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Since War on the Rocks is determined to hash this one out, I'd like to start a thread on women in the armed forces.

 

First, though, a disclaimer: I am very fond of argument by absurdity. Not because it is a great way to prove a point or convince people (it isn't), but because it is a great way to expose the underlying assumptions leading into a particular stance on a topic and where they bend/break.

 

Further, I (don't think I am) on either of the sides that seem to have sprung up around this debate. Rather, my view is that what you want going in should determine what you argue for. I get very annoyed at people who profess to want one thing and build up arguments around it, but limit the scope/conclusions of their arguments in such a way that they reveal another agenda. I'm very naively anti-hypocrisy, in other words.

 

With that out of the way, on with the show!

 

One of the things that often gets raised when the subject teh womyn in teh army comes up is how this will inevitably dilute standards or ruin unit cohesion. While these do have merit, and deserve to be discussed as such, I often find the argument disingenuous. As I'm more focused on standards (and WoTR has done the cohesion debate to death) I will deal with this aspect first and wait to see what people want to discuss later.

 

One of the underlying arguments of this approach is the idea of efficiency. I'm going to run with this, because the implications are interesting and I've already warned you all about my approach to argument.

 

Since I'm now stumping for efficiency, it pays to examine what men and women bring to the table. Men are stronger, of course - not only in absolute terms but also in relative terms. Upper body strength, especially, is where dudes are always going to have an edge on ladies. However, once you account for size and body mass differences, a lot of the other differences go away. Similarly, tests for things like G-tolerance tend to point to gross physical factors rather than gender per se. Of course, gender is well-correlated with specific gross physical factors.Turning to intelligence and psychology, the general consensus seems to be that intelligence is the same while men get the lion's share of issues relating to autism, suicide and aggression. With education the data is murky but seems to show a general trend towards higher literacy in women; with learning disabilities and a slight advantage in maths being for men. Women also have a known tendency to become the majority of students in tertiary institutions, leading to a rebuttable assumption that being female provides some sort of general socio-biological advantage in education.

 

So where does this leave us? Obviously, in cases where more overall and upper body strength is needed, then men will be -on average- better at doing whatever it is that you need upper body strength for. Where compact dimensions, ability to withstand G-loading and ease of education are needed, then women should be your first pick. We can, of course, take this further, assuming you don't mind generalising: African Americans are much more likely to respond well to strength and endurance conditioning, white Americans are much more likely to have terribly eyesight, Americans in general are more likely to be morbidly obese and so on.

 

Here, the cold-eyed proponent of military efficiency must draw up a roster of those best suited for their roles: men (preferably African American) in the infantry and anything involving grunt work (hauling ordinance, maintenance in places where mechanical advantage and power tools are considered outré and so forth). Women on the other hand, should be first pick for combat aircraft, tanks and anything involving a modicum of education. With rigorous screening and a suitably discrete task:gender/race list, it is assumed that maximum combat efficiency can be achieved.

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For fighter jocks, I would imagine that they don't really care what they get; they're just pleased as pie when anyone actually manages to pass the selection.  

Ditto SF or anything else highly selective.

 

You won't need to discriminate by race/sex/whatever, but it will look like you did once you're done with the selection process.

 

Now, you'd think, no big deal, right?  Certain jobs have certain requirements that will predispose certain groups of humans to excel at them.  Additionally, people tend to associate mostly with people who are broadly demographically similar to them, so certain jobs may have a preponderance of this or that demographic because of something analogous to founder effect (like back in the day bricklayers in the USA were largely black).  But oh my god can you get into trouble in the USA if you actually hire like that.

 

An example from the company I work at; FedEx paid 3 million to make a discrimination suit go away.  If you read the text of the article, it reveals that there weren't even any complaints from employees; the Department of Labor essentially number-crunched FedEx's employee rosters, determined they were significantly non-representative (according to their own, unaccountable metrics), and then shook them down for the lucre.

 

Money quote:

 

 

 

She said women also faced discrimination and were sometimes automatically ruled out for posts requiring the lifting of heavy objects.

