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Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Liveblogging The Origins of Political Order

Discussing the period before the rise of states in China (which is why "states" is in scare quotes below), Fukuyama notes: 'One scholar has calculated that in the 294-year duration of the Spring and Autumn period, more than 1,211 wars were fought between and among Chinese "states." Throughout this entire period, there were only 38 years of peace' (p. 111). Far from being the source of warfare, the state arose in response to the constant warring of pre-state societies. (And the more-organized chiefdoms arose in response to the warring of less-organized tribes, and so on.) The death tolls in these wars, especially when population became dense and there was no escaping to empty land nearby, were horrific. If creating the state did not create war, why in the world would someone think that eliminating the state will eliminate war?

4 comments:

  1. Wow it would almost seem to me that Fukuyima has as a *motive* a mega state, or some kind of large regional states like the eurozone and the asia coalition or whatever the *exact same way* Rothbard has as a *motive* no state at all.

    I wonder what it is in your head that makes you say "Rothbard having a motive discredits him" and "Fukuyima having a motive does not discredit him"

    What is the discriminator?

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  2. I wonder what it is in your head that makes you think I ever said "Rothbard having a motive discredits him"?

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  3. I could be wrong but I remember you saying something like "Rothbard distorts history cause he has no interest in historical truth just in making everything about it support libertarian thought"

    Which is true.

    And interesting, because the impression I got from Rothbard's historical analysis after listening to his American history lectures over at mises.org was that he is more of a historian in the ostensible ancient tradition which you described quite well in another blog post of yours.

    Anyway most historians that I have read all have an obsession and love for "unity". They love when small divided things come together to form big strong things. You can feel the radiance of the big smile that must have been on their faces when they write about a charismatic leader issuing decrees to cure the ills of the land, even though they try to mask it in a facade of dull scientific analysis and throw in the clause "as far as historical evidence can tell us" every now and then.

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  4. "I could be wrong but I remember you saying something like "Rothbard distorts history cause he has no interest in historical truth just in making everything about it support libertarian thought"

    Right. That is not at all the same thing as "having a motive (goal)." That is subverting the truth in the interest of achieving your goal.

    Jack the Ripper was not bad because he had the goal of eliminating prostitution (if we imagine he had that goal). He was bad because he slit prostitutes throats in order to achieve it.

    Does Fukuyama distort history in the interest of ideology as well? I think sometimes he does, as I will note in the review I am writing.

    Simply because I find things in the book interesting does not mean I swallow everything in it credulously.

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