March 8, 2011

Francis Fukuyama explains it all

Francis End of History Fukuyama has a big book coming out intended to compete with Guns, Germs, and Steel in the Big Picture history category. Nicholas Wade writes in the New York Times about Fukuyama's attempts to merge political science and sociobiology:
“We take institutions for granted but in fact have no idea where they come from,” he writes. Institutions are the rules that coordinate social behavior. Just as tribes are based on the deep-seated human instinct of looking out for one’s family and relatives, states depend on the human propensity to create and follow social rules.

Dr. Fukuyama emphasizes the role of China because it was the first state. The Qin dynasty, founded in 221 B.C., prevailed over tribalism, the default condition of large societies, by developing an official class loyal to the state rather than to family and kin. 

What about Egypt 2500 years earlier?
Tribalism did not disappear in Europe until a thousand years later. It yielded first to feudalism, an institution in which peasants bound themselves to a lord’s service in return for his protection. So when kings emerged, they seldom acquired absolute power, as did rulers in China, because they had to share power with feudal lords.

Another impediment to absolute rule in Europe, in Dr. Fukuyama’s telling, was that the concept of the rule of law emerged very early, largely because of the church’s development of canon law in the 11th century. So when strong rulers started to build states, they had to take account of the emerging codes of civil law.

Europeans then developed the unusual idea that it was the law that should be absolute, not the ruler. In pursuit of this principle, the English Parliament executed one king, Charles I, and deposed another, James II. This proved a durable solution to the problem of building a strong state, yet one in which the ruler was held accountable. 

That seems a little backwards. My impression is that the notion of the rule of law grew out of the northern European emphasis that bargains should be upheld on both sides. Medieval Europe was a chaos of overlapping bargains going back to time immemorial. Absolutism in Baroque Europe was largely an attempt to modernize, to rationalize the clutter of legalistic medieval institutions.
Other European countries developed institutions similar to those in England but failed to achieve a sustainable balance of power between the ruler and the elites. In France, the nobility rebuffed the state’s efforts to tax them, so the burden fell increasingly on the peasantry until it became intolerable, leading to the French Revolution. In Hungary, the elites were so powerful that they denied the king the authority to devise an adequate defense. The Hungarian Army was annihilated by the Mongols at the battle of Mohi in 1241 and again by the Ottoman Turks at the battle of Mohacs in 1526.

Of the European powers, only England and Denmark, in Dr. Fukuyama’s view, developed the three essential institutions of a strong state, the rule of law, and mechanisms to hold the ruler accountable. This successful formula then became adopted by other European states, through a kind of natural selection that favored the most successful variation.

I'd probably lean toward Shakespeare's "sceptred isle" theory that "island privilege" gave the English a margin for error and for, well, niceness:
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war

Paul Johnson argued in The Off-Shore Islanders:
Isolation … is the most consistent single thread running through the tapestry of English history. … It does not preclude contacts, exchanges, cooperation: but it inhibits the systematic involvement with the land-mass which diminishes, and in the end destroys, the island privilege.

Wade continues:
Though institutions are the basis of the modern state, the instinct to favor family never disappears and will reassert itself whenever possible. To create a loyal administrative class, Dr. Fukuyama said, some states took the extreme measure of destroying the family, in a variety of original ways.

The Chinese emperors instituted a special cadre of eunuchs who had no family but the state, and came to be trusted more than the regular administrators. Pope Gregory VII in the 11th century imposed celibacy on Catholic priests, forcing them to choose between the church and the family.

Islamic rulers created a class free of family ties with the remarkable institution of slave soldiers. Young boys would be taken from mostly Christian families, often in the Balkans, raised as Muslims and as slaves, and trained as soldiers. The system, despite its oddity, was highly effective. The Mamluks, one of several versions of these military slaves, defeated the Mongols and ousted the Crusaders. The institution decayed from the very danger it was designed to prevent: weak sultans allowed the soldiers’ sons to succeed their fathers in office, whereupon the soldiers’ loyalty reverted to their families instead of the state.

I don't think this kind of cultural (and perhaps genetic) evolution is quite done with. The Obama Administration, for example, seems rather worried that the U.S. military has become increasingly run by a semi-hereditary caste of officers' families.

Anyway, the book sounds interesting and I look forward to reading it.

87 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well, Steve few Irishmen or Frenchmen (both nationalities who know the English the best), would subscribe to your theory of English 'niceness'.
An interesting point is that English colonial expanionsim only really got underway after the French expelled England from the continent, thus ending any hope of expansion in Europe.Ireland fell victim to English expansionism, but never gave up the ghost despite hundreds of years of subjugation, but the Scots famously defeated in England in battle and were never colonised.

Anonymous said...

Anyway, Steve it was the Romans, not northern Europeans, who first codified law and a judicial system.
The Anglo-Saxon notion of a legal examination was 'ordeal by fire'.Basically the accused had to grasp a red-hot piece of iron in his right hand - his guilt was ajudged by the wound left by the iron.And there was also ordeal by combat, water etc.

Henry Canaday said...

Norman Cantor, in "The Civilization of The Middle Ages," argues that it was mostly the heritage of Roman law, especially Justinian's Code, and the Church's Canon Law, that made the rule of law so important in Europe. He also argues, not implausibly, that for about 400 years until entrepreneurs and scientists became important in the 19th Century, lawyers produced the highest value add per capita of any profession in Europe.

Big Bill said...

Francis, I don't get it.

I thought History Ended.

After your last book I thought we were all going to join hands and skip down the street tossing flowers at passersby, each of us smiling and celebrating the triumph of Progress and Liberal Democracy.

Anonymous said...

>Medieval Europe was a chaos of overlapping bargains going back to time immemorial.


The chaos was created by the flight of the curials in the late Roman Empire. Think white flight, but from the Legions and their delators instead of from black crime and predatory lawyers.

another Aaron said...

On the "rule of law" coming from 11th century canon law seeming backwards, it sounds like Fukuyama lifted that from Harold Berman, Law and Revolution: The Formation of the Western Legal Tradition. It might have been more accurate to say the "autonomy" of the law instead of the "rule of law" (an idea which came along later). In any case, I think Fukuyama means a lot more than tribal chiefs keeping their word.

Dave said...

"but the Scots famously defeated in England in battle and were never colonised."

Ewan Mcgregor says otherwise.

James Kabala said...

No one, not even Sailer apparently, ever actually reads the sceptred isle speech all the way to the end.

TGGP said...

Azar Gat's "War and Human Civilization" has a lot on kin-based tribalism/chiefdom vs strong centralized state bureaucracy and the feudal interlude. One can see tribalism wasn't eliminated in Europe* because Europe was made up of so many polities that even the Romans never fully conquered, but they themselves had done away with a kinship based political system under their last king. Ironically, they may not have relied enough on kinship as it created uncertainty as to who would succeed the emperor.
*Gat actually claims Montenegro was still tribal into the 20th century, which is something I've never heard of elsewhere, including Wikipedia.

Harold Berman's "Law and Revolution" is excellent on the development of canon (and other) law around the 11th century, relying significantly on Roman law and coinciding with the imposition of celibacy on the priesthood.

Another interesting book (which I haven't read) on French vs English taxation is John Nye's "War, Wine and Taxes". It was difficult to raise money because the state had little ability to stamp out tax evasion. The French had high official taxes on lots of stuff, but didn't raise much money. The English start restricting imports of French wine, and wound up creating a cartel of brewers who agreed to pay taxes in return for maintaining the oligopoly. So that made it easier for the English state to raise money. North, Wallis & Weingast's "Violence and Social Orders" has more on how the "natural state" relies more on granting monopolies (hence Adam Smith's distrust of corporations) and special privileges rather than the standard taxation we have now. Their writings on the evolution of a more impersonal, rule-based state has a lot in common with Berman's book mentioned earlier.

On a final note, Scott Sumner thinks "The End of History" was one of the best predictions of the past few decades.

Father Ted said...

Anonymous1

Well, Steve few Irishmen or Frenchmen (both nationalities who know the English the best), would subscribe to your theory of English 'niceness'.

Ha! I'd be surprised if large numbers of French think the English are particularly unpleasant. Up to 300,000 Frenchies choose to live over here - in England.

What would distinguish the French (or any of our continental neighbours)from (some of) the Irish would be that the French have also fought numerous wars with every other nation in Europe and so have the benefit of perspective.

In some ways, its a shame Ireland wasn't in the North Sea.

In my personal experience, either I've been meeting a better class of Irishmen over the last couple of decades, or the Irish are far less chippy than they used to be.

Where are you from Mr Anonymous?

