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August 14, 2003

Third World Bigotry

We've been focusing a bit on white racism recently. I use the adjective "white" in contradiction of the PC-Left principle that racism = race + power and only whites have power, ergo, only whites can be racist. I think that racism can exist without power, though power amplifies & highlights the phenomena [1]. The genocides of whites against non-whites that characterized the period of Euro-white hegemony in the 19th and early 20th centuries are exceptional in human history in scale & and assocation with a scientific racial ideology. The expulsion & extermination of the Oryat Mongls in Dzungharia in the early 18th century by the Manchus (many of these people took refuge in Czarist Russia and are now the Kalmyk people in the lower Volga-Lenin was 1/4 Kalmyk as a point of trivia) for instance is reminiscent of the German extermination of the Herereo people. But because of the European advances in science & technology, coupled with the concomitant intellectual sophistication spawned by the Enlightenment, white xenophobia, which in character was originally little different than that of any other civilization, took on a life of its own [2]. To this day, white racism is held in particular opprobrium because of its past history. But as the modern age progresses, the lethal organizational power of the Westernized state and the technological lethality enabled by modern science spread, "genocide" is no longer a white monopoly. As Rwanda showed us, Western ideas & weapons are all that is needed to spark the fire of hatred and violence that seems a common feature of our species.

So, I would like to put the spot-light on a few non-white states that exist in a state of racial injustice, depending on how you define it.....


  • China: Though officially a "People's Democracy," the Chinese state is a Han tool that in the past 50 years has committed acts of physical genocide against Tibetans. Additionally, the ideology of Han supremacy is condoned by the state in re-writing history so that Xinjiang & Tibet are considered parts of "historic China," something that is patently false. Rather, the Manchu's ruled these two regions under a separate dispensation from their Chinese territories, and for most of Chinese history these areas lay outside the Han sphere of influence. The demographic inundation of Xinjiang by Han is also a conscious government policy-making what was "Eastern Turkestan" an adjunct of the Han provinces.
  • India: India has rejected equating casteism with racism, but everyone knows that there is a racial element to caste. India is also a very color conscious & Bollywood stars tend to reflect a considerable amount of selection bias (as "ogunsiron" would say, you only see "white people with tans" in the movies). Caste violence is also one of the many vices of modern Indian life. Of course, this bigotry is balanced by the "official" pronouncements of tolerance, Dalits have been Presidents of India, and quotas serve as a testament to the the band-aid tha the secular elite has attempted to put over a problem deeply-rooted in Indian society.
  • Latin America: This is a special case, non-racial societies like Brazil or Mexico often exist as a de facto layer-cake, with "white" individuals on top, and "black" or "indigenous" ones at the bottom. Brazil's income inequalities are legendary, but it masks the correspondence this inequality has with racial groupings. And as we all know, Mexico is no racial utopia, Vincente Fox et al. are not your typical field workers. One interesting point about some of the Latin American "white" elites is that they might be phenotypic whites that emerged out of centuries of hybridization, in other words, assortive mating of mixed-race individuals led to the pooling of white and non-white looking individuals into discrete population segments so that the racial division between their white fathers and non-white mothers was recapitulated due to the social forces that shaped the culture [3].

This is of course the tip of the iceberg, my point is that world-changing anti-racists need to start looking at the broad-picture, and be more realistic about human nature. They don't help themselves in singling out whites, and European culture, which if anything is in many ways more self-reflective about bias & bigotry, and neglecting the injustice that is common & normal in much of the non-white world. European self-reflection on bigotry is of course partially a reaction to the excesses of racialism that played out during World War II-let's hope that non-whites don't need a similar reality-check to shock them out of complacency.

Addendum: I am going to respond a little to Peter's mild lecture-I should not have used the term "de-humanized," rather, I will use the term scientifically reduce. There was a period of engagement with the outside world post-1500 in concert with the rise of sophisticated philosophies of man that birthed what I call "scientific racism." The ascertainment of other civilizations was not always negative, for instance, the Sinophilia of Leibniz was not exceptional in a period (early 18th century) when The Kangxi Emperor reigned over a polity greater than any European kindgom, he, a monarch that displayed the virtues of a benign & cultivated autocrat out of Plato's The Republic. On the other hand, men like Voltaire expressed an empirically driven disdain for blacks arising from the European encounters with Africa. In fact, in the later polygenist vs. monogenist debates it was the religious reactionaries who initially kept the idea of common descent of humanity alive, though eventually Darwin et al. reintroducd monogenism into the scientific discourse and won the day.

My point in general is that an understanding and rationalization of human differences is ancient-after all, the Greeks and Arabs both considered their own clime & kind the most salubrious and well balanced, heaping mild disdain on both the peoples of the north and south. Of course, as history progressed, northern Europe caught up and surpassed the south, and the Aryanists of the 19th century had to formulate a rationale for the decline of Rome & Greece (race mixture). The Chinese had their own prejudices against foreigners, read the travels of their delegations to Cambodia for instance and you can taste the contempt, while the Indians considered outlanders "mlecchas," unclean foreigners. The debates over the humanity of the native inhabitants of the New World upon first contact were precusors to later European attitudes and controversies.

But sometime around 1700 Europe had an incredible philosophical lift off, and eventually men like Kant took up the ideas of race in a manner that today would be termed scientific racism. They formulated, systemetized and studied the topic in great depth, and began to frame much of their conception of historical progress in the context of race. All civilizations have expressed a concern with ethnic & racial divisions-but the European fascination with tabulating and transforming into metrics (ie; cephalic index) was a peculiar outgrowth of their scientific culture that eventually led to a much more complex & coherent system of racial classification.

