December 29, 2013

The View from 1976

From New York magazine, August 23, 1976:
... The saga of the Me Decade begins with one of those facts that is so big and so obvious (like the Big Dipper), no one ever comments on it anymore. Namely: the 30-year boom. Wartime spending in the United States in the 1940s touched off a boom that has continued for more than 30 years. It has pumped money into every class level of the population on a scale without parallel in any country in history. True, nothing has solved the plight of those at the very bottom, the chronically unemployed of the slums. Nevertheless, in Compton, California, today it is possible for a family at the very lowest class level, which is known in America today as “on welfare,” to draw an income of $8,000 a year entirely from public sources. This is more than most British newspaper columnists and Italian factory foremen make, even allowing for differences in living costs. In America truck drivers, mechanics, factory workers, policemen, firemen, and garbagemen make so much money—$15,000 to $20,000 (or more) per year is not uncommon—that the word proletarian can no longer be used in this country with a straight face. So one now says lower middle class. One can’t even call workingmen blue collar any longer. They all have on collars like Joe Namath’s or Johnny Bench’s or Walt Frazier’s. They all have on $35 Superstar Qiana sport shirts with elephant collars and 1940s Airbrush Wallpaper Flowers Buncha Grapes and Seashell designs all over them. 
Well, my God, the old utopian socialists of the nineteenth century—such as Saint-Simon, Owen, Fourier, and Marx—lived for the day of the liberated workingman. They foresaw a day when industrialism (Saint-Simon coined the word) would give the common man the things he needed in order to realize his potential as a human being: surplus (discretionary) income, political freedom, free time (leisure), and freedom from grinding drudgery. Some of them, notably Owen and Fourier, thought all this might come to pass first in the United States. So they set up communes here: Owen’s New Harmony commune in Indiana and 34 Fourier-style “phalanx” settlements—socialist communes, because the new freedom was supposed to be possible only under socialism. The old boys never dreamed that the new freedom would come to pass instead as the result of a Go-Getter Bourgeois business boom such as began in the United States in the 1940s. 
Nor would they have liked it if they had seen it. For one thing, the homo novus, the new man, the liberated man, the first common man in the history of the world with the much-dreamed-of combination of money, free time, and personal freedom—this American workingman didn’t look right. The Joe Namath-Johnny Bench—Walt Frazier-Superstar Qiana Wallpaper sport shirt, for a start. 
He didn’t look right, and he wouldn’t . . . do right! I can remember what brave plans visionary architects at Yale and Harvard still had for the common man in the early 1950s. (They actually used the term “common man.”) They had brought the utopian socialist dream forward into the twentieth century. They had things figured out for the workingman down to truly minute details such as lamp switches. The new liberated workingman would live as the Cultivated Ascetic. He would be modeled on the B.A.-degree Greenwich Village bohemian of the late 1940s—dark wool Hudson Bay shirts, tweed jackets, flannel trousers, briarwood pipes, good books, sandals and simplicity—except that he would live in a Worker Housing project. All Yale and Harvard architects worshiped Bauhaus principles and had the Bauhaus vision of Worker Housing. The Bauhaus movement absolutely hypnotized American architects, once its leaders, such as Walter Gropius and Ludwig Miës van der Rohe, came to the United States from Germany in the 1930s. Worker Housing in America would have pure beige rooms, stripped, freed, purged of all moldings, cornices, and overhangs—which Gropius regarded as symbolic “crowns” and therefore loathsome. Worker Housing would be liberated from all wallpaper, “drapes,” Wilton rugs with flowers on them, lamps with fringed shades and bases that looked like vases or Greek columns. It would be cleansed of all doilies, knickknacks, mantelpieces, headboards, and radiator covers. Radiator coils would be left bare as honest, abstract sculptural objects.
But somehow the workers, incurable slobs that they were, avoided Worker Housing, better known as “the projects,” as if it had a smell. They were heading out instead to the suburbs—the suburbs!—to places like Islip, Long Island, and the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles—and buying houses with clapboard siding and a high-pitched roof and shingles and gaslight-style front-porch lamps and mailboxes set up on top of lengths of stiffened chain that seemed to defy gravity and all sorts of other unbelievably cute or antiquey touches, and they loaded these houses up with “drapes” such as baffled all description and wall-to-wall carpet you could lose a shoe in, and they put barbecue pits and fish ponds with concrete cherubs urinating into them on the lawn out back, and they parked 25-foot-long cars out front and Evinrude cruisers up on tow trailers in the carport just beyond the breezeway.*
------------ 
* Ignored or else held in contempt by working people, Bauhaus design eventually triumphed as a symbol of wealth and privilege, attuned chiefly to the tastes of businessmen’s wives. For example, Miës’s most famous piece of furniture design, the Barcelona chair, now sells for $1,680 [currently $6,906] and is available only through one’s decorator. The high price is due in no small part to the chair’s Worker Housing Honest Materials: stainless steel and leather. No chromed iron is allowed, and customers are refused if they want to have the chair upholstered in material of their own choice. 
Only leather is allowed, and only six shades of that: Seagram’s Building Lobby Palomino, Monsanto Company Lobby Antelope, Architectural Digest Pecan, Transamerica Building Ebony, Bank of America Building Walnut, and Embarcadero Center Mink.

109 comments:

anony-mouse said...

So many Wolfe sentences and only one exclamation point!

carol said...

The trouble with socialists is they get the supposed aspirations of Workers confused with their own.

They'll be much happier when ACA is finally running smoothly, and they can all pursue their artistic & intellectual ambitions without relying on spousal health insurance.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I graduated from an eastern university in 1975. I was a folksinger who regarded the common man as valuable and worthy of respect.

Except, not really, because he kept acting in these infuriating bourgeois ways and enjoying entertainments that were beneath me.

I didn't unlearn this attitude until I had worked for a decade at jobs that didn't pay much and didn't require a degree, but were unexplainably hard to do anyway.

Anonymous said...

Of course this era of shared prosperity coincided with a period of almost no immigration wisely put in place by the beautiful and wise 1920s elite. Who'd have thought a 50 year program of bringing in the dregs of the world would negatively impact prosperity?

Anonymous said...

" It has pumped money into every class level of the population on a scale without parallel in any country in history."

Europe, The Soviet Union and Japan were booming at the same exact time, achieving similar results even though they started at lower (i.e. bombed out) baselines. This is like a US sportswriter naming his favorite baseball hitter the most interesting man in sports or like people who only watch Hollywood movies arguing about the best movie ever made. I wonder when the American "the rest of the word doesn't matter" thought pattern started. I doubt it existed in 1900, for example, though I don't know this for sure.

Anonymous said...

In French the 1945 - 1975 boom period is called Les Trente Glorieuses (the 30 glorious [years]). It was a near-universal first- and second-world phenomenon.

Reg Cæsar said...

Miës van der Rohe

Mies proclaimed "Less is more", but obviously did not apply this to personal onomastics. Not only did he pretentiously tack on his mother's surname, Castilian-style, he went so far as to appropriate the common Dutch particule "van" because under German law he was ineligible for the German gentry's "von".

Still, the ridiculoüs overreäch we seë in the insertiön of a most unusuäl diäcritical marquë woüld be a bridge toö far even for he.

Diëresis envy. What New York has for the New Yorker!

Anonymous said...

The West stopped booming sometime in the early 1970s. China started booming in 1978, didn't it? There's obviously a connection. It's probably not the whole story, but it's got to be a part of it. After the oil crises of the 1970s the West would have probably resumed its boom, or at least it wouldn't have stagnated as much as it ended up doing, if a lot of the manufacturing didn't move from it first to Japan, then to Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong, then to China and SE Asia, where it is still to be found now.

Worldwide, the boom never stopped. It just moved east.

sunbeam said...

I have to wonder how much exactly the black immigration to the North spurred the development of suburbs.

I kind of gather there was some impetus to it, independent of that event.

But would we have developed the suburban culture that totally replaced what you saw on the screen with The Honeymooners or in that Marty movie if the Great Migration hadn't happened?

Anonymous said...

Link to the full article:

http://nymag.com/news/features/45938/#

Very interesting article in full, especially for those who were to young to have been around during the 1970's, a cynical view into the times.

Anonymous said...

Some will say that the boom stopped when the lifestyle achievable for the average person with the technology of the day was reached. Technology kept advancing during the Depression and especially during WWII, but lifestyles didn't. After the war lifestyles started catching up to the technology and that process was complete by 1975. Since then lifestyles and technology have advanced at the same pace, which necessarily meant a slower pace for lifestyles than in the catching-up 1945-1975 years.

However, most people would still like better cars than the ones they have now. I'm not talking about sci-fi stuff. They want but can't afford the really good cars that are being made today. And they'd like to buy new ones more often. Lots of people want bigger and better-constructed homes. All women want even more clothes.

