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F.A.C.T.S. 
FACTS: Freethought - Atheism - Critical Thinking - Science

Book and Author Information

Collapse by Jared Diamond

Jared Diamond's Wikipedia page

Format:
Live Chat
Date:     August 25, 2005 9:00 p.m. eastern
Guest:   Dr. Victor Davis Hanson

Jared Diamond originally agreed to a live chat session with us, but later canceled. In his place we asked Victor Davis Hanson, who had written an incredibly detailed critique of Diamond's book, to be our guest. Fortunately, Victor Davis Hanson accepted and the transcript of that live interview is below.



Transcript of the live chat session

connected: ezChat version 0.54

Chris OConnor:: Good evening everyone! Tonight we have Dr. Victor Davis Hanson as our guest!

Chris OConnor:: As you all know Victor wrote a review of Jared Diamond's "Collapse" in April of 2005.

Chris OConnor:: We have had this review posted in the "Collapse" forum for the past month or so.

Chris OConnor:: Hopefully most of you have read his review - if not you might want to after this chat.

Chris OConnor:: We'll discuss "Collapse," but feel free to bring up other topics as you see fit.

Victor Davis Hanson joined

sandor at the zoo joined

Chris OConnor:: test

sandor at the zoo:: test

Chris OConnor:: Sandor

Chris OConnor:: aka Greg

sandor at the zoo:: Hey Chris.

Chris OConnor:: Just got an email from a few members that my community emails didn't get to them, but my private ones did. There must still be problems with the ezboard network from the hacking.

sandor at the zoo:: I did not get a community e-mail either. Just checked the sandor address a couple hours ago.

Chris OConnor:: Then something is still wrong with the system. Lovely. Very frustrating. In the hacking our community lost over 200 members.

Chris OConnor:: But that has nothing to do with community emails. They become members the moment they log back in. The problem is many people relied on reminder emails for author chats and don't use the Home page at all.

sandor at the zoo:: How has the discussion been going for "Collapse"? Are a lot of people reading it?

#Kostya joined

#Kostya:: Hello

sandor at the zoo:: Hello Kostya.

#Kostya:: Hi Sandor, Chris and Victor

Chris OConnor:: Hey Kostya - did you get an email reminder? Something is fishy with ezboard

#Kostya:: I did get the email reminder

#Kostya:: but ezboards are always working in "mysterious ways"

Chris OConnor:: Hmm many have emailed me in the past hour upset about not getting notices. I just sent another.

Victor Davis Hanson:: I think I am on online now, though this is the first time I have done something like this

sandor at the zoo:: Ignore my previous question, I just checked the forums. 502 posts ... looks like people have been liking the book.

Chris OConnor:: Victor - what do you prefer to be called? Dr. Hanson - Victor - Chad?

Victor Davis Hanson:: Victor is fine

sandor at the zoo:: Yes, you're coming in loud and clear, Victor.

sandor at the zoo:: Thank you very much for coming tonight.

GOD defiles Reason joined

Chris OConnor:: Sandor - yes, this has been our largest book discussion to date. But I am obviously concerned right now. Last chat we had about 18 people in right at the start of the chat. The fact that emails didn't go our properly is of concern.

sandor at the zoo:: Yes, I agree.

Chris OConnor:: ...and then more straggled in as we progressed.

Chris OConnor:: Hmm

SoftWarmThunder joined

ecstian joined

Chris OConnor:: Lets kinda hold off a few minutes - but I expect the room to fill slowly

Chris OConnor:: Hey Eric

ecstian:: Hi Chris - Welcome back

Chris OConnor:: SoftWarm - you're new to BookTalk I see. Welcome

SoftWarmThunder:: Hello Chris ... thank you

Chris OConnor:: Victor - usually we have a large room by now, but I expect people to start entering slowly. we can chat as we wait a bit.

Victor Davis Hanson:: Well, I'll just respond as asked

Chris OConnor:: About 2 or 3 months ago the largest hacking ever took place, with over 10,000 message boards partially destroyed. we suffered quite a bit, but have fixed most.

Chris OConnor:: Victor - tell us a bit about yourself.

Chris OConnor:: Victor - you're a military historian we know

Chris OConnor:: What do they mean when they say "Classicist?"

Victor Davis Hanson:: I am a classicist-a philologist of Greek and Latin actually-by training who specialized in ancient warfare and then branched out to general military history

Chris OConnor:: As you know I just returned from Greece. What is a philologist? Someone who studies philosophers?

Chris OConnor:: don't laugh at that question folks

Victor Davis Hanson:: And currently I am a retired professor of Classics, and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford U. A philologist studies the language and literature of Greece and Rome

Chris OConnor:: As people enter we can get onto "Collapse," but feel free to ask other questions folks

Victor Davis Hanson:: I was also born and live on a family farm, and wrote some books on ancient and modern agriculture and agronomy

JulianTheApostate joined

Chris OConnor:: There are 10 people on the site not in the chat room yet.

Chris OConnor:: Hello Julian

JulianTheApostate:: Hello

sandor at the zoo:: How did you come to write the Introduction for "Collapse", Victor? Is Jarred Diamond a colleague of yours?

Chris OConnor:: The Review

sandor at the zoo:: Ah, ok, the review. Was that for NRO?

Victor Davis Hanson:: I didn't write the introduction but I did review both of his books, not positively I'm afraid, and I debated him for an hour on Talk of the Nation about 3 years ago

Chris OConnor:: One of our members thought that Victor did exceptionally well in that debate

Chris OConnor:: I wish I had seen it.