Many of these theories preceded methodologies & techniques necessary for their falsification, and early physical anthropology texts read much like imaginative fantasy-they convey little real information that isn't already known, but spun fanciful yarns about racial migrations in pre-history. Eventually, as we know, physical anthropology became the hand-maid for one of the terrors of the 20th century. Those days are over, European scientific racism is gone, and in fact, a taboo has fallen over the whole topic in the mainstream. In contrast, minorities can freely speculate on race, only earning the ire of the Right, while the mainstream considers them harmless cranks. This is not a good trend that we should encourage, it gets to the heart of equal treatment of people, high & low, black & white, that is the hallmark of liberalism. Holding whites to higher standards does not ennoble anyone.

[1] Power is relative as well, not absolute, light-skinned "blacks" are often prejudiced against dark-skinned "blacks".

[2] One of the reasons that Europeans created scientific racism was to justify the de-humanization of non-whites in the context of their progressive and rational world-view. Other civilizations might have committed genocide, but little justification or debate would be needed, because it would be taken for granted that there was a difference between The People and The Others.

[3] Here is an article the semi-famous paper on Brazil's whites & blacks that indicates this possibility. The process is basically linkage disequilbrium in a given population, because it is very far from random mating as assumed in the Hardy-Weinberg context. For instance, if you have a community of white men and black women, their children should be "mixed" in appearence, but their grandchildren will probably reassort some genes in such a fashion that a minority will look rather white and black, though most will still remain "mixed" in appearence. If in each generation the "white" and "black" looking mixed-race individuals pair up, you will have a decline in the number of "mixed" individuals, because "white" and "black" looking individuals tend to have genes that won't result in mixed individuals (homozygotes mating can't result in heterozygotes, though it is obviously more complicated than that), and a certain fraction of the mixed individuals will have white and black looking children. If in each generation the white & black looking cihldren of mixed-race looking individuals join those of similar phenotype, the "pure" looking phenotypes will grow numerically until you have a population where everyone shares common mixed-racial heritage, but looks phenotypically distinct.

Posted by razib at 02:21 PM




“One of the reasons that Europeans created scientific racism was to justify the de-humanization of non-whites in the context of their progressive and rational world-view. Other civilizations might have committed genocide, but little justification or debate would be needed, because it would be taken for granted that there was a difference between The People and The Others.”


Not necessarily. Men like Desraeli (an avowed Racialist – anyone can check this for themselves) never denied the humanity of other races. Their belief in European racial superiority was a reflection of the experience of European travelers, colonists and conquerors that came back with incredible stories of the sheer darkness of the non-European world. This fact is still as clear as night and day – with the exception of a few handful of some societies in East Asia, no nations on earth have managed to achieve a bare fraction of the overwhelmingly White nations of Europe and North America. (This is ofcourse not a blanket statement of all history – the dark ages aren’t being washed over)

The state of whites and non-whites in societies as diverse as South Africa and Brazil is testimony to this fact (There are some non-whites that show dynamism but their numbers are relatively small and they always seem to do well when Whites rule society – such as the Indians in the British colonies of Africa).

None of the conclusions they drew required any intellectual gymnastics (that are needed to justify post-modern Egalitarianism or modern liberal fanaticism). This is why white racialism also had a history rich with the writings of some of the most enlightened men in history – from politicians, historians, writers and men of scholarly pursuits. These men were not low brow, low-class, uneducated brutes who drank themselves to oblivion in “dive-joints”.

Churchill’s grip of the human condition bordered on genius. His writings on the second world war remain perhaps the most lucid, incisive and well written accounts of that horrible conflict. These men believed deeply in the superiority of the European peoples but never wrote a long drawn thesis on how the “lower races” ought to be eliminated.

And for that matter, belief in racial superiority is hardly a pre-requisite for genocide. The Turks did not need any racial justifications for murdering more than a million Armenians in cold blood – nor do the endless tribal wars of Africa require beliefs of racial superiority of one tribe over another to achieve genocide. You don’t need any beliefs of racial superiority for Muslims to slaughter all “infidels” in much of the Crescent and the “old school” Christians didn’t need beliefs of racial superiority to slaughter “unbelieving heathens” in the Crusades.

Also, no beliefs of racial superiority were needed for Stalin to watch over the murder of 25 million of his own countrymen or for Mao to will the death of 65 million Chinese in the “Cultural revolution”.

The longest list of writers on the theme of European racial superiority came from England and yet English colonies were the most humanely governed in history. The reason for this was English moderation and a belief that fanaticism of all kinds led to human distortions and grave errors. A certain sense of proportion characterized these men. And as Ive said before, these were men of erudition – who understood that Race had a certain significance, no more and no less. Churchill believed in Eugenics (and deeply as a great humanitarian mission to improve the lot of man through science) but his understanding of man and of society went deeper than any man in politics today. These were not men obsessed with race – their interests and their thought spread far and wide.

Posted by: Peter Phillips at August 14, 2003 06:43 PM


The humnan animal apparently did not create "race." It is an evolution of it's own. Nature created it. When we work against it, through integration and intermarriage, we are going against a very primitive operation, it seems to me. The outcome cannot be completely hopeful, can it? We breed, definitely, we mix. But, if one says we always have, then one puts the great racial divides at some interim period of human development. Were the Negroid, Mongoloid, Caucasoid (forgive my 19th century romantic classifications) the result of breeding? I think not. So how did they come about? How did the human species get these distinct differences? Geographic diversity, dietary diverstiy, (all caused by linguistic diversity--according the the ancient Hebrew story)?

The next question is, what is the cause for trying to obliterate the differences through breeding? We can't attribute this to simply the sexual desire and the ego, can we? The subjective rules the race?

What was nature's purpose in racial distinction? We'd better consider that before we work so feverishly against it.

An Arabian horse can cross with a Justin Morgan, but, that is the work of men. Different species of monkeys don't inter-breed, as far as I know.