Here's Dara O'Briain on Anglo-Irish relations. Steve might be interested in this clip as it mentions Wayne Rooney, but I suspect you, Mr anonymous, might find it instructive:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4cxzfEuDQs

Also, English expansionism (as you put it) getting underway, had more to with Portuguese sailing technology and Spanish galleons laden with Aztec gold than with the loss of Calais.

Ireland fell victim to English expansionism, but never gave up the ghost despite hundreds of years of subjugation, but the Scots famously defeated in England in battle and were never colonised.

FFS,cry me a river.

Funny you should mention Scots and Ireland.

There is a reason why Northern Irish Protestants/Loyalists often call themselves Ulster Scots, and that in the USA they are known as the Scots-Irish - can you guess what that reason is?

As for the Scots never being colonised, I'm afraid you're wrong. They were colonised, by the Irish:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scoti

Going way back before 'Scotland' existed, lowland Scotland, on the East coast, was part of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria, and on the West coast, the proto-Welsh Kingdom of Strathclyde. So maybe the Scots colonised the Northern Welsh and the Northern Anglo-Saxons. They certainly obliterated the Picts - what the hell happened to the Picts, genocide maybe?

But I guess that doesn't have the same victimhood mileage in it does it?

Anonymous said...

you have excerpted almost the entire article mate, i think u are running aafoul of copyright laws.

Anonymous said...

Also, your link doesn't explain what you mean by this:

I don't think this kind of cultural and/or evolution is quite done with. The Obama Administration, for example, seems rather worried that the U.S. military has become increasingly run by a semi-hereditary caste of officers' families.

=========================

whatchoo mean by "semi-hereditary caste..." ? ? ? ?

Chicago said...

That guy Fukuyama is still around? I thought he'd have committed seppuku by now in shame over his highly touted end of history theory not coming to pass. Oh well, another day, another buck, another grand theory to sell.

Nanonymous said...

Fukuyama is famous for his "The End Of History". By now, it should be obvious that its main thesis is dead wrong.

From Wade's review, the main thesis of the new book is unclear. One of the themes seems to be primacy of the loyalty to one's family/tribe. Thats' not far away from his "Trust". This is something that is claimed to be "a new foundation for understanding political development". What else is there?


"My argument is that the rule of law comes out of organized religion, and that democracy is a weird accident of history," he said.

I don't know. Seems to me that the rule of law comes with religion, not out of it.

J said...

What a weird idea coming from a historian that China was the first state. Hammurabbi had his code written in stone much earlier. About following laws and not rulers, what about the Greeks?

Harry Baldwin said...

A recommendation for the blog: Eliminate the option to check "Anonymous" and make everyone pick a pseudonym. It would facilitate communication.(Unfortunately, I don't think Google Blog provides for that.)

I don't get why half the respondents choose to go by the same "Anonymous" handle. It's really confusing and the refusal to use an identifier seems weirdly passive-aggressive.

David Davenport said...

Steve,

You need to get a book of your own out.

Simon in London said...

"That seems a little backwards. My impression is that the notion of the rule of law grew out of the northern European emphasis that bargains should be upheld on both sides. Medieval Europe was a chaos of overlapping bargains going back to time immemorial. Absolutism in Baroque Europe was largely an attempt to modernize, to rationalize the clutter of legalistic medieval institutions."

That seems right to me.

A lot of the Fukuyama/Wade stuff sounds like junk history to me. Hungary had a big, powerful army. It was massacred by the Mongols because that's what Mongols did. Hungary's major mistake was not being a thousand miles further west.

Anonymous said...

Irishmen believe that *any* intiative emanting from the English is a trick/subterfuge - that is their default belief.Also they have the strong suspcion that the highest echelons of nationalist movements are compromised/iniltrated.Attitudes honed by centuries of fighting and dealing with the English.

Simon in London said...

The English are, indeed, 'nice' among themselves, for a certain value of 'nice'. Being half-English by ancestry and living among them I have some understanding of them, and how they differ from the Celtic fringe. There is a kind of honesty they have (very different from German honesty, which is alsi strong in its way), where certain sorts of lying and cheating are literally inconceivable. There are things that are just 'not done', and this is the strength of their civil society.

English 'niceness' does not preclude genocide, but it does preclude cheating. You have to 'play fair'.

charlie chuck said...

"Well, Steve few Irishmen or Frenchmen (both nationalities who know the English the best), would subscribe to your theory of English 'niceness'."

The Irish will never trust the Englosh, but the French may have forgiven us slightly for Agincourt after we helped them out in World Wars 1 and 2.

neil craig said...

In the Bible stories of Daniel considerable play is made of the Persian Emperor not being able to help Daniel when, by worshiping God, he he breaks the king's previously announced laws. Even the king is powerless before "the laws of the Medes and Persians which altereth not."

Regarding islands - there may be a critical mass at which they are large enough to sustain a free society. Britain, Japan & Ceylon achieved this with considerable sucess whereas the history of Ireland, Taiwan, Corsica, Sicily, & Cyprus is, for most of history, of having been colonies of states (sometimes a succession of states) on larger landmasses. Corsica and Cyprus were colonies of Genoa and Venice which were only city states.

Anonymous said...

"What about Egypt 2500 years earlier?"

If Fukuyama cited Egypt instead of China, he'd show disloyalty to the Mongoloid tribe.

"Tribalism did not disappear in Europe until a thousand years later."

Utter nonsense. The Roman Empire actively fought against tribalism. It assigned troops as far from their homelands as possible. The provincial bureaucracy usually wasn't local. Under the empire the state itself wasn't tribal either in practice or in ideology.

"Another impediment to absolute rule in Europe, in Dr. Fukuyama’s telling, was that the concept of the rule of law emerged very early, largely because of the church’s development of canon law in the 11th century. "

More nonsence. Within a typical Greek polis, long before the birth of Christianity, no individual was above the law. Same for the Roman republic, same for pagan Iceland, etc.

"Absolutism in Baroque Europe was largely an attempt to modernize, to rationalize the clutter of legalistic medieval institutions."

Some say that absolutism was simply the inevitable consequence of the development of gunpowder. Suddenly nobles couldn't hide in their castles anymore, and their unique skills (fighting in armor on horseback) became useless. What entity could use artillery best? A large, strong state that could build a lot of it and that could hire a lot of low-status individuals to lug it around, load it, clean it. So surprise, surprise, large, strong states started popping up on the map.

" In France, the nobility rebuffed the state’s efforts to tax them, so the burden fell increasingly on the peasantry until it became intolerable, leading to the French Revolution."

So far everything in that article is bone-headedly wrong. The impetus for the French Revolution didn't come from the peasantry. It came from intellectuals who had been ridiculing the divine right of kings, the church, etc. for decades before the revolution happened. By the time of the Revolution it was fashionable to think a certain way. That fashion was not created by any peasants.

"In Hungary, the elites were so powerful that they denied the king the authority to devise an adequate defense. The Hungarian Army was annihilated by the Mongols at the battle of Mohi in 1241..."

But ALL 13th century armies that came in contact with the Mongols were annihilated by them. Well, except for the Japanese, but islands are a special case. Being annihilated by the Mongols in the 13th century cannot possibly reveal anything of importance about a society. This is such elementary stuff.

Whiskey said...

Corrections: 1. The Mameluks were DEFEATED BY the Mongols, not the other way around. 2. The Swiss certainly developed limits on absolute monarchical power early on. 3. As noted the Roman Republican system created codified institutions (Livy cites the resilience of Roman institutions and society as being able to withstand disaster after disaster in the Second Punic War). 4. Most Pharoahs would have been surprised they were sharing power with "feudal lords" as would the Assyrians, Hittites, Babylonians, Persians, and Hellenistic Greeks.

spacehabitats said...

If this excerpt is representative, I find Dr. Fukuyama's treatment of sociobiology breathtakingly simplistic.
Of course "family" loyalties are important in motivating human behavior. Only the blindest of the politically correct, "It-takes-a-village" zombies could fail to see that.

But the effect of the "selfish gene" is far more pervasive and subtle than a parent's investment in his offspring.

Eunuchs have nephews. Celibate priests have nephews AND bastard sons disguised as "nephews". EVERYONE has an extended family, including that slightly inbred extended family to which we are exquisitely sensitive.

But one thing should be clear even from Fukuyama's superficial model; only the most repressive and inhumane societies are ever successful in supplanting the family.

Anonymous said...

"Well, Steve few Irishmen or Frenchmen (both nationalities who know the English the best), would subscribe to your theory of English 'niceness'."

All people tend to be hostile to the Other. But some people are 'nicer' amongst themselves, and this makes all the difference.

Also, British 'niceness' kept evolving.

Anonymous said...

"Anyway, Steve it was the Romans, not northern Europeans, who first codified law and a judicial system."

