Bloggers Against Autogenocide

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Megan McArdle, Ross Douthat, and James Poulos are having a fairly intense discussion of cultural transmission tangentially pegged to this article on fertility panic. Ross writes:

Obviously I'm in the camp that considers declining birth rates to be a serious problem for the liberal West, and so obviously I agree with Megan's point that "the most important core beliefs most people have are transmitted not through dialogue, but through inheritance," and its corollary that no matter how "immense" and "salient" the rewards of the "liberal market culture" that Will favors, it will be much harder to pass it on down through conversion than through child-rearing.

Megan writes:

The most important core beliefs most people have are transmitted not through dialogue, but through inheritance. It is extremely likely that you share the political views of your parents, their religious affiliation, and at a less obvious level, their beliefs about things like what constitutes stealing and lawbreaking, and what are justified evasions of petty laws.

I'm enough of a cultural relativist to believe that other cultures have a perfect right not to adopt American values, but enough of a cultural hegemonist to know that I want my country to maintain the dominant American culture.

I'm not enough of a cultural hegemonist to care whether the people living on this particular piece of land maintain the dominant American culture into perpetuity; if, in the year 3000, the entire world is dominated by Danish mores, I will not feel slighted. Still, the "conversion versus inheritance" debate is a relatively unhelpful way to approach the issue. The word conversion suggests a wholesale repudiation of one set of beliefs and acceptance of another, but cultures shift as the result of millions of choices at the margin. Europe is rapidly secularizing; you wouldn't call that inheritance, nor would you call it conversion. (You might call it spiritual drift, though I tend to think they're drifting toward something better.) The conversion/inheritance framework assumes that the host culture remains static as outsiders bend to its dictates; it allows for no single person to claim a place in more than one tradition; and it fails to acknowledge that we are moving toward a more mobile society with ever more return and circular migration. As William Marling has pointed out, much of what is derided as "Americanization" is really just modernization. It does represent a kind of convergence, though not much of a takeover.

I have more faith than Megan does in rapid assimilation toward liberal norms among individuals who have self-selected to come and live in the United States, but we agree that assimilation is possible and desirable. On the other hand, fertility alarmists tend to make very odd assumptions about the way people engage with a dominant culture over time. If you assume that today's day laborers are static representations of a single unchanging culture frozen in the year 2008, and will go on to produce tiny Mexican-flag-waving mariachi babies in the year 2020, you may well be worried that 30 percent of the U.S. population will be Latino by 2050. If you don't, it might occur to you that most of that 30 percent will be indistinguishable from the general population by 2050, not just because they have changed dramatically but because you have slightly.

Part of the reason we find it so difficult to think about demographic change is that we fail to notice the goalposts changing around us. It's true that the people we call social conservatives in this country are reproducing faster than the people we call social liberals. But what will it mean to be "conservative" in America a century from now? In 1908 being a social conservative meant something far less amenable to tolerance than "legal marriage is for straight people!" Yes, Utah's birthrate is higher than that of Bangladesh. I don't know how to worry about that particular factoid, because I have no idea what it will mean to be a socially conservative Mormon in 30 years. It certainly means something different today than it did 30 years back.

NEXT: Time & Newsweek Need Fat Kids, But What Do Fat Kids Need?

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  1. And the children of socially conservative Mormons aren’t necessarily socially conservative or Mormon.

  2. Liberal: oh noes, conservatives are reproducing faster than liberals, so there will be more conservatives in the next generation!

    Bullshit.

    Oh, and Utah, though currently dominated by social conservatives, is most definitely shifting away from the right. I know a lot of 20-30 yr old mormons in utah and they are extremely politically savvy and intellectual.

    Just for fun: Feminist Mormon Housewives
    there’s a crazy contradiction for ya.
    Also, there are a lot of libertarian Mormons out there. this is actually a pretty good mormon/libertarian blog

  3. That second link was bad. here it is again.

  4. It’s true that the people we call social conservatives in this country are reproducing faster than the people we call socials liberals. But what will it mean to be “conservative” in America a century from now?

