An Inchoate and Growing Genetics-Based Revolution in Military Affairs: Some Implications for a Predominant Culture of Scientific Materialism and Uncertain Strategic Culture
Dr. Robert Hickson 11 January 2000
(An 11 May 2020 note from the author: This essay was first prepared for the JSCOPE January 2000 Conference on Military Ethics, while the author was a professor at the U.S. Air Force Academy. In light of the current situation with the corona virus and its societal implications, we thought to re-post these reflections here after some 20 years.)
We must prepare ourselves, I think, for the fact that there exists an inchoate and growing scientific revolution in molecular biology which will be very subtly and fearsomely applied to the conduct of war. In combinationor consilienceiwith advances in neuroscience, psycho-neuro-immunologyii, nano-technologiesiii, micro-encapsulation, information science, and the like, gravely consequential bio-technologies will, almost irresistibly and quite seductively, be employed in future forms of warfare, to include what two Chinese colonels have recently and emphatically called “non-military forms of warfare”iv and also what General Peter Schoomaker of the Special Operations Command has called the equivocal and ambiguous “seam between war and criminality.”v
Moreover, these bio-technologies will be used under the euphemistic covers of “non-lethal weapons” and of “artificial intelligence,” or under the new Orwellian “Newspeak” of the “cyborganization of warfare,” which will emphasize the progressive “interface” between cybernetics and biological organisms, including man (to include, that is, having implanted computer chips in his brain to enhance “real-time intelligence”vi). This is, indeed, a terrible thing to think upon. We may run, but we can’t hide. Such developments, often in the name of medical progress, will take us, I believe, to the foundations of our humanity and of what it means to be a man.vii What is man? And, what is man for? These two questions will not seem so abstract or etherealized when we are forcefully faced with concrete manipulations of the human genome (the entire human genetic map) and variegated genetic engineering.
If you knew that someone could manipulate nanogram doses of neuropeptides and permanently affect your immune system or your endocrine system, how would you respond, strategically, as well as personally? To what extent might you consider its subtle methods as a potential (or actual) new form of “command and control warfare,” rather than as a “weapon of mass destruction”? And then what? If we momentarily do not mention the even more intractable biological realm, but remain only within the blurred boundaries of cyberspace and cyberculture, we see that it is even now very difficult for us to know just what is a justifiable military target in “strategic (not just tactical) information warfare,” much less to form and enforce the fully proper and specific information-warfare “rules of engagement.” What are the fitting rules of engagement in “the biological realm,” and how is that defined? How would you set just limits to such subtle and intimately intrusive forms of subversive “total warfare,” especially in the psycho-biological realm? For sure, there are no merely technical solutions to spiritual and moral problems. And, this does pose a spiritual and moral problem. Do we agree? But, to what extent will the predominant culture and intellectual premises of scientific materialism, or naturalism, help us in discerning and sustaining moral proportion and just limits? To what extent are these materialist (naturalist) premises self-refuting and self-sabotaging? And, if so, then what?
The Future Forms of Warfare
General J.F.C. Fuller, hardly a sentimentalist, will help us, I believe, to explore these trenchant and effectively ineluctable questions and deeper moral and spiritual issues.viii This British leader and deep thinker was both a combatant field commander (in World War I) and a strategic-minded military historian of great candor and acuity. It is noteworthy that the recent, altogether unsettling book by the already cited two PLA Air Force Senior Colonels, Unrestricted Warfare, itself quite frequently cited a few of General Fuller’s brilliant works, somewhat surprisingly and even ironically, given Fuller’s intense, long-standing, and indefatigable opposition to “mass,” neo-tribal, “no-limit,” and “total warfare” in all of its frenzied insanity, fevered evil, and intimately destructive aftermath, especially upon the life of humane civilization and its spiritually nourishing culture. On these matters, Fuller is always fiery and eloquentand convincing, like his friend, B.H Liddell Hart.ix General Fuller, were he alive today, would certainly oppose the new forms of potential (or actual) biological warfare, especially against seeds, crops, and other agricultural targets, and subtler forms of economic warfare against civilians and their children.x
My own reflections may be fittingly understood, in part, as an extension, therefore, of one of General Fuller’s last books, and some say his best, entitled The Conduct of War, 1789-1961: A Study of the Impact of the French, Industrial, and Russian Revolutions on War and Its Conduct (1961).
In light of Fuller’s cumulative sub-title, we may further ask, in our present context, what will be the combined impact of the new molecular-biology and “bio-tech” revolutions upon the conduct of future forms of warfare, to include psychological warfare and the subtle or deceptive use of psychotropic, neurotropic, psycho-pharmacological methods, and other “behavior-control” weapons?xi That is to say, the chronic (latent and long-range), as well as immediate traumatic, use of “weapon systems without firepower.”xii Some forty years before his 1961 book, The Conduct of War, then-Colonel J.F.C. Fuller himself had foreseen the probable resort to such insidious “weapon systems without firepower,” and he saw far beyond the mere primitive use of chemical agents on the battlefields of World War I.
Almost as if he anticipated a kind of strategic and subversive, indirect psycho-cultural and psycho-linguistic warfare, Colonel Fuller, near the end of his 1920 book, Tanks in the Great War, 1914-1918, farsightedly said:
This [overtly coercive mechanical or chemical] method of imposing the will of one man on another may in its turn be replaced by a purely psychological warfare, wherein weapons are not even used or battlefields sought or loss of life or limb aimed at; but, in place, the corruption of human reason, the dimming of the human intellect, and the disintegration of the moral and spiritual life of one nation by the influence of the will of another is accomplished.xiii
Thus, even before he wrote brilliantly on the strategy, psychology, and psycho-political methods of “Soviet Revolutionary Warfare” (Chapter XI of The Conduct of War, 1789-1961), he grasped the deeper dialectical subversions (and inversion) of language and human reason (logos), and the consequences of such manipulation of human hebetude and the dimming of targeted and “drugged minds” so as to produce a kind of narco-democracy or narco-socialization and “servile state”! Today, subtle psycho-biological manipulations, as well as pharmacological methods, may likewise effectively produce “the disintegration of the moral and spiritual life of [a] nation.” Howso? Or, is my contention chimerical?
