This article lays out a single thesis about our limits of choice, collectively, as human beings in the 21st century. The thesis is that we have only two viable ways forward, and both of them in my view suck, though one is much worse than the other and it happens to be the most likely outcome for us.
Our choices are the ones in the title: we becoming like the Amish, or we become more like termites. These are our viable choices. There is a third way, if you can call it that. It’s what will happen if we don’t go one of those two other ways, and that’s extinction. Or catastrophic complexity collapse, in the sense that if we have another world war, the battles after that will be fought with sticks and stones. I’m not calling that a choice because, One: it’s too awful to even contemplate as an option, and Two: it’s more a default than a choice, in that if we don’t choose one of the other two options (or perhaps some hybrid of the two), we will inevitably end up there. If we choose not to decide, this will be our choice.
The main protagonists
The forces compelling this choice are technological advances and increased globalization, as in interconnectivity. This one-two punch is putting ever more power into the hands of both individuals and mobs. It’s in the hands of individuals because of the inherent asymmetry of entropy. In short, it’s easier to destroy than to build, and technology is a great multiplier of this asymmetry. Picture the pyramids. Whatever strategies were used to build them, if we discount the supernatural or alien, building the pyramids cost a lot of people a lot of their time and a lot of their sweat. Collapsing a pyramid to rubble, using the tools of the time, might not have taken as much effort as building, but it would still be a major undertaking. Let's call the build-to-destroy ratio ten to one. By the beginning of the 20th century, the great Giza could be reduced to rubble with a single detonation of TNT, though in an amount that for certain would have taken a while to accumulate and prepare. Meanwhile, building back Giza with early 20th century technology would still be a massive undertaking. I’d estimate this build-to-destroy ratio at 100 to 1 at least. Today, 4500 years after their first construction, rebuilding the pyramids would still be a major undertaking. But the average Chinese fireworks factory, or perhaps Beirut fertilizer warehouse, has enough material lying around to send every one of those giant blocks sky high in seconds. I wouldn’t even begin to guess at the ratio, and we’re just getting started.
These ratios, by themselves, won’t necessarily lead us to catastrophic collapse. Destroying civilization with 20th century technology is still hard. It requires either nation-state level weapons, or vast resources and coordination. Globalization, which is just another way of saying interconnectivity, gives us two additional amplifiers for destruction. The first is the fast accumulation of extraordinary wealth by a new oligarchy of people and corporations. I don’t think we’ve had nearly enough discussion of how extraordinary, and game changing, it is to have so many quick accumulations of extraordinary wealth.
Consider LeBron James, a 36 year old basketball player. He’s half-way to billionaire status. That’s the same amount of money earned by the average American worker in ten thousand years. There’s no doubting LeBron’s talent, but there’s also no doubting that his net worth is a function of our global marketplace, and of LeBron’s willingness to verbally defend a nation that tightly controls access to a billion plus potential fans.
New wealth isn’t necessarily bad wealth, and extraordinary wealth concentrations by themselves don’t lead to disaster. But in the end it’s a numbers game. It always is. Get together a large enough collection of people with effectively unlimited wealth and zero intergenerational experience managing it, and sooner or later one of them will decide to fund gain-of-function research to develop a strain of pyramid-eating super-scarabs. Perhaps you can think of some very wealthy technologists who are already engaged in some very dubious world-changing efforts?
The other amplifier has to do with the speed and reach of communication networks. Imagine, for a moment, that all societies are always tinderboxes, and the tinder takes the form of anger, discontent, or resentment. This shouldn’t be too hard to imagine, since I’m betting you carry with you some non-trivial amount of each of these things. In my experience, everyone has a baseline level of aggravation most of the time. Sometimes, this level of personal tinder gets hot enough too combust. You may recall the 1980s form of this, “Going Postal” and shooting colleagues. Apparently the USPS at the time was run by incompetent (or perhaps hyper-competent) sociopaths who pushed workers to the breaking point. Bad systems lead to more individuals combusting. Sometimes that leads to positive change, but usually it just leads to rampage.
Adding pervasive and quick connectivity completely changes the dynamic. I once did a simulation of bee colony attacks as part of my work in statistical modelling. Bees trigger attacks by way of scent thresholds. Each bee will only initiate an attack, and lay down its own scent, if a certain fraction of the other bees are also attacking. Most of the time this leads to an appropriately proportional response that builds then dies out. Sometimes it means the colony goes all in against a perceived intruder. External events, combined with nearly instantaneous communication, can trigger a mob action that grows in seconds. It’s amazing, and frightening, to watch.