    This is a good point, that often gets overlooked in these debates – if conservatives having more children is such a sure-fire recipe for long-term cultural dominance, then how did liberal values ever gain a foothold in the culture in first place? It’s pretty obvious that liberal and conservative shifts in the culture are cyclical, and that we seem to keep trending toward greater freedom and individual autonomy over time. I think we can already see that such former social-conservative hot-button issues like abortion and homosexuality are losing their ability to drive voters to the polls the way they did even four or eight years ago…

  5. I really do not understand all the fuss about demographic change.

    Some hottie chick in a bar was bringing up this same general topic, about 3 years ago or so I think, but her issue was that “DC used to be “the chocolate city” and I hate to see that change”. Expressed to her that demographic change is inevitable and it really should not matter, especially on something as superficial as skintone.

    Way after the fact I suspected that she might be one of those pesky reporters gathering material, but never noticed a story that fit (did not look too hard either).

  6. If people inherited their parents’ views would there be such a dramatic shift in acceptance of homosexuality as we’ve seen in the last 30 years or so? Same goes for race relations. The inheritance thing misses on so many points.

  7. You might call it spiritual drift, though I tend to think they’re drifting toward something better.

    They’re drifting away from government funded an sponsored churches. It’s just too bad that that same government sponsorship also stifles private churches and non-state religions. It’s a lesson the American religious community would do well to learn, lest they do too seek a partnership with Caesar.

    They’re not drifting towards something better, they’re drifting towards conformity of thought and the cultural hegemony of orthodox statism.

  8. Kerry Howley shows once again that she’s truly Reason’s intellectual, a veritable Great Thinker of the libertarian movement.

    However, a minor nit: LatinAmerica is right next door.

    Thus, a significant portion of that 30% Latino pop. will be living in basically a larger version of SantaAna (no doubt, Howley is familiar with that city). Their leaders have already built up a parallel system, complete with media and politics; at some point there will be an even more visible separation between the two cultures inhabiting the (former?) U.S. There really isn’t anything non-economic encouraging people to conform to the wider culture, and while that economic pull might work on groups with lower numbers, at some point it will cease to be an issue for Hispanics.

    In fact, while I realize they aren’t in Howley’s class, DavidKennedy of Stanford and SamuelHuntington of Harvard have made similar points, but there concerns can be ignored. Forward with libertarianism!

  9. I may share many of my parents ideas, and some of my grandparents ideas, but probably am completely alien to the ideas of virtue and vice that my great grandparents had. Change is the only constant, so 60 years from now, I guarantee you the idea of “western civilization” will be completely different regardless of how many “white” babies are born.

  10. …by 2050, not just because they have changed dramatically but because you have slightly.

    I’d say we’ll all change dramatically by 2050. I expect to be dead by that point, which will almost certainly create a significant change in my attitudes.

  11. I want my country to maintain the dominant American culture

    Megan Megan Megan…the culture that brought us the War on Drugs, the War on Poverty, the War on Iraq, the War on Terror? That culture?

  12. Ah, Lonewacko. Too bad Howley couldn’t arrange for that mariachi band.

    …a minor nit

    Yes, you are.

    Meanwhile, perhaps you’d like to visit Wisconsin or Minnesota (no doubt, you are familiar with those states, you certainly love their general demographics). They have many cultural institutions related to Scandanavia, Germany, Iceland and Finland. Why, for decades it was possible to get by in some places speaking Swedish or German.

  13. If people inherited their parents’ views would there be such a dramatic shift in acceptance of homosexuality as we’ve seen in the last 30 years or so?

    People do inherit* their parents’ views – and if they’re mobile they go on to modify them throughout their lives.

    *Of course, they don’t really mean “inherit”. They mean something more along the lines of “one-sided dialogue” or “lecture”.

    PS. I was watching Match Game the other day and it’s surprising how affectionate ribbing that old queen Charles Nelson Reilly got. In some ways I think the 70s was more “with it” that the 80s (when I grew up) or most of the 90s.

  14. I tend to think that this entire discussion exaggerates the cultural differences in play.

    60 years ago, American “culture” was casually racist and misogynist, and “free expression” as we understand it essentially didn’t exist. In fact, most of the things we routinely damn some Muslim countries for were extremely common in the USA of 60-150 years ago, from the banning of books to the harassment of racial and religious minorities right on down to the barring of women from education and the routine acceptance of the rape of women who broke certain unwritten social rules.