People would like to fly more. 200 mph and faster train service is very doable with modern technology, and has existed in some places for a while, but there's still very little of it, even in first-world countries.

So yes, even without further technological progress the average person could live better than he does now. The gap between what exists and what's possible must be due to political and economic inefficiencies. Enormous numbers of people work hard and capably at jobs which subtract from the common good. Wall Street chicanery and other kinds of scamming, advertising (99% of which is lying), public relations (all of which is lying), the numerous industries that prey on addiction (not just the illegal stuff, but gambling and porn), etc.

We don't know what sort of lifestyle the current Chinese boom will achieve before it stops. It doesn't have to stop at the modern Western lifestyle, it could go further. The Chinese don't innovate, but on average over the course of millenia they've been better administrators, better managers of society than anybody else. I think that if anyone has a chance to see what sort of average lifestyle is possible with current technology, it's them. China is more likely to work at removing political and economic inefficiencies because it is run by nationalists. Sure, there must be some in its leadership who're striving to enrich themselves or special interests at the expense of the public good, but I have a feeling that there's less of that there than elsewhere.

Japan and South Korea were not previews of what China could do because they're laboring under many of the same sorts of inefficiencies as the West. These were brought to them through American occupation. China is as sovereign as any nation can get, so everything it does is its own fault or achievement. Since Mao's death they've seemed to have a lot of the latter. It's interesting to see how far they end up going.

Chief Seattle said...

From the point of view of a 50s era planner who had seen bombed out, burned out cities in Europe and Japan, the suburbs had to seem pretty darn good, even strategic. If there was a bomb that would blow up everything in a 2 mile radius then it only made sense to disperse people and industry, especially where land and gasoline were cheap.

Of course the H-bomb in the early 60s made even that insufficient. A bomb that would cook everything in a 20 mile radius made spreading out further impractical.

The only problem with good times for the common man is that people get entitled and lazy pretty quickly, to the point where even their well compensated 40 hours seems too much, at least too much to spend sober and on-task. American cars in the 70s and early 80s were a disaster, and I'm sure management and workers both were entitled to their share of blame.

Anonymous said...

To hell with Tom and his traditional aesthetic, I'll take a nice mass-produced concrete box over my $400K termite ridden Cape Bland any day!

Zoning boards in the suburbs are dominated by people like Wolfe.

Anonymous said...

Again,
To hell with Wolfe.
Long Live Concrete!

Anonymous said...

Somewhat off topic since it's a view from 1968 but I found it interesting. Home movies from a civilian contractor working on AUTODIN acceptance testing at Phu Lam in 1968. AUTODIN was eventually replaced by ARPANET in 1982 and the rest is Internet history. This guy happened to be in Saigon during the Tet offensive. There are also some films of AUTODIN operational at Phu Lam. Enjoy.

Anonymous said...

You mean I can't get the chair in Rockefeller Plaza Jack Donaghy Elks Tongue?

David Davenport said...

...a period of almost no immigration wisely put in place by the beautiful and wise 1920s elite

Bu-full Eeleet? The Ku Klux Klan was strong in the 1920's, with much political influence. The KKK-- the second KKK if one looks at it in more detail -- was even strong in early 1920's Los Angeles, before the Irish Scots took over. I invite Steve to explore D. W. Griffith's L. A.

I wonder when the American "the rest of the word doesn't matter" thought pattern started. I doubt it existed in 1900, for example, though I don't know this for sure.

The rest of the world really didn't matter much until Pearl Harbor. Remember George Washington's admonition to avoid entangling alliances with foreigners?

Woodrow Wilson and Democrat newspapers hyped up going to war in 1917. Kaiser Bill's Germany was no threat to the USA.

The Chinese don't innovate, but on average over the course of millenia they've been better administrators, better managers of society than anybody else.

Then why were Europeans able to colonize Chinese port cities in the 19th and early 20th centuries? Why and how could the British compel the Chinese to accept opium? Why the Mao Tse Tung era?

Zoning boards in the suburbs are dominated by people like Wolfe.

Total bullshit. Zoning boards in the suburbs are dominated by real estate developers who have only the dimmest aesthetic perceptions.

David said...

How do we reconcile these two passages?

1. "Wartime [i.e., government] spending in the United States in the 1940s touched off a boom that has continued for more than 30 years."

and

2. "[T]he new freedom was supposed to be possible only under socialism. The old boys never dreamed that the new freedom would come to pass instead as the result of a Go-Getter Bourgeois business boom such as began in the United States in the 1940s."

Wartime spending is socialism. The Go-Getters were fueled by government cheese on the most heroic scale. Granted, the Go-Getters didn't piss it all away; for example, those shirts obviously appealed to a large number of people, but still....

My guess is that we were supposed to assume (during the Cold War, when this article was written) that only totalitarianism qualifies as socialism. See, that's how we're different from Russia - the inscrutable Slavs dictate doorknobs, while honest Americans compete for government contracts and later corner the doorknob business.

Anonymous said...

Me:

The Chinese don't innovate, but on average over the course of millenia they've been better administrators, better managers of society than anybody else.

David Davenport: "Then why were Europeans able to colonize Chinese port cities in the 19th and early 20th centuries? Why and how could the British compel the Chinese to accept opium?"

The answer is in my original comment. The Chinese don't innovate. Europeans developed better military technology and then used it on the Chinese in the 19th and early 20th centuries. In today's world technology is copied quicker than ever before, so the innovation gap isn't a factor in international relations anymore. The Chinese can definitely USE advanced technology.

Why the Mao Tse Tung era?

It seems to me that, while not economically successful, the Mao era wasn't as bad for China as the post-war era has been for the West. China is still China. Continuity and sovereignty have been preserved. Is France France now, for example? Only partly, and if current trends continue (I hope they don't of course), the answer will eventually be "mostly no".

Unknown said...


The Chinese don't innovate, but on average over the course of millenia they've been better administrators, better managers of society than anybody else.


Then why were Europeans able to colonize Chinese port cities in the 19th and early 20th centuries? Why and how could the British compel the Chinese to accept opium? Why the Mao Tse Tung era?

He just said. They're not as strongly innovative, but they tend to keep the gains that they do make through superior administration and emphasis on cultural harmony.

Communism fked up a lot of countries, not just China.

Anonymous said...

Why the Mao Tse Tung era?

Mao was essentially a nationalist who consolidated and secured the Chinese state and China's relative sovereignty and independence following a very precarious period of foreign predation and internal instability. That's the real reason he's vilified today, not because of the Great Leap Forward or whatever, as if those people who squawk about Mao and the GLF give a damn about the Chinese who died.

More Irish died during the Irish Potato Famine as a percentage of the population than Chinese did in the GLF as a result of British policy, which like during the GLF's famine, involved importing food from starving rural areas. And the Irish population never recovered since.

Bert said...

"Bu-full Eeleet? The Ku Klux Klan was strong in the 1920's, with much political influence. The KKK-- the second KKK if one looks at it in more detail -- was even strong in early 1920's Los Angeles, before the Irish Scots took over. I invite Steve to explore D. W. Griffith's L. A."

You don't really think the KKK was responsible for immigration restriction, do you?

The KKK had some political influence. In the South. At a time when New York outvoted the entire South.

No, it was the Russian Revolution and subsequent communist and anarchist unrest throughout Europe that convinced the Knickerbocker elite that maybe it wasn't in their best interests to import more folks from there.

Peter the Shark said...

"the Mao era wasn't as bad for China as the post-war era has been for the West"

Over the long term you may have a point. Short term Mao seemed like a disaster for Chinese culture. The Cultural Revolution destroyed thousands of years worth of cultural artifacts, destroyed Confucianism as a living philosophical/religious system, and radically changed life in the Chinese countryside for ever. Mao to me always seemed like an alien invader destroying Chinese culture and trying to replace it with a pseudo Russian-Marxist hybrid. Still, 50 years on Mao's legacy probably looks a lot better if your aim is a strong Chinese state. The Cultural Revolution and GLF destroyed a lot of local and regional culture - but the result is a far more homogenous nation-state. Even 30 years ago China could have plausibly seemed headed on a long term trend to fall apart into a number of states, the way the USSR fell apart or the way the Roman Empire collapsed. Instead China seems to be following, finally, the English or French development of crushing regional dialects and power bases and imposing one central identity on the whole nation.

Simon in London said...

anon:
"In today's world technology is copied quicker than ever before, so the innovation gap isn't a factor in international relations anymore."