 

WELL NO SHIT.  The cutoff weight limit for packages shipped via FedEx Ground and FedEx Home is 150 pounds, but customers routinely dodge this (if I see a package labeled "149 lbs" I know it's a lie).  How many women can lift 150 pound, irregularly shaped objects from the ground to waist height to the tune of one every twenty seconds, as required by the productivity metrics?  I've known a few.  A few.  There was a US Army physical fitness report that was quite extensive a few years back.  The summary of it was that an average American woman in her mid twenties is similar in overall physical condition to an average American man in his fifties.  How many fifty year old men do you know who can lift 150 pounds from ground to waist level every 20 seconds?  Again, a few.

 

I don't know enough about the racial discrimination charges, particularly the DOL's statistical practices, to comment on those.  The sexual discrimination side of things is clearly a shakedown, however.  So, for the military, who have pre-existing right to discriminate against having women accepted into certain roles a priori, it makes sense for them to hold on to those rights to discriminate by any means necessary (the disingenuous argumentation you mention earlier) so they don't have to put up with this nonsense.  To keep women out of combat postings entirely, all they have to do is survive a grilling in congress every few years.  If they let them in, they're opening themselves up to all sorts of lawsuits.

 

Incidentally, ISTR that women have slower reaction times on average, and there are also significant differences between the sexes in visual post-processing which could conceivably mitigate women's advantages as fighter pilots. 

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If I remember, the Israelis had co-ed infantry all the way back in their earliest fights, and they couldn't get rid of it soon enough. The reason was that the men would take mindbogglingly stupid risks to protect the women and that did damage combat effectiveness. If I remember right, the women performed fine. The question is how much stuff the soldiers are getting loaded down with.

 

Regarding the rest, differences between races aren't really that huge, and differences between individuals are larger. There are plenty of people of all races with the right build and disposition for being infantry and even more without those traits. Finding the people with the best physical and mental traits for a given job should be more important than digging out the junior phrenologist's kit.

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If I had an argument for this issue, it would be based around not tearing down established culture for the sake of appeasing Satan doing so. Sacrificing men to defend women is the way our society has worked for thousands of years, and I don't see any compelling reason to go through all the pain and agony of a cultural shakedown just to change that. Interestingly, the thong-biters have decided to scour the concepts of glory and honor first, leaving men a bunch of listless, disenfranchised layabouts, since that was the justification for them doing anything in the first place.

So one wouldn't send a woman into combat except as a last resort, just the same as one wouldn't gobble down the afterbirth of their firstborn child as a rite of vitality and long life. Our culture doesn't accept that, and it's nobody's business to tear down what's already been built and isn't broken.

If I had an argument, I said. I don't, because I too ride this suicide-sled of ancestors' bones down the great crumbling hill of progress, just like everyone else.

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Last I checked the world isn't gallant knights engaging in honorable combat anymore. It's multitrillion dollar systems of thousands of people squaring off and killing each other no matter how dirty or nasty the means. Glory and Honor died riddled with bullets and splinters somewhere in France a hundred years ago.

 

Militaries reflect the societies they spring from, and a highly technical society has to use the mental gifts of all its members to maintain a technological lead, and that technological lead wins the wars that are worth fighting. As time goes on, more and more highly educated specialists are going to be needed, and frankly it's much more worthwhile wondering about how we're going to produce the people to make the absolute most out of things like a combined force of Air Force and Navy assets projecting force. The strategic goals of the US or even the entire world aren't served by us being a little bit better at having our infantry shooting the people we're notionally trying to help, when the fact that we're doing that is just causing more problems than it ever solved in the first place, and to get them there we're sacrificing our ability to hang over local disputes like the sword of damocles and keep the world playing by the rules we choose. It doesn't make sense from a bleeding-heart perspective and it doesn't make sense from a steely eyed imperialist perspective. If you brought Disraeli here and told him that we sacrificed our two-power criteria to pour blood and money into a godforsaken sandbox just to break things even more he'd know for certain the future's gone irrevocably mad.

