23 May, 2013

Early Navigation of the Seas

The Coastal Seas as Ancient Highways to the Land

Several established and increasing by numerous pieces of evidence seem to indicate that sea-going craft (at least ideal for coastal journeys) were a surprisingly early invention of Mankind. For, hunter-gatherers, constantly on the move to find food, would be certain to regularly encounter rivers across their migratory path, and though searches would have been undertaken for places where they could be forded, the possibility of crossing water immediately via easily constructed 'boats' would have saved a great deal of time and risks. Indeed the Channel Islands, off California, have revealed fossil human bones from a very long time ago indeed, and these could have only been reached by boats of some sort. 

Although much later historically, there is the fact that Orkney included a very advanced early human settlement, involving an integrated group of stone-built houses, in an area devoid of trees. The inference was that such a settlement was not only close to their main source of food, the sea, but also directly upon the "main highways" of that time linking many well spread settlements accessible by boat. The land was certainly not endowed with any rich source of game, and was totally unable to support any real agriculture.

Finally, the problem of exactly how America was initially populated with the first wave of human beings to actually get there, both from Asia and perhaps even Europe, would be much more simply explained by, if the peoples concerned were competent with boats, and feeding themselves almost exclusively from the sea. Read more on this here

Now the clinchers for archaeologists will always be the finding of such ancient vessels. But, surely the earliest boats, without metal tools, would have to have been made with materials such as skins and branches, or birch-bark and resin, with perhaps a wooden frame of some sort. Such vessels would never survive so many thousands years as such, but the skills in making them would be maintained by groups where they were constantly needed. The beauty and functional superiority of the North American birch-bark canoe is a masterpiece of excellent handling, lightweight and easy to repair. Such consummate boat building would require a long period of development to arrive at such a masterpiece.

Since the melting of the ice sheet at the end of the last Ice Age, we know that most coastal areas, just where these derelict boats would be, were vastly and permanently inundated by the rising seas. Current underwater archaeology is severely limited by both poor visibility, the difficulty of disposing of spoil, and the kit necessary for people to effectively work under the sea. Without doubt there must be some vital traces under the sea bed, and near river mouths, preserving evidence of our maritime past, preserved deep in the sediments. 

Bronze Age Colony in Ireland

View from Knockdhu

If you are not already fans of the oft-repeated TV series Time Team, may I introduce you to a recent re-airing on More4, first broadcast early in 2009, but well worth seeing again. The greatest contribution of this programme is in the always "laid-bare" trajectory of their ideas and hypotheses as they develop about the current site, and the way they home in from the tiniest fragments of pottery or flint, and a few bumps and depressions in the land to, slowly but surely, via a series of trenches into chosen ground, open a door onto our past.

This episode was at Knockdhu on the County Antrim coast of Northern Ireland, where Time Team carried out the very first excavation of this enormous promontory site overlooking the sea.

Watch Time Team 09 Knockdhu Antrim Ireland in Travel & Culture  |  View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com

It transpired that it was once a bustling village in the Bronze Age, and the puzzling thing was the presence of defences landward. Also there didn't seem to be much actually on the promontory for the village to have been situated there. It seemed to be a cold and windy, yet misty and infertile mound. So, why were they there? By chance they found what could only be interpreted as a flint mine nearby - but surely such a resource would not require a defended village? Although what they managed to achieve in three days was remarkable, I am convinced that a great deal more than they had time to reveal was also in evidence there. For it was only on the third and last day of their investigations that the thick mist lifted, and they could see, both the surrounding sea and the relatively close-by Scottish coast.

To me, this wasn't an Irish village, but a Scottish one.

Why? Well apart from the inexplicable landward defences, the large and imposing gateway was clearly approached by a path from the coast below.

But why would there be a Scottish outpost here on the coast of Ireland?

The answer seemed to be flint.

Flints from the mine close to this site have been discovered in abundance in Kintyre (in Scotland). Also,   small quantities of some other non-flint stone tools were found at Knockdhu that had definitely come from across the sea - both Scotland and England (the Lake District). Knockdhu was a "goldmine" for the main tool-making substance of the time, flint, which was very scarce over in Kintyre. A significant maritime trade had grown up - but effectively all one way. The Scots had established an outpost to ensure the continued passage of large quantities of flint back to Scotland, and the defended village was to assure that supply continued without any interference from the Irish.

Now, in the past week I had already written a few papers on the importance of sea travel for Early Man, and the very same arguments were voiced in this TV programme about coastal sea travel. As soon as the confusing features of Knockdhu were confirmed, they were immediately solved if the settlement were of foreigners, who were taking the local flint, and had to protect their sea-access to and from Scotland.

The unusual thing about Time Team is that you get involved along with them in their deliberations: you dream up your own two-pennyworth, add to their speculations. It is a fine programme in this respect. If you are interested in such things, it is well worth a watch!

21 May, 2013

Did the Eskimos Discover America?

Could Ice Age Mariners have got there first? 

