Monday, March 8, 2010

Several new posts and many links

Please visit my blog, On Prisons. I am shocked and saddened by what I have been learning the last few weeks about prisons and the millions of prisoners we have abandoned to them.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Is there a moral difference between Nazis and Communists?

I would say that Stalin and Hitler were equally evil. The Holocaust was hardly better or worse than the countless millions of landowners, Ukrainians, ordinary citizens, military officers and others who were starved to death, murdered or sent to gulags.

However, can we compare, instead, the ordinary Nazi versus the ordinary communist? Both were (or are) often motivated by misplaced ideals. Nazis were largely aware, and sometimes supportive, of the worst crimes of Hitler. Ordinary Wehrmacht members were often involved in gross murders in occupied lands. Many such soldiers were tasked with murderous activities and they wrote home about them. On the other hand, communists frequently distance themselves from the monster, Stalin, and repudiate his methods as not true communism.

As much as I disapprove of communism, I think that the ordinary Nazi in some ways was more evil than today's ordinary communist, but note that there were probably Nazis who themselves opposed (though probably quietly) Hitler's worst actions.

By the way, there were as many as 40 attempts on Hitler's life, but the most likely explanation for why they failed is that the would-be assassins usually tried to save their own lives. Thus, they would set bombs to explode after they had left, or chose to not simply walk up to Hitler and pull out a gun (if they had such access). I owe this insight to Count Miklos Banffy, d.1950, former foreign minister of Hungary and author of The Phoenix Land, published by Arcadia Books (I intend to review this excellent book on Charles Saline Books).

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

General Thoughts you might find useful

My first degree was in physics and my second was in law. I tended to believe that we should be rigorous in our logic when analyzing every issue, even moral and cultural ones. I also thought that we should, when making a point, sound very professional and balanced, give all of our reasons and address all counterarguments. A good example of this approach can be found in Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologica.

Now, however, I believe that many areas of life do not lend themselves easily to rigorous analysis, and we probably have far too little understanding and data to do that analysis even when we try. Also, I see benefits in succinctness, even to the point of leaving out one's reasoning.

Succinctness can have some tremendous benefits. If you make a profound statement that is easy to remember, then others will hear it, remember it, and test it for themselves. If they come to agree that it is true, they may well remember the statement and even remember where they found it - and come back for more!

I don't claim to use these short statements much. I tend to the other extreme.

Comments on several major world problems


Give the Palestinians and Israelis more protection from each other. Let some foreign countries put peacekeepers in Palestinian areas to stop rocket attacks or the like against Israel, but also to stop Israel from knocking over private homes or blowing up police stations whenever they feel like it.

The Iranian Bomb

Iran is the Great Persia, with 70,000,000 people and a significant civilization. When negotiating with them, realize that their ancestors ruled most of the known world (notice their names in the Bible) and were among the wealthiest and most advanced of nations. When speaking about Iran or negotiating with them, be respectful! They believe they have as much right to things as anyone else, so we should be ASKING them to refrain from going nuclear.

Islamic Extremism

Islam is big and is here to stay. A percentage of its followers are dangerous, as one would expect (this could be true of almost any human organization or religion). Obviously, we need to protect ourselves from the dangerous ones! But we also have to consider their greviances. Colonial mistreatment, support for evil dictators during the cold war, verbal offences, cultural offences and so forth. Consider this cultural offence: during the war in Iraq, when homes had to be entered, men were often bound with plastic ties. This was done IN FRONT OF their family, which, I think, was a mortal offence. Do things like this if you want to create children willing to blow themselves up!

The Population Implosion

People = prosperity, production, power. All of these things can be misused, but a lack of any of them can cause hardship or worse. Japan and many countries are going through bad economic times due to a dearth of people, particularly in the ratio of young to old. People are a most incredible and valuable resource. Some of the most prosperous and civilized places on earth were so BECAUSE they had the highest populations and population densities (such as Europe in 1700 to 1900, the USA from 1850 or so onwards, Japan, China in recent years, India in the future, and so on). High population can be a burden if the economy or other circumstances are adverse. Countries in Africa that are run by strong men dictators who ravage their own economy and are unable or unwilling to stop corruption are going to have high suffering along with their high populations. Countries with little food or water may suffer greatly due to high populations.