 

The way of the future is a society where the intellectual capabilities of as many members as possible are used to create as sophisticated an economy as possible, and use that strength to provide a powerful military. I mean unless you for some reason think the Imperial Japanese military is something to aspire to. Focusing on the aptitude of the individual soldier to combat rather than the fitness of the overall military machine is the thinking of failed racist states like Imperial Japan, Nazi Germany and the Confederacy trying to pretend that being on the back end of serious technological development is okay, because they're totally going to kick the butts of those effete pluralistic weaklings because of the strength of their traditional values.

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Last I checked the world isn't gallant knights engaging in honorable combat anymore. It's multitrillion dollar systems of thousands of people squaring off and killing each other no matter how dirty or nasty the means. Glory and Honor died riddled with bullets and splinters somewhere in France a hundred years ago.

 

Militaries reflect the societies they spring from, and a highly technical society has to use the mental gifts of all its members to maintain a technological lead, and that technological lead wins the wars that are worth fighting. As time goes on, more and more highly educated specialists are going to be needed, and frankly it's much more worthwhile wondering about how we're going to produce the people to make the absolute most out of things like a combined force of Air Force and Navy assets projecting force. The strategic goals of the US or even the entire world aren't served by us being a little bit better at having our infantry shooting the people we're notionally trying to help, when the fact that we're doing that is just causing more problems than it ever solved in the first place, and to get them there we're sacrificing our ability to hang over local disputes like the sword of damocles and keep the world playing by the rules we choose. It doesn't make sense from a bleeding-heart perspective and it doesn't make sense from a steely eyed imperialist perspective. If you brought Disraeli here and told him that we sacrificed our two-power criteria to pour blood and money into a godforsaken sandbox just to break things even more he'd know for certain the future's gone irrevocably mad.

 

The way of the future is a society where the intellectual capabilities of as many members as possible are used to create as sophisticated an economy as possible, and use that strength to provide a powerful military. I mean unless you for some reason think the Imperial Japanese military is something to aspire to. Focusing on the aptitude of the individual soldier to combat rather than the fitness of the overall military machine is the thinking of failed racist states like Imperial Japan, Nazi Germany and the Confederacy trying to pretend that being on the back end of serious technological development is okay, because they're totally going to kick the butts of those effete pluralistic weaklings because of the strength of their traditional values.

 

I do not really like this post. I think it has a significant fallacious element (e.g., you seem to be equating what I said with some kind of Republican, Bush-era, adventurism), and it doesn't betray any evidence that you actually read what I wrote.

So I am going to encourage you to re-write it, if you would, for clarity and conciseness.

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I do not really like this post. I think it has a significant fallacious element (e.g., you seem to be equating what I said with some kind of Republican, Bush-era, adventurism), and it doesn't betray any evidence that you actually read what I wrote.

So I am going to encourage you to re-write it, if you would, for clarity and conciseness.

 

I'm not equating what you said with that sort of adventurism so much as saying that emphasizing the virtues that might lead to strong manly men who make tough, hardy infantry is not a position that has historically held up well in combat past the middle of the 1800s and certainly hasn't since the days of modern industrial warfare, and that if anything the traditional values are not particularly consistent with a powerful modern military and most certainly are not consistent with a powerful military for the expressed goals of the US military and their overall strategic posture.

 

We live in a very different world from when those values were codified. We've seen huge economic gains by making women part of the workforce, which has significantly increased our per-capita productivity and doubled the number of people whose minds we can potentially put into jobs that require smart, well educated people, but that requires a different social dynamic. The society that has a highly trained and capable combined arms team with the best technology may not be the society with the toughest and most inured to hardship infantry, but in wars between superpowers, the former is far more likely to matter.

 

Were you to have had the argument along the lines you mentioned, I'd say the cultural shakedown has already happened, and the proposed benefit of traditional values are in the section of the military least useful to the battles we should be fighting, where dollars and trade policy are the first and most potent weapon, and trillions of dollars of machines would be the go to in case we had to choose between losing and losing badly.

 

Edit: remember that I always argue from the perspective where the first question when some system isn't doing as well as you'd like is whether it's necessary, and the first question when a change is proposed is whether it will damage other more important systems, so discussions of combat effectiveness will lead to analysis from the perspective of US defense policy.