    The United States in 2008 is much, much more culturally similar to Mexico of 2008 than it is to the United States of 1944.

    How bad can demographic change really be, if the “rising” demographic in the US is more culturally similar to “us” than our own grandparents?

    How bad can demographic change really be, if the “rising” demographic in Europe isn’t all that different from our own grandparents?

  15. SHIT GUYS WE SAW WHAT PAPISTS WROUGHT IN NEW YORK CITY WITH THEIR POPERY AND FISH DINNERS

    be not too hard on lonewacko or should i say LoneWacko or perhaps even WackoSolo; it is hard being the canary in a mineshaft/mindshaft of one’s own devising.

    yes yes this is different because now the vatican is right next door. oh yes. so very different.

  16. One other thing I wanted to mention is the “Captain Kirk” factor.

    One can look at popular culture to understand the unconscious assumptions people make about the future. And one striking thing about the science fiction produced [in all media] for many decades was the overwhelming assumption that everyone in the future would be white.

    I don’t think this was all due to the fact that white people were the market, either. I think that without even thinking about it, creative people thinking about the future basically saw Caucasian America and Europe crowding out the rest of the world essentially forever. You occasionally would get an Arthur C. Clarke talking about Chinese being the dominant language, or about racial convergence, but usually people just thought of a white guy and wrote about all his cool stuff.

    And it’s probably very comfortable to think of oneself playing the starring role in the story of humanity’s future. It’s OK for the future to include the occasional black person or Asian person, as long as Captain Kirk is white. But once people start to think that maybe, just maybe, that won’t be the case, all sorts of strange neuroses bubble to the surface.

    It’s not really about “cultural values” being pushed aside – it’s about some sort of primal fear percolating among people who look at the future and no longer see clones of themselves as the stars and as the center of the universe.

  17. good point, fluffy.

    that may very well be the mystery sauce that’s at the center of locosolo’s otherwise seemingly bland casserole. it makes a lot more sense than trying to answer the overwhelming “so what?” response with other factors.

  18. BakedPenguin,

    Are you suggesting that immigration is always good? No matter what the numbers?

  19. Lessee, I don’t share my parent’s religion or political beliefs and my father considers driving to be a contest between him and the cops while I tend to drive very carefully…that’s 0 for 3.

    Besides, I grew up in southern New Mexico, so I gladly welcome our red enchilada bearing overlords.

  20. One can look at popular culture to understand the unconscious assumptions people make about the future. And one striking thing about the science fiction produced [in all media] for many decades was the overwhelming assumption that everyone in the future would be white.

    Great point!

  21. I’m filing away the “Captain Kirk Effect” with my file of the “Gonzo phenomenon” and the “Wookie Defense” in my folder on pop culture’s reflection in society.

  22. And in fifty years you’ll be able to craft yourself into any shape, color or sexual persuasion so the accent is less noticable.

  23. One other thing I wanted to mention is the “Captain Kirk” factor.

    I once saw a picture of Cuba in the 1980’s with graffiti that read “Viva el Fonz”.\

    StupendousMan, I was pointing out that the very thing he laments about Santa Ana (Miami is perhaps a better example) – parallel cultural and economic institutions – also existed in the American Midwest in the late 1800’s.

  24. Rhywun – “I was watching Match Game the other day and it’s surprising how affectionate ribbing that old queen Charles Nelson Reilly got. In some ways I think the 70s was more ‘with it’ that the 80s (when I grew up) or most of the 90s.”

    I’d be inclined to agree with you, but we’re living the 00s, with Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Will & Grace, every show on the Style channel, etc., and Neil Patrick Harris’s outing barely getting a reaction from the public.

    If people really inherited their parents’ beliefs, where did all these (just as an example) Ron Paul supporters come from? I doubt they all had libertarian-leaning parents.

    I’ve actually managed to push one of my Limbaugh-listening parents toward libertarianism.

  25. Fluffy, while your overall point is totally valid, your choice of Star Trek is a poor one as Roddenberry specifically tried to be very diverse, with black (Uhura), Asian (Sulu), alcoholics (Scotty), nuclear wessels (Checkov), Jews with funky ears (Spock), and raving lunatics (Shatner).