Having laws and having rule of law are different things. China today has codified laws, but the communist party can step all over them. For there to be rule of law, there has to be checks and balances both within government and amongst the institutions of society--state, clergy, media, property owners, voters, etc.

Penseur said...

As has been mentioned, Fukuyama appears to get a lot of details wrong, which casts great doubt on the overall content of his book.

Yet I remain convinced that something LIKE what he is doing is one day going to emerge as the original canon of a new discipline that fully integrates evolutionary biology, anthropology, and other social sciences. As per E.O. Wilson's concept of "Consilience".

Indeed, I have myself been working on this synthesis in my spare time for the last few years. The title of my work changes every couple of years. Curently it looks something like: "The Role of Family Structure in State Formation, Complexification and Conflict".

I've recently read the late historical archaeologist Bruce Trigger's opus "Understanding Early Civilizations" which is full of fascniating observations. For example: Ancient Egypt was the only early state where land was not collectively owned by patrilineages/kin groups; rather the core unit of descent was the nuclear family. Egypt was also the only early state in which the bureacratization of the state apparatus was virutally complete. Trigger notes how kin lineages, which inherently possess political power they are reluctant to give up, are in conflict with the incentive of kings to increase the efficiency of administratation. Egytian kings got lucky because the structure of their society had evolved away from this prior to the formation of the state. And of course something like the opposite process is at work in Arab Muslim Egypt today.

I'm certain that careful analysis of all historical processe sof social evolution will produce similar fruitful observations. Putting them all together is certainly a monumental task but a very worthwhile one IMO.

RWF said...

"1. The Mameluks were DEFEATED BY the Mongols, not the other way around."

Look up "Battle of Ain Jalut".

Anonymous said...

Maybe 'dependence on law' is more accurate than 'rule of law'. In the US, we have the so-called rule of law because each side depends on the law to protect itself from the other side. Democrats would love to bash and destroy Republicans and vice versa, but both sides understands that the law protects them from the other side. It's like game theory by John Nash. If you can't win em all, win a piece.

And maybe Northern Europe was favored over Southern Europe because it was younger and fresher. Though complex civiization began in the South, the ideas and values it produced were burdened and compromised by long history of rituals, rites, customs, habits, etc. So, the ideas and values got lost amidst the images and idols, connections and superstitions. In the North, with less historical/cultural baggage carried over from the past(since civilization was relatively younger), the ideas and values of both Classical and Christian civilization could have entered and been practiced in a purer form. Southern Europe may have acted as a kind of filter. (I wonder if China and rest of Asia acted as a similar filter for newer Japan).
Similarly, Americans were able to do more with ideas of liberty and freedom and rights cuz US was less burdened with 'history and culture and tradition'. Anglos in both Britain and US had similar economic and political ideas and values, but Brits were bound to the king, aristocracy, class privilege, and etc which compromised those ideas. And the French Revolution was messed up by the fact that the revolutionaries could not start from (relative)scratch like Anglo-Americans. They were surrounded by the Old Order everywhere, which required more political violence. Americans could plant democracy on virgin soil. Democrats in the Old World had to plant in soil with lots of other tough plants with deep roots in the ground and branches and leaves blocking the sunlight.

I wonder... suppose America had been settled by the French and suppose Franco-Americans had rebelled against the French King. And suppose the English Revolution was led in England by Washington, Roosevelt, Hamilton, Franklin, Jefferson, and the like. Could it have been possible that Franco-Americans would be been less politically violent while Washington, Hamilton, and the rest would have killed many more people to secure the revolution in the Old World where reactionaries and counter-revolutionaries were everywhere?

Another thing. Northern Europe could maybe dispense with overt tribalism, paradoxically enough, because its kingdoms/nations were relatively more homogeneous. Since tribal homogeneity was a given, there was less need to overtly defend it. Similarly, many all-white communities in the US are less tribal because whiteness can be taken for granted. It is the more diverse South that whites cling to a tribal sense of whiteness.

Anonymous said...

"Dr. Fukuyama emphasizes the role of China because it was the first state. The Qin dynasty, founded in 221 B.C., prevailed over tribalism, the default condition of large societies, by developing an official class loyal to the state rather than to family and kin."

"What about Egypt 2500 years earlier?"

I don't know enough about history to say, but maybe Fuku is saying China produced the first PROFESSIONAL CLASS of bureaucrats.
Ancient Egypt was high civilization, but it's my understanding that it was ruled by military kin of the pharaohs, religious elders, and etc. Also, the Pharaoh was seen as a kind of god, a father to his people, so there was a spiritual sense of kinship between him and his people. It was a kind of theocratic than a rational political order. I believe Emperor Qin got his ideas from Han Fei Tzu of the 'legalist' school where society was seen as a kind of machine. Han has been compared to Machiavelli, but his ideas are more comparable to those of Hobbes(of Leviathan).

Anonymous said...

The development of democracy in tiny UK and lack of it in Russia raises the question of the link between freedom and land. Sailer has written that one of the reason for freedom/democracy in the US is the abundance of land, and this is probably one of those things which is 'true but not true enough'--to borrow a phrase from John Lukacs.

For centuries, Chinese had lots of land but produced no democracy. Russia had vast lands, but no democracy. UK and Netherlands were small but they produced working democracies. While one could credit plentiful land to the rise of democracy in America, Canada, and Australia, the fact is tiny New Zealand is also a democracy; indeed no less a democracy.
And tiny overpopulated South Korea and Taiwan developed into democracies while vast Kazakhstan is one of the most repressive places on Earth.
Also, there was no lack of open land in Latin America, but not only was Latin America late in securing independence from the Old World, but Latin American nations did a lousy job in forming stable democracies. In 1945, the Mexican population was only 20 million--which means land was relatively plentiful--, but Mexicans messed everything up.

So, lots of land doesn't necessarily translate into democracy. Also, ruggedness--something Russians have plenty of--isn't the same thing as individuality, and individuality isn't the same thing as democratic mindset. Ruggedness can lead to tribalism than individualism. In harsh frontier surroundings, people tend to group together into clans(as in the great Soviet film SIBERIADE). Also, individualism can be anti-democratic. Just look at them cowboys and outlaws in westerns who don't give a shit about rule of law. They wanna drink, play cards, and shoot everyone, like Clint Eastwood in the Dollars Trilogy. Democracy is really more a mindset and set of principles/values/attitudes. Though Australia was settled by prison labor, the values and ideas of Anglo-ism paved the way for democracy. There was plenty of land in Siberia but Russians only built gulags.
Mongols certainly had plenty of land to run around with their horses and sheep, but they never developed the values and ideas necessary for democracy, which requires not only freedom but lawful cooperation among people.

Crowdedness can lead to anti-democratic but also pro-democratic feelings. Anti-democratic cuz people are more frustrated and stressed out; but pro-democratic cuz people find it necessary to work with other people and make compromise to get things done.
Isolation also can lead to anti-democratic and pro-democratic feelings. Anti-democratic cuz one gets used to doing everything as one wishes without outside interference(including rule of law); pro-democratic cuz one feels more satisfied with one's sense of indepedence.

Anonymous said...

And of course, tiny densely populated Israel is a democracy while vast Muslim nations have been repressive.

One advantage of crowdedness to democracy is that the people can unite quickly in big cities to confront the repressive powers-that-be or make demands. This may be why it's more difficult for rural societies to become democracies: not enough people in cities to unite and rally. Even the American Revolution was, politically and intellectually, mostly an urban affair. Though some of the Founders were rural gentry with plantations, they came together to do business and exchange ideas in croweded cities.

One of the huge disadvantage for the American Right is that so much of its power is in small towns, suburbs, farmlands, etc. As such, it's not easy for the American Right to make a dramatic show of force. Dems are in the cities, so if they wanna march for open borders, 'gay marrage', anti-war rallies, etc, they can bring together 100,000s of people almost immediately and create the impression that THE PEOPLE are on the march. But conservatives are more spread out, so they look stupid sitting home and grumbling. Also, even suburban conservatives in nearby cities don't wanna march in cities cuz they'll be booed and taunted by most city dwellers. Suppose 10,000 conservatives marched in NY against 'gay marriage'. NYers will throw shit at them. But if 10,000 marched for 'gay marriage', most Nyers will cheer them on.

So, the politics of space(or political sprawl), by spreading thin the forces on the Right, has undermined conservatism. Maybe conservatives should find ways for them to come together more easily to show off their power.

Anonymous said...

"Isolation … is the most consistent single thread running through the tapestry of English history."

Iceland and Greenland were purer examples of isolation, and their histories were not very consequential to world history.

