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31 July 2011 | Draft

Gruesome but Necessary: Global Governance in the 21st Century?

Extreme normality as indicator of systemic negligence

-- / --

Varieties of basic response to massacre
Situating violence in a wider context
Rationalization and legitimation of violence
Making a point in a democratic society
Failure of non-violent point-making processes
Requisite human sacrifice for effective point-making
Current analogue to the Aztec sacrificial pyramid?
Gruesome but necessary prospects for global governance?


How are people to think of the massacre of less than a hundred Norwegians -- in a global society characterized by daily reporting of instances of tragic deaths of every kind and number? What might who do about it and why?

The concern here is with distinguishing the set of possible responses in the light of the range of other instances of deliberate or inadvertent enabling of death.

The most obvious approach is to recognize it as a totally repugnant incident calling for appropriate punishment of the person directly responsible. This however raises the question as to whether others enabling similar degrees of violence should be treated according to the same logic. And, if not, why not?

A further possibility is to enveadour to elicit learnings from the incident of relevance to both other incidents and to other forms and patterns of violence. This however raises the question of how the case for some of these other forms of violence is legitimized and rationalized -- and whether any degree of moral equivalence should be recognized.

There is as yet a further possibility by endeavouring to "hear" what the perpetrator was claiming to seek in vain to communicate. This is problematic in that it suggests the possibility that there may be some "point" to the perspective so repugnantly emphasized. Listening after the fact may then be understood as condoning the violence in some way.

Aside from the immediate challenge for Norwegians, there is nevertheless a challenge for those elsewhere. One cautionary argument is however offered from a UK perspective by Simon Jenkins (The last thing Norway needs is illiberal Britain's patronising, The Guardian, 26 July 2011), arguing that "hysterical British reaction poses a greater threat to democracy than Anders Breivik's meaningless and random acts of violence". With respect to wider learnings from the incident, the print copy version of that same article was titled "Breivik is of interest to brain scientists, but not to politics". Despite valuable insights in the article, the titles would seem to preclude further learnings of any value.

Curiously however the Norwegian was an enthusiast of online war games -- World of Warcraft and Modern Warfare 2 -- in which millions engage daily, often for many hours at a time (Norway Terrorist Used World Of Warcraft As A Training Simulator, 27 July 2011; Terrorist Anders Behring Breivik Used Modern Warfare 2 as "Training-Simulation", 23 July 2011). More curiously, the justification offered for the slaughter by Anders Behring Breivik, through his lawyer, was that it was "gruesome but necessary". That phrase figures prominently (some 75,000 hits, at the time of writing) in any web search relating to World of Warcraft -- prior to any reference to Breivik. It would appear to be recognized as a slogan.

If the Norwegian incident is to be considered a "wake up call", as has been argued, the phrase "gruesome but necessary" (used in the title of this article) is presented here as a potentially fruitful way of framing the currently implicit approach to governance in the 21st Century. It recalls the controversy associated with the thinking during the Cold War of military strategist and systems theorist Herman Kahn (Thinking About the Unthinkable, 1962; Thinking about the Unthinkable in the 1980s, 1984).

The question raised by any "wake up call" is the nature of the "unthinkable" which society may find it disastrously convenient not to think about (Karen A. Cerulo, Never Saw It Coming: cultural challenges to envisioning the worst, 2006; Joshua Cooper Ramo, The Age of the Unthinkable: why the new world disorder constantly surprises us and what we can do about it, 2009; Charles Handy, The Age of Unreason: new thinking for a new world, 1989). Is civilization indeed "unconscious"? -- as argued by John Ralston Saul (The Unconscious Civilization, 1995).

What indeed to do about the unthinkable? How indeed to engage with it? -- as separately discussed (Engaging with the Inexplicable, the Incomprehensible and the Unexpected, 2010; An Inconvenient Truth -- about any inconvenient truth, 2008)? In his efforts to "make a point", and his articulated frustration that people "Don't understand his point of view", do Breivik's actions raise questions about how it is possible to do so effectively by non-violent means in a democratic society? The abstract metaphorical notion of "point making" then merits careful attention.