Chris OConnor:: Victor - while people file in I'd love to ask you a question. I've read plenty on your web site.

Chris OConnor:: As a military historian you must have some intriguing ideas about how best we should handle the War on terror.

Chris OConnor:: What now? Some on the far left support an immediate withdrawal of our forces from Iraq.

Chris OConnor:: Forget whether or not going into Iraq in the first place was a good idea - but what now?

Victor Davis Hanson:: Well, I don't know about that, but I was surprised that when asked about radically different proximate societies--South/North Korea, Tijuana/San Diego, etc. he insisted that there were microclimates at work that explains differences in wealth

Chris OConnor:: Wouldn't withdrawal leave a vacuum for Islamic extremists?

sandor at the zoo:: Interesting. I have to admit that I haven't read either of Diamond's books. I came to the chat tonight mainly because Bill Whittle speaks very highly of you on his blog. I was interested in hearing anything you might have to say on any subject, really.

Chris OConnor:: Microclimates. I'd love to hear that further explained.

Victor Davis Hanson:: Now? I'm writing an essay for the DC Post and my regular Chicago Tribune column on why leaving abruptly is a bad idea, and why staying after WWII in Germany (as opposed to WWI) or Afghanistan (as opposed to forgetting it after the Soviet defeat) or Vietnam as opposed to South Korea, make the messy reconstruction less messy in the long run, but that is a different story, and Ill get back to the book

MichaelangeloGlossolalia joined

Chris OConnor:: Welcome Michael

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: hi chris

Chris OConnor:: Ok

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: is anyone talking? I only see you, Chris

Chris OConnor:: Michael - yes, but you walked in during the middle of it

Victor Davis Hanson:: JD meant that geography and climate explain the differences in wealth of two societies often side by side, and downplayed the role of culture, specifically a Western paradigm explaining why a San Diego or Seoul was wealthier and a more hospitable place to live than Tijuana or North Korea

Chris OConnor:: I find tremendous differences in the various cultures within even the US itself that account for much of the disparity we see

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: social networks tend to promote people who have the same unconscious cultural codes. It's hard to fake them, since they're unconscious. A wealthy social network will stay wealthy.

sandor at the zoo:: There are 9 of us in the room, Michael. Victor has opened up the floor to questions about Jarred Diamond's book "Collapse".

JulianTheApostate:: JD didn't mention the importance of culture, though that doesn't mean that he doesn't acknowledge its importance. He's simply emphasizing the importance of resources & the environment, which don't receive much attention in most historical treatments.

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: wealth is circulated within the group of people who share unconscious habits, even on the level of body language, personal space, etc.

Victor Davis Hanson:: I'm not sure of your question, my point was whatever South Korea was doing it was quite different than North Korea and did not result in 1 million dying of famine as just happened in the last decade in North Korea

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: geography is probably also important, trade routes etc

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: north Korea is a closed network, it can't get new energy or information

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: only the elite there has anything

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: networks that share information and talent do better. It's social groups that close off to the world that don't do well.

Chris OConnor:: Victor - excellent point. The climates are pretty similar between north and south Korea. The south is benefiting from something other than mother nature smiling upon them. Culture is a reasonable guess.

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: the south benefits from open trade links to other nations

Victor Davis Hanson:: Yes, exactly, since politics and economics not landscape explain the differences (pace GGand Steel), and a Western paradigm seems to create wealth in a way a statist/communist model did not

Chris OConnor:: Michael - so that would be a cultural difference.

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: not necessarily cultural, if a dictator is responsible for the country being closed off

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: I don't know the history of north Korea tho

RhodyHistorian joined

Chris OConnor:: I guess I'm considering that cultural - allowing your nation to be a dictatorship is a cultural difference

Victor Davis Hanson:: The point again is the climate or geography is not the determining factor is a nation's success, but rather its protocols about science, economics, politics, social life,

Chris OConnor:: Yes, and that point seems valid.

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: the exchange of information is what matters. Groups that take in a lot of information know how to take advantage of opportunities that closed groups can't.

sandor at the zoo:: When you say "downplayed", Victor, to what degree do you believe he did this? Did he ignore cultural factors, or just fail to emphasize them enough?

Chris OConnor:: Obviously climate and geography (and even chance) are factors, but are they the dominant factors?

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: trade routes and geography would matter, because in earlier times they'd have determined the flow of information

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: anything that affects the flow of information would make a difference

Chris OConnor:: Welcome RhodyHistorian - jump on in as you please

JulianTheApostate:: The existence of oil in the Middle East has obviously had a significant impact. And there are many other examples.

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: that's true... anyone who controls a major resource stays on top

Victor Davis Hanson:: Well, he wrote 2 different books, the first (GGS) was geographically determined (the West stumbled onto it success), the second suggested that in fact Western modes of production and organization were pathological--but the examples he provided were mostly isolated and ecologically fragile islands and out of the way places rather than present day Europe, the US, or Latin America where tens of millions live rather than a few thousand or even hundred in his examples of Easter Island, Greenland, and other places

sandor at the zoo:: I see.

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: pathological as in a defense mechanism?

Chris OConnor:: Closed systems so to speak.

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: or as in harmful to the environment?

JulianTheApostate:: I attributed JD's emphasis on the fact that he was examining closes systems. Perhaps, with globalization, the entire world could be considered a closed system.

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: julian--that would be a unique change in human culture... the transformation to a global closed system

JulianTheApostate:: So, would that make Easter Island a valid analogy for the entire human race in the 21st century?