In 1961, the same year that General Fuller published his The Conduct of War, 1789-1961, Aldous Huxley somewhat seemed to support, not just to prophesy, what he called the coming “pharmacological revolution,” which is now so obvious in the spreading and deepening “narco-democracies” of the West, and, perhaps, even the West’s incipient “therapeutic collectivisms” and “narco-socialisms,” or Goethe’s feared servile (and putatively therapeutic) “Hospital State.” In a Voice-of-America sponsored lecture at the California School of Medicine in San Francisco, Aldous Huxley, himself the user and promoter of mescaline and other psychedelic drugs, and the revolutionary author of The Doors of Perception, said:
There will be in the next generation or so a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude and producing dictatorship without tears, so to speak; producing a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies, so that people will in fact have their liberties be taken away from them but will rather enjoy it, because they will be distracted from any desire to rebelby propaganda, or brainwashing, or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological methods. And this seems to be the final revolution.xiv
Part of what Aldous Huxley calls “the Final Revolution” will, I think, now likely (or very soon) include the bio-technological methods that derive from the scientific revolution in molecular biology, in consilience with cybernetics and cyberculture, and the growing field of neuroscience, for examplexv. Timothy Leary, fellow psychedelic-drug experimenter and friend of Aldous Huxley, is reported to have said, just before his death: “Drugs are good, but electrons are better.”xvi Leary’s last two books were revealingly entitled Chaos and Cyberculture (1994) and Surfing the Conscious Nets (1995).
More recently, but on the analogous theme of “targeting the human mind,” the former military-intelligence officer, Ralph Peters, also a foreign-area specialist on Central Asia, said the following about forms of future warfare and the “inevitable weapons”:
The greatest opportunity for us and the greatest danger to us, will come from the development of behavior-control weapons by the middle decades of the next [i.e., 21st] century, if not sooner. On the one hand, these will be the weapons most horrible to our civilization, but we will be unable to prevent their development. In their perfected form, they will permanently alter the perceptions and beliefs of men and women. Depending on the technological forms they take [bio-and-neuro-technologies included], defending against them may prove to be the greatest challenge we have ever faced. On the other hand, they offer the first [sic] opportunity to pacify humankind without violence.xvii
But, would not such “tranquilizing” weapons be a further extension of “the drug culture”?
Speaking of these “postmodern weapons” and their “behavior-control mechanisms,” Peters elaborates:
But this discussion is about a more rarefiedand ultimately more frighteninglevel of manipulation. Weor our enemies, should we fail to act [sic]will develop behavior-control weapons that change the mind without invading the body.xviii
Psycho-tropic weapons will be used, in “the battle for the mind.”
Imagine another weapon that targets specific nodes, or simply processes, in the brain. The insidious feature of such weapons is that the victim not only doesn’t know what hit him but doesn’t realize he has been hit by anything at all. He simply [for example] loses the desire to fight, suddenly regarding us amiably and cooperatively.xix
And there are other effects, as well, that could be attained by minor manipulations with endothelin, enkephalin, substance P, or other regulatory neuropeptides, which are small, but potent structures of amino acids, and are very diffusively consequential, as we shall soon see, in greater detail.
Although Peters does not go far enough in this investigative direction, he does see that “the dark side is that such weapons could permanently alter the perceptions of individuals and entire cultures [sic]” and that, “in the hands of a dictator or mass marketeer, they would be monstrous.”xx Furthermore, many, he says, will argue that it is “more humane to kill an individual than to interfere with his or her free will,” xxi and he adds:
Were we able to control the future fully, we might decline to develop them [these psycho-tropic weapons]. But these weapons are coming with certainty. If there is any technology that we must first master [sic] and then prohibit [sic], it is the means to alter human thought. Otherwise, Armageddon may arrive not with a rain of fire but with a quiet suggestion [which, for example, “compacts a lifetime’s worth of carefully tailored signals into a microsecond broadcast”].xxii
Ralph Peters then modestly imagines how a future historian will look back on this final chapter of his book on the “inevitable weapons” and “laugh at the naiveté and crudity with which [he has] envisioned them,” especially since he expects “some form of broadcast device,” especially “given the current developments in fields as diverse as neurobiology, anthropology, sonics, communications, digital engineering, marketing, and complexity studies.”xxiii In other words, Peters sees his own “consilience” of applied advanced research, but which is less “genetic” than my own view.
Nevertheless, Ralph Peters emphatically affirms the coming of psycho-tropic and neuro-tropic weapons, as follows:
The only thing of which I am certain is that the [21st] century’s revolution in weaponry will involve forms of behavior control and mental intrusion. Attacking the human body has been a sloppy and inefficient means of making war. Attacking the mind [or neurophysiology of the brain] may prove the culmination of military history.xxiv
Peters’ words are shocking. He often resorts to the “argument by hyperbole”! But, he is well-informed and sobering in what he says, especially in an unclassified context.
Much of the current attention to biological-warfare issues has accentuated, however, the threat of strategic mass agents, either micro-organisms like viral (and very contagious) smallpox, bacterial (but non-contagious) anthrax, and pneumonic plague; or biological toxins (botulinum, neuro-tropic sarafotoxin, tabtoxin, ricin, and the like) which are to be used for large contaminations, incapacitating human seizures, or strategically targeted and panic-producing assassinations.
Nonetheless, the new weaponizations that are derivable from several fields of advanced modern science, and their applications in unexpected combinations, are much more disconcerting and refractory. All too likely is what the socio-biologist (and scientific materialist), E. O. Wilson, calls “consilience,” and a dangerous and irreversible consilience, to be sure, one that has a “multiplier effect,” even exponentially so.
It would be very illuminating of the current state of knowledge and research to read, for example, the 1995 book, Psychopharmacology. The Four Generations of Progressxxv, especially Chapter 43, entitled “General Overview of Neuropeptides.” The chapter deals with such things as: the functional role of peptides; peptides and neuropharmacology; primary sensory neurons (like Substance P); enkephalin (and immunoreactive neurons); neurotensin, neurotensin systems; and mental disorders that occur when neurotensin is inordinately concentrated; endothelin; neuropeptide hormones as neurotropic factors; peptides and the limbic system; neurotransmitters and neuro-modulators (regulatory peptides); dynorphin and dopomine, as well as neurotensin, enkephalin, and endothelin, and the effects of their subtle manipulation. This Chapter updates our understanding of “the development of the neuropeptide field”; and contains an excellent bibliography for further research, especially on “the trophic effects of peptides” and the “new peptides” recently discovered.
