. Much like the naturally occurring left/right spectrum in politics. However, certain events, such as the Brexit referendum, may force people to choose a side. Highlighting this division in ways it wouldn't normally be noticed.

Comparing the Brexit divide to the historic divide between Jew and Gentile may seem an odd comparison, however, as I explain in the book. Before the modern separation of church and state, religions were the state. So religious divides were also political divides by virtue of that fact. Similarly modern Jews and Christians will not necessarily fall into these same anywhere/somewhere categories today. As modern religions are so far removed from their historic origins. Plus the wider social landscape will have changed so much since that time. In fact, most modern Israelis today will no doubt tend very much towards the somewhere category. So in many cases it may be completely reversed.

I would speculate that modern religions are in part simply legacies of earlier socio-economic movements. Though we see them as purely religious or spiritual today. Likewise we can see how, even in this supposedly secular age, political movements often take on the zeal and accoutrements of religion. Be it rainbow flags or MAGA hats.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Civilisation Judas - Available on Amazon

This is just a short post to point out that Civilisation Judas is now available on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback format.

Kindle - Amazon US / Amazon UK
Paperback - Amazon US / Amazon UK

(the paperback version)

I've also made a little video to give a sense of what the paperback looks like in reality so people can prejudge before they purchase.


(paperback version - out now,
in the garden)

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Variation in Human Appearance, A Product of Domestication?

This is going to be a post about human eye and hair colour. I also want to post it on Twitter as a little series of tweets, so I'm going to do it BuzzFeed-style with short sentences and nice pictures ..hopefully.

Variation in human appearance, a product of domestication. A theory.

There's a lot of variation in how humans look. Hair colour, skin colour, eye colour. Especially amidst European populations. Red hair, blonde hair, brown hair. Green, blue and hazel eyes. Freckles and different skin tones.

(the eyes have it)

This is quite different to what we see in the animal kingdom, where species tend to be quite fixed in how they look. So you could say this human variation is a little odd and unexplained.

(identical animals)

However, one place you do see variation in the animal kingdom is in domesticated animals. Cats, dogs, cattle, etc. In a single field you may see cattle of a multitude of colours. Black fur, white fur, ginger fur, blonde and toffee-coloured coats. Some with one single uniform colour, others spotted or patterned. Likewise you tend to see cats and dogs with all manner of fur and colour patterns.

(cattle colours)

So are humans domesticated too?

If you were being quite wacky you could perhaps speculate that we've been domesticated by aliens or some other nefarious force. If you're being a bit more down to earth you could maybe pose the idea that other humans have done the domesticating. Through slavery and ownership.

(alien slave market :p)

Or, and this is my personal favourite, you could opine that we've domesticated ourselves by creating civilisation, and by separating ourselves from nature.

(civilization_)

And that perhaps the rise of western civilisation was responsible for the large amount of variation we see in hair and eye colour in Europe.

Maybe the onward advance of civilisation will bring ever more variation in human appearance as we continue to evolve forward.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Cringe - Why It's Such An Apt Word

I haven't done an alphabet post in a while. However, I was thinking about the word cringe, and on reflection it seems like a good topic for discussion. I'm probably not quite young enough to talk about cringe without it being cringe, so hopefully it won't be too bad :)



If we break the word down we have the "C/K" sound, which we make at the back of the mouth. The "R" sound, which we make by curling the tongue backwards. Then the "ing/ng" sound which we make at the back of the nose.

There's also a "J" sound at the end of the word - cr-ingj. Rounding the word off.

So it's like we're drawing ourselves inwards in the mouth when we make the word, as if we're mirroring the overall body movements we make when we actually feel cringe.

When we do something cringey we withdraw into ourselves in disgust. Likewise, when we watch someone do something cringe we empathise with the situation and feel it on their behalf. It's a natural pulling back, like when we physically touch something we find disgusting. Or like a frightened turtle retreating into its shell. It's a natural movement of retreat.

I've mentioned the "K/G" consonant before and how it is often found in words associated with being sick. Gag, sick, puck, bork, yak, yuk. It's all quite icky. Which makes sense with the sound being made at the back of the mouth. The "R" sound, the rolling back of the tongue, is quite literally a retreat or pulling back. Then finally, the "ing" sound comes with a similar sense. Being very stuffed up in the mouth, at the back of the nose. In fact, it's the sound we make when we have a bunged up nose. Again, quite icky. You could even perhaps see that final "J" sound, where we put the tongue across the roof of our mouth between the teeth, as a closing off.