Victor Davis Hanson:: No, in the sense that we are exploitive to the point of suicidal--element of that indictment are true, but they are not the whole truth, especially since rather small congested areas such as Tokyo or London that have virtually no resources can maintain large populations quite well if they avoid political instability, poor public health, etc.

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: julian--in what way?

Chris OConnor:: What I'm concerned with is learning from history so insure that the horrific elements don't repeat themselves

Chris OConnor:: to insure*

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: good idea chris

Chris OConnor:: In a nutshell - I think bad decisions lead to Collapse.

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: I think if people don't learn the psychological aspects of history, they'll find themselves repeating mistakes in spite of themselves

Victor Davis Hanson:: Well, instead of Easter Island or Greenland, perhaps he could spell out exactly how the US or Europe is doomed or is failing, when in fact air and water are getting cleaner while national wealth is increasing--despite worries about oil and national security

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: Chris--I think it has a lot to do with narcissism. When cultures turn inward and see only themselves.

Chris OConnor:: Humans are resilient and can thrive just about anywhere. We collapse when deadly ideas, policies and practices are allowed to spread

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: I don't think western civilzation will collapse. IT will just have a crisis of conscience.

RhodyHistorian:: Chris, in fact, the ability to learn from history is what separates modern civ. from the closed societies discussed by Diamond, doesn't it? They were unaware of "the other", if you will.

JulianTheApostate:: In the marginal societies Diamond explored, the population managed to destroy the environment and consume the resources. Now we're damaging the environment and using up resources on a global scale.

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: Chris--I think it's fragmentation of the social web, when subcultures become self-referencing and cut off ties to other subcultures.

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: it makes a society vulnerable

RhodyHistorian:: Yes Julian, but we are aware of those dangers as opposed to Diamonds subjects

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: one reason why religion is such a big deal, people are afraid society will fragment further without it

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: I agree we need to change the way we relate to natural resources.

Chris OConnor:: Rhody - that seems reasonable. and I think that is what Victor is saying. Using closed little social groups doesn't fly.

Victor Davis Hanson:: Yes, that is right, and we have 2500 years of history to suggest to us which systems don't make it--top heavy statist or theocratic governments for example or closed economies or tribal societies without the rule of law

Chris OConnor:: Victor - exactly

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: victor--right... we need to strengthen the small business side of capitalism, and increase social cohesion

JulianTheApostate:: Rhody, I agree, that we're much more aware, and that awareness has given rise to the environmental movement, who in turn have inspired policies leading the clean air and water.

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: not rely on top heavy systems

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: Julian is right.. we do have homeostatic mechanisms that alert us to future dangers

#Kostya:: FYI: link to "Talk of the Nations" debate:

#Kostya:: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1132838
Chris OConnor:: capitalism or competition is the key

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: unless we cut those mechanisms out... environmentalists were derided for a couple decades before everyone started realizing conservation is a good idea

Chris OConnor:: capitalism = natural selection

RhodyHistorian:: Julian, exactly

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: chris--small business competition, as opposed to huge corps that write their own laws

JulianTheApostate:: In the Japan chapter, JD explained how top-down control saved Japan's forests.

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: if huge companies squeeze out small businesses, it's not healthy, especially if they're close to government and lock the whole thing in place

Victor Davis Hanson:: I think whatever one's politics are, one can agree that massive corporations or governments are slow to react to stimuli, and that is why we are always in a cycle of change and response in a free society, whether that is distrust of big government or agribusinness, we are quite flexible given our heritage and constitution

RhodyHistorian:: Chris, I was thinking that, too, but was thinking that perhaps "adaptation" (which may sound too neo-Darwinian, but oh well)

RhodyHistorian:: instead of natural selection

Chris OConnor:: adaptation is a better choice of words

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: victor--and the marketing techniques that allow corporations to act as if they care about the public need, without actually responding

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: I think capitalism is a kind of natural selection, as long as there's enough biodiversity

JulianTheApostate:: Societies are incredibly adaptive. Lower birth rates and greater concern about the environment are examples. The only problem is that there's a lag time, and society may not adapt quickly enough to global problems.

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: I think social cohesion is important too, and nobody seems to agree on how to improve that

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: Julian--I agree

Chris OConnor:: Victor - what are we doing wrong today that could lead to the collapse of western civilization? anything? or have we learned from history?

Chris OConnor:: What do you mean by social cohesion?

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: Chris--I don't think western civ will collapse. It will just go through a crisis of conscience as people integrate a global moral awareness into systems that used to behave as if there were no tomorrow

Victor Davis Hanson:: What was disturbing about Diamond's examples were that sometimes the worst traits of a society--China's coercion to force one child, Japan's top down dictates are held up as ideals. Even his repeated praise of the Dutch turned ironic, given their abject failure to integrate minorities and their current hysteria about Islamic minorities. As for us, the danger would be to give up on an open and transparent society, in pursuit of short-term remedies and ends

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: social cohesion = the ability of subcultures to have a shared social space, and not become toxic to one another

JulianTheApostate:: Victor, what's your view of the tragedy of the commons, in which an individual's best interest conflicts with society's best interest?

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: Victor, I agree

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: and the tragedy of the commons is a great theme

Chris OConnor:: Victor - How else was China to deal with overpopulation?

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: we make many decisions that are good for the individual or corporation or political party in the short term, but bad in the long term or in a wider context

Chris OConnor:: Short term remedies and ends - I'd like to hear some examples.

RhodyHistorian:: Lincoln suspending Habeas Corpus?

Chris OConnor:: Patriot Act going too far perhaps

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: the renewed interest in corporate ethics is a good sign, I hope that gets into politics too.

