Re: Why the West has 'won'.

Cyberlogin Solutions (
Tue, 5 Aug 1997 18:59:21 -0500

As long as we're tossing around personal theories here...

Agricultural societies will tend towards "civilization", in the
technological sense, anyway.
Why? It is only through agriculture that long term food surpluses can be
created. This leads
to two things: spare time, for intellectual pursuits, and the written word,
used to identify
personal property. Agriculture turns land into a scarce resource, which in
turn creates two
more important things: property rights, and war. Of course, there was
plenty of war before,
but the agriculture makes the spoils so much sweeter, and only those long
term food surpluses
can move and army over long distances. Property rights, of course, allow
individuals to internalize
the benefits of investments, making such investments more likely and more
numerous. These investments lead to two things: taxation, and the formation
of financial structures (lending institutions).
Anyway, I'll stop at this point in history. The bottom line is that
hunter-gatherer societies are too
busy staying alive to mount a manned mission to Mars.

Chris Behrens

"Politics is the art of the possible. That is why only
mediocre minds are attracted to it; great minds seek
the impossible."
- Arthur C. Clarke

> From: Eric Watt Forste <>
> To:
> Subject: Re: Why the West has 'won'.
> Date: Tuesday, August 05, 1997 6:03 PM
> Curt Adams writes:
> > Personal theory? Mountainous geography, lots of coastline, and
> > localized political structures made conquest difficult but
> > communication and trade easy. Result: good memes for cooperation
> > and constructive competition got the upper hand over conquest and
> > religious ones.
> Sounds good. I'm pretty sure that any interesting long-term
> historical development has multiple causes. I like this theory,
> and I still like the alphabetic theory (which I should no doubt
> be crediting to whomever thought it up first) too.
> > I don't consider modern pluralism descended from the Greeks. Modern
> > pluralism developed in England and Holland around 1600 to 1700 as
> > a result of a loosely similar situation where trade was easy but
> > conquest hard. They took lots of (modified) ideas from the Italian
> > Renaissance, which in turn had gotten lots of (modified) ideas from
> > the surviving Greek texts. But, basically, they did it themselves.
> You're right about early modern European pluralism. I was confused
> in the back of my head by Hayek's arguments in THE CONSTITUTION OF
> LIBERTY to the effect that the notion of "rule of law" (as
> distinguished from rule of men) was first articulated among the
> Greeks and was transmitted in their literature (and that of the
> Romans, notably Cicero) to modern European political philosophers.
> But rule of law is a different thing from political pluralism,
> though perhaps the historical correlation between the two is not
> entirely coincidental.
> --
> Eric Watt Forste ++ ++ expectation foils perception -pcd