My first memory of this happening among humans was after the Rodney King beating trial. Within hours of the non-guilty verdict, thousands of rioters had flooded the streets, and LA was in flames. That was mostly a localized phenomenon, and it took time to spread. The BLM riots, first triggered by the George Floyd video (and, in my view, a huge deposit of latent anger and energy built up during months of lockdowns), were much more widespread and hair-trigger. Over the summer, each additional event that could be viewed as a police abuse led to an even quicker mob reaction as news spread to a latent mob that treated it as a kind of collective bat signal to come out and riot en masse, which is of course the only way to riot.
If you want to take down the pyramids in 2021, and you don’t have the wealth of a LeBron, or the weapons of a nation state, your best bet might be to convince people that the pyramids are an intolerable symbol of oppression, and then find some triggering event to bring a million people to Giza at the same time to tear it them. Don’t forget to use a catchy hashtag on twitter.
I can’t give you a failsafe formula for manufacturing enough coordinated outrage to incite a mob action of that magnitude. But my point here isn’t that you, in particular, have this power in your back pocket to pull out at any time. Again, it’s a numbers game. Once you have a colony of hair-trigger bees, or enough people wandering around with a personal cache of angsty tinder in their individual pockets, some external event, combined with instant colony level communication, can create mobs big enough to literally move mountains. Or destroy civilizations. And globalization means we are all now part of a single colony.
Did I mention that one of our choices was to become termites?
The case for the colony
But how does mimicking a termite colony solve the problem of preventing individuals from kicking off apocalyptic events?
The short answer is, Maybe it doesn’t. The longer answer begins, Maybe it can. In our world as it is, anything not prohibited is permitted, or at the very least possible. In the context of ten billion semi-autonomous, highly intelligent organisms, each one genetically programmed to find and exploit environmental opportunities, this makes anything that’s possible, effectively inevitable. In the context of a termite colony, though, speaking about prohibited and permitted behavior makes no sense. It’s like asking, What is my pinky allowed to do?
In its idealized form, colonies elide the problem of limiting dangerous behaviours because autonomy is no longer a thing. There’s no need to constrain individuals because there is no individual will. The colony is a single organism, where each part serves a colony-level purpose and has no value outside of the organism. I don’t have to use violence against my arm because my arm would never consider going rogue.
The only time violence needs to be exercised in a fully realized colony is when an organism does go rogue, and that only happens when it becomes infected by an outsider. The analogy here is perfect. One threat to ant colonies is the parasite Cordyceps, which infects the brains of an ant, compelling it to climb a grass stalk before growing a fungal finger out of its body and showering spores on the rest of the colony. In nature documentaries you can watch as infected ants are dragged off kicking (and presumably) screaming by other ants who know they need to be isolated from the rest of the colony, for the colonies good.
In the total colony (which resembles, to some extent, the total institutions I spoke about in EP 21 with Sean Rife), individual rights or due process isn’t a thing. Agents of the colony act in their capacity to perpetuate the colony, without hesitation or restraint. The only way to act against the colony is to no longer be a part of it, and be hauled away or destroyed like an infected ant.
Interestingly, we used to have more of this mindset with our own bodies. The biblical invocation to pluck out your eye if it causes you to sin, which strikes our modern ears as so strange, no doubt seemed less odd when humans were seen as “possessing” a body. In this more dualistic view, your spirit inhabits your body. And parts of your body, or your body in its entirety, could be possessed by evil spirits that need to be exorcised.
Despite how things might look to someone from an Eastern religious tradition, we are no longer dualists. We don’t cut off the hands of pick pockets, not just because that’s a form of barbarism we’ve grown beyond, but because we don’t blame the pickpocket’s hand. We blame him as a total person. He is the individual autonomous unit. As a brief digression, the view that humans are a single melded mind-body, ruled by a unitary consciousness, is the subject of scientific debate. I recommend listening to my Filter discussion with Tam Hunt on panpsychism, wherein we discuss the evidence that each of us contains multitudes, and perhaps we shouldn’t find it so strange when cats attack their own tails.