Moreover, an article in the 1999 Journal of Applied Toxicology begins, as follows:
New biotechnology will provide the possibility to produce compounds of natural origin in large quantities, including toxins and bioregulators [i.e., biologically active, regulatory neuropeptides, for example]. Many of these compounds exceed the toxic effects of the traditional chemical warfare agents…. The aim of the study was to determine the acute toxicity and the effects on respiration of Substance P, a possible future warfare agent… when the substance was inhaled as an aerosol…. Substance P is a tachykinin and a biologically active neuropeptide…. The peptide is both a neurotransmitter and a neuromodulator, and is active at all levels in the nervous system.xxvi
The article concludes, as follows:
In summary Substance P in combination with thiorphin administered as an aerosol is extremely toxic and highly potent, with detrimental effects on respiration. The acute inhalation toxicity of Substance P was 100-1000 times higher than the traditional nerve agents Sarin, Soman, and VX. The mortality rate was strongly dose dependent. If Substance P is dispersed as a warfare agent it could, at extremely low concentrations, result in incapacitation among humans.xxvii
As another representative development of research into peptides and how they do, or could be made to, cause heart failure and other cardiovascular diseases (hypertension, cerebral vasospasm, and pulmonary hypertension), the interested inquirer should read the essay, “Pathophysiology of Endothelin in the Cardiovascular System.”xxviii Endothelin was identified only in 1988, and is “a 21-amino acid peptide…a potent vasoconstrictor and pressor substance.”xxix
Given that sarafotoxin is similar in effect to the above-mentioned peptide, endothelin, and is among the most toxic substances known, we should also consider the dangers of bio-toxins. Given that toxins are non-replicating (non-contagious) agents of biological origin, but, rather, potent poisons derivative from the micro-organisms themselves, another article, from a valuable research newsletter, would also be very worthwhile examining in detail: namely, Murray G. Hamilton’s article, entitled “Toxins: The Emerging Threat”, which is to be found in the Applied Science and Analysis (ASA) Newsletter of 1998 (26 June, Issue Number 66).xxx This essay is very thorough and very unsettling, partly because he gives a realistic scenario of how easily bio-toxins are inserted, how difficult they are to detect, and how extensive and destructive are their effects. Botulinum toxin and sarafotoxin, he says, constitute “some of the most exquisitely lethal poisons known,” and, “in some cases up to 100,000 times more toxic than nerve agents.”xxxi Dr. Hamilton’s whole essay and analysis deserve a close and reflective reading, to include his charts and analytical tables.
A last reference is to another dangerous and easily made bio-toxin, called tabtoxin, which is a plant toxin, i.e., derived from a plant. Easily bio-engineered, tabtoxin behaves exactly like a poisonous chemical, causing multiple seizures in human beings, but it will not cause any new or exotic disease. The woman who was the former, at least titular, head of the Iraqi biological warfare program surprisingly did her doctoral dissertation in plant pathology, and specifically on tabtoxinxxxii, at the distinguished British agricultural University of East Anglia. Why would she have had such special interests? What is the Iraqi anti-crop (and anti-soil) biological warfare program? What is its “human incapacitation” program?
Furthermore, we may ask, to what extent will our own predominant culture of scientific materialism (and naturalism or secular humanism) be adequate to limit and guide and benignly re-direct any inchoate and growing genetics-based military-technical revolution; or any more strategically inclusive, doctrinal and organizational expansion of this technology into a true “revolution in military affairs” (RMA), both at home, as well as abroad? Let us first resort to some eloquent and highly intelligent British thinkers concerned with this matter of moment to man.
It would seem that, on its own intellectual premises, scientific materialism is gravely inadequate and even self-sabotaging. Whyso? Howso?
As the philosophic scholar and famed British statesman, Sir Arthur Balfour (author of the “Balfour Declaration” about the future of Palestine after World War I) said in his profound book, The Foundations of Belief (1894), concerning the inherent contradictions of Materialism (mechanical and dialectical), and of mere Naturalism (and Atheism):
On the naturalistic hypothesis the whole premises of knowledge are clearly due to the blind operation of material causes, and in the last resort to these alone. On that hypothesis we no more possess free reason than we possess free will. As all our volitions are the inevitable product of forces which are quite alien to morality, so all our conclusions are the inevitable product of forces which are quite alien to reason.xxxiii
Developing Arthur Balfour’s argument, the British scientist, Sir Arthur Eddington, further showed how vain it was to try to escape the skeptical consequences of Materialism by the introduction of “dynamic” Hegelian-Marxist Dialectics. Materialists cannot honestly or validly escape from the skeptical (and self-sabotaging) consequences of their Creedfrom the irrational effects that derive from their beliefs and from their fideistic hypotheses.
In another keen-minded book, The Revolt Against Reason (1951), Sir Arnold Lunn further sharpens the argument against self-sabotaging Materialism and Naturalism:
“Naturalism,” which is defined by the Concise Oxford Dictionary as “a view of the world which excludes the supernatural or spiritual,” provides the scientian [i.e., the ideologue of reductive scientism] with no justification for the first article in the creed of the true science: “I believe that truth is to be preferred to falsehood.” Theism, on the other hand, far from being in conflict with science, is required as a working hypothesis without which science has no justification. This view had, indeed, been put forward as early as 1894 by Mr. Arthur Balfour, who wrote as follows [in his The Foundations of Belief]: “Theism, then, whether or not it can in the strict meaning be described as proved by science, is a principle, which science, for a double reason, requires for its own completion. The ordered system of phenomena asks for a cause; our knowledge of that system is inexplicable unless we assume [i.e., presuppose] for it a rational author.”xxxiv
Twenty-five years later, Arthur Eddington, as was said above, developed Mr. Balfour’s view that unaidedscience is impotent to justify its own existence or to vindicate its own criteria, or even to prove that truth should be preferred to falsehood.xxxv And unaided science refuses to consider final causes, teleology, purpose. The question, “what is nature for?” or “what is time for?” is considered “unscientific,” much less the question, “what is man for?”