  26. Anything I can do to help?

  27. “They have many cultural institutions related to Scandanavia, Germany, Iceland and Finland. Why, for decades it was possible to get by in some places speaking Swedish or German.”

    Yeah, back in 1880.

  28. Life is change, how it differs from the rocks.

    (Actually the rocks change too…)

  29. Episiarch – good point, especially since ST went out of its way to address themes of racial inequality. It certainly pulled its punches in some cases, but if it hadn’t, it might not have lasted even three seasons.

    Minnesotan – correct, that s/h been past tense. I specifically mentioned the late 1800’s in my second post.

  30. “If people really inherited their parents’ beliefs, where did all these (just as an example) Ron Paul supporters come from?”

    I believe most were pushed out of a dead pig’s ass.

  31. The most important

    By what measurement?

    core beliefs most people have are transmitted not through dialogue, but through inheritance.

    Probably true (without the “most important” part), and Charles Murray made the same claim, but I think it’s a much smaller, harder core than such thinkers think.

    It is extremely likely that you share…of your parents, their religious affiliation, and at a less obvious level, their beliefs about things like what constitutes stealing and lawbreaking, and what are justified evasions of petty laws.

    Those (hard core) are pretty likely, yes, but…

    the political views

    …in my experience, children tend to develop the opposite or otherwise widely differing political views from their parents.

  32. Anytime someone uses the phrase “American culture”, you can safely assume they are a political bullshitter…

  33. I understand that as members of the libertarian mainstream we have a difficult time dealing with this notion because we are outliers but. Most people do not reject the religious or political upbringing of their parents in the first place or if they do they come back to it in time. This doesn’t make them sheep it makes normal people with normal desires to participate in the life of their family(without being the crazy uncle you don’t talk politics with) and to go to a church with rituals they consider “normal”. Yes people are not as “openly” racist or sexist as they used to be. Get their defenses down and you might be surprised though. These changes are the result of a vocal and determined minorities desire to change public opinion. The same with the spreading of the social gospel a century ago or republicanism 250 years ago back but you get the point. In all of these cases the opinions of all generations were changed at once. The ideals of younger generations did not gradually supersede older ones.

  34. Too busy to RTFA/ comments, But…

    From what I have read of McArdle, I have formed the opinion that she is a blathering ninny.

    That is all

  35. Oh, and Utah, though currently dominated by social conservatives, is most definitely shifting away from the right. I know a lot of 20-30 yr old mormons in utah and they are extremely politically savvy and intellectual.

    I live the dichotomy here between “the right” and “politically savvy and intellectual.” Because only leftists are politically savvy and intellectual, I guess.

    children tend to develop the opposite or otherwise widely differing political views from their parents.

    While young, sure, but as people age I think they tend to drift back into relatively close alignment with their parents.

    Of course, in my family, I tend to agree with my Dad on politics, and not my squishy-liberal brother, so these are YMMV even within your family.

  36. if, in the year 3000, the entire world is dominated by Danish mores, I will not feel slighted.

    Sure, both those are both subsets of Western culture. I think you’d feel considerably slighted if they were Taliban or Aztec mores, with the attendant lack of respect for individual rights.

  37. Good job! A quick scan shows no patriotic libertarians attempting to dispute my points, only partly because the adjective rarely applies in the first case.

  38. MP-4:46 pm

    Yes, that culture; the same culture that begets over the top anarcho-capitalist-individualists.

  39. 60 years ago, American “culture” was casually racist and misogynist, and “free expression” as we understand it essentially didn’t exist. In fact, most of the things we routinely damn some Muslim countries for were extremely common in the USA of 60-150 years ago,

    And, ironically, there was quite a long time where Muslim cultures were considerably more tolerant than their European contemporaries. A lot of the intolerance there now is the result of gov’t-funded propaganda campaigns that began with the rise of Arab nationalism about a century ago.

  40. A quick scan shows no patriotic libertarians attempting to dispute my points, only partly because the adjective rarely applies in the first case.

    Given that your definition of “patriotic” is effectively “collectivist on the basis of nation-state,” this is hardly surprising.

