September 13, 2015

From Europe's ancient genetic divide, tensions still arising between Celto-Germanic and Balto-Slavic people

First there was the tension between Germany and Greece over debt, and now there is the conflict over who is going to take in how many Syrian Muslim immigrants. The European Union is obviously a dead man walking, so why wait to take a postmortem look into why the bulk of Europe could never have held together. There is simply too wide of a chasm between two different groups of people.

A highly popular article in the New York Times took these groups to lie on either side of recent political and economic institutions – the former Communists in the Center and East of Europe, and the capitalists in the West. This misses the former countries of Yugoslavia, who are just as protective of their regional cultures as the Poles and Lithuanians, yet who were not Communist but market socialist, and who were led by Tito rather than Stalin.

So why not just modify it to capitalist West vs. non-capitalist East? That would still leave out a major player – Greece. The Communists lost the Civil War in Greece after WWII, and they joined NATO rather than the Warsaw Pact or the soft-socialist "third way" championed by Tito.

Clearly there's something deeper than just the political-economic differences of the past 100 years.

Peter Turchin took a longer-term look into the roots of the EU crisis, focusing on the debt crisis (that post was written two months before the current Syrian immigrant crisis). He points to the divide between the former core of Latin Christendom as led by Charlemagne, and the more Orthodox East.

As with the political-economic view, this view gets a good amount of the split, but misses key players. Poland has always been on the Catholic side, notwithstanding some support for Protestantism in the early stages of the Reformation. Ditto for Hungary, the Czech Republic (now mostly atheist), Slovakia, Lithuania, Croatia, and Slovenia. Granted, they were Christianized much later than the West, but it was always within the Latin rather than Byzantine tradition, and when they flirted with breaking from the Roman Church, it was toward one strain or another of Protestantism rather than Eastern Orthodoxy.

In the comments to that post, the pre-Roman Celts came up as an even older example of the European core in the lands later ruled by Charlemagne. That gets much closer to the true divide in Europe, which is racial and ethnic – between Celto-Germanic people in the West and Balto-Slavic people in the East.

The genetic anthropologist Dienekes Pontikos took a look into how various European individuals clustered genetically. It turned out that the Balts and Slavs formed a cluster, while the Celts and Germanics formed another, and that these were distinct clusters that hardly overlapped.

Matching that genetic separation, historical linguists are happy to lump Baltic and Slavic languages into a single Balto-Slavic group within the Indo-European family. They are willing to lump Celtic and Germanic languages into their own group as well, with the understanding that it is much older, has had far more time for its members to differentiate themselves, and therefore shows much less mutual intelligibility among its members than is found among Balto-Slavic languages.

Demographically, the split reflects the history of large-scale migrations, namely the Germanic migrations that intermixed them with Celtic and Italic peoples during the middle of the 1st millennium, and the later (Balto-)Slavic migrations of the second half of the 1st millennium. The Slavs began around what is now Ukraine, moved north into what is now Russia, then west into what is now Poland. Why didn't they continue westward? Because the Germanic peoples had already firmly settled into what is now northern Germany and the Low Countries.

This tug-of-war along the center of Europe between Germanic and Slavic populations has never gone away. We don't have to look back very far before the current EU crisis to find its most recent explosive form – the Nazi push to grab Slavic lands for Germanic lebensraum, and the Soviet capture of eastern Germany for Slavic control.

Taking a racial / genetic perspective also allows us to make sense of the greater rebellion against Muslim immigrants in eastern Germany today. In an earlier post, I reviewed evidence that eastern Germany used to be Slavic, although I assumed too much in describing the Germanic replacement as genetic. It could have been that a Slavic people adopted Germanic culture (language, religion, etc.), aside from interbreeding with them.

A later post looked at how genetically similar the Slavs are today, compared to the greater genetic diversity found among Germanic, Celtic, and Italic people. (That reflects the fact that the Slavs were the last major group to break off and settle down on their own.) But the study under discussion also shows that Germans have a non-trivial genetic kinship with Poles, Hungarians, and Czechs, i.e. with the Slavs nearest to them.

Still, their plot of who clusters with who puts the bulk of Germans with the Swiss, Dutch, and other Germanic groups, with a fringe group of Germans next to the separate Slavic cluster. I interpret that to reflect Germans in the sample coming from different parts of Germany, and that eastern Germans are substantially Slavic. Those PEGIDA protesters who are trying to run the Muslim immigrants out of town, are likely German-speaking crypto-Slavs. "Germanicized Slavs" doesn't sound quite right, since they evidently haven't adopted the full suite of Germanic customs, including the welcoming of invading foreign races.

Interestingly, in that study the Austrians cluster with the Eastern group (Slavs). If their Austrian sample reflects population density, they likely hail from Vienna, which sits in the far eastern part of the country, surrounded by Slavdom. Vienna lies closer to Bratislava, Budapest, Prague, and Ljubljana than it does to Munich. And of course it shared capital status with Budapest during the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In the current immigrant crisis, they seem to be as wary as the Hungarians about having a bunch of foreigners settle their country, and want them to either not enter in the first place or to hurry on to Germany, France, Sweden, etc., where they'll receive a warm welcome.

More surprisingly, in the genetic study the Greeks, too, clustered with the Slavs rather than with the Italic / Mediterranean group. Maybe not so surprising, considering that the Slavs settled so much of the rest of the Balkans during Medieval times. The Greeks weren't as closely related to any Slavic group as any Slavic group was to another, but they do show a substantial Slavic imprint. (You'd be surprised how many modern Greeks are blond-haired, blue-eyed folks-who-never-smile.)

That may be more than you ever wanted to know about the genetic roots of Eastern and Central Europeans, but it's worth wrapping your mind around in order to understand what goes on in that part of the world. The best way to describe the divide in the break-down of the EU is not economic or religious but genetic, between Celto-Germanic and Balto-Slavic peoples.

To appreciate why it's the Balto-Slavic side that is the more nationalistic side, read that post of mine about why there's so little separatism in Eastern Europe, and why Pan-Slavism nearly happened. Slavic individuals are much more genetically similar to one another than people of other European groups are to members of their own group. They are therefore more likely to band together in nationalistic ways.

So, it's not just a story about Eastern Europeans being more "homogeneous," i.e. more white, than countries with large immigrant populations. Even if you removed the non-European elements from Western nations like England, France, and Germany, the English, French, and Germans are still more genetically diverse amongst their countrymen than are the Poles, Lithuanians, or Serbians. Slavic populations are much younger and have not had as much time to diverge and differentiate.

Greater genetic similarity means greater ability to organize collectively for group protection. The jump from "the clan" to "the nation" is not such a quantum leap among Slavs as it is among Germans.

51 comments:

  1. Samuel Huntington, in "The Clash of Civilizations", put Greece in the 'Orthodox Civilization' along with Russia and East Europe; Poland was put in 'Western Civilization' along with the rest of Western and Southern Europe.

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  2. 1) No major Indo-Europeanist classes Celtic and Germanic together. Cladistic algorithms, themselves of very questionable utility, show the Italo-Celtic and Germanic groups breaking away from the Common IE area earlier, as you say, but the languages and cultures do not show anything like the similarities between the Baltic and Slavic groupings.

