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Saturday, August 05, 2006



Is solitarism a strawman? It is not hard to believe there are more commonalities between those of a common culture than those of differing ones, but I don't see that this makes for a single unchanging essence. At the same time, it is quite believeable that there are systems of thought which are fundamentally incompatible and cannot be reconciled without changes to them.


"Yet his critique is undermined by a pervasive lack of realism."

Is he talking about Sen? Sen is among the best authors at nuanced analysis I read.

The book had been in my wishlist for 3 months. It seems having come out in the Britain market, but just the hardcover, and I still have to wait.

BTW, the link is not working. You forgot to copy the "h" before the "ttp".


there's video of Sen's presentation on the book


"The US became a modern nation only after a devastating civil war, France only after Napoleon."

The review carries some interesting thoughts. But, the above is a specious substantiation.

The Civil War occurred at the onset of the Industrial Age. The southern states new full well that the industrialized north would fair better from the Industrial Age than the heavily agricultural south. To outlaw slavery would be the death knell of the southern way of life on the plantations.

Some may see the Civil War's outcome as being the negation of an agricultural economy and the acceptance of industrialization. This is not so. Agriculture remained an important part of the American economy well into the 20th century and still does today.

So, I doubt that the Civil War triggered the modernization of America.

As regards France, the context was altogether different and its remnants are still visible today. France was national entity that was governed by the concentration of power in one person, the King, for almost a millennia.

Its small adventure with revolution and “democracy” was short lived and upon its ashes Napoleon walked in to restore the aristocracy, which his progenitors continued for another half a century or so. Even in its democratic form today, France is still hobbled by its "dirigism" from the top.

In neither circumstance were these cited events step-function changes. They were simply one more stride along a road that had been traced for centuries.

I maintain that such is still the case. Nations take time to evolve because the prevailing mentality of a people also takes time to mature - and lots of it. Cultural values are in constant evolution and do not change over night, though that sometimes seems to be the case. It is possible that the evolutionary process may be accelerating.

Developing nations (i.e., most of the existing world) have nearly all the same aspiration: To have a large middle-class that enjoys the benefits of a middle-class existence, without causing the impoverished to riot from desperation. (I doubt that Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is becoming obsolete as more and more nations scramble up the ladder.)


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