Saturday salon 6/1

1. Sawatdi bpi mai kap!

Mark has again used this Thai new year’s greeting. It means:

    May you find compassion, loving kindness and equanimity along your paths over the next year!

Last year the spelling was Sawatdi pi mai khrab!. Presumably the latest is correct.

2. Germany – a most dangerous and ridiculous nation

There is no shortage of dangerous and ridiculous nations in the world, but Germany does not spring to mind as being in the forefront of the list. Bill Mitchell, Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at the University of Newcastle begs to differ as the blogpost link above reveals.

In simple terms Germany flouts the EU rules at will and is seriously bullying other EU members with ridiculous economic policies which actually impoverish Germany itself and make life miserable for other EU members. In doing so it insists that other members live within the rules, some of which are ridiculous, while continuing to break the rules itself. Mitchell seems to think that only a breakup of the Euro currency will cure the problem. He says that if all other European Monetary Union countries followed Germany’s lead there would be a mass depression throughout Europe.

I’m not economically literate enough to argue with his economics. However, I took the Political Compass test from the link on this page, and came up with a score similar to his:

My score was in the same corner as his, just one notch to the right.

Mitchell seems to be saying that Germany’s practice of running gigantic trade surpluses leads to the export of German capital, German workers being paid less than they otherwise would, and there is a lack of investment in modernising German infrastructure.

Modernising the EU financial system has just seen the EU adopt a new rule book with 7000 pages and 1.7 million paragraphs. I do hope they know what they are doing.

3. Dystopian progress

Paul Klee was a German painter born in Switzerland in 1879. In 1920, just after the first World War, he painted a work called Angelus Novus:

I have versions with more light in them and some with a reddish tint. I’d love to see the real work.

Walter Benjamin, a German Jewish philosopher, cultural critic and essayist was impressed with the painting and made a comment:

    “A Klee painting named ‘Angelus Novus’ shows an angel looking as though he is about to move away from something he is fixedly contemplating. His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his wings are spread. This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. This storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress.”

Benjamin died by overdosing on morphine tablets in Portbou at the French–Spanish border when Spanish authorities apprehended his group with the apparent intention of turning them over to the Nazis.

I believe the concept of time used by Benjamin is very complex, the simple version being that all time is held within the present, so if you fix the present you fix history as well. Something to look forward to and work towards for the future.

The painting and Benjamin’s comment intrigues me, and it popped up again, so I thought I’d throw it in.

4. We will all be wealthier, no worries

I know we’ve given the topic of the limits to growth the rounds of the kitchen in thread to the post Paul Hawken’s Drawdown a ‘must read’ but in the Financial Times Tim Harford is at it again in an article Why I predict we will be wealthier in the future. It’s pay-walled, but if you google his name and the title you might get it in return for answering a silly question.

Apparently John Maynard Keynes in his 1930 essay, “Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren” forecast that on average we might expect to be eight times richer in 2030.

    We will fall somewhat short of that, but not by much. I’ll make a more conservative forecast: that we’ll be five times richer in 2118 than we are today.

    That would put global income at around $80,000 per person — roughly twice the current average salary in the UK today — and income in the leading economies will be more than $250,000 per person per year in today’s money.

He points out that being on a comfortable income now is much more fun with smartphones, computer games, air conditioning, penicillin, air travel and takeaway pizza than it would have been 100 years ago, living in a mansion with servants.

So we are going to have fun, but that is just as well because there may be precious little work to do. We’ll all be on a universal income.

He says that energy consumption per person peaked in 1973 in the UK (that probably does not account for imported goods and international air and ship movements) and that population growth has been in decline for half a century.

    we’ll have to abandon the current model of the welfare state in favour of one where unemployment is neither stigmatised nor penurious, but a perfectly respectable lifestyle choice. That will require some kind of universal income for all.

He’s not promising that there will be no wars, or that we’ll all be equal.

Colour me agnostic.

5. The most important event of the week

Over in the US there is a kerfuffle about a book someone wrote.

What could the matter be?!

The most important event, however, was the announcement that the Pakistanis will use the Chinese yuan for bilateral trade. I understand this is the first towards what will be a trading block with China of over 600 million people in Asia. India, of course, will be outside the tent.

2017 was a year I think most of us were glad to leave behind. However, the most important ‘event’ was probably the consolidation of President Xi Jinping’s power, with China on the ascendancy and the US not so much. We could look back on 2017 as the tipping point year in the global hegemony.

6. New featured image

You may have noticed that a new face occupies the position of featured image at the head of the post. I’ve decided to give Voltaire the flick in favour of Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

I adopted Voltaire because he was a great conversationalist, especially for a time with Frederick the Great. During the year I’ve been talking at times about Rousseau’s ideas in the genesis of the French Revolution. Recently on a Radio National program, forget which, someone was emphasising Rousseau’s ideas in contrast with Voltaire as the philosopher of the establishment.

So I though I might make a switcheroo for 2018.

Turns out there was a connection with Voltaire and Fred. Rousseau had fallen foul of the French regime and was being kicked out of Bern. Earlier he had received an invitation from Voltaire:

    Voltaire issued an invitation to Rousseau to come and reside with him, commenting that: “I shall always love the author of the ‘Vicaire savoyard’ whatever he has done, and whatever he may do…Let him come here [to Ferney]! He must come! I shall receive him with open arms. He shall be master here more than I. I shall treat him like my own son.”

Fred had the view that people could think whatever they liked, and had the right to be fools. So in the end Rousseau got sanctuary in the Principality of Neuchâtel, a small state in southern Germany near the Alps which Fred happened to own. Fred, busy with the Seven Years War wrote to the governor of Neuchâtel:

    We must succor this poor unfortunate. His only offense is to have strange opinions which he thinks are good ones. I will send a hundred crowns, from which you will be kind enough to give him as much as he needs. I think he will accept them in kind more readily than in cash. If we were not at war, if we were not ruined, I would build him a hermitage with a garden, where he could live as I believe our first fathers did…I think poor Rousseau has missed his vocation; he was obviously born to be a famous anchorite, a desert father, celebrated for his austerities and flagellations…I conclude that the morals of your savage are as pure as his mind is illogical.

Any way Rousseau thanked Fred, but still urged him to give up his military activities. That wasn’t up to Fred at the time, but after the Seven Year War ended Fred did preside over peace for about 40 years.

88 thoughts on “Saturday salon 6/1”

  1. The EU currency has been good for Germany because the poorer performance of other parts of the EU have kept the value of the currency Germany uses lower than it would have been if Germany had stayed with the Deutsche-mark. It has been equally disastrous for countries like Greece because value of the currency is too high.
    for the EU economy to work well the economy, welfare system and wages fixing systems have to run as a whole, not whole for some things and separate for others.

  2. I’m surprised to hear the author of Candide described as the ‘philosopher of the establshment’.

    Did they mean the new “establishment” formed through revolutionary turmoil, or merely the ancien regime?