The military-technology gap remains a factor for China. Most of China's military tech is still copied from Russian stuff, which is good but simpler than US stuff, and not as good as the best US stuff - eg AFAIK China doesn't have anything like the M1 Abrams tank's chobham armour, depleted uranium lattice armour only used on the Abrams and the British Challenger. This armour gives Abrams & Challengers near total invulnerability to conventional anti-tank weaponry. Likewise the depleted uranium penetrator rounds (APFSDSDU)! can go through any conventionally armoured tank. This is all First Gulf War/end of Cold War tech. The US also has great superiority in targeting capability, but that is not so important in a general warfare environment as in the 'wars of choice' we're now used to.

Still, the military tech gap remains and is significant. China is ready to refight the Korean War if necessary, but is aware that the result would be similar, with very lopsided losses.

Simon in London said...

On the view from 1976 - the UK missed out on or wasted the postwar boom, so when I was young in the '80s the assumption was that Americans were all vastly wealthier than Brits, and to a large extent the income data supported that. Nowadays while US average income is still much higher due to more super-rich, median income looks pretty similar. In most of the US houses are much bigger and better and people have more and bigger cars (on credit), but Brits spend a lot on foreign vacations (on credit), there are also a lot of huge flashy cars here now (often driven by south-Asians IME). The general purchasing power disparity of ca 1980 is gone.

Anonymous said...

From the TLDR TFA:

"Tocqueville’s idea of modern man lost “in the solitude of his own heart” has been brought forward into our time in such terminology as alienation (Marx), anomie (Durkheim),..."

Words of three writers from early, mid, late 19th century, used to describe the condition of the man of the 70s as being particularly isolated, irony lost on the author. But 80s and 00s were also "Me" decades.

I would say men, especially of navel-gazing sort, once through midlife, start perceiving world as having become more selfish. You can see it everywhere and everywhen, from biblical figures to bloggers.

Anonymous said...

I think the UK peaked in real hourly income for the working man about 1973.

All downhill from there.

Interestingingly that is during the very narrow free speech window in the UK between the repeal of the Blasphemy Act in 1967 and the passing of the Race Relations Act of 1976.

Not saying cause and effect, just related trends.

GordoCooper

John Derbyshire said...

Why and how could the British compel the Chinese to accept opium?

ChiCom propaganda. You can't compel people to buy and smoke opium. The opium trade was demand-driven. The Chinese had been growing and consuming opium since the 12th century at least.

See here.

Opium was an over-the-counter drug in Britain until the 1868 Pharmacy Act -- thirty years after the first Opium War.

Steve Sailer said...

Elk's Tongue is a color for manly executives, not their wives.

Black Sea said...

Yeah, but the cracks were appearing in the 70s too. My father, who was self-employed, told me that during the 70s recession his income was cut in half, at least for a time. I was a kid then, but I can remember him being angry and scared.

Working in the auto industry, which was the prize proletarian job then, also became a tougher market to enter.

We had wage and price controls under Nixon, "WIN" (Whip Inflation Now) under Ford, and the Chrylser bailout under Carter. So yeah, the cracks were really there, people were just hoping they'd go away.

Anonymous said...

You can't compel people to buy and smoke opium. The opium trade was demand-driven. The Chinese had been growing and consuming opium since the 12th century at least.

John Derbyshire thinks Mexican drug cartels have the right to invade the United States. After all, the black tar heroin trade is demand-driven.

Anonymous said...

Those were the days, my friend, we thought they'd never end ...

Whiskey said...

If you consider history beginning before 1950, the Chinese can be considered great innovators, and lousy extenders, of technology.

Printing, silk, gunpowder, the compass, all were invented in China. And the Chinese did relatively little with them. The Chinese at the dawn of the European exploration era, in the mid 1400's, launched great ocean explorations, getting to Madagascar and perhaps even the Cape. And yet, within twenty years the admirals leading the expedition were executed and the fleet burned to the waterline and sunk

China's problem is that corruption and sheer size make the urgency of technological adoption less, well URGENT. In contrast to European powers who lacking size and fearing their neighbors, were forced to adopt technology and then industrialize (because losers got eaten) ... the Chinese and Japanese could adopt policies that prevented massive social change and threats to elites by shoving aside technology.

I see massive corruption, lack of honest rule of law, nepotistic bureaucracies, and all the traditional failings of China. England, Germany, the Netherlands, the US, and Japan and to a lesser extent France were major powers at different points because they had a relatively honest and efficient bureaucracy, open-ness to technological change, intelligent people, and a ruthless efficiency in driving towards ever greater technology and the advantage that brings.

China has not been a copier. More like an innovator that can't do anything with it because its corrupt bureaucracy finds the tech a threat to its own power. Mao is certainly within that tradition. Absent the Communist stuff he's the Yellow Emperor returned. Complete with massive death toll.

BB753 said...

The late forties and the fifties were pretty hard on Europeans, especially compared to Americans. Prosperty In Europe only started to be felt in the sixties, throughout all social strata.After the Yom Kippur war in 1973 and rising energy prices,it was all downhill. Furthermore native wage-earners suffered increased competition from immigrants around the same time, as immigrant numbers soared in England, France and pretty much everywhere, depressing wages. Economista claim that rising wages create inflation. The opposite seems to occur.Any ideas?

Bill said...

sunbeam said...

I have to wonder how much exactly the black immigration to the North spurred the development of suburbs.

But would we have developed the suburban culture that totally replaced what you saw on the screen with The Honeymooners or in that Marty movie if the Great Migration hadn't happened?


You want to read Slaughter of Cities. The Great Migration, Urban Renewal, and white flight were consciously planned policies which were designed to destroy the urban, ethnic culture you are talking about.

Blacks didn't "just decide" to move North all of a sudden during and after WWI. The Great Migration was not some kind of natural phenomenon. Blacks were a hammer wielded by the Northern WASP elite to smash the rival and increasingly powerful ethnic urban culture solidifying and growing in the industrial North.

The disorganized flight to the suburbs was the point. Uprooting and destroying the social fabric built over three generations within the ethnically and culturally homogenous Northern neighborhoods was the point.

Harvard Professor Robert Putnam is a seriously interesting guy. The work that made him famous (measuring rapid decline in American social capital) is essentially about documenting the utter success of his WASP ancestors' policies vs the urban Catholic menace. His personal life (he's a convert to Judaism) gives you some idea of what team he wants his children on and thus who he thinks won the fight for control of America in the aftermath.

Anonymous said...

No, it was the Russian Revolution and subsequent communist and anarchist unrest throughout Europe that convinced the Knickerbocker elite that maybe it wasn't in their best interests to import more folks from there.

Probably true, at least the KKK was more consistent than the Tea party is. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee support a lot of high skilled immirgation while the KKK opposed most immirgation. I laugh at liberals that compared the KKK to the Tea party but both the KKK and the Tea Party are too much on populism instead of smarts that why they failed to go anything on globalism in their day.

Anonymous said...

Bu-full Eeleet? The Ku Klux Klan was strong in the 1920's, with much political influence. The KKK-- the second KKK if one looks at it in more detail -- was even strong in early 1920's Los Angeles, before the Irish Scots took over. I invite Steve to explore D. W. Griffith's L. A."
Scots-Irsh are not big in LA, Orange and San Diego. Most whites there have some German ancestry more than Irish. Anaheim was a German settlement. In fact LA and other So Calif countries got more folks form the Midwest than the South. South was only number 2.

Anonymous said...

ChiCom propaganda. You can't compel people to buy and smoke opium. The opium trade was demand-driven. The Chinese had been growing and consuming opium since the 12th century at least.

That's sort of like saying the American drug trade has nothing to do with the fact that the US gov't is unable to control the Mexican border and stop the flow of Mexicans, cartels, and drugs, and that it has entirely to do with the American demand for drugs. Despite libertarian dogma about how bad it is for the government to restrict the supply of certain goods, restricting supply can reduce overall consumption of goods.

ChiCom propaganda regarding the Opium Trade is simply - don't let yourself become so weak that foreigners are able to dominate you. In other words there's nothing particularly unusual or propagandistic about it. It's just common sense.

The Chinese government tried to prohibit or limit the importation of opium and restrict its domestic use. And they were unable to because they were compelled by stronger military force.

Opium and other addictive narcotics can certainly "compel" demand for itself more than other goods simply by virtue of its addictive nature.

Gubbler of the Society of Reformed Chechenistics said...

"but on average over the course of millenia they've been better administrators, better managers of society than anybody else."

Or maybe Asians were more manageable cuz they're naturally more docile. They are more likely to prefer taking orders than being free.

pat said...

A number of commenters state that the Chinese are not innovative as if this was an established fact. It may very well be true but there has been no convincing evidence that I have seen.

Most of the people who claim this argue from some sort of ambiguous historical evidence. Such analyses are worthless. We have some confidence in IQ studies because we use established instruments on thousands of subjects and follow up on them for decades. But some whites seem to be uncomfortable with East Asians doing so well on IQ tests. They now cite their opinion in white superiority backed up by anecdotes.