    2) Western Slavs and Celts are have a lot of cultural commonalities. One of them is being overrun repeatedly by Germanics.

    3) Hungarians are not Slavs.

    4) Welcoming foreign hordes is hardly a venerable Germanic tradition, and I very much doubt its present vogue will last.

    I think you were on a better track with your earlier highland-lowland framework. The Czechs and Slovaks are both pretty hillbilly, and so is the Silesian part of Poland.

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  3. Like most people in the West, he didn't know very much about Central or Eastern Europe. He simply lumped all the non-Orthodox nations into a single Western group.

    Nevermind that serfdom lasted well into the Early Modern and Enlightenment ages in Slavic lands.

    Nevermind that "Catholic" Slavs of Poland and Hungary staged powerful pagan rebellions to expunge their nations of Christianity in the beginning of the 2nd millennium, and that Christianity arrived to them more or less in mature form rather than co-evolving with the development of Christianity -- after all the 7 ecumenical councils that shaped Catholic and Orthodox Christianity, and for the peasant masses, after the 1054 schism between Catholic and Orthodox.

    (Lumping the Balts in with non-Orthodox Western Christian groups is even more risible, since they were the last to be Christianized, during the Renaissance, and are now de facto atheists. Not surprising given the even later pagan revolts in, e.g., Estonia during the 14th C.)

    Nevermind that the Germanic and Slavic great migrations were separate and antagonistic.

    Nevermind the folk culture, folk superstitions, folk languages, and so on, that place the Poles, Hungarians, etc., with the Eastern group.

    Huntington could have avoided such a fundamental mistake by looking at the non-Orthodox Slavic countries and peoples and just given a gut intuition response. Yep, they're Eastern. People get into trouble by thinking and rationalizing too hard (and even then, at a superficial level -- Orthodox vs. non-Orthodox), giving obtuse answers and clouded visions.

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  4. "show the Italo-Celtic and Germanic groups breaking away from the Common IE area earlier, as you say, but the languages and cultures do not show anything like the similarities between the Baltic and Slavic groupings."

    Don't nitpick. You're re-stating the substance of what I said, just emphasizing the fact that Celto-Germanic is less cohesive than Balto-Slavic.

    "Western Slavs and Celts are have a lot of cultural commonalities. One of them is being overrun repeatedly by Germanics."

    The main blow to the Celts came from the Italics, i.e. Julius Caesar & Co. In any case, being overrun by the same group doesn't place two groups within the same culture. Both the Eastern Slavs and the Han Chinese have been repeatedly overrun by Steppe nomads, but that doesn't mean they share a culture. Only that their geography and subsistence mode makes them vulnerable to nomadic pastoralists.

    "Hungarians are not Slavs."

    Yes they are. Genetic clustering shows that they have a larger Mediterranean component than other Slavic groups, but they're still genetically Slavic.

    "Welcoming foreign hordes is hardly a venerable Germanic tradition, and I very much doubt its present vogue will last."

    Some people just can't take a joke.

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  5. Re: Hungarians being Slavs, here is the genetic study I linked to in the post, which shows Hungarians clustering with the "Eastern" group (i.e. Slavs):

    "The eastern populations with high rates of [genetic Identity By Descent] is highly coincident with the modern distribution of Slavic languages, so it is natural to speculate that much of the higher rates were due to this expansion. The inclusion of (non-Slavic speaking) Hungary and Romania in the group of eastern populations sharing high IBD could indicate the effect of other groups (e.g. the Huns) on ancestry in these regions, or because some of the same group of people who elsewhere are known as Slavs adopted different local cultures in those regions. Greece and Albania are also part of this putative signal of expansion, which could be because the Slavs settled in part of these areas (with unknown demographic effect), or because of subsequent population exchange."

    The Hun idea is silly, clearly it's Slavs adopting non-Slavic languages and showing somewhat different local genetic interbreeding.

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  6. "I think you were on a better track with your earlier highland-lowland framework. The Czechs and Slovaks are both pretty hillbilly, and so is the Silesian part of Poland."

    The highland-lowland divide is about subsistence mode, and how that affects culture. It's not to deny a separate, genetic divide between different (mega-)ethnic groups.

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  7. How does Finland fit into all this? It's considered part of the Scandinavian countries, lumped with Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, but I've read that they have more in common genetically with Slavic nations like Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania (I won't mention Russia because many older Fins detest that nation tracing back to a war that overlaps World War II). Are the Fins considered to be Celto-Germanic and Balto-Slavic?

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  8. Greek culture(at least, ancient Greek culture) and Slavic culture do seem to have some things in common. The Slavs created serfdoms, while the Greeks made slaves of their captured enemies - the Spartans, considered the most archaic of the Greeks, did create a classic serf state by conquering a nearby ethnicity. Slavs seem more authoritarian and patriarchal, and so were the Greeks. Ancient Greeks were also very clannish - Cleisthenes of Athens enacted a bunch of reforms to try to break them of the habit to make the new democracy. And Socratic and Platnoic thought of reminds you of the melancholy and self-rumination of Dostoeyfsky etc.

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  9. The ancient Greeks have often been compared unfavorably to the ancient Romans, due to their inability to form a centralized nation; they put their desire for personal glory over a sense of common good, etc. etc. Christian Meier, in his book on Athens, talks about this, I can transcribe it if I feel like it.

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  10. In the study on clustering, Finland is in a Northern group with Nordic countries and Latvia. They didn't seem to sample too many people from Scandinavian / Baltic countries, though. You might search Dienekes' blog for Finnish genetics.

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  11. Perhaps the traits that Slavs and (ancient) Greeks share come from having to deal with all those damn Eurasians running through every so often.

    If a horde of enemies could gallop into your front yard at any moment, you have to have your guard up and not betray what's going on inside. From what I can tell, those people aren't trying to look tough as opposed to weak, but streetwise and skeptical as opposed to naive and easily taken advantage of.

    You also have to be more willing to submit to authority, since there won't be time to hammer out a democratic consensus. Horse-mounted warriors move fast and show up without notice.

    Persians strike me the same way, too, btw. They got smashed by the Mongols, but also the Arabians (nomadic pastoralists from the desert rather than Steppes, but same effect). They don't smile unless they know you well, they are more authoritarian than Western Indo-Europeans, there's a certain way in which they're more patriarchal (although like with Slavs, Persian women have a no-nonsense attitude, rather than acting really girly and feminine).

    And of course this isn't limited to Aryan groups. The Han Chinese are an even more extreme example of how a people turn out when they're constantly over-run by nomads. They're about the most authoritarian race in world history, are nearly incapable of making facial expressions, and the women are dragon lady types.

    I think the Chinese are more extreme not because they've been hit harder by the nomads, but because of a separate influence of large-scale sedentary agriculture that produces similar effects (facelessness, authoritarianism, etc.). The Indo-Europeans are agro-pastoralist or transhumance pastoralists, and would prefer to be more open, trusting, and expressive -- they just can't if they're in that vulnerable zone next to nomads.

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  12. Slavs tend to have a lot of ingroup Identity by Descent sharing, indicating that a small population expanded a lot to contribute to their ancestors.

    At the same time, they are quite diverse in terms of contributions of Mediterranean genes (South Slavs) and East Asian genes (Northeast Slavs, Russians basically), which somewhat undermines their relatedness between different branches of the family, and this is also true within individual Slavic populations.