In that regard, does the proximity and intense media coverage of the horrific Norwegian incident offer a well-personalized opportunity through which to engage with known phenomena from which unknown numbers of people suffer daily?

Varieties of basic response to massacre

In considering the following responses it is appropriate to note that, for those focused primarily on one, any argument for recognizing another tends itself to be held to be highly problematic. This is in accordance with a wider tendency evident in politics where any openness to consideration of a different perspective amongst adherents of one party is immediately held to be evidence of suspicious covert allegiances to another -- being "soft on communism", a "fellow traveller", etc. It is a wonder that those who study the views of "others" are not automatically condemned for upholding their worldviews.

The responses to incidents of violence can be tentatively clustered as follows.

Focus on the individual responsible: The individual may be categorized as:

Use of any combination of these categories offers a means of providing a conceptual "box" to achieve a degree of closure -- precluding the necessity for any fundamental questioning. All that then remains is to ensure that the "contents" of the box are disposed of and the probability of any recurrence is severely reduced (if not eliminated). It is only in the latter sense that any learning is to be derived from the incident. In contrast to the following, this mode is characterized by highly focused antipathy.

Focus on social impact and community reaction: Attention, notably as articulated by the media, may focus primarily on those affected:

This is necessarily a mode through which others associate strongly -- typically vicariously -- through sympathy and empathy with those affected through their time of grief. This ready response raises concerns at personal and collective inability to respond to the many suffering daily "elsewhere" from similar violence -- most notably the millions raped and killed in the Eastern Congo over the past decade (Frank Humphreys, Sensationalism or silence in the Congo: rape, death and the media,, 26 May 2011).

Focus on inhibiting such behaviour in future: This characterizes the formal societal response to such incidents in general, rather than the particular event:

The track record of such measures with respect to past incidents around the world suggests that these measures are difficult to deploy effectively. Typically they result in repressive measures, reducing the quality of life of others, whilst failing to prevent new incidents from emerging on occasion, Such measures also provide an unfortunate opportunity for those who welcome a repressive society as a means of advancing their agenda.

Focus on socio-political context engendering such behaviour: This endeavours to elicit insights from the incident as a means of enabling institutional and community learning to preempt such behaviour:

Given assumptions regarding the perpetrator of a repugnant act as an "other" of the most alienating kind, some insights are to be gained by using the perpetrator as a form of "mirror", as argued in another highly publicized case (Looking in the Mirror -- at Josef Fritzl? Global conditions on reflection, 2009). The question is how the traumatic individual situations of all involved might be related to the trauma currently experienced by people everywhere (Implication of Personal Despair in Planetary Despair, 2010).

As an essentially research-oriented focus, there is a disconnect between the insights garnered and the capacity to implement effective responses to constrain such developments in the future. Ironically, as with Breivik, it is likely to be difficult for those so engaged to "make a point" and to be heard. The approach is readily framed as insensitively abstract and an "honourable" means of avoiding action. One consequence may however be the promotion of more sensitive responses to potential perpetrators and their concerns. This can be readily and cynically exploited and can be framed as creating vulnerabilities to the emergence of such incidents in a society already challenged by tensions it is unable to handle with much skill.

Situating violence in a wider context

Such incidents are naturally experienced as extremely unwelcome surprises -- an offence against the normality of community life, especially in the case of privileged areas and regions where such behaviour is totally uncharacteristic. Their unpredictable nature is highly problematic, as with their social consequences (Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: the impact of the highly improbable, 2007).

It is then easy to lose sight of conditions to which people are variously and frequently exposed through the media -- a form of virtual normality which may itself be both habit-forming and predispose to a degree of acceptance of such behaviour. The phenomena are well-known "from elsewhere" and the excitement of exposure to them may even be cultivated through the media. Clearly these effects may be far greater in the case of an individual in some way disposed to give expression to them in physical reality rather than in virtual reality.