Getting back to the colony model, it’s one in which individuals exists only so far as they serve the colony. It would make no more sense to protect the rights of an individual ant than it would for you, after tripping on a log, to debate whether it’s fair to demand that your hands take the brunt of the fall instead of your noggin. Your hands exist to serve you, and you are best served by an intact skull, even if that means “sacrificing” the skin on your hands or arms. Likewise, in the total colony, your individual life has no intrinsic value, and questions of autonomy or private desire are irrelevant. An ant with a mind of its own is indistinguishable, to the rest of the colony, from an infected ant. It will be carried off to protect the others, full stop.
The Amish alternative
There is an alternative way forward, though forward seems like a strange word to describe abandoning almost all technology and social liberalization of the past hundred years. But it is a way that still has room for some expressions of individuality, and it’s grounded in our profound and imperfect humanity.
The Amish way consists of small groups of individual souls, bound together by blood and belief, with strong built-in limits on appropriate behavior, and even on appropriate levels of success.
Amish life is, when viewed in a certain way, like life in a colony. But our potential future as Amish is, in very important ways, nothing at all like our potential future as termites.
While in Amish societies it is to be supposed that, just as in a colony, everyone has a role in promoting the common good, Amish societies are decidedly non-hierarchical. There is no ruling class, and even having a large company is discouraged. All aspects of exceptionalism are to be shunned in favor of a broad egalitarianism. Everyone is subject to God and equal before Him. Unlike in the Catholic tradition with its strict hierarchy of popes and cardinals and bishops and so on, the Amish approach is much flatter and individualistic, which is often expressed in “round robin” systems. For example, each Amish family has a chance, and an obligation, to provide communal space needed for education. Or church services. The pews are literally carted from one house to another. Even where hierarchies do exist, there is a strong culture of keeping them minimal. Among us English (that being the Amish word for gentiles), it’s not unusual to begin your career ten levels down from the boss. Among the Amish, if a company grows so big that it has more employees than a boss can directly oversee, the owner is expected to sell parts of it, or take it down a notch. In our future as termites we are a hierarchal, class-based society with as many levels of command and privilege as Amazon Inc, from the Billion dollar big boss to the factory drones who need permission to take a leak. In our future as Amish, our boss will wash our feet just as often as we wash his. And yes, feet washing is a thing in Amish society.
This is not to say that Amish life doesn’t have separate roles, or expectations related to your identity. It has lots of those. Women aren’t men and kids are most definitely not adults. But everyone has an individual soul with value, and the kinds of direct violence that we “English” take as the air we breathe are almost entirely absent.
The Amish enforce their form of egalitarianism and peaceful living by eschewing those trends I called out as threats to our collective survival as a species: globalization and technological advance. The Amish demand decentralization. When communities grow too big, they split. Dunbar’s number is roughly conserved, and while there are interactions between communities, there is no hierarchy of communities. Unlike a superstar basketball player, the wealth and standing of any given Pennsylvania blacksmith is very little effected by whether or not his colleagues say mean things about China.
The Amish, despite stereotypes, aren’t anti-technology per se. They are, rather, highly deliberate about its adoption. Whether, and how, to use telephones is a collective decision, made on the basis of its impact on the core values of the group. It’s not unheard of for a community to beta test a technology among a subset of its members, then decide not to adopt it at all. There’s a continual tension between devices that add efficiency or capability, versus the complexity and potential degradation of community they impose. In short, technology isn’t allowed to get ahead of, or disrupt, their culture.
Putting the Tesla ahead of the horse
If you want to understand what it means for tech to get ahead of culture, consider the Google Maps Streetview feature.
Years ago, shortly after it was first introduced, I was telling someone about a recent trip to Amsterdam, and in particular about a cafe (and for the record just a regular cafe, not a coffee house). I mentioned that I’d sat at a lovely corner window that was perfect for people watching. Within a minute, I was able to locate that exact corner, and show my friend a picture of the exact window where I’d sat and consumed a brie sandwich and a sublimely strong cappuccino.
A decade or so later, I’m still pondering all the implications of Streetview. For sure, many of the exploits it’s opened have been benign, like my showing a friend where I ate on vacation. And certainly there have been lots of socially beneficial uses for Streetview, like as a complement to data-based searches of the best locations for additional cafes. But figuring out all the new uses, and drawing a line between responsible use, and less beneficial exploitation, will take many decades more, and this is just one of many huge changes in the last decade.