    This becomes more obvious when someone studies them genetically in the context of the world, rather than just Germans, and when looking at their whole genome rather than IBD. The whole Slavic group is quite stretched out in the context of overall relatedness to other groups in West Eurasia or the world compared to Germanics. You can see the position of Bulgarians compared to Russians https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9o3EYTdM8lQb2I1X2t0TDZtMXM/edit?pli=1). Compare how "tight" the Germanics are. Or this for a published thing - http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v513/n7518/images/nature13673-f2.jpg.

    That's the price of recent expansion in a very filled up continent, I guess, that it requires absorption of other groups to some extent. This probably contributes to their psychology, being aware that they are quite a disparate group in deep relatedness, tied together by a recent expansion. Their unity is somewhat like the kind of unity you'd get between all the Turk mixed and speaking people of Central Asia, who are quite different to one another in many ways and quite variably mixed within their groups.

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  13. There's some research on intra-individual and cultural differences in emotional expression, sample size around 3000, 100 per country, in "Emotional Display Rules and Individualism Versus Collectivism Mapping Expressive Differences Around the World: The Relationship Between Emotional Display Rules and Individualism Versus Collectivism" - davidmatsumoto.com/content/2008matsumotoetalJCCP.pdf.

    Hong Kong Chinese scored fairly low, Germans, Greeks and Italians midway, while PRC Chinese tend to between the Germans and the ultra expressive norms of Americans and West Africans (and most of the Anglosphere in general as well as the Danes).

    The East-Central European Polish and Czechs endorse expression more than the Germans, and less than Americans (closer to the German side than American), while the East European proper Russians endorse expression less than Germans. Hungarians are close to the Anglosphere on endorsing expressiveness. PRC to Hong Kong differences make sense to me - PRC folk seem like unselfconscious and expressive proles in most of the documentaries I've watched on, while HK seems like a pretty intense city.

    A followup on emotional expression behaviour tended to express the idea that Americans are smiley and expressive as part of a dumbed down culture to accept many immigrants (and other heavily migrant cultures tend to be the same). Expressive behaviour has to become as simple and telegraphed and overly outward as possible to avoid cross cultural clash, even between from different regions of the same country of origin. Seems like a decent explanation of the over the top "Best news I ever heard! Hey buddy! Let's get to know ya!" salesman vibe that many Americans seem to give off. Probably more relevant in the past when migrants to America were Europeans who wanted to get along, yet came from different cultures, than the migrants there are now where there is less incentive for people to change their behaviour for newcomers.

    American individualists make and discard friends easily, and their emotional behaviour fits with that - you could be dropped by your group at any time, if it is to their personal advantage, so why risk being unfriendly and lose an ally you may need in the long term, unless you get something really good from it? When Americans defend the American smile, it's always "And who cares if we're sincere? It makes everyone feel good.", and never that they actually are sincere.

    Circumstances modify how likely a person is to smile and express emotions.The Japs tend to smile a lot in many situations, as part of their norms of humility (it is not good to look like an angry stoneface, when you're supposed to be a humble part of the group, as they're all about the ingroup humility) and were quite stereotyped for it in the past http://www.readbookonline.net/readOnLine/44267/. Shy, self deprecating and humble smiles, and smiling through adversity, or smiling because it's a group thing and you're all together and enjoying yourselves, though, rather than the megawatt, positive vibe, teeth whitened, Nightcrawler, social influence and acceptance building American thing. Southern Chinese are probably pretty similar to the Japs, as they apparently have a pretty similar norm.

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  14. Authoritarianism is the only way to achieve cohesion among some groups. They might not have extended family networks or networks with strangers.

    If you belong to a competitive/backstabbing group, you have to be guarded and secretive. There's no cohesion anyway.

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  15. M - This idea that being warm, welcoming, and extroverted is unctuous and befitting a chaotic culture is something I question. Agnostic just did a recent post about how people who grew up in the egalitarian/low climbling era of the 1920's-mid 70's are more reliable and enthusiastic about greeting people. Gen X-ers have felt the tightening grip of the post mid 70's high stakes era most of their lives, while Millennials have felt it their entire lives. So they are more standoffish around people, aside from close friends.

    I would think that this applies to regions with similar birth/crisis dynamics as America. So Euro Gen X-ers and Euro Millennials also are inclined to being cold to others. If you grow up in a high striving era, you feel nervous about acknowledging someone since that other person might be higher than you (better not bother someone of greater status) or lower than you (don't want to be infected by a loser). Cultural/racial diversity is of course much greater in high striving period. In the America of the 1950's, nearly everyone spoke English. Why greet a stranger these days who might not even speak your language?

    "American individualists make and discard friends easily, and their emotional behaviour fits with that - you could be dropped by your group at any time, if it is to their personal advantage, so why risk being unfriendly and lose an ally you may need in the long term, unless you get something really good from it?"

    I think this callous/selfish behavior is probably more common in rootless times and places. If you live in, say, Ohio your whole life, you will likely retain quite a few acquaintances for much of your life. But if you transplant from one region to another several times (which has only become the norm since the 80's) obviously it's tougher to stay bonded.

    The fact that people question magnanimous behavior is itself a sign of how cynical we've become. Into the 80's, people generally assumed good faith and sincerity since the average person was more rooted and more conscientious back then. As striving hit grotesque levels over the last 20-30 years, nobody wants to be taken for a fool anymore by actually trusting someone.

    Also, the stereotype of amiable American extroversion might be accurate of Boomers and early Gen X-ers, but it certainly doesn't fit with the behavior of many of the people born since the early-mid 70's. I think that's a big reason actors born over the last 40 or so years just aren't very appealing. A lot of them just don't even really seem to want to be there. Most actors born before the 70's can/could be counted on to drop their self consciousness and slip into a role.

    The teeth whitening thing is off base a bit too. Many post 1970 Americans sport ugly ass piercings and tattoos. Hardly welcoming.

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  16. Further evidence of Hungarian Slavic-ness:

    "Us Magyar share certain qualities with Slavs. Squatting is one."

    https://www.reddit.com/r/slavs_squatting/comments/3ks1g0/hungarian_soldiers_squatting_at_their_new_fence/

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  17. The American smile is limited to the Great Compression period, when the norm was getting along and making do.

    Google Image search "family picture YYYY" by year, and notice the absence of smiling from 1900 through 1920. It starts to creep in by 1930, more noticeable by 1940, and is common from 1950 to 1980. Already by 1990, it's not as ubiquitous, and clearly on the decline in 2000 and 2010, particularly for adult males.

    Everyone outside of America is clueless about American culture, and pick and choose which era's stereotype to discuss depending on how they want to mock Americans. If they dislike insincere friendliness, they hold up the 1950s smiling family photo. If they dislike authentic anti-sociality, they hold up the angsty school shooters.

    I was shocked by how confidently ignorant Spaniards and Catalans were about American culture when I lived in Barcelona, not too different from Whit Stillman's movie where some Spanish poser keeps droning on about "the AFL-CIA". Nice people, great culture, but way off-base about our culture, yet supremely assured of their expertise.

    Americans know we're ignorant about Spanish culture, but don't pretend to be know-it-alls.

