Re: Cycles of history: epistemologically suspect? (was Cultural Dominants)

The Low Golden Willow (
Mon, 16 Jun 1997 12:32:51 -0700 (PDT)

On Jun 16, 2:01pm, Michael Lorrey wrote:

} Considering that the French are always getting into wars that they lose,
} its rather beleivable that there is such an effect of baby booms after
} each period of getting the shit kicked out of them, then baby busts
} after that

More to the point, belief in historical cycles may derive from
apparent local patterns. If you keep on fighting wars with Germans
without one side thoroughly conquering the other, and every two
generations or so, then hey, you've got an important cycle! Ditto for
the Germans fighting the French. And the Russians, always being
invaded, always freezing the invaders out eventually.

Ooh, and China, always squabbling with those nomads. Nomads come, get
repelled or assimilated, and come again later.

But the Roman legions wouldn't have seen any cycles. They come, they
conquer, they go conquer something else. Then, much later, they
collapse. Britain doesn't have any interesting war cycles I can think
of, and the US has been expanding and is young anyway.

But these cycles aren't mystical. For some reason the Germans and
French never beat each other thoroughly, so could always face another
around. Russia's always in the way, but always too hard to subdue.
Whatever China did with the current horse-riders didn't affect the stem
population beyond China's borders, which could always send a new wave.
So you could argue there are erratic cycles there, but you can also
point to the mechanism, and why those mechanisms aren't functional now.

And so with the _Fourth Turning_: you look at the evidence and the
proposed mechanism, or vice versa, decide whether there's enough to
argue about, and if so then argue about it. Or you don't; my reading
list is well stacked right now.

Umm. To recap my original point: belief by certain European historians
in cycles may stem from perfectly explicable cyclical elements in local
European history. Observe local cycle, assume rest of the world behaves
like Europe (or forget there is a world outside of Europe) and
extrapolate that global behavior is cyclical. Then convince silly
American or Australian historians short on evidence and criticism.

Merry part,
-xx- Damien R. Sullivan X-) <*>

Beneath these hills great heroes lie
Of the Red Branch Knights and their ancient foe.
In still of night the immortals fight
But never the battle is won.