Welcoming Nicolae Carpathia

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After I hit “post” for the entry below, cheering linguistic uniformity, I realized that perhaps a word should be said about the obvious downsides. Large populations are probably a spur to innovation as the raw number of individuals of the smart fraction reaches critical mass. But denser populations also gave rise to numerous infectious diseases. Travel is a boon to communication, but it also spreads disease. The larger the population, and the more interconnected the populations, the more opportunities open up for pathogens. Similarly, despite the gains from global trade and common capital markets it also generates synchronous business cycles (and, perhaps exacerbates volatility). Good things usually have downsides. And so it would be with the rise of linguistic uniformity: a demagogue who could communicate with clarity, and subtle allusive power, to billions, would be enabled.

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9 Comments

  1. I can’t imagine exampes of transnational demagogues in English, French, Spanish, or Portuguese. Hitler in Austria and among Czech and other external Germans (but not the Swiss AFAIK) is the only example I can think of. Demagogues usually sieze existing state structures.  
     
    Movements of any kind tend to fragment by state — non-German fascists mostly set up their own fascist movements and states rather than just asking Hitler to come in, and Communism fractionated. International Communism in E. Europe was a function of Soviet state power.

  2. Linguistic uniformity equates to memetic population density, with attendant flowering of political and social diseases? (Sorry to mention the m-word if it’s deprecated, not sure what else to call it.)

  3. The obvious possibility for demagoguery is China. With the mainland having the most Chinese, there is still an international romance of a greater chinese civilization. Even anti-communists and Taiwanese pro-independence types share a notion of a unified Chinese culture. Given the right circumstances in which some other threat could be seen as a challenge to Chinese-ness, a good demagogue could rally support for an imperializing China throughout Asia and receive some support from US and European Chinese.

  4. Uh, haven’t we seen at least one trans-national demagogue already who’s been enabled by linguistic uniformity and modern communication technology, namely Osama bin Laden?

  5. al Qaeda is aimed at Saudi Arabia, and after nthat, any other country that can be taken over.  
     
    I suppose that you can compare al Qaeda to international communism, but in practice, communism only amounted to much when it took over state structures, and when that happened, it schismed state by state. Tha State really suffocates ideology. 
     
    But I suppose you could see more movements of that kind. Falun Gong is sort of trying.

  6. Razib: 
     
    Neither global trade nor common capital markets 
    are in any way responsible for business cycles.

  7. Subjectiong to multiple disease pathogens is probably a great boon for a people as a whole. Consider how the plague and small pox did the work for europeans that many thousand battles might not have. In short ‘sturdy’ or ‘rugged’ tpes can only be created in environments that are ‘volatile’ and divers. Plurality of experience and evironment and volatility are therefore desireable for the long term health of a people.

  8. Neither global trade nor common capital markets 
    are in any way responsible for business cycles.
     
     
    go back to reading comprehension school gene. i’m not a moron.

  9. I don’t think the question of whether linguistic unity is good can be meaningfully answered. No one’s objective anyway – most people don’t want to see their own culture die out.

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