    We also have more ethnic groups here, so we do know better about English customs than they do about us (our customs hailing from many sources foreign to the Englishman's experience). It's similar to conservatives understanding liberals better than vice versa.

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  18. I dunno about 1980 being the key year; I seem to remember 1976 being the 1st year that NFL players got bigger. Also, I think the Me Gen was really starting to make inroads into everything by the later 70's. I recently listened to a pod cast about the movie Blue Collar (1978). The characters are later Silent Gen/Early Boomer working stiffs who get so desperate and frustrated that they can't get along with anyone or do anything right. They played clips from the movie, especially ones with Richard Pryor, and a lot of it sounded fairly repellent. Whole lot of bitching about how you can't trust your Union, the white man has it in for me, etc. The director, Paul Schrader, was born in 1946. Big shock. So much for a Can-Do attitude.

    Boomers can be great entertainers but I prefer Gen X self effacing to Boomer/later Silent Gen pity parties about how "you can't trust anything/anyone anymore". Gee, I wonder why? Gen X never pointed fingers (even when they were "dumb" kids). In spite of usually being raised by a bunch of spoiled know it alls.

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  19. "I was shocked by how confidently ignorant Spaniards and Catalans were about American culture when I lived in Barcelona, not too different from Whit Stillman's movie where some Spanish poser keeps droning on about "the AFL-CIA". Nice people, great culture, but way off-base about our culture, yet supremely assured of their expertise."

    Isn't this similar to what happens to successful sports teams? When someone's on top (or at least percieved that way) others began making all kinds of goofy assumptions about the "winner". After repeating enough non sense long enough, they start to believe it. I don't think Americans feel very compelled to pretend to have some authority on some foreign cultures; If anything, there can be curiousity rather than arrogance in terms of learning about other cultures.

    I suppose that when the Soviet Union threatened, a lot of Americans felt "provoked" enough that they didn't mind making sweeping judgements about Eastern Europe even if most Americans were clueless.

    I wonder if the avalanche export of Hollywood product and also the fact that people frequently visit America also leads to foreigners becoming "experts" on America. Most Americans will never visit Latvia; how would they presume to know anything about the country? If you're an Englishman whose been in NY, L.A., Frisco, Chicago, etc. (and seen movies about these places) I guess you feel more qualified to judge American culture. Never mind the fact that the only real way to understand a culture is to be immersed in it for decades and be bonded with it's people.

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  20. "I dunno about 1980 being the key year; I seem to remember 1976 being the 1st year that NFL players got bigger."

    That's confusing the elites with the general public. Elites began the status-striving war during the '70s, but random family pictures from 1980 still show smiling people. Amoral consumerist strivers were still a marginal, if growing, group during the '80s, and widely mocked as "yuppies".

    By 2008 (Stuff White People Like), mocking strivers was ambivalent -- it was partly the strivers themselves humble-bragging about their quirky unique preferences.

    By now, it's all humble-bragging in-jokes about making sure the birthday cake is gluten-free.

    Dynamics are rarely black-and-white, overnight changes. For most people, the '80s, especially the first half of the '80s, still looked and felt like the laid-back get-along '70s. The 1982 world of Fast Times at Ridgemont High could have easily been set 5 years earlier, but probably not 5 years later.

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  21. "Dynamics are rarely black-and-white, overnight changes. For most people, the '80s, especially the first half of the '80s, still looked and felt like the laid-back get-along '70s. The 1982 world of Fast Times at Ridgemont High could have easily been set 5 years earlier, but probably not 5 years later."

    I see what you're saying; I've posted before that the 80's didn't really start until 1985. I've been reading a book about MTV; somebody said that they didn't know what rehab was until 1985. Strauss and Howe said that the "culture war" started in 1984. The anything-goes vibe of the 70's took a while to die off.

    When people look at back at pop culture, they ought to realize that what the elites fixate on isn't necessarily indicative of what's going on with the general mood. That movie with Richard Pryor showed a level of cynicism and selfishness that was fairly unusual for the 70's. Workplaces didn't really start to get toxic until the later 80's, as reflected by the "Going Postal" thing (and other kinds of spree/wilding mayhem) that took off in the late 80's after being non existant from 1930-1980. By the time we got to Robocop ('87), the Killbot malfunction scene had more resonance.

    Similarly, late 60's/70's movies began featuring a lot more black actors. Why? The public was becoming more tolerant, but the biggest reason was Silent and early Boomer artists who were rebelling against the social prescriptions of G.I. elders. Having tasted so little diversity as kids (in the case of middle aged Silents, their young adulthood as well), they dove into it as much as possible in the 70's. But that didn't mean that large swaths of the public approved (In Silent baseball pitcher Jim Bouton's season diary type book written around '68, he mentions how some of his teammates just wanted the blacks and white liberals to knock it off and settle down. Don't think that would get published these days.

    "Amoral consumerist strivers were still a marginal, if growing, group during the '80s, and widely mocked as "yuppies"."

    This has caused a sort of paradox where the 80's are mocked as the worst sort of soulless excess. Rank striving was somewhat unusual and rather novel for the period, and was noted and often questioned by a lot of people (including Baby Boomers who were launching into the still reigning pissing contest of aging elites slagging each other instead of actually doing anything helpful). Yet this critque inadvertently tarred the 80's as the "greed" decade. In the decades since, we've transitioned to at least accepting the striving of many. So nobody thinks of the 90's or whenever as the most debased era of ruthless competing.

    It wasn't unheard of in the 80's for popular movies to put down ruthless schemers and rich fools. This nonsense about "don't hate on the rich"/"don't be jealous, be grateful" didn't really start to get going until the later 90's.

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  22. Yes, the impression I get is that striving didn't really start, at least in the middle-class until Reagan's second term. I expect that it may have started even later for those living in the ghetto - as Strauss and Howe point out, inner city crime rates didn't decline until the late 90s.

    It seems to me, though, that the dynamics do change overnight. Growing up in the 90s, it did seem like things changed radically and mercilessly around '92-'93, and then the same thing happened around '99-'00, when Internet use expanded radically. I think what's more true is to say that it takes awhile for the trends to move down from the upper class to the lower classes.

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  23. "Yes, the impression I get is that striving didn't really start, at least in the middle-class until Reagan's second term. I expect that it may have started even later for those living in the ghetto - as Strauss and Howe point out, inner city crime rates didn't decline until the late 90s."

    Suburban houses started getting bigger in the mid 80's. When people were having tons of kids in the mid century, it would've been considered bold and selfish for a family of 2-4 to live an a big ass house (bigger houses expend more material, energy, and labor, in additon to screaming "look at me"). But here we are, a lot of people have few to no kids and look at how ridiculous houses got by the later 90's.

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  24. Average home size from 1973-2010:

    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-F_HhxTPQ40c/Tj6bWAu5dCI/AAAAAAAAPjo/8QPrn_8-O8E/s1600/homes.jpg
    Around 1987 was the point of no return.

    American's still want big houses, 22% want at least 2600 feet:
    http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/kbenfield/us_home_size_preferences_final.html

    It's hard to think of a better example of keeping up with the Joneses than house size.

