[Up] [Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: Intolerance: its modern embodiment

Sinclair and John,

Sorry, but I've been out of town, and couldn't respond before today.  Here are
my belated responses to your questions and comments.

Sinclair's questions:

> What do you see cultural values based on?

Landes sees them (historically) as:
1. The Judeo-Christian respect for manual labor;
2. The Judeo-Christian subordination of nature to man;
3. The Judeo-Christian sense of linear time;
4. Free markets.

Note that the first three have that dreaded appendage "Judeo-Christian"...
;-).  I take Landes as meaning that the first three were originally derived
from Judeo-Christian values, rather than being necessarily the sole property of
persons of a Judeo-Christian  background.

My tentative list of values is a bit different.  Excuse me for not translating
these ideas into cultural terms, but this is easier (I'm not done yet).

1. Respect for manual labor;
2. Universal education;
3. Tolerance;
4. Merit-based advancement;
5. Respect for causal reasoning
6. Free markets

Societies that don't respect manual labor rarely make improvements in the way
it is performed.  More pity them..... LOTs of examples.....

Societies that don't educate all their populace fail to understand the impact
of "regression toward the mean" on the IQ of the ruling elites.   Most of the
innovation comes from bright people and the more of them who are working on a
problem, the more likely it is to be solved.

Intolerant societies exclude valuable segments of their population.... for
example like women, or (in the case of the Spain after the Reconquista), Jews.
Ditto my last comment above regarding the fact that numbers count.

Nepotism and other non-merit-based mechanisms for advancement guarantee
inferior leadership... and costs a society plenty in the long and short term.
History is littered with the rubble of these societies.  You could get away
with nepotism when "everyone" did it, but today, it's a really poor choice.

Societies based on non-causal thinking substitute belief for reality, and tend
to remain in stasis.  Good examples are Animist cultures, or cultures with a
"cyclical world view" ("Not to worry, maybe it'll be better next cycle"), and
of course the modern environmental movement   ;-) ("hang the science, we're
right because our hearts are pure").

Free Markets simply work better than any other alternative method for choosing
winners...  certainly far better than the government's choices.  (Look on it as
natural selection in action)

Scotland had the first universal education system, as well as a healthy respect
for manual labor.  Tolerance wasn't much of an issue either because their
religious beliefs were close enough to those of their British employers.  Those
merchants and entrepreneurs needed results, so merit based advancement wasn't
an issue either. Rational causal thinking was no stranger to Scotland, so it
wasn't a problem.   Finally, markets in Britain were relatively free, compared
to the continent or the rest of the world.

(John), I don't think the enlightenment had much to do with Scotland's
exceptional progress, except perhaps that Universal Education was seen as a
"good thing", and tolerance was encouraged.

> In your post you mentioned a place called Harvard.  It that a little obscure
> college in Cambridge Massachusetts? I know a guy named John who went there
> to do something with cows or computers.

Ah, Harvard.... AKA "Moscow University on the Cambridge".  I was surprised that
an obviously conservative guy like Landes could survive and prosper in the
left-leaning liberal environment of Harvard. The usual substitute for
intellectual debate there is for the students (and some faculty) to boo
conservatives into silence...        ;-)

John's comments:

     >>Joe: Actually, the Pledge of Allegiance (and our money) mention
     >> not a Christian God.

     >John: In your opinion.  Not in the opinion of all hearers.

No John, the word "God" was used.  Not "Jesus", not "a Christian God", but
simply "God".  Alternatively they used "the Creator".  They knew the
difference, and were far better educated than most of us today.

     >>Joe: I presume that the founders chose their words carefully and

     >John: The founders were all dead when the Pledge of Allegiance was

Right...  the insertion of "under God" is relatively recent. But.... the phrase
certainly respects the thinking of the Founders, who did not share the
anti-religious attitude currently fashionable.

     >>Joe: I was suggesting that the Atheists "put a sock in it".

     >John: If lumping everyone who disagrees with a certain opinion under
     >single label and then telling them to stop stating their opinion
     >is tolerance, apparently the word means something other than what
     >I thought it did.

Ya got me...  guilty of the dreaded "inconsistency"....  actually, I made that
intemperate remark out of frustration that a militant minority has successfully
generated an intolerance for religion, (specifically Christianity) in our
public institutions.  I don't believe that (1) the founders intended that, or
(2) the majority of Americans support that.  Not that any of that matters......

best regards,