Critique of TSW Part 25d The Social Microcosm

Blog 20150121

Bill thinks wars are political, without anything to do with obtaining resources.

I am ever so grateful to Bill Westmiller, whose comments are marked "BW: ". The quotes marked “TSW: “are from "The Scientific Worldview" and my comments are marked "[GB: ".

The Social Microcosm (Part 4 of 7)
TSW:  "When war does not produce the outright assimilation of a weak country by a strong one, it is sure to bring about new trading agreements, culinary diversity, best friends, and marriage partners."

BW: It sounds like you're recommending the killing of multitudes and the destruction of cities as a good way to find new friends. Or, maybe it's just that war happens and peace happens and it's all supposed to happen, neither one good or bad, all in pursuit of thermodynamic equilibrium.

[GB: The quote stands correct. It is merely a description of previous happenings, as you surmise. Both war and peace are natural, just as less drastic forms of competition and cooperation are natural. You are correct that in observational science we have no way of discerning good from bad. Of course, even us scientists have opinions on what was and is good or bad, but that can never be “The Scientific Worldview”.]

TSW:  "... war, being the most extreme form of economic competition, will not be eliminated until the gap between rich and poor is narrowed."

BW: You consider war an "economic competition"? So, I guess burglary is just an "economic competition" between the owner and the thief? And murder is just an "economic competition" between killer and victim? Granted, some ancient wars were about acquiring land (killing all the men, women, children, and cattle to get it), but even those were motivated by ideological fanaticism, not economics. Most wars are ideological, racist, or in pursuit of political power, not economic plunder.

[GB: Sorry, but all wars are due to economic competition. For instance, tiny villages in the jungle grow, causing their hunters to wander further and further to see game. As they do so, they trespass on the hunting grounds of still other villages. The expansion of one microcosm onto another produces war. You are correct that the thief seeks resources from the one who has them. Without those resources, the thief will die. Murder always involves a motive, a push toward some goal, whether it be revenge, riches, sex, famosity, or anything else that is imagined to sustain the murderer. Remember that the ideological motives you suggest are simply covers and secondary aids for accomplishing the real goals of war: getting resources that will sustain those forced to go to war to survive.]
BW: Very few wars have anything to do with rich and poor. In fact, many are because poor societies (devoting all their labor to expansive military might) need to invade rich countries to feed their people. It's extremely rare that rich, comfortable, self-sustaining, civil societies have any need to invade their neighbors.

[GB: Huh? Your first sentence contradicts your second sentence, which is closest to being true. Although I would like to agree with your last sentence, but I do not think that it is true. The US, for instance, would seem to fit the bill, but it instigated quite a few invasions throughout its rich history.]

TSW:  "It is almost a commonplace that 'no evolutionary future awaits man except in association with other men.'"

BW: Well, there's no biological evolution at all unless men associate with women. Humans prefer living in civil societies because there are a multitude of benefits, which you never describe. Very few prefer living in a decadent, coercive, or destructive society to being left alone (at least, with their families). You ignore all of these circumstances, as though they're irrelevant to peace, ethics, or morals.

[GB: Sorry, but biological evolution can occur without sex (amoebas anyone?). It was never the point of “The Scientific Worldview” to point out the myriad benefits of civilizations—you easily can get that without my help. The problem with “decadent, coercive, or destructive” societies is that, by their very nature, they will not leave you alone. The taxman will get you for sure.]

TSW:  "The preparation for existence in the social macrocosm is called socialization."

BW: There are a lot of meanings for "socialization", but this one is circular and uninformative. Literacy is probably the most important "preparation" for interacting with others, but that's called "learning", not "socialization". In common usage, the word "socialization" refers to *forcing* youth or rebels to conform with social norms. In politics, it means collective ownership of resources taken from others, which only a Marxist could love.

[GB: I prefer the definition given in the quote. It definitely is not circular. If one does not wish to exist within the social microcosm, one can try to skip the socialization, as many do—generally to their detriment. BTW: I don't see what my ownership of the Interstate Highway system or the numerous F-16 fighter planes has anything to do with Marxism.]

TSW:  "The activities that help classify an animal as either social or solitary are purely relative."

BW: Not relative, but quantitative. All animals who reproduce sexually certainly require some degree of "socializing" with the opposite sex of their species. The usual criteria is whether the specie forms large groups with persistent interactions.

[GB: As usual, what we mean by “relative” is that there is no definite, finite point at which we can do that classification. Think of it this way: It is just a matter of distance. Thus, even if I discover a solitary ant, I know that it is part of a social group that probably is not far away. This is hardly quantitative, although the precise distance might have some significance. Certain species form small groups with persistent interactions. Are these not social animals? The classification, like all, classifications is relative (see  Borchardt, Glenn, 1974, The SIMAN coefficient for similarity analysis: Bulletin of the Classification Society, v. 3, p. 2-8.).]

TSW:  "... social organization among ants reveals that with the evolution of the 'welfare state,' there is developed a rigid, rigorous caste system ..."

BW: Ants don't have a clue that their activities benefit any other members of the colony: all they know is that they get fed and that's all they care about. They are creatures of instinct, incapable of conscious deliberation.

[GB: Whoa…almost seems like you are describing your fellow citizens. I am reminded of the Socrates quote: “The unexamined life is not worth living for a human being.” I really don’t have a clue about what ants have a clue about. I do know that the fellow cited in that quote seemed to get his 50’s cold war politics mixed up with what he thought was science. Come to think of it, you probably would like his 1955 paper in the prestigious journal “Science,” which was entitled: “Freedom, bondage, and the welfare state.” Those ants, swarming over the globe, sure know how to fail as a social system. At any one time, they have only 10,000,000,000,000,000 members.]

TSW:  Bible: "Come, let us go down, and there confound their language ..."

BW: The Hebrew God is always bent on destroying humans. Remember that the first "sin" was acquiring the knowledge of good and evil. What could be more perverse?

TSW:  "Socialization, like any other reaction, is irreversible. That does not mean that people, having moved closer, cannot move away again, but simply that neither action can be repeated in exactly the same way."

BW: I don't know why you make these statements, having said that time and causation are not reversible. Of course people move in and out of social relationships and particular locations all the time. Those choices are reversible, even if time has lapsed and they aren't done in *exactly* the same way. Certainly, you don't walk into a town, then walk backward out of it.

[GB: Great! I am glad you (sort of) agree. I don’t think that we can repeat the Seventh Assumption of Science, irreversibility (All processes are irreversible) often enough. The quote is correct as written. Sorry, but there really are no choices that are exactly reversible in an infinite universe.]

Next: The Social Microcosm (Part 5 of 7)

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