So it's the perfect word to describe the pull back in disgust we feel when we witness "cringey" behaviour. This is no doubt why the word feels so right when we use it.

Alternately, when we're confronted with something that we intuitively like, that's the opposite of disgusting, we tend to reach out and open up. When someone brings a cute puppy into the room the reaction is "Awwhhh! so cute!!". Our language reflecting our behaviour in its openness. Big open-mouthed "Ahh" sounds. "Soooo Cuoooooote!". High open-mouthed sounds at the front of our mouth.

So the physical movements we use to make our words in the mouth often reflect, or stem from the actual body movements and feelings we're performing at the time when we're speaking them.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

An Island. An Example.

A good long while ago I published an article on this blog about how democracy works in relation to population size - EU Discussion: Limits on the Sizes of Democracies

This post is kind of a follow up, using an example to illustrate some of the other factors that can influence the size and shape of a democracy.

Overview..

To give a brief overview of the previous article. I essentially stated that democracy is limited by the number of people you can fit into a room. For example, let's say we have a small village of 500 people. Everyone in the village can go to the village hall, express their opinion and vote on any issues arising. Essentially they can represent themselves.

However, once you have more than say 1000 people it becomes effectively impossible to do that. There are only so many people you can fit into a single debating chamber before it becomes difficult for everyone to be heard and to have their say. It becomes impractical. Plus, on top of this, there are only so many hours in a day. So there's simply not enough time to hear everyone speak. Nor time to have thousands of people voting on every single issue of debate.

It's at this point that we need representational democracy, where instead of representing ourselves in a parliament we vote for someone else to represent us on our behalf. This in of itself is a dilution of the democratic process. We no longer get our own personal direct say on every issue. It also may be the case that we end up being represented by a person who doesn't share our particular view. For instance, you may vote for a Labour candidate, but end up being represented by a Conservative one. Still, though it is a dilution of the process, it's nevertheless the only real practical way of making any democracy work ..any democracy that's bigger than village-size that is.

How much our own individual power is diluted in a representational democracy then depends on how large that democracy is. If a politician represents 1000 constituents they're representing you and 999 other people. As well as themselves of course (!) . If they represent 100,000 constituents they're representing you and 99,999 other people. So once again, practicalities come in to it. There are only so many hours in a day, so there are only so many issues and people a politician can respond to. There's much more chance your elected politician will read your letter or email, or even meet you in person, if they're only representing 1000 people than there is if they're representing 100,000 people.

It's much like hiring a lawyer. If you hire someone who can devote all their time to you they will be able to adequately represent you. However, if you're just one of a multitude of clients they may only be able to devote a small fraction of their time to your case.

Of course, in counterbalance to this, there are obvious benefits to being part of a large country or political body as well. Such as the economic and military might that larger countries or unions can call upon. Which may outweigh the fact that you're less well represented politically. Or a smaller fish in a bigger pond so to speak. Also, more politicians per person means more politicians to pay a salary to, and more cost to you the taxpayer. So there are arguments to be made both ways.

Ultimately it's a personal judgement whether you feel the positives outweigh the negatives. The cumulative effect of all these individual judgements in a country then being the ultimate decider on whether things are satisfactory or not. The general feeling or view of the demos.

..I said "brief overview", I may as well have just re-written the whole article again :)

An Island

Anyway, onto the article. There are some pictures here, so hopefully it won't be quite as text heavy.

I'll be using the example below to highlight how natural geographic features can help to shape democracies (or countries in general, democratic or otherwise). Placing, like the village hall example, practical limitations on how democracies can function. It's all pretty obvious stuff really, but simple examples can help us to see these simple things a little easier.

Let's imagine an island;

(some incredible artwork here)

Now on this imaginary island there are 80m people. Who all speak Spanish. Given this situation it would probably make sense for this body of people to govern themselves as a single democracy or country. It would be practical to do this.