British isolationism might be called involation, a halfway between ivolvement and isolation. Britain was involved with rest of Europe enough to take its most useful ideas, values, arts, trends, but also detached enough to stay above the troubles, problems, and craziness of Europe.

Penseur said...

"...maybe Fuku is saying China produced the first PROFESSIONAL CLASS of bureaucrats.
Ancient Egypt was high civilization, but it's my understanding that it was ruled by military kin of the pharaohs, religious elders, and etc."


This was true only at the very beginning of Egyptian civilization. Later dynasties heavily bureaucratized their government, unlike any other early civilization.

As I mentioned, all of this is made clear in Trigger's "Understanding Early Civilizations". I'd say this is the best ever comparative book on early states. Essential reading for anyone interested in Big History.

I have no idea why Fukuyama doesn't appear to have read Trigger, or why he doesn't mention Egypt or even the Mesopotamian city states. These civilizations were both more socially complex than even the Chinese Shang dynasty, which by the way was the earliest civilization in China (circa 1600 BC) long before the Qin dynasty Fukuyama discusses.

Anonymous said...

I spotted most of the rather obvious historical errors in the Fukuyama excerpts and was all fired up to post some witty and acerbic corrections. Too late.

The errors are so great and so many that it's hard to understand how such a famous intellectual superstar could write such rot. Then I remembered "Guns, Germs, Steel".

With all the book sales, TV specials, and speaking tours I imagine that Jared Diamond cleared a couple million from his book. That had to have made a huge impact on a guy who is also world famous but whose book "The End of History" has hardly ever been actually read.

I think Fukuyama is trying to write the right sort of book that will make him rich. Factual accuracy can wait until the second or third draft. Diamond's academic reputation suffered from all his errors but it didn't seem to have bothered sales very much.

Albertosaurus

Rob said...

To create a loyal administrative class, Dr. Fukuyama said, some states took the extreme measure of destroying the family, in a variety of original ways.
They have long since moved on from destroying the family to destroying the race.

M said...

Steve, agreed about the growth of the rule of law.

...

I'll agree with the posters who raise the Greco-Roman objection and have to ask where Rome and Greece are in this? It seems odd to present loyalty to the state and to larger social groups, as a de novo product of feudalism, when Greco-Roman opposition to absolute rulership and commitment to binding constitutions have precedence. Opposition to absolute rulership is a trend which reoccurs in the West, not a flowering of post-medieval rulership.

It also seems strange to present the idea that citizens of the Roman Empire had a commitment to tribalism rather than (at least also to) Romanitas and Romanization (and the degree to which contact peoples were absorbed) and to downplay the commitment of the Romans to their civic institutions.

However, (and the rest of this post may be where I agree basically do agree with Fukuyama depending on how accurately his argument has been rendered here), the idea that the Roman West basically didn't have a "class" of servants of the state and citizens of the state rather than their own families, promoted meritocratically, may be more or less accurate.

But we have to remember that (as the article rather obliquely states) this was essentially created by Qin ShiHuangDi and by other the rulers of other Warring States (and revived by Emperor Qin's successors, even those who publicly reviled the ideology) essentially out of a desire for absolutism - to break the power of nobles - and out of competition between rulers dead set on winner-takes-all domination. (It's really fascinating to read about how the Warring States systematically rationalised their way of making war - in ways that didn't really happen in Rome, or in Europe generally until the modern period and which were quickly forgotten in China after the end of the intense conflicts).

Whereas, the emergence of Rome as a power and of the decline of tribalism in the face of commitment to Roman identity was quite different - essentially rulers scaled up by bargaining and drafting new peoples at the margins into the empire, rather than intensifying (which in some ways has unfortunate parallels with the current Western situations). This broke tribal identities in quite different ways.

Modern Western decline in tribalism in favor of statehood is somewhat like the Roman case (more so in America possibly) and somewhat like the Chinese case but has more to do with growth in internal trade and mobility and bargains between nobles trying to defuse a situation in which they all acted in allegiance to their own families. It's not so much to do to with absolutist rulers trying to break the back of the nobility - Western nobilities and bourgeois broke the back of the would be absolute rulers! Making it quite different to the Chinese case and the institutions through which it operates (and which we have inherited) quite different...

CarpeOro said...

I've read write ups of FF's work before and had little interest. Skipping over Egypt and Mesopotamia both? Hammurabi would probably join the Pharaohs in scratching his head.

As much as I live the Irish I've heard that lament from Irish-Americans for years regarding the poor Irish victims. Ireland was traditionally a cesspit of feuding clans that only broke off fighting with each other to raid the island to the East. Never hear of Scotland (grew out of the raiding colony of Dalriada)? Saint Brendan? Or perhaps forgot the fact that the Normans were invited in by one side to fight another. Or even that most Irish revolts fell apart from internal squabbles. There is plenty of blame on both sides of the relationship between the English and Irish.

Leslie is a dude's name said...

British isolationism might be called involation, a halfway between ivolvement and isolation. Britain was involved with rest of Europe enough to take its most useful ideas, values, arts, trends, but also detached enough to stay above the troubles, problems, and craziness of Europe.

"Troubles, problems and craziness" that the British very actively fomented to keep any Continental power from evolving.

It's hard to think of today's limp wristed too damn decent Brits as the descendants of the Brits that fomented constant war, bloodshed and exploitation (eg Opium War) elsewhere.

History is written by the winners.

M said...

This was true only at the very beginning of Egyptian civilization. Later dynasties heavily bureaucratized their government, unlike any other early civilization.

It's not so much about bureaucratization as whether the bureaucracy is staffed by imperial and noble families who gain their offices through family connections and use them to further their own dynastic ends, or whether they are staffed by individuals who are selected expressly for lacking such connections and loyalties and are ruthlessly punished for pursuing those. Bureaucratization and loyalty of the bureaucracy to the state or monarch don't necessarily go together.

It's not clear to me whether, relative to the Qin and successive Chinese dynasties, earlier Persian, Mesopotamian, Egyptian monarches where so ruthless or successful in trying to sever loyalty of the bureaucracy to the powerful families. If they were, there's still the question of, whether they redirected that loyalty to the state or to their own cults of personality and lineages. They may have done, but I don't have the historical knowledge to confirm that they did - if they did, it doesn't seem to have lasted to the degree that it has amongst the Chinese (perhaps simply because they lost their wars more than the Chinese did?).

If Fukuyama cited Egypt instead of China, he'd show disloyalty to the Mongoloid tribe.

Remember Fukuyama is an American of Japanese descent - if you asked him, I wouldn't be surprised if he had a lot of positive things to say about how Japan followed to a great extent the European model (long history of a weak central authority bad at severing family ties, bargaining between nobles to create a consensus of law and loyalty to wider society, ethnic homogenity with low inter-ethnic invasions helps consolidate this), unlike Korea and China.

Citing China isn't necessarily "Mongoloid loyalty" when it so strongly and self evidently demonstrates the way in which China's process of severing loyalty to the tribe was fairly brutal, repressive and damaging to its chances of developing an open society (and I'm pretty certain a pro-democrat like Fukuyama likes open societies).

Anonymous said...

"Troubles, problems and craziness" that the British very actively fomented to keep any Continental power from evolving.

Mmmm. I'm certain no continental European power ever joined into alliances with the aim of preventing the consolidation of a larger neighbour. Not like the French ever had an Auld Alliance, or the Spanish ever militarily intervened in Ireland....

I don't know much history, but is there evidence that the British did this when no other power did, or just that they played the game better, harder and more successfully than anyone else did? (which would not exactly be too surprising when they did their natural borders much quicker than those continental nations who arrogantly regard themselves as "natural" land based powers. and how much can you despise them for not wanting to be under the thumb of a Looey, a Boney or a Habsburg?).

Anonymous said...

In the Norse prose edda, one of the worst things you can call someone is an "oath-breaker". Lop off someone's head to seize their lands and women, fine, they have no problem with that. But breaking your oath is another thing.

He seems to not discuss the Roman influence as well.

Anonymous said...

1. The Mameluks were DEFEATED BY the Mongols, not the other way around.

You just made Ain Jalut sad. Meany.

-osvaldo M

Son of Ted said...

There is a reason why Northern Irish Protestants/Loyalists often call themselves Ulster Scots, and that in the USA they are known as the Scots-Irish - can you guess what that reason is?

In the USA they're known as Americans. I've never seen nor heard the term "Scots-Irish" until I started reading iSteve. I imagine their ancestors left in the first place to get away from all the wankers who care about such stuff.

Laban said...

"What about Egypt 2500 years earlier?"

I don't know enough about history to say, but maybe Fuku is saying China produced the first PROFESSIONAL CLASS of bureaucrats.