    Incidentally, people rarely attempt to dispute the points made by the homeless guy yelling at his food at McDonald’s. That should not be taken as evidence that what he’s saying has any validity to it.

  41. Inheriting values-

    We have all heard the expression, “that was what I was taught” or variants such as “my parents raised me to do it this way” or “I was raised to think or believe that…” In my opinion, the use of the passive voice with these expressions indicates that the inheritance position has traction.

    However, the use of the passive voice also reflects the reality that too many folks are sheeple-in that they did not have any input as to their thoughts on a given subject and that they have not given much thought to the subject. I also think that the use of the passive voice with these expressions as well as countless others is an overt admission that one is disclaiming responsibility for one’s position on the subject.

    Naturally, a rabid anarcho-capitalist-individualist might get a tad annoyed with this phenomenon.

  42. I just got back from 2099, and it is worse than we all imagined. Nobody really understands our era. They laugh at our fashions, morals, and speech patterns. They do things that we abhor out in public, and worst of all we’re all dead!

  43. In 1908 being a social conservative meant something far less amenable to tolerance than “legal marriage is for straight people!”

    What did it mean to be a social conservative in 1908?

  44. Yes, Orange Line Special. Sam Huntington (of Harvard) certainly is in a different class than Howley. You just reminded me of something he once said to Bernard Henri-Levy over dinner:

    “…the big problem with Hispanics, is that they don’t like education!”

    I agree with MikeP – in your mind “patriotism” is defined as “white, christian (protestant only, please) tribalism”

  45. What did it mean to be a social conservative in 1908?

    Keep distribution of birth control a felony. Outlawing of marijuana (to encourage Mexians to emigrate from the southwest and to keep black men from thinking they were as good as a white man).

    Opposition to women entering certain state-licensed professions like medicine.

    Support for miscegenation laws.

    Opposition to women smoking.

  46. I could care less what color my neighbors are or what country they came from. The problem isn’t pinatas and horchata, the problem is welfare. As far as I’m concerned, anyone with a job lined up should be free to cross the border. Just don’t trap their children in an endless cycle of government dependency.

    Most illegal immigrants I’ve met have their heads on a lot tighter than the average lilly white classical music listening NPR supporting liberal.

  47. 1908 Social conservative-

    1. one who opposes the movement to outlaw college football.

    2. one who finds collective bargaining and close union shops to be utterly repugnant.

    3. one who did not favor the notion that individuals should be required to carry passports for foreign travel.

    Point: While in many instances we enjoy more freedom than we did 100 years ago, in many other respects, we do not.

  48. Bradybuck-

    Agreed.

  49. One can look at popular culture to understand the unconscious assumptions people make about the future. And one striking thing about the science fiction produced [in all media] for many decades was the overwhelming assumption that everyone in the future would be white.

    I think you overstate the point. Someone already mentioned that two members of Star Trek’s main cast were non-white. How about Starship Troopers, seminal young adult novel published in 1959 by conservative/libertarian Robert Heinlein? Johnnie Rico (the protagonist) is Filipino.

    Larry Niven’s work is a bit later, but 1970’s Ringworld explicitly suggests that everyone still on Earth is a medium shade of brown (“flatlanders”). His 1974 A Mote in God’s Eye is an anglo-dominated future, but Horace Bury is an Arabic Muslim in a large supporting (sometimes antagonistic) role.

    I’m not choosing obscure stuff, here. These are major works of classic science fiction. While there cretainly was an element of whiteness that pervaded probably all media of the time period, I’d like to see some kind of evidence towards the claim that science fiction was a particular offender.

  50. Just don’t trap their children in an endless cycle of government dependency.

    Easy. Only let in gays.

  51. I think you overstate the point.

    I agree. There’s also Ursula K. LeGuin – her major characters were often black and/or women. That was in the late 60s.

    I think sci-fi was a leader in showing a more “diverse” future, not a follower. If it remained “white” for so long (mainly in visual media), I think that’s more a reflection of the times, not any intentional envisioning of a “white” future.

  52. What did it mean to be a social conservative in 1908?

    Keep distribution of birth control a felony. Outlawing of marijuana (to encourage Mexians to emigrate from the southwest and to keep black men from thinking they were as good as a white man).