Victor Davis Hanson:: In a free society since the Greeks we know that the crux is how can we be both free and equal since they are often antithetical given that we are not born into the world with equal talent and opportunity. We know that government mandated equality of result failed, so we rely on religion, custom, shame, family, etc. to teach the individual not to do what he is legally free to do, but to think of others


MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: if politicians keep doing only what's best for their careers, they'll screw things up for everyone

Chris OConnor:: I agree Michael. Seeing CEO's and CFO's doing hard time is a pleasant change.

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: victor-only problem with shame is it's so overused that nobody responds to it

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: Chris--more than the punishment aspect is the renewed interest in how to avoid short-term corner cutting

Victor Davis Hanson:: Ceo's are a good example, since the old restraints of shame and family odium have been lost, thought I think the public is demanding they return to curb such excesses

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: accountability isn't just about seeing people get punished, but knowing that the system has enough feedback loops to keep things stable

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: victor--right... shame only works when one's decisions are likely to become public, too
Chris OConnor:: true

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: probably the form of shame that still works is to focus on the victims

Chris OConnor:: S nobody else but me is concerned that our civilization will collapse one day?

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: I think they ought to publicize the stories of the victims of suicide bombings more.

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: chris--I think there's always that possibility, but I think we're learning

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: the fear of collapse leads to solutions

Victor Davis Hanson:: It is very important to have accountability and it is not political--it is key to have conservatives shame Ken Ray and Enron and liberals to do the same to the UN oil for food that cost even more billions- both culpable parties should be stigmatized in addition to criminal charges, that is how a free society avoids the ultimate solution of a coercive totatarian and utopian false medicine

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: victor--good point about people condemning abuses on their own side. It's easy to condemn the enemy's abuses.

JulianTheApostate:: But is shame sufficient? Many people would rather be rich than respected.

Chris OConnor:: Yes, very good point. It doesn't happen enough.

Victor Davis Hanson:: Sorry, I have 4 sticky keys, Ken Lay and totalitarian

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: shame isn't sufficient... but it does keep shady people from having access to social networks that would reward them

Chris OConnor:: Example - I listen to Rush Limbaugh poke fun at liberals nonstop, but allow reps to get away with anything.

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: the point of shame is to cut links between people who abuse resources and the people who help them get resources to abuse

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: chris--that's true. Limbaugh is a fire setter. He's not accountable for his words.

Chris OConnor:: Victor - never eat cotton candy while typing.

RhodyHistorian:: that is a particular characteristic of most ideologues

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: if you go into Yahoo Islam chat, you'll find lots of Americans insulting the Muslims in vicious ways. They're using anonymity to set fires.

RhodyHistorian:: right or left, or cotton candy eating

Victor Davis Hanson:: No, shame is just part of the arsenal. As far as radio hosts go--it seems the right keeps us honest with bloggers, cable news, and talk radio, and the left with NRP, PBS NY Times and DC Post or perhaps CBS News, and this tension is good since one must weather the arena of criticism

Chris OConnor:: I agree, but Islamic fundamentalists are sure harming their religion

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: chris--true. But in Yahoo Islam chat, it's the other way around. It's Americans and "Christians" insulting the Muslims and acting irresponsible.

Chris OConnor:: True - there are sure a lot of right-wing blogs

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: Muslims have to condemn fanatical Muslims, Christians have to condemn fanatical Christians.

JulianTheApostate:: I was surprised by the Chevron chapter, in which image concerns (shame in essence) made Chevron far more environmentally friendly.

Chris OConnor:: Victor - I saw you took 1st place in 2004 for your blob.

RhodyHistorian:: or blog

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: julian--yeah, I think the wave of environmental ads by energy companies will force them to put their money where there image is.

Chris OConnor:: Victor - and "Eject! Eject! Eject!" was #3.

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: they know they have to APPEAR environmentally aware, which may lead to the real thing

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: congrats victor... where is your blob/blog?

Chris OConnor:: I'm not seeing many extremist Christians these days

RhodyHistorian:: similar to cigarette companies w/ kids and beer companies with responsible drinking: good pr and hopefully practical results

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: chris--they exist, believe me.

Chris OConnor:: http://victorhanson.com/

RhodyHistorian:: Pretty much "extremist" anything exists these days, if you look hard enough

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: in the media, you mostly see people like Dobson or falwell, they're extreme but not to the point of advocating violence

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: but there are Christians who advocate violence. Pat Robertson being only one laughable example.

Victor Davis Hanson:: The point again, is that in free Western society, ideas rise or fall according to their strength and logic, I have one at victorhanson.com and get about 1000 emails a week, many furious and quite hostile, but again the point is the government leaves it alone, people can vent, and one must take heat for one's views, not true in the Middle East

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: victor--true

JulianTheApostate:: There's plenty of heat in the Middle East.

Chris OConnor:: Lots of new people trying to get into this chat room right now.

RhodyHistorian:: That is the key point: the ability to have this dialogue, heated at times, is at the core of our modern society.

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: I agree Rhody

Victor Davis Hanson:: But look Robertson is immediately damned and ostracized, no one wishes to associate with him, that is how the public arena sorts things out

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: I really dislike how people on the Right and Left are calling the other side "murderers" and so on. People who support abortion aren't murderers, and neither are people who support the war.

Chris OConnor:: Victor - another great point.

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: victor--right. although I bet he retains a lot of his connections.

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: it's one thing for people to snap at Robertson and for him to apologize, another thing for him to lose his political friends, etc.

JulianTheApostate:: Everyone supports the free exchange of ideas. The question is about what actions to take, and who should be making the decisions.