Look at the Instruction of Amenemope - a civil service manual which our rulers could profitably read :


Do not lead a man astray by reed pen or papyrus document:
It is the abomination of God.
Do not witness a false statement,
Nor remove a man (from the list) by your order;
Do not enroll someone who has nothing,
Nor make your pen be false.
If you find a large debt against a poor man,
Make it into three parts;
Release two of them and let one remain:
You will find it a path of life;
You will pass the night in sound sleep; in the morning
You will find it like good news.

Better it is to be praised as one loved by men
Than wealth in the storehouse;
Better is bread when the mind is at ease
Than riches with troubles.

Anonymous said...

Qin China was not the first state, but it was the first totalitarian one and in many ways the first modern one. It sought to atomize the family, controlling even the most basic levels of human interaction, and otherwise reducing individuals to component parts of a social-state machine. The role of the Emperor, like the vanguard Leninist parties in a Communist Society, was ultimately to fade away as the Law would rule over everyone.

I would recommend everyone read Duyvendak's translation of the Book of Lord Shang to get an understanding of the ideological underpinnings of the Chinese state.

Anonymous said...

"(It's really fascinating to read about how the Warring States systematically rationalised their way of making war - in ways that didn't really happen in Rome, or in Europe generally until the modern period and which were quickly forgotten in China after the end of the intense conflicts)."

Can you expound on that? I'm curious. What specifically did they do that Europeans didn't?

"absolutist rulers trying to break the back of the nobility..."

This was not limited to China. If I understand things correctly, it's also what Ivan the Terrible tried to do with his Oprichnina.

"The errors are so great and so many that it's hard to understand how such a famous intellectual superstar could write such rot."

I agree with Albertsaurus here. The quoted excerpts showed FF to be an ignoramus. Worse than an amateur, since millions of amateurs would easily be able to spot his howlers. FF should be ashamed of himself.

elvisd said...

"Similarly, Americans were able to do more with ideas of liberty and freedom and rights cuz US was less burdened with 'history and culture and tradition'. Anglos in both Britain and US had similar economic and political ideas and values, but Brits were bound to the king, aristocracy, class privilege, and etc which compromised those ideas. And the French Revolution was messed up by the fact that the revolutionaries could not start from (relative)scratch like Anglo-Americans. They were surrounded by the Old Order everywhere, which required more political violence. Americans could plant democracy on virgin soil. Democrats in the Old World had to plant in soil with lots of other tough plants with deep roots in the ground and branches and leaves.."

Tocqueville devotes a chunk of Demorcracy in America, as well as L'Ancien Regime (The Ancient Regime) to this. The simple responsibility of self governance that the colonists dealt with had them well prepared in 1775, with over a century of exercising self government, with charters, parliaments, and other instruments of self-governance to build several generations of valuable experience. Quite a difference from servile and/or tribal societies that suddenly style themselves republics.

James Kabala said...

One little-known fact about the English-Irish relationship is that the original medieval English (in most cases actually Norman) invaders, who were at first very hostile toward the native Irish and passed laws against intermarriage, mostly stayed Catholic after the Reformation and eventually blended in with the native Irish people. If your last name is Burke or Grace or Fitzgerald, your remote paternal ancestor was an Anglo-Norman invader, but these are now viewed as quintessentially Irish surnames (at least in the U.S. - I wonder if a distinction persists in Ireland itself).

Anonymous said...

Scot-Irish is a fairly new term. Until the 20th Century most Southerners and those in the border states thought of their background as English. Its only when the UK started its decline and it became "cool" to be ethnic that the Scot-Irish nonsense started.

What's really annnoying is that the Scot-Irish aren't "Irish" in any real sense. They're just Englishman and Scots who lived in Ireland for a while (after Cromwell) and then left for America.

Part of my family background is Volga Germans. So even though my Great Grandmother only spoke German that still makes me part Russian. Uvidimsya!

Anonymous said...

Maybe the success of Northern Europe has something to do with scratchism. Every idea or value system, no matter how useful or rational, must function within a certain cultural and historical context. Paradoxically, a society with longer history of progress and achievement might be less able to employ new ideas effectively and efficiently than societies with less historical baggage; the latter kind of society may be better positioned--socially, politically, and psychologically--to start from scratch. Of course, a society has to be reasonably civilized to adopt and use advanced ideas; a primitive society isn't gonna know what to do with stuff like democracy or capitalism. Even so, a civilization with a long history and/or an elaborate cultural tradition is bound to be resistant to certain ideas, even if those ideas originated within its borders.

It's like science and technology. Science is pure. It leads to new discoveries; it is at once immutable and revolutionary. It is an empirical/experimental search for facts and keeps producing new data, theories, and facts. Similarly, the basic rules of free market capitalism remain the same--eternally/constantly revolutionary in a 'creative destructive' manner--while the economy of a society keeps changing all the time. Latest Ford is not a Model T.

18th century technology is not 20th century technology. Computers 20 yrs ago are not computers today.
For science to be topnotch, scientists have to use the latest technology. Studying medicine with 19th century instruments and technology would be severely limited and limiting. If scientists were obligated to use older technology to experiment with new ideas, their research would be seriously compromised.

The problem in Southern Europe could have been that though it had all the ideas and values necessary for profound changes--the 'science'--, it was burdened by traditions, customs, and powers that got used to working in a certain way--the 'technology'. Northern Europe, which was relatively less developed and socially elaborate, might have been less burdened by social/moral/spiritual 'technology', and so it was better able to use the 'science' of change and progress with less resistance and with greater clarity. (One of the social, political, and economic advantages of Protestanism could have been its cleaning Christianity of the massive bureaucratic and superstitious baggage of Catholicism. And this psychology could have shaped mental habits outside religion. And the North may have been more able to rebel against Catholicism to begin with since it has been less burdened by history, as the civilized history of Northern Europe was much shorter than that of Southern Europe. Also, longevity leads to loss of energy and vitality, though modern Jews and Chinese seemed to have reversed this trend; they now seem to be aging backward toward youth, like Benjamin Button or some shit).

Anonymous said...

Why did Japanese and German shoot past that of many other nations, especially UK--and even the US--after WWII? US wasn't harmed by war, and UK was relatively unscathed, at least compared to Japan and Germany. Japan and German industry were in ruins, so they had to build new factories from scratch, which means they used the latest technology in designing every inch of new manufacturing space. So, science and technology were fully in tune in German and Japanese economics and industry. Japanese steel companies in the 60s were top-notch, the best in the world, while American steel companies were old and clunky. And UK factories in the post-war era were still using tools and material from early part of 20th century. And some of the factories were built in the 19th century. Though US and UK both had access to the same 'science' as Japan and Germany, they were burdened by old technology which they couldn't simply get rid of.
Japan and Germany could start from scratch, but US and UK could not--at least in certain industries.
Later, Japan got into the same problem. After WWII, there was nothing to salvage, so Japanese went to work to build a new Japan. But by the late 80s, a great new Japan had been built. But when new Japan ran into major challenges with the 'bubble economy', Japanese had gotten so used to the 'technology' built from the 50s to the 80s that it could no longer take bold decisions. A new system had become entrenched in new Japan, and all manner of interests had to be taken care of. And for 2 decades, Japan has been resistant to new change even though most Japanese know damn well why their economy is messed up.

The opportunity to start from scratch is a blessing throughout history--the myth of the promised land. This was true of both ancient Hebrews and modern Jews. After WWII, Jews in Palestine initially tried to create a Jewish state by working and living alongside Arabs, but that wasn't gonna work(or it was gonna be a massive headache), so Jews drove out the Palestinians, like whites drove out the Indians in America. Once that was accomplished, Jews could do pretty much all they'd wanted to do from scratch. If Jewish leftists in Eastern Europe had to grapple with the histories and traditions of non-Jewish population, Israel could be a place where Jews alone got to experiment freely.
California too grew and expanded rapidly as a kind of scratchist experiment for all kinds of people. But once California government got too big, too many illegals arrived, and too many white kids got used to the good life, the cult of the new in California was just that: a cult or conceit than a reality. There were too many people to take care of, too many groups to satisfy. California went from liveliness of Ancient Greek city-states at their peak to Byzantium Empire decaying and awaiting a barbarian invasion.

Anonymous said...