Posted by: David Yeagley at August 14, 2003 08:05 PM


What was nature's purpose in racial distinction? We'd better consider that before we work so feverishly against it.

An Arabian horse can cross with a Justin Morgan, but, that is the work of men. Different species of monkeys don't inter-breed, as far as I know.

Posted by David Yeagley at August 14, 2003 08:05 PM
-----------

There was no purpose. It just happenned that way but could have turned out entirely differently.
No purpose.
I don't think there's anything wrong with cherishing those accidental distinctions, but neither do I think that it's "unnatural" for a small number of humans from each race to cross those borbers.
It's quite banal actually and has been banal for millenia.

Posted by: ogunsiron at August 14, 2003 10:13 PM


An Arabian horse can cross with a Justin Morgan, but, that is the work of men. Different species of monkeys don't inter-breed, as far as I know.

uh, david, to state the obvious, humans are one species, in fact, a species that is the characterized by a population bottleneck about 100,000 years ago and rapid expansion, so we are genetically far more closely related than many species out there as far as our subpopulations go (in contrast to chimps, who display more genetic diversity).

Posted by: razib at August 14, 2003 10:18 PM


“Sure, but most of these guys believed in God too. They were quite wrong about that...”
How do you know?

“today such beliefs need to be reexamined in the light of contrary evidence. European supremacy is just not so obvious today, when Europe produces little in the way of technological innovation and Japan has a higher GDP-per-capita than the UK, France, or Germany. Men of European descent are still predominant in the US, but as the wave of outsourcing and H1B labor shows...they are not the *only* ones who are capable of calculating integrals and building technological societies.”

It is obvious. What technological innovation has come out of Asia for all its famed intellectual prowess? Lets be honest about this – one can make a list of Asian societies that have high per capita incomes, but we are talking about technological innovation (not the ability to apply technology already created). Japan has a higher GDP but it’s a lifestyle choice – the Japanese work themselves to death (producing far less per hour – about 40 percent less than Germans), Germans only work a certain number of hours and enjoy leisure.
Also, there is more to building a Europe and America than crunching numbers and being able to master SAT tests. There is much more involved.

“A superior group should (by definition) never have been out of the "top spot". But Northern Europe was a barbarian land until only a few hundred years ago.”

Not necessarily. By that definition, the Human species would never become extinct. Man has conquered Nature like no species on earth but is the survival of our species guaranteed? Im not so sure – but if the Human Species were to become extinct for some unforeseeable reason, would we say that the housefly was “superior” to Humans (now some might, but Im trying to be as rational about the idea as possible – superiority doesn’t mean invincibility, you’re mixing up the two). The key point is about overall output.

“but I draw the line at a theory of superiority that ignores data before 1500 AD and/or skips over the dark ages”

The fundamental point is overall output. European genius had been considerable before and after the Dark Ages. And overall, it is the highest during man’s existence.

Posted by: Peter Phillips at August 15, 2003 12:41 AM


Even the war in the Sudan is actually a "race" war (and not really a religious battle between the muslim north and the christian south as many believe).

The fighting goes back to the 8th century when the arabs settled in northern sudan (nubia) -- at that time the nubians where either muslims or believers in horus (similar to the egyptian gods). The south (tribes like the dinka) had mostly native religions.

Things went bad around the 15th-16th century when the northerners started raiding the south and capturing people for the slave trade (even the modern conflict harks back to the incidences of slavery...). Its only after the 50s when oil was discovered and a lot of the Dinka had converted to christianity (and now had access to arms) that the conflict took a religious bent...

--Ashok

Posted by: Ashok at August 15, 2003 02:17 AM


GC: " There's nothing wrong with crediting the tremendous contributions of Europe to humanity, but I draw the line at a theory of superiority that ignores data before 1500 AD and/or skips over the dark ages. "

Indeed, to "ignore the data" before 1500 AD is pure ignorance, because around 900 AD the Dark Ages were through and Europe was well on the way to a new flourishment. To discard all of the Medieval Ages as barbarism is a cliché which originated during the Enlightenment to further the State/Church split. Around 1200 AD, Europe was on par with Islam and China, and well ahead by 1400 Ad. To make it less ambiguous, let me rephrase it: by the XIII th century AD, economic and scientific development in Europe were equal to the Muslim and Han world; by the late XIV, and early XV th century AD, ahead of both and of any other civilisation.

Posted by: eufrenio at August 15, 2003 05:56 AM


Razib, Vicente Fox is not typical of the mexican upper class, which is mildly mixed with indian blood, because his grandfather was an Irish-american, and his mother is the daughter of spanish inmigrants from Santander, in the North of Spain.

Posted by: eufrenio at August 15, 2003 06:07 AM


Eufrenio: This is simply an absurd stretch. By the 13th century Holland and a few Italian cities were technologically approaching China and Islam, but scientifically, artistically, organizationally, etc they were still far behind. England, Germany, France, and Scandanavia may have been developing cultural values that have served them well, but they had NO institutional capital, their art sucked, and they couldn't make large amounts of high quality stuff. Ever hear of Damascus swords and how outmatched the Crusaders were?
An expert in the middle ages can point to all sorts of minor techniques that were developed during the middle ages, but this is no different from the ability of an expert on Indian history to do the same thing.
Culture matters! The history of the Jews demonstrates that a full standard deviation of IQ isn't enough to guarantee rapid cultural progress.

Posted by: michael vassar at August 15, 2003 09:16 AM


I find it interesting that in all this discussion the issue of infra-European competition has not come up. One possible contributing factor to European dominance was the fact that in Europe you had many states of approximately equal technological development that were in competition with one another yet shared a common set of cultural reference points under the rubric of Christendom.

If we examine other nations that might have challenged European hegemony such as China or Japan we see a different picture in which there is a common culture but there is much less internal competition due to the strongly unified states these nations were under.