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I'm not equating what you said with that sort of adventurism so much as saying that emphasizing the virtues that might lead to strong manly men who make tough, hardy infantry is not a position that has historically held up well in combat past the middle of the 1800s and certainly hasn't since the days of modern industrial warfare, and that if anything the traditional values are not particularly consistent with a powerful modern military and most certainly are not consistent with a powerful military for the expressed goals of the US military and their overall strategic posture.

 

We live in a very different world from when those values were codified. We've seen huge economic gains by making women part of the workforce, which has significantly increased our per-capita productivity and doubled the number of people whose minds we can potentially put into jobs that require smart, well educated people, but that requires a different social dynamic. The society that has a highly trained and capable combined arms team with the best technology may not be the society with the toughest and most inured to hardship infantry, but in wars between superpowers, the former is far more likely to matter.

 

Were you to have had the argument along the lines you mentioned, I'd say the cultural shakedown has already happened, and the proposed benefit of traditional values are in the section of the military least useful to the battles we should be fighting, where dollars and trade policy are the first and most potent weapon, and trillions of dollars of machines would be the go to in case we had to choose between losing and losing badly.

 

I did not say anything about infantry. You're making a Wellsian argument reminiscent of The Land Ironclads. This is entirely orthogonal to what I am saying.

Or what I would be saying, were there anything to say it about. We can agree that we're well past the point of any sort of traditional structure being around that is worth preserving.

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I am frustrated. I have mentioned something about tradition and its inherent worth; not a popular idea these days, now that everyone's carrying out of the house as much of value as they can hold. This is related to women in combat roles, but it doesn't say anything about their suitability or unsuitability to this role, as individual fighters.

Clearly, this doesn't really matter. Women may be less physically capable than men, but armies have done without before and still come out on top. That's irrelevant, though, if the argument you're making is that tradition is worth preserving.

And I'm not making that argument. The time for that sort of thing is behind us.

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Well, as many of you may know, my wife was in the PLA and later the PAP in "frontline" roles (though, the latter is more of a counter terrorist/military police unit contrary to what a certain retarded inbred on the wot forums thinks), so, yeah, listening to her has given me some insight on the topic even though she was never really bothered being with a vast majority of male peers.

 

I guess culturally, it's worked well (and still does) for some countries like the USSR/Russia, China, and Taiwan among others, but to be honest, this topic is kind of a mess so, while I don't really want to get into the mud slinging, I can talk about it in private I guess if you want to hear my sides and what I've heard.

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This topic is supposed to be a bit of a mess - it was posted in regards to what I see as surreal hand-wringing by the world's largest military over an issue that smaller militaries have dealt with (to one extend or another) already. 

 

As Colli and Donward point out, part of the problem is that the US has some really fucked up incentives when it comes to the politics of seeming rather than actually doing. When your social/legal system in general works to the benefit of the most litigatious and hysterical (and whitest, but another time) then any substantive changes are always going to be sabotaged by whiners on both sides.

 

What I object to is that some of the whiners are attempting to cloak their core argument with disingenuous logic. Per X's posts, you need to be willing to look at what works and tear the whole thing down if need be to get it.

 

This is where Sturgeon and I are fundamentally different: we both believe in maximisation of value/potential. But we have very different takes on the best approach to realise this.

 

In any case, just by being willing to talk about this stuff from fundamentals, I feel we're already ahead of the curve.

 

So, on with the show!

 

 

If I remember, the Israelis had co-ed infantry all the way back in their earliest fights, and they couldn't get rid of it soon enough. The reason was that the men would take mindbogglingly stupid risks to protect the women and that did damage combat effectiveness. If I remember right, the women performed fine. The question is how much stuff the soldiers are getting loaded down with.

 

Regarding the rest, differences between races aren't really that huge, and differences between individuals are larger. There are plenty of people of all races with the right build and disposition for being infantry and even more without those traits. Finding the people with the best physical and mental traits for a given job should be more important than digging out the junior phrenologist's kit.

Dealt with in the OP - link for the former and general disclaimer/trolling for the latter.