Tech advances, especially combined with globalization, mean that the ability of our culture to assimilate changes can be outstripped by the pace of change and overwhelmed by incentives to exploit loopholes. In particular, changes to digital tech are their own thing, unmoored from the cultural assimilation process that drives ordinary environmental changes. Exploits, or loopholes, are unbounded for so long as they exist.
To contrast with a meatspace example, if you go into a fast food restaurant, or a coffee shop, there’s no apparent limit to how many napkins you can take. They are, effectively, free. If you’re like me, you had a moment while growing up where you thought, Oh My God, why does anyone every pay for napkins! You can just take them, FREE, from McDonalds. And yet, I now have a package of store-bought napkins in my cupboard, just like every other adult whose house I’ve been in for the last twenty years. I don’t exploit the McDonalds napkin loophole for a variety of reasons. The most important being that’s a stigmatized loophole. It’s culturally inappropriate to exploit it.
Looking more closely, the norms around taking free napkins are complex and nuanced, worked out over time. If I was on a road trip with a young child who got a nose bleed, I wouldn’t think twice about making an emergency stop at a Starbucks to grab a large handful of napkins. I might not even feel compelled to buy a latte. Starbucks has pocked enough of my money over the years to spot me a large bundle of pressed tree pulp. Each of us, internally and as part of our culture, does this kind of dance around what is appropriate behavior, apart from what is legal.
These customs are generally emergent, and often worked out through cycles of exploitation and reproach. I did take a huge handful of McDonalds napkins at least once as a kid, but instead of getting positive reinforcement for cleverly saving a few cents, I got a lecture that went, essentially, “yes, you could do that, but it kind of makes you a scumbag”, a perspective that I’ve since internalized, as have you, and that’s how we develop a set of norms for appropriate levels of mooching, norms that allow McDonalds to continue to offer free napkins, while at the same time parents make emergency stops to wipe a kid’s nose without having to buy her a Happy Meal.
In addition to changes in digital technology outpacing our ability to wrap good cultural norms around them, the digital is distanced and unlimited. No matter how much of a mooch someone is willing to be, there are only so many napkins you can take before getting banned from a McDonalds franchise. Certainly not enough to make a a business out of selling them on eBay. And even if you could take thousands of napkins a day without getting booted out, all that taking would take effort. And bring you face to face with dirty looks from everyone else in the restaurant.
Digital technology removes both of these constraints. If McDonalds.com made their annual Monopoly game cards available in digital format for free, and you could download one each time you visited the website, how long would it before before someone created a script to automate thousands of unique visits per minute? There are some very nice things we can’t have in the tech world because in digital space, the effort needed to virtually cart off, en masse, anything not locked down is trivial, and these goods can be taken without ever entering a store or facing an irate shift manager.
Digital is just different, and unpacking the implications of new capabilities, and establishing new cultural norms to support pro-social behaviour in these spaces, is bound to take much longer than the time needed to find and exploit the loopholes opened up. Meanwhile, new and highly impactful digital technologies arrive at an astounding pace. While I’m still ruminating on the implications of Streetview, we’ve seen the rise of AI, the blockchain, VR, and AR. (For those interested in AR, I did take some time to think deeply about the implication its widespread use, and how this could usher in a particularly nasty kind of dystopia. See Episode 7 of The Filter for my take on that.)
The same exponential outpacing of culture occurs with biotech and our newfound abilities to control the human body and its source code. What are the exploitable loopholes with gene therapy? What about the social effects of using Crispr? How about the widespread use of RNA-based vaccines? For just that last one, to what extent is their new widespread use contributing to herd immunity, and to what extent is it contributing to herd fragility? And yes, that is is thing!
Ideally, each of these new tools would be rolled out carefully over decades or centuries, to give us time to understand if they are net positives, and to build up cultures that support their use in non-exploitive ways. We’d have time to sort out what constitutes polite behaviour in multi-player VR simulations. Time to figure out what ways we can tweak our child’s genes before we’ve given them an unfair advantage, or a miserable existence. Time to decide a what point we need to treat AIs as if they are sentient creatures with rights.