I would be willing to believe that Europeans are more creative than East Asians but I will need much more than stories about Mao.

I'm suspicious. You would think that Asian creativity would be a question vital to everyone on earth. I'm sure that there are still thousands of grad students in psychology desperate for a doctoral thesis subject. Why isn't this topic completely understood? I suspect that there isn't any substance behind this popular meme.

Albertosaurus

Anonymous said...

"ChiCom propaganda. You can't compel people to buy and smoke opium. The opium trade was demand-driven. The Chinese had been growing and consuming opium since the 12th century at least."

But the Chinese government could and did ban the British shipment of opium, and it was British power that forced the government to reverse its policy.

The Chinese narrative was never that the British FORCED the Chinese to use opium. Rather, the narrative says too many Chinese became addicted to that stuff as a recreation drug, and so the government effectively banned its import from the British, but the British ended the ban by military aggression.

It's like many Americans use all kinds of drugs illegally imported from other countries, but US still maintains the right to ban the entry of certain substances. US wouldn't want any nation to use military force to make the US government end the illegalization of drugs. Even those who are pro-legalization wouldn't want a foreign nation to force Americans to accept the drug trade by force of arms.
British came to like tea, but how would they have felt if China used force of arms to coerce the British to buy tea from Chinese ships?

It's like Russia has homo agitators and agents regardless of what Putin or the Church want. But it still maintains certain restrictions on what homos can do based on national autonomy and national interests/values.
Russia wouldn't like it if a foreign nation used military power to force Russia to allow 'gay pride' parades.

Besides, the fact that UK banned the sale and use of opium in UK itself proves that a nation's government can effectively control such things.

All said and done, UK's aggression in China did a lot of good than bad as it forced the Chinese to accept modernization. But the forced sale of opium cannot be justified on any ground.
I never used opium and don't know how dangerous/addictive it is, and maybe its ill effects have been exaggerated--like marijuana in the US. But using military might to force a nation to buy drugs... that's gonna piss off a lot of people. I'll bet even Chinese opium addicts hated the fact that their country was FORCED to import that stuff.

Anonymous said...

The Viking landers landed on Mars in 1976.

Anonymous said...

"Mao was essentially a nationalist who consolidated and secured the Chinese state and China's relative sovereignty and independence following a very precarious period of foreign predation and internal instability."

Mao was 'feudal' radical. He was a nationalist but also an anti-conservative who did much to demolish so much of Chinese art and culture. He wasted much of Chinese resources--even when so many were starving--on propping up China's image in the world as the leading revolutionary power. If Mao had been at true nationalist like Deng, he would have been more pragmatic and done things that were good for China--like maintaining good relations with Russia. Instead, Mao competed with Khrushchev as to which country represented the true spirit of world communism. Even when people were starving, he was sending food to Poland to show other countries that Chinese communism was a huge success. He was more into international glory than working seriously to build up China.

Had Chiang maintained power, he would have consolidated the state and nation and would have done much more good.
Mao purged intellectuals and educated people. And then, he turned against the state in the Cultural Revolution by letting Red Guards attack bureaucrats and officials. Mao built the state but also attacked and weakened it. China was in such a horrible mess in the late 60s that Mao eventually came to fear a possible attack from the USSR, which was one of the reasons why Mao turned to the US. It was really an admittance of failure. Though China insisted that it was meeting with US from the position of strength, it was really on the basis of shitting bricks cuz the USSR was breathing down its neck. In the late 60s and early 70s, Soviets could have picked off huge parts of China if it so wished as its military power was awesome whereas Chinese military was made up of 1950s MiGs, rusty tanks, and ill-trained men with rifles.

As for pushing out remnants of foreign influence, that was bad for China. After all, it was the 'bitches' of the West--Japan, S. Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, and Hong Kong--that led the way in economic growth and technological catchup. As Asia was politically and intellectually backward, foreign influence was a good thing, even if it may have seemed 'predatory' to ultra-nationalist types. Hong Kong was 'exploited' by the British 'foreign devils', but it sure as hell did a lot better than China under Mao, which, for all its illusion of power and unity, remained poor, weak, and divided under Mao. During the Cultural Revolution, red guards attacked all sorts of people, red guard factions fought other red guard factions, and finally soldiers fought the red guards. Millions died. Mao was an all-around bad guy. But he was a great bad guy cuz he had the 'vision' thing, even if his vision turned out to be a pigeon.

Henry Canaday said...

It was a 28-year boom, although we didn’t know it then. The days of easy, seemingly automatic 2.5% annual increases in almost everyone’s standard of living had ended in 1973, with hyperinflation, the theft of partly western oil assets by Arabs and the subsequent recession. The interesting question is why those days did not return when oil prices and inflation moderated.

nice cake said...

Back in '94 Robert Wright wrote a piece in The New Republic titled, "What You Can't Find Out on The Internet." I'm adding one item: Embarcadero Center Mink. Google won't tell you which of the above shades that is. Incidentally, the women in ECs are easy.

Donny said...

Mao was a paleocon, Dude?

nice cake said...

re flying cars:

you're an idiot. Most people just want uncrowded highways circa 1988.

Anonymous said...

" The general purchasing power disparity of ca 1980 is gone."

The CIA World Factbook lists the UK per capita GDP as $37,500, while in the US it's $50K (using purchasing power parity).

Anonymous said...

"Instead China seems to be following, finally, the English or French development of crushing regional dialects and power bases and imposing one central identity on the whole nation. " - look at the long, long term. Demographically China will lose its Han supermajority over the next century thanks to Mao, which will do in any hope of a nation state.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Harvard Professor Robert Putnam is a seriously interesting guy. The work that made him famous (measuring rapid decline in American social capital) is essentially about documenting the utter success of his WASP ancestors' policies vs the urban Catholic menace.

I hear this canard a lot. The urban cores were destroyed when life-tenured federal judges ordered integrated school districts in response to lawsuits by mostly Jewish lawyers. It happened across the South as well, where there were very few Irish, Italian or Slavic Catholics.

Your comment is deflection of the worst kind.

His personal life (he's a convert to Judaism) gives you some idea of what team he wants his children on and thus who he thinks won the fight for control of America in the aftermath.

It tells me he's a self-hating, damaged individual.

Steve Sailer said...

I imagine Wolfe just made up the name of the six colors.

Anonymous said...

"As for pushing out remnants of foreign influence, that was bad for China. After all, it was the 'bitches' of the West--Japan, S. Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, and Hong Kong--that led the way in economic growth and technological catchup. "

And now one of them (South Korea) is leading the way in race replacement in Asia. Peter Frost has documented this on his blog Evo and Proud. South Koreans are importing foreign cheap labor and foreign brides. Opinion polls show South Koreans' views on race and nationalism approaching modern Western norms. That's literally a road to perdition. This has been happening in the last few years.

"A number of commenters state that the Chinese are not innovative as if this was an established fact."

Albertosaurus, this is supported by 1) the historical record 2) popular stereotypes. I happen to think that stereotypes are generally very accurate. The East Asian rote-learner, unimaginative grind stereotype is very stable.

"Or maybe Asians were more manageable cuz they're naturally more docile. They are more likely to prefer taking orders than being free."

It's one of those chicken and egg things.

" Despite libertarian dogma about how bad it is for the government to restrict the supply of certain goods, restricting supply can reduce overall consumption of goods."

I agree. The Brits did some very altruistic things during their imperial period (voluntarily abolishing slavery for example). The Opium Wars wasn't one of those. It looks like a nasty episode.

Anonymous said...

A number of commenters state that the Chinese are not innovative as if this was an established fact. It may very well be true but there has been no convincing evidence that I have seen.

Hasnt China had various periods of stability and instability? Yet technical/scientific/engineering innovation dont seem to have streamed from there in any period.

Are American Chinese represented or over represented per capita in the ranks of innovators?

Are there any recent innovations that we can point to as uniquely Chinese?

And so on....

Anonymous said...

As for pushing out remnants of foreign influence, that was bad for China. After all, it was the 'bitches' of the West--Japan, S. Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, and Hong Kong--that led the way in economic growth and technological catchup.

But these countries are now more vulnerable to the destructive aspects of globalism as a result of their relatively lesser national independence. China is relatively more immune while now enjoying growth and catchup.

Anonymous said...

No, it was the Russian Revolution and subsequent communist and anarchist unrest throughout Europe that convinced the Knickerbocker elite that maybe it wasn't in their best interests to import more folks from there.

