Behind Asian Fear of Individualism: 2

I was going to write some more about why Europe was forced to update its operating system, but a few comments on the last post in this series require quick answers.

One anonymous guy said..

Staple food = rice (carbohydrates)
Mainly carbohydrate diet = low testosterone
Low testosterone = beta characteristics
Beta = socialist tendencies
Entrenched socialism = rigid caste statism (Confucianism)
=> stifling of individualism and creativity for thousands of years

Newsflash! That statement can also describe most of European history. If anything, archeological evidence from human skeletal remains supports that the idea that the nutritional status and overall health of most people in Europe was rather dismal till about 100 years ago.

Giovanni Dannato said..

However, the black plague epidemic pretty much swept all across the Eurasian landmass. In fact, I think it’s thought to have started in East Asia or the Subcontinent and gradually made its way to the West. The destruction and depopulation it caused was hardly exclusive to Western Europe. The same OS reset does not seem to have resulted in the same cultural rebirth elsewhere.


No shit Sherlock.. the magnitude of destruction was far more severe in Europe. Remember that a medium hit is far more consequential in a small system than a large hit in a big system. There was also no equivalent of a Centrally administered china in Europe.

MC OToole said..

Thousands of years ago China created vast rice farming operations and those who joined this group effort were well fed while non joiners went hungry. Thus those more independent types tended to die off. Conformity is stressed in Japan as well. A popular saying in Japan in “The nail that sticks up is the one that gets hammered down”.

If anything agriculture makes suppression of dissent even more dangerous. Remember that most wars in history were won by treachery with the support of a fifth column. Please read about the rather extensive history of war, revolts and rebellions in China and other ancient civilizations.

Let me reiterate something- a set of circumstances, not the nature of people, was behind the large divergence between the west and the rest. Any explanation based on the distinct nature of people must explain why things did not diverge till the mid-1400s. In my opinion, it took place because the dynamic equilibrium of the previous 700-odd years (middle ages) was not restorable.

When complex and connected systems suffer a significant disruptive event- there are only two types of viable outcomes.

a. The fragments can come back together and ‘heal’ if the degree of connectivity is especially high and the disruptive event was time staggered.

b. If connectivity was poor to begin with and the disruption was chronologically concentrated, the system fragments into smaller pieces which then go on their own evolutionary trajectories.

When a series of misfortunes hit Europe in the 1300s, its indigenous post-roman civilization was fragmentary and less than a millenia old. Contrast this to the Levant, China, India etc where indigenous civilization had existed for many millenia and had a high degree of connectivity. Ironically, the very ability of older civilizations to recover prevented them from exploring possibilities which would have changed the course of history.

The west was not genetically or culturally superior- it simply had no option or mechanism to go back the old ways. They just discovered virtue in the vice of individualism and innovation because the other options were either nonexistent or much worse.

Will write more in a future part of this series.

Comments?

  1. Nestorius
    September 4, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    the magnitude of destruction was far more severe in Europe

    Could this be because most historians who talk about the plague are Europeans, care only about Europe and ignore non-European sources?

    Any explanation based on the distinct nature of people must explain why things did not diverge till the mid-1400s.

    You’re ignoring here Italy between the 12th and 15th century and everything that happened in Italy during these periods. Hint: free cities with elections since the 12th century.
    Anyway, when did things really start to diverge? Is it the 15th century or the 14th century?

    In my opinion, it took place because the dynamic equilibrium of the previous 700-odd years (middle ages) was not restorable.

    Where? In Lombardy, in the Papal State, in the Kingdom of Naples, in Spain, in France or in Germany?

    When a series of misfortunes hit Europe in the 1300s, its indigenous post-roman civilization was fragmentary and less than a millenia old.

    What do you mean by civilization here? This sentence is ambiguous.

    Contrast this to the Levant, China, India etc where indigenous civilization had existed for many millenia and had a high degree of connectivity.

    Very vague.

    Ironically, the very ability of older civilizations to recover prevented them from exploring possibilities which would have changed the course of history.

    Who recovers? What recovers?

    They just discovered virtue in the vice of individualism and innovation because the other options were either nonexistent or much worse.

    Where does Leonardo Da Vinci talk about individualism?

    In all this you have forgotten the most important thing that lead to the change in Europe: the study of ancient science books written in Greek which were all transferred into Western Europe after the Ottoman conquest during the 14th and 15th centuries. You are forgetting that Western Europeans did not have science books before the 14th century except for some few old Latin books and some bad translations from Arabic into Latin of few specific books. None of these books were enough to make any change or to lead Western Europeans to seek knowledge. If Greek books were not transferred into Western Europe during this period, the plague or no plague, none of this would have happenend. Read Da Vinci, Copernicus and others, and see what really inspired them, there is no secret in all this.