Climate Change

Get them to prove that man is changing the environment globably and how. Meanwhile, it makes sense to me to try to limit carbon dioxide emissions in the meantime, but not severely.

Gross Imprisonment

People are being locked away in massive numbers, but the locking away does not "fix" the perpetrators and the punishment is often excessive. Imprisonment as a punishment is often too harsh because of its extreme consequences. Flog a man for 5 minutes and he can be back to work within weeks. Imprison him for a year and he comes out a professional criminal with criminal contacts, possible no other support network, possibly not employable, possibly resourceless and homeless, and so on. People ruined by prison often don't mind prison anymore, since they are so ruined for the real world, so they no longer feel deterred. Prison tortures the mind and soul by convincing people, correctly, that no one loves them or cares about their welfare. Try spending ONE NIGHT in a cell and see how unloved you feel. People who feel rejected find it easier to abuse others. Also, prison as currectly designed ignores the need of the victim and perpetrator for restitution. Helping a perpetrator to work and make restitution would do more to deter crime and improve the mindset of criminals than any amount of imprisonment.

Observations about successful countries - this is not meant to be a thorough examination and I focused mostly on major countries.

Successful countries in recent times? This is not meant to be a comprehensive list, and reflects my limited knowledge as an American.


Strong points: starting around 1900, high population, high social order, educated and industrious people, sufficiently entreprenurial, isolated from potential enemies by sea.

Some accomplishments: They were able to industrialize quickly and recover from the defeat of World War II, accumulated capital rather than debt.

Negatives: They were overly aggressive, and made the mistake of imitating the evil strategies followed by the European colonial powers for centuries. Secondly, their population reached a plateau, causing them to steadily decline in relative importance and strength.


Strong points: starting around 1850, high population, high social order, educated and industrious people, sufficiently entreprenurial, extremely endowed with natural resources, isolated from potential enemies by sea.

Some accomplishments: strong economic growth, population growth, resisted Stalinist totalitarianism, and, for a time, accumulated capital rather than debt.

Negatives: Were cruel to native Americans, adopted cruel standards of punishment (particularly lengthy prison sentences), tend to practice being the world's policeman without bothering to understand the world, or bothering to appear empathetic, and while allaying themselves with cruel regimes and organizations (for example, the Shaw of Iran), have spent themselves into bankruptcy or near bankruptcy.


Strong points: starting around 1980, high population, high social order, educated and industrious people, sufficiently entreprenurial, isolated from potential enemies by sea.

Some accomplishments: superb economic growth, accumulate capital rather than accumulate debt.

Negatives: have repressed their people religiously and politically.


Strong points: starting around 1770, high population, high social order, educated and industrious people, sufficiently entreprenurial, isolated from potential enemies by sea.

Some accomplishments: high economic growth, numerous scientific accomplishments, martial persistence (defeating Napolean and Hitler).

Negatives: population levelled off, questionable economic policies at times.


Strong points: starting around 1950, dense and growing population, high social order, educated and industrious, sufficiently entreprenurial, support from a major power (the United States),

Some accomplishments: staying in existence when surrounded by enemies, martial persistence.

Negatives: demonizing enemies and failing to have good relations with the Palestinians.

RUSSIA (nearly successful?)

Strong points: starting around 1900, large population, massive natural resources.

Some accomplishments: defeated Hitler (which was partly due to Hitler's decision to be a violent and malevolent invader rather than simply liberate the people from Stalinist rule), mostly overcame Stalinism.

Negatives: Marxist-Leninist Communism, corruption.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Industrialization, Urbanization and Centralization

Due to various changes, some having to do with farm technology and transport, a much smaller portion of the population was needed for food production and distribution. A particular farmer could easily end up with a small farm without the resources to support a multi-generational home. His kids would need to find their own way.

This excess labor force was not qualified artisans, but unqualified general laborers who could be taught to operate machinery or do other production work. They could move to industrial areas, so countries tended to urbanize rapidly during this industrial revolution.

Farmers tend to have an economic need for children. Industrial laborers usually have little short-term need for children, particularly if children are kept out of money-earning work through new child labor laws. This lack of a strong economic reason to have children has helped to drop birth rates dramatically. Ancient Rome suffered a similar fate as its population urbanized, even though it did not industrialize in the same way as modern nations.