It's not like the US hadn't experienced plenty of homegrown labor violence before the Bolshevik Revolution-which, btw, was a coup, not a mass uprising.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Union_violence
2 History
2.1 Great Railroad Strike of 1877
2.2 Haymarket affair of 1886
2.3 Burlington strike of 1888
2.4 Labor unrest in 1892
2.4.1 Coeur d'Alene, Idaho labor strike
2.4.2 Homestead Strike, and an assassination attempt
2.5 Battle of Virden, 1898
2.6 Coeur d'Alene, Idaho labor confrontation of 1899
2.7 Colorado Labor Wars of 1903-04
2.8 International Association of Bridge Structural Iron Workers, 1906-1911
2.9 Battle of Blair Mountain, 1921
2.10 The Herrin Massacre, 1922

(...)
Labor unrest in 1892[edit]
"In the 1890s violent outbreaks occurred in the North, South, and West, in small communities and metropolitan cities, testifying to the common attitudes of Americans in every part of the United States."[1] Workers with different ethnic origins who worked under very different conditions in widely separated parts of the United States nonetheless responded with equal ferocity when unions came under attack.[1] "Serious violence erupted in several major strikes of the 1890s, the question of union recognition being a factor in all of them."[1]
1892 in particular was a year of considerable labor unrest. Governors of five states called out the national guard and/or the army to quell unrest—against miners in East Tennessee and in Coeur D'Alene, Idaho, where a shooting war followed the discovery of a labor spy, against switchmen in Buffalo, New York, against a general strike in New Orleans, Louisiana, and against the Homestead, Pennsylvania steel strike.[26]

(...)
The Herrin Massacre, 1922[edit]
Main article: Herrin massacre
Williamson County, Illinois, a county with a "unique history of violence" for a rural county, was the location of the Herrin Massacre, one of the most horrific and perplexing incidents of union violence.[45] The 1922 incident is considered the most notorious of the United Mine Workers' struggles in Illinois.[46] Williamson was a hotbed of Ku Klux Klan activity at the time, with many in the community embracing that organization in opposition to bootlegging of liquor during Prohibition, and for purposes of racial exclusion.[45][47] The massacre was committed by members (and possibly at the instruction of local leadership) of the United Mine Workers, just eight years after the deaths of miners' wives and children during the Ludlow Massacre.[47] Accounts differ, but most record the strike-related deaths of three union men, followed the next day by union miners committing the brutal murders of 20 men of a group of fifty strikebreakers and mine guards. The ruthless retaliation occurred against the backdrop of broken promises, double dealing, and missed opportunities on both sides.[48

(..)

Of course Pres. Wilson's policies had contributed much to bring about the chaos after WWI that fed the Communist movement. And I'm pretty sure there was much more labor violence in the USA in the period 1877-1914 than in Europe. Left-wing political movements, however, like Socialist Party and IWW, were non-violent, though the IWW sometimes shot back.

Anonymous said...

The KKK had some political influence. In the South.

The 1920's Klan was stronger in the Midwest than the South-Indiana was the strongest Klan state. Oregon was also a strong KKK state.

Anonymous said...

"You would think that Asian creativity would be a question vital to everyone on earth. I'm sure that there are still thousands of grad students in psychology desperate for a doctoral thesis subject. Why isn't this topic completely understood?"

Here's a quirky little book by a Chinese from Singapore who did his PhD in Asian creativity while at an Australian school:

"Why Asians are Less Creative than Westerners", Ng Aik-Kwang, Prentice Hall, 2000.

I think I picked it up cheap at the airport in Singapore, gosh, I've struck gold, even used versions are now over $100! This book seems to be one of those re-worked PhD disserations.

The book blurb from the above (not on the dust jacket):

"This unique and authoritative book argues that Asians are less creative than their Western counterparts because of their cultural background. A Confucian heritage society suppresses creative behaviour, while Westerners live in a liberal individualistic society that encourages creativity."

I dunno, even Chinese babies seem a bit more well behaved than Caucasians, though I wouldn't make any strong claims based on that...

Here's a review in the Creativity Research Journal, vol. 15 no. 2-3, 2003:

"On Ng's Why Asians Are Less Creative Than Westerners", Elisabeth Rudowicz & Teresa T. S. Ng, pages 301-302:

"The primary goal of the book, as stated by Ng, is to explain why it is much harder for Asians to behave in a creative manner..."



This book looks to have been cited quite a bit in the literature. Looking up the works citing it is probably a good way to catch up on what's going on.. here's a more recent (random) paper that take's Ng's book seriously:

"Confucian Ideology and Creativity", Weihua Ni, "The Journal of Creative Behavior", Volume 46, Issue 4, pages 274–284, December 2012:

"...people do harbor a stereotype that Asians are less creative than Westerners. ... such a stereotype is present ... among Chinese college students in China (Wong & Niu, 2012)..."

The 3rd paragraph of the intro outlines Ng's book pretty well:

"...Ng (2000) listed six cultural characteristics of Confucian-heritage Asian societies...
...He concluded that whereas the liberal individualistic society of the West facilitates the creativity of Westerners, the Confucian society of the East inhibits the creativity of Asians. Asians are indeed less creative than Westerners, but Asians can gain freedom and become more creative when a suitable environment (albeit a more westernized environment) is put in place..."

Evan McLaren said...

Is preconceived, long-range White Nationalism the racialist version of the utopian socialist dream?

Anonymous said...

The Brits did some very altruistic things during their imperial period (voluntarily abolishing slavery for example).

It wasn't pure altruism. There were pragmatic and self-interested reasons. They worried they might lose some colonies altogether if slavery continued. The French of course had lost St Domingue. There was a major slave rebellion in Jamaica led by Samuel Sharpe that was quite costly for the British to put down. There were also economic reasons for ending slavery with increasing industrialization.

d..... said...

I don't think the Japanese are uncreative at all. I don't know a thing about the Chinese or the Koreans. Or the Burmese, Thai, or Mongolians.

But the land of Nippon has produced a lot of creativity in the the post WWII era.

Rent BATTLE ROYALE.

John Derbyshire said...

John Derbyshire thinks Mexican drug cartels have the right to invade the United States. After all, the black tar heroin trade is demand-driven.

Absurd. Leaving aside the bogus parallel—19C China was a despotism, and not even a Chinese despotism—I was objecting to the notion that Britain compelled the Chinese people to accept opium—a humdrum commercial product at the time.

There was no compulsion. The Chinese were glad to buy opium, and the sensationally corrupt Mandarinate was glad to help them buy it. Only the Manchu court disapproved; and they disapproved of all foreign trade. If it had been wristwatches coming in, Lin Zexu would have burned them.

Anonymous said...

Absurd. Leaving aside the bogus parallel—19C China was a despotism, and not even a Chinese despotism—I was objecting to the notion that Britain compelled the Chinese people to accept opium—a humdrum commercial product at the time.

It's not that clear that 19C China was more despotic than the contemporary US government which is rapidly race replacing the American nation. You can't really get more despotic than race replacement and genocide.

There was no compulsion. The Chinese were glad to buy opium, and the sensationally corrupt Mandarinate was glad to help them buy it. Only the Manchu court disapproved; and they disapproved of all foreign trade. If it had been wristwatches coming in, Lin Zexu would have burned them.

That's the point. The central government didn't want the importation of opium and trade in general, but it was powerless to successfully implement its policy. Obviously there was compulsion involved. It was compelled by superior military force to allow the importation of opium.

Plenty of Americans today are glad to buy cheap goods from China. If the US government decided to ban the importation of Chinese goods, and China responded by using military power to force the US to import Chinese goods, then obviously this would be a case of compulsion.

anon @ 8:28 said...

John Derbyshire,

Nobody literally believes that Chinese were forced at gunpoint to buy opium, and you know it. It's a convenient shorthand for saying that the Chinese government was compelled to allow opium into their country. The laws of the sovereign state of China were subverted by armed aggression, and every limey rationalization in the world could never excuse that.

The fact that 19th century China was despotic and xenophobic is highly irrelevant. Stop specially pleading for your beloved Empire.

anon @ 8:28 said...

John Derbyshire,

Indeed, it's clear from the context that the commenter you were replying to was obviously referring to the compulsion inflicted on the Chinese government.

Anon @ 7:11 PM, 12/29:

"The Chinese don't innovate, but on average over the course of millenia they've been better administrators, better managers of society than anybody else." (my emphasis)

David Davenport: "Why and how could the British compel the Chinese to accept opium?"

Then you rush in to defend King and Country. But your reply was a non-sequitur from the get-go. Davenport was clearly talking about the Chinese government.

Anonymous said...

Europe, The Soviet Union and Japan were booming at the same exact time, achieving similar results even though they started at lower (i.e. bombed out) baselines. This is like a US sportswriter naming his favorite baseball hitter the most interesting man in sports or like people who only watch Hollywood movies arguing about the best movie ever made. I wonder when the American "the rest of the word doesn't matter" thought pattern started. I doubt it existed in 1900, for example, though I don't know this for sure.


