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Thread: Racism vs. Culturism

  1. #1
    Elite Member JamieElizabeth's Avatar
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    Default Racism vs. Culturism

    Column by Stephen Browne
    The Atlasphere

    Looking at different civilizations in the world's history, we see vast
    differences in achievement. Are all attempts to explain these
    differences simply racist? Or are there factors at play completely apart from
    race?

    When Europeans started venturing to the Americas and Africa, they came in contact with a great many peoples whose cultures had different levels of technological development.
    Two, or perhaps three explanations were advanced for this: the racialist, culturalist, and climate explanations. The racialists held that foreign peoples were not as advanced because they didn’t have it in them to advance.
    The culturalists held that cultural values, beliefs, worldview etc, (usually subsumed under the heading of religion) had prevented, delayed or hampered the development of technological civilization. The climate explanation posited an enervating effect of the climate of the tropics.
    This of course, is a very simplistic way of putting it. But simplistic explanations appealed to ethnocentric Europeans who had never been outside of Europe (and even many who had) and wanted an explanation that confirmed the superiority of their own tribe, nation, religion, and climate.
    There were cracks in the racialist view from the beginning. In Mesoamerica and highland Peru, civilizations were found that were the equal of the classical Greeks who were considered the ancestors of our own civilization (though most of us are not Greek).
    Africa had city-building civilizations scattered along the west coast and the remains of ancient high civilizations along the Nile in Egypt and Meroe. In Asia, Europeans encountered high civilizations, which seemed more advanced than Europe in some ways — but not others.
    The climate explanation held on for a while, with philosophers like de Gobineau claiming that even European colonists degenerated when they took up residence in the tropics or North America, but the spectacular success of the new American nation made that a bit hard to hold onto.
    A more sophisticated modern variation of this might be called the “geography is destiny” model, which actually has a lot of merit. Scholars such as Jared Diamond have done a tremendous job of describing the constraints that environment puts on people.
    Africa has no rivers on which unobstructed navigation is possible year-round for more than very limited distances, and no natural deep-water harbors on most of its coastline.
    Civilization historically spreads along rivers and by sea. Huge areas are infested with mosquito-bourn diseases, which makes animal husbandry impractical. No domestic animals means that people lack a vital natural resource for settled agriculture — manure.
    Both Africa and the American continents are oriented north-south, the Eurasian landmass runs east-west. This means that the development of new food crops will tend to remain restricted to the narrow latitude band they are developed in.
    Even though fully half of the world’s food crops are of American Indian origin, they had little opportunity to spread until Europeans adopted and dispersed them. And the Americas happen to be poor in animal species that can be domesticated, etc.
    Other scholars, such as Victor Davis Hanson stress the choices made by different cultures and civilizations that affect their future development. A culture that hangs on to slavery is unlikely to shine in the development and production of labor saving technology.
    Why invent machines to make life easy when you have plenty of slaves to do the work? A religion that clings to the notion that charging interest on loans is a major sin is going to have a lot of trouble developing a banking system, with all the accounting and record keeping skill that goes with it.
    One that teaches that everything is in the hands of capricious gods or inexorable fate is not likely to discover the scientific method. An overly complicated writing system means that scholarship and the power that goes with it is likely to remain the monopoly of a small class, etc.
    Of course, as will all great truths, the answer to the question of which is most important is “yes.” Both factors appear to interact in various and complex ways. Both Europe and China founded technological civilizations — and China had a big head start.
    But China early established a unitary state, which was capable of regulating and often suppressing new technology that threatened the social order. Europe remained politically divided and diverse.
    Read the biographies of the important scholars and scientists in European history and it’s interesting to note how many of them changed countries frequently, either seeking patronage or escaping persecution. The political unity of China and the diversity of Europe may be a function of their respective geographies.
    These factors in combination lead to different civilizations achieving different levels of technology, science — and law. These, in turn, lead to different standards of living and quality of life.
    When technology made mass immigration around the world possible, huge numbers of people began to express their opinion of what the good life was by voting with their feet.
    In doing so, they destroyed the racialist explanation forever, though of course, some continue to cling to it because their pitiful excuse for self-esteem is bound up in it.
    Cultures which chose to adopt those features of western civilization necessary for scientific and technological development have advanced, often with startling success (see Japan). Those which have not, tend to remain far less competitive in the world economy.
    Immigrants to Europe and the Americas who most successfully adopt those cultural traits of the host country prosper, often in spite of local racism. Those who do not, tend to remain in enclaves with standards of income lower than the national norm, regardless of whether they are of the same race as their new country or not. (Look at the relative success of Jamaicans versus Irish Catholics, for example.)
    Now here’s the point I’m getting to; the “multiculturalists” deny that any race or any culture is superior in any way to any other. They also refuse to address the question of whether different cultures could have different strengths and weaknesses, better (or more adaptive) in some ways, worse in others.
    I most emphatically agree with them about race — but if this is true then only the culturalist explanation is left. They cannot both be false.

    http://www.theatlasphere.com/columns...wne-racism.php
    Last edited by JamieElizabeth; November 22nd, 2006 at 03:28 PM.

  2. #2
    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    Different cultures excelled at different things..

    Many asian cultures flourished artistically and physically, in touch with mental abstraction and their own bodies.

    Western cultures, through constantly warring, close living societies advanced technologically (trying to find better ways to kill each other most likely)

    Native American cultures excelled spiritually and environmentally, in tune with nature.

    etc etc etc..

    Each culture has it's strong points and weaknesses, they all have something of value and each has it's nightmares.
    I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you.

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