Monthly Archives: August 2012

Flux in the Past

There have been many kinds of fluctuation and oscillation in history.

In ancient Greece, it was felt that regimes swung from bad to good to bad again, as a bad regime was prone to be overthrown, but a good regime was prone to be corrupted from within by factionalism.

In the Maghreb, Ibn Khaldun described an alteration of rustic warrior rulers, with the strong kin cooperation of a tribe, who become effete urban rulers, then overthrown by a new set of rustic warriors.

In China, there was a cycle of periodic dissolution and then restoration of imperial unity.

In many places we saw fluctuations in the fortunes of empires as expansion and conquest eventually peak and give way to retreat or defeat.

Likewise, from time to time a charismatic leader comes along, gathers a following, and creates a new movement, but eventually that wave of charisma subsides.

The odd thing is that fluctuations bring change, but it is only temporary. Eventually the change dissolves.


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Filed under the shape of history

Growth in the Past

In the agrarian era, there was considerably less change than in the modern age. But, that does not mean there was no change. We can see several forms:

1-In all complex agrarian civilizations, there was incremental growth in population, in the size of states and empires, in technology, in military power, and in commerce.

2-There was a growing level of long-distance interaction among civilzations, or proto-globalization.

3-In the simple agrarian civilizations (Africa, New Guinea) there was much less, if any, of these forms of growth.

Agrarian civilizations were not completely stagnant. Yet nor were they all that dynamic.

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Filed under political evolution, the shape of history

Will There Be a World Government?

I am against world government on precautionary grounds – we simply do not know what its actual results would be. We may hope that if we get a world government it will be a good one, but we must expect that it could be a tyranny. Only a minority of currently existing governments are competent, low in corruption, accountable, and constitutional. A world government would be more likely to reflect the inadequacies of the majority of governments.

But, how likely is a world government?

First, it is not necessary. The classic argument for world government is that it is needed to secure world peace, to stop us destroying ourselves. But this is no longer relevant. The world has entered a period in declining war. If world government is not necessary for world peace, then its chances are much diminished.

Second, there is no real trend towards more centralized power on a the world scale. The United Nations is not steadily accumulating more power.

So, world government is not on the horizon. Now, I admit that may be wishful thinking on my part, but I think it is solidly based.

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Filed under global trends, political evolution

Should We Eat Whale Meat?

Naturally, I’m glad that the whales were saved from the brink of extinction. And still-endangered species should not be for the plate. But what about thriving species of whale? Of course this is shocking to some who say that whales are highly intelligent and should be recognized as “persons.” What it means is that they think whales ought to possess more rights than others animals and indeed rights equivalent to humans. But not all whales are highly intelligent. If intelligence is the criterion for possessing rights, then the dumber species might well be dull enough to be food.

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Filed under food, philosophy

How Many UK Births are to Foreign Mothers?

25% in 2011. The Daily Mail has a graph charting the upward rise since the 90s:
The main countries are:

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Filed under demography

Genetics and Politics

This is a good overview of the genetic influence on various aspects of politics. (From Hatemi & McDermott in the previous post.)


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The long enduring: Blowhard, Esq. points out how old and continuous the Western legal tradition is with key legal concepts dating back to the 1000s and 1100s.

Peter K. Hatemi and Rose McDermott “The genetics of politics: discovery, challenges, and progress” in Trends in Genetics

For the greater part of human history, political behaviors, values, preferences, and institutions have been viewed as socially determined. Discoveries during the 1970s that identified genetic influences on political orientations remained unaddressed. However, over the past decade, an unprecedented amount of scholarship utilizing genetic models to expand the understanding of political traits has emerged. Here, we review the ‘genetics of politics’, focusing on the topics that have received the most attention: attitudes, ideologies, and pro-social political traits, including voting behavior and participation. The emergence of this research has sparked a broad paradigm shift in the study of political behaviors toward the inclusion of biological influences and recognition of the mutual co-dependence between genes and environment in forming political behaviors.

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