War and Revolution

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My stepfather was a bomber pilot in WWII, leading the squadrons that incinerated Dresden, Berlin, etc. On each evening's flight from southern England, over half the planes never returned. He also was dropped behind German lines before D-Day for intelligence. He told me something once about WWII over all, that I've never completely understood, "It wasn't a war, it was a revolution."

Y2K response here looks like a revolution to me. The effect of the Khmer Rouge take-over of Cambodia was to elminate all technology (yes, even glasses!), empty the cities, break the power of the intellectual and former capitalist class, reduce the population by over half, etc. The projected effects of y2k look identical. Apart from lack of organized leadership and still nascent ideology (that may yet appear) y2k looks more like a revolution than a war.


-- Runway Cat (runway_cat@hotmail.com), December 14, 1998


I don't think it was planned that way (at least at first). But, given the "opportunity", what socialist-leaning power-monger could resist!

-- Anonymous (Anonymous@anonymous.com), December 14, 1998.

What scares the pants off me (and sox too) is not that we are heading for serious dislocations, but thatthose dislocations will end up, after a period of "reflection" generating a Neo-Luddite response in the surviving "other" classes and that the factories, machine shops, tool and die shops will ALL be trashed along with the power and other critical infrastructure in the name of the Good of The People or in the name of "Down With Technology" because "Technology got us to this ugly point so it must be bad..."

Chuck, sometimes pantsless.

-- Chuck a night driver (rienzoo@en.com), December 14, 1998.


Now there's an interesting perspective---Y2K as a revolution. Though appealing, somehow I can't bring myself to agree. Perhaps it's that I don't quite understand. While I tend to hold people like your uncle in high-regard, I'm not sure what he could have meant by WW2 as a revolution; by whom, against what?

A key component in my definitoin of revolution is some commonality of vision and/or purpose. I say "and/or" because, even when vision is less than universal, a shared purpose helps to organise and energize both sides to the conflict, be it military, political or philosophical. Conversely, disparate, personal agenda may still be covered by a blanket vision.

Rump-ripping reactionaries and splay-toed treehuggers---and those of us in between---all seem to have a vision of something new and different, hopefully ultimately better, resulting from Y2K. Yet we each seem to have a different agenda.

A. Lizard (http://www.ecis.com/~alizard/y2k.html), a thoughtful contributor to the csy2k list offered, "I'm coming to the conclusion that *everyone* has a Y2K axe to grind... or at the very least, hoping that there will be a differential survival rate between them and whoever their political opposition is. While I'm no different in this respect, I've learned a great deal of information from hard-core Religious Right people about y2k preparation / survival techniques... and have concluded that we need to get along with each other in the common cause of survival. I've even run across militia types that agree completely with me about this." Insert image of coyote and rabbit sharing a log in a flood.

The types of people likely to survive even a "bad-case" scenario, seem to span the spectrum of social and political ideology. This is encouraging for those of us who favor philosophical diversity as being a healthful milieu in which to reorganise society.

However, the connotation of "revolution" is a disaffected group organising to effect change---a deliberate willful act. Responding to what amounts to a manmade natural disaster, whatever one's agenda, does not, in my mind, a revolution make.


"It will be as fleeting as a cool breeze upon the back of one's neck"---Joseph I. Guillotin (1738-1814)

-- Hallyx (Hallyx@aol.com), December 14, 1998.

Hallyx, my dear friend!

I guess I can see how y2k could be a revolution in this sense...

y2k has raised awareness in many areas where vision was lacking before.

Y2k is a revolution in awareness and that leads directly to the death of the comfortable vision of the world that surrounds the individual. Immediately, upon realization, people begin a search for the truth and the facts that leads them on a journey toward understanding deeper social and political and financial issues. That is a bad thing for the establishment.

Y2k is a revolution because it destroys complacent behavoir and motivates the individual to act on their own behalf. That is a very bad thing for the establishment.