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: it's as if his beliefs don't matter, as long as he apologizes for saying them too openly

RhodyHistorian:: On one of Diamond's islands, for instance, if Robertson was the "big man", he wouldn't have encountered much resistance and may have prompted the very action. The existence of rapid and respected dissent marks the difference

Victor Davis Hanson:: There is a sort of rule--that when one goes beyond the limit, it will almost always come back to haunt one. The demonization of Clinton had its natural reaction in the current irrational hatred of Bush, and this teaches us to be very careful what you say and write since in a free society there is always a ripple.

RhodyHistorian:: MG: that is part of the problem with "shame", today we are too willingly to accept any apology for any action. We just want to hear them say I'm sorry and then move on.

Victor Davis Hanson:: Shame only works when deeds follow words in some manifest way

Chris OConnor:: Victor - I didn't really consider that the lefts hatred of Bush could be "pay back" for how Clinton was treated

RhodyHistorian:: Acta non Verba

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: I think it would help if people who were good for the system as a whole were promoted, rather than people who scratch backs.

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: in the two party system, the people who get promoted are the ones who are likeliest to win, not necessarily those likeliest to understand and have good solutions to complex problems.

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: Chris--I think when one party shows irrational hatred toward the other, it ends up getting mirrored back.

RhodyHistorian:: Well, sometimes that backfires: Dole, Kerry, etc.

ecstian:: I don't think that disgust with Bush and his policies is "irrational hatred" in itself, even if some people who hat him are irrational

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: I think "Bush's policies are harming the country" is not irrational. "Bush is a lying terrorist" is more irrational.

Chris OConnor:: I think both Clinton and Bush have had their fair share of irrational hatred

Victor Davis Hanson:: Yes, once the Monica controversy eroded into Clinton the killer, thief, extortionist, it was only logical that Bush would be the Nazi, killer, terrorist, etc. and then we will all sicken of the cycle and return to some sort of decorum

ecstian:: well we would have to determine if he is lying, and we would have to define torrorist

JulianTheApostate:: Victor, do you support any environmental regulations, such as Clear Air and Clear Water acts?

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: right victor

Chris OConnor:: Victor - yes, with Hillary at the helm

Chris OConnor::

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: I think Hillary is demonized in very irrational and hysterical ways

RhodyHistorian:: Or JEB

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: criticism of her is rarely item by item

Chris OConnor:: Jeb will never make it out of Florida.

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: it's usually more like "Hillary is a feminazi (and a lesbian!)"

Chris OConnor:: haha that sounds mean

RhodyHistorian:: I meant ;) I don't think another Bush will win the Pres. for a long time

ecstian:: is that a promise, chris?

Chris OConnor:: lol yes

GOD defiles Reason:: I think there's a combination of "payback" emotions, healthy opposition to policies that people think will cost us for generations, and this so-called 'blackbox voting' thing does cause legitimate doubt

ecstian:: ok - then I will hold you responsible if history show otherwise

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: I think the whole idea of 'payback' leads to cynicism.

Chris OConnor:: At some point I'd like to hear about any of Victors upcoming books. I know he has one in the works.

Victor Davis Hanson:: All of this is an example of how free and flexible societies deal with problems and in the environmental sphere can react quite rapidly to crisis, that was my main critique of Diamond--he underestimates how rapidly Western free societies address crises, in a way that the Ottomans or Aztecs or Soviets could not, all being top heavy systems,

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: back scratching and payback both... tribalistic activity in social networks

Chris OConnor:: Looks like Victor has authored at least 10 books

RhodyHistorian:: But all contained in a broader social network

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: victor--I think intellectually we're a very vibrant society. The problem is taking what's discussed among the "chattering classes" (probably us) and making it effective.

JulianTheApostate:: Of course, the Ottomans did a lot better, and were more innovative, than the West for a couple of centuries, though at that point the West didn't have free societies.

Chris OConnor:: The Blogosphere

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: I actually blogged this week.

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: I have all of 40 regular readers now

Chris OConnor:: Too bad pctacitus couldn't make it tonight. He is a big fan of yours Victor.

Victor Davis Hanson:: The electronic media has speeded up things, so haste trumps reflection, as a columnist one is under pressure to write hours before the deadline and is told to quite writing reflective pieces that take 3-4 days, given the nature of our short attention span and the 500 word instant commentary

JulianTheApostate:: That's why I get so much more out of books, though the blogs are always tempting.

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: victor--CNN did something funny: they reported on Blogger reactions to Bolton's UN reform ideas. Liberals hate him and conservatives think he's great (big surprise). Then they forgot to report what changes Bolton actually wanted.

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: It's as if any issue is all about "Liberals say... conservatives say..." and not about actual information.

sandor at the zoo:: It has been very informative and interesting observing this chat, everyone. It's now 10 pm here and I have to log off. Thank you for taking the time to visit, Victor, and thank you for hosting, Chris. A good night to you all.

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: bye sandor

Victor Davis Hanson:: I think it is good to have mix, writing a book is important to look at something in depth rather than just a number of things superficially--

sandor at the zoo left

Chris OConnor:: I have an odd questions about the Acropolis. On one side just outside of the wall there is a tunnel dug into the rock that obviously leads up and into the Acropolis. I can't find any information about this on the Internet, but my bartender in Athens told me this was an escape tunnel used to get away from the Turks.

Chris OConnor:: Victor - you're welcome to comment if you know anything about it - I know you've written extensively about Greece.

Victor Davis Hanson:: I think you are thinking of the north slope and the cave of Pan, it was not a tunnel in antiquity, but rumor had it under the Ottomans there were tunnels

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: I'm having college flashbacks and I didn't go to college

Chris OConnor:: Victor - Yes, it is on the north side. Near the theater.