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  25. Old post on home prices and sizes over time, going back to the Gilded Age:

    http://akinokure.blogspot.com/2013/12/history-of-home-prices-and-conspicuous.html

    Victorian / Queen Anne homes are gigundo and show a wacky haphazard collage of styles on the exterior -- the McMansions of the first Gilded Age.

    I'd wait to see further data on "shrinking" square footage of new homes, since the housing market had bottomed out in the early 2010s, and that post is from 2012.

    I wouldn't be surprised if it were real, though. The Me Generation is no longer the driving force behind new home sales, and Gen X-ers feel isolated and agoraphobic in mondo-sized great rooms. At the very extreme, there's that whole "small home" movement, but even where the average person stands, they're more into quality than quantity.

    My ideal house would be around 1500 to 1800 sq ft, but that's only natural since I'd only buy a house built before 1980.

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  26. Prussia also kept serfdom for a long time, like Slavic countries.

    I think Huntington was writing in the context of world politics of that time period. The Pope was Polish, and his brand of anti-communism had been important in Solidarity's opposition to Soviet control. There was fighting in the Balkans between Orthodox Serbs (backed by Russia), Catholic Croats (backed by Germany, as had been the case in WW2) and Muslim Bosniaks (assisted by a variety of Muslims, including al Qaeda). Those three groups would have all been similar ethnically speaking, but as Huntington noted secular nationalism was on the decline with religious/civilizational divides becoming increasingly salient. As a political scientist, I think he was interested in different questions than you, so he categorizes differently.

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  27. He was interested in the same questions -- political conflicts taking the form of ethnic and cultural clashes. He just didn't know which cultures would join with which others, being misled by contempo politics.

    Poland is part of the West in his view -- despite Poland and Germany being at war more or less continually since the Slavs settled there, from the Polish-Holy Roman Empire wars of circa 1000, the Teutonic Knights, Prussia, through the Nazi invasion of Poland in the 20th C. Not to mention being at war with the Swedish Empire starting around 1600.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wars_involving_Poland

    His understanding of Christian splits within Europe is just as shallow. He's assuming that cultural and religious identities are primitive, and that political identities emerge at a higher level. Only look at Central Europe, where the fault-line runs. It was the political clashes that determined what religious identities people chose.

    They adopted Catholic identities to distinguish themselves from the Orthodox Eastern Slavs, with whom they have been continually at war with since roughly 1000. First it was with the Kievan Rus, who weren't actually Slavic but Norse (Germanic people once again fucking with Poland, only in disguise), then the Muscovite empires, through the Soviet invasion and control during the Warsaw Pact era.

    They also chose Catholic identities to distinguish themselves from the Germanic nations who they've always been at war with, who are Protestants from northern / eastern Germany and Scandinavia. Poland, Hungary, Czechs, etc., all flirted with Protestantism, and Hungary was Calvinist for a little while in the early Reformation period. But they walked that back when they saw who it would put them in cultural league with -- those damned Nordics and the Brandenburg-Prussians.

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  28. Moving to the southern part of the fault-line, in the Balkans, his Orthodox vs. Catholic-Protestant idea breaks down again. Serbia is the main player there, and their enemies have always been other major Orthodox nations, from the late Middle Ages through the 20th C. -- first the Byzantine Empire, and then Bulgaria. (Leaving aside their clashes with Muslims, and only looking at intra-Christian conflicts.)

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wars_involving_Serbia

    Croatia and Slovenia inherited / absorbed their Catholic identities from being more or less client states of Hungary and then of Austria-Hungary.

    Huntington encourages the view that the Serbs and Croats represent an ongoing religious war *within the Balkans* that goes back to the East-West split of 1054. Instead the politically weak northwestern part of the Balkans was just going along with the cultural direction of their Austrian and Hungarian patron states.

    It's similar to the anachronistic view about Jews vs. Muslims in the Middle East -- it goes back no further than European Zionists colonizing Palestine. Ignoring history and just looking at contempo culture and religion, it looks like some ancient or Medieval-era clash between Judaism and Islam.

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  29. I think Huntington's take still tracks rather well with contemporary European politics. Those Baltic nations want to be joined with the west against Russia enough to subject their nations to crappy monetary policy just so they can qualify for the EU. I even thought Huntington was mistaken in describing the Ukraine as "torn" between Western & Orthodox, but today it's politically divided.

    England warred with Spain for a long time, as well as France, then both England & France against Germany. Yet they are all westerners, with France & Germany forming the core of the EU. Neighboring people will fight each other sometimes, but are still likely to belong to a shared civilization.

    Eastern europeans adopted Catholicism before Lutheranism even existed. They had a choice between east and west, and they chose west.

    Poland warred with Prussians and the Nordics. But I don't recall that being a significant factor in a place like Hungary. They were allied with Austria, which rivalled Prussia for German leadership.

    Serbia's enemies haven't "always" been other major Orthodox nations. The first world war would not have occurred had that been the case. But that was one of the 20th century wars of nations, later displaced by the struggle of ideologies, and a big part of his point is that there is change rather than constancy. Today it is civilizational fault lines where conflict takes place. Poland is not going to go to war with Germany. However unlikely this is to occur, NATO countries against Russia would be more likely.

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  30. "I think Huntington's take still tracks rather well with contemporary European politics."

    Then you haven't been reading the news -- the EU is dead, and the main nations to be chastened, punished, and expelled are going to be the Slavs and Balts.

    No, they aren't necessarily going to join the Russian sphere of influence, not voluntarily anyway. But Russia has had a way of bringing Western Slavs and Balts into its sphere of influence, whether they have wanted to join or not.

    Westerners sheltered from political hostile takeovers don't seem to get that -- that Poland, Czechoslovakia, Lithuania, etc., don't get to just choose who to affiliate with, as though it's at the level of who sits at which clique's tables in a high school cafeteria.

    Huntington et al. took the collapse of the Soviet Union too literally, like the Muscovites will never rise again, even in the medium-term. Whereas simple history shows a long-term on-again / off-again absorption of the Baltic lands into Muscovite control.

    England and Spain have not been continually at war -- weak example. Ever since the Slavs settled in Central Europe, they've been besieged by northern Germanic and Eastern Slavic forces, not to mention Muslim raids from Eurasia (Mongols, Tatars, Ottomans).

    "They had a choice between east and west, and they chose west."

    Just like I said -- they chose to affiliate with Rome because it allowed them to strive for political independence against their historical rivals, the now-Protestant northern Germanics and the Orthodox eastern Slavs.

    "But I don't recall that being a significant factor in a place like Hungary. They were allied with Austria, which rivalled Prussia for German leadership."

    Hungary is farther away from Brandenburg-Prussia, so they were pummeled more by the Ottomans than by the Nords, but they were still on the Central European receiving end of German aggression. Only recently, in WWI and WWII were they allied with Germany, in order to resist the eastern Slavs.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wars_involving_Hungary

    By being allied with Austria, they took punishment from the northern Germanic nations, most notably during the Thirty Years War.

    "Serbia's enemies haven't "always" been other major Orthodox nations. The first world war would not have occurred had that been the case."

    Most of Serbia's energy around the time of WWI was directed at jockeying for Balkan domination against Bulgaria, not at removing the Habsburgs and Ottomans, who were both dead men walking by that point.

    "Today it is civilizational fault lines where conflict takes place. Poland is not going to go to war with Germany."

