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Emancipation from magic

Jawing in the pub the other day we were discussing the Guns, Germs, and Steel and how it attempts to explain why Western civilization, as a whole, has survived and conquered others, while refuting the belief that European hegemony is due to any form of European intellectual superiority. Diamond argues that the gaps in power and technology between human societies do not reflect cultural or racial differences, but rather originate in environmental differences powerfully amplified by various positive feedback loops.

All well and good I suggested up to about 500 years ago, but it doesn't explain why some parts of the world, and why some groups in society have failed to keep up.

Why is South America a basket case compared to North America? Why is Southern Europe a drain on Northern Europe? Why has the Indian community in Britain prospered compared to the Pakistani one, when they both arrived here at similar times with similar disadvantages and presumably faced similar "suppression by the racist white community"?

I think there one phrase that encapsulates the reason, and I found it here:
The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism - Wikipedia

Emancipation from magic

If your community is in thrall to centralist religious leaders who preach a strict subscriptive lifestyle you are going nowhere fast. And of course even in the secular protestant Anglosphere we are at risk from the new religions of Environmentalists and EU federists who seek to bind us to their worlds. Bollocks to them all - give me freedom, liberty and prosperity!

Comments

...but especially prosperity, eh? (after all, the other two seem to be in some danger of going missing a bit over there right now).

Colonialism.

North America is really the very successful USA, our northern neighbors (britain and frogistan - 80-85% of their trade, they freeride on our military and prescription drugs) and Mexico (spain and frogistan) never threw off their imperialist yoke. There's no reason Mexico should be a basket case, but it is. #3 on their official income list is the money mexicans send home each year, about $14-15 BILLION.

No other country is set up like ours, the way we do things, we scare everyone else, letting the rabble have an inordinate amount of say every 2 years. Everyone else is what I call a form of mutated monarchy, unelected 1 unelected brusselsprouts.................

And our southern neighbors are worse, and Hugo and El Barbudo are doing their part to turn them red again, because it worked so well before.........

Anglos rule. Plus, we had some very original thinkers in our collective history and we all learned from them. We owe a tremendous debt to the Greeks and Romans. But we anglos took it and ran w/it.

I have some problems with the anthropology of Diamond's - there's some easy pasting-over he does when it's convenient to advance his agenda-driven thesis. I'd say the old-style doctrinaire-driven and inflexible top-down Catholicism that suppressed innovation and change and maintained a static, divine, power-elite was a developmental anchor on many countries - and the political machinery that emerged there re-duplicates the religious model and influences their (in)ability to adapt and flourish.

More religion, less progress. America is screwed.

Or what about "give me liberty or give me death" P.Henry

Having grown up in a very religious do-gooder Leftwing American Baptist household, the bogey-man specter of Evangelicals is pretty much a laugh, what's a lot scarier and more pervasive is the Academic Religion of the Socialists and Ecoweenies.

Progressivism is a religion and goes against 100K years of human hardwiring.

So if we do accept the progressivist vision, I agree, America is screwed.

And our southern neighbors are worse, and Hugo and El Barbudo are doing their part to turn them red again, because it worked so well before.........

I would suggest instead, that one understand these Marxist movements not in the context of socialism, but as regressions to a form of secular feudalism that is so ingrained in the culture of Spanish America. Indeed - the strongest resistance to this form of autocracy (and I can see no better way to describe the reign of King Fidel I of Cuba) is from adherents to the Catholic Church, to whom the idea of replacing traditional faith-based justifications for feudal oligarchies with a Marx-based one entirely outside their cultural comfort zone.

I think Jared Diamond is correct as far as his region-defined theory of conditions-based technology goes. Europe's dominance during the 19th century has much to do with the arms races of the 15th-17th centuries, which spark the birth of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century. Were China not to have unified during Europe's Middle Ages, and instead to have engaged in a frattricidal war reminiscent of their "Romance of the Three Kingdoms" Era, the Americas could just as well be populated by Chinese-speakers.

That said, it does emphasise the utter wrongness of those who advocate a tolerance for, and even an enthusiastic perpetuation of, the sort of magic-based primitiveness that is so intrinsic to African and Arab culture.