A Discussion of the Digital Age

The Digital Age, also known as the Information Age, has dramatically altered the tools of both industry and government. Check the components of the S & P 500 index of American companies fifty years ago, and compare them with companies on that list today. The competitive landscape at the corporate level has changed at a pace that is far more rapid than any pace we have seen in human history. Companies that head the list of most valuable today: Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook, and Netflix, did not exist fifty years ago. This is due in great part to the beginning of the Digital Age.
The technological revolutions of the last fifty years have affected all companies, both large and small. Companies with very little connection to technology, are forced to procure and deploy new digital technologies due to competitive forces. This includes seemingly the most arcane industries like automobile repair, waste disposal, and oil and gas exploration….to list but a few.
The Digital Age has also dramatically affected the shaping of modern armed forces all around the world. It has also changed the priorities of those in command. Accordingly, it has affected the endless battles associated with ambitious civilian generals and their efforts to accumulate the power to appoint or act as military generals.
One of the reasons why the Digital Age and Information Age are synonymous is because of the way this new era has changed the way information is gathered and disseminated to the masses. Print media is dying. Broadcast media is struggling. Perhaps the term “fake news” would be better understood if it was labelled, “manufactured news,” or “modified news,” created in the Digital Age.
Make no mistake, while there have been biases in news reporting for as long as there have been human beings reporting news, it is a fundamental truth that people will come to believe what it is in their best interests to believe regardless of what is actually true. And the internet delivers more of what people believe is in their best interests to believe.
We are reminded that Pontius Pilate posed a question to Jesus just prior to his crucifixion. “What is truth?” Pilate asked dutifully. These days all one has to do is watch Fox News and then MSNBC or CNN cover the same event, and he or she will ask Pilate’s timeless question, “What is truth.”
The Digital Age has also changed the political battles that determine which civilian generals will govern us. This site is significant proof of just how cheap it is to publish and disseminate information, whether it be news, opinion, or opinion disguised as news.
The lines between news, opinion, and manufactured news have never been more blurred with the low barriers to entry prevalent in the information dissemination game.
History will record that social media and the internet were sounding a death knell for investigative journalism a decade ago. Not only are major media outlets even more disinterested in investigative journalism today, particularly as their deep biases for certain viewpoints are exposed, most consumers struggle to differentiate in the face of all this information. What is genuine and what which is patently false are less distinguishable.
Again, in refraining on passing judgment on this situation, we choose instead to embrace this reality and expound upon it, instead of simply pretending these conditions do not exist.
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A Discussion of the U.S. Constitution

The U.S. Constitution is the longest lasting governing framework of its kind in human history. It has lasted because it is a supreme aggregation of wisdom regarding human nature. The U.S. Constitution should be taken literally, because when it is, it transcends partisan politics. In fact, the document actually recognizes the poisonous nature of ambitious partisans and their devious methods. It provides serious safeguards to protect ALL American citizens from the vagaries of those who would in their capacities as civilian or military generals, force others to comply with oppressive methods of governance that violate basic protections of human freedom.

We recall with great fondness and appreciation how American public education once revered the United States Constitution including all amendments. As recently as forty or fifty years ago, there was still a great consensus among government, history, and civics teachers on the beauties of the document. A grasp of how important it is that the U.S. Constitution provides crucial protections to the most ardent liberal progressives, as well as the most reactionary conservatives.....and all others in between, has been fading for decades All surveys indicate that in recent years, there has been a parting of the ways on the value of fundamental freedoms. Strangely enough it has been the once free-speech loving progressives, who have found it more useful to take their protections in the U.S. Constitution for granted while attempting to deny others the same.

Another curious perversion of the freedom mindset has been the way public education has focused on the character flaws of the Founding Fathers. Incredibly, a perversely idealistic all or none demand for human perfection among the founders, has paved the way for millions of progressives to become the enemies of both the good and the great protections contained in the U.S. Constitution. 

From time-to-time you will still hear American progressives refer to the U.S. Constitution. However, it is increasingly obvious that these references only occur during occasions when they are immediately expedient, in terms of assisting progressives in achieving short-term political goals or objectives.