  3. A very fine portrait of Rousseau, as was your portrait of Voltaire.

    M. Voltaire had a twinkle in his eye, which I find very appealing.

  4. The Trump saga took another turn with the release of “Fire & Fury: Inside the Trump White House”, by a Michael Wolff. It looks like it contains many revelations or stories with Trump and the White House unleashing a firestorm of criticisms – as expected.
    Wolff’s credibility is challenged, but as Wolff apparently responded:

    “My credibility is being questioned by a man who has less credibility than perhaps anybody who has ever walked on earth.”

    This year is barely underway but that must be the statement of the year so far.

    You can order the book on line, Amazon is expense but the Book Depository has it for about $AU23 incl postage. https://www.bookdepository.com/

  5. Well, well. Something more important to think about than Trump v. The American People , or Whatshisname v. Whoseoits in Australia, or Celebrity Bimbo “A” v. Celebrity Bimbo “B”. Had never thought of comparing and contrasting Voltaire with Rousseau
    ——
    Thanks, too, for that criticism of modern Germany. Had wondered what they had been smoking over there in recent years. 🙂

  6. Graham and Ambi, I won’t be the one to compare and contrast Rousseau and Voltaire. My university study of the history of philosophy did not equip me for such, nor my later reading. So my switcheroo should not be taken as a rejection of Voltaire’s thought.

    Ambi, the Wikipedia article in the section on Legacy has Voltaire saying only an enlightened monarch could bring about change until his publication of Candide in 1759, when by my count he was around 65 years old. I haven’t read Candide, but the commenter could have been talking about the pre-1759 Voltaire.

    My switch is based more on Andrew Gamble’s book An Introduction to Modern Social and Political Thought.

    Gamble says, don’t blame him, but Rousseau “broods over the Revolution”. It was his idea of the rights pertaining to us as humans, and how democracy and the structure of the modern state had to be built through a social contract, not in exchange for protection and governance, but a constant expression of the will of the people.

    He has a view of humans as social beings, who express their freedom through engagement with others, attaining a higher moral order through promoting the good of others rather than satisfying self interest.

    Gamble puts Rousseau at the centre of what seems a possible formulation of a civilised and just society. He doesn’t have a reference in the index for Voltaire at all.

  7. We are travelling west tomorrow, so I probably won’t be back online until Monday night, and not then much.

  8. From Brian’s comment,

    It was his idea of the rights pertaining to us as humans, and how democracy and the structure of the modern state had to be built through a social contract, not in exchange for protection and governance, but a constant expression of the will of the people.

    I heartily agree with that statement.
    But the interpretation below I see as somewhat flawed,

    He has a view of humans as social beings, who express their freedom through engagement with others, attaining a higher moral order through promoting the good of others rather than satisfying self interest.

    The flaw, as I see it, is that ” promoting the good of others ” is seperate or opposing ” self interest.
    The essence of Capitalism ( free and incorrupted ) is promoting the good of each other through mutual self interest . And let’s face it, only the individual knows his/her self interest and can merely guess at the self interest of others.

    Also, I believe, that as we’re just an evolved animal with all sorts of neurological baggage ( good and bad ) that remains with us for evolutionary success. One of those seems to be some sort of strange ..er..brain come thing ( endorphins or cocktail of brain sparks or fluids or whatever) that gives us huge satisfaction and joy at achieving helping or promoting others over the satisfaction of helping ourselves ( often at the expense of ourselves)
    I’d say over 99% of us get this to various degrees, some are like addicted to it.
    It’s not a government initiative to be tweaked in levels or scaled progressively.
    Some call it ” giving back “, others ” paying forward ” and others just ” helping out”.

    { I have zero knowledge of the chap in the picture, only responding to words written here }

  9. Did anyone notice this Item which blinked accros the news feed the other day. Big issue, big problem, but big opportunity also. What it it does do is expose Australia’s lazy approach to research and development in strategic areas. Whereas Australia does have performance in this area of enterprise you will notice that it is the domain of one of the organisations the Turnbull Government is determined to dispose of, creating waste of another kind and lost opportunity.

    It will be interesting to see if Frydenberg ever mentions this, or shoves it onto the states to resolve.

  10. Just briefly

    I would recommend Candide, though in a way it’s a one-joke satire.

    Does being a strong influence on the French Rev qualify a bloke as a good egg? I ask this as a sincere enquirer.

    Depends on your view of the French Rev. A bloody episode; murder most foul. What do you think of it, someone asked that scoundrel, Chou En Lai. “Too early to say”, quoth he.

    The only thing I’m sure of, is that several Revs have had repercussions down the years: Glorious Rev, French Rev, Industrial Rev, Russian “Rev” (Bolshevik coup d’état), Chinese Rev.

    Thanks for the fascinating detail of Rousseau, Voltaire and the mighty Fred. Interesting to hear that men now regarded as Giants of Their Age, were considered Strange Pygmies bordering on Utter Nutters by many contemporaries.

    It was ever thus. Genius unrewarded.

    But I prefer the modest genius (e.g. Mr Einstein) to the genius who announces his own genius to the world.

    Self-approbation is a tricky path to walk down; looking at you, DT.

    Cheers.

  11. Thank you BilB.
    I think you’ll find China has been cultivating a recycling industry in Ethiopia due to even lower labour costs than domestic.

    Good news for Ethiopians.

  12. I’m not seeing that, Jumpy.

    China was the largest plastic recycler producing low grade plastic products. Tech note: recycling plastic involves chopping up the material into small pieces. This process shortens the polymer chains making the subsequent remoulded plastic much weaker. Recycled plastic should not be more than 50% of a product at the most but the industry standard is 10% max.

    The problem for Australia is that we do not have enough of a plastics industry left to consume the amount of plastic that we dispose of, so the main other possibilities are burning it to release energy and that is not so good for the environment, or burying it it in ever larger quantities. Or……….maybe all of that plastic can be converted into roading material.

    http://mashable.com/2017/02/24/recycled-plastic-roads-volkerwessels/#2yPtRifuVsq2

    That would require some real commitment from government, and we can’t be expecting that any time soon.

  13. BilB since July 2017 there have been some changes in Chinese recycling policy. Basically they are severely limiting the import of foreign re-recyclables and instead using their own waste. Probably fair enough for them but it poses some waste disposal issues for many other countries.
    The Conversation reported this in October 2017 here:
    https://theconversation.com/china-bans-foreign-waste-but-what-will-happen-to-the-worlds-recycling-85924
    It is good reading. Perhaps as suggested in the article we pay more attention to the use of plastics – they are a fossil “fuel” product. It follows as we wean off fossil fuels we reduce our use of plastics.

    On July 1st 2018 Queensland will finally pay deposits on disposable containers. Other States are also adopting the practice that has been part of South Australia since 1977 (sic). I understand there has been much resistance from brewers and soft drinker suppliers. A good account can be found on Wiki:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Container_deposit_legislation_in_Australia

    I was in SA when the scheme can into law. A bit annoying for a week and then it was unnoticeable. The Scouts and Guides did much of collection and many felt that that was a good thing.

    The ABC reported on Jan 2017: “About 580 million drink containers are recycled in the state every year. The Government said the state’s waste and recycling sector employs almost 5,000 South Australians.”
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-01-01/sa-container-deposit-scheme-leading-nation-for-40-years/8156298

    Sorry, I talk too much…

  14. All good information, Geof H. NSW finally has the bottle recycling scheme which will be important for local councils to fund their waste pickup services. The Chinese lock out does create a problem for those governments who have wasted the time opportunity by not developing real waste solutions.