Arnold Lunn develops the argument even further when he says that Materialism (and Naturalism) are not even any longer really defended,
for the essence of a valid defense is a clear statement of the strongest arguments of our opponent as a preliminary to their refutation. By this test materialism fails, for modern atheists make no attempt to meet the argument which deprives the materialists of any claim to consideration, the argument that if materialism be true, our thoughts are the mere by-product of material processes uninfluenced by reason. Hence, if materialism be right, our thoughts are determined by irrational processes and therefore the thoughts which lead to the conclusions that materialism is right have no relation to reason. The same argument invalidates Freudianism, behaviorism, and logical positivism. All that the prophets of these cults [of irrationality] have achieved is to provide their disciples with reasons [sic] for rejecting all philosophies, including Marxism, behaviorism, Freudianism, and logical positivism. The reluctance of modern materialists to face this basic criticism of all modern forms of materialism explains the revolution in their methods [i.e., to psychoanalyze the arguer when one cannot answer his argument; and to resort to resourcefuland sophisticalequivocation, deception, and “unrestricted warfare”]…. The thesis [that I, Arnold Lunn, propose]…is that the tragic bankruptcy of the modern world is the consequence of the revolt against reason.xxxvi
That is to say, the dialectical dissolution and subversion of Logos (Reason, Speech, Language, the Word, Verbum).
The Foundations of Materialism (or Naturalism): Some Reasonable Inferences
The reasonable, and, I think, the true conclusion from all of this perspicacious reasoning is that, on the basis of our predominant culture of scientific materialism, we shall not be able to have an adequate moral and strategic defense against the likely new forms of psycho-biological warfare. Nor shall we be effective against a deceptive and growing geneticsbased RMA, which will include a “revolution in non-military forms of warfare,” and other consequences of applied molecular biology.
The key question I would raise with you is: how do we prepare for the fact that the scientific revolution in molecular biology and its derivative bio-technologies will be further and fearsomely applied to the conduct of war, and maybe especially to new “non-military forms of warfare” in shocking and mentally dislocating combinations, and which may be very productive of strategic paralysis and deep spiritual despair? What effects will a eugenics culture of genetic engineering have on the young? Moreover, in a potentially hostile strategic culture of science and technology, such as in China, we will find that the Chinese are already very advanced in the bio-sciences and in bio-technologies, and less restrained in their experimentations. How might the deft and deceptive Chinese apply bio-technology against us in the form of grand-strategic or strategic indirect warfare? Or, if we embarrassed them over Taiwan, how might the PLA use what some now call “no-limit” or “unrestricted warfare” for a finite and well-focused end, but with unscrupulous means?
What if someone engineered diseases into seeds? What if the latency appeared in a diseased food supply or in a scarce, but permeating, water supply? Is there such a thing as a binary biological weapon? What if the whole agricultural infrastructure, to include agricultural logistics, were selectively and deftly targeted, or a country’s concentrated animal breedstock? What about economic and financial targets, in general, which are not usually “hardened,” but, rather, “soft targets,” like vaccines and blood supplies and other portions or sectors of the medical and public-health cultures? Could a foreign gene be inserted into crops and food through their seeds, against which implanted gene a designed follow-up virus, for example, would later be targeted, as it were, “like a heat-seeking missile-virus”? Or, is this binary combination unlikely and again chimerical? Finally, in this context, what if certain biological substances produced no traumatic effects, but, rather, gradual and chronic effects of disability, such as a weakened immune system or loss of vision or a personality-altering modification of one’s endocrine system or one’s autonomous nervous system, so that one is no longer intimately recognized by one’s friends or by the beloved?
How are we to discuss such fearsome matters without thereby bringing about what we are trying to ensure against, namely spiritual paralysis, futility, indifference, despair?
Facing the facts of history, many of which are now de-classified, I am convinced that the main strategic research objective of the large Soviet biological warfare system was to find immuno-suppresive or immuno-destructive, psycho-tropic and neuro-tropic methods of impact, manipulation, and control, and not just in their special “FLUTE” and “BONFIRE” programsxxxvii. As with their institutes of penal psychiatry, such as the Lubianka’s Serbienski Institute, the target was, again, the human mindxxxviii.
From Soft, Scientific (and Cybernetic) Materialism to Hard, Genetic Neo-Gnosticism
“Mind,” on the premises of Philosophic and Scientific Materialism, is reduced to the neuro-physiology of the brain and “matter-in-motion,” as is also for them the case, finally, in the fact of human “Consciousness.” New forms of materialism, however, are now being more subtly proposed which incorporate evidence from the ongoing scientific advances in molecular biology. For example, new philosophic defenses of materialism are now being based on the concept of “memes,” or “mental genes.” The “soft” environmentalist and psychological forms of materialism are once again making way, or making room, for “hard” genetics and eugenics, both negative eugenics (which removes what is putatively unfit or defective) and positive eugenics (which selects and engineers what is putatively superior). The “taboos” against hard genetics and eugenics are once again being removed in the cultures of progressive liberalism, as was earlier the case, for example, with Margaret Sanger in this country and with H. G. Wells and the Fabian Socialists in Britain.
I believe that there will be two great tests for the United States as a residually humane and virtuous cultural nation, and for our overextended military as an incipient strategic culture, namely, the tests of China and of the biologicalbiotechnical revolutionand probably both of them in active combination. China has a deceptive and deft strategic culture; a unique and unprecedented, longstanding cultural coherence, both at home and abroad among the Overseas Chinese; and a special (even irredentist) sense of Han Chinese racialcultural superiority. Moreover, setting just limits (or intrinsic prohibitions) to the subtle use of biological weapons in warfare, as well as in human fetal experimentation and genetic engineering, will not, I think, be accomplished on the basis of our predominant culture of scientific and philosophic materialism, nor on the purportedly “heroic” foundation of final human despair. We will need a fuller philosophy of nature, a more adequate philosophical cosmology that does not irrationally reject “purpose,” “teleology,” or “final causes.” And we shall need an intimate philosophy (or theology) of hope.