On reading the latest contributions to the problem of, “Who were the first Americans?”, in New Scientist (2910), and thereafter re-viewing Alice Roberts TV series on “The Incredible Human Journey”, that addressed the conquering of the whole World by Homo Sapiens, another alternative seemed to demand inclusion in the list of possibilities. The assumptions, without any doubt, which seemed to delineate many of the opposing arguments, about who made that first journey and when, were about the total exclusion of humans from the regions dominated by the ice – usually described as Ice Sheets many miles thick.

Now, the immediate questions - about surviving in snow-covered and winter conditions, were surely only investigatable by studying how the Eskimos and other Arctic peoples have managed to survive until today. It cannot be that long ago, when all these peoples were still squarely in the Stone Age, or perhaps more properly in the Pre-Metal Age. And for truly vast periods of the year, they had to survive the most atrocious conditions, and find food in environments that seemed incapable of delivering any adequate sustenance.

By hunting seals and fishing through holes in the ice they have survived for millennia, and the very nature of their later means of finding adequate sustenance seems to indicate that the sea was most probably their main source for these essentials. Indeed, such groups, living at the edge of the sea, and with some means to migrate when necessary, most probably by boats, they could certainly have moved to stay in contact with the sea’s edge even as the Ice advanced.

Once you have a people so closely connected to the sea for both food and transport, this changes radically the migration possibilities as described in Alice Roberts Series. After all, even without assuming boats, these “out of Africa” humans, covered prodigious distances to get as far as Australia at a very early juncture. And to make that last step into a new continent, meant they even they would have had to have some sort of boats. Also the later conquest of the Pacific by seemingly primitives cultures in Micronesia, inferred not only boats but also profound knowledge of travelling by sea. Also early settlements, in the north of the British Isles, indicate very clearly, that passage overland was considerably more difficult than by sea. The seas were clearly how they got about, and what we would now consider to be the edge of possible habitation, in the Hebrides and Northern Islands, were evidently key posts along well-used routes – by sea. And closer still to our time, the best sea going boats and sea navigation was practiced by the Vikings, who we know got to America themselves.

The point I am attempting to make is that early man being a hunter/gatherer, and hence having to be constantly on the move to find new virgin areas, to supply their needs, would simply have to have boats. For with tides and currents, the sea and the shorelines were constantly replenished with eatables. To cope with the sea in every way must have been crucial. Even in Alice Robert’s piece, the general migrations were always along the coasts, perhaps because food from the sea was the most reliable source from time immemorial.

The question must be, “Could people like Eskimos, but endowed with coastal maritime skills and craft, have made the kind of journeys that seem unavoidable in the various America-reaching suggested explorations?”

Any scenario that has such peoples leaving vastly more conducive areas to set up permanently in the ice-gripped north is surely wrong. It is more likely that the first people reaching that continent soon after its impossibility due to ice and ocean had been reduced, would be by peoples already familiar with the conditions that they would encounter on such a journey, indeed, they are likely to have come from very similar climes, and believed that they could get past those conditions to something they knew that they could cope with, and have it to themselves. And they may well have stayed because, in spite of harsh conditions, they already knew how to cope, but would also have access to a superior range and number of prey animals both on the land and in accessible waters.

In particular, the areas adjacent to seas that would be unfrozen for part of the year, and lakes with could be fished the year round through holes made in the ice covering. Surely, such people would have been master of those conditions when they arrived?

Remember, early Man, being the only intelligent hunter/gatherer, could NOT stay in one place (except in exceptional circumstances), and had to constantly be on the move, to find what they needed in sufficient amounts for them to survive. Indeed, in a land entirely empty of people, they would be by far the best and most successful hunters, for apart from their superior intelligence, to animal predators; they also had many man-made weapons and social organisation to hunt as teams with well-established strategies.

And finally, with such a developed set of skills, if always close to or easily connected to the ocean, with craft and past knowledge, would greatly strengthen their ability to provide sustenance from that rich source too.

Striking off into the middle of an ice-field, or a desert would almost certainly be much too risky. But, following the coast with small easily-handled and even easier carried craft, and a familiar and regularly refilled larder of the inter-tidal zone, let alone the sea itself, would put such people at an advantage. Indeed, their speed of advance along a coastline would be surprisingly high - with a return the way they came, always a known option in face of difficulties. And, that rate of advance would be increased if they were constantly getting into ever-warmer territories full of an ever-wider range of accessible foodstuffs.

My suggestion is that an Eskimo dimension to the wanderings of early Man, especially into America is well worthy of further study.

16 May, 2013

Thoughts Upon Real Local Democracy

The problem with Democracy is that it can only really work straightforwardly in very small numbers of participants, with no hierarchies of economic power, for both these and large size, coupled with clear imbalances in influence quickly destroy its essential virtues, and turn it into its exact opposite.

So, can such an idea ever be constituted effectively in anything larger than a village of equals?

That is the problem, and as with all embryo conceptions, they have to be developed, if they are to maintain what is desired in new and wider circumstances.

And, even if and when it is achieved, it will certainly be different from its original implementation in (very) small City States. Clearly Democracy is NOT a given, but must be constantly fought for and developed to maintain it primary virtues and purpose – the Rule of the People.