    The major political conflict nowadays in Europe is between Balto-Slavic vs. Celto-Germanic countries within the EU. Who knows if war will be the mode through which the conflict expresses itself. Maybe it'll be economic sanctions, expulsion from the EU, or something else.

    Again, turn on the news and have a look at how totally united Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and Lithuania are with Germany and Sweden.

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  31. "a place like Hungary. They were allied with Austria, which rivalled Prussia for German leadership."

    That's where the confusion comes from -- taking Austria, or the Austrian Empire, to be ethnically German. Remember that in the genetic clustering study, Austrians go with the Slavs, not Western or Northern groups.

    Most Austrians live in Vienna, which is closer to and surrounded by major Slavic cities than major German ones. The second-largest city in Austria is Graz, whose Slavic name belies the largely Slovenian population. The third-largest city, Linz, is closer to Germany, though also close to the Czech Republic -- probably more Germanic than the 1st and 2nd cities, but probably still fairly Slavic too.

    Salzburg and Innsbruck are German, but far fewer people have lived there historically and today.

    Largest cities in the Austrian Empire as of 1910:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Austria-Hungary#Largest_cities_of_the_dual_monarchy

    Salzburg, Innsbruck, etc., don't show up. Only the Slavic and quasi-Slavic cities of today's Austria. And on top of that, Slavic cities that are now in officially Slavic countries -- Prague, Lviv, Krakow, Brno, Chernivtsi, and Plzen. Trieste is largely Slovenian in population, despite being part of Italy.

    All we learn in the West is that they speak a Germanic language in Austria, ergo they're Germanics. In reality, Austrians narrowly and the broader Austrian Empire appears to have been predominantly Slavic, some of whom adopted the German language.

    That also explains why Vienna was such a haven for Jews. Celto-Germanic people expelled the Jews by the late Middle Ages, and they took up residence among Balto-Slavic nations where the local nobility used them to administer their peasant classes. German-speaking Vienna would appear to be a glaring exception to this pattern, unless as it turns out it was a genetically and culturally Slavic city where German was spoken.

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  32. The EU is unfortunately still alive, although it may contract. And Greece is far more likely to get kicked out than Poland. This immigration tiff is not comparable to the possibility of war, even Germany is now restricting entry after making a big show of taking in refugees. Anti-immigration politics have become mainstream in many places, with Australia the most obvious example of the first world, but even elsewhere anti-immigration parties have nudged the center-left aside (even in Sweden) to rival the center right and pressure them toward restriction.

    They didn't choose to affiliate with Rome because the Germans were Protestants, because Protestants didn't exist at the time. Poland became Catholic in the first millenium, Lutheranism appears around the beginning of the 16th century. Even Lithuania switched from paganism to Catholicism before Luther appeared. It was to side with western Catholics and eastern Orthodox. Latvia & Estonia, despite how genetically related to Slavs they may be, mostly adopted Germanic Lutheranism.

    It was a Serb who assassinated the Austrian archduke, with the complicity of the Chief of Serbian Military Intelligence, and kicked off the war. The Austrians invaded and briefly seized Belgrade. Bulgarians came later, alongside the Austrians.

    "Who knows if war will be the mode through which the conflict expresses itself"
    I know: it won't. Don't be stupid.

    I don't care where Austrians genetically cluster. The Holy Roman Empire is about as western as it gets. Is there any scholar who acknowledges the existence of "western civilization" but doesn't include Austria? You can't even give the spiel about Poland falling under the power of Moscow for Austria, but even the rest of the empire is part of western civilization.

    Tsarist Russia restricted Jews to the "pale of settlement", which was acquired between 1791 and 1835. Permitting Jews is not a marker of being non-western. The "Ashkenazi" are designated after their term for Germany, after all. Did England join Orthodox civilization when Cromwell let Jews back in?

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  33. LOL at anyone smugly dismissing the possibility of Poland and Germany going to war. "I mean, they're so, like, over that part of their history" (which goes back to the very founding of Slavic settlements next to Germans).

    You're just like the dipshits who didn't see WWI coming -- who indeed wrote it off as impossible -- because of the relatively bloodless and cosmopolitan Victorian era. One great big happy European continental family, where even the revolutions were bloodless.

    But you don't know any history, so how can we expect you to have any awareness of how silly you sound?

    "I don't care where Austrians genetically cluster. The Holy Roman Empire is about as western as it gets."

    Except the Austrians didn't control it -- that was the Franks and their successors in Germany. The Habsburgs and their successors controlled lands that were predominantly Slavic -- read that table of largest cities in the Austrian Empire.

    "Is there any scholar who acknowledges the existence of "western civilization" but doesn't include Austria?"

    You're lazily equivocating on the meaning of "western" -- as opposed to the Near, Middle, or Far East, obviously Austria is part of it. But nobody was comparing Austria to Turkey, Iran, or China, moron.

    In the European context, most scholars would lump Austria with Mitteleuropa rather than Western or Eastern:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_Europe

    Click on 8.1 to see maps of various Central Euro groupings. Some include Germany, mostly for the eastern regions rather than Cologne, Munich, etc. But the one formed by Central Euro countries themselves, for their own mutual aid, includes Austria but not Germany, along with all Slavic countries aside from Russia:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_European_Initiative

    If Austria so easily fell into Western or Eastern, why has it remained neutral since the end of WWII instead of joining either NATO or the Warsaw Pact?

    You have little idea what you're talking about, and are falling back on whatever you had to memorize to pass the exam in Intro Poli Sci.

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  34. "Poland became Catholic in the first millenium, Lutheranism appears around the beginning of the 16th century."

    More moronic equivocations. "Catholic" as opposed to Eastern or Oriental Orthodox -- outside the Balkans, all European Christians including all future Protestant countries were "Catholic" before the Reformation. Great insight.

    In ordinary use, Catholic refers to the Reformation period and after, as contrasted with new Protestants and old Orthodox churches.

    So, Polish nobles did not choose Catholicism circa 1000. Rather, they simply chose Christianity or perhaps Western / Latin Christianity.

    Once there was an alternative to the Roman Church, without defecting to established Orthodox churches to the east, all Central European countries saw anti-Roman movements. Including Hungary where most folks were Protestant circa 1600, before coming under influence of the Catholic Habsburgs.

    But, they realized that their mortal enemies to the north were also on board with Protestantism, and chose Catholicism to position themselves away from the Brandenburg-Prussians and the Muscovites.

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  35. "The Austrians invaded and briefly seized Belgrade. Bulgarians came later, alongside the Austrians."

    Don't pretend like you know what you're talking about.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Balkan_War

    I'll even copy-paste the first sentence since you're too lazy to even check Wikipedia.

    The Second Balkan War was a conflict which broke out when Bulgaria, dissatisfied with its share of the spoils of the First Balkan War, attacked its former allies, Serbia and Greece, on 16 (O.S.)/29 June 1913.

    The Treaty of Bucharest, ending the war, was signed in August 1913, nearly a full year before Franz Ferdinand was assassinated.

    You didn't even read that handy list I provided of wars involving Serbia. Nearly 30 years before the Balkan Wars, there was the Serbo-Bulgarian War of 1885.

