Re: Why the West has 'won'.
Mon, 4 Aug 1997 13:16:35 -0700 (PDT)

No question the success of the west is due to too many contingencies for
any theory (that isn't more than a vacuous laudatio or rationalization for
abuses) to really manage to properly grab hold of them all. One possible
influence that interests me is that in the aftermath of the decline and
fall of the Roman Empire, Western Europe was never able to reconsolidate
itself into a polity with that kind of cohesion and yet was haunted by the
memory (or at the least the fantasy) of it. The nation-state system was a
system that yielded an interminable competition of powers as well as a
measure of sociocultural consistency -- a state of affairs that has been
exacerbated by the principal institutional developments since: separation
of church and state, separation of powers more generally, rise of reading
publics, rise of industrial civilization and finer-grained division of
labor, emergence of glabal media, multinational corporations and crime
cartels, e-cash, and -- soon enough -- the kind of radicalization of the
separation of powers one finds in works like David Friedman's. The fact
that in the West the nation-state system immediately incubated a number of
rather brutal imperialisms has no little part in the explanation as to why
*after* the West won, it *remained* a "winner" for so long -- but this is
scarcely the only or exhaustive explanation. The point is that the West
hit (probably inadvertantly) on the trick that pluralism *produces* power
rather than inhibiting it. This is a larger, tho' obviously related,
point than simply that competition produces greater efficiency, imo.
Best, Dale
PS: By the way, returning for a moment to David Friedman, what *does* the
list think of the idea that it is best to say that Friedman's model is
not in stricto senso anarchist since it is more (at least the way we would
read it today, after understanding cryptomarkets) a sketch of the
institutions of rational governance that are most likely to *remain* in
the aftermath of the decline of the Weberian nation-state than it is a
blueprint for smashing the state? Best, Dale

Dale Carrico |
University of California at Berkeley, Department of Rhetoric

It is impossible to make significant change by force.
The only way to make significant change is
to make the thing you want to change obsolete. -- R. Buckminster Fuller
"Death, where is thy sting-a-ling?" -- Noel Coward