RhodyHistorian:: Victor, that reminds me: I've seen you get criticized for not showing proper historical "reflection" in some of you shorter op-de pieces. Do you find that often you have to tamp down your historian's tendency to reflect when writing short pieces? And does it bother you?

Chris OConnor:: Not the Odeon of Dyonisis, but the other one. (spelling is wrong)

RhodyHistorian:: "op-ed" not "op-de"

Victor Davis Hanson:: No, that it is the south side and those are additional caves and a spring as well. yes, it does bother me: historians write and say "how can you do this and ruin your reputation by writing opeds after 15 books, and then oped editors says, stop mentioning history so much , you're losing the audience

StephanKrieg joined

Chris OConnor:: Welcome Stephan - better late than never

Victor Davis Hanson:: You are thinking of the 4th century theater of Dionysos, on the site of the original 5th century one

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: hey Stephan

StephanKrieg:: Please forgive my tardy entry

StephanKrieg:: Please continue, Dr. Hanson

Chris OConnor:: Athens is incredible people. I want to go back already.

SoftWarmThunder left

RhodyHistorian:: yes, Victor, I've seen you get criticized for being "too general" or relying on "simple" analogies in your columns. As far as Athens, good coffee and good Uzo

Chris OConnor:: Victor - I'm going to add a link to your site on our Home page since yours does qualify as a Blog.

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: pop culture must be relentlessly deloused of depth and fact.

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: if it's not tribalistic and doesn't make people feel good about the position they've taken, it won't sell

Chris OConnor:: Victor - your upcoming book - can you tell us about it?

StephanKrieg:: Dr. Hanson, forgive my impertinence. Do you see any situation in history that your give us guidance for the emergence of China into the world stage, as is happening today. What does this emergence portend, in your opinion?

Victor Davis Hanson:: It is largely a 19th century city built on an Ottoman village that was itself on top of the classical town, nothing like Florence or Rome, still it is worth seeing. I lived there over 2 years and go back each summer, they always say is wont work any longer, but somehow it muddles through

JulianTheApostate:: Speak of depth and fact, one neat aspect of Collapse was learning about all these obscure societies, such as on Easter Island and Greenland.

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: Stephan--with all sides having nuclear weapons, there's no precedent.

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: best solution to china is to form lots of business ties with ordinary Chinese citizens

Chris OConnor:: The coffee in Athens wasn't impressive, to tell you the truth. They don't understand "just coffee." Everything is either an espresso or frappe or cappuccino

GOD defiles Reason left

Victor Davis Hanson:: China has a rendezvous with unions, environmentalism, class envy and exploitation and a host of problems that will not so easily allow it to the be the hyper power we are presently so apprehensive about it, it is still a top down society and the hope is that it liberalizes

RhodyHistorian:: I like mine strong, that's why, especially after a lot of Uzo

Chris OConnor:: I didn't buy any Uzo.

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: I agree with victor, china won't be taking over the world, except maybe economically. And they have a right to do that, as much as we do.

JulianTheApostate:: But China seems to becoming stronger, year after year, even though it has a top-down structure.

Chris OConnor:: Michael - they have a "right," but doesn't their potential scare you a little?

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: chris--sure. But I'm in their shoes, I'd do the same thing. Buy up American real estate.

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: if I was in their shoes

Chris OConnor:: Fortunately, the days of conventional warfare are over.

Chris OConnor:: Or maybe not so fortunate.

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: chris--hopefully

StephanKrieg:: Should the US be fearful of its threats?

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: not sure what happens if china tries to grab Taiwan.

JulianTheApostate:: If China weren't subsidizing so much of the US debt, the US would be in much worse economic shape.

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: Stephan--depends.. fearful enough to take sane action, or fearful enough to take paranoid and stupid action? The line can be very thin.

Chris OConnor:: Yea, Taiwan is a time bomb waiting to explode.

StephanKrieg:: to all: have you read the Asymmetrical warfate document?

Chris OConnor:: Stephen - never heard of it.

JulianTheApostate:: What are you referring to, Stephan?

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: Stephen--there's only one?

RhodyHistorian:: It's a two way street in China, though. Western companies are becoming heavily invested over there. And the people are getting used to Western goods. PBS had a doc. a couple months ago on the burgeoning car market, for instance.

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: rhody--right. and more economic ties that go both ways might act as a stabilizing force

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: jingoism isn't the right approach to china

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: investment might be

StephanKrieg:: The subsidy of the US debt is hard to understand, unless one considers the way that investors buy stock in the companies that they investy in...

Victor Davis Hanson:: China is weighing the question as we speak and not sure whether the US public will come to the defense of Taiwan or think that "they are all Chinese and it is an internal problem or 'why lose LA for Taiwan?"

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: china is already invested in the us, might as well make it go both ways

RhodyHistorian:: I agree, free markets are a long term good, if sometimes they hurt short term

JulianTheApostate:: The China chapter of Collapse was scary. What happens to the environment when a billion people work towards first-world lifestyles?

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: Stephen--short term decisions often end up tying people to things they don't want to be tied to.

Chris OConnor:: Victor - that threat by the Chinese general was pretty scary

Chris OConnor:: He threatened to launch a nuke strike against the US

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: julian--hopefully they'll be mad enough at the US for not being environmentally friendly that they'll have a patriotic interest in doing better

StephanKrieg:: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asymmetric_warfare

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: I think the Taiwanese should consider a nonviolence campaign with links to mainland democracy activists.