In support of this hypothesis one can point to the technological and other advances made in China during the "Warring States" period when no such integrated government existed.

It may be that the same factors apply to the apparent lack of innovation on the part of East Asian scientists - too much integration, not enough internal competition. Likewise modern Europe has reduced internal competition to zero in military terms and almost zero in economic terms.

If genetics is to be invoked in this discussion surely it must function as a deep substrate rather than a direct determinant. Perhaps Europeans are more fractious than other groups (for some genetic reason) but absent this loose confederacy of competing/cooperating cultures they are no better at anything than anyone else?

Posted by: John Purdy at August 15, 2003 09:42 AM


Maybe the foregoing was a bit off topic which was non-white racism. Surely no one can seriously deny its existence. The miltary and economic power of whites in combination with the "scientific" ideology of white racism may make it worse than other forms of racism - it is certainly an affront to science - but, like Nietzsche, I am sceptical of those who proclaim their goodness because they have no claws.

Posted by: John Purdy at August 15, 2003 09:48 AM


While India’s continued frustrations in getting a grip on caste discrimination are well documented, the most violent demonstration of genocide in South Asia occurred in neighboring Pakistan. Somewhere between 1-3 million Bengalis were killed by the Punjabi dominated Pakistani army (so much for the notion of the Muslim ummah) during Bangladesh’s war of independence. Another 10 million refugees spilled across the border into West Bengal. Among the common pejoratives hurled against Bengalis was that they were a bunch of skinny, dark-skinned, fish eaters, whereas the Punjabis were the subcontinent’s premier martial people. That such Punjabis were overwhelmingly Sikh seems to have been forgotten by the Pakistanis. The Pakistani army set up special rape camps, where Bengali girls who had not even reached puberty were not spared.

Considering that all this took place in the span of less than one year, the Pakistani army proved to be one of the most efficient civilian killing machines of the late 20th century. But this is probably the most overlooked genocide, since it was committed by one set of brown people against another. Plus, Pakistan was an ally of the US at the time.

Posted by: KXB at August 15, 2003 11:06 AM


The fighting goes back to the 8th century when the arabs settled in northern sudan (nubia) -- at that time the nubians where either muslims or believers in horus (similar to the egyptian gods).

well, i believe the nubia kingdoms were christian in the 13th & 14th centuries-the nubians who worshipped ammon & horus at philae were long gone.

as for comparing europe to china & islam, one could make the argument that europe had caught up or surpassed islam by 1400-though since you seem to ignore both the ottoman & mughal periods-that seems premature, but to say that it had surpassed china is probably exaggeration or ignorance, after all-the chinese state reached its apogee sometime in the 18th century under the manchus. it was during this time that they dictated terms to the russian empire and expanded into the amur river valley.

that being granted-it is correct to chide godless for neglecting the period between 1000 & 1500 as "dark," for that is probably historical propoganda by those who wish to impugn the christian & germanic origins of western civilization. but despite the many achievments of the High Medieval Period-it is surely incorrect to state that by 1400 Europe had become preeminent. after all, even into the 19th century Europe's main export to China was opium, and when vasco da gama presented the rajah of calicut with gifts he was offended by their paucity and poor quality.

on the genocide of punjabis against bengalis-it was mostly bengali hindus that were targeted from what i know-though muslims got caught up in it....

Posted by: razib at August 15, 2003 11:35 AM


Ummm...The black Herereo people turned into the Kalmyks?

You got a misplaced modifier there i think:)

David

Posted by: David at August 15, 2003 12:38 PM


Razib,

Yes, Bengali Hindus suffered disproportinately, but when Pakistani tanks rolled into Dhaka, the tank treads drew no such distinction. And there was plenty of an uproar a number of years ago when General Musharaff said that Bangladesh should just forget about the unpleasant business of 1971.

Posted by: KXB at August 15, 2003 01:36 PM


You got a misplaced modifier there i think:)

yeah-i figured you geniuses could figure it out....

Posted by: razib at August 15, 2003 01:56 PM


john's idea is a central part of "guns, germs & steel." i would like to add that some readers of GNXP have expressed contempt for jared diamond's ideas, but i think this is going overboard. the key is that diamond doesn't have the WHOLE answer, but there is something to what he's saying. after all, northern europeans did little innovation before 1000 C.E., but they were the same people biologically (i am skeptical of the black plague theory since plague is a common feature of human history and africa probably has the most coevolved organisms of all regions in the world). sumerians (iraqis) did a lot of innovation up until about 2000 BCE, then poof, nothing. sephardic jews did a lot during spain's golden age (muslim golden age), but the askhenazi are prominent today, etc. etc.

i'm only stating this as a reality check, since i think this goes without saying, but some who want to caricature the position of posters on this blog seem to assume we don't take this into account, while others seem predisposed to assume that biology is always destiny and that culture, geography, etc. aren't confounded together in a fashion that is hard to separate.

i might also want to note that the "light" of western civilization seems to have moved northwest on an axis from iraq to england over the past 4,000 years. i don't think there is anything supernatural or metaphysical about this-but there might be historical forces which we don't & can't understand at work that might underpin this shift in the center of gravity of cultural vitality....

Posted by: razib at August 15, 2003 02:39 PM


the problem with this explanation is that many consider America to be successful precisely because it *didn't* have to deal with (substantial) nearby competition

America, like our cold-war enemy Russia, owed a lot of its success to abundant resources. Also, remember what Charles Murray said about America in comparison to Europe before the 1950's.