AFter all, if your happy, well fed and comfortable in your pursuit of the latest toys and what's going on with your favorite sitcom then you are unaware and not interested in the real world.

Y2k just doesn't allow that to be possible.

Am I way off?

Mike ============================================================

-- Michael Taylor (mtdesign3@aol.com), December 14, 1998.

Here's my lunchbreak freeform US$0.02 worth on Hallyx's question "...WW2 as a revolution; by whom, against what?" And, I'm sure this isn't what RC's stepfather had in mind.

WW1 (yes, One) was supposed to be the endgame in an on-going global effort to rid the world of monarchy and create a global government to be controlled by the business elite. A lot of progress was made toward that effort, but it didn't quite work out. The League of Nations failed. (because of the damned American constitution!! the vote didn't quite pass...)

WW2 was in the planning stages as early as before the beginning of the great depression, and the depression only served to help create the preconditions for another global war. You see, big wars like that are big business. The Ford's , Harrimans, GM's, Rockefeller's, and others did an awful lot work to get Hitler rearmed in the thirties (he was a willing dupe) and Roosevelt and Churchill coordinated efforts to get the US involved. (which, by the way, although Roosevelt intended US involvement all along, he played a pretty good isolation game. transparent to some, believed by most).

So, it was a revolution of the business elite to gain more control over global resources, to increase the flow of global capital, to set up a global government - The United Nations, which for many years fell under western hegemony, until it wasn't useful any more when the multi-nationals were strong enough. It had nothing to do with "fighting the good fight against fascism" for the people who set it up. The same people who fought the Soviets for access to Hitler's scientists after the war. The same people who created the conditions for the "Cold War." The same people who brought us Vietnam (where, by the way, most or all US foreign and domestic policy objectives were achieved...) The Persian Gulf War (George Bush's father Prescott was instrumental in arming Hitler, George learned that lesson well and applied it to Saddam) and . . . Y2K? History will tell us more . . .

-- pshannon (pshannon@inch.com), December 14, 1998.

Jeez, what a bunch of incredibly interesting answers.

When I say revolution I don't mean just voting out the Demos in 2000 or martial law, or even civil war. What I meant by y2k revolution can be illustrated by the mother of all revolutions, Russia 1916/-1918. WWI created the preconditions, the regime was already rotten - and, notably, there wasn't a commonality of vision or purpose among the various revolutionary factions waiting in the wings. Y2k plays the role of WWI here - a primer, but not the real charge. The current internal rot, greed, corruption, lying, etc. among established gov't and corporate authorities - these play the role of the Romanovs and Rasputin. But all these are side elements in the game.

==> In y2k, I see the final chance of human revolt against "the machine" or 'Technique' in Ellul's sense. I don't advocate it at all, I know life was hard before tech, etc. I'm just saying, it appears that y2k, just like WWI gave a wedge against the Romanovs, is giving humanity one final wedge, one last desparate play to "revolt" against technology and "the system" itself. Y2K is technology's last possible choke point before the end game, total assimilation into the machine. No value judgements here from me, for all I know people would be happier totally assimilated. I'm just analyzing.



-- runway cat (runway_cat@hotmail.com), December 14, 1998.

Rather than revolution, its more a top-down, bottom-up, re- examination of what our co-dependencies and interdependencies are.

For those paying attention now, and those to come next year, Y2K forces some hard questions to be asked of each individual. Like... How do I define survival? What is my real fear? How prepared is prepared in the face of massive uncertainty? How will my neighbors behave? What will the government do? What are my alternatives? What are basics? What is important to me? And on, and on.

When you have a war, it implies there is a visible opposition. I dont see that here. No one can point a finger and say there, over there, is the bad guy. Its everywhere, and its completely global. We all gave up responsibility for directing our own destinys, because it was easier to let them and technology organize our lives for us. It was easier to accept lives we didnt like living rather than go against the norm and actually DO something to change our lives. Even technology didnt do it to us, we did it to technology.

Each person now has an opportunity to take their life back. If Y2K is a revolution, its on a personal, consciousness level, when push comes to shove.