As the Tory Government in the UK gradually starves the Local Authorities of the cash to effectively deliver essential local services, you can contrast the magnificent 19th century constructions of past Councils, be they Town Halls, or reservoirs, Libraries or Swimming Baths, or the comprehensive Public Transport Systems of the big cities, and finally, of course, the extensive Council Houses built by them in the 20th century, with what little can be achieved nowadays. And when you do this, you realise that an important aspect of local Social Services is being successively dismantled.

And, it hasn’t helped the survival of these organisations that, as they are increasingly emasculated by insufficient resources, the very people who are inflicting this upon them, are also those who blame those same authorities for not doing enough, or even doing it inefficiently.

Being an effective and authorative liar has always been a necessary skill for every Tory politician! For it is only among those whose fulfilling intentions are to serve the community, that the very best of humanity exists.

Yet, as socialists, we do not merely want to be elected to run these palaces of the past. We know that a revolutionary overturn will sweep away many of the old, under-control systems, and will be constantly setting up their own new forms, particularly at the local level.

And, therefore, we have to think about these possibilities now, to be in any position to go forwards, along with the transforming rush of the people, while ensuring best practice when we can, and addressing the problems that will undoubtedly occur from a multitude of different and maybe incompatible creations of the people.

Clearly, the priority has to be more local democracy and not less!

For, without self-evident, effective and affect-able local services, the actual Democracy becomes both distant and even detached, and the actual populations will lose confidence in it, and regard it as merely a con.

Of course, the enemies of such a version of Democracy say that any extra layers will merely result in more bureaucracy, but that is another lie.

If that multiplicity of levels were in the present system, that would most certainly be true, but the whole demand of the people in revolt will be for a constant say in how things are being done. And the major difference will be the control by the electorates over their representatives. That will be totally transformed, and must, therefore, maintain a control on them through the layers involved.

The crucial failure (of so-called Democracy within Capitalism) stems from the total lack of any kind of immediate re-call facility of all the elected representatives. For, once in place in the current system, the elected members are “safe” for a full term.

In the case of the UK Parliament, that amounts to five years. And when it is coupled with the wealth, and hence the reach and power of the Parties, then the ordinary voter is not only given few opportunities of making a change, but when the election finally comes, the choice is between parties that they don’t want, and who dominate the media and deliver their options with expensive and constant propaganda.

NOTE: It must also be essential that the Parties themselves are democratic, which is not the case now. What the policies of a Party are do not come from the maximum opinions, but from the ideas of the leaderships – not even made evident during their quest for election. Once in power, leaderships are dictatorships and can expel dissenters at will.

It has to be said that Democracy under Capitalism is a myth!

And the same can be said for the Democracy under the Stalinist regimes too.

In fact, in Russia and China, you can only choose between members of a single allowed Party. Indeed, as is currently happening in China, the national leadership changes over only every ten years. Clearly, neither of these "alternatives" is really democratic at all!

Now, there was a time in Russia when Democracy did indeed rule. It even led to temporary defeats, as in the July Days. But, the sailors of Kronstadt had decided in their own Soviet (elected Council) to march on Petrograd, fully-armed, to turf out the so called Provisional Government under Kerensky, who had insisted carrying on with the War. Whatever else you say about that event, it was certainly democratic (at least in Kronstadt).

So, socialists cannot merely accept the forms of Democracy imposed upon the people within Capitalism, just because “everybody has the vote”! Real Democracy must be entirely different, and crucially also be well informed.

It must start locally, making choices between candidates that they know, and they must also know enough to be clear what they are voting for. And even then, the chosen one cannot then vote as he or she thinks fit in the higher body. On most important matters, the elected candidate will also be mandated how to vote on particular issues by a general vote within the sending electorate.

NOTE: Imagine the difference that the Internet could make to this process, if all participating Parties were limited to the exact same costs in their propaganda!

The usual bureaucratic and geographic definition of Constituencies, with regular farming of the boundaries to give the greatest advantage to those doing the redrawing, MUST be replaced by units that are real.

The Soviets initially were this because they had no formal rules on areas or range.

Individual regiments, or even battalions within the army, and individual ships within the navy, set up and elected their own Soviets. They were all different sizes and with different principles of composition, but the electors knew their chosen representatives, and could change them at the drop of a hat if they proved incapable of carrying into the elected body the standpoint of those who had elected them. And this could be achieved merely by decisions within a general meeting.

Now, the defenders of bourgeois Democracy would insist that such a form of Democracy as the Soviets would lead to chaos and unfairness (which is ripe, coming from the unfairness of their alternatives). For they would insist that such organisations were “not representative”. But, of course, they were indeed completely representative, but only of their forming constituencies. Suddenly decisions were in the hands of the people, and not of those who could either manipulate towards, or alternatively just buy their own preferred requirements.

But, at the same time, many things could not be decided in innumerable and usually small Soviets. Some certainly had to be decided upon in larger representative units. You cannot organise an army in battle from the bottom up! There would, even in Socialism, have to be a hierarchy of democratic forms. BUT, crucially they should not be separately elected!

In the midst of the Russian Revolution (in 1917) there were two different forms of higher democratic body occurring simultaneously.

One, insisted upon by the bourgeois “socialists”, was the Constituent Assembly – elected by the usually implemented General Election methods. While the other was the Congress of Soviets – with representatives elected from within each Soviet by their usual local methods.