Posted by: Jason Malloy at August 15, 2003 03:03 PM


"i might also want to note that the "light" of western civilization seems to have moved northwest on an axis from iraq to england over the past 4,000 years"

I'm not an economic determinist and am well aware how important social, racial and cultural factors are in the rise and fall of nations. I'm also aware that the industrial and agricultural revolutions have made much of the following argument irrelevant

However it's instructive to remember the powerful effect climate change has had on nations in the past

When the mean temperature of a region increases,

1) hot countries collapse socially, with the result that people either starve, migrate elsewhere, or drop down the scale of social complexity (eg. farmers/city dwellers -> hunters/herders)

2) temperate countries remain habitable, but lose farmland to soil erosion and desertification, with the result that their economies and populations shrink

3) previously cold and damp countries drain swamps, clear forests and colonise previously ice-covered mountains and valleys, and experience rapid economic and population growth as a result

When temperature falls, the process is reversed: temperate countries become cold, cold countries become uninhabitable and hot countries become temperate

World temperature was significantly higher in late Roman times than it is today.

It dropped sharply in the 5th century and remained colder than the present time for about 200 years.

It then increased steadily over the next 500 years, once again reaching a higher mean temperature than today.

Temperature again fell sharply in the 13th century and remained very cold for about 200 years

For the last 500 years the temperature of the world has been steadily increasing

Now, considering only the shifting power structure within Europe during the last five hundred years, we find that

Portugal/Spain/Italy/Turkey dominated the period 1450-1650
France and holland dominated the period 1650-1800
England and Germany dominated the period 1800-1950
Russia has been the dominant European power since c. 1950

Spot the pattern?

The hotter the climate has become, the stronger the north has become relative to the south

Posted by: DefaultUser at August 15, 2003 03:33 PM


M. Vassar; "England, Germany, France, and Scandanavia may have been developing cultural values that have served them well, but they had NO institutional capital, their art sucked, and they couldn't make large amounts of high quality stuff. Ever hear of Damascus swords and how outmatched the Crusaders were? "

I had Spain,Portugal, Byzanthium and the italian city-states in mind. They were well organised polities with modern military power, economic surplus and high cultural and scientific achievements.
Damascus steel was no match for toledan swords: by 1212 (Navas de Tolosa, Spain), the muslims lost their hold of the Iberian Peninsula, except for Grenada, which was no more than a castillian protectorate until it was seized by the arms of Isabella of Castille in 1492.

Posted by: eufrenio at August 15, 2003 04:38 PM


Razib: "the chinese state reached its apogee sometime in the 18th century under the manchus. it was during this time that they dictated terms to the russian empire and expanded into the amur river valley "

Remember that the Russian Empire was the most backward in Europe at the time. I doubt the Chinese would have dictated terms to France or England, had they had to face them at that period. By the early XIX Th century, China was at the mercy of the european powers.

Posted by: eufrenio at August 15, 2003 04:43 PM


Remember that the Russian Empire was the most backward in Europe at the time. I doubt the Chinese would have dictated terms to France or England, had they had to face them at that period. By the early XIX Th century, China was at the mercy of the european powers.

yes, russia was backward, but it was not weak, it defeated one of the most advanced nations of europe, sweden, in the great northern war. no one has doubted that no matter its cultural deficiencies, moscuvy was a military force to reckoned with since the 16th century.

the kangxi emperor and his successors, especially qianlong, continuted to treat european delegations like tributary missions. why didn't the europeans object? they didn't have a choice, there was a shift between 1700 & 1800 when european military advantages shifted from parity to dominance.

after all, you gave 1400 as the point of european dominance, but this did not prevent the ottomans from laying seige to vienna over 100 years later. nor did it prevent slave raids by the barbary pirtes along the coast of western europe as far as cornwall-who were basically ottoman privateers, deep into the 18th century. tipu sultan, a minor indian potentate, managered to defeat british forces temporarily in the late 18th century-so it seems plausible that the chinese empire could have withstood a european assault during its peak.

look-you original points were in rebuttal to godless somewhat uninformed statement about the "dark ages." but then you went on to make expansive assertions about european dominance which a cursory examination of the historical record doesn't support. after all, european colonial possessions before 1700 were mostly in the new world where they dominated far more primitive peoples-but their trading companies were dictated terms by mughal india, china and the ottomans through the 16th and 17th centuries-and china deep into the 18th.

the contrast in china is the most easy to illustrate, in the 19th century europeans dictated terms pretty clearly with extra-territoriality the most extreme, but china also had to accept missionaries and the like. this simply wasn't the case the 18th century when the chinese simply excluded european intrusion whenever they wanted to-and the europeans did not suffer this because of their generous nature, as their encounters with genuinely primitive peoples in the new world, south pacific and africa illustrates.

Posted by: razib at August 15, 2003 07:37 PM


Godless,

"1) Do you have links to climate data?"

No idea if this stuff is online. Check out *Being Human* by the Gribbins for a "pop" intro to climate change, or *Climates of Hunger* by Bryson/Murray for a more in-depth (but older) analysis


"2) How do you explain the economic development of America, HK, Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan (and nowadays, China & India)? These are in a wide variety of temperate zones."

Ambition, skill - and energy. The first two are helpless without the third. Today it is coal, oil and uranium that matter, not sunlight and rainfall


"3) As you said, " the industrial and agricultural revolutions have made much of the following argument irrelevant ". Russia didn't suddenly become an agricultural power after 1950. If Siberia had suddenly become habitable, maybe we'd have an argument. However, I don't think that a temperature fluctuation of a few degrees suddenly made Britain full of siesta takers and melted the Siberian permafrost... I mean, it's an amusing idea, but IMO it's kinda ad-hoc. There's been no starvation in Spain/Italy/Greece, for example. And modern economies are not quite so vulnerable to a few degrees shift in temperature (as you noted)."