    It’s all about philosophia, the love of wisdom, the highest form of knowledge.

    Yes, however it was necessary to destroy or cripple the old socio-cultural mores. Feudalism was not compatible with enlightenment.

    Older civilizations were able to restore the previous set of trade-religion-social connections and institutions thus allowing the old operating system to reboot.

    • Nestorius
      September 5, 2011 at 2:56 am

      In the feudal system you had two main things: fiefs and free cities.

      Knowledge flourished in free cities, mainly in Italy where Greek knowledge was first transferred (before the 14th century btw). But even Italian feudal lords funded and encoureged studies.

  2. Nestorius
    September 4, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    Not to forget to mention here that neither Chinese nor Indians ever had any Aristotle. Really, how many Chinese or Indian have read Aristotle in Greek? Well, during the 15th century and after, there were many many Western Europeans who were reading it in Greek. It makes all the difference.

    The printing press facilitated that. No printing press = poor spread and development of classical greco-roman base.

    • Nestorius
      September 5, 2011 at 3:03 am

      So what? What’s the point of printing thousands of copies of wrong translations of Avicenna or useless books by Augustine or new ideologies of Calvin and Luther? It would have lead to a new system, just like the other one, but with different names. Two facets of the same coin. Same shit, different name.

      But the study of ancient Greek and Latin books and the discovery of the ancient arts made all the difference.

  3. Nestorius
    September 4, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    Plus, we have two synchronic events: the plague and the transfer of Greek books.

    How do we know that if the plague didn’t happen, change in Europe wouldn’t happen? The plague inspired them to be more interested in medicine and especially in Galen, as many were not satisfied with Avicenna, although Avicenna = Galen anyway, but what about other things that are not related to medicine?

    What about the system of government? Why didn’t it change after the plague?

    The plague and bad harvests caused by the beginning of the 400 year solar minima from 1320-1740? caused a general degradation of the existing social hierarchy. Greek knowledge, gunpowder and the printing press sped it up- considerably.

    But the old system had to go before the new one could start up.

    • Nestorius
      September 5, 2011 at 3:10 am

      a general degradation of the existing social hierarchy
      Not much in Italy or Germany where the situation stayed almost the same until the 19th century. In France, the King recovered his old possessions, but that’s it.

      Again, the absence of ancient Greek books would have lead to nothing.

      Here’s an analogy. People A on island A has cows. People B on island B doesn’t have cows. People A can produce milk, chease, yoghurt etc. People B can produce nothing. Now, you can spend thousand of pages explaining that People B is moron, anti-individualistic, very conformist etc. But, the matter of fact is that as long as people B don’t have cows, they won’t produce anything. Well, the Chinese and the Indians never had Aristotle (well except the Indians under Islamic rule). Bad luck.

  4. Nestorius
    September 5, 2011 at 3:26 am

    Btw, check the list of manuscripts found in the library of the archbishopric of Koln (www.ceec.uni-koeln.de). These manuscripts are typical of what Western European libraries had before the printing press. Of these books, the only books dealing with philosophy are “Commentaria in Topica Ciceronis”, “De arithmetica”, “In Isagogen Porphyrii”. They had fragmentary knowledge.

  5. September 5, 2011 at 5:19 am

    Perhaps there need not be any debate over whether a society’s collective gene pool or external circumstances shape its nature.

    Because clearly these two factors are interlinked just as nature and nurture for the individual. To ignore either would be folly.

    If external circumstances lead a civilization gradually towards increasing dependence on rice cultivation, a significant impact on the collective gene pool ensues.

    Or conversely, if the society’s gene pool already has developed some prerequisite set of critical traits, a sudden shock or cataclysmic event might merely allow this latent potential to be expressed.

    A common error in thinking that’s been perpetuated by political correctness: that the nature of humanity stays constant for even a single generation, let alone throughout human history.

  6. September 5, 2011 at 9:53 am

    “Ironically, the very ability of older civilizations to recover prevented them from exploring possibilities which would have changed the course of history.”

    Brilliant.

  7. jim
    September 5, 2011 at 11:00 am

    In the manosphere, it seems that the answer to everything is just that white people are inherently better (as shown in the comments to the 1st post and to 90% of the blogs I have read).

  8. hans
    September 6, 2011 at 3:49 am

    This is why I like coming back to your blog(that and the tits).
    When you´re not sociopathing and actually making a point.

    I very much think you´re on to something here.
    Also the other high cultures simply didn´t have German peoples(British are German too, Anglo-Saxon). Which were basically a highly fractured and tribal(“proto individualistic?”) peoples back since the Romans tried to rape them and got raped back, for centuries till they liked it. 😉

    The Lutheran reformation and religious schism were about as big an influence as the Renaissance, contributing nicely to the “reset”.

  1. September 11, 2011 at 1:01 am

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