And the differences were significant!

When the chips were down and the Winter Palace was being stormed under the leadership of the Bolsheviks, the bourgeois “socialists” were walking out en masse from the Congress in protest against this “Bolshevik Coup”, and putting their faith in the Constituent Assembly to act as they required.

The question is, “Do you think that the Constituent Assembly would have completed the Revolution?”

You know the answer!

But, with maximal Democracy at the lowest levels, it had to be the Soviets who should decide on their representatives at the higher bodies, and always have the power of immediate recall, so that they could at any time pull that elected candidate out from all the higher levels, if he no longer stood for what his electors wanted. Low level maximal choice would only then still affect the larger bodies.

Indeed, at times of crisis, decisions made at the lowest levels could ripple through by such mechanisms to cause major turnovers in important meetings at the highest levels. Emissaries from the Soviets were constantly arriving with either mandates, or authorized orders to replace the current delegate.

Now, I know what happened in Russia, and with a single party State, the “Democracy” of the system finally put in place by Stalin and his henchmen did indeed remove all of this control from the people via their Soviets.

And that occurred even after a successful Revolution!

Socialist Democracy is not a simple and easy matter.

And, of course, Russia at that time was surrounded by hostile capitalist powers, which not only invaded in an attempt to put down the Revolution, but even after they had been defeated in that endeavour, they constantly intervened all the way from funding a Civil War between the supporters of the prior Tsarist system, and the revolutionaries, to imposing a major economic and trade blockade against the new Socialist State.

At the time, their agents (well funded) within Russia did everything they could to sabotage this worldwide threat to their hegemony. All these things contributed to Stalin’s rise, and his system within Russia.

So, no real socialist set up was possible, and the “police and defensive processes” morphed into anti democratic control systems for the Stalinist elite.

Lessons need to be learned from the failures in both Russia and China, as both march back into Capitalism at an increasing pace, but with literally zero real democracy to oppose it.

The Inevitable Idealist Beginnings of Science

At the base of Man’s first thinking-awareness of his surroundings had to be himself!

For this remarkable and intelligent animal had been successfully surviving and even prospering in its world for millions of years. And he knew exactly what he had had to do to achieve that.

So, he began to consciously observe his surroundings, and see them as the deliberate results of a like-thinking, but all-powerful, super being that had produced that World. He was idealising this super being in his own image, and his relations with it as with other human individuals, but more so. Such idealism was the natural mode of early man.

And the resonances between Human relations, and those with a similar but supernatural Being, did not distract Mankind from Reality, but gave social groups sharing common beliefs an increased confidence to deal with it. Religion was a remarkable (and indeed necessary) asset for Early Man. Clans with strong religious beliefs did much better than those without such a coherent and “explanatory” account of the World.


The first extractions from Reality could not be explanatory (as we think of it today), for the reasons for phenomena were not-at-all evident to mere observation. But what was regularly glimpsed, even by casual observation, though not in any way explaining the phenomena, did hint that they conformed to some sort of “determining rules”.

Now, in a world where literally all explanations were inaccessible, the causes of things were regularly put down to the whims of unseen, all-powerful Gods: they were directed to be as they were by some Divine Hand (like Man only writ super large).

So, these glimpses of shape or order, though often transient, did conform to these a priori assumptions of Godlike Power. And when, by perfection (or idealisation), those occasions wherein these Forms were glimpsed, Man found he could sometimes expose them more or less permanently. The very process of idealisation, into a perfect version, which revealed the essential formal rules, would also reveal The Intentions of the Gods.

So clearly today, you cannot criticize any of this, because in the World at that time, and by this remarkable animal at that stage in his development, even that conception was indeed a miraculous achievement.

In contrast to a modern 21st century and scientific view, it was the only way for Man to make any sort of sense out of a difficult World. And, consonant with that approach, the forms increasingly being revealed by what we now call Mathematics were endowed with determining their World, for they were the embodiment of the Directions from the Gods! The purposes of the Gods were to be found everywhere in concrete Reality via their evident Forms.

From all points of view it was an important break through, for it treated distorted and blurred aspects of Reality, now seen as having underlying solid reasons that made them behave as they did.

In spite of being idealist, it was, in a sense, the beginning of a causal standpoint too: it was just homocentrically-endowed to an all-powerful God, rather than being intrinsic to Reality as a self-moving, complex system.

Now, this interpretation of revealed Form as the intentions of the Gods, could not but transform the collection of those Forms as the means by which those intentions were inflicted upon an intrinsically inert matter by those infinitely powerful deities. The Forms became religious, and the Pythagoreans attempted to explain everything in terms of the perfect or ideal conceptions of the Gods.

But, whatever was considered as the primary causations of such things, the actual process of revelation, and the ever deeper study of the idealised forms was considered an end in itself by many investigators, who found increasing rewards in revealing links between these forms. And these links delivered a special sort of truth – that of the eternal relations between such idealised forms, which were irrespective of where in the world they had been extracted from. The forms and their inter-relationships gradually became a new discipline – Mathematics.