Russia and America became agricultural powers in the late 19th century, after the settlement of the Midwest and Central Asia respectively (lands that had not been suitable for intensive agriculture 200 years previously). With the discovery of large oil reserves in both countries c. 1900, they added industrial to agricultural power

With regard to Spain/Italy/Greece - there *was* starvation - the period 1600-1750 was a time of intense economic crisis in southern Europe. In Spain for example the population fell from nearly 9 million to 7 million people (the population of England doubled during the same period). I'm not denying that fiscal mismanagement and social conservatism were factors in this decline, but I think it's significant that during this same period large areas of central Spain were abandoned by farmers and given over to sheep. That suggests that there was more involved than politics and culture

Posted by: DefaultUser at August 15, 2003 08:12 PM


Razib: "after all, you gave 1400 as the point of european dominance, but this did not prevent the ottomans from laying seige to vienna over 100 years later "

The Ottoman Empire only lasted for longer because of its aliance with ...-guess who?- FRANCE!
When the Ottomans began to threaten western Christianity (of course, the Pope and the catholic powers looked the other way when Byzanthium fell in 1453!), France was nowhere to be seen in the battle of Lepanto (1471).

http://www.nafpaktos.com/battle_of_lepanto.htm

The French and the Turks were allies well into the XIX th Century.
Divide and conquer! That about explains french politics.

Posted by: eufrenio at August 16, 2003 05:30 AM


Me:"France was nowhere to be seen in the battle of Lepanto (1471)."

Correction! 1571.


Razib: "there was a shift between 1700 & 1800 when european military advantages shifted from parity to dominance. "

You are right there: It was partly demographics
(booming in France, Britain and Germany) and greater firepower.
Its a quantitive leap, not a qualitative one: all the factors for european dominance were there well before the XIX th century.

Posted by: eufrenio at August 16, 2003 05:39 AM


"Peter:
1) Re: God...well, I think that religion doesn't really *explain* anything. This is a whole discussion in its own right...suffice to say that no scientist worth his salt would posit "God" as an explanation for natural phenomena that he was studying. "God did it" ends the investigation before it starts."

Scientists dont know the answer. At the moment, they have no authority to say one thing or the other.

"2) What technological innovation has come out of Asia
Most fundamental technological innovation has come out of the West in the last few hundred years - no one disputes that. But as we've mentioned before, China had the technological high ground for hundreds of years, up till around the period of the Renaissance - which is one of the reasons I'm agnostic on the question of a genetic creativity deficit. Furthermore, continental Europe has flashes of brilliance, but is neither a technological nor a commercial leader in most high-tech fields."

The Chinese lead in technology was no where near as great as the lead the west has enjoyed in the past five centuries. Furthermore, what has been the Chinese (or Asian) contribution to the creation of political orders (for all their technological advantage)? This is not a trivial matter as Ive pointed out before (like what would have happened to the United States if it had chosen a little despot to rule over it and then everyone became a slave of the dynasty - a bit like say, China?). The technological society we live in came about for fundamental reasons which can be traced back to the history of western political thought (which started centuries before the dark ages - here Asia draws a blank).
The Asian tendency to cling to stagnating despotisms gives us little hope for the future. As Ive said before, its the history of intellectual ferment (and the tendency to question things - and question authority, all of which is inseperable from technological progress if it is to come about systematically rather than by the odd accident every century) that has given the west the society that it has today.

"Also, for the purposes of measuring today's innovation - do we include Asians in other countries (e.g. the USA), or are we talking about just East Asia? If Asians in America are technologically innovative (and I'd argue that they are), that mitigates for a cultural rather than racial explanation. After all, Europe has lost their creative edge recently...yet no one would argue that Europeans are genetically incapable of doing science. So culture *can* retard innovation."

We would need to make a list of everything (all major technological innovations in the past 40 years) that the US has generated and then split them in accordance with Race (to the extent that this is possible). And since you have insisted that the West would collapse technologically without Asians in America, you might draw up a list of things Asians have done in America (as technological innovations) and then stack them up against the stuff done by whites (Jews and Gentiles). It would be a good test.
Also, Asians living in white majority nations have always done well. But if Asians are so good in majority white nations, why can they not create the same effects in their societies? This might have something to do with Asian political tendencies (because of which Asian societies, if Asians - i.e. East Asians are a majority, the innovativeness falls drastically.)
Indeed, one can take a straw poll of Asia's leading nations and most of them have crypto-democracies because of US armies patrolling the seas. South Korea would be a basket case today, if it were not for the United States fighting off the commies (as an example).
So youll have innovativeness among Asians to some extent when theyre a small minority in a white society and youll have asian nations (which are a different matter alltogether).


"3) The fundamental point is overall output
The whole thing strikes me as chronocentric - the same objection I lodged in the Murray thread. If we tote things up now - either America or Northern/Central Europe (UK, France, Germany), is on top in terms of "overall output". But if this was 1300 or 1400, we'd be talking about the barbarians of NCE Europe. Plague hypothesis aside for now, they likely had much the *same* genetic material as modern Europeans. Yet look at all the other civilizational developments that preceded Northern Europe's boom. Why did they slumber so long?"

I cant quite understand why we "shouldnt" look at the past five hundred years (perhaps because this creates a conceptual problem for some people or they would have to admit things they dont want to..............which is understandable). It this is part of history that demonstrates what Europeans are capable of when theyre good (and Asians as yet are not). When Asians have replicated the European phenomenon, wed be even and I wont raise the issue. But Europe gave us the technological society and Asia didnt. End of story.

"4) European genius had been considerable before and after the Dark Ages
Northern Europe and Southern Europe are different entities. One can bundle them together under the "European" banner, but they did not boom as one unit. This is kind of a moving target..."

The racial difference between Northern and Southern Europe is realtively small but the difference between Europe and Asia is enormous.