However, let's now imagine the island slightly differently;

(they're supposed to be mountains)

There are still 80m people ..but now there is a huge mountain range cutting the island in half. On one side of which there are 50m people who speak Spanish. On the other, 30m people who speak French.

Now in this situation it would make sense for the Spanish speakers on the one side to govern themselves as their own separate country. And for the French speakers on the other to likewise govern themselves separately. Otherwise it would mean that a parliament on the French side would be governing the Spanish side, or vice versa. With the physical barrier of a mountain range, and also a language barrier, separating government from the governed. Putting practical limitations on the effectiveness of the representation.

Now, of course, this doesn't mean that both groups couldn't exist as a single country or political entity. That's still perfectly possible and realistic. However, it would be reasonable for each side to have self-government if they so wanted it. If they felt the benefits of self-governance outweighed the benefits of being part of the wider political body.

The only way to then decide such a thing would be through the ballot box. A referendum, or some other democratic process, which would discern the will of the people in that particular area. Then set them, in a gradual and orderly way, upon their chosen path.

A real world example..

An example from the real world (apart from the endless Brexit that is) is the Northern Ireland issue. The problem here is that two of these natural factors clash. Looking at the island of Ireland geographically it makes intuitive sense that it should be governed as a single country. I think this is perhaps the main reason why most people removed from the issue sympathise more with those wanting to give Northern Ireland "back to the Irish". When looking at the map, as with the above pre-mountain imaginary island, it just makes sense to see Ireland as a single entity. The political view follows on naturally from the geography.

However, there is also the cultural factor. Which is harder for outsiders to see and understand. The Protestant/Catholic divide, similar to a language divide, which historically and culturally shapes the island. So we have this huge clash.

Once again, the only decent way to proceed is through the ballot box. If the people of Northern Ireland vote to remain separate that must be respected. There is no better or fairer way of deciding. However, democracy never stops. So those on the other side of the argument are free to try to persuade a majority of the Northern Irish people to think otherwise. If one day they succeed any such vote must also be respected.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Civilisation Judas - The Mother vs The State

**A finished version of this book is now available on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback format - www.amazon.co.uk / www.amazon.com **


---
Civilisation Judas - Chapter 10 - The Mother vs The State

The last chapter focused on the male archetype in Christianity. Here we look at the female aspect. Given the power and prominence of the Mary figures in Christian iconography, particularly the classic image of the Virgin Mary, it's worth first of all noting how relatively minor their roles are in the New Testament in comparison to that of Jesus. The four gospel texts, as expected, are dominated by the story of Christ, with the various female figures playing important, but supporting roles. Likewise the Acts of the Apostles and the various Epistles give little mention of the Mary figures, and are dominated by males, such as Paul and Peter. Who in turn speak heavily of Christ himself. However, in contrast to this, in Christian artwork and iconography both the Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene appear almost on an equal billing with Christ himself. Expanding, in spite of their lesser game time in the New Testament, to reach parity in the wider cultural landscape. Vastly outshining all the other male figures with the exception of Jesus himself. So it seems the archetype is much bigger than the text alone would allow. Perhaps filling a natural need for such a companion female archetype in our collective psyche.

It's also worth noting just how many Marys appear in the New Testament. As well as Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Jesus, we also have Mary of Bethany, Mary of Rome, Mary of Clopas, Mary mother of James, and Mary mother of John Mark. I would argue that the reason for this bevy of Marys is the confusion over the name Mary itself. My view being that all these Marys are simply echoes of the same female archetype. The mother figure. Either that or that the name is simply a title rather than a given name. For example, take the modern title mrs - someone not familiar with this term, on coming across several mentions of women titled as such, would maybe assume that mrs is actually their given name rather than simply a title common to all married women. Again, this serves as another example of how history can easily become confused and mistranslated.