It could be that the strength of China is it's been in scratchist mode since the end of the Mao era. With the fall of the old order in the early 20th century, everything seemed possible--and all the worst things seemed to happen(Civil War, Warlord period, KMT corruption, gangsterism, WWII, communism, etc). But what this did was convince the Chinese that there are no certainties in life, no security from heaven or man or whatever. Though Mao was anti-capitalist, he did brutally destroy the old order so thoroughly that the chinese could never go back. But he failed to create anything like a stable new order. So, when he died and Deng opened up opportunities, whole bunch of Chinese got to thinking, 'start from scratch'. Since China will have hungry poor folks for a long long time, the enterprising spirit of scratchism may be with them for some time. China's countryside is like a huge immigrant population eager to enter the cities and 'make it'. Also, the Chinese Communist Party, though corrupt, has the power and will to be scratchist. Democratic governments must go through the arduous process of getting approval for certain major policy changes but the Chinese Communist Party can decide to move tens of millions of people to build a dam here, move tens of millions of people to build a new industrial zone. It is like Stalinist-Capitalism, a blend of command-economy mercilessness and free market ruthlessness.
Russia in the 90s decided to bite the bullet and go for scratchism by junking communism overnight and going free-market, but it didn't work. The Russian mind and habit were simply unsuited for that sort of thing. Though oligarchs got all the blame--and they indeed deserve much of it--, the bigger factor was that most Russians didn't care to learn about the new order.
If Russia had been populated by Chinese and if a handful of oligarchs had taken over the economy, that still would not have prevented millions of Chinese to go into business and opening small and medium shops everywhere. And taking notice of such an industrious and busy population, the Chinese oligarchs would have invested in their own people. Russian oligarchs chose to invest outside Russia cuz they knew most Russians aren't good workers unless forced too(as under Stalin).

Anonymous said...

And I agree with Steve. Most of England's success was being:

"This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands"

No standing army. No need for a strong centralized government. No need for a "lesser of two Evils" choice between a foreign King and your own King.

The King doesn't respect our Rights, toss him out or pass the Magna Charter. Not possible when the Mongols or the Turks or the French or the Moslem's are waiting to take over.

Of course, the English had something more than just the English Channel. Look at Portugal or Ireland or Denmark.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of the Northern European advantage over the Southern, this book is a terrific read:

http://www.amazon.com/Mafia-Inside-G-D-Maran/dp/1845964578

MAFIA, INSIDE THE DARK HEART is an almost mind-boggling book on the subject of Italian corruption which has seeped into every facet of life. Italians are both crazy and amazing. Crazy to let this happen. Amazing for maintaining a functioning nation despite all this rottenness.

Elbrac said...

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703529004576160300649048270.html

This explains why he wants to make lots of money with a best-seller. How else can anyone afford a $150,000 analog stereo set?

Matra said...

Until the 20th Century most Southerners and those in the border states thought of their background as English. Its only when the UK started its decline and it became "cool" to be ethnic that the Scot-Irish nonsense started.

I think James Webb made 'Scots-Irish' famous. The term 'Scotch-Irish' is centuries old. According to historian Wayland Dunaway the term was probably first applied to them by Episcopalians and Quakers. Also in James Leyburn's book The Scotch-Irish: A Social History examples are given of Anglican/Episcopalian clergymen in 1720s Delaware writing about a people who called themselves the Scotch-Irish.

More often than not the Scotch-Irish were referred to as just Irish when America was mostly Protestant but that changed when Catholics from Ireland showed up in the mid-19th century.

As soon as it formed in 1897 the American Irish historical Society (Catholic) tried to eliminate the "Scotch-Irish myth" claiming that the early settlers were biologically and culturally Irish and that the term Scotch-Irish was "born of sheer ignorance and pharisaical, Calvinistic pride". So the term Scotch-Irish was well known before Britain's decline.

Anonymous said...

I think James Webb made 'Scots-Irish' famous. The term 'Scotch-Irish' is centuries old. According to historian Wayland Dunaway the term was probably first applied to them by Episcopalians and Quakers. Also in James Leyburn's book The Scotch-Irish: A Social History examples are given of Anglican/Episcopalian clergymen in 1720s Delaware writing about a people who called themselves the Scotch-Irish.

First, Webb didn't make the term 'famous' its been used for quite some time. Second, just because some used the term in 1720 doesn't make my point invalid.

Most Southerners & Border state whites thought of their roots as "English" or "Anglo-Saxon" until well into the 20th century.

"Scotch-Irish" is an absurd term that only describes a small percentage of the Southern whites and an insignificant percentage of Northern Protestant whites. Its constantly brought up because many US Anglo's want to think of themselves as descendents of the "Irish" or "Scots" instead of boring old Englishmen.

SouthernAnonyia said...

"Until the 20th Century most Southerners and those in the border states thought of their background as English. Its only when the UK started its decline and it became "cool" to be ethnic that the Scot-Irish nonsense started."

Is that why Andrew Jackson liked to refer to himself as being proud of his English roots (hint, he didn't...)?
But I get your point: -even though they have always called themselves Irish you're right that they weren't "native" Irish (unless you want to go way back to the Dark Ages era colonization of Scotland....) Some might have had a bit of native Irish blood through intermarriage but many of the southern/border states supposedly "Irish" people are actually a mixture of Scottish and Northern English (many from Cumbria, so in a sense they are at least somewhat still a part of the Celtic fringe)

Father Ted said...

Son of Ted said...

In the USA they're known as Americans. I've never seen nor heard the term "Scots-Irish" until I started reading iSteve. I imagine their ancestors left in the first place to get away from all the wankers who care about such stuff.

Everybody except the peecee brainwashed cares about this stuff.

Even Dara O'Briain who is peecee enough to host shows on British TV noticed Wayne Rooney was one of his own.

What are you doing here? Slow day at the Guardian?

Father Ted said...

Until the 20th Century most Southerners and those in the border states thought of their background as English. Its only when the UK started its decline and it became "cool" to be ethnic that the Scot-Irish nonsense started.

I have wondered about this.

As an Englishmen, if I emigrated to the USA, Canada or Australia, my kids would grow up to be Americans, Canadians or Australians. Not hyphenated Americans, Australians or Canadians.

Like you say, its cool to be ethnic, and so I suspect many Americans and Aussies (do Canadians do this so much?) over emphasize their more 'exotic' ancestors.

If I may throw an anecdote in: I've got a rare English surname. 150-200 years ago, you could only find people with my surname in one English county - in the corner of England furthest from both Scotland and Ireland. But there is a fair sized cluster of us in South Carolina. A number of my namesakes from South Carolina served in the war of 1812 - on the American side. Chances are, these Southerners with my surname were ethnic English, not Scots-Irish.

Brett Stevens said...

Fukuyama's books strike me as talking points more than fully-formed theories. He is an instigator and in that lies his value.

With "The End of History and the Last Man," he had us asking ourselves whether the 1990s idea of turning the world into a liberal democracy would be something we would find palatable after all. His point was that we would end up making the whole of human civilization into a bureaucratic American-style suburb.

The counterpoint to that book was Samuel Huntington's "The Clash of Civilizations," which was NOT what people wanted to hear in the late 1990s but yet was an addictive message: civilization is organic.

I imagine the truth is in the middle. To my mind, what defines the West is our Faustian spirit: we are by nature individualists, yet we look for some "greater meaning" and in fact, rage for it. I have not seen this culturally in another civilization (others who are more widely experienced may disagree).

Yet it is our lonely soul that drives us forever to find this balance between individual and society, and in so doing, to find a "purpose" for any society we create.

pat green said...

You want to see a visual example of the Scotch-Irish vs. Irish types? Look at the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem album covers from some years ago on line. Tommy was a Protestant Ulsterman, and looks it both physically and in his expression. The Clancys looked and acted Irish. The combo was ballyhooed as a "mixed" band.

Richard said...

Peter Hitchens has described Britain as a virgin in a continent of rape victims.

Le Pen's fille, doing well, innit?

Anonymous said...

"Most Southerners & Border state whites thought of their roots as "English" or "Anglo-Saxon" until well into the 20th century."

Oh please, were you alive in 1902? My family has identified as Scots-Irish for generations. With a name that some might think of as French or even Slavic, there was no need to hide English ancestry. LOL. We also went without the knowledge that families of that namesake are associated with a certain county in Ireland until just recently. BTW, we are also indirectly related to Sam Houston who seems to have identified as Scots-Irish well before the middle of the 20th century.

All I know is that my grandfather's grandfather immigrated from Ireland. They were a family of blacksmiths who didn't seem to be Catholic. Also, we look more Irish or Scot than English though some of us could pass for Italian or even French. Go figure. What is probably most important is that we resided in Ireland proper long enough to be considered Irish but didn't convert to Catholicism.

Time after time we discover that many of these ethnic designations are used by different groups of people for various reasons. (I've got another one of those slippery ethnic designations on the other side of the family.) If I were you, I'd avoid certitude when discussing such topics. Most researchers accept this ambiguity even if they believe they have found the truth about who, what, where, when & why.

Anonymous said...

"That seems a little backwards. My impression is that the notion of the rule of law grew out of the northern European emphasis that bargains should be upheld on both sides."