I don't think Europe uniformly boomed after 1945, most of Europe was devastated for a while after 1945, Germany boomed after Erhard abolished wage and price controls and created the Deutsche Mark in 1948-49, and eventually pulled most of Northern Europe along with it, but Britain despite being on the winning side stagnated for a quite a while after the war. Russia certainly didn't boom from the perspective of the average citizen, most of the figures for USSR were cooked during the period, and even what growth was real went overwhelmingly to the the elites of the country. Japan didn't begin it's super growth till around the mid-1950's. The US on the other hand took off immediately after the war and continued on until the early 1970's. This was why so much regulation went into effect around this time, people thought economic growth was a natural thing in the generation after WWII, and took economic growth for granted.

Anonymous said...

The Viking landers landed on Mars in 1976.

Did their launch cause the Global Cooling predicted by Time in 1974 which sees climate scientists - and more important journalists - trapped in ice in the Southern Hemisphere Summer?

Anonymous said...

"Russia certainly didn't boom from the perspective of the average citizen, most of the figures for USSR were cooked during the period, and even what growth was real went overwhelmingly to the the elites of the country. "

This is Western propaganda. The Soviet economy did boom and Soviet elites lived pretty much like ordinary citizens. Unlike Western elites, who made up the message you repeated.

Anonymous said...

To expound on this more, even members of the Politburo did not live as well as successful Western surgeons or lawyers. There were no private yachts or gigantic homes. The share of people employing domestics must have been at least three orders of magnitude lower than in the West. Top bureaucrats did live better than ordinary Soviet citizens, but the gap between them and the citizens was orders of magnitude smaller than the gap between Western elites and the Western middle class.

And yes, there was definitely a long post-war boom in the USSR. Tens of millions of apartments were built under Khruschov, for example - the old "Khruschovky", many of which are still standing. Until the Chinese copied that on a larger scale in the last couple of decades, that was probably the biggest construction boom in the history of the world. Visually Chinese commie block architecture is like Brezhnev-era, not Khruschov-era housing, but in other respects their approach to urbanization of a previously-rural population is Khruschov's.

Anonymous said...

C'mon you people.

This is iSteve and the Dark Enlightenment.

Demographics. DEMOGRAPHICS. DEMOGRAPHICS.

In the end, there is only demographics.

This is what happened to White America after Griswold and Roe [probably mostly due to the Blue States and the blue areas within the Red States]:

Statistical handbook on the American family
D1-6 Total Fertility Rate and Instrinsic Rate of Natural Increase
books.google.com

TOTAL FERTILITY RATE, White

1960-1964: 3.326
1965-1969: 2.512
1970: 2.385
1971: 2.161
1972: 1.907
1973: 1.783
1974: 1.749
1975: 1.686
1976: 1.652


The people who make the babies make the future.

Demographics. DEMOGRAPHICS. DEMOGRAPHICS.

Either get busy making babies, or else get busy going extinct.

There is no middle ground.

Anonymous said...

http://www.jewishjournal.com/articles/item/how_culpable_were_dutch_jews_in_the_slave_trade

bb753 said...

OT:

http://gawker.com/5899884/racist-john-derbyshire-writes-most-racist-article-possible-pegged-to-trayvon-martin-case

Most racist article EVER! Really? If I were Derbyshire I´d sue.

Anonymous said...

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/12/31/reject-evolution

There's no dummy like conservative dummy.

Anonymous said...

http://www.joelkotkin.com/content/00845-neither-party-dealing-more-rigid-class-structure?utm

Rohan Swee said...

OT, but I though isteve readers might see some humor in this headline.

Anonymous said...

East Asians less creative than Westerners? I don't think so, at least in the case of the Japanese.

I am a geek and I read manga. I have also read American comics and Franco-Belgian BD (bande dessinée (something like graphic novels). For creativity, manga beats both of its Western rivals.

American comics centre around rather moralistic superheros and somewhat less moralistic anti-heros saving worlds, towns, people, etc. They have always been fairly formulaic, and increasingly so in these politically-correct days. BD tend to have fantasy or war themes or outright comedy. They tend to be fairly forumlaic, too. In both cases, while one might find some originality, it is very much the exception, not the rule.

Manga is completely different. While there are genres, there is no one forumula. For instance, I am following several series, one about an Englishman in the 19th century who is going about the Middle East in search of tales about brides (Bride Stories), another about teen romance as seen from the point of view of the boy (Good Ending), another about the life of Cesare Borgia (Cesare), another about a school for exorcists led by a demon (Blue Exorcist). And then there is Pandora Hearts, about, well, a boy condemned to a hell-like dimension for the crime of being born - it is so complicated that 2 guides to the series have been issued.

There are mangas about wine, fishing, jazz, farming, you name it. There is a manga for every taste. The same goes for animé. There is just nothing like this in Western culture.

Yes, Japanese culture is about conforming to a rigid social etiquette but there are plenty of outlets in order to make the system work. It's very creative, but it's not Western.

E. Rekshun said...

OT: FL Today, 12/31/13, Tebow not passing up role as SEC TV analyst

http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20131231/SPORTS/312310022/Tebow-not-passing-up-role-SEC-TV-analyst

"Tim Tebow, who won the 2007 Heisman Trophy and was part of two University of Florida national titles, in 2006 and 2008, has reached a multi-year agreement to work as an analyst for the SEC Network...He will make his first appearance as an ESPN analyst on Jan. 6 during pregame coverage of the BCS national title game...Tebow said: '...while I continue to pursue my dream of playing quarterback in the NFL.'"

Why is Tim Tebow not an NFL quarterback, if not a starter, then why not a back-up or third stringer?

Just Another Guy With a 1911 said...

It maybe not be laid out on a EXCEL spreadsheet, but the ONE guy who nailed the death of West, our pal Oswald Spengler, did, in fact, have some interesting observations on the issue of Western v. Chinese CULTURE as they relate to technology in "The Decline of The West". Although he doesn't conceptualize it in under the catchall phrase of "creativity." Rather, Spengler views it as difference in TECHNIQUE, ie., method by which natural laws are ascertained and applied, which, in Spengler's morphology, is intimately tied to a Culture/Civilizations prime symbol, which, for the Chinese, was the directional symbol of the Tao. When Spengler compares the Faustian, e.g., the West after 1000 AD, TECHNIQUE with other cultures and he drops an interesting footnote on the difference between Faustian (Western) technique and the Chinese.

"Very different is the Faustian technics, which with all its passion of the third dimension, and from earliest Gothic days, thrusts itself upon Nature, with the firm resolveto be its master. Here, and only here, is the connexion of insight and utilization as a matter of course. Theory is the working hypothesis from the outset.(1) The Classical investigator "contemplated" like Aristotle's deity, the Arabian sought as alchemist for magical means (such as the Philosopher' Stone) whereby to possess himself of nature's treasures without effort, but the Western strives to direct the world according to his will . . .

[fn.] 1. The Chinese culture, too, made almost all these European discoveries on its own account--including compass, telescope, printing, gunpowder, paper, porcelain--but the Chinese did not wrest, but wheedled things out of Nature. No doubt he felt the advantages of his knowledge and turned it to account, but he did not hurl himself upon it to exploit it."

Spengler, Oswald, "The Decline of The West. Abr. Ed.", NY: Vintage (1989), pg. 410.

The printing press, which Spengler mentions, is a perfect example of the Faustian tendency to take a techne and exploit it for all it was worth. "The printing press revolutionized literacy in Europe. Fifty years after its introduction more than one million books has been printed and the press was used for a variety of other purposes." [Emphasis added.]

Carlisle, Rodney, "Scientific American: Inventions and Discoveries",NJ: Wiley (2004), pg. 124.

How many books were printed in China in the same time period? Did the books printed in China develop pari passu with a a scientific revolution? A similar pattern emerges if you examine the other techne that Spengler enumerated.

As a matter of history, Chinese civilization maybe far less fissiparous than ours at this point, which, I believe, bodes well with regards to its long term survival; and I, for one, look forward to a new Donnie Yen IP Man flick, but standing and looking back, as it were, in the winter of the West, it is fair to say that our culture/civilization was more inherently more technically creative (a better term might be productive)than the Chinese. However, since most days I feel like Augustine in Hippo waiting for the Vandals to come, it somewhat cold comfort.

Anon87 said...

Happy New Year Steve. Thanks for the great content in 2013 and looking forward to more (I'm sure there will be no shortage of material).

Anonymous said...

The Brits did some very altruistic things during their imperial period (voluntarily abolishing slavery for example).