As with the napkins, or say, nibbling on grapes at a super market, there may be some sustainable and culturally acceptable level of exploitation for each new opportunity opened up by technology. Unlike in those examples, though, the benefits to the early exploiters go way beyond free napkins or a tasty snack. And also unlike in those examples, global communications and markets ensure that these benefits will be highly skewed. Early exploiters, whether or not their behavior is ultimately considered to fall within acceptable new cultural norms, will become rich like Zuckerbergs. Later exploiters will be reduced to strip mining mountains in search of gold dust. What’s more, those early days, before cultural norms have settled, provide a time for plausible deniability. Who knew using liquid cyanide to leech gold from giant piles of ore would have such nasty side effects? Or, as an updated example, who knew optimizing newsfeeds for engagement would lead to addiction and socially corrosive filter bubbles?
If it seems like I’m being flippant about this last one, I’m not. Much of the damage from our uses of tech is only obvious in retrospect, and there’s no way to tell in advance what sustainable cultures of exploitation will look like. All we know is that at this point every new tech exploit will be very quickly deployed at global scale, and incentive structures guarantee that if there are any chances to extract Satoshi’s by spraying digital cyanide, that will be done until we are all neck deep in poison. Or Twitter. But I repeat myself.
Very few of our new technologies will have exploits that threaten our survival as a species, but all it takes is one, and we already have a technology which thus far has thankfully been limited to nation-state actors who have, over many decades of taking risks that nearly destroying civilization, presumably developed practices and shared cultures that ensure they are never actually used.
But if we keep running this experiment with new tech, sooner or later, and most likely sooner, some new tool will get exploited in a way that destroys us all.
On a completely unrelated note, how cool would it be to have a mechanical bird of prey that went out hunting for you? And what if it could generate energy by consuming some fraction of the prey, like a real bird, so you never had to recharge it? And what if we gave it the ability to create copies of itself, so that instead of just one raptor drone, I could control a flock that grew over time? And what if I programmed that flock to defend me as well as to hunt, so that if it sensed someone was attacking me, it would immediately take them out? How cool would that be?
Solving the tech gone amok problem
It seems unlikely the Amish would allow me to have my self-reproducing attack drone. Which I don’t like but may be a good thing for everyone else.
Still, though, I really don’t like religion. Or let me rephrase that. I see religion most often used not as a tool to to disarm evil geniuses of their killer drones, but as a psychological weapon to disarm peasants of their threatening thoughts. Religious adages like “You’ll be rewarded in heaven” or “blessed are the meek”, are just different ways of saying “Obey your earthly masters, and whatever you do, don’t rise up against them.”
At the same time, not all religious cultures are equally awful. I’m partial to certain aspects of Jewish life and story telling. And clearly, Jewish culture is highly compatible with high levels of achievement. It doesn’t demand peasanthood.
At its best, religion provides a set of beliefs and practices which are compatible with flourishing societies and contented individuals. Though my direct experience with the Amish has been limited, I have strong reasons to believe that this is the case for them. Not only are Amish numbers on the rise, but “retention” rates are outstanding. Given a high degree of freedom to experience life outside of their restrictive sect during “Rumspringa”, the vast majority of Amish teens come back into the fold by choice. You can call them brainwashed, or say Amish life has made them unfit for the modern world, but no miserable society in history has ever given its people an open invitation to leave, let alone expected the majority of them to come back. The Amish must have something of value to compete with the limitless and libertine techno wonderland the rest of us English occupy.
The ways forward
So we have two apparently viable ways forward, ones that don’t end with annihilation. I don’t particularly like either of them, but I really don’t want to be subsumed by a termite colony. I want to stay human, and I want my daughter to grow up in a humane world. Given the right tweaks, Amish life doesn’t even seem so bad. I can abide the beards, and love the round-robin homeschooling, even if what's being taught is a little, let's just say, weird. But maybe we could add some spices to the food and take off the suits while playing baseball? (And yes, the Amish do play baseball). Is that too much to ask?
A better question might be, given our current level of globalization, tech advancement, and colonial drives, is there any way for the Amish model to win? Short of a complete and catastrophic collapse and rebuild, is there any way to get us living most our lives in an Amish paradise?
What we know from history is this: when it comes to combat, more technologically advanced societies always defeat less advanced ones. Their only hope is to adopt that culture’s technology and use it themselves. But then, is there a way to fight monsters without becoming a monster? In what world does the indigenous population of American Indian tribes fight off the colonists, without appropriating their firearms and tightly disciplined professional armies?