But, Bertrand Russell thought otherwise. As a modern philosophical materialist, and building upon the ancient thought of his vivid-souled poetic mentor, the Roman, Lucretius, and Lucretius’ philosophic poem, De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Reality), Russell would remove, and eloquently strives to remove, our sentimental illusions and to awaken us to the reality of final futility, cosmic purposelessness, and heroic hopelessness.
In his famous 1903 essay, “A Free Man’s Worship,” Lord Bertrand Russell begins with Mephistopheles’(Satan’s) narration to Dr. Faustus, in his study, of the history of the Creation. Himself plainly agreeing with this mocking and cruel narration of “Moloch’s” inhumane and malicious universe, Russell then says:
Such, in outline, but even more purposeless, more void of meaning, is the world which Sciencepresents for our belief. Amid such a world, if anywhere, our ideals henceforward must find a home. That Man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end [telos, finis] they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs [i.e., Russell’s, too?], are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve and individual life beyond the grave; that all the labors of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are [impersonally] destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system [cf., entropy versus evolution?]; and that the whole temple of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the débris of a universe in ruinsall these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand [sic]. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely [sic] built…. [for] we see, surrounding the narrow raft illumined by the flickering light of human comradeship, the dark ocean on whose rolling waves we toss for a brief hour; from the great night without, a chill blast breaks in upon our refuge; all the loneliness of humanity amid hostile forces is concentrated upon the individual soul, which must struggle alone, with what of courage it can command, against the whole weight of a universe that cares nothing for its hopes and fears.xxxix
Such an eloquent expression of purportedly heroic despair surpasses, I think, the vivid poetic prose of Nietzsche and the vivid force of the later atheistic Existentialists, as well as the earlier (and recurrent) Gnostics. Like the pessimistic Gnostics, who yearned for a release from the burden of matter and from the evil of the “Created” Material Universe, Bertrand Russell, also, despite his contrary protestations, does not see in fact that the world is (nor can it ever be) for man “a home;” but, rather, the world is a “trap” from which he must “escape,” a “servitude” which he must “transcend” and “transfigure,” lest he be consumed by “a spirit of fiery revolt, of fierce hatred” against the “impersonal” malice of “Power” and the imposed cruelties of “the religion of Moloch,” which, he thinks, requires, “in essence, the cringing submission of a slave.”
Like the historical and dualistic recurrent Gnostics (Manichaeans, Albigensians, and the like) and like the recurrent allure of Hermeticism and the Gnostic Temptation to secret knowledge (gnosis) and transformative (or “demiurgic”) Power, Russell’s own philosophy of serene but heroic final despair, and his own abiding and stirring sensibility to beauty and tragedy, are only, however, for a rare and specially cultivated elite. Like Lucretius’ world-view, it is not “democratic.”
I believe, moreover, that both “soft” and “hard” forms of the Gnostic propensity are vigorously reappearing in our own world. The “soft” forms of neo-Gnosticism are still to be found in psychology (as in C. G. Jung) and psycho-pharmacology, in “therapeutic education” and “social engineering.” The “hard” forms of neo-Gnosticism, however, are drawn more to cybernetics, genetics, and eugenics. Thus, an inchoate and growing genetics-based Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) must be understood, I think, in a larger intellectual, spiritual, and cultural context, as a part, at least, of that larger, dualistic, despairing neo-Gnostic world-view, which is such a recurrent temptation to the insurgent human mind, especially in a milieu of perceived “final futility” and “the corrosion of hopelessness.”xl
But, a temptation would not be a temptation if it were not attractive. Resentment or that special form of sentimental despair, called self-pity, is often attractive, but always self-sabotaging and destructive.
Like the world-view of Bertrand Russell, our predominant culture of scientific materialism, philosophical naturalism, and secular humanism (or atheism) are increasingly marked by subjectivism, sentimentalism, and anarchic syncretism, which often mask a deeper final despair and a pessimistic “escapist” Gnosticism, aided by the new technologies of its “demiurgic” cybernetic or genetic engineers. Against such likely “coercive utopians,” whose minds are often like H. G. Wells’ mind at the end of his “technological-utopian” life (which was, he despairingly admitted, “at the end of its tether”), a proper defense of man and human life will be very difficult. It will be very difficult, with human superficiality, to defend against genetics-based cultural and military revolutions, so destructive of the human mind.
Moreover, to the extent that the United States is increasingly perceived as a “rogue superpower” and as an “arrogant and intrusive hegemon” centrifugally impelled to “engagement and enlargement”more like an Empire than a Constitutional Republicwe shall also likely face many irregular and subversive forms of “asymmetrical’ and “unrestricted warfare” against us, to include “non-military forms of warfare” set in motion even on our homeland. It is very likely that subtle biological instrumentalities, in strategic indirect combinations, will be used against us, and our vulnerable “soft targets” will be especially subverted, hit or disrupted. Bio-technologies derived from the growing genetics-based revolutions in cultural, scientific, and military affairs may very well be used to dislocate, deceive, and paralyze our incipient and uncertain strategic culture and psychology, in the long-range “battle for the mind.” Nor will our predominant culture of scientific materialism adequately aid our uncertain strategic culture in its self-defense. Our cultural immune system will be subtly attacked, and maybe intractably subverted.
The Intimate and Ultimate Questions
What is man, finally? And what is man for? What is the purpose of it all?
To what extent will man become an engineered “cyborg” with technological “extensions” attached to him or implanted in him?
What will be the criteria and standards of just war in indirect genetics-based warfare, as well as cybernetic warfare, and other subtly unrestricted “non-military forms of warfare”?
What World-View will adequately guide and sustain us in the face of such deliberately ambiguous developments? What World-View will animate us in the sustained resistance to its unmistakable and subtler evils, lest we despair? Lest we be swamped in “the congealment of lovelessness,” as well as “the corrosion of hopelessness.”