    I have been advocating for some time that Australia becomes a leader in converting cellulosic waste to methane for use in place of natural gas. Such a method is 80% sustainable and will be important for backup energy for distributed energy systems (rooftop solar PV with Tesla Power Walls).

    That still leaves the problem of oil origin plastics (there are an increasing number of cellulose origin plastics though) for which there needs to be a long term use such as sequestration (burial) or uses such a buildings and roads. And then there is abstenance, using less plastic for “food” distribution.

    It is time for Coke to follow the fate of Kodak.

    So arise Australia’s own version of Soda Stream. Soda water and Orange Juice or soda water and Budderim Ginger are my favourite alternatives. Its been years since I made home brew Ginger Beer, but that is coming up this year.

    Those sugar cane farmers will eventually learn that they will make twice as much producing ethanol to replace oil than producing energy drinks to make people fat.

  15. SA has had a deposit on bottles since way back when. I regret to say that my friends and I, as teenagers, used to collect bottles and use the money we got to pay for cigarettes. That’s well prior to 1977. (Just in case anyone is concerned, I gave up smoking 30+ years ago).

  16. Just finished reading The Sorrow of War.

    Stunning.

    Thank you Bao Ninh, author.
    And thank you Frank Palmos, translator.

  17. Brian (Saturday): No, no, no. I’m sorry if my use of “versus” my have given you the impression that I had in mind a “wring-side at the wrestlers” contest between Voltaire and Rousseau. I simply meant comparing their ideas – and comparing the ideas of Mill, Thoreau, Owen and other such worthies. Surely the world would be a better place if we paid attention to them and stopped idolizing brutal murderous plundering dictators and psychopaths.

    Ambigulous:
    “Candide” was a damned good story – and one for our times too; the same goes for “Gulliver’s Travels” (the full version, not just in Lilliput). Several years ago (20 or more?), “Candide” was broadcast as an audio book on ABC radio: I hope it is still around somewhere.

  18. Happy NY Ambi and everyone. I’ve finally submitted my thesis so have a bit more time to participate in discussions – trying to keep low key about it though as it still has to be examined.

    The Sorrow of War is great isn’t it? I read it when I went to Vietnam in 2001. Immersive experience, as you can imagine, reading it and being there for the first (and so far, only) time. I found Vietnam quite magical – to the rather strange extent where I’m not even sure if I want to go back in case the magic wears off. Part of the magic was reading the book and visiting the museums and war sites (of the American war as they call it), because even though it was tragic, the resilience was amazing, as was the beauty of the country and kindness of the people.

    (Just can’t resist a little feminist dig – all the people were nice, but the women were particularly kind and also extremely hard working – didn’t quite get the impression that the men were quite as hard working though!)

  19. jumpy you have your facts wrong again and engaging in premature verbal ejeculation. I know what I wrote and still stand by that. At least GeoffM has the decency to provide the relevant sentence that he takes issue with me. But you sir are above and beyond any conventions of how a discussion or argument is caried. Now stop being immature and try to keep up with the discussion. There were many points brought up there in which would support your adopted libertarian view points.

  20. Well, ootz, you evade backing up what I remember you said ( even if you do or don’t remember ) in my passing reminder.
    Just a ” yeah well Jumpy, I may have exaggerated a bit ” would have sufficed. But no.
    In what could have been as simple as that, now ( if it’s not gone ) I’m going to have to invest the time to find the exact quote ( that you ” forget ” making ) and that investment now incentivises a more dogged pursuit and demanding satisfaction.

    Silly game, I would have rather not played.

  21. And here it is,

    JANUARY 1, 2018 AT 4:48 PM
    Our master thread derailer at work again, as usual trapped by his predilection of black and white thinking and well and truly stuck in another false dichotomy.

    By Howard’s early mid term I came to the conclusion that history won’t be kind to him. One of the few good things he did was the gun control. It was like the Wild West here in Katterland before that.”

    ( FTR there was no derail, false dichotomy or predilection either )

    Now, the back up to ” Wild West in Katterland ” in relation to pre and post Howard gun laws ?

    Or is this one of those rare occasions when you can’t ?

    ( it didn’t have to get to here )

  22. Jumpy I just want to go back tocomment of January 7, 2018 at 7:45 am where you said:

    The flaw, as I see it, is that ” promoting the good of others ” is seperate or opposing ” self interest.

    The essence of Capitalism ( free and incorrupted ) is promoting the good of each other through mutual self interest . And let’s face it, only the individual knows his/her self interest and can merely guess at the self interest of others.

    A couple of comments. First, there are organisations like Google which after people have done 150 ‘likes’ on Facebook know more about you than you know yourself. And there are other organisations willing to pay for that information.

    Secondly, I gave you what Rousseau was trying to say, which in general terms I agree with.

    If I give you what Buddhists say, they find the notion of the self problematic, but that is a long story. If you look at beings taking actions, then they say that the primary focus should be on whether the act is beneficial or harmful. The being taking the action is just thrown in there with everyone else and has no special priority.

    So the binary between self and others disappears as does the notion of self interest.

    That’s what the book on ‘karma’ I’ve just read says, as far as I can make out.

  23. Well done Val!!

    Someone said to me, “Writing a thesis is like spending a long time in a furnace of self doubt.”

    Enjoy the sense of relief I assume you are now feeling!

    Have to admit I had never heard of The Sorrow of War before picking a copy up at the Opp Shop. Harrowing indeed. And what a picture of the thousands of Northerners going to their (young) deaths in the South as volunteers or conscripts.

    By coincidence, a friend recommended the Vietnam War series showing on SBS. Lo and behold, there was white haired Bao Ninh, interviewed. “All soldiers have an unhappy experience. We had to forage for food. The American soldiers had rations like a picnic. Can you imagine being bombed with napalm, that was terrible: an ocean of fire.”

    *****

    Graham Bell: agree that “Candide” and “Gulliver” are both wonderful. “Life is for the best in this best of all possible worlds” after every war, disaster, misfortune…..

    Certainly a timeless story.
    And Jonathan Swift one of the cleverest Irish ever to put pen to paper.
    Flann O’Brien (sp?) close behind him.

  24. Hi Brian, I don’t know much about Buddhism but I also think from a socioecological perspective that the idea of a completely separate self is misleading. I think there is a real physical sense of self in that the skin forms a sensed boundary (which is a real aspect of our experience) but it isn’t impervious and we are in a meaningful, physical way ‘part of’ communities and ecosystems as well as feeling emotionally part of them (or not).

    I think even Jumpy admits that his happiness and wellbeing is tied up with that of his family and friends, so ‘no man is an island’ even in Jumpy’s case. I think the next problem arises when people make social boundaries as well – so they say only ‘people like me’ (Australians, white people, whatever) matter. Hence we get Australia’s treatment of First People’s and refugees.

    The other big problem of course is that there are many white men who still (probably mainly unconsciously, although there are some who actively argue it) feel that they should be in charge!