Examples usefully cited include:

This range of forms of violence is helpful as a means of placing the acts of Breivik in Norway in context. Again, it is not a matter of condoning those acts but rather of recognizing the degree to which global society effectively constitutes a global culture of violence -- one in which violence is tolerated, promoted, and celebrated (if not glorified) as a source of daily popular entertainment for which no adequate substitutes have yet been found. The culture of violence necessarily permeates daily discourse and the responses which it determines, as separately argued (Enhancing Sustainable Development Strategies through Avoidance of Military Metaphors, 1998).

Rationalization and legitimation of violence

Many constituencies are of course extremely righteous in their use of violence -- euphemistically termed "force" (framed as an expression of the values of "law and order") -- in their response to opposing forces in their environment. The following arguments can be distinguished:

It is readily argued that none of these constitutes an adequate justification for violence. Such arguments are however just as readily set aside in a global culture of violence. The process of righteously deploring one form of violence is just as likely to be evident in those indulging -- righteously -- in another form of violence.

Making a point in a democratic society

It is most curious that violence may be understood as undertaken in order to "make a point". As noted by Jamie Doward (Anders Behring Breivik: motives of a mass murderer, The Guardian, 23 July 2011), citing David Wilson (A History of British Serial Killing, 2011): "This man was making a point that was very clearly thought through".

As an abstraction, it is unclear as to what significance is to be attached to this. Within what "space" or "geometry" is a metaphorical "point" being made? In endeavouring to communicate the worldview of Breivik to the media, his lawyer indicated his frustration that people "Don't understand his point of view". As noted above, given that it was his failure to "make a point" by non-violent means, this curious abstraction merits careful attention.

Discounting point-making by the insane? The argument, cited above, of Simon Jenkins (The last thing Norway needs is illiberal Britain's patronising, The Guardian, 26 July 2011), with respect to wider learnings from the incident, as indicated by the title of the print copy version of that same article ("Breivik is of interest to brain scientists, but not to politics") should therefore be set aside. It is as foolish as the execution of Saddam Hussein, from whom much might possibly have been learned. This would be consistent with the old strategic adage: "Know thy enemy" -- and to which it might be added "Do not assume that you do". Jenkins however asserts:

The Norwegian tragedy is just that, a tragedy. It does not signify anything and should not be forced to do so. A man so insane he can see nothing wrong in shooting dead 68 young people in cold blood is so exceptional as to be of interest to criminology and brain science, but not to politics. We can sympathise with the bereaved, and with their country in its collective sense of loss. But the tragedy does not signify. No, Anders Breivik does not tell us anything about Norway. No, he does not tell us anything about "the state of modern society".

It could well be argued that this "insanity" bears comparison with the indulgence in many of the forms of violence cited above.

Commentary critical of Jenkins argument subsequently included (Letters, The Guardian, 28 July 2011):

Clearly Simon Jenkins was somewhat unsuccessful in "making his point"! However, for Seumas Milne (In his rage against Muslims, Norway's killer was no loner, The Guardian, 28 July 2011):

The Norwegian mass killer's own lawyer has branded him "insane". It has the advantage of meaning no wider conclusions need to be drawn about the social context of the atrocity... In fact, however deranged the bombing and shooting might seem, studies of those identified as terrorists have shown they rarely have mental illness or psychiatric abnormalities.... the continuum between the poisonous nonsense commonplace in the mainstream media in recent years, the street slogans of groups like the EDL and Breivik's outpourings is unmistakable.

Milne concludes:

For those who failed to deliver decent jobs, wages and housing, and encouraged employers to profit from low-wage migrant labour, how much easier to scapegoat minority Muslim communities than deal with the banks and corporate free-for-all that triggered the crisis? The attempt to pathologise last Friday's slaughter [in Norway] and separate it from the swamp that spawned it can only ratchet up the danger to all of us.

In this light it is not Breivik that is of any interest but rather the collective mindset by which his worldview has been engendered -- and which has not disappeared as a result of his actions.

Opportunities available for point-making: In considering these it is useful to note how the "point" is received, handled, registered, represented, and possibly discounted and forgotten. The opportunities include:

Curiously the use of "projectiles" in their physical form -- most notably bullets -- offers the most focused method for "making a point", both literally and metaphorically. The design of weapons to deliver bullets to a chosen point for maximum effect merits consideration in this light. Related language is used as in "targetting" those to receive the points -- as in any marketing campaign. Considerable importance is attached to "penetration" (as in market penetration) and "impact" on the target.