The name Mary is very similar to the word marry, and I would suggest that the title Mary probably just signifies a married woman. In this regard it would make much more sense of the names given to both Mary Magdalene and the Virgin Mary. Virgin Mary would quite literally translate as married virgin. This would help to explain the story of the supposed "virgin birth". The mother of Jesus being not a virgin who gave birth, but rather a virgin who got married and then gave birth. Likewise the name Mary Magdalene would render similarly. Magdalene is generally thought to derive from Magdala - a settlement on the Sea of Galilee where Mary was thought to hail from. A name which in turn is generally said to derive from the Hebrew word migdál  ( מגדל ) meaning tower. However, a variant of the name Magdalene is Madeleine, and in German this means "little girl" (mädelein). It's also very similar to the word maid or maiden. So we could speculate that Magdalene simply means maiden. Which would then give the name Mary Magdalene the meaning of married maiden. Another identical concept. We also have the motif from history of the maiden locked in a tower. Common to fairy tales and ideas of marriage and chastity. So the double meaning of tower and maiden could have a deeper overlap in that sense too.

Interestingly, these Mary names are also very similar to the name Maid Marian. Another traditional female figure from history. Likewise associated with similar concepts. In her case May Day ceremonies and marriage rites. Again, her name could be similarly rendered as simply denoting a maid marrying. In fact, along with all the various Marys in the New Testament we also have the figure of Martha, the sister of Lazarus. With her name sounding very similar to the word mother. So it would seem that in the New Testament traditions we simply see a repeating, archetypal theme.

Incidentally, we also have another Jesus duplicate in the New Testament in the person of Barabbas, a criminal set to be crucified alongside Jesus. Who was then released by Pontius Pilate. The name Barabbas is said to translate as "son of the father", which has clear echoes of the "son of God" or "son of man" epithet often used in reference to Jesus. In some early gospel manuscripts his full name is even given as Jesus Barabbas. It's almost as if multiple folk traditions regarding these archetypal male and female characters have been amalgamated into one over-arching canon of work. Leading to numerous duplicates and inconsistencies.

Returning to Maid Marian and the various Mary figures it's also striking that the "M" sound is so common in all these names. The sound of the letter "M" is made by simply opening and closing the mouth, and as a consequence of this we have many onomatopoeic words associated with eating - something that naturally involves the opening and closing of the mouth of course. Words such as "Mmm", "chomp" or the text speak favourite "nom". We also have words like mouth and milk. This all perhaps helps to explain the almost universal use of this sound in words signifying mother. As in mam, mummy, mater, madre, etc. We also have the similarly derived word mammary. So it makes sense that words containing this "M" sound would be associated with feeding and nourishment, and that likewise they'd be used for names signifying the female archetype in wider culture. It's also of interest that the word mermaid, another traditional female figure - often shown bare-breasted in folk art - similarly contains this double "M" sound. A name which is likewise a compound comprising of the mer/marry and maid components of the aforementioned Mary names.

The double "M" sound is also quite common in popular culture. For example, names such as Marilyn Monroe or Mickey Mouse. We also have the now ubiquitous word meme. It appears equally significant in eastern cultures too. Such as the famed "Om" sound utilised during sessions of meditation, and considered sacred in religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism. We also see the sound appearing in the titles used for religious leaders. Such as the Sanskrit Mahatma, meaning "Great Soul", or the Muslim title Imam. In fact, in Islam there seems to be an abundance of these "M" words. Muhammad, Muslim, Mecca, Medina, variants on the name Muhammad, such as Ahmed and Mahmud. The word Islam itself.

In Jewish history we have the noted medieval scholar Maimonides, who also has a name containing this double "M" sound. Or triple if you consider his full name; Moses ben Maimon. The biblical Moses of course is another towering religious figure whose name possesses the sound. In more modern times we even have the Mormons - an appellation that once again contains this repeating "M" sound. Not forgetting the word mammon too, meaning wealth or money - the milk of economic life. It may be that all these various words are so common simply because they sound pleasing to the ear, and so therefore get repeatedly used. Which in turn perhaps stems from the positive and comforting feelings we naturally associate the sound with from motherhood and breastfeeding.

Going back to the Virgin Mary, or Madonna - another "M" name, we can see that her iconic image also imbibes feelings of comfort and reassurance. The similar connotations of motherhood and breastfeeding being obvious. There's generally a natural and familiar beauty to her depictions. As there often is with the various other "mother" figures from tradition and culture. Again no doubt because of the natural associations they come with. It's an image we can all intuitively relate to. The image of the mother is the image of our own mother. No image or symbol can induce greater empathy in us. The symbol of the mother with child is in many ways the anchor of all human culture. Childbirth the natural cornerstone of all human society. Consequently the symbol of the mother and child is a powerful and emotive image. The image at the heart of family life, at the very heart of society.

