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Mitt Romney shouldn’t be invoking this Pulitzer-winning purveyor of nonsense.
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This “New World” being discussed here includes the United States of America, a continent-wide territory on a horizontal axis 3,000 miles wide that is now occupied by 330 million people living at the highest standard of living the world has ever known. When it was discovered by Europeans 500 years ago, it was occupied by somewhere between four and 12 million descendants of Asian immigrants scratching out a living by hunting-and-gathering or early agriculture. Does that suggest that something more than “biogeography” might be involved in the fate of nations?
The problem these academics create for themselves is that they do not seem to be able to distinguish between “race” and “culture.” The two have nothing to do with each other. A culture can be adapted by any race of people and because different populations have evolved different cultures does not mean they are biologically or racially determined.
I am currently writing a book tentatively titled “Terrorism and Polygamy,” which argues that monogamy — a human construct entirely dependent on cultural norms — has been the key factor in the peaceful progress of societies that have adopted it while polygamy — a much more “natural” and biological determined arrangement — has nevertheless created unstable societies characterized by great inequities and constant conflict among men. (I’m having trouble finding a publisher because, as you might expect, most houses are wary about printing anything negative about Muslims.) Chagnon’s Yanomamo were fierce polygamists and frankly told him the reason they made endless war on their neighbors was that “We like women.” Polygamy allows for the unlimited accumulation of women and invites constant raids of neighboring tribes.
Now consider Diamond’s thesis that it was the “free passage of technology from East to West” that accounts for the progress of Europe and China. If that’s all it takes, then why haven’t Islamic countries — which sit right in the middle of all this — progressed at nearly the same rate? Could it be that Islam’s sanction of polygamy has created unstable societies? And by the way, it isn’t only plants, animals, and ideas that can travel East-to-West. The Mongol Hordes used this horizontal axis to conquer the largest empire in history, invading Europe in the 13th century with a cavalry line that stretched one hundred miles wide. The Mongols too were also fierce polygamists and genetic studies show that 12 percent of the current population of Tibet are direct descendants of Genghis Kahn. So is it possible that cultural norms, and not just access to neighboring societies, might be a better determinant?
There are enough ludicrous aspects to Diamond’s thesis to occupy an entire Ph.D. thesis. Another of his arguments is that scientific discovery, is simply a matter of probability. The chances of discovering Newton’s Laws may be only 1 in 100 million, but once you’re reached enough population density, as Europe did after the Renaissance, then someone is bound to discover them. But if that is true, then how come Medieval China and India, which were much more densely populated, never produced similar ideas?
The answer, once again, is “culture.” From the Renaissance onward, Europe developed a culture in which independent scientific thought was able to challenge religious and political elites, while at the same time a culture of unregulated enterprise enabled ambitious entrepreneurs to put new discoveries into practice. India and China, on the other hand, were dominated by oppressive bureaucracies that suppressed innovation and hoarded new discoveries to themselves. As Eric Hoffer pointed out long ago, by the 13th century, both India and Europe had the water wheel. In India, it was used to drive prayer wheels so Brahmins could be relieved of the task of praying every day. In Europe, it was employed to power grinding mills and eventually factories.
What’s important to note, then, is that Obama tells small business owners, “You didn’t build that,” it is not coming out of his own head. The President is faithfully reiterating the prevailing opinion in today’s academia, which is that success in building anything from new businesses to civilizations has nothing to do with individual achievement but is just a matter of circumstance and outside forces. Isaac Newton really didn’t formulate those Laws of Motion, it was only the result of population density. Galileo didn’t really discover the moons of Jupiter — it was just a matter of knowledge passing from East to West.
Hopefully, the Era of Romney will be more than a period of economic revival. It will be an era when Americans are once again not embarrassed to take pride in their civilization.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?