There is a degree of irony to the fact that many strategies of government are articulated using a widely-marketed software package to enable point-making, namely Microsoft PowerPoint. The points made with it are readily described as "bullet points" -- from points to bullet points to bullets. This suggests the possibility of exploiting the military metaphor even further (Conversion of Strategic Bullets into Global Accomplishment, 2009; Cognitive Ballistics vs. Derivative Correlation in Memetic Warfare: suicide bombing as a weapon of mass distraction? 2009).

Procedures for discounting points made: As noted in passing, most of the above procedures for making a point have their counterparts in procedures for avoiding or ignoring the points made -- if they are even allowed to be made. In summary these include:

Reference to bullets is again useful given that extensive consideration has been given to the technology for protection against bullets and other devices. This may include securely fortified establishments, counter-measures, security personnel and procedures, and body armour -- a deployed in embassy construction (Designing buildings for America's diplomats is getting ever trickier, The Economist, 30 July 2011). Their metaphorical equivalents may also be developed. Of interest is the need for ever more powerful "bullets" to penetrate such defences -- a concern for any marketing campaign.

Failure of non-violent point-making processes

This theme has been variously explored separately:

Systemic evaluation of point-making: It is of particular interest that no effort seems to be made whatsoever to track the efficacy of point-making. If voting is to be considered a form of point-making, it is striking the attention given to verification and other procedures -- compared to the absence of such procedures to ensure the validity and protection of other forms of point-making. There are no "feedback lawyers". There is no capacity to distinguish arbitrary "filtration points" at which feedback gets "spiked", nor to distinguish genuine feedback from that which is analogous to "ballot box stuffing" or other classic forms of manipulation of the voting process. Especially interesting is the incapacity to distinguish use of artificial identities now planned as a means of facilitating astroturfing.

Point-holding facilities: Of particular interest are the lack of facilities to collect and hold points made in any systematic integrative manner. Failure of point making in a democratic society may be effectively ensured by encouraging dispersion of effort -- "divide" the point-making opportunities and "rule" by variously ignoring them.

An ironic exception to this is of course the assiduous collection by security and intelligence services of points made, as recently noted with respect to ECHELON (Sherwood Ross, ECHELON: The Global Eavesdropping Scheme Dwarfs Murdoch's "News of the World" Global Research, 20 July 2011). Speculatively it may be asked whether ECHELON could be "turned around" to make intelligent use of the points made for the benefit of humanity as a whole (From ECHELON to NOLEHCE: enabling a strategic conversion to a faith-based global brain, 2007)

An effort to respond to the lack of holding facilities was made over several decades through the Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential with its databases of tens of thousands of profiles of "points made" by international constituencies with respect to the "problems" they perceived and the "strategies" they advocated -- as well as the systemic and other relationships between them as a complex network (cf. Global Solutions Wiki, 2009).

Dysfunctional point-making exemplified by commemoration processes: It is appropriate that horrific massacres should elicit commemoration for the lost and the grieving. There is however a case for questioning the extent to which such processes are misused to obscure the vital points to be taken for the future.

The "rolling coverage" of the aftermath of the Norwegian massacre by the media is regretted (Norway attacks rolling coverage, The Guardian, 24 July 2011). that coverage can be compared with the weekly coverage in passing of the "collateral damage" to Afghanistan and Libyan civilians, variously slaughtered by NATO forces (with or without Norwegian involvement) -- with or without "regret".

There is virtually zero media coverage of the unnumbered, nameless thousands killed or wounded, of the families torn asunder, or of the livelihoods destroyed. This pattern is evident in military operations over decades. Whilst there are always "military war graves" and memorials ("Lest We Forget"), and commmorative ceremonies, there are no "civilian war graves" -- and no "memorials to the Unknown Civilian". The pattern is especially evident with respect to the slaughter of tribal populations by colonial forces (as in Australia and elsewhere). If the violence is considered to be "proportionate" -- and especially if it is not -- should the "condolences" and "commemoration" not also be proportionate?