    But you didn't know that the big players in the Balkans after the fall of the Byzantines, aside from the Ottomans, have always been Serbia and Bulgaria, and that they would make natural combatants in jockeying for Balkan dominance once the Ottomans were clearly the "sick man of Europe".

    Just a recent repeat of the Bulgarian-Serbian Wars of the late Middle Ages. Or the antagonism that kept Bulgaria from joining Serbian-led Yugoslavia. (You didn't know that either.)

    When will Millennials learn that Gen X-ers are not idiots and will fact-check any lame claims in an argument? It's shocking how ignorant the "digital native" generation is.

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  36. "Permitting Jews is not a marker of being non-western. The "Ashkenazi" are designated after their term for Germany, after all. Did England join Orthodox civilization when Cromwell let Jews back in?"

    What a pathetic baldfaced equivocater you are -- have you ever managed to confuse anyone with these lightweight quibbles? Or maybe you've only argued with other dipshit Millennials.

    No one said that "permitting" Jews was the mark of non-Western Europe, but allowing them to settle and administer the peasant masses as a middleman minority underneath the local nobility. Jews played no such role when Cromwell allowed them to return, idiot.

    Who cares who the Ashkenazi are named after? They got kicked out of Germany and settled in Eastern Europe. That's the ecosystem they're adapted to.

    Gypsies were named after Egypt, but that's wrong. Croatians are named after an Iranian word, but that's wrong. Bulgarians are named after a Turkic group, but that's wrong. So is the Hungarians calling themselves Magyars.

    How stupid do you think we are?

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  37. BTW, it's OK to be ignorant of some topic and either stay silent or speak while admitting you don't know what you're talking about. Nobody knows everything about everything.

    But you always act like you have this great store of relevant knowledge when you wade out into a topic that you're totally ignorant about. In fact, I can't think of one topic where I came away thinking you knew more than the average participant in some discussion, that you'd done some kind of reading, research, etc. Whether it's pop culture, history, or whatever.

    You're an ignoramus who is aggressively certain that he's well-informed. Hope you don't find yourself in any minefields IRL.

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  38. I blame grade inflation for producing an entire generation of confident ignoramuses. Helicopter parents made sure that none of your teachers was ever allowed to give you a C or D on your essays and term papers. So why bother learning anything you didn't have to in order to get the super-easy A?

    The only "outside research" you Millennials do is searching for a trite and usually irrelevant quotation to stick at the beginning of your essays. You value originality of branding rather than originality of thought.

    "My half-assed essay has a quote from a more obscure author than yours does." Or a more obscure work from a popular author. Or more wacky, unexpected quote. Etc.

    You guys think it makes your work sound erudite, but you'd sound just as sophisticated by copy-pasting your away message quotation from the old days of Instant Messenger.

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  39. I hereby offer to pay you $1000 dollars if Germany goes to war with Poland within this decade. You pay me $1 and state that I was right if it doesn't. Are those odds not good enough for you?

    WW1 occurred when the great powers were all militarized and were forming alliances precisely because war was an ever-present risk. Now they have aging populations and defer to US military might. As Sailer noted with his "dirt theory" of war, big tracts of land just aren't as valuable anymore and war disrupts the valuable urban centers. They got irritated enough with Greece to indicate they were prepared to kick them out of the EU, but they don't care enough about Polish domestic politics to do much. Hungary might have aroused more anger over the years by openly denouncing liberal democracy compared to Putin or Erdogan, but nothing has come of that.

    The Habsburgs, from Austria, controlled the Holy Roman Empire and its core lands from Frederick III until the Peace of Westphalia. They also held Spain from Charles V until 1700.

    I'm using western in the sense Huntington used it, because he WAS comparing it to Turkey, Iran or China. Middle europe is part of western civilization.

    Austria enshrined neutrality into its constitution. Their neighbors, the Swiss, are also famously neutral, not unlike Sweden. France joined NATO, but under de Gaulle withdrew its forces and pushed Americans elsewhere.

    That Protestantism didn't exist when eastern europe became Catholic was precisely my point! You said they were trying to separate themselves from Germanic Protestants when that occurred, but they were embracing the religion of the Germans instead of that of the Russians. The Poles didn't simply choose "Christianity", because eastern orthodox Christianity existed and they rejected that. The question of whether they belong to western civilization or eastern/orthodox was decided then. Any subsequent question of Catholic vs Protestant was just tinkering within the parameters of western civilization.

    You said "most of Serbia's energy around the time of WW1" so I discussed what happened during WW1, when Austria was potent enough to seize control of Belgrade for a time. You intended to refer to events outside of that, so that's a misreading on my part.

    The word "Ashkenazi" isn't a misnomer. They really did settle in Germany and live there for centuries. That's why Yiddish is so German.

    Germany was not as united as England, and never fully expelled Jews. Emperors Ferdinand I and Leopold I (both Habsburgs) expelled Jews from Austrian portions of their empire, in the latter case Prussian Brandenburg took them in. So that would make Vienna western and Potsdam not by the criteria we're examining.

    "How stupid do you think we are?"
    Not "we", you. You are not your generation. I'd say we hold roughly equivalent respect for each other.

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  40. ""My half-assed essay has a quote from a more obscure author than yours does." Or a more obscure work from a popular author. Or more wacky, unexpected quote"
    You might be thinking of Mencius Moldbug (who I believe is older than you). I don't think I do as much of that, although I may well have plugged some of Timur Kuran's stuff here and he's not as known as Pinker/Huntington.

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  41. Feryl:

    This idea that being warm, welcoming, and extroverted is unctuous and befitting a chaotic culture is something I question. I'm offering a pretty cold take on it, admittedly. People who have more facility with strangers probably do generally like strangers more in a genuine sense (not just a front). At the same time, I absolutely think displays of positive emotion to strangers is looked at from cultural evolution, a risk mitigating adaptation to a society where the people get dropped by their ingroup a lot ("up for grabs" socialising as I think agnostic has termed it before). And one to a society where people would generally rather make new friends and meet new people rather than stick on with their existing friends and family if it means compromising on their individuality and sacrificing their own goals and desires. I don't think this is status striving exactly, as it's not necessarily about status, but there is a commonality.

    Also, the stereotype of amiable American extroversion might be accurate of Boomers and early Gen X-ers, but it certainly doesn't fit with the behavior of many of the people born since the early-mid 70's. Relatively might be a shift, but people outside of America still seem to broadly describe Millennial Americans the same way their parents and grandparents described older Americans. There is still a consistent national character to this. You can google around and check it for yourself though.

    Yes, it's tough to be 100% right about other cultures; you guys think you understand Eastern Europeans though, so clearly it's possible (and not just from some limited experience with a limited number of Polack-Americans).

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  42. Did not read any more of TGGP's uninformed kneejerk reactions, after learning once again how little he knows.

    For Millennials, "debating" consists of blurting out your reaction-feels. Pointless.

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  43. My comments were not about how I "felt" (although I did put money on a personal prediction, which you are free to take if you think I estimated poorly). They were on point with respect to what we were discussing. You are the one who has gone off topic on how you feel about millenials and their habits of quotation. If you or anyone else would like to get back to discussing Huntington's Clash of Civilizations, go right ahead.