Bertrand Russell’s contemporary, Maurice Baring, was also a classically educated man with a longer view of history and culture, and of the interior life of man. Major Maurice Baring was Air Marshal Trenchard’s special assistant during World War I. Baring, like J. F. C. Fuller, knew the horrors and the sorrows of war. He, too, has an especially poignant sense of the vulnerability of beauty, and of the precariousness of human lifeof its fragilitywhich thus made him, like Lord Russell, so sensitive to tragedy and to its ennobling catharsis. Maurice Baring, having lost many comrades and dear friends in combat, was, moreover, especially gifted in writing elegiac tributes to those who had fallen in war, to the beloved who were lost. In the following portion of one of his verse elegies, we may fittingly conclude this essay with a glimpse of Major Baring’s deeper World-View and sustaining Faith, in contradistinction to Bertrand Russell:
“All is the same. But all is not the same;
For he is dead.
The well-known cry: ‘Hurrah! I’ve won the game!’
The curly head,
The laughing eyes, the angry stammering speech,
The heart of gold:
All that is far away beyond our reach,
Beneath the mould.
He lies not here, but far away beyond
His native land;
Beneath the alien rose, the tropic frond,
The burning sand.
His life was like a February day,
Too warm too soon:
A foretaste of the spring that cannot stay
Beyond the noon.
As the swallows, when September pomps conceal
A frosty spell,
Fly low about the horses’ heads, and wheel,
To say farewell,
So he, at some sure summons in the wind,
Or sky, took wing,
And soared to the gold South. He stayed behind
When came the Spring.
They say we’ll meet again in some transfigured space,
Beyond the sun.
I need you here, in this familiar place
Of tears and fun.
I do not need you changed, dissolved in air,
I need you all imperfect as you were
Here, at my side.
And yet I cannot think that Death’s cold wind
Has killed the flame
Of you, forever, and has left behind
Only a name,
That mortal life is but a derelict ship,
Without a sail;
The soul no stronger than a farthing dip
matched with a gale.
I ask, I seek, and to the empty air,
In vain I cry;
The God they worship, if He hears my prayer,
Makes no reply.
Lord, give to me the grain of mustard seed
That moves the mount;
Give me a drop of water in my need,
From Thy full fount.
Around me, and above me and beneath,
Yawns the abyss;
Show me the bridge across the gulf of Death,
To banks of bliss.
Cast the dumb devil from my tomb of grief:
Help me to say:
‘Lord, I believe, help Thou my unbelief.’
Teach me to pray.
But if the fault be mine, then, Lord, forgive,
My heart is dry;
So bitter is the world I cannot live,
I dare not die.”xli
Recapitulation and Conclusion
Just as the French, Industrial, and Bolshevik Revolutions had grave implications on the conduct of war, especially on the qualitative, as well as quantitative, “totality” and the “mechanization of warfare,” so, too, will the scientific revolution in molecular biology and its applied “bio-technologies” conduce to the even more intrusive and fearsomely intimate “cyborganization of warfare,” whereby cybernetics and neural science will be conjoined to, or manipulative of, biological organisms in morally ambiguous or equivocal ways which will require our deeper discernments. Such a challenge will unmistakably take us to the foundations of existence and our sense of finality and of purpose. We must therefore consider how and why there is now developing a genetics-based Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA), or, less inclusively, a “military-technical revolution,” both of which could be strategically and indirectly employed as a new form of “asymmetrical warfare”–such as “psycho-biological or psycho-cultural, strategic indirect warfare”–against the economies, psychologies, and cultures of sophisticated (or decadent) interdependent societies, and, especially against perceived “narco-democracies” and “rogue superpowers.” Spontaneous human superficiality will not be sufficient to discern or wisely counter such subtly indirect–chronic as well as traumatic–vulnerabilities, threats, or attacks (and infections) against unprotected “soft targets” such as seeds, vaccines, and the human embryo which could have many disproportionately adverse effects upon a whole culture and its way of life; to include the inordinate effects upon the “special technical operations” of our own “high-tech” Special Operations Forces, who have already themselves been insidiously prompted (or flattered) to become “bionic commandos” on the “cutting edge” of the approaching “Bio-tech Century.” Moreover, the self-sabotaging premises and inner logic of our preponderant culture of scientific materialism will be altogether insufficient to deal with such intimate matters at the heart of human life and its morally virtuous sustainability. A deeper criterion of adequacy is required. We must also adequately combat subtly subversive forms of soft cybernetic and hard genetic neo-Gnosticism and its coercive eugenics.
Therefore, this paper has examined the issue of an inchoate and growing genetics-based revolution in cultural, scientific, and military affairs, especially some of its strategic and moral implications, lest we be unprepared for what could so easily produce the solvents of cynicism and existential despair. For, both neo-Legalist autocratic Chinaxlii and unrestricted, genetics-based forms of non-military warfare–maybe in combination–will be our true tests, our true strategic and spiritual tests. And those who are religious among us might add another and subtler test of our fidelity: the attraction of hard, genetic neo-Gnosticism; the seductive allure of eugenics and cybernetic Hermeticism; the perennial Gnostic temptation to secret knowledge, illlusionary liberations, and despair, which are so Luciferian and anti-Incarnational.
© Dr. Robert D. Hickson, 2000
i “Consilience” that is to say, an “interlocking of causal explanation across disciplines.” See the Neo-Enlightenment book by biologist (and socio-biologist) Edward O. Wilson, Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge(New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1998), p. 325. See also pp. 8-13 (Chapter 2, “The Great Branches of Learning,” on “Consilience” as “the key to unification” and “The Consilience of Inductions.”
ii See Manfred Schedlowski, Psychoneuroimmunologie (Heidelberg/Berlin: Spektrum Akademischer Verlag, 1996). This book contains an excellent bibliography, often containing English-language citations. However, the psychological doctrines which underlie most of this book are the doctrines of materialist behaviorism.
iii See Chinese Views of Future Warfare (ed. Michael Pillsbury)(Washington, DC: National Defense University Press, 1997), especially, “Nanotechnology Weapons on Future Battlefields” (pp. 413-420), by Major General Sun Bailin; and also “Dialectics of Defeating the Superior with the Inferior” (pp. 213-219), by Colonel Shen Kuigan.