Curiously also, whilst returning soldiers -- dead or alive -- are accorded full honours, nothing is said of the numbers of dead (or wounded) for which they may be personally responsible -- especially the "collateral damage" for which they are known to be directly responsible. Nor is any support available for their dependents.

Children of veterans are offered no knowledge of the deaths for which a parent may have been responsible, however extensive the documentation provided (J. W. B. Judge, Airfield Creation for the Western Desert Campaign Introduction, 2009). The situation is all the more poignant when memorials are erected to celebrate the animals used in military operations -- as with those for carrier pigeons.

Is "collateral damage" to be understood as a modern form of "human sacrifice"?

Requisite human sacrifice for effective point-making

Human sacrifice and social transformation: Given a global culture of violence, it is valuable to review social change in the light of the "gruesome but necessary" drama of "human sacrifice". It can be argued that nearly all legislative innovations have only been brought about following an appropriate level of human sacrifice -- if only as a consequence of systemic negligence.

This is the case whether the legislation concerns the safety of children's toys, mercury pollution, or the independence of a country. To put it very bluntly, children have to be sacrificed before it is accepted that safety regulations on children's toys should be formulated. (It would not be impossible to count the number of such sacrifices associated with each piece of social change legislation.). Leadership too may call for personal sacrifice -- as with current arguments relating to austerity measures consequent on abysmal failures of governance.

New understandings of the widespread traditional practice of human sacrifice, especially as a means of placating divinity (under past regimes of faith-based governance), may provide a way of reframing the repugnant nature of disproportionate response. A prime example is human sacrifice in Aztec culture in which 84,400 were sacrificed over the course of four days in 1487.

Current variants of human sacrifice: In the light of the examples cited above, the following phenomena may be understood as modern variants of human sacrifice, as previously discussed (Contemporary reformalization of ritual "human sacrifice", 2006):

Current analogue to the Aztec sacrificial pyramid?

It is understandable that in historical terms humanity would traverse mutual mistreatment in its spatial (territorial, habeus corpus) manifestations before becoming sensitive to its more elusive temporal analogues (Presenting the Future: an alternative to dependence on human sacrifice through global pyramid selling schemes, 2001).

Pyramid selling: It is useful to recognize the extent to which the current manipulation of space-time -- based on forms of pyramid selling -- is indeed dependent on human sacrifice, whether literally or metaphorically. The present has been turned into an unrecognized altar on which people are sacrificed to the future. This is typified by the worst of assembly line and sweatshop practices, and the enshrined drudgery of the housewife.

Many people are effectively being subject to a form of pyramid selling through the manner in which they are encouraged to buy into a future -- sacrificing the present -- in a process that offers no response to their well-being in the moment. The calls for investment in the future -- repeatedly neglecting any investment in the present -- increasingly parody the pitches of "snake oil" salesmen.

Ponzi scheme: Many contemporary proposals are difficult to distinguish from variants of a Ponzi scheme in which people are called upon to invest psychological or material resources in ways that benefit the few "in the present" without any guarantee of benefit to the many "in the future" (Are Insurance Companies Just Big Ponzi Schemes? Beating Broke, 19 May 2010; The Ponzi Scheme That Is Health Insurance, Medscape, 3 December 2009; Pension Ponzi Scheme Dwarfs Madoff Scam, Pension Pulse, 21 December 2008; Economic Aspects Of The Pension Problem, Deflation Threat and Ponzi Pensions, The Market Oracle, 3 January 2010) .

Would it be possible to distinguish a difference between the pattern of the rhetoric of an Aztec priest arguing for such sacrifice and that of a national leader now arguing for an austerity programme -- and whatever is required for "growth" as the ultimate sustaining value?

As many commentators have remarked with regard to the financial crisis, there has been a degree of complicity on the part of major institutions in what can only be said to be a confidence trick -- a massive Ponzi scheme of historically unprecedented proportions. What has yet to be clarified is the extent to which promotion of "development" and "growth" is a feature of the process whereby this Ponzi scheme continues to be sustained. Perhaps most ironically, "sustainable development" is in some measure to be seen as a process of sustaining the Ponzi scheme -- being promoted as such with the greatest cynicism.

