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Populations

1) To be a major world power you need a large population, not less than seventy or eighty million people. A large population needs territory to spread out in, and you either have to persuade people to move into it (USA, Israel), or you must force them to move (Russia). This is the doctrine of critical population size. It is what keeps countries like Sweden, the Netherlands, or Austria from becoming major players.

2) China and India have always had large populations, but do not let that fool you. A large population in itself is only a necessary condition, not a sufficient condition. If you cannot feed them, the size of the population quickly turns into a problem. That is the lesson of India.

3) The countries with the largest proportion of inhabitants aged 65 and over are Italy, Japan, Greece, and Sweden (Dorling et al. 2008: 27). Soon their young people will not be able to pay for the welfare of the elderly. Then they will be forced to accept more Turkish and other Muslim immigrants. In a few generations Muslim immigrants will represent a substantial fraction of the European population. Europe may be predominantly Muslim in a few centuries from now, as the USA will be predominantly Hispanic and Catholic within a few decades.

Culture, ethnicity, and "race"

1) Today we say "ethnicity" when, fifty years ago, we would have said "race". Between these dates lay the experience of the Holocaust. What we mean by "ethnicity" is often no different from what we meant by "race", but by changing the word we are making a statement: that mankind is not a slave to its religion, language, or ethnicity. We will not permit these differences to be reasons for killing one another off (Finkelkraut 1987).

2) In 1952 Claude Lévi-Strauss caused a scandal with a book about the question "what is race?", in which he defined race as the sum of all our actions, a term closely related to what we call "culture". These discussions paved the way for a new study in France, anthropology, an offshoot of sociology.

3) Our original concept of culture was essentially the same as "aristocratic ideals". As these ideals have slowly disappeared with the rise of mass society, so has culture. With mass society we have instead received "mass culture". Mass culture has amounted to little more than a foolish, infantile process of destroying culture hallmark of our current vulgarism, with its illusions about the remarkable qualities of the "common people" and their more down-to-earth ways.

4) It was Stalin's great dream to institute mass culture and pop culture, so as to annihilate the old culture. Ironically, the country which first succeeded in this was the USA.

5) The aim is no longer to elevate mankind through aesthetics and/or complex ideas, to teach him to see what is beautiful (fine arts) and honorable, but either to protest, to shock/entertain, or to create novelties for the sake of novelty. This is a confused project, a misinterpretation of the natural-science idea of "progress".

6) Contemporary art has become a gathering place for the excluded, those who do not want to or are not able to participate in productive society. Because this group represents a large number of voters in the West, they have been given budgets to play with. This has created a cultural establishment which has no objective way of deciding who gets what. Seen from the perspective of the political and economic elites, cultural workers and artists are free to contend among themselves, so long as they vote for the correct political parties (the ones that feed them). If not, the funding will be withdrawn.

7) Modern culture, this new project, which began with the Impressionists and the invention of photography and follows the logic of industrial invention, is a faux pas, a wrong direction and a misunderstanding. What purpose can there be in innovating for the sake of innovation? They have eliminated their own skills of craftsmanship, and are left (from Matisse onwards)only with color and form. It is childishness institutionalized.

8) A ministry of culture serves to dissuade some of the excluded from rebellion. From a political perspective it is better for the State to support artists financially than to pay them unemployment benefits. It creates less tension in society and maintains morale.

9) Kant, if he had lived, may have argued that this is a return to the original understanding of culture as œuvre, simply whatever is man-made, nothing more, nothing less; but I doubt that he would have enjoyed the results.

10) Today buying and reading the classics - the foundation of all civilized cultures - is seen as just another hobby, like go-carting, collecting cigarette lighters, or fishing. Soon, when more of the old booksellers disappear, reading the classics will become the activity of a sect. Then perhaps it will be rediscovered, and again become popular with some people.

11) The middle class. There used to be four breeds among the middle class:

a) those without piano or library

b) those without a piano but with a library

c) those with a piano but without a library

d) those with both piano and library

Today pianos and libraries alike are for snobs and reactionaries, people out of touch with reality, or the filthy rich.

12) There are three broad cultures:

a) commercial nations such as Sweden, Germany, and Switzerland

b) power cultures such as France, Britain, and the USA

c) cultures with an interest in culture like France and the USA (pop culture).

13) To understand what is going on in the world, economically, politically, or socially, it is important to be able to draw a quick sketch-map of the world, to illustrate various facts and ideas:

Figure 6: Map of the world

Map of the world

Do the exercise yourself. 14) The world comprises six great paradigms:

a) the Mongol world (... the cultures they influenced, all the way to Turkey)

b) the Asian: Confucian and Hindu

c) the Western: Catholic-Protestant-rationalistic

d) the Orthodox Graeco-Slav emotional world

e) the Islamic: Arab-irrational

f) the animistic African tribal world

Potentiality for conflict is high along their borders.

Figure 7: Potential zones of future armed conflicts.