  25. ‘First Peoples’ I mean – sorry, auto-correct inserted the misplaced apostrophe above. Should always check before posting!

  26. Jumpy I’ll respond to your demands and backup my

    ” Wild West in Katterland ”

    if you acknowledge the distortion or embellishment in your

    the Wild West Gun Bloodbath pre Howard gun laws

    This is actually not the first time you are doing this to me (and others), we have been down that road before. You have a habit of seeing what you like to see and run with your emotions before your mind has a chance to catch up and get a grip on what is going on.

    Besides that thank you for giving me an opportunity to rectify my initial comment on Howard. It was actually late nineties when I first thought that Howards Prime-ministership will not end up well. I was shocked by cuts to the R&D tax concessions, the downgrading of the office of the chief scientist itself to a part-time position, the cuts to CSIRO and its reduction in cooperative research centre funding of some 8.4 per cent. And don’t forget what he did to higher educational at that time too.

  27. Val, welcome back. I’ve missed you and I’m so glad you are here.

    Like others, congrats on giving birth to the thesis. It was a Phd was it not? They are notoriously hard to conquer.

    Mark was told that examiners are apt to read them on long haul flights, but I saw what they wrote about his and I do think they were awake at the time! So I’m sure all will be good. Do you have to defend it?

    On Buddhism, in physical terms they appear to have a view of people as molecules in motion, never the same twice. So the idea of self is a ‘mental formation’, never accurate and in some ways like pinning a butterfly to the wall. Attachment to the ‘self’ can be problematic and the source of great suffering.

    That is not to say that we should not understand what is going on within us and between us as we interact in the flow of life.

    The Buddhist view of the nature of matter is surprisingly compatible with quantum physics. I’m a bit blown away by the extent and shape of their thought which reaches a kind of peak around 2500 years ago, when the Greeks were just setting out on their journey.

    BTW, the Thai quote in the first item of the post simply means “happy New Year” Mark tells me, but the version in English is meant to convey what they would mean when they say those simple words.

  28. Well put Val thanks, great to have you back and congratulations on your thesis.

    You’ll find from an evolutionary psychological point of view the ability to be conscious of ones self is a mental trick which has proven to be an evolutionary advantage unto now for us. From a purely biological point of view, the self is a rather messy concept. For example, it has been said that there are more ‘foreign’ biota in our guts than cells we are made of. You only have to look at our immune system, it’s strength and failures, to realise, that at the core self interest is complex. Sorry but there is that word agin.

    However, from a psychological point of view, self identity and social identity have distinct formation processes. From wikipedia (to simplify things 😉

    “”Identity formation, also known as individuation, is the development of the distinct personality of an individual[1] regarded as a persisting entity (known as personal continuity) in a particular stage of life in which individual characteristics are possessed and by which a person is recognized or known (such as the establishment of a reputation). This process defines individuals to others and themselves. “”

    Where as social identity formation is basically based on the “”Us and them”” dichotomy, so the theory goes.

    “”Identity formation, also known as individuation, is the development of the distinct personality of an individual[1] regarded as a persisting entity (known as personal continuity) in a particular stage of life in which individual characteristics are possessed and by which a person is recognized or known (such as the establishment of a reputation). This process defines individuals to others and themselves. The central hypothesis of social identity theory is that group members of an in-group will seek to find negative aspects of an out-group, thus enhancing their self-image.
    Prejudiced views between cultures may result in racism; in its extreme forms, racism may result in genocide, such as occurred in Germany with the Jews, in Rwanda between the Hutus and Tutsis and, more recently, in the former Yugoslavia between the Bosnians and Serbs.””

    From Social Identity Theory

  29. The Buddhist view of the nature of matter is surprisingly compatible with quantum physics.

    According to “The Dancing Wu-Li Masters” by Gary Zukav, the Hindus had a pretty good grasp as well.

  30. Val welcome back but also congratulations on your thesis completion – PhD I understand. I spend time with Candidates every day and I see what they endure to reach the end. I doffs me hat to you.
    Brian I had less insight into Mark’s achievement – please forgive, I know better now.

  31. Further, and very important to this discussion identity formation is changing over time and varies across cultures. So rather than being this monolithic self looking after it’s own interests, our self is a social construct which reflects the culture and times when it was formed. There is very good evidence that Cross-cultural research found that central aspects of self-concept vary across cultures (see leading research by Kanagawa, Cross, & Markus, 2001 ““Who Am I?” The Cultural Psychology of the Conceptual Self; Markus & Kitayama, 1991 Culture and the self: Implications for cognition, emotion, and motivation; Triandis, 1989 The self and social behavior in differing cultural contexts. ). For example, Cousins (1989, Culture and self-perception in Japan and the United States) found that 58% of Americans’ top five sentence completions in the 20-statements test (“I am …”) were composed of personality traits such as honest, whereas only 19% of Japanese’s top five responses included personality traits. In addition, among Americans, only 9% of the top five responses referenced social roles such as college student, whereas among Japanese 27% of the top five responses mentioned social roles.

    There is also very good evidence that traditional Australian First Nation people, had and still have to some extend, a much more collective sense of self. That came clearly out of the Royal Commission into Death in Custody, that when incarcerated, isolated and removed from their family or community members they are literally not them selfs anymore and very vulnerable to harm their shattered self.

  32. Ootz

    Thank you very much!
    BTW, a pedant I know claims there is a bit of repetition in yours of 9.32am.

    Perhaps one of the reasons for human success is the malleability of our consciousness and hence through imitation, the ability of an infant to absorb social styles, norms, majority behaviour traits, as well as language. And many of those social, national or ethnic characteristics will be embedded in and embodied in her first language and its grammar.

    For instance, a Latin American told me that in their Spanish: if a group of women is chatting, they will use female terms, but as soon as one man arrives, words of greeting between everybody present, male or female, must be switched to the male form. Macho?

    !Si, mucho!

    Jumpy will be able to tell us whether that is the case in Venezuela, and whether Hugo Chavez peace be upon him, altered it in the name of human solidarity and feminism.

  33. Ootz
    JANUARY 10, 2018 AT 8:51 AM
    Jumpy I’ll respond to your demands and backup my

    ” Wild West in Katterland ”

    if you acknowledge the distortion or embellishment in your

    the Wild West Gun Bloodbath pre Howard gun laws

    Ok, I did embellish on the back of a straight forward nature conclusion.
    When you said this,

    By Howard’s early mid term I came to the conclusion that history won’t be kind to him. One of the few good things he did was the gun control. It was like the Wild West here in Katterland before that.”

    I didn’t think you were talking about horse poo on the street or loud Saloon piano tinkling but rather firearm injury, suicide or death which, from what i believe, has a large blood component.
    Sorry, I jumpyed the gun so to speak.

    Now, your turn.
    And I must say ” best of luck “, I found it hard enough finding Queensland specific gun death and injury stats, leave alone Kennedy electorate specific ones.
    I’d say 20 years either side of Howard’s 1996 laws would give a decent trend line.
    1976 – 2016.

  34. I would agree that we naturally are social animal, and we gain sustenance through social and family connection, very much so.

    But I would argue that Governments , in many places in the world, are starving us of some of this sustenance by commeandeering the the activities that produce it.