Ponzi demography: There is the suspicion that western economic logic only "works" (for the west) when the pool of disadvantaged is constantly replenished. It is difficult for many to distinguish between this logic and pyramid selling or Ponzi schemes, except in terms of scale -- and especially when rather similar selling techniques are employed, and the same classes of people seem to benefit disproportionately.

As argued separately, it is some such reframing which would clarify the nature of entrapment in what amounts to the temporal equivalent of a "shell game" (Ungovernability of Sustainable Global Democracy ? Towards engaging appropriately with time, 2011). The difficulty of detecting it from a conventional mindset has been highlighted by the success over time of the largest Ponzi scheme in history, as operated by Bernard Madoff.

Might the universal preoccupation with economic growth come to be seen as essentially a form of Ponzi scheme -- for which future generations will have to meet the cost? (Bob Lloyd, The Growth Delusion, Sustainability, 2009). In this respect the former Director of the United Nations Population Division Joseph Chamie, argues that:

Bernie Madoff's recent Ponzi scheme has drifted out of the world's headlines. However, there is another even more costly and widespread scheme - 'Ponzi Demography' - that warrants everybody's attention. While it may come in many guises, Ponzi demography is essentially a pyramid scheme that attempts to make more money for some by adding on more and more people through population growth. (Is Population Growth a Ponzi Scheme? The Globalist, 4 March 2010).

Is there then a sense in which, as with the Aztec's, the global culture of violence considers it only too appropriate to induce people to climb to the top of a pyramid where they can be appropriately sacrificed?  Cognitively and symbolically, is this process to be understood in some way as a bizarre collective analogue to the para-surrealist allegorical tale by René Daumal (Mount Analogue: a novel of symbolically authentic non-Euclidean adventures in mountain climbing, 1952)?

How many real human bodies are required to "make a point" in a global culture of violence?

Gruesome but necessary prospects for global governance?

At this time of writing, the level of unacknowledged incompetence with respect to global governance will be for history to judge in the light of:

Within such a turbulent emerging context it is reasonable to conclude that the capacity to absorb, and process creatively, the "point-making" of multiple actors is manifestly inadequate to the challenge. The credibility of authority of any kind is increasingly called into question (Abuse of Faith in Governance, 2009).

Global governance, to the extent that it can be claimed to exist, is more and more likely to be forced into a combination of four modes:

The result will be readily described as both "necessary" and "gruesome".


Like it or not, there are some really angry people "out there". They may be starving or perceive themselves to be the victims of injustice. Is it it the failure of due process in politics that encourages those endeavouring "to be heard" to "make a point" by other means?

Efforts to declare them insane or to criminalize them -- in order to safeguard the increasingly cocoon-like comfort zone of a nanny society -- can only be successful in the short term. And, like it or not, they are likely to muster good reasons to be angry: unemployment, inequality, social security, misgovernance, perks and impunity of government agents, miscarriage of justice, etc.. As remarked by Abraham Lincoln:

You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.

However, as previously argued, it would appear that the capacity of governance to respond proactively and coherently to the angry -- as a silent minority (?) -- would seem to be very limited (Ungovernability of Sustainable Global Democracy? 2011). Successful application of "just in time" business models to the unpredictable challenges of global goverance should not be considered an indication of competence -- as many disasters now demonstrate. As noted by The Economist (The absence of leadership in the West is frightening -- and also rather familiar, 30 July 2011):

A government's credibility is founded on its commitment to honour its debts. As a result of the dramas of the past few weeks, that crucial commodity is eroding in the West. The struggles in Europe to keep Greece in the euro zone and the brinkmanship in America over the debt ceiling have presented investors with an unattractive choice: should you buy the currency that may default, or the one that could disintegrate?