The importance of the mother/child relationship, both symbolically and in actuality, brings me to the final focus of this chapter, and of this book. Namely the battle for custodianship of the child between nature (the mother) and civilisation (the state or social order). This is perhaps the key battleground and deciding conflict regarding the ultimate fate of society. Yet one that is generally missed when people contemplate the progress and aims of civilisation.

What's all too often overlooked by adults with their adult concerns is the life allotted to children in civilisation. Particularly in the school system, or the various other institutions of state or social care. It could be said that in many ways the state or school system removing a child from its mother is the very apotheosis of civilisation. The state, its rules and sophistication intruding into the most sacred and natural area of human life. Severing and overpowering the foundational bond that the entire social family rests upon.

School - the educator, the civiliser - yet also the jailer and suppressor of the child and its natural impulses. This lack of freedom children have in regard school is symptomatic of the wider lack of freedom civilisation has brought to all humanity. That stress of civilised living mentioned earlier. The stress which sometimes drives adults to walk away into homelessness, or to dream of some secluded desert island far away from it all, is not spared the child. In fact, the workaday week adults endure is imposed upon children in perfect imitation, specifically to prepare and subdue them into this adult life that awaits. The hours of a child's life not valued by the child's enjoyment of them, but by the value they have as a commodity to be used by civilisation, to further civilisation.

This may all sound a little overdramatic or grandiose, a bit of an exaggeration perhaps, but deep down we know it to be true. If we stop, ponder for a moment ..and remember. That feeling on a Sunday night before school. We can all recollect it quite easily. It still lingers upon our Sunday evenings in ghostly form even now. Yet we consciously forget it, push it to the back of our mind and just decide to accept it as an unavoidable part of life. That it probably wasn't really as bad as we remember it. That it's perfectly acceptable and normal that all later generations must also live through this. Yet deep down, when we pause, it's still profoundly vivid. You enjoyed the Friday night. A sheer relief; no more school this week. Enjoyed the Saturday ..but then, as Sunday evening crept forward. That feeling. "I'm back at school tomorrow." Five solid days of school, then just two days break. One of which being a Sunday ruined by the dread of the following Monday to Friday.

As a child you questioned why it had to be like this. Why five days out of seven? Who decided this? Why such an imbalance between freedom and work? But by adulthood it just gets accepted as a fact of life. Much like how the rent and mortgage mentioned in earlier chapters is also deemed a fact of life by everyone. Everyone that is, except those born outside of civilisation.

So, is this just the price of civilisation? Does there really have to be this trade off between freedom and civilised living. Is it not beyond the will of man to create a civilised world that also acts in harmony with our nature? That allows us to avoid such dread and anxiety. Giving true individual freedom, but with all the benefits of human advancement too. Perhaps it's the destiny of civilisation to redeem this situation by marrying nature and progress together to create something with the best aspects of both?

Looking more specifically at education, in Chapter Eight we briefly mentioned how literacy is more a consequence of access to technology than access to formal education. You may remember the mobile phone example. No one requires hours sat in formal school lessons to master the use of a mobile phone ..or a laptop, or a tablet, etc. Though such things can sometimes be quite complicated to use all people really require is access to the technology itself, and a desire to use it. Given this each person will then in turn learn to use the technology to meet their own particular needs. For example, one person may simply want to use a mobile phone to make basic calls and receive texts. Consequently they'll learn only to the most basic level. Another may want to do all manner of things, from gaming to god knows what else, and as a consequence may become quite an expert in the art. It's a completely organic process. Some may learn quickly, some will have more difficulties. Some at times may need the help and guidance of others. In essence, the tech literacy across society has just sort of happened - without the need for any form of structured education. It would therefore be silly, time-consuming and maybe even counter-productive to force everyone to sit through a formal education on such topics.

Such an imposed formalisation of the education process would also lead to a severe lack of enjoyment. The people with little enthusiasm for using mobile phones would not enjoy being forced to sit in a room and suffer the torture even more so. Likewise the more tech-savvy would resent having to endure the slow pace and formality of dull, compulsory lessons.