    Rather than have our elderly ( the wise ones ) in our homes, government taxes to provide ” aged care ”

    Rather than Mums ( bless them all ) raise young kids, government encourages Mums to forsake that special time and toss em into ” child care facilities ” and tax to supply it.

    Even simple ” over the fence ” neighbor stuff that could be sorted with a calm chat is now first reaction contact Council then Police.

    The abrogation of responsibility and even mediation to ” higher impersonal higher powers ” are robbing us as Individuals.
    After all a society is only a group of individuals but the more government influence in ” social engineering ” ,the sum of all parts seems diminished.
    It changes the culture for the worse.

    That’s how I feel anyhow.

  35. Rather than have our elderly ( the wise ones ) in our homes, government taxes to provide ” aged care ”

    That “aged care” includes support services so that our elderly can stay in their own homes.
    But that’s a side issue. I’ll take a wild guess that you’ve never had to cope with living in the same home as a frail parent, or one with dementia, have you?

  36. Sounds like you’re speaking from the heart there Zoot? I feel very lucky that both my parents kept their mental facilities to the end (or almost the end in Dad’s case – he had a stroke and died about six weeks later, but he still communicated enough to be the life of the party, so to speak, from his hospital bed).

    Thanks all for kind words, it’s great to be back. We don’t defend the thesis Brian, so it’s just in the hands of the examiners. I was part time and it took me about 8.5 years – genuinely part time for most of it but kind of mad double time for the last few months. Considerable part of the last month has been devoted to ‘repairing’ relationships.

    I’d like to comment on ‘identity formation’ but feel I could write another thesis on it! Do have a question I’ll pose shortly.

  37. Another gem from “The Onion” (America’s finest news source)

    Headline ::

    New Regulation Requires All Protected Species To Be Actively Looking For New Habitat In Order To Receive Funding

  38. Ok, I did embellish

    Good on you Jumpy, I truly appreciate your reflection and apologise for having mislead you on

    the back of a straight forward nature conclusion.

    I suspect the problem lies in that we have different definition of ‘straight forward’ and ‘nature’.

    To me the ‘straight forward’ interpretation of wild west is based on a colloquial expression as it obviously does not refer to a place in the Americas late19th C. Thus, let me ask you what would you call a place where you can buy a semi-automatic at Kmart? How about drunken hoons terrorising popular camp spots, discharging indiscriminately their firearms for hours while littering copious amounts of XXXX spent cartridges. and bullets peppered every where. What about when cattle cockies won’t let you on their land because they have lost too many of their cattle, just shot and not butchered. In one particular case a prize breeder. What about a place when there are hardly any road signs without bullet holes, and the further west you go the more holes? To me that is feral country and I’ll explain why.

    You see my ‘nature’ is shaped by having grown up in the nation with second highest gun ratio per population. I shot my first gun at 7-8y on the farm under strict supervision by a highly trained person and so it was until I myself had to undergo that training on anything up to 105mm and had to take home my personal SLR and ammunition, like every other able male citizen of that nation. This is in contrast with my experience after, when I spent 4 years in a parts of Africa which were in effect in a civil war. A population which rapidly armed itself without the necessary training and instructions. Where the papers regularly featured articles on self inflicted wounding while cleaning as well as mistaken incidents. The fireworks on a party were often provided by the guests with gusto. So look I know what a lawless gun culture looks like and experienced the consequences. I you and others want to have the freedom to have guns join a gun club or play a round of paintball. Perhaps you could get the free market to invest in a gun theme park where you can act out your gun fetishes, you may even call it Katterland. It would be a sure fire thing to make money.

  39. Zoot
    Very wild guess to the point of feral.
    And totally incorrect.

    I’m interested in what way you came to that conclusion, what information have I shared that your brain processed to arrive at the polar opposite of reality.
    If you care to share that that is.

  40. zoot at 7.22pm

    That “aged care” includes support services so that our elderly can stay in their own homes.

    Yes, and those support services “cost the taxpayer” far less than full-time nursing home residential places for those elderly citizens would. 3 out of the 4 parents whose needs and care have been partly the responsibility of my wife and me, have used such services in their own homes.

    [The 4th died far too young from smoking related lung cancer. All the family would have loved him to live to enjoy his retirement.]

    In this society of atomistic individuals, Jumpy, many of us have strong family ties and also would rather that all other elderly or disabled folk have shelter, food, medical care and comfort.

    Aged care can no doubt be improved, but IMO “it is a far better thing we do now than we have ever done; it is a far better place (the elderly) go, than they have ever been.”

    ~ with no apologies at all to Charlie Dickens, who lived in worse times and hoped for better ~

  41. Ootzi, 9.34pm

    “sure fire” thing to make money

    Was that a deliberate pun, you Swiss trouble-maker?
    😉

    How very dare you bring actual life experience of two contrasting “gun cultures” to this discussion?

    As Candide was wont to repeat, and I’ll localise it with an Aussie twang: “We live in the Best of All Times, in the Best Liddle Country in the World!”

    And don’t youse forget it.

  42. Oh and I forgot, anyone who is serious about gun culture can always join the army.

    But beware you could be sent into combat on the whim of a prime minister and some dodgy intelligence, as well as when you do comeback governments have a rather libertarian view on veterans welfare and prefer to spent the money on idolising the long dead canon fodder for Empire and King as mythical ‘Diggers’ who forged the Nation.
    Lest we forget!

  43. Awww Ambi I do love it when you call me Ootzi, it has the short barrelled ring of about 30 rounds per second. A personally signed rocket launcher coming your way. If anyone is after one of those red buttons the orange haired buffoon masturbates with on twitter, I am sure they are available soon on Amazon.
    Bon nuit a tout 🙂

  44. Jumpy, I’m truly pleased that you have cared for a frail or demented elderly relative. It gives me a whole new perspective on your libertarian ideals.
    I have only one question: did you give up your day job?

  45. Had a long talk with my younger brother tonight, post the funeral on Monday.

    My sister is due to go into residential care from Thursday 18 Jan. We are thinking of going out to spend some time to ease the transition, which will put a hole in my normal commitments.

    So I’ve been lacking screen time and will probably have even less for the next couple of weeks.

    Just the way it is.

  46. Zoot above:

    The Buddhist view of the nature of matter is surprisingly compatible with quantum physics.

    According to “The Dancing Wu-Li Masters” by Gary Zukav, the Hindus had a pretty good grasp as well.

    Zoot, from what I can glean there was a bloke called Siddhārtha Gautama, a prince with a young wife and child who left his privileged position, went begging, studied under various ascetics and yogis in the Hindu tradition, ended up sitting under a tree for 49 days until he achieved enlightenment.

    So he was very much in the Hindu tradition. Not sure he contributed any new knowledge himself, but sorted everything in a particular order.

    I read that in his view there were two kinds of truth, the first the common truth we need to transact in the real world, and then something called “ultimate truth” which was judged by a different standard.

    In this second sense there was no self, just a collection of five aggregates.

    In the first sense, however, it would be hard to deny that he Gautama was a separate person who fathered a child, and who had certain abiding characteristics.