The one bright side is that the technology doesn’t have to be physical. It could be a culture or philosophy. Or religion. The early Christians didn’t have better spears than the Romans. Or better armor. They could be, and were, easily tossed to the lions. What they had was a powerful idea about martyrdom, one that transubstantiated intransigence into the ultimate virtue, a virtue that came with an unbounded promise of reward.
The modern colonists are doing the same thing, winning with technology built on emotional manipulation, not arms. The actual, embodied military apparatus is the last thing they are attempting to take over, right now as I write this.
Emotional manipulation is one of those non-transitive weapons. It can colonize some technologically advanced civilizations, and yet at the same time gets routed by the same barbarous hordes who can never beat a complex civilization except in its final stage of decadence.
My favorite scene from the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movie, and I can’t say how closely it tracks with the book as I couldn’t get through the written version, is when the hired investigator is snooping around a murder suspect’s house. The suspect notices the detective on his property, and insists he come in for a drink. Shortly thereafter the investigator is bound and suffocating to death. The suspect comments on how easily the investigator was lured in, despite understanding the danger: “It’s hard to believe the fear of offending can be stronger than the fear of pain. But you know what, it is.”
No instinct-abiding ape would have made that same mistake.
This, right now, is the position we find ourselves in. Up until the point where woke colonists overtake the army and police, a moment we are quickly approaching, we’re still free to walk away. Or pre-emptively shoot the murder suspect in the forehead, so long as we haven’t left our guns behind in the car.
We don’t fight back, though, because we’d would rather risk our way of life than be called nasty names. By the time the majority population realizes this was a mistake, their culture will be hanging upside down with a bag over its head. The victors will be the woke colonists sometimes labeled Cultural Marxists. And like all communists, their goal is to impose a total institution, with no room for dissent or individuality. For them, identity is destiny. Just like in a termite colony.
A way forward
After all this setup of my thesis, the only thing left to do is handicap the final battle between viable futures, and perhaps pick a side and a strategy.
Clearly, controlling the reigns of a technocracy grants infinitely more overt power than controlling the reigns of a Belgian draft horse. One can pull a wooden cart, the other can implant a GPS tracker. This is not an even battle.
But weaker populations can defeat stronger ones, they just can’t do it with direct combat. They need to use other tools. In the West, the civil rights movement leveraged the consciences of the majority population. It appealed to their Judeo-Christian values and said, “We are people just like you. Don’t treat us like dogs”.
Sometimes that strategy works, other times not so much. It’s certainly less likely to work when those who have the most to gain by subjugating a weaker population, are also those who control the narratives that get presented about that population. In other words, if you are battling a group that controls TV news and newspapers and books and movies, and that group wants your stuff or wants your way of life destroyed, the broader population won’t care if you are treated like dogs because every single portrayal of your group will make it look like you are dogs. Or, let’s just say, deplorables. So leveraging consciences may prove to be a tough task, no matter how much at present a population like, say, the Amish, are respected or invisible.
Is there some other way for an Amish-like way of life to win? The actual Amish have certainly proven they can out-breed the English, and in the old days it would be enough to declare that demographics are destiny and that was that. Now it’s not so simple, and however quickly they’re growing, the numbers are still way too small. The Amish and allies will need something other than the relatively glacial pace of intergenerational growth.
My recommendation is intolerance and a level of intransigence that leads to forced confrontation, in the way that very small group of ecoterrorists saved a spotted owl habitat by chaining themselves to trees. Until the woke colonists control institutions of armed men willing to endure physical and emotional pain, they are still handicapped by their own weakness. As Schwartzenager might put it, “If it bleeds, we can kill it.”
Imagine strapping on your grandsons telepathy helmet and sending him off to die as a drone on Mars, because you were too cowardly to confront blue-haired millennials who thought words were violence, and spent the pandemic double-masked in their basements, literally shaking with fear.
There’s no way I would call this battle hopeless, but so far it’s been a rout, and if we don’t decide to fear our future as termites, more than we fear a present of being called nasty names, it won’t be long before the actual Amish, along with everyone else unwilling to subjugate their will to the cultural colonists, finds their way of life suffocated to death. Or restricted to reservations, along with anyone else who insists on quaint liberal values like the worth of the individual soul.