Now, the use of its laws led to such an integration for those forms involved in spatial arrangements, which in turn produced what we call Geometry. And the resultant set of the Theorems and Proofs of that section of Mathematics has for millennia termed Euclidian Geometry after the Greek, Euclid had write the whole set down in his book The Elements.

Having managed to find and relate a whole set of formal relations and their laws of manipulation and transformation, which were so evidently sound, it was certain that a related approach would be applied to the statements of fact and relation that people made about all sorts of things.

Could a system, as tight as that in Mathematics, be devised about the Truth and arguments? Indeed, it could be done, and Formal Logic was born.

And, for all situations, where the elements involved did not change, a similar set of rules were established, which straight forwardly revealed contradictions, and hence False Reasoning, as well as deriving sound developments from Banker Truths.

Formal Logic was, and still is, another brilliant discovery-plus-formulation by the Ancient Greeks.

Yet, once again, the restriction to unchanging elements or tenets could be the only bases for such a system, and consequently, it could not be used when things and statements changed into something different. When nothing was fixed, for then Truth quite naturally could change into Falsity, and falsity become Truth. It is a Logic of eternals only!

This brief muse on Mankind’s natural bias towards Idealism shows that it is pointless to criticize those in the past for not having reached the gains of our present time. To understand possible futures for Mankind, we must correctly interpret the trajectory of ideas of the past. It is not judging (or condemning) that is required, but an understanding of the processes of significant change in the developments, and they are never incremental nor linear. Indeed, the real and crucial changes actually reverse direction from one plausible assumption, to its equally plausible opposite. But, with each such significant reversal, the conceived of content is always transformed and taken forwards.

13 May, 2013

Issue 30 of Shape

Entitled Changing Tracks, this collection of short papers links Philosophy and Science under the banner originally erected in the 19th century by Hegel, and then, even more radically, by Marx and his followers.

But it is not a eulogy to Marxism. Indeed, it is highly critical of the stance of most modern professed Marxists, particularly in their failure to develop Philosophy, and significantly in their cowering attitude in the face of the most idealistic retreats by Modern Physics.

This series has been produced by a professional scientist, philosopher and Marxist, who is totally convinced that the crucial path forward into all these areas has been lost, and progress no longer occurs in any of them.

Such a small collection as this cannot possibly deliver chapter and verse to the standpoint taken, for this is merely a brief introduction. But such a comprehensive treatment does exist and is regularly being added to within the Issues of SHAPE Journal (now rapidly approaching its 50th Issue (including Specials).

This set of papers address what are considered to be the crucial questions fundamental to this standpoint. They are:- 1. Is Form Essence? 2. Plan or Process? 3. Reductionism 4. What is Objective Content? 5. An Animation to Illustrate Objective Content 6. Holist Science: The Path Forward?

Read here

This video on Objective Content was created to accompany an article in this issue.

03 May, 2013

Pictures of May Day

May Day 2013 in Turkey

May Day 2013 in Bangladesh

May Day 2013 in the US

May Day 2013 in Spain

The Parable of the Flood

Addendum to Explanation via Chaos (see below or click here to read it)

This paper on High Anxieties: The Mathematics of Chaos, most certainly took the reactionary position of the programme makers on the current crisis, and indeed crises in general, and revealed it as a one sided view on such major systemic overturns which are generally termed Emergences.

There is no doubt that all the revelations were of this one-way nature, and hung everything on the “unavoidable tendency of complex systems to descend into Chaos” in these sorts of circumstances. What was concentrated on as a basis was, as you might expect, the seemingly stable and predictable situations, which suddenly and inexplicably dissolved into totally inexplicable Chaos.

Surprisingly, it seems, the culprit was nature itself, which was insisted on as being subject to such calamities whatever anyone did to avoid them.

Now, the theme of my criticism was to contrast this lop-sided analysis with the correct explanation of such cataclysms in general. Such “Emergences” are never wholly negative, and indeed display a revolutionary and progressive side when the destruction and replacement of the Old Level has been completed.

You would never guess that our commentators were talking about the same sort of Event, so I countered this miserable and pessimistic journey into the inexplicable, by briefly mentioning real Emergences, but it has become clear that most people, and our mathematicians in particular, do not even know what they are. For, I suppose, you cannot expect those who think the World is driven by mathematics to consider anything so intrinsically contradictory.

My previous paper was perhaps too determined by the actual narrative and intentions of David Malone – the main designer, director and presenter of the programme. Because of this, my counter arguments did not do justice to the real story that was so evidently mis-told by this group of mathematicians and their associates.

This addendum should perhaps redress the balance, and at some stage be woven into the main paper, with a more co-ordinated attempt to deflect it from Malone’s whirlpool agenda, and instead redirect it in a much more positive direction, by revealing the general nature of real development, and its more revolutionary interludes which we call Emergences.

The basis of all the turning point Events in development has to be the maturing of an included, if hidden, instability in any evolving holistic system. In such processes many contending things are changing and growing or declining, but, in the main, the system tends to be self-correcting or self-maintaining, and stays within what we might call a Stable Interlude. Because of this various regularities are maintained and are even termed Laws because of their persistence.