Maybe. And maybe it also had something to do with Northern European racial temperament--or maybe it was the influence of protestantism. Northern Europeans had cooler blood, less wily personalities, and blander emotions, which made cooperation and trust more possible. This isn't to say they were necessarily 'good and decent' all the time. Just look at the Vikings and the Nazis. Even so, Vikings didn't act like Africans or Maoris when they robbed and killed. They sometimes laughed heartily and bellowed war cries--at least in the movies--, but their attitude was 'ya gotta what ya gotta do'. They weren't all funky about it. Similarly, Nazis were efficient and cold-blooded killers. They had a job to do and they did it. They weren't democratic but they were 'rational' in what they did. They acted like machines of the state that followed strict instructions. Italians, a more wily people, never followed orders, which is why Italy sucked in government, industry, and military. This goes to show that 'rationalism' can be either good or bad depending on the situation. If people decide to do good, rationalistics and 'working nicely together' are a big plus. But if people decide to do bad--like the Nazis--, rationalistics and 'working nicely together' can be horrifying. Nazis were terrifying cuz Germans were so good at working well together. If Germans were as wily and sloppy as Italians, they would have caused far less damage. Though Nazi Germany didn't have 'rule of law' as we understand it, most Germans were committed to Nazi law and followed Nazi instructions in a very cold and rationalistic way.
When Nazism was defeated and Germans could be rationalistic and 'work nicely together' under a democratic system, they became the best of Europeans.

Southern Europeans may be more animal-ish while Northern Europeans could be more machine-ish. Joe Pesci in GOODFELLAS and CASINO is very animal-ish. He's a wily psychopath. German psychopaths tend to be less show-offy. They go about their murders in a more methodical manner.

It could be both Southern and Northern Europe were necessary for the development of European democracy. The hot independent wily tempermant of Southerns was more likely to express and produce the ideal of the individual. But Southerners were too nutty to produce a stable social order in which individuals could trust one another to form a functional national polity. It's like the character Sheik in BABY IT'S YOU is very independent and individualistic, but too out-of-control to ever work well with other people.
Northerners, being cold and mechanical, were less likely to come up with the idea of the free and unique individual. But since they were cooler in temperament and more mechanical--following rules, regulations, and instructions--they were able take the idea that originated in the South and use it produce and maintain a stable democracy(since they were less likely to get carried away emotionally). The British Parliament has two sides shouting at one another(but with a degree of formality and restraint). If Italians and Greeks has a similar system, they wouldn't only be shouting at one another but killing one another. And imagine blacks having a government like that. It would turn into a case of 'yo mama' rap battle.

As they say, it takes two to tango, and both South and North seemed to have been crucial in the development of Western Civilization. The Southern Animal and the Northern Machine.

Anonymous said...

Similarly, American pop music needed both blacks and whites(and Jews). Blacks on their own were into bongo drums and beat/rhythm. But they were too primitive and wild to ever create instruments like saxophone, piano, bass, and the like.
Whites, being cooler and more rational, could create those instruments. Whites also conceived of complex musical forms and structures. But, they lacked rhythm and beat, and so it took blacks to use Western instruments and musical ideas, infusing them with beat and rhythm. So, there developed blues and jazz.
Then, whites took this and added something white to it, and created rock.
Blacks needed white instruments and ideas to create blues and jazz. Whites needed black rhythm and beat to create rock.

keypusher said...

The Qin dynasty, founded in 221 B.C., prevailed over tribalism, the default condition of large societies, by developing an official class loyal to the state rather than to family and kin."

The Qin dynasty lasted 15 years.

Re the battle of Ain Jalut, OK, but then in 1402 Tamerlane crushed the Ottoman Empire and captured the sultan.

Apparently (maybe the summary is unfair) Fukuyama says that Hungary was defeated by the Mongols because the nobles were too powerful but the Turks defeated the Mongols because they had a loyal army.

Presumably the Turks defeated the Hungarians in 1526 for the same reason. But a few decades later, the Hungarians defeated the Turks...

Fukuyama's model of causation sounds about as sophisticated as the ones we find in fairy tales for children, with loyalty to the state taking the place of obeying your parents.

Matra said...

First, Webb didn't make the term 'famous' its been used for quite some time.

I think you are wrong. Americans have always said 'Scotch-Irish', not 'Scots-Irish'. Even today when referring to Scottish people Americans (unlike the British) often say 'Scotch'. In the UK the term has always been 'Ulster-Scots'. Until Webb decided to use the modern day British word almost all American history books used 'Scotch'.

Second, just because some used the term in 1720 doesn't make my point invalid.

It shows that the term was used well before Britain's decline and before being 'English' and 'Anglo-Saxon' was seen as boring. It was used by historians and it was used by people to describe themselves. Many just called themselves 'Irish' for many generations but that was a legacy from a time when the Catholics ('natives') of Ireland weren't considered a part of the political nation so 'Irish' at one time carried a Protestant Anglo-Saxon connotation as once did the term 'American'.

Most Southerners & Border state whites thought of their roots as "English" or "Anglo-Saxon" until well into the 20th century.

I don't know what most called themselves, though there is no reason why the terms 'Scotch-Irish' and 'Anglo-Saxon' would be mutually exclusive. The former are a subgroup of the latter.

"Scotch-Irish" is an absurd term that only describes a small percentage of the Southern whites and an insignificant percentage of Northern Protestant whites.

At this stage in American history it would be difficult to find out what percentage of Anglo-Saxon Americans have some 'Scotch-Irish' background but clearly those of Ulster descent (like other British subgroups like the Puritans of East Anglia) had an impact on the personality of the US. David Hackett Fischer's 'Borderers' might be more accurate but unlike 'Scotch-Irish' it is a new term with no historiography. You could say 'Anglo-Saxon' but that is just too general to convey much meaning in conversations such as this.

Pat Casey said...

Sociobiology being blended into political philosophy is the only thing left to do. Consilience is still at the frontier.

Tribalisms are everywhere in late modern society. Human genes reappear and so certain behaviors reappear also, only under different guises.

Professional sports would be no different than Hollywood entertainment without tribal instincts. The fashion industry would not exist without associated instincts. Obviously neither would familial bonds and bonds of friendship.

What is worth thinking about is how do we get rid of the contradictions between human nature and the managerial state. Perhpas others will take more seriously words like Tribalism and Localism with this book.

Anonymous said...

"Scotch-Irish" is an absurd term that only describes a small percentage of the Southern whites and an insignificant percentage of Northern Protestant whites. Its constantly brought up because many US Anglo's want to think of themselves as descendents of the "Irish" or "Scots" instead of boring old Englishmen."

Is that why there are so many surnames and street names and place names in my state which begin with "Mc"??? Based on surnames I'd estimate that around 1/2 of white southerners are mostly English, 1/4 mostly "Scots-Irish", 1/4 "other"- other meaning German/Irish/French/Italian, etc...Anyway, a 1/4 is not a "small percentage" of people.

Anonymous said...

"Whites also conceived of complex musical forms and structures. But, they lacked rhythm and beat, and so it took blacks to use Western instruments and musical ideas, infusing them with beat and rhythm."

Have you ever heard a saltero from the middle ages?

I know you had fun writing your "the ink is black, the page is white" pc theory of musical development but it just ain't so.

Anonymous said...

"I know you had fun writing your "the ink is black, the page is white" pc theory of musical development but it just ain't so."

It is for American pop music.

Anonymous said...

"The Qin dynasty lasted 15 years."

But its accomplishments and influence lasted for 1000s. Mao revered Emperor Chin as the greatest of them all.

David said...

Fukuyama. The last time I heard of him, he was saying, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, that mankind cannot afford freedom, that Constitutional guarantees must be scrapped, and that anyone concerned with Constitutional guarantees was an antisocial traitor.

The last time I'd heard of him before that, was when he was declaring the end of history. Turned out that history was over, neoconservatism had won, and nothing big would happen thereafter.

What, precisely, is the value and significance of this "thinker"? I see nothing in him save a brain-dead and ludricrous snake-oil peddler on the order of a Richard Florida or a Tom Friedman. Perhaps we're supposed to pay attention to him because his last name sounds non-white? Seriously, is that it?

Dutch Boy said...

Dear Whiskey:
"In 1259 Hulagu and the Mongols take Aleppo and Damascus. The coastal plain and the route south to Egypt seem open to them. But in 1260 at Ayn Jalut, near Nazareth, they meet the army of the Mameluke sultan of Egypt. It is led into the field by Baybars, a Mameluke general.
In one of the decisive battles of history Baybars defeats the Mongols. It is the first setback suffered by the family of Genghis Khan in their remorseless half century of expansion. This battle defines for the first time a limit to their power. It preserves Palestine and Syria for the Mameluke dynasty in Egypt. Mesopotamia and Persia remain within the Mongol empire.
Read more: http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/PlainTextHistories.asp?historyid=ac85#ixzz1GEY5DdaQ

Anonymous said...