    Ootz individuation and how it is achieved is a very large topic. Jared Diamond tells that in most traditional societies it would be usual for a baby to be passed around between a dozen pairs of hands.

    How autonomy is achieved is exceedingly interesting, another topic I’d like to explore some day, as it starts from very early on in ways that have been contested by experts and advocates. It is more than possible to get a blazing row over institutional child care, for example.

    If you want complicated stuff you could try Axel Honneth for size.

  47. Awwwww Ootz

    Sorry cobber.
    Recently we have reconnected with a Swiss lady from Lucerne area, and she reminded me about the word ending “li”, for little or young…. like “lein” in German.

    Sorry mate.
    I forgot there is a gun called Utzi.
    Of guns I know narthing Meester Fawlty!!

    So if your “sure fire” was an accidental pun, my “Ootzi” was even more so, if that is possible.

    Having dipped my toe in the water and got scalded, I will refrain from attempting Swiss endearments.

    “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” And so is complete bl..dy ignorance.

    🙁

  48. Uzi
    Israeli submachine gun
    1953 –
    Wikipedia has a long list of the conflicts Uzi has been fired in.
    Definitely for the gun lovers.

    Apologies again Ootz.

  49. Jeebus, one cannot even give rocket launchers away these days any more. I know Proverbs says Beware the man who comes bearing gifts and invoking flattering words, but this is ridiculous Ambi.

    Brian, from what I understand Honneth thinking is based on social-political and moral philosophy, with a focus on relations of power, recognition, and respect. Although having been accused of theoretical eclecticism, when it comes to personality development I am much more comfortable with conventional child develop theories such as Erikson’s 9 stages and with regards to autonomy behaviourists, such as B F Skinner in his Beyond Freedom and Dignity.

    One of Honneth’s core arguments is for the priority of intersubjective relationships of recognition in understanding social relations. Although research suggests that as babies, humans are biologically wired to “coordinate their actions with others” this would presume already a certain degree of autonomy rather than being the foundation of it. However, the ability to coordinate and sync with others facilitates cognitive and emotional learning through social interaction, could be a worthwhile aspect to consider and compare capitalistic and socialistic functions.

  50. But Ootz

    There is also the advice to look a gift horse in the mouth and I stared down the barrel and thought better of accepting your Uzi.

    I admit it. I am not a “real man’.

  51. Ootz, I think I might do Erik Erikson. He’s been a secret weapon for me since the 1970s in trying to understand life in general and who we are.

    Where did you get your Erikson from? I got mine from him, and he has only 8 stages in life. Has someone invented a 9th?

  52. Brian:
    Hope everything went well with your sister’s move into residential care. All the best.

    ———————
    Val: Welcome back! Regardless of any award, you have survived a gruelling process. – good on you.

    Jumpy: The gun control was a botched and oversimplistic excuse for a policy. For instance, It failed to do a thing about the causes of “gun culture” like, violent movies that normalize killing and gun worship. Ootz; Nothing like good instruction by a responsible adult and later military training to demystify firearms and to have them treated as dumb tools that have to be handled very carefully..

  53. Sorry Brian, typo – mine is also orthodox Erikson with 8 stages.

    My illness has flared up again as always in the summer months. With it comes the pains tiredness and ‘fuzzy brain’, a selection of cognitive impairments. I find it hard to concentrate to construct my rational and sentences, that important details sometimes slip. For that reason it takes me four or five iterations of writing/editing and still errors slip in. I also tend to become a bit grumpy, which is not my nature. Usually at that stage, I make people around me aware that I may sometimes act peculiar or say nonsensical things and if it increases to tell me to go and have a rest.

    Brian, hope the big step in your sisters live will go over well. You are a good soul to assist. These are tough tasks and very good karma for you to be there. I find lately these are very good learning opportunities for whence ones own big step appears. At least thats the plan.

  54. Graham
    I haven’t seen any definitive links proven with violent movies ( or violent video games for that matter ) and firearm crime. Lots of claims latter debunked but nothing solid.

    I fact in Australia there has been a steady decline in homicides and suicides via guns since well before Howard.
    I would guess there has been a marked increase in violent movie viewing and violent video game playing.

    Perhaps advances in mental illness treatment have been more the reason, maybe not, but that looks more credible to me.

  55. Brian (Re: 4. We will all be wealthier, no worries):

    Is Financial Times Tim Harford an economist? Is he a subscriber to the notion of endless growth and unlimited resources? Are there indications of this?

    Who are the “we” that will be wealthier in the future? Is he only talking about the fortunate few and ignoring the rest?

    He points out that being on a comfortable income now is much more fun with smartphones, computer games, air conditioning, penicillin, air travel and takeaway pizza than it would have been 100 years ago, living in a mansion with servants.

    Key words: “comfortable income”. That requires a comfortable job, and/or comfortable/performing investments. And yet the disparity between the “haves” and the “have nots” continues to grow.

    Penicillin is losing its effectiveness due to over-prescribing and bacteria strains adapting to become more resistant. Transplants and major surgery may become more dangerous. We may be back to the bad old days soon, where a simple cut may mean sepsis and death, unless new effective antibiotics are developed and deployed. Time may be running out.

    Air travel requires abundant, affordable petroleum fuel supplies – not likely in a post- ‘peak oil’ world soon, based on evidence I see. It’s likely only the rich will be able to afford air travel soon.

    In an increasingly hotter world (see the recent BOM report), air conditioning would be useful if you can own your own home and can afford to install and run them (or perhaps better still, have a passive home that doesn’t require air con), or your landlord is good enough to provide air con in rental accommodation and you can afford to run them. Less people seem to be able to afford to own their own home, and obtaining rental accommodation (ideally with good thermal efficiency) is becoming more competitive in some regions (where the good/comfortable jobs usually are).

    He’s not promising that there will be no wars, or that we’ll all be equal.

    I wonder what worth these ‘looking forward’ opinion pieces really offer? It seems to me that this article you refer to looks at the growth and developments that have happened since WW2 and assumes they will continue, without any apparent analysis as to the underlying reasons why this has been the case, and whether the conditions will continue to prevail to sustain the continued “expected” growth and developments. But that would require some deep knowledge and thinking beyond the superficial surface – that requires a bit more mental effort that’s perhaps beyond the author, Tim Harford?

    Brian, I’m basing this on your characterisation of the article (that’s pay-walled). I presume you have actually seen it. Have my points been fair?

  56. Ootz, no worries about Erikson. I was concerned that some clown may have adapted his schema and inserted an extra stage.

    Geoff M, I’ll do a fuller answer later,, but you can check out Tim Harford here. He has a masters degree in economics, has written four books and seems to be a Peter Martin type economist, uncovering what is really going on below the surface.

    The article wast published in the AFR, to which I have a subscription. They have a daily section with a selection of FT articles, but when you google them you get FT. So I have read the article, but I think I’ve thrown it out. I read it al least twice, but my short-term memory in not what it used to be. I’ll try to answer your points later.

    I have to go out this arvo, and didn’t finish new Salon last night, so tonight with a bit of luck as first priority.

  57. On another thread Jumpy commented

    Yes Val, we should focus on the Countries with the lowest Female education and empowerment.
    Have you got a list the worst offending Countries ?
    We could try to brain storm why they are that way and suggest solutions.