BUT, these interludes do NOT last forever, and such systems, due entirely to their own inner processes can, and do, approach “turning points” in which the seemingly permanent dominances are successively undermined by fast-growing forces, until the complete breakdown occurs. Yet, such are NOT the end of the World, but are certainly the end of the Old Regime. The turnover is because what were normally suppressed forces of dissolution (The Second Law of Thermodynamics) begin to grow at an increasing rate, the old stabilities haltingly, and then more swiftly, dissolve, and via a very turbulent and creative following period, a new Higher Level finally emerges.

A new stability is established, with much greater potential than the Old Level, and things become stable once more at a much higher Level.

There are myriads of these Emergences, but almost everyone is unaware of them. The understandability of the World is always seen as residing in the currently Stable Level, and its relations and Laws are assumed to be eternal. With this view the peculiar characteristic of Malone and company is basically in opposition to the maturing Event. To them it is solely a great calamity, with NO way out, and he and his co-thinkers can only see it from their standpoint of the “working and dependable past”.

Ideally then, they judge the impending chaos as a wholly bad thing, which should not be allowed to succeed. The Stable Past should be strengthened and maintained at all costs, because the alternative cannot be predicted and seems worryingly like the End of Everything. They would want a continuation of the prior stable circumstances, and its predictable outcomes. When what replaces this is the inexplicable and destructive it must be opposed! They are hence a mixture of despairing doom mongers and reactionary defenders of the past “Golden Age”. They must be compared to the political reactionaries in a Social Revolution, who will do anything to save the economy, the Czar or even the country, by any means possible. They see nothing but bad in the completion of the Emergent Event, and ONLY think in terms of, if possible, restoring the old regime, by all measures aimed at countering the headlong rush to what they see as complete dissolution.

I hope that, in the above, I did bring up the correct arguments at all the appropriate places in the positions of our Defenders of the Faith, but what is really needed is one (or more) sound analogues of a real Emergence, in contrast to such a one-sided description of a catastrophe. And, it is important, because the forces attempting to retain the increasingly bankrupt past may indeed win. They have done so many times before, with disastrous consequences. The aftermath of the 1929 crash not only lasted for many years but also produced aberrant growths to maintain the status quo such as Fascism and World War. A failed Emergence always produces a major breakdown – a “Dark Age”. History is packed with examples of this.

Now, if I were to use a Social Revolution or the Origin of Life on Earth as my defining example, it would not be accepted by the general mass of the population. They cannot be explained by any other means, but they would rather be considered by most as Catastrophes or Miracles rather than the usual “transition mode” for turn-around development. So, though I am tempted, and these would definitely suffice technically, I am sure that they would not be the best vehicles for “selling” Emergences for what they really are.

I therefore looked around for a parable of an Emergence: a story of development and change, which made abundantly clear sense and could be easily taken on. This meant that I could not position the story in the present, with all its political overtones and allegiances.

I decided to position my tale in Ancient Egypt.

The Flood

Towards the end of the Stone Age the once lush plains of North Africa were being consumed by the ever-encroaching sand of the hostile desert. The thinly-spread, hunter-gatherer family groups had to find a better place in which to survive, and throughout the whole once-fertile area the hopeful treks began. They had to find sufficient game and edible wild plants to feed their small family groups, so they travelled ever eastwards, towards the rising of the sun.

Yet everything continued to remain the same, or got even worse.

There seemed not a hint of improvement, so they had no choice but to carry on. Every day they moved on and east, surely the desert could not continue forever.

Then, one morning through a surprising and obscuring mist, they saw a distant line of green tall shapes.

They looked like trees, but how could that be, they were still in the midst of the unremitting desert. They hurried forwards with gathering speed. They really were trees – big, green healthy trees, packed with many fruit.

But there were thousands of them, as far as the eyes could see, in both directions. Then beyond the trees was another miracle. An enormous slow-flowing river lay across their path, welcoming them in.

As they got closer the desert beneath their dry and cracked feet began to vanish. The ground became covered in soft, green plants of all kinds, and at the river’s edge were tall swaying reeds, and hundreds of wild-fowl swam about, or fluttered into the trees. This indeed was a land of milk and honey. They were saved!

As the months passed, more and more small groups arrived at the river. They spread out along its banks. Built their homes from the trees and reeds, gathered the fruit, hunted the abundant game and wildfowl, made boats out of the reeds, caught fish and as much as hunter-gatherers could, they prospered!

But, the same climatic changes that were still continuing to enlarge the pitiless desert were also changing things on a global scale. The rains, that thousands of kilometres to the south produced this magnificent river, were changing their patterns too. The massive continents were heating-up and were causing the rains to be concentrated into a much shorter period, which came to be called the monsoon. Vast amounts of rain fell in a short period in the mountains of Ethiopia, and poured down every slope in myriads of growing streams. These quickly merged into raging torrents, carving their way through the soft earth, until they finally came together into a single flow, expanding the now mighty river to a prodigious size.

In the lush and peaceful valley of the Nile the new inhabitants of the land went about their daily tasks.

They were used to the river changing as the seasons passed, but whatever the time of year the generous river always remained.