    Wrong on pretty much all counts. Given that the political movement known as “conservatism” didn’t exist in the United States prior to the 1950s, asking what it meant to be a social conservative in 1908 is pretty much a meaningless question. It has no more meaning than being a “wet” or a “dry” does in 2008.

    There was, however, a political Right, but it wasn’t necessarily conservative, socially or otherwise. In fact, it was the political Right that most strenuously objected to the enactment of drug prohibition laws, such as the Harrison Act (see H.L. Mencken).

  53. It’s not really about “cultural values” being pushed aside – it’s about some sort of primal fear percolating among people who look at the future and no longer see clones of themselves as the stars and as the center of the universe.

    In a literal sense, yes, when you consider your children are the closest thing to a clone of yourself available currently.

    I don’t think it’s any kind of unusual that most people want a future that favors their own descendants rather than somebody else’s. If you find that to be “neurotic”, I’ll be more than happy to encourage you to will your worldly wealth to my children rather than your own.

    Which brings up a good question – do people breed more because they’re conservative, or do they become conservative because they breed? Someone with descendants to concern themselves with certainly has more of an incentive to preserve an environment which favors those descendants than someone who doesn’t….

  54. Life is change, how it differs from the rocks.

    (Actually the rocks change too…)

    Ugh. A Jefferson Airplane quote, and I recognized it immediately.

    Man, am I getting old….

  55. huh, WTF?

    I didn’t inherit ANYTHING from my parents other than superficial characteristics. I think beliefs are a little different than eye color or the waviness of my hair.

  56. atzecs! aztlan! azuzu!

    PAPISTS SERVE ROME

    I think you’d feel considerably slighted if they were Taliban or Aztec mores, with the attendant lack of respect for individual rights.

    so…tell us more about “aztec mores.”

  57. “On the other hand, fertility alarmists tend to make very odd assumptions about the way people engage with a dominant culture over time.”

    Kerry Howley’s odd assumption is that what changes in the culture as a result of American population growth/maintenance coming from immigration will be nothing that she would dislike or object to much. Hope that works out for you.

  58. chiron82 is referring to this from Bernard-Henri L?vy: theatlantic.com/doc/200511/bhl-road-trip/6

    We’re supposed to be shocked, but SamHuntington is largely correct. No one would say the same thing about AsianImmigrants to the U.S., but not even the best apologist could come up with an argument disputing what SamHuntington said.

    And, the author proves SamHuntington’s point when he refers to a “hardworking, patriotic Mexican minority”. For the libertarians: “Mexican” refers to citizens of Mexico, and that implies they’re patriotic to Mexico.

    As for getting the “preferences for jobs,” see this example.

    The bottom line is that the CorruptEstablishment doesn’t like it when people try to get in their way of making money, thus HitPieces like that.

    I swear, anyone who thinks liberals were the biggest dupes in history has never met any libertarians.

  59. In 40 years race is not going to be much of a factor in most of America. Most folks under 30 who live in a relativly diverse area have dated out of there race, and many married. When I was a kid in our white working class hood we all were openly racists. When I look at the old gang now half of us ended up with non-“white” wifes. Once you get “mixed” being the predominate minority race is going to be about as unimportant as Mic vs. Wop is now.

  60. 1908 Social conservative-

    1. one who opposes the movement to outlaw college football.

    Yeah, I guess the traditionalists were OK with American football by then or at least a few years later, and would’ve considered themselves in opposition to progressive moves to ban it, but in 1898 the “trads” would’ve had problems with football.

    But why limit consideration of trads to just those in the USA? How about social conservatives/traditionalists elsewhere in the world in 1908?

  61. It is extremely likely that you share the political views of your parents, their religious affiliation, and at a less obvious level, their beliefs about things like what constitutes stealing and lawbreaking, and what are justified evasions of petty laws.

    Or, as is very common in our free society, you’ve completely rejected what they believe and adopted all of the opposite views.

  62. Thus, a significant portion of that 30% Latino pop. will be living in basically a larger version of SantaAna (no doubt, Howley is familiar with that city).

    Lonewacko, have you ever actually hung out in Santa Ana?

