He saw war as a germ in the sense of it being a source of many undesirable symptoms and additional "germs" that would destroy any free nation.
We read how Madison used language as if to say that war itself is a "germ" (which we also call a pathogen), but The Toxins of Power Blog considers war to be a product of something called "toxins of power", that is, toxins somehow tend to manifest within officials who inhabit seats of power.
The theme of that blog is that those germ toxins tend somehow to infect and corrupt the powerful (About Toxins Of Power).
How does that happen?
Recent scientific discoveries in the field of microbiology have indicated that pathogenic microbial organisms and viruses can rewire or otherwise change the mammalian brain, including the human brain (see e.g. The Human Microbiome Congress).
Other scientists have pointed out that our brains even change as we think different thoughts:
Thought is physical. Learning requires a physical brain change: Receptors for neurotransmitters change at the synapses, which changes neural circuitry. Since thinking is the activation of such circuitry, somewhat different thinking requires a somewhat different brain. Brains change as you use them-even unconsciously. It's as if your car changed as you drove it, say from a stick shift gradually to an automatic.(The Toxic Bridge To Everywhere, cf. The Skulls They Are A Changin'). We know that the tiny unseen world of pathogenic microbes can rewire distinct brain circuits to bring about specific, bizarre results:
Some extremely nice work has been done by a group at Leeds in the UK, who are looking at the Toxo genome, and we're picking up on this collaboratively. Okay, Toxo, it's a protozoan parasite. Toxo and mammals had a common ancestor, and the last they did was God knows, billions of years ago. And you look in the Toxo genome, and it's got two versions of the gene called tyrosine hydroxylase. And if you were a neuro-chemistry type, you would be leaping up in shock and excitement at this point.(The Germ Theory - of Government - 9). That toxoplasma gondii generated toxin is actually the operation of a genetic apparatus which has ancient linkage to a common ancestor of mammals and "toxo" types of pathogens (and who knows what else earlier in time).
Tyrosine hydroxylase is the critical enzyme for making dopamine: the neurotransmitter in the brain that's all about reward and anticipation of reward. Cocaine works on the dopamine system, all sorts of other euphoriants do. Dopamine is about pleasure, attraction and anticipation. And the Toxo genome has the mammalian gene for making the stuff. It's got a little tail on the gene that targets, specifies, that when this is turned into the actual enzyme, it gets secreted out of the Toxo and into neurons. This parasite doesn't need to learn how to make neurons act as if they are pleasurably anticipatory; it takes over the brain chemistry of it all on its own.
Again that issue of specificity comes up. Look at closely related parasites to Toxo: do they have this gene? Absolutely not. Now look at the Toxo genome and look at genes related to other brain messengers. Serotonin, acetylcholine, norepinephrine, and so on, and you go through every single gene you can think of. Zero. Toxo doesn't have them, Toxo's got this one gene which allows it to just plug into the whole world of mammalian reward systems. And at this point, that's what we know. It is utterly cool.
Of course, at this point, you say well, what about other species? What does Toxo do to humans? And there's some interesting stuff there that's reminiscent of what's going on in rodents. Clinical dogma is you first get a Toxo infection. If you're pregnant, it gets into the fetal nervous system, a huge disaster. Otherwise, if you get a Toxo infection, it has phases of inflammation, but eventually it goes into this latent asymptomatic stage, which is when these cysts form in the brain. Which is, in a rat, when it stops being anything boring like asymptomatic, and when the behavior starts occurring. Interestingly, that's when the parasite starts making this tyrosine hydroxylase.
So what about humans? A small literature is coming out now reporting neuropsychological testing on men who are Toxo-infected, showing that they get a little bit impulsive. Women less so, and this may have some parallels perhaps with this whole testosterone aspect of the story that we're seeing. And then the truly astonishing thing: two different groups independently have reported that people who are Toxo-infected have three to four times the likelihood of being killed in car accidents involving reckless speeding.
In other words, you take a Toxo-infected rat and it does some dumb-ass thing that it should be innately skittish about, like going right up to cat smells. Maybe you take a Toxo-infected human and they start having a proclivity towards doing dumb-ass things that we should be innately averse to, like having your body hurdle through space at high G-forces. Maybe this is the same neurobiology. This is not to say that Toxo has evolved the need to get humans into cat stomachs. It's just sheer convergence. It's the same nuts and bolts neurobiology in us and in a rodent, and does the same thing.
On a certain level, this is a protozoan parasite that knows more about the neurobiology of anxiety and fear than 25,000 neuroscientists standing on each other's shoulders, and this is not a rare pattern.
We have contemplated the possibility that such pathogens originated during one or more of the five mass extinction events that have taken place over hundreds of millions and billions of years here on Earth (Are Microbes The Origin of PTSD? , Weekend Rebel Science Excursion - 16, Microbial Languages: Rehabilitation of the Unseen -- 2).
We have also contemplated that such pathogens evolved during catastrophes that possibly took place elsewhere in the solar system (Exploded Planet Hypothesis, Weekend Rebel Science Excursion - 7); perhaps in an earlier civilization (Saturn - Home of the Hexagon Mystery); or somewhere else that was struggling as we are with the proper management of sources of energy --such as during a Dyson Grid / Sphere project (Mystery Bubble - Signal, Grid, or What?).