Altruism had little to do with it. They decided that slavery was a bad thing at the same instant they lost their largest slave holding colonies. Slavery was fine as long as they were making a buck (or a quid) off it, it only became something to be stamped out when doing so became to their net economic advantage, and the disadvantage of their rivals.

from white race to white disgrace said...

Obama comes out for 'gay marriage' and wins reelection in an economically depressed year.

Elites marry mulattos and adopt African babies, feeling closer to blacks and Africa than to white masses.

Homos on every other TV show as saints and angels.

Wall Street Jews rob us and are showered with billions more to rob us even more.

Every major city awash in 'gay' propaganda and 'gay pride parades'.

High tech industry, the future of America, gives 95% to 'progressive' causes.
And even rich conservatives fear funding the right out of fear of being accused of 'extremism'. But progs can give to and associate with anyone.

Bush dynasty's great idea is amnesty for illegals.

The likes of Kagan and Sotomayor to take away free speech rights.

Every major university totally run by Liberals.

GOP afraid to make a pip about the homo issue out of fear of Jews.

GOP sucking up to Jews even more than the Democratic Party, which is totally owned by Jews.

Media slated to make Hillary president in 2016. GOP filled with idiots and dolts like Paul and Christie and Palin.

Romney is now grandfather of adopted black baby.

Bakeries forced to close because they won't bake cakes for 'gay weddings', and there is no nationwide support from conservatives. GOP silent again.

Porn is mainstream and flooding into every bedroom of every boy and girl, and they grow up with images of big negroes humping white chicks.

Kanye West is revered as a great artist, and all he sings about his banging white chicks.

Russia reviled more than during Cold War because.... it won't allow 'gay pride parade'.

The face of conservatism is now... Duck Dynasty.

Majority of white conservatives don't believe in race and evolution.

etc, etc, etc.

White America is totally over, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

I hate Mieses to pieces!

Anonymous said...

"ChiCom propaganda. You can't compel people to buy and smoke opium. The opium trade was demand-driven. The Chinese had been growing and consuming opium since the 12th century at least."

What happened, John? You don't normally say things this dumb.

Cennbeorc

Anonymous said...

"The general purchasing power disparity of ca 1980 is gone."

The CIA World Factbook lists the UK per capita GDP as $37,500, while in the US it's $50K (using purchasing power parity).

He wrote of median incomes. You know what median means, right?

Anonymous said...

http://markk-rblog.blogspot.com/2012/04/why-jews-favor-mormons-muslims-over.html

Dumb Christian conservatives. Jilted lover.

Simon in London said...

>>Anonymous said...
" The general purchasing power disparity of ca 1980 is gone."

The CIA World Factbook lists the UK per capita GDP as $37,500, while in the US it's $50K (using purchasing power parity).<<

That's an Average (Mean) figure, not the Median figure. The US has more very rich people so the GDP per capita is higher, but the 50th percentile US citizen's purchasing power is only slightly higher than in the UK. US bottom 40% may actually be worse off.

Bill said...

Blogger The Anti-Gnostic said...

[Bill said . . .]
"Harvard Professor Robert Putnam is a seriously interesting guy. The work that made him famous (measuring rapid decline in American social capital) is essentially about documenting the utter success of his WASP ancestors' policies vs the urban Catholic menace."

I hear this canard a lot. The urban cores were destroyed when life-tenured federal judges ordered integrated school districts in response to lawsuits by mostly Jewish lawyers. It happened across the South as well, where there were very few Irish, Italian or Slavic Catholics.


The comment I was responding to mentioned the Great Migration. Without that, there were very few Northern urban blacks. The shattering of urban Catholic neighborhoods dates to well before Brown vs Board and its hideous spawn. The destruction really wasn't complete until the 1980s---it takes a long time to move that many people quasi-voluntarily.

That the Jews graduated from the WASP's junior to senior partners after WWII is true. That the Jews expanded target list of blacks from urban Catholics to both urban Catholics and Southern Protestants (and eventually to all whites) is also true. That desegregation also helped with the destruction is also true, but we should not overstate it. Prior to the 1960s, Catholics rightly perceived the government schools as hostile to them, and a great many sent their children to neighborhood Catholic schools instead. So, desegregation, by itself, could not have done the deed. In any event, the commenter was asking specifically about the Great Migration which happened before all of this.

I wonder whether the old WASP elite, if they could see forward to our time, would regret their decision to buddy up with the Jews and use the blacks against the Catholics. I suspect their hatred was sufficiently blinding that they would do it all again. They might even like the outcome. WASPs have always been a philo-semitic bunch. Well, at least David Brooks loves them back.

Anonymous said...

Japan didn't begin it's super growth till around the mid-1950's.

The Korean war (1950-1953) was of tremendous benefit to the Japanese economy:

"Military hostilities in the Korean peninsula further boosted the economy in 1950 because the U.S. government paid the Japanese government large sums for "special procurement." These payments amounted to 27% of Japan’s total export trade."

Anthony said...

Unrelated, vibrancy: http://elitedaily.com/news/world/that-awkward-moment-when-your-landscaper-turns-out-to-be-a-drug-cartel-hitman/

Anonymous said...

Japan didn't begin it's super growth till around the mid-1950's.

"Economically, Japan was able to benefit vastly from the war, and the Korean War greatly helped the rise of Japan's economy and its development into a world power. ...

...Among those who thrived not only on orders from the military but also through American industrial experts, including W. Edwards Deming were Mitsui, Mitsubishi, and Sumitomo. ...

...Japanese manufacturing grew by 50% between March 1950 and 1951, and by 1952, pre-war standards of living were reached and output was twice the level of 1949."

Anonymous said...

"East Asians less creative than Westerners? I don't think so, at least in the case of the Japanese."

I've long thought that the Japanese are more creative than any other East Asian group, but less creative than most European groups.

In the US comic books are for children and man-boys. It's a low-prestige, low-IQ medium, barely above the fake wrestling beloved by "Whiskey". Americans looking for narrative creativity read lit fic, watch independent movies and, most typically, watch cable TV series like the Sopranos, Breaking Bad, etc. Cartoon series like the Simpsons, the Family Guy and South Park have some creativity in them too.

If comic books have higher prestige in Japan than they do in the US, then it's not an apples to apples comparison.

Just Another Guy With a 1911 said...

Geek @ 7:18 a.m. -
First, yes, the quintessential American comic is, in fact, "centre[d] around rather moralistic superheros and somewhat less moralistic anti-heroes saving worlds, towns, people, etc. They have always been fairly formulaic . . ." It is, as you intimate, a feature and not a bug - but it can be, and is, far more than a tired formula.

Jack Kirby and Stan Lee created a cultural artifact that, next to the cinema, stands as Faustian civilization's last art form in its Demotic and final age.

Spengler posited that in the Fall period of a civilization you could have a return to classicism. However, such movements always have a melancholy, moldy air about them. But in their fight against morphologic gravity, Lee & Kirby brewed up this colorful concatenation adumbrated and influenced by Homeric heroes, sleeping kings, holy relics, Aggadeh, Norse gods, the Old Testament, 12th century Chivalry, Renaissance individualism, Nietzchean philosophy, futurism, all captured with ink on Bristol Board and four colors in a style that was like Michelangelo (albeit if he skipped a few classes on perspective) hopped up on espresso, and all topped by a dollop of space age enthusiasm. Sign me up!

In an era where the virtues of Western civilization have been expunged and there is just enough left to excoriate them (and the civilization and race that birthed them), the Nietzschean Noblesse Oblige of Bruce Wayne, a superannuated Steve Rogers, and the flawed science hero Tony Stark are, actually, a last refuge of non-speaking truth like posers heroic ideals. Ideals we can identify with and represent exemplars of our civilization and its core values.

Of course, DC and Marvel have been taken over by Frankfurt school useful idiots (looking at you Joe Queseda), so good luck finding any of that. Instead, you need to turn to the movies.

There are actually a ton of exceptional US comics, just not coming out of DC/Marvel. You need to look for it. Keep away from most indie comics by women. Mostly on the basis that they can't f*ing draw. I would recommend "Pax Romana" by Jonathan Hickman; it is the year 2048 or so. Muslims are running amuck in the EU. Tired of that crap: the Vatican sends back a bunch of mercenaries back to 311 to save Rome and prevent its fall. There are a host great writers, many that publish through IMAGE comics: Greg Rucka (Lazarus), Kurst Busiek (Astro City; Arrowsmith), or Paul Pope (Battle Boy; Liquid).

With regards to the plethora of Japanese comics. The Japanese might have a slightly better than Western ability in visio-spatial ability. Screw flying cars - I want giant transforming robots. As a kid in the 70's, I remember waking at 6:30 am on Saturdays to watch Star Blazers, and later, in middle school, running home to catch Robotech, Tranzor Z, and Voltron. Magna was few and far between at that point, but you could get Lone Wolf and Cub, Grey, Nausica, and Akira at the LCS (local comic shop).