I would speculate that it was much the same with the advent of the printing press. Once such mass production made books and other reading material available to a wider section of the population the literacy took care of itself. People wanted to read. They wanted to use and enjoy this new technology. So they learnt in a similar organic way. Choosing to freely buy, borrow and share such books and pamphlets, and choosing to educate themselves in how to read and take advantage of such new developments in technology. This is perhaps why we tend to find literacy in towns and cities, and illiteracy in more rural areas. People in rural areas simply having less access to the technology. Again that dichotomy of civilisation and wilderness.

The school system often takes credit for the overall rise of literacy. However, I would proffer the argument that literacy is largely a consequence of access to technology and interaction with other people that are using it. Therefore the school system is just an organised state or civil management of an already existing occurrence. The school system is not education itself, but rather the regulation of education. Education is something that happens naturally. It would no doubt be much more effective if this was recognised.

It's also worth noting that the human mind works effectively not just by remembering, but also by forgetting. We remember the important things and forget the unimportant. It's not much use remembering every pattern in the clouds you've ever seen. Or every single blade of grass you've ever stepped over. You may have walked past your next door neighbour's front door everyday for the last ten years, but may still not recall the colour of it when asked. This is not because of some failing of the mind or memory, but because the colour of the front door isn't important ..unless you have a particular interest in front doors that is.

We tend to remember important things that we need to know - like how to tie our shoe laces, or the route from our home to school or work. We likewise tend to remember things that we have an emotional investment in, or a passion for. Such as the eye colour of the person we fall in love with, or our favourite piece of art or music. Anything that isn't valuable to us in one of these ways tends to get cast aside. This is why a schoolchild may have an encyclopedic knowledge of their favourite pop star or football team. Yet at the same time completely fail to remember what you've just been trying to impart to them regarding Henry VIII or the Battle of Hastings. It's all just information, but they have no everyday use for the information you're imposing on them, nor a passion for it. So very little sticks.

This is why the average person leaves school with basic maths, basic English and very little else. They need the basic maths and English to function in everyday civilised life - and both are things they would have learnt anyway to some degree completely regardless of schooling. The rest is just fluff.

Basic mathematics and numeracy is needed for such everyday things as using cash or telling the time. This is why virtually everyone in the civilised world can do maths to the basic level needed to get the shopping done or understand the times in the TV guide. As learning how to do these things has a practical use. In fact, in regard more complex mathematics, such as Pythagoras' theorem for example, you'll often hear children complain to their teachers; "..but when will we ever need to know this in real life?". The teachers will sigh in despair, but it's a perfectly sensible question to ask. Most people will never use such mathematics in their normal everyday life. Consequently most, intuitively understanding this, will never learn it in school, no matter how long you sit them down for in a classroom trying. The ones that do learn either having a natural aptitude and/or a genuine passion for the subject.

It's the same with reading and writing. Basic English is obviously needed to read letters, newspapers, signs, menus, to communicate with others, and so on and so forth. You need it to function in civilised society. It's therefore desirable and useful for a person to learn how to do this. Just as when you go to live in a foreign country you need to learn to speak, read and write the language in order to function and thrive there.

In fact, the learning of foreign languages is a good example to use to highlight the failure and pointlessness of formal education. Pupils spend hours every week in schools learning French or German, or whatever the preferred language of the state syllabus is. For instance, in Britain we tend to learn French at school. With successive generations each spending hours and hours of their life, as well as countless pounds of taxpayer's money, in this quest to make British people fluent speakers of French. However, in spite of all this time and money and effort almost every British person who has been through this process isn't fluent in French. Not even close. Again, most people leave school with very little. In spite of perhaps five years of solid French lessons they leave with just bonjour, au revoir, the French numbers one to twenty, and perhaps if they were really clever a few lines asking which way to the bakery. Basically the bits they learnt in the first few weeks of French lessons before the fun and novelty wore off. Again, that passion thing. The importance of having a genuine interest or enjoyment in something.

In stark comparison we can see that if a British child goes with their family to actually live and settle in France they will soon pick up the language - because they have to - i.e. it becomes useful for them to do so. When you think about this it makes perfect sense. It's how a mind is supposed to function. What is the point in learning French if you don't regularly interact with French speakers? Or again, if you don't have a genuine passion for French language and culture.