 

 

If I had an argument for this issue, it would be based around not tearing down established culture for the sake of appeasing Satan doing so. Sacrificing men to defend women is the way our society has worked for thousands of years, and I don't see any compelling reason to go through all the pain and agony of a cultural shakedown just to change that. Interestingly, the thong-biters have decided to scour the concepts of glory and honor first, leaving men a bunch of listless, disenfranchised layabouts, since that was the justification for them doing anything in the first place.

So one wouldn't send a woman into combat except as a last resort, just the same as one wouldn't gobble down the afterbirth of their firstborn child as a rite of vitality and long life. Our culture doesn't accept that, and it's nobody's business to tear down what's already been built and isn't broken.

If I had an argument, I said. I don't, because I too ride this suicide-sled of ancestors' bones down the great crumbling hill of progress, just like everyone else.

We've talked about this before, but I find it interesting where traditionalists draw the line at what constitutes a valid tradition. Some of our ancestors totally ate afterbirth, just as some of our more recent ones fully supported separate-but-equal. Picking a particular tradition over another is, in itself, an act of revisionism.

 

As to glory and honor, it wasn't women who scoured those from the face of the earth. It was empire and four years of industrialised slaughter at the beginning of the 20th century. The first world war killed these traditional values with the same ruthless efficiency that it killed the boys who held them.

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We've talked about this before, but I find it interesting where traditionalists draw the line at what constitutes a valid tradition. Some of our ancestors totally ate afterbirth, just as some of our more recent ones fully supported separate-but-equal. Picking a particular tradition over another is, in itself, an act of revisionism.

 

For the record, traditionalists =/= me.

 

Don't mistake the fact that I scowl and spit at the confusion of renovation and demolition for me being a "traditionalist". Societies should of course be constantly evolving, with old traditions dying off (maladaptive traditions hopefully dying off sooner - and it's right and true to help them along, of course) and new traditions being formed. That's the magnificence of culture, and I would have to be truly braindead to oppose it.

However, in our age of obfuscation it has become something of a recreational activity among latter-day dissenters to tear down everything they see, indiscriminately. This is anarchic, and I am nothing if not an anti-anarchist.

 

As to glory and honor, it wasn't women who scoured those from the face of the earth. It was empire and four years of industrialised slaughter at the beginning of the 20th century. The first world war killed these traditional values with the same ruthless efficiency that it killed the boys who held them.

 

I don't recall saying it was women.

I tend to disagree. I don't like this idea that somehow World War I was terrible like no other war before. C'mon, mate, give the past some credit - they had awful inglorious wars where men died by the cartload, too! Hell, any war - and all wars before the thirties were so - where more men die of disease than from (presumably glorious) combat is a pretty inglorious war. World War I was terrible, but it doesn't have a monopoly on being shitty.

So nope, don't buy it that World War I ended man's innocence about war. What innocence? Man has been fighting wars since we had tails.

I will grant that WWI surely did end the innocence about war for those who were aged 15-30 from 1914-1918, however.

Glory and honor still persisted though. Indeed, those two things can only persist if men (or women) are routinely expected to do terrible, awful things like fight wars. At some point, though, there was lost in educated circles an understanding that men had to do these terrible things for the perpetuance of society against its odds (and should attain glory and honor in doing so), and now we're reaping that harvest.

I don't mean to over-romaticize things... I talk about "glory" and "honor" and it's probably pushing everybody's buttons so hard it looks like I'm standing in a forest of lighted Christmas trees (sorry - Winter Holiday trees). But these are tools - virtual rewards for the socially-plugged-in monkey brains we all have, and they make sure that men keep doing what we need men to do.

Now, in the US, we're rapidly throwing our tools away ("we don't need them!" insist the thong-biters). And our teenage girls are running away crying at the sight of self-diagnosed "autistic" manchildren who like ponies. Unrelated, I'm sure.

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Dealt with in the OP - link for the former and general disclaimer/trolling for the latter.

 

Yeah, I was going for a joking tone on the second half, I've been pretty wiped out tired so my tone might not be pitch perfect today.

 

 

For the record, traditionalists =/= me.

 

Don't mistake the fact that I scowl and spit at the confusion of renovation and demolition for me being a "traditionalist". Societies should of course be constantly evolving, with old traditions dying off (maladaptive traditions hopefully dying off sooner - and it's right and true to help them along, of course) and new traditions being formed. That's the magnificence of culture, and I would have to be truly braindead to oppose it.