In the early days of the economic crisis the West's leaders did a reasonable job of clearing up a mess that was only partly of their making. Now the politicians have become the problem. In both America and Europe, they are exhibiting the sort of behaviour that could turn a downturn into stagnation. The West's leaders are not willing to make tough choices; and everybody-the markets, the leaders of the emerging world, the banks, even the voters -- knows it. It is a mark of how low expectations have sunk that the euro zone's half-rescue of Greece on July 21st was greeted with relief. As The Economist went to press, it still was not clear on what terms America's debt limit would be raised, and for how long. Even if the current crises abate or are averted, the real danger persists: that the West's political system cannot take the difficult decisions needed to recover from a crisis and prosper in the years ahead.

It might be said that the creative skills in designing processes to facilitate "point-making" in a democratic society have been displaced onto the physical process of delivery of bullets and other missiles -- rather than explore their psychosocial analogues of which there is every metaphorical trace (Missiles, Missives, Missions and Memetic Warfare: navigation of strategic interfaces in multidimensional knowledge space, 2001). As exemplified by the Norwegian massacre, even more relevant is the constrained capacity to "take a point" -- again displaced defensively onto physical protective mechanisms -- unless the "point" is accompanied by sufficient (sacrificial) bodies, as argued above.

There is an irony to the manner in which the younger generation worldwide, as with Breivik, have focused so enthusiastically on interactive wargames through which they "make" and "take" virtual points -- however "gruesome" it is considered "necessary" for the visual simulations to be to offer a degree of authenticity. As many have remarked, they may well be developing the skills and mindsets necessary for the "gruesome" reality of the future -- the operation of drones being but one example.

There remains a possibility for transforming such gaming applications (Playfully Changing the Prevailing Climate of Opinion: climate change as focal metaphor of effective global governance, 2005). Given the associated enthusiasm for music, it is appropriate to recall the argument of Jacques Attali that governance in any one period tends to reflect the style of music of the period that preceded it (Noise: the political economy of music, 1977/1985). It is then worth exploring whether musically-enhanced gaming offers neglected implications for governance in the emerging turbulent society (A Singable Earth Charter, EU Constitution or Global Ethic? 2006).

The challenge would seem to be to recognize the "geometry" of a "space" in which the variety of "points" is expressed. Assumptions that that "space" can be framed such as to include only those held to be "normal" are dangerously naive in the current context. On the other hand it could be argued that the art of governance is to act with blithe naivety on the assumption that events, especially disasters of every kind, will "decide" those matters beyond the scope of current strategic reflection and decision-making. The consequences may well be "gruesome" -- but "necessary", given the current governance capacity.  In the face of such neglect by humanity, the corrective measures elicited from Gaia -- as governor of last resort -- will indeed merit recognition as both "necessary" and "gruesome" (James Lovelock, The Revenge of Gaia: why the Earth is fighting back - and how we can still save humanity, 2006; The Vanishing Face of Gaia: a final warning: enjoy it while you can, 2009).

Eddie Gallagher (Navy SEAL): a comparison worthy of consideration?

The claim by Anders Behring Breivik that he was acting on behalf of an "international Christian military order", known as the Knights Templars, calls for possible comparison with Eddie Gallagher -- a Navy SEAL sniper acting on behalf of the United States. Gallagher was accused of multiple offenses during his final deployment to Iraq and during the Battle for Mosul. He was charged in September 2018 with ten offences under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Gallagher allegedly boasted about the large number of people he had killed, claiming he averaged three kills a day over 80 days, including four women. Gallagher was also reportedly known for indiscriminately spraying neighborhoods with rockets and machine gun fire with no known enemy force in the region. Gallagher allegedly threatened to kill fellow SEALs if they reported his actions.

The jury for Gallagher's court-martial was composed of five enlisted men, including a Navy SEAL and four Marines, plus a Navy commander and a Marine chief warrant officer, after the defence had rejected several other candidates.  On 2 July 2019, they acquitted him on six of the seven original charges but found him guilty of the seventh charge of "wrongfully posing for an unofficial picture with a human casualty". That charge carried a maximum prison sentence of four months. Since Gallagher had already served more time during his pre-trial confinement, he was released. Following intervention by President Donald Trump, Gallagher retired from the Navy at the end of November 2019 with full honours, pension, and medical benefits.


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