    I couldn’t find the list requested by our erstwhile colleague, but I did find a list of the 20 countries with the highest fertility rates in 2016 which, given birthrates decline with female education and empowerment, seems to be a good proxy.
    The main characteristic all of these countries share is their relative poverty.
    18 of the 20 are in Africa and 17 have been European colonies. The situation is complex because many experienced a change of colonial masters, but Britain ruled over 8 of them, France 6, Portugal 3, Germany 3, Italy 1, and Belgium 1. No obvious reason for their treatment of females there.
    7 of the 20 countries were predominantly Islamic but 10 were predominantly Christian, and 3 had roughly equal proportions of both religions. Other belief systems (such as Animism) had adherents, but the proportions were quite small. So they do have in common an overwhelming number of adherents to Abrahamic religions.
    In brainstorming why these countries disempower females I would suggest it is because they have patriarchal cultures informed by Abrahamic religious beliefs, which we know have form in devaluing women and girls.
    I await Jumpy’s suggested solutions.

  58. Zoot not so sure how solid the patriarchy-monotheism link is. Akhenaton, an ancient Egyptian pharaoh is reputed for founding Abrahamic religions, by ending traditional Egyptian polytheism and introducing worship centered on Aten, which is sometimes described as quasi-monotheistic. You find Herodotus, an ancient well travelled greek historian gave aghast accounts of the female participation in public live and their rights to inherit much in contrast to his ancient greek polytheistic society where women were on par with cattle.

    From memory evolutionary and evolutionary psychology may have better answers about the origin and prevalence of patriarchy. I suspect it has something to do with control of resources and expended energy somewhere around when agriculture and ‘civilisation’ kicked in. Maybe a way to control fertility in a certain way. Before that, roughly unto Pleistocene era, Anthropological evidence has it that most prehistoric hunter-gatherer societies were relatively egalitarian. Sex may come into it too, I have always been astonished by the structure and function of Bonobo society.

  59. Zoot not so sure how solid the patriarchy-monotheism link is.

    Ootz, I think fundamentalist Muslims and Christians are undeniably patriarchal (no female priests in the Roman church, Saudi women have only just gained the right to drive cars, etc etc).
    I agree with you that it is most likely the rise of the patriarchy was due to factors other than religion, but for me the attitudes enshrined in the religious establishments must play a part in its longevity. It is enshrined in the power structures which arose after the prophets had delivered their messages.
    I am informed by my theologian wife that there’s evidence Jesus was very egalitarian so I can’t blame him for the shortcomings of the Christian church (Paul, who never met him, is another matter).
    BTW I am not suggesting indigenous and other belief systems don’t have patriarchal power structures – I simply don’t know enough about them, and it was unnecessary for my argument.

  60. I hesitate to get Darwinianish, but why is it examples of matriarchy are so rare today ?

    In answer to zoot, i have solution for stupidity other than unimpeded access to education and individual freedom equally.

  61. I hesitate to get Darwinianish, but why is it examples of matriarchy are so rare today ?

    As far as I can tell, if any existed in the past they were extremely rare. It appears (as per Ootz) that societies went from egalitarian to patriarchal (not matriarchal to patriarchal).

  62. zoot

    I don’t think “these countries disempower women…. because they have patriarchal cultures informed by Abrahamic religions..” is a strong argument.

    In my view, to say a nation “disempowers women” is the same as saying it “has a patriarchal culture”.

    Imagine if you will this dialogue:
    Q. How can we tell if a country has a patriarchal culture?
    A. The main indicator will be that women who live there are disempowered.

    or this dialogue:
    Q. What type of country would you predict would most likely disempower women?
    A. Oh, the type that has a patriarchal culture, for sure!

    Can it be tbat fundamentalist Christian and Muslim teachings help to hold women (and men) in a timewarp of medieval or pre-modern practices and attitudes, against the tendencies of liberalism, female suffrage, wider job choices, womens contraception, secular education and womens freedom to marry and divorce?

    I am willing to believe that Jesus of Nazareth was quite egalitarian.

    ***

    A secular theory of birthrates refers to a “demographic transition” when death rates drop so far that parents don’t need to have 12 kids to be sure that 2 or 3 of them will survive to support said parents in old age. When fewer child/adult labourers are needed the missuys sats “Stuff that for a lark, I’m not having any more!”

  63. I don’t think “these countries disempower women…. because they have patriarchal cultures informed by Abrahamic religions..” is a strong argument.

    Ambi, in the spirit of co-operation with Jumpy I was brainstorming – just throwing it out there.
    And thank you for your insightful contribution.

  64. Zoot (10:11pm 13th):
    Think you might be onto something there about many societies going from Egalitarian to Patriachal.

    Wonder if this might have happened with the pre-Doric Greeks? (Sorry I’m not up on prehistoric IndoEuropean sociology). Wonder, too, why traditional Melanesian societies appear to be so excessively patriarchal ? Wonder about the apparently egalitarian status of women in the traditional Mongol and other tribal North Asian societies?

    Val. Help. We need your input into this matter. 🙂

  65. Well hi Graham. Usual disclaimer – I’m no expert, my own historical research was about modern Australia. However I did a bit of reading around this stuff trying to understand why patriarchy and hierarchy became so widespread.

    As you might know, one of the best known early theories was Engels and Untermann ‘Origins of the Family …’. They speculated that it was to do with farming, the acquisition of animals and property that could be inherited, and the recognition of paternity. However, feminist historians and archaeologists dispute this and say there were early settled communities (including extensive town societies as at Catalhoyuk – sorry can’t do the accents at present) which were broadly egalitarian and where men and women were fairly equal. Catalhoyuk, Crete and several sites in Southern Europe are the ones I’m aware of that have been extensively explored. Key writers are Gerda Lerner, Riane Eisler (historians) and Marija Gimbutas (archaeologist).

    Speculation, especially by Gimbutas as I understand it, is that there were societies in the north east that had developed weapons and that these people took over and imposed patriarchal societies. The reasons may be ecological in part – eg harsher climates or climate events making people more dependant on animals for food, thus weapons and male upper body strength being more important? However I don’t really know much about that.

    Eisler is fascinating on how myths and religious texts were written or rewritten to reflect changing power, including Greek myths and plays, and the Bible. As you say, Christianity (which came quite late in the shift to patriarchy, but the shift was a long process) appears to have been quite egalitarian in early stages, but apparently there was a long period of ‘drafting’ the early texts to make them conform with patriarchy. Even now apparently there’s two different accounts of human origins in the Bible – God created man and woman together as equals, OR God created woman from man’s rib (I’m not a Biblical scholar).

    I think some early British societies were both war-like and led by women (Boudicca as an eg) though I don’t know much about that. However it is not common, I think. Most societies seem to have been either relatively egalitarian or male dominated and hierarchical.

    Some early observers (eg William Thomas) thought that Indigenous societies in Australia were patriarchal. However women had rights, ‘women’s business’ and special places. Also some of the societies were matrilineal. It’s accepted that Indigenous societies were egalitarian in sharing resources, although there were apparently some inherited family rights (eg to ochre mining areas).The conclusion from an analysis I’ve read (details later) is that Indigenous women’s rights were significantly reduced by the imposition of patriarchal British law and custom in the 18th and 19th century.