  63. What did it mean to be a social conservative in 1908?

    Anti-flapper?

    Those devil women with their painted lips must be stopped or society will crumble!

    Also, we need to make alcohol illegal. I’m sure that won’t have any unintended consequences.

  64. so…tell us more about “aztec mores.”

    Well, we appease the sun god with human sacrifice, and sometimes we eat our enemies.

    I think Mel Gibson made a documentary about us.

  65. So much of culture is generated in response to material circumstances, regardless of how people are raised. Now, I’m an avowed fan of this particular thread for analysis, but the point is, there must be a lot of factors that muddy cultural transmission; conversion versus inheritance may be a bit of a false dilemma.

  66. I want to be around in 3000 so I can have some o’ those Danish mores….oh..wait I thought you said SMORES.

  67. Mmmmm… Danish smores…

    Melty chocolate and toated marshmallow sandwiched between buttery pastry….

  68. Well, we appease the sun god with human sacrifice, and sometimes we eat our enemies.

    actually, no. the sun god is the captive of the earth – like many sexually conservative cultures, the chthonic forces were seen as feminine and, in the case of the neurotic religious culture of the aztecs, ravenous. the sun, whose own self-sacrifice changed him from “the diseased one” to a radiant being at the beginning of the fifth (and of course final, it’s always final) age. sacrifice existed as a way to keep earth from eating the sun, in one broad sense.

    there were also sacrifices to tezcatlipoca in the form of ritualized combat, using captured warriors who were given useless wooden weapons and even tied down to a heavy stone. other gods had their own formalized rituals.

    this doesn’t include, of course, the self-mutilations of their priest class, which were nearly gnostic in their fervor to destroy the taint of the body. (in both the “unclean” sense and the urkobold sense of the term)

    i suggest you read some of the work of burr cartwright brundage before you embarrass yourself further. ­čÖé

    and in all seriousness, i think you’ll find your metaphors are tremendously strengthened by actual knowledge. i don’t know if you’re into that sort of thing, but one can always be hopeful.

  69. For the libertarians: “Mexican” refers to citizens of Mexico, and that implies they’re patriotic to Mexico.

    see, where you lose me – one of the many, many points in which you lose me, of course – is who cares who the citizenry is patriotic towards?

    perhaps decades of living in polyglot urban areas is dulling my sense of OH GOD WHITE AMERICA or whatever; but i can’t even begin to give half of one fuck about whether the hondurans and mexicans to the south of me care more about honduras and mexico than they do america; or whether the teeming multitudes of various asian communities, many of which are unilingual and completely shut off from mainstream new york society, wave which flag where on what holiday.

    it still all sounds like PAPISTS SERVE ROME.

    probably because it is.

  70. On the PAPISTS SERVE ROME front:

    The White {Power] Line Special demographic beef is even more absurd than the Mark Steyn demographic beef.

    I think I can establish that the average Muslim in Europe is no more “medieval” than the average Southern Baptist in the US circa 1908. And that it’s therefore absurd to think that Europe is going to become some sort of dystopia if Muslims become more than 2% of the population. But the phenomena of mass Muslim immigration to Western states is comparatively new, so someone like Steyn can legitimately say that we don’t really know with certainty how it will turn out.

    But Catholic Mexicans are already effectively part of the mainstream West. And we do already know how things will turn out if Catholics seize control of local governments: we can observe the conditions in Boston, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, etc. And I gotta tell ya, Boston is a whole lot more “Western Culture” than Mississippi. Sorry, I don’t want to insult southerners here, but I consider the Catholic parts of America a lot more “America” than the deeply Protestant parts. So if you want to play the “cultural danger” game, I’m a lot more afraid of evangelical Protestant Caucasians than Catholic Mexicans.

  71. fluffy: well said!

  72. Thanks for all the comments above. I’m going to have a lot of success showing this thread to anyone who falsely thinks that libertarians are patriotic defenders of the Constitution.

  73. The whole argument seems to neglect the possibility that a free competition of beliefs will select out the beliefs that are in some sense “better”. I’m not sure what I mean.

  74. dhex,

    Well, you basically said the same thing I did, and then called me ignorant.