-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), December 14, 1998.

Yes, Diane, that's right, I agree. To fit the normal idea of a war or revolution, there has to be a human opponent or opposition group(s). My idea of y2k as a revolution is probably too "far out": I see no human opponent(s), rather technology itself, esp. computers, as a potentially independent life form, that has a kind of "blind watchmaker's" goal, the "desire" to assimilate and replace us. I have no problem with that, this is just analysis. We are in its "jaws" now, but we built in a "trap door" - y2k. Unless y2k halts technological advance, I see the human race as assimilated and effectively erased as an independent life form within 100 years. Just as the silk worms of China can no longer exist without human care, that would be our status w.r.t. computers/machines. You know, standard SF stuff. But this is for real, and the unconscious "escape hatch" we built in is - y2k.

Before you write me off as a total nut, I'll state for the record now that I have a graduate degree from MIT, not that credentials are worth anything HERE!

Thanks for listening, -RC

-- Runway Cat (runway_cat@hotmail.com), December 14, 1998.

What about the Industrial Revolution? Isn't Y2K possibly just an extension of that? Maybe the end of it?

Howz about the Agricultural Revolution? Didn't that lead us from nomadism to hive existence?

I believe we think in terms of "Revolution" as being violent because of the "American Revolution" or "Revolutionary War." Webster Says:

" (rotation of celestial bodies aside) ...a sudden, radical or complete change; a fundamental change in political organization; activity or movement designed to effect fundamental changes in the socioeconomic situation; a change of paradigm..." among other things.

I think it will be revolutionary. I think it will be a painful paradigm shift. I think it will be as revolutionary as the switch from paganism to christianity. I think the last five hundred years of "progress" will be fundamentally altered in a period of about 18 months. I think none of us ain't seen nothing yet...

-- pshannon (pshannon@inch.com), December 14, 1998.

"Before you write me off as a total nut, I'll state for the record now that I have a graduate degree from MIT"

Well that makes you a card carrying nut! ;) (To us sheeples anyway ;) )

According to Webster's definition, it would definitely be a revolution, if GN has anything to say about it.

(Couldn't keep quiet even though I had nothing enlightening to say, this thread is captivating ;) )

-- Chris (catsy@pond.com), December 14, 1998.

what a great thread...

"...a sudden, radical or complete change; a fundamental change in political organization; activity or movement designed to effect fundamental changes in the socioeconomic situation; a change of paradigm..."

I've always felt this way about y2k. But, I started feeling a shift in paradigm even before I was y2k aware. Really strange but true.

Maybe this is the "end" of the industrial revolution and it will be painful but I think it also is necessary. I think this is the death of one age and our rebirth into a new age.

Maybe we've become so entrenched in our perceptions regarding the environment, history, science, society, etc. that we need to be knocked down and made to sort everything out from scratch.

When we figure out that, as a species, we don't know everything (and in fact we know very little) then we can disgard our perceptions and start forming a new vision. I've never understood how people, especially well educated people, can form conclusions so rigid that they discount all other possibilities. In the context of known human history we our science and technology are really in their infancy. I have no doubt there are wonders and knowledge we can't even comprehend that are still waiting to be discovered.

I'm planning on holding on to this hope no matter what the next decade brings forth.

Mike ======================================================

-- Michael Taylor (mtdesign3@aol.com), December 14, 1998.

I agree, this thread is fascinating. Particularly since *I* (arrogant glare) have the answers.

High school, this time last year (minus a few weeks). Starting a course on revolutions. The first part of which dealt with revolutionary theory. There were a set of criteria which HAD to be present for a revolution to occur and be successful. When those criteria were there, however, a revolution INVARIABLY happened. There has not been one single exception in history to these.

Rebels, revolutionaries, can bring about some of these conditions. For instance, by doing violence they can cause the rulers to crack down and introduce high security, ID cards, etc, which means the rulers become a lot more visibly "oppressive".