Conversely, we revere the U.S. Constitution and all its amendments and keep the document in the forefront of our mindset. We embrace the document as a nearly ideal framework for the limited governance, rather than some sort of vaguely worded piece of paper that allows for maximum governance power in the hands of distant Civilian Generals.

The idea that the U.S. Constitution should merely be viewed as a very limited theoretical tool to be drawn from the rhetorical holster when a political point needs to be scored is one of the great abominations of our time.

Public education's abandonment of emphasis on the non-partisan nature of the U.S. Constitution is the shirking of a FUNDAMENTAL DUTY to a free society. Teaching of the timeless wisdom contained in the U.S. Constitution including all amendments, should be required at every level of education. The lack of emphasis on this important aspect of our existence is the precursor to political chaos and eventually the end of freedoms for all of us, regardless of our political leanings.

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A Discussion of Wars

The winners of major wars most often hire the historians who wind up defining what are the most important trends of human history.

In The Story of Civilization, authors Will and Ariel Durant chronicle human history. It is not an exaggeration to assert after a survey of their work that countless wars have dominated the primary narratives of human history. On this site, we’ll lean towards leaving commentary on wars in the pre-Napoleonic eras to the Durants work, except for America’s Revolutionary War.

We could spend our entire lives discussing the American Revolutionary War. We find more significance in three documents associated with the Revolutionary War, than the military aspects of the conflict itself. The Declaration of Independence, The Articles on Confederation, and the U.S. Constitution, including the first ten amendments, are among the most significant intellectual contributions in human history. The Declaration of Independence creates the framework for the U.S. Constitution and the Articles of Confederation are perhaps best known for what they do NOT contain, namely a strong central government.

It is crucial to the interpretation of human history to understand that the United States Constitution and its first ten amendments contained the FIRST protections of citizen rights from both civilian and military generals. These protections were first secured when the American colonies WON the Revolutionary War. However, it is even more crucial to understand that the essential elements of the U.S. Constitution had to be spelled out BEFORE the 13 original colonies would agree to be governed by a central power.

So forward looking was the document that the provisions for processes that allowed amendment of the document were also crucial. The framers knew they may have left out important protections. The allowance of amendments, paved the way for the legal end to slavery. However, it is noteworthy, once again, that a war, the Civil War, made some of the subsequent amendments to the Constitution that prohibited slavery possible. Hence our preference to see history through a Military Prism.

Two world wars in the 20th Century can often be reduced to a single concept. Too many countries around the world did not adhere to sacred constitutional processes, that enabled a more intelligent selection of their civilian/military generals. Whether we consider Kaiser Wilhelm, Benito Mussolini, Hideki Tojo, or Adolf Hitler, the point here is simple. The countries that wound up with profoundly flawed leaders did not have processes in place to help them govern themselves by choosing peace oriented civilian and/or military generals. As such, these nations eventually wound up with hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of their citizens killed in wars. Eventually it was other nation’s generals, who were dictating the terms of existence for the Germans and Japanese.

Of course, there were subsequent wars after the two world wars of the first half of the 20th Century. The Korean War and the Viet Nam War are the first to come to mind. These two conflicts were simply violent outbreaks associated with the Cold War between Russia and the U.S. Why does a Cold War continue to this day? It is simply because as nuclear proliferation became widespread, it induced a mandatory temperance towards traditional military escalations. American/Russian relations have hardly improved since the end of WWII.

The battle for power between the U.S., Russia, and even China has not ceased. Instead the conflicts are about subversion, espionage, and even a few proxy conflicts.

History records that Lyndon Johnson was particularly enamored with the idea of war. Not only did LBJ escalate the U.S. involvement in the Viet Nam War, he initiated his infamous "War on Poverty." He won neither. However, in doing so, he introduced the idea of using the term “war” to describe his personal political efforts to enact public policies he favored.  Again we have another example of why we find the use of a Military Prism very functional when reaching opinions regarding most current events.