"Also, the Dark Ages lasted for anywhere between 500-1000 years , depending on where you place breakpoints. Did the genetic material of Northern Europe *really* change in this time, to make a group with relatively unremarkable accomplishments (to that point in time) into the world-beaters they became?"

Genetics doesnt explain everything (which is why I have always argued that Race is sginificant to an extent - no more and no less). And for all this talk of European stagnation in the dark ages, what was happening in Asia? India was being over-run by Moslem hordes looting and pillaging (and destroying temples) and China was one gigantic bureaucracy stagnating for the next millennia. The dark ages were the dark ages of Man not just Europe.

"Possibly so - the plague hypothesis or something related cannot be dismissed out of hand. But if it was indeed rapid evolution that put NCE Europe on top, there is no reason to be sanguine about the rise of transhuman technologies."

I think two world wars might have had a huge dysgenic effect on European innovation as well. Something you havent talked about - perhaps this would create more problems with the "Europeans arent any good now" hypothesis.

"4) Japan has a higher GDP but it’s a lifestyle choice – the Japanese work themselves to death (producing far less per hour – about 40 percent less than Germans), Germans only work a certain number of hours and enjoy leisure.
Well, I don't really see this as a knock on Japan. America works harder too. Philosophically, I don't believe that socialist states are sustainable. Germany's standard of living is steadily dropping behind America's (more than $10000 less per-capita). I'm not sure what the discrepancy between German & Japanese growth rates is, but I do know that Japan likewise needs reform to eliminate the bad loans hobbling its economy."

Germany's superior productivity (as measured per hour) is about 50 percent higher than Japan. This is something you need to think about (technology might be a factor here?). Also you seem to have missed a historical event that occured sometime in 1990 for which you claim "Germany's standard of living is steadily dropping behind America's". This is a figure that combines East and West Germany (not looking at West Germany alone).

And GDP doesnt explain everything. There are some serious problems with the US Economy as well - these problems often dont really cause any trouble for a while and then something happens (and changes the course of history) - I am thinking of America's $500 billion plus trade defecit (most financiers now dont have the same level of faith in the US Dollar like they used to). This has increased continuously for the past three decades and in the last 10 years the increase has been the most rapid. In fact the Euro has ganied against the dollar dramatically in the past year - because Europe's manufacturing base is intact and America's is steadily eroding. This will have long term consequences as well.

"5) more to building a Europe and America than crunching numbers and being able to master SAT tests.
Hmmm. To the extent that creative genius is orthogonal to crunching numbers, I agree. But I think that high levels of average mathematical ability + a high enough number of math geniuses is one of the two necessary conditions for building a world-beating society. Human capital (in the form of math ability) + capitalism = wealth, etc.
I guess this is because I'm a scientific reductionist...I tend to see all the rest (art, music, etc.) as window dressing, except to the extent it contributes to science (e.g. capitalism)."

All the rest are window dressing - like the US constitution was a bit of window dressing.

"6) if the Human Species were to become extinct for some unforeseeable reason, would we say that the housefly was “superior” to Humans
Well...I'm talking more about intraspecies conflict. "Superior" would mean that no other racial group would be able to defeat Northern Europeans. But the same racial group *has* been defeated in the past (by Southern Euros & Mongols)...unless you believe in the plague hypothesis, which would mean that the ones defeated were not genetically/neurologically the ones that survived the plague.
You might think that's splitting hairs, but that's an important point IMO. If the earlier group was genetically dissimilar enough (in crucial variables) from the surviving one, you could plausibly make an argument that the surviving group had never lost a battle..."

When Asians have been good, they done some good stuff, when Europeans have been good theyve.......................ahem.


"7) Gosh. long series of posts, but let me sum up. I think that a belief in NCE European superiority is ahistorical for the aforementioned reasons (unless one accepts the plague hypothesis) and breeds complacency. Yes, Europeans & white Americans are on top now...but have they always been? (No.) Will they always be? (Not unless they change their attitude on transhumanism.)"

If they dont change their atitudes on "Transhumanism" (which is right out of HG Wells type quackery anyway), they wouldnt be defeated by Asians but by a new species. Thats a different matter.

Posted by: Peter Phillips at August 16, 2003 07:21 AM


The Ottoman Empire only lasted for longer because of its aliance with ...-guess who?- FRANCE!

yes-keep telling yourself that.

Posted by: razib at August 16, 2003 04:59 PM


Re: center of Western civilization historically moving northwestward from the Fertile Crescent to England, it moved out of the Fertile Crescent because of resource depletion; herding lots of sheep isn't great for the local ecology. However, this does not really factor into why England rose to prominence; I can't come up with a coherent geographically-based reason for why England led the world in "governing technology", which seems to have been England's primary advantage. I know it isn't a complete historical accident and that there are some reasons to be found. When it comes to second-order contributors to English dominance, it's pretty clear that the English Channel played a similar role for England in the 16th-19th centuries as the Atlantic Ocean did for the United States in the 19th and 20th -- a barrier large enough to substantially reduce military harassment, while not really impeding communication of ideas.

As for the historical importance of temperature variance, I think that is indeed worth investigating -- but keep in mind that with modern air conditioning, etc., any historical trends of this sort cannot be extrapolated effectively to the future. Conversely, the modern day success of low-latitude societies like Singapore and Taiwan probably should not be considered when trying to determine the historical trend.

Posted by: Dog of Justice at August 16, 2003 10:37 PM


"I also believe that Europeans are not racially superior, because they did not *always* have such a lead, and because they likely *will not* always have such a lead."

There are several different ways of looking at this. If one defines superiority to mean indestructability or invincibility then youre right. I have no doubt that the west will eventually degenerate and die out (and so will the European people - because of lower birthrates and race mixing). The larger question is what will replace it. If the death of European civilization means the coming of another dark age, then I dont see how Im disproved in what I have said. What hope does China, Japan or South Korea have for the future of human freedom, for a free society, for the free exchange of ideas, for individual freedom? Long term technological progress is dependant on this (which is why Asia produces precious little new technology). When the west dies out, the engine that drives these "Tiger" economies will also have died out and with it the self-deluding belief that technological progress is as unstoppable or as inevitable as sunrise and sunset.