However, it's possible for a revolution to happen without all of these criteria. All you need is "most" of them, if they're strong enough.

If there is no "plausible alternative" (revolutionaries), then you do not have a revolution. You have a collapse. This sort-of happened in France, 1789. You might also be able to say it happened in Rome, 3rd-5th centuries.

We have most of those criteria now. The only one really lacking is the "plausible alternative".


-- Leo (leo_champion@hotmail.com), December 14, 1998.


That's really interesting.

What could the "plausible alternative" in a y2k revolution be?

Would it be difficult to speculate until after The Day and the aftermath? After all, there are so many variables and possible future events. Because of the "fix on failure" aspect of y2k much of what might happen is grey.

Mike ===================================================================

-- Michael Taylor (mtdesign3@aol.com), December 14, 1998.


we need to be knocked down and made to sort everything out from scratch.


Scratch everything, and sort out what needed to be knocked down?

One way is reactive, the other way is active. As in, to take action. Purification does that. What is wheat, what is chaff?

Leo, I suspect the "plausible alternative" is learning to cooperate rather than splinter further. The true test of the success of any revolution is, was it united or divided.

Is this a Harvest cycle?


-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), December 15, 1998.

My point was that we don't *need* a "shadow alternative". There wasn't one in France, just massive discontent. The result was basically chaos for ten years until Napoleon seized power.

Rome didn't have one either. Rome was a worst-case. Society simply disintegrated.

Look at Germany in the 20s. Civil war, virtually. A lot of very dangerous revolutionary turmoil. Finally Hitler rose to power. If it hadn't been for the Allies holding a sword over Germany, the Weimar government would probably have never had a chance; Prussia would probably have seceded, as would have the other nations, only to be invaded by Prussians. Something like that.

"Collapse" is a valid event. We don't NEED a plausible alternative for the US federal government to go.

Diane, this is the source of why I'm compelled to disagree with you. In a crisis, in a REALLY bad shortage, people tend to fight each other for food. In the Ukranian famines of the 30s, for instance, people were killing each other for food and cannibalism was rampant. You've all heard my theories on civil disintegration before, so I'll cut that.

I don't think community will work in a crisis. All you need is one bad apple, one selfish person to undercut and destroy the arch..and it all goes to bits. Maybe in some communities of friends, but I doubt that the average neighbourhood will rally as you seem to believe they will. You have a very high opinion of humanity ;)

What I am inclined to believe is that the collapse will end, there will be a period of "sorting out" -this once the violence has ended, the disease has stabilised and the deaths from hunger is a decreasing constant as those who will starve, have done so and the new farmers (survivalists, etc) learn by experience. This could probably be 2002-2005.

After that, there will be gradual building. Specialisation will slowly come back. The problem is that in a worst-case scenario, many many people will be dead. It could take generations, like Infomagic said, to rebuild the population needed for medium-sized (10,000+) towns, let alone cities the size of New York. On the one hand, we'd have the knowledge to go -theoretically- back to 1999 technology. On the other, there could be a cultural aversion to that, and probably no real need for the internet or cellular phones.

It all depends on the number of dead.


-- Leo (leo_champion@hotmail.com), December 15, 1998.

"What I am inclined to believe is that the collapse will end, there will be a period of "sorting out" -this once the violence has ended, the disease has stabilised and the deaths from hunger is a decreasing constant as those who will starve, have done so and the new farmers (survivalists, etc) learn by experience. This could probably be 2002-2005. "

Have you ever seen chickens in an overpopulated coop? They peck at each other until they die. Rats and mice in large numbers in a confined space do the same. In the tundra, when there's an over population of wolves, war among packs break out, desease spread, large numbers die.

Mother earth has started this revolution. She's intent on culling humans. I sound nuts, but I tend to see things from the big picture.

-- Chris (catsy@pond.com), December 15, 1998.


Its your premise that people tend to fight each other for food. I dont disagree with that. I do disagree with the premise that we cant fix that situation. Remember Russia in its heyday, controlling all the food supplies? It was the common kitchen garden, grown by most everyone, in any way they could manage it, that actually fed their nation.