  75. But thanks for elevating the discussion with unnecessary detail.

  76. no, cause i actually like, uh, knew stuff and…stuff. on this topic you are indeed ignorant, but fear not! you can be saved!

    seriously though, brundage is a good, solid writer and worth some time if you’re actually interested in the mechanics of their (highly neurotic, imo) society.

    otherwise if you’re just looking for a spooky boogeyman, you have basically dozens of cultures to pick from within that time period if you’re looking for violent, imperialistic slave-holding states. if you’re merely interested in human sacrifice, there’s a whole slew of west african cultures to pick from, but i think that takes a smaller phenomenon at the expense of far more interesting/weird things, at least by our modern sensibilities.

    semi-related:
    http://youtube.com/watch?v=nxBvi195JcY&feature=related

    as a side note, i’d like to scare lonewacko on halloween but i have no idea how to say “boo!” in spanish.

    “EL BOO!”

    hmmm, no.

    “LOS BOOS!”

    ehh, no.

    “FALLING BIRTHRATES!”

    better…but still, missing something.

    “ARDILLA DE VENGANZA!”

    !perfecto!

  77. Besides, you’re only mentioning one of many sacrifices. See Christian Duverger, and worry more about embarassing yourself.

    Huitzilopochtli
    Huitzilopochtli was the tribal deity of the Mexica and, as such, he represented the character of the Mexica people and was often identified with the sun at the zenith, and with warfare.

    When the Aztecs sacrificed people to Huitzilopochtli the victim would be placed on a sacrificial stone.[19] Then the priest would cut through the abdomen with an obsidian or flint blade.[20] The heart would be torn out still beating and held towards the sky in honor to the Sun-God; the body would be carried away and either cremated or given to the warrior responsible for the capture of the victim. He would either cut the body in pieces and send them to important people as an offering, or use the pieces for ritual cannibalism. The warrior would thus ascend one step in the hierarchy of the Aztec social classes, a system that rewarded successful warriors.[21]

  78. yes yes i know you’re just interested in making a point but so how’s the mass pillage and murder of iraq going?

    i mean, warfare, mass murder, same thing, right? supporting bush = blood on your hands.

  79. hey talldave, did you miss the days of gary gunnels and the “…before you embarrass yourself further” thing or are you just prickly?

  80. Right, and the invasion of Normandy was the same as Aushwitz.

    Enjoy your strange little world, I’m not wasting any more time on you.

  81. that’s exactly my point, you silly boy!

    “unnecessary details”

    see?

    now, you wanna make a point about how much worse those stone-age societies were than our own, in relation to an idea that cultural drift can be a negative thing. you happened to pick two at random. i happened to pick that nit because i had the feeling you knew very little, if anything, about the subject. i was right.

    now, you’d actually be able to make a better point if you focused not on their mores (which like i said were socially conservative in a way most baptists wouldn’t object to) but rather on the political/religious/theocratic/imperialistic state structure they had. that’s the real fucking problem, obviously, since a lot of their blood sacrifices were turned inward towards leaders. (i.e. occassionally the children of the rich would be tossed into caves or drowned in pools in order to reverse a drought.)

    people who led were expected to get their hands dirty on many levels, including with their own blood, though not to the same extent as the classical maya did. their priesthood of tezcatlipoca being the most extreme of this example.

  82. Thanks for all the comments above. I’m going to have a lot of success showing this thread to anyone who falsely thinks that libertarians are patriotic defenders of the Constitution.

    So, does this mean, since you ignored my question, that you are not personally familiar with the city of Santa Ana? FYI, it’s pretty standard L.A. suburbia with a higher-than-average number of hispanic families and retired Disney employees.

  83. I think the inevitability of Bob Wright utopia is a pretty natural bias based on a graph of human civilization since the Reformation. Then again, I’m a crackpot who thinks Tainter has some pretty interesting ideas. As for the OP, it seems so obvious that I’m surprised smart people are arguing about it (except in the context of our world inevitably getting richer: running out of oil is a billion times more scary than running into Mexicans.)

  84. Oh, Hexxie! You are not a bad teacher. It is just that sometimes your Luke does not want to learn, or is not quite ready.

  85. TallDave rocks!

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