Taking note of this we can therefore see that it's largely pointless trying to teach people things they have no need or desire to learn. It's fruitless trying to beat nature. Reading a book can be very rewarding, but no one enjoys reading a book they're forced to sit and read. Nor will they absorb much information from it under such circumstances. Therefore it stands to reason that if there was more freedom for children (and for adults) they would become much happier ..and by extension much brighter. However, civilisation's desire to regulate human life doesn't allow for this. So we only ever see increasing management.

It's the uprooting of the child from the mother, or rather the failure to appreciate the importance of this bond between mother and child, that is in large part responsible for this onward creep towards human management. The obvious remedy would be a return to the veneration of the mother and child. Not necessarily in a religious sense, but at least in a way that reminds society of the sheer importance of this relationship. That makes sure civilisation remains rooted in the needs of the people, particularly the needs of its children. Rather than rooting the child in the needs of civilisation. A mother naturally wants happiness for her child. The state snatching the child from the mother, or overruling the authority of the mother, is therefore in many ways the ultimate rejection of, or act against nature. When we allow ourselves to forget this misery ensues.

Today we find ourselves in an age where parents are threatened with legal action for daring to take their child out of school for a week of holiday. The state decides what's best for the child and the parent must reluctantly follow. Many parents in response now want to homeschool their children, but again the constraints of work and civilisation itself make this difficult. If not impossible. With even those parents in a position to do so still having to be under the watchful eye of the state, following the state curriculum. In a truly free society parents would be able to choose the hours their child spends at school or the curriculum they follow - after all they are the ones that are paying for it.

Surely it's not beyond us to make school more flexible. If a parent, remembering the misery of those long school days and weeks, decides that their child would be happier spending less time in school, then why is that not possible? It would also be perfect for parents wanting to homeschool, but not having the opportunity because of work constraints. They could, for example, send their child to school on the days/mornings/afternoons when they work, then homeschool when they have free time. Currently the only choice available is to homeschool - if they even have that option - separating their child completely from interaction with other school children. Or to subject their child to the complete full force of the state. With no way of mitigating against its effects or excesses. Even a wholesome family holiday during school term is forbidden.

Finally, as well as that feeling on a Sunday evening before school there's also another familiar feeling from childhood that's worth remembering - that feeling we had at the beginning of the summer holidays. Those seemingly endless summers are for many people the happiest times of their life. Their fondest memories. It was such a happy time because it was free time. Not to mention the beautiful weather of course. You knew that for a full six weeks there was no school. Complete freedom. No constraints or compulsion. A heady carefree feeling of abandon that was only dampened in the final few weeks when you realised that school would soon be back upon you, and that your days of freedom were dwindling away. In fact, that day in the final week where your parents took you to get your new school uniform was especially depressing. Wasting a precious day off school, getting something needed for school, which in turn reminded you of school.

The summer holidays are generally the one time in life people taste real freedom. No worries, no clock watching. Real happiness. Sadly however, in the civilisation we've created even children only get six weeks of that freedom a year. With the odd other free week or two separating the endless grind at a few other points in the calendar. Why can't life always be like those summers? If not for adults then at least for children before they enter adulthood. Why has civilisation resulted in so little freedom? So little freedom for everyone, from the top to the bottom. Such a limited taste of that feeling. It makes little sense on face value. Imagine if we had more of it. Surely it must be the aim of civilisation to build that into existence, and to make civilisation work in the interests of increasing that feeling. Not just in the interest of increasing civilisation for the sake of civilisation.

We mentioned earlier in the book the word cultured in regard this civilising effect, and its relative meaning; to cultivate. Maybe the end goal of this quest to civilise the world is to create a garden paradise in some way, a tailored version of nature. Where civilisation enhances our experience of nature, instead of severing us from it. Maybe to refind the Garden of Eden in some sense even. To tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world. [1] That freedom, and those feelings, perhaps should be the very fruits of civilisation.



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Notes/references.

[1] This line was famously spoken by Senator Robert F. Kennedy in his speech on the night of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

"My favourite poet was Aeschylus. And he once wrote: 'Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.' What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness; but is love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black ..Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world."

The Aeschylus passage he quotes is from the play Agamemnon, as translated by the writer Edith Hamilton.