Potential zones of future armed conflicts.

12) The world contains stable and unstable regions. Most acts of violence occur along axes of conflicting religious or cultural interests.

Figure 8: The four stable regions

The four stable regions

13) The competitive advantages of nations never last. Instead we have conditions of continual strife, with cultures successively overtaking one another. There has always been a civilization or a nation which has had the upper hand at any given time in terms of economic, military, and political strength. A short chronological list might look like this:

1. Yellow River, Nile, and Indus areas

2. Mesopotamia

3. Greek civilization

4. Roman civilization

5. Iberian peninsula

6. France

7. Netherlands

8. Britain

9. USA

10. Japan (short intermezzo)

11. China

Figure 9: The changing nature of great cultures

The changing nature of great cultures

14) We may illustrate the same idea of the evolution of economic power in a system of co-ordinates with time on the x axis and economic output on the y axis.

Figure 10: The evolution of economic power

The evolution of economic power

15) Each rise to power comes at a cost. The American Indians were almost exterminated. Their numbers in what is now Mexico fell from about thirty million before the arrival of Europeans to about one million in the seventeenth century. In the USA and Canada their numbers went from twelve million down to a couple of hundred thousand by the nineteenth century. This was a true holocaust.

16) American Indians today have three remaining zones of influence:

a) the belt stretching from Ecuador to Peru and Bolivia

b) the coastal areas of Brazil from Paraíba (a state of Brazil) to Paraná (Paraguay)

c) the belt stretching from southern Mexico to Guatemala and Nicaragua.

17) The first great human civilizations were formed around the great river deltas of the Nile, Tigris-Euphrates, Ganges, yellow River and Yangtze.

18) The idea that Man came from Africa does not tell us much about who we are culturally. Our ancestors may have migrated out of Africa some 60,000 years ago, and one branch of the Indo-European tribe probably migrated into Europe less than 10,000 (maybe as late as 4,500) years ago, after the last Ice Age. But it is the time in between that interests us most. What did we do after we left Africa but before we entered Europe, during the time when we dwelt in the Kashmir-Caspian Sea area?

19) The Indo-Europeans were nomads and lived for most of that period in the area around the Caspian and Black Seas. About 1500 BC, one branch moved down to the Indus valley. With them they brought the horse. At about the same time we hear of Indo-Europeans in Europe and on the Anatolian steppes, e.g. the Hittites.

20) When the Athenians fought the Persians under King Darius at Marathon in 490 BC, it was two Indo-European tribes that met in battle.

21) Indo-European research (language, literature, archaeology, history) was a topic that attracted much interest in European universities at the turn of the nineteenth century. Most questions are yet to be definitively answered, and await renewed interest from a generation of genetic researchers.

22) In May 2010 Svante Pââbo, director of the Genetics Department at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, published an article in Science which said that all non-Africans share between one and four per cent of their DNA with the Neanderthaler. Homo neanderthalensis may have lived in Europe more than 500,000 years before Homo sapiens arrived. The Chinese carry these genomes too, even though Neanderthalers probably never reached China. Future research will tell us how we are different (how we are alike, we already know).

23) If you visit an archaeological museum, such as the one in the château at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, you will be surprised to see how slowly mankind developed up to the time when the first man migrated into Europe:

a) At 35,000 BC we were making small man-like figures out of clay.

b) At 20,000 BC the figures were somewhat, but not greatly, more advanced; for instance, we find figures of pregnant women.

c) Even at 16,000 BC we were still making simple animal figures. It was only when the Indo-Europeans entered Europe that the human life experienced a revolution.

d) At 6300 BC we find clay pots.

e) At 3000 BC, swords of bronze casting moulds.

f) The real revolution does not arrive until the Iron Age, about 900 to 500 BC. At about this time a German tribe, the Franks, led by the Merovingian king Clovis - shown as a tall man with long fair hair in the famous fresco in the Paris Panthéon- conquered the heart of France, and made Paris his power centre.

g) Modern history is largely the history of two tribes which separated on the plains north of Caucasus: one migrating westwards from the Ural Mountains into Europe, the other eastwards into Mongolia and China. Then there were two further smaller groups, one migrating into what is now Iran and another colonizing India. This is a history that remains to be told in detail.

24) Hindu, Greek, Roman, European, American, Japanese: what decides the fate of any culture is how you manage your population. China and India are strong indicators. China will be able to manage its billion-plus population by the year 2015.

25) It is Europe's task to settle the conflict in the Middle East. Asia wants nothing to do with it. The Americans will fail in this region, because they lack the necessary understanding of and interest in other cultures. Europe will make a deal with Iran after the age of petroleum has faded away and the region's corrupt regimes have either collapsed into chaos or been thrown out by their own populations. This is a prospect for the latter half of the 21st century, by which time US power will have been seriously weakened. By then the Israelis will have had to settle their differences with Iran, or their safety could no longer be guaranteed.

 
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