"The last time I'd heard of him before that, was when he was declaring the end of history. Turned out that history was over, neoconservatism had won, and nothing big would happen thereafter."

Though I'm not a fan of Fukuyama--most of my friends refer to him as 'fuckyomama'--, I must point out tht Fuku never said history as history was over. He didn't mean there would be no more wars, no more clashes, no more disruptions, etc. He said the basic war of ideas--the intellectual and moral war--was over. Western liberalism had won. The 19th century witnessed the conflict between liberal forces--US, UK, French Republic, etc--and reactionary forces--kings, noblemen, clergy of Europe. The liberal forces continued to gain the upperhand. Though there were forces of reaction in UK and US, the liberal forces were favored by time and the people. And Germany too grew increasingly more liberal. And even though liberal forces were pushed back time and again in France, they kept coming back stronger. And Russia was liberalizing too.
At the start of the 20th century, most people predicted peaceful and gradual progression to greater liberty and prosperity. But WWI happened, and the the modern world was thrown into doubt. Communists took over Russia and posed a counter-challenge to the liberal model. Soon, Fascist Italy followed, and then Nazis took over Germany. Italians and Germans aided Franco in Spain(in a war which ended up being more about fascists vs communists than fascists vs liberals). Meanwhile the Free West was in serious depression. Many experts thought the future lay with anti-liberal societies that were able to effect massive social change via social engineering.
Even liberal democratic nations began to experiment with facets of authoritarian statism--New Deal in the US--to save liberalism. FDR's liberalism was War Liberalism. And then WWII happened. Nazis almost won and would have posed a massive challenge to liberal forces, but they lost. The two big winners were US and USSR. US protected and rebuilt Western Europe and Japan as models of liberalism while USSR gained influence over Eastern Europe and much of Asian mainland as models of communism. Though the West was richer, many thought communism would win the long run because communists were like the Spartans(who'd defeated the richer Athenians): disciplined, organized, dedicated, and committed while the West, though rich, was given to decadence, moral rot, dissension, and etc. The social havoc of the 60s in the West and American's defeat in Vietnam convinced many people that the East Wind was really prevailing over the West. By the late 1970s, Angola, Mozambique, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, and Nicuaraga had also fallen to the communist camp. US lost big in Iran. And Americans--CIA too--vastly over-estimated the accomplishments of Chinese under Mao and Soviet power.
By the 80s though, it was obvious that the West, via creative destruction, could renew and revitalize itself. Meanwhile, Soviet Union had over-extended overseas and was severely underproductive at home. It was obvious that communism was dead as an intellectual, moral, economic, and political idea.

Anonymous said...

And so, the last man standing was western-style liberalism and capitalism, and Fuku was right on that count. Fuku was talking about the ideas that had the power to change, convert, and lead the world, not local ideas and values. Islamism may have local appeal, but people around the world don't see it as a viable alternative to western liberalism/capitalism. There is the power of nationalis, but even China, Putin's Russia, and BJP-nationalist Hindus wanna do business with the New World Order.
Since the fall of communism, China has turned not only capitalist but has been growing more liberal socially and culturally--though not yet politically. India has adopted free markets and hasn't gotten rid of democracy. Recent events in the Middle East show that people there want their societies to be liberalized--if not in the western sense, in the sense of more people power and more freedom. Even religious forces in the US, Turkey, and elsewhere look to democratic means to gain more power. Iranian youth want more freedom.

And even if China poses a challenge to the West, it is an economic than an intellectual or moral challenge. Most peoples around the world don't want to be ruled by an iron-fisted communist party. Also, Chinese achievements, which have been mostly economic thus far, have owed mostly to Western liberal economic theories and policies.

And even with the Great Recession in 2008, how many people in the West are calling for Hitlerism or Stalinism? The Western liberal model still holds.

The only thing that can upset the western liberal order is the massive influx of Muslims into Europe and massive influx of Mexicans into the US, but that would be a demographic challenge, not an intellectual one. Muslims and Mexicans will not put forth an ideology that could challenge the validity of the Western liberal model. Sharia law cannot possibly capture the imagination of people around the world like Western capitalism and democracy have done--indeed, not even as communism/marxism had at one time. Fuku is more a historian of ideas/values than a historian of events. He never said there would be an eventistic end of history. He said we've arrived, more or less, at the intellectual end of history. So, what is the conclusion of the End of Ideas? There is no single formula to solve the problems of man. Instead, there is the ideal of freedom and tolerance and plurality so that people can learn from, tolerate, and work with one another; in other words, liberalism in the best sense of the word--as opposed to the perverted PC version. And Fuku was more right than wrong on that account.

PS. Fuku also didn't say that Western liberalism would always be politically or economically triumphant. Civilizations do rise and fall--under any system. But even if liberal nation-states were to decline or fall, the concept and ideal of western liberalism would still remain as the best hope for and idea of man and would hold great appeal to people all over the world.
After all, even when French were under Nazi occupation, most of them hoped for freedom. And even when Poles despaired of having to live under communism for a long time, they dreamt of living in a free and democratic Poland.
People in unfree nations want to be free; people in free nations don't want to be unfree. That's the gist of it. It seems self-evident, but 20th century produced ideologies that really challenged this ideal in a fundamental sense. Freedom won.

eyes wide with amazement.... said...

"But, they lacked rhythm and beat, and so it took blacks to use Western instruments and musical ideas, infusing them with beat and rhythm."

Do you have any knowledge at all about musical history? Medieval and Renaissance dance music is all rhythm and drum beat--the drums were usually broghans such as the Irish use today. Indeed, dance was something every schoolchild learned (except among Quakers and Methodists) because it was ubiquitous in any festive gathering. And you can't have dance without rhymthm.
Please read some basic musical history before you say such -- unknowledgable -- things.

Anonymous said...

has anyone noticed the phrase "three essential institutionf of a stron state" What?? what institutions? the are no THREE? are there???

Anonymous said...

"Do you have any knowledge at all about musical history? Medieval and Renaissance dance music is all rhythm and drum beat--the drums were usually broghans such as the Irish use today."

But could you 'twist' to it?

Anonymous said...

"Do you have any knowledge at all about musical history? Medieval and Renaissance dance music is all rhythm and drum beat--the drums were usually broghans such as the Irish use today."

Western beat isn't funky or flip-flap-skippity-skappity-dap. It's not bouncy but steppy. Western marching band drums is for marching, not for dancing with the hips. And look at River Dance. It's all feet stepping without bodies moving. It is a straight repressive beat, not a bouncy wouncy hip-centered beat.

Dutch Boy said...

Some of you folks don't seem to have noticed that capitalism is imploding. The chief capitalist power is hopelessly bankrupt and the lesser players are not far behind. Socialism out, capitalism down - what will be next?

eyes wide with amazement said...

"It's not bouncy but steppy. Western marching band drums is for marching, not for dancing with the hips."

The issue was not differences in beat--that's obvious. The issue was that you stated European music had no beat, which is absurd--like saying a cake has no flour. You can't have music that is not set to some beat--quarter beat, 3/8, 1/16, etc. European musical tradition was counting beats and writing sheet music many centuries ago. The KIND of beat, is different. True enough -- African dance is in a category all by itself.

David said...

Fukuyama's "Western-Liberal" model eventually more or less convinced or satisfied the people it satisfied after a series of wars established a certain power structure in which these people (but not others) lived and had their being.

The victors of the next major war(s) will establish a power structure the model of which will eventually more or less convince or satisfy *its* adepts.

Battlefields neither start nor end the Great Discussion. The preeminence of any societal model is not other than a result of the outcome of a previous war, and is no more permanent than peace on earth is permanent.

(In 1100 A.D., with Europe under the Catholic Church, the assumption was that everything had been decided; The Truth Was Known, and it reigned; and no plausible alternative to it could be imagined. Pope Fukuyama's book was simply a massive Just-So Story.)

David said...

And, no one should respect Fukuyama's public opining after his appalling article on 9/11. In the wake of an apparent caveman attack on Western freedom and democracy, Fukuyama leaped to write a fiery denunciation for the newspapers. And what did he denounce?

Small-"l" libertarians.

The Western-Liberal ideal of the primacy of individual liberty, wrote Fukuyama, was the real peril in human history - which apparently hadn't really ended, at least in the traditional sense that "end" is understood by all people everywhere.

A number of us said stupid things in those scary days, but Fukuyama, as a thinker, revealed himself to be as hollow as a jug.