That being said, I have not been impressed with much of the anime on offer at Netfix here in the states. The manga on the shelves at the local Barnes & Noble seems aimed at 14 year old girls and, judging from the displays at the NY and Boston Comic Cons, just provide an excuse for dressing up.

Now, Japanees Magna may have more variety than American comics. However, comics may just have a longer tail in Japan. That is, there is a lot of them and, as such, there is a magna for everyone and the amount of low volume stuff, jazz, wine or what not, exceeds the giant robot tentacle stuff. I am sure some straddles the line of art. However, you get the same thing with television in the U.S. You get millions of people watching "NCIS: Los Angeles" (Why god! Why?), but there still is enough market for shows like "Justified". It is a feature of the Demotic age - there is a lot cultural volume, noise basically. You can't always conflate volume with overall cultural creativity.

Anonymous said...

"The printing press, which Spengler mentions, is a perfect example of the Faustian tendency to take a techne and exploit it for all it was worth."

There are other examples of this. The Chinese discovered gunpowder, but used it in firecrackers and with ineffective weapons. I don't think it's known whether Europeans came up with gunpowder on their own or not, but real guns, the things that changed history forever, were entirely developed in Europe.

The Chinese built large ships, but failed to even discover most of the world in them, much less subjugate it.

Some also talk about their unwillingness to systematize. They knew some geometry, but never made a Euclid-like system out of it. They gathered astronomical data, but did not come close to figuring out what most of it really meant.

They're experiencing an incredible economic boom right now, but the only technological innovation they can show for it is that maglev line built for them by Germans. This is undoubtedly the future of expensive high-tech by the way - white engineering talent + non-white money and political systems. The tallest building on Earth is in Dubai. I think it was designed by a Chicago architectural firm. The tallest one under construction right now is in Saudi Arabia, designed by the same firm. Since the US and the EU will be bankrupt and PC-bound for the foreseeable future, anything grand - space elevators, cold fusion, trips to Mars, Lunar colonies, eugenics - will either be done through this combination or not at all.

The official PC line is that the modern Western political system is the best that could ever be imagined (the end of history!) and that everyone is equally talented, maybe except for Europeans, who only ever steal ideas. The reality is completely opposite to that: all the talent is still in the West, where it's always been, but Western political systems are such a complete failure that already at this point, and probably for the foreseeable future the only way for this talent to accomplish anything really cool is to combine it with a non-Western (PC talk: undemocratic, totalitarian) political system. There are no commercial maglev lines in Germany. The only place German engineers could get one approved and financed was Shanghai. There are no and probably never will be any 1 km towers in Chicago, but this guy is now building one in Saudi Arabia.

Anonymous said...

I heard about this on NPR. It is considered a holiday classic in Russia. Government Architecture plays a significant role. The Irony of Fate. Happy New Year.

Auntie Analogue said...


Wolfe concluded his 1976 article on the question where the Me Decade's individualism would lead. To answer that question in microcosm I give you, for one example, the range of viewpoints expressed in comments here on i-Steve.

Anonymous said...

Americans looking for narrative creativity read lit fic, watch independent movies and, most typically, watch cable TV series like the Sopranos, Breaking Bad, etc. Cartoon series like the Simpsons, the Family Guy and South Park have some creativity in them too.

Americans looking for narrative creativity tend to watch foreign films, not just independent films. They tend not to watch cartoons or mainstream TV series.

ricpic said...

I don't know which is worse: that "the workers" as soon as they acquire a little surplus cash bury themselves in tchotchkas; or that the elite architects and designers try to force those same workers into a world that is utterly cheerless and cold by way of "streamlining."

Anonymous said...

As a matter of history, Chinese civilization maybe far less fissiparous than ours at this point, which, I believe, bodes well with regards to its long term survival;

There's a tradeoff between stability/permanence and creativity/disruption.

Anonymous said...

"...real guns, the things that changed history forever, were entirely developed in Europe."

Firearms evolved quite slowly from early fire-lances made of bamboo tubes into effective weapons. Much of the secret to effective gunpowder-based weapons wasn't gunpowder. It was metallurgy that enabled building powerful weapons that were also safe to use.

Much of thermodynamics first arouse from problems encountered in boring cannons.

Anonymous said...

Like Japan, comics are popular in Mexico.

I wonder if comics are more popular in Japan than many places because even if you don't know all the characters and ins-and-outs of literate Japanese writing, you can easily follow a comic?

vetr said...

Of course a lot of guys who would never have amounted to much in the 30s and before or the 90s and after were able to be kings of the hill with great cars and pretty nice houses in the 50s 60s and 70s. And it is kind of poignant for those of us who are able to remember those times to think about how they are gone for ever for all those guys and will never come back again on this earth. On the other hand the supply of friendship and health and beautiful women and good cigars and good wine is just as abundant now as then, and more importantly the good advice in the Bible is just as priceless now as it was then.

Anonymous said...

It seems the human creativity literature often references a standard test called the Torrance Tests of Creating Thinking (TTCT).

How good is this test? How correlated is it to IQ? What is it supposed to be measuring? Is it widely accepted as meaningful?

Simon in London said...

>>Bill:
I wonder whether the old WASP elite, if they could see forward to our time, would regret their decision to buddy up with the Jews and use the blacks against the Catholics.<<

Presumably they would regret their 19th century decision to hand over the great northern cities to mass non-WASP immigration. Early on it helped them win the War Between the States, but they kept it going far too long and the result was that the Yankees no longer really exist as a distinct people, unlike the Southerners they defeated. There are still Yankees of a sort in rural New England, but they no longer have any cities. No Yankee cities = no Yankee civilisation.

Sulla said...

Barcelona chairs give me a back ache.

spandrell said...

"I wonder if comics are more popular in Japan than many places because even if you don't know all the characters and ins-and-outs of literate Japanese writing, you can easily follow a comic? "

No. It's about low barriers of entry for producers. Japanese media is on the whole a tightly controlled guild of a few mobsters, so good ideas don't get through. But anyone can come up with something good, draw and manga and publish it.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Wolf of Wall Street says something about the times and all of us.

Americans celebrate excess in vulgarity, sexuality, decadence, hedonism, gluttony, what-passes-for-music, big dumb mindless blockbuster movies, the Fed printing money out of the air, regime change around the world, NSA spying all over the world, black friday mobs at walmart and target, government-elite-journalism collusion at the top, violent videogames, cheating in sports(barry bonds and lance armstrong), celebrity trash culture(kardashians and Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, 50 cents), sewage porn, higher education as spa resorts and propaganda peddling institutes promoting both self-aggrandizing self-righteousness and self-loving self-esteem-pumping narcissism, etc.

American exceptionalism is now 'excessionalism'.

Wasp ideal of moderation and self-restraint are so dead.

As Risky Business said... what the fuck.

60s hedonism meets 80s materialism.
hippie-yuppie synergy.

hippies rejected rules and rejected society.

but the new formula was to break the rules and enter society.

blacks gave us shameless twerking.
Jews gave us Lenny Bruce-Abbie Hoffman style capitalism.

Anonymous said...

"Japanese media is on the whole a tightly controlled guild of a few mobsters, so good ideas don't get through."

Like some others I can mention.

Anonymous said...

"I wonder if comics are more popular in Japan than many places because even if you don't know all the characters and ins-and-outs of literate Japanese writing, you can easily follow a comic?"

If as a test-cramming student, you have to deal with books night and day, then, for recreation, you prolly want something breezier.

Also, as Japanese privacy was more limited in small living quarters, comic books were a quiet way to enjoy's one's privacy.

Anonymous said...

"I've long thought that the Japanese are more creative than any other East Asian group, but less creative than most European groups."

Most European groups haven't been creative for a long time. When was the last time Greeks were creative?
And in Eastern Europe, creativity was often associated with Jews. In the Austro-Hungarian empire, most groups were not creative.

And in America, white conservatives are terribly underachieving in creativity. A handful of homos made more cultural change than all of white conservative culture centered around Nashville.

I've been around Polish, Russian, Serbian, and Greek communities in America but there's no interest in culture there. But even small Jewish communities I've hung around are filled with energetic people engaged in politics, culture, books, movies, etc.

Do the facebook test. Make 'friends' with film people and a huge number are Jews and homos.
Be 'friends' with lots and lots of conservatives and you might find just a few who cares about anything outside Fox News.

Anonymous said...

http://www.breitbart.com/InstaBlog/2014/01/03/Cops-Teen-Attacks-Parents-When-Father-Refuses-To-Lend-Her-His-Cell-Phone

Affluenza?

Smiley Circus certainly is.