Re: Made in China

From: Lee Corbin (
Date: Tue Apr 17 2001 - 19:20:47 MDT

Hal Finney wrote

> Are we supposed to be patriotic? To love our country
> and respect our leaders? To get a lump in our throat
> when we see the flag? I certainly hope you are not
> expecting appeals to Jingoistic patriotism to be
> effective here.

No, certainly not on extropians. But I think that the
issue isn't so simple, at least it never has been for

As societies evolve in any kind of competitive milieu
it seems natural for a certain amount of xenophobia to
develop. This xenophobia---or rather *wariness* of
strangers rather than fear---is the means by which a
tribe gains integrity. So you would expect successful
cultures or societies, at least those with noticeable
historical impact, to practice a certain amount of
patriotism, or ethnic pride, or whatever kind of
glue, to hold them together and prevent a decrease
in numbers or influence.

In societies such as the United States, which were
relatively homogenous for most of their history and
with no large hostile foreign nations nearby, the
xenophobic instinct clearly atrophies, whereas in
some smaller countries, e.g. France or Germany,
closely surrounded by "different" groups, a tribal
consciousness tends to fair much better over the
long run.

In a certain way, continuing to speak of nations, tribes,
and groups rather than of individuals, nature corrects
for this over time. Consider what is happening in
Sweden for instance, where there has obviously been
great tolerance for diversity:

> As for diversity, at least Stockholm is rapidly
> approaching the diversity I have seen in my visits
> to the states. In fact, Stockholm is almost
> becoming a different country from Sweden - which
> might actually be a return to its old status as a
> foreign city :-)

There are only about eight million people in Sweden,
and it can easily occur that, forbidding the occurrence
of singularities and all, what was the group that
identified itself as "the Swedish people" will cease
to exist. Likewise in America, nature is correcting
for the (mostly benign) lack of xenophobia here; it
is estimated that by 2040 or so white people will be
a minority. In California, white children are already
not the largest, but only the second largest minority.

I have always had very mixed feelings about this
because on the one hand I feel like a defector if
I don't support policies that would tend to make
**whatever** group I'm a part of prosper at the
expense of other **groups**. Inculcating its young
with a group identity is an ESS. I note with some
respect that Hispanics in California have
significantly more cohesion than do other groups,
even though I, on the other hand, will not argue for
a minute that such loyalties do anything for us as

In a fascinating book "Tribes", by Joel Kotkin, the
author describes how various ethnic tribes around
the world---from the overseas Chinese to the Jews
---enormously facilitate trade. But it also becomes
very clear that what makes this possible is the
non-assimilation memes that these groups possess.
He even describes Mormons in this vein, admiring
their industriousness and birth-rate along with
the other larger tribes.

Evolution has a final solution for groups that
lack at least a trace of xenophobia.

Lee Corbin

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