We, globally, have the opportunity, to plant enough gardens, this spring as a trial run, to practice personal food prep, and set up the grassroots systems for creation of local farmers markets everywhere. A sort of community-wide back to basics effort. IF we can pull that off, we can change the larger Y2K repercussions picture, IMHO.

Teamwork, works. Sports taught them. Most people get that. Especially when they get the gut-wrenching alternative possibilities.

Leo, I guarantee you, you WILL experience what you focus on. Energy and awareness flows, where attention goes.

Chris, Mother Earth will respect and support us, if we all choose to reciprocate.


-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), December 15, 1998.

I don't know about Mother Earth, Chris. I just think it's a sociodynamic thing. Our society is too big and too complex. Bye-bye.

Diane, you clearly live in a well-off neighbourhood. Of intelligent people. And in such an environment, what you're saying and doing could conceivably work.

However, you forgot the westies.

I don't mean to discriminate against the stupid, the poor, the inept and the people whose life ambition is to have slept with forty different women...

But on 1/1/00, at about midday, a lot of people are going to wake up. They're going to reach for that bottle of Johnnie Walker and swear because the girl they laid last night has gone and taken it with her. They're going to scratch themselves and go to the fridge and figure out that a) someone's taken the last stubbie, and b) everything else is lukewarm. They're going to get down on the couch and realise that the TV isn't working. They're going to find that the shower's not working. They're going to pick up the phone and find no dialtone.

That night, they'll find no power. They'll go "huh" and kick the TV in because they can't watch Melrose. They'll hear police sirens that night, while trying to get the radio to work by torchlight.

The next day, they'll go looking for food. All the shops will be closed. Those that will be open, will be charging huge prices. The westies will either buy food there, or eat the dregs of what they had. Some will decide to kick open the closed shops and start looting. Others will follow.

The third day, when their food runs out, they'll start looking "who else has food". They'll remember "hey, those people who were growing gardens."

They'll go to the areas of those people. They'll raid the gardens. You can't educate ALL the morons.


-- Leo (leo_champion@hotmail.com), December 15, 1998.

What started off as a very intersting philosophical thread seems to have devolved into a typical banal scenario-scuffle between the optimists and the pessimists, in which latter category I must ashamedly count myself.

As an aside, let me get the semantical confusion out of the way. Runway Cat's original post implied a correlation between WW2 and revolution (in the physical/political sense)and then extrapolated to comparisons with Y2K. I wanted to understand it on that basis, so I explained my apperception of "revolution" as a way of asking him to explain his version. Of course, I know the alternate definitions: changed paradigm or worldview (industrial revolution), revolutionary new deoderant. I had hoped that my reference to vision, either before or after the fact, would clarify this. To wit: the agricultural revolution evolved a new worldview; the industrial revolution changed the existing paradigm. The American Revolution, as well as the French and Russian, was "driven" by a new vision, whether it was actually realised. Fortunately in our case, it was.

Y2K, and it's multifarious scenarios--"subjectively" good or bad--do not, in my mind, constitute revolution in either sense. Most of the visions I see here, like Diane's or Leo's, are responsive--a Y2K agenda, if you will--but based on preformed vision. Many people, i.e.: the environmentalists (Carmicheal), militant survivalists (Milne), fundamentalists (North) and others, dissatisfied with the way the world turns, seem to want to use Y2K as a tool or catalyst to effect revolutionary change to suit their preconceived notions of TBOTWAWLI, The Beginning Of The World As We Like It. This invariably leads to discussions of ad hominem aftermath scenarios rather than a more objective consideration of its effects. Of course, this is what makes this forum so entertaining and educational.