However, in our age of obfuscation it has become something of a recreational activity among latter-day dissenters to tear down everything they see, indiscriminately. This is anarchic, and I am nothing if not an anti-anarchist.

 

I personally feel like a clean sheet redesign for a considerable number of things would be a seriously good idea to give people a goal to migrate towards with an end in mind rather than adding new components in a situation where the effects on the whole can't properly be measured. Our systems have been evolving rather than being designed, and evolution is the basest form of "design". However, that leaves the question of what you base your design on, and that's where the experiences of the past are utterly vital. The things that work should be considered on that virtue as well as on the virtue of not requiring serious pain to implement since they're already in place.

 

 

I don't recall saying it was women.

I tend to disagree. I don't like this idea that somehow World War I was terrible like no other war before. C'mon, mate, give the past some credit - they had awful inglorious wars where men died by the cartload, too! Hell, any war - and all wars before the thirties were so - where more men die of disease than from (presumably glorious) combat is a pretty inglorious war. World War I was terrible, but it doesn't have a monopoly on being shitty.

So nope, don't buy it that World War I ended man's innocence about war. What innocence? Man has been fighting wars since we had tails.

I will grant that WWI surely did end the innocence about war for those who were aged 15-30 from 1914-1918, however.

Glory and honor still persisted though. Indeed, those two things can only persist if men (or women) are routinely expected to do terrible, awful things like fight wars. At some point, though, there was lost in educated circles an understanding that men had to do these terrible things for the perpetuance of society against its odds (and should attain glory and honor in doing so), and now we're reaping that harvest.

I don't mean to over-romaticize things... I talk about "glory" and "honor" and it's probably pushing everybody's buttons so hard it looks like I'm standing in a forest of lighted Christmas trees (sorry - Winter Holiday trees). But these are tools - virtual rewards for the socially-plugged-in monkey brains we all have, and they make sure that men keep doing what we need men to do.

Now, in the US, we're rapidly throwing our tools away ("we don't need them!" insist the thong-biters). And our teenage girls are running away crying at the sight of self-diagnosed "autistic" manchildren who like ponies. Unrelated, I'm sure.

 

I think the real thing was that WWI lasted a lot longer. The Franco-Prussian war was hideous, but after the French raised a few units of draftees and they got mulched, the war was basically over without widespread demographic damage. I don't really think it's an accident that the US was pretty keen on staying out of WWI, the ACW was an ugly slugfest in recent memory. The Napoleonic wars were nasty but they predated mass media so I don't think they'd be able to cement the horrors of war. Before that it's the 30 years' war and that's its own special brand of awful. WWI however, cost the British their empire and left France in terrible shape and they were the putative victors, and did this in a time of daily newspapers, and I think that's what gave it a disproportionate effect.

 

We've got the power to break things trivially, I feel the values we need are more the wisdom to know when and where to use that force because it's like pruning a tree with napalm.

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I personally feel like a clean sheet redesign for a considerable number of things would be a seriously good idea to give people a goal to migrate towards with an end in mind rather than adding new components in a situation where the effects on the whole can't properly be measured. Our systems have been evolving rather than being designed, and evolution is the basest form of "design". However, that leaves the question of what you base your design on, and that's where the experiences of the past are utterly vital. The things that work should be considered on that virtue as well as on the virtue of not requiring serious pain to implement since they're already in place.

 

You need a designer to do that; a good one. We just have agitators.

 

I think the real thing was that WWI lasted a lot longer. The Franco-Prussian war was hideous, but after the French raised a few units of draftees and they got mulched, the war was basically over without widespread demographic damage. I don't really think it's an accident that the US was pretty keen on staying out of WWI, the ACW was an ugly slugfest in recent memory. The Napoleonic wars were nasty but they predated mass media so I don't think they'd be able to cement the horrors of war. Before that it's the 30 years' war and that's its own special brand of awful. WWI however, cost the British their empire and left France in terrible shape and they were the putative victors, and did this in a time of daily newspapers, and I think that's what gave it a disproportionate effect.