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: involving the US would be dangerous

JulianTheApostate:: Unfortunately, they seem more interested in achieving a stronger economy, more powerful military, and more Olympic medals.

StephanKrieg:: One thing that it seems that the CCP is good at (and all others are not) is patience. We in the West would do well to study Zen.

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: I think any top-heavy system should recognize that reality is really good at undermining top-heavy systems

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: I agree Stephan. Our decisions are remarkably short-term.

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: individually and as a mass

Chris OConnor:: true

RhodyHistorian:: That's what happens when you exalt the state over individuals. Patience is indeed a virtue when not concerned with the effects on individuals or even larger groups of citizens.

StephanKrieg:: I do not think that the threat to LA is directed at the population, i believe that it is directed at the power elite of this country

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: I'm not sure we are in the habit of visualizing a real future. We react to what we can see.

Victor Davis Hanson:: It was intended to be scary, since he knew that no American general would say something similar such as taking out their new $50 billion damn, so there is the assumption, quite correct, that affluent Westerners can be intimidated by scarifying rhetoric so foreign to their current comfort

Chris OConnor:: Stephan - but the missile would be directed at LA

JulianTheApostate:: However, top-heavy systems often remain in place until there's a catastrophic collapse. The Soviet Union was a mess, but things aren't any better in most post-Soviet states.

Chris OConnor:: Victor - so we have to assume this is a bluff?

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: julian--true. Good reason we should be looking at robust networks to hold the US up if the govt ever does collapse.

Chris OConnor:: They have a $50 billion dam? Damn!

StephanKrieg:: No, it is not a bluff, IMHO, we are just not understanding to whom it is directed.

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: it's the social networks that kick in when government fails

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: if we have no cohesion as a culture, we'll have trouble

RhodyHistorian:: I believe Chinese political leaders backed off of that statement pretty quickly, did they not? (I may be mistaken)

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: Stephan--it might be a "trial balloon". Feeling out America's commitment to a war over Taiwan.

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: I don't think we should commit to a war over Taiwan.

Chris OConnor:: Stephan - I'm not following you. The threat may be directed at our government, but the actual missile would target LA and kill millions potentially.

Victor Davis Hanson:: Yes, of course. Since we have overwhelming nuclear superiority and the foundations of an ABM system, but it was effective nonetheless

StephanKrieg:: Dr. Hanson, does it not seem to be the case that "Governments" are an emergent structure, emergent from an underlying social process?

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: if china invaded Taiwan, its govt would lose the confidence of its people pretty quickly. Without the US getting involved, they'll probably figure that out.

Chris OConnor:: How effective is this ABM system?

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: I worry that governments will get so addicted to strategy that they'll miscalculate eventually and set off a nuclear exchange.

Chris OConnor:: Michael - and the same people would forget about this invasion within 3 years, just like we did 9/11
MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: strategy can be a very narcissistic enterprise. It's not the same in theory as in reality.

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: chris--I doubt it. We didn't forget 911.

ecstian:: depends on what you mean by forget

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: we argue about Iraq, but that doesn't mean we forgot 911. We just don't know what we can do more than we're doing about it.

Chris OConnor:: I think time desensitizes people

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: people still talk about 911 all the time

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: chris--I think talking over time does desensitize... but feelings remain underneath the talk.

Victor Davis Hanson:: Very effective in 5 years against a North Korea or Pakistan, somewhat with China, useless against the Russians or any others with more than 300 or so delivery systems

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: words lose impact as they're repeated, but something usually refreshes the impact of words eventually.

StephanKrieg:: Chris, we have to understand that we should not consider a "government" to be an entity at the same level as a being like you and I, there are tiers of emergence. Interactions between entities occurs, mostly, at the same tier: governments -governments, humans - humans. I am assuming this. We, as individuals, do not operate at the same level as a government.

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: Stephan--good question about social processes leading to government

StephanKrieg:: 9/11 was a phase transition event.

JulianTheApostate:: Here's an article about the Chinese general's threat, if you aren't familiar with it:

JulianTheApostate:: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/4688471.stm

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: it's a matter of feedback on all levels

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: even dictators are influenced by the people they dominate

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: they just don't realize it

Chris OConnor:: I need to read more about this missile defense system

RhodyHistorian:: Well, getting a bit late here on the East Coast. Thank you Dr. Hanson for your time and for booktalk for hosting. It was a genuinely stimulating conversation.

StephanKrieg:: Yes, Michael, because the dictator's power flows from the people that they dominate

Chris OConnor:: Goodnight Rhody

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: Stephan--psychologically as well. Same thing happens in narcissism... saying "I am not influenced" is often a sign that one is influenced, and reacting against it.

StephanKrieg:: yes.

RhodyHistorian left

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: fundamentalism is a reaction not only against modernity, but against the recognition that the fundamentalist has been influenced.

Chris OConnor:: Victor - you're welcome to chat with us as long as you're enjoying yourself. We would like to hear about your book about Athens and Sparta before you say goodbye.

Chris OConnor:: your next book

StephanKrieg:: yes, forgive my impertinence.

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: I missed your impertinence, Stephan... can you repeat it?

StephanKrieg:: ;-)

Chris OConnor:: I think Islamic fundamentalism is more than a reaction - it is what the Koran calls for

Chris OConnor:: But I suppose that is for another chat session.

Victor Davis Hanson:: Yes, I'll have to log off soon: but the book--A War Like No Other: How Athens Fought Sparta comes out next month from Random House and tries to explain the war from the vantage point of those who fought it

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: Chris--most Muslims I've talked to are quick to denounce terrorism. A holy book is NOT meant to be taken entirely literally or as a guidebook to modern living. The majority of Jews and Christians also know that.