But things had now changed dramatically, the seasonal rise in level was markedly different. The flow continued to increase beyond its usual limits, and the water began to spread outwards, threatening the new communities. The people sensed that their River might become dangerous. They gathered what they could and moved towards the nearby hills.

The river not only continued to increase in rate of flow, but also everywhere began to overflow its banks and consumed the each and every small settlement. The land of milk and honey had been drowned. 

It vanished beneath the waters.

The people watched from the high ground, and prayed that the waters would subside and return their paradise to them once again.

And then, it began to happen. The levels began to subside. The waters receded and a whole new land was revealed. For some distance on either side of the now quietening river, the flooding had severely soaked the land, AND covered it with a fine, rich mud – a mud that had been carried all the way from the mountains of Ethiopia.

As the people picked their way back towards their River, they noticed that already thousands of new plants were peaking through the mud. The returning people had not lost their paradise, but delivered of yet another miracle. The land was clearly even more fertile than before. The calamitous events, had turned out to be a blessing - a present from the Gods.

It did not take long for the people to intervene by planting their meagre collections of seeds into the ready earth. Instead of hard won handfuls of edible seeds, they could now produce sacks full of such bounty. Their yields were increased twenty-fold. And their lives were changed forever.

On these banks flowered one of the first and best civilisations of Antiquity. The populations soared and the assured plenty gave time for many new activities. Along this blessed River Mankind reached new heights, as had never before existed anywhere on the Earth.

BUT, let us consider a quite different story in exactly the same circumstances.

Let us rewind back to before the flood and consider a different course of events.

After the establishments of the first settlements, groups still coming in from the desert found the narrow fertile strips on either side of the river were already occupied.

There was no room for them. The people already there not only had fertile, well watered land, but had an abundance of fish and waterfowl in the fiver. Such unavailable plenty seemed unfair. Some decided that they had as much right to this wonderful place as anybody else and they would fight for it if necessary.

So that is what began to happen. Now, as new incomers found that they could defeat the incumbents, they also discovered that they couldn’t get as much out of the new opportunities as those they had defeated. It became obvious that a better way would be to reign over the established populations without “dirtying their hands” so to speak. The thing was not to supplant the existing population but to rule them and extract tribute. They could even set up a sort of protection racket, ensuring the “safety” of settlements for a reasonable fee. Of course, such “protection” would involve bodies of armed men, and would very soon become “those in charge”! As things developed these new rulers realised that they could maximise their cut by being masters of the river. So by war and boats they extended their control. Their mobility enabled them to travel up and down the river landing where necessary and quickly establishing their threat/protection relationship.

These masters of the Nile soon “owned” the whole New Land.

Now we must remember that we are still in the early quiescent stage of the settlement of the Nile.

We have to consider what effects the Flood would bring to these arrangements.

As the waters rose, the people would, as they did in our simpler version, move away from the river’s edge to higher ground. They had done this in the past whenever the river rose. But the rulers depended on their mastery of the river to maintain their realm. They did NOT abandon their means. They stayed on the river. The rising waters soon became a swift flowing torrent and the boat masters were swept out to sea and perished. The ordinary people however were unscathed, and in time came back to Their River, now restored to them as before, but greatly enhanced. The flood had not only removed their oppressors, but also delivered to them the miracle of vastly increased fertility and plenty. They now had in their hands a situation, which ensured their growth and progress as a people. In this land civilisation would flourish.


Now, how can such a story help us with the calamities of High Anxieties: the Mathematics of Chaos?

It can do it in the following way.

The Flood was an Emergence but was seen very differently by the two groups involved. The boat masters saw it ONLY as a mounting threat to their means of rule and tribute. They knew their power lay in their boats and weapons and stuck to them both like glue. They did not understand the mounting flood, and dearly hoped that they could survive if it subsided soon. But their clinging to such things led to their demise in the sea. Their view would have been throughout that the Event had released Chaos on their well-ordered World. They knew nothing of farming, they were a ruling class. Everything they saw could only be seen from that point of view.

NO positives were in evidence at all to them. If any survived, they would remember how it had destroyed their lives. They would be aware that Reality could inexplicably release uncontrollable Chaos upon them at any time.

But, in contrast, how would the farmers see the Flood?

They would remember it as the beginning of plenty. It was the reward from a generous deity for their hard work and invention. It had delivered the possibility of living much better and even having enough produce to trade with others. A civilisation was brought to them via the fabled Flood of Plenty. And it happened every year without fail.

Yet this was the exact same Flood that had brought Chaos and death.

Yes, it WAS an Emergence, wherein some balance of forces, which had shown itself in a form of stability, grew quickly towards an overturn beyond all its previous states. It had destroyed the Old, and created the New, at a higher, richer and better Level.

A Revolution is a Special Kind of Emergence

The Effect of Thinking Participants

The paper entitled The Parable of the Flood did give an excellent analogue for a Natural Emergence, but when such Events happen to a human society, it develops further and becomes very different indeed. For some of its participants can fight for it, while others will strive to suppress it. It depends on what you hope to gain, or are likely to lose!