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A Discussion of Civilian Generals

Since much of the commentary on our site is generated through a Military Prism viewpoint, it is important to expound on what we mean by the term "Civilian General."
One of the beauties of the U.S. Constitution is the insistence that the powers vested with the Commander in Chief of our nation’s military, remain in the hands of an elected civilian official. In this situation, we mean the President of the United States. Of course, the very first president of the United States was George Washington, who obviously was a former military general, just recently retired from the battlefields.

It might come as a surprise to many citizens, even well-read U.S. citizens, that there have actually been a dozen former military generals elected President of the United States. They are: George Washington, Andrew Jackson, William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Franklin Pierce, Andrew Johnson, U.S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, John Garfield, Chester Arthur, Benjamin Harrison, and Dwight Eisenhower.

Notice that since the late 19th Century when Benjamin Harrison was elected, only one former military general has been elected president. We do not think the distinction is that noteworthy. We use the term: civilian generals and military generals as almost interchangeable because both have so much in common.

Rising through the ranks of the military is as much a successful political process, as it is a merit-based process. This reality is exacerbated by the fact that appointments at the very top of the military food chain fall into the hands of successful politicians. While the military has a separate culture from the domestic political arena, sometimes the similarities seem almost endless.

There is competition between the branches of the military, for both resources and power. Like their civilian counterparts, generals/admirals are often engaged in contentious battles for the power to direct resources. Consider the confrontations between Dwight Eisenhower and George Patton or even Douglas McArthur and Chester Nimitz. Confrontations between civilian and military generals like Franklin Roosevelt and Douglas McArthur also remain legendary. Roosevelt claimed that nobody ever talked to him the way McArthur did. FDR called McArthur the most dangerous man in America. Perhaps FDR thought McArthur would one day run for public office?

We are reminded that it was the Civilian General FDR who decided to imprison all Japanese-American citizens into “camps” for the duration of World War II.

Watch the presidential debates before any election to gain a sense of how common it is for candidates to engage in vicious rhetorical warfare. In America, taking command as a Civilian General means taking command of all military generals because civilian generals obtain the power to appoint military generals. Military generals who want to retain their authority, are advised to stay in political favor with the winning Civilian Generals.

The differentiation of America's process of controlling its military is significant when comparing our governing framework to the ones in place that led to the rise of military dictators like Tojo, Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and Castro. However, make no mistake, Americans who aspire to hold national offices are the civilian equivalent of military generals. American citizens enjoy more levels of constitutional protection from all generals.

Again, we see history and current events through a Military Prism and we keep a close eye on the backgrounds and philosophies of ambitious would-be Civilian Generals.

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A Discussion of The Story of Civilization

We are great lovers of dogs, all breeds. Dogs distinguish themselves from humans after a couple of years of life. Dogs can’t talk or teach their young about their ancestors. Language distinguishes human beings from the animal world. Accordingly, history is mostly about people. Interpretations of all historical events essentially weave together successions of events and successive generations of people.

It is a fundamental truth that there is much more consensus among warring domestic political factions about the facts associated with ancient history and more distant history. Such is not the case with current events. You will find that Democrats and Republicans often find much less to argue about when discussing Genghis Khan or Alexander the Great, than they do discussing the relative merits of say Franklin Roosevelt or Ronald Reagan.

Will and Ariel Durant’s eleven volumes of, The Story of Civilization, cover a large portion of human history. We prefer to use the Durant's work as a primary reference for distant history.

Is there a distinct dividing line where partisan disputes fade away and consensus prevails? Not really. While Abraham Lincoln is generally regarded by both parties as a great leader, there is much in dispute in modern day political discourse, even regarding the Founding Fathers of 18th Century America.

Since this site offers commentary on both domestic and international history, we feel the need to stipulate on the authenticity of historical observations for a large portion of the past, lest we argue all day and then all night. We want to limit the arguing to all day.

The best and most complete collection of historical observations through the early 19th Century are contained in the eleven volumes of, The Story of Civilization. We believe the Durant's body of work is second to none. Therefore, we will stipulate to the basic truth of their findings prior to the last two hundred years. We also rely on a number of other independent historical sources, including some of the Durant’s subsequent writings.
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