iv See the CIAFBIS 183-page translation of Unrestricted Warfare: Assumptions on War and Tactics in the Age of Globalization (Beijing: PLA Publishing House, 1 February 1999), written by Colonels Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui. CIA also later translated the title of the book as No-Limits Warfare: Ideas on War and Methods of War in the Globalization Era, which is a better title for that very strategic book.
v General Schoomaker’s phrase includes the especially difficult realm of “bio-terrorism,” as a form of strategic (not just tactical) psychological warfare, which the Special Operations Command is tasked to counter and to interdict, by resourceful pre-emptive initiatives.
vi See Lt. Colonel William B. Osborne, et. al., Information Operations: A New War-Fighting Capability (A Study Presented to Project Air Force 2025) 17 June 1996), especially Chapter 3“Technology Investigation.” Read the sections on “Computer Power,” “Intelligence Software,” “Intelligent Integration of Information,” but, most especially, the sections on “HumanComputer Interaction,” “Command Systems and Biotechnology,” “Charting the Brain,” and Chapter 4 “System Description” in sections entitled “Implanted Microscopic Chips”, “Why the Implanted Microscopic Chip?”, “Ethical and Public Relations Issues” (“We already are evolving [sic] toward technology implanting…. The civilian populace will likely accept implanted microscopic chips that allow military members to defend national interests.”). This entire study should be read, for many reasons, especially for the growing frigid mentality it reveals. At the beginning of Chapter 4, under the section entitled “Cyber Situation Components” (p. 1), one reads the following: “The Cyber Situation is the integration of the entire OODA Loop Cycle under the control of commanders, decision makers, and analysts. Supporting components include all-source information collectors, archival databases, the Information Integration Center (IIC), a microscopic chip implanted in the user’s brain, and a wide range of lethal and non-lethal weapons” (my emphasis added).
vii See John Harris, Wonderwoman and Superman: The Ethics of Human Biotechnology (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1992).
viii He will help us to know what the situation is, why we should know more about it, why we should get out in front of it (by strategic and moral anticipations), and why the premises and culture of “democratic secular humanism” and “scientific materialism” are altogether insufficient to deal with the situation.
ix B. H. Liddell Hart was especially attentive to the long-range effects of the seductive and promiscuous resort to “guerrilla warfare” and the destructive illusion of pursuing “total military victory.” He was most concerned about the “moral handicaps to recovery” in the seeming peace that followed such subversive forms of irregular and total warfare. See the 1967, second edition of his book, Strategy, especially Chapter XXIII on “Guerrilla Warfare” and “Subversive Camouflaged Warfare.”
x See Major General J. F. C. Fuller, War and Western Civilization, 1832-1932: A Study of War as a Political Instrument and the Expression of Mass Democracy (London: Duckworth, 1932), especially pages 228, 230, and 234 (Chapter XII “The Changing Nature of War, 1914-1918”):Thus, referring to World War I and “the changing nature of war,” General Fuller, in 1932, prophetically and compassionately said: “As inundations of men, personnel warfare, had failed beyond hope of redemption, the General Staffs, still obsessed by the quantity complex, turned to matériel, seeing in shell fire a means of blasting a road to Paris or Berlin…. The attack by matériel failed ignominiously…. The enormous demands made for all types of munitions of war, however, revealed clearly to the eyes of the General Staffs the economic foundations of the war. So visible did these economic foundations become that it was not long before these Staffs realized that, if the food supply of the enemy be cutoff, the foundations of the hostile nation would be undermined and, with the loss of will to endure, its military forces would be paralysed…. Thus, in the World War, the matériel attack having failed, it at once gave way to plundering operationsattacks on trade in place of the devastation of crops. To introduce this most barbarous form of war, the first military problem that the Allied Powers had to solve was the circumvallation of the Central Powers; and the secondtheir surrender by starvation: This is an attack on the enemy’s civil stomach, not only on his men but on his women and children, not only on his soldiers, but on his sick and his poor. The economic attack is without question the most brutal of all forms of attack, because it does not only kill but cripple, and cripples more than one generation. Turning men women and children into starving animals, it is a direct blow against what is called civilization…. [Then, referring to “the theory of moral warfare” and “the weapons of the moral attack,” General Fuller resumes.] Throughout the history of war treachery has proved itself a powerful weapon…. In the World War treachery was attempted through propaganda, the contending newspapers raking dirt out of the gutters of their respective Fleet Streets and squirting it at their country’s enemies. All sense of justice was cast aside, the more outrageous the lie the more potent it was supposed to be…. yet no Government appeared to realize that the attack by lies besmirched its own future….” (J.F.C. Fuller, War and Western Civilization (London: Duckworth, 1932), pp. 228, 230, and 234.)
xi Although the author himself barely touches upon specific military topics and new forms of warfare, Jeremy Rifkin’s book, The Biotech Century: Harnessing the Gene and Remaking the World (New York: Penguin Putnam Inc., 1998), is very illuminating about the unprecedented consequences and far-reaching scope of the biotech revolutions, and their dangerous intractability. Some of my scientist friends think that he exaggerates the dangers of agricultural “genetic” engineering and of “genetically modified food.” (Dr. Norm Schaad, a world-class plant pathologist, is one of them.)
xii In his 1967 book, The War We Are In (and in his other books), the former Trotskyite and keen strategist, James Burnham, very well understood and expressed how Soviet “Political Warfare” and “psycho-political” methods were a very effective (and economical) “weapon system without firepower.” See also his “Sticks, Stones, and Atoms,” or “The War We’re Not Prepared to Fight,” in Modern Guerrilla Warfare (ed. F. M. Osanka)(New York: Free Press, 1962), pp. 417-424.
xiii J.F.C. Fuller, Tanks in the Great War, 1914-1918 (London: John Murray, 1920), p. 320my emphasis is added to the original.
xiv See Jeffrey Steinberg’s article on new “synthetic drugs,” entitled “Pharmacological Revolution Sweeps Europe, America,” Executive Intelligence Review (Vol. 23, No. 30; 26 July 1996), pp. 32-34and their link with “computer-generated techno-music.”