At first, the industrializing and industrialized countries ended up with major advantages over their neighbors:

a. Longer living and healthier populations (due to improved medical and other conditions, such as sanitation) also helped to create larger productive populations

b. The more efficient food production and distribution left plenty of excess labor to drive the economy which brought in more funds for the government, which could and partly was spent upon creating powerful and efficient military forces.

The countries then, during the colonial period, found it relatively easy to dominate the world, and easy to believe themselves superior.

The rise of Asian countries such as Japan in the very early 20th century showed that the superiority of the industrialized world was more a matter of having an orderly and industrious population and a willingness to follow the industrialization plan. Japan easily had all of that and more (for example, Japan also began with a very high literacy rate).

China in particular is now following this model.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Rome has Fallen - cycles and population

Rome had some good features, but it really was a Beast.

Julius Ceasar should be famous for following and maintaining the traditional way that men change high political leaders - through brute force. After Ceasar, one man after another lusted for the imperial throne, and countless soldiers and civilians died in the internal power struggles to destroy and create Ceasers. We speak of a Pax Romana, but was it not a Pox Romana instead?

Rome came to be an example of the cyclic rise and fall of civilization. Superstious tribes multiply and gain power. Implement useful reforms. Productivity rises. Trade and civilization spread. Scepticism, agnosticism, hedonism and tyrrany spread. Tyrants need to keep the people in check, so they offer them bread and circuses, but ultimately rule by the sword and they fail to keep the peace, so the country is bankrupted financially. Meanwhile, the hardy people who used to multiply like rabbits stop multiplying (just like Europe, Japan, and the USA did). With prosperity, urbanization and spiritual confusion, people aren't as interested in reproduction and children become less of an economic benefit. Without enough people, other nations grow in power to eclipse the glory that was Rome. The Germans were one of the main culprits. Rome would live on in The Byzantine Empire for a very long time, but they, too, suffered from this cycle, and others would eclipse Constantinople (the capitol) almost a millennium later.

Please do not neglect the critical component of a high population for a nation to be a mover and a shaker. The ancient Jews, who influenced the world as much as anyone, were famous for multiplying faster than those around them. Pharaoh was wise to see the power in this, but he treated it as a threat and so ended up losing a great asset.

Europe's population exploded for some centuries, and it was their very high population combined with their capitalism which caused them to rule the world so easily for a time (colonialism was often a sick and cruel system, but they had the power to make this mistake because of their people and wealth).

Japan (and now China) exploded on the scene in part because of their high and organized populations.

The USA obviously can credit a great deal of its dominance of the 20th century because it multiplied greatly and welcomed immigrants for so long.

But high population without organization can be a burden. Sub-saharan Africa remains the example, but the people are equal to the challenge and will overcome some harmful history (colonialism and strong-man leaders who are unable or unwilling to lead their countries to prosperity), or so I believe.

Charles Saline

The Best News so far

Jesus was born King of Kings.

I do not follow Jesus. I am not a Christian.

But He entered a world of hate and He and his followers taught the world how to love and have mercy like no one else before.

Jesus is the Master of Mercy.

Remember the woman who committed adultery? Adultery is the ultimate sex crime. You've made a contract with another to keep faithful. You sleep with another, thereby damaging the spiritual bond between you and your spouse, creating a serious and threatening bond with another party, risking creating a child who may well end up with no father at all, risking catching a verereal disease and giving it to your partner, and causing so much heartache for your spouse that your spouse may never recover.

Jesus said to go and sin no more. He didn't try to find reasons to stone her.

Jesus is the Master at explaining mercy so it makes sense. Anyone can argue against mercy:

"Have mercy on bad people and they will get you and get others."
"Bad people must be punished, that is the only language they understand."
"We must make an example of you."
"You hurt me, so I'm going to hurt you."

Jesus argued for forgiveness, overcoming with love, turning the other cheek, loving not just those who love you but those who do not, blessing those who curse you, and so forth.

If you have never read what his messengers wrote about Him, why not? It is the greatest defense of love and mercy ever written. It overcomes all objections.

I studied His words in depth, but I have not love. I didn't say that studying the reasons to love would change your heart, did I?

Charles Saline