At any rate, the operation of these toxins, these tools of pathogens, came from cognitively aberrant zones, and could very well be the cause of the mysterious corruption of power that is detrimental, in the long run and in the big picture, to both the pathogen itself as well as its host.
It is obvious that for organisms to destroy their environmental home, their source of sustenance, and all they depend on for their existence (whether they are tiny microbes or globe travelling humans) is not the behavior of level headed or wise life forms.
To the contrary, it is insane.
Thus, the morph from being peaceful, helpful, and a caretaker of worlds into a warmongering, hateful, and destructive species is quite mysterious.
So, how do we study this pathogenic, suicidal behavior taking place in a group or in an individual which becomes at odds with the interests of itself and of other life forms?
A group infected by the toxins of power, such as the crusader pathogen, can be modelled and contemplated by the notion of a "meme complex" or by the notion of a "cultural amygdala" (Comparing a Meme Complex to a Cultural Amygdala).
Evidently that technique or tool of analysis has been used for a long time by philosophers and thinkers, because, they wrote down their observations and expectations long ago, many of which are quite shocking and/or prescient:
“One would say that [man] is destined to exterminate himself after having rendered the globe uninhabitable.” - Lamarck (1817)(Dredd Blog Quotes Page, bible quote added, links removed). These quotes illustrate and focus on something going wrong "down under the hood" of human civilization, down where "the thinking" is done.
“The end of the human race will be that it will eventually die of civilization.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson
"For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now — and never to be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive ..." - Jesus Christ (Matt. 24)
"Mayr, from the point of view of a biologist, argued that it's very unlikely that we'll find any [extraterrestrial intelligence]. And his reason was, he said, we have exactly one example: Earth. So let's take a look at Earth. And what he basically argued is that intelligence is a kind of lethal mutation ... you're just not going to find intelligent life elsewhere, and you probably won't find it here for very long either because it's just a lethal mutation" - Dr. Noam Chomsky paraphrasing Dr. Ernst Mayr
“Experience has shown that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.” – Thomas Jefferson
The history of the crusader pathogen is just one of many pieces of evidence which those seemingly pessimistic thinkers may have been aware of:
At one point during this long siege, the crusaders came to realize there were several spies amongst them. To deal with this problem they set an example that would result in all other spies fleeing the crusader’s camps. This example consisted of killing one such spy, roasting him on a spit, eating his flesh, and then threatening a similar fate would befall all those who were discovered to be spies. (Maalouf 29) “These acts may appear to be utterly barbaric by modern standards, but they were a staple feature of medieval warfare and become a consistent theme of the siege of Antioch. Within the context of a holy war, in which the Franks (crusaders) were conditioned to see their enemy as sub-human, Christian piety prompted not clemency but, rather, an atmosphere of extreme brutality and heightened savagery.” (Asbridge 168)(First Crusade). Even when they were not hungry for food, they seemed to have a toxic blood lust that was consuming their humanity as it morphed into religious hatred:
After spending three years marching from Europe to the Holy City, the crusaders had finally reached their intended destination in the summer of 1099. It took forty days to conquer the city. “After a very great and cruel slaughter of Saracens, of whom 10,000 fell in that same place, they put to the sword great numbers of gentiles who were running about the quarters of the city, fleeing in all direction on account of their fear of death; they were stabbing women who had fled into palaces and dwellings; seizing infants by the soles of their feet from their mothers’ laps or their cradles and dashing them against the walls and breaking their necks; they were slaughtering some with weapons, or striking them down with stones; they were sparing absolutely no gentile of any place or kind.” (Asbridge 317) Those Muslims who sought shelter on the roof of the al-Aqsa mosque were decapitated if they had not flung themselves to the ground first. (Moynahan 239) By July 17th, not a single Muslim was left alive within the city walls. Even the Jews who had gathered in their synagogue had been burned alive inside. “The last survivors were forced to perform the worst tasks: to heave the bodies of their own relatives, to dump them in vacant, unmarked lots, and then to set them alight, before being themselves massacred or sold into slavery.” (Maalouf xiv)(First Crusade). These things have even been done by those suffering from the crusader pathogen during the lifetimes of some of you who are reading this post:
Americans have long been taught that events such as the notorious My Lai massacre were isolated incidents in the Vietnam War, carried out by "a few bad apples." But as award‑winning journalist and historian Nick Turse demonstrates in this groundbreaking investigation, violence against Vietnamese noncombatants was not at all exceptional during the conflict. Rather, it was pervasive and systematic, the predictable consequence of orders to "kill anything that moves."(The Virgin MOMCOM - 6). As we can see now, the crusader pathogen is a persistent, ancient bug.
Drawing on more than a decade of research in secret Pentagon files and extensive interviews with American veterans and Vietnamese survivors, Turse reveals for the first time how official policies resulted in millions of innocent civilians killed and wounded. In shocking detail, he lays out the workings of a military machine that made crimes in almost every major American combat unit all but inevitable.
It is one of several mystery subjects that need some ongoing serious study and attention, not a continuation of the war on microbes (Microbial Languages: Rehabilitation of the Unseen, Microbial Languages: Rehabilitation of the Unseen--2).
The previous post in this series is here.
The First Crusade: A New History.
Oxford: Oxford University Press,
The Faith: A History of Christianity.
New York: Doubleday,