I maintain that it was an accident (though I kind of like RCs ironic take of Y2K as a subconscious trapdoor); even the most treacherous revolutionary didn't have enough imagination to think this one up. The most nefarious hAcKeR couldnt have dreamed this up in his must drug-addled cyber-wetdreams. Only the writers and poets seem to have the vision and insight to apprehend and communicate the danger. Man undone by his contraptions is a time-honored theme; Mary Shelly (Frankenstein), E. M. Forster (The Machine Stops) were among the first.

As I try to circle the herd back to the top of this thread, Id like to investigate this question: How might Y2K effect a revolution in perception? Everyone has an investment in his or her own worldview. How does Y2K change or re-enforce that perspective? What unexpected revolution in thinking might it engender? Survivalism, community, neo-Luddism, Rapture---all have been brought to the table at one time or another. What completely new and different facets of Y2K effects on our philosophy, have yet to be discussed?

Well, Ive aggravated my tendonitis enough for one day. Back to you in the studio.


The day the world ends, no one will be there; just as no one was there when it began. This is a scandal. Such a scandal for the human race that it is indeed capable, collectively, out of spite, of hastening the end of the world by all means, just so it can enjoy the show.--- Jean Baudrillard,Cool Memories, chapter 5 (1987).

-- Hallyx (Hallyx@aol.com), December 15, 1998.

"What completely new and different facets of Y2K effects on our philosophy, have yet to be discussed? "

How about a "moral revolution"? I have the nasty habbit of wanting to partake in such interesting discussions, but I'm unable to express my thoughts eloquently like Halyx. I'll give it a shot anyway.

I believe that the moral fabric of society has desintagrated significantly and relatively fast this century. In perticular with the children. I believe it was caused in part from the advant of medias such as radio,t.v., movies/vcr etc., which in turn facilitated the change in the way kids entertained themselves and comunicated among themselves, i.e., music changed etc. The changes have picked up speed exponentialy, and now with the advant of computers then the internet, it is out of control. The speed of change is so fast now that kids are totally disoriented, as well as adults.

Perhaps Y2K, if it's severe enough to slow things down consederably, would slow down this change, giving time to youth to think and get their own personal bearings, and grow up with new...revolutionary ideas of their own?

-- Chris (catsy@pond.com), December 15, 1998.

Revolution - in the sense of causing the fulfillment of the Unabomber's (revolutionary by any definition) program. Or, alternatively, maybe merely - GameTime


-- Runway Cat (Runway_Cat@hotmail.com), December 16, 1998.

youth to think and get their own personal bearings, and grow up with new...revolutionary ideas of their own?

Chris, youth have a very popular revolutionary idea of their own. It's called Marxism. Not revolutionary? It is when you consider that most youth think Fidel Castro invented and exemplified it. Oh, and throw in a bit of Green-ness too.. such as the notion that all industry above basic agriculture is an evil blight upon the world.

On the other hand, I fervently hope that most of those imbeciles will die painfully by y2k.


-- Leo (leo_champion@hotmail.com), December 16, 1998.


I agree. Change is picking up speed exponentially, and its been happening since the 1700's. We've had the industrial revolution, the atomic age, the space age, the post-industrial society, and now the Information Age.

We're on a runaway train, and can't stop it. People have to be retrained several times during their adult life just to be able to hold a modern job.

We're moving way too fast for anyone to figure out what's going on. Now, we've been thrown a new curve. Peter de Jager described it this way, "We've come to the first turn in the information superhighway, and they forgot to install a steering wheel."

-- Kevin (mixesmusic@worldnet.att.net), December 16, 1998.

Hallyx, I love the Baudrillard quote!

You say: "As I try to circle the herd back to the top of this thread, Id like to investigate this question: How might Y2K effect a revolution in perception?"

Wow, that's what we're trying to figure out, huh? You gave great examples of what some people are bringing to it (Survivalism, community, neo-Luddism, Rapture) and I suppose the trick is to try to decide IN ADVANCE what that change in perception is to be for each of us as individuals, rather than just "let it happen." Hopefully we can each of us be in a place and with people who share the same perspective...

-- pshannon (pshannon@inch.com), December 17, 1998.

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