So, though even with a Social Revolution we must commence by applying to it what we have learned from the wealth of prior and current Natural Emergences, we must also see it as the clearest and most striking example of a Holistic Event of Change. For its participants not only are subject to its natural trajectory, but can, and always do, attempt to change what occurs profoundly. A crisis in Society makes an Emergence happen, but then the people involved change it into a Revolution-with-two-sides.

So, with thinking, communicating and opposing groups of people, with towering social structures of Class, mostly with the wherewithall definitely and powerfully in the hands of the prior Ruling classes. These forces of the status quo can, and do, drastically change their usual forms of action, to attempt to physically defeat the Tide of Revolution, which they see as a veritable destroying tidal wave of the downtrodden Masses, and which could certainly not only sweep away their privileges, but even destroy them as well. And, in past history, these forces have generally succeeded. The ill-equipped masses, both conceptually and in force-of-arms, were always defeated by the forces of the prior prevailing Order.

Yet, even, following such a defeat, the inherent contradictions of the Old Order, would nevertheless, continue to undermine it, and further weaken it, so via a series of such cataclysms, they would give rise to a prolonged period of decline, which in history have been termed “Dark Ages” – showing a clear retrenchment to something very similar to a prior and lower Level.

The Social Revolution cannot be left to itself, to automatically deliver a new and higher Level of Society.

To counteract the strength and power of the incumbent Ruling Classes and their Forces of Order, the revolutionary masses need more than Right upon their side: they need a superior strength! And, this will have to be in understanding what is happening, and building the organisations that will allow them to intervene.

Now, within Capitalism, the natural forms of organisation of the Working Class are Trades Unions. But, these will always prove to only be able to fight for better conditions within capitalism. To actually remove it when a revolution comes will require a dedicated revolutionary leadership that have purposely equipped themselves to understand the trajectory of all Emergences, and particularly a Social Revolution, so that they know what to do with every twist and turn of the enemy classes, and the mistake of the revolutionary Class itself.

Now, try as they might (and I have spent a lifetime attempting to do it), you cannot suck such knowledge out of your thumb. Nevertheless, such crucial achieved wisdom does exist in the most unlikely places. For it requires a primarily philosophical standpoint, based upon Materialism, and on the profound contributions of Hegel. Marx and Engels, which have become known as Marxism. But, this Marxism has NO set recipes detailing what to do in every conceivable situation.

It is, instead, a Philosophical Method for dealing with Reality, and especially with Reality-in-Change! It is called Dialectical Materialism! And, when studied and developed constantly, it can, and indeed HAS, delivered a successful Socialist Revolution: it was, of course, in Russia in 1917.

Now, because of the prestige of that glorious victory, many claim to be Marxists, but very few of them are really Dialectical Materialists, or have any idea as to what a Natural Emergence is, never mind, a Social Revolution. Nor are they philosophically and methodologically equipped to do what is now, and most certainly will be in the midst of a Revolution absolutely essential.

Such “avowed Marxists” have read Marx, without any real understanding, for their politics is determined by the application of moral Rights and Wrongs, rather than understanding the trajectories of History, and its inevitable crises – Emergences. For, when Marxism is profoundly understood as a methodology, it enables the theorists to deal with almost every turn in the torrent of changes within a Revolution, so if suitably equipped with a serious leadership, the masses, arms-in-hand, can win!

Clearly, unlike the anarchists, who believe that the Revolution will look after itself, and naturally deliver a better World, the true students of Emergence know that Social Revolution, being an Event in human society, requires the human ability to think to be employed, in a well informed and holistic way, for it to ever cope with Reality-in-Change! It needs a Revolutionary Party with the development of that Theory as its most vial task.

But, even in such parties, they cannot be set up in the midst of a happening Revolution: they have to be started long before such an Event occurs of its own accord. It must be constructed in a non-revolutionary, or pre-revolutionary situation, and though this is essential, to give it time to understand what it will have to do, such a time also severely handicaps its objective due to the nature of Society in such periods.

Indeed, in 1917, even the defeat of the Czar, and the setting up of a republic with a Provisional government, did not change the methodology of the Bolshevik Party. It was still stuck in the pre-revolutionary period, with that era’s demands and policies.

It took Lenin’s return, his speech at the Finland Station, and his April Theses, to, in six months; redirect the Party into its necessary Revolutionary approach.

The task was to take power!

Bank Crash: Explanation via Chaos

From 2008:

"Within a very short time of the massive Stock Exchange and Bank slump of October 2008, the BBC had presented an hour long mathematical explanation entitled High Anxieties: The Mathematics of Chaos. Now though this was supposedly mostly about Anxiety, it turned out to also be an urgent contribution to the widespread questions generated among vast sections of the population as to why the Crash and Fallout all happened and who was to blame. The remit had to deal with the obvious anger of one section of society, while at the same time consoling the Anxiety of another quite different section. It was obviously NOT going to be achievable by any Economic-type explanations. Indeed, concentration on such an approach could merely increase the anger side and consequently also the anxiety side, so some more natural, and unavoidable causation would be ideal. Something independent of the actions of men and a feature of Nature itself would be perfect. The area chosen seems to fit the bill! It was mathematics – that cornerstone of our usual “understanding” of Nature, and weapon to control and transform the World. Could it also demolish and destroy?"