 

We've got the power to break things trivially, I feel the values we need are more the wisdom to know when and where to use that force because it's like pruning a tree with napalm.

 

You're speaking about this organism of government as if it were some sort of higher-order primate. It's more like a slime mold.

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Thanks for the clarification, Sturgeon. My apologies for incorrectly interpreting 'thong biters'.

I do feel that WWI was different, as it was a) massive on a heretofore-unseen scale, B) involved industrialized societies, followed a century of peace in those societies and d) happened in the age of mass media at the nexus of media production.

One of the strange effects of mass communication has been the homogenisation and fixation of culture. A war like the great war, happening in the place it did to thr people it did is a great way to take overburnished ideas of manly virtue and smash them. We can see this just by comparing art and literature before and after the war.

As to autistic man children, I see that as a consequence of atomisation of culture due to more modern mass media, combined with an existing cultural focus on rights over duties and the conception of rights as inherent ideals rather than negotiated compromises. A pox on both your houses, basically.

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Thanks for the clarification, Sturgeon. My apologies for incorrectly interpreting 'thong biters'.

 

"Thong-biters" is a reference to Thomas Carlyle's line about cutting the straps that hold the devil restrained. Then, a "thong-biter" is someone who would see those straps cut, even if they have to use their teeth.

There's no need to apologize for misunderstandings on this forum, unless they result in some form of violence.  ;)

 

I do feel that WWI was different, as it was a) massive on a heretofore-unseen scale, B) involved industrialized societies, followed a century of peace in those societies and d) happened in the age of mass media at the nexus of media production.

One of the strange effects of mass communication has been the homogenisation and fixation of culture. A war like the great war, happening in the place it did to thr people it did is a great way to take overburnished ideas of manly virtue and smash them. We can see this just by comparing art and literature before and after the war.

 

So, I didn't intend to say that WWI wasn't special in any way; rather that I am annoyed at this idea that nobody ever came home from a war disillusioned with the ideas of glory and honor before. That's a common one, and it's just total BS. If you think I'm being unfair in pointing this at you, I would argue in my defense that from my perspective what you said is indissoluble with this.

Will World War I hold the same mystique when all those who fought in it are gone forever? I suspect it won't. Maybe it will be some other war that "ended innocence forever".

This is not to say or imply, of course, that nothing changed after World War I. That would be absurd.

 

As to autistic man children, I see that as a consequence of atomisation of culture due to more modern mass media, combined with an existing cultural focus on rights over duties and the conception of rights as inherent ideals rather than negotiated compromises. A pox on both your houses, basically.

 

It's easy to blame this on mass media. Yet, mass media didn't break up the extended home, and it didn't break up the nuclear family. Something else did.

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If I accept your argument, then I am tempted to blame that one on capitalism. More socialist countries seem to have had less issues retaining functional homes then ones that gleefully sucked up and then wasted the increased productivity provided by women entering the work force.

Speaking of productivity, I've been wanting to introduce the economic rationale into this debate. Will do so later...

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I tend to think that the "capitalism-socialism" dichotomy obfuscates things, without lending any sort of useful shorthand. For one thing, the "capitalist" United States is made up of a bunch of different federalized areas with their own sets of rules. Some states will be more "capitalist" and some will be more "socialist".

 

Moving on, I think while those two ideologies are very polarized against each other, that doesn't mean they're so far apart. It may be more useful to imagine them as two closely related brothers having a feud than anything else. So it wasn't "capitalism" that caused this, but our own special-as-apple-pie American brand of dissent that isn't actually that closely related to a certain economic model, and is not that far off from the socialist-realism-and-manifestos brand, either.
 

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I thought "thong biter" was a new cool-kid adjective for "carpet muncher", which would have made sense given the subject matter and the current - and hopefully fading - fad of personal grooming.

Now I have to creep up out of the gutter and educate myself on this "Thomas Carlyle".

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I thought "thong biter" was a new cool-kid adjective for "carpet muncher", which would have made sense given the subject matter and the current - and hopefully fading - fad of personal grooming.

Now I have to creep up out of the gutter and educate myself on this "Thomas Carlyle".

 

In that case, it would still be unisex, wouldn't it?

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