"It is the last point on which we differ. I don't think there's any question that a rapidly modernizing China with 1.2 billion people will be *the* world power within our lifetimes. Projection is an inherently tricky business, but China's human capital is currently so underutilized that continually posting 8% growth rates is very likely. Chinese coracialists - in Japan, SK, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, etc. - have all created technologically modern economies within less than 50 years, and given this precedent I think it's very likey that Chinese GDP-per-capita will continue its meteoric ascent.
I guess we'll just have to reevaluate when China catches the US in terms of total GDP in a decade."

Ill sum up where I think China is going to get. Derbyshire (as usual) states it better than anyone:

http://www.olimu.com/WebJournalism/Texts/Commentary/China2ndGuessing.htm

Posted by: Peter Phillips at August 17, 2003 06:07 AM


"Trade deficits aren't necessarily bad."

Ah yes, The CATO institute. Do you also believe what they say about immigration (and that we shouldn't have national borders)? ;)

Posted by: Peter Phillips at August 17, 2003 06:12 AM


"I can't come up with a coherent geographically-based reason for why England led the world in "governing technology", which seems to have been England's primary advantage."

England had coal. France didn't

Working steam engines with wood simply isn't economically viable

Posted by: DefaultUser at August 17, 2003 06:43 AM


"Peter...come on ;) Do you really think that other economies would collapse in smoking ruins if it weren't for Europe/America? I mean, the Chinese and Indian civilizations were *sought out by Europe* in order to trade with them during the age of European exploration. It's not like they were living in huts...
This is almost like inverse Marxism. Marxists believe that the West is wealthy because it's plundered the rest of the world. You seem to believe that the parts of the rest of the world that are wealthy are dependent on western largesse."

Where have all the technological innovations beein coming from? (India and China?;) I am willing to believe you 100 percent when these Asian Nations youre willing to bet the ranch on, start showing some real technological innovation (as opposed to simply producing cheaper copies of everything we do). Thats the point.

"If I pay you $5 for a candy bar at a store, do I have a $5 trade deficit? No - we both came out ahead, because I thought the candy bar was worth more than the $5, and you thought the opposite. That's what trade is all about..."

Its not that straightforward. If it was America would not have had any tarrifs in its history. Free Trade is a new phenomenon even for the United States. For a very long time, US legislations guarded the US market very heavily against imports. These people werent fools.

"When China's growth rates start petering out, I'll believe this."
Have you considered the possibility that some of these "growth rates" are artificially beefed up by Government buereaucrats? The Chinese Government has zero transparency. I take all their "data" with liberal amounts of salt.

"However, dictatorship/oligarchy is not at all incompatible with economic growth"

Economic growth driven by technology created by someone else is sifferent from economic growth driven by technology created by yourself. What happens when the source of innovation dires up (i.e. the west)? This might not happen in the near future but it will eventually happen.

"This is the kind of complacency that I was warning against earlier. A faith in the "white race"'s guaranteed superiority isn't really in accord with the evidence here..."
Read what I wrote carefully. I am hardly being complacent when I wrote that the West would die out - that sounds complacent?

Posted by: Peter Phillips at August 17, 2003 07:37 AM


“This is almost like inverse Marxism”

Its funny you should say that. Some of the China stuff you’ve posted about a thousand times reminds me of the things people said about Soviet Russia in the 1960s – Their “growth rate” is 7 percent and the US growth rate is 3 percent. The Soviet Union will eventually outgun the United States and the world will bow to the superiority of communism! (Actually I have a copy of the 1968 edition of the Enyclopaedia Britannica and there was a detailed entry on this).

Amusing to think of that now – though the parallels are ominous (chuckle).

Posted by: Peter Phillips at August 17, 2003 08:32 AM


"Its funny you should say that. Some of the China stuff you?ve posted about a thousand times reminds me of the things people said about Soviet Russia in the 1960s"

Paul Krugman wrote an article on this subject in *Foreign Affairs" some years ago, which I remember provoked much argument

Unfortunately I no longer have a copy of the magazine, but I seem to remember he distinguished between (a) growth due to mobilization of primary resources and (b) growth due to innovation

He argued that asian growth was almost entirely due to (a), which caused a lot of fuss at the time iirc

Posted by: DefaultUser at August 17, 2003 09:28 AM


*Foreign Affairs*, November 1994

He reiterated the argument in *The Economist* of Dec. 9 1995

If anyone has these articles I would greatly appreciate copies

Posted by: DefaultUser at August 17, 2003 09:34 AM


i tried to do a search of The economist's website, doesn't go back to 1995. i have online subscription, so i was going to post it....

Posted by: razib at August 17, 2003 05:06 PM


Paul Krugman "The Myth of Asia's Miracle" Foreign Affairs, 1994

http://www.foreignaffairs.org/19941101faessay5151/paul-krugman/the-myth-of-asia-s-miracle.html

Posted by: Research Assistant at August 17, 2003 06:47 PM


Here's the full version. If you don't like the formatting or type-writer font, you can google and find a PDF of the original as well.

Posted by: Jason Malloy at August 18, 2003 07:30 AM


"I don't think there's any question that China will attain first world levels of development (i.e. Japan) within my lifetime."

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/037550477X/qid=1061325778/sr=8-1/ref=sr_8_1/104-5321366-2346359?v=glance&s=books&n=507846

Posted by: Peter Phillips at August 19, 2003 01:47 PM


test

Posted by: razib at August 21, 2003 12:33 PM