  66. There is patriarchy aplenty, around the globe.

    Difficult indeed to look back on a “golden age” in the absence of evidence. Can myth help? Do the roles of gods and goddesses in a polytheistic religion give us clues (just throwing it out there, might those roles be similar to those taken by the terrestrial worshippers)???

    OK, another tack: is monotheism more likely to foster power relations of dominance, as there is one god, and a putative dualistic schema: good/evil, right/wrong, reward/damnation….?

    Whereas with polytheism, many viewpoints and personal styles and a variety of human qualities can be expressed, each with godly sponsorship. Differences more acceptable amongst the worshippers, hence cooperation [entailing egalitarian modes] and compromise. The gods themselves generally get along.

    Speculation heaped upon speculation.
    Just throwing it out there.

    Shorter version:
    1. Dualistic thinking can be a curse
    2. Help, Val!

  67. Hi Val

    Apologies.

    I hit “Post comment” at 6.48, blissfully unaware that you had posted in detail and with references.

  68. “Hitherto historians have described the world; the point, however, is to change it!” *

    * by empowering women

  69. I’m not well read on the matters discussed so well on this thread, but I do enjoy reading the history and diversity of the topic.

    Could I ask though, did the average age ~30-40 (Wiki) have an impact upon social structure, and would successive wars/invasions have an impact upon the balance of those societies?

  70. Thanks Val, Gimbutas work and theories are informative . Given the constrain of her critics, her conceptualisation of how the the transition from egalitarian to patriarchal societies could have occurred are informative.

    The Kurgan hypothesis is one of the best possible explanations have seen about the spread of indo-germanic culture. It is also very plausible Gimbutas linguistic studies correspond with the archeological finds. To connect it up with up with the Burned Houses Horizon phenomenon and fundamental changes in cultural creative expressions makes sense. Some fundamental change, either an event or more likely waves of events, must have occurred for such a rapid profound shift from an egalitarian to patriarchal societies as widespread as it did.

    It is very tempting look for the cause behind such a wave(s), such as Val suggests climatic changes or my favourit, the domestication of horse and increased mobility. However, I suggest it maybe more instructive to look at what the inherited weaknesses are in an egalitarian society for it to fall into dominant patriarchy? More fundamentally what do we understand an egalitarian society to be?

  71. Thank you Val and Ootz for deepening my understanding of the topic. Reading Ootz’s link to Gimbutas work, I am once again struck by how intelligent members of our species can be.
    WRT the domestication of the horse, I remember many years ago somebody on the Science Show asserting that the invention of the stirrup was possibly more important in human history than the invention of the wheel.

  72. I would have to say that the Aboriginal group I am most familiar with is strongly patriarchal though not particularly hierarchical. This doesn’t mean that the women don’t have power and influence under some circumstances. (For example, my wife saw an old woman stop a spear fight by walking into the middle and taking the spears off the men. She could do that because she was in the right relationship to all the fighting men to say, in effect that they had all demonstrated that they cared and it was time to stop.) A deeper understanding of this very foreign society may have produced a better understanding of when men or women had the power.
    The above suggests that patriarchy goes a long, long way further back than the start of the domestication of the horse or the creation of settled societies. However, we need to be cautious. The flow of power and influence is not necessarily the same as the apparent hierarchy.
    Interestingly some Aboriginal stories talk about a time when the women gave (lost?) the magic to the men. Suggests that there were times when their societies were matriarchal.)

  73. To go back to Geoff M at January 13, 2018 at 10:13 am, turns out the dead tree version of Tim Harford’s article had not been finally disposed of.

    I would say he is brainstorming rather than going through a formal forecasting exercise. However, I don’t think that means it has no value. It’s meant to make you think outside the normal extrapolations.

    First, he’s not talking about the fortunate few. He says global average income would be about $US80,000, or roughly twice the average salary in the UK today. He says that in the advanced economies income will be more like $US250,000. But he doesn’t have a clue how it will be spent.

    Nowhere does he use the word “comfortable”. I try to keep these entries in the post down 150 words, usually unsuccessfully these days.

    He’s talking about an exercise he gives his students. He asks them whether they would rather live on $US70,000 today, with the goods and services available today, or live a century ago with what $US70,000 could have bought then, basically servants, status and a mansion.

    Then he is assuming that 2118 will be as unfamiliar to us as today would have been to people 100 years ago.

    However, he is assuming that digital technology will nix most existing jobs. He cites a ‘mischievous’ book Soonish, by Kelly and Zach Weinersmith, which gives a guide the possibilities -I won’t go through them to make sure you don’t waste time deconstructing them. His overall point is that things will be different in ways we could not imagine, but way smarter than we have now.

    Then he specifies some of the necessary conditions.

    First, any nuclear or biological war would have to be a local affair.

    Secondly, growth would need to be sustainable in terms of GHGs, raw materials and the cultivation of land. He says thankfully growth is decoupling from resource use. I’m sure you will disagree. He says we need smarter regulations, but even without them the trend is to do more with less.

    Thirdly, the population must come down, and he says it is heading in that direction.

    Fourth, he says we’ll need to abandon the welfare state and adopt a form of income sharing.

    Finally, he says he’s bound to be wrong, but if, somehow, we can keep the show on the road or grandchildren will thank us.

  74. Thanks a lot Val. Your mention of Engel’s ;The Origin Of The Family’ brought back memories. :-).

    Thanks too, Ootz, for that Marija Gimbutas link (I knew her only from her brilliant linguistic work) and for asking that awkward question about the weaknesses in egalitarian societies.

    Perhaps if we knew more about the weaknesses in earlier egalitarian societies, we would be better prepared to defend and advance our own young egalitarian society.

    Thanks to Geoff H., Ambigulous, John D. and Zoot for your helpful comments in this matter.

  75. Brian (Re: JANUARY 14, 2018 AT 6:13 PM):

    Thanks for your response.

    Thirdly, the population must come down, and he says it is heading in that direction.

    Which population? Global or a particular country? Or do you mean population growth?

    Global population is still increasing – approaching 7.6 billion. Global population growth is trending downwards. I think that’s correct?

  76. Ootz

    You have made a profound contribution by asking “what are the inherent weaknesses that can make egalitarian societies move over to patriarchy?”

    This is timely and important. Every society has its own “checks and balances ” designed to favour stability and continuity. With any luck, also allowing democratic reform and improvement.

    I could list a few applying here. Which do you think are important? Is there also a popular spirit that underpins institutional (formal) arrangements?

  77. Geoff M, I’ve again rescued the AFR copy on the way out. Harford has been saying that:

    economic growth has been decoupling from resource use – not everywhere and not in every respect, but broadly enough to give reason for hope.

    And that there are improvements in farmland productivity. Then he says:

    None of this would be enough if the world’s population was still booming at the rates that caused alarm in the 1960s. But it is not; population growth has been in steady decline for half a century. If the number of people on the planet stabilises and the efficiency with which we use resources increases, there is nothing implausible about a continued rise in the standard of living. (Emphasis added)

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