StephanKrieg:: Dr. Hanson, is there any similarity between the Athens and Sparta struggle and the US/Sino struggle?

JulianTheApostate:: According to Karen Armstrong's Battle for God, fundamentalism is definitely a response to modernity.

Chris OConnor:: Victor - I'd love to ask you questions about Greek history, but I know you'll have to go.

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: Most Muslims read the Quran in context, just as most Jews read the Bible in context. God tells the Hebrews to commit genocide... doesn't mean modern Jews are associated with that.

JulianTheApostate:: How much can you know about the soldiers' experiences in Ancient Greece?

Victor Davis Hanson:: In the sense that a liberal society (Athens) has short term liabilities and long term but unappreciated strengths

Chris OConnor:: Victor - how do we know all that we know about those ancient wars? This has always interested me. Were there books left behind? Scrolls? Writing on walls?

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: history is written by the writers.

Chris OConnor:: Michael - yes, but where is it written is my question!

StephanKrieg:: no, by the Victors...

JulianTheApostate:: And the rat excrement.

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: chris--and a good one

JulianTheApostate:: (Collapse reference)

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: Stephan-only the victors who could write

Chris OConnor:: I want to do some reading on ancient Greece and Samuel (booktalk member) has suggested a few books. But how do we know what we claim to know? this is what intrigues me.

Victor Davis Hanson:: Classics is based on tripartite evidence: literature (eg Thucydides, Aristophanes, Plutarch), 2, inscriptions on stone (eg 20,000 of them from Athens alone), and archaeology and art (eg. vase paintings of trieremes, remains of stone forts and walls

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: the history of any family is largely distorted into a myth, unless there's a writer in the family who is very honest and articulate. Same with nations.

Chris OConnor:: 20,000! I'd love to see these inscriptions. That's incredible. So much has been found all over Athens.

JulianTheApostate:: Does the literature mainly reflect the experience of the ruling elite?

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: was it the ruling elite that did the most writing?

Chris OConnor:: I've read Timaeus and Critias (spelling?) about Atlantis, but seriously doubt this civ existed.

Chris OConnor:: Julian - I bet it does

Chris OConnor:: We stayed on Santorini and many scientists think Atlantis was there - if it existed at all.

Victor Davis Hanson:: Not always; Euripides and Aristophanes have sympathetic portraits of slaves for example, we also have graffiti, everyday utensils , houses etc that tell us the other story

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: it's interesting to think about all the history that was never written because it didn't fit into an existing category of literature.

Chris OConnor:: You guys would flip if you saw the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.

Chris OConnor:: Also there is a museum just for the artifacts from the Acropolis.

Chris OConnor:: I have 442 pictures.

Victor Davis Hanson:: I am afraid I am going to have to log off and prepare for class tomorrow, thank you for the opportunity to chat with everyone, vdh

JulianTheApostate:: Thanks for coming.

Chris OConnor:: Victor - thank you very much for this time.

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: see you victor

Chris OConnor::

Victor Davis Hanson left

Chris OConnor:: It is unfortunate that about half of the audience I was hoping for showed up tonight.

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: I was surprised to see so many people

JulianTheApostate:: It still seemed like a good conversation.

#Kostya left

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: it seemed like enough people to stay interesting

Chris OConnor:: Thanks for you guys being here. I plan to do some advertising soon. Of course, I have said that for months and months. It is expensive.

JulianTheApostate:: Bye, everyone! See you next time.

Chris OConnor:: Yes, this was fun.

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: bye julian

Chris OConnor:: Bye Julian

JulianTheApostate left

Chris OConnor:: Michael - you really made this chat!

Chris OConnor:: "made" as in made it interesting

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: you mean I showed up?

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: hehe

Chris OConnor:: thanks

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: thanks chris

Chris OConnor:: haha

Chris OConnor:: Stephan - did you get my email or see my post on BBT?

StephanKrieg:: Chris, my apologies for being late! I as looking forwarrd to Dr. Hanson's talk.

Chris OConnor:: you guys see that person on BookTalk right now? He never entered the chat room

StephanKrieg:: I got your email. I am no longer a member of BBT.

Chris OConnor:: Stephan - I only post when I mention one of these chats (on BBT)

StephanKrieg:: it is difficult to figure out how to log onto the chat

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: I liked Stephan's questions, they were good

StephanKrieg:: thank you.

Chris OConnor:: Yes, they were good. Thanks for coming Stephan!

StephanKrieg:: I am very interested in geopolitics

Chris OConnor:: Eric - did you get my email?

StephanKrieg:: I see History as the best guide to patterns within geopolitics, hence my questions...

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: Stephan--I worry that people will apply historical examples where they no longer apply, and only discover too late why they don't apply

ecstian:: yes i did chris

Chris OConnor:: Ok, I'm going to copy and paste this transcript now.

StephanKrieg:: That is true, but is it all that we have that comes close to empirical evidence with which to model

Chris OConnor:: Eric - cool. Well, thanks for showing. Sorry this wasn't as dynamic as past chats.

StephanKrieg:: Chris, please email me a transcript

Chris OConnor:: Stephan - I will post it on the transcript page too. You know where that is?

MichaelangeloGlossolalia:: Stephen--one reason why knowledge of history has to be balanced by an ability to get real-time feedback and update one's views as new info comes in.

StephanKrieg:: no,

Chris OConnor:: http://www.booktalk.org/transcripts.php

StephanKrieg:: That is a very good strategy


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