xv See the fine British neuroscientist, Malcolm Dando’s book for the British Medical Association, entitled Biotechnology, Weapons, and Humanity (Amsterdam: Harwood Academic Publishers, 1999), especially Chapter 4 on “Genetic Weapons.” See also Malcolm Dando’s 1996 book, A New Form of Warfare: The Rise of Non-Lethal Weapons, especially Chapter 8 “An Assault on the Brain?” and Chapter 5 “Lethal and Non-Lethal Chemical Agents.”
xvi See also David Jordan’s recent book, Drug Politics, Dirty Money, and Democracies (Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1999), especially Chapter 10 on “Cultural Underpinnings of Modern Drug Consumption.”
xvii Ralph Peters, Fighting for the Future: Will America Triumph? (Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1999), p. 207.
xviii Ibid., p. 208emphasis in the original.
xix Ibid. The manipulation of neuropeptides, as we shall see, will greatly alter the brain, and all of the brain’s extended neurological connections.
xx Ralph Peters, Fighting for the Future, p. 208.
xxi Ibid., pp. 208-209.
xxii Ibid., p. 209 and p. 208.
xxiii Ibid., p. 209.
xxv Edited by Floyd E. Bloom and David Kupfer (New York: Raven Press, Ltd., 1995). Dr. Malcolm Dando generously shared this chapter and book with me, and so many of his own profound reflections and other valuable writings, when I visited him in England in the Summer (July) of 1999, at Bradford University in Yorkshire. Very much of my knowledge on the advances in neuroscience I owe to him, and much more, besides.
xxvi B.L. Koch, et. al., “Inhalation of Substance P and Thiorphin: Acute Toxicity and Effects on Respiration in Conscious Guinea Pigs,” Journal of Applied Toxicology (Vol. 19, 1999), pp. 19-23, quoting from p. 19.
xxvii Ibid., p. 22my emphasis added. Professor Malcolm Dando generously gave me a copy of this significant article.
xxviii See T. Miyauchi and T. Masaki’s article in The Annual Review of Physiology (Vol. 61, 1999), pp. 391-415.
xxix Ibid., p. 391my emphasis added.
xxx Colonel Richard Price is the editor of this newsletter (ASA, PO Box 17533, Portland, Maine 04112-8533)
xxxi Ibid., p. 20 and p. 21.
xxxii A good technical article on tabtoxin, given to me by my friend and colleague, Dr. Norm Schaad of the US Department of Agriculture (Agricultural Research Service), is the article entitled “Genetics of Toxin Production and Resistance in Phytopathogenic Bacteria” by D. K. Willis and T. M. Barta et.al. in Experientia 47 (1991), pp. 765-771 of the Birkhäuser Verlag, CH-4010 Basel, Switzerland.
xxxiii See Arnold Lunn, The Science of World Revolution [also entitled, in England, Revolutionary Socialism: Its Theory and Practice] (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1938), pp. 335-336my emphasis added. The Chapter on “The Philosophic Basis of Marxist Communism” (Chapter 21) is very brilliant and profoundly discerning.
xxxiv Arnold Lunn, The Revolt from Reason (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1951), p. 85.
xxxvi Ibid., pp. ix-xiv.
xxxvii See Ken Alibek’s Biohazard: The Chilling True Story of the Largest Covert Biological Weapons Program in the WorldTold From the Inside by the Man Who Ran It (New York: Random House, 1999); but, even more importantly, Ivan V. Domaradskij, Troublemaker (Moscow, 1995), 180 pp., especially his writing about “Plasmids” and his Plasmid Institute, as well as his “Plague Research.” In his Chapter entitled, “My Laboratory and the ‘Plasmid’ Programme,” Domaradskij defines a “plasmid” as follows: “Plasmids are extra-chromosomal genetic elements which play an important part in the physiology of bacteria and are extensively used in studies of genetic engineering” (p. 10, of the original text). It was Yury Ovchinnikov, a member of the Soviet Academy and personal friend of Leonid Brezhnev, who convinced Brezhnev to “de-criminalize” and overcome the false and cramping ideology of “Lysenkoism” (the dialectical-materialist anti-genetic biological theories of Trofim Lysenko), and to promote study of the Western Scientific revolution in molecular biology and genetics, so as to enable and facilitate the development of subtle biological weapons. This set of secret biological programs began shortly after President Nixon, in 1969, formally shut down the U.S. offensive biological warfare program.
xxxviii See also Robert Jay Lifton, “Thought Reform in Western Civilians in Chinese Communist Prisons” (Psychiatry, XIX (1956)), pp. 173 ff. See also, William Sargant, Battle for the Mind: A Physiology of Conversion and Brain-Washing, (1957, rev. ed. 1961) and the book by his colleague, Brigadier General John Rawlings Rees, M.D., Psychiatry Goes to War.
xxxix Bertrand Russell, “A Free Man’s Worship” (1902) on pages 44-54 of his book, Mysticism and Logic (New York: Doubleday, 1957), pp. 45-46, and 52my emphasis added.
xl See the great works of Hans Jonas on Gnosticism and the Gnostic World-View. A good start would be his non-technical book, translated from German into English, entitled The Gnostic Religion (Boston: Beacon Press, 1stedition in 1958; 2nd revised edition in 1963). Jonas, in part sees Gnosticism as an existentialist philosophy of pessimism about the world, with an attempt at self-transcendence, often pantheism. For a more sympathetic view of Gnosticism and of how it was “repressed” by Orthodox Christianity, see Elaine Pagels, The Gnostic Gospels, (New York: Random House, 1979).
xli See Maurice Baring’s novel, entitled, C (which is the affectionate nickname of the book’s main character, Caryl). Baring’s character, Caryl, upon the death of his younger brother, Harry (Henry), wrote this farewell elegy. (London: William Heinemann, Ltd., 1st ed. 1924; reprinted 1934), pp. 739-741. The poem is entitled I. M. H. [In Memoriam Henrici].
xlii See, especially, two excellent books by Professor Zhengyuan Fu, of the University of California (Irvine): (1) Autocratic Tradition and Chinese Politics (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993); and (2) China’s Legalists: The Earliest Totalitarians and Their Art of Ruling (London, England: M. E. Sharpe, 1996).