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  44. I wonder if his putting Poland with the West was politically motivated - like, "hey, we should make an alliance with them against Russia". George Friedman, who founded and heads the intelligence firm Stratfor, in his book "The Next 100 Years", argues that such an alliance will happen and Poland will become a superpower and dominant in Eastern Europe - though he doesn't anything about culture.

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  45. have you read Friedman, TGGP?

    interestingly, he also came up with the idea of U.S. political climates cycling every 50 years or so, and he put the dates similar to Turchin - with the current cycle starting with Reagan in 1981, and the one before with Roosevelt in 1933, etc.

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  46. There are a number of intellectuals named Friedman, I don't know if I've read the same work you're recalling. I know there are some who claim that the post-FDR period of economic disputes working at cross purposes with regional divides was something of an aberration, and that we're only now returning to "normal". Did the work you're referring to attempt to match up with generational cycles?

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  47. "Did the work you're referring to attempt to match up with generational cycles?"

    This guy is actually a former military intelligence officer who runs an intelligence firm called Stratfor, but he also wrote a book about what he sees as the future of America and the world over the next century.

    stratfor.com

    The cycles don't match up with the different generations, what they do roughly match up with is Peter Turchin's cycles of equality-inequality. Turchin said that these cycles tended to go in 50 years; Friedman explicitly says the cycles last about 50 years, though he doesn't match up with Turchin exactly.

    So, Turchin says that the current cycle of equality-inequality started, at least amongst the elites, in the 70s; Friedman says it started during Reagan's first term. Turchin says the former cycle of equality began in the 20s; Friedman says during FDR's first term, etc. I'll transcribe some of his theories later.

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  48. Ok, here is that stuff from George Friedman, who came up with a theory somewhat similar to Turchin's:

    "The crisis will come to a head, if history is any guide, in the presidential election of either 2028 or 2032. I say that because there is an odd - and not entirely explicable - pattern built into American history. Every fifty years, roughly, the United states has been confronted with a defining economic and social crisis. The problem emerges in the decade before the crisis becomes apparent. A pivotal presidential election is held that changes the country's political landscape over the following decade or so. The crisis is resolved, and the United States flourishes. Over the next generation, the solution to the old problem generates a new one, which intensifies until there is another crisis and the process repeats itself. Sometimes the defining moment is not readily apparent until later, and sometimes it can't be missed. But it is always there."





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  49. (I'll skip the early cycles and focus on the crises of the 1920s and 1970s, since that is what this blog has discussed).

    "Third Cycle: From Small Towns to Industrial Cities"(changing to equality in 1920s)

    "Just as Daniel Boone was celebrated long after his day was done, so were the virtues of small-town american life. Millions of immigrant workers had been imported to work in mines and factories, settling mainly in the big cities. They were mostly Irish, Italian and Eastern European. These immigrants were completely different from anyone seen in the United States before. Think about it: a nation that was essentially white and Protestant with a black underclass was suddenly teeming with immigrants who looked, spoke, and acted very differently. Hence, they were regarded with suspicion and hostility by small-town America. Big cities, where these new immigrants settled to work in factories, came to be viewed as the center of an alien and corrupt culture."

    "However, small-town values now started to work against America. The financial system had run on tight money since the late 1870s. This encouraged savings and investment but limited consumption and credit. As the population living in cities exploded - both from high birthrates and immigration - low wages made life difficult for new immigrants. As investment grew, the ability of the workers to buy products they produced became severely constrained. The result was the Great Depression, in which consumers had no money to buy the products they needed, so factories making these products laid workers off, in a seemingly endless cycle. Hard work and frugality, the ethics of small-town America, were hardly sufficient against such powerful macroeconomic forces."

    "In 1932, Franklin Roosevelt succeeded the failed presidency of Herbert Hoover. Roosevelt proceeded to reverse the policies of the preceding political generation by looking for ways to increase consumption through transfers of wealth from investors to consumers. He championed the industrial, urban workers at the expense of the declining small towns and their values".

    "Ultimately, though, the New Deal didn't end the Depression - World War II did, by allowing the government to spend vast amounts of money to build factories and hire workers. The aftermath of World War II was even more decisive in ending the Depression. After the war ended, a series of laws was created that allowed returning soldiers to buy homes on credit, easily finance a college education, and become white-collar professionals. The federal government built an interstate highway system, opening up the areas around cities for residential construction. These measures constituted a vast transfer of wealth, spurring growth in factory and office work and maintaining wartime economic gains. The American middle class was born. Roosevelt's reforms - dictated by World War II - were aimed at supporting the urban working class. They turned the ethnic working classes' children into middle-class suburbanites."

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  50. "Fourth Cycle: From Industrial Cities to Service Suburbs"(changing to inequality in the 1970s)

    "As always, one solution creates the next problem. The Depression aws overcome by increasing demand, by creating jobs and social supports and then transferring money to consumers. High tax rates were imposed on the wealthy, relatively low interest rates were offered to facilitate home ownership, and consumer credit was introduced for a range of purchases. The policies kept the economy humming".

    "But by the 1970s, the formula was no longer working. High tax rates made the risk of starting businesses prohibitive and favored large, increasingly inefficient corporations Marginal tax rates - the highest rates paid - were in excess of 70 percent for the wealthy and for corporations. By penalizing success, this tax policy discouraged investment. Factories aged and became obsolete, even as consumption remained high due to ready consumer credit. Without investment, the industrial plant, and the economy as a while, became increasingly less efficient and less competitive globally."

    "In the late 1970s the baby boomers entered the period of family formation, when demand for credit was the highest. All of these factors, coupled with an energy crisis, brought the situation to a head. Under President Jimmy Carter, the entire economy was teetering. Long-term interest rates were in the mid-teens. Inflation was over 10 percent, as was unemployment. Carter's solution was tax cuts for the middle and lower classes, which only increased consumption and put further pressure on the system. All of the economic stimuli that had worked in the previous fifty years had not only stopped working but were making the situation even worse."

    "In 1980, Ronald Reagan was elected president. Reagan faced a crisis of underinvestment and overconsumption. Reagan's solution was maintaining consumption while simultaneously increasing the amount of investment capital. He did so through "supply-side economics": reducing taxes in order to stimulate investment. Reagan did not want to stifle demand, making consumers unable to purchase products. His aim was for the upper classes and corporations to be able to modernize the economy through investment This represented a radical restructuring of the American economy during the 1980s, setting the stage for the boom of the 1990s."(continued in next post)

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  51. "Reagan's policies transferred political and economic power away from the cities and into the suburbs. Because of the innovations of the FDR-Carter era, a massive population shift to the suburbs had transformed the country. The interstate highway system and other well-maintained roads allowed people access to less developed, less expensive land while permitting them to easily commute into the city. These suburbanites grew more and more wealthy over the course of the second half of the century, and by the 1980s they were primed to benefit from Reagan's economic policies."

    "Reagan thus completed the reorientation of the American economy away from the principles of the New Deal, which favored urban working class consumption over all other considerations, toward the suburban professional and entrepreneurial classes. In this, he was seen by some as a betraying the heart of American society, the cities, and the soul of American labor, unionized workers. Just as FDR, Hayes, and Jackson were vilified, so was Reagan vilified as a betrayer of America's common man. But Reagan had no more choice in the end than did Roosevelt or